Chocolate Covered Toffee


Here's a delightful recipe to make for your family during the holidays. Delicious!

1 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar, water, and corn syrup, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300 degrees on candy thermometer). This process may take 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread half of the nuts in a lightly buttered oblong cake pan. Top with half of the chocolate. When the syrup is ready, pour over nuts and chocolate. Immediately top with remaining chocolate and then the remaining nuts. Wait 3-4 minutes, then gently press down with a rubber spatula to spread the chocolate evenly.

While the candy is still warm, loosen it from the baking sheet. When cool, break into chunks. Makes 24-36 pieces of candy.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Veggie Bars

Here's a yummy recipe to use for church potluck dinners or for family entertaining. Enjoy!

2 packages crescent rolls
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1/2 cup broccoli
1/2 cup cauliflower
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup carrot
1/2 cup cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press rolls into sheet cake pan to cover bottom. Bake for 11-13 minutes until lightly golden. Cool. In large bowl, mix sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and dressing mix. Spread on cooled rolls. Process vegetables in food processor until finely ground. Press into cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle on top with shredded cheese. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. Cut into bars to serve. Makes 36
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Nike Chillemi's Easy Festive Baked Mac 'n Cheese

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chair, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. HARMFUL INTENT released under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press, won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense/Historic Suspense category. Her new release is DEADLY DESIGNS. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network. Learn more about Nike HERE.

Nike's Latest Book Release: Deadly Designs

Private investigator Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels teams up with Deputy Dawson Hughes to find a geeky radio broadcaster's missing wife and young daughter. They fear the woman and child were taken by Islamic terrorists as revenge against the husband's pro-Israel, conspiracy theory broadcasts. The investigation takes Ronnie and Hughes from a manicured Connecticut estate, to interviews with an elitist A-List society crowd, and run-ins with cranky local police detectives. Then they plunge deep into the seamy, drug-riddled underbelly of the fashion world, with the specter of international terrorism hovering.

Hughes has recently been promoted to lieutenant in the Taylor County, Texas Sheriff's Department. He's on leave on a special assignment with Authorized Operations (AO), a clandestine, quasi-government agency operating out of a sea-side mansion in Hither Hills, NY. The only thing is, many powerful politicians, and government big-wigs claim Authorized Operations doesn't exist.

Ronnie is furious at both Hughes and the broadcaster for waiting thirty-six hours to start the search. She knows the longer it takes, the less chance there is of finding the child alive. The problem is, radio talk-show host Ed Harper has been hoping-against-hope that his pot-smoking, model wife is on one of her 'esoteric experiences' and has simply taken the child while she romps for a few days. He doesn't want to seriously consider the other, more hazardous possibility… that his radio broadcasts have angered some very dangerous people. Purchase the book HERE. 

Nike's Recipe for Easy Festive Baked Mac 'n Cheese

16 oz. box of bow-tie pasta (or any pasta)
16 oz. jar Ragu Double Cheddar Cheese Sauce (or any cheese sauce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 oz  jar Hormel Bacon Bits or Hormel Bacon Pieces
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 beefsteak tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta slightly less than package directions. (I like to use bow-tie pasta because it looks festive and will hold up after boiling and baking, but any pasta will due.) Drain pasta. Spray a rectangular baking dish well with cooking spray. 

Return pasta to the pot, mix in one jar of yellow cheese sauce. (I use Ragu Double Cheddar, but Velveeta is good too.) Add salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Stir in gently so you don't break the pasta. Pour half of pasta and cheese mixture into the sprayed pan and smooth evenly. Top with a layer of (1.5 oz) real bacon bits and (4 oz) shredded cheddar.

Using a large cooking spoon, spread remaining pasta and cheese mixture carefully onto the bacon bits and shredded cheddar. Cover with thick slices of large ripe tomatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and bacon bits onto the tomato slices covering them. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until luscious and bubbly. Remove foil and bake remaining 15 minutes. Some of the top pasta pieces will be crispy. Let stand five minutes, then bring to the table. Protect your hands with potholders and be sure to set the pan on a heat proof trivet.

Note: the photo shown of mine is before it went into the oven. This has always been a crowd pleaser. It can be baked at home then transported covered with foil and warmed in an oven, or baked entirely when you get to wherever you're eating your holiday meal.

