Lucky Rainbow Bark

Lucky Rainbow BarkYeah, I am totally guilty of trashing the living daylights outta that white chocolate. Sue me.

As a kid, I had this neighbor – we’ll call her Meow, since I remember her meowing on occasion, and I slept over at her house pretty frequently. She had anything a girl could ask for – her own pony, a really fluffy dog, a HUGE Barbie mansion, and the works. I remember being infinitely jealous of her Barbie collection since I was super obsessed with all things Barbie.

ANYWHO. On one particular evening sleepover, Meow and I were tucked in our sleeping bags and watching cartoons. The show ended and Leprechaun came on. Meow was kinda scared, but I begged her to keep it on since I was a morbid child who was admittedly frightened of this scary movie concept but also could not look away. This is similar to when I was freaking terrified of Forensic Files and would involuntarily shudder every time I heard Peter Thomas begin a sordid tale of murder, yet I would hide in the hallway and watch it without my parents knowing.

So we began watching Leprechaun and it proceeded to give me terrors over miniature mythical men wearing green suits and hiding in a box of Lucky Charms. Thankfully we didn’t regularly buy Lucky Charms and I never had to encounter any frightening creatures.

Fast forward a good fifteen or so years, and I’m now an adult and working a terrible job. I spotted a coworker snacking on Lucky Charms and it instantly made me crave fistfuls of that magical cereal. The next day, I went out and bought a box of it – and it soon became my go-to snack on the job. I never did find any leprechauns, FYI.

DSC_0407AWith St. Patrick’s Day coming up (it’s still awhile away, I know, but I’m a dork and get overly excited about holidays) I was brainstorming fun ideas with Lucky Charms and this bark came to mind. It’s not even a recipe – it’s just kind of a conglomerate of random, rainbow, sprinkly things held together by a huge plane of white chocolate. Yet all of those components create a totally delicious, outrageously SWEET bark that everyone is sure to love.

DSC_0419ANo meowing friends, terrified children, or Forensic Files-watching required.

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Lucky Rainbow Bark
Author: 
Recipe type: Bark, Candy
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Filled with a ton of rainbow, sprinkly goodies, this fun bark is perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any other time you're craving something super sweet and festive.
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg. vanilla CandiQuik, or another white chocolate almond bark
  • 1 pkg Circus Animal Cookies (my favorite!)
  • About 2-3 cups Lucky Charms Cereal (depending on as much as you'd like)
  • About 1 cup M&M's candies
  • Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  2. Melt the vanilla CandiQuik according to package directions or until smooth and melted. Spread the vanilla CandiQuik in an even layer onto the foil. You don't want it to be super thick, but don't make it super thin, either.
  3. Immediately top evenly with broken up Circus cookies, Lucky Charms, M&M's and sprinkles. Likewise, you could add dried fruits, nuts, or other candies if you'd like.
  4. Allow the bark to set up before breaking into pieces.

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DSC_0430AThis bark is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth since it’s packed with the delightful crunch of Circus Animal Cookies, a bite from the chocolate M&M’s, and the melt-in-your-mouth sweetness from the Lucky Charms! Don’t like an ingredient? Feel free to swap out the Circus Animal Cookies for another favorite, or try using Chocolate CandiQuik for a different flavor.

Lucky Rainbow BarkHope you have a sweet weekend!

xo, Hayley

 

Creamy Cannoli Dip

CannoliDipToday’s post is about combining two of my absolute favorite things: New York cannolis, and California Dairy. What could be a better mash-up?! By creating a phenomenal, creamy dip out of rich, California Dairy products from my home state, inspired by my future-home (I hope!) in New York City, the Land of Cannolis (unofficially, but it’s true), I have managed to combine both of my favorite things into one AWESOME treat for you!

So first things first: cannolis. I love them. After visiting NYC for the first time a couple years ago, I was forced by my dad to try one… and I was hooked. There’s something so enticing and fabulous about a crispy fried cannoli shell stuffed to the gills with outrageously rich cannoli cream. Heaven on earth? You bet your sweet face it is.

But the best part about those cannolis? The CREAM, obvi. I’ve been a fan of all things deliciously creamy since I can remember (and excuse your innuendos, weirdos). Cream cheese on bagels, whipped cream icing (!!), ice cream… you name it, I love it. So that tangy, slightly sweetened cannoli cream was basically the best thing to happen to my face in NYC. Besides macarons, but that’s a different story (and addiction).

Of course, that cannoli cream wouldn’t be possible without dairy. Tangy ricotta cheese, rich mascarpone, heavy cream, butter… just some of the components that make up that fabulous filling for these delicious confections.

And even though these fantastical cannolis are being cooked up across the country in New York City, it’s a pretty large chance that New York bakers are using California Dairy products to make them. Since California has been the leading milk producer in the country since 1993 (and also the leading butter, ice cream, whey concentrate and nonfat dry milk producer!) and the second largest cheese producer, the possibility that  bakeries and restaurants across the United States are using California Dairy is incredibly high. Eating cannolis made with cheese and dairy from California’s famous Happy Cows? A highly delicious possibility.

