Melissa's Cuisine: December 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Recipes of 2013

What a year!  I published over 140 posts this year, not all recipes, but that is a lot of new recipes!  As I was working on this post, I had the chance to go back and look through a lot of my posts from this year, and my goodness, there were some good ones!  I hope you enjoyed what I posted this year.  To close out this year, I'd like to continue my tradition of doing a round up of this year's most popular recipes.  Since it's 2013, I'll feature the top 13 (original, I know!).

12.  3-2-1 Cake

Have a great new year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

P.F. Chang's for the Holidays

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Changs for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever been to P.F. Chang’s restaurant?  Mike and I have been there and we love it!  We don't go too often because the closest one is nearly an hour drive from our house, but it is certainly worth making the drive!  Our favorite menu item is P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps.  They are so delicious, I could make a meal just from that appetizer!

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This Holiday season, P.F. Chang's is introducing new Holiday menu items.  Some of their highlights are handmade dessert wontons, which come in Chocolate Raspberry and Sweet Vanilla Cheese flavors, and their handcrafted beverages--Peppermint Mocha Cappuccino and Vanilla Bean Milkshake.  Oh, my mouth is watering just looking at these pictures!

If you haven't been to P.F. Chang's before (or even if you have!) I'd encourage you to make the trip soon to try these new Holiday items.  I know I'll be asking Mike if we can make the drive for a little date night!  I would love to make a meal of lettuce wraps, Chocolate Raspberry dessert wontons, and a Vanilla Bean Milkshake. 

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Did you know you can stay up to date on all of P.F. Chang's new menu offerings by following them on Twitter (Follow @pfchangs) and you can Follow P.F. Chang’s on Pinterest?

What menu item are you most excited to try?

Visit Sponsor's Site

Deliciously Simple and Simply Delicious!

Melissa's Cuisine
Do you like trying new things? I do! So when I was offered the opportunity to sample the new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Deliciously Simple and Country Crock Simply Delicious spreads, I jumped at the chance!

Both spreads are made with real ingredients like cream and yogurt.  They are made without partially hydrogenated oils and have no trans fat! Honestly, with all the bad media regarding trans fat, I'm thrilled to have a delicious product to enjoy without health concerns.

I wanted to really enjoy the flavor of the spreads, so I first tried them on a slice of toasted baguette.  I loved the taste and began looking for other ways to enjoy the spreads.  I would describe the taste as slightly sweet--I think it's because of the yogurt and cream.  It's so nice to have an all natural product that tastes good too!

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Deliciously Simple and Country Crock Simply Delicious spreads are great for every day uses, like topping mashed potatoes, making grilled cheese, and perhaps my favorite, on a buttery slice of crusty bread with cheese!  I really enjoyed these delicious spreads and I know they will be a staple in my fridge. 

Disclaimer: I was sent a sample package from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and Country Crock for the purpose of this review. I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monkey Bread

A sticky pull apart bread--the perfect breakfast to start your day!  It would make a delicious Christmas morning breakfast!
Melissa's Cuisine: Monkey Bread
Not too long ago I realized that I have shared a couple variations of monkey bread but I have not shared the original version. It's about time to fix that don't you think?  (You'll want to check out my variations too though, Pumpkin Caramel Monkey BreadChocolate Brioche Monkey Bread and French Monkey Bread!)

Monkey Bread is one of my favorite breakfast foods. It's pretty simple to make and quite delicious. In fact, I made a pan for breakfast the day I went into labor with Summer. I only got to enjoy a small piece, but my friends who watched Champ for us were thrilled at the treat I left for them. Let's just say the pan was scraped clean by time we got home from the hospital.

If you have never had Monkey Bread before, you are missing out! The premise is simple: buttermilk biscuits rolled in cinnamon sugar, covered in a sticky syrup, and baked in a Bundt Pan . It is so simple to make and incredibly fun (and delicious) to eat. Sometimes I won't quarter the biscuits, then we call it Gorilla bread!

