Archive | December, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

30 Dec

I have always liked cooked cauliflower but usually prefered it drenched with cheese or soy sauce. But once I tried this roasted cauliflower my mind was completely changed. It has a crunchy exterior and a soft, delicious interior that has a unique almost sweet flavor. And it’s healthy! This is pretty much the only way I make cauliflower now which is fine by Joel and Noah who love it prepared this way.

I have served this to people who do not favor cauliflower and it has totally changed their minds. It’s a great way to get picky kids to eat their veggies and it’s super easy to prepare.

The smaller the pieces of cauliflower the more browned, crispy surface there will be…a definite plus in my book.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
3-5 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Tasty Tuesday.

Sicilian Spaghetti Sauce

27 Dec

With the holidays in full swing for the past two months, I have been bringing you all lots and lots of sweets. I mean lots. And as much as I love sweet treats, it’s about time to get back on our normal track. And what better to start with than some good ‘ole comfort food….spaghetti.

Let me tell you, I have never been a big fan of spaghetti. I don’t really know why, it’s just not my thing. Recently I have been on a mission to change that. After trying a few recipes, I was ready to give up. It doesn’t help that Joel doesn’t really like red sauce either. I decided to give it one more shot and I am so glad I did! This Sicilian Spaghetti is sweet and spicy and the most delicious sauce I have ever made. I recommend doubling the recipe because it freezes well. It makes for an awesome and easy weeknight meal (just thaw it, heat it and throw it over some hot pasta).

Sicilian Spaghetti Sauce
recipe from myrecipes.com

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can Italian-style tomato paste
3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
Hot cooked linguine
Shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Remove casings from sausage, and discard. Cook sausage and ground beef in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat 6 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until beef and sausage are no longer pink. Drain and set aside. Wipe skillet clean.
2. Combine sauce and next 7 ingredients in skillet or Dutch oven; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Add sausage mixture and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 hour and 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Serve over linguine; sprinkle with cheese.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday and What I Whipped Up Wednesday.

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies Roundup

22 Dec

Week One – Cherry Chip Cookies

Week 2 – Mint Brownie Crinkles

Week 3 – Butterscotch and Peanut Butter Cornflake Cookies

Week 4 – Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Week 5 – Chocolate Almond Pralines

Week 6 – Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Week 7 – Raspberry Ribbons

Week 8 – Pretzel Cookies

Week 9 – Mini Pecan Pies

Week 10 – Italian Christmas Cookies

Week 11 – Maple Cream Gingersnaps

Week 12 – Orange Clove Snickerdoodles

Orange Clove Snickerdoodles {12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies}

21 Dec

Remember yesterday’s Orange Sugar? Remember how I told you that you had to make it for today’s post? Well now you know why! These Orange Clove Snickerdoodles are so chewy and fresh and perfect for the holidays.

I absolutely love snickerdoodles so when I stumbled upon this recipe I quickly bookmarked it and kept it in the back of my mind waiting for the perfect occasion. And what occasion is better than Christmas? A lot of the treats I made this year were chocolate-y and heavy so the citrus flavor of these cookies was refreshing and a welcomed change to the richness of the other cookies and candies.

We are leaving for our Christmas vacation this afternoon and we are so excited to see all of our family and friends. The next week and a half will be full of food, love and laughter and I can’t wait! I hope that you all are truly enjoying and relishing in this holiday season! Posts may be a bit few and far between until the New Year so please forgive me! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Orange Clove Snickerdoodles
recipe from Cherry Tea Cakes

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup Orange Sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 tablespoons Orange Sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves, or to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. In a stand mixer combine the butter, sugar and egg thoroughly. In a bowl sift together the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Slowly add them to the wet ingredients, until a dough is formed.

3. Shape teaspoons of dough into rounded balls. Roll in the orange sugar and clove mixture.

4. Place two inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Orange Sugar

20 Dec

Have you heard of vanilla sugar? It’s sugar and vanilla beans mixed together then left alone for a few weeks to infuse. After the process is complete you have a vanilla-y sugar that is perfect for baking, sprinkling on scones or fruit and just about anything else you would use regular sugar for. Well, when I added flavored sugar to my Top 100 list, that is what I intended to make. But then I found this. Orange sugar? Seriously!?!

It was so quick and easy to make and will last forever! You have to go and make it now because tomorrow’s last 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookie will involve it and let me tell you…you will want to make them!

Orange Sugar
recipe from Cherry Tea Cakes

1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. dried orange peel or 1 tblsp. fresh orange zest
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200.
2. In a small pan over medium heat, simmer orange juice and zest. Cook down until the mixture measure one tablespoon.
3. In a stand mixer, on a medium speed add sugar and a few drops of the orange juice reduction at a time. From here you can get creative. If you want to make sugar cubes for your tea, use molds, ice cube trays or shape into a rectangular disk about a fourth of an inch thick and place on a  cookie sheet cutting into cubes and gently spreading out to about two inches apart. I just scattered the sugar on a baking sheet. Bake for at least 15 minutes, stirring or flipping halfway through. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container. To use for baking, place in a food processor and pulse until it is fine and now chunks remain.

