Archive for the ‘Holiday baking’ Category
‘Tis better to give than receive. For cooks getting crafty in the kitchen, this couldn’t be more true. There’s just something about presenting someone with a gift you made yourself that means so much more than buying a gift at the store.
This was the premise behind an article I just wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I made a Homemade Bellini Bar, Cherry Almond Muesli, Peppermint Bark, Beer and Caramel Pretzels, Cowboy Cookie Mix, and Tangerine Curd.
Looking at some of my old recipes during my Blogiversary and Giveaway Post, I decided this would be the perfect topic for a recipe roundup. Here are a few recipes that would make excellent holiday gifts this season:
Other Recipe Roundups:
Question: Do you like giving homemade gifts for the holidays? What types of things do you make?
Today I’m posting now because I skipped the gym (gasp!). I knew it was going to happen because I felt like a bag of bones yesterday after a 5-mile run on Monday night and getting up Tuesday morning at 5:30 for cardio and strength training at my gym (I also managed to pack in two days of lunchtime walking).
To be honest, a good hour-long yoga session sounds like heaven right about now. On Wednesdays, my gym offers a 7 pm class. I’ve never gone at this time before (probably because it’s weird and I don’t know when to eat dinner). Maybe I should break it up and have a snack before and after? Advice!?
Memorial Day Dessert
This weekend we are heading to Brittney’s house to grill out for Memorial Day. Brenton and I are bringing a dessert, side and, of course, some booze. Since I’ve been thinking a ton about recipes, I thought I would share one that would be perfect for a picnic or party. It’s easy-peasy and includes all of my favorite things – like peanut butter, marshmallows, chocolate and rice krispies.
I found the recipe on Avery’s blog and adapted it based on what I had in my own pantry. love those decadent bar recipes I always see from other bloggers, but I hardly ever take the time to make them (I usually just admire the photos!)
My secret ingredient:
Step 2: Add marshmallows
Peanut Butter Chocolate S’mores Rice Krispie Treats
Adapted from Avery Cooks
Makes 16 bars
5 graham cracker sheets
2 cups marshmallows (I cut the big ones in half)
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 3/4 chocolate bunnies, chopped (or 1 cup chocolate chips)
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 7×11-inch pan with tin foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Lay graham crackers down to fit (you’ll have to break one to get in all the crevices). Sprinkle with marshmallows and bake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until marshmallows start to lightly brown.
Sprinkle with white chocolate chips and bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven.
In a microwave safe bowl, combine peanut butter, butter and chocolate bunny. Microwave for a minute, stirring halfway through. Once melted, stir in the Rice Krispies. Layer PB/chocolate mixture evenly in the pan. Place in the fridge for about an hour, or in the freezer for 20 minutes. Once cold, serve.
Question: What are your go-to party desserts or side dishes? I’d love some links for ideas!
Since I made this English Toffee two days ago, I cannot stop sneaking pieces every chance I get. It’s like an addiction. Hard, buttery candy with a smooth chocolate topping is underrated.
Ironically, I made toffee as part of our annual holiday treat bags for friends and family members. But they don’t need to worry. This recipe makes 1 3/4 pounds, so there is plenty enough to go around.
Easy English Toffee
Makes 1 3/4 pounds
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup butter, divided
1-3/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 fun-size Hershey bars
Grease a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. jelly roll pan with 2 teaspoons butter; set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine sugar and cream of tartar; stir in cream and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 300° (hard-crack stage). Remove from the heat; stir in extract. Quickly pour into prepared pan. After about 5 minutes, place chocolate bars over the toffee until melted. Spread evenly over candy with a spatula.
When cool (this will take a few hours), break into bite-size pieces with your hands. Store in an airtight container.
Question: What candy would you love to recreate at home?
Let’s face it, Christmas is usually about the main course. The prime rib…the ham. Oh, and don’t forget the dessert tray. With so many cookies, fruitcakes and pies, most of us are so busy looking toward the finale that we sometimes overlook the most important meal of the day – breakfast.
I recently made this hearty – and healthy – Italian-syle egg casserole while writing an article for the Journal this week. Although the article is about eating healthfully in the New Year, I thought this dish would be perfect for a holiday breakfast.
Italian Sunday Brunch Bake
From Today show nutritionist Joy Bauer’s cookbook “Slim and Scrumptious”
Makes 4 jumbo servings
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pound small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
8 ounces white button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 slices Canadian bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 cups baby spinach leaves
4 whole eggs
8 egg whites
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Liberally coat a large skillet with nonstick spray and preheat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, adding a tablespoon of water at a time to prevent scorching, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add bell pepper and potato pieces and cook until the potatoes begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and herbs, cooking until tender, about 3 minutes. Add Canadian bacon and stir.
