Cozy Recipes & Snowy Adventures

Happy Friday darlings!

This week was filled with visits with my Dad while he was in town, homemade dinners, de-cluttering, and making big plans. I cannot wait for more of that this weekend! Before signing off though, I want to share a few of my favorite things from the week with you. First up, my favorite new quick and healthy dinner recipes.

We are committing to healthier, home-cooked, no fuss meals in the Pocho house this year and it has been so fun trying new recipes! The front runner so far has been Slow Cooker Garlic & Brown Sugar Chicken. Who doesn’t love a dish that you can leave in the Crock Pot all day? I just steamed some rice and broccoli for sides and it was just as good as takeout, if you ask me! This is a 30 minute meal at its finest.

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{photo credit: Makin’ It Mo Betta Blog}

Since I’m a carb lover, I also recommend this healthy 3 Cheese Penne Bake recipe- only 198 calories per serving (5 WeightWatchers points)!! Perfect with a side salad. Isn’t this single serving just darling? It’d be great for a dinner party too and I promise, no one will notice the calorie difference.

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{photo credit: Skinny Mom}

Next, I don’t know if you’ve heard that this Olympics thing is starting next week, but I’m pretty pumped. So pumped, that we are going to be hosting an Opening Ceremonies gathering- Yay! So, in between visits and HHE work, I’ve been obsessed with the NBC Olympics website. More on this as the games begin and progress, but fair warning, I might disappear until February 24th. (p.s. aren’t the pictograms gorgeous?!)

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Lastly, my winter commentary. As someone who lives in the Midwest, “snowmagedon” is somewhat of an interesting thing to watch my Southern friends cope with this week. The traffic and stresses that come with unusual conditions can be downright frustrating, I know. White stuff falls from the sky- school is closed, grocery store shelves are bare and everyone is a five year old experiencing ‘winter weather’ for the first time. Don’t read this the wrong way my dears, I too was overjoyed that snow was falling when we lived down South. I’m so grateful that, even in its novelty, snow brings such joy and happiness to so many. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of our annual snow walk photos with you.

As you might remember, AJP and I take a snow walk in the first blanketing snowfall each year to experience the peace and beauty that is around us in those first few hours. Ok, maybe it’s a me thing, but he’s so sweet to play along and enjoy it with me. Yes, we also goof around and have races to the bridge on the trail (the result of which sometimes may or may not be me slipping and wiping out ‘gracefully’).

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So, while some people really dislike snow and this ‘polar vortex’ phenomenon, let this be a little reminder that there is still fun to be had and joy to be found in the little things. With that, I wish you all a very happy, cozy and relaxing social media free weekend with your loved ones.

xoxo- Jenn

Cookies For Santa

How is it that Christmas Eve is tomorrow?! Where did the season go? If you are like me, you’ve lost track of time and are just now getting to your holiday baking at the last hour. Or maybe you want to just keep baking up until Santa arrives? Either way, I’ve got you covered!

As you read over here, there are some traditions that always happen in our home, including baking Spritz cookies. Other than that, I usually make a variety of whatever our hearts desire. This year, that meant 5 delicious batches. You can find recipe sources linked at the bottom of this post.

First up were Peanut Butter Cookie Truffles and Peppermint Twists for my coworkers. The Truffles are, hands down, the most requested year round and they are so easy! This recipe can be adapted using any of your favorite cookie recipes- just sub in some milk for moisture in lieu of the eggs. I did just that, with my favorite Peanut Butter cookie recipe!

For the Peppermint Twists, you can make them into candy cane shapes or sticks. I usually end up doing a combination, depending on time and  how well I split out my dough for coloring. You can also top these with crushed candy canes, but I opted for simple this year.

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You didn’t think I’d deliver them in a tupperware container, did you? I found this darling box at the Dollar Store (yes, you read that right!). Along with some kraft crinkle paper and some goodies, this is a simple, pretty and thoughtful gift for anyone on your list.

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Next up, Spritz balls (I couldn’t find my cookie press this year…) , chocolate chip and drop sugar cookies. Normally I prefer cut out sugar cookies, but with so much more to enjoy this year, we just went with drops. They are just as delicious and simply melt in your mouth, I promise!

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Recipes: Truffles | Peanut Butter Cookie DoughPeppermint Twists | Spritz | Chocolate Chip | Sugar Cookies

Happy baking lovelies! Wishing you the yummiest and happiest of Christmases!

xoxo- Jenn

Apples Galore

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A few weeks ago, AJP and I went to an Apple Orchard in our area to enjoy the beautiful weather and explore a bit. We ended up with a bounty just shy of 8 pounds of yumminess. Not to mention the cider, apple donuts and turnover we got for the road. Let me tell you friends, it was such a fun adventure and we might have to go back for some pumpkins!

After realizing how much we came home with, I went on a mission to find sweet and savory recipes to use all of the goods to their fullest potential. Of course, I made applesauce and turnovers, and a delicious Smothered Pork Chops dish {all recipes linked at end of post}.

The biggest hit was the delicious turnover recipe from Ina Garten. I didn’t use cherries, but all else was fantastic!

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Lastly, I attempted an Apple Cake Tatin, which proved to require more finesse than I have. It tasted “delicious” as I was told, but it certainly looked like it had been through battle. Word to the wise, when making this truly butter that dish well! I also don’t think I used enough apple so that might be why my caramel stuck to the dish…. Lessons learned I suppose.

What is your favorite way to cook with apples?

xoxo- Jenn

Recipes: Applesauce, Turnovers, Smothered Pork Chops, Apple Cake Tatin

Mom, may I please have S’mores?

I don’t know about you guys, but S’mores are my favorite summer dessert. Gathering around a bonfire or camp fire, the smell of pine trees and the breeze off the lake. That is my summer happy place! I had a hankering for some good ol’ fashioned snacks last weekend, but sadly, we have no fire pit option near us, so I had to get creative. Since I love to bake, I decided to try a S’mores cupcake. Oh, the joy in creative baking!

It’s pretty basic, just added a few additional ingredients to some staple recipes. My favorite Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes and buttercream frosting are the best and a perfect base for playing with flavors. In addition to the recipes’ ingredients, you need graham crackers, marshmallow fluff and Hershey’s chocolate.

To add the flavor to the cupcake, I added in 3/4 cups of crushed graham crackers and an additional 1/4 cup of milk (to keep the batter from getting too dense).

Then for the frosting, I added in approximately 1 1/4 cups of marshmallow fluff (enough to taste). I didn’t need to do anything with the consistency, but I will leave that up to your preference.

To decorate, crumble additional graham crackers, frost, roll in the crumbles and top with 2 pieces of Hershey’s chocolate. I used the snack size bars, but any chocolate will do!

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What are your favorite summer treats?

xoxo- Jenn