Kitchen Concoctions: December 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sick

Every month I choose a cookbook of the month and post one recipe every Monday for that month from the chosen cookbook. Usually there are about 4 Mondays a month but some months there are 5. So when I started this cookbook of the month thing I decided to make and feature 5 recipes a month no matter how many Mondays there were that month.

Any who the reason I am telling you all this is because I almost didn't post a 5th bonus recipe this month. You see with all the cookies and brownies and bars I have made this month from the Betty Croker cookie magazine and all of the other treats and goodies that have surrounded me this month I could not bring myself to eat one more sweet. In fact I had a stomach ache for days after the Christmas festivities. I can't even look at sugar or chocolate right now without getting a upset stomach. I mean my mom always said that if you eat too much junk you will make yourself sick. Well much to my disappointment that's what I did.

Well for the sake of this blog I sucked it up and made one more sweet for 2009 from this month's "sweet" cookbook!

These buckeye bites were too cute and sounded to yummy to pass up. And they ended up being just that cute and yummy. Little bites of sweet goodness. These would be perfect for your New Years Eve party just like my All Mixed Up Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers from yesterday! Hope you all have a safe and happy New Year celebrations!

***I did have one fowl up with this recipe. I did not care for the chocolate/cream topping mixture. It was a mess (I don’t know if I did something wrong) and it wasn’t that tasty. I this mixture over half of my little cookies before I stopped and made the chocolate/peanut butter topping. I liked this topping way better. When I make these again that is the only topping I will use.



Buckeye Delights
adapted from Betty Crocker: Christmas Cookie Magazine/Book

Makes: 36 cookie cups

Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg

Filling
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon peanut butter

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 36 mini muffin cups with mini foil candy cups (about 1 1/4 inch). In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until dough forms. Press about 1 tablespoon dough into each foil cup. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until puffy and set. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove from pan.

In small bowl, mix filling ingredients until well blended. Press about 1 teaspoon mixture on top of each cooled cookie.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream just to boiling over low heat, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until cooled. Spread about 2 teaspoons chocolate mixture over each cookie cup. (next time I won't do this step)

Place remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon peanut butter in resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Microwave on High 30 to 60 seconds or until softened; knead to mix. Cut off small tip from one corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle chocolate mixture over each cookie cup. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. Store covered in refrigerator.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Bake 9 to 10 minutes.

Here are the ones with the 'gloop' all over:

I think these are so much cuter:


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Add A Little Pop To Your New Year

Last week (well actually two weeks ago) I promised you that if you voted I would recreate one of the following Pillsbury appetizers using Pillsbury crescent rolls:

Crescent-Wrapped Brie
Crescent Bacon-Cheese Tartlets
Crescent Holiday Tree

Well the Crescent Holiday Tree won however, as I then explained on Monday I burnt my 'tree' and due to the craziness of the holidays did not have time to recreate and post my 'new and improved' version. Now that the holidays have died down and life is starting to get back to normal, (wait who am I kidding New Years Eve is tomorrow and then I have several birthdays of immediate family members in January and February and a baby shower to plan for my sister- so it looks like no slowing down for me!) I found time to recreate and post my Pillsbury creation. But since the Christmas holiday is over and New Years Eve is upon us, I decided (and you decided too, as the runner up with the next most votes) to recreate the Crescent Bacon-Cheese Tartlets.

One of my favorite appetizers is stuffed jalapenos. But I guess getting in my old age I can't handle the spice as well and can only eat one or two at one time. So for my recreation I took the stuffed jalapeño and mashed it all up and stuffed it inside a tiny crescent roll. And I have to admit that when these came out of the oven I did three things... 1.) ate a few of them 2.) patted myself on the back for a job well done and then 3.) ate several more (exact totals on the number I ate is not necessary to be revealed here).

I these little poppers were so good. They were creamy and cheesy and rich and had just enough jalapeño kick to heat up your mouth but allow you to go back for seconds, and thirds and ..... Since these were so easy to make they would be a perfect addition to a New Years Eve Party and believe you me you will get rave reviews!



All Mixed Up Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
created by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/3 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
6 bacon strips of bacon (go ahead and make 7 so you can eat a piece... you know you want to)
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (be careful don't touch your eyes)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 egg

Heat oven to 375°F.

Unroll dough into 1 large rectangle on work surface. Press into 12x9-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Cut dough into 24 squares. Gently press squares into 24 ungreased mini muffin cups, shaping edges to form rims.

