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Posts Tagged ‘Recipe’

Nuts About Nuts

I’m probably biased, but I have the best candied nut recipe ever. I made them as gifts over Christmas and have received rave reviews, so maybe I’m not too far off in my belief. We’re going to a NYE party this weekend and I have decided to make a huge batch to bring along.  After tasting these, your friends and family will be eating out of your hands (if you let them, that is).

Sugar & Spice [and everything nice] Nuts

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup of white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (add more or less to suit to your tastes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4  pound of pecan halves (or mixed nuts)
  • 2 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees & line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine sugars, cayenne pepper, cinnamon & salt in a mixing bowl. Blend together with a fork.
  3. Beat egg whites until frothy but stop before it is forming peaks
  4. On a low speed, combine egg whites and sugar mixture until relatively smooth
  5. Fold in the nuts and toss until evenly coated
  6. Spread the sugar & nut mixture onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 30 minutes; pull out once every 10-15 minutes to stir
  8. Remove from oven and separate the nuts as they cool
  9. Once they are cool, they are ready to eat/store/gift.

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Mmm mmm! Delicious!

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Coquito: The New Nog

Ever since my laptop died I’ve been in serious withdrawal from updating the blog. I’ll be praying to the Geek Squad gods tomorrow and hopefully they’ll get my little baby to turn back on. In the meantime, my wonderful husband is letting me steal his computer. This is great because I’ve been waiting patiently to share the recipe for my favorite holiday drink: coquito (pronounced koh-KEY-toe).

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without coquito in my husband’s family and I love it as part of our yearly tradition. It is practically a Puerto Rican egg nog (with no need to use eggs). If you’ve never had an opportunity to try coquito, you’re seriously missing out on the best beverage ever. Best beverage ever, you ask? YES! Best. Beverage. Ever. It’s creamy, seasonal, rich, and alcoholic… yum! Just like chocolate chip cookies, everyone has their own way of making it but I have started using the recipe below. It comes out *almost* as good as my mother-in-law’s but hers just can’t be beat so I’ll take that!

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 2 cans of coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of dark rum (DARK not spiced)

Simple Directions

  1. Pour everything together in a blender.
  2. Blend until combined — I’ve found that it’s easier to do the recipe half and half since it yields too much for an average sized blender. This means 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 can of coconut milk, 1 can of coconut cream, 1.5 cups of rum, and some cinnamon and salt blended together and poured into a pitcher and then repeat.
  3. Refrigerate, serve cold!

Try it out, you won’t be disappointed! It’ll warm up the coldest night… and give you a serious blush!

"His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!" Santa must've enjoyed our coquito too...

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Gingies!

Our house is fully decorated so I’ve been immersed in the “spirit” for the past week and a half. I love how easily some twinkling lights can make you feel festive. Joe did a great job with the outdoor decorations, so I’ll have to post a slide show later showcasing all of our decor. In the meantime I thought I would share my gingie recipe.

Yesterday was an overwhelming day at the office so I really needed to unwind. I started out by going to the gym but ended up coming home with some extra energy and decided it would be a great time to start some holiday baking. I turned to my grandma’s cookbook and decided that a batch of gingies would be just what I needed to pass the time.

Gingie recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook

I received a great cookie cutter set at my bridal shower, but I thought I’d keep it simple and just do Christmas trees and snowflakes. In less than an hour, I was finished and had adorable gingies. After showing them to Joe, he pointed out something they very obviously lacked… ICING! I used my grandma’s recipe:

  • 1 Cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1  tsp of brandy
  • 3/4 Tbsp of water

Add all ingredients together in a liquid measuring cup (because it has the spout) and mix together with the handle of spoon. Scoop into a pastry bag and it’s ready to use!

These are my finished gingie cookies:

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I love my Zoku popsicle maker, so an ice cream maker seemed like an obvious thing to put on our wedding registry. It was one of my favorite gifts, but Joe contended that I would never use it. Looks like he was right… Until now! I found a top-rated recipe for Pumpkin Ice Cream on the Willams & Sonoma website: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/pumpkin-ice-cream.html, and I knew it would be the perfect tasty treat to make in my ice cream maker for the very first time!

It was beyond dreamy. The spicy sweetness was not too over the top because the texture was so creamy and rich. I’ll be honest though, it was a lot more work than I expected. I should have known better than to just look at the ingredients… I completely disregarded reading through the entire recipe and I surely regret that. I dirtied a lot of pots and bowls, and there was so much cooling time necessary as you can’t put hot items into the ice cream maker. Unfortunately, I started this 2 hours before we were supposed to leave for supper so I rushed things along with multiple ice baths.

Ice baths alone are a headache! Do they specially make bowls for this? If so, I really needed a set on Thursday. I have nesting glass bowls so I figured it would be easy … not so. My problems arose from water sloshing around while I was stirring the hot custard to cool it faster. My solution? A cookie cutter at the base of the bowl! It allowed my hot mixing bowl to sit in the ice water with enough of the bowl sitting above the water level so I could stir without worry.  It also provided a sturdy, elevated base that meant I could go hands free without dropping the bowl into the ice water. I guess I no longer need those special bowls, do I?

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The holidays are in full swing so I have had little time to blog, but there are SO many things I want to share. I think I will end up playing catch up throughout this week covering some of my favorites from the past week.
  • Wednesday we had a little mini feast at work… I made mac & cheese “muffins”!
Yummy Mac ‘n’ Cheese Muffins!