DSC_0299AToday’s recipe is centered around Real California Dairy. As a proud brand ambassador for the California Milk Advisory Board (and a proud consumer of Real California Milk!) I only shop for brands that feature the Real California Milk seal which ensures the milk and dairy products used in those items was made with California milk produced by one of the 1,500 dairy farms in our Golden State.

DSC_0964AFrom the tangy ricotta to the silky cream cheese to the rich heavy cream, every product used in today’s Cannoli Dip was made with Real California Milk, providing exemplary quality and taste to this outrageously scrumptious dessert dip!

But enough about that. Let’s talk this dip, y’all. Not only would it be AWESOME for a Super Bowl party (yes!), but it’d make a sweet treat for your Valentine. Just serve it up alongside some chocolate graham crackers, waffle cone pieces, butter crisp cookies, Nilla Wafers or even fruit, and you have yourself a seriously tasty, irresistible spread. #winning

Now eat up!

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Cannoli Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: No Bake, Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5 cups
 
Silky smooth and bursting with rich flavor, this Creamy Cannoli Dip will be the star of your next get-together! Comes together in minutes and features creamy California Dairy for the ultimate party dip!
Ingredients
  • 1 (15 oz) container Real California Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg Real California Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup Real California Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar
  • About ⅔ cup miniature chocolate chips
  • Waffle cookes, waffle cone pieces, chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafers, fresh fruit, or any other assorted dipping items, for dipping/garnish
Instructions
  1. First, drain your ricotta cheese by placing it in cheesecloth and squeezing out any excess liquid or moisture. You can also pat it dry with a paper towel if needed.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the drained ricotta, the cream cheese, heavy cream and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until just combined and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, until mixture is thickened. You may only need one cup of powdered sugar, but add more if necessary.
  3. Place the bowl in the fridge to set and chill for about 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge once chilled and garnish with chocolate chips. *I recommend spooning the dip into a separate bowl and layering the chocolate chips and dip together, like so: ½ cup dip, then a sprinkling of chocolate chips, repeating until chocolate chips are finished. That way you get chocolate chips in every bite!
  4. Serve with assorted dipping items like cookies, crackers, pretzels, or fruit. Store leftovers airtight in the fridge.

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DSC_0963ASilky-smooth and crazy creamy, this sweet and tangy dip will soon become your new favorite! I loved eating it with waffle cookies to complete the authentic cannoli experience, but it was equally delicious with fruit (or let’s be real, on a spoon) :)

For more information about California Dairy or the California Milk Advisory Board, be sure to check them out ONLINE! You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest for news, info, recipes & more! And be sure to look for Real California Dairy products featuring the Real or Real California Milk Seal! 

DSC_0300AHave a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

I am a proud brand ambassador for the California Milk Advisory Board. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. I was compensated as part of my ambassadorship to write this post. 

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs

PB Cookie Dough FootballsOkay, let’s get real. I don’t watch football.

I know, I know. Shocker of the Year. But it just doesn’t interest me, ya know? It isn’t necessarily because football doesn’t interest me; it’s mostly because A) I have other things I could be doing than watching grown men tackle one another; and B) the commentators.

You know, the men who have to narrate every. single. play, every single breath a player takes, every itch they scratch, every thought they think… it’s just so distracting and annoying and completely unnecessary? I dunno, but it totally grinds my gears.

I think it’s because I have a deep-rooted psychological issue with watching TV with others. It all started when I was in elementary school and invited some classmates over to play. Inevitably Barbies got boring, so we turned on cartoons while we ate animal cookies and wasted our childhood brains away. But one classmate in particular — let’s call her Annoying Girl — had a habit of talking during the show. She had to repeat whatever the character just said. She had to narrate whatever the character just did. And she had to ask questions upon questions upon questions of inane subject matter so she could attempt to follow along with the mind-blowing plot of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?. Like, it’s Scooby effing Doo. The monster is always some senile old person. Get the net, homegirl.

But no. Annoying Girl continued her narration of every single grueling play-by-play as if we were deaf and blind and completely, woefully uninformed as to what we were watching.

In later years, I would date a boy whose mom did the same thing. Also, she had this really high-pitched laugh that I swore made the walls shake. Watching America’s Funniest Home Videos was like a death sentence since you never knew what toddler-falling-over video would send the house to crumbles.

And after that, I had a friend who would occasionally watch movies with me… or as much of a movie as you could watch from behind a cell phone screen. Every so often she’d glance up from her Facebook feed to check out the movie, then ask some obvious question that would be answered had she not been playing Farmville. Look, if Farmville is preferable company, then by all means, there’s the door, dude. I can watch my movie solo without fielding questions with someone who contracts a rash if they aren’t touching their phone 24/7.

So anyway, when it comes to narrating shows, answering and asking questions during shows, and generally watching shows with people other than my immediate family (who knows to shut their traps until commercial breaks), I’m not a fan. Unless you’re bringing enough spinach and artichoke dip that I can adequately bury my face in until half-time, I’m not interested in a TV party.

DSC_0803AHowever, I am interested in TV party-related foods, which are always delicious. Dips, fruit and veggie trays, cheese and meat, foot-long sandwiches, and lots of desserts, SuperBowl food is the bomb. And after building mini salami and cheddar cracker sammies all day long, everyone’s bound to crave something sweet to offset all the buffalo wing sauce and melty cheese. Enter these Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs! Not only are they a cinch to make, they taste great — because who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate!? And they have that irresistible sweet-and-salty element everyone loves.

