girltalk Blog

Dec 23

Bread and Butter

2008 at 5:45 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

After the birth of MJ many kind friends brought me meals during my recovery. I’m convinced that all of the yummy food had something to do with my speedy return to normal. My friend Tali brought me two meals (I owe ya, girl!) and with it came the most delicious homemade white bread. It has since become a staple here at the Bradshaw house. Over Thanksgiving Nicole found a recipe for some Honey Cinnamon Butter- the perfect complement to Tali’s bread. I gave this bread and butter pair to some friends for Christmas this year while of course making some extra for us. I’m sending the recipes on to y’all today. If you have time, I would recommend sneaking some in to your Christmas dinner.

Tali’s Bread
(She never gave me a name so that’s what we call it around here.)

6-7 ounces of milk (a little under a cup)
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 1/4 cup bread flour
2 tsp active dry yeast

Put wet ingredients in bread machine first with salt and sugar. Add flour and yeast. Run on dough setting and take out BEFORE it bakes in machine. Bake about 25-35 minutes at 335* until the top is light brown and hard.

Paula Deen’s Cinnamon Honey Butter

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Pack into a small crock or baby food jar with a decorative lid. Or roll in waxed paper into a log and twist the ends. Chill thoroughly. Wrap in colorful paper.

Oct 3

Caramel Conclusion

2008 at 6:06 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

Stockxpertcom_id419677_size0 There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And we’ve had too much caramel.

After two weeks of reading, buying, baking, eating and writing about the sugary stuff, it’ll be a while before we can look at it again, much less eat it. We’ll steer clear of the caramel section in the grocery store this fall, lest we run into countless bags of caramel in one place. There probably won’t be any caramel desserts at Thanksgiving this year either. We may skip Thanksgiving baking altogether and go straight to Christmas cookies, just to be safe.

In all seriousness, while we are carameled-out for the moment, we thoroughly enjoyed this contest. Many of your amazing recipes will be Mahaney clan staples for years to come, much to the delight of our husbands and children. So thank you!

Here are our final favorites, Caramel Apple Pizza from Amanda Schulte and Oatmeal Everything Bars from Beth Muzik….

Caramel Apple Pizza

From Taste of Home 2001 Annual Quick Recipe Book

1 tube (18 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
4 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 3 large)
1 can (12 ounces) lemon-lime soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping*
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Press cookie dough into a greased 14-in pizza pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Run a large flat spatula under crust to loosen from pan. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and milk until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. In a bowl, combine the apples and soda; drain well. Toss apples with cinnamon; arrange over cream cheese. Drizzle with the caramel topping and sprinkle with pecans. Cut into wedges.
Yield: 8-10 serving. *Editor’s Note: Fat-free caramel ice cream topping is not recommended for this recipe.

Oatmeal Everything Bars

1 - 14 oz. bag of caramels
3 T. milk
1 1/2 C. butter
2 C. flour
2 C. oats
1 1/4 C. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 C. chocolate chip (approx)
1 C. pecan halves (approx)

Microwave caramels and milk (medium power for 2-3 minutes/check and stir every 30 seconds). Set aside. Melt butter and combine with flour, oats, brown sugar, soda, and salt. Press 1/2 of butter/oat mixture into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips. Sprinkle pecan halves. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips/pecans. Top with spoonfuls of remaining butter/oat mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Wait a good 30 minutes before cutting. Their really gooey when they’re hot! ENJOY!

Oct 2

Caramel Happiness

2008 at 4:11 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

Let me tell you, the fun didn’t end with the four girltalkers. This caramel contest brought much joy to four husbands, seven children and one brother. Mike has never had that many dessert options at his fingertips at one time. Let’s just say that he handled the situation without much difficulty.


Tara Beth Townsend contributed a great Thanksgiving dessert and our first winner for today: Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Cheesecake. Samantha Weinhausen is our other winner with a yummy layered Caramel Apple Dip.

Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce

1 cup sour cream

For Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.

For Filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined.
Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.

Caramel Apple Dip

* 2 (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 2 t vanilla extract
* 1 jar caramel topping (for ice cream)
* 1 large Symphony candy bar with almonds and toffee, crumbled into small pieces
* A couple sliced granny smith apples

In a large bowl cream together, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread mixture in a pie plate. Next pour the caramel topping on top of the cream cheese mixture, followed by crumbling the candy bar on top of the caramel layer. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Serve with sliced granny smith apples.

Oct 1

Caramel Ministry

2008 at 4:16 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

This caramel contest was more than we expected: more work, more mess, and definitely more fun. We were also pleasantly surprised by the chance to use your recipes to bless others. Kristin and Nicole brought caramel desserts to small group meetings at their churches. Janelle and I took plates with an amazing assortment of caramel confections to meet our new neighbors. The only downside is that we’ve probably raised expectations for homemade gifts we’ll never be able to meet again: brownies from a box are going to be underwhelming after the variety of delicious bars, cookies and muffins we delivered last week. I have a feeling our neighbors will be consistently disappointed in us from now on. Or, like Janelle said, maybe we’ll have to do another contest—in the interest of evangelism, of course.


