Twix Caramel Brownies

Mmmmmmm! I've been DIETING, ya know, trying to get back in shape after carrying TWINS around all last year. Well, these BROWNIES have been calling my name and I just needed to have one. I found the recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod—a great recipe blog!

Twix Caramel Brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped Twix candy bars
1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Place butter in medium saucepan on the stove. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; stir until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Stir in Twix candy bar chunks. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Drizzle caramel evenly over the brownies. Using a toothpick, swirl caramel into brownies. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool brownies completely in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.


Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

At our house it is PLAY-OFF time! The end of the football season always makes me want YUMMY appetizers. This DELISH recipe with salty crisp bacon and a sweet sauce ALWAYS hits the spot!

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts
1 pound bacon
2 cans whole water chestnuts
1/3 cup Miracle Whip
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chili sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a frying pan, brown the bacon until almost done and then drain on paper towels. (Just make sure you can still bend it!) Cut each strip of bacon in half. Wrap bacon around water chestnuts, secure with a toothpick and place on a wire rack that is on top of a cookie sheet with sides. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

While chestnuts are in the oven, mix together the Miracle Whip, sugar, and chili sauce. When chestnuts are done baking, transfer to a baking dish and pour sauce over top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until sauce is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm!

TIP: If you don't like Miracle Whip, you can substitute regular mayo instead. Also, if you want to stretch the recipe a little farther, try cutting the bacon slices into thirds instead of halves. There's still plenty of bacon to go around and it doesn't hurt the out come at all!


Easy Winter Fruit Salad

This time of year, the FRUIT starts to get boring, doesn't it? Well, to dress it up a little, I like to make this super EASY salad. My family always enjoys it—it just seems like an extra special TREAT.

Easy Winter Fruit Salad
1 to 2 red apples (I like Gala or Fuji)
1 to 2 Granny Smith apples
2 to 4 clementines
2 bananas
1 container Yoplait blackberry or raspberry yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup Cool Whip, to taste

Chop the apples and place in a large bowl. Peel the clementines and put the segments into the bowl with the apples. Slice the bananas and add to the other fruit. Pour the yogurt over the fruit as well as the Cool Whip and mix all together. Chill until ready to serve.

TIP: The bananas and apples may turn brown if you make the salad in advance. Try tossing with some lemon juice, orange juice, or even pineapple juice before mixing into the salad to prevent browning. Also, another great addition to make the salad go a little farther . . . mini marshmallows and/or chopped nuts!


Easy Ham Fried Rice

This is a great HEALTHY meal by itself, or you can fatten it up a BIT by serving it with some yummy EGG ROLLS or wontons. Either way, it is scrumptious!

Easy Ham Fried Rice
2 eggs
2 cups cooked rice (I like to use leftover so it's not so sticky)
1 cup cubed fully cooked ham
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup thinly sliced cooked carrots
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Lite soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce, optional
Black pepper

Heat a large frying pan with a touch of oil  and then fry the eggs. Chop up eggs in the pan with a spatula and then add the rice, ham, peas, carrots, and onion. Toss all ingredients in the hot pan until heated through, then add several shakes of soy sauce until desired taste is achieved. Do the same with the Worcestershire and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: You can half a bag of frozen peas and carrots instead of what's listed above. It makes it even easier! Also, I like adding a shot of sweet and sour sauce to the mix for another great flavor.


Coconut Shrimp Curry

We love CURRY at our house! This is a pretty MILD version, so if you're not sure how you feel, this is the RECIPE to try it. It's very EASY and tastes sooooo good! (Sorry for the not-so-great pic!)

Coconut Shrimp Curry
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cups thinly sliced baby carrots
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup water
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup toasted coconut
24 to 30 deveined raw shrimp, with tails removed
1/4 to 1/3 cup sour cream
Warm cooked rice

In a large frying pan, saute the onions and carrots in the oil until mostly tender, about 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle the curry powder over top and stir in well. Add the water, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and coconut, stirring to combine. Let come to a boil and then thicken, about 5 or 6 minutes more. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sour cream until well combined and then serve warm over rice. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: As I said, this is a pretty mild version, so if you really love curry, try adding a little more curry powder—maybe 2 teaspoons to start. (The curry flavor does get stronger if you let it sit for a while—any leftovers are great!) Also, if you don't like shrimp, substitute about 1 pound of chicken cut into small cubes. It's fantastic too!


Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Tacos

I love SHRIMP and I love tacos, so when I get the opportunity to put them TOGETHER, I'm in heaven! These little tacos are super HEALTHY and full of FLAVOR—that's not a combo you can always find. Hope you like them!

Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Tacos
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
20 raw deveined shrimp, shells removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (or more if needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
White corn tortillas, warmed
Chopped lettuce

In a bowl, mix together the sour cream, cilantro, cumin, and lime zest and juice; set aside until ready to use (or refrigerate if making in advance of dinner). 

In another bowl, toss the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning to coat. Heat the oil in a frying pan and then cook shrimp until done (about 3 or 4 minutes or when the shrimp has "pinked" all the way through!). Put 4 to 5 shrimp in each tortilla, then top with a heaping scoop of the cilantro-lime sour cream. Top with lettuce and more cilantro, if desired. Eat warm!

TIP: A single tortilla does the job, but if you double up the extra tortilla will hold everything together even more securely. :)  Another great addition is more lime juice! Just squeeze over the shrimp when done, and even more over the taco when it is all put together. Mmmmmm!