December is holiday time! Yay! When I think holidays (especially Christmas), I think peppermint. It’s just so festive and fun! You will definitely get your peppermint fill with these peppermint chocolate sandwich cookie truffles. OH. MY. YUM. If you’re confused what I mean by “chocolate sandwich cookie”, it’s just a very generic way of saying peppermint “Oreo” truffles. I decided not to play favorites because I did indeed use the generic brand that was labelled “chocolate sandwich cookies.” Guaranteed delicious no matter the brand. For reals.
I remember making chocolate sandwich cookie truffles in middle school home ec. class (Am I dating myself here? Do they still have that class??). In fact, I think that’s the only recipe I remember making in that class because, well, chocolate. You can’t forget a delicious chocolate recipe. Also, the original recipe literally has 3 ingredients…sandwich cookies, cream cheese, and chocolate chips. You don’t even really need a recipe for that. SCORE!
I used my homemade peppermint extract in this recipe. Amazing! Couple notes if you use a homemade extract…First of all, this isn’t baked so if you use an alcohol base in your extract, it will have a very small amount of alcohol in the final recipe (split over about 50 truffles). Also, I actually used a little extra extract than the recipe calls for (about 3 teaspoons instead of 2 teaspoons) because I find the homemade stuff isn’t quite as strong as store-bought. However, you also have peppermint candy cane dust to bring the peppermint flavor home so it’s not a huge deal if the extract isn’t super strong.
I love a strong peppermint flavor so you know for sure that something is peppermint. I ended up adding more and more peppermint to get the right flavor. I think I finally got there with this final recipe! Don’t forget a little candy cane garnish so everyone knows what deliciousness there is in that perfect little truffle!
If you love a peppermint and chocolate combo, check out these chocolate mint crinkle cookies. You will not be disappointed. I plan on making them again this weekend because you can never have enough!
1 package chocolate sandwich cookies (14.3-ounce, such as Oreos)
3 peppermint candy canes (plus 1-2 more for garnish)
8-ounce package of cream cheese
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
12-16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips*
Crush the sandwich cookies with a rolling pin (or in a food processor) until they are a fine crumb. Set aside.
Use a food processor to pulverize 3 candy canes into fine pieces. You are almost looking for a dust-like consistency but a few fine pieces are okay (you definitely don't want someone to bite down on a large chunk of candy cane).
Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer, beat together the cream cheese and peppermint extract until blended.
Beat in the crushed cookies and candy cane.
Form into 1" balls using a cookie scoop and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
While the truffles are cooling in the refrigerator, prep the peppermint garnish by crushing or food processing 1-2 candy canes into small pieces to sprinkle over the top.
Right before the truffles are ready to come out of the refrigerator, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each increment.
Dip each truffle into the chocolate using 2 spoons to help the excess chocolate drip off. Place truffles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately top with the peppermint garnish.
Let the chocolate set before storing in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.
I ended up using one 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips plus about another 1/4 cup. You might be able to make it with just the 1 bag, but I'd recommend having more handy, just in case.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was filled with family, laughter, and LOTS of food (of course!). I pretty much ate my weight in potatoes, rolls, turkey, and pie last week. I don’t regret it…but I think I do need a little time to let the food settle.
I’m sure many of you have some extra apples lying around this time of year. No matter how wonderful that Thanksgiving apple pie was, the thought of any more pie at this moment does NOT sound appetizing to me. Ask me in like a week and my tune might change…but for now, let’s talk apple chips! A little lighter apple snack is worth a shot and these are SO DELICIOUS!
These oven-baked apple chips are super easy to make. Good food that requires little work = happy Steph. I’m sure this resonates with more people than just me. Especially after the busy Thanksgiving baking/cooking rush. You do need some patience, but you don’t need to fuss with the recipe for sure. It’s a breeze!
My little guy devoured these apple chips. As you can see, he even helped put them on the tray. Well…he did if “helped” means “took each of them off the tray and made me chase him so he didn’t drop them all over the floor.” I try to give him some credit at least for being interested in cooking. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with ways to have our little ones help in the kitchen. This could have potentially been a great activity if he didn’t love dropping things on the floor and eating apples…Maybe you’ll have better luck with your little ones. Let me know how it works out for you! (p.s. the picture shows an unlined baking sheet. I tried it lined and unlined. They both work but lined is much easier!)
