Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Mmmmm, the smell of pumpkin cookies baking is heavenly! These literally melt in your mouth. If you live in a hot climate (like Phoenix!) baking these will psych you out into thinking that it really is fall, turning the air conditioner up and putting on a comfy sweater while eating these will help too.

Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

2 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 15oz. can pumpkin
4 c. flour

4 Tbs butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. milk
powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl beat butter on high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 2 tsp vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Add flour and stir until well combined.
Drop by heaping tablespoonfulls onto an ungreased (or stoneware) cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

For icing:
Beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add maple syrup and milk, gradually add enough powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency, you want it to be spreadable but not thin enough to drip off the cookie. Add vanilla. After cookies are cooled, spread a little icing on top and let each cookie set.

Texas Sheet Cake

I think there are lots of names this cake goes by and I've had a couple of different versions, but this one is the best! The texture of the cake and frosting is so delicious. This is great served with ice cream and I like to make it when friends are over for dinner, that takes out the danger of me eating it all by myself!

Texas Sheet Cake

1 c. butter
1 c. water
1/4 c. baking cocoa (I use Hershey's)
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs milk
3 Tbs cocoa
3 to 3 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan bring to boil butter, water, and baking cocoa (whisk to remove lumps). Remove from heat.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat in cocoa mixture. Gently blend in sour cream until smooth. Pour into a greased bar pan (1/2 sheet pan).
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, do not overbake!

While cake is baking, melt butter in saucepan. Whisk in milk and cocoa, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Consistency should be slightly runny, not too thick. Pour over hot cake and spread to edges. Cool completely.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches on Homemade "Gorditas"!

I think I will be making these flatbread "gorditas" for a long, long, time. That's how good they are! It does take time to let the dough rise, but other than that they are fairly simple to make. My husband ate six of them in one sitting and wanted more the next night! The fillings you can come up with are endless!

Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches on Homemade "Gorditas"

For Gorditas:

3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. potato flour OR 1/2 c. potato buds or flakes
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/4 c. warm water
1 1/4 tsp salt

For filling:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. good Caesar dressing (my favorite is the Girard's brand, Light or regular)
Torn lettuce leaves
1 zuchinni
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion, or 1/2 large onion
Additional Caesar dressing

Place the two chicken breasts in the 1/2 c. of Caesar dressing in a gallon size zip lock bag. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

To make the bread: Place 2 cups of the flour into the bowl of a mixer. Pour the boiling water over the flour and stir (don't whisk) until smooth. Cover the bowl and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the yeast with the 1/4 c. warm water, let rest until nice and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl whisk together the potato flour (or buds/flakes) with the remaining 1 c. of flour. Add in the yeast mixture and the oil. Add salt, stir to combine everything.

Add this mixture to the cooled flour and water mixture. Knead with your KitchenAid or by hand for about 5 minutes. Dough may look dry but it will eventually turn into a nice slightly firm ball. You can add up to 1/4 c. more water if you need it, but keep in mind this is not a super soft dough. If kneading by hand do so on an oiled surface with oiled hands (not floured!)

Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces, cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7" or 8" inch circle, this is easy to do by hand, the dough doesn't bounce back. Dry fry(NO oil or butter) on a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat, should take about a couple minutes per side until they are flecked with brown spots like a tortilla or gordita. Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack and stack them on top of each other to keep them soft and pliable. Serve immediately or store in a plastic bag.

For filling:

Grill the marinated chicken breasts, about 20 minutes over medium heat, turning every five minutes.

While chicken is grilling, slice up the zuchinni into thick slices and chop the bell pepper and onion into large bite size chunks. Saute in 1 Tbs. olive oil until slightly browned and onions are translucent.

Slice the chicken into thin strips.

To serve first lay down some torn lettuce leaves, top with 2 or 3 slices of chicken. Drizzle with a little Caesar dressing and top with some of the sauteed vegetables.

For step by step picture instructions, you can visit the King Arthur Baker's Banter Blog at

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Homemade Blueberry Muffins

These muffins were absolutely delicious! King Arthur flour really knows their stuff! :)
I loved the consistency of these muffins, kind of crispy on the outside and moist and yummy on the inside. The batter is supposed to be thick, don't let that scare you (I know it did me, I'm used to working with thin batter due to all of the extra buttermilk and sour cream I use!) But they rose beautifully and turned out great. KAF said that this recipe works well with any type of berry and the dough can be refrigerated for up to one week. You can make a few each morning!

