Christmas Goodies

Instead of buying gifts for lots of people this year, I decided to do a bunch of baking and give out goodies.  It was so fun making all these treats and giving them to family and friends, I think I will do this from now on!  The trick is to make large batches of each goody and divvy them up into cookie tins all at once.  I found a TON of festive cookie tins from the dollar store, so I didn’t break the bank on the cookie tins.

Between the crazy baking spree, traveling, and gobbling these goodies up before I could say “have a holly jolly Christmas” there wasn’t time to take pictures.  So here are the recipes, links to originals, and pictures borrowed from the lovely bloggers with these yummy recipes!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls from Praying Twice 

These peanut butter balls were a HUGE hit.  The rice krispies add a fun crunch and texture that people couldn’t get enough of.  The powdered sugar also helps these peanut butter balls not be as heavy and dense as other peanut butter balls I’ve had in the past.  My only “complaint” is how messy you get while making these and they are somewhat labor intensive.  My hands were covered in chocolate which was so tempting to lick as I was making these…but I resisted until the end…I swear!!  But because the end result is so yummy, all the work was worth it!

2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups rice krispies
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup melted butter, melted
2-3 packages of milk chocolate chips, melted

-Mix the peanut butter, rice krispies, powdered sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl.  The mixture is quite thick and I found it easier just to use my hands! 

*The goal is to be able to roll the mixture into a ball that isn’t to dry or too sticky.  Just right.  If the balls are too dry and not rolling together, add more peanut butter.  If the balls are too wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar.

-Pre-roll all of the peanut butter balls and place on cookie sheets BEFORE dipping in chocolate, your hands will get messy.

-Dip each ball into the chocolate and place back on cookie sheet. 

-Let harden before packing up and you can put them in the fridge to speed up the process.

(Makes about 70 balls)

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies from Life as a Lofthouse

Are you a fan of soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies?  This is for you!  The great thing about these cookies is how soft they are without having to pop them in the microwave (but the extra warmth still makes them even better!).  The secret ingredient aka vanilla pudding mix is where the cookies get their chewy texture.  Also the added bump of vanilla flavor makes these cookies top all others if you ask me.  Does anyone else have trouble answering the question of vanilla or chocolate?  They go together so well!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12 oz bag milk chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Add butter, both sugars, pudding mix, eggs and vanilla to a large bowl, and beat until creamy and fluffy
-Then slowly mix in flour and baking soda
-Stir in chocolate chips
-Drop by tablespoonfuls, onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
-Bake for ONLY 9-10 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes before eating. 

(Makes about 36 cookies)

Triple Chocolate Cherry Bars from Betty Crocker

I’ve recently discovered and become a fan of Betty Crocker.  Many of the recipes are super simple and quick to prepare and all remind me of comfort food.  And if you search through the website and cookbooks, you are bound to come across real gems like this recipe!  Chocolate with cherries is one of my favorite combos.  Nate’s aunt makes delicious chocolate covered cherries every Christmas and these are similar, just in a brownie form.  And the fact that these are so quick and easy to whip up, I’ll be making these year round and not just for the holidays.

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® chocolate fudge cake mix
1 21 oz can cherry pie filling
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 container Betty Crocker® Whipped chocolate frosting

-Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan)
-Spray a 15x10x1-inch or 13×9-inch pan with baking spray
-In large bowl, gently mix dry cake mix, pie filling, eggs and chocolate chips with rubber spatula; break up any undissolved cake mix by pressing with spatula
-Carefully spread in pan
-Bake 15x10x1-inch pan 23 to 27 minutes, 13×9-inch pan 29 to 34 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
-Cool completely, about 1 hour
-Frost with frosting
-Cut to desired size bars
-Store loosely covered 

