Thursday, October 20, 2016

Toffee Chip Cheese Ball!

This "Toffee Chip Cheese Ball" is a little different as far as 'cheese balls' go!  It's a sweet cheese ball that is great served with fruit slices or graham crackers or even something like vanilla wafers or shortbread cookies!   This goes over really well with those who might not care for the savory cheese balls!   We served it a few weeks ago at my niece's bridal shower with apple slices and graham crackers.  With the apples it reminds me of a caramel apple and it's great for a Fall party or gathering! Here is what you will need:

 2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs. butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1  (8 oz.) pkg. Heath milk chocolate English toffee bits
2 cups dry roasted peanuts, chopped fine

apple slices, graham crackers, vanilla wafers or shortbread cookies for serving

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until well blended with an electric mixer.   Blend in the brown sugar, confectioners sugar and vanilla.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips and the Heath toffee bits.    This will be very soft.  Pull as much as you can away from the sides of the bowl into a ball shape.  Cover with plastic wrap, leaving it in the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight.   This needs to be very cold or you won't be able to form the cheese ball. 

Place the finely chopped dry roasted peanuts on a large piece of wax paper.  Remove the cheese ball from the bowl and with your hands form into a smooth ball shape.  Lay it in the peanuts and roll it to coat all sides.   When it is all coated in the peanuts lay it gently on a serving plate.   This is a semi soft cheese ball, so it must be very cold and you have to work fast.    

Place apple slices and graham crackers around the edges for serving!  Or you can use whatever you like for serving!   If you do not have time to chill this or don't want to take the time, you can place it in a serving bowl and serve as a dip instead of a cheese ball. Just sprinkle the top with the chopped nuts.   I think the cheese ball makes a prettier presentation, but they both taste the same!  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Caramel Pumpkin Spice Cake!

I love trying new recipes using pumpkin, especially for Fall!  This one is a 'poke cake'!  You know the cake you poke holes all over while it's warm and then pour something creamy and yummy over it to soak into the cake!  The creamy and yummy something just happens to be caramel in this recipe and I do love anything caramel also!  This turned out to be a wonderful, moist and delicious cake!  You will want to try this one for sure!  Here is what you will need:  

1 box spice cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup Sprite or 7-Up (or any lemon lime soda), can substitute water
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) jar caramel ice cream topping

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs. butter, softened 
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1  (8 oz.) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
1  1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl mix cake mix, pumpkin, lemon lime soda or water, eggs, oil, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla until nice and smooth, but don't over beat this.

Spray a 9"x13" baking pan with nonstick baking spray.   Pour cake batter in the pan and spread evenly.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  When a pick comes out clean in the center, it's done.

Remove from oven and while warm, poke holes evenly all over the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon or with a straw.   Remove the lid on the caramel topping and microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds just to soften enough to pour.   Pour evenly all over the top of the cake.  It will run into the holes and that's a good thing!  Let the cake cool completely before frosting!

Place the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well blended.   Add in the vanilla.  Fold in the whipped topping.   Spread evenly over the cooled cake.  

Sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts or pecans!   Refrigerate until ready to serve!  This cake just gets better as it sits!  It becomes even more moist and yummy!  

This is a perfect Fall dessert and it would be wonderful for the holidays!  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Creamy Cheese Grits!

These "Creamy Cheese Grits" take grits and kick them up to a whole new level!  They are so good!  I love grits any way you prepare them.  I will let you know that growing up, we did not eat 'cheese grits' and to some southerners, adding all of this to grits is not really smiled upon.  My mother prepared grits in the classic southern style, with butter, salt and pepper only.  That is how grits are supposed to be eaten and if you are truly southern, you already know this.  However, through the years, grits have evolved and adding a little this and that to them, has made them more palatable for non-grit eaters to enjoy.    This recipe for 'cheese grits' is wonderful for those who think they don't eat grits.  It's also really good for recipes that use grits for a base, like "Shrimp and Grits"!   Here is what you will need for these wonderful cheesy grits!

4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup quick cooking grits (do not use instant)
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of black pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (optional)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 Tbs. butter
1 cup shredded cheddar or Gouda cheese

Place water and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium high  heat and bring to a boil.  Here is a tip for cooking grits, always salt the water you cook them in, because you cannot salt grits after they are cooked.  They will just never taste salty.

 Stir in the grits, stirring until well mixed so lumps don't form.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are thickened.  You need to stir them several times during this so they don't stick.

Stir in the garlic powder, black pepper, dash of hot sauce, cream cheese, butter and shredded cheese.   I usually use shredded cheddar, but when I have Gouda it gives this a decadent creaminess that is so good!  The Gouda is also perfect when making this for the base for Shrimp and Grits! The cheeses should be melted through before serving.

Pour into a serving bowl and top with a little crumbled bacon or some additional cheese!