Cook bacon in a frying pan. Remove bacon from pan and crumble. Drain all of the bacon grease from pan except for about one tablespoon. Add onion, garlic and jalapeño. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer combine cheeses, sautéed vegetables, bacon crumbles and egg. Beat until all incorporated.

Spoon cheese/vegetable mixture evenly into dough-lined cups.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown and filling is set. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups and serve.

I also had one request to make a vegetarian appetizer. I am not vegetarian and there for it is hard for me to think of recipes without meat except when I am baking (lol). But I think this recipe could become an awesome vegetarian recipe just leave out the bacon and I am sure you could leave out the egg too and it still turn out fine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What was I thinking!?!

I thought that since I had 5 days off from work for the Christmas holidays that I would have all this time to cook/bake and blog. Boy was I wrong!!!

I promised that on 12/22 I would blog about my Pillsbury "re-creation". Well On 12/22 I went to make my 'recreation' of the Holiday Tree and burnt my crescent rolls. Of course I didn't have an extra roll of the crescent rolls to re-make them. I then thought about just posting my burt appetizer but how could I do that!

I thought I would have plenty of time to go to the store get more crescent rolls and remake it on the 23rd but because of appointments, last minute holiday shopping (ok all my holiday shopping) to do, baking/cooking for a Christmas Eve party, wrapping gifts, delivering gifts, cleaning my house, traveling, and a million other errands (can you say total last minute procrastinator) I did not get to re-make and post the Pillsbury Crescent roll Recipe "re-Make".

I also promised on the 24th that I would post the winner of the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking 3 Cookbook giveaway. Due to those same excuses above I didn't even look at a computer on the 24th. I thought that I could re-make the Pillsbury recipe and post the giveaway winner sometime after Christmas (the past weekend) but my Mom's internet was down and so I could not blog or read blogs! : (

Today I will post the winner of the cookbook giveaway and sometime this week I will try and re-make the Pillsbury appetizer. I would try and do it all today but I just got back to work after having 5 days off and need to recuperate and readjust. So I am taking baby steps!!

(Drum roll Please!!) The winner of the Sandra Lee Cookbook chosen through random.org is: Comment #2-

Leslie Limon said...
Congratulations on your 100th post! I thought I was already following your blog, but discovered that I had only subscribed to the RSS feeds. And I will tweet about your giveaway! (Anything to help a fellow food blogger.) *You can find my tweets @Leslie_Limon
(P.S.) These meatballs look delicious!
December 20, 2009 7:33 PM

Leslie please contact me at kitchen_concoctions@hotmail.com with your email address so that I can get the cookbook out to you!

I made these brownie/bars (from this month's cookbook of the month) for a Christmas Eve party with Eric's family. They were so easy to make and so yummy (who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate)! I apologize for the poor quality of this picture; I had to snag a picture as best as I could before they were all eaten up! I would say that, that is evidence of a winner!!

(I went to the Betty Crocker Website to copy and past this recipe to my blog and found the recipe labeled Peanut Butter-Fudge Bars with the same picture on the website as in the book was a completely different recipe than in the book. How odd is that!?! The recipe was a winner from the 2009 Betty Crocker Cookie Contest and had the same winner's name listed on both recipes! I am posting the recipe I made which I found in the book.)

Peanut Butter-Fudge Bars
adapted from Betty Crocker: Christmas Cookie Magazine/Book

Brownie Layer:
1 pouch (10.25 oz) Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
Cookie Layer:
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Croker peanut butter cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs

Topping:
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir brownie layer ingredients; 50 strokes with spoon until blended. Spread evenly in pan.

In large bowl, beat cookie layer ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until soft dough forms Drop by spoonfuls over brownie layer, gently spread to edges.

Bake 30-34 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center looks slightly underdone. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium microwaveable bowl, microwave both chips uncovered on High 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute, until mixture is smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup peanut butter until smooth.

Pour chocolate mixture over bars, spread evenly Cool completely for about 1 hour. Refrigerate about 45 minutes (I only refrigerated mine for about 20-30 minutes). Store covered at room temperature.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Time To Announce Some Winners

The winners for the Fiber One Give-away are:

Becky said...
I try to stay active... and eat right, that's about it!
December 16, 2009 8:43 AM

r.hunsaker said...
Given my current pregnant state, I go for walks. It's about all I can do. And now that it's starting to cool off it is much more feasible. Anthony and I usually go to the park across the street- two laps equals a mile.
December 18, 2009 8:58 PM

Monica H said...
How do I stay fit during the holidays? ha ha!

I do 1 lb. butter curls, and lift my kitchen aid. I wrap presents while stand not sitting and stretch high as I place the ornament son the tree.

