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Mint Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

28 Dec

If you’re anything like me, you love the holidays, but by the time the week before New Year’s Eve rolls around, you really just want a dessert that’s sweet, simple, and to the point. No messing around with mixers and ovens, and all those other complicated kitchen appliances. Enough already! Cookies have been done, pies were for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and don’t even get me started on cake. Puhleaseeee…

I don’t want to bake. I don’t want to sift. Love me some chocolate, but I don’t want to see a brownie right now. Brownies have got NYE’s number for sure.

Jell-o. Pudding, if you will. Now that’s something I can handle right now. Bowl, whisk, milk, stir. And I’m guessing you may have a few crumbly Christmas cookies leftover from last week that you just might be brave enough to crush & sprinkle on your creamy smooth pudding. Whipped cream on top. Don’t forget the sprig of mint, I think I can speak for everyone when I say it’s probably the only green thing any of us have seen in the last week and a half or more of holiday boozing, partying, and sugar coma inducing. You don’t have to eat it, it’s just there to look pretty. Or, you can eat it. I won’t tell!

Mint Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

Ingredients:
* 1 box Candy Cane Jell-o pudding
* 1 box Chocolate Jell-o pudding
* 4 Cups cold Milk
* Crumbly Christmas Cookies of choice (I used chocolate mountain top cookies)
* Whipped Cream (From a can…this is supposed to be simple, remember?!)
* Mint Sprig (Optional, but suggested)

Directions:
Make chocolate and candy cane pudding in separate bowls as directed on the box (2 cups cold milk for each, stir with a whisk until it sets up)

In a cute parfait glass or whatever you have on hand, layer candy cane and chocolate pudding.

Sprinkle with crumbled Christmas cookies. Dollop with whipped cream. Add sprig of mint.

Simple! Enjoy!
 

I’d never seen Jell-o brand (or any other brand for that matter) candy cane flavored pudding before, and the fact that it’s pink practically made me feel like it was calling my name. Is there a novel pink food that I can resist? That was a rhetorical question. Anyway, naturally mint pairs perfectly with chocolate. It was destiny really!

What’s that? Mint pudding isn’t being sold anymore? It’s flown off the shelves so quickly you couldn’t get your hands on any? You’re in luck since chocolate classically plays nice with both vanilla and butterscotch! You’re covered. Obviously it won’t be pink, but crisis mostly averted!

OMmmm NoMmm nommm….

Sometimes you really just want a dessert you can sink right in to! Jell-ooooooooo

Gluten & Dairy Free Eggnog Spice Granola

6 Dec

Last night I watched this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show online for nearing on the 5th time since it aired on November 29th.  I can’t help it, it’s one of my favorite things about the holiday season!  I wait all year for it, wondering what lingerie hybrids will come down the runway on impossibly thin, fit & toned, not to mention LUCKY models who get to call themselves angels. #SignMeUpForThat

Favorite outfit the of the night? As it happened, it was the outfit that opened the show during the Ballet Segment, and it only 35% had to do with the fact that it was worn by Candice.  Probably going to have to sport some of those red ballet wrap pumps at some point in my life this season! Thoughts?  Ya, they’re amazing.

Needless to say, since then I’ve been perusing the Victoria’s Secret Site for the Runway Ready Video features that have been popping up in my Facebook queue, forcing me to face the idea of forgoing holiday sweets in attempts to acquire something similar to the angels’ fit physiques.   Upon further investigation, I’ve discovered that much like sitting in the lobby of the gym rather than working out won’t get you in shape, watching girls with the hottest bodies on the planet over and over without working out will also probably not cut it.  Unforch.  About to step it up, big time!

Ironically, (especially after just talking about busting my butt to look  like a  VS Angel Re: Wishful thinking, haha! ;p ) I also look forward to the Trader Joe’s Holiday Edition of the Fearless Flyer!  I stopped in the other day JUST to pick one of these up, regardless of the fact that it can be easily found and read, and perused online.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s dedication.  It’s filled with the yummiest holiday treats one could dream up, and I couldn’t help but see eggnog-flavored goodies dancing through my head.  It’s one of my all-time favorite holiday flavors!  It’s possible, even, that I look forward to it more than the TJ’s Flyer.  Gasp!  One problem- dairy hates me.  Time to take matters into my own hands!

First, though, let’s take a step back, I’ve got one more…

Another favorite aspect of the holiday season?  It’s pretty simple, but then again, it often doesn’t take much more than a festive holiday coffee cup to get me humming holiday tunes the rest of the day.  Starbucks holiday cups!  Pop in and get yourself a hot cup of Joe, tea, or you know, even water, so long as you ask for it in their hot to-go cups!  I mean, check it out….SO CUTE!  Worth it.