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust

Adapted from: AllRecipes
This pie is so easy, delicious, and looks amazing!  Besides baking the crust, this is almost a no-bake pie…how great is that?  The red cherries really pop on only dinner spread, and this cool pie would be refreshing on a hot summer day.  To make this recipe even easier, you could use a store bought graham cracker crust, but it is so worth it to make your own.  And making your own graham cracker crust is extremely easy, so why not?  And what a great way to get out some frustrations than to beat up some graham crackers? I also used Organic Valley’s Cream Cheese and Cultured Unsalted Butter.  These products combined with the lemon just gives this pie such an enjoyable fresh taste even though you are using a canned pie filling.  Hope you enjoy!
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 21 oz can light cherry pie filling
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon.
Press mixture into a 9 inch pie dish.
Bake for 7 minutes and remove from oven to let cool.
Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, and continue beating until smooth and combined.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.
Fill graham cracker crust evenly.
Refrigerate until ready to serve (atleast 3 hours).
Before serving, spread the cherry pie filling over the top.

King’s Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders

Adapted from:  King’s Hawaiian Rolls

King's Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

King's Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

King's Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

King's Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

At my work baby shower, I had one of the most delicious ham and cheese sliders I have ever had!  My co-worker told me the secret was King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Rolls.  So once I got home, I got googling and found a recipe on their website that matched what I had just eaten that day.  These are nothing short of amazing and are so addicting…I challenge you to eat just one (it’s impossible).  The response I got from Nate when he tried these was a mouthful-mumble of  “These are good!”  They even reheat well in the toaster oven or wrapped in foil and placed in the oven.

And extra touch was using Organic Valley’s Baby Swiss Cheese and  Cultured Unsalted Butter.  While I’ve cooked with plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, I’ve never used organic cheese and butter before.  Honestly, the flavor of the cheese and butter alone, is stronger and fresher tasting.  And you could immediately taste the lack of chemicals being used in these organic products, which is a very good thing!  The only way to get better quality cheese and butter is to get it from the farmer themselves!  Stay-tuned, there will be an Organic Vally giveaway starting on Friday!

1 pack of King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Dinner Rolls (12 pack)
1 lb deli ham, shaved/sliced (I just went to the lunch meat section!)
8 oz. block of swiss cheese, shredded
1 1/2 sticks butter
3 tablespoons dijon honey mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons poppy seeds (optional)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Melt butter over medium heat and saute the onions in the butter for 1-2 minutes.
-Then add the mustard, worcestershire, and poppy seeds. Simmer for for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.
-Cut the entire pack of rolls in half, horizontally…keeping all the top and bottom halves separately in tact.
-Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray, place bottom half of rolls, and spoon 1/2 of the onion mixture over the rolls.
-Add a slice of ham and sprinkle swiss cheese over each roll. 
-Cover with the top half of rolls.
-Spread the remaining onion mixture and any extra cheese over the top.
-Bake covered for 15-20 minutes, and once finished, separate for serving.

Pumpkin Crisp

Krista: Hey!  I have a great idea.  Let’s have dessert first and dinner second tonight!
Nate: Wanna know how I know you’re pregnant?
Dessert first, dinner second is exactly what we did!  And man was it worth it.  I swear, this stuff is even better than pumpkin pie, and I LOVE pumpkin pie.  Do I dare say, it is EASIER to make than pumpkin pie?  And pumpkin pie is pretty darn easy to make.  
I’ve seen a similar recipe floating around potluck gatherings for years, jotted it down, and finally dug it out of my recipe box.  The originals all called for yellow cake mix, only a couple pecans, and no brown sugar.  So I thought I’d change the recipe around to make it my own and add more flavor.  It was a success!  We were on our way out the door, TO DINNER, and I saw Nate eat 4-5 bites of this!

Nate: (with mouth full) This stuff is really good! (still chewing with mouth full)
Krista: Wanna know how I know this just made it on the blog?

Pumpkin Crisp - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Pumpkin Crisp - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Pumpkin Crisp - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
This is why you should let it sit 🙂  But so you can see the pumpkin color inside!

1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
1/2 cup of almonds, chopped or slivered
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with no-stick baking spray.  Add pumpkin mixture to casserole dish.

Sprinkle the cake mix over the top, and then sprinkle the pecans and almonds over the top.

