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Author Archive | Denise Browning

No Bake Pecan Pie Cookie Balls

These No Bake Pecan Pie Cookie Balls are quick to make and require no special skills. They are perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving without all the time and fuss of preparing a traditional pecan pie.

Pecan pie?  I am a huge fan… well how about in the form of cookies? I hope just the very idea makes your mouth water, because No Bake Pecan Pie Cookie Balls is the treat recipe that I would like to share with you this week. I’m telling ya, it is the perfect dessert to please both children and adults without putting in too much effort.

Pecan-pie-cookie-balls

My sincere advice is make them for your Thanksgiving feast, along with the best sweet potato pie ever or our marbled coconut pumpkin pie. They will be a party at your table and a party in your mouth!

These cookies are quite easy to make, demanding neither special cooking skills nor chilling/baking time. All we have to do is mix chopped toasted pecans, cookie crumbs, caramel sauce, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, and water in a bowl until obtaining a homogeneous mixture. Wet hands and roll into balls using a tablespoon as measurement. Then, place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Easy peasy!

Pecan-pie-cookie-balls

Right before serving, drizzle a bit of caramel sauce on top and garnish with either a whole pecan or chopped pecans. Voila! One of the most simple yet festive treats, they will be the talk of your holiday party — without all the work required to make baked cookies or a traditional pecan pie.  Don’t you love this type of recipe? Yep…me too!

If you prefer to have these Pecan Pie Cookie Balls for no special reason at all, I won’t blame you. Pair with a cup of coffee or tea while leafing through one of your favorite cooking magazines or gazing at the stars — and have some marvelous ‘me time’!  😉 They are great for any time of the year!

Pecan-pie-cookie-balls

But of course desserts are not the only thing we have for you on Thanksgiving.  Breakfast, turkey, side dishes, drinks, and other desserts, too… for more inspirations, click on these 35 Thanksgiving recipes and we’ll have lots of amazing dishes to celebrate your Thanksgiving and delight your guests.

If you are having a party for two or a small gathering, or don’t want to spend hours roasting a turkey, make our Apple Glaze Cornish Hen with Toasted Herb Dressing and save time and energy. You won’t even have to worry about the infamous leftovers.

Because we live far away from our families, my family and I usually spend Thanksgiving with great friends.  But this year, we will be reunited with family. The girls are thrilled to see their grandparents and make memories with them. How about you?

No matter how you intend to celebrate this holiday, I would like to say that I am grateful for you and you and your support.

From my family to yours, with much love and thankfulness,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

TO PIN AND ENJOY!

Pecan-pie-cookie-balls

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No Bake Pecan Pie Cookie Balls
These No Bake Pecan Pie Cookie Balls are quick to make and require no special skills. They are perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving without all the time and fuss of preparing a traditional pecan pie. 
Pecan-pie-cookie-balls
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Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 0
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cookie balls
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 0
Servings
cookie balls
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until obtaining a homogeneous mixture. Use your hand to mix! Then, roll into balls using a tablespoon as measurement to obtain balls of uniform size. Wet your hands with water to make rolling easier.
  2. Place pecan pie cookie balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before serving, drizzle top with a bit of caramel sauce and garnish with either chopped pecans or a whole pecan. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Store leftovers in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator.

Continue Reading 2

Apple Glaze Cornish Hen with Toasted Herb Dressing

An easy Apple Glaze Cornish Hen served with Toasted Herb Dressing that is much quicker to prepare than turkey. A must for your holiday table!

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SeasonYourHolidays #CollectiveBias

Thanksgiving is coming up just one week from now. If you are not ready, don’t worry! Our easy and delish Apple Glaze Cornish Hen with Toasted Herb Dressing will help you to celebrate the holiday in style, demanding much less time in the kitchen than a traditional turkey. You don’t even have to worry about what to do with leftovers. 😉 Now how cool is that?!

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

This is a recipe made with simple ingredients such as cornish hens, apple jelly, flavor enhancing Kikkoman® Soy Sauce, Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs, vegetable oil, seasonings, lemon, honey, and mustard.

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

All of the ingredients are conveniently available at your nearest Walmart. Kikkoman® Soy Sauce, a key ingredient for your Holiday recipes, can be found in the Asian foods aisle; while Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs will be found in the breading/baking section (not the Asian aisle).

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

To prepare our Apple Glaze Cornish Hen, all we have to do is rub half of a lemon all around the outside of the hen and then brush with a mixture of oil, salt, and pepper. Tie the legs with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the hen. Next, roast at 375°F for about one hour or until a thermometer registers 165°F. The hen should be brushed with an apple glaze made with apple jelly, Kikkoman® Soy Sauce, mustard, and honey about 25 to 30 minutes before taking out of the oven. 

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

See? Easy peasy! Anyone can prepare this fabulous Thanksgiving meal without needing any advanced cooking skills. For more unique and creative Thanksgiving and everyday recipes like ours, visit the Kikkoman® website.

