Jalapeño Cheddar Crackers

Jalapeno Cheddar Crackers | Pinky's Pantry
I saw Ina Garten make these crackers on Food TV and they looked so good that I just had to try them. I decided to make them for our next movie night. They were sort of a cross between a cracker and a savory shortbread. Delicious with a chilled glass of crisp, white wine. I think they’ll also make a great accompaniment to the cocktails at our next cocktail party. Yummm….. Definitely a keeper!

JALAPEÑO CHEDDAR CRACKERS

  • 2 cups all-­purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp. baking powder
  • 1¾ sticks cold unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-­inch cubes
  • 5 ozs. extra ­sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. minced and seeded jalapeño pepper
  • ¼ tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk, for egg wash
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt
  1. Place the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add the cheese, jalapeño, and chipotle chili powder and pulse again.
  4. Add the ice water all at once and continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball.
  5. Dump the dough onto a floured board, gather and press it into a ball, then roll it into a 14­-inch log.
  6. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  8. Cut the dough in 3/8-­inch ­thick slices.
  9. Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.
  10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
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Zucchini Crumble Bars

Zucchini Crumble Bars | Pinky's Pantry
I make these bars a lot during zucchini season. The zucchini is like a “surprise ingredient” that fools everybody. They all think it’s apple and don’t believe me when I tell them it’s zucchini. These bars are delicious, and best of all, are so easy to make. My family loves to eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream. Give them a try and see if they don’t surprise you, too.
Zucchini Crumble Bars | Pinky's Pantry

ZUCCHINI CRUMBLE BARS

For the Filling:

  • 8-10 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4-5 lbs.)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tbsp. cold water (this is called a slurry)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook zucchini, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. While stirring constantly, pour in slurry (cornstarch water mixture). It is important to keep stirring as the slurry will thicken the mixture very quickly.
  3. Continue to cook and stir, 1-2 minutes more, until mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Crust:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cold butter, cut in cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Set aside about 3 cups of the crust mixture for topping.
  5. Press remaining crust mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
  6. Pour zucchini mixture over crust, spreading evenly to edges.
  7. Crumble remaining crust mixture over zucchini mixture.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.

Dulce de Leche Bars

Dulce de Leche Squares | Pinky's Pantry
I love dulce de leche. It’s so delicious, I can eat it by the spoonful! I thought it would be fun to make some kind of bars with dulce de leche in them. So I made up this recipe with a blondie base and ready-made dulce de leche. It turned out great! The kids loved them. I’ll definitely be making these again!
Dulce de Leche Squares | Pinky's Pantry

DULCE DE LECHE BARS

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 can (13.4 ozs.) dulce de leche (or you can make your own)
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk (can substitute fresh milk)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil and grease foil lightly.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, melt butter in microwave.
  4. To melted butter, add brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and nuts, stirring to combine.
  5.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing together well. Batter will be thick.
  6. Reserve 1 cup of the batter and set aside.
  7. Spread remaining batter into prepared pan. It will seem like you don’t have enough batter to completely cover the bottom of the pan, but just do your best, spreading as thinly as you need to.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. While bottom crust is baking, empty dulce de leche into a bowl and add milk.
  10. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds, until dulce de leche is completely combined with milk and is soft and pourable.
  11. Remove cooked crust from oven and pour dulce de leche over crust, spreading to within ¼-inch of edges.
  12. Drop spoonfuls of reserved 1 cup batter randomly over dulce de leche layer.
  13. Cut through batter and dulce with a knife to create a marbled effect.
  14. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until set.
  15. Cool on wire rack, then lift foil from pan to remove.
  16. Cut into bars or squares.

Sweet and Saltines

Sweet and Saltines | Pinky's PantryThis strange sounding recipe is one of Trisha Yearwood’s. I watched her make it on TV and immediately rushed to the kitchen to try making it myself. O-M-G!!! It was sooo good! The family loved it! Such an unusual recipe and surprisingly yummy! And the best part…. it was super easy to make. You’ve just got to try this one.

