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Cranberry Orange Pecan Cream Cheese Spread

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays it's always nice to have a few quick and easy appetizers up your sleeve for those last minute surprise guests or just as a precursor for the fam to snack on while they are waiting for the main meal.  This Cranberry Orange Pecan Cream Cheese Spread is a quick and easy appetizer straight from my mum's recipe archives that takes just minutes to get to the table and tastes just like the holidays spread on a cracker!  (You can do regular crackers or graham crackers - they are both delicious!)  I love the combination of cranberry, orange and cinnamon - I use the same flavors to make my homemade cranberry sauce  and it really creates the perfect combination of tart and sweet.  The flavor additions of crunchy pecans and creamy cream cheese make this a fabulously festive appetizer or evening snack for the holidays!  This dip is so simple to throw together and any leftovers make a great condiment for those leftover turkey or ham sandwiches or it
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Mini Pecan Pie Phyllo Tart Bites

Do you love little mini appetizers or desserts as much as I do?  You know - the kind of food you can pick up and pretty much eat in one delicious bite?  These Mini Pecan Pie Phyllo Tarts are the perfect little bite of heavenly deliciousness.  They are sort of a mix up of pecan pie and baklava - a crunchy phyllo shell with a sweet, sticky, nutty filling.  They take just a handful of ingredients and very little prep time so you can whip these up last minute for a fancy treat!  They are a family fav in this house. Premade phyllo shells are one of my favorite short cut items - I always keep some in the freezer and use them for mini quiche, jam tarts, stuff them with goat cheese, pecans and nuts - they are SO versatile and make fancy looking appetizers and desserts so quick and easy to throw together.  You can find them in most grocery stores freezer section close to the frozen puff pastry!  These little tarts are the perfect addition to a potluck table, a game day spread, a holiday cookie

How to Roast Garlic

Have you ever roasted garlic?  Whereas regular garlic has a sharper, raw bite to it, roasted garlic is slow baked in the oven until it is soft, creamy, nutty and almost sweet.  In fact, the longer you roast garlic the sweeter to the taste it becomes.  (I usually let mine roast for an entire hour - I like it nice and caramelized.)  Roasting garlic is so easy you can literally throw it in the oven any time you are cooking something - no need to stress over the temperature of the oven being "correct" - if you have something cooking at a lower temperature you can still throw the garlic in with it, it will just take a little longer.   Wondering what you can use roasted garlic for?  My favorite is to mix it in to creamy mashed potatoes with some sharp cheddar cheese, but there are endless possibilities:  Spread it directly on toast, make garlic bread, mix with mayo for sandwiches or burgers, add it to soups, salads, dressings or dips, mix into hamburger meat, use it as seasoning on

Chocolate Brownie Crinkle Cookies

If you are a chocolate lover like me then you are going to absolutely love these Chocolate Brownie Crinkle cookies.  While traditionally made at Christmas, there is no rule that says you have to wait for the holidays to make these morsels of deliciousness.  These cookies are soft, fudgy and rich on the inside, like a brownie, but are served up in cookie form.  They are cookie perfection!   Easy to make with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, these crinkle cookies get their name from the fact that they crack open gently as they bake, giving you the crinkly tops.  Trust me when I tell you that they are absolutely irresistible - you won't be able to stop eating them.  They will be a family fav for sure!  (My fam ate these so fast I only got one of them!) A couple of tips for this recipe: I use Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe.  It works perfectly. You can substitute vegetable oil for canola oil if that is what you have at your house

Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions

You know what goes great on burgers, pulled pork, fish tacos, deviled eggs, carnitas, nachos, loaded fries, omelets or any number of salads or sandwiches?  Pickled red onion!  This quick and easy refrigerated version will help you easily have them on hand any time you need them.  I love these pickled onions even more than actual pickles - they are probably one of my very favorite condiments.  They provide the perfect amount of crunch to so many dishes, but to be honest, I will often eat these right out of the jar! You won't believe how simple they are to make.  Thinly sliced red onions are packed in a jar, sprinkled with pickling spices, and then covered in a warm vinegar, grenadine, sugar and salt mixture that permeates deep in to the onions, giving them a gorgeous pink color and making them a tart, tangy beautifully crunchy addition to all kinds of dishes.  If you are an onion fan, these might be a new favorite. A couple of tips for this recipe: Pickling spice is available pre-ma

