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New Years Eve.How Time Flys

Its crazy that its already new years eve and this year is coming to an end.So for a final goodbye to 2012 I thought that I should share how grateful I am for all the positive things that have happen throughout this year.I have been given so many great opportunities this past year,especially in the blogging world with all the recipe reviews,books and even product testing.It was lots of fun to try out something new and learn how to be a better reviewer. I may not of been able to accept every review offer;however I tried my best to fit everything in this year and I'll tried even hard for this brand new year that awaits me.

I have so many fond memories for this past year,especially as a blogger.However their are two that really stick out for me.I had lots of fun making my own homemade soda's and my favorite would have to be the orange creamiscle.Also, testing out the Dairyland products was really interesting,especially making my own vanilla ice cream and chocolate mousse.They were so good  an I definitely recommend them.2012 was definitely awesome and I look forward for whatever 2013 brings me.Hopefully more product testing!

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Now that were coming to our last day I thought I should share the last two recipes that I made.They are delicious Christmas treats that I made only a few days before the big day;however one of them can be made anytime of the year.One is a fancy Christmas tree cookie made with a basic sugar dough while the other is a delicious chocolate caramel cluster with homemade caramel.They are both something you need to put time into make;however are well worth the effort in the end.Overall the recipes are simple to follow and pretty adaptable.

They were certainly fun treats to make and looked pretty great in the end.Overall,the mini Christmas tree's did take some time to make, since each ball had to be rolled and stuck together.However they came to be really simple and even fun to decorate,especially when I chose to use a simple water glaze.For my caramel clusters they also took sometime to make,especially when you choose to make a homemade caramel instead of  store bought.However homemade is definitely well worth the effort in flavor and to test out your own candy making skills.In the end, they were delicious little treats.The cookies were a perfect sweet, soft and crunchy sugar cookie while the clusters were a combo of chewy,chocolaty,sweet and even salty.They were all so good that they sure didn't last to long in this house and are definitely two recipes to keep.To learn how to make these recipes, just scroll on down.

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Also, I almost forgot to mention some other great little things that happen this year.One I bought my own Kitchen Aid Mixer at work ,which was $500 originally then down to $249 along with my discount.That was an excellent buy and I try to use it every time I bake now.Also this Christmas I won a giant chocolate basket from work that was actually everything to do with Chocolate, including a fondue fountain.I had my own fondue party with it,which was pretty awesome.Overall,it has been a pretty good year and I hope this new year brings more product reviews and luck.

So Happy New Years! everybody and I'll be sure to enjoy my day off today,before working early tomorrow morning.

 The Recipes

Snowball Trees Adapted from Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publications: Christmas Cookies.

Snowball Trees

1 recipe Basic sugar cookie dough
Green food coloring

Sugar Cookie Dough 

1 cup butter,softened
1/2 sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl,beat butter with a electric hand mixer or mixer. On medium to high speed for 30 second, until creamed.Add sugar and beat till combined.Be sure to scrape sides.Add the milk,vanilla and salt until combined.Beat in as much as the flour as you can with the mixer.Mix in remaining flouring using a wooden spoon.

Snowball Trees

Remove 1/2 cup of sugar cookie dough.Put to the side for the tree stumps.From their tint the remaining dough with green food coloring.

Preheat the oven to 325F.For each cookie,shape green dough into ten 1/2 inch balls.Using an ungreased cookie sheet or using wax paper.Arrange the balls in a tree shape by placing a row of four balls,topped by a row of three balls,a row of two balls and then one ball for the top.While putting them together be sure to gently press them together.Shape plain dough into a 3/4 inch ball and place at the bottom for a tree trunk.Press gently together to stick.Repeat with remaining dough and leave 2 inch space between each cookie.They will slightly spread.

Bake for 10 -12 minutes until lightly golden brown.Let cool on cookie sheet and then transfer to cookie rack.For decorating,combine icing,water and tiny bit of vanilla to create a glaze that has the consistency to drizzle. Drizzle the glaze back and forth on the cookie and decorate with Christmas sprinkles.Let cookie stand until glaze has set.Enjoy!

