December 31, 2011

Peppermint Stick Punch


Happy New Year's Eve!  Yes I'm totally late publishing a tasty New Years adult beverage.  Better late than never is my motto.  I'm having a few friends over tonight and this drink will be the main event.  I need it to be so they won't notice how cluttered my house is with Christmas stuff strewn all about. I plan to shove this in their hands as they walk through the door.  :)  I'm such a good hostess.


There is plenty of sugar in here if that's your thing; which it is totally my thing.  You don't get a huge sense of peppermint however, it's just a slight note in the background.  Citrus-y is how I would describe this.  It's delish, try one tonight when you bring in the New Year. 

Thank you all so much for reading my blog.  I got a couple of things for Christmas that are bound to make this coming year the best one yet so keep reading! Happy New Year everybody!

Found in "Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook"

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C lime juice from concentrate
1 C vodka or water
2 Tbsp white creme de menthe or 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
2 - 32 ounce bottles club soda
Candy canes

In a large bowl or pitcher; mix all of the ingredients except the club soda and candy canes.  Mix in the club soda right before you serve it.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts

December 28, 2011

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


Having my dad here this Christmas inspired me to cook and bake up a storm - I just haven't been very good about actually posting any of it. Oops.

What could be better for Christmas morning then hot fresh cinnamon rolls!  I looked online for a overnight version and found this Alton Brown recipe and knew it would be good.  Boy were they ever, tender and sweet, perfect for an early morning. You gotta try these!



After the dough has gone through it's first rise cycle, roll it out to about 18x12 rectangle.  Use a brush to spread some melted butter on top and then sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.




start at the long end closest to you and begin rolling tightly away from you.







Pince the seams together tightly and then use your hands to make the entire roll about the same width.  Cut into 12 even pieces with a sharp serrated knife.



Butter a 9x13 inch dish with butter and then place the rolls cut side down.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, remove the plastic wrap and place the rolls into a cold oven and place a shallow dish filled 3/4 full of boiling water on the wrack below the rolls and close the door.  Keeping the oven off, let sit for about 30 minutes.  The rolls will begin to look puffy.  Mine never did touch at this point but don't worry, they puff up more in the oven.



Remove the rolls and the water from the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for about 30 minutes. The rolls will be nice and golden brown when done. While the rolls are cooking, mix up the cream cheese frosting.


Frost the cinnamon rolls right when they come out of the oven.  Serve while hot.

Recipe by Alton Brown found here

Ingredients


Dough:

4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling:

8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Icing:

2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

Directions

Use the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment to whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter and buttermilk.  Next add about 2 cups of the flour, the yeast and the salt.  Whisk until moist and combined.  Replace the whisk for the dough hook and add all but 3/4 cup of flour and knead for about 5 minutes on low speed.  Check the dough, you are looking for dough that is soft and moist but not sticky.  Keep adding a little flour until you reach this.  Knead for another 5 minutes on low speed.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 30 seconds.  In a large bowl that you have oiled well, put the dough and then lightly oil the top of the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2-2 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, Cinnamon and salt and set aside until you're ready to use it.

Use a 9x13 inch glass baking dish and butter it well.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to a 18x12 inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 1 1/2 Tbsp of melted butter.  Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top leaving about a 1/2 inch border along the edges.  Press the brown sugar mixture into the dough.  Starting at the long side nearest yourself - begin to roll a tight roll all the way to the other side.  Pinch the seams together.  Using your hands, try to make the roll an even size over then entire length of it. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the roll into 12 even pieces.  Lay the rolls cut side down in the dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place into a cold oven that is turned off.  Fill a shallow dish about 2/3 full of boiling water and set on the shelf below the rolls.  Close the door and let sit for about 30 minutes.  The rolls should begin to look puffy. My rolls never touched and I began to wonder if they would stay this size once I started baking them but they did puff up in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the rolls in the middle rack and bake until golden brown on top.  Approximately 30 minutes.
While the rolls are baking you can make the icing by whisking the room temperature cream cheese with your stand mixer until smooth.  Add the milk and combine.  Add the powdered sugar a little at a time until smooth.  Spread over the hot rolls and serve right away.