Melissa's Cuisine: Monkey Bread
Monkey Bread

Serves 8-10

1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cinnamon
4 cans buttermilk biscuits
1 cup butter

1.  Combine sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

2.  Break biscuits into quarters.

3.  Roll biscuits in the cinnamon sugar.  (Sometimes I will put the cinnamon sugar in a ziploc bag, and add about 20 biscuit pieces.  Then I shake it up to coat the biscuits.)

4.  Place coated biscuits in a greased bundt pan.

5.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.

6.  Add the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture to the melted butter and stir to combine.

7.  Pour the sugar syrup evenly over the biscuits in the bundt pan.

8.  Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes, until the top biscuits are browned.

9.  Allow the monkey bread to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before inverting on a serving plate.  Serve warm.  (You can also leave the bread in the pan to serve.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes are a fun and delicious individual dessert; they are perfect for all your holiday parties!
Melissa's Cuisine: Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
I love individual foods!  There's something special about having a cute little dish of food all to myself!

I think individual desserts are perfect for this time of the year. They come together quickly and easily; they travel well; they taste delicious!  And perhaps best of all, these cheesecakes can be prepared ahead of time, so when it's time for dessert, there is very little fuss.  Just pull the cheesecakes from the fridge, add a spoon and dessert is served!

I used plastic wine glasses for these desserts, which made clean up even easier.  You can use small glass wine glasses, or any other small serving dishes you might have.  I just recommend using clear glass dishes to show off the beauty of this simple dessert.

You can use any flavor of pie filling to top the cheesecakes.  I made these for our Thanksgiving dinner and opted for strawberry pie filling because I knew everyone at our dinner likes it.  I've also been experimenting with adding flavors into the cheesecake part, so stay tuned for some more fun flavors in the coming months!
Melissa's Cuisine: Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

Serves 12

12 graham cracker sheets
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 can strawberry pie filling

1.  Crush graham crackers in your food processor until they are fine crumbs.  If you don't have a food processor, you can put the crackers in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

2.  Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

3.  Divide the graham cracker crust between your serving dishes.

4.  In the bowl of your mixer, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the cream cheese until smooth.

5.  Divide the cheesecake filling over the crust in the serving dishes.  I found it was easiest to scoop the filling into a pastry bag and pipe it into the glasses.

6.  Scoop the pie filling on top of the cheesecake filling.

7.  Chill the cheesecakes until you're ready to serve.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

No-Bake Cookies

A traditional cookie filled with chocolate, peanut butter, and oats!
Melissa's Cuisine: No-bake Cookies
Milk and cookies. Everyone's favorite, right?  Nope, not me!  I know, I'm the odd one out.  Especially in my family where Mike can down a glass of milk in about 30 seconds.  I don't like milk, not one bit!  I pour the smallest amount possible on my cereal, just enough to barely wet it.  And you'll never catch me drinking the last little bit left in the bottom of the bowl; the dog gets that!

I blame my mom for my dislike of milk.  You see, when I was growing up we had a rule: you have to have a glass of milk with one meal a day, and that milk has to be finished before you get dessert or get to leave the table.  I spent many nights sitting at the table gagging at the thought of drinking my milk.  Eventually, my mom realized that it was a losing battle, and she stopped making me drink milk as long as I took a calcium supplement and ate yogurt.  But since then, I just can't stand milk.

Chocolate milk though?  I can tolerate that.  I still don't down it like Mike does, but the chocolate makes it totally different in my mind.  My parents have actually gotten in the habit of bringing me chocolate milk so that I am getting calcium and nutrients for nursing Summer.  See, my mom is still making me drink milk!  (Just kidding mom!)

Anyway, milk and cookies.  How about milk in cookies?  And, since I was out of regular white milk when I had this craving for no-bake cookies, I used chocolate milk!  Honestly, I can't really tell a difference, so go ahead and use whatever you have in the house.

No-bake Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk, white or chocolate :)
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats

1.  Combine the butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan.

2.  Heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.  Allow it to boil for 1 minute.

3.  Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until the peanut butter melts into the chocolate mixture.