Man, I'm lame-o!

BTW, I'm gla you posted the butt shot. too funny!
December 20, 2009 2:01 PM

Not as many people entered the giveaways as I thought would. But the good thing is since there were only three people that entered this giveaway that meant all three of you lucked out since Fiber One is giving away Three gift packs all of you all winners!!!!

The Pillsbury winner is (generated by random.org):

srichards said...
For some reason, my comments never save on your sight...I think some is trying to sabotage my winning! I want to make the Christmas tree.

December 18, 2009 11:45 AM

So I am not sure if I used that random.org site correctly or not but I used it as best as I could and it picked response #2 (if I used it right).

And the Pillsbury appetizer that I am going to recreate with my own personal twist (based on the most votes) is: The Crescent Holiday Tree.

So stay tuned for my posting of that recipe tomorrow.

All winners please email me as soon as possible at kitchen_conoctions@hotmail.com with your full names and mailing addresses.

Don't forget that I am still hosting the giveaway for the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking 3 cookbook. You may enter until Wednesday December 23, at 10 pm.

Now on to today's recipe. These brownies came from the Betty Crocker adapted from Betty Crocker: Christmas Cookie Dec/Jan 2009-2010 Magazine. And let me tell you they are divine. With the brownie base, coconut almond filling and melted chocolate topping they remind me of an Almond Joy but better. They are so rich that you really only need a small bar (just a few bites). I made the mistake of cutting these brownies into huge bars and it was way to much of a good thing!



Almond Macaroon Brownie Bars
adapted from Betty Crocker: Christmas Cookie Magazine/Book

Brownies:
1 box Betty Crocker Original Supreme Brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/4 cup water
1/3 up vegetable oil
3 eggs

Filling:
3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I added this)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated)

Topping:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray. Mix together all brownie ingredients making sure there are no lumps. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge comes of pan comes out clean.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix filling ingredients. Carefully spoon and spread filling evenly over brownies. Bake for 10-12 minutes longer (filling will only slightly brown). Cool completely for 1 hour.

In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and 1/2 teaspoon oil on High for 30-40 seconds , stirring every 10 seconds, until chips are melted. Spoon into a resealable food-storage plastic bag. Seal bag and cut small tip from corner of bag. Drizzle chocolate over filling. For bars, cut 8 rows by 6 rows.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy 100th Post To Me (And Another Giveaway!!)

Happy 100th post to me!! I can't believe that I have been cookin', and concocting, and rambling on and on for a 100 posts and 100 days. And I can't believe that I have had readers for that long and that people continue to read this blog!!! I have so much fun cooking and creating and writing.

In celebration of my 100th post I personally wanted to do a give away. But since my last 2 giveaways I have done have not gotten as much response as I thought they would, I am hesitant to do another one. I know I have readers because I see people stopping by via the Live Traffic Feed on the right side bar. And I get comments posted on my blog so why is no one entering the giveaways.

Eric told me that I was just overanalyzing things. And sure enough I found out that several people were having trouble leaving comments. So I am still going to have my 100th post giveaway and I am going to extend the Fiber One Giveaway until Sunday, December 20th at 9 pm. That means I will accept comments for both the Pillsbury giveaway and Fiber One giveaway until 9 pm Sunday, December 20, 2009.

So for my giveaway today and to celebrate my 100th post I am taking you back to the good ole days of summer... In August I featured Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking 3. I also made these Zesty Fried Meatballs with Red Pepper Sauce. Well actually I made the meatballs and not the sauce. Not because I didn't want to make the sauce but because I didn't have a food processor back then to make the sauce.



Well then Eric got me a food processor so I had to go back and make this recipe (and Eric asked me too). This sauce was sweet and tangy and complemented the meatballs perfectly. These meatballs will defiantly be regulars around these parts. I also made these fried pork chops from that cookbook too, with equal success and tastiness.

So in honor of my 100th post, of this busy holiday season and my love of cooking and cookbooks; I am giving away Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking 3. I love Sandra's recipes and approach to food. She always has money and time saving tips; yet her recipes taste like you have been slaving away in the kitchen all day. This cookbook is great for this time of year when most of us would rather be making memories than trying to figure out what's for dinner. It is perfect for beginner cooks or for people that have very busy lives and need dinner on the table stat. It is also good for advance cooks to get ideas and suggestions on how to make traditional foods not so traditionally. Read more about my review of this cookbook here and here.