KAF Blueberry Muffins

2 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter, room temp
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 6 oz. (3/4 c.)container lemon yogurt (I like using the lemon burst flavor from Yoplait)
1 1/2 c. blueberries, fresh of frozen (I used frozen, do not thaw, just throw 'em in there frozen)
coarse white sparkling sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.
Spray a 12 c. muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Start out the mixture on low speed and increase the speed to medium until you reach the right texture.
Scrape down bowl and add eggs, one at a time and beating after each addition.
Add vanilla and yogurt.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth, will be thick.
Fold in berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using a heaping 1/4 c. for each. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
Bake the muffins for 18-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If using frozen blueberries, you will have to cook a little longer. Let cool in pan 5 minutes and then remove to rack.

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits

My family LOVED these! They kind of tasted like a sausage and cheese mcmuffin but way better! The biscuit itself was moist and delicious and the pockets of melted cheese were heavenly. A great breakfast or brunch item.
Thanks King Arthur Flour again for a great recipe!

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits

3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. cold butter, cut in pats
1 c. buttermilk (or plain yogurt or sour cream can be substituted)
2 c. cooked and sliced Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
1 c. diced cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
Gently stir in the sausage and cheese. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture is evenly moistened.
Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly floured surface. Pat and roll it into an 8"X10" rectangle, about 3/4" thick. (Try to handle it as little as possible, just like scones, they less you handle it, they better they will be!)
Cut the dough into 16-20 squares depending on how big you want them.
Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet about 1" apart.
Bake the biscuits for about 20 minutes, until they are a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush tops with melted butter.
Let cool a little and serve warm!

Individual Turkey Taco Layered Salads

This is a yummy recipe I found on the Betty Crocker website. I love it because I can make four individual salads, two my husband and I can have for the dinner, and the other ones I can send with him for lunches. The french dressing, salsa, and cilantro make a great dressing. You can also substitute Fritos for the tortilla chips.

Individual Turkey Taco Layered Salads

1/2 c. Pace medium salsa
1/2 c. french dressing
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

6 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
3 medium green onions, chopped
2 c. diced turkey (I asked the deli counter for 6 extra thick slices of turkey and then I chopped it)
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 large tomato, chopped
2 c. chopped or shredded cheese
2 c. broken tortilla chips.

In small bowl mix dressing ingredients.

For each salad use a 4 or 5 cup container. In each container layer ingredients in this order: 1 1/2 c. lettuce, 1 Tbs. onions, 1/2 c. turkey, 1/4 c. corn, 1/4 c. tomatoes, 1/4 c. dressing and 1/2 c. cheese. Place a small piece of wax paper over the salad and sprinkle on 1/2 c. of the broken tortilla chips. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours or can be tossed and served immediately.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Caramel Popcorn- The Best!

My husband and I love caramel popcorn, we could both eat a whole bag of it by ourselves! I usually only make this in the fall but we are going on a 36 hour road trip and I thought this would make the trip a little more bearable! :)
I love reserving a little of the caramel and drizzling it over the top after I've poured the caramel corn on the wax paper, that way there are hidden chunks of caramel, so so so good! If you like your caramel corn crunchy you can place it in the oven at 250 for 20 minutes after you've mixed the popcorn and caramel together. The flavor of this homemade caramel is so delicious, the best I've tasted.

Caramel Popcorn

1 1/3 c. brown sugar
4 Tbs. butter
2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. Karo syrup (light corn syrup)
1 c. peanuts shelled (optional)
2 bags buttered popcorn, popped

Pour popcorn into large bowl, shake bowl so that the seeds fall to the bottom. With hands place popcorn in another bowl, throw out seeds (do this to remove all seeds, there is nothing worse than eating caramel corn and getting a seed!) Add peanuts in with popcorn.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan, turn heat to medium/high and bring to a rolling boil (a boil that you can't stir down). Continue boiling and stirring for 3 1/2 minutes, remove from heat. Pour most of it over the popcorn and stir gently to coat all popcorn. Place on wax paper, pour over remaining caramel, let cool for a few hours. At this point you can bake it at 250 for 20 minutes if you like crunchy caramel corn instead of placing on wax paper. I would probably use parchment paper to cover pan if putting in the oven.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Homemade Butter Pound Cake

This cake was absolutely to die for, it was so good, the best pound cake recipe I have ever made! So much better than any store bought cake. I made it in two loaf pans, but next time I think I will make it in a tube or bundt pan, the loaves weren't quite high enough. It is important to follow these directions precisely, sift the flour three times and beat batter for the amount of time indicated. Delicious served with strawberries and fresh cream!

