Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies

Dark Chocolate M&M Chocolate Dipped Cookies.

So the thing about Christmas cookies is that it’s fun to make them fancy.

Well – sometimes fancy might mean taking a usual cookie (like my “Jodi’s Best Ever  Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and using Dark Chocolate M&Ms instead of chocolate chips (DARK Chocolate M&Ms is the key here! They are insanely delicious!), and then dunking them in some more dark chocolate….

…. but only half way….

to be fancy!

They are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

You can make these by simply following my tried and true recipe here and substituting Dark Chocolate M&Ms or your favorite Maybe you want to use chopped up Butterfingers or Snickers or Milky Way candies or maybe even peppermint sticks.

Go wild.  Get fancy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies.

Christmas cookie baking continues with these divine little shortbread “sandwiches.”

Buttery, tender shortbread cookies with a hint of almond kicked up with a generous spoonful of raspberry preserves and lightly dusted with sweet powdered sugar.

Such an elegant, beautiful, and mouth-watering treat!

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 7 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberry preserves
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer.  Add vanilla and almond extracts followed by salt.  Add flour and mix until dough is formed.  Remove dough from bowl to counter and flatten.  Place in large Ziploc bag or wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll dough out 1/4 inch thick.  Cut circles with biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter.  For half of the round cookies, cut a hole in the middle with smaller cookie cutter.  Bake approximately 12 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid round cookie.  Top each with a cut-out cookie.  Dust top with powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Christmas Spaceship in Mars

Christmas Spaceship in Mars.

You know you are living in Mars
when the town square – tiny as it is –
has a space ship
completed decked out in
Christmas lights
in December.

It’s the little things
that make life special…
that make your little place in the world unique.

Cherish them.

Cherish the moments.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies.

I decided this past weekend to start my holiday Christmas cookie baking.

Every year, I make several of my same, tried and true faves, but I also like to try one or two new recipes, so I couldn’t resist the visions dancing in my head when I came across  these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies I discovered through a Pinterest search.

And – oh boy – they did not disappoint!

If you love the flavor combo of chocolate, caramel and pecan that makes the classic “turtle,” you are going to go nuts over these!

Hope you will give them a try.

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 6 doz.
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (divided – yolk for cookies, white for topping)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (please only use pure – not imitation)
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Topping:

  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • Egg whites (from divided eggs above)
  • 1 jar caramel sauce (your fave – I used Smuckers)

Directions:

Beat butter and sugar in mixer on medium-high speed until well blended – about 3 minutes.  Add egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract, while continuing to beat.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Reduce mixer speed to low-medium, and add half of the flour mixture.  Beat until incorporated, then add half of milk, followed by other half of flour mixture, and finally other half of milk.  Beat until all ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Place dough in Ziploc plastic bag or cover bowl tightly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk egg whites until fluffy.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls.  Coat each ball with egg white, then roll in chopped pecans.  Place on baking stone (the only thing I bake cookies on) or cookie sheet.  Using a small spoon (I used a baby spoon) or your finger, indent each cookie ball in the center until a circle is formed.

Bake for 12-13 minutes.  Cookies will still be soft when you remove from oven.  Allow to cool on baking stone/cookie sheet.

Once cooled, remove to cooling rack, and spoon in caramel sauce.

Enjoy right away or pack in single layers in Ziploc freezer bags and freeze until ready to serve.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Cranberry Jalapeno Holiday Dip

Cranberry Jalapeno Holiday Dip.

When I was asked to bring an appetizer to my new Daughter-in-Law, Liz’s family Thanksgiving, I knew I had to make this after being told by my BFF, Jill that everyone was “jonesing it” when she made it for a party.

First I had to laugh at our 50+ year old selves using urban slang, then I had to make it and see if it was so!

Well – Yep!  It was a hit! One sister asked if the recipe was on the blog, because she wanted it (here it is Laura!), and another said she normally doesn’t like salsas, but she really liked it.

It is sweet, and it is spicy. It is crunchy, and it is creamy. All of this in a bite!

Thumbs up from all, except for hubby, who said it was… meh… He preferred the other appetizer I made – Pumpkin Pecan Baked Brie – which was pretty amazing too!

But will you make this and let me know and prove him wrong? <wink>

So secret revealed here.  I did not take pictures of the batch I made for Thanksgiving, so I made it again this past week just to get pictures <whistles and rolls eyes… not owning up to the fact that I ate a quarter of it for lunch one day…..>

And guess what else I did with it this week?  I made a leftover cold turkey sandwich and slathered some of this on the Smart Bun first.  YUM!  Who knew it would make a great turkey sandwich spread too??!!