Makes about 36+ cookies 

 Chocolate Caramel Clusters Adapted from Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publications: Food Gifts

1 8 oz package pecan halves,toasted
Homemade Caramel Recipe
1 12 oz(2 cups) pcg of semisweet chocolate chips
Coarse seas salt  (optional)

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.Grease the parchment to stick to the tray.For each cluster, arrange 5 pecan halves in a single later,close together.

Spoon caramel mixture over each cluster of pecans.Let stand  until firm.

In a medium heavy bottom pan,  melt semisweet chocolate chips over low heat,until smooth.Spoon chocolate over each cluster and gently spread to edges.If you like you can sprinkle the top with coarse salt.Let the chocolate caramel cluster stand  for about 30 minutes until set.Place in an tin and store up to 1 week in the refrigerator.    

Homemade Caramel adapted by Betty Crocker Cookbook New Edition

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, syrup, milk and salt in a heavy bottom pot.Cook over low heat,stirring constantly,to 230F on a candy thermometer.Be sure to always watch it,It can burn very easily.A finish caramel will be thicker and in soft ball stage.It will also be a dark pal brown.Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.Cool slightly.

For the caramel clusters, keep the caramel warm so it doesn't begin to thicken and set.Keep on a low heat and be sure to stir it while creating the clusters.

Dairyland Review:Chocolate Mousse.Delicious Christmas Dessert!

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Need an impressive and crowd pleasing dessert to finish off your Christmas dinner with success.Well how about a delicious chocolate mousse that is so rich and creamy that your chocolate adorers will love you for it.Its so simple to follow that anyone could make it and its definitely well worth the time and effort to create it.This was the first time ever making chocolate mousse and I was excited that it came out exactly how I pictured.

The recipe was super easy to follow and the ingredients were really simple as well.All I needed was egg yolks, sugar,chocolate, heavy cream and vanilla to create this masterpiece.In the end, I had a extremely creamy and airy mousse that was rich with chocolate.I loved it so much that I definitely have to make it again and its nothing without a little dollop of Dairyland whipped cream aerosol at the top.

Now to give kudos to Dairyland Heavy Cream.This mousse would not be able to come together without whipped cream. It helped create that rich flavor and creamy texture.If we didn't use it at all we would have a thick, watery pudding and no one wants that.So this product plus the aerosol can gets an A+ from me in this recipe.Success!

The overall recipe,flavor and texture gets two thumbs up from me and I recommend everyone to try out this easy chocolate mousse for yourself.I think you will be wonderfully surprised how good it is.It makes a lot to serve many of your guests and I definitely recommend to serve them in fancy small dishes for the season. Only 4 more days till the big day so this would be a great dessert to serve.Especially since you can make it prior and it last up to 3 days.Go on! You got to make it now!

Now we've have come to the end of our Dairyland reviews and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to test out all these products.Thank you Dairyland! It was a lot of fun!
 


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4 large egg yolks
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
8 ox bittersweet chocolate,mleted
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a med pot,whisk 4 egg yolks, 2 tbsp sugar and 3/4 cup Dairyland heavy cream.

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Cook over medium to low heat, stirring until wooden spoon is coated.Do not boil and it will take about 3 to 4 minutes.

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Remove from heat and melt the bittersweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.Once fully melted, whisk into mixture and add vanilla.

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Strain into bowl using a seize.Saran wrap the bowl and chill until cool.

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Once the chocolate mixture is cooled. In another medium bowl, beat the 1 1/4 cup Dairyland heavy cream and the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar until stiff peaks form.

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Once that is done,stir in 1/3 of whipping cream into chocolate mixture.Then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream using a rubber spatula.

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Spoon into serving dishes,chill,covered for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.Bring to room temp before serving.

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When serving you can add a dollop of Dairyland Aerosol Whipped Cream.Enjoy!

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Dairyland Review:Sour Cream Banana Bread.Great As a Gift!