But that’s not all! We’re gonna accompany our Apple Glaze Cornish Hen with a fabulous yet simple-to-prepare Toasted Herb Dressing. This is something that requires no baking, in contrast to traditional dressing or stuffing. For our dressing, we will simply sweat chopped onion and garlic in vegetable oil, add Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs, and let cook for around a couple of minutes. Then, season with salt and pepper, add butter, fresh thyme, and if desired, cooked corn kernels and carrots. And voila!

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

Right before serving, place bird on a serving platter accompanied by the dressing.

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

This way, you can save time in the kitchen and spend more time with your loved ones– those who you are really thankful for… while keeping the magic and meaning of this holiday intact!

Kikkoman® wants to help make your holiday more affordable.  To get in on the savings, click on Kikkoman® Soy Sauce and Kikkoman® Bread Crumbs in order to be able to redeem the deals.

Planning for the holidays is a must, but slaving away in the kitchen is a choice.  A simple, affordable, and elegant Thanksgiving meal like our Apple Glaze Cornish Hen with Toasted Herb Dressing brings the warmth of the holiday without all the fuss.  If you are cooking for one or two, have a small family, or simply don’t want to spend several hours in the kitchen preparing a whole turkey and all that comes with it, make our delicious dish. You won’t regret it!

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

Most of all, enjoy… both the meal and the time with family!

With much thankfulness from my family to yours,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 

 

TO PIN & ENJOY!

Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing

 

 

 

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Apple Glaze Cornish Hen with Toasted Herb Dressing
An easy Apple Glaze Cornish Hen served with Toasted Herb Dressing that is much quicker to prepare than turkey. A must for your holiday table!
Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
cornish hens
Ingredients
For the apple glaze cornish hen:
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
cornish hens
Ingredients
For the apple glaze cornish hen:
Apple-Glaze-Cornish-Hen, Toasted-herb-dressing
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Instructions
To prepare the apple glaze cornish hen:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Pat dry each hen. Rub each with a quarter of a lemon all around the outside and then brush with a mixture of oil, salt, and pepper. Place quartered lemon and one sprig of thyme into the cavity of each hen, tie the legs with kitchen twine, and then tuck the wing tips under each hen.
  3. Next, transfer the hens to the rack of a large roasting pan and add just a bit of water or chicken broth to the bottom of the pan to prevent drippings to burn. Roast them in the oven middle rack for about 60 minutes or until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (without touching the bone) registers 165°F. However, 25 to 30 minutes before taking them out of the oven, brush with the apple glaze two to three times times. To make this, mix apple jelly,  Kikkoman® Soy Sauce, mustard, and honey in a bowl and brush each hen all over.  
To prepare the toasted herb dressing:
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and sweat chopped onion for about 3-4 minutes. Then, cook garlic for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Do not let brown! Add butter and let melt. Add Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs and let cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, season with salt and pepper to taste (I prefer mine slightly spicy) , add fresh thyme leaves, and if desired, cooked corn kernels, peas, and carrots. Serve with Apple Glaze Cornish Hen and enjoy! NOTE: Herb dressing will be buttery and crunchy. If you prefer a softer texture, stir in just a few tablespoons of chicken broth so the dressing will be moist but not mush.
Recipe Notes

I added cooked frozen carrots, peas, and corn to my herb dressing making it slightly sweet -- which pairs well with the apple glaze from the cornish hen.

Continue Reading 5

The Best Brined Whole Turkey and Tips for a Juicy Bird

Recipe for The Best Brined Whole Turkey and Great Tips on How to Prepare a Juicy Bird and Carve it without Fuss. It will be the talk of your holiday party!

Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few weeks.  Are you already starting to get anxious?  Well, don’t be!  We are here to help you… to make your life easy.  For this reason, we’re sharing the best brined whole turkey recipe ever… and of course, simple tips on how to prepare a juicy bird, the star of any Thanksgiving table. We will also guide you on how to easily carve your turkey. Ready?

 

