Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate

This Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate is one of many holiday 
treats my family enjoys every year around Christmas time.

It must be question. Kind of like this cheeseball (it's not called "Best Cheeseball Ever" for nothing). The season just wouldn't be complete without it. In fact, both the popcorn and cheeseball are made at least twice over a couple month period.

It's not like I mind. It's one of those recipes you come across that just works. Every time.

Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate

15 cups popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup pecans, rough chop
1 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 200*

Pop popcorn and place in a large bowl (no un-popped kernels). Spray a large baking sheet.

Bring brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt to a boil. Boil 5 minutes on med-low, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in soda. Pour over corn and stir, then stir in chips and pecans.

Pour onto the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.


Chicken Spaghetti

I know this is a super busy week for everyone and if your anything like me, finding time between all the cookie and candy baking to get supper on the table is not always easy.

This is a great recipe to make ahead and either freeze or store in the fridge for a few days. 

It's actually one of my family's very favorites, and was one of the best sellers 
during my stint has a caterer

First you'll want to start the veggys softening up in a little olive oil.

Add half of the broth and simmer until tender.

Once tender, just dump in the soups and heat through.

Next, the cheese and stir until melted.

If you use fresh parsley, add more than the recipe calls for.

I used some chicken thighs that I had roasted. 

Once the noodles are mixed in, pour it into your baking dish. 
You can either bake it off now, cool and place in the fridge for a couple of days,
 or cool and freeze it. If you decide to freeze it, don't bake it first. 

So cheesy and packed full of flavor.

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.

Chicken Spaghetti

3 c. chicken, cooked, shredded or chopped
4 c. chicken broth
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lg onion, chopped
1/2. bell pepper (green or red)
1 tbsp parsley, add more for fresh
1 lb spaghetti
1 lg. jar chopped pimento, not drained
1 lg. jar mushrooms, drained
2/3 lb Velveeta
5 oz. Monterey jack/jalapeno
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup

In a large pot, saute onion, celery and peppers in olive oil until they start to soften. Add 2 c. broth and cook over low heat until tender. Add soups and heat through then add cheeses and stir until melted.

While melting, cook spaghetti in remaining 2 cups of broth with enough extra water, until just before they're al dente. They will finish cooking in the final bake.

To soup mixture add parsley, pimento, mushrooms and cut up or shredded chicken. Combine with well drained spaghetti and pour into a 9x13 buttered baking dish.

Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly, 20-30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.


Butter Toffee

This has to be one of the easiest candies ever.

4 ingredients and SUPER DELICIOUS! Sweet, crunchy, buttery and chocolatey.

I've been making this recipe for 20 years and counting. It just screams Christmas and it's great for gift giving!

I guess, if you wanted, you could use almonds and call it Almond Roca, I've just always made it with pecans, man. I have used different chocolate though, chips work great. Next time I may have to make it with some dark chocolate, like Ghirardelli. Yum.

Make sure you get the chopped nuts down before you start the toffee. 
Your pan will need to be ready. Speaking of pans, isn't mine great? 

I had some leftover dark brown sugar. I think I like it better than light brown sugar, deeper flavor.

Spread it out immediately after pouring into the pan. It starts to set fast.

Put the chocolate on while it's still warm. I just smear it around with my finger.

Perfectly delicious!

How cute is this! I do so enjoy all my holiday towels. They make me smile.

The chocolate will firm up, I just didn't have that kind of time. I guess it actually doesn't take that long, I just didn't want to wait.

Butter Toffee

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 Chocolate Bars (I used Hersheys)

Butter a 9x9 baking dish or that size on a baking sheet and sprinkle on 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan; add sugar and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to 290*, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, boil for 12 minutes.

Pour over the nuts, spread out in a sheet to cover. When set but still warm put the chocolate bars on top and spread as chocolate melts. Sprinkle on remaining nuts. Cut or break into small squares.


White Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies

Love love love these cookies. 
White chocolate and cherries? How could you go wrong with that.

Linked with Sunflower Supper Club: Weekend Potluck,
Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday

White Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies

1 c. butter, room temp.
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz. white chocolate chips
1 c. dried cherries, rough chop

Heat oven to 350*

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating after each. Add vanilla and almond extract. Mix well.

