Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Food

Is it just me or is the day after Christmas just kind of....blah?  I guess so much anticipation and preparation, and then it's over.  But at least it left behind wrapping paper bits here and there and dishes that I still don't want to clean.  Oh well...I will reminisce about the food....


I made a cranberry cake I had seen several months back at Real Mom Kitchen.  As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make it for Christmas.




She mentions in her comments the cake was just a little dry, so I just increased the amounts of oil and sour cream by a bit and didn't find it dry at all.  The butter cream sauce really makes it special. Here's the recipe...

Cake:

  • 3 Cups Flour

  • 1 ½ Cups Sugar

  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder

  • ¼ teaspoon Salt

  • 1 Cup Milk

  • 2 Eggs

  • ¼ Cup Oil

  • ½ teaspoon Almond Flavoring

  • ½ Cup Sour Cream

  • 3 Cups Fresh Cranberries

    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; sift together.
    2. In a separate bowl combine milk, eggs, oil, almond flavoring and sour cream; whisk together.
    3. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir together.(this batter will be very thick) When liquid and dry ingredients are completely incorporated together, stir in cranberries.
    4. Pour cake batter into a well-greased Bundt cake pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes; until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in Bundt pan, remove cake from pan and place on serving plate.
    5. Allow cake to cool completely on serving plate. Cut into slices and serve slice topped with sauce recipe below.
    Butter Cream Sauce:
    • ½ Cup Butter
    • 1 Cup Sugar
    • ¾ Cup Half & Half 
    1. Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium-low heat.
    2. Mix in sugar until well combined, then mix in the half & half and bring heat up to medium-high heat.
    3. Wisk continually until mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat.
    4. Drizzle butter cream sauce over each individual slice of cranberry pudding cake and ENJOY!
    We also had Green Bean Bundles, which I had always wanted to try.  Pretty yummy, of course can't go wrong with bacon!.

     

    We also had this Chocolate Wafer Cookie Cake that I've been wanting to try for some time.  Although I did mine more as a trifle than a cake, just figured it would be easier.  

     

    This is over the top delicious!  I loved the crushed candy canes sprinkled on top, give it just a little bit of mint.  Those wafers can be a little hard to find, but it's worth the effort.  

    So I hope none of you are feeling as ho-hum as I am.  I'm sure I'll be back to my chipper self in no time!  


    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps

    I think we can all agree that Paula Deen really is trying to kill us.  When I saw these on Food Network,  I drank the kool-aid and walked right into the light.  And what delicious kool-aid it was.



    Take a somewhat healthy food like boneless, skinless chicken breasts and wrap it in bacon, apply a massive coating of brown sugar, and this is what you get.  With just a hint of spice from chili powder.  Seriously, these are delicious.  Please make some today.



    Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
    • 1 (1-pound) package sliced bacon
    • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon and secure with a wooden pick. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge wrapped chicken in mixture. Coat a rack and broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken wrap on rack in broiler pan. Bake 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Cocoa Crinkles

    Oh I know you've all seen this one, it's an oldie but goodie.  I had never made 
    them before and had no idea how delicious they were, not to mention easy!  



    They have a very fudge-y flavor with a light texture.  I'm wishing we hadn't eaten them all up!  



    Here is the recipe for you (from allrecipes)



    Ingredients

    • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

    Directions

    1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. I like to use a number 50 size scoop. Coat each ball in confectioners' sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.



    I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas celebrating with family and friends!

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    Candy Cane Snowballs

    Today was the big cookie exchange party...what a fun time!  And I'm so full.  But it was worth it.



    I really enjoyed these peppermint-y cookies.  Very tender and delicious with just a little crunch of crushed up candy canes.  




    Here is the recipe found at Cooking During Stolen Moments.

    • 3 c. powdered sugar, divided
    • 1 1/4 c butter, softened
    • 2 t. vanilla (or if you’d prefer a stronger peppermint flavor, you can replace 1 t. of vanilla with a teaspoon of peppermint extract)
    • 1 egg
    • 3 c. flour
    • 1 T. baking powder
    • 1/2 t. salt
    • 3/4 c. finely crushed candy canes, divided
    • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
    • 2-3 T. milk
    1. In a mixing bowl, beat 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat until combined.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Slowly add to mixing bowl, beating until combined, about 1 minute. Stir 1/2 cup finely crushed candy canes in by hand.
    3. Roll dough into small balls using just under a teaspoon of dough. Rolls balls through granulated sugar to coat and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool.
    4. While cookies bake, stir together remaining 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar with 2-3 T. of milk. Add just enough milk to form a thick glaze. Drizzle over cooled cookies and top with remaining crushed candy canes immediately.



    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Eggnog Pancakes

    Can you believe it's almost Christmas!?  Holy cow!  I'm not stressing about needing to shop or anything, I just can't believe how fast the time goes.  Man!
    Anyway....I had a hankering to try making some pancakes with eggnog, so that's what I did.  



    Crummy pictures, but delicious breakfast.   


    I ate mine just with melted butter flavored with cinnamon and sugar...yummm :)


    Here's the recipe from AllRecipes.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups eggnog*
    • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

    Directions

    1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg if desired. In another bowl, beat eggs, eggnog and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown.