Preparing and Roasting the Turkey

  1. If you intend to prepare a roasted turkey from scratch, it is essential to choose a fresh turkey instead of a frozen one. The freezing process damages the turkey’s cells, making meat more susceptible to drying out during the roasting process. The size of the bird will depend on the number of guests, of course (estimate one pound of turkey per adult).  But for a quicker cooking process, consider roasting two small turkeys instead of a large one.
  2. Brine the turkey, this means submerging the bird in a mixture of salt, sugar, and cool water.  It can be an overnight brine (8-12 hours) or a quick brine (5 hours but with double the amount of sugar and salt used for an overnight brine). Why? It will help to keep the turkey moist during the roasting process! Before brining, don’t forget to remove turkey’s neck and giblets from the cavities. If desired, reserve them to make gravy.
  3. Wash and pat-dry the brined whole turkey, removing the excess salt and giving it the ability to take on a golden brown color during the roasting process.
  4. Rub a mixture of softened butter and chopped herbs under the breast skin (and spices if desired), so that it bastes the bird and adds flavor as the butter melts during the roasting process.  This will prevent the breast, which cooks faster than the legs, from drying out.
  5. Brush a mixture of vegetable oil and herbs all over the turkey, except under the skin. This will help the turkey get that beautiful golden brown color and herby flavor.  I find oil better than butter when it comes to achieving that desired golden brown color on the skin.
  6. If choosing to stuff the turkey, make sure to add great flavor such a delicious stuffing, or simply aromatics (e.g. sliced lemon or orange, chopped onions, apple or pear chunks, and fresh herbs).  It will without a doubt boost the flavor, although will add to the cooking time.
  7. Tie the turkey legs and tuck the wing tips under the turkey. These will give the turkey a nice look at serving time.
  8. Place liquid, preferably a flavorful one such as broth and/or white wine, in the bottom of the roasting pan. This will prevent the drippings from burning. The same liquid can also be used to baste the turkey every 45 minutes.  The liquid, as it evaporates, will also contribute toward keeping the turkey moist.
  9. Roast the turkey on the middle oven rack in a rack roasting pan, first at high temperature (450 to 475°F) and then at a low temperature (325 to 350°F). The high temp will brown the turkey and the low temperature will cook it through. Some recommend roasting the turkey breast-side-down at first in order to keep the breast moist (allowing it to self-baste in the juices). But I prefer a different method: I like to roast the turkey breast-side-up in order to brown for the first 45 minutes, and then to place a piece of aluminum foil over the breast to allow it to cook while still protecting the moisture.  This way you can both get the rich outer color and retain the inner juiciness.
  10. Avoid overcooking the turkey. For a brined whole turkey with stuffing, the required roasting time is 15 minutes per pound; for a brined whole turkey with no stuffing, it is 13 minutes per pound. For example: a brined, stuffed 12-pound turkey will take about 180 minutes or 3 hours to roast. The best way to check for proper cooking is to insert either an instant-read or probe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (without touching the bone). A safe temperature must register 165°F. 
  11.  Once removed from the oven, let the brined whole turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving. This will help it to lose less moisture during carving. Note: Don’t let turkey sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours, otherwise it will increase the risk for food-borne illness.

Carving Guide

  1. Cut legs tie (kitchen string) and remove drumsticks. To do this, hold each drumstick and cut through skin all the way to the joint. Remove by pulling out while using point of knife to disjoint, and then separate thigh and drumstick at joint.
  2. Cut wings off. Insert a fork into the upper part of the wing and then make a long horizontal cut above wing joint through to the body frame. Cut wing off.
  3. Slice breast. Using your fingers, find the breastbone in the middle, between the two breasts. Then, position a boning knife on one side of it, and slice from top to bottom, as close to the bone as possible. Using the other hand, pull the meat away from the breastbone.  Repeat on the other side. Transfer breasts to a cutting board and slice against the grain (i.e. shorter length of the breast), leaving skin attached.
  4. Remove remaining meat from the carcass by hand. You will wind up with lots of shredded pieces that can be used to make various dishes afterwards or even to serve on the platter along with other parts of the turkey.
  5. Arrange all pieces on a platter.

Storage

Refrigerate turkey leftovers for up to 3 days or freeze them to use within one month.  You can use leftovers to make this turkey pot pie! 🙂

PIN AND ENJOY!


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The Best Brined Whole Turkey & Tips for a Juicy Bird
Recipe for The Best Brined Whole Turkey and Great Tips on How to Prepare a Juicy Bird without Fuss.
Brined-Whole-Turkey, Tips-juicy-bird
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 8-12 hours
Servings
whole turkey
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 8-12 hours
Servings
whole turkey
Brined-Whole-Turkey, Tips-juicy-bird
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Instructions
  1. Remove giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey. If desired, reserve for making gravy.
  2. For the Brine: Combine coarse salt and sugar in a large clean stockpot and mix with enough cold water to submerge the turkey. Let the mixture of salt and sugar dissolve completely before placing the turkey into the pot. Cover and refrigerate overnight ( for 8-12 hours). Remove the turkey from the brine, and rinse inside and out under cold running water to remove all traces of salt. Then, pat dry with paper towel. For a quick brine instead (if you are in a rush), brine the turkey for only 5 hours, but this time using double the amount of salt and sugar. Follow the same process describe above.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the softened butter with half of the amount of salt and pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of the chopped herbs. Place turkey breast-side-up on the rack of a roasting pan. Gently rub the butter mixture under the breast skin. Then, mix the oil with the remaining salt, pepper, and chopped herbs in a different bowl. Brush the oil mixture all over the turkey, except under the skin. Place aromatics in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Pour the 1-3 cups of broth and/or wine into the pan bottom to prevent drippings from burning. Amount of liquid will depend on the height of the rack, but don't let liquid touch the turkey.
  4. Roast turkey in the oven middle rack at 475 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until breast skin turns golden brown, baste with the liquid from the bottom of the pan, and then rotate the roasting pan. Cover just the breast with a piece of aluminum foil, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and continue roasting for additional 125-130 minutes or until turkey is fully cooked (a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F). Turkey must be basted every 45 minutes. NOTE: For a brined, stuffed whole turkey, the roasting time is 15 minutes per pound; for a brined, unstuffed whole turkey it is 13 minutes per pound. Remove the brined whole turkey from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Recipe Notes

If desired, brush turkey with a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup honey 30 minutes before removing from the oven.  It will make the turkey even more flavorful. I did this with mine!