The best part? Everyone will be too busy stuffing their faces with them, which means uninterrupted TV for me :)

DSC_0797A

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 64
 
Filled with smooth and delicious egg-free peanut butter cookie dough, these Cookie Dough Footballs are sure to be a winner at any football party!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sleeves (about 64 crackers) butter-flavored crackers (I used Townhouse)
  • 1 pkg. Chocolate CandiQuik
  • 2 squares Vanilla CandiQuik
Instructions
  1. First, prepare your cookie dough filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar & white sugar with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Lastly, add in the flour until a soft dough has formed.
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spread the crackers in an even layer among both sheets. Using a teaspoon measuring spoon, spoon the cookie dough in a log-shape onto one of the crackers; gently top with another cracker, creating a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough and crackers until all crackers are made into sandwiches.
  3. Briefly allow the sandwiches to set in the freezer, for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the Chocolate CandiQuik according to package directions or until smooth and melted. Dip each sandwich into the Chocolate CandiQuik, allowing the excess to drip off of the fork. Return to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining sandwiches. Once the chocolate has set, melt the Vanilla CandiQuik. Place the Vanilla CQ in a baggy, seal out the air and snip off a corner. Pipe stitching onto each football, then allow the stitching to set.
  4. Store leftovers airtight in the freezer and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

DSC_0815AButtery, crunchy, sweet and salty, these football sandwiches are perfect for the Big Game! The cookie dough is so sweet and creamy and tastes almost like the filling of a Reese’s PB cup! Combined with the milky-sweet chocolate and the crunchy crackers, these treats are a real winner. Don’t like peanut butter cookie dough? No problem! Feel free to use chocolate chip cookie dough (just use miniature chips to help make the sandwiches), sugar cookie dough, oatmeal cookie dough, or even chocolate cookie dough.

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Cups

GingerbreadCookieDoughCupsTo me, there are three flavors synonymous with the holidays: eggnog, peppermint, and gingerbread.

While I’ve always had an affinity with peppermint, eggnog and gingerbread took awhile to get used to. As a kid, I wanted to like them so badly. Eggnog just seemed so cool – like something suave businesswomen in turtleneck pantsuits would drink (it was the 90s) but I just couldn’t stomach it; it reminded me of melted ice cream but not in a good way. And gingerbread, of course, for all the gingerbread home construction that I’d build during this magical time of year. But demolishing said house? I went for the candy and abandoned the stale frame behind.

But as an adult, I realized I actually enjoy all of these flavors (and none of the turtleneck pantsuits). Eggnog is best enjoyed, in my opinion, in moderation, such as a glaze on a cake or a sip here and there (spiked because hello, it’s the holidays and how else am I supposed to be so jolly?). And gingerbread, because I finally left those terrible, crumbly gingerbread cookie homes behind and had real-deal, chewy, perfectly spiced gingerbread cookies that totally assuaged my stale-cookie nightmares.

And now, gingerbread is a must during the holidays. Whether you prefer your cookies soft and chewy, or thinner and crispy, I think everyone can agree that one of the best parts of this Christmastime classic is the cookie dough. But then again, isn’t that the case with all cookies? :)

DSC_0203ACookie dough is one of my favorite treats and I combined my love for the sweet, uncooked batter with my newfound love for gingerbread to create these fabulous, sweet-and-spicy Gingerbread Cookie Dough Cups. Kinda like peanut butter cups, but surrounded by smooth white chocolate and filled with a decadent, perfectly spiced gingerbread cookie dough. These sweet, poppable cups are then topped with a small sprinkling of dried ginger which offers an irresistible pop of flavor atop these festive treats.

Both my cookie dough and the dried ginger garnish come from Gourmet Garden, the folks behind those oh-so convenient squeezable tubes of fresh herbs and spices. Gourmet Garden knows that not everyone has time or money to buy a fresh bunch of herbs for a single recipe. More than likely, the herbs will spoil before you have a chance to use them! But Gourmet Garden has created these convenient squeeze tubes filled with your favorite herbs and spices to make cooking and baking a breeze — and no more dreaded garlic fingers! Simply squeeze the amount of herbs or spices needed into your recipe and voila! No mess, no waste. It’s that simple — and the fresh pop of color and flavor added to the dishes is outstanding.

DSC_0206AGourmet Garden just released their new line of Lightly Dried Spices for your cooking needs. The Lightly Dried Line is the closest thing to fresh you’ll get in appearance, flavor, and aroma and they stay fresh for 4 weeks after opening. From cilantro to ginger, parsley to chili pepper and basil, Gourmet Garden has your herbs and spices covered to ensure a perfectly flavorful dish in no time.

