Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies

 
I was recently at one of my MOPS meetings and we put together this cookie mix.  You know, the ones where you place all the dry ingredients in a mason jar, decorate the jar a bit and then attach directions for baking?  Yeah, that one.
 
I changed up the ingredients just a wee bit and then made them again when I got home.  You know, because my three year old asks to make cookies EVERY DAY. 
 
Seriously, we make them about twice a week.
 
Don't you wish you knew me?  Because I give a LOT of them away.
 
Anyway, we made these cookies again when we got home.  And then again.  And then I had to tell myself to STOP.
 
 
And I know you are probably thinking, Ally, come on, there are only 5 more days until Christmas.  I'm bogged down with work, last minute gifts, wrapping and family gatherings.  I do not have time to bake cookies.

Oh, but you do!

Because these only require 5 ingredients.  One being a devil's food cake mix.  They are so simple.  Dump everything into a bowl and bake.  It is THAT easy.

See?  You do have time to bake these.

And they are so pretty.



We made these for my son and daughter's preschool teachers, delivering them yesterday as it was their last day before Christmas break.  Each teacher got four healthy-sized cookies wrapped up in cellophane and ribbon.

{And when we handed them to them, they got SO excited.  As baked goods are their fave.}

Alright, enough chat.  You have some baking to do.

You have the time!  These make a great last minute hostess gift.  And of course they look superb on a cookie tray.

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies
Print this Recipe!

1 Devil's Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1 c. holiday M&M's
1/2 c. chocolate chips

1.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2.  Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.
3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
4.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop out rounded balls.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or just until set.
5.  Makes 20 cookies.

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I promise once Christmas is over, I'll bring back more savory dishes.  For those of you out there reading who are hanging on by a thread.....who somehow don't like sweets.....just wait, stay with me.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Homemade 1000 Island Dressing


 
I love a good salad dressing.
 
Especially if it is homemade.
 
One that can sit in the fridge and I can eat it on everything in site for a week.
 
One that is great on sandwiches, on salads {of course}, used as a dipper or for eating straight up with a spoon.
 
This, my folks, is this dressing.
 
Let's clarify one thing.  I have never, ever bought a bottle of Thousand Island dressing at the grocery store.  The only time I eat it is at a restaurant or if it is sitting at a salad bar.  Why haven't I bought it?  I'm not really sure....because I really do love that stuff!
 
 
Please don't ever be afraid of making your own salad dressings.  They are so easy!  And you will know exactly what it is made of.  {Have you ever read the back of some of those bottles?}
 
I also make a good Greek dressing in the summer and a yummy ranch for wedge salads.  Try them both, you won't regret it.
 
We have been eating off a huge head of lettuce this week and this dressing has pretty much been snatched up the kids, husband and me.  {Hey, don't judge me, if this dressing gets my kids to eat salad, then so be it}.
 

 
I am also putting the fixings for my open-faced reuben sandwiches on the menu for next week, because let's be honest...this dressing would be fabulous on those.

Whip up a batch of this today.  Keep it in the fridge for up to a week in a half pint mason jar.  Refill as many times as needed.

It's okay.

I understand.

It's that good.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Warm Feta & Artichoke Dip

 I have partnered with Chobani on this blog post, creating a healthy, yet flavorful appetizer, just in time for those holiday gatherings!  #MadeWithChobani
 

Why is it that during the holidays I crave finger food?  That I could base my entire supper simply on an appetizer?  Or that I'd just rather snack than eat a meal?

Well, I'll tell you one thing.  I ate this dip as an appetizer, a meal and a snack all in the span of three days.

I was recently inspired by the #MadeWithChobani Project to see if I could come up with a healthy dessert, appetizer or meal.  And since I consider dips a "meal", I opted for the appetizer round.  Doesn't everyone love a good dip at a party?  Or in my case, just to eat at home in your jammies?  I do!

I have long been a lover of Chobani yogurt.  It is not uncommon for us to go through a 32 oz. container of it in less than a week.  The kids eat it almost daily for breakfast and I use it often in baking, as well as more savory dishes like this dip.