This will be a hit at any holiday gathering, and it is so easy and pretty!  Here is the recipe as I slightly tweaked from a recipe I found through Pinterest:

Cranberry Jalapeno Holiday Dip

Ingredients:1 12oz. bag fresh cranberries

  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup sliced jalapeno pepper slices in a jar (or 1-2 fresh if you like it HOT!)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened

Directions:

Chop cranberries (I used the Pampered Chef Food Chopper, and it worked wonderfully, but you can also chop by hand.  Do not put in a food processor as they will become too mushy), and place in a medium bowl.  Add chopped green onions, jalapenos, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and sugar, and stir gently, but well.

Cover, and let refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, strain or squeeze liquid from cranberry relish.

Spread cream cheese in bottom of a pie plate or serving dish.  Top with cranberry relish mixture.

Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, celery sticks, or your favorite “dipper.”

Enjoy, and let me know if you and your friends are jonesing it too!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Cyber Monday at McKinneyX2Designs

McKinneyX2Designs at Mars Holiday Craft Show 2017

McKinneyX2Designs at Mars Holiday Craft Show 2017

Cyber Monday at McKinneyX2Designs.

It’s Cyber Monday!  The most popular day for online holiday shopping.  Cyber Monday follows Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.  So many shopping terms!

‘Tis the season!

Will you be cyber shopping today?

Well, my daughter-in-law, Colleen and I thought we would get in on the action too by offering a 10% discount on anything available in our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy Shop as our little holiday gift to you!

Use Promo Code “Cyber10” when placing your order to assure the discount!

Will you be cyber shopping today?

Happy Shopping!

McKinneyX2Designs at Mars Holiday Craft Show 2017

McKinneyX2Designs at Mars Holiday Craft Show 2017

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

P.S.  Speaking of Daughters-in-law and specials, my DIL Liz offers FREE 15-minute Nutritionist Phone Consultations to those local to the Mars/Pittsburgh area who are interested in learning about healthy decisions for eating well.  Her areas of expertise include:  digestive health complaints including SIBO, IBS, IBD (Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s), and GERD, Autoimmune conditions, Natural Hormone Balance, and General Health and Weight Management.  Check out Nourish & Flourish for more details.

Cheesy Bacon Ranch “Crack” Dip

Cheesy Bacon Ranch “Crack” Dip.

It’s party food time of year!

Time for dips and spreads, puffs and cups, hors d’oeuvres and crudites, balls and logs… Time for bits and bites in every color and shape and flavor.

When you are looking for an easy, crazy addictive, crowd-pleasing recipe, give this warm, cheesy, bacony, ranchy dip a go.

It’s sure to be a hit!

Cheesy Bacon Ranch Crack Dip

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 Less Fat)
  • 16 oz. sour cream (I used Light)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (reserve a few for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp. (or one 1oz. envelope) Ranch Dressing mix

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in bowl, reserving a bit of cheddar cheese and a few green onion slices for garnish.

Transfer dip to a pretty oven-proof serving bowl, fand back 20-25 minutes, uncovered until browned and bubbly.

Remove from oven, and immediately garnish with reserved shredded cheddar cheese and green onions.

Serve warm with tortilla chips, pretzel sticks, carrot or celery sticks, crackers, or your favorite dipper.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Getting Ready for Christmas in Mars

Getting Ready for Christmas in Mars.

Where else can you find a 40 foot Christmas tree
ready for lights and balls and tinsel and a star…

next to a spaceship and across from Mars Bank
in town square?

There’s no place like home
in Mars, PA…

where celebrating Christmas
is “out of this world!”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

A Hymn of Grateful Praise

For the beauty of the earth... For the Glory of the Skies

For the beauty of the earth… For the Glory of the Skies

A Hymn of Grateful Praise.

For the beauty of the earth…
For the glory of the skies.

For the beauty of each hour…
Of the day and of the night.

For the joy of human love…
A hymn of grateful praise.

Sometimes there are just no better words
than those of classic hymns.

On this Thanksgiving Day,
I am grateful for all of this and more.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Sugar Free, No Calorie Candy Canes

Sugar Free, No Calorie Candy Canes.

How stinkin’ cute are these old-fashioned, rustic, sugar-free, no-calorie, cheerful, colorful candy canes – all packaged up to make them even more adorable?!

We’ll have these at our booth today at the Mars Holiday Craft Show!

My DIL, Colleen, made them (and I’m secretly hoping there are some left over so I can buy them to decorate my tree!) 

We’ll have these and lots of fun rustic pallet signs and decor as well as some of my holiday original and print watercolor art framed or not, holiday cards, and copies of Klaus the Mouse!

Yep!  That’s where you will find us today if you are anywhere near Mars, PA!  We’ll be smiling and celebrating with 260 other vendors spread out between the high school and the middle school with shuttle bus service between.

Hope to see you there – in person or in spirit.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi