December 2012

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I can’t believe today is the last day of 2012. When I was a kid, 2012 seemed so far away. Now that it has come and is almost past, I wanted to share a recipe for pork. Pork is a traditional German food shared to ring in the New Year and is said to bring good luck to those who eat it. According to my grandma, you also have to eat it with sauerkraut. I despise sauerkraut. I bet it tastes great, but I can’t get past the smell. I was never a fan of the traditional pork roast, I mostly ate the side dishes every year.

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I started cooking pork tenderloin when I was in high school. At the time, my mom was on a diabetic diet and had to eat a very specific balance of food. At each meal, she needed a lean protein. I was in charge much of the time of planning and preparing the meals. Pork tenderloin was one of the first “new” recipes I tried. By new I mean a recipe that did not come from my grandma. It was a mustard crusted pork tenderloin. It was fast and delicious despite being from a diabetic cookbook. Did you ever try food from diabetic cookbooks in the 90’s. YUCK! Oh and on a side note, whole wheat products have come a long way since then too.

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The beauty of pork tenderloin is that you can flavor it almost anyway that you want. It cooks relatively quickly (about 20 minutes per pound) and makes great leftovers. In fact, we used to make a few pork tenderloins and eat it for lunch for a few days. This recipe is slightly sweet and spicy. It would be perfect for your NEw Year’s Day dinner or as a quick weeknight meal. Either way, you can adjust the seasonings to you liking. As for me, kick up the heat!

Red Curry Pork Tenderloin

by Jessica

Prep Time: 4-24 hours

Cook Time: 30-45 minutes

Keywords: bake entree pork

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 pork tenderloin, 1-2 pounds
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 3 habanero peppers
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • handful of cilantro


Add all ingredients except the pork to a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour into a zip-top bag and add the pork tenderloin. Marinate for at least 4 hours or over night.

Brown the pork tenderloin in a pan on all sides over medium-high heat. Place the tenderloin in the oven and bake at 400 until cooked through. It should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

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With 2012 drawing to an end, I thought it might be fun to recap my favorite recipes from 2012. While some of them may not have to most views, they are the things that I make over and over again. When we plan our weekly meals, we go back to the same dishes. These posts are always my favorite when I read other blogs. They typically show the best of the best instead of something that looks cheesy in a picture. I hope you all had a great 2012 and am excited to start 2013 sharing my simple, clean, and homemade recipes with you.

Red Curry Chicken Carnitas Chicken Saag
Green Carnitas Enchiladas Baked French Toast Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Chicken Noodle Soup Pumpkin Cupcakes Chicken Tortilla Soup
Salad Filo Triangles Sausage Sandwich Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

I am very excited about this post, not only because I get to share my favorite recipes, but because I wrote the html code myself! I have never written code before, so this is very exciting for me. I learned to do this using Codecademy. I heard about it from Diana over that The Chic Life. I know it is not perfect. But, I am pretty proud that I knew nothing about code on Wednesday and now I have written a post in html! I am excited to continue learning and am working on Java right now. What a fun new thing for the new year!



I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and had an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Below are a few pictures from our day. Recipes will follow in the coming weeks. I have to say, I had one of the best Christmas’s ever. I enjoyed every moment that I spent with my family. I hope you feel the same. 


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Photo Dec 22 11 45 26 AM



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Photo Dec 12 8 22 29 PM

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Pecan Tarts

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Pecan tarts (also known as pecan tassies or nut cups) are like miniature pecan pies. They have a cream cheese and butter crust, are packed with nuts, and have a gooey filling. The crust is buttery and flakey. Making the perfect few bites. 

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These cookies are a bit labor intensive. I think it is important to note that they are best made without tassie pan liners. This allows the crust to get slightly browned. Without the liners, getting the cookie out of the pan can be quite a chore. You end up with tons of broken cookies. So, a few years ago, I bought a set of these pans. There is almost never  a cookie that gets stuck. Plus, you can purposely overfill the cups and get the delicious caramelized sugar on the outside. 

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I like to make the crust thin. I use a floured tassie tamper to flatten the dough, then I make the dough relatively thin. That way I can pack in more of the tasty filling. These cookies freeze incredibly well and keep for months. They are yummy frozen or microwaved for a few seconds. 


Pecan Tarts

by Jessica

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: dessert cream cheese cookie


Ingredients (4 dozen cookies)


  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 6 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups chopped pecans


  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans



Cream Butter and cream cheese. Add flour and mix well.

Form into 48 balls.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Place one ball in each cup of a mini tart pan. Use your fingers or tart tamper to press out into tart shell.

Place chopped pecans at the bottom of each tart shell


Break the eggs, do not beat. Add sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla. Mix well. Fill the tart shells. Top with more pecans.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until slightly brown.

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One of my guilty pleasures is buying a chocolate thumbprint cookie with chocolate sprinkles at Giant Eagle. I love them. They are slightly crumbly, and packed with chocolate frosting. So, when I found this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, I had to try them. I have to say, they were good.

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Brown Eyed Baker said that she felt like she hadn’t gotten the recipe exact. I felt like they were missing the crumbly quality that I enjoyed so much. One day, when I was driving home from work, I had an idea. I could try substituting some flour with some cornstarch. So, I experimented. We did some taste testing and compared the all flour cookies to the cookies with some cornstarch. We decided that the cornstarch was a little better. We also liked them better with a little less sugar and a little more salt.

