November 23, 2013

Snickers Fudge

I like sweets as much as the next person, however fudge has never been a favorite of mine.  I find it to be a little too sweet, but that's just me.  My husband and son LOVE fudge, so for that reason I've always wanted to give making it a try.  So when I saw a few pictures on Pinterest for Snickers Fudge I remembered that I had a recipe for it somewhere, and I knew I needed to make it.  It looked really good, and Snickers is one of my favorite candy bars, so I was betting that I was going to like this fudge.

As it turns out I did like this fudge....maybe a little too much - I can't keep out of it!  Although I have to say, I'm not sure this is very fudge-like, but regardless, this stuff is delicious!  I'm hoping the little ones in our family will like it too.  I plan to put some out on Thanksgiving, so we'll see what everyone else thinks of it then.  In our house though, this stuff is a big hit.  This recipe is a keeper for sure!  (The recipe I had didn't say where/who it was from, but from what I've seen on Pinterest it is very similar to all the other recipes out there.  Whoever invented this stuff is a genius!) 

Snickers Fudge

For the first layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

For the second layer:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chopped salted peanuts

For the third layer
14 ounce package caramel cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the fourth layer
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

To prepare the first layer:
In a small saucepan over low heat, add milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Stir often until completely melted and smooth. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray. Spread the mixture out in an even layer and place in the refrigerator until set, or put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

To prepare the second layer:
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Mix in sugar and evaporated milk. Once it comes to a boil, let cook 5 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir in peanuts. Pour over the set chocolate layer and gently spread the mixture in an even layer. Place in the refrigerator until set, or in the freezer for 20 minutes.

To prepare the third layer:
Place the unwrapped caramel cubes and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the mixture has completely melted and is smooth. Pour in the pan and quickly spread it out in an even layer. Place in the refrigerator until set, or in the freezer for 30 minutes.

To prepare the fourth layer:
In a small saucepan over low heat, add milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Stir often until completely melted and smooth. Pour over the third layer and spread in an even layer. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares, or in the freezer for 30 minutes.

November 20, 2013

Soft Sugar Cookies

Oh I love you so!  I don't think I've tasted a cookie that I didn't like.  While crispy cookies are not my favorite, I still like them and will willingly eat them.  Let's face it - I would eat cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner if it wouldn't cause me to gain a single pound.  

The holiday season is the time of year when I tend to experiment with cookie recipes.  There are 5 little ones in our family, and I am finding that while they love their sweets they don't necessarily like the same types of sweets that us adults gravitate towards.  Like pie for example - adults seem to love it, kids not so much.  They also seem to have plainer tastes.  For example - most love chocolate chip cookies, but would most likely shy away from oatmeal raisin or an odd variety of cookie like pecan sandies. 

All of these realizations have led me down the path to plain and simple sugar cookies.  Finding the perfect recipe for sugar cookies has never been on my "to do list" because...well, they are kinda bland and just not my favorite.  However, since it's not all about me, I've decided to either find or develop the perfect sugar cookie.  "Perfect" is all relative though, depending on your personal preferences when it comes to cookie perfection.  For me "perfect" means either soft or chewy or both, along with tasting yummy of course.  Here is the first recipe I decided was worth giving a try (and I've looked over tons of them at this point).  I thought these turned out pretty darn good - nice and soft sugar cookie bliss.  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) I'd give these a 4.  If they had just a touch of chewiness they would be perfect in my book.  Looks like another sugar cookie post will be in my future.....

Soft Sugar Cookies (adapted from

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup oil (canola or vegetable oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, oil and both sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until fluffy.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda.  Add the flour mix to the butter mix, and stir until fluffy.
Let the dough rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or longer. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your cookie sheets with cooking spray.
When ready to bake, drop the batter by rounded tablespoon (I use a small scooper) onto the cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, making sure not to let them brown.  Makes 18 cookies.

November 16, 2013

Easy Skillet Potato Gratin

Both my husband and son are "meat & potatoes" kind of guys.  My husband tends to like things simple when it comes to potatoes (butter, salt & pepper), but my son likes cheese and sour cream and all those goodies.  One thing they have in common when it comes to potatoes is that they both love potato gratin and scalloped potatoes.

Since I do most of the cooking in this family, there are times when you want to cook things your family loves, but sometimes it's just too time consuming. When I came across this recipe I thought it sounded much easier to throw together than my usual "go to" recipe for potato gratin (click here for recipe).  So, I knew I needed to give it a try.  Turns out, this was not only easy, it was super delicious!  I really liked these potatoes, and I also like that you can alter it to determine the end result - cook them a little less time for cheesier potatoes or a little longer for crispier potatoes.  This recipe is a keeper!

Easy Skillet Potato Gratin (adapted from Williams Sonoma)

2 tbsp butter
1/2 large onion, diced
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 lbs potatoes, peeled & cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cup grate Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375, and melt butter in a large cast iron skillet (or any type of skillet that can go directly into the oven to finish cooking) on medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cream and chicken stock until smooth.  Add the Gruyere and thyme, and stir until cheese has melted.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Add the potatoes and stir to coat the evenly. Put a lid on the skillet and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over top.  Place skillet into the oven and bake uncovered until the top in golden brown and it's bubbling, 20-30 minutes.  Serves 4-5.

