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Dessert Recipe

Nana’s Almond Squares Recipe and My Big Lots Haul! #BIGSeason

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BIGSeason #BigLots #CollectiveBias
My fondest memories growing up are the ones of me learning to bake in my Nana’s kitchen.  She taught me to make Italian cookies, peanut butter balls, almond squares and so much more.  Leaning to use an electric mixer, grease the pans, and of course do the dishes.  She taught me life lessons of domestication in such a way that it made me fall in love with the art of baking.  That was just the way she was though, in all aspects of life.  She was my Nana, my mentor, and my best friend.

So when I got married she gave me one of the best gifts I could have ever asked for, her cookbook!  Called The Joy Cooking, this cookbook is stained, the pages are yellowed from age, and the binding is held together with duct tape, however this is my most coveted cookbook because each stain brings a memory of my Nana back to me and the duct tape well that’s just an extra signature that it was hers. It a prized possession that never leaves my kitchen, family members have asked to borrow it and I can’t stand to part with it so the only thing I can commit to is photo copying the recipes needed.
However with the cookbook, also comes the responsibility of doing a lot of the family baking.  There are two main desserts that she always brought to holiday parties, her Italian cookies and her almond bars.  My uncle will usually take on the Italian cookies, thankfully because my kids eat up the dough so fast that I never get any cookies actually cooked.  I am in charge of the almond bars, and they have always been a favorite of both my brother and I.
As soon as Thanksgiving is over I immediately start to think about my holiday meal planing and all that comes with it, from the almond squares that need to go to parties, to decorating cookies with the kids, and Christmas dinner.  Once my food list is sketched out, my first stop is Big Lots.  I remember several years ago, a Big Lots opened in our town and I was ecstatic.  
I’m a shopper, I love to spend time putting around stores that have a wide array of products.  Big Lots not only has so many things to look at, they also are always getting new and fun merchandise.  I can find a unique gift for a friend, a beautiful serving dish, and my baking ingredients all in one place.  
Last week I grabbed a coffee and set out on a Big Lot’s shopping trip,  I was able to pick up a couple Purex pans with covers that will work out perfectly for transporting all my baked good to parties.  I also found an adorable “I love baking” spatula, 2 Christmas hand towels, a holiday sign that I fell in love with, a snowman plate, and pretty Christmas mason jar mug.
*Disclosure: styles and assortment vary by store*
All this was before I even stepped into the huge grocery section throughout the middle of the store!  I was able to find everything I needed to make the Almond Squares for this weekend.  Sugar, Vanilla, Shredded Coconut, everything I had on my shopping list and everything was within my budget!  This is why my Big Lots is my first stop when planning for the holidays, I am able to get so many high quality ingredients and they’re all at a great price.
Once I got home on a shopping high from the great values I found, it was baking time!  The only thing that trumped my fun shopping finds that day, was pouring the almond extract into a bowl and making my entire kitchen smell like Nana.  
These are a delicious dessert idea, I’m sharing the recipe in the midst of the holiday baking rush.  So make sure you give these a try!
Nana’s Almond Squares


Ingredients:
3/4 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
Shredded Coconut to top


Preheat oven at 350 degrees

Melt butter, then mix together the butter and sugar.
Add eggs and mix for several minutes, until creamy. 

Add salt, vanilla, almond extract, and flour, and mix until well combined.

Pour into a greased pan, sprinkle top with shredded coconut, and cook for 40 minutes. 

Be sure to check out the large variety of baking and meal preparation items at Big Lots.  I’d love to hear what you love to make during the holidays!

   

Easy No-Bake Brazilian Pave Dessert Recipe #CookWithHood

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Hood Cream. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
The first Brazilian restaurant my husband took me to thirteen plus years ago, served Pave for dessert.  I immediatly fell in love with the taste, texture and perfect sweetness.  
After that date I remember scouring the internet for a recipe.  The internet was a lot less vast over a decade ago and the only recipes I could find were in Portuguese, which I wasnt able to speak yet, and the incredients were nothing I had heard of before.  Back then I didn’t even know what condenced milk was, never mind some of the other ingredients I was seeing listed.