You have THREE ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what kitchen/food related gift you would like for Christmas this year. I would personally (hint, hint Eric) a spice rack (you know those ones pretty enough to leave on your kitchen counter and are already loaded with the spices) or new cookbooks (I am always a sucker for those) would be nice too!

2. Become a follower of this blog and come back to this post and leave a comment letting me know. And if you are already a follower just leave a comment letting me know that too.

3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter. Then come back here and leave a new comment letting me know.

Thism give-away is open until Wednesday, December 23at 10 pm. Winner will be announced sometime Thursday, December 21, 2009.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things

I am sure most of you are already done with your Christmas shopping (and if you celebrate Hanukkah you have to be done because Hanukkah is almost over). But for some of us (ME) we have yet to begin. Well I take that back I started my Christmas shopping last night- a week before Christmas (can you say procrastinator)!

But for any of you that have any last minute gift shopping you need to do, or have just begun like me, or have not even started (like I am sure my brother) I am going to put together a list of MY top/favorite food related gifts for 2009. And if you are already finished with your shopping these gifts would still be great for a splurg on yourself, of for a wedding/anniversary gift, birthday, Valentine's Day, Mother's day, Father's Day or even next Christmas/Hannach (wow thought would be major planning a head!)

So here goes:

1. Kitchen Aid Mixer - As you know Eric bought me my Kitchen Aid Mixer for my birthday. I had been longing for one for quite sometime and he totally surprised my by getting me one! I totally love it! I have made so many things in my Kitchen Aid since i got it, cookies, frosting, rolls... I used to dread doing homemade whip creams and having to beat egg whites with my old hand held mixer because it was so time consuming and gave me a hand cramp. Now I can't wait for the next recipe to try that calls to 'vigorsuly whisk something'!

2. The movie Julie and Julia was too cute. And cute doesn't even describe it. It was extremely funny, and inspiring. I asked Eric to watch it with me and he was very reluctant. This movie had HIM laughing and at the end he said he was surprised at how much he liked it! I have not read the book yet but have been told by many friends who have that it is just as entertaining as the movie (and I am sure it is even better because usually books are better than the movie).

3. A few months ago Eric also got me (just as a random surprise) a Kitchen Aid Food Processor. Love it too! Not only does a food processor grind/chop or process food way better that a blender in my opinion; but there are SO many foods that you can only make if you have a food processor. Not only is it good for purees, but also grinding up crackers for a pie crust or bread coating for chicken. You can make hummus and pesto and the list goes on and on. I do suggest if you get someone on your list this as a gift get a large enough size (5 cups or larger) so that they can make some hummus for themselves and enough to share!

4. One of our family traditions growing up was making and decorating sugar cookies. The main event was always at Christmas but we always tried and get every other holiday too! So a few years ago my Mom gave each one of my siblings and I this cookie cutter bucket and tucked her sugar cookie and frosting recipe (the one we always made) inside. This was (and probably still is ) one of the BEST presents I have ever received. Because of the memories I have of making these cookies in my childhood and then the gift of tradition to carry on when I have children. I have seen this cookie cutter set at Bed, Bath and Beyond but really not any where else. It is an awesome set of cookie cutters with 100+ for every Holiday, every letter of the Alphabet, and a bunch of generic ones too (flowers, trains, ect.). This would be a really fun gift for anyone on your list.

5. For my birthday Eric also got me the ice cream maker attachment for the Kitchen Aid Mixer. Who knew it had such an attachment! This attachment piece for the mixer is probably a little bit more expensive than a good ice cream maker but you don't have to deal with ice or rock salt when using the Kitchen Aid mixer ice cream maker (that means you don't have to buy those things and can buy more ice cream toppings!). Plus the added bonus of the Kitchen Aid mixer is that it makes the ice cream in only 20 minutes and the attachment is only a different bowl and the blade, so it takes up less space in my kitchen than having a whole other ice cream maker. Ice cream makers, Kitchen Aid brand or not are always a fun gift to give and receive..
6. And of course my last favorite gift is The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook. Not only did I have TONS of fun at her book signing but the book, just like her blog, is a fun read too. And even though her book signing tour is over, she announced on her blog that she would be happy to sign books and mail them back to you if you just mail them to her. Her cookbook has fun stories about food, cooking, and living on a ranch in Oklahoma. Each recipe, just like her blog, has step by step photos and instructions that make cooking and baking so easy. A great cookbook for non-bloggers and bloggers alike!

Well I had more gift ideas all planed out and typed up but I am WAY totired to go on the hunt for them. Maybe I can feature them next year or as a Mother's Day segment or something.

