This is the last post before the New Year and I wanted to leave you with a simple bite. A little snack, if you will, for tonight's festivities. A pomegranate blueberry and goat cheese crostini. Are you going to a party tonight? If so, you should totally make these.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Saturday, December 29, 2012
I need to make something clear: I am no mixologist. I'm not even a wannabe mixologist. I mean, if I were a mixologist, that'd be cool and all but really it's not really what I strive to be. However, because I enjoy the occasional cocktail or two, I do like to have a few drinks that I can make with the small selection of alcohol we keep on hand. And trust me, it's small - well, small-ish.
A bonus of making the cocktails is that I get to practice my cocktail photography. And these are so stinkin' pretty I couldn't help but want to take their pictures.
A couple of weeks ago, we went out to dinner at an awesome new restaurant called 'The Final Cut' at the new casino in town (yes, it's still weird that we have a casino). I ordered a drink called 'The Salty Dog' which seemed to be a combination of grapefruit, vodka and some other sweet/salty bits. It was surprisingly tasty and seemed to be something I could do at home.
After doing a bit of research, I found that there is a wide range of what a 'Salty Dog' could be, including the use of either vodka OR gin. Hmmm...I tend to be a vodka kind of girl, but the gin intrigued me. I whipped up this super simple cocktail using a handful of grapefruits that I had laying in my fridge and some gin. Oh, and salt. Can't forget the salt.
I thought it was quite enjoyable, but it did get mixed reviews (namely from my husband). He felt it was a little too salty (which I am not sure I agreed with because there is the word 'salty' right there in the title and felt that it was an expected element. Maybe it was just me).
Anyways, I liked it but he was on the fence. I'm going to share it with you and see what you think. If you have some grapefruits and gin laying around, whip this up and let me know what you think.
Have you ever made a 'Salty Dog' and if so, do you prefer gin or vodka? Extra mixers or flavors - I saw one that had maraschino liquor in it and thought that sounded crazy awesome, but alas, no maraschino liquor is currently gracing my cabinet. And quite frankly, I didn't feel like changing out of my sweatpants to go to the liquor store. That's pure class, people. Pure. Class.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
With the New Year right around the corner, I definately have cocktails on the brain. I'm not a big drinker, but this time of year I have been known to enjoy a cocktail or two (or three) at parties. A few weeks ago I bought a bottle of Smirnoff Marshmallow Vodka because, well, it's marshmallow vodka and it sounded amazing. Turns out it really is.
So for the past few weeks now I have been 'recipe testing' with this amazing bottle of marshmallowy goodness. I came across a 'dark and fluffy' recipe that sounded promising and decided to throw in some Peppermint Mocha Kahlua to make it even more decadent - and boozy. Plus, I am in a serious courtship with mint and coffee, so really this is my idea of the perfect little cocktail. Garnish it with a bit of whipped cream, mini marshmallows and shaved chocolate and you're in business.
On another note, I'm not totally sold on the name for this drink. I really wanted to call it some type of 'Russian' after 'The Dude's' signiture drink from The Big Lebowski. I have a weird obsession with that movie, by the way, and was getting all quotey with it while drinking this. I ultimately decided on 'Dark and Minty' (after calling it the 'Dark Russian' for about a week). What do you think? Is there a better name for this little guy? I guess it doesn't really matter because it tastes friggin' amazing.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Merry Christmas everyone!
In lieu of a specific recipe today, I wanted to share with you my new favorite way to decorate cut-out cookies.
Let me start by saying that I love fancifully decorated desserts. They are adorable and enviable and just plain awe-worthy. The problem is, I was born without the
abilitypatience to decorate cookies and desserts in a detailed and fancy manner.
Am I obsessed with Bakerella's cake pops? Absolutely! That woman is a wizard when it comes to miniature sugar sculptures. What she can do with some candy coating and a handful of toothpicks completely blows my mind. Amazing. The problem is, I just can't do it. I don't know if it's lack of skill or patience or frankly a bit of both, but it's beyond me. As a result, it just makes me appreciate her intricate confections even more.
The same can be said when it comes to cut-out cookies. I am totally enamored with Bridget's work at Bake at 350. Her cookies just simply make me smile. They are incredibly clever and perfect and her site is full of happiness. And really, isn't that what cookies are all about? Bringing joy and happiness?
For our cut-out cookies this year I wanted that happiness. Not a big old mess of frustration in the kitchen. I heard about food writer pens (not totally sure from where, but it's a safe bet that it was from Pinterest) and thought they would work great on cut out cookies and ease my stress of decorating cookies. A quick Google search showed me that I was indeed not the first person to have this idea, but it also came back with some great ideas and tips on how to use them with success. My favorite tips came from Bridget at Bake at 350.
I used her tips to help my kiddos create some cookies for my husband for his birthday last month (see above) and thought the same method would make some pretty adorable Christmas cookies, as well (see below).