First thing’s first… mac & cheese muffins! One of my coworkers sent the recipe to me and requested that I make it. Because I absolutely adore her, I couldn’t refuse; additionally, who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese?! (It’s a “white thing” too, Pat Robertson…) I would have followed the directions exactly but unfortunately I do not have mini cupcake tins nor could I find any elbow macaronis at Giant. I used pipettes instead, and rather than buying something I’d only use this one time, I used a regular sized muffin pan. Due to the larger size, I increased the cooking time to about 30-35 minutes. These little beauties were so easy and DELICIOUS! They had just the right amount of warmth (mmm, cayenne!) and were chewy and gooey on the inside. Perfection! 

I love making homemade mac & cheese and this was a great alternative for a get together (no serving utensils needed!). I imagine they would be even more convenient in the mini tins because they would be bite sized. I personally think that the normal size turned out great for a pot luck because it’s a good amount for a side. Even more importantly to someone like myself who tries to lose/maintain weight, it’s also a great means of portion control. You get to treat yourself to something cheesy and dreamy (and in NO MEANS healthy), but you can feel good afterwards because you limited it.

All in all, taste and convenience are definitely a 5 out of 5. I recommend you try it.

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Oh, deer!

If you saw the dinner that I made for us tonight, you’d think we had a secret four-year old child… Popcorn shrimp and tater tots?? There’s not much else to say about it, after all, I only threw frozen food onto a cookie sheet. Let’s step back to Monday night when I experienced a brand new culinary adventure: venison.

Venison? You mean deer? BAMBI!? I know, I know. I have never felt so guilty cooking something in my entire life but I put my big girl gloves on and got to work. I figured I could use my favorite recipe for Shepherd’s Pie and just substitute my 1.5lb of venison in for the beef which worked out wonderfully. Mind you, I could only bare to eat less than a quarter cup of the meat, so luckily I have a hungry husband and coworkers to devour the rest.

VENISON SHEPHERD’S PIE

Mashed Potatoes:

  • 5 potatoes, peeled & roughly cubed
  • 2T of cream cheese
  • 1 egg, blended
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste

Veggie/Venison mixture:

  • 1-2T of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds of venison (or ground meat of your choice)
  • 2 cups of freshly chopped mirepoix (2 carrots, 1 medium onion, 1-2 stalks celery)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1T corn starch
  • a splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1T of your favorite spice mixture (I loveeee Grill Mates Montreal Chicken)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Boil potatoes in salted water with a bay leaf for 12-14 minutes (or until fork tender). Drain potatoes and remove/discard the bay leaf. Combine milk and egg in a separate bowl until smooth, add to potatoes. Add softened cream cheese and mash until relatively smooth.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the hot pan, then the ground venison. Liberally season the meat with salt and pepper then continue to crumble the meat until browned. Add the vegetable mixture and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Pour 3/4C of the beef stock into a small saucepan over medium heat, add the Worcestershire sauce. Combine the reserved beef stock with the corn starch and then add it to the saucepan. While the venison and vegetables are cooking, bring the stock to a boil until it is slightly thickened. Add the gravy to the meat/veggie mixture.
  4. Pour the combined mixture into a small casserole dish, pile on the mashed potatoes evenly. Generously sprinkle the spice mixture over the potatoes and place in the oven, uncovered. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly. Broil on low for 5 more minutes to brown the potatoes until golden.

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Diggin’ the Dip

I absolutely love being a guest in somebody else’s house! Not only do I love it, I think I’m pretty good at it as well. The art of visiting is just as important as hosting ettiquette in my opinion. I use my best manners, I clean up after myself, and I offer to help in any way I can. Oh, and I always bring something yummy for everyone to enjoy as well.

Today I attended a Christmas Card party hosted by my manager. You read that right, I attended a *weekend* event at my boss’s house… but it was for CHRISTMAS; I couldn’t pass up on that. I felt the pressure to bring something delicious and none of my tried and true standbys felt right. I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying too hard, but I also wanted it to be super tasty. Since the party was holiday themed and there would be a few kids in attendance, I knew I had to find something sweet. I turned to Pinterest for inspiration; if you’re not on Pinterest already, you better get to it! I found a scrumptious looking picture of Chocolate-chip Cheesecake Dip… How could that not appeal to your tastebuds immediately? It linked to a fellow blogger, Slice & Dice, and the recipe looked easier than easy and better yet I had all of the ingredients in the kitchen. Score!

I tweaked the recipe a little, as the original called for 1 cup of mini chocolate chips, which seemed like way too much. Too much chocolate, you say?! What a travesty! Well, to each his own I suppose. I added 1/2 cup to the mix and sprinkled about 1.5 tablespoons on top and I think it turned out very chocolate chip-y.  The end result definitely looked delish and the teddy grahams (I got the chocolate and chocolatey chip varieties) made it delightfully kid-friendly.

The ladies remarked that the dip tasted a lot like cannoli filling. It’s tangy, rich, sweet, and creamy and the mini chips add the right touch. I’m looking forward to making other types of “cheesecake.” I’m thinking strawberry preserves or chocolate fudge swirled in with graham crackers on the side or some pumpkin pie filling folded into the mixture with gingersnaps for dipping. MMM! I’m definitely diggin’ this dip and will be adding it to my favorites immediately; I think you should, too.

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