Photo credit: Amazon

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Your Vote Counts! (Giveaway)

I don't think there is one person that is not busy (and I mean extremely busy) this time of year. Between shopping (I haven’t even BEGUN) and parties and events; not to mention traveling; this time of year can be stressful (even though you are trying to have fun).

One website I have found to be rather helpful this Holiday season along with their yummy products has been the Pillsbury website and products. Their website has useful Holiday tips and recipes (and great tips and recipes year round).

In case you haven't figured it out yet Pillsbury has sponsored today's give away. They are giving ONE lucky Kitchen Concoctions reader a prize pack with 2 coupons for Pillsbury Crescent Creations and holiday severing platters.

To enter to win this gift pack you must:

1. Click on the links below and check out some appetizers made with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Pillsbury Crescent Creations. Then come back here and leave a comment on which one of the three recipes below you want me to re-make with my own twist. Your vote will enter you to win the prize pack and the recipe with the overall most votes will be the one I remake with my on personal twist.

Crescent-Wrapped Brie
Crescent Bacon-Cheese Tartlets
Crescent Holiday Tree

You can also enter by:

2. Become a follower of this blog and come back to this post and leave a comment letting me know. And if you are already a follower just leave a comment letting me know that too.

3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter. Then come back here and leave a new comment letting me know.

Contest ends at 9 p.m. CST on Sunday, December 20, 2009. With winners announced sometime Monday, December 21, 2009. I will post the 'winning recipe make-over' sometime Tuesday, December 22, 2009.
This giveaway is sponsored by Pillsbury and My Blog Spark.

Also, don’t forget to enter in yesterday’s Fiber One Giveaway.

I am going to leave you today with a recipe. This recipe actually ties in with the Pillsbury giveaway. I originally found this recipe over on The Girl Who Ate Everything Blog. It was the actual winner of the 1978 Pillsbury Bake-Off. This casserole uses the crescent rolls for the crust (so it ties in perfectly with the giveaway). This is a very fast, hearty, and tasty meal- perfect for this time of year!

Zesty Italian Crescent Casserole
adapted from Best of the Bake-Off

1 lb. lean ground beef ot turkey
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 cup spaghetti sauce
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (8-oz.) can Pillsbury® Recipe Creations (or Crescent Dinner Rolls pressed together along the perforations)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 375°F. In large skillet, cook ground beef, onion, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and salt and pepper over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Stir in pasta sauce; cook until thoroughly heated. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, and sour cream; mix well. Pour hot beef mixture into ungreased 9 1/2 or 10-inch glass deep-dish pie pan or 11x7-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish. Spoon cheese mixture over beef mixture. Unroll dough over cheese mixture. In small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning and butter. Spread evenly over dough.Bake at 375°F. for 18 to 25 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You know you've made it 'BIG' when.... (and a giveaway!)

For most people they say that you made it "big" once you are on Oprah! That just being on Oprah guarantees that you will be successful. But in this blogging world I think one could say that once you have been featured on the Pioneer Woman's blog you have "made it big"! Well I am proud to say that I made it on to The Pioneer Woman's blog!! I am on my way to the top in this world of blogging!!!

Remember when I blogged about going to her cookbook signing I got a picture of “Marlboro Man” taking my picture and sure enough when P-dub blogged about being in Austin for her booking signing and posted her pictures of the event you can spot me n the background (you have to strain your eyes and look really hard but you can see me). Then on Sunday when she blogged about her Houston book signing she highlighted the Austin trip again and posted links to blogs that Austin bloggers wrote about the event. Sure enough THIS very blog (my blog) was 5th on the list. How fun is that!

What is also very fun is giveaways. I am so happy to say that I have my very first giveaway to announce on this, here blog. Nothin' to fancy (like the ones The Pioneer Woman has) but still fun!

Fiber One is giving THREE Kitchen Concoctions readers a "Healthy & Fit Weight Management" gift bag that includes a Fiber One yogurt VIP coupon (good for a free 4-pack of Fiber One yogurt), cooler pack, and other storage items for you to carry your snacks and yogurt.
With only 50 calories and a whopping 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of the Recommended Daily Value) Fiber One Yogurt is a great snack. It is also a good source of calcium and vitamins A and D, making this an all-around great choice for dieters and those watching their weights (or just about anyone). Each cup includes the creamy, delicious taste you expect from Yoplait, and you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying it. Fiber One is available in a variety of flavors including, Strawberry, Peach, Vanilla and Key Lime Pie.

