Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yum, gingerbread is one of my favorites!  
These are moist and so tasty, it will make regular gingerbread pale in comparison.  I may need to make another batch before Christmas. 
I found this recipe on this site, and my only suggested change is to cut the icing recipe in half.  It's delicious, but it made too much. These bars are good enough that they don't have to have the icing at all, powdered sugar would be enough. 
Leftover icing... you can use it on another batch of cookies, or spread it on gingersnaps or graham crackers.

Serves: 24 bars


1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg, well beaten 
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger 
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Frosting: (or just dust with powdered sugar)
½ cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 lb (3¾ cups) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and molasses on medium speed until creamy.

Add the egg and stir until completely incorporated. Add flour, spices, and salt and mix until well combined.  It's a somewhat thick dough, but easy enough to pat down in the pan with a spatula or your fingers.

Spread dough into prepared pan, using clean hands or a rubber spatula to press the dough to the edges of the pan. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes; do not overbake! If the edges puff up, push down with your fingers while it is cooling, that will make a nice evenly flat bunch of gingerbread bars.

Cool in a pan with a wire rack.

When bars have cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting or dust lightly with powdered sugar. They are delicious with nothing on them! Cut into squares and serve.

For the frosting: Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Slowly mix on low and then beat it on high until fluffy.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Chambord "Christmas" Margarita

Ho, ho, ho.
Christmas says Mexican food to me.
Actually anytime says Mexican food to me!  Hahaha.
This is a beautiful, festive drink that is tangy and tasty but not too sweet!  We had this with some simple tacos for dinner last night, but it would be a nice cocktail for a holiday get together too.

Serves 2 big margaritas (with refills)  Or, maybe 4 normal size margaritas...

6oz tequila
3oz fresh lime juice, plus some for garnish
2oz simple syrup
2oz chambord
2 oz cranberry juice
Sweet, Salty Lime margarita salt:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
zest of 1 lime

Fill a blender with about 3 cups of ice.  Add tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, cranberry juice and Chambord and blend until smooth.  If needed for thicker margaritas, add more ice. Place salty and sweet lime margarita salt in a shallow dish then run a lime wedge around the rim of 2 cocktail glasses and dunk into lime sugar. Fill glasses with margaritas, garnish with a lime wheel, or wedge, and serve.

For the salty and sweet lime margarita salt: Add sugar, salt, and lime zest to a food processor or blender then process until smooth. You will have leftover margarita salt, but it will last a long time.  I must admit, I tossed a teaspoon into my salsa too.  

My view from my chair last night.  You can see I need to buy more Christmas china, haha.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower with Apples, Bacon & Balsamic vinegar

Always on the look out for a new easy side dish.  I love that you can easily prep this ahead and just throw in a hot oven to cook while you concentrate on the rest of the dinner.  I found this recipe on this site and I was instantly smitten and wanted to give it a try.

Many of you may have heard me complain about balsamic vinegar.... I am not usually a fan of the stuff.  While I love the tangy vinegar, it's usually too sweet and too dark colored, ruining the colors of a dish.  In this dish, it's wonderful.   I take it all back (for n

Serves about 4-6

1 head cauliflower, broken into flowerettes
2 apples, de-cored and cut into thick slices, or chunks
4 thick slices bacon, cut into strips
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Marinate the cauliflower and apples in the vinegar for about 1 hour.  I used a gallon ziploc bag and shook it altogether.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
Spread out the cauliflower and apple slices on the prepared baking sheet and cover with the chopped bacon and generous amounts of salt and pepper.

Roast for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and using a spatula, flip the cauliflower mixture.
Place back in the oven and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the bacon is crisp.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Spanish Albondigas Meatballs in Tomato Garlic Sauce

Tapas Party! After a great trip to Spain recently with friends, we were excited to get together and swap photos, talk stories and re-live some of the yummiest food we've had in a long time. Might have wanted to sip wine too.  You know. Four couples, each couple bringing 2-3 dishes for us to recreate the feeling a lots of small, succulent tastes. 

This photo only shows a small portion of what we enjoyed that night.
In fact, the very top photo is what I made with the leftovers I had to bring home! 
Way too much food... isn't that always the way at the best parties?

Here's a shot of my plate...

It's rare that I change so little in a recipe.  This is one of those.  I did three things different from the original- I used a red bell pepper, reduced the salt and added fresh ground pepper.

Makes enough for 8-10 as a tapas (small dish)

1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground beef (not lean)
1/2 pound ground pork (not lean)
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (33 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes, including juice
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

I use my food processor to cut up the peppers and onions in a small mince

In a 9-inch heavy well-seasoned skillet (preferably cast-iron) cook onion and bell pepper in 2 tablespoons oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Cool mixture. In a large bowl combine well onion mixture, ground meat, bread crumbs, salt, nutmeg, and parsley. Form level tablespoons of mixture into balls (about 90 1" meatballs or 45 2" balls). In skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown meatballs in batches (about 16 at a time), shaking skillet frequently so that meatballs maintain their shape and adding remaining 3 tablespoons oil as necessary. Transfer meatballs with a slotted spoon as browned to a bowl. I added the drippings to the sauce too, they looked too delicious to waste.

Here's the sauce simmering as I brown up the meat balls

I used a big cookie scoop to make the meatballs, rolling them smooth before browning

Toss the browned meatballs into the simmering sauce.  Don't over stir at this point, while  your meatballs are browned on the outside, they are still soft inside

Sauce: In a heavy kettle (at least 6 quarts) cook garlic in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice and oregano and simmer, breaking up tomatoes. Add meatballs and simmer, covered, gently stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until meatballs are tender and sauce is thickened slightly.

Transfer meatballs with slotted spoon to heated serving dish. If sauce seems thin, boil gently, stirring frequently, until thickened to desired consistency. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over meatballs. Meatballs and sauce may be made 2 days ahead. Let it cool uncovered and chill covered. reheat meatballs before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine, on LOVED this one!

Yummy to eat as an appetizer (tapas) or as main dish served tossed with some pasta.

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