December 25, 2011

December 20, 2011

Ground Beef with Onions and Herbs



After watching Julie & Julia about a million times I decided it was time to tackle some of these recipes.  Of course I was intimidated because it's Julia Child for Pete's sake!  My husband was nice enough to find me a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" so I was looking for something easy, something I couldn't screw up.  That would have destroyed my confidence.  I learned something about making this recipe.  I learned that Julia Child and Paula Dean are keeping the dairy farmers of America in business with how much butter they use.  I love it!
I also learned that not every recipe in this GIANT cookbook is intimidating and it's actually quite user friendly.
I can't wait to try more recipes out of this book!



First thing you do is mince the onion very fine and cook it in some butter.  You're going to make sort of like a meatloaf mix and then form patties out of it.



Roll the patties in some flour and begin to cook them.



Cook the patties in the pan you used for the onions.  When they are browned and cooked how you like them you'll want to move them to a plate and make the sauce using the same pan.

The sauce is made out of any number of things; most of which you probably already have.  I used white wine in mine.



Found on page 301 of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Bifteck Haché À La Lyonnaise
1/4 cup finely minced onion
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 Tbsp softened butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp thyme
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup beef stock, dry white wine, red wine, dry white vermouth, canned beef bouillon, or 1/4 cup water.
2-3 Tbsp softened butter

Add 2 Tbsp of butter to a large frying pan and then add the onions.  Cook on a low heat, you do not want the onions caramelized, just soft and transparent.

In a large bowl add ground beef, butter, salt, pepper, thyme and egg and mix well.  When the onions are done and have cooled slightly add those to the meat mixture. 

In a separate bowl put the flour so you can dip the burgers in before cooking them. Shake off the excess flour and cook until your desired doneness.

Remove the burgers to a separate dish and keep warm while you make the sauce.  Pour the fat out of the skillet.  Add the liquid of your choice to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan as you go along.   Reduce the liquid to almost a syrup.  Remove from the heat and add the butter a little at a time until it is incorporated into the sauce.  Pour over the hamburger patties and serve right away.

December 16, 2011

Heart Attack Pie


I got inspired to attempt my own version of a peanut butter pie.  I found a recipe here that made me want to try something just slightly different.  The only reason I didn't duplicate it completely was because I wanted the bottom chocolate layer to be softer, less fudge like.  The rest of the pie is just like the one I found on "Cookies and Cups".

I decided to name my pie Heart Attack Pie because "Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cream Pie" seemed a bit long.  Don't you agree?


You start with a basic graham cracker crust.



I made a French Silk base.



Then I dumped almost a whole bag of "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Mini's" into it. See where the heart attack part is coming from?



Mix those babies in really good now.



Spread into the pie shell and refrigerate while you make the next layer.  Yep, two layers.



Peanut butter layer in progress.



Carefully spread the peanut butter layer over the chocolate layer and then cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.



Decorate with some chocolate sauce and some cut up peanut butter cups.




I know right? Totally delish.  I brought this to my friends house it got rave reviews.  I had to sneak a piece home so my husband could try it.  Great mix of flavors and the peanut butter cups give you a nice unexpected surprise.  I think I need to experiment with even more layered pies. 

This recipe was modified from Cookies and Cups

Graham Cracker Crust:

9 graham crackers - crushed
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

French Silk Layer: 
Recipe found here

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 prepared 8 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled
1-8 oz bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Mini's


Peanut Butter Mousse Layer:

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese - room temp
1 1/2 cups cool whip topping - thawed
1/4 cup melted chocolate - for drizzling

For the crust: Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Using a spring form pan or a pie dish, press the crumbs to the bottom (and sides if using a pie dish).  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. 

