holiday

Top 7 Recipes of 2014

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Top 7 Recipes of 2014 on CookingwithAmanda.com

2014 was a great first year for the Cooking with Amanda blog. We are new and we are growing and can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring! We’re going to have some fun this year, we’ve got some plans for various “Theme Weeks” in the works (Travel Week, Comfort Food Week, Crock Pot Week, just to name a few…) and we can’t wait to get started!

For now, we just wanted to share our “Top 7” recipes of last year, so that you may enjoy them once again, or if you missed them the first time around.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and tasty new year!

1. Banana Bread

Banana Bread

2. Red Velvet Cool Whip Cookies

Red Velvet Cool Whip Cookies

3. Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Cookies

4. Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn

5. Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms

6. Turkey Noodle Soup

Turkey noodle soup

7. Christmas M&M Pretzel Treats

Pretzel M&M Treats

Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberry Sauce

I made my first “homemade” cranberry sauce tonight. It turned out really well! I’m not a fan of the jelly cranberry sauce from a can, but I really like other things with cranberry, so I thought I would try to make my own. I added a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon and that made all the difference in the world.

Cranberry Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cups fresh cranberries
Optional additions: Orange zest, raisins, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or allspice.

Instructions:
1. Rinse cranberries. Throw away any damaged or bruised cranberries. Pour the water, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir well to dissolve sugar.
2. Add the cranberries to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst. I mushed them up a little bit once they were soft.
3 You can leave the cranberry sauce as it is, or add some other fun ingredients. You could add raisins or even blueberries for nice sweet flavor. I love cinnamon and nutmeg, so I added a bit of each of those to mine.
4. Remove the pan from heat. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl to put in the refrigerator. The cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. It will be ready to serve after 30 minutes or so.

Buckeye Balls

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Buckeye Balls

Buckeye Balls are one of those holiday treats that you will always remember the very first time you had one. They are just so good, they will make a lasting impression in your mind. And if you haven’t had them yet, what are you waiting for?? They are amazing! The peanut butter balls are so soft and wonderful. The chocolate coating on the bottom goes so well with the peanut butter, they will melt in your mouth. And then you will want another!

Buckeye BallsMaking the peanut butter filling can be a bit tricky. Make sure you work the dough thoroughly. I use a Kitchen Aid and then use my hands to knead the dough a little more. When you make the balls, they might be very crumbly if you don’t mix the dough well enough. This is an all-hands-on-deck kind of recipe. I bring anyone who is home, in to help form the peanut butter balls. Otherwise, it would take forever.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (1-pound) box confectioners sugar
9 oz. (about 1½ cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp shortening

Buckeye Balls

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners sugar using a Kitchen Aid mixer. It will be dry and crumbly at first, but keep working it until everything is very evenly mixed.You may need to knead it by hand as well.
2. Form into 2 large balls, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes.
3. Shape into tablespoon sized balls. Roll them in your hands to smooth. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
4. Refrigerate for about an hour.
5. In a small saucepan melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. When smooth, remove from heat.
6. Use a toothpick to dip each ball into chocolate mixture and place back on baking sheet.
7. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. (About an hour.) Use the back of a spoon to smooth over toothpick holes.
8. Eat. Share. Enjoy.

Buckeye Balls

Chocolate Fudge

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Chocolate Fudge

This is quite possibly the easiest fudge in the world to make. It’s simple, basic and only requires 5 ingredients. And only 4 ingredients if you don’t add the nuts. I happen to like nuts, but just didn’t have any in the pantry. This fudge is great to take to holiday gatherings, give as gifts, or just enjoy by yourself!

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups (18 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Dash salt
1/2 to 1 cups chopped nuts (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil.
2. Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over low heat.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
4. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan by lifting edges of foil. Cut into squares.

Chocolate Fudge

Red Velvet Cool Whip Cookies

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Red Velvet Cool Whip Cookies

My friend Amy gave me this recipe. She told me these cookies are amazing and she was right! They’re gorgeous too. Also, they’re super easy to make!

