11/30/11

1 Triple Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits

It's late.

You're tired.

You are craving chocolate and you need a quick treat ~

Duncan Hines to the rescue! 

Thanks to FoodBuzz & Duncan Hines, I received some coupons to try through their Tastemaker Program.

Did you know Duncan Hines has specialty cake mixes?  There is a decadent German Chocolate, an Apple Caramel, a Carrot cake mix, and this one...


Did you know Duncan Hines also makes fruit fillings?  Now you know!  With over 25 different fillings to choose from, this is what I picked:




What I came up with is this parfait.  This is a fun, presentable dessert that people would think you spent hours on.  Nope.  Try under an hour. 

Here's how:  Crumble some baked cake in the bottom of a clear glass, add a layer of instant chocolate pudding, whipped cream, raspberry filling, more crumbled cake, finish it with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish it with a dab of raspberry filling. 

My mom commented that this was a very good raspberry filling ... much better than any other she has tried.


So easy.

So fast.

So good.

11/28/11

3 It's Amazing What a Little Frosting Can Do....


"Why are you decorating Christmas trees?" my son asked when he saw this sugar cookie.

Hmmmm....you're right, it DOES look like a Christmas tree, doesn't it?

How about now?


Oh yeah ...  they look like fall leaves!

It's amazing what a little frosting can do, huh?

Speaking of amazing, this little tip saved me a LOT of time in clean up, switching colors of frosting, and it works with whipped cream, too!



Want to get a head start on your holiday baking?  These sugar cookies freeze really well (if they are naked ~ no frosting!) and are ready to decorate on a snowy, house-bound day!


Links to recipes and tips:

11/25/11

54 Utah McDonald's Giveaway & the New Happy Meal! **CLOSED**

Random.org has selected comment #27!
Congratulations, Lars!  Look for an email from me....

Have you heard about the new Happy Meal at McDonald's?

I attended the launch of the new meal with my nieces and other fellow bloggers in the McDonald's located in Herriman, Utah, which opened in April, 2011.






I'm impressed with the new changes.

Did you know that 88% of McDonald's customers are aware of the apple slices option, but only 11% actually choose the apple slices?

If the apple slices are included automatically in every meal, they are more likely to be eaten.

I like that.

Let's take a peek inside ...



Fries!! You have to eat your fries first.  It's a rule.  Cold fries don't taste as good.


I was whisked away to take a back tour of the kitchen.  What a treat!

Wow.  I was impressed with the quality and efficiency!  It was like watching a well choreographed dance, workers zipping here and there, making sure everything was hot and fresh.


McDonald's is making an effort to provide healthier options such as oatmeal, fruit parfaits, Premium salads and chicken sandwiches.



I enjoyed a Premium Grilled Chicken sandwich, apple slices and a drink for only 385 calories.  Yum!



Are you ready to try the lighter fare at McDonald's? 

Well, if you live in Utah, you can take your kids, your friends, AND their kids on a Special Play Date, courtesy of McDonald's Utah!

One lucky reader can win gift certificates for the following:

10  New Happy Meals
10 Premium Salads
3 Premium Chicken Sandwiches

Cool, huh?

All you have to do is leave a comment to enter.  You can't win if you don't enter, right?

In fact, you can enter ONCE PER DAY, up til midnight, Dec. 1.

Want two more entries? (Two additional entries MAX per person....please don't tweet this every day!)

Tweet this post ~ Leave me the link
Share it on FaceBook ~ leave me the link

Please make sure you include an email address if your profile does not include one.  I need a way to contact you if you win!

Good luck!

Giveaway ends midnight, MST December 1, 2011.  Random.org will select one comment and reader will be contacted via email and shared on this blog.

Read about the new Happy Meal from other Utah bloggers ~

SNAP

A Utah Mom's Life

My nieces and I received a meal that was thoroughly enjoyed, compliments of McDonald's Utah and sponsors of the Play Date giveaway.  I received no compensation for this post.  All opinions are 100% mine. 

11/23/11

7 5 Favorite Dinner Roll Shapes

Feather Wheat Cloverleaf Rolls

Today, because it is the day before Thanksgiving, I am making rolls.

Lots and lot of rolls.

276 rolls, to be exact ~ for my friends and family.

