Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup Recipe

With the cooler air settling in, it is time for hearty soups and stews!  When the October edition of Food Network magazine arrived, I knew I had to make the cover recipe; broccoli-cheddar soup!  This is one of my favorite soups.  The thick and creamy base adorned with chucks of crunchy broccoli and undertones of cheddar flavor. 

This soup was so easy to make.  Thank you Food Network chefs!  I made a few minor adjustments to the soup to make it a bit healthier, and the end result was amazing.  This soup made so much that I was able to freeze two containers for future dinners for Bill and myself.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup Recipe
Recipe slightly modified from Food Network magazine
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups skim milk
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/3 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/3 cups)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, milk, both potatoes, bay leaf, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl; add 3 tablespoons water and season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes; drain.

When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf from the soup.  Use immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup to a blender and make sure to leave the filler cap slightly open to let steam escape. Return the soup to the pot and thin with water, if necessary. Return to a simmer over medium-low heat; stir in the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.

Add the cheese and stir until melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons, if desired.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day Twelve: Cranberry Walnut Bars Recipe

Day 12 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences brings you Cranberry Walnut Bars!

The combination of cranberries and orange is such an amazing match.  They work perfectly together in these bars with the walnut and butter base.  My family loves to make these bars for many occasions and they are always a crowd pleaser. 

Cranberry Walnut Bars Recipe
Preheat oven 350o

1 3/4 cups walnuts
2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks cold butter – cut into chunks
1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

In a food processor, coarsely chop ½ cup of the walnuts.  Place in a small bowl and set aside.

Again, in the food processor, pulse remaining 1 ¼ cups walnuts, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter until dough clumps together.

Add 1 cup of dough into the small bowl with the reserved walnuts.  Add shredded coconuts.  Mix together and form small clumps.

Take remaining dough and pat it into the bottom of a 9X13 pan lined with parchment paper.  This is the base of the bars.

In a second small bowl, mix together the cranberry sauce and orange zest.  Pour the cranberry sauce over the dough in the 9X13 pan.  Then, sprinkle the walnut coconut mixture on top. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until the top browns.  Allow to cool completely in pan on a rack before cutting.  Lift the parchment paper and bars out of the pan before cutting. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day Eleven: Chewy White Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies Recipe

Day 11 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences brings you Chewy White Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies.  These cookies are sugar and spice and everything nice!

I love how ginger works so well in savory and sweet foods.  The ginger in these cookies is complemented nicely with the creamy white chocolate chips.  I made these cookies extra big, plus they are soft and chewy.  Enjoy!

Chewy White Chocolate Ginger Cookies Recipe
Recipe Modified from A Farm Girls Dabbles
Preheat oven to 350°

3/4 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup white chocolate chips
sugar, for rolling dough balls in

Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add egg and molasses and beat until well mixed.  

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and stir well.  Add wet ingredients until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight, as the dough is quite sticky.  Roll dough into 1″ balls and then roll the balls in sugar.  Place sugared dough balls on parchment lined baking sheet and bake until cracks form on top of the cookie, about 8 to 10 minutes (Mine took about 15 minutes because I made mine cookies about 1.5’’).  

Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day Ten: Sugar Cookie Bars Recipe

Day 10 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences brings you Sugar Cookie Bars.  These bars are sugary and delicious! 

Sugar cookies are the quintessential element to all Christmas dessert traditions.  I remember rolling out the sugar cookie dough with my mother and sister every December and cutting them into familiar Christmas shapes; trees, stars, ornaments, stockings, Santa hats, etc.  We had so much fun decorating them with colored frostings and sprinkles.  But over the days, they would seem to dry out and get too hard. 

Even as I grew older, I have still not been able to master the perfect sugar cookie keeping it soft and chewy.  These sugar cookie bars have saved all my failed attempts at sugar cookies.  Plus, the process for these bars is much quicker.  No rolling out the dough or individual cookie decorating necessary.  They don’t replace the fun shapes, but if you are in a pinch for time and are craving some sugar cookies, these will definitely fill the void.     

Sugar Cookie Bars Recipe
Recipe by Love & Olive Oil
Preheat Oven 375o

Cookie Batter:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup butter; at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons milk
food coloring, if desired

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add to butter mixture and mix just until combined. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet (a 13x18 or 10x15 jelly roll pan) or line with parchment paper. Gently and evenly spread out batter onto sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To prepare frosting, in a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreadable. Add a few drops of color, if desired. Spread over cooled cookie, then cut into bars.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day Nine: Spiced Hot Chocolate Recipe

Day 9 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences brings you Spiced Hot Chocolate.  This hot cocoa will warm you right up on the coldest winter night.

Even though we have had some warm weather these last few weeks, it is finally starting to feel like winter in New England.  We don’t want to think about it, snow will be coming soon, and what better way to warm up after a day outside in the snow than a cup of hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and chili powder! 

This sounds like a strange combination, but trust me that it is wonderful.  The rich chocolate flavor is complemented well by the spices and vanilla.   Whether you like to top your hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallows or leave it plain, you will love this different take on hot chocolate. 