Butter Pound Cake

1 c. butter, softened at room temp
3 c. cake flour, sifted before measuring(not self rising)
3/4 tsp salt
3 c. sugar
6 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. heavy whipping cream

Place oven rack in middle position but do not turn on oven yet.
Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.
Sift together salt and cake flour, then sift together again into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times)
Beat together butter and sugar for 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after reach addition, scrape down bowl when needed. Add vanilla. Add half of flour mixture, beat, and then add all of whipping cream. Add remaining flour and beat at medium speed for 4 minutes, batter will become smooth and satiny (and it will smell delicious!)

Spoon batter into pan (or pans if making loaves) and rap against counter to remove any air bubbles. Place in cold oven and turn on temp to 350. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. I made two loaves and it took about 50 minutes, but if you're using a bundt pan it will take longer, probably about an hour.
Let cakes cool on rack for 30 minutes. Run knife along edge and invert onto plate to cool completely.

Yellow Rice

My family loved this rice, it kind of had an Indian flavor to it. It was very good served with the enchiladas.

Yellow Rice

2 c. long grain rice, rinsed
4 c. chicken broth (or water)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs. turmeric
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients into a pot and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook about 15-20 minutes or until rice is done and all the liquid is gone. Remove bay leaf and serve!

Chicken Enchildas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

This recipe came from Tyler Florence of the Food Network. It was so delicious, I loved the creamy filling. I only had red onions and so when I made the salsa, it turned purple! Ha ha, next time I will definitely use white!

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

For Salsa:
1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 white onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeno
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 a lime

Preheat oven to 400.
On a baking tray coated with cooking spray roast tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapeno for 12-15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and their juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.
I made my salsa earlier in the day and stored it in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 precooked roasted deli chicken (I like Costco's the best)meat removed and shredded
8-10 large flour tortillas
12 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized- this should take 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin, then cook for a further minute.
Sprinkle the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn, then gradually whisk in chicken broth. Continue cooking and stirring over low heat until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and add half of the roasted tomatillo salsa, the additional 1/4 c. chopped cilantro, and chicken meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350.
Take a large baking dish (13X9 or bigger) and smear some of the salsa onto the bottom to prevent sticking. Place a scoop of chicken mixture onto each tortilla and top with cheese, fold over each side and then roll up. Place side by side in pan. I was able to fit 8 in a 13X9. Pour remaining salsa over top and in all of the nooks and crannies and top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes. Serve hot with sour cream and guacamole.

Pork and Bean Chalupa Filling

My friend Nikky shared this dish with me and I loved it! The flavors all go so well together, and what could be easier than cooking in a crockpot? Thanks Nikky!

Pork and Bean Chalupa Filling

3lb. pork roast or pork tenderloin
1 lb. dry pinto beans
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. salt
4 oz. can chopped green chilies

Cover beans with water and soak overnight in slow cooker (do not turn slow cooker on)
In the morning, remove beans and their water (don't throw away the water!), and put pork in bottom of cooker. Add remaining ingredients (including the beans and their soaking water) and more water if needed to cover all the ingredients.

Cook on High 1 hour, and then on Low 6 hours. Remove meat and shred with two forks. Return meat to slow cooker.
Cook on High 1 more hour.
Serve with tortillas, or over a bed of lettuce and top with grated cheese, chopped onion, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Strawberry Cupcakes!

These cupcakes are amazing! My friend Stefany said they tasted just like Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and cream. These are very moist and chewy. This recipe makes 12 regular cupcakes or 44 mini. The strawberries are so cheap right now, so it's a great time to make them!

Strawberry Cupcakes

1/2 c. pureed strawberries
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. butter, room temp
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, room temp

Preheat oven to 350.
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with liners, or 2 mini muffin pans with 44 liners; set aside

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a small bowl mix together sour cream, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer beat butter until fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Slowly add sugar and cream together for 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and eggs one at a time until just blended.

With mixer on low add half of flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl.
Add in strawberry puree mixture.
Add in remaining flour mixture, scraping sides, until just combined.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. (I made the mini version and I used my Pampered Chef mini scoop and it was perfect)

Bake for approximately 12 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cool on wire rack.

Strawberries and Cream Frosting

1/3 c. strawberry puree
4 Tbs. butter, room temp
6 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
4-5 c. powdered sugar (depending on how thick you want it)

Combine first five ingredients, gradually add in powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency.

Frost cupcakes and store in refrigerator.
These are so delicious and perfect for a summer treat!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Salmon Burgers with Dill Mayonnaise

This is also a recipe from the Food Network, but I changed it so much I'll call it mine! I had Costco rolls on hand so I made mini salmon burgers, my family loved them! I like Dill, but I don't love Dill, so I put less of it in the Dill mayo than was called for. If there is a lot of dill in a recipe, I just can't taste anything else! If you love it though put the original 2 Tbs. in the mayo recipe instead of the 1 Tbs. I'm writing in.

