Christmas is in the Air


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ENJOY!!!!

Want your house to smell like Christmas cheer!? Keep this pot of fresh winter wonder boiling during your holiday get together as the perfect compliment to your holiday tunes and treats!

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Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies


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Ingredients
1 can seamless crescent rolls
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

How to Make
1.With your hand mixer, beat sugar, cream cheese and vanilla together until smooth in a medium sized bowl.
2.Unroll the crescent roll sheet. Stretch dough out slightly. It should be in the shape of a rectangle.
3.Spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the crescent sheet, leaving a gap at the edge about 1/2 inch.
4.Sprinkle your chocolate chips on top of cream cheese.
5.Roll the crescent sheet up tightly and wrap in cling wrap.
6.Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
7.When chilled preheat oven to 350°.
8.Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
9.Slice the crescent roll into 1/4″ slices. Bake on prepared cookie sheet for 12 -14 minutes until crescent roll appears golden brown.
10.Transfer to wire rack.
11.Eat warm or room temperature.

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Mocha Shortbread with Nutella


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Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso granules
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
If desired; Hazelnut Spread (Nutella) to sandwich cookies

Directions
1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars, vanilla and instant espresso granules.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt
3. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until fully incorporated
4. Cover bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-in. to 3-in. cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
6. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
7. Once cookies are completely cooled, sandwich them together with your desired amount of Hazelnut Spread (Nutella).

*Note: When not working with the Shortbread dough, place it back into the refrigerator; this will enable an easier rolling process.

The Top 10 Copycat Recipes


Olive Garden Grilled Chicken and Alfredo Sauce

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Enjoy this classic dish from the Olive Garden with this copy cat recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry pasta
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

Instructions

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush with oil and then season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill 5 to 7 minutes on the first side and then flip the chicken over and grill for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Prepare the Alfredo sauce by combining the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not let the mixture come to a boil, but heat until small bubbles begin to form. Add the Parmesan cheese and whisk quickly. Add the garlic powder and continue to whisk. The sauce will thicken after a minute or two.

Cut the chicken breasts into strips. Serve by placing half the pasta on each plate, then topping it with sauce and a sliced chicken breast.

TGI Friday’s Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

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You can recreate your own fried cheese sticks just like TGI Fridays

Ingredients

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

Cut cheese sticks into long slices approximately 3/8 inch thick. Blend together the flour and corn starch in a bowl. Place cheese plank into the flour, then dip into a bowl of whole milk, and then dip the cheese stick into the bread crumbs. Shake off excess bread crumbs and place mozzarella stick on a wire rack. Discard the flour. Repeat until all cheese sticks have been dipped once. When all of the cheese sticks have been dipped once place back into milk, then into bread crumbs for the second time, and shake off the bread crumbs. Dip all cheese sticks into bread crumbs for the second time.

Preheat vegetable oil to 350 for frying. Drop cheese stick into hot oil and fry until golden brown. This should take no longer than 1 minute. Remove cheese stick from oil and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce.

IHOP Banana Caramel Pancakes

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Enjoy your own IHOP Banana Pancakes at home with this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 4 serving package of banana pudding, prepare according to package directions
  • 2 bananas sliced (slice 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup caramel topping
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Instructions

Prepare banana pudding according to package directions.

Place first five ingredients into a bowl; add buttermilk, oil and egg. With a spoon mix all ingredients and beat until smooth.

Heat a frying pan or a griddle to 375 degrees. Spray cooking surface with non-stick spray. Pour 4 ounces of batter for each pancake, cook until hot and bubbly one one side, flip and then cook for about another 30 seconds or so and remove from the cooking surface. Place pancakes on a plate until they are ready to be used.

Turning pancakes is made much easier if you spray your pancake turner with a non-stick spray. The turner does not stick to the uncooked dough of pancake when you are turning them. If batter seems to be too thick, add a little more buttermilk and mix well.