 
Not only am I presenting a healthy dip here, but gosh darn isn't it pretty?  I'm kicking myself for not throwing in some chopped green peppers or diced green chilies - you know to make it a bit more "holiday-ish".
 
But I still think it is PERFECT for your upcoming holiday gathering.
 
The tang of the feta and the sharpness of the parmesan cheese give it a "pop", but the yogurt and dab of mayonnaise help to mellow it out.  Since I had Triscuit Thin Crisps with Sea Salt at home that is what I used as a dipper.
 
Although, I'm guessing a nice hunk of French bread would be absolutely divine as well.


Please give this warm dip a try!

I promise you will fall in love.  Take it to your next party, put it in the slow cooker, heck, slather it on the bread used in a grilled cheese {yes, I'm dreaming of this...}.

Have I convinced you yet?

Warm Feta & Artichoke Dip
Print this Recipe!

1 15 oz. can artichokes, drained and chopped
1 small jar pimentos, drained
8 oz. Chobani plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. mayo
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
8 oz. feta cheese
1 t. garlic powder

1.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, tossing to coat.
2.  Place in an oven safe baking dish or bowl.
3.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until melted and bubbly.
4.  Serve with crackers, veggies, pita wedges or chunks of French bread.

Thank you Chobani!  #MadeWithChobani

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide, Part II: Food and Drink

If you are like me you still have Christmas shopping to do.  In fact, I am just now starting the bulk of mine today.  I'm dropping the kiddos off with a babysitter and I'm tackling most of it in a few hours.  This is how I do it every year since I've had kids - watch out, don't get in my way, power shopping.  I don't technically prefer doing it this way, but with three little ones I don't get much time out on my own {and believe me, I prefer to be ALONE}.
 
BUT!  I do have a few things I still want to order online as well.  This year my extended family decided to for-go drawing names like we have in the past and instead we are all buying one gender neutral gift around the $20 range.  This year's theme is...Food and Drink.  So the gift you buy has to fall into this category.  When we actually exchange we'll draw numbers, allow people to steal your gift, etc.  I think it will be fun!
 
So while brainstorming a "Food and Drink" gift I came across some neat items.  And I thought I'd share them with you!  Here are a handful I came this close to ordering for our gift exchange.
 
*If one of these trips your fancy, please click on the Amazon affiliate link to order.

Dip Clip - $12.16

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wine Openers - $12.98
 
 
 
Happy Shopping!
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hot Cocoa Dip


Quite possibly the easiest dessert dip you'll find this time of year! 
Grab the ingredients for your next holiday gathering. 
 
 
I attended my first {and last} ugly sweater gathering this year.  My afghan sweater certainly wasn't the ugliest by any stretch of the means, but you still wouldn't have me caught dead in it, if it wasn't for this party.
 
When I was leaving the house the husband said, "That sweater isn't actually too bad, you could wear it on Christmas Eve."
 
What?
 
Are you color blind?
 
Wear it on Christmas Eve in front of Jesus and everyone?  No thank you.  He really needs to get out more.
 
I made my pumpkin cinnamon rolls for this gathering, as it was for MOPS...but if your ugly sweater party is at night or a bit more lively {say, with some bubbly}, this Hot Cocoa Dip might be a fun dish to take.  It comes together lickety-split and I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like it.  In fact, I made it on a night the husband was working and the next morning he asked me what it was.  I told him Hot Cocoa Dip and that you eat it with Nilla wafers or graham crackers.
 
He then proceeded to tell me he just ate it straight with a spoon when he got home in the middle of the night.  There simply wasn't any time to waste with a cracker.

 

Feel free to top this dip with whatever seems suitable to you - mini marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, silvered almonds...it all goes down the same pipe, right?

In fact the next night after dinner we had a tiny bit of this left and we made sandwiches with it out of graham crackers.  Did you ever have frosting in between graham crackers for a snack as a kid?  Well, I did and this reminded me of that.

But better.

Make this for your next holiday party!

Hot Cocoa Dip
Print this Recipe!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
4 T. cocoa powder
1 t. vanilla extract
chocolate chips
chopped pecans
Nilla wafers

1.  In a bowl combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla, stirring to combine.  Chill for an hour.
2.  Top with chocolate chips and chopped pecans.  Serve with Nilla wafers or graham crackers as dippers.

