Dark Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies

or pour and go cookie bar treats

I love cookies.  I am not normally a huge fan of traditional candy type treats and sweets, but when it comes to cookies - I am a pushover.  And when you get that craving for cookies, you want them now - not in an hour, or after the next shopping trip, but right now - fresh out out of the oven.  The great thing about these is that they are not only fast and easy to make, but they use mostly what you already have on hand.  I use dark chocolate chips because my husband loves them, but in the picture below I also tossed in a couple handfuls of butterscotch morsels for the holidays.  I've also tried cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips, and chocolate mint bits.  All have been delicious!  One batch makes one square dish or one round pan dish of cookie bars, so you don't have an excessive amount laying around the house after to tempt you, just enough to satisfy that craving when you have it.  Check it out:

1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
A pinch Salt
1 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

1. Cream together the butter and brown sugar; then beat in the egg.

2. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips until well blended.

3. Pour into a greased 8x8-inch pan and gently pat even with a greased spatula (greasing the bottom of the spatula makes all the difference here, that way there is no cookie dough sticking to it while you try to flatten).

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Check at 20 min (done when toothpick comes out clean when pierced in center).


Two Easy, Cheesy Appetizers

or the one mix way to a make ahead appetizer that is sure to please.

Just a quick post for you today to go along with the quickness of this recipe.  It only takes about 15 min to prepare, though it does take some time to chill in the refrigerator, and is pretty cheap to make overall.  With the holiday season quickly approaching it is always good to have a couple simple recipes in your pocket to fill in the gaps in your menu or bring along to a gathering with family and friends.  I have brought this to both family and work events and it has been a hit in both areas.  Even my husband likes this, and he is adamantly against the whole "cheese ball" concept on principle as much as on taste.  I like it because it can be made in advance and just pulled out of the fridge to serve when guests arrive, combined with the short prep time it doesn't get much more stress-free than that.  If you split the recipe between the different options here it gives a pretty nice variety, serve with your favorite crackers and you are all set!  Check it out:

Cream cheese – low fat, 2 (8 oz) packages
Parmesan Romano Cheese – 1 cup
Colby Jack Cheese – shredded, 1 cup
Worcestershire sauce – 2 tsp
Onion – 1 tbsp dried, minced
Garlic powder - 1/2 tsp
House spice blend - 1 tsp

Individual Bite Sized Balls
1. Combine cream cheese, shredded cheese, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan Romano.
2. Mix in Worcestershire sauce, onion, spices, and garlic powder. Ensure that the ingredients are evenly distributed.
3. Separate into bite sized balls and roll in the remaining Parmesan Romano cheese.
4. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour before serving

Ham or Provolone Rolls
1. Prepare cheese blend as indicated above, stop before rolling into balls.
2. Lay out individual slices of thinly cut, cooked ham or provolone cheese. Spread a thin layer over slices and roll into a tube shape.
3. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour
4. Slice rolls into 1/4 to 1/2 inch circles and serve


Dump Chicken Delight - Slow Cooker Bound

or from the freezer to your table, in one easy pour.

I have now completed month two of my freezer cooking experiment and I have to tell you - I am hooked!  I have ventured into a couple different types of freezer prep and discovered that I am truly a lazy cook at heart. There are endless recipes out there that involve actual cooking on freezer prep day, and they are delicious I am sure, but I have decided to limit myself to one of those for every three no cook prep recipes I make.  This saves me precious sanity and time on the designated Sunday, and since these make ahead meals are designed to do just that when they are used during the week I see no need to sacrifice it in advance.

I like to use chicken because it is one of the most versatile meats for freezer preparations, but I have had some good experience with pork and beef recipes too.  Personally, I like to go to our local butcher because the meat is cheaper than the chain stores and I can be sure that it hasn't been frozen yet but if you don't have one I'm sure your local grocery will do just fine.  I have found that having one freezer meal a week not only helps with busy schedules but it also takes out the stress of figuring out just what we have left in the house for dinner at the end of the week.  I would highly recommend having a couple on reserve each month, you'll be amazed what a difference it makes on your stress level.  This recipe was one of my favorites from round one of my experiments and will most likely be on the list every month because of its universal appeal.  Check it out:

1 cup white wine
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 dash sage
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fat trimmed)

Freezer Day:

1. Open up a large freezer bag, using a deep bowl to keep it upright.  Pour in the wine and vegetable oil.  Add all of the spices and then seal the bag and mix thoroughly from the outside by massaging the contents with your hands.

2. Open the bag after ensuring that the majority of the contents are drained back down to the bottom and secure again in the bowl.  Add in the chicken breasts and re-seal.  Massage the contents again to ensure even distribution over the chicken.

3. Open a small corner of the bag and carefully squeeze all the air out.  Lay the bag flat in the freezer so that the chicken is in a single layer and fold half the bag over to push the liquid back over the chicken when it freezes (this also makes the bag more compact for storage).

Cooking Day:

1. Remove the bag from the freezer the night before and allow to thaw in the refrigerator 

2. Dump the contents of the bag into your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.  I found the amount of liquid to be perfect, but if you are concerned about it need more you can add 1/2 cup of chicken stock.

This has a taste reminiscent of traditional roast chicken so any side that you usually accompany it with would work great, I personally recommend potatoes cooked on time bake in the oven so they are ready when you are for dinner.  I find that the sage gives it a bit of that warm, family holiday feel to it but if sage isn't your cup of tea go ahead and leave it out or substitute it with a different complimentary herb.  As always - give it a try, give the flavors a chance, but in the end make it your own.  Enjoy!