I thought I would share some of my favorite rolls shapes with you. 

To view the recipe and/or the roll shaping instructions, click on the name under the picture.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

Orange Swirl Rolls  



Dinner Roll and Outback Bread Rosettes
Dinner Roll Crescents




11/21/11

6 Last Minute Thanksgiving Tips & Favorite Turkey Day Recipes

Did you buy a frozen turkey?

Now's the time to thaw it out!

photo from BHG

There are two ways to thaw out your turkey:

(1) Refrigerator:  for every 5 pounds, you need 24 hours to thaw.  Therefore, a 15 pound turkey will take 3 days.  Put your turkey in a shallow pan to catch any "turkey juice" in your fridge.

(2) Cold Water:  Keep the turkey in the original wrapping and place in sink full of cold water.  Change the water every 30 minutes.  Allow 30 minutes per pound.  Therefore, a 15 pound turkey will take 7.5 hours.  *caution*  If you have a solid surface sink (Corian, Wilsonart, etc.) DO NOT use this method, as it can crack your sink.


If you are hosting dinner this year, I hope you have asked your guests to bring something.  You do not need to do it all!  It's time for someone else to shine or contribute to the meal.  My folks bring veggies, my brother's family makes the stuffing, and my other brother's wife is the queen of desserts.  It also solves the dilemma of trying to bake everything in one oven.

photo from MS Every Day Food

Have a small appetizer ready in case your turkey is running late.  Your guests will appreciate this!  A simple relish plate with cut veggies, olives or other finger foods will do the trick.  


Time saving tips:  I learned this tip from my mother in law.  She makes her mashed potatoes early in the morning (we have the main meal at 1:00 PM) and keeps them warm in a covered crockpot on the warm setting.  If you have the low setting on your crockpot, you may have to stir it every so often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.


Make as many side dishes as you can the day before and reheat on Thanksgiving.  Even dinner rolls can be made the night before, if you have room in your fridge.  If you live in a cold climate, you can keep your covered, unbaked rolls in your garage.  Bring them in 20 minutes before baking and pop them in the oven.  As soon as you take your turkey out, pop the rolls in the oven, make your gravy and dinner will be ready in 15 minutes!

these are from Costco!

Table setting:  have you considered paper plates or disposable ware?  After dinner, everyone wants to sit around and chat, and no one wants to do the dishes!  There are many styles to chose from and it's worth every penny.

Most of all, enjoy the time you are sharing with your friends and family!

Favorite Turkey Day Recipes

Happy Baking,


11/18/11

9 4 Pies to Try for Thanksgiving


Do you love pie?

Have you ever made Fresh Pumpkin pie?  If you do, you will never go back to the canned stuff.

How about a Dazzleberry pie?  This is better than the frozen stuff from the store...


There's nothing wrong with an Caramel Apple Crumb pie at Thanksgiving....it is always a favorite.  It's even better with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream...


My favorite?  German Chocolate Cream pie.


If you have pie crust phobia, check out my Perfect Pie Crust 101 and Pre-Baked pie crust tutorials.

I'm ready to try a new pie.

What should I make next?

11/16/11

2 Polder Giveaway Winner!

Random.org picked out a lucky number!

Drumroll.....






The winning comment, #51, is: 

Congratulations, VickiT!  I've sent it your way!

Now....to think of another giveaway for December ... any ideas?

11/15/11

10 Easy Classic Bread Stuffing...uh...er Dressing!

I did it. 

I ditched the box and made my own stuffing!

I brought a sample to my mom.   "This dressing is good..." she said.

Dressing?  Oh, yeah.  Yay!  She liked it!

Even my normally non-stuffing loving husband liked it.

I couldn't believe how incredibly EASY it was to make and simple the ingredients are.

First, I bough a cheap loaf of white bread at the store...I call this stuff "duck" bread because we feed it to the ducks.  Next time, I'm making the good stuff.  Challah.  Sourdough.  Cornbread.  I can imagine the possibilities!

Cubed the bread into 1/2" chunks and spread it flat onto a baking sheet to dry.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "Why dry the bread?"


You are going to be adding a boatload of moist stuff and you do not want your bread to be soggy! 


