Candy Centered Chocolate Cookies

candy centered cookies
I have become quite the cookie monster as of late.

I never really thought I would turn out this way, but one by one, the most amazing cookies seem to be finding their way into my mouth, which sends me hunting for their recipes.
candy centered 5
I work at a school {in the Development Office of this great place}.

It is a special place.

There are a lot of amazing (and important) reasons why it is so wonderful, but this might not be known as one of them.

Every Wednesday, parents bring treats for the faculty and staff.  Yep, that's right, every Wednesday.  It is quite the treat.
candy centered 4

These showed up one day and I have to admit, I would have easily passed by a chocolate cookie, but a coworker let me in on the secret that there was a candy center.

That was enough to intrigue and one bite in, I knew I had to have the recipe.

candy centered 3

First bite... a little bit of chocolate and crunchy pecans.  Second bite, you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a Reese's (or Rolo) and oh, are you happy to be there.

candy centered 2
From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Candy Centered Chocolate Cookies
*dough needs to be refrigerated for an hour before baking
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
35 Rolos or Reese's Peanut Buttercups (or a mix)
parchment paper

Step by Step
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Beat butter until creamy and fluffy, gradually add sugar and eggs, beat well.  

In a separate bowl add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture.  Add vanilla and pecans.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Using a tablespoon, roll balls of cookie dough.  Smash into a small circular disk.  Place desired chocolate candy on the middle of each disk.  Wrap cookie dough around candy, covering candy completely and roll into a ball.  Add a little extra dough to cover the candy if necessary. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place dough balls 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8 minutes, until edges are set.  

Makes 35 cookies.

My favorite was the Reese's, but given the choice, I will always be a chocolate & peanut butter girl. 


parties: A Baby Shower.

Oh boy, do I have something fun to share with you.  Last weekend, I had the privilege of helping to cater a baby shower in Dallas and oh, what a privilege it is when you are working with friends who put so much love and work into the party.  My friends Abby and Katie (with the wonderful help of sister Hannah, mother Karen and Katie's mom Barbara and her wonderful home) threw a lovely shower for Abby's sister, Emily.  These girls know how to throw a party, but more importantly, how to decorate. I happen to meet sweet Emily this summer on our trip to Italy and let's just say that I could have never imagined I would be helping with this darling shower for a baby that will be born exactly nine months from the week I met her {Oh, Italia}.  I put together a few shots of the food, but every detail of the party is worth mentioning so here it goes...
(scroll to the bottom for notes about the menu)

This January Shower was a mix of comfort food + bright pops of color.

menu collage

soup and grilled cheese
The photo booth captured everyone's predictions as to whether a baby girl or baby boy was in the works.  The mom to be is unsure, but grandmothers have good instincts and this one is going with boy. 
photobooth collage
There was a table with packets of sweet peas for guests to plant for favors and a jar to shower the mom-to-be with advice. 
baby picture
And by the end of a lovely shower, the three of us had a little fun with the photo booth. 
Menu Notes...
  • Click here for the tomato basil soup.  
  • The grilled cheese were made with buttermilk sourdough bread from Central Market with sharp cheddar cheese and olive oil to crisp the bread. 
  • Click here for Avocado Chicken Salad. 
  • Click here for Pesto Pasta Salad recipe.  I substituted these marinated mozzarella balls for the feta ... not sure I will ever go back to feta. It was delicious.
  • Click here for chocolate chip cookie recipe.
  • And the Oatmeal Cake Cupcakes with buttercream frosting were amazing! I am going to do a little begging to see if I can get the grandmother to be to share this perfect recipe.  


Buffalo Chicken Meatballs w/ blue cheese dressing

buffalo chicken meatballs

You've got two opportunities in the very near future to kill it with these meatballs.

This is the ultimately perfect football watching food.  Superbowl... check.

And if you are looking for someone to fall in love with you on Valentine's (or stay in love with you) these will do it.  They are that serious.  Perfect appetizer.
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Back in my high school days, I had a short run of being really into wings.  I loved the taste of the barely spicy tangy chicken wing dipped in cool blue cheese dressing.  And then one day, I stared right at that wing and imagined the little chicken I was gnawing on.  It was over, right then and there.  Couldn't do it anymore.
buffalo chicken meatballs 3 
And let's get real, if you can get past the idea of gnawing between those bones, you still don't look pretty doing it.  Enter these mini buffalo chicken meatballs that have all that good flavor without the carnage.
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FYI... Mr. Hungry has updated his favorite thing I have ever ever made to this right here... I told you it was serious.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Adapted from Glamour Magazine February 2012
Recipe Notes
I used nonfat greek yogurt in place of the sour cream because I had it on hand.  It makes for a healthier dressing, but if want the full richness of a blue cheese dressing, use sour cream.  If you plan on doubling or tripling a recipe for a big party, you do not need to double the dressing.  One batch is plenty.  Use leftover dressing on a wedge salad.  If you are unfamiliar with ground chicken, it can be found in most grocery stores near the ground turkey or ground beef.  You could also have a butcher freshly grind a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you cannot find it anywhere.  Leftover meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in the oven or microwave.
1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) butter
1/4 cup Frank's RedHot hot sauce
1 lb. ground chicken
1 tsp. salt
1/2 stalk celery, minced
1 large egg
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
For the dressing
1 cup sour cream (or nonfat greek yogurt)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
(makes 2 1/2 cups of dressing)
Step by Step
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  In a small pot, combine butter and hot sauce over low heat, whisking until butter is melted.  Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place remaining chicken meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand, adding the hot sauce butter mixture as well.  Make sure the ingredients are combined throughout.  Using a teaspoon, roll the meatball mixture into marble sized balls.  Place balls in rows on the parchment paper.  Roast until firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk until blended.   Refrigerate until ready to use.

