Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Egg Nog French Toast with Butter Rum Syrup

Maybe you haven't started your diet yet...?
Maybe you still have leftover egg nog?
Or rum?
This is a very simple and yummy way to use up some of those holiday leftovers. 

People always says that the alcohol cooks out of baked goods, but I am not 100% believing that, so maybe you shouldn't feed this to kids.  It made a very nice breakfast for the two of us on Christmas Eve morning with a slice of ham.  I must say, that Butter Rum syrup is also very nice on your ham.
Probably make an awesome Hot Buttered Rum drink later on with any leftover syrup too...

Do make the effort to find that thick sliced called "Texas Toast" if you can.  It makes a wonderful thick and custardy french toast.

Serves two (Easy to double, triple, quadruple depending on your crowd)

1 cup egg nog, I used low fat
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla, or rum
4 slices thick cut bread, like "Texas Toast" egg bread

Butter Rum Syrup

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rum, any kind, I used spiced rum (or a tsp of rum flavoring...)
2-3 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp water (as needed)

 In a deep plate, or baking dish, beat up the eggs until well beaten.  Add the egg nog and the flavoring.  Add the bread in to soak, about 1-2 minutes per side.  
Cook over a medium hot non stick griddle, or frying pan for 2-3 minutes per side until it looks done. Cook it a little longer if you want it a bit firmer and not soft in the middle.  I like it kind of soft.

To make the syrup, 
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the brown sugar and the rum and heat to bubbling hot. Keep your eye on it....  If it seems too thick, add a bit of water.  Serve at once, but this can also be made ahead and reheated.  Store any other leftovers for another day.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Old Fashioned- The New Holiday Tradition

I wish you an Old Fashioned Christmas.  
The kind where kids are good, there are no kitchen mishaps, the decorations stay in place and none of your relatives get out of hand.
Hmmmm.... can't conjure up a holiday memory like that one?
No, me neither.
Maybe, just maybe, that's the best kind.  
Make a round of these pretty little drinks, and give a toast to each other in love and acceptance.
Hold each other tight.
But not too tight... and NO strangle holds either.

I got this recipe from the December Bon Appetit 2012. The article was called Holiday Heirlooms, and I loved that this guy wrote about the Old fashioned cocktail that his dad always made at Christmas.  It's more fruity than the traditional cocktail... I think.  I say that because I had never had a "real" Old Fahioned before.  This was an easy and festive sipping cocktail, and so pretty too!

One NOTE, about the sugar cubes.... most people really don't have sugar cubes hanging around, now do they?  I just skipped them and used a little more grenadine, but a teaspoon of regular sugar, or honey or agave syrup would work too.

Makes 1

2 sugar cubes
4 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 lemon wheel
1 lime wheel
1 orange wheel
1 maraschino cherry
1/2 teaspoon grenadine
2 jiggers bourbon or rye whiskey
Club soda
Ginger ale

Drop sugar cubes in a rocks glass; sprinkle with bitters and add citrus wheels, cherry, and grenadine. Using a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, mash just to release fruit juices and oils. Add bourbon. Fill glass with ice cubes; stir to combine. Top with equal parts club soda and ginger ale.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Candy Cane White Chocolate Fudge

Ah, sugar blues can be a good thing.
Plus, giving this makes others happy.
Go ahead, spread a little cheer, someone needs it.

Over the years I have had very bad luck with white "chocolate" chips.  
They just are tricky to melt.  
It's probably because I can be very inpatient, and if you try to rush it, it gets too hot and "seizes" up.  Seizes up is a nice way to say WRECKED.  Once something seizes into a hard mass it's pretty much impossible to fix.  
This fudge is easy beacuse the sweetened condensed milk mixes nicely to protect the chocolate while melting.

I was thrilled to find the pre-crushed candy cane mixture at the local drug store, Bartells.  It was $1.99 and saved me a bunch of heart ache from buying a box and unwrapping them and then pounding them into oblivion myself.  I hate to unwrap them (they never come off willingly) and crushing the canes in a ziploc bag always is messy when holes sprout up from your smacking it with your meat tenderizer,  I mean, how do you  crush candy canes?  Me? I'm going back to Bartells to get some more pre-crushed.

Makes am 8x8 pan

3 cups white chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 bags)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup crushed candy canes

Line a buttered 8x8 pan with parchment or wax paper.   

In a double boiler, or some sort of rig like below.  Gently melt the sweetened condensed milk and the white chocolate chips.  Keep the heat on medium and stir.  Remove from heat as soon as all the chips are mostly melted. ***You can do this in the microwave but I think it's tricky and too hard to watch that it doesn't get too hot.  