…And speaking of flavorful… just look at these cups! They’re just bursting with that sweet gingerbread dough and smooth white chocolate. If this doesn’t scream “Christmas” I don’t know what does!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Gingerbread Cookie Dough Cups
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
Perfectly spiced gingerbread cookie dough is enrobed around sweet white chocolate and topped with dried ginger for these refined yet utterly delicious candy cups!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp Gourmet Garden Ginger Stir-In Paste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg Vanilla CandiQuik or white chocolate candy coating
  • Approx. 5 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Ginger, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Line a miniature muffin pan with approx. 30 miniature paper liners. Set aside. Meanwhile, melt HALF of the white chocolate coating according to package directions or until smooth and melted.
  2. Drop heaping teaspoons or so of melted white chocolate into the bottom of each muffin liner. Using the spoon, gently brush the white chocolate along the sides of the muffin cup about halfway. Allow the chocolate to set.
  3. To make your cookie dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar and molasses until combined. Beat in vanilla, milk and ginger paste. Lastly, beat in the spices and flour until a soft dough has formed.
  4. Roll scant teaspoon-sized balls of dough with your fingers and place them, slightly flattened, into the white chocolate cups. Once the cups are filled with all of the cookie dough, melt the remaining white chocolate. Drop heaping Tablespoons of white chocolate on top of each cookie dough ball, ensuring the balls are covered completely by the white chocolate on the top and sides. Sprinkle the tops of the cups with the dried ginger, and allow to set before serving.

DSC_0215AI love the spicy, aromatic flavor ginger lends to this recipe. Both the Ginger Paste and the Lightly Dried Ginger add such a tremendous amount of freshness and warmth to these unique and festive cookie cups! If you’d like, you could also top the cookie dough cups with a sprinkling of festive holiday sprinkles or jimmies as well.

Gourmet Garden brandmarkBe sure to connect with Gourmet Garden to learn more about their company, product line, news, and more! You can follow them on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST & INSTAGRAM for more delicious recipes, tips and more, including great Holiday Baking inspiration like this!

And be sure to check out other amazing Holiday Baking Recipes from friends featuring Gourmet Garden!!

Hope you have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I was generously provided with samples of Gourmet Garden’s Products to review and develop a recipe. All opinions are, and always will be, my own. 

Twinkie Trees & Ding Dong Ornaments (& A #HostessHoliday Sweeps!)

“This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Hostess blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.”

TwinkieTreesSo let’s get one thing straight, shall we? I love me some Hostess! Growing up, I was pretty much on a strict Twinkie-a-day diet… and they’re still one of my absolute favorite guilty-pleasure foods!

And if there’s one thing I love more than Hostess Snacks, it’s transforming these classic cakes into fantastic, delicious desserts that use Hostess products as the base. I’ve made Tiramisu and Truffles using Twinkies, and now I’m making Christmas trees and ornaments! (And between you and me, these may be my favorite Twinkie and Ding Dong treats yet!)

If there’s one memory from the holidays that I love, it’s the times I would decorate cookies and gingerbread houses with my family. We’d play Elvis Christmas music and sprinkle, frost, dip and eat to our heart’s content. Decorating these Hostess Snacks brought me back to my childhood and instantly reminded me of the fun I had decorating, and the best part: eating my masterpiece after it was all said & done :) But whether or not you eat these immediately or keep them around a little bit as a gorgeous, unexpected (edible) centerpiece or star of the dessert table is totally up to you!

First up, let’s talk Twinkie Trees. Aren’t they adorable?!

Twinkie1For these, simply slide a cake pop or lollipop stick into an unwrapped Twinkie. The Twinkie is the perfect vertical vessel for these picture-perfect chocolate trees. Freeze the Twinkies while you make your trees using green candy coating, sprinkles and other assorted candies — this is the most fun part for the kids! You could make your trees bright and colorful like I did, or use simpler colors like sparkling silver or gold, for something more classic and refined. Then simply squiggle on some leftover candy melts directly onto the Twinkie, attach the tree, and voila! Easy as pie.. er, as Twinkie. :)

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DingDong1As for the Ding Dong Ornaments? Simple!

DSC_1582APop some unwrapped Ding Dongs into the freezer to harden a bit. Once they’re nice and solid, melt some white candy coating and give the Ding Dongs a nice, hot bath in the white chocolate coating. Lift them out to allow excess coating to drip off, then return them to a baking sheet to decorate! Attach a Rolo candy for the top of the ornament, then use candies and sprinkles to create magical, one-of-a-kind ornaments that you can eat! 

Are you hungry yet?!