Luckily over the years I was able to take a little from each recipe I would find, and as I met my husbands family I would get more recipes.  I remember creating several soupy disasters that ended up in the trash, but I remember making this exact recipe 10 years ago when Anthony was a baby and I was home all day going stir crazy.  I tasted it and was done switching around ingredients for good, I did it, it was the Pave I had been trying to recreate for years.
So here it is, a perfect no-bake dessert recipe just in time for the holidays!
Brazilian Pave
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 sleeves of Maria cookies
1 can condensed milk
Mix together butter and sugar until smooth. Then add egg yolks one at a time while mixing.
Once smooth, mix in 1 cup Hood Heavy Cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth and creamy, do not over beat the mixture or it will become grainy.
Next place the mixture to the side.  Put 1/2 a cup of Hood Heavy Cream in a bowl and dip the Maria cookies in the cream and then place them in a cake pan, creating the first layer of the Pave Truffle.  
Next spread half of the mixture over the cookies.
Dip more Maria cookies and create another cookie layer. Then add the rest of the cream mixture on top of the second cookie layer.
Add a third layer of cookies dipped in the Hood Heavy Cream.
Once you have these 5 layers, put the pan aside and bowl the can of condensed milk with a 1/2 cup of cream until the mixture is thin and smooth.  Remove from heat, let stand for a few minutes to cool to room temperature, and then spread over the final cookie layer.
If the cookies start to rise, use a spatula to push them back down.
Put the Pave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours so that the cookies will absorb the cream and the Pave can set.  I try to make it a day or two in advance because it stays well in the fridge.
Once chilled, you can cut and serve as is, or sprinkle nuts, cocoa powder or add whipped cream to it. 
It’s always important to use a high quality cream so that it doesn’t separate during mixing and helps the mixture set well.  I have always chosen Hood Cream.  It is what I grew up cooking with because that was what my Nana always kept in her fridge, and now knowing that its what top chefs like Chris Coombs choose to use in their restaurants, I know it’s the best.
Want more delicious recipes featuring Hood Cream?  Download the Free Hood E-Cookbook that is available now on the Hood website.  I have been cooking from this cookbook sense it’s release and the recipes are absolutely amazing.  It is so much fun recreating recipes that were created by an amazing chef that has endless ingredients at his disposal, yet he uses ingredients like Hood that we have all heard of.  It also includes some great cooking tips and holiday recipes, the Peppermint Hot Chocolate is a huge favorite in my house.  Make sure you give it a look, it is free!

Minions Cookie Cakes Recipe


Minions are everywhere and Aidan is obsessed, I bet your little ones are too so here is a quick and easy dessert to make for your next Minions party or for a fun dessert surprise!

Makes 6 servings
 
Ingredients:
Store-bought shortcake cups
Cool Whip
Large Oreo cookies
Wilton Candy eyes – large size
Optional: blue and yellow sprinkles

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.
2. Please 6 dessert cups on the lined baking sheet.
3. Fill each dessert cup with 1/4 cup cool whip.
4. Sprinkle blue and yellow sprinkles on top of the Cool Whip.
5. Separate 6 large Oreo cookies and discard the sides without creme filling.
6. Press a Candy eye into the middle of each Oreo piece with the creme filling still attached.
7. Lay an Oreo cookie eye on top of the whipped cream of each shortcake cup.
8. ENJOY!

 

 

Ice Cream Cone Smores Recipe

Smores are a favorite dessert in our house and we don’t like limiting them to camping trips or fire pits.  This fun twist on the traditional smores recipe is great all year around!

 
This recipe will yield 4 Smores cones

Ingredients:
8 sheets of Graham crackers
Marshmallows – 4 large and 16 small
2 Hershey solid chocolate bar – regular size
4 T Hershey’s hot fudge sauce
Multi-colored sprinkles
4 Maraschino cherries with stem


Directions:
1. Take out a a sheet of graham crackers from the sleeve. (This will be 2 squares attached to each other or 8 quarter pieces).
2. Cut the bottoms of each sheet diagonally to resemble an ice cream cone. To make four Smores cones, you will cut 8 sheets (one for the front and one for the back).
3. Cover the back graham cone side with pieces of chocolate bar. Add small marshmallows on top.
4. Place the front graham cone side on top and microwave for 45 seconds. Let cool.
5. Microwave 1/4 cup hot fudge sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. Let cool for one minute.
6. Spoon the fudge sauce over the top of the large marshmallows. Let set for a few minutes.
7. Sprinkle multi-colored sprinkles on top of the fudge coveted marshmallow. Let dry for additional 5 minutes.
8. Insert a large wooden toothpick in the middle of each large marshmallow and push the bottom of the toothpick into the top of the Smores cone. Be sure to have the top of the toothpick protruding out of the top of the marshmallow.
9. Insert a maraschino cherry onto the toothpick at the top of the marshmallow.
10. OPTIONAL : insert cookie sticks for ease of handling
11. ENJOY!
 


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