Holiday Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Holiday Cherry Chocolate Chip CookiesOkay, so these cookies may not be the prettiest holiday cookies. But they may be some of the tastiest. I found some holiday red and green colored semisweet chocolate chips to up the festive factor. But you can use regular semisweet chocolate chips. Who can resist a chocolate chip cookie? Better yet, one with three types of chocolate chips plus dried cranberries? Leave some out for Santa. You might get an extra special gift.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semisweet holiday red and green chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 2 large baking sheets with non stick baking mats or use parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Using a mixer, combine the butter, sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, stirring until just combined.
  7. Add the dried cherries, and the 3 types of chocolate chips to the mixture.
  8. Mix manually with a wooden spoon until chips and cherries are combined.
  9. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
  10. Bake until light golden brown and just set, 8-10 minutes.
  11. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: These cookies can be baked ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.


Holiday Fudge

Holiday FudgeOnce upon a time, when I was new to holiday baking, I used to do a day and night long marathon of making all my holiday sweets in one day. And I mean ALL of them. (Three types of cookies, fudge and one or two desserts for the holiday dinner. Yikes! ) Now that I am older and maybe, a tad bit wiser, I have learned to spread my holiday sweets creating to the 3-5 days before the holiday festivities. Here is another fudge recipe that requires no baking and easy enough for beginning cooks to follow.


  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (Ocean Spray Craisins)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Grease a 9 X 9 square baking pan with butter or line with foil and cover with baking spray.
  2. In a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, add chocolate chips, marshmallows and sweetened condensed milk. Keep stirring until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract, heavy cream, cashews and dried cranberries. Immediately pour into prepared baking pan.
  4. Meanwhile combine white chocolate chips and vegetable oil into a microwavable bowl and melt in 30 second intervals. Stir after every 30 seconds until melted and smooth.
  5. Use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate mixture over the top of your fudge.
  6. Refrigerate 3 hours or until fudge is firm. Cut and serve as desired.

Store in an airtight container. Refrigerated, fudge will keep 2-3 weeks.

Holiday Fudge Tray

I didn’t have any patience when drizzling the white chocolate.  Yours will be much prettier I’m sure.

Easy Gingerbread Fudge

Gingerbread FudgeNeed something to bring to a holiday get together? And you don’t want to be that person that brings something store bought? But, you just aren’t the baking type? If you have a microwave and a microwavable bowl, I have a recipe for you! In just a few minutes and with only six ingredients you will create a tasty holiday treat that will hold it’s own at a dessert table full of holiday sweets.


  • 1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons red and green holiday nonpareils, plus additional tablespoon to garnish top


  1. In a large microwavable bowl, combine white chocolate and sweetened condensed milk.
  2. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals until white chocolate is melted. Stir after every 30 seconds.
  3. Once white chocolate chips are melted and mixed with sweetened condensed milk, add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of holiday nonpareils. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour fudge into a foil lined 8 X 8 or 9 X 9 baking pan. (I only have a 9 x 9 pan, so mine came out a little thinner than I like.)
  5. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon of nonpareils over top of fudge.
  6. Transfer to refrigerator to let set up. 3 hours minimum.
  7. Remove from baking pan and cut up into desired size squares and serve.

Store in an air tight container. In room temperature the fudge will last 7-10 days. Refrigerated, the fudge should last 2-3 weeks.

Gingerbread Fudge tray



Chocolate Peppermint Snowball Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Snowballs 1The holidays are my favorite time of the year. Oh sure, there’s the lights, sounds, decorations and cold weather to enjoy. But to me it means I get to try out new cookie and dessert recipes on my family. I enter my mad scientist mode and my extended family are my test subjects. Dun dun dun. But seriously, who doesn’t like chocolate and peppermint? Two great flavors of the holiday all rolled into one cookie.


  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  1. In a medium size bowl, measure out the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter for 1 minute, until smooth.
  3. Add brown and white sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Approximately, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add eggs and peppermint extract and beat for another 2 minutes.
  5. In 2 batches, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and mix in with a wooden spoon.
  7. This dough needs to chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Line baking pans with silicone sheets or parchment paper.
  10. Scoop dough into 1-2 inch rounds, placing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
  11. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size. Be careful not to over bake.
  12. Transfer to cooling rack. Allow to cool for 20-25 minutes.
  13. Pour powder sugar into a small bowl or Ziploc bag and dust cookies all around.

This recipe yielded 48 cookies when I formed the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Chocolate Peppermint Snowballs 2

Loaded Mexican Chicken and Potato Casserole

Mexican Chicken and Potatoes Casserole PlatedBrrr! It’s getting chilly outside. I love this time of year because making casseroles in a hot oven not only gives you a belly full of goodness, but the heat from the oven helps make the house nice and toasty. This recipe is yet another,”What can I make with the ingredients I have on hand?”  I really need to go grocery shopping soon.


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
  • 5 medium russet potatoes, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika (or regular)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (14.5 ounce)
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup cooked, chopped bacon
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • sour cream for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. In a large plastic container with lid (or 1 gallon Ziploc bag) add paprika, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix well.
  4. Add diced chicken and potatoes. Seal container. Shake well so all the seasoning cover the chicken and potato pieces.
  5. Add seasoned chicken and potato pieces to baking dish in an even layer.
  6. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and add diced tomatoes over casserole. Sprinkle cheese, bacon and green onions over casserole.
  8. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Serve with sour cream if desired.

Mexican Chicken and Potatoes Casserole

Baked Penne Casserole

Baked PenneI was really in the mood for lasagna tonight. Then I checked my cupboard and refrigerator and soon discovered I was lacking lasagna noodles and a few ingredients. I also discovered that I was too lazy to go to the grocery store. So, I decided to make do with what I had and came up with this baked penne casserole. Don’t laugh, but I had to use provolone and mozzarella cheese slices that I normally would use in my sandwiches. I told you, I was too lazy to go to the grocery store. In the end it still worked out nicely.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 1/4 cup your favorite marinara or one 24 ounce jar pasta sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 container low fat cottage cheese (32 ounces)
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese slices (about 10 slices or enough to cover casserole)
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese slices (about 10 slices or enough to cover casserole)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, coat your 13 x 9 casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet, brown your ground beef and mince it down to your desired size.
  3. Add diced onions and mushrooms to the ground beef and cook for 3-5 minutes until onions are tender.
  4. Next add the wine, sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and pepper. Stir to mix well. Sauce should be a little watery, not thick.
  5. Once the sauce is mixed and comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
  6. Add a layer of sauce to the bottom of casserole dish.
  7. Then add half your uncooked pasta to layer the casserole dish. (Yes, uncooked. Let the meat mixture you just made do the work for you.)
  8. Next layer the cottage cheese over the noodles.
  9. Now add the provolone cheese slices to cover the casserole dish.
  10. Add the rest of the penne noodles. Be sure to make an even layer.
  11. Add the rest of the sauce mixture over the penne noodles.
  12. Finally, arrange the mozzarella slices over the top of the sauce layer.
  13. Cover loosely with foil. (Tip: spray foil side that will be in direct contact with casserole with cooking spray, so the cheese does not stick.)
  14. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Baked Penne plated