Soft Brown Sugar Ginger Molasses Cookies

  I'm a big fan of fall - the crisp air, beautiful falling leaves in brown, red, orange and yellow, jeans and hoodies, cozy fires, hot chocolate, trips to the pumpkin patch, trick or treaters, being thankful, and especially aaaaaaalllllllllll the fall flavors.  When it starts to get just a little cool outside I'm ready to bust out the soups, squash, pumpkin, apples, and fall spices!   It got a little cool for just a quick minute this past week, (then it got hot again), but in that moment, these Brown Sugar Ginger Molasses Cookies were reborn - crinkly on the top with a beautiful soft, chewy texture, not too thin and not too thick, and packed with flavor.  They are the kind of cookies that just melt in your mouth - and according to my fam, the kind of cookies dreams are made of! A lot of people make their Ginger Molasses cookies with white sugar - I tried batches with different measurements of brown, white and a combination of both, and our favorite were the ones with just brown

Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Have you ever made homemade buttermilk biscuits completely from scratch? For the longest time I was under the VERY false impression that biscuits were a time consuming, long, drawn out process that required my full attention for at least a couple of hours.  What I have come to find is that they aren't too complicated at all!  In fact, they have just a handful of pantry ingredients and are actually quite quick and easy to throw together.  These homemade buttermilk biscuits are beautifully buttery and bake up tall, soft and fluffy with a golden crispy top.   These delicious, tender, flakey morsels are perfect smothered in  sausage gravy , as part of a stacked breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and bacon or sausage, or just on their own with butter or jam.  Trust me, this is a fabulous recipe to have up your sleeve, and the more you make them, the quicker and easier they become!  I have quite a lot of tips for this recipe to help you be your best biscuit making self ever: Grating fro

Zesty Italian Seasoning (Copycat Good Seasons Packets)

This quick and easy recipe will stop you from having to buy the dry Good Seasons Zesty Italian Dressing & Recipe seasoning packets!  Did you know that making your own seasoning mixes saves you quite a bit over buying the individual packets.  (Plus you know exactly what is in it.)  The ingredients for this seasoning mix are pretty common herbs and spices so you most likely have most of them in your pantry already! There is no need to pay extra for someone to mix and portion it out for you.   I keep mason jars of premade homemade beefy onion soup mix , ranch dressing mix, hamburger seasoning , blackened seasoning and this Zesty Italian Seasoning mix, (a copycat for Good Seasons), premade in my spice cabinet so I have it on hand whenever I need it!  They can be used to make dressings or dips, as well as season meat, veggies and potatoes.  Once you have a few basic spice blends in your cabinet, it makes it easy to change up flavors and season dishes in different ways. A couple of notes

Shortcut Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

  One of my favorite side items when we hit any Brazilian steak house are the little round cheesy bread balls that they bring to the table.  Brazilian Cheese Bread, also known as Pão de Queijo, is made from tapioca flour, olive oil, milk, egg, salt and shredded cheese.  They actually remind me of little mini cheesy popovers - a little crispy on the outside but deliciously soft and chewy on the inside, thanks to that tapioca flour.  These savory treats are the most perfect little bites of heaven - they disappear as fast as they hit the table!   You won't believe how easy it is to make this shortcut cheat version of these little Brazilian cheese breads at home.  This may not be the most traditional way of making them, but my goodness it's the easiest.  In fact, the hardest part of this whole process was finding the tapioca flour! (I found mine at Smiths and I always pick up two when I see them now.)  This quick and easy short cut recipe let's you throw the batter together in

No Bake Peppermint Slice Bars

I'm sharing a beloved recipe from my childhood today, No Bake Peppermint Slice Bars.  My Mum would make a huge tray of these delicious bars each year at Christmas time - it's a delicious no bake treat with three lovely layers.  A chocolaty graham cracker and coconut base, a creamy, buttery, peppermint frosting layer and then a coating of chocolate ganache over the top.   Here's the thing - you don't need to wait for Christmas to make these - they are scrumptious ANY time of the year and they are honestly perfect for the summer because they are no bake which means NO OVEN!  I actually have some in my freezer right now!  (I like to keep them nice and cold in there.)  If you are a mint and chocolate fan like I am, you are going to love these! A couple of tips for this recipe: I like to pulse the coconut lightly with the graham crackers and other base ingredients so its chopped finer.  I've had this with bigger pieces of coconut, and it's still yummy- you can do eit

Crack Corn Pasta Salad

I'm kind of in love with this new Crack Corn Pasta Salad.  It has all my favorite things - pasta, corn, bacon, cheese, jalapeno pepper, onion and a beautiful lemony ranch dressing which makes it absolutely crack to me because I literally can't stop eating it! Most of the work for this salad is prep - cooking the pasta and bacon so they have time to cool, then chopping up a couple of veggies.  Once that is done you are literally just mixing all the ingredients together - it makes it a simple but delicious and a flavorful side dish for any barbecue or picnic.  Sometimes I just make a batch of this to keep in the refrigerator to have for lunch!   A couple of tips for this salad: Ditalini pasta is pretty easy to find and really just looks like pieces of elbow macaroni that have been chopped up.  (Some actually call it a very short macaroni.)  I like this kind of pasta for this salad because the pieces are about the same size as the corn and they just work together well texture wise