Salmon Burgers

2 tsp freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 c. panko or regular bread crumbs
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 lemon, zested
4 Tbs. Dill mayonnaise, recipe follows
13-15 oz. can boneless, skinless Alaskan salmon, drained well
2 Tbs. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.
In medium bowl, combine parsley, onions, eggs, panko, black pepper, salt, lemon zest, and dill mayo together. Add drained salmon and mix well. Form into 4 large patties or 6 small patties.

In large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Place burgers in skillet. Cook until browned, turn over and repeat. Place in oven for 4 minutes.
Serve on buns with Dill mayo and lettuce.

Dill Mayonnaise:

1/2 c. mayo
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tbs. fresh chopped dill leaves
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and set aside.

Grilled Cheeseburger with Green Chile Sauce

I have been craving hamburgers lately! And then the Food Network had a special on them so I went online and printed out some of the recipes they featured. This cheeseburger recipe came from Bobby Flay. The homemade green chile sauce is really, really, good!

Grilled Cheeseburger with Green Chile Sauce

2 lbs. ground chuck (80-85% lean)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 slices provolone or monterey jack cheese
4 good quality buns (I like using homemade or ciabatta rolls)
green chile sauce (recipe follows)
Romaine lettuce
4 thick slices tomato

Heat grill to medium heat. Form meat into 4 8 oz. patties and season each burger on both sides with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Grill until charred on both sides and cooked to desired doneness.
Place 2 slices of cheese on each burger, at the same time cut buns in half and place cut side down on grill to toast. Close BBQ lid and grill until cheese is melted and buns are toasted, usually takes just a few minutes. Place burgers on buns and top with green chile sauce and lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

Green Chile Sauce:

1 poblano chile (they are big and green)grilled, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 medium white onion, grilled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh epazote (it's an herb) or 1 Tbs. fresh cilantro chopped
1/4 c. cold water
1/2 Tbs. honey
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

I grill my onions and pepper at the same time that I put on the burgers. I rubbed olive oil all over the pepper and onions and grilled until they had grill marks on them and were soft to the touch.

Combine all ingredients in blender, blend until smooth.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I have now implemented Labels, so you will be able to look up recipes by categories located in the side bar instead of scrolling through past months to try and find a specific recipe, Enjoy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

I LOVE Caesar salad, in fact, it's the only salad I ever eat. I found this recipe on the Kraft foods website and I just loved the presentation so much I wanted to try it. It was delicious! The best Caesar salad I've ever made. I love marinating the chicken in the Caesar dressing, it gave it so much flavor, and cutting into bite size pieces really shortens the grilling time. I would highly recommend using Ciabatta bread with this recipe.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
Caesar dressing (I love the Girard's Light Caesar)
1 head Romaine lettuce
Ciabatta or french bread
Grated Parmesan (not the powdered stuff)
Bamboo skewers (about 8)

Place your chicken pieces in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Add enough dressing to coat chicken, place in refrigerator and let marinate for 30 minutes. Place skewers in water to soak to prevent burning. Let soak for 30 minutes while meat is marinating.
Preheat grill to medium/low heat.
Thread about 6-8 pieces of chicken onto each skewer.
Slice bread into 1" thick slices, brush with melted butter or olive oil.
Oil grill.
Place chicken on grill and cook until done, turning once. On my grill it took about 5 minutes on each side, but if your grill tends to be hot it may only take 3-4 minutes, watch carefully to prevent burning. When chicken is almost done, add bread slices and toast on each side. Remove bread and chicken from grill and set aside.
Wash and cut lettuce, place in large bowl and coat lightly with Caesar dressing. Place bread slices around perimeter and lay chicken sticks on top of lettuce. Sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love these cookies because the oatmeal makes them so chewy! And with oatmeal and walnuts in them, they qualify as health food, right? RIGHT?!

Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 c. quick oats
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325.
In large beat beat butter and sugar together for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one a time, add vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Stir in quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
Bake for approx. 12 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cupcake Pops! Yay!

Aren't these the cutest things you've ever seen? They do take time to make but it's fairly easy. Such a cute idea for kid's birthdays or holiday parties. A lady called Bakerella invented these, click here to see the many different cake pops she's come up with. I love the ghosts and reindeers!