Today’s winners sent in two fabulous cookie recipes: Robin Gilmore contributed Special Thumbprints/Caramel Brickle and Candace Teichroew gave us Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies. Thank you both!

Special Thumbprints/Brickle-Caramel

Basic Dough:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder

In large bowl beat first four ingredients until light and fluffy. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off and put in separate bowl adding baking powder, stir. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until smooth dough forms.

3/4 cup almond brickle chips
20 unwrapped caramel candies
1/4 cup half ‘n’ half or milk

Combine dough and brickle chips; knead to blend. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Make thumbprint. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned around edges and set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. (May have to indent again) Cool completely.

In small saucepan over medium heat, melt caramels and half ‘n’ half, stirring until smooth. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of filling into center of each cookie. Makes 3 1/2 dozen

Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 package (13 ounces) Rolo candies
4 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate, melted

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, 1 cup sugar and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each candy, forming a ball. In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and pecans; dip each cookie halfway. Place nut side up 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 7-10 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked. Cool for 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle with white chocolate.
Yield: About 4 dozen.

Sep 30

Caramel Fun

2008 at 6:59 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

I have to jump in here and say that this caramel contest has been a blast. Which brilliant girltalker came up with this idea anyways? (I won’t say who.) I mean, how many opportunities come along in life where you are obligated to prepare and consume numerous desserts? Does it get any better? I won’t say that it wasn’t a lot of work; we were more than a little tired by the time we took this picture. And I didn’t exactly enjoy cleaning up the big mess when the fun was over. But it was all worth it. Don’t be shocked if you find a similar contest showing up on the blog in the future…maybe “All Things Chocolate” should be next. Oh, and let me just state that the food pictured below is only some of what we made last week.



Today’s big winners are Meredith Huspeni for Caramel Apple French Toast and Chasity Elseman for Caramel Apple Muffins. Delicious recipes ladies!

Caramel Apple French Toast

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 - 3 large tart apples, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 slices day-old French bread (3/4 inch thick)

In a small saucepan, cook brown sugar, butter and syrup until thick, about 5-7 minutes. Pour into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan; arrange apples on top. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk and vanilla. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture for 1 minute; place over apples. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350° for 35-40 minutes.

Caramel Apple Muffins
(From Southern Living)


* 1 (3-pound) bag small apples (12 to 14 apples)
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted and divided
* Quick Caramel Frosting


Peel, core, and cut 4 apples into 24 (1/4-inch-thick) rings. Sauté apple rings, in batches, in a lightly greased skillet over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet, and place 1 apple ring in the bottom of each of 24 lightly greased muffin pan cups.

Peel and finely chop enough remaining apples to equal 3 cups. Set aside.

Stir together sugar and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.

Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients; add to sugar mixture, stirring just until blended. (Batter will be stiff.) Fold in finely chopped apples and 1 cup pecans.

Spoon batter evenly over apple rings in muffin pan cups, filling cups three-quarters full.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan, and cool, apple rings up, on a wire rack.

Press the handle of a wooden spoon gently into the center of each apple ring, forming a 1-inch-deep indentation in the muffins. Spoon warm Quick Caramel Frosting evenly over muffins, filling indentations. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans.

Sep 29

The Crazy Caramel Contest

2008 at 6:04 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

Stockxpertcom_id634630_size0_3 Caramel (k?r’?-m?l, -m?l’, kär’m?l) A smooth chewy candy made with sugar, butter, cream or milk, and flavoring.

A few weeks ago we got the urge to have another contest. One of us (I won’t say who) suggested a caramel contest. At first some of us (I won’t say who) wondered if there were enough caramel recipes out there to have a real contest. I mean, there’s caramel popcorn and caramel apples, and….what else?

But within minutes of the posting, our inbox began to fill up with caramel recipes: old family favorites, crowd pleasers, and even original concoctions. Who knew you could make so many things with caramel? There were dips and drinks, cakes and cookies, pies and pizzas.

It took about twenty-four hours for us to remember why, in four years of blogging, we’ve never done a cooking contest: oh yeah, because the only way to judge the entries is to cook them! What have we gotten ourselves into? Whose crazy idea was this anyway?

With dozens of entries there was no way we could make them all. So Mom and Janelle divided them up into categories (cakes, bars, cookies, crisps, cheesecakes, muffins, pies, drinks, dips, breakfast foods, snacks, and more). Then they chose from the categories using a single, strictly scientific, standard: which recipes look the yummiest.

After paring down the options they doled out assignments. We dragged the kids to the grocery store where we purchased bags of caramels, tubs of caramel dip, jars of caramel topping, and sugar for homemade caramel sauce.