4.  Stir in oats until they're completely coated with the chocolate mixture.

5.  Drop the cookies by the Tablespoonful onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Cool until set.

Store in an airtight container.  I refrigerate mine so they don't melt.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Oreo Cookie Ball Santa Hats

These adorable Santa Hat Oreo Cookie Balls are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!
Melissa's Cuisine: Oreo Cookie Ball Santa Hats
This past Saturday was our 3rd annual Christmas Cookie Exchange at my mom's friend's house.  As in the years past, everyone brought gorgeous cookies!  We enjoyed a delicious lunch, good company, and fun cookies.  Though I have to say, the newest addition to our group absolutely stole the show! 
I don't think anyone minded though!

If you've been anywhere on social media (especially Pinterest!) since October, I'm sure you've seen all kinds of Christmas cookie ideas.  I spent a good amount of time looking for the perfect cookie to bring to the cookie exchange.  When I saw these Santa Hats, I knew I had scored! I'd previously made S'mores Thumbprint Cookies and Christmas colored Swirl Cookies, so I wanted to keep my tradition of creative cookies.
Melissa's Cuisine: Oreo Cookie Ball Santa Hats
I do have to admit that these cookies were much more time consuming than I had expected.  However the cuteness factor made it worthwhile, and they are pretty tasty too!  Though time consuming, the method of making these cookies is quite simple.  Mix together crushed cookies and cream cheese, shape into hats, dip in melted chocolate, and then decorate.  I had fun making them and I think you will too!
Melissa's Cuisine: Oreo Cookie Ball Santa Hats
Oreo Cookie Ball Santa Hats

Makes 18-20 cookies

1 package Oreo cookies
1 package cream cheese
2-3 cups Red Candy Melts
1 cup White Candy Melts
18-20 mini marshmallows
white sprinkles (optional)

1.  Crush the Oreo cookies in your food processor. (Depending on the size of yours, you may need to do this in batches.)

2.  Combine the crushed cookies and cream cheese in a medium bowl.  You can use a mixer or your hands (like I did!)

3.  Scoop out cookie "dough" and roll into 1" balls.  Then pinch the top of the balls into a cone shape.

4.  Place formed hats on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in your freezer for about an hour.

5.  In a microwave safe measuring cup, melt the red candy melts.  I usually do mine for a minute and then additional 15 second increments until the candy has melted and can be stirred smooth. (Actual time may depend on your microwave.)

6.  Dip each cookie hat into the melted red candy, allow the excess coating to drip off, and then place the cookie back on the cookie sheet until the candy hardens.

7.  While the red candy is hardening, melt the white candy melts.

8.  Dip the bottoms of the hats in white candy.  Return to the cookie sheet to harden.

9.  If desired, moisten the marshmallows with water and then roll in white sprinkles.  (I just got my fingertips wet and then touched the marshmallows to moisten them.)

10.  Dip one side of the marshmallow in the white candy and then attach it to the top of the red hat.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Source: Shugary Sweets

Friday, December 06, 2013

Christmas Cookies {Round Up}

It's that time of the year when cookies are abundant! To help you get in the baking mood, I've compiled a round up of over 30 Christmas cookie recipes.  I'm sure you'll be inspired and maybe find a new family favorite!
Melissa's Cuisine:  Christmas Cookies {Round Up}

Here are links to the cookies in the above collage:
Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies
Peppermint Chocolate Biscotti
Snowman Cookies
Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies
Pecan Snowballs
S'mores Thumbprint Cookies
Hot Chocolate Snowballs
Melting Snowmen Cookie Balls 
Strawberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies
You can view all of my cookie recipes here.
Peppermint Patty Cookies

White Snowflake Cookies

Homemade Sugar Cookies

Easy No Bake Cookies
Fruitcake Cookies

Easy Microwave Gingerbread Cookies

Letter to Santa Butter Cookies
7 Layer Cookies

Molasses Crinkles

Turtle Cookies
Chocolate Stuffed Shortbread Cookies

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies

Rosemary Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Christmas Chocolate Drops

Chocolate Capped Milano Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Cookies
Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies

M&M Christmas Cookies

Oatmeal Craisins Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal, Coconut, Cereal Cookies

Honey Lemon Cookies
Snickers Stuffed Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

Gingerbread Man Cookies
M&M Cookies

Reese's Cookies
Candy Cane Chewy Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Scotchies

Double Mint Chocolate Cookies
Triple Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Rum Balls

Happy baking!
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