To assemble, lay one pancake on a plate, add about 1/4 cup of banana cream and spread on pancake. Place about 4 or 5 banana slices onto banana pudding. Top banana pudding layer with another pancake. Add 4 or 5 slices of banana to the top of the pancake. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Saltgrass Steakhouse Boiled Shrimp and Avocado Salsa

This boiled shrimp and avocado salsa inspired from the Saltgrass Steakhouse is an easy recipe to prepare that is perfect for a light appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup red onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup sweet yellow onion chopped fine
  • 2/3 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 2/3 cup loosely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons or more of finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1/4 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined

Instructions

Boil shrimp in water just until shrimp turns pink. Remove from boiling water and allow shrimp to cool. Chop half of the shrimp into small pieces. In a medium sized bowl combine tomatoes, red onions, yellow onions, chili sauce, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, avocado and salt. Stir to combine. Add half of the shrimp to the vegetable mixture. If desired you can place the remaining shrimp on top for decoration or you can simply stir all of the shrimp into the salsa. Serve with chips.

Heinz chili sauce is sold in most grocery stores. It is sold near the cocktail sauce. Personally I like to add extra cooked shrimp and avocado to this salsa.

Starbucks Eggnog Latte

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You can make your own Starbucks eggnog latte, its so easy to do.

Ingredients

  • 2 servings espresso
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of eggnog
  • freshly ground nutmeg if desired

Instructions

Prepare espresso or make one very strong coffee. Heat together 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of eggnog for about 1 minute in the microwave. Froth milk by using a milk frother, if you don’t have one you can pour milk into a blender for about 30 seconds. If you don’t have a blender, you can put your milk in a jar, or even a cocktail shaker and shake for about 1 minute. The milk will froth up and almost double in size.

Pour 1 serving of coffee into a coffee cup, and top with 1/2 of the milk and eggnog. Top with whipped cream and grated eggnog if desired.

Cracker Barrel Pumpkin Custard N’ Ginger Snaps

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Enjoy this sweet creamy custard that is topped with ginger snap cookie crumbs, and a pumpkin pie spice infused whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree – 1 (15 ounce) can of pure pumpkin
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup ginger snap cookies and about 8 ginger snap cookies that are whole
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar – if you have extra fine sugar this is best
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crack open 8 eggs, and separate the whites from the yolks.  In a medium sized glass bowl add egg yolks and whisk until they are creamy.  Add pumpkin,1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, 1 3/4 cups of heavy cream, and pumpkin pie spice and combine until all are incorporated.  Cook custard mixture in a double boiler, and stir until custard has thickened, and a spoon remains coated when inserted into custard.  Pour custard into either 8 custard dishes, or an 8 x 8 baking dish.  Bake custard for about 30-35 minutes or until a spoon is inserted comes out clean.  Halfway through the baking process combine the 1 cup gingersnaps and 1 tablespoon melted butter, and sprinkle the crumb mixture over the custard while it is baking by removing the dishes from the oven, adding gingersnap crumb mixture and returning the dishes to the oven to finish baking.  If you are using small individual custard dishes check the custard at 20-25 minutes.

Cold Stone Creamery Cake Batter Ice Cream

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You can make your own cake batter ice cream in your own kitchen. This is so good.

Ingredients

  • Yield: 1 quart
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Cake Mix

Instructions

In a heavy stockpot mix together 1 cup of heavy cream, salt, and 3/4 cup of sugar. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. When the sugar is dissolved turn off burner, add 1/2 cup Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix, and whisk in well. Add 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk into the pot and mix well. Refrigerate mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight. Before freezing ice cream according to your ice cream freezer whisk together well, the mixture will be a little lumpy.

I like to freeze the ice cream for a few hours before serving the ice cream.

Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup is easy to duplicate. Try this recipe—it tastes just like it does in the restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf processed cheese (Velveeta or a store brand)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup julienne-cut carrots (shredded carrots are okay)
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (2 cups)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and onions. Cook for about a minute, then slowly add the half-and-half, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking until thickened and smooth. When all of the half-and-half is incorporated, add the broccoli and processed cheese. When the cheese is completely melted, add the chicken broth 1 cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until soup is well mixed and has a consistent texture. Add the carrots and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheddar cheese and cook for 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve when all the cheese is fully melted and blended through.