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4.9 from 7 reviews
Twinkie Trees & Ding Dong Ornaments (& A #HostessHoliday Sweeps!)
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
These adorable Twinkie Trees and Ding Dong Ornaments are simple to make and taste fabulous! Wow your guests with these impressive treats that are a blast to make with the kids!
Ingredients
  • FOR TWINKIE TREES:
  • Hostess Twinkies
  • Green Candy Coating/Candy Melts
  • Assorted Sprinkles and Candies (like Mini M&M's)
  • Lollipop Sticks
  • FOR DING DONG ORNAMENTS:
  • Hostess Ding Dongs
  • White Candy Coating (like CandiQuik)
  • Assorted Sprinkles and Candies (like Mini M&M's)
  • Rolo Candies
Instructions
  1. FOR TWINKIE TREES:
  2. Gently slide a lollipop stick into the bottom of an unwrapped Twinkie about ½ way through. Place the Twinkie pops onto a foil-lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer until firm, about 1-2 hours.
  3. While the Twinkies firm up, make your trees. Melt the green candy coating according to package directions, until smooth & melted. Place the melted green candy into a piping bag attached with a small circular tip, or in a squeeze bottle (recommended). Pipe Christmas-tree shapes onto a piece of wax paper, then fill them in with the green candy coating. Use a toothpick to smooth out the trees or add more definition and texture. Immediately top with candies, sprinkles, etc. to decorate the trees. Allow the trees to harden, then gently peel off from the wax paper. *Note: you could trace tree shapes onto the wax paper prior to piping to help with a uniform shape. Consider using a tree-shaped cookie cutter to help act as a template.
  4. Once Twinkies are firm, pipe the remaining green candy coating on top of the Twinkie lengthwise. Gently attach the Christmas tree to the Twinkie and allow it to set.
  5. FOR DING DONG ORNAMENTS:
  6. Place unwrapped Ding Dongs onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer to briefly firm up the Ding Dongs, about 1 hour.
  7. Melt the white chocolate candy coating according to package directions, or until smooth and melted. Dunk the Ding Dongs completely into the melted white chocolate, then lift up the Ding Dongs with a fork and allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place on the baking sheet. Attach a Rolo to the top of the ornament, and use candies and sprinkles to decorate the ornament to your liking. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.

hostess

If you thought eating these adorable creations was the best part, you’re in for an extra-sweet treat! Hostess is hosting a #HostessHolidaySweeps Pinterest Sweepstakes! All you have to do is enter Hostess’ fabulous Pinterest Sweepstakes HERE to win fantastic prizes, including Hostess Products and up to $1,000! (Hint: $1,000 can buy a lot of Zingers…) Be sure to follow Hostess on PINTEREST to see beautiful tablescape, decorating and baking ideas for the holidays & more!

And you can also enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win $100 to Walmart, where I found all of my Hostess products and whom I think has the largest selection of Hostess Snacks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Stay Connected with Hostess

You can also follow them on TWITTER, PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, TUMBLR, & YOUTUBE for more great ideas, recipes, news & more!

Have a super sweet day!!

xo, Hayley

 

Slow Cooker Candied Nuts {An Edible Gift with Diamond of California!}

DSC_1513AAs you guys probably know, a couple months back I had the pleasure to tour the Diamond of California Plant in Stockton, CA for a California Walnut Harvest!

It was so very awesome to be able to see firsthand how farmers grow, harvest, and process the walnuts in those iconic pale yellow packages that we eat, cook and bake with, and of course, to be able to sample it all, too!

Since that trip, I have had walnuts, pecans, and almonds on my mind. Walnuts, because obviously. Pecans, because those are one of my top holiday nuts to bake with and my most-used nut. And almonds, because Diamond Foods actually owns Emerald Nuts, and Emerald so happened to making their cocoa-roasted almonds while we were touring the plant and the aroma was incredible. So suffice to say, I had to make some extraordinary nutty dessert for you guys.

Diamond of CA asked me to prepare a fun edible gift in a jar for the upcoming holidays! With the whirlwind of errands, cooking, eating, traveling, and shopping (not to mention your daily grind) the holidays are more like holidaze with so many things to do and so little time. You’re bound to be stuck in a rut regarding gifts for neighbors, coworkers and teachers, or perhaps you’re assigned to bring something to a party and you’re tired of the same old veggie tray or bottle of wine. Have no fear, friend! I’ve got ya covered :)

DSC_1486ANot only is this recipe absolutely FABULOUS, but it could not be simpler to make! The nuts are slow-cooked for 3 hours and only require a little stir every 20 minutes. To me, that’s far less laborious than covering yourself head to toe in snow gear, piling in the car, and battling traffic and long lines to find some other gift that may end up regifted anyway!

Plus, this recipe is surprisingly versatile and yields quite a bit, so you can stretch your gift to serve for several different recipients — hostess gifts, a special surprise for the mailman or nanny, and a little something for your hairdresser. That is, if you don’t eat them all yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about their addictive powers!

DSC_1512AAnd of course, using Diamond of California Nuts are positively necessary! Diamond’s nuts are high-quality and all harvested right here in California. They’re positively perfect raw and right outta the bag, but something magical happens once you coat them in a sticky-sweet cinnamon spiced mixture that’s sure to win over anyone who’s lucky to get a jar. Because of this recipe’s versatility, feel free to use whatever nuts you’d like. For this, I chose Diamond of California Shelled Walnut Halves and Shelled Pecan Halves, and Emerald Nuts Vanilla Roasted Almonds for an extra hint of sweetness.