For cupcake pops you will need:

1 13X9 cake, any flavor you want, baked (I've done chocolate and strawberry)
1 tub frosting, regular, not whipped (again any flavor, I put chocolate with the chocolate cake and vanilla with the strawberry)
Lollipop sticks found at craft store
1 small scalloped cookie/fondant cutter (I found mine at Michaels, it's made by Wilton, it's a little over an inch across)
1 bag chocolate candy melts (again I found at Michaels)
1 bad pink candy melts
pink M&M's and a variety of sprinkles for toppings

Once your cake is cool crumble in a large bowl, add about 3/4 of the tub of frosting and mush together thoroughly with hands (this is quite fun!)
Form into small balls, about 1 1/2".
Place on waxed paper and put in freezer for 5 minutes.
Roll balls into an oblong shape. Place in scalloped cutter and push from the top and bottom so that the cake fills in the scalloped shape. Push out bottom to remove. Continue with remaining balls. Place in freezer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate candy melts until smooth, you can do this on a double broiler and in 30 second intervals in the microwave.
Dip your lollipop stick in the chocolate, just so the tip is covered. Take one cupcake and dip bottom half in chocolate, wiping off bottom on side of bowl as you remove.
Place lollipop stick in the bottom, a little less than halfway through. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. You can place these in a piece of floral foam to harden up or a glass, you just don't want them touching.
When chocolate is hardened up, melt pink candy melts.
Dip top half of cupcake in pink candy melts, try to make the pink touch the chocolate so that you don't have cake showing through. Decorate immediately and place in foam to harden.
At the craft store they also have lollipop bags that you can put over the pops and tie with cute ribbon if you're taking them somewhere.

I would highly recommend going here:
to watch the how to video on Martha Stewart's show!

Pesto Pasta and Chicken

I'm sorry I don't have a pic for this one, it didn't turn out very well (the picture that is, not the pasta! :), but this pasta was to die for! It was so good, and the homemade pesto just put it over the top. This was another recipe Stefany taught at cooking group, thanks Stefany! I can't wait to make this for my husband, he LOVES pesto!

Easy Homemade Pesto

1/4 c. almonds
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
1 pinch nutmeg
2/3 c. parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Place almonds on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. In a food processor, combine toasted almonds, garlic, basil, olive oil, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Process until a coarse paste is formed.


1 16oz. package bow tie pasta
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1/3 c. oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips
1/2 c. pesto (can be purchased at store too, Costco has some that's really good)
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente (still slightly firm); drain. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic until tender, stir in chicken. Season with red pepper flakes. Cook until chicken is golden and cooked through. In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, and pesto. Toss to coat evenly, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve!

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

My friend Stefany taught us how to make these at our cooking group last month, don't they look yummy?

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. tomato sauce
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 lbs. fresh shrimp, medium sized, peeled and deveined
bamboo skewers

In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce, and red wine vinegar. Season with basil, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add shrimp to bowl, and stir evenly to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once or twice. At this point add skewers to water to soak, this will prevent them burning up on the BBQ! They should soak for at least 1/2 hour.
Preheat grill to medium heat.
Thread shrimp on skewers, piercing once near the tail and once near the head. Discard marinade. Lightly spray grill with cooking spray. Cook shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, until opaque and pink.

Strawberry Lemonade

This is my favorite drink to make in the summer, it's delicious!

Strawberry Lemonade

2 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
1 c. fresh lemon juice
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
2 c. club soda
lemon slices for garnish

Grate lemon with a zester for the lemon peel and then juice lemons for fresh juice. About four regular size lemons makes 1 cups of juice.
In medium pot over medium high heat combine water and sugar. Let come to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat. Add lemon peel and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator and let cool.
Puree the strawberries in a blender (I usually add some of the chilled lemonade mixture so it blends easier). Add to lemonade and stir. I pour the juice through a strainer a couple of times to get out all of the zest, pulp, and strawberry seeds. Right before serving add club soda and ice. Slice 1 lemon and place on top of lemonade. Cool and delicious!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coconut Cupcakes!

These are so, so yummy! I prefer to use sour cream in these because it makes them heavier, like a pound cake, but if you like your cupcakes light and airy use buttermilk instead. The coconut flavoring is found in the baking aisle by the vanilla extract. I always just throw my frosting together without measuring so the measurements for the frosting are approximate, you may have to add more milk or powdered sugar to reach the right consistency. These turn out beautiful!

Coconut Cupcakes

1 1/2 c. butter, room temp
2 c. sugar
5 extra large eggs at room temp (or 7 regular sized eggs)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut extract/flavoring
3 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk or 1 heaping cup of sour cream
1 c. sweetened and shredded coconut


1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. milk
6-7 cups powdered sugar

Cream together butter and sugar on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and coconut extracts.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half of dry mix to batter and mix until incorporated, mix in sour cream or buttermilk until incorporated, add remaining dry mix. Gently stir in coconut.
Fill 24 muffin cups almost to the brim with the batter. Bake at 325 for approximately 20-25 minutes. Use a toothpick to determine if they are done. Let cool.