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I also used my favorite chocolate frosting recipe. These cookies are so irresistible. I actually like them better than the cookies from the grocery store. They certainly fulfill my thumbprint cookie cravings.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

by Jessica

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert cookie


Ingredients (2 dozen cookies)

For the Cookie

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate sprinkles

For the Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


For the Cookies

Cream the butter and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly add the powdered sugar and salt. When combined, add the cornstarch and flour.

Roll the dough into balls. Roll all but the top of the dough ball in chocolate sprinkles. Place on a plate or in a container. Place the rolled dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator and bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased baking sheet. After 10 minutes, make an indentation in each cookie using a melon baller. Continue baking for another 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Ice when cooled.

For the frosting

In a large bowl, add butter and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.

Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. With the electric mixer on low, add the milk a little at a time until the frosting is the desired consistency.

Mix on high 2-3 minutes.

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Semi Homemade Mom

Foodie Friends Friday


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What is better than dark chocolate cake with topped with cheese cake and chocolate chips? I really might be the ultimate dessert. The best part? It is just two bites. These are super moist mini cakes that are baked in tassie pans.

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I originally got this recipe from one of my friends at work. She told me that they are the best cookies and man is she right. I have adapted it slightly to reduce the sugar and increase the cocoa powder to fit my personal tastes. I do love them and am so happy that she shared these with me.

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The other bonus? Aren’t they pretty? They all turn out slightly different in such a beautiful, artistic way. They add some visual interest to your dessert tray for sure.

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The moist cake make these irresistible.

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You will be happy that these freeze well. When defrosting them, defrost them at room temperature and not in the microwave.

Black Bottom Cupcake

by Jessica

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert


Ingredients (8 dozen cookies)


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dark chocolate chips


  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla



Mix all ingredients through salt.

Then, add remaining ingredients.

Fill paper-lined tassie pan ¾ full with batter.

Place 4-5 chocolate chips on top of each.


Cream ingredients together. Add spoonful on top of each filled tassie cup.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Refrigerate or freeze.

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I think that any food that leaves you with powdered sugar on your face is a good idea. Especially when the treat is a cookie and is very buttery. What more could a girl want?

Also, what could be more festive at Christmas time then cookies that look like snowballs? I really can’t think of anything. 


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I recommend freezing these and eating them when they are cold. That is my favorite. There is something about a cookie that looks like a snowball that makes me feel like it should be eaten cold. These really freeze well. They are a good cookie to keep in the freezer in case a guest stops by. Oh, and the pecans are optional. Sometimes I think they are better with less pecans. 


Butterball Cookies

by Jessica

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert cookie


Ingredients (4 dozen cookies)

  • 8 ounces butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 2 cups powdered sugar for rolling


Cream butter and vanilla. Gradually work in the powdered sugar and flour. Add the pecans and mix into a dough.

Roll the dough into small balls. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Bake at 325 for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool 1 minute. Roll in powdered sugar. Allow to cool completely and roll in powdered sugar a second time.

Store in an air-tight container or freeze.

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Oh salty and sweet. Isn’t it just the best? It is like a natural pairing. That is probably what makes these cookies so good. They are salty and sweet and toothy from all the oatmeal. I love a good cookie. Cookies, especially good cookies are my favorite treat. 

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These cookies should make it on your holiday baking list for sure. 

Salted Butterscotch Cookies

by Jessica

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert cookie


Ingredients (3 dozen cookies)

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 ½ c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ c whole wheat flour
  • ¾ c white flour
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c quick cook oats
  • ¾ c old fashioned oats
  • 1 c chocolate chips
  • 1 c butterscotch chips


Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix to combine.

Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon and mix well. Stir in the oats. Add the chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Roll the dough into cookie-sized balls. Place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Place the dough balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

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Trash is known by many names. Some call it Muddy Buddies, while others call it puppy chow. We always called it trash because it was shaken in a white trash bag.

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While we no longer shake this in a trash bag (Ziplock now makes a large bag), it still is the delicious treat that I remember as a kid. It is sweet, and chocolatey, and peanut buttery, and crispy.

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I have updated it a bit by using dark chocolate in lieu of chocolate chips. Really good dark chocolate. Oh, and natural, freshly ground peanut butter.

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Plus, I use less powdered sugar and add cocoa powder to the powdered sugar to make it a little less sweet and a little more chocolatey. I think it might be the more grown up version of the classic childhood treat.

This stores well in the refrigerator for a few weeks, if it lasts that long!


Dark Chocolate Trash

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: dessert


Ingredients (9 cups)

  • 1 cup chopped Dark Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9 cups Chex or Crispix (any flavor)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder


In a large bowl, microwave chocolate with the peanut butter and butter on high fro 60 seconds. Stir and microwave an additional 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and salt. Pour in cereal and stir carefully until coated.

In a large zip-top bag (at least 2 gallon or 2 1 gallon), add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Shake to combine. Add the cereal mixture and shake to coat.

Spread onto a waxed paper lined jelly roll pan. Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

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