Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! - A Leftovers Recipe

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What's not to love about family, fall weather, and food, food, and more food?! The cranberries! The stuffing (dressing?)! The pies! (The wine!).
I can't wait!

I am posting my Thanksgiving Leftovers Grilled Cheese recipe again, was just.that.good!

Click here for the Full Post

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
I will be relaxing with my family in the Northern California forest.

Also, I leave you with this.
You're welcome.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

A New See's Candies Store Opening - PLUS a Giveaway!!

When See’s Candies invited me to another local store opening, I jumped at the chance. …You don’t turn down free chocolate!

Earrings - Nickel & Suede

My sweet friend, Lauren, from Imperfect & Fabulous, came along, too and we explored this sneak preview of the new store at Fashion Island, in Newport Beach, together!! (It's right by Macy's, guys. - Super convenient to quickly park and run in for a treat or gift!)

See's Candies has been around since 1921, and the all black and white stores are modeled after the real Mary See's kitchen, which all consist of my fave black/white large tile floors!

 Every guest that walks into a See's Candies store is offered a free sample! How's that for customer service?!

Also. Ready to have your mind blown?  I was handed two candies to eat at once. Strawberry Cream and Peanut is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!! OMG it was truly so, so amazing!

See's sells over 26 million pounds of chocolate a year! Total win for all those gift recipients.

Which See's Candies chocolates are your favorite??
Two of the top sellers are MY fave, the Bordeaux, and also the Scotchmallow.

I love that See’s has these events in the fall because that means…Seasonal Pie Truffle samples!!!!

The Pie Truffles are glorious! And you can buy a whole sampler box of them, for yourself or someone special on your Holiday shopping list.
Another thing I found existed this trip - Milk chocolate Bordeauxs...without the sprinkles! OMG, my dreams are coming true, you guys!

At this fun pre-grand opening event we got a behind the scenes tour, and even got to (race!) to fill our own boxes of candy to take home!

Now it is your turn to check out the store!
One lucky reader will win a $25 Gift Card to See's Candies!! You can give the gift card as the perfect gift! Or, you can use it to go shopping for yourself, or pick up some Holiday gifts for others!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was invited to a media event hosted by See’s Candies.  All opinions and points of view are my own.  Please visit the Rafflecopter link above for a full giveaway disclosure.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pumpkin Everything! - Round Up!

Anyone who knows anything about me knows I am obsessed with pumpkin-everything!
I really just am a sucker for "seasonal" or "limited edition" items of any variety. Something about the fact that they will go away soon, and won't always be there, makes me obsessed with trying everything seasonal just one time. (Or many many times in the case of some!!)

Anyway, as people are looking for Thanksgiving recipes, and as we shift from pumpkin and fall to Christmas, peppermint, egg nog, and gingerbread, I figured I'd do a Round Up of my past Pumpkin Posts!

hint, hint. Go order one last PSL!!

I hope you enjoy pumpkin as much as I do!
...because you should.   Like, for real.

Starbucks "PSL" Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes (These are amazing and really easy!)

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pumpkin Butter & Glazed Plums

Maple Glazed Bananas over Trader Joe's Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Palooza - Your Trader Joe's Shopping List!

Caramel Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Blondies

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolate Pecan Pie Shortbread Cookie Bars

I scoured the internet for the perfect dessert to bring to my friend Lauren's Friendsgiving party.
Apple and Pumpkin pie were already covered, so I knew I wanted to do something with chocolate, but still festive. 
Enter: The pecan pie shortbread cookie bar - with chocolate!
Yum! These have a soft shortbread crust, and a traditional pecan pie filling is improved with chocolate chunks. Then, they are cut into cookie bars, for the perfect holiday party dessert!

Adapted from: Tasty Kitchen
(I altered this to make a larger filling to crust ratio. I like these better with a thin crust, more like the original pie)

For the Shortbread Crust:

1 heaping cup flour
1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, sliced into pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
cooking spray, or pat of butter to grease pan

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp bourbon or spiced rum (optional)
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 whole eggs
2 cups pecans, roughly chopped in halves and pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large food processor, combine flour and sugar. Leave processor on, and gradually add in the cold butter, one piece at a time, until mixture is slightly crumbly. Add egg and vanilla, and process until blended and dough begins to form.
(This can also be done in a stand mixer, or by hand.)
Press dough into the bottom of a 9” x 13” greased pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, until partially cooked. 
Remove from oven to add filling.

While crust is baking,
In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, corn syrup, melted butter, bourbon, vanilla, and beaten eggs, and mix well to combine. Stir in the pecans.

First, sprinkle the chocolate chips directly over the warm crust.
Then, pour the filling mixture over the top.

Return to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until filling is set.
Filling is set as soon as the center isn’t jiggly.
Cool completely (OK, cut out a corner piece warm and eat it yourself, then cool completely), and slice into bars.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving or Holiday dessert recipe??

Check out some other great Holiday party treats here!

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Espresso Truffles

Caramel Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Blondie Squares

Chai Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with Pecans and Goat Cheese

Can someone say, Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish?!
Not only does this dish taste amazing along side turkey, but the colors make it so festive for the Holidays, too!

I will note, though, that if you want the cranberries to retain their pretty shape, you should roast them, or pan saute on the stove, in a separate pan from the Brussels, and for a shorter amount of time.
When I tossed them with the sprouts in the oven, the flavor was amazing, but they burst and turned into a cranberry sauce, which turns the whole dish red. 

Also, don't goat cheese, balsamic, and pecans just make any dish even better?!  I think so.

Have you guys ever seen Brussels sprouts still on the stalk?! Trader Joe's sells them this way every fall, and they have always fascinated me!  For this recipe, I was bringing the dish to a "Friendsgiving" dinner party, so I knew I needed to buy a lot of sprouts.  This proved to be the perfect opportunity to buy these crazy guys! I felt like such a dork with two 2.5' tree branches hanging out of my grocery basket (along with an equally tall baguette, as well!), but I rolled with it, and took these bad boys home.

You just cut each sprout off the stalk, and then ditch the outer leaves, rinse well, and half or quarter, just like any other Brussels sprout.

Adapted from: Rachel Schultz

Serves 12 - dinner party size. Half or Quarter recipe for regular, small dinner recipe


8-10 cups Brussels Sprouts - rinsed, trimmed, and halved or quartered
1 1/2 cups fresh, whole cranberries - rinsed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/3 cups crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup pecans, halves or roughly chopped into pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Line two large cookie sheets (ones with edges) with foil for easy clean up later.
Trim Brussels sprouts - cut off end, peel off loose and bad-looking outer leaves. Rinse well. Dry well. Cut larger ones in quarters, cut small ones in half.
Put all into large bowl.
Toss Brussels sprouts with a good drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coat well.
Lay out in a single even layer over cookie sheets. Don't pack too tight or layer, or they will steam, instead of crisp.

Spread cranberries either among the sprouts, or on their own baking sheet.
(See notes above. Take cranberries out after about 15 minutes, before they get too soft, if you want them to retain their pretty shape. I left them in, among the sprouts, and they turn into a cranberry sauce)

Cook about 25 minutes, or until browned - turning once, to get them evenly browned and crispy.

Take that same large bowl and add the balsamic and maple syrup. Whisk into a dressing, and taste. Can add more syrup or vinegar if too tart or too sweet.

Remove sprouts and cranberries from oven, and add to bowl. Toss well in dressing..
Toss in pecans.

Place mixture into serving dish. I used an 8x8x2 dish.
Top with goat cheese.