Ingredients:
1 package of Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 tub of Cool Whip
1 egg
Powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together, using an electric mixer if possible.
2. Roll dough into tbsp sized balls and roll in powdered sugar.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
4. Enjoy!

Best Pumpkin Cookies Ever

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Pumpkin Cookies

These are by far the BEST Pumpkin Cookies EVER. In the ENTIRE world. Seriously. You will thank me when you make them and proceed to stuff your face with them. They are that good. And do you know what else? They are so simple to make!

Pumpkin Cookies

Do you see this box of pumpkin bread? Well, all you need to make these cookies is this box of pumpkin bread mix, 1 egg and 1 stick of butter. That’s it. Well, and a teeny bit of cinnamon sugar. But that’s it! Simple, right? I have been making these cookies for years and my family always looks forward to indulging in them around the holidays. They have become somewhat of a tradition in our house.

Here are the instructions:

Ingredients:
1 box of pumpkin quick bread mix (store brand or Pillsbury)
1 stick of melted butter
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine bread mix, butter and egg; stir until dry particles are moistened.
2. In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove cookies from cookie sheets and set on wire rack until cool. Store in air tight container. Makes 24 cookies.
4. EAT AND ENJOY!

Pumpkin Cookies

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

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Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

If you are looking for a fun and easy (and amazing smelling!) craft to do with your family, this might just be it! All you need are 2 ingredients, a few cookie cutters, a straw, a little ribbon and some rubber gloves.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

I did this with a group of friends yesterday. We made A LOT of ornaments. You might not want this much, so just divide the recipe to make how ever many you would like. This particular recipe will make around 35 ornaments.

Ingredients/Supplies:
1 16-oz. container of cinnamon (We got ours at a restaurant supply store.)
2 cups applesauce
Colorful Ribbon
Rubber gloves
Straws (to make the holes)

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Instructions:
Pour the 16 oz. container of cinnamon in a fairly large bowl. Add the 2 cups of applesauce.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Mix the cinnamon and applesauce together with your hands until the mixture is doughy. (Helpful Hint: Use rubber gloves or you’ll be digging cinnamon out of your fingernails for weeks.)

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a flat surface. Spread some cinnamon on the surface to keep dough from sticking. Do not use flour, it will discolor your ornaments and will get eventually create mold. You don’t want that!

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Create cut-outs using your cookie cutters.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Spread the ornaments on a large pan to dry. These do not have to be baked. If you let them sit for a few days (and flip them a couple of times each day), they will harden on their own. I have also found instructions where you can bake them in an oven at 200 degrees for an hour or so, if you’d like them to be done sooner. You will also want to flip those a couple of times if you choose the baking route. They edges will tend to curl if you don’t flip them.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Once your ornaments are complete, finish them off by tying ribbons through the holes and hanging them on your tree! You could also give them away as gifts or tie them on gifts as an extra touch.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Concord Grape Swizzle

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Concord Grape Swizzle

I invented a new drink last night. I’m calling it the “Concord Grape Swizzle”. I think it has a fun little ring to it. My husband picked up a bottle of Swedish Hill Concord Grape wine for us to enjoy. We love our New York State wines, especially the nice sweet wines.

Concord Grape Swizzle

As I was sipping the wine, I thought, I wonder what it might be like if I added some bubbly ginger ale and a slice of lime? Both of which I just happened to have in the fridge. The result was a yummy, new favorite drink!

Instructions:
1. Fill a glass 1/3 full of Swedish Hill Concord Grape Wine (Use grape juice as a nice non-alcoholic substitute.)
2. Fill another 1/3 of the glass with your favorite Ginger Ale.
3. Add ice and a slice of lime. (I threw a few cranberries in too, just because.)
4. Drink and enjoy.

Cheers!

Concord Grape Swizzle