Cheddar & Herb Savory Quick Bread (Irish Soda Bread)

I don't always have time to make fresh yeasty bread or rolls to go with dinner, so the thought of a quick cheesy, herby loaf that could be thrown together in a few minutes and baked just prior to dinner time seemed like a winner to me.  I made Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day and knew that with a few added ingredients, I could make a loaf that would taste delicious and be perfect alongside soup, salad or a main dish.  This Cheddar and Herb Quick Bread, (a take off of Irish Soda bread), has taken a while to get just right - but it is exactly what I was looking for! Let me first say that I am in love with white sharp cheddar cheese.  The creaminess, the sharpness, the tang - it's the PERFECT addition to this bread and with the chives, dill and fresh parsley - it's just so yummy!  This bread is in no way dry or tasteless - this is a moist, tender, beautiful quick bread loaded with cheese and herbs which literally melts in your mouth and calls to you from the kitchen

Restaurant Style Bread Dipping Oil

I am so excited to have an herb garden this year!!  Shout out to the hubby for putting together a small raised garden to make it super easy for me to take care of - I have parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and mint coming out of my ears, but I absolutely LOVE fresh herbs and have been looking for ways to use them in my recipes as much as possible.  One of my favorite things to do with herbs is throw them together to make this easy restaurant style bread dipping oil, just like you find at many of your favorite Italian restaurants.  Rich, flavorful extra virgin olive oil and slightly sweet, dark balsamic vinegar are poured over a ton of herbs and garlic.  The simplicity of dipping hot crusty bread in this herbaceous mixture is both satisfying and comforting. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand you can absolutely use dried herbs - I've included measurements for both below.  Depending on what you have on hand you can also do a combination - part fresh, part dried - i

Patriotic Saltine Cracker Toffee

  Just in time for your July 4th Celebration I'm sharing a festive red white & blue version of my Saltine Cracker Toffee.  Did you know that English toffee is even better when you add a layer of salty crackers!  This quick and easy treat is a family favorite during ALL the holidays.  It is so easy to make and soooooooo delicious that you will want to make it for all of the celebrations and get togethers throughout the year.  I always issue a warning with this stuff - don't sit with a plate of this in front of the TV.  The salty and sweet combination makes it extremely addictive and that plate will be gone before you realize it!   A couple of tips: Use real butter for this recipe - sometimes it's ok to substitute margarine in recipes, but this is not one of those times- you need real butter to get that delicious toffee perfection. Feel free to switch up the chocolate chips - I have done white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips and my favorite, dark chocolate chi

Cheese Tortellini with Sun-dried Tomato & Spinach Alfredo

Wondering what to cook for dinner tonight?  It's Meatless Monday and I'm sharing a fast, easy comforting pasta dinner that will work for Mondays or ANY weeknight you are short on time.  This cheese tortellini with sun-dried tomatoes and chopped spinach Alfredo is creamy, tangy and incredibly delicious.  I used a variation on my classic Alfredo recipe for this sauce, (because it's utter perfection), but then added in some extra flavor by boosting the garlic and throwing in sun-dried tomatoes and spinach - I like to cut up the sun-dried tomatoes and spinach super small for fussy palates at this house, but if you like it more chunky, feel free to chop them a little larger.   If you ARE wanting some meat with this dish, try adding in 2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken when you add in the the sun-dried tomatoes and spinach - we love it with this addition too and using a rotisserie chicken means not only is it inexpensive, but all the work is already done for you!  Serve this dis

Copycat Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread

I am addicted to bread.  Any kind of bread - especially when it is fresh out of the oven warm bread slathered with butter.  It's the ultimate comfort food and quite possibly my love language.  One of my favorite things to eat at Cheesecake Factory is the brown bread that they bring to your table while you are waiting for your meal.  Honestly, I could just sit and eat the bread and then go home, it's that good.  It reminds me of squaw bread that I had growing up - has kind of a molassesy, malty flavor - so delicious.  (They have a similar bread at Outback too.) Well now I can eat a very close replica of that fabulous bread any time I want here in the comfort of my own home with this copycat brown bread recipe and guess what?  So can you!  Slightly sweet, with a hint of molasses flavor, and sprinkled with oats, this is my new favorite bread to make.  This recipe makes 4 small loaves, but you could shape it in to rolls instead if you wanted.  (If you do that reduce the baking time