Do you want a quick holiday treat to give as a gift?Well how about a delicious and quick to make banana bread.Its so easy that you can make it to freeze until the big day or bake it before Christmas.Its definitely a great gift and whoever you give it to will certainly appreciate the work you have put into it.

This kind of quick bread is also good on the budget and easily adaptable.Meaning you can remove and even put additions to the bread.If you want chocolate chips, nuts, fruit etc in this banana bread then go for it.For me, I kept it pretty simple with the ingredients and only cut out the nuts.The direction were easy to follow and the ingredients were simple as well.The recipe in itself gets an A+ from me and definitely recommend it.

Now for the Dairyland ingredients that were used in this recipe such as the European Style butter and regular sour cream.They definitely delivered in this recipe because they are the fat content in the banana bread that help create the bind and texture of the overall treat.The butter created a rich flavor and brought moisture to the bread.Then the sour cream as an add bonus helped even more with the moisture and created a very tender banana bread.Plus you can't even detect the flavor of the sour cream.So the products were very important towards this recipe and wouldn't be the same without them.A+ Dairyland!


Now for the final order, the overall flavor and texture of the banana bread.Well lets just say, I loved it.It was wonderfully moist and tender with a great crunchy exterior.It also had a wonderful aroma with a rich banana flavor.It was so good that you might have a hard time giving it away as a gift.So I  definitely advise to make more then just one so you can have a treat as well. It was so good that I have to give this banana bread two thumbs up across the board and I say try it out yourself you won't be disappointed!

The Recipe

Banana Bread Adapted From Martha Stewart Recipe

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1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cups mashed very ripe banana/frozen and thawed
1/2 cup Dairyland regular sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350F.Grease a loaf pan.

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Beat softened Dairyland European Style butter and granulated sugar.

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Add two large eggs and beat to incorporate.

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In a medium bowl, whisk flour,baking soda and salt.



Add dry mix to butter mixture,until just combined.
 
Add mashed banana, sour cream and vanilla.Mix until combined. 

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.
Let rest for 1 minutes and turn out to fully cool.

    Dairyland Review|:Light Chocolate Brownies

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    I'm back again with a new recipe where you can use Dairyland Fat Free Sour Cream to help create a light chocolate brownie.Now I know this season is all about enjoying the sweet treats and comfort food;however if you want a recipe that is a little healthier this season then try out light recipes.You might find something you really love!

     Now this recipe that I used from Martha Stewart online does cut out a few important ingredients that are in most popular brownie recipes.So don't expect a heavy fudged texture brownie with this recipe if that's what your really looking for. This recipe is all about creating something a little lighter on the waistline and stunt your chocolate cravings.It uses homemade apple sauce to create sweetness to replace the sugar.Then we have the canola oil and sour cream for our fat content to create texture. In the end you have a rich chocolate flavor with a hint of apple and then a tender cake-like texture.Overall, its an interesting brownie and gets a pretty good mark from me with working with being a little healthier.That is no one easy!

     Its a super easy recipe to follow and uses simple ingredients.Can't go wrong with that.Now if your a fudge person like me then you might not like this too much;however if you love all kinds of texture then have had it.Have fun with this recipe and even add your own creative ideas!

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    Now for Dairyland, the sour cream does get a good mark from me for helping create a pretty tender brownie even with being fat free.You no way taste the flavor of the sour cream with this brownies but you definitely get its attribute throughout.You still get the same old sour cream just a little healthier. Overall, this brownie wasn't too bad even though I love fudgy textures.I'll still give this recipe a 2 out of 3!

    The Recipe

    Light Chocolate Brownies (Adapted From Martha Stewart Light Brownies)

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    2 tablespoons Canola oil
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/2 cup Dairyland Fat-Free sour cream
    4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (2 ounces melted, 2 ounces chopped)
    2 large eggs


     Preheat oven to 350F and grease and line a 9inch square pan.Leaving overhangs on two sides.

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    Sift flour,cocoa,salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.