I love the strawberry and vanilla flavors. They taste great by themselves and I like to add extra fruit (mixed berries) and a little granola to mine to make a little fruit and yogurt parfait.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I know that because it is the holidays I have been gorging on all sorts of cookies, candies, pies, and overall just not eating to great. Knowing that having a container of Fiber One Yogurt and a piece of fruit for a snack or breakfast makes me feel a little less guilty about the couple (ok 4) of cookies I had last night.

You have THREE ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me how you try to fit exercise in during the holidays and more importantly the winter months (I need inspiration!). Do you go snow skiing (ok really not possible here in Texas but I would still like to know if you like to ski) or ice skating. Or are you a mall walker (I always love seeing those die hard ladies that are totally walking so hard around the mall they leave a cloud dust behind them!).
2. Become a follower of this blog and come back to this post and leave a comment letting me know. And if you are already a follower just leave a comment letting me know that too.
3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter. Then come back here and leave a new comment letting me know.

Contest ends at 9 p.m. CST on Friday, December 18, 2009. With winners announced sometime Saturday, December 19, 2009.

This giveaway was sponsored by Fiber One and My Blog Spark.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not My Number One Pick...

Monday. Monday. Monday. I hope you all had a great weekend and a great Monday! I had a great weekend but it was just very hectic and tiring and fun all at the same time! I have been busy traveling all weekend and did not get back home until after eleven last night; so needless to say I am very tired. Of course I had good intentions to make the cookbook of the month recipe one day last week and write the blog post and have it scheduled to post today (knowing full and well that I would be exhausted today) but that never happened!

So today I made the cookbook of the month recipe and am trying to blog about it before I pass out! Needless to say that since I am so tired I had to go with a recipe that was easy and more importantly one that I had all the ingredients already in my pantry because I did not want to fight the mobs at the store. Because of all these requirements I went with these Carrot Cake-Oatmeal Cookies. Now these cookies were not my top choice to make from this book. Quite frankly there were not my second or third either. I did want to make them but they are/were actually only the 5th or 6th thing down on my list of goodies to make from this cookbook.

Like I said these were easy and I had all the ingredients so that all ready makes them a winner today in my book. These cookies tasted great and reminded me of the the carrot cake my mom used to make (at least once or twice) when I was a kid. Only what I remember of my mom's carrot cake (the whole two times I have had it) was better (but made from scratch by your mom is ALWAYS better)!

These Carrot Cake-Oatmeal Cookies are a great twist on two classic desserts and whip up is just minutes. They would be perfect for a unique, quick cookie to take to a cookie exchange!

Carrot Cake-Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Betty Crocker: Christmas Cookie Magazine/Book and bettycrocker.com

Cookies:
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup grated carrots*
1 tablespoon water*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg

Frosting:*
4 oz (half of 8-oz package) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir cookie ingredients until stiff dough forms.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small bowl, mix cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, the vanilla and powdered sugar with spoon until smooth. Spread frosting over cookies. Sprinkle with nuts. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.


A few minor changes I made:

- I always substitute milk in baking when a recipe calls for water.

- You can buy pre-shredded carrots but they are usually more expensive and I did NOT want to go to the store. I had carrots already at home, but they were the baby carrot. You can shred the baby carrots but a word of caution: watch out for your finger nail! The baby carrots grate very quickly and before you know it your finger has gotten in the way!

- I also did about 3/4 cup carrots for the added flavor and moisture.

- The frosting tasted great but was a little hard to spread. Next time I will and about 1 tablespoon milk to make it a little smoother.

- The original recipe says that t makes 3 dozen; I only got about 2 dozen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Own Version

Years and years ago my friend Stacy made a chocolate Chex mix for a function, or game night or scrapbooking night or something. It was so yummy and I got the recipe from her and made it like one time and that was it. Over the past several years I have craved this chocolate Chex mix and could not find the original recipe that I got from her or find a similar recipe any where.

So a few weeks a go I got the craving again for this Chex mix I decided to make my own version of chocolate Chex mix.

My version of chocolate Chex mix would be perfect for the Holiday season. Not only does it have seasonal flavors of white chocolate and cranberries but it would be perfect packaged in those cute little decorated cellophane baggies and given as gifts. Or you can serve it at your Holiday party or any other get together that you might have. Or it is a good snack for movie night, game night, or or just about any time.

This Chex mix is so yummy! The one thing that I remember my friend Stacy saying the first time she made it was that you were supposed to let the mix cool completely before adding the chocolate chips. However, she did not so the Chex mix clumped together in clusters of yummy goodness. Even though Stacy did this by mistake I thought it made it even better so, that is how I like to make mine!


