Wednesday, December 18, 2019

ALMOND JOY BITES

This candy treat is very quick and easy to make and it tastes VERY much like an Almond Joy candy bar (only I think they are even better).

Just a few ingredients and no baking makes this recipe a real winner and they look so pretty. Great for gift giving or just for snacking.


1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
8 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

12 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips (see note)
1/4 cup toasted almonds (optional)(see note)

Put the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and extracts in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and thick and sticky.

Put 24 mini cupcake papers into a mini cupcake pan and set aside.

Melt the chocolate chips  (until smooth)in the microwave, on 30 second blasts (stirring well after each 30 seconds). My microwave took a total of about 75 seconds, or 2 1/2 blasts).

Spoon about 1 teaspoon melted chocolate onto the bottom of each mini cupcake paper and smooth it around a little.

Next, (using slightly damp hands) roll the coconut mixture into balls about the size of a grape and  sit them on top of the melted chocolate center. Flatten ball (just a little) with your finger.

Top coconut ball with about 2 teaspoons* melted chocolate. That's it!! *just enough to completely cover the coconut...but not too thick.

Set the candy in the fridge for about 10 minutes to "set" the chocolate. It couldn't be easier!!!  Makes 24 candies.

NOTE: Any flavor chocolate chips will work. We like milk chocolate, but semi-sweet or dark would work well too.

NOTE: I don't put nuts in this candy, but if you want them, go for it. A whole toasted almond on top of the coconut layer works well.

NOTE: I keep these in the fridge, although it's not necessary. It just depends on how hot it is where you live.

ENJOY !!!

Friday, November 29, 2019

PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BARS

This recipe is not only delicious, but quick and easy and it freezes well. I like to make a pan of these, cut them into squares...wrap them individually and freeze them for a quick dessert.




PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE BARS


CRUST
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

Mix crust ingredients and evenly spread over a parchment lined 8" x 8" pan and press down.....set aside.

NOTE: Line an 8" x 8" baking pan with parchment so that you can lift the finished bars out of the pan AFTER they chill.

FILLING
(2) 8 ounce cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin pie puree (puree...without spices)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Pre-heat oven to 325°.  Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.

Spread 1 + 1/3 cups of this cheesecake batter evenly over the graham cracker crust.

To the remaining cheesecake batter, gently whisk in the pumpkin puree and spices. GENTLY (and evenly) spread the pumpkin layer over the cheesecake layer. 

Bake in pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is almost set (it will still jiggle just a little). My electric oven takes 40 minutes.

Allow to cool on the counter for an hour before you put it in the refrigerator to chill. Chill 3 hours or overnight.

After it's chilled, lift the bars out of the pan by tugging on the parchment paper liner. Cut into squares.

Store (covered well)in fridge or freeze.




ENJOY !!!


Saturday, November 9, 2019

CREAMY SHRIMP RICE BAKE

We REALLY enjoy this comfort food casserole served with a big green salad. It is packed with tons of shrimp, rice and veggies in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with seasoned bread crumbs.

It is perfect for ANY family potluck or as an "add on" dish for a large holiday gathering.

You can put this together early in the day and bake it off at dinner time...it serves 8 hungry people.






1 1/2 cups UNcooked long grain rice
3 cups chicken broth 
1 tablespoon butter

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the RAW rice. Stir and let the rice kernels toast in the butter for a couple minutes, then add 3 cups chicken broth. Stir, COVER and turn heat down super low and cook the rice for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Keep covered and set aside.

Next, saute the following together:

1/2 cup butter (*don't freak out, see note below)
3 celery stalks chopped small
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 green onions sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped small 
2 cups of your favorite fresh veggies (broccoli? mushrooms?)

Saute, gently till tender, then take off the heat and set aside.

Next, peel, de-vein, wash and pat dry  pounds of fresh shrimp (see note below about frozen shrimp). 

In a bowl, mix the following until smooth:

(2) cans cream of shrimp soup (undiluted)
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix  the soup/milk/cheese/pepper until smooth, then gently stir in raw shrimp and cooked rice and cooked veggies.

Place mixture in greased 10 x 15 baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs (see bread crumb recipe below). Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


ENJOY !!!

NOTE: It might sound like 1/2 cup butter is a lot, but remember that this recipe serves 8 (1 tablespoon per serving) and 1/2 cup of butter is necessary for the right sauce consistency.

NOTE: Make sure you use Colby-Jack cheese.  Cheddar (only) is not a good choice here. Just make sure your choice of cheese is creamy when melted.

NOTE: If you can't find cream of shrimp soup, cream of celery soup would work well too.

NOTE: For the bread crumb topping, Just put a couple of tablespoons of butter in a fry pan along with 2 cups of bread crumbs (plus a 1/2 teaspoon of  kosher salt and a healthy pinch of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper) and stir them until they get toasty brown, then sprinkle on the casserole before you bake it.

NOTE: If you are using fresh shrimp, ignore the following note, but if you are using frozen shrimp, it is extremely important that you thaw the shrimp in a colander overnight in the fridge (do not speed thaw in running water). It is unbelievable how  much water will drain out of the frozen shrimp and that water will make your casserole SOUPY and SOGGY IF YOU SKIP THIS STEP. Let the shrimp thaw overnight, then the next day, rinse them and pat them dry. I usually use medium size shrimp for this recipe.


Happy Holiday!!