Drizzle the butter over the nuts evenly and sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of that.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly!

Let sit for about 5 minutes so it will come out in nice squares (I skipped this step, I just couldn’t wait!)

Serve with vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!

Lasagna Pie

How awesome is the feeling when a recipe lightbulb goes off in your head?  And how much more awesome if the feeling with that recipe actually works out and is delicious?  Pretty dang awesome!  It started when I was pondering what to make for dinner Friday night after a hellacious week at work for the two of us.  First I thought about the comforting power and simplicity of lasagna and then I started craving crescent rolls.  Crescent rolls are the but not the best bread to slop up the leftover lasagna sauce…what to do, what to do. LASAGNA PIE!  

The crust of course is made out of crescent rolls (a whole lot quicker and simpler than making pie crust). And the pie filling is made up of all your classic lasagna ingredients minus the noodle.  I almost put a layer of noodles but then I thought it would be weird.  And because there are no noodles in this recipe, I believe lasagna pie is even easier and quicker to throw together than a regular lasagna. Nate said dinner smelled great while it was in the oven, and when I brought him his first piece and he took his first bite he said “I could eat 10 slices of this pie!”  So I would consider this lasagna pie a HUGE success and if you don’t mind, I think I’ll pat myself on the back right now 🙂

Lasagna Pie

Lasagna Pie Slice
Lasagna Pie Crust

1 12oz tube of large crescent roll dough
1 lb ground beef (or sausage or even turkey)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup marinara sauce
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Spray a 9.5″ pie dish with non-stick spray and line the dish with the crescent roll triangles.  You are forming the crust for your pie. (refer to picture)  Then bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.

Season the ground beef with salt and pepper.  Cook the beef over medium heat until browned / cooked through.  Drain as much grease out of the pot as possible.

Remove the pie crust from oven and add the cooked beef on top of the crust.  Form an even layer with the meat.  Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella over top of the meat.  Place back in the oven for about 5 minutes.  You just want to melt the cheese layer.

Remove the pie from the oven and add a layer of ricotta cheese (depending on how much you care for ricotta, adjust the amount).  Pour the sauce over top of the the ricotta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon italian seasoning.  Next, add the rest of the mozzarella over the top of your pie and sprinkle with another teaspoon of italian seasoning.

Bake the pie for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before slicing.  Pat yourself on the back and enjoy!

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Source:  Tidy Mom
So I’ve mentioned before that I work at a plant nursery.  My co-workers and I could be certified as plant geeks.  Surprisingly, many of them are excellent cooks and bakers!  So when it was time for the annual volunteer potluck, I got super excited because a) would have yummy food to eat b) wouldn’t have to pack my lunch that day.  For a successful potluck, everyone has to bring a dish to contribute to the feast.  And even if you can’t cook, pick up a 2 liter of soda or some napkins, but you must help out in some way.  If you don’t and you never have, you are really lame, and I’ve got news for you, everyone knows who you are!! You’re not flying under the radar like you may have thought.

Anyhoo, I decided to bring a dessert this time.  I’d seen these cookies on pinterest and thought they looked cute, so I had to see if they were also tasty.  And they are, score!  What’s great about this recipe is that is uses cake mix, which if you’ve been following my blog, you know I love me some cake mixes.  You can trade out different flavors of cake mix based on the flavor you are craving.  This time I used lemon, but would also try orange, strawberry, pineapple, and chocolate mixes.  I’m starting to think these would be delicious with 2 sandwiched together with icing in the middle!

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Lemon Crackle Cookies

1 box Lemon Cake Mix
1 8 oz container Cool Whip
1 egg
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°

In medium bowl, beat cool whip, egg and cake mix until well blended. The dough will be thick and very sticky.  If you don’t like getting your hands dirty, just stop now 🙂

Drop by teaspoonfuls (I just eyeballed mine.  I grabbed whatever felt good!) into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll around to coat.  *I found if I dusted my fingers with some powdered sugar to begin with, less of the dough would stick to my fingers and it would drop into the bowl much easier!