Chocolate Chex Mix
Kitchen Concoction's Version

4 cups Cheerios
4 cups Chex cereal
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine cereals and nuts. In a small bowl mix butter, sugar, and cocoa. Pour evenly over cereal and toss to coat. Pour into a 9x13 pan and bake for 1 hour stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool just for a few minutes and stir in chocolate chips and cranberries.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beware of a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Overload

Of course the first cookie I had to make from Betty Croker's Christmas Cookies was this Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Treats. I had to make this one first because it was the $5,000 dollar winner from Betty Crocker's annual cookie/bar recipe contest. The requirements for this contest was to use at least one Betty Crocker cookie mix and transform it into new and improved cookie or bar.Intrigued at what a award winning ($5,000 dollar award winning) cookie tastes like I jumped to make these first.

The ingredient list is simple and uses classic flavor combinations, of peanut butter and chocolate. And I am warning you now you MUST eat these with a glass of milk because they are so rich. AND be carful not to eat too many because they are very addicting and before you know it you are undoing the top button of your jeans and laying on the couch from peanut buttery chocolate overload.

Flavor wise I totally give these a $5,000 pat on the back and job well done. The only beef I had with them is that they are kind of time consuming (more time consuming than i expected or the directions lead you to believe) and be prepared to get messy! I was covered from head to toe (along with my entire kitchen) with powdered sugar and chocolate! These would be great for a special holiday treat!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Treats
adapted from Betty Crocker: Christmas Cookie Magazine/Book and bettycrocker.com

Cookies:
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water (I used milk)
1 egg

Coating:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg until soft dough forms.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.

Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

In small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag; set aside. Place 12 cooled cookies in large bowl. Pour 1/3 of chocolate mixture over cookies in bowl. Using rubber spatula, toss cookies gently to coat. Place cookies in bag with powdered sugar; seal bag. Gently turn bag to coat cookies. Remove cookies from bag to cooling rack to set. Repeat with 12 more cookies and 1/2 of remaining chocolate mixture; repeat again until all cookies are coated, adding additional powdered sugar to bag as needed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Look Who I Got To Meet...

The Pioneer Woman!!! Ever since Pioneer Woman, or Ree Drummond, announced that she was writing a cookbook I have been super excited and could not wait for it to be published, even though I read her blog every day and have made a few or her recipes (some that I have already blogged about and some that I need to blog about).

Then when she announced that she was going on a book tour and posted on her blog the cities she was touring to I was stoked that Austin made the list (even though I had no doubts that she would be coming here since her sister lives here).

I then just had to wait for her to come and go get the book of course. But if you remember Eric got me her cookbook for my birthday so I was set!
After work Thursday I headed straight over to BookPeople. The event was supposed to start at 7pm but when I got there at around 10 til 6 it was jam packed. I asked where the book signing was but if I had only listed I would have found my way by listening for the sounds of women’s chatter.

To get your book signed you had to get a colored wrist band. They would then call the colors in rainbow order to then go stand in line. By the time I got there they were already passing out green bands! Remember ROY G. BIV (the order of the rainbow) with a green wrist band that meant I had quite a few people in front of me! I started to get really worried because a couple standing near me told me that they had friends who went to her signing in Dallas in which Ree had to sign autographs until 2am because there were so many people!!! I had work the next day so I was worried bout this but for the Pioneer Woman I would wait!

So I waited… along with about 500 (that may be an exaggeration I never heard official stats) other people. There were men, women and children; of all ages. Everyone talked and talked about The Pioneer Woman and her family.

At 7pm (well actually a few minutes late but she is the Pioneer Woman she CAN be late) she did a question and answer session.
She answered questions even though the entire audience knew EVERYTHING about her already. She said to look for new things to come on her blog, that the “Black heels to tractor wheels” story was going to be published into a book with some additional sections and be released hopefully in 2011. We all laughed and cried and sighed and…

…then we waited for our magical color to be called so that we could go stand in line and meet her. Austin was fortunate enough to have her husband, children, sister, and brother-in-law be there too. It was nice to meet them all they really are such sweet, humble people.

Some people even started asking “Marlboro Man” to sign their books. A line started forming just for him. I felt bad… “Quick someone get the man a chair!”
I am embarrassed to admit that while I was waiting “Marlboro Man” was leaning on a table signing autographs when some girls started taking pictures of his rear (the last page in the book is a picture of his rear with the caption ‘the end’ so I guess they were trying to reenact that photo). I had prime view from where I was sitting and even though I was thinking how crazed, it would be to take a pic of his rear I did (I was peer pressured)!!! Now I can’t bring my self to post it!

