Creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryWhen my kids bust through the door when they get home from school, the inevitable question is, “Can I have a snack?”

My answer is always an predictable, sure! Then I precede to tell them what they are allowed to have.  The list usually encompasses all things they can get themselves that take no prep work. Carrots and hummus, an apple or banana, crackers and pimento cheese, applesauce, a granola bar, etc. Every once in awhile though, I like to  totally surprise them with something special, and since our lives are a bit stressful right now with building and moving, they TOTALLY deserved something out of the ordinary.

Enter, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip.  I have made this before, but it was so long ago, none of my kids remembered it. I figured that was a good excuse to make it again, no?  It is a bit like cookie dough, but I am kind of a purist when it comes to snacking on it and generally like to eat the real thing-eggs and all-right out of the bowl.

I’m a rebel that way.

But this dish is different.  While it has all the flavors or cookie dough, it isn’t trying to imitate it, but rather pay homage to it.  If a dessert dip can really do that…

Make it ahead and add a scoop to your kids lunches, enjoy when the day is done, or take a batch to the office.  Who can resist mini chocolate chips and cream cheese? Who would want to, for that matter.  With the graham crackers, it really does taste like cheesecake! A little bit goes a long way so be sure to share. Oh! What the heck am I saying.  Keep it all to yourself if you like.  I won’t tell.
Creamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryCreamy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip via Brittany's PantryCreamy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 stick (1/2 c) butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1-8 oz-package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
graham crackers, pretzels, vanilla wafers, etc for serving

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over low heat, stirring frequently.  Once the sugar is dissolved, set it aside to cool.  In the meantime, add the cream cheese and powdered sugar to a medium bowl and combine with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add vanilla, and beat together.  Pour in the cooled brown sugar and butter mixture, and beat until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Dip can be made up to a day ahead, sealed in an airtight container in the fridge.  Serve with whatever dippers sound good to you!  I love graham crackers and pretzels but feel free to experiment!

Springtime Fun With Bigelow Tea!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AmericasTea #CollectiveBias
Bigelow-TeaWhen I think of tea, I think of Constant Comment.

When I was a kid, we always had that flavor of Bigelow tea in the cupboards and even now, that spiced orange flavor is my all time favorite.  I drink it hot, no honey, year round and never tire of it!  Recently, I decided to branch out a bit and expand my tea horizons.  I keep Earl Grey, green, and usually mint on hand, but wanted to shake things up a bit.  Now that spring is here, the time of chilled teas and mixed flavors has arrived and I am taking full advantage of all that Bigelow has to offer!
Bigelow-TeaI was happy to discover American Breakfast!  A black tea that has an extra boost of caffeine, it makes a great substitute (or occasional alternative) to coffee.  They have several variations of this flavor, but the one with honey is my current favorite.  I like it plain with just a tiny splash of cream and poured over ice.  Or without the splash of cream if I am being really good.  Not only is it thirst quenching, but it is so darn refreshing, I find myself sipping on it most of the day.  It is easy to find at your local grocery store, but I purchased mine at Walmart.  It was clearly marked and so easy to find, I walked directly to it.Bigelow-TeaLook at all that tea!  The first group that caught my eye was all the lemon (and I loooooooove lemon) but I was stocking my shelves for spring and made sure to get a bit of everything.
Bigelow-TeaBlack tea is fantastic cold and so is green tea, so those are a kind of no brainer for me when the weather turns steamy.  When making a big batch of sweet tea, I usually throw in a few tea bags of green, to give it an extra boost of antioxidants and to mellow the flavor a bit.  Mixing citrus juice with my green tea is also a habit of mine and my family and our house guests sip on it all spring and summer!  Now that I live in South Carolina, I take my tea responsibilities very seriously, but I wouldn’t want to be boring!  Bigelow-TeaThe variety of flavors is one of my favorite things about Bigelow, and I admit, I love to lay out all the options when company comes.  Hellooooooo Salted Caramel!  But did you know that Bigelow is a 100% American company?  Its true! In fact, their Charleston Tea Plantation is the largest working tea garden in the country.  You can actually visit, tour, shop, and attend events there.  A great mix of Southern culture and American history! In addition to being grounded here in the good ‘ol US of A, Bigelow has shipped and donated over 4 million bags of tea to US troops stationed overseas.  Their way of showing support and saying thank you to the men and women serving our country.  You can learn more about that awesome program by clicking here.
Bigelow-TeaIf you are looking to try something new with your tea this spring and want to carry those refreshing flavors into summer, try Bigelow’s Plantation Mint tea.  I like to brew it, chill it, and then add lemon and orange slices with just a touch of sweetener.  Serving it in a mason jar is optional, yet I swear it actually tastes better this way.  I get all kinds of different ideas on the Bigelow Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Check it out and follow along for all kinds of updates, facts, tips, and of course, recipes!

What kinds of Bigelow tea are you stocking up with this spring? Comment below, let me know your favorites, and we can swap beverage stories!

Homemade-Breakfast-Sausage-Brittany's-PantryI have been trying to make really great homemade breakfast sausage for years now, but without success.  Now that I write that sentence, I realize that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my culinary abilities…

Let me explain.

My parents made it all the time when I was a kid, but they can’t seem to remember the recipe, so, no help there.  Once, when I was in the hospital having a baby, my Mom went through my freezer and found some ground pork and whipped up some sausage for breakfast.  When I returned home and warmed up the leftovers, I went bonkers (because it was so incredibly good) and begged her to tell me what she had put in it.  Of course, she didn’t remember and had just grabbed random spices from the cabinet.  She wrote down what she thought it was and I meticulously followed the notes she had scrawled on the back of the envelope from the electric bill, but it wasn’t even close.  Grrr.  I have made just about EVERY recipe I have found on the internet and all of them are either too complicated for what I am after, bland, off, ridiculously sweet or salty, tough, dry, or they taste like Italian sausage instead of the traditional breakfast version I want.  I tried creating my own and starting from scratch, but kept missing the mark.  All of my previous attempts were good, but not very great.

Until this one.  I don’t know exactly what I did all that differently, but after making sure that I wrote the ingredients down exactly, I went on to make several batches, just to ensure that it really was the winner I was looking for.  And Oh My Lanta-it really is.  Turns out I had a great sausage recipe rolling around in my head after all!

This recipe has just enough spice to make it interesting, but not so much that it doesn’t taste like meat.  We can’t stop eating this stuff and it is now happily stored in my freezer in bulk to be browned and used in breakfast casserole, and also shaped in patties, ready to defrost and fry up for breakfast.  *sigh* My work here is done!
These Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties are so fantastic, you won't miss the store bought version! {Brittany's Pantry} Homemade Breakfast Sausage
I have discovered that buying 80/20 ground pork gives me the flavor that I want in the sausage, without being super greasy.  Anything leaner and I have to add something for moisture and results don’t end up consistent.  Rub the thyme and fennel seed a bit in your hands to crush it up just a touch before you add it to the recipe.  It makes all the difference in the world!

1 lb ground pork (80/20 fat ratio)
1 T pure maple syrup
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp fennel seed

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl using a fork to toss and gently mash the ingredients until well mixed.  Be gentle, as too much handling can make the sausage tough.  Scoop of whatever portions you desire, flatten, and fry in a pan over medium heat until firm in the middle and brown on both sides.  Alternatively, store the whole pound of sausage in a well sealed container in the freezer, cooked or uncooked!  Both freeze great!