Line the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 – 14 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes to harden up before moving to a cookie rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy! And get creative!

Desperate Holly Dolly Bars

I don’t like coconut.  Seriously.  I’ve never really understood the shaved, dry, waxy, stringy white stuff that sometimes ruins a completely innocent cake.  The texture alone turns me off.  So why did I make a holly dolly bar?  Not sure.  But, am I glad I did!

While I haven’t been fully converted into a coconut lover, I love these holly dolly bars!  They are sweet, rich, gooey, creamy, and the coconut shavings don’t have the usual waxy texture to them.  To my surprise the coconut adds a nice texture and flavor.  And instead of making me want to run far far away from the dessert table, the coconut shavings actually pull me in and make these hard to resist!  The toffee chips are a fun ingredient and add to the sweetness and crunch, but if you can’t find them, go ahead and sub them with more chocolate (can never have enough), peanut butter chips, or ever butterscotch chips.  The possibilities are really endless.  

Being so quick and easy to throw together, these holly dolly bars are perfect for any kind of shower or potluck.
Nate isn’t home from work yet to try these, but I can almost guarantee I will have to cut him off after 10 3.  So while these haven’t been chef-approved yet…you’ll just have to trust me!
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars


1 1/2 sleeves of graham crackers (13 crackers)
6 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heath/toffee chips
1 cup sweeten coconut shavings
1 14oz sweetened condensed milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×9 baking or casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Add the crackers to a large zip lock bag.  Seal the bag…very important to do this before you…beat it until you are left with nothing but graham cracker crumbs.  Use a rolling pin, a meat tenderizer, your fist, whatever! (This is also an easy and fun job for the kiddos)

Add the melted butter and sugar to the same bag of cracker crumbs.  Seal the bag.  Then mix the 3 ingredients together until combined.  It will still look crumby, you just want to disperse the sugar and butter evenly.

Dump the crumb mixture into the baking dish and pat it down into an even layer, like you would a graham cracker pie crust.  Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle the pecans, chocolate, toffee chips, and coconut over the top.  Then drizzle the condensed milk evenly over all of that good stuff.

You may be thinking “shoot, I just drowned all the ingredients in this nasty looking white stuff!”  Don’t worry, don’t even stir it.  Just place the baking dish back into the oven for 20-25 more minutes.  Until the sides are light brown and bubbly on the edges.

Let cool on a wire wrack for 1 hour.  Then cut into squares and enjoy!

Recipe Swap: Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

So, Christine and I decided it would be fun to do a “recipe swap.”  We each chose a recipe from each others blog that we thought looked simply delicious.  It was a lot harder to choose one than I thought it would be!  So many of her recipes sound delicious and you can tell she makes them with lots of love (and humor!).  If you haven’t already been to Christine’s blog, you should check her out now!  I guarantee you will laugh out loud at least 3 times.  She also has a facebook page which makes it super easy to see what she is whipping up next!

Like I said, choosing one recipe to feature from Christine’s blog was so difficult because they all looked SO yummy.  But I kept going back to this one and my mouth literally watered.  When i mentioned to my chef that I might make these, he got unusually excited, so of course, I was sold.

These mini cakes are so moist and down right cute.  And because you are simply using a cake mix, you can make these in no time at all.  Yet they look sophisticated enough to be the grand finale of a dinner party.  How great is that?  And if you need a testament to how good these fluffy bites of heaven are, Nate and I both ate 4 (each) straight out of the oven.  Like we hadn’t eaten anything for 2 weeks…we looked like the characters from Lost who just made it back to the main land haha! Anyway, you have to try these! Enjoy 🙂