    So do you have your Christmas menu nailed down?  I'd love to hear what you're having!  Let me know.  Otherwise I'll just peek in your window while you and your family is eating.  This way is easier!

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Lasagna Soup

    I've been looking forward to making this soup for days now, or actually eating this soup.  And it did not disappoint.  


    It's kinda nippy here, even in the desert.  It's been raining on and off for two days....crazy!  I don't need cold weather to have soup, but it just makes it that much better.  

    To me, this literally tasted like lasagna in soup form.  I couldn't stop sampling it before dinner!  I left out the basil accidentally, so it could have been even just a little bit better, but I'm not sure I could have stood it !



    Here's the recipe that I found from A Farm Girl's Dabbles.  Hope you like it.


    for the soup:
    2 tsp. olive oil
    1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
    3 c. chopped onions
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tsp. dried oregano
    1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    2 T. tomato paste
    1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
    2 bay leaves
    6 c. chicken stock
    8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta (I used broken lasagna noodles)
    1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    for the cheesy yum:
    8 oz. ricotta
    1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 tsp. salt
    pinch of freshly ground pepper

    2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

    PREPARATION

    Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

    Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

    To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

    Servings:  8

    I'm planning to make some Candy Cane Snowball cookies for a cookie exchange this weekend.  I'll post them either Sunday night or Monday morning...see ya then!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

    My boy and I found some blackberries on sale a few days ago.  Since he's a berry lover I bought them and promised I'd make something for him, so he gets muffins.  I'm hoping he will share. 



    I found this recipe at Two Peas & Their Pod, which is always chock full of delicious looking things.  I love the addition of ricotta...it's adds a wonderful moistness and richness.  This is a great basic muffin recipe for anything you'd want to add.  The lemon is not overpowering at all, it adds just the right amount of awesomeness



    The dough seems pretty thick, but don't worry, it turns out just perfect.  I hope you'll make them if you get the chance. 



    Ingredients:
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup granulated sugar
    Zest of 2 lemons
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup ricotta cheese (whole or low-fat is fine)
    1 large egg
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup fresh blackberries
    Turbinado sugar-for sprinkling on muffin tops

    Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and lemon zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
    3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Add three blackberries to each muffin cup. Top the muffins with remaining batter so blackberries are covered. Generously sprinkle turbinado sugar over each muffin top.
    4. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool for five minutes and serve.
    I was super excited to learn a couple of weeks ago that I had won a giveaway at Coleen's Recipes.  I was the recipient of this awesome giftpack from Yoplait, containing a neck pillow, lavender eye mask, a giant smoothie cup and a coupon to receive a free  package of  Yoplait Chocolate Banana Smoothie.  
    Thanks a million Coleen :)

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Beer Braised Beef Back Ribs

    I was wanting to make short ribs today, then I realized they're a little difficult to find (after going to 5 stores) and a little pricey when they do get found.  So in the middle of my local Walmarts I pulled out my phone of moderate intelligence and tried to see what I could do with beef back ribs.  This is what I came up with. 


    I found more of a method than a recipe at FoodPhilosophy.  It's a wonderful way to take a cheaper cut and make it delicious and tender.  I loved it served over buttered egg noodles with a little swiss chard on the side, and am looking forward to having it for lunch tomorrow at work.  

    Here's the rundown:

    Ingredients
    About 4 pounds of beef back ribs
    3-4 tbsp olive oil
    Giant can of Fosters
    1 onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 can beef broth
    dried rosemary
    salt and pepper

    1.  Cut ribs into individual pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil to med-high in an  ovenproof dutch oven or large skillet.  Add ribs in small batches if necessary and caramelized about 10 minutes on each side.  Try to not move the ribs around in the pan too much.    Preheat oven to 375.

    2.  Add chopped onion and let it sweat about 5 minutes, then add garlic.  Pour in the giant can of Fosters, the beef broth, and a little water to make the liquid just slightly over the ribs.  Mix together and scrape the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle in the dried rosemary.


    3.  Put a lid on and put it all in the oven for about 3 hours.  Check the liquid level periodically and add more if needed.  When it's done, remove the meat from the bones, shred it up a bit, and serve over starchy item of your choice.  

    I actually made this the night before and just put in the oven at 300 to reheat before dinner today.  I love make-ahead meals!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Apple Fritters

    After getting the little darlings off to school this morning, I decided to embark upon some fritter making activities. Seemed like a fine way to spend a Thursday morning. 




    I had a hard time regulating between burning them and not getting them done in the middle.  But otherwise, they are pretty darned easy, and quite delicious.  



    Here's the recipe from No Fear Entertaining if you feel like giving it a try...

    Fritter:
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup chopped apple
    Glaze:
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
    Directions: Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon. Stir in milk and egg until just combined. Fold in apple. Pour oil into skillet so that it is approximately 1 1/2 deep. Heat oil on high. (on my stove, high was too high, just above medium worked best for me.) Oil is ready when dough floats to top. Carefully add dough to oil in heaping teaspoons. Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned. Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack. Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl. Drizzle over apple fritters. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side. Best served warm.


    apple-y good inside shot