The hardest part? Not saving it all for yourself — and deciding which color ribbon to tie up each jar! :)

DSC_1494AAA*recipe adapted from Instructable

5.0 from 3 reviews
Slow Cooker Candied Nuts {An Edible Gift with Diamond of California!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A variety of mixed nuts are slow-cooked and coated in a rich and warming cinnamon and brown sugar mixture for a fabulous holiday treat! Gift the candied nuts in a mason jar with a pretty ribbon, or layer the ingredients in a mason jar with an instruction tag attached for a fantastic and EASY holiday gift!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Diamond of California Pecan Halves
  • 2 cups Diamond of California Shelled Walnuts
  • 1-2 cups Emerald Nuts Vanilla Roasted Almonds
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Liberally grease a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and set aside. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract with a fork until foamy and combined.
  2. Pour the nuts into the slow cooker liner and toss with the egg white mixture until most or all of the nuts are coated. This mixture is sticky and will allow the coating to adhere to the nuts better. In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt until combined. Pour this mixture evenly over the nuts and toss to coat all of the nuts with the sugar mixture. You may have some extra sugar on the bottom of the liner; that's okay!
  3. Cover the slow cooker and turn it on LOW heat. Cook for approx. 3 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to continue to cook & coat the nuts with the mixture and to prevent burning. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, pour in the water and toss to coat. The water helps the mixture adhere even better and creates that sticky glaze.
  4. Once the time is up, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spread the nuts carefully and evenly over the baking sheet and allow them to cool. They make stick together in clusters, so gently break apart once they're dry and cooled. Store nuts covered in an airtight container, or break into pieces and serve in mason jars as gifts.

DSC_1501ABe prepared for your house to smell INCREDIBLE with the wafting aroma of sweet, slow-cooked nuts in this rich, warm and spiced coating. The brown sugar and cinnamon mixture caramelizes onto the nuts, offering a fantastic candied taste and glossy coating, while the nuts maintain their sturdiness and nutty texture, creating a great sweet-and-salty balance. I can’t help but think of other awesome flavor combinations, like by stirring in cocoa roasted almonds or finishing the nuts with a hint of orange zest and a handful of dried cranberries for a fresh and tart twist.

Likewise, whether you gift the nuts pre-cooked or hand them off for the recipients to make at home, these nuts are sure to be a HUGE hit with anyone who receives them!

diamondd

Be sure to connect with Diamond of California for more recipes, news, tips & more! You can follow them on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM & PINTEREST.

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been working closely with Diamond of California as an occasional contributor to their blog and as a blogger. All opinions expressed are 100% my own and always will be. 

Hot Chocolate Buttercream Truffles

HotChocTrufflesHappy Hot Chocolate Season!

Not sure about you guys and gals, but while everyone else is off freaking out over peppermint mochas and eggnog lattes (and believe me, I do the freak out, too) I find myself hankering for a big, steaming cup of rich, milky hot cocoa. WITH marshmallows because obvi. Nothing seems more satisfying than cocoa on a really cold day, don’t you agree?

And while nothing quite beats an actual hot cup of liquid cocoa, something does come pretty close… My dear friend Heather Saffer, winner of Cupcake Wars and author of the book, The Dollop Book of Frostings, just released a brand spankin’ new, delicious line of frostings called Dollop Gourmet!

Dollop Gourmet Frostings aren’t your typical canned grocery store frosting — they are soy-free, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO and are made with high-quality, all-natural ingredients that don’t have really long, hard-to-pronounce junk in them. Seriously. With premium ingredients you can pronounce and spectacular, out-of-this-world flavor, these frostings must be tasted to be believed. But in the meantime, believe it y’all, because this stuff is the bomb dot com.

dollopDollop Gourmet comes in four scrumptious flavors: Fire Bomb, a feisty frosting with a fiery kick of cayenne to heat things up; Hot Chocolate, a creamy cocoa-flavored frosting with just a sweet hint of marshmallow; Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, a cookie dough doppelganger that’s seriously addictive; and Madagascar Vanilla, jam-packed with luscious Bourbon Vanilla flavor that makes anything taste phenomenal.

But today’s recipe features that one-and-only Hot Chocolate Buttercream which is the star of these other-worldly truffles that couldn’t be easier to make. But do be warned that while they’re simple to make, they aren’t easy to avoid, so don’t be surprised if you end up with one truffle and an entire belly full of buttercream before you even melted the chocolate :)

Okay, less talk and more eat. I have a frosting container to lick clean.

DSC_1422A

5.0 from 1 reviews
Hot Chocolate Buttercream Truffles
Author: 
Recipe type: Truffles
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Fabulous, bite-sized truffles are made with a unique Hot Chocolate Buttercream to taste like miniature cups of hot cocoa. Top with marshmallows for a festive touch and voila; instant deliciousness. Just be warned that these bad boys are highly delicious and highly addictive!
Ingredients
  • 1 can Dollop Gourmet Hot Chocolate Frosting
  • ½ pkg Chocolate CandiQuik
  • Kraft Marshmallow Bits
Instructions
  1. Line a small baking sheet with foil and set aside. Meanwhile, using a cookie dough scoop, portion out Tablespoon-sized balls of frosting onto the cookie sheet. Gently use your fingers to round out the frosting balls if needed. Freeze the frosting balls for about 1 hour or until completely firm.
  2. Once the frosting balls are firm, melt the CandiQuik according to package directions, until melted and smooth. Dip each frosting ball into the CandiQuik, submerging completely and allowing excess to drip off -- I like using a fork to do this. Return the truffles to the baking sheet and immediately garnish with marshmallow bits.
  3. Store leftover truffles at room temperature, airtight, or keep in the freezer and thaw at room temperature before serving.

DSC_1421AThis frosting tastes like a solidified hot chocolate — rich, creamy, and packed with that sweet, milky hot chocolate flavor with just a hint of vanilla sweetness. The truffles are light and luscious inside, wrapped around a decadent chocolate shell with the festive crunch from the vanilla marshmallows on top. I am so in love with these adorable truffles!