So that's what we did this year. We made the cookies together, I iced them, and the kiddos decorated them. No stress. Plus, I am such a sucker for little people drawings that to me, these are the most beautiful cookies I've ever seen. Or eaten. There's a slight chance I might be biased.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Santa 'Staches (aka Lemon Cornmeal Sugar Cookies)
That's right, a manly mustache cookie for the jolly guy in red.
I'm not totally sure how the whole 'mustache' phenomenon got started in our house, but for a couple of years now, the Buddy has been completely amused with mustaches. On anything. In fact, on our Wii he added a mustache to his Mii character and even went as far as to add a total Fu Manchu stache on the Baby's Mii. It's weird to see my 3 year old daughter in a mustache. Hilarious, but weird.
Last Christmas, the Buddy received a set of Mustache Cookie Cutters (5 different 'styles' with mustache texture stamps on the back...seriously) as a gift from his cousin. Needless to say, he was thrilled and we have been making manly cookies every since. We even enjoy a mustache shaped sandwich with a side of milk from time to time.
Anyways, this year when the topic of which cookie to make for Santa came up it seemed like a great idea to make a big batch of Santa 'Staches.
I found this lovely recipe for lemon cornmeal sugar cookies and adapted them to fit our mustache needs. They have a delicate texture with a bit of crunch from the cornmeal and a lemony brightness that makes them truly addictive. And with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar, these little tributes to Santa turned out a beautiful snowy white.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A mint mocha is probably one of my favorite things about the holiday season. Who am I kidding, I tend to be a sucker for any 'holiday' flavored coffee drink; or creamers for that matter. Here are some sad, but true facts about my fascination with holiday themed coffees:
- I get giddy inside when the coffee shops start using the holiday themed cups. Not kidding, I will gasp in delight at the site of a snowman printed onto the side of my paper cup.
- I tend to buy no less than 3 different flavors of coffee creamer during any given shopping trip beginning in October all the way through January.
- I am on my second variety box of holiday K-Cups (48 count) and I am the only one who drinks coffee in my house. Oh, I bought the first one around Thanksgiving. It should have lasted longer.
- I look forward to the 10 hour Christmas road trip because it means stopping at countless rest stops where I will buy countless holiday beverages.
- Of all of the holiday flavors that pop up in the coffee world this time of year (gingerbread, eggnog, pumpkin) a mint mocha combination is always my favorite.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
No, you are not experiencing deja vu, I am definitely giving you another recipe for matzo bark. I can't help it, this stuff is addictive and a quirky, unexpected way to round out the Christmas cookie tray. Your cookie eaters won't be disappointed.
I have to say that I love me some orange and chocolate. And orange and cranberry. Really, any dessert with any or all of those flavors deserves some attention. And attention it will get. From me, at least.
On a side note - when making this bark, I cut the junk out of my finger. That being said, I can't warn you enough to use caution with the knifery. You will be momentarily drugged with the smell of orange and chocolate, but keep your wits about you. Eating this with a bandage on your finger is not as fun as eating it without. Just saying.
Chop with care. Eat with abandon.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Today I am super excited to be back over on My Baking Addiction sharing my recipe for Mini Cranberry Apple Crisps (you can check out my first post for dark chocolate candy cane brownies here).
These mini crisps are a great centerpiece for anchoring your holiday dessert table. First of all, they are incredibly comforting with the warm spicy apples pairing up with the tangy cranberries. The crumble topping features brown sugar and oats and creates to perfect sweet crisp crust. Plus, they are totally easy to make, which makes it perfect for the holidays. Give yourself a little break from the fussy holiday fare and make these. You won't be sorry.
And now I'm going to share way to many pictures of these crisps. I couldn't help myself, they were so stinking cute I couldn't put my camera down.
Today is the day! What day is that, you ask? Well, it's the official day for sharing my cookie recipe for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap - and trust me - it's a good one.
Monday, December 10, 2012
I don't know if you realized, but it is about two weeks until Christmas. TWO weeks. I say this every single year (I'm redundant like that) but I have not-a-clue as to how the time goes by so insanely fast. I've got Christmas countdown whiplash over here.
Luckily, we've got our shopping done. Well, with the exception of like 1 1/2 presents. How can a person have one half of a present left to buy? Not sure, but I managed that somehow. I'm like a gifting Houdini.
Speaking of Houdini, these little peppermint parfaits are something that on paper I couldn't quite figure out. Raspberry gelatin and peppermint? How exactly does that work? To be honest, I'm still not sure how it works, I just know that it does.
The recipe actually came from my sister's mother-in-law (following that?), and my sister brought it to our Christmas gathering a few years back and I was instantly intrigued.
When I started planning what holiday treats I wanted to make this year, peppermint gelatin popped into my head. It's so cute and festive. But I couldn't just leave it alone, I wanted to tweak.
I have been having a love affair with individual desserts, as evidenced here and here. So my first alteration was to turn this dessert into a bunch of cutie patootie parfaits. Small jello desserts then got me thinking about small boozy jello desserts, and I felt that was something worth exploring. I can't tell you how glad I am that I did.
I have also been having a fascination (dare I say, another love affair) with marshmallow vodka as of late, so I figured adding some to make these desserts more 'grown up' would be a great idea. Cool peppermint with the sweet gelatin and smooth whipped topping make this a perfectly sweet combination.