Whisk together flour, soda and salt and slowly add to wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in chips and cherries.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared pans, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden but still soft in the center, about 10 to 13 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies. Cool on racks.


Zucchini Stuffed Shells

This is the second recipe I've chosen from "Blasts from the past!" 

This one was a favorite of my oldest son Clark. He lives in TN now, with his wife and 3 boys (was 2 boys until this past Sunday when Joshua joined Elijah and Isaac, happy happy).

It's SUPER easy!

Linked with Jane Deere Blog

All the ingredients for the sauce are blended and poured into a pot.

It doesn't get much easier than that.

Mix all the ingredients for the cheese filling in a medium size bowl.

Once the shells have cooked, I lay them out to dry a bit and cool down enough to handle. 

Once the shells are filled, just set them gently into the simmering sauce.

And,,,,,wah-lah,,,,Saucy Cheesy Deliciousness!

Zucchini Stuffed Shells

16 jumbo shells

12 oz jar red peppers
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

2 med. zucchini, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup fresh parmesan, grated
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Cook shells until just shy of al dente. Drain and place upside down on a kitchen towel until cool enough to handle.

Place all ingredients for sauce into a blender and blend until smooth or desired consistency. Pour into a skillet and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer.

Mix together all the ingredients for the filling. Stuff shells and place into the sauce. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Serve with additional parmesan and fresh parsley for garnish.


Tex Italian Pasta Fiesta

I know this is the time of year where I should be posting all kinds of sweets 
and candy, and I'm sure I will, but I've been going back through some of 
my old recipes. 

The ones I learned to cook on. I'm talking about the ones 
I started collecting when I was first married, 30+ years ago, and figured it
 was time to dust them off and share them with you.

After all, they may be from way back when, but deserve to see the light of day again. 
Ha, I'm a poet and didn't know it.

It's easy to forget about all those tried and true recipes from years past. Especially 
with all the new ones you collect along the way.

I have 1000's that I will probably never get around to making, but for 
some reason, I have a horrible time passing them up.

Anyway, I'm saying all this to let you know that I am going to be revisiting 
some of those oldies but goodies. 

And bonus.....I love how they bring back 
all those good 'ole memories of times gone by.

I started with this Tex Italian Pasta Fiesta. Simple and delicious! 
Also, a great way to sneak veggy's into your kids diet.

Start by browning the ground beef and cooking the onions and garlic.

Add the sauces, paste and seasonings. I like to use Pace for the picante sauce.

Make sure you squeeze the spinach pretty dry so you don't have too much excess moisture. 

I usually cook the noodles just barely shy of al dente because of the 
additional cook time in the oven. 

To make it easier to cover the bottom layer of meat/pasta, I drop small spoonfuls of 
spinach/cheese layer over the entire top and gently spread.

Cover with the remaining beef mixture.

So awesome!

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.

Tex Italian Pasta Fiesta

8 oz. mostaccioli or penne pasta
1 lb ground chuck
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 c. picante sauce (I like Pace)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes (if desired)
10 oz. chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch salt and pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 350*

Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain.

Brown ground beef. Right before it is completely brown, give it a little drain, then add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until beef is brown and onions are softened. Add picante sauce, tomato sauce and paste, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning then stir in drained pasta.

Squeeze spinach dry and chop. Combine spinach, cream cheese, milk, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Put 1/2 of the meat mixture into a prepared 13x9 baking dish. Cover with the spinach mixture then top with remaining meat mixture.

Cover loosely and bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle on cheese and bake uncovered 5-7 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Cranberry Ice Bucket

I posted this last year but felt it deserved to come back out for the holiday season.

I love the look of this ice bucket. It is so fun, easy to make and has huge impact.

The first time I made it was for a get together I like to call Girls Day at Blumenau. We had so much fun with some great food, a movie and a little pampering.

You can check out the step by step directions for the bucket here.

I think it's so cute. 
Great way to keep your wine, juice or whatever chilled and looking festive.

It even looks good as it starts to melt and some of the berries start dropping off in the bowl.

All around great project. Love it!