Continue Reading 6

One Bowl Microwave Mac and Cheese

Microwave Mac and Cheese is a mess-free, quick and easy dish prepared in one bowl with staple ingredients. It is comfort food that can be enjoyed all year round!

We are just a few weeks away from Thanksgiving… and one of the most requested side dishes for my holiday table is Mac & Cheese. With a turkey to roast and many other course dishes to prepare, I decided to put my traditional recipe to a test. Yes, I made a One Bowl Microwave Mac and Cheese. And you know what? This thing is darn good and only takes about 15 minutes to prep and cook. It’s magic in the kitchen!

Microwave-mac-and-cheese, One-bowl-mac-and-cheese

Forget about boxed mac and cheese! Prepare our quick and super delish Microwave Mac and Cheese — which by the way is a comfort food that can be enjoyed all year round. Yep, it makes a no-fuss, mess-free, quick weeknight meal with the power to please a crowd.

All we have to do is to combine macaroni pasta, water, and salt in a microwave safe bowl and cook for about 8 minutes in 2-minute intervals until the pasta is cooked. Then stir in unsalted butter, heavy cream or half-and-half, cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and ground black pepper. Microwave again for about 1 minute or until cheese melts. Stir and enjoy right away!

You can garnish with a touch of red pepper flakes and fresh herbs such as basil or oregano… and serve either by itself or as an accompaniment for turkey or any other meat.

Microwave-mac-and-cheese, One-bowl-mac-and-cheese

See? Easy peasy!

In fact, it is so simple to prepare that even a child can make it. Mixing and microwaving are the only “skills” required here.

As you can see, this is way easier and less messier than the stove-top and oven-baked versions made from scratch.  But if you would like to explore either of these two baked versions– Mac and Cheese Carbonara or Brazilian Mac and Cheese — go for it, too!

Mac and cheese, also known as macaroni and cheese in America and Canada, macaroni cheese in the UK, and macaroni pie in Caribbean English, is traditionally made from macaroni pasta and cheese sauce (Mornay sauce) and baked in the oven. But our Microwave Mac and Cheese abbreviates the process, requiring no roux (a mixture of butter and flour) to prepare the dish, yet achieving the desired creaminess so characteristic of the classic version.

Got it?

So enjoy– not only for the holidays, but why not the whole year round?!

 

TO PIN AND ENJOY!

Microwave-mac-and-cheese, One-bowl-mac-and-cheese

 

 

 

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One Bowl Microwave Mac and Cheese
Microwave Mac and Cheese is a mess-free, quick and easy dish prepared in one bowl with staple ingredients. It is comfort food that can be enjoyed all year round! 
Microwave-mac-and-cheese, One-bowl-mac-and-cheese
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Prep Time 6 mins
Cook Time 9 mins
Servings
people
Prep Time 6 mins
Cook Time 9 mins
Servings
people
Microwave-mac-and-cheese, One-bowl-mac-and-cheese
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the pasta, water, and salt together. Microwave on high power for about 8 minutes in 2-minute intervals until the pasta is al dente or cooked. Stir mixture between intervals. Note: Cooking time can vary according to the potency of your microwave. If water is absorbed before pasta is cooked, add a bit more water.
  2. Once pasta is cooked, stir in the butter, heavy cream, cream cheese, cheddar, and pepper. Return bowl to the microwave and let cook for about 1 additional minute or until cheese melts. Stir and enjoy immediately! If desired, you can garnish the top with red pepper flakes and fresh herbs such as basil or oregano.
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Quick and Easy Kale Pesto Pasta

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Kale Pesto Pasta is a quick and easy weeknight meal that also has Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, olives, and shrimp (or any other protein of your choice).

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Skinner® Pasta. Thank you, friends, for supporting all the brands that I work with and love.

It’s the early part of the school year… and we’ve got you covered! This Kale Pesto Pasta makes the most delicious and comforting meal for both kids and parents. And you know what? It can be prepared in 30 minutes. It is already in the list of family faves!

Our Kale Pesto Pasta is nutritious, yet prepared with simple ingredients: budget-friendly Skinner® Pasta, kale pesto, shaved Parmesan cheese, grape tomatoes, black olives, and any protein of your choice, such as shrimp.

All we have to do is to cook the Skinner pasta (in this case, linguine) according to the instructions on the package. Then, drain and mix with a homemade kale pesto. Right before serving, add shaved Parmesan cheese, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives and, if desired, cooked shrimp or another protein of your choice.

Voila! — before you know it, a complete dish is ready for your lunch or dinner, helping make those busy early-school-year schedules manageable enough that you can enjoy more family moments together.

The homemade kale pesto can be prepared in the blink of an eye and requires no cooking. Thawed chopped kale, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese are blended together in a blender or processed in a food processor until mixture is smooth. See? Easy peasy!

I am telling you, this pasta dish will put a smile on your face. It tastes amazing! Also, it is accessible, friendly and uncomplicated… just like the people of Texas, my home state.

Skinner pasta is the #1 pasta in Texas. In addition, it is enriched, easy to cook, and features a variety of pastas such as linguine, spaghetti, penne, fettuccine, elbows, and even a fun Texas shape. This makes Skinner perfect for both weeknight meals and dishes for special occasions.