These parfaits were made two ways: boozy and not boozy. That way the kiddos could enjoy them as well because I knew if I made a cute little red and pink dessert there was no avoiding the Baby wanting a piece of the action. So, one boozy batch and one not boozy batch were made. And all were enjoyed!
Friday, December 7, 2012
After after bombarding you with sweets lately (not that anyone besides my waistline is complaining), I thought I would offer you a vegetable. But have no fear. This is no ordinary vegetable. This is a roasty, garlicky cauliflower tossed with lemony herb breadcrumbs and topped with Romano cheese. Yes, cheese.
Last week, while strolling through the produce section, I happened upon purple, orange and green cauliflower. Well, the green was technically 'brocoflower' but you get the idea. I was inspired to get these, because frankly, I needed some veggies in my life after Thanksgiving's heavy fair and pretty veggies just taste better. Yes, I'm a child. The kiddos were also interested in these fancy flowers so I let them each pick a color. The Baby picked purple (shocking) and the Buddy picked green - and that's only because they didn't have blue.
I was unsure how I would prepare the colorful cauliflower (that was almost as difficult to type as it was to say), but thought I would take some help from my olive oil stash from Bumble. I used their knock-your-socks-off balsamic vinegar in my Roasted Brussels Sprouts, so this time I thought I would add some flavor to my veggies with their Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and Basil Infused Olive Oil. Fyi: Both can be found in their Bee's Knee's gift set.
The roasted cauliflower and garlic tossed with the flavored oils and kicked up herby bread crumbs turned out even better than I had hoped, both warm and vibrant with a bit of crunch from the homemade breadcrumbs. Top it all off with a bit of Roman cheese and you have yourself a killer side dish. Or even a main course.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A few weeks ago, the awesome Jessica from How Sweet It Is posted an incredible recipe for Crockpot Coconut Hot Chocolate and I literally (think Chris from Parks and Rec) have not been able to stop thinking about it.
First of all, anything in the slow-cooker is gold in my book, but hot chocolate? Holy, genius. A quick Google search showed that apparently I am super late coming to the 'hot chocolate in a slow cooker' party, but then again, I tend to be that way with everything. What can ya do?
And guys, I just loooovvve hot chocolate. Like love it, love it and will find any excuse to buy it/make it/drink it.
When I was little, my family would go to this pancake restaurant in town and I would always order hot chocolate to drink. The main reason being it came topped with an obscene amount of whipped cream and a giant handful of mini chocolate chips. A few minutes after it's arrival at the table, the magic would start to happen. The whipped cream would melt, dropping all of the chocolate chips into the hot chocolate and creating a melty-fudgey floor on the bottom of the cup. Crazy good. At least to a 7 year old. Or a 30 year old, apparently.
wantedneeded to try my hand at hot chocolate in the slow cooker. This couldn't be something that I lived without for even one more day.
With my current obsession being peppermint and chocolate, I just had to go the peppermint route. Last week, I picked up these cute little Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips without a clear plan in my head. I saw them, noticed that they were peanut free (score!) and quite frankly, adorable - so I had to get them. I just had to.
On this same trip to the grocery I also happened upon holiday flavored marshmallows (be still my heart!) and they had these super cute, teeny little pink peppermint ones
that quickly found their way into my cart as well.
I had no idea how the Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips would melt, but oh...my...goodness! I needn't have worried. They melted into an incredibly smooth and minty goodness. That combined with the rich and thick melted chocolate easily made this the best hot chocolate I have ever had. In fact, I'm getting sad sitting here writing about this hot chocolate and the fact that it's gone. I really need to make some more.
Monday, December 3, 2012
So, my kitchen is full of holiday bark, cookies for the food blogger swap and a simmering crock-pot of hot chocolate, and all I can think about is last night's episode of Homeland.
Blowing. My. Mind.
It is unbelievable to me that Carrie would run back into the mill toward the head of the bad guys, armed with only a pipe. I guess waiting patiently for backup doesn't make for an interesting show and I have to say, this show is awesome...I'm this close to putting on a house coat and calling it 'my stories'. Eating holiday bark while watching 'my stories' would improve things even further.
This is not your ordinary holiday bark. It's a twist on the classic. And then maybe a twist on the twist.
It starts with Matzo crackers and WOWButter. Due to the Baby's peanut allergy, I have been experimenting with peanut butter alternatives in desserts. I have had some great results with SunButter and now with WOWButter - which is a butter made from roasted soy nuts. The texture is incredibly similar to actual peanut butter - not grainy the way some alternative butters can be. It also has that unmistakable roasty flavor of peanut butter and doesn't have to be refrigerated.
That paired with smooth chocolate and salty pretzels seemed like a match made in Matzo bark heaven to me.
Growing up, my dad always had Matzo crackers in the house. My Dad and I would take a whole cracker and spread it with a thin layer of jelly - all the way to the edges of the cracker. It was very difficult to carry around, as I refused to use a plate, but my goodness was it delicious.