*Note: Please don’t let your kids use a mandolin if they help. They can certainly help mix and put the slices on the trays though!
5 apples (I used Granny Smith and Fuji, but you can use whatever you'd like)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use a mandolin on the thinnest setting to slice the apples*. Remove the seeds as you go.
Toss the apple slices with the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Place the apple slices on parchment-lined baking sheets (or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheets) in a single layer. It's okay if they slightly overlap, but you want most of them in a single layer.
Bake for 1 hour, flip the apple slices over, and bake for an additional half hour to 1 hour. The amount of time needed will depend on the the thickness of the apples. The apples will not be completely crisp until they cool, but you want them to feel mostly dry to the touch.
Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.
*You can either core the apples prior to cutting, or leave the core in and remove the seeds as they are sliced. I did not core my apples and it worked great.
If the apple chips begin to get soggy, throw them back in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes until they crisp up again.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
I’m pretty sure any blog is incomplete without the obligatory corn casserole recipe around this time of year. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy I call it a corn souffle. Because, you know, casseroles get a bad rap a lot of times (they really deserve more, if you ask me). And maybe sometimes I call it spoon bread. Just because. Who knows?! Regardless of whatever I decide to call it at the moment, I have to admit that I find myself drooling a little bit every time I see corn casserole/souffle/spoon bread. SO, SO GOOD! Most recipes use a corn muffin mix as a base, which is scrumptious. BUT this one is just as amazing and made completely from scratch! YAY!
I haven’t made this recipe more than like one other time in our marriage because I was SURE that Travis wasn’t a fan. It’s funny how notions like that get stuck in our heads because as it turns out he really does like it. He even asked why I haven’t made it more. At that point I wasn’t sure if I should cry a tear for all the missed corn casserole opportunities or jump for joy for the many corn casseroles in our future. I just played it cool in reality. Didn’t want to seem like a total food dork, even if I am one.
The real test was on our 1-year-old son, who has decided corn is on the “do not eat” list. He literally finds every piece of food he doesn’t like (a.k.a. almost every vegetable) and promptly drops them on the floor. I like to tell myself he’s a future scientist and is testing the laws of gravity, but I think I have to accept that he just likes dropping food he thinks is disgusting on the ground. We ate this casserole 3 times during different meals. The 1st two times the corn casserole ended up on the floor. BUT, 3rd time is a charm because….SUCCESS! My child actually ate corn! Without any sort of manipulation or begging on my part. Major win.
So I’ve learned a few lessons here. First, make sure to ask your husband/significant other/whoever you cook for if they like or dislike something before assuming one way or another. Next, persistence is key with a 1-year-old. Finally, I’ve learned that my love of corn casseroles is for reals and I will be making many more variations in my near future.
Side note…We ate a random helping of sides with this including orange pomegranate coleslaw and my recently posted Thanksgiving dinner rolls. Sometimes side dishes are where it’s at! I just realized my “side note” talked about sides. HA! I crack myself up sometimes.
As it turns out, there are lots of different kinds of dinner rolls. There are light and fluffy ones, flaky ones, enormous ones…The list could go on, of course. But let’s get to business. These dinner rolls are the kind of dinner rolls that stick to your ribs and fill your belly. They are dense and bread-y, but not in a hard-as-a-rock way. They’re definitely more of a wow-I-could-eat-the-whole-pan-but-there-are-7-cups-of-flour-in-there way. Yeah…I said 7 cups of flour. That’s a lot, right?!? But if you read the title of the post, you know these are for Thanksgiving and I’ve heard calories don’t count on Thanksgiving so we’re good. *Fact: My last statement was definitely NOT a fact. Calories, do, indeed count on Thanksgiving but shhhh…no one has to know.*
One of the reasons I love these dinner rolls so much are that they came from Travis’ grandma, who, you guessed it…made them at Thanksgiving (and basically every holiday). It’s definitely a most delicious tradition to keep alive for many future generations if you ask me. As soon as Travis took a bite of one of these rolls, he went quiet except for the, “These rolls are so good” interjection. I’ll take that as a win for me for following a recipe well. However, I must say this process was not without help from my mother-in-law and Travis’ grandma for advice, of course. There may have been a few calls/texts involved. We got there. And the dinner rolls turned out wonderful!