While the crust cools, make the chocolate layer.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double broiler.  Let the chocolate cool completely before using.  In a separate bowl, mix the butter and the sugar on medium speed until the mixture lightens in color.  Stir in the cooled chocolate and vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time beating for 5 minutes in between additions.  Remove from the stand mixer and add by hand the peanut butter cups.  Reserve several to use as a garnish. Mix in thoroughly and then spoon the filling into the baked pie shell and refrigerate.
**This portion of the recipe contains raw eggs, young children, pregnant woman and elderly people should not consume raw eggs**

While the chocolate layer is cooling, make the peanut butter layer. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) add the peanut butter, powdered sugar and cream cheese and mix well until smooth. 
Using a spatula, fold in the cool whip.  Add this to the cooled chocolate layer.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

To garnish, melt some chocolate chips or use a chocolate sauce and drizzle over the top in a pattern. Chop the reserved peanut butter cups and sprinkle on the top of the chocolate sauce.


December 14, 2011

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


I know, it's December and I'm showing you ice cream.  I haven't lost my mind (completely) see you still serve ice cream with your Apple pie right? There are lots of birthday's in December (like my hubbies and at least one other VERY important one) so those are two very good reasons why you should make this.  I've decided that this is one of the very best vanilla ice cream's I've made so far.  Creamy, vanilla bean-y, perfect sweetness.  My friends who shared this with me couldn't believe it was homemade because it tastes just like the premium store bought stuff.


Look at all those little black flecks of vanilla bean!


OK, here's the recipe.  You gotta try this!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Recipe found on Tracey's Culinary Adventures here

Ingredients

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vanilla sugar (I didn't have this ahead of time so I just rubbed the vanilla bean into the sugar really well until there were small pieces of bean mixed throughout)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (I used the equivalent amount of vanilla extract)

Directions

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut a vanilla bean from top to bottom.  Turn your knife over and use the back to scrape out the beans.  Add the beans to a saucepan and then add the regular sugar and the vanilla sugar.  Mix the sugar and vanilla bean so that you can see little black specks throughout the sugar. 
  2. Add the vanilla pod, milk, cream and salt into the sugar mixture and cook until the mixture is warm but not boiling and the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Use a medium heat proof bowl and beat the egg yolks.  Take the warm milk mixture and incorporate it a little at a time into the egg mixture, slowly so you don't cook the eggs.  Once you've got it all incorporated, transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon. 170-175 degrees.
  4. Pour the custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve and add the vanilla paste (or vanilla extract) and cool the mixture down.  It's best if you can refrigerate it overnight.  Use your ice cream makers manufacturers instructions to mix the ice cream.  Store in an airtight container in your freezer.


December 12, 2011

Puffed Oven Pancake with Brown Sugar-Banana Sauce



I have to be honest.  I'm not much of a breakfast person.  That is to say; I don't really like breakfast food for breakfast, I like dinner food for breakfast and breakfast food for dinner.  I know, I'm a mess.

I thought that this baked pancake looked really good and really easy to make on a lazy morning one weekend.  I found the recipe in my "Better Homes and Garden" Holiday Book.  It's not exactly diet food.  Well it might not be so bad if it wasn't covered in banana's that were cooked in sugar and butter. But it also wouldn't be nearly as good!

I love how the edges of this bake up around the pan and form a nice ring.  The pancake itself is pretty thin so it's funny that they even call it a pancake at all.  It's not the fluffy type that we're all used to.  This is a great change up to traditional pancakes and super easy.  Great for breakfast if you've got guests or even if you're just feeling like something different.



Mix up the batter and pour it into a hot oven proof skillet or pan.  You want to put some butter in the pan and then put it in the oven to melt before pouring the batter into it.



This is how it looks right out of the oven.



To make the topping, melt some butter and add brown sugar. 