Spiced Hot Chocolate Recipe
Fills 2 Large Mugs

4 cups milk (I used Skim)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of cloves
Dash of nutmeg

In a medium sauce pan, heat milk until lukewarm.  Once the milk is warm, add the cocoa powder and sugar.  Whisk well into the milk.  Next add the vanilla, cinnamon, chili powder, cloves and nutmeg.    Whisk and continue to warm for another 5 minutes while all flavors meld together. 

Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream, marshmallows or leave plain. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day Eight: Cake Batter Truffle Pops Recipe

Day 8 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences brings you No Bake Cake Batter Truffle Pops.  Cake pops are the newest “it” dessert, so bringing these to your holiday dessert table will make you a hero!

These little devils are amazing and highly addictive.  These cake pops are a dessert form of your favorite baking guilty pleasure, licking the batter off the spoon.  Who doesn’t love that?  They might look like they take a lot of work, but I promise you they aren’t.

No Bake Cake Batter Truffle Pops Recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup yellow cake mix
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 - 5 Tablespoons milk
16 ounces white candy melts
Lollipop Sticks

Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 4 Tablespoons of milk or more if needed to make a dough consistency.

Roll dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.

While dough balls are chilling, melt candy melts in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir between intervals.

Using a fork, dip truffles into the melted chocolate and shake off excess bark by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl. Place truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.

Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving.  When ready to serve, insert lollipop stick into the bottom of the cake truffles and stand up in a vase filled with marbles. 
Makes around 24-30 truffles.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day Seven: Chocolate Covered Popcorn Recipe

Day 7 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences brings you chocolate covered popcorn.  This snack is so easy to make, yet festive and fun. 

This popcorn is just as fun to eat as it is to create by drizzling chocolate over the popcorn like a painting.  The quick preparation for this treat allows you to focus on other things on your To Do list for the holidays. 

Chocolate covered popcorn is great as an appetizer or as a party favor in cute Chinese food take out boxes.  Get creative with what you can do with this popcorn.  But I promise, you are going to love the crunchy, chocolaty, salty flavors in each bite!

Chocolate Covered Popcorn Recipe

1/4 cups popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 ounces red melting chocolate
5 ounces green melting chocolate

Pop kernels with vegetable oil in a popcorn popper or on the stove top.  This should yield about 4-6 cups of popped popcorn.  Transfer hot popcorn evenly onto two cookie sheets lined with wax paper in a single layer.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.   

Melt the red and green melting chocolate in two separate bowls per package directions.   Using a spoon for each color, drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn.  Once the chocolate is set break the popcorn into pieces. 


1)       If you don’t want to pop your own popcorn, use plain popped lightly salted popcorn.
2)       Use any colored chocolate for any holiday you are celebrating.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day Six: Coconut Macaroons dipped in Chocolate Recipe

Day 6 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences are mouthwatering coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate!  We are halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences. 

Coconut macaroons are a great winter dessert because I think that they look like snowballs.  Who doesn't love a theme?!?!  I take my macaroons a step further and dip them in chocolate because everything is better with chocolate.  The almond flavor with the flaky coconut makes for the perfect little treat.

Enjoy these on your next holiday dessert buffet!

Coconut Macaroons Dipped in Chocolate Recipe
Recipe from Paula Dean
Preheat Oven 350o

3 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
5 ounces melting chocolate

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, almond extract, and salt. Mix in condensed milk to form a thick paste. Fold in egg whites with cream of tarter.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Once cookies are cooled, dip into melted chocolate and place on a piece of parchment paper to allow chocolate to set.    

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day Five: Peppermint Patty Martini Recipe

Day 5 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is a delicious Peppermint Patty Martini!

It isn’t the holidays without a specialty drink for the party.  This Peppermint Patty Martini is the perfect winter drink.  The creamy Bailey’s is complemented nicely with the sharp peppermint schnapps, making for a smooth refreshing beverage.

Peppermint Patty Martini Recipe
Makes 1 drink

1 ounce Peppermint Schnapps
1 ounce Dark Crème de Cacao
2 ounces Bailey’s Irish Cream

Fill a martini glass with ice to chill the glass.

In a shaker, fill it with ice, 1 oz. Peppermint Schnapps, 1 oz. Dark Crème de Cacao, and 2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Shake well.

Empty out the ice from the martini glass.  Fill martini glass with mixed drink.  Garnish with a candy cane and enjoy!   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day Four: Cranberry Walnut Biscotti Dipped in White Chocolate Recipe

Biscotti are a snack that I love to enjoy, but have never tried to make myself.  So for Day 4 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences I bring to you Cranberry Walnut Biscotti Dipped in White Chocolate.

These biscotti are crunchy, flavorful and perfect with a hot cup of tea.  I think that cranberries and white chocolate make a great pair, especially for the holidays.  These biscotti are so versatile because you can add any of your favorite flavors.  Instead of cranberries and walnuts, you could use toffee, chocolate chunks, dried cherries, etc. 