SWEET AND SALTINES

  • 35 to 40 saltine crackers
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 8 ozs. semisweet chocolate chips (about 1⅓ cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Line 1 large or 2 small jelly­roll pans with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange the saltines salt­ side down in a single layer.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil for a few minutes until it turns a caramel color.
  5. Remove from heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.
  6. Put the jelly­roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully so as not to burn.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers.
    Sweet and Saltines | Pinky's Pantry
  8. Wait a minute or so and when the heat melts the chips a bit, spread the chocolate over the crackers with a knife or an offset spatula.
    Sweet and Saltines | Pinky's Pantry
  9. Place the pan in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one solid sheet.
    Sweet and Saltines | Pinky's Pantry
  10. Break up into pieces.
    Sweet and Saltines | Pinky's Pantry
  11. Store in an airtight container. That is…… assuming you have any left to store!

Snowman Hat Cookies

Snowman Hats | Pinky's Pantry
These are just the cutest little cookies and are perfect for a Christmas buffet table or for taking to a Christmas cookie exchange. With only a handful of ingredients, they’re so easy to put together. The little sprinkles add the crowning touch that makes them absolutely adorable!
Snowman Hats | Pinky's Pantry

SNOWMAN HAT COOKIES

  • Oreo fudge creme cookies
  • marshmallows
  • chocolate chips
  • green christmas tree sprinkles
  • red dot sprinkles
  1. Melt about half a cup of chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave.
    NOTE:  Chocolate will cool while you’re working and will start to harden as it cools. Just re-heat in microwave for 30 seconds or so to re-melt.
  2. Lightly dip just the very bottom of a marshmallow into the melted chocolate.
  3. Press the marshmallow on top of an Oreo cookie and allow chocolate to set.
  4. Dip the top of the marshmallow into the melted chocolate leaving a white band between the oreo and the chocolate.
  5. Set aside to dry.
  6. Put a tiny dab of chocolate behind a christmas tree sprinkle and 3 red dot sprinkles and “glue” to white band on hat to resemble holly.

Jam and Cream Cheese Bars

Jam & Cream Cheese Bars | Pinky's Pantry

Jam and cream cheese bars made with regular cream cheese. The cheese is more melty and gooey.

I wanted to try making something new for dessert so decided to browse through my old cookbooks in search of something easy and different. I saw this recipe for cream cheese danish in “Mr. Food Ooh-So-Easy Recipe Collection.” It sounded like it would be delicious. Of course, I had to give it my own twist so I changed a few things up. I added the jam and omitted the egg yolk. I also cut down on the sugar so it wouldn’t be too sweet. Then, instead of topping it with the egg white and pecans, I got the idea from a similar recipe on allrecipes.com to top it with butter and sugar, only I used turbinado sugar so it would have a nice crunch. It turned out great! The family loved it.

Jam & Cream Cheese Bars | Pinky's Pantry

Jam and cream cheese bars made with fat-free cream cheese. The cheese is firmer, though still soft.

I made it again a second time only this time, I decided to try doing a healthier version. I used reduced-fat crescent rolls, sugar-free jam, fat-free cream cheese sweetened with splenda, and a heart-healthy margarine which I cut down to 1/4 cup. It turned out really good! My only complaint was that I thought the healthier version seemed a bit salty. I think when fat is removed from a food, they replace it with salt to make up for the flavor that’s lost so using all the fat-free ingredients upped the saltiness quotient in the recipe. Still, it made a salty-sweet, creamy dessert that even those watching their waistlines could have a piece of without regretting it in the morning.

Whichever version you choose to make, this recipe is definitely a keeper. It would be equally good served as a dessert with coffee after dinner, or for breakfast or brunch in the morning.

JAM & CREAM CHEESE BARS

  • 2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1 cup jam (any kind you like)
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup margarine, melted
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Press one can of the crescent rolls into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Spread jam over crescent layer. Feel free to add more or less jam if you prefer.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  5. Dollop cream cheese mixture over jam layer and spread smooth with a spatula.
  6. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and place on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down.
  7. Pour the melted margarine over the top crescent layer, spreading it evenly to the edges.
  8. Sprinkle turbinado sugar all over the top.
  9. Bake 25 minutes or until top is crisp and golden.