For more information about Skinner products and other easy delicious recipe ideas like this Kale Pesto Pasta, please visit skinnerpasta.com .

Quick and easy meals are an effective tool often used for saving time at my household. And how about yours? I would love to hear how your family manages a busy school-year schedule!

In addition, what other dish(es) would you like to prepare with Skinner pasta? I am looking forward to hearing your ideas.

For now, enjoy your family and a great meal together!

 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Skinner® pasta.

 

 

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Quick Kale Pesto Pasta
Kale Pesto Pasta is a quick and easy weeknight meal that also features Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, olives, and shrimp (or any other protein of your choice).
Kale-pesto-pasta
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8-10 minutes
Servings
people
Kale-pesto-pasta
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Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare the kale pesto. In a blender or food processor, combine the kale, basil, salt and pepper. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Then, turn it off to scrape down the sides of the blender or processor. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese and blend/process well until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  2. Once pasta is cooked, drain and add the cooked shrimp or other protein of your choice. Toss with kale pesto and top with Parmesan cheese shavings, grape tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Garnish with lemon slices or wedges if desired. Serve while it is hot, and enjoy!
Continue Reading 17

The Best Nut-Free Baklava Ever

Recipe for the most delicious Nut-Free Baklava ever, made from phyllo dough, dried apricots, shredded coconut, and golden raisins.

What’s your favorite Middle Eastern pastry? Mine is baklava! Yep — a sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough, traditionally filled with chopped nuts, and soaked in a syrup containing honey, rosewater, or orange flower water.  Ours, however, is a nut-free baklava. Are you allergic to nuts? No problem!  You will be able to enjoy ours without fear.  Never tried a nut-free version version of baklava?  Go for it. This is the best nut-free baklava ever… In fact, the best that I have ever tasted so far — and I have tried many.

I call it ‘ours’ because it is being published on our blog. But the recipe actually is Lauren’s.

I met her for the first time at a bake sale organized by my friend Kirsten Bates. The event was held to benefit those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and half of the money was donated to Coastal Bend Food Bank and the other half to Houston Food Bank. Lauren, along with other generous ladies, brought many baked goodies to a city park.  Cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, donuts, and sweet popcorn among many other treats — including the infamous homemade nut-free baklava we are featuring today.

I am not kidding… After the first bite of that baklava, I bought almost all of the rest that they had left.  Each bite seemed like a delectable new discovery.   I brought all of them home to share with my husband and children — but shamelessly, I ate most of them. 😉

I simply could not stop eating them. This thing is ADDICTIVE!

I loved the baklava so much that I asked Lauren for the recipe.  She was kind enough not only to share the recipe with me, but also to make a batch specially for me.  Needless to say, Lauren became my new best friend! 🙂

Is it complicated to make? No! All we have to do is butter and fold in half a sheet of phyllo pastry dough, press into a glass baking pan, sprinkle a mixture of shredded coconut, dried apricots,  and golden raisins on top and repeat the process with remaining pastry sheets. Cut into 16 diamond shaped pieces, bake, and then pour syrup on top to soak.

And there you have it.  Any time you want to drink tea or coffee (with or without our homemade caramel pumpkin spice coffee creamer), pair it with this super delish nut-free baklava.

I hope you have been enjoy the baking season, with all the goodies and the warm, comforting flavors that it has to offer.

See ya!

TO PIN TILL YOU DROP:

 

 

Nut-free-baklava

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The Most Delicious Nut-Free Baklava
Recipe for the most delicious Nut-Free Baklava ever, made from phyllo dough, dried apricots, shredded coconut, and golden raisins.
Nut-Free-Baklava
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 40-45 minutes
Servings
pieces
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 40-45 minutes
Servings
pieces
Nut-Free-Baklava
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 10 x 7-inch glass pan (double recipe for a 13 x 9-inch).
  2. Place coconut, apricot and raisins in a food processor. Add sugar and cinnamon. Process until finely chopped. Mixture will be clumpy.
  3. Place pastry on clean work surface. Cover with a damp towel to prevent from drying out. Brush 1 sheet pastry with melted butter. Fold in half. Press into pan. Trim excess dough from edges to fit the side of the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup coconut mixture evenly on top of pastry.
  4. Brush another sheet of pastry with melted butter and fold in half. Press into pan on top of the first layer. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons coconut mixture. Repeat process this process with remaining pastry sheets, butter, and 2 Tablespoons coconut mixture per layer, trimming edges as you go to fit the side of the pan.
  5. End layering with a pastry sheet buttered and folded in half. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the stacked layers of pastry into thirds lengthwise. Then cut crosswise diagonally to make 16 diamond-shaped pieces.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 F for about 10-15 more minutes or until golden brown. Note: fruit mixture will darken faster than pastry.
  7. While baklava is baking, make syrup. Place honey, cinnamon, orange rind, sugar and 2/3 cup cold water in sauce pan over medium-heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes or until syrup is slightly thickened. Pour hot syrup over hot baklava. Cool in pan. Serve and enjoy!
Continue Reading 6

5-Ingredient Coffee Fudge Cups (Brigadeiro Mole de Café)

Coffee Fudge Cups (Brigadeiro Mole de Café) is a quick and comforting Brazilian dessert made with staple ingredients such as sweetened condensed milk, unsalted butter, cocoa powder, instant coffee, and heavy cream.

