Smoked Salmon, Avocado, & Spinach Panini

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After my workout this morning I was craving my favorite bagel, a lox bagel! I try to stay away from bagels as much as possible and almost never buy them just because of all the carbs..but that doesn’t stop me from creating a healthier version of my favorite breakfast/lunch. This panini sandwich can almost be eaten for any meal of the dayÔÇŽ.not to mention it is healthy for you and it is a great way to end 2013! Happy New Years Eve!

Yield: 1 or 2 (depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients:
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 laughing cow cheese wedge (I used French Onion flavor)
3 ounces smoked salmoin
1/2 avocado; sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup spinach; about 8-10 leaves
1 tsp olive oil

Steps:
1. Heat a skillet with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cheese wedge on each slice of bread. Add avocado, smoked salmon, and spinach and grill on skillet on each side for about 2 minutes (or until grill marks are made). I used the bottom of a frying pan to press on the sandwich while grilling to get good looking grill ridges! Flip sandwich and repeat for 2 more minutes. Slice in half and enjoy!

Panettone French Toast

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I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and didn’t eat too much like I did! In my families household during the holidays we usually always have at least 1 Panettone in the house. It has been a tradition since I was little to usually make waffles for breakfast on Christmas Day but this year we thought it would be a good idea to try something a little different. So, because was had so much panettone bread…my Nana made Panettone French Toast and topped it with peaches but you can use what ever kind you have around your house! This is definitely something you have to try and it’s a great way to use up the bread. Because of its richness in butter and little pieces of chewy sweetened candied fruit it makes the perfect French toast!

Yield: 6

Ingredients:
1/2 Panettone
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
Dash of salt
1 Tbsp of vanilla
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp cinnamon
Warm maple syrup
Fresh fruit (your choice!)
Powdered sugar

Steps:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, milk, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk until combined. Cut Panettone into 6 slices with a 1 inch thickness.

2. With a fork, poke 3 times to make holes in bread (to absorb the egg batter). Dip each piece of Panettone in egg mixture on both sides and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place about 1/2 tsp of butter on each piece of bread. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Drizzle with warm maple syrup, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and top with fresh fruit! Delicious!

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Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

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Cupcakes are my favorite dessert to bake because you can come up with so many different ideas–they are completely endless! So… thanks to Betty Crocker, I got the idea to bake hot chocolate cupcakes plus its the perfect season for it.. I also finally came up with a great frosting that is fluffy and won’t drip or lose its form. They are so cute you won’t want to bite into them!

Yield: 24

Ingredients:
1 box of Betty Crocker’s French Vanilla cake mix
3 packets of Swiss Miss hot chocolate
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 whole eggs
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
Red straws cut in thirds (I bought mine at Target)

Fluffy Whipped Cream Frosting:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter; room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix in all ingredients with a mixer until combined. With a spoon or large ice cream scoop, scoop out batter and put into lined cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Time for the frosting! In a mixing bowl, add whipping cream, and slowly add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. (Otherwise, you will have a disaster and a mess!) Add in butter and vanilla and mix for 3 minutes or until peaks start to form. Frosting can sometimes be tricky to make so if you feel that the mixture is too thick or too thin, don’t be afraid to add more sugar or cream.

3. Once cupcakes are cooled, place frosting in pipping bag with a french tip and swirl about 1 1/2 Tbsp of frosting per cupcake, or until cupcake is covered. Sprinkle chocolate chips and add 3 mini marshmallows on top. I think these toppings give it the ultimate “hot chocolate” look!

*I recommend frosting 5 cupcakes at a time and then adding the toppings because the frosting will get hard fast!

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Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies

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Oatmeal cookies are one of my favorites and this recipe tastes just like the store bought ones–except its homemade! My icing recipe is just perfect for this because it is very simple, light, and dries almost instantly. I always prefer to make “too much” icing because there is nothing more annoying than running out in the middle of frosting cookies! So I included a little extra to be on the safe side ­čÖé

Yield: 12

Ingredients:
2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup butter
1 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, and sugar. Then add in flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until dough is formed.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. For a dough ball with hands (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) and place on sheet 1 1/2 inch apart. With a spoon, gently press down on dough ball. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

3. While cookies are baking, in a mixer add powdered sugar and milk and mix for a good 3 minutes until well combined. The icing should be slightly runny. Put icing in a sandwich plastic bag and cut the tip to make a hole. Be sure to cut it VERY small..almost as small as possible! Once cookies are cooled, gently drizzle icing on cookies and let cool for 15 minutes or until icing is set.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl Cookies

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If you love chocolate and peanut butter, then you will definitely love these cookies! You can really combine any of your favorite cookie flavors together and it will work just fine!

Yield: 16

Ingredients:
Peanut Butter Cookie
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Cookie:
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Steps:
Peanut Butter cookie:
1. Beat the butter until creamy (about 2 minutes.) Add the sugars, beat for 2 more minutes. Mix in the peanut butter, vanilla, and egg. Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the sugar butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips with spatula. Mix until dough ball can be formed.

2. Next make the chocolate cookie dough: Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until creamy. Add in cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and fold in chocolate chips with a spatula. When dough is formed, place both cookie dough balls in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm up the dough.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take 1 Tbsp of each dough and form a ball, then smush the 2 little dough balls together and then with your hand, roll into one ball. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place 1 1/2 -2 inches apart from each other (they will get bigger). With the bottom of a spoon, gently press down on dough ball to help form the shape. Bake for 10 minutes, even if cookie doesn’t look baked, it will cook as it cools. Enjoy!

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