Easy Thanksgiving Dressing

Here's a recipe I've tweaked based on my mother-in-law's holiday recipe.

1 lb. ground sausage
1 - 6 oz box turkey stuffing mix
1 - 6 oz. box cornbread stuffing mix
3 1/3 cups water
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
Seasoning packets
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup pine nuts

Brown sausage in skillet and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine seasoning packets with water and butter. Add chopped apricots. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, covered. Remove from heat. Add bread crumbs, sausage, and pine nuts. Stir to moisten. Cover and let stand an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve. Makes 10-12 servings.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Cottage Cheese Butterhorn Rolls

Here is a fun little recipe when you need a sweet treat. Goes well with potluck dinners or for picnics.

1 cup margarine
12 oz cottage cheese
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, cream together margarine and cottage cheese. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Refrigerate for four hours. Divide dough into three parts. On floured board, form each into a ball and roll into a circle. Slice into 12 wedges. Roll up each wedge, starting at the wide end. Place point side down on greased cookie sheet. Bake rolls for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with icing. 
 Makes 36. 

2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Chili Cheese Roll

Here's a delicious recipe to make for the upcoming holiday season. Especially good with crackers and Homemade Salami. Enjoy!

8 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. Velvetta cheese
16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoon garlic powder

In large bowl, mix together cream cheese, Velvetta cheese, and cheddar cheese. Using plastic wrap, shape into 2-3 log rolls. In small bowl, combine chili powder and garlic powder. Sprinkle onto parchment paper and roll each log in chili powder mixture to cover. Roll again in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. To serve, cut each into 1/2" slices.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Cranberry Salad

This is a favorite recipe to use this Thanksgiving.

4 cups raw cranberries, ground
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
2-3 oz. cherry gelatin
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 cups diced apples
1 cup chopped pecans

In medium saucepan, cook cranberries in water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar and cherry gelatin until dissolved. Let cool and add remaining ingredients. Pour into large serving bowl. Chill until set.
Click here for a printable view of this recipe.

Gina Welborn's Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Gina Welborn worked for a news radio station until she fell in love with writing romances. She's the author of eight inspirational romances, including the 2014 Selah finalist "Mercy Mild" in ECPA-bestselling Mistletoe Memories. She serves on the ACFW Foundation Board by helping raise funds for scholarships. She is also the webmaster for the Southwest Oklahoma Corvette Club. Gina lives with her pastor husband, their five Okie-Hokie children, two rabbits, four guinea pigs, and a dog that doesn't realize rabbits and pigs are edible.

Gina's Latest Book Release: Christmas Traditions
EIGHT CBA and Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors present heartwarming novellas of Christmases gone by, where the true meaning of the season warms your heart and love flows as fast as apple cider. Includes a brand new release, “Eleven Pipers Piping,” and also Selah Award finalist, “The Fruitcake Challenge.” Grab your favorite drink, no matter the temperature outside, curl up in a cozy chair and lose yourself in holiday romance.

Featuring “Holly Daze” by Gina Welborn

After a year of geological surveying northeastern Iowa, English paleontologist James Holly yearns to join a fossil dig in Colorado. Although amused by the town’s folklore and Christmas festivities, he doesn’t believe in superstitions or curses. Celebrating the holiday only reminds him of the family he lost. What goodwill he has for the townsfolk dissipates after someone steals one of his fossils. For once in his life he needs is a bit of luck on his side, and he’ll take it, even if it’s in the form of a charming lady. 

Everyone knows fortune favors Lena Reinhardt. That’s why on St. Barbara’s Day since she turned eighteen, she’s the lucky one who places the cherry twig in the holy water. The town believes her good fortune causes the year’s windfall of crops and livestock, and it will continue as long as she stays unmarried. This year, though, Lena believes God sent James to change her luck. Now if she can only convince him… Purchase the book HERE. 

Gina's Recipe for Gluten-Free Banana Bread

For years my favorite banana bread recipe was in a cookbook our church youth group put together. After switching to a gluten-free diet, I realized something was “off” with that tried-and-true recipe. Somehow the equal-substitution flour was off. I experimented with adjusting flour and baking soda amounts. Eh. Then my mom raved about a recipe from her sister-in-law. I now use this recipe so often that it stays in my baking drawer. In fact, it’s the only recipe in there.