For frosting cream together butter and cream cheese, add vanilla and milk. Gradually add powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency.
Generously frost cupcakes and immediately sprinkle coconut over top. (I did about four a time)

Greek Isles Pasta Salad

I needed to make a pasta salad for a church get together and I wanted something different. I found this recipe and thought it looked so good, my husband was so proud of me for putting spinach in it!

Greek Isles Pasta Salad

3 c. farfalle (bow-tie) pasta uncooked
2 c. baby spinach leaves
1 c. crumbled feta cheese (I don't like feta so I used cubed Monterey Jack)
1 small container cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c. drained and rinsed chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 c. Kraft Greek Vinaigrette (or more to taste)

Cook pasta according to directions, al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water, place in large bowl. Add spinach leaves, cheese, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Chicken Spaghetti

I don't make casseroles very often but this one looked so good I had to try it. I loved it! It was creamy and delicious! I would highly recommend grilling or roasting the chicken breasts.

Chicken Spaghetti

2 c. chopped cooked chicken
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c. finely diced green bell pepper
1/2 c. finely diced onion
3 c. dry spaghetti, broken in half
2 c. chicken broth
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/8-1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 additional cup grated cheddar cheese

Cook spaghetti to al dente, drain. Combine all ingredients except the additional cup of cheddar cheese. Pour into a large casserole dish, top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly or freeze up to six months.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Best Lasagna from PW

I know this takes a little time to prepare, but after the mountain of dirty dishes and the sore feet, you can sit down to a delicious dinner, and think Yes! It was worth it! I don't make homemade lasagna very often (I like Stouffers frozen meat lasagna!), but when a recipe claims to be the best I have to try it, and I can honestly say this is the best homemade lasagna recipe I've ever tried. Very meaty and cheesy, and if you're going to make this for a dinner with family or friends, I would highly recommend preparing it the day before and refrigerating it until ready to bake the next day, that way you won't have all of those dishes to do right before company comes.

The Best Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 pound hot breakfast sausage (I always use the Jimmy Dean that comes in the 1 lb. tube)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 14.5 oz. cans whole tomatoes
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1/3 c. chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp salt
8 lasagna noodles
1 Tbs olive oil
3 c. lowfat cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb. sliced mozzarella (You can shred your own but sliced is so much more convenient! I would not recommend using the pre-shredded kind)

In a skillet combine the beef, sausage, and garlic cloves. Cook until brown, draining off half the fat. Pour in cans of whole tomatoes (with juice) and tomato paste, parsley, basil, and salt. Mix together thoroughly and simmer, uncovered.

In the meantime, boil lasagna noodles. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 Tbs. olive oil to water. Cook the noodles "al dente" (I cooked mine for 8 minutes). When noodles are finished, drain, rinse with cool water, and lay flat on aluminum foil.

Mix together cottage cheese, eggs, 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, and 2 Tbs. parsley and 1/2 tsp salt.

Preheat oven to 350.
Set up your "assembly" line: meat mixture, 1 lb. sliced mozzarella, cottage cheese mixture, and lasagna noodles. Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray.

Place four noodles on bottom, overlapping edges. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture over noodles. Place 1/2 lb. of mozzarella cheese slices over that, overlapping if you need to. Spread a little less than half of the meat mixture over the mozzarella and then repeat; noodles, cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella, and meat. Sprinkle parmesan cheese generously over the top and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

I served this with my homemade breadstick recipe, I think I posted it on this site last year around May or June.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Southwest Egg Rolls w/ Cool Avocado Dip

These are so delicious! Thanks for another great recipe Stefany!

Southwest Egg Rolls

2-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
2/3 cup frozen corn, thawed
2/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
5 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
20 egg roll wrappers
Oil for deep-fat frying

Avacado Dip

1 cup ranch salad dressing
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lime peel or 1 tsp lime juice

In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients. Place 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in the center of one egg roll wrapper. (Keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use.) Fold bottom corner over filling. Fold sides toward center over filling. Moisten remaining corner with water; roll up tightly to seal. Repeat.

In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°.

Fry egg rolls, a few at a time, for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, combine the dip ingredients. Serve with egg rolls. Yield: 20 egg rolls (1-1/2 cups sauce)

Better Than Chili's Fajitas

My friend Stefany had my family over for dinner last night and she made these amazing fajitas. The marinade is awesome and gives so much flavor to the steak and chicken. I think these are the best fajitas I've ever had!

Better Than Chili's Fajitas

1/4 c lime juice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or 1 lb. sirloin steak

Marinate the chicken or steak at least 2 hours or overnight in fridge (the longer the better). Grill chicken/steak over medium high flame for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Cut into thin strips.