You've got 3 choices of how to dry your bread:

(1)  Overnight.  If you've got pets, hide your bread crumbs in the (turned off) oven!
(2)  In a 300°F oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring twice, then cool.  Bread will continue to dry as it cools.
(3) Dehydrating.  I chose this option.  I turn my convection oven to the dehydrate setting and it was done in 1 hour. 

You could skip the whole bread drying thing and go for plain croutons.  My sister in law told me that Kneaders is saving the ends of their breads, bagging them and selling them to their customers. 

Chop up some onions celery.  Easy, right?


Melt some butter in a skillet and cook the onions/celery till soft and tender.

There's no right or wrong way to do this ... my mom sprinkles the poultry seasoning onto the bread crumbs.  I decided to throw it into this buttery mixture!

Take a deep whiff....


You can add salt, it depends on your chicken stock.  I opted to leave it out and it tasted great!

Put the bread crumbs and onion mixture into a large bowl.

Drizzle 1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken stock, making sure you coat EVERY crumb for a moist, tender stuffing.


Pour mixture into a buttered baking dish.  I drizzled the top with 1/2 cup chicken stock and covered the pan with foil.



Bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake for 15 minutes to crisp up the top.

I love the combo of moist, savory, and crispy!


Easy Classic Bread Stuffing
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)

11/11/11

5 4 Ways to Make Dinner Rolls Ahead

One oven.
Turkey.
Yams.  With marshmallows.
Stuffing.
Hot, fresh dinner rolls.

Is it possible to have hot dinner rolls on Thanksgiving?


Yes, it is!

The first two methods utilize your fridge.  The next two utilize your freezer.

(1)  Brown N Serve

Dough is made, proofed, shaped and proofed before baking.  The oven temperature is lowered to 225°F and the rolls are baked for 20 minutes.

Place the rolls immediately on a cooling rack.  The rolls should be pale in color and as they cool, they will get slightly wrinkly.


Store the rolls in a food-safe plastic bag in the fridge for up to one week.

Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes.


*note* I thought these rolls looked/tasted great until I compared them with a picture of my fresh rolls.  These just look lighter, fluffier, and prettier...


(2)  Shape, Put in the Fridge

Put your shaped rolls on a lightly greased pan, parchment or Silpat.
Cover with plastic wrap and store in your fridge for UP TO 24 hoursNO LONGER.


Bring out of the fridge, turn your oven on and bake as directed:  375°F for 12-15 min.

*note* These taste great ~ just make sure you bake these the next day!

(3)  Shape, Rise & Freeze

Dough is made, proofed, shaped and proofed before freezing.  Lightly spray the tops of rolls, cover with plastic wrap, making sure no air can enter.


*note* I had a devil of a time getting these frozen rolls out of the muffin tins.  I suppose dipping the bottom of the muffin tin would melt the butter a little and release the rolls...kinda like a jello mold, huh?  I'm sure a silicone muffin pan would work wonders!

After 6 hours, place rolls in a freezer safe bag and store up to 3 months.

Take out of the freezer, put into greased muffin tins and let raise till double in a warm, draft free place.  The oven, set at 200°F, turned OFF, and with a shallow pan of hot water is a great place.  It only took 90 minutes to thaw these out.  Touch them lightly and make sure they feel light and springy.


Bake as directed, 375°F oven for 12-15 minutes, or till golden brown.

*note*  These tasted great!  I loved plopping them into the pan, setting them to rise for 90 minutes, baking and eating right away.  No work at all!

(4)  Shape & Freeze

Dough is made, proofed, shaped and immediately put into the freezer.  Freeze for 6 hours and place rolls in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months.


Place rolls on lightly greased baking sheet, muffin tin, parchment or Silpat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place for 3-5 hours.  Place proofed rolls in preheated oven and bake as directed.

*note*  These take longer to proof and seemed a little smaller than my fresh rolls.  Still tasted great and had a good crumb...

FINAL NOTE:

Freshly baked rolls win hands down.  If pressed for time, I would choose either method (2) or (3) as they produced the best looking rolls.  It would depend on how much room I had in the fridge (method 2) or in the freezer (method 3).


I think giving out some frozen rolls (Dinner, Cinnamon, or Orange) as neighborhood Christmas treats would be a great idea!

Make Ahead Dinner Rolls
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)
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