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    Stir with a whisk.Set aside.

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    In another medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, applesauce, sour cream, melted chocolate, eggs, and oil until combined; add flour mixture, and mix just until moistened.

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     You can make your own applesauce.By peeling,coring and cutting apples and boiling them till soft enough to mash.

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    Add flour mixture to the wet and mix until moistened.Spread into pan and sprinkle with the remaining chopped chocolate.Bake at 350 F for 30-35minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.Cut into bars.

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    Dairyland Review: Lemon Softies

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    These little lemon softies are delicious and are a great recipe for this holiday season.They are quick and easy to make and use pretty basic ingredients.For this actual cookie I was able to incorporate Dairyland European Style butter and Regular Sour Cream into the recipe.These ingredients are super important for the overall texture and flavor of these softies.So are you wondering how easy this recipe really is?

    Well to break it down for you it only includes five directions for the whole recipe. So I can see everyone making this cookie recipe and it doesn't even matter what level you are at in baking.So I feel the recipe itself gets two thumbs up from me.

    Now for the ingredients that work so well together to create layers of flavor and texture.The Dairyland butter and sour cream are what create that rich flavor;however more importantly give us that soft and tender texture we need in these lemon softies.Then we have the lemon zest,which creates that lemon flavor we love so much along with the nutmeg that give just enough spice to balance out the lemon.Then we have the rich and sweet golden raisin that also create a slight chewiness to these cookie.They can no way be thrown out of this cookie recipe, they are too important in flavor.Then lastly we have the almonds which bring more crunchy texture then flavor.So overall, these cookies are mildly sweet and its the flavored ingredients themselves that give so much flavor.

    These cookies were excellent,easy to make and the Dairyland products were great in this recipe.The butter and sour cream were rich and creamy,which created a rich and flavorful cookie.I give two thumbs up again, overall.Just wait though once your done making these lemon softies you can pair a delicious drink with it.Just combine Dairyland 1% Chocolate Milk plus coffee liqueur to create a rich and sweet drink.Its a delicious combination with these lemon softies.Definitely a great drink for this holiday season!

    So I hope everyone enjoyed my review and be sure to try out this cookie and drink recipe.Be sure to stay tune for more Dairyland reviews coming up!


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     The Recipe

    Lemon Softies Adapted From Woman's Day Desserts By Kathy Farrell-Kingsley

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    1/2 cup of Dairyland European Style Butter,softened
     1 cup granulated sugar
    1 lg egg, room temp
    1/2 cup Dairyland Regular Sour Cream
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
     2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
    1/3 cup golden raisins
    1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated lemon peel


    Preheat oven to 375F.

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    Beat the 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup granulated sugar in a lg bowl.Until light and fluffy.

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    Add the egg, sour cream, baking powder,baking soda, nutmeg,salt and vanilla to the butter mixture.Beat until blended.

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    Add the all purpose flour, chopped almonds,raisins and grated lemon peel.Stir.


    Drop by heaping tsp on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes per batch.You want lightly golden brown.

    Then they will turn out like this.

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    Dairyland Review: Three Layer Dip


      Do you need a simple and impressive dip this holiday season? Well I have a delicious three layer dip that you can make with very little time and money.So are you interested yet? Well if you are.Then lets jump in because all you need to impress your guests is a great glass dish to showcase this dip.Its all about simple ingredients that work together.

    Anyways, We all want to get on to the recipe, right?. Well all you need to do is simply layer, layer and more layer.So first off you want use store bought or homemade salsa for the bottom layer and then go with Dairylands Low Fat Sour Cream for the middle.Its just has rich and creamy as their regular and better on your waist line.Then to tie it all up in a nice neat bow, sprinkle on some chopped green onion and grated cheddar cheese.Its as easy as that with simple ingredients and no measurements.From there you can serve it right away with some delicious Tostitos Hint of Lime Chips or refrigerate for the next day.