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OfrendasConNestle #NestleKitchen #CollectiveBias

The Day of the Dead is coming up.  In several western countries, especially Mexico, Central, and South America, it is a day to pray for and remember friends and family members who have departed. Food and beverages make up a vital part of the tradition. To celebrate this day, we have prepared  quick yet comforting and delicious Coffee Fudge Cups, known in Brazil as Brigadeiro Mole de Café.  It is truly one of those must-have treats!

Growing up in Brazil, I remember going to the cemeteries to visit my departed ancestors every November 2nd, which is a national public holiday there known as Dia de Finados in Portuguese, Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, or Day of the Dead in English.

This is the yearly date on the calendar that we honor their memory by bringing flowers and candles to their graves and tombs… as well as praying and singing hymns in favor of their souls.  In Brazil it is a sober gathering, charged with a feeling of deeply nostalgic longing (saudade).  Some would share a kind story about the departed, while others could not contain their tears.

Later on in the day, people usually attend a Catholic mass in honor of the dead, and afterwards eat one or more comforting dishes such as our Coffee Fudge Cups.  In contrast to some other Latin American countries, we don’t have a standard set of traditional foods to celebrate the date.  The dishes vary from person to person– whatever most speaks of comfort, remembrance, and celebration of a life well lived.  Mine has always been flavored brigadeiros, such as the one that we are sharing the recipe for today.

I do, however, remember coffee being a national staple– pretty much served in just about every household.  At my Grandma’s, who was of Portuguese descent, coffee would come accompanied by buttered, toasted French bread, eggs, a typical Northeast Brazilian cheese, coffee cakes, and sometimes a sweet treat such as caramel flan. At my Mom’s, chocolate or any related treat (e.g. brigadeiros) was the treat for the kids.  After all, children also need comfort on such an emotional day.

If you live in Mexico or the United States, you may be used to different traditions. After living in the U.S. for more than 15 years and having many Mexican friends, I came to understand both the differences and similarities of the day in those countries.

Although it is a public holiday both in Mexico and Brazil, in which we pray for and remember the dead, the differences are remarkable. The first notable difference starts with the dates. In Mexico it is a three-day event: On October 31 (All Hallows Eve), the children make a children’s altar to invite the spirits of departed children to return for a visit. On November 1 (All Saints Day), the adult spirits would supposedly pay a visit. On November 2 (All Souls Day), families decorate their relatives’ tombs in the cemetery.

Second, Dia de los Muertos in Mexico is a fiesta that includes building private altars using skulls, marigold flowers, tissue decorations, incense, the deceased’s possessions, and also their favorite food and beverages (bread of the dead, sugar skulls, fruits, nuts, etc).  It is not a somber event, but rather something to celebrate the beautiful life that the departed had — one of the reasons why it can even take a humorous tone as some remember funny events about the dead.

As you can see, different traditions to celebrate the same event… but both filled with love and memories of those who made our lives a magnificent event.

Well, Nestlé, beloved by many generations in Brazil, has long been a part of my life… producing ingredients that make this and many other events special. As my family and I gather to share great memories and honor our loved ones, we enjoy these delicious gluten-free Coffee Fudge Cups.

They are prepared on the stovetop with only 5 required ingredients — a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, unsalted butter, cocoa powder,  NESCAFÉ® CLÁSICO™ Coffee  (100% pure coffee), and heavy whipping cream.

Believe it or not, our treat is cooked within 10 minutes.  All that one has to do is basically combine all the ingredients (except the heavy cream) in a pan, and stir constantly until until the mixture thickens and starts to peel away or show the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with a wood spoon.

Then, the heavy cream is whisked in and the mixture is poured into cups. After cooling, our Coffee Fudge Cups are traditionally topped with chocolate sprinkles or alternatively, can be topped with chocolate chips such as NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels (no artificial flavors or colors).

And here comes the final touch. Our table was adorned with BUTTERFINGER® Peanut Butter Cups Skulls (no artificial flavors or colors) resembling the traditional sugar skulls– a mix of Brazilian and Mexican traditions.  That is why understanding and appreciation for different cultures makes life so much richer! 😉

I loved the convenience of being able to purchase all the products right from the Walmart. And so will you! The NESCAFÉ® CLÁSICO™ Coffee is available in the Coffee aisle, the NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels in the baking aisle, and the BUTTERFINGER® Peanut Butter Cups Skulls in the seasonal/holiday aisle.

Well, what are your traditions? I would love to hear all about them, including your favorite food recipes to celebrate the date.

For my fellow Brazilians, may the day bring saudades of those who are no longer among us in the flesh… For my Mexican and Mexican-American friends, Happy Dia de los Muertos!