In the meantime mix together:
1/2 tsp lime juice
2 T water
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
dash of salt and pepper
1 T olive oil

Place in a large skillet and add:
1 large white spanish onion (cut into strips)
1 green pepper (cut into strips)
1 red pepper (cut into strips)
Cook until slightly blackened. Add the chicken strips and serve on warm tortillas and top with sour cream, cheese, guacamole, etc!

Thanks Stefany!

Sundae Brownies

This is a great dessert to make when you have company over and who doesn't like chocolate and fruit together? Just a couple tips for this recipe, cut the brownies into squares BEFORE you put the fruit on. That way you won't have to cut through the fruit and it won't look like a mess! Drizzle the chocolate syrup over just before serving, otherwise it kind of melts and spreads and doesn't look as nice.

Sundae Brownies

1 brownie mix (13X9 pan size)
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 c. sugar
Sliced strawberries and bananas
Chocolate syrup

Prepare and bake brownie mix according to directions, let cool completely. Beat together cream cheese and sugar, stir in pineapple. Spread over brownie going all of the way to the edge. Cut into squares. Place bananas and strawberries all over cream cheese layer. Serve on small plates and drizzle chocolate syrup over.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chocolate Cream Cheese and Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I will now refer you to my earlier post last August titled Fabulous Fudge Cupcakes. I would highly encourage making that recipe with these frostings, it's to die for! Just a warning the cupcakes will come out flat, I like them that way, they are fudgey. If you would prefer a lighter and more rounded cupcake, add 1/2 c. flour to the recipe. Now for the frostings, they are delicious! If you like cream cheese frosting and chocolate you will love this recipe. I like my frosting sweet, but if you prefer more of a dark chocolate taste, only add 1/2 c. powdered sugar instead of 2 cups. The peanut butter and chocolate combo is one of my favorites, they look a little lumpy because I ran out of smooth peanut butter and had to use crunchy!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. package cream cheese
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. milk

In a double broiler melt chips and heavy cream, stir until smooth, remove from heat
In a mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth, slowly add the chocolate mixture. Add the milk until you reach the right consistency, beating just until smooth.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. creamy peanut butter
5 Tbs. butter, softened
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream

In bowl combine the sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the whipping cream and beat on high speed until light and smooth.

Chicken Salad

Thank you Pioneer Woman for this recipe! I've tried lots of chicken salad recipes and this one is my favorite. There are so many flavor combinations in here that make it good. I added the dill called for in the recipe, but I think next time I'll try a little fresh basil and parsley (I love that combo) instead.

Chicken Salad

2 c. cooked and chopped chicken (I bought a small roasted chicken and took it off of that, it tasted great and saved time!)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. grapes, cut in half
1 Tbs. fresh dill, minced or herb of your choice
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream (plain yogurt can be used too)
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
Kosher salt
black pepper

Chop all of the fruit and veggies and place in bowl with chicken.
In another bowl stir together mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. When the dressing tastes right (must taste for appropriate saltiness!) pour it over the chicken mixture and stir gently until well combined. Allow the salad to chill for several hours and serve over lettuce, in a croissant, pita pocket, on bread slices, etc..... :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mini Key Lime Pies

I love making these, they are so cute! They also taste really good too.

Mini Key Lime Pies

1 box (4 serving size) vanilla instant pudding
1 1/2 c. whipping cream
1/4 c. key lime or regular lime juice
green food color
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 box Betty Crocker Supermoist white cake mix
mini size baking cups

Betty Crocker Whipped fluffy white frosting
1 Tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp grated lime zest

In large bowl, beat pudding mix and whipping cream with wire whisk 2 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes. Beat in 1/4 cup Key lime juice and the food color; stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 72 mini-size muffin cups (if you don't have three mini muffin pans, just bake one pan at a time, cover the batter between bakings) Make cake batter as directed on box. Spoon about 1 tablespoonful batter into each muffin cup. (Muffin cups will be about 1/2 full.) Refrigerate remaining batter. Bake 10-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining baking cups and batter. Cool cupcakes completely, about 15 minutes.

Remove paper baking cups from cupcakes. Swirl about 2 teaspoons topping on top of each cupcake (I like to use a cake frosting bag and tip for this, but you could just as easily use a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off).

Stir frosting in container 20 times. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon Key lime juice and the lime peel. Spoon frosting into 1-quart resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut 1/2-inch opening from bottom corner of bag. Squeeze 1 rounded teaspoonful frosting from bag onto topping. Garnish with fresh lime wedge, if desired. Store in refrigerator.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Apples N' Cream Bread Braid and How To Pics

So I did try the bread braid recipe with the apple pie filling and it was delicious, it reminded me of an apple filled donut I had at Krispie Kreme years ago, so good! I did try a new cream cheese filling though and it worked out even better, here are some pics to show you the process of rolling and cutting out the braid, let me know if you have any questions! It turns out looking so beautiful people will think you are a master baker!