For an extra kick, drizzle extra hot sauce onto meatballs.  Serve with dressing and extra celery.

Makes 65 mini meatballs.


Veggie Shooters

There is really no room for extras in this kitchen.  Our everyday dishes already have to be housed in the dining area and cabinet space is precious all over this little home. 
hummusSo if something is going to make its way in that is not essential, it is going to have to be extremely versatile.  Enter these 3 oz. glasses.  If you throw a party even once every couple of months, these are worth the investment.  The options are endless. 

I can't wait to try these darling milkshakes.  What a perfect way to pass milk and cookies.  The soup options are endless.  Yep, I'm in love and now own two boxes, which comes to a total of 72. 

If you are interested, here is where I got mine and my favorite part is the thin bottom of the glass. They look less like shot glasses and they could go modern or rustic.   If you are not quite ready to make the investment, you could use small clear plastic glasses as well.

Goodbye to the days of camping out over the veggie tray. 
hummus 4From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Veggie Shooters with Hummus
Recipe Notes
You can really choose any dip you want for the bottom.  I have found hummus to be the most popular, but ranch dressing works great too.  Plan on about 2 oz. of hummus per glass.  You might have a little leftover, but this will help you not run out. 
Assortment of vegetables, cut into 3-inch skinny strips (bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumbers)
Hummus, about 2 oz. per glass
Step by Step
Fill a small ziploc bag with hummus and seal.  Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag.  Be careful to not make the hole too big.  Start small... you can always cut more off in you need.  Fill each glass 2/3 full with hummus.  Stick 3 or 4 vegetable strips in each glass.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


Honey Comb Goat Cheese Spread

honey 7 True story. 

The first time I served this to a crowd was for a ladies tea/ luncheon/ get together sort of thing that I catered in the fall.  I spent quite a bit of time preparing all kinds of tea sandwiches, making a few dips and mini appetizers.  When I got to the party, I threw together this dish in about 5 minutes. 

About 30 minutes into the party, the honey comb goat cheese had been utterly devoured and the other dishes were just starting to show signs of being nibbled on. 

Moral of  the story:  Preparation time does not equal the amount of goodness or popularity of a dish.
honey comb collage
Okay, so that is not brain science, but listen up... you are totally going to to need to serve this at your next get together.  A tiny bit of extra sweet honey comb with a bite of tangy goat cheese topped off with the burst of a fresh berry or a fig is the definition of a party in your mouth.
honey 8This is just what January needs.  Fresh flavors that are a tad funky.  This is so 2012. 
honey collage 2
Honeycomb honey is great.  The honeycomb is insanely sweet so a little goes a long way.  I'm sure it is quite helicopter momish of me, but I feel like I must instruct people on how to eat this.  If I'm leaving the party, I make sure to instruct folks and also urge them to pass on the word to other guests who might not have shown up yet.  It's just that if you get the perfect bite, it is pure bliss.  

So my instructions include: Grab a cracker, slice off a tiny piece of the honeycomb... like 4th of a marble size tiny... scoop a little goat cheese honey mixture and top with a berry.  Perfection.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Honey Comb Goat Cheese Spread
Recipe Notes
Honey with a honey comb can be bought at specialty grocery stores and some of the larger stores as well.  If you are in Texas, HEB carries the brand pictured below. It will be on the shelf with the rest of the honey selection, but look closely and you will see a honey comb floating in the middle of a few varieties.  Use berries depending on the season.  I love fresh figs this time of year, but raspberries and blueberries (or a mix) are also great choices. If using figs, cut off stems and quarter them.    I also like to serve this with two types of crackers.  Wheat Thins ( I like the "BIG" ones that are a little bit larger of a square than the regular) and Wafer thin crackers that seem to be popping up in most grocery stores.  There are a lot of brands, but this is what they look like.
1 jar of honey with a honey comb (see recipe note)
1 large log of goat cheese (10 or 11 ounces), or the same amount of pre crumbled goat cheese
1 to 2 cups of figs, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
Your favorite plain crackers and Wheat Thins, for serving
Step by Step
Remove honey comb from jar of honey and place in the middle of a large serving platter.  Drizzle a little bit of honey on the rest of the plate.  Crumble goat cheese all over the plate and honey comb.  Drizzle a little more honey on top.  Sprinkle berries on top. 

Serve with crackers.

Serves 8 to 12.