Funny story about these rolls…one time a few years back my brother-in-law unknowingly said to his grandma that he would’t need the recipe for her rolls since they were store-bought. Even after 20-some years of eating grandma’s beloved rolls, he was sure they had to come from the store because “they were so perfect” (that might be a paraphrase, but you get the point). Needless to say, he was quickly corrected and I’m pretty sure his appreciation of his grandma’s rolls grew even more. I’m also sure he won’t make that mistake again.
I know we’re a couple weeks out from Thanksgiving. There is a WHOLE lot to do on Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve (if that’s a thing). One great part about these rolls is you can take them out of the oven, cool them and freeze them. Then a day or so before Thanksgiving, defrost them, stick them in a warm oven for a few minutes to heat them up then brush the melted butter on top. So make them now and have them ready to go for Thanksgiving! Win, win!
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter, to brush on top
In a large bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and package of yeast. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, until the mixture is smooth. Let rise about 1 hour. The mixture should appear light and spongy when it's done rising.
While the sponge mixture is rising, scald the milk in a saucepan over medium heat (until tiny bubbles just begin to form on the outside rim). Remove from heat and add shortening, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir until the shortening melts. Let cool to room temperature.
Once the sponge has risen, stir the milk mixture into the sponge. Stir in the remaining 5 cups of flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in a greased bowl and brush dough with oil or shortening. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 pieces (yes, this takes a little math planning. You can do it!). Shape each piece into a ball. Place all the dough balls in a greased 9x13 metal cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about another hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown on top and sound hollow when you tap on the top.
Brush the tops of rolls with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.
If the rolls are getting too brown on top but don't seem done, you can cover them with aluminum foil and continue baking until they are cooked through.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
This could not be any easier, folks. There are some super tempting, most definitely delicious applesauce recipes out there that have all sorts of ingredients in them, including loads of sugar. Nothing against those applesauce recipes, but a couple of things to remember about unsweetened applesauce:
It’s Fall, so the apples are fresh and naturally sweet and AMAZING! Let the apple flavor be the star ingredient, not added sugar!
When you cook the apples low and slow, they literally melt apart and form into the most magical applesauce ever.
I have a 1-year-old and sometimes the simple, no sugar added option is the best for little bodies (and for big bodies too, really).
I can’t even concentrate anymore because my house smells like I live in a ginormous apple pie…I’m seriously having a brain fart here.
I used McIntosh apples because they’re so naturally sweet. If you use another variety of apples (such as Jonathan or Braeburn), or if the apples aren’t at all sweet for some reason, there’s a chance you MIGHT need a touch of sugar. However, I beg you to try it without the sugar first! You might just be surprised. I mean, I have a SUPER sweet tooth and 9 out of 10 times I don’t need to add sugar. If it needs a little something, try cinnamon first. Sometimes that gives it just the boost it needs to be perfect! Then, if it really does need the sugar, so be it. You can call me liar forever. I accept this possibility as long as you give it a try.
Fun fact about McIntosh apples that I learned from my sister — I guess McIntosh apples make an applesauce with a slightly pinkish tint to it. It makes sense since they turn a little pink once you peel and dice them. So interesting, though! Yeah, I know. I’m a nerd for being fascinated by simple food facts like that.P.S. I heated some of the applesauce up until it was warm and just starting to bubble. I sprinkled some granola on it and ended up with a healthy little dessert. It was so, so satisfying!
P.P.S. Extra credit if you noticed that the apples in the final pictures are Gala, not McIntosh apples, like I used for the applesauce. I got so carried away, I used all the McIntosh apples I had for the applesauce and left none for the pictures. Oops!
splash of water (enough to barely cover the bottom of the pot)
cinnamon, optional, to taste
Peel and dice apples into 1/2" pieces.
Put a splash of water in the bottom of a large pot (enough to barely cover the bottom) along with the apples. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. The applesauce should be slightly chunky but tender.
Add cinnamon, if desired, to taste.
Serve warm or chilled. Store in refrigerator.
Makes about 3 cups of applesauce
You can use other kinds of apples to make applesauce, such as Braeburn, Cortland, Jonathan, etc. However, I love how naturally sweet the McIntosh apples are. If you use a variety that is more tart, you may have to add a pinch of sugar.
If you want completely smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender or blender to blend until smooth. Make sure the applesauce is cooled before transferring to a normal blender.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/