Johnny Carino’s Gorgonzola Chicken

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Sauteed chicken with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce makes a wonderfully rich sauce for when you want something a little different.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped red tomatoes

Instructions

Pound chicken breasts until they are 1/2 inch thick season with salt and pepper. Sear chicken in a hot skillet with two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Cook on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes or until completely cooked. Remove chicken breasts from heat, and let rest for several minutes before slicing. You may need to add an additional tablespoon of butter or two to the sauce pan to saute the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms on medium high heat until they are browned. While mushrooms are browning sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Johnny Carino’s typically uses penne pasta, but I like to use a fettuccine pasta because I think it holds the sauce better. Prepare sauce by combining half and half and Gorgonzola in a saucepan heating through. The sauce should thicken slightly. Slice chicken into 1/4 inch slices. Add sauteed mushrooms to the sauce, and stir to combine well. Plate pasta by adding 1/4 of the pasta, 1/4 of the chicken slices. Drizzle with sauce, and top with chopped tomatoes and shredded Parmesan.

If you need to reheat this dish, I recommend leaving all of this unassembled and reassemble just before serving again. If you do not combine the pasta sauce and pasta together while this is refrigerated the sauce won’t soak into the pasta.

Spaghetti Warehouse Spaghetti with Garlic Butter

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Looking for a meatless dinner? This Pasta with garlic butter that tastes like the Spaghetti Warehouse is a rich tasting meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic about 4 to 5 cloves
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 pound dry pasta – prepare according to package directions

Instructions

In a small pot, melt 1/2 pound butter on low. Do not cook the butter on high heat, it will brown, and then burn. If you burn the butter you will need to restart the recipe. Chop garlic finely, and add to the pot. Simmer the butter sauce on low for at least 20 minutes. You want the raw taste of the garlic to cook out completely. Add about 1 tablespoon of the freshly chopped parsley to the butter sauce and mix well. Add 1/4 cup of the Romano cheese into the butter sauce about 4 minutes before serving.

Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain. In a large bowl combine butter sauce, and the pasta and mix well. Place pasta onto plates, and garnish with remaining Romano cheese and chopped parsley.

Applebee’s Grilled Chicken Oriental Salad

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You can make your own Applebee’s Grilled Chicken Oriental salad at home. It is so tasty, and so easy to do. Best of all, you can customize this salad and put in the ingredients that you enjoy the most.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 to 8 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup crispy rice noodles
  • Applebee’s Oriental Salad Dressing

Instructions

Heat the grill to medium, or heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound them to 3/8-inch thick. Brush with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate to rest for 4 to 5 minute before slicing.

Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Watch them carefully—there is a fine line between toasted almonds and burnt almonds! Shake the pan gently. When you begin to smell the almonds, toast for a few seconds more, then immediately place the almonds on a paper towel. Allow them to cool for a moment or two.

Assemble salads by first putting down the lettuce, 3 to 4 cups per serving. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of the carrots, 1/4 cup crispy rice noodles, and 1/4 cup toasted almonds. Arrange the chicken on top. Serve with plenty of the Applebee’s Oriental Salad Dressing.

Variations

Now, Applebee’s Grilled Chicken Oriental Salad is a delicious salad, but there are a few variations that I like to make. I like to change out the lettuce and use a mesclun mix. I also like to add a few mandarin orange sections and sprinkle some thinly sliced green onion or scallion on top, for my personal version of the Applebee’s Grilled Chicken Oriental Salad. What changes do you like to make when you make a salad? Do you like any unusual ingredients on your salads?

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Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers


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6 bell peppers, any color

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

4 slices whole wheat bread, cubed

1 small onion, chopped

1 small tomato, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish.
Lightly mix together the ground beef, egg, bread cubes, onion, tomato, garlic, chili sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Wash the peppers, and cut jack-o’-lantern faces into the peppers with a sharp paring knife, making triangle eyes and noses, and pointy-teeth smiles. Slice off the tops of the peppers, and scoop out the seeds and cores. Stuff the peppers lightly with the beef stuffing, and place them into the prepared baking dish so they lean against each other.
Bake in the preheated oven until the peppers are tender and the stuffing is cooked through and juicy, about 1 hour.

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