Add the banana's and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes.



Soon you'll get a wonderful thick sauce.  Add the Rum or juice and let cook for another minute or so.



Pour this banana sauce over a slice of pancake and serve right away.  You can top with some powdered sugar if desired.





Baked Pancake:

2 Tbsp butter
4 eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 medium bananas, sliced
2 Tbsp light rum or apple juice (I used juice)
Powdered sugar or whipped cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 400.

In a large oven safe skillet or heavy metal baking pan, put 2 Tbsp butter and place in the oven until melted.  About 3-5 minutes.

While the butter is melting, in a medium bowl whisk the eggs.  Add the flour, milk and salt.  Beat until smooth.  Take the hot pan from the oven and pour the batter into it.  Place the pan back into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and brown.

Make the banana sauce when ready to serve the pancake.  Begin by melting 1/2 cup of butter in a fry pan, add the brown sugar and cook over medium heat.  Add the sliced banana's and cooked about 2 minutes.  Carefully stir in the Rum or juice.  If adding rum, add it off of the stove and then add it back to the heat to avoid flare ups. Cook for a minute more.

Serve the pancake with the banana sauce hot from the stove.  You can garnish with powdered sugar and/or whipped cream if desired.

December 9, 2011

Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies



Looking for a great, easy treat to bring to some parties this weekend?  Here's one!  I love this recipe because it's basically just throwing everything into a bowl and baking it.  The cookies bake up nice and chewy just how I like em and the mint flavor is perfect!

I used a cookie scoop to make them all about the same size but you wouldn't need to do that at all.  This is the recipe off of the back of the Andes Creme de Menthe chip bag.



You can also find the recipe here.

Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies:

1/2 C salted butter, softened
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
2 2/3 C all-purpose flour

December 7, 2011

Apricot-Glazed Ham Loaf


I'm sick of Turkey.  I now realize why I usually only have a full turkey once a year.  First of all I can clearly not judge how big of a turkey to make for 4 adults.  An 18.5 pound turkey might have been a bit more than we needed.  On the bright side, I have frozen enough to last me all year so maybe that's why I made so much.

Either way, bring on ANY other kind of meat.  I just bought a new cooking "magazine" from the store.  It's from Better Homes and Gardens and it's all about Holiday cooking.  I was surprised to see this Ham Loaf recipe in there.  To be honest I don't even know what a ham loaf is, what I do know is that it's not turkey and so I'm on board with it.

This recipe seemed pretty straight forward.  I was a little leery of the apricots being used not only in the loaf but also in the glaze on top of it but now that I've had it I wouldn't want it any other way.  The apricots really bring out the flavors of the ham and add a nice little variation in texture that I loved.  My husband loved it, my daughter wouldn't touch it.  Don't go by her, she won't touch anything.



You start out with some pre-cooked ham, cut up into pieces.



Use a food processor to grind it up into small pieces.  While your food processor is out, just go ahead and chop the bread for the soft bread crumbs (I used two slices) the apricots (after I'd cut them into pieces), and the onion so my hands wouldn't smell.



In a large bowl add all of the ingredients and mix together with your hands until well combined.



Shape the mixture into a loaf about 9x5 inches.



Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Brush several times with the apricot glaze during the last 10 minutes of cooking.



Great flavors!  I'm so glad I tried it and I'll be making it again for a nice change up to regular meatloaf.

Recipe from "Better Homes and Gardens" Holiday Recipes 2011

Apricot-Glazed Ham Loaf:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
3 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 pound ground fully cooked ham
1 pound ground pork
2/3 cup snipped dried apricots
1 recipe Apricot Glaze

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
3 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well with your hands.  Shape the mixture into a 9x5 loaf in a 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Make the glaze by combining all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix together well.  Cook on medium low heat until bubbly.  Divide the mixture in half and use one half to glaze with and the other half to serve with the loaf.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, brush the reserved half of the glaze over the top several times.