Want some Dollop Gourmet of your own?! Visit Dollop’s STORE LOCATOR to find a store near you (only on the East Coast for now) or ORDER ONLINE. (I promise, it’s worth the wait of the post office!) You can also connect with Dollop Gourmet on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, & PINTEREST.

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

In the interest of full disclosure, I was generously provided with a couple samples of Heather’s Dollop Gourmet Frosting. All opinions are 100% my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post. I genuinely love this product and hope you’ll get some of your own! 

So-Easy Sopapillas

SopapillasDo you guys have that restaurant or store that changes its name like, twice a month?

You know the one. You drive by one day and it’s Grandma’s Diner. Then a month later it’s Alex’s Gyro Shop. Then two months after that it’s a burrito place. Then about a year after that it’s now a burger joint. It’s like the building has a curse or something and banishes all restaurants to the underbelly of unsuccessful food shop hell.

Anywho, we used to have a place near our old house called Salsa Fresca. Salsa Fresca had the best, most authentic Mexican food and we ate there probably three or more times a month, always had our celebrations there, and basically worshipped the dang place. It was your standard hole-in-the-wall Mexican place with minimal decorations and Pepto-Bismal colored walls, but the food was phenom. And they served the most badass sopapillas EVER.

Then one day we went to dinner and Salsa Fresca was no more. It was under construction to be some other new, whatever restaurant for approximately .1487 seconds before dismantling and transforming into something new. We were devastated. No more sopapillas. No more spicy salsa. No more amazing red rice. All gone, like dust in the wind or Tamagatchis.

But then we happened to drive by another day and it was Coco Loco. We went into Coco Loco to find that it.. was exactly the same restaurant. Different name but same menu, wait staff, and tacky decor. And same food — we were reunited once again with our fried heavenly dough.

Coco Loco, despite it’s loco name indeed — apparently was more popular than Salsa Fresca and lived to see several years before transforming into another Mexican restaurant with terrible food and even worse Pepto-Bismol-y decor. And soon we moved on as well, to a new house and a new favorite Mexican food restaurant. (God, doesn’t this sound like some kind of weird Notebook-style breakup story?)

DSC_0477AWELL. Even though I haven’t had a sopapilla quite like Salsa/Coco’s, these were pretty much spot-on. Hot, sweet pillows of dough freshly fried until golden and crispy and smothered in cinnamon and sugar, just like how I remembered it. Some sopapilla recipes feature citrus-y accents or powdered sugar — and I’m sorry, but those recipes are wrong. Sopapillas, IMO, are basically just dough mops meant to soak up all that cinnamon and sugar. Leave yo fruit and powdered stuff away from my sopapillas, please! However, eat ‘em how you like, as a lot of people enjoy dousing theirs with honey.

Best part about these? No need to worry if they’ll go out of business tomorrow and turn into another funky restaurant. And you can enjoy them from home, where I hope you don’t have funky Pepto Bismol walls.

DSC_0485A

5.0 from 1 reviews
So-Easy Sopapillas
Author: 
Recipe type: Treats
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
These fried pillows of heaven are called Sopapillas, a traditional Mexican dessert. Typically made of a dough, my version is EASY because it uses refrigerated crescent rolls for a foolproof, instant recipe that will please your whole family! Top with ice cream, chocolate sauce, or the traditional condiment: honey, if you'd like!
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 quart canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (depending on your tastes)
  • Honey for drizzling, optional
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet or pot over medium heat. Allow the oil to come to at least 350 degrees F with a thermometer. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Separate the crescent rolls into triangles. Drop one triangle of dough into the oil and fry for about 1-2 minutes. Gently turn it over and fry for an additional minute or so, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
  3. Carefully remove the sopapilla from the oil and place it on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Immediately douse with some of the cinnamon sugar while the sopapilla is still piping hot. Repeat with remaining pastries, frying only one at a time.
  4. Once all the sopapillas have been fried, sprinkle with a second coating of cinnamon sugar on each side of the sopapilla. Serve the sopapillas hot with honey, if desired. I like mine plain :)

DSC_0494A

DSC_0498ASo simple, it’s only really one ingredient since I’m assuming you have sugar, cinnamon and oil on hand! These turn out perfectly golden and crispy, with a crunchy exterior and a soft, fluffy dough inside. By smothering the sopapillas with cinnamon sugar while they’re still hot, it gives the cinnamon sugar a chance to caramelize the outside of the sopapilla, making it extra sweet and crunchy. The second coating helps adhere some more of that cinnamon sugar flavor and gives it that sparkly glimmer from the sweet mixture. These are a can’t-miss recipe, people! You must give them a try :)

(And please ignore my terrible manicure in that shot! Now accepting donations for this poor girl to get a paint job!)

SopaHave a fantastical weekend!

xo, Hayley

 

Spider Pudding Pies & Witches Cauldrons with Snack Pack Pudding!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnackPackMixIns #CollectiveBias #shop

spiderpuddingAs a kid, one of my favorite snacks were Snack Pack Puddings!  Chocolate was my favorite, but I didn’t turn up my nose at vanilla.  There was just something so comforting, satisfying and delicious about pudding snacks that has transitioned with me into adulthood — I still love them and enjoy them as a nighttime indulgence!

