Monthly Archives: October 2016

Sunday Reflections


Happy, glorious Sunday!!


Mexican Spiced Dark Chocolate Tarts


These easy little Mexican Spiced Dark Chocolate Tarts are one of my favorite new desserts to make! They literally come together in under 10 minutes and are sure to please a crowd. You can use dark chocolate, semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate or whatever you would like! Just whip up a simple ganache, spice it with some cinnamon, chili and cayenne, and then use it to fill these simple phyllo shells and top with whipped cream. Super simple, but so charming and decadent that your friends will think they are très gourmet. Enjoy!



4 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. chili powder
pinch of cayenne
15 mini phyllo (fillo) shells
whipped cream


1. Heat the dark chocolate and heavy cream together in a microwave or double boiler until melted, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne until combined.

2. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate mixture into each mini phyllo cup. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Just before serving, use a piping bag or a spoon to top each phyllo cup with a dallop of whipped cream.

Chocolate Truffle Pie with Amaretto Cream


When you daydream of silky, rich, chocolate pie you’re definitely thinking of Dad’s famous, Truffle Pie with Amaretto Cream. Store leftover pie, covered, in refrigerator. Wait…. what leftover pie? Start with refrigerated pie crusts to make prep for this pie a breeze. Slivered almonds mixed into the batter give each sweet bite a crunch.

Easter Potluck


1/2 (14.1-oz.) pkg. refrigerated piecrusts
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (6 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 ounces (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
Amaretto Cream


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie pan; fold edges under, and crimp. Line piecrust with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill to rim with pie weights or dried beans. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil, and bake until bottom is lightly browned, 10 to 12 more minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack while preparing filling.

2. Microwave semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) until melted and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals. Cool 15 minutes.

3. Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and almond extract; stir in flour and toasted almonds. Spread mixture evenly in pastry shell.

4. Bake in preheated oven until set, 30 to 35 minutes, covering edges last 10 minutes to prevent over browning, if needed. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Chill 1 hour. Serve with Amaretto Cream. Store leftover pie, covered, in refrigerator.

Crockpot Candy


This Crockpot Candy recipe is great for the holidays. I honestly had no idea it was so easy.

It’s 4 ingredients, the slow cooker does everything for you, and it’s delicious. And I’m not gonna lie, I can’t stop eating it! It is seriously addictive. I crave it all year long.

The recipe only calls for peanuts but you can use a mixture of peanuts and pecans. I stuck with only peanuts, my favorite. Also, I halved the batch and got a ton (as you can see from the picture below) so if you make a full batch, be ready to eat a lot of peanuts!

(PS. Almond bark is found in the baking aisle of your grocery store, close to all the baking chocolates. Or you can order it online.)



2 pound white almond bark
4 ounces German chocolate bar
12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
24 ounces dry roasted peanuts


Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Let cook on low for 1 hour without messing with it. After an hour, stir to combine everything. Allow to cook for another hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Drop spoonfuls of the candy onto wax paper and allow to cool completely.

M & M Popcorn Balls


OK, so what better way to combine two of my favorite movie time foods? This recipe is so easy and great for movie night at home or a snack.



1 (8 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
4 tablespoons butter
1 (3 1/3 ounce) package microwave kettle popcorn
1 1⁄2 cups M & M’s


Pop the kettle corn in the microwave as directed on package. Remove unpopped kernels.


Microwave Method:.
In a large bowl, combine marshmallows and butter. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between each until marshmallows are melted and smooth (about 2 minutes)
Add popcorn, stirring to coat.
Cool 5 minutes.
Stir in M & M’s. Let set for 5 minutes.
Dip hands in cold water and form mixture into 10 balls.
Store popcorn balls in individual plastic bags at room temperature.

Stove Top Method:.
Melt butter in a large pot and add marshmallows.
Stir until smooth and all melted.
Add popcorn to a large bowl and pour the melted butter marshmallow mixture over top of popcorn. Stir well to coat popcorn.
Let cool 5 minutes.
Add M & M’s and stir well. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Dip hands in cold water and form mixture into 10 balls.
Store popcorn in individual plastic bags at room temperature.

Flourless Chocolate Candy Cakes


Got leftover Halloween candy? Transform it into mini-chocolate cakes courtesy of this flour-free recipe.



6 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 milk chocolate candy drops or pieces, unwrapped (2 oz)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Powdered sugar for garnish, if desired


1. Heat oven to 325°F. Spray 8 (7-oz) ramekins with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter, candy drops and chocolate chips on High in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted. Cool slightly.

3. While chocolate is cooling, in another large bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until glossy.

4. With whisk, beat egg yolks one at a time into chocolate mixture. Add half of beaten egg whites; fold in with rubber spatula until combined. Carefully fold in remaining half of beaten egg whites. Spoon mixture evenly into ramekins.

5.Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until cakes pull away from sides of ramekins. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Red-Wine Velvet Cake Recipe


Rather than let an open bottle of red wine languish on the refrigerator shelf, use it in place of the usual food coloring in a red velvet cake. The result—a rich, fudgy marriage of chocolate and wine—will leave you hopeful for more leftover Pinot Noir in the near future.


Makes 1 cake, to serve 16 to 20.


18 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing
2 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups red wine
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/8 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt

24 ounces cream cheese (three 8-ounce boxes), at room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar



1. To make cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Line the bottom of three 9 round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease parchment and sides of pan. Place butter in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Add brown and granulated sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk and beat until incorporated, then add red wine and vanilla. (Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven and grainy.)

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Sift dry mixture over wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold in remaining dry mixture with a rubber spatula.

3. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean. The top of each cake should be shiny and smooth. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on a rack. (If cakes have domed a bit and you want even layers, trim tops using a long serrated knife held horizontally.)

4. To make frosting: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in vanilla, then gradually stir in confectioners’ sugar.

5. To frost cake, place one layer on a cake stand or plate and spread with 1 cup frosting. Repeat with next 2 layers and spread top and sides with remaining frosting.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016


This weekend I gladly worked the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The down side was waking up at 3:00 AM to get in line to park our car and be ready to enter the fair grounds by 6:30 AM. On the plus side, my company was one of the sponsors this year, giving me an opportunity to ride in a hot air balloon. The pictures say it all.