    Its a full of flavor dip that will certainly impress your guests.The salsa has just the right amount of spice that is great against the rich and creamy sour cream.Then to top it all off you have the rich cheddar cheese with the fresh green onion.I highly recommend it for your next get together this holiday season.

    I also give two thumbs up for Dairyland Low Fat Sour Cream.It was excellent in this dip.

    The Artisan Soda Workshop Final Review :Fizzy Teas,Floats And Alcohol Enhanced Dazzlers


    The next chapter after "Seasonal Studs" is called  "Aqua Fresca And Shrubs". These sodas are all about utilizing watery fruits and shrubs to create unique drinks. This chapter however includes too many ingredients that are either expensive or too hard to find.So instead of making a recipe from this section I chose to wrap up the entire review with the last chapter called "Fizzy Teas,Floats And Alcohol Enhanced Dazzlers" .This includes some of the more grown up fun drink to try out!

    So in this chapter,It explains to me that all these recipes are about going beyond the basics.By making unique soda's by using ingredients such as tea,coffee, chocolate and strong alcohol etc.So your probably wondering what choice I made for a recipe review.Well to be perfectly I ended up making  two different recipes that both have the same important component.If you guessed that it has something to do with chocolate then your, totally right.I ended up making a chocolate soda and a Kahlua Egg Cream.They both had something in common;however with totally different conclusions.

    The recipes themselves I thought were very simple to follow with pretty basic ingredients.The drinks however had completely opposite turn outs, meaning one was very good and the other just really didn't measure up to my expectations.The one that I was quite disappointed in and surprised with was the chocolate soda.It had a dark chocolate flavor that I was expecting;however it lacked sweetness and was quite bitter.I felt that If I had a better quality cocoa powder on hand it would of been less bitter and so a redo may be the cards. I also feel that the sugar really needed to be played around with in this recipe to find a better balance.In the end, I didn't have a good experience with this specific soda,so it does get a poor mark from me.


    However I was lucky enough in this review to have a successful experience in this chapter by making Kahlua Egg Cream.This grown up soda includes the same important ingredients as the chocolate soda,chocolate syrup;however the coffee liqueur helps it so much in the flavor department.The ingredients in this recipe work so well together to balance out the bitterness and bring sweetness.In the end I had a rich bittersweet combination with a creamy texture.This drink was really easy to make and would be great for the holidays. This recipe gets a really good mark from me.


    Overall, I am very happy I ended with a successful recipe from "The Artisan Soda Workshop", especially since I have had more disappoints throughout this book.This cookbook is full of creative ideas and did inspire me to make my own soda's;however three successes out of seven sort of turns me off from this book.Overall, this book sent me some mixed messages and I thought I would of got my strong bold flavors with these drink.So, in the end its hard to give this a book a mark so I'll just give it a 1 1/2 since I did find three good recipes and will be making them again.

    So, I hope you enjoyed my review for The Artisan Soda Workshop and I hope you tune in for more Dairyland reviews. 


    The Recipes

    Chocolate Syrup &Kahlua Egg Cream


    3/4 cup water
    1/3 cup goo quality natural process unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup raw cane sugar
    1 tbsp vanilla extract



    To a medium heavy bottom pot, I added the cold water.


    Using a sifter,sifted in 1/3 cup of cocoa powder to the cold water.



    Added the 1/4 cup raw cane sugar to the cocoa mixture.

     Then lastly, I added the vanilla extract and then let It boil over high heat, until thickened.

     Boiled it for about 2- 4 minutes and stirred it vigorously to combine.

    Removed it from heat and let it cool completely.


     Refrigerate in a cover airtight container for up to 7 days.

    To make the chocolate soda: Add 2 tbsps of syrup to 10 ounces of carbonated water. I recommend adding more syrup.

    Kahlua Egg Cream

    1/4 cup of Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
    1 tbsp chocolate syrup
    1 tbsp cream
    3/4 cup carbonated water

    In a tall glass combine the Kahlua,chocolate syrup,and cream.Stir to combine thoroughly.Top with seltzer and gently stir if needed.
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