Crack Popcorn & Peanut Crunch

Sweet, chewy, sticky, and absolutely A.D.D.I.C.T.I.V.E!!!! This popcorn will be a hit with your family, co-workers, or the hit of the party. We recently had a game night with some of our friends where I broke out this dessert which left everyone craving more. Although it takes about an hour and a half to make, it doesn’t take too much hands-on time leaving plenty of breaks to get your appetizers ready for your own game night.

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Lavender Shortbread Cookies | An Aromatic Delight

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lavender! So much so that my husband has said to me that I have to stop using the scent around the house for the laundry, air fresheners, candles, and so on. Not that he hates the smell of lavender but thinks I might be overdoing it just a little bit by using it for so many things. So I’ve cut back and use a light lavender lotion and here and there for an air freshener. Several months ago, I was really shocked when my husband found a recipe and told me that he really wanted me to make it so he could try it. What shocked me was that it was for lavender shortbread cookies….didn’t he just say that he didn’t want so much lavender smells in the house?!? I won’t complain, I have been wanting to cook with lavender for a while to see what it tastes like so I took this as a challenge to make it for him. Ever since he told me he wanted to try these cookies, I have been wondering where to get lavender to even begin to make them. Although I had seen people talking online about how it could be difficult to find and that I might have to find a specialty store, I found it to actually be quite easy. Granted I sort of found it by chance. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were walking around Old Town Alexandria  and stopped into {The Spice and Tea Exchange} which we had walked by so many times but had just now decided to stop in to grab some loose tea. As I walked around the store and took in the amazing smells of all the seasonings and teas and explored things I had never even seen or thought of before…Bacon salt?!?!? I spotted dried lavender flowers and immediately grabbed a bag and showed my husband that I could finally make the shortbread cookies for him. I have since made him the recipe below and he absolutely loved them and has asked that I make them again ASAP!! I have to say, these cookies not only taste amazing but also filled the house with a beautiful lavender smell while I made them. Hope both you and your husbands like these shortbread cookies as much as we do.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so I actually baked them in three separate batches — once to bring some to work and another when I was at home for a snow day and decided I deserved a few for spending an hour shoveling. That time I paired it with some white rose tea we also got at {The Spice and Tea Exchange}. It was a perfectly satisfying and rewarding combination!

Cookies and tea

Equipment:

  • Knife and cutting board
  • Standing mixer with paddle attachment
  • Plastic wrap
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of butter, softened
  • 2/3 white sugar
  • 1/4 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, add butter, white sugar, and confectioner’s sugar. Cream together until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the lavender, mint, and lemon zest and mix again until well combined.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to the standing mixer in three batches and mix on medium speed until the ingredients of the dough are well combined.
  • Remove dough from the standing mixer. Divide in half and roll into two balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, then flatten to about a 1 inch thickness. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour or until firm.
  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • Place a large piece of parchment paper on a flat surface and lightly flour. Place dough on the parchment paper, cover with another piece of parchment paper. Use rolling pin to roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Use whatever cutters you want to cut the dough into shapes. I used heart cookie cutters in honor of Valentine’s Day as well as wine glasses because I didn’t have any round cutters. This is a way for you to get creative with yours.
  • Place your cut cookies onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  • Bake one sheet at a time for about 15-18 minutes or until it just starts to brown on the edges, depending on the size of your cookies. While waiting to bake the next batch of cookies, place the baking sheet in the fridge to keep it cool or you can cut only a batch at a time and leave the rest of the dough in plastic wrap and in the fridge. I made a few batches with one of the balls of dough and kept the other one to make on another day.
  • You can also roll out the dough into a long cylinder and cut your cookies with a knife. When I did it this way the cookies were much smaller and only needed about 10-12 minutes to start to brown. The key is no matter how you cut them or what their size is, make sure to keep and eye on them while they are baking.
  • Once baked, slide the cookies (still on the parchment paper – to make it easier) onto wire racks to let them cool.
  • Enjoy!

{Source | AllRecipes.Com}

Georgia Pralines | Southern Delight

Who can’t resist the southern delight… georgia pralines! I absolutely love pecans and am always looking for ways to spruce them up as sweet treats to bring to parties or to munch on at home. When I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it out! My husband and I were heading to his cousin’s house for a family barbecue and knew that his grandfather would love them so I figured it was as good a time as any to try it out! They were a hit by everyone, who all went back for seconds. In the future, I want to make them again and add a little bit of bourbon into the mix just to see how they would taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans halves
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Equipment Needed:

  •  Baking sheet or shallow pan
  •  Medium saucepan
  •  Whisk
  • Baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Spread chopped pecans on a baking dish or shallow pan and bake until fragrant, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  • Combine brown sugar, whipping cream, and butter in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring ingredients to a boil while stirring constantly and let boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat, add in powdered sugar and vanilla, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir toasted pecans into the saucepan mixture and allow to cool some.
  • Put spoonfuls of mixture onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow pralines to sit and harden for 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe found on {Tasty Kitchen}

Caramel Snickers Apple Salad | Dessert

This is by far my favorite salad!!! But of course it is not at all as healthy as a salad filled with vegetables. This delicious dessert has been a huge hit at potlucks, birthday parties, and barbecues and what’s even better is that it is so simple. After bringing this to a holiday party at work, I had one of my colleagues come up and ask me how hard it was to make and if he could have the recipe. Turns out he was going to be spending Thanksgiving with his girlfriend’s family and wanted to impress them by bringing something that he made himself and that tasted phenomenal! So, take his lead and make this if you want to impress your coworkers, friends, or family and know that it took little effort to throw it all together.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Regular Sized Snickers Candy Bars
  • 4 Medium Apples (I like Granny Smith Apples for their sourness and color in the mixture, however, please try whichever is your favorite)
  • 1 (5.1 oz) package of Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk
  • 1 (16 oz.) Tub of Cool Whip (Thawed to Room Temperature)
  • 1/2 of Hershey’s Caramel Ice Cream Topping

Caramel Snickers - Snickers

Equipment Needed:

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cup
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • 2.1 Quart Corningware dish or other large serving bowl/dish

Instructions:

  • Whisk together in a large mixing bowl the vanilla pudding packet, 1/2 cup of milk, and cool whip until well combined.
  • Chop up apples and Snickers into bite-sized pieces and mix into pudding mixture. Keep a handful or so of the chopped up Snickers to add to the top of the dish for garnish.
  • Transfer mixture into a corningware dish or other large serving dish. Scatter the handful of Snickers on top of the mixture and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping.
  • Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Recipe from {Chef in Training}.

Caramel Snickers - Finished