Cream Cheese Filling

1 8oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs. sour cream
1 egg
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Beat all ingredients together until smooth, about 30 seconds. This is enough filling for at least two braids, so cut in half if only making one.

For the apple pie filling I dumped the can of filling on a large cutting board and chopped up the apples into small pieces. I then scooped it all up and placed in a bowl. I added 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp lemon juice and stirred it all up, it was then ready to go!
Refer to Cherries and Cream Bread Braid post for instructions and bread recipe.
After brushing on the egg wash, I sprinkled raw sugar over the top of the Apples and Cream braid. drizzling icing over it when it is cooled is also really good, just like a danish pastry!
Oh, and I would highly recommend making this on parchment paper.

Double Peanut Butter Cookies, Yah Baby!

This has been my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe for years, I love the soft chewyness of it. I do not like those hard things with the criss cross shape on them (you know what I'm talking about!)
So I had this epiphany about adding peanut butter chips to the peanut butter cookie and they turned out awesome, careful though, when you start eating these, you won't be able to stop!

Double Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. smooth Peanut Butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 c. Reeses peanut butter chips (just eat the remaining 1/4 c. while you're making these)

Preheat oven to 350.
Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar for 2 minutes. Add in eggs and continue beating. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in peanut butter chips.
Bake for approximately 11-13 minutes until lightly browned.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Simple Steamed Salmon

I love salmon! I could eat it every day....
Anyway, this is my favorite method for cooking salmon, enclosing it in aluminum foil lets steam build up so the salmon is always super moist and delicious, very hard to mess this one up!
Sometimes I'll brush a yummy teryaki or maple glaze on, but most of the time I just stick to simple seasonings so that I can just enjoy the salmon's flavor.

Simple Seasoning:
All season's salt (I like the Simply Organic brand)
olive oil

Lay down a large piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet, place salmon on top, in the middle. Brush the salmon with olive oil, squeeze juice from 1/2 a lemon all over, and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Bring up all sides of aluminum foil and pinch to secure so that the salmon is completely encased.
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, open up aluminum foil so that the salmon is no longer covered and continue baking an additional 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cherry Cream Braid

This sweet bread recipe is to die for! It is so soft and moist and flavorful, I love making cinnamon rolls and even regular bread loaves out of it. This dough recipe will actually make enough for two braids, or one braid and 9 cinnamon rolls. My husband said it tasted like a donut, so that got me thinking.... I think I'm going to experiment and try to make Danish Pastries out of this dough recipe with an apple cinnamon and custard filling, I'll post pics if it turns out good!

Sweet Dough
(King Arthur Flour Co. recipe)

3/4 c. warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbs active dry yeast
1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 c. vanilla yogurt (most small yogurts are exactly 3/4 cup, so that makes it easy!)
*You can also substitute plain or lemon yogurt
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla or almond flavoring, or 2 tsp. citrus zest
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 c. flour (to measure flour, always stir it to "fluff" it up, and then spoon it into the cup container and level)
1 egg + 2 Tbs. milk for egg wash

Filling for braid:
(You can use any type of pie filling, or a chocolate ganache, or almond filling would be good too)
1 can cherry pie filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Sliced almonds to sprinkle on top

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and 2 tsp sugar, stir to dissolve. Stir in yeast and 1/2 c. flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly and active, about 10-15 minutes.

In a large bowl (of bowl of KitchenAid if you have one) combine the yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and yeast mixture. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing until the dough comes away cleanly fro the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, knead about 5 minutes, until soft and pliable but not sticky. Let the dough rest while you clean and grease the bowl. Finish kneading the dough until it's smooth, supple, and springy.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn to coat all surfaces, cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel, and let sit in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled.

Before dough is done rising, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.

Preheat oven to 375

Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half.
Working with one half at a time, roll out into large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Leaving half the dough uncut down the middle (this is where you'll place your filling) make nine cuts down each side to make your braid pieces. Cut out the four corners so that you have a lip in the center on each end. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture down the middle, place 1/2 the cherry filling on top. Starting at one end, pull the lip up and press down on sides to secure. Take one braid piece and fold over and secure. Now take another piece from the opposite side and secure, repeat with remaining pieces. Before you reach the end, pull up lip and secure and then finish braid.
Lightly beat egg and milk and brush over braid. Sprinkle almonds on top. Repeat with remaining dough piece or make into cinnamon rolls.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until braid is a golden brown.