These would also be perfect for a holiday party favor or gift wrapped in clear cellophane bags with beautiful ribbon. 

Cranberry Walnut Biscotti Dipped in White Chocolate Recipe
Preheat Oven 325o

1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
8 – 10 ounces of melted white chocolate

In a stand up mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Next, mix in the eggs and vanilla. 

In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into wet ingredients.  Once the batter is mixed together, fold in the cranberries and walnuts until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Divide the mixture and form two logs on each baking sheet.  Flatten the logs to be 3/4 – 1 inch thick and about 12 inches long.   Bake the biscotti for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes, then cut the biscotti and place back onto lined baking sheets.  Bake again for another 18-20 minutes.
Once the biscotti cools, dip into white chocolate and place on baking sheet to allow chocolate to set. 

1)      If you don’t have melting chocolate, the biscotti are excellent without the chocolate.
2)      Feel free to mix in other flavors instead of the cranberries and walnuts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day Three: Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

For Day 3 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences I wanted to give you all a super easy, very delicious dessert recipe; Peanut Butter Bars.  These bars only have 4 ingredients!  It can’t get much easier than that.

I love buckeyes {peanut butter chocolate balls}.  They are always a party favorite, but I never seem to have the time to roll out each of the peanut butter balls and then dip each one in chocolate.  But this recipe gives you all those flavors in a one step bar form.   

Peanut Butter Bars Recipe
Preheat Oven 350o

2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 cups chunky peanut butter
3 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.  Then, blend in the peanut butter and 1 cup of chocolate chips.  {Here I actually used mini-chocolate chips}. 

In a square 8 X 8 baking pan, line it with a piece of parchment paper with the paper overflowing out of the pan.  The paper overflowing out of the pan will later be your handles to pull out the bars, making it easier to cut. 

Pour the peanut butter mixture into the baking pan on top of the parchment paper.  Use a small, flat bottomed spatula to smooth out the top.   Evening pour 2 1/4 cups chocolate chips on the top.  Place the pan in the oven for 25 minutes. 

Remove the bars from the oven and immediately smooth the melted chocolate chips with a small spatula.  Let this set up at room temperature for at least 2 hours, before cutting.  To speed it up, you can place it in the refrigerator for an hour. 

To cut the bars, I found it easier to place the chocolate side down on my cutting board.  This gave me a cleaner cut and piece. 


1)      If you don’t have chunky peanut butter, smooth would work fine.
2)      To make these festive for the holiday, I added some Christmas themed sprinkles. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day Two: Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

For Day 2 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences I bring to you Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread.   

Oh boy, this pumpkin bread recipe sure is a treat!  If the cinnamon swirl isn’t calling your name, the chocolate chips scattered through each bite will.  This bread is extremely moist with a crunchy cinnamon sugar top.  Imagine having this special bread on Christmas morning after opening all of the gifts under the tree.  

These loaves would also be wonderful gifts for neighbors, party hosts, teachers, holiday baskets, etc.  But don’t worry, this recipe makes two loaves, so you can keep one for yourself! 

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe
Recipe from Keep It Sweet
Makes 2 loaves
Preheat Oven 350o

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup oil
2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
4 ounces semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (Mix your own or use pre-mixed)

In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Next, mix oil, pumpkin puree, water and eggs.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients until the batter is well incorporated. 

Spray two 2 pound loaf pans with cooking spray.  Fill up the pans halfway with the batter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and mini chocolate chips.  Pour the remaining batter into the two loaf pans, filling the pans about 3/4 of the way.  Sprinkle the tops with additional cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips. 

Cook the breads about an hour.  Depending on your oven, it might take more time.  After an hour remove from the oven and use a toothpick to test if the bread is cooked.

1)      I actually do not have two loaf pans, so I made one loaf and a dozen muffins!  They are just as delicious in the muffin form. 
2)      This recipe would be excellent without the chocolate chips, if you wish to omit them. 
3)      Walnuts or pecans would also be excellent added into this bread.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day One: Chocolate Nutella Cookies Recipe

Cookies can always be found on the holiday dessert buffet, so I only found it fitting to start the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences with chocolate nutella cookies.  These cookies are simple to make, but they make a statement.  With a fudgy center and amazing nutella flavor, they will accompany any holiday party perfectly. 

If you leave these cookies out for Santa, he will definitely stop at your house!

Chocolate Nutella Cookies Recipe
Makes 3 Dozen
Preheat oven to 325o

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract
1/3 cup Nutella
1/3 cup milk

In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy.  Next, add the vanilla and hazelnut extract.  Once the extracts are well incorporated, add the Nutella and mix batter until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients in two batches while alternating with the milk.  Mix the dough until all ingredients are incorporated.  Chill the dough for 15 minutes before baking.

Line two baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Scoop tablespoons of cookie dough and roll into balls.  Gently press down on the dough balls and place on the lined cookie sheets.  Make sure to leave enough space between the cookies while baking.

Bake cookies for 10-11 minutes or until soft and starting to set.  Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes.  Transfer to a cooking rack and let them cool completely before plating. 
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