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5-Ingredient Coffee Fudge Cups
Coffee Fudge Cups (Brigadeiro Mole de Café) is a quick and comforting Brazilian dessert made with 5 staples ingredients such as sweetened condensed milk, unsalted butter, cocoa powder, instant coffee, and heavy cream. 
Coffee-Fudge-Cups, Brigadeiro-Mole-de-Cafe
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people (or more depending on the size of the serving cup)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people (or more depending on the size of the serving cup)
Coffee-Fudge-Cups, Brigadeiro-Mole-de-Cafe
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Whisk the condensed milk, cocoa powder, and instant coffee together until obtaining a homogeneous mixture (without lumps of cocoa powder). Then, stir in the butter. Cook in a medium non-stick saucepan over medium-low to medium heat (large burner), stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to peel away or show the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with your wood spoon (about 5-8 minutes). The chocolate fudge mixture should be thick enough to show you the bottom of the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture levels out again.
  2. Cook in a medium non-stick saucepan over medium-low to medium heat (large burner), stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to peel away or show the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with your wood spoon (about 5-8 minutes). The chocolate fudge mixture should be thick enough to show you the bottom of the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture levels out again. Stir in the heavy cream, stirring constantly, until obtaining a homogeneous mixture (about 1 minute).
  3. When chocolate fudge is ready, divide mixture into mini tea cups or shot glasses and let cool completely. Then, sprinkle chocolate sprinkles on top or alternatively, chocolate chips. Serve these Coffee Fudge Cups chilled or at room temperature, and enjoy by the spoonful.
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Dairy-Free Caramel Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

This quick and delicious Caramel Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate is made with simple dairy-free ingredients and tastes like Autumn!

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SameSilkySmoothTaste #CollectiveBias

Fall is in the air! Yay!!!  It is time to prepare comforting autumn recipes to keep you warm and cozy.  Our dairy-free Caramel Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate is the one of the easiest and most delicious hot beverages for you to enjoy this season. And you know what? It can be prepared in 15 minutes, with only 6 essential ingredients purchased at Walmart,  saving us time to enjoy all the other perks that Fall has to offer.

It is prepared with 6 (yes, just 6) needed dairy-free ingredients: Silk® Unsweetened Almondmilk, natural unsweetened cocoa (100% cacao), pumpkin pie spice, sugar, mini marshmallows, and caramel sauce. To make the hot chocolate thicker, we optionally added just a wee bit of dairy-free dark chocolate, and also served with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

And you know what? I loved the convenience of being able to purchase Silk®Almondmilk right from the Walmart dairy case. And so will you!

To prepare this beverage, all we have to do is to simmer Silk® Unsweetened Almondmilk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in cocoa and pumpkin pie spice until no lumps remain. Finally add dark chocolate (if desired) and sugar, and then cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted (about 2-4 minutes).

Voila!  It’s time to divide the hot chocolate into mugs…

… top with mini marshmallows…

… and a drizzle of caramel sauce. To make it even more scrumptious, you can drizzle chocolate syrup on top of the marshmallows if desired.

As you can see, a cup of chocolaty goodness is all ready and waiting for you — perfect for sharing with your loved ones. This Caramel Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate is rich, smooth, comforting, and oh-so-good, including for those who are lactose-intolerant.

Silk® Unsweetened Almondmilk, Silk® Light Vanilla Almondmilk, and all other Silk® Almondmilk flavors — the new silky smooth taste you’ll love– are dairy-free and lactose-free. Actually, they contain 50% more calcium than dairy milk, and absolutely no cholesterol or saturated fat. They make the perfect ingredient to use in your favorite seasonal, holiday, or everyday recipe — the perfect companion for your cereal, hot beverages, desserts, soups, and more.

Quick and hot beverages are a must for rainy Fall days in my household. And how about yours?  I would love to hear what your favorite Silk® Unsweetened flavor is, as well as your most enjoyable dairy-free recipe.

Cheers to the season!!!

 

 

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Caramel Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
This quick and delicious Caramel Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate is made with simple dairy-free ingredients and tastes like Autumn!
Caramel-Pumpkin-Spice-Hot-Chocolate
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings
people
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings
people
Caramel-Pumpkin-Spice-Hot-Chocolate
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring milk to a simmer over medium-high heat. Whisk in cocoa and pumpkin pie spice until no lumps remain. Then whisk in dark chocolate (if desired, but it will make drink thicker and creamier) and sugar. Let cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and chocolate had melted (approximately 4 minutes).
  2. Divide hot chocolate among 2 mugs. Top with mini marshmallows and drizzle with caramel sauce (1 tablespoon per mug) and optionally with chocolate syrup (1 tablespoon per mug). Enjoy dairy-free caramel pumpkin spice hot chocolate!
Recipe Notes

You can add more sugar to the recipe or even use a sugar substitute if desired. The amount of marshmallow is free -- it depends on you!

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Fun Candy Corn Apple Pops

Candy Corn Apple Pops are a quick and easy Halloween treat made with apples, candy melts, and sprinkles. It makes a fun and delicious treat that delights kids and adults.

October is the month when we celebrate Halloween.  Our treat for this year is colorful, fun, and easy to prepare — Candy Corn Apple Pops. Aren’t they cute? Kids will go crazy for these — and adults too.  😉

As you can imagine, our treat was inspired by the popular Halloween candy, candy corn. Just like the classic American candy, it has three colors, yellow, orange, and white.