Here it is as I am starting...

I mixed in about 2/3 cup of candy canes as soon as the mixture was almost completely melted.  Stirring in the lumpy candy canes helps to make the chocolate smoother.

Add to the prepared pan and smooth the top. That's a bit tricky but the next step helps.

Sprinkle the rest of the candy canes over the top and gently press them into the fudge so they will stick.  Let the mixture cool for a couple hours.  Cut into 1" squares. The mixture freezes well too, though the candy canes can get a little melted.

Here's some other fudge recipes:
Peanut Butter Fudge
Fudge for Dummies

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lazy Girl Crockpot Black Bean Chili

I've been a little busy.
I am sure you can understand.
It could be the season, it could be the job, it could be life in general.
... I know it's just not me, right?

This recipe was so easy, so cheap and so fast to prepare, it might be just the thing to put on before you head out for a day of work, or Christmas shopping.

We headed to Ikea last night, and I was feeling very smug that I had dinner ready to go when we finally got home.  I love that place, but wow, it takes a lot out of you.  Crazy traffic and bad drivers on the way, jockeying for a parking spot, then inconsiderate aisle "campers' blocking the miles of pathways through loads of Swedish delights. I picked up my favorite staples:  candles, wood hangers and kitchen gadgets, plus picked up a load of stocking stuffers for little gal I know. 

When we got home I was ready to dish that chili into bowls and serve.
But someone else had other thoughts... 
"Hey, remember when we used to eat chili and rice? That is the ultimate comfort food for me. I'll chop some tomatoes...".
Someone has a way of getting his way.
Ahem... hold please, while dinner waits for the rice to cook.

Oh well, it was a good idea and delicious too. If you chose to just have a bowl or chili au natural, or if you try it over rice.  It will be tasty, warm and comforting.

Serves about 6

2 cans black beans, undrained
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 chipotle peppers (canned with some sauce)
2-3 garlic cloves, or 1 tsp granulated garlic
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste (when it's done cooking)

Saute up the onions and peppers over medium high heat.  Add to the crock pot.  Brown the hamburger and add to the crock pot too. Mince up the chipotle peppers and add to the mix.  Open the cans and add all the spices and cocoa powder.  

Cook in your crockpot on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

NOTE:  You could do this in a dutch oven on the stove top too, it could be ready to eat in under an hour. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie Martini

This is a yummy little dessert martini.

2 kinds of coconut rum, plus a little hint of amaretto and cream.
It's a perfect rendition of a coconut cream pie with a relaxing kick.

I thought about dipping the rim of the glass in toasted coconut, or even graham crackers, but when it came down to it, I decided it didn't really need it.


1 martini

1 jigger coconut rum
2 jiggers coconut liqueur, like Malibu or Parrot Bay
1 jigger amaretto
1 jigger half and half

Optional Garnish,
Soft whipped whipped cream
Toasted coconut

Mix everything but the garnish in the cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake, shake, shake.
Strain into a glass and top with lightly whipped cream and coconut.

*** Note:  This is perfectly yummy without the whip cream, it just doesn't look as nice.

Do not leave unattended, your drink could be consumed by pets or small children.

Pshaw... he didn't get anything except a little whip cream on his nose, which is exactly what he was after!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lime & Toasted Coconut Bread

Maybe December 1st is a weird day to post a recipe "Lime and Coconut Bread".
I found a cute little blog with this cake recipe on it, and I needed to try it myself.
She called this cake "The perfect slice of summer". 
...But summer is long gone here, and the grey winter doldrums are arriving soon.  
I'm feeling it already, and maybe you are too.
I think that it might be the best time to have something like this.
You will certainly appreciate the remembrance of nicer days, and it gives you the hope and happiness of the coming warmer months.

You can call this bread, or cake. 
It's up to you! It would be great for dessert, but it also made a bunch of people happy at breakfast time too. If you want to check the original posting, try Baked Perfection.

One loaf
1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
4 limes, zested (save juice for glaze, below)
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter (1 cube)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup toasted coconut, separated
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread flaked coconut on non-greased cookie sheet. Toast in oven, stirring every five minutes, until it turns light golden, about 20 minutes. Remove coconut from cookie sheet and set aside. .
Preheat 350 degrees (for baking the cake now...). Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Zest your limes, retaining 2 teaspoons for the glaze later on.

In a medium bowl, mix together the baking powder and flour. In a separate large bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, eggs, lime zest, vanilla extract, salt, and butter. Stir in the yogurt until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined, being careful not to over mix. Fold in 2/3 cup of toasted coconut, saving the other 1/3 for the top.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Wait for 10 minutes and carefully remove to a cooling rack.