Some crazed fans started asking her kids for autographs and pictures too! I would say that I am a huge fan but I left her kids alone.

I don’t know what was wrong with my camera skills that night but I did not get very many good pictures. The best pictures I got were when other people took pictures for me.
Her kids watchin their Mama at work:
Marlboro Man takin' my pic! Maybe I will be on PW's blog:
Any who… it was tons of fun! I meet not only THE Pioneer Woman but some other nice people as well. She will be on tour until December 14. I encourage you all to get the book and go (make sure and wear comfortable shoes, take my word for it).

Her book The Pioneer Woman Cooks would make a great Christmas gift. Just like her blog it has step by step photos and directions for every recipe. It also has a large number of photos and stories of her life on an Oklahoma ranch. It would be great for someone who is a beginner or advance cook, a blog reader or not.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Love This Time Of Year

Just as much as I love Thanksgiving and Halloween and the fall season I love Christmas and the winter season. The giving to others, the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.

I love the smell of evergreen and cinnamon (you don't want to eat evergreen of course but it sure does smell good to have a fresh Christmas tree and some cookies baking in the oven and some wassail brewing on the stove)!

So for the rest of the month of December (since is already December 3, holy cow!!!) It will be all Christmas all the time. And not just Christmas but I will also future recipes for Hanukkah and New Years too!

And not only will you get holiday themed recipes (for warning you a lot of baked goods to come) but I will also feature food/cooking/baking related gifts (the homemade and store bought kinds) and traditions to boot (ohhh I love this rhyming game).

AND (a great big bolded, italicized, different color AND) I will be hosting some of my first giveaways this very month... tis the season for giving! Hurray!

Oh and in case you haven't had enough fun today just reading (sorry no yummy recipes to follow this rambling) I decided I would announce December's cookbook today. Usually I do it the first Sunday of the new month but I would rather do it today while I am just rambling on and on so that I have more days and opportunities to post delicious Holiday themed and inspired foods!

So for the month of December I would like to feature a book, wait no more like a magazine, no a book... anyways I would like to feature Betty Croker's December/January magazine: "Christmas Cookies". Betty Crocker calls it a magazine but in my book it is a book. The pages are thick like a book and there are no advertisements, just recipes... over 74 of them in fact.

I have always seen these magazines/books at the grocery store in the check out line but have never picked one up. So a few months ago when I was asked by the folks at Betty Crocker to preview this book and help vote on the cover photo I said sure!

When I received this book in the mail I was super excited and impressed. Like I said it is really good quality pictures, recipes, and the overall book is very good quality. Each and every recipe has a picture and can be torn out to 3x5 recipe cards on heavy cardstock (if you choose to do that but I like having it as a book).

Some of the recipes are contest winners from Betty Crocker recipe contests and some are from the Betty Crocker kitchen themselves. I know for sure some of the recipes are on the Betty Crocker website (the contest winner recipes are) but I am not sure if ALL the recipes in this book are on the website.

I do know this for sure that ALL the recipes look delicious and would be perfect for the Holidays or any time! I can't wait to make the ones I have picked out and more importantly EAT these yummy creations!

So hears to a fun, festive, yummy, giving Holiday season!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Month Comes to An End

Overall I would say that The Dean Bros. Cookbook: From The Road was a pretty successful one. I would say that out of the 5 recipes I have made so far and blogged about, only one will not be made again and the other four will.

This book was an interesting read as well because it literally documents their travels through the lower 48. There are pictures and stores about of the food; pictures and stores about their travels, and pictures and stores about the restaurants that inspired the recipes in this cookbook.

This book would make a great holiday gift for someone who likes to travel or someone that lives in or is from the south!

These dry rub ribs were delicious and a change of pace from your normal 'wet' ribs.
This cheese sauce was just ok in my book (I probably won't be making it again). The original recipe all for cheddar cheese, which mine did not melt all the way and was still chunky. If you do make it (or if I ever make it again) I will use Velveeta and make it in the crockpot to help it stay warm.

These wings were a nice alternative to you normal chicken wings and wing sauce. They also seemed healthier to me because they were baked and no fried and have an avocado dipping sauce.

This apple pie was the highlight of this book! Who could go wrong with a graham cracker pie crust, carmel, and a streusel topping. The only thing I will do next time (because I WILL be making this pie on a regular biases, well as regular as I make pie) is to add more carmel and nuts to the recipe. How on earth can you go wrong with more carmel and nuts.

These snickerdoodles were good and chewy (when not over baked). But I am still on the hunt for the sinkerdoodle recipe that I grew up making!
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