November 12, 2013

Easy Chicken & Biscuits

Brrrrr.  Winter is upon us.  It's dark.  It's cold.  It's damp.  Soon we will have weeks upon weeks of "snow showers" with no break.  Soon I will become slightly depressed because I always get the winter blues.  However, this year I will get a break in February when my husband and I take a trip to Antigua.  That will be about the time that I get a little down and sick of the cold dreary days, so vacation will most definitely lift my spirits enough to carry me through to April/May when it starts warming up again.  I think just anticipating the trip is helping also - I can't wait!

This past weekend was youth hunting in Vermont, so my son and husband spent both days out in the woods.  I like to prepare yummy snacks to take with them during the day, and hot comforting meals for when they get home in the evenings.  I usually take requests, and this particular weekend both my son and husband requested chicken and biscuits.  I love when everyone wants the same thing for dinner!  Not that I ever make separate meals for those times when someone doesn't like what's on the menu, but it is so much more peaceful when everyone likes the meal that's on the table!  Since I am still a little sore from surgery, I decided to take a few shortcuts this time.  This chicken and biscuits recipe is relatively easy to make, and slightly quicker as well.  In our family we prefer to cook the biscuits separately, but feel free to put the whole mixture in a baking dish and top it with your biscuit dough and pop it in the oven to cook.  However, this is how I do it:

Easy Chicken & Biscuits (serves about 6)

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts cooked & shredded
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
1 cup vegetable stock
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup water mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp pepper
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups diced carrots, canned or frozen
6 biscuits - click here for recipe

Cook your chicken breasts, shred or cut into chunks, and set aside.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium-high heat.  Add the flour, whisk well to combine and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the vegetable stock and whisk vigorously making sure to not leave any clumps and mixture is nice and smooth.  Add the chicken stock and whisk vigorously again.  Let the mixture begin to bubble then begin to whisk constantly again, making sure the mixture is smooth.  Add the water mixed with cornstarch, and whisk well to combine.  Add the thyme, onion powder, sage, parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Turn heat down to medium and let it simmer and thicken for about 20-30 minutes.  Add your shredded chicken, peas and carrots and stir to combine.  Put your biscuit mixture together and pop them in the oven while the chicken gravy mixture is warming through.  When your biscuits are ready, split them in half and place on your plate and top with your chicken gravy mixture.  Serve with cranberry sauce & enjoy!

November 9, 2013

Dutch Pumpkin Apple Pie

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I've spent the past week mostly in bed.  Not because I'm lazy - just taking it easy and recovering from surgery.  I am feeling better now, and getting around is much easier, so I decided to celebrate with one of my favorite pies.  

I love recipes that take classics and turn them into something even better, but with a twist.  This is one of those recipes. Combining apple and pumpkin pie into one pie may sound odd to you, but trust me on this - the result is truly delicious.  I've been making this pie for many years, and personally, I like it better than regular pumpkin or apple pie.  Serve something new for Thanksgiving this year, or just give this a try any time for the perfect fall dessert.  So good!

Dutch Pumpkin Apple Pie (by Nestle)

Apple Layer:
2 cups apple, cored, peeled & sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp flour
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cinnamon
1, 9" pie shell, unbaked

Pumpkin Layer:
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375, and line your deep dish pie plate with the unbaked pie dough.  Combine the ingredients for the apple layer in a large bowl, then pour into the pie dish.  In a separate large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the pumpkin layer and pour over the apple mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes then sprinkle the crumb topping (crumb topping recipe below) evenly over the top of the pie, and bake another 20 minutes or until center of pie is set. 

Crumb Topping:  combine 1/2 cup flour, 5 tbsp sugar and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts in a bowl.  Cut in 3 tbsp cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (you can also do this in a food processor to make it easier).

November 4, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Alfredo

I had surgery last week, and I'm still finding it a bit difficult to get around.  I'm still a little sore, however my husband had to go to Chicago, so I've been left to fend for myself.  Actually, standing and laying are the least painful, so cooking really isn't too bad.  Since I have so much time on my hands recuperating, I decided to spend some of it on the internet looking for a new recipe for a meatless lunch option.   

That's when I came across this recipe for roasted red pepper & goat cheese alfredo at  This one caught my eye because I love roasted red pepper and goat cheese, and I usually have both on hand.  After looking over the recipe I decided to adapt it to an easier version, therefore reducing the time on my feet. This turned out to be so delicious - I really loved it!  I can see adding some chicken to it for an even more filling dinner option.  For me, and for a meatless lunch, this was perfect!  I used gluten-free noodles, but obviously you don't have to.  Thanks for the fabulous recipe Lauren!

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Alfredo (adapted from

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup roasted red pepper, or 1 whole roasted red pepper
1/2 cup half & half
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 lb linguine 
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a small saucepan, then add the onion.  Saute until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and saute another 2 minutes.  Add the Italian seasoning, half & half, goat cheese and salt & pepper to taste.  Stir until cheese is melted, then reduce to low heat.   Add the roasted red pepper and the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.  Using an immersion blender, pulse the mixture until pureed (or you can pour this into a food processor and puree it that way).  Taste and add more seasonings if necessary.  Pour over your pasta of choice and serve hot.  Makes 2 servings.