The 25 Days of Christmas Day 19: Triple Berry Smoothie

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Muffin, in addition to being a carbo-vore, is a fruitatarian. With that in mind, he is going to enjoy this smoothie quite often. Chock full of the tasty trio of berries (strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries) as well as the protein power of Greek yogurt with the sweetness of white grape juice and honey, they aim to please (even on the coldest of mornings) as a great breakfast treat!


Triple Berry Smoothie

Adapted from Skinnytaste

½ pint each blackberries and raspberries, frozen

1 pound strawberries, tops removed

1 cup frozen white grape juice cubes

6 ounces vanilla, honey, strawberry, raspberry or mixed berry Greek yogurt

honey to taste

extra ice cubes or white grape juice as needed for consistency

Blend all until smooth. Serve with a straw.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients?


The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 18: Warm Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

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No Holiday Goodies season of posts would be complete without something warm to sip to remove the late fall-early winter chill from the bones.

And this recipe with the clove-studded orange slices appears so festive!

In addition, have you ever noticed how the addition of cinnamon sticks to a brew makes the favor so out of this world yummy?

On the minus side, this recipe is a bit of a bear—the sieving, that is. But the taste and the warmth that spreads through you as you sip this delicious concoction make all of the effort seem worth it!

Muffin, however, did not like it.


Warm Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

Source: eazy peazy mealz

1 gallon apple cider

1 whole orange, sliced

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 cups fresh cranberries plus more for garnish

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

5 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)

1 whole apple, sliced

Prepare orange slices by carefully studding the rind with whole cloves; set aside.

In a blender, combine cranberries, ginger, and ½ cup apple. Blend until smooth. Reserve.

Pour remaining apple cider into a slow cooker. Add cranberry mixture (once pressed through a sieve), cinnamon sticks, and orange slices.

Simmer on low in a slow cooker for 8 hours. Serve warm with sliced apple and cranberry sticks.

What is your favorite warm fall beverage?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 17: Arnold Palmer

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This is also known as possibly the best mocktail ever! The insipid Shirley Temple has nothing on this sip of Southern summertime. Yay, alliteration!

I realize that what follows is not the original recipe. I realize that the original Arnold Palmer uses unsweetened tea. But…

I live in the South, and sweet tea is a thing.

In my opinion, this drink combines the best of two worlds: sweet tea and lemonade. I mean, let’s face it: adding lemon to sweet tea is fine and dandy, but that tends to make it too tart. Most lemonade by itself is too tart and too insipid. So, mixing the two in equal parts is only right, right?

I think so.

Muffin, after tasting the Cane’s (of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers fame) version of the Arnold Palmer, prefers it to their just-lemonade. When we go to Chick-Fil-A, that is what I always order.

How do we make it at home? Here’s how:


Arnold Palmer

Source: Me!

½ gallon Josh sweet tea, chilled

½ gallon Chick-Fil-A lemonade, chilled

Combine. Chill some more. Serve over ice with extra lemon slices.


This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite way to drink sweet tea?  Or lemonade?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 16: Mom’s Cheesecake

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This is arguably Muffin’s second-favorite dessert. He absolutely loves my mom’s cheesecake. And this one comes from River Road Recipes (of Spinach Madeleine fame), the Junior League Cookbook of Baton Rouge.

It is called Best Ever Cheesecake for a reason—it truly is the best ever!

And, in growing up, I learned two valuable lessons from my mom concerning this cheesecake: 1) how to fold egg whites into a richer batter and 2) never let your springform pan out of your sight.

It’s a big deal! Well, both of those are very important life skills.

This cheesecake, when prepared correctly, is light and fluffy instead of dense and heavy.

Best Ever Cheese Cake

Source: River Road Recipes

15 graham crackers

¼ cup butter or oleo (Do they even make it anymore with that label?)

4 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint sour cream

3 eight-ounce packages soft cream cheese

Set oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9” x 3” aluminum spring form pan generously. Roll graham crackers fine. Melt butter and combine with crackers (the recipe says with 12…we do all 15 and not sprinkle some on the top). Cover bottom of pan with this mixture. Beat egg whites stiff and set aside. In large mixing bowl of mixer combine cream cheese, egg yolks, ¾ cup of sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in stiff egg whites. Place mixture in pan on top of cracker crumbs and bake for 40 or 50 minutes or until slightly brown. Remove from oven and pour slowly over top the sour cream mixed with remaining sugar. Return to oven at 475 degrees for five minutes. Remove from oven and cool. When cold, place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite cheesecake topping?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 15: Rolls

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This recipe is my favorite roll recipe of all time. My mom used to always make these for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and this year I am carrying on the tradition of baking them at Christmas. Soft and yeasty and a bit sweet, they make your mouth water.

