who knew it was so easy

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peppermint barkGrowing up my mom would make peppermint bark every Christmas.  I remember large pieces of wax paper laying all over the kitchen table with white chocolate and these little peppermint pieces everywhere.  Then a few hours later all the chocolate was gone and mom had bagged it all up to give to family and friends.

It was not until a few years a go that I decided it was time to take on the peppermint bark challenge myself, but I wanted to change it up a bit…I wanted to add in some dark chocolate.  You see my mom LOVES white chocolate but I LOVE dark chocolate so I decided to join the two to make the perfect bark for us.  I followed my mom’s basic process only I did a dark chocolate drizzle in addition to the white chocolate.  I have to admit though I was a little surprised just how easy it was…I always thought mom had to work so hard on it…its ok though she worked hard on a lot of other Holiday treats.

This bark is perfect for teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, friends and family…plus you can get the kids involved.  A fun project for the kids would be to let them add whatever toppings they would like such as M&M’s, chopped up candy bars, nuts or sprinkles…just let them have fun!!

So this time of year almond bark is my best friend.  I use it for this bark, I use it to make truffles (check back this week for that recipe), and sometimes I use it to dip cookies in or for a fruit dip.  It just sets up beautifully and makes desserts extra special this Holiday season.  Trust me once you give it a try you will love it!!

 

Peppermint Bark
Serves 12
A super easy peppermint bark that is not only delicious it is pretty and perfect for a gift
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 12 oz vanilla almond bark, broken into pieces
  2. 4 oz dark chocolate almond bark, broken into pieces
  3. 1/4 - 1/2 cup crushed candy canes, divided
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x13 rimmed pan with parchment paper, set aside
  2. Place vanilla almond bark into a large microwave safe bowl
  3. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth and completely melted (about 2-3 minutes)
  4. Pour melted bark into prepared pan, smooth with a offset spatula until even
  5. Immediately sprinkle 3/4 of the crushed peppermint evenly over bark before it starts to set
  6. In a small microwave safe bowl melt dark chocolate bark, in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth
  7. Using a fork drizzle dark chocolate over vanilla bark, spreading out any large drops as necessary
  8. Sprinkle remaining peppermint over dark chocolate
  9. Place pan in refrigerator to let completely set-up for at least 1 hour, but 2-3 is best
  10. Remove from refrigerator and break into pieces to serve
  11. To give as a gift place in a cellophane gift bag and tie with ribbon
Each serving is 6 WW+ points
  1. Nutritional Info
  2. Calories 232 Calories from Fat 95 Total Fat 10.6g Saturated Fat 9.3g Trans Fat 0.0g Cholesterol 1mg Sodium 13mg Total Carbohydrates 31.4g Dietary Fiber 0.6g Sugars 29.1g Protein 0.6g
  3. Vitamin A 0% - Vitamin C 0% - Calcium 1% - Iron 3%
  4. Nutrition Grade D-
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
Get into the Holiday spirit with this super fun, easy and beautiful bark!!

cupcake-crop

 

Happy (half) Baked Day – MJ

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soup weather

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potato soupAnytime it is cold outside I automatically have a craving for soup.  Living in southeast Texas we don’t always get a ton of cold weather so we have to take advantage of each cold burst we get, and for the last one I fixed this updated Baked Potato Soup.  I have always loved baked potato soup, but I wanted to change it up a bit…I wanted to make it something a little more special and caramelized onions did just that.

I have always been a HUGE fan of caramelized onions, I just love how sweet they get while still having a little onion bite, plus the color adds so much to any dish you put them in.  For these caramelized onions I cooked them in bacon grease which makes them that much better…I mean lets be real bacon makes everything better.  In this soup the bacon, onions and cheese all together make this a very flavorful and delicious soup that is perfect for a cold night. 