For soaking warm cake:

1/3 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

Mix the juice and sugar together and let sit until the sugar is all dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Spoon the mixture over the cake, do it slowly and let it soak into the warm cake. Allow the cake to finish cooling.


For glazing cooled cake:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed key lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
1/3 cup toasted coconut

Mix together powdered sugar and lime juice. Spoon glaze over the top and garnish with lime zest and toasted coconut; let the cake set up overnight before serving.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge

Three ingredients... three very dangerous ingredients.
This peanut butter fudge was so amazingly easy and so delicious.

I made this yesterday, and froze it to keep to bring out closer to Christmas.
Too bad I let my husband know it was in there.... have I mentioned that it even tastes good frozen?  
Too bad I know it's in there too.
Good news IS.... it's easy to make more.

You could add chopped dry roasted peanuts to the mixture if you prefer crunchy peanut butter fudge. I think it better than using crunchy peanut butter... but heck, even that ought to be delicious too. You could also add chocolate chips at the last minute before adding it to the pan to cool.

Makes about 2 lbs

1 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
16 oz powdered sugar (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla (I forgot to use it...)

Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper ( I used an 6x10 pan).

Melt butter and peanut butter in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat.  Let it melt completely.

Turn off the heat, then add the vanilla and the powdered sugar. 

Mix well

Add to the pan, smooth the top.  Chill for 2 hours, then cut into squares.

Do you like fudge?
Who doesn't, right?
Here's a couple other good (and easy) recipes:
Penuche- Brown Sugar Fudge
Fudge for Dummies

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Yummy Nuts

These are crunchy, delicious and addicting! Sweet and salty too.

My sister-in-law has been making these for years, and graciously shared the recipe with me (and now you!).  When I first tried them, I thought it was the most amazing thing I ever tasted!

Now I make these every Christmas time, to eat and share.
They make great hostess gifts or gifts for co-workers and perfect for a holiday gathering.  I once took a huge double batch of these into work and they were devoured in under two hours!  

I tell myself that these are better for you than candy, because the nuts have protein and good oils.... okay, I know that not exactly correct, but it works for me at this time of year. 

These nuts are, of course, great on their own for snacking, but also fantastic in salads (think of it with pears and blue cheese, tossed with some greems!) and also good in cookies for some more crunch.

One other thing, you could add spices to the mixture for a little more kick.  Try cinnamon, cloves, or ground ginger.  

Makes about 5 cups

1/2 cup butter, I use regular salted butter.
1 cup sugar
2 egg whites
5 cups of nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Dash of salt, if desired

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Cut the butter in half (1/4 cup each) and one to each cookie sheet.  Add it to the oven to melt while you are doing the rest of the prep for the yummy nuts.

Separate the eggs, retaining the yolks for another use (like scrambled eggs tomorrow).
With a mixer, beat the egg whites until they are starting to firm up.  Sprinkle in the sugar while the mixer is going. It will be a sticky, shiny mixture that almost looks like marshmallow cream.

Add the nuts

Mix to coat the nuts, don't stir too vigorously, just enough to coat the nuts.

Take your hot, buttery pans out of the oven.  They look something like this:

Add the nuts in one single layer.... that's why I have you use two pans.  You could do one pan, but it's a bit trickier to stir them later on.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring them every 10 minutes! The nuts will brown as the time goes, and stirring helps to brown evenly. 

Try to let them cool a bit before trying them... 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pink Palace Cocktail

We just got back from a little business, and pleasure, trip.  
I'm sorry I've been a slacker and haven't posted in almost two weeks.

But, Arizona in November is pretty fantastic... last Sunday was 80 degrees. 
By the pool... 
...after a relaxing massage
...with a cocktail.
Can you say happy?  I can.

A Pink Palace hit the spot.  So simple to make and enjoy too.
Even if you don't have a pool, or the weather.

We're sitting here visiting, waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to cook.  
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  

Makes one

3 oz of pineapple juice, about 1/3 cup
1 jigger coconut rum
1/2 jigger Grand Marnier
1-2 Tbsp grenadine
1 maraschino cherry, optional
1 orange slice, optional

In a tall glass filled about 3/4 with ice, add the rum, the Grand Mariner, the grenadine and the pineapple juice.  It looks like a sunset like this...

but I would recommend giving it a little stir to make it all delightfully coral pink, and every drop tp taste the same deliciousness. Add a maraschino cherry, if you like.  An orange slice would be nice too, if you have one.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baked Parmesan Salmon

This is such an easy way to prepare fish.  
We had it twice in one week, I was so happy with the results.
It's rich and delicious... and easy, did I mention that?
OK, so it's not particularly low calorie, it's really good... and it's easy.
I really, really loved this technique and plan on using it again and again.  Everyone needs a down and dirty fish recipe that is easy to do after working all day... that tastes like something special too.