½ cup shortening (or ¼ cup soften butter, ¼ cup coconut oil)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 bananas
1 ¾ cup GF flour (My favorite brand is from Freedom Delivered.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup chopped nuts (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour loaf pan, or line with parchment paper. Beat shortening (or coconut oil and butter) and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and bananas. Combine flour, soda, and salt. Mix into batter. Fold in nuts. Bake 1 hour. Remove from pan and enjoy! Top with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Pumpkin Pie

Here's a recipe I've adapted from my mom's pumpkin pie recipe. Serve with a dollop or two of whipped cream. Enjoy!

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup cold water

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can pumpkin
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
12 oz. can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In small bowl, mix together flour and salt. Cut in shortening until resembles small coarse crumbs. Add half water, mix dough, and then add remaining water and mix until dough forms a ball. Roll out pie dough onto floured surface the size of your pie plate. Transfer to plate and crimp edges. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix all filling ingredients together well. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake an additional 40-50 minutes, until center of pie is set. Test with a knife inserted into center that comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Weekend Brunch Casserole

Here's a recipe I received at a 4-H cooking meeting, and it is wonderful. For those of you who enjoy weekend brunches, I highly recommend trying this. Enjoy.

1 pound ground pork sausage
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (8 oz) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
8 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Crumble and cook sausage in medium skillet over medium heat until browned. Drain grease. Line bottom of greased 13x9 inch baking dish with crescent roll dough, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Sprinkle with sausage and cheese. Combine remaining ingredients in medium bowl until blended; pour over sausage. Bake 15 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares; serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 8 servings
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Cookbook Preview ~ The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper! by Ree Drummand

From the back cover: "Oh, don’t get me wrong. I adore breakfast. I love lunch! But dinnertime definitely tops them all. It’s the time of day when we reunite with our sweeties, our kids, our friends, our parents . . . and catch up on the events of the day over something mouthwatering and delicious. Dinnertime anchors us, nourishes us, and reassures us. It’s the greatest meal of the day!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime is a beloved collection of all the scrumptious supper recipes that make their way through my kitchen in regular rotation, from main dish salads to satisfying soups to hearty casseroles to comfort food classics . . . and everything in between. I lay out all the different ways I tackle dinner in my house, from super-quick 16-Minute Meals to make-ahead Freezer Food to irresistible pastas and a bundle of brand-new favorites of my crew.

You’ll want to immediately dive into surefire hits like Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Baked Ziti, and Shrimp Scampi. But just wait till you try the Cashew Chicken, French Dip Sandwiches, Chicken Marsala, and Beef Stroganoff. And don’t even get me started on the Tomato Tart, Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce, and Pan-Fried Pork Chops. You’ll have a very tough time deciding on a favorite!

To take away the guesswork, I made sure to include all the step-by-step recipe photos I love to share, and I packed as much deliciousness into each chapter as possible. My hope is that you will turn to this book regularly to solve your dinnertime dilemmas, and that you will use these recipes to feed your family time and time again. The more stains, smudges, and smears on the pages, the better! Enjoy dinnertime in your household, friends! 
Buy the cookbook HERE. 

Ree Drummond is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks,
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays. Ree’s beloved website, The Pioneer Woman, was founded in 2006 and showcases her cooking, photography, and anecdotes about country life. Her cooking show, The Pioneer Woman, premiered on Food Network in 2011. Ree loves Ethel Merman songs, Lucille Ball, andThe Godfather. She lives on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma with her husband and four children. Learn more about Ree on her website HERE.

Thin Molasses Crisps

Here's a delicious recipe I tried hoping to match those thin windmill cookies I ate as a girl. This is not quite like them, but they are very good! Delicious served with your favorite hot tea. Enjoy!

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
slivered almonds

In large mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, and molasses, mixing well. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper. Add to butter mixture gradually, mixing until flour is incorporated.

Line a 9"x5" loaf pan with plastic wrap, so that it hangs over sides. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan, packing it tightly, and leveling the top as smooth as possible. Cover dough with plastic wrap. Freeze until very firm, for 4-6 hours. Unwrap and remove dough from pan. Slice into thin slices, no more than 1/8" thick. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and decorate with slivered almonds. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven, until edges turn lightly brown, 7-9 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes 4-6 dozen.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.