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (with caramelized onions)
Serves 12
Taking a traditional baked potato soup to a new level with caramelized onions, bacon & cheese
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 lbs potatoes
  2. 6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  3. 1 onion, chopped into small pieces
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 3 tbsp. butter
  6. 4 tbsp. flour
  7. 2 cups whole milk
  8. 6 cups lowfat milk
  9. 1 tsp salt
  10. 1 tbsp. pepper
  11. 1/2 cup sour cream
  12. 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional Toppings
  1. sour cream
  2. cheese
  3. remaining onions
  4. remaining bacon
  5. chives
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Wash, dry and wrap each potato in foil
  3. Place potatoes in oven and bake until tender, 45 minutes - 1 hour, depending on the size of the potatoes
  4. Remove potatoes from foil and let cool until you can handle them
  5. Cut potatoes in half, and using a spoon scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin, and place in a large bowl
  6. Using a potato masher, mash a few times to break up any large pieces, but making sure it is still a little chunky
  7. In a large pot cook bacon pieces over medium heat until just crisp
  8. Using a slotted spoon remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate leaving any bacon grease in the pot
  9. Add onions to bacon grease and cook over medium heat until caramelized, making sure to stir often
  10. Remove onions with a slotted spoon to the paper towel lined plate, separate from the bacon
  11. Add garlic to the remaining grease and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant
  12. Add butter to same pot and cook over medium heat until melted
  13. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and whisk until butter is absorbed and a loose roux forms, cooking for 3-4 minutes to cook flour taste out
  14. Slowly whisk in milk slowly bringing it to a boil, making sure all lumps disappear and it thickens
  15. Add in reserved potato and stir to combine
  16. Add in salt, pepper, 3/4 of the caramelized onions and 1/2 of the bacon (if you want to keep some for garnishing, if not then add it all in)
  17. Let cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, to let all the flavors come together
  18. Reduce heat to low and stir in sour cream and cheese, cooking until cheese is melted
  19. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary (I didn't have to add anything)
  20. Serve with remaining onions & bacon (if you reserved any), cheese and sour cream if you desire
  21. ENJOY!!
Each serving is 7 WW+ points
  1. Nutritional Info
  2. Calories 275 Calories from Fat 109 Total Fat 12.1g Saturated Fat 6.3g Trans Fat 0.0g Cholesterol 35mg Sodium 343mg Potassium 791mg Total Carbohydrates 29.2g Dietary Fiber 3.0g Sugars 10.2g Protein 12.7g
  3. Vitamin A 9% - Vitamin C 40% - Calcium 25% - Iron 5%
  4. Nutrition Grade B+
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
This soup is just so good, you will want to make it again and again.

cupcake-crop

 

  Happy (half) Baked Day – MJ

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honey’s stew

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beef noodle stew I love family recipes that are passed down over the years and even generations and they just keep getting better and better.  This stew is definitely one of those recipes.  My mom (honey) and her mom would make this with her mom and my grandmother got the recipe from her mom and aunts, making this recipe over 80 years old.

Growing up my mom would make this when it would first turn cold outside, which living in Southeast Texas that was relative but at some point each fall or winter we would get her stew.  We always loved it because it had noodles in it, which was delicious but fairly confusing at one point in my life.  I went to a friends house for dinner and her mom said she was having stew, I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for the tender beef, noodles and amazing veggies and broth…well little did I know most people don’t put noodles in their stew.  When she placed the bowl in front of me I got a strange look on my face and she asked me if everything was ok and I asked where the noodles was and then she got the strange look on her face and said she didn’t put noodles in stew, stew is meat & veggies.  Her “soup” was very good and I loved it, but I did miss the noodles.

Well as I have grown up I have learned the difference between a stew and goulash, but in my family it will always be stew.

Honey's Beef & Noodle Stew
Serves 16
A hearty and delicious stew with the surprise of noodles
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 tsp olive oil
  2. 1 lb stew meat
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1 tbsp. pepper
  5. 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  6. 28 oz Tomatoes Stewed
  7. 2 cups Beef Stock
  8. 4 cups water
  9. 1 lb red potatoes, washed and cut in half
  10. 16 oz canned green beans
  11. 16 oz canned corn
  12. 1 lb pasta
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat
  2. Trim any excess fat off of the stew meat
  3. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper and garlic powder
  4. Sprinkle seasoning mix over meat and toss to coat
  5. Add stew meat to stock pot and brown meat, it should take 4-5 minutes
  6. To the stock pot add in tomatoes & beef stock
  7. Cover and let cook over medium heat for 2-3 hours, or until meat is tender (check often to make sure liquid does not evaporate, add in water if necessary)
  8. Add in water, potatoes, green beans, corn
  9. Cook over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are just fork tender
  10. Add in pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until pasta is cooked
  11. Serve immediately, or keep warm until ready to serve
  12. **You can also freeze if you would like
  13. ENJOY!!
Each serving is 6 WW+ points
  1. Nutritional Info
  2. Calories 224 Calories from Fat 42 Total Fat 4.6g Saturated Fat 1.6g Trans Fat 0.0g Cholesterol 51mg Sodium 350mg Potassium 451mg Total Carbohydrates 31.6g Dietary Fiber 2.7g Sugars 4.2g Protein 14.9g
  3. Vitamin A 11% - Vitamin C 21% - Calcium 4% - Iron 20%
  4. Nutrition Grade A
The Half Baked Life http://www.thehalfbakedlife.com/
Enjoy the cold weather outside with our families version of stew!!

cupcake-crop

 

  Happy (half) Baked Day – MJ

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