Also: remember when pudding snacks were the basic chocolate, vanilla, tapioca, and butterscotch? Snack Pack Pudding now makes insanely-cool flavors like Chocolate Cupcake, Apple Pie A La Mode and Lemon Meringue Pie. I meaaan.. Little Hayley would have died over a Lemon Meringue Snack Pack! And how cool would I have been showing everyone at the elementary school lunch table that I had a Chocolate Cupcake pudding? Dude. I would have won that popularity contest and wouldn’t have even needed to manufacture the lie about being related to catalog models. 

Anyway. Crazy-cool flavors aside, my favorite is still chocolate. You can’t go wrong with that rich, soft texture and creamy, milk chocolate flavor… which is why it works perfectly in these spooky Spider Pudding Pies!

DSC_0845ASnack Pack Pudding is scooped from its packaging and is nestled into buttery graham cracker pie crusts, then topped with crushed Oreo Cookies and decorated to look like creepy crawly spiders! Kids and adults alike will delight in these fantastically easy treats and will love that it tastes great. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I love that Snack Packs have the same amount of calcium as an 8 ounce glass of milk. Hello, that means it’s practically a health-food. Huzzah!

And if spiders aren’t your thing, I also made some terrifyingly tasty Witches Cauldrons! These bad boys are chocolate cups filled to the brim with bubbling witches brew (aka, Snack Pack Vanilla Pudding!) and topped with the creepiest of ghoulish “spices” including crawly bugs and eyeballs!

Witches CauldronsSo whether you’re on Team Spider or Team Witches, Snack Pack Pudding has got your back this Halloween! Walmart has a humongous display and assortment of Snack Pack Pudding on their Snacks & Crackers aisle, next to the Oreo Cookies and Nutter Butters. They also have this super fun Halloween display in the store where you can find some!

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.24.38 AMNow which of you goblins are ready to eat?! :)

DSC_0846A

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spider Pudding Pies & Witches Cauldrons with Snack Pack Pudding!
Author: 
Recipe type: Pie, Treats
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-12
 
Adorable, portable Spider Pudding Pies are made with creamy pudding, crushed cookies and a little extra touches to make them extra spooky!
Ingredients
  • FOR SPIDER PUDDING PIES:
  • 6 premade graham cracker pie shells
  • 1 (4-pack) Snack Pack Pudding Snacks in Chocolate
  • 6 Oreo Cookies, crushed
  • Black licorice strings
  • Gummy raspberry candies
  • ½ square vanilla almond bark
  • 12 white chocolate chips
  • FOR WITCHES CAULDRONS:
  • 12 premade chocolate tart shells
  • 2 Snack Pack Pudding Snacks in Vanilla
  • Green liquid food coloring
  • Assorted creepy sprinkles (eyeballs, bones, bugs, etc)
  • 2 squares chocolate almond bark
Instructions
  1. FOR SPIDER PUDDING PIES: First, make the fangs for your pies. Melt the small piece of vanilla almond bark, then use it to gently attach two white chocolate chips to the rim of the pie shell for "fangs." Hold the white chips in place for about 15 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Spoon the Chocolate Snack Packs evenly among the pie shells. Top each pudding pie with crushed Oreo cookies. Snip off 1-2" long pieces of black licorice rope and slip four "legs" in per side of the pie for 8 legs total. Lastly, gently press two gummy raspberry candies into the front by the fangs for the eyes. Serve!
  3. FOR THE CAULDRONS: Spoon the Vanilla Snack Packs into a small bowl and stir in the green food coloring (start with one drop, then add more) until a desired shade has been achieved. Spoon the pudding, about 1 heaping Tablespoonful, evenly among the premade chocolate tart shells.
  4. Top each cauldron with the bubbling brew ingredients: sprinkles, candies, etc. Set aside.
  5. Using the chocolate almond bark, pipe broomsticks onto a sheet of wax paper. Let the broomsticks harden, then peel off and attach or serve with the cauldrons. Serve!

DSC_0853AThese couldn’t be simpler to whip up! Seriously — your guests would be hardpressed to realize this pudding came from a package! Not only is the end result impressive and festive, but Snack Pack Pudding tastes so authentic, creamy and rich that everyone will think you spent hours slaving over the stove. The only ones who will know your spooky secret are the spiders… and they’re getting eaten anyway :)

DSC_0840ABe sure to follow Snack Pack on PINTEREST where they have a super-cool Halloween-inspired Pinterest Board happening now! You’ll be sure to find some spooky-cool and festive ideas for your Snack Pack Pudding!!

Find more Halloween and Fall snack creations on Pinterest

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

 

 

Monster Cookie Dough Pretzel Mummy Bites

DSC_0179AIf I know my readers, I know you guys love your cookie dough as much as I do! This is why I love you.

And since that’s true, you guys oughta hop on over to Food Fanatic to check out my latest cookie dough recipe — Monster Cookie Dough Pretzel Mummy Bites! 

Not only are these little guys super adorbz, but they’re so easy to make and taste like monster cookie dough! What’s not to love?!

So head on over to Food Fanatic to check it out!! Click HERE!!

Have a monstrously awesome day :)

xo, Hayley

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