The newly created girltalk test kitchens swung into action.

(I have to admit: it’s not as easy as it looks on The Food Network. I guess it helps to have an assistant to unwrap all those little caramels.)

After much cooking and tasting and deliberating we chose our winners. It wasn’t easy—you all sent in so many amazing recipes! We’ll be posting the winners throughout the week (in no particular order) and those women will each receive one of our favorite cookbooks.

So, without further ado, our first winner is Kristy Wigginton with her recipe “Divine Decadence.” This one is rich (but not to rich for me!) It’s easy to make and an elegant dessert to serve on a special occasion.


Step 1:
2 cups pecans, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted margarine

Combine and press into a greased 9” pie pan. Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Step 2:
1 (14 oz) bag of caramels
1/2 cup whipping cream

Melt two ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 1 1/2 minutes. When well combined, pour into the crust.

Step 3:
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Bring cream and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Combine until all chips are melted and smooth. Pour over caramel. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. Cut into wedges or bite-sized pieces. You definitely need to eat this with a big glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee!

Sep 19

A Caramel Contest

2008 at 4:12 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

Stockxpertcom_id419678_size0 I was strolling through my local grocery store the other day (in search of a brownie mix that I really wanted to try) and I practically ran into a huge box of pumpkins. Upon arriving home (having successfully located the brownie mix) I noticed a pumpkin on my neighbor’s porch. Then it dawned on me: it’s Fall! It’s time for apple cider, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and caramel popcorn. And in order to get things started right in the food department this Autumn, we are gonna launch another girltalk contest appropriately titled “All Things Caramel.” Yes, we want your caramel recipes…popcorn, cookies, apples, brownies…you get the idea. Your deadline is next Friday, September 26. There will be prizes for the winners, of course! So don’t waste any time. E-mail us your entries at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

I’m gonna kick things off with one of my favorite caramel recipes (even though the girls will not allow me to win the prize). These bars are so yummy…

Caramel Layer Chocolate Squares

1 (14 oz.) pkg. caramels
1 pkg. German Chocolate cake mix
¾ cup butter, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided in equal portions
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine caramels and half of evaporated milk. Cook over low heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Grease 9x13” pan. Combine dry cake mix, butter and rest of evaporated milk, and chocolate chips. Stir just until mixed. Press half of dough firmly in pan. Bake 6 minutes at 350*. Spread caramel mixture over all. Top with remaining half of dough. Spread gently to cover. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Let stand until cool before cutting.

Jun 2

Summer Dessert

2008 at 8:17 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

Thanks to all of you who’ve already submitted entries for our summer contest—keep ‘em coming! In the meantime, I tried this new Epicurious recipe for berry crisp yesterday and if you can measure its yumminess by how many helpings my husband’s had in twenty-four hours, then it is quite delicious. Best of all, it is really easy. Oh, and per some of the comments I doubled the topping which is definitely the way to go.

101940 Mixed Berry Crisp

The frozen berries aren’t thawed before you use them, so this dessert is super fast.

Servings: Makes 6 servings.


2 12-ounce packages frozen mixed berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries; about 6 cups), unthawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced


Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine berries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour and lemon juice in large bowl; toss to blend well. Transfer berry mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Combine remaining 3/4 cup flour, oats, brown sugar, spices and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping holds together in small moist clumps. Sprinkle over berry mixture.

Bake crisp until berry mixture bubbles thickly and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sep 10

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Muffins

2007 at 2:01 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

I tried a new muffin recipe this morning. After the first bite, I knew that I had to pass it along to y’all. They were “mmmm, tasty” as my nephew Liam would say. Any recipe that calls for cream cheese and chocolate chips is worth trying.

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Muffins:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar (I used 3/4 cup sugar, but we like ours sweet.)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or use paper liners.
Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Beat in egg, cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into cream cheese mixture until flour is moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups filling them 3/4 full.
Bake in preheated oven until tops are golden, about 20 minutes.

P.S. I thought you might enjoy this picture of my girly enjoying a muffin.

Jun 1

Sweet Salads

2007 at 4:09 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

Stockxpertcom_id524454_size1_2 Here are two yummy fruit salads to finish out our summer salads week:

Orange Cream Fruit Salad

1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
2 11-oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 chopped bananas
2 cups halved fresh strawberries
2 apples, peeled and chopped
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1½ cups milk
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
¾ cup sour cream

Beat pudding, milk, and orange juice concentrate for 2 minutes. Add sour cream. Combine with fruit and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Blueberry Salad

2-3oz. pkgs. black raspberry jello
2 cups boiling water
1 cup crushed pineapple, undrained
1 can blueberry pie filling
1 8oz. cream cheese
½ pint sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped nuts

Stir together jello and boiling water until dissolved. Add pineapple and blueberry pie filling. Pour into 9x13 dish. Chill until set. Beat together cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread over salad. Sprinkle nuts over top.