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Category Archives: Christmas

King Cake…there’s a baby in there somewhere…

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Mardi Gras was 2 weeks ago, I know, but I love a good King Cake anytime. And I love anything that reminds my of New Orleans.

This morning instead of having my protein shake, I cut into the King Cake that I won at a silent auction and look what I found!

baby in the cake

The tiny baby. On the first slice! So, I guess this means a year of good luck..maybe…? (If I had chocked on it, maybe it would bode as bad luck?)

I could do without the beads on the cake, but that’s a minor complaint.

The history and name of King Cake goes back to Epiphany and the 3 Kings. It is made with a brioche type dough and covered in a white glaze with mardi gras colored sprinkles.  My cake had a bit of cream cheese filling and some are more butter and cinnamon filled. For more history here’s a link to Wilipedia’s post.

It’s a tradition that should move into Christmas, instead of fruitcake.

Here’s a place to buy one online at kingcakes.com

If you’d like to bake one yourself, you can’t go wrong with Southern Living’s recipe.

Southern Living King Cake

 

Do you have a favorite King Cake recipe or place to buy one? Let me know.

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Don’t let your gingerbread men leave home naked..

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There must be, or should be, a rule that all gingerbread men need red buttons to be suitably dressed for holiday functions. The perfect red buttons are Brach’s Cinnamon Imperials. They get just a bit chewy after baking and have the perfect little hot taste to compliment the ginger cookie. Pick up a bag or two before you start your holiday cookie baking frenzy.

“Mini” Eggnog Cheesecakes

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Eggnog is a love/hate food.  I happen to love it, but only in small doses. Adding it to a latte is wonderful, and a small glass with some Kahlua is grand.
Speaking of small doses-I think all desserts should come in “mini” form. I found this mini cheesecake recipe on beautiful blog called “Life Made Simple”
I tweaked it a bit to make it easier (am I creative or just lazy?) The original recipe has a lovely whipped cream topping, but I also took a shortcut there…

Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes (makes 10)

Ingredients:
1 package (8 oz) original cream cheese, room temperature*
¼ c. eggnog*
½ c. sugar
1½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg

For the crust:
6 gingersnap cookies (I used the 1 1/2″ diameter store-bought ones)
2 graham crackers
1½  tbsp. melted butter
1½ tsp. brown sugar
pinch of salt

Topping:
Ready Whip real whippped cream (you know, the canned stuff)**
pumpkin pie spice

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 2-3 paper cupcake liners in 10 holes of a 12-hole muffin tray.  Lightly grease cupcake liners. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind all ingredients for crust, except for the melted butter. The mixture should resemble slightly coarse crumbs. Remove mixture and pour melted butter over. Mix until crumbs are wet. Press into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. (It may smoke a little at the end)
3. While crust is baking prepare filling beating together cream cheese, sugar, and eggnog until smooth. Add flour and spices, vanilla, and egg. Mix until just combined.
4. Pour filling over each crust, dividing evenly. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing cheesecakes (yes your cheesecakes will sink a little, this is normal).
5. Remove cheesecakes in cupckae liners from pan, and cool on a cooling rack. Refrigerate in a covered container for at least 2 hours before serving.
6. Peel off cupcake liners, and place cheesecakes on a tray. Right before serving, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice.
Note:
* I think that these could be lightened by using the 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and light eggnog, but I haven’t tried that version yet.
** The canned whipped cream melts at room temperature, so don’t top them ahead of time. If it does melt, not to worry, just spray the topping on again, and no one will know.

You’ve got to try Saltine toffee, that’s right, you heard me…

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I am a Pinterest recipe stalker, and this was my latest obsession. It looked and sounded so good, I had to make it. I could have eaten the whole batch, but instead I brought it to the office. Everyone loved it, and I was asked for the recipe several times.

The ingredients list is short, and inexpensive. The total time is about an hour, and the result is delicious!
The stealth ingredient that makes this amazing is the simple saltine.
It will make great gifts for the holidays, or bring it to a potluck, and be the belle of the buffet.
The recipe that I used is from the blog sixsistersstuff. I tweaked it very little and I really think I have a new favorite. I hope you try it soon.

Saltine Toffee
Ingredients:
40 (or more as needed) salted saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, sliced into cubes for easy melting
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews, you can use whatever kind you like)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the saltine crackers evenly on the pan (I put mine really close together so that they were touching).
In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for three minutes without stirring. After three minutes remove from the heat, and add the vanilla. Pour the hot brown sugar mixture evenly over the saltine crackers.
Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips across the toffee. Let them melt for a couple of minutes and then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly across the toffee (like frosting).
Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of the melted chocolate. Let the toffee and chocolate cool completely (I put mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes to help it set up quickly).
Once cooled, remove the foil, and toffee from the pan, and slice toffee into bite-size pieces.
To store, keep in an air-tight container for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months. (Ha, just try to keep it around for 2 days!)

*use the best ingredients you can. I used Premium saltines, and Ghiardelli Milk Chocolate

mint m&ms

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The minty cousins are coming home for the holidays. And they’re welcome to stay as long as they can.

Puffy, and slightly larger than a plain m&m, these resemble the taste of those dutch mints, or dutch pastels that you would find by the hostess station at some “finer” restaurants (see image below).

Tangent- the whole open candy bowl, grab a handful of mints, is a pretty gross feature. These days you get individually packaged mints, which seems better.

Ok, back the the m&ms…The candy shell is crunchy, and the interior is smooth mint chocolate. I think I’m hooked on these. I bet these would be good frozen, too.

Here’s a recipe for using them in cookies. The recipe from “little bitty bakes” sounds good and looks great.

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I also could imagine these m&ms as decorating some sort of christmas cake. They would look pretty in a glass apothecary jar, but that harkens back to the afore mentioned candy bow, so I’ll steer clear of that.

I will go and get another bag today since my family ate the last bag. If you spot them, pick up a bag for yourself.

Viva Starbuck’s Peppermint Mocha Via!

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Mmmm…this is good. 8 oz. of hot milk plus a packet, and you have a peppermint mocha. I add extra coffee for a little more zip. A dollop of whipped cream and you’ll think that you’re at the North Pole. All this without needing to utter the insipid “I’ll have a grande….” Horray!

More Candy Cane decor

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 5.04.22 PMI have found this pretty arrangement on Pinterest. So creative, and it probably cost less than $20. I think it would look lovely with white and red carnations as well. Here’s the link to the how-to.