salted caramel chocolate thumbprint cookies

Happy Monday! I have such a great cookie recipe to share today! These salted caramel chocolate thumbprint cookies are so decadent and delicious, not to mention elegant and beautiful as well. I actually made these a couple of weeks ago as part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and shipped them out to some new blog friends across the country. If you haven't heard of it before, the cookie swap is a really awesome way to connect with other bloggers and support cancer research for kids. It was super fun being part of it this year!

These cookies have a rich and buttery chocolate cookie base, a luscious caramel center, and are topped with drizzled chocolate and sea salt. I love how many different tastes and textures are in each bite! These are so fun and would be perfect for a Christmas party or cookie exchange!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

for the cookies:
18 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

for topping:
6 ounces Kraft caramel bits (about 1/2 bag)
1 tablespoon cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment or spraying with cooking spray. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder until blended. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix to form a thick dough. Scoop the dough into small balls (about 3/4 inch) and place on the baking sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each cookie to make a well. Bake 7-8 minutes, then remove. Use a small spoon (I used a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon) or your finger to deepen the well of each cookie. Let cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, melt the caramel and cream in the microwave at 50% power, stirring every thirty seconds. Spoon a small amount of caramel into each cookie to fill the well. Allow to cool. Once the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil together in the microwave at 50% power, stirring every thirty seconds. Place the chocolate in a pastry bag (or ziploc bag) and snip a small hole in the corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the cookies and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!


bacon and egg toast cups

Okay, are you ready for the best breakfast ever? I've seen these bacon and egg toast cups on Pinterest for a while now, and finally got around to making them last week… and then made them again a few days later, because they are just that good! They are super flavorful and delicious, and so much more portable and less messy than regular bacon and eggs. They got a definitely stamp of approval from both my kids, and Geoff is asking if we can have them for breakfast pretty much every morning.

It took me a few tries to get the hang of wrapping the bacon around the bread, but once I figured out to press the bread into the cups first and get the shape, it was pretty straightforward and easy to make a bunch. Six servings is perfect for my little family, but it's really easy to adjust the recipe up or down depending on the number of servings. I'm excited to try some other variations on these, like adding salsa or using turkey bacon. They are so good that we're definitely going to be making them often!

Bacon and Egg Toast Cups

6 slices bacon
6 eggs
6 slices bread (I used sunflower whole wheat bread and it was delish)
1/4 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the bacon for a few minutes on each side, until slightly crispy but not cooked through. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and let cool slightly. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray. Cut the bread into circles using a large round cutter (mine was about 3.5 inches) or a small bowl. Press the circles of bread into the muffin tin to form cups. Wrap a piece of bacon around each bread cup and return them to the muffin tin. Sprinkle some grated cheese into the bottom of each cup. Crack each of the eggs over a bowl, discarding about half of the egg white from each egg (save them for another recipe!), then pour the remaining white and the yolk into the bread cups. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 15-17 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks. (I did 18 minutes because I don't like mine runny at all.) Enjoy!


easy chicken empanadas

I'm just going to come out and say that I have no idea how authentic these empanadas are. (I'm guessing not at all.) I've never had a real empanada (which is terribly sad, of course), but what I can say about these particular empanadas is that they are incredibly delicious! A tasty and flavorful cheesy chicken filling stuffed into homemade pastry dough and baked until golden - what more could you want? We had these as a light dinner with a side salad, but I think they would also make perfect little appetizers for a party. This pastry recipe is one of my favorites because it's basically foolproof. I like that the pastry gets its moisture from cream cheese and butter instead of ice water, which means there's no fine tuning involved. The filling mixture is super easy to put together as well, and is so good that I wanted to eat it on crackers. Authentic or no, I'm definitely going to keep making and enjoying these empanadas!
Easy Chicken Empanadas 

for the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
8 tablespoons butter, diced
8 ounces cream cheese, cold, cut into pieces

for the filling:
2 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken (I used rotisserie)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup enchilada sauce
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1 egg, beaten

To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the cream cheese until a dough forms. Knead until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Roll out the dough and cut it into large circles (I used a 3 7/8 inch biscuit cutter, but you could use a small bowl instead). In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, enchilada sauce, and jalapeño. Place a tablespoon-sized scoop of filling on each of the circles of dough, and fold the edges together. Crimp the edges with a fork or twist them together to seal the dough. Place on the prepared baking sheets and cut a slit in the top of each empanada, or pierce each with a fork a few times. Brush each empanada with the beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

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