Muffin, being a carbo-vore, loves rolls, and these rolls are no exception. This recipe is completely Muffin Approved.



Source: My Mom (original: Better Homes and Gardens)

4 ¼ – 4 ¾ cups AP flour

1 pkg dry yeast

1 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter or shortening

¾ teaspoon of salt

2 beaten eggs

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups of flour and the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat an stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt just until warm and butter almost melts. Add liquid mix to dry mix with eggs. Beat with electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour.

Knead with remaining flour until smooth and elastic (six to eight minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in lightly greased bowl. Turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (one hour).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; cover; let rest ten minutes. Lightly grease muffin cups.

Shape into desired rolls and place into muffin cups. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove from pans. Cool on wire racks. Makes 24-36.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite roll shape?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 14: Caramel Macchiato Mini Cheesecakes

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Once upon a time, my mom decided not to make her normal cheesecake. She had two options that she found: a red velvet cheesecake with a white topping and a caramel macchiato cheesecake miniaturized below.

I will be perfectly honest: the cookies make this cake (both in the mini form and the biggie form).

I cheat and used jarred caramel topping instead of making my own.


Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake Minis

Adapted from Southern Living

1 ¾ cups crushed crisp, sweet cookies (Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux), about 27 cookies (1 package)

¼ cup butter, melted

4 (8 ounce packages) cream cheese

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 ¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or 2-3 teaspoons instant coffee powder, darkest roast possible)

Caramel sauce (at least 9 tablespoons, homemade or the caramel ice cream topping)

4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together crushed cookies and butter. Line muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. Barely line the bottom of the cupcake wrapper with the cookie/butter mixture. Spread very thin. (You will use approximately 1 teaspoon of the stuff.)

Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Note: This recipe makes 36 cakes. I ended up having to do two 350 to 325 cycles.

Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add heavy cream, espresso/instant coffee powder, and 9 tablespoons caramel sauce, beating at low speed until well-blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each addition. Pour and spread batter into prepared crusts.

Bake at 325 for 15-18 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Remove cheesecakes from oven. As soon as you can, remove the cheesecakes from the muffin cups by the cupcake wrappers to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. At this point, I remove them from the wrappers and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill until “chilled.”

Store leftovers in bags, wrapped, either in the fridge or freezer.

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 13: Death by Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

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And now for decadence. And devilish delights. Just in time for the holiday season. The recipe below says it all. The Oreo adaptation makes it easier to make rather than spreading crushed crumbs mixed with butter and pressed into the cupcake liner.

Death by Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

Adapted from Delish

48 Oreo or Oreo-like cookies

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

¼ cup cocoa powder

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used a 10 ounce package of Aldi brand 60% chips), melted

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle position.

Line muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. (Note: This recipe makes 48 minis, so you may need to do this in multiple batches. I only have 24 muffin-tin openings, so mine took two batches.) Place a cookie in each.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugars, cocoa powder, and salt until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold/stir in melted chocolate.

Using a cookie scoop (Batter will be THICK!), scoop scoopfuls out into the muffin cups on top of the cookie. (Very important: This batter does not spread while baking. Use a moistened butter knife to smooth the batter over the cookie.)

Bake until the cheesecakes are only slightly jiggly in the center, fifteen or so minutes (Mine took 15). Cool to room temperature (or until you can feasibly remove the cakes by the cupcake wrappers to a rack). Repeat lining, cookie, batter, and baking, as needed.

Cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge (until chilled). Note: I remove the cakes from the wrappers and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store leftovers in bags, wrapped, either in the fridge or freezer.

Note: This recipe also calls for the addition of a shiny ganache layer on top. It would be endorphin/chocolate overkill. Also, the original recipe is calibrated for standard-sized cakes in a springform pan. Ganaching (another technical term) 48 mini cakes might strain my mind a bit too much.

Makes 48 minis.

Note: These are very decadent and chocolatey. I struggle to consume one, but they give a great endorphin high on a really bad/hectic/sad day.

This recipe is Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite chocolatey treat?