M&M’s Pudding Cookies

M&M Pudding Cookies3

Here’s another cookie recipe that I made for my treat boxes to give out this Christmas. Who can resist M&M’s and white chocolate chips? I’m not sure if the pudding mix is for added flavor or to make the cookies soft and chewy. Either way, these cookies are a sweet treat. Next Christmas, be sure to put some out for Santa! You can most certainly switch out the M&M’s candy colors to suit other occasions to enjoy these cookies all year long.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 box (4 ounce size) vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup green and red M&M’s
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape side of bowl.
  4. Beat in dry pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Beat in vanilla.
  5. On low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended.
  6.  Stir in chocolate candies and white chips until blended.
  7. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lined cookie sheets. M&M Pudding Cookies1
  8. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
M&M Pudding Cookies2
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Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies3

Every year I give out Christmas cookies and candies to my family and friends. And every year I try swap around the cookies and candies I make. I came across these Italian Christmas cookies. I noticed they traditionally use anise extract, but I’m not an anise (or black licorice taste) fan. So I substituted almond extract. You can choose to use either.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise or almond extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonpareil sprinkles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and anise flavoring.
  5. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.
  6. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  7. When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the bottom of a small glass into some powdered sugar and press each ball down slightly.Italian Christmas Cookies1
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and cool completely.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sift two cups of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
  2. Dip top of each cookie in the glaze. Garnish with some nonpareil sprinkles.
  3. Allow glaze to dry before freezing. Italian Christmas Cookies2

 

Snowman Cupcakes

Snowman Cupcake

Here’s a fun baking activity for your kids or for you kids at heart to make during the holidays. All you need are a few items you may already have in your pantry.  I did make my own cupcakes from scratch, only because I was already making my Christmas cookies and had most the ingredients out anyway.  But I did use store bought frosting. Either way is fine.  The snowmen won’t complain.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box chocolate or Devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 container vanilla frosting (buttercream or whipped style)
  • white sparkling decorating sugar sprinkles (I used Wilton brand)
  • butterscotch baking chips (or use orange M&Ms)
  • mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare cupcakes as per cake mix directions and let cool completely.
  2. Spread a generous amount of frosting on top of the cupcake.
  3. Fill a small bowl with white, sparkling decorating sugar.
  4. Holding the bottom of the cupcake, gently press it down into the coarse sugar and rock it back and forth in all directions until the icing is completely covered.
  5. Take a regular sized butterscotch chip and gently press it into the center of the cupcake.
  6. Then use mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.
  7. Aren’t they so cute?! How easy was that?

Snowman Cupcakes

 

Jerk Chicken Pasta

Jerk Chicken Pasta Plated

The hardest part of this recipe for me was finding somewhere that sold Jerk seasoning. I looked up and down the spice aisle. Then I tried the international aisle of my local grocery store. Still couldn’t find it. I tried the store across the way from my favorite grocery store. Still couldn’t find it. I found every other type of seasoning spices. Finally I did an internet search. I found it on Amazon of all places.  Finally! This recipes is actually very tasty and not as spicy as I like since my son can’t handle spicy foods. So feel free to adjust the amount of seasoning you use according to your tastes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound Gemelli pasta (or Penne pasta will work too)
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk seasoning (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/3  cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions to al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. . Season chicken breasts all over using 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning per chicken breast.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook chicken until golden and no longer pink, 8 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside to rest.
  4. Add remaining oil and cook peppers until mostly tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add green onions and garlic until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with remaining  tablespoon jerk seasoning.
  6. Add chicken stock and heavy cream and let simmer until thickened, 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, slice prepared chicken.
  8. Add Parmesan and stir until melted and creamy, then add pasta and chicken and toss until completely combined.
  9. Garnish with green onions and more Parmesan and serve.

Jerk Chicken Pasta Skillet