To Make the Healthier Version:

  • 2 cans reduced-fat refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1 cup sugar-free jam (any kind you like)
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages fat-free cream cheese
  • ½ cup splenda
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heart-healthy margarine (like Brummel & Brown), melted
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar

Follow the same procedure above.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons | Pinky's Pantry
Casa Catastrophe sure is quiet today. I remember when the kids were little, a quiet house meant you’d better go investigate because they were probably up to no good. I’ll never forget the day the silence led me to find No. 1 creating a whole artistic mural on the underside of our dining table with his crayons and markers. Yes, his work of art still exists to this day. You just need to crawl under the table to see it.

Or the day I caught Yissi quietly sprinkling “pixie dust” all over the kitchen (and herself) with the flour I had just brought home from the grocery store. Looking back, I wish I had taken a picture of her standing in the middle of the kitchen blinking innocently up at me with everything covered in white. Even her eyebrows and eyelashes! It was pretty funny. Of course at the time, the last thing I felt like doing was laughing, let alone going for the camera. It took me an hour to clean up the mess!

Then there was the day that Tissi decided she and Rory (her favorite stuffed toy lion) both needed haircuts. Luckily for her, I caught her right as she had just started on herself so she only had to walk around for the next few weeks with an inch-long patch sticking out of the top left side of her head like a little off-center mohawk. Unfortunately for Rory, he wasn’t so lucky and to this day he indignantly sports an uneven buzz cut where once resided an impressive lion’s mane.

Oh, and who can forget the time that Spunky, who was supposed to be eating her grilled cheese sandwich, thought she would feed it to the VCR instead. A fact we didn’t find out till we tried to stick in our latest Blockbuster rental that night! I wondered how she had managed to finish her lunch so quickly. I mean, I was only gone long enough to warm some milk for 30 seconds in the microwave and pour it into her little sippy cup! Poor Old Goat had to take apart the VCR to get all the melted cheese cleaned out of it.

Today, Casa Catastrophe is all quiet once again. But my investigations found Yissi chatting with her friends online, Tissi reading a book, Bashful drawing on her laptop, Spunky experimenting with her makeup, and No. 1 gone on a date with his girlfriend. The kids are all grown up now so I guess a quiet house no longer means the same alarming thing it used to. But I miss the noise anyway.

Well I guess I should take advantage of the peace and quiet while it’s here. And there’s no better way to enjoy peace and quiet than in a comfortable chair with a good book, a nice hot cup of tea, and a little plate of coconut macaroons by your side.
Coconut Macaroons | Pinky's Pantry

COCONUT MACAROONS

  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 can (14-oz) condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups desiccated coconut
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line about 36 mini muffin cups with baking paper liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, melt butter in the microwave.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together well.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared cups, filling them just about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes or until the top surface starts to brown lightly at the edges.

NOTE:  These macaroons get better as they age so bake them a day or two before you serve them. Store in an airtight container at room temperature with wax paper between the layers for up to one week. May be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw frozen macaroons overnight before serving.

Walnut Date Bars

Walnut Date Bars | Pinky's PantryTita Tere (Aunt Tere) was an old friend of my Mom’s. She wasn’t really my aunt. At least, we weren’t related by blood; but in Filipino culture, it’s not polite to address your parents’ friends solely by their first names. You always refer to them as Tita or Tito (Aunt or Uncle) or attach some other form of salutation to the front of their name as a sign of respect.

Anyway, Tita Tere was a very sweet lady and an excellent cook. In 1996, she entered her recipe for Walnut Date Bars in the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest and won 3rd place! How cool is that? These moist and chewy bars are so good and they’re easy to make because they start with a cake mix. Here is her award-winning recipe.

WALNUT DATE BARS

  • 1 box Pillsbury pudding-in-the-mix yellow cake mix
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped dates
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 13 x 9-inch pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine cake mix and brown sugar; blend well.
  3. Add margarine and eggs; beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
  4. In medium bowl, combine dates and walnuts; mix well.
  5. Stir date mixture into cake batter; blend well. (Batter will be very stiff.)
  6. Spread evenly in greased pan.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are starting to brown.
  8. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen.
  9. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Cut into bars.
  10. Store in tightly covered container.

NOTE:  Don’t overbake these bars. I think they’re so much better when they’re ever so slightly under done.