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

(Makes 24 Mini Cakes)
1 box of pineapple cake mix
3 eggs
1 large can of pineapple chunks, quartered
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup water
2 sticks butter, cut each stick into 12 slices (24 total)
2 cups brown sugar
1 jar of red cherries in syrup (optional)
(You can pretty much just follow the directions on the cake mix. Instead of using water, use the pineapple juice of course!)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl blend together the cake mix, eggs, pineapple juice and water (hand mixer comes in handy!). Set aside.
Spray 2 muffin pans with non-stick baking spray. Place 1 slice of butter in the bottom of each muffin hole.  Add 1 ½ teaspoons of brown sugar over top each slice of butter.  Gently spread the brown sugar over the butter with your finger to create a rough layer.
Add a few pieces of pineapple to each muffin hole, enough to cover the bottom.  Then add about 2 tablespoons of batter on top of each (you will fill a bit more than ¾ of the muffin hole).  Bake for 18-21 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edges of each mini cake.  Then loosen the cakes from the sides of the muffin pan by giving the pan a little shake (I’ve found doing this with muffins, cupcakes, bread, and cake really helps!). Place a serving tray over top of the pan and flip those suckers out!
Place a cherry (or 2!) on top of each cake.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  The warm would go GREAT with some ice cream.

I can’t say enough great things about this recipe or Christine’s blog.  Head over to Food Thoughts of a Wannabe Chef or find her on Twitter! @FtofChefWannabe

Pepperoni Chips

Pepperoni pizzas are delicious, we all know this.  In my opinion, the best pepperonis are the ones that have crispy edges.  So when my sister passed this recipe along to me, I knew it was going to be good!

Besides being yummy, addicting, and quick to make, these little chips are healthy!  You can use regular pepperonis if you’d like, but the turkey pepperonis are leaner and you can’t taste a difference!  My sister originally tried this recipe because she is on a gluten-free diet, so anti-glutener’s, this one is for you!

Pepperoni Chips

Pepperoni Chips

1 pack of turkey pepperonis (can be found in the deli section with the “fancy” lunch meats)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet in foil (for easy clean up).  Then place the pepperonis on the sheet in rows.  It doesn’t matter how close together they are, just as long as they are not touching.

Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove, and dab each pepperoni with a paper towel.  This removes some of the grease/oils.

Return to the oven to bake for another 16 minutes (I was told 8 minutes, but mine definitely took 16, and probably could’ve gone longer!).  When in doubt, I take one for the team and just stick my finger in the oven and touch one to see if they are done.  I do this when baking anything lol 🙂

Once they have shrunk in size and are visibly crispy, remove from the oven.  Dab each pepperoni with a paper towel, and enjoy!  They are great warm or at room temperature.


Source:  Lulu the Baker

It should be illegal how good these are!  Seriously, if you ever piss someone off to the point they won’t talk to you, they would probably forgive you if you made these for them!  Nate tried them and flipped out over how yummy they were and he said the best part is the gooey filling.  One of his other chef friends came over for dinner last night, and Nate forced him to try them…(like anyone needs to be forced into eating anything with chocolate).  He bit into the carmelita like it was going to be something he’d tasted before. But his eyes instantly lit up and he said with his mouthful “Whoahhh.  These are GOOD!”  Then he stole the other half of mine and ate it.  Wtf?  Good thing I made a whole pan!

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, but you can find the recipe on LuLu the Baker’s blog.  Speaking of Pinterest, are any of your husbands or boyfriends struggling to understand the awesomest of Pinterest?  The past few days of conversations at our house have gone a little like this:

Nate:  Look at this really funny picture!
*Shows Me, and I am silent*
Me:  Oh, I’ve seen that before…like a few months ago.  Wanna know where?
Nate:  Where?
Me:  Pinterest!

Nate:  You don’t think anything I show you is funny anymore.  Your sense of humor has changed.
Me:  Oh no, I laughed my butt of the first time I saw it…on Pinterest.

Me:  Are these carmelita’s not the best thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
Nate:  Yes!  Who gave you this recipe?

Carmelitas Caramelita

Carmelitas Caramelita
48 werthers chewy caramels, unwrapped (2 packages)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. 

In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. 

Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes. 

Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes (mine took 25), until the edges are lightly browned. 

Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

*A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you’re pinched for time. They shouldn’t be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.

**To make a 9×13″ version, simply double the amounts.