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If you missed my post earlier this week, check it out here.  It's a fun one!  And I must have "dip" on the mind as I partnered with Chobani for another exciting post coming up.  And lastly I have the final installment for holiday gift giving.

So much coming!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hosting a Freezer Swap {What to Do, What Not to Do}

*This post gives the ins and outs of hosting and participating in a freezer swap. 
What is a freezer swap you say?  Well, read on!


This past weekend a group of girlfriends and I spent the better part of the morning hosting a freezer swap.  It is the second one we've done and when this one was finished we realized we've learned a few things along the way.

I've had SO many people ask about these darn things.  People are intrigued!  Some don't have the faintest clue of what I'm talking about and others think they know but have no idea of how to go about it.

So...being the nice lady that I am I'm here to explain it all to YOU.  And I'm sharing exactly what recipes we put together in case you'd like to try them yourself.

Here are the basics:
  1. Rally together a small group of friends.  Five is a good number, anything more than that can make for a very crowded kitchen.
  2. Each person need to pick 2 freezer friendly meals to make the day of the swap.
  3. Once your meals are chosen you need to purchase enough groceries to make both of those dishes (x) the number of people attending.  Example: I made chili and a rice casserole and we had 5 people in attendance.  Therefore I made 5 batches of chili and 5 rice casseroles.  That way each person goes home with one of your meals, plus you can take one home too.
  4. Prep as much as you can the night before.  I cooked up all my hamburger meat for the chili and baked the chicken breast/cooked the rice for the casseroles.  That way when I arrived in the morning all I had to do was assemble everything.
  5. Bring disposable foil containers, Tupperware or big Ziploc baggies for storage.  Foil containers work well for casseroles, baked pastas, etc.  I used Tupperware for the chili and large Ziploc baggies work well for meats/marinades or any baked dish {can be frozen flat in the freezer so they take up less space}.
  6. Make sure to label what you made with the date, recipe name and cooking directions.  Most dishes will stay fresh in the freezer for 3-6 months.
  7. Bring a cooler, laundry basket or box to help carry everything home.

When all is said and done you'll go home with a NICE stash for your freezer.  We planned this one a few weeks before the holidays, which will make it extra nice with the busy weeks ahead.  I'm super excited to dive into some of these!

Here is the full list of what we made.  Feel free to try them out for yourself!



Which one are you excited to try?  Have you ever been to a Freezer Swap?  Do you think you'd like to organize your own?
 
Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Soft Gingerbread Maple Cookies

Guess what starts today?  My 12 Hours of Holiday Cookies.  I am showcasing a different cookie recipe every hour on the hour starting at 8 a.m. this morning. 
Follow my Facebook page to get each update. 
 
These Soft Gingerbread Maple Cookies will kick off the festivities.  They taste like a true gingerbread cookie, yet a bit lighter and with a hint of maple.  A definite must on your holiday baking list.
 
 

Have you started baking for the holidays yet?  It is never too early in my opinion as cookies freeze fabulously.  The only problem is keeping your fingers out of the freezer while waiting for Christmas Day to come.
 
If you are like me, I like to sneak one cookie after dinner every night up until the holidays.  Then after Christmas I'm pretty sick of them.  But until then...game on!
 
Can you believe I have NEVER baked a gingerbread cookie?  You know, the traditional kind.  Rolling out the dough, cutting out shapes, decorating....blah, blah....I just don't have time for that.  But at the same time I love their taste.  What is a girl to do.

 
So, like usual I broke the rules and made my own version.  It's much easier for me to bake drop cookies, as it is quicker and less messy {I tend to get cranky when things are really messy}.  So these Gingerbread Maple Cookies were invented.
 
They are super soft, chewy, big enough to allow yourself a few bites before it is already gone, and quite frankly, just gosh darn dang delicious. 
 
They hold up well, travel well and are perfect for your holiday party or family gathering.  And of course, freeze well.  Just don't eat them all!  Hide them behind a frozen something-or-other that is unidentifiable and clearly not edible.