The difference is, our treat is made with sliced Granny Smith apples covered with white candy melts, drizzled with yellow candy melts, and then decorated with orange sprinkles.  The original candy corn, created in the 19th century, mimics the appearance of corn kernels, hence the name — and it is made with sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s wax, and artificial coloring.

Our Candy Corn Apple Pops makes a great Halloween cooking project to get children involved in… and definitely will brighten any Halloween celebration, putting a huge smile on any kid’s face. They were tested and approved by my kids. 😉

They can be prepared in 30 minutes. All you have to do is slice apples, stick a candy or popsicle stick in one of the ends, dip sliced apple into the melted white candy melts, and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to dry. Then, drizzle melted yellow candy melts on top and sprinkle with orange sprinkles. And voila!  In the blink of an eye, a treat perfect for your little Halloween monsters will be ready to be happily devoured.

If you would like another cute variation made with apples, also try our Chocolate Apple Halloween Owl. But if you plan on adding a spooky treat to your sweet arsenal , you gotta make our Creepy Jello Cups,

Every year my kids dress up in a different costume.  This Halloween we will have a witch and a deer. Hehe! How about you?

We will be trick-or-treating in our new neighborhood… and swamping our bloodstreams with a load of sugar.  The kiddos will be bouncing off the walls until late at night, as always. The good thing is, in my household Halloween lasts for one day only. Yep!  Several treats will magically disappear by the next day.  As a Mom, I think you get what I mean. 😉

Happy Halloween!!!

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Candy Corn Apple Pops
Candy Corn Apple Pops are a quick and easy Halloween treat made with apples, candy melts, and sprinkles. It makes a fun and delicious treat that delights kids and adults.
Candy-corn-apple-pops
Votes: 3
Rating: 3.67
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 4 mins
Servings
pops
Candy-corn-apple-pops
Votes: 3
Rating: 3.67
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Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Sit clean apples upright on a wood board and slice from top to bottom (about 4 slices per apple, 1/2-inch thick). Remove seeds gently. Then, line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and push the pointed end of each stick up into the bottom of each apple slice.
  2. In a medium heatproof glass bowl, melt white candy melts in the microwave according to the package directions, place bowl into a larger pot filled with about 2-inch boiling water (this will help candymelts to not harden), and dip apple slices in melted candy (using a spoon to help coat each slice if your bowl isn't deep enough to cover them).
  3. Allow excess candy melts to drip off, then lay flat on the foil-lined baking sheet. Once hardened, drizzle melted yellow candy melts over the top using a fork. Sprinkle orange sprinkles on top and let harden. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for approximately 10-15 minutes, allowing candy corn apple pops to harden. If you wish, decorate the wood stick with a ribbon. Serve and enjoy! Inactive Time: 10-15 minutes
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Homemade Caramel Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

This homemade Caramel Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer can be prepared in 10 minutes and makes coffee taste like Autumn.

Coffee creamer? There are several brands that offer different flavors in the supermarket. But you can easily customize your own in 10 minutes, with no cooking required. Don’t believe me? Well, try our Homemade Caramel Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer next time you drink a cup of coffee. You’ll be hooked!  It tastes just like Autumn.

It is pretty easy to prepare. All you have to do is whisk heavy cream or half-and-half with canned pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, caramel sauce, and vanilla extract. Then, store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

And there you have it.  Any time you want to drink coffee, you can enjoy the delicious taste of the season in a cup.

Easy peasy!

If you want, you can even develop new flavors using gingerbread spice, candy cane essence/extract, cocoa powder, and the list goes on and on. All you need is heavy cream or half-and-half mixed with a flavor of your choice and a touch of a sweetener — such as caramel sauce, maple syrup, sweetened condensed milk,  agave nectar, honey, etc.

My children were quite excited to enjoy morning coffee all jazzed up with homemade coffee creamer, along with buttered griddled French bread and seasonal fruits. It tasted like love, according to them.

Something that Mommy made especially for them. And you know what? You can pour some love into your coffee, too.  Make your own coffee creamer and you may never want to buy the one in the supermarket fridge ever again.

I hope you enjoy the fall season with all the goodies and the warm, comforting flavors that it has to offer.  If you like, you can enjoy a piece of bread or pie  while drinking coffee with our homemade caramel pumpkin spice coffee creamer.

See ya soon!

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Print Recipe
Homemade Caramel Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
This homemade Caramel Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer can be prepared in 10 minutes and makes coffee taste like Autumn.
Homemade-Caramel-Pumpkin-Spice-Coffee-Creamer
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0
Servings
cups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0
Servings
cups
Homemade-Caramel-Pumpkin-Spice-Coffee-Creamer
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients well until obtaining a creamy, homogeneous mixture or blend them in a blender for about 5 seconds. Store homemade caramel pumpkin spice coffee creamer in a 1 qt sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Shake or stir before pouring into your coffee. Enjoy! If desired, serve topped with whipped cream, a sprinkle of pumpkin spice, and a drizzle of caramel.
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