Next time I make this, I may try using Greek yogurt instead of mayo to see how that works. 

Serves 2 

2 fish fillets (salmon, tilapia, cod or red snapper work well)
½ lemon, juiced
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 Tbsp finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt 

1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 (or two...) dash hot pepper sauce
Pepper, you won't need salt because of the cheese and mayo!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish or jellyroll pan, lay fillets in single layer.

Brush top with lemon juice. 
Bake fish in preheated oven 10 to 20 minutes or until fish just starts to flake or "sweat" a little bit.  The cooking time depends on how thick your fish is, and how cooked you like it.  I like mine a little on the underdone side.

While that is cooking, in a small bowl combine all ingredients; cheese, butter, mayonnaise, cheese, green onions and seasonings.

Mix well with fork. 

Spread the salmon with cheese mixture 

Broil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Serve at once.

I tried this baked as above, or also on the stove top using my cast iron skillet.I quickly seared the salmon and cooked for about 5 minutes, then topped with the mixture and popped it under the broiler.

Need some other Salmon recipes?:
Black & White Salmon
Lemon Rosemary Salmon
Maple Dijon Salmon Fillets on Spinach Salad
Salmon, Spinach & Garbonzos baked in foil

Salmon with Asian Ginger Lime Sauce

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving is almost here.
How's your inspiration doing?
Sometimes mine isn't too zippy at this time of year.
I thought maybe yours needed a jump start too.

People can be picky... some don't like change, some don't eat meat, some don't eat any animal products.  
As if you don't have enough to do on that one big feast day, right?
Let's see... this is what my day looks like...
Set a beautiful table using all your best stuff
Cook all day
Eat for... what, one hour tops?
Make delightful conversation
Clear the table
Package leftovers
Clean, clean, clean
Go lay on the floor, comatose, or play a vicious board game with your loved ones.
It's a HECK of a lot of work, most of these recipes are do ahead, or at least prep ahead.
Go ahead and enjoy yourself on this day.

Here's some of my favorite recipes that are appropriate for a variety of people...

Good ole' Stuffing!  My favorite dish from Thanksgiving, which is funny since it wasn't always that way.

Chorizo Chipotle Cornbread Stuffing

Make some cornbread a couple of days before, and chop the onions and celery too, and you'll be mostly ready.


Sourdough and Sausage Stuffing

Like above, chop the celery and onions ahead of time, and cube up some stale sourdough in the weeks before Thanksgiving and keep it in the freezer. Don't try this recipe with super fresh sourdough bread, it needs to be dried out.

Need some Vegetarian or Vegan Options ?  Every group gathering seems to have them...
Everyone in your group will like these

Roasted Beets with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Perfect for the vegetarians in the group, and if you kept the goat cheese on the side, you could feed the vegans too.  This dish would be just as good at room temperature if you want to do it ahead of time.

Red Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad 

Definately do this one the day before, serve like a salad, either cold, hot or room temperature.  This would also be filling enough for a main course for the Vegan's in your group.


Butternut Squash Waldorf Salad

Colorful, flavorful and crunch too.  This one is similar to the above, make ahead and serve cool, or at room temperature. 

Creamed Spinach and Mushrooms, Cooking Light

I love this one, so yummy and rich too.  Make this the day before and reheat until bubbly warm with the turkey.

Caramelized Green Onions, Tomato and Zucchini

This one is more last minute preparation, but the good news is that you could get all the veggies chopped and ready to go in the days before Thanksgiving.

What about desserts?  Yeah, the most important part!

Pecan Pie with Kahlua  

Somebody at my house hates, hates, hates pumpkin pie. I always make a pecan pie to make him happy.  I like how most people want a slice of pecan pie AND pumpkin pie.  Make this the day before too.

Maple Yogurt Pound Cake 

I dunno, maybe Maple pound cake isn't special enough for the big holiday???  But, you could serve this for breakfast on Thanksgiving, or something nice much later after the big dinner with some coffee.  The flavors and textures are just perfect for Fall.

 (Photo credit to Thanks Rivka!)
Rhubarb Ginger Whole Wheat Pie

This one is Vegan, and delicious.  You could substitute Apples for Rhubarb. I could eat this every week...