Thursday, December 29, 2011

Andes Mint Cookies

How is it possible that something so simple can be so amazingly good? I made these cookies for a Christmas cookie exchange party and they were a hit. I needed something fast since we had a busy day with no time to slave over cookies, and I never expected them to taste like I spent 2 hours on them.

But they did. Wow, did they!

Even though they've got more of a holiday taste to them, I may just be caught making these all year round.

Andes Mint Cookies

1 Devil's Food Cake mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 package of Andes Mints, unwrapped

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet (I smashed mine down slightly with the palm of my hand for a little bit flatter cookie). Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes. Don't cook any longer than that or they will be overdone.

Take sheet out of oven and while the cookies are still very hot, place an Andes Mint on top of each cookie. In about 5 minutes, the mint will be melted. Take a spoon and smooth out each mint like frosting, swirling slightly as you go.

I personally thought these tasted best when they were cooled off a bit. But delicious either way.

Original recipe from here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Mint Fudge

We've been really into mint desserts this holiday season. I've got another easy one coming up in a week or so as well. We made this one for a party at my husband's work and it was gone fast. It's just a basic fudge recipe, but the addition of the Keebler mint patties added just that subtle mint hint and made it that much better.

I'm not sure if you can get the Keebler mint patties called for in the recipe after the holidays, but any kind of mint cookie (I'm thinking Grasshoppers or Thin Mints) would probably work too.

Merry Mint Fudge

1 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 12-oz. package (2 cups) semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate when it comes to fudge)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Keebler Merry Mint Patties, chopped into small pieces

Line and 8 x 8-inch pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over ends of pan.

Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine the marshmallow creme, sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gently boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla until melted. Fold in mint patties. Spread in prepared pan. Cool. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lasagna Soup

Another Pinterest find! This one I consider fully dumped in the "score!" category. It. was. awesome. What makes this recipe stand out, by far, is the "cheesy yum" (the original recipe creator's term, not mine - but isn't it fun to say? cheesy yum, cheesy yum.) at the bottom of the bowl. It really does make the soup taste like lasagna.

I'll be making one big change next time I make it, though. The red pepper flakes have got to go. Even just a teeny little half teaspoon made this sucker spicy. My kids wouldn't even touch it after the first bite because, as my 3-year old kept saying, "it makes my throat hot!" And my husband and I agreed that heartburn is definitely in the forecast tonight. I guess we're all just wimps at our house. :) If you like a little heat in your food, by all means, add away!

I also made a few adjustments from the original recipe. I didn't have some of the ingredients, so I had to make do a bit. Still tasted awesome. So whether you decide to stick with the original recipe or go with my (let's admit it, cheaper) adjustments, you're definitely in for a treat.

Lasagna Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 C chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used regular)
2 bay leaves (didn't use, 'cause I couldn't find them :))
5 C chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusili pasta (I used farfalle, a.k.a. bow tie!)
1/2 C finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the "cheesy yum:"
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese (I used the powdered stuff and it was still awesome)
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite-sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes (optional). Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente (about 10-15 minutes). Don't over cook or pasta will get mushy! Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the "cheesy yum." In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top, and ladle the hot soup over the cheese. Sprinkle a bit more mozzarella over the top and serve.