So where was I?  Probably talking about eggnog because it’s delicious!  I’ve been obsessed with it as far back as I can remember, and now I feel it’s my duty to incorporate it into as many baked goodies as possible this holiday season!

TA DA!  Eggnog Granola.

Eggnog Spice Granola

While this granola definitely has a yummy hint of eggnog, I was hoping for even more.  Next time, I might up the Eggnog Syrup and the SoyNog, and decrease the honey a little to let it really stand out.  That being said, if you are a nutmeg and eggnog lover, you will still enjoy this granola!  Dairy free, and can definitely be made gluten free if you make sure to use gluten-free oats! It’s a must-make for the holiday season!

Ingredients:

Dry:
* 5 Cups Gluten Free Old-Fashioned Oats
* 3 Cups Crispy Rice Cereal
* 1 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
* 1 Cup Almonds, roughly chopped
* 1/2 Cup Whole Golden Flax Seeds
* 1/2 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
* 1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds
* 1 tsp Salt
* 1 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
* 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp Ground Allspice

Wet:
* 3/4 Cup Honey
* 2/3 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
* 1/2 Cup Torani Italian Eggnog Syrup
* 1/4 Cup SoyNog (I used Silk Brand)
* 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
* 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
* 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all the wet ingredients, except for the vanilla extract, together in a separate, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stirring at 1 minute intervals, making sure the mixture comes to a boil by the end of 5 minutes. If it has not, heat an additional minute or 2, stirring between minutes and then add in the vanilla extract.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir well to combine. Pour out on the cookie sheet, spreading into an even layer and packing down slightly with a spatula or spoon.

Bake 20 minutes, then remove and push edge pieces inward to keep from burning. Bake an additional 20 minutes, removing at 10 minute increments to remove pieces that look brown. Make sure you bake the granola for at least 45 minutes total, adding 5 minute increments to the end if it does not seem golden brown enough.

Remove from oven and allow the granola to sit on the pan without stirring until COMPLETELY COOLED! This part is important, since it needs to cool as a solid sheet. Once cooled, break apart into large chunks and enjoy! (Obviously at this point you can break it into smaller pieces instead if you’d prefer)

Enjoy!

Yummy, crunchy, and perfectly paired with a coffee or latte served in the cutest holiday cups of all time!

Kicking off the holidays in the best way possible! =)

Mocha Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookie Bars

28 Nov

If someone said Christmas cookies, I’m on it!  I love the Christmas season so much that I like to start packing in the cheer as early as possible for maximum enjoyment.  I’m not ashamed to admit I had white and colored Christmas lights strewn around my room several weeks ago, and Christmas tunes on my ipod even before that.  I thought once or twice about starting in on Christmas baking before Thanksgiving, even though I clearly have a thing for Thanksgiving pumpkin, cranberry, and pecan creations.  I contained myself.  I do love Thanksgiving, afterall!

However, now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, has been lived and enjoyed to the fullest, and the turkey leftovers have been devoured, I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever adding candy canes to cookies.  No problems belting out Christmas music while working off holiday dinners at the gym, and slim to no issues with getting my hands on as much Soy Nog as humanly possible.  I actually have zero to slightly fewer than that problems with Nog.  I love the stuff!  Also, these cookies smell amazingggggg…..

Cookie?  Brownie?  Chocolate cookie? Cookie brownie?  Semantics.  Regardless of the fact that these bars owe their rich chocolate color to cocoa powder and mocha cappuccino mix, the texture is much more like a cookie bar than a brownie.  Just to make things right in the world, I laced them with candy cane peppermint goodness, a dash of holiday cheer (not THAT kind!) and called it a day!

Get with the holidays!  Get your tree, hang as many lights as you can find, hand-write Christmas cards to loved ones, guzzle Nog, sing Christmas carols way off key, watch made for tv holiday specials over and over until you can’t handle it anymore, and make these cookies! =)

Mocha Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

* 2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
* 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
* 1/4 Cup Mocha Cappuccino Mix
* 1 tsp Baking Soda
* 1 tsp Salt
* 1 Cup Butter Flavored Shortening
* 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
* 1/2 Cup Sugar
* 2 Large Eggs
* 1 tsp Double Strength Cooled Coffee (I used french pressed Starbucks iced coffee blend)
* 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
* About 6 Peppermint Candy Canes, crushed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper or a panpat.

Beat together the shortening, brown sugar, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in the coffee.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cocoa powder and mocha cappuccino mix.

Slowly add the dry to the wet, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.

Stir in the chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. Smooth into prepared pan, leveling the surface.
Bake about 25 minutes, depending on your oven, but DON’T over bake! Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Happy Holidays!