Recipe linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweet Party and What I Whipped Up Wednesday.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

19 Dec

 

First off I have to start by saying Happy 27th Birthday to my husband Joel. We have spent many birthdays together but the past two have been especially meaningful seeing him not only as the love of my life but as a father to our son. He is such a fun, loving daddy and I just love watching him interact with our little man. I hope that Noah grows up to be as spirited, positive and social as Joel.

Now, onto the food. When I found these cupcakes, I knew they would be an instant hit with Joel. Snickerdoodles are one of his favorite cookies and he also quite enjoys cupcakes so I knew the combination would be spectacular. And it totally was. The cinnamon cake combined with the sweet cinnamon cream cheese frosting was the perfect treat! They were a huge hit with his colleagues. They are a definite must try!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
recipe from Recipe Girl

CAKE:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk

ICING:
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

TOPPING:
2 Tablespoons sugar + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 28 muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with additions of milk, beating until combined after each addition.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

5. Prepare frosting: In a medium bowl, use electric mixer to blend cream cheese and butter. Add sugars, vanilla and ground cinnamon. Spread onto cooled cupcakes, or scoop into piping bag and pipe on the frosting decoratively. Place sugar-cinnamon mixture in a fine sieve and tap it lightly over the cupcakes to give them a light sprinkle.

Pumpkin Applesauce

19 Dec

Whenever possible, I like to make homemade versions of typically store-bought foods. That way you are really able to control the quality and quantity of ingredients that go into your product. Although I do occasionally buy applesauce from the grocery store, I love being able to make it fresh for my little man. The draw of store-bought applesauce is all the fun, creative flavors and combinations without any sugar added. So really, it’s not a bad thing to purchase. But I still love making things homemade, they always seem to taste better that way.

Pumpkin applesauce was something I had never thought of and totally jumped on as I knew Noah would adore it. I also love that this can be frozen for future use. Another great perk? It can be used as a replacement for oil in baking recipes to make the treats healthier.

Pumpkin Applesauce
recipe from Pennies on a Platter

2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled or unpeeled, cored and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Mix together the apples, cinnamon, lemon juice and water in a medium sized pot. Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft. Remove from heat. Stir in pumpkin puree and vanilla.

2. For chunky applesauce: Use a potato masher to mash the apples to desired consistency.

3. For smooth applesauce: Transfer the apples to a food processor and pulse to desired consistency.

4. Serve at room temperature or cold. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

Homemade Snowcaps

18 Dec

Snowcaps have always been one of my favorite kinds of candy. I don’t know why…they are just chocolate and sprinkles. And I don’t even like plain chocolate. But alas, every time I see them at a store I get giddy and grab several boxes. You don’t see them that often these days so I thought why not make them. I made some traditional ones with white nonpareils and some with Christmas colored nonpareils. They turned out so cute and yummy and were perfect to sprinkle around my cookie trays.

Homemade Snowcaps
recipe from Martha Stewart

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon pure vegetable shortening
1/4 cup white or colored sugar beads

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.

2. Spoon the melted chocolate in nickel-size circles onto prepared baking sheet. Cool for 20 minutes; sprinkle with sugar beads. Let nonpareils harden in a cool place for 4 hours before serving. Yield: about 50 candies.

Recipe linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweet Party and What I Whipped Up Wednesday.

Homemade Ginger Ale {Guest Post at Mom’s Crazy Cooking}

17 Dec

I am so excited to be guest posting at Mom’s Crazy Cooking today! And I’m bringing an awesome holiday gift idea for your family, friends and neighbors….homemade ginger ale. Yep, you heard me right. Please click here to check out the recipe!

Drunken Chocolate Cherries

16 Dec

Joel always loves chocolate covered cherries at the holidays so instead of buying them this year, I went on the hunt for a fun homemade recipe. I have never made chocolate cherries before and when I came across this recipe I knew they would be a simple and yummy little addition to my holiday baking. But let me warn you, they pack a huge punch.

Drunken Chocolate Covered Cherries
recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground

1 (10 oz.) jar maraschino cherries with stems
1/2 c. Southern Comfort (or brandy)
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or some dark chocolate candy melts)
1 Tbsp. shortening

1. Drain the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries.  Pour Southern Comfort over cherries in the jar, filling the jar.  Refrigerate for 2 days, or for up to 1 month.

2. Drain cherries and pat them dry with some paper towels (you may want to reserve the cherry-infused Southern Comfort to drizzle over vanilla ice cream or to use in mixed drinks!).  Melt the chocolate chips (or candy melts) together with the shortening in a bowl by microwaving for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.

3. Dip cherries quickly into melted chocolate, coating the entire cherry; let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.  Place cherries, stem sides up, on wax paper.  Let stand until chocolate is firm.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Fusion Fridays, Everday Sisters Sharing Sunday, Foodie Friday, Feature Friday, Seasonal Inspiration, Sweets for a Saturday and Strut Your Stuff Saturday.

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