Reduce heat to low and add spinach and stir until spinach wilts. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and egg whites. Add the nonfat milk and black pepper. Add the cooled vegetable mixture to the eggs and stir well. Pour into the prepared casserole dish and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the potatoes are cooked through. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and broil 4 to 5 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Serve hot.
Per serving (1/4 of recipe): 297 calories, 30g carbohydrates, 28g protein, 8g fat (2g saturated), 235mg cholesterol, 735mg sodium, 5g fiber.
Question: What’s your favorite thing to eat for a holiday breakfast?
I remember eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning when we were little. Sugary carbs and presents make for one happy, little girl.
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love a good Thin Mint from their local Girl Scouts (or heck, a whole roll :) ). The only problem is that these goodies only come around once a year.
Lucky for you, you can make these babies at home and have surprisingly similar tasting results. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. But after having this recipe from Baking Bites stashed in my recipe binder for a few years, I figured I would throw caution to the wind and try them out.
The peppermint in this cookie is also perfect for the holidays. And won’t your loved ones be surprised when you add these to their cookie tray. I was sneaky and made mine a rectangular shape (no one is going to know what hit them).
Homemade Thin Mints
Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies
From Baking Bites
For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the milk and the extracts. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours or until dough is very firm.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Slice dough into rounds about 1/4″ thick and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.
For the chocolate coating:
10 ounce package chocolate chips (such as Ghiradelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt on high power in the microwave, stirring every 45-60 seconds or until chocolate is smooth. But keep a close eye on it because it can scorch easily.
Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of wax paper. Once chocolate has set, transfer to an airtight container, the fridge or freezer.
Question: What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
Me? I’m a sucker for Peanut Butter Blossoms with a Hershey’s Kiss.
Although it seems like just yesterday that She’s on the Run came to be, one whole year has gone by (I can’t even believe it).
But when I look at my first post, it reminds me how much has changed.
I’ve moved, switched jobs and have been through more life experiences than I’d care to admit (such as being hit by a tough economy firsthand). I’ve also had my share of good times and discovered a new passion. Take this blog for example. It combines my two great loves: cooking and writing. And it’s great to look back at all my culinary accomplishments this past year (and laugh at the ones that haven’t gone so well).
To celebrate, I’m compiling my favorite recipes.
Cookie Dough Truffles
For those of you who make chocolate chip cookies just to sneak bits of the dough, these tiny treats are for you.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
The most delicious way to cook with butternut squash.
Taffy Apple Salad
I’ve easily made this salad a dozen times (including a tasty batch last week). The combination of apples, pineapple and marshmallows puts me over the moon.
Potato Carrot Zucchini Pancakes
A unique twist on traditional potato pancakes.
Tater Tot Casserole
This may not be the best looking dish of the bunch, but it’s definitely the most comforting.
Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins
Shaped like a muffin but with the flavor of a doughnut…make these for a truly special breakfast.
My preferred way to use up Summer’s fresh rhubarb.
Gnocchi with White Beans
This dish is easy and impressive – definitely worthy of serving to company.
My Birthday Cake
So what if I didn’t exactly make this? The carrot cake from Simma’s is the best I’ve ever had. in. my. life.
Happy Birthday, She’s on the Run! Here’s to many more!
For the pumpkin, a turned to the Sara Lee box my mom had in her freezer for the baking directions. It turned out perfectly.
To bake a frozen pumpkin pie, take the unbaked pie directly from the freezer to a 425 degree oven (don’t defrost). Bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
The Dutch Apple Pie was a bit trickier (thank goodness I had two because I burnt the first one).
Just like the pumpkin pie, you want to take the apple pie directly from the freezer to the oven. Bake for 50 minutes at 375 degrees or until the top is golden brown. Note: Don’t put the pie directly on your oven rack. Place it on a pizza pan or large cookie sheet to catch any drips. Your oven will thank you.
I still have some leftover pumpkin and a pie shell, so I’ll definitely be doing another pumpkin pie this year (who says it’s just for Thanksgiving?) but I really plan on wowing friends and relatives this Christmas with a homemade Fruitcake Trifle (which I spotted in the December issue of Better Homes & Gardens). Now that is going to be a dessert to remember.
Question: What are your favorite Christmas sweets?