Archive for Holiday

Butternut Squash Stuffed Mushrooms

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

This healthy vegetarian dish is easy to make and makes a great side dish for your fall or holiday dinner.  Substitute with smaller mushrooms for the perfect appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoon sage (chopped)
  • 2 cups butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms, stemmed
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • Optional garnish: Goat cheese, parmesan cheese or sage

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat butter in a saucepan Add in sage and stir for a couple of minutes over low – medium heat until butter has turned light brown and has a nutty aroma.  Set aside

In a large bowl, add the butternut squash, garlic, salt, pepper, pumpkin pie spice, honey and butter/sage mixture (reserving some to coat mushrooms) and toss well to combine.

Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes, until slightly soft.

Brush the inside of the mushrooms with the remaining butter/sage mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill with butternut squash and top with goat cheese. Bake until mushrooms are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with goat cheese and sage. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower Pumpkin Risotto

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

By swapping cauliflower for rice and adding goat cheese, this recipe recreates the creamy texture for a healthier risotto option.

Bonus: You will be out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes as the cauliflower cooks quicker than rice.

Ingredients 

  • 1 head cauliflower (4-5 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sage (chopped)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (or more as needed)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( can or fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup goat cheese or parmesan cheese
  • Optional garnish: sage, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, et

Directions

Using a cheese grater, grate cauliflower until it resembles rice grains (or use a food processor)

Heat butter in a skillet or saucepan Add sage and stir for a couple of minutes over low – medium heat until butter has turned light brown and has a nutty aroma.

Add in onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes or until onions are translucent Add in cauliflower, half of the broth and stir for about 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Add in remaining broth and continue to cook until cauliflower is softened.

Stir in pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice (if using), salt, pepper and goat cheese and stir until goat cheese is melted and cauliflower has a creamy texture.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish as desired.

St. Patrick’s Day Champagne Cocktails

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

While green beer has always been the drink of choice for St. Patrick’s Day,  add some variety with champagne based cocktails.

When making any cocktails with Champagne, add the Champagne last to avoid overflow. Stirring is not necessary as the bubbles do most of the work, but if you do, stir slowly.

To keep the champagne cold, freeze some grapes and use them as ice cubes.

To make green colored sugar: add couple of drops of green food coloring to ½ cup of sugar in a zip log bag and mix well. Pour onto a plate and let dry.  Rub a glass rim with lime or liquor and dip into the sugar. You can also dip grapes or other fruit in the sugar to use as garnish.

Below are some champagne cocktail recipes to enjoy. Cheers!

 

Green Apple Champagne Martini

  • 1 oz apple pucker
  • 1 oz vodka
  • Ice
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

In a cocktail shaker, combine apple pucker, vodka, and ice. Shake and strain into a martini or champagne glass. Top with Champagne.

 

Midori Cocktail

  • 1 oz Midori liqueur
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

Add Midori and orange juice into a champagne flute. Top with Champagne.

 

 Kiwi Cocktail

  • Kiwi (peeled and  sliced)
  • 1 oz vodka
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

In a small bowl, mash half of the kiwi with a fork into a smooth paste. Add to champagne glasses, add vodka and top with champagne. Garnish with kiwi slice.

 

Stout Cocktail

  • Stout beer (such as  Guinness)
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

Fill champagne flute half way with beer and slowly top with champagne

 

 Champagne Mojitos

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mint leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • 4 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup rum
  • Ice or frozen grapes
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook  just until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large pitcher, combine sugar syrup, mint and lime and muddle well with a wooden spoon. Add in rum and stir well.

Fill glass with ice or frozen grapes and pour in mixture halfway. Top with Champagne and garnish with mint.

 

 

 

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes – the perfect dessert for your St Patrick’s Day party.

If you prefer to make a cake: butter or spray a springform or bundt pan and bake for about 35 minutes.

Yields 24 cupcakes 

Ingredients 

Ganache Frosting

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups (12oz) semisweet  or bittersweet chocolate

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sea salt (optional)

Directions 

The ganache frosting will need some time in the refrigerator so it’s best to prepare first before making the cupcakes.

For ganache: bring heavy cream to simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Add  chocolate and let sit for a couple of minutes for chocolate to melt. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable stirring frequently, about 2 hours.

For cupcakes:  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat, add cocoa powder and whisk to blend. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sour cream and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined. Add the Guinness mixture and beat just to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat just to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until mixed.

Pour into muffin tins lined with cupcake liners.  Bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Cool completely.

When ready to frost: stir ganache and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a tip and pipe on each cupcake (or use an offset spatula and spread on top of cupcakes). Top with sea salt, if desired.

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Categories : Chocolate, Dessert, Holiday

St Patrick’s Day Dinner Party

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Hosting a dinner party for St. Patrick’s Day? You’ll have the luck of the Irish on your side when you rely on your crock pot to make the perfect corned beef and cabbage while you’re at work.  And to accompany your meal is an easy Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Corned Beef Brisket is a cut of meat that has been cured (pickled) in seasoned brine. The brisket is a tough cut of meat and requires slow and low cooking, which is why I chose to use a crock pot method.

If you prefer a wine driven celebration instead of beer, Pinot Noir is great choice  as a fuller-bodied red, like a Cabernet Sauvignon,  may have strong tannins which can leave a bitter taste in your mouth when paired with salty foods.

TIPS:

  •  Slicing the meat against the grain will prevent  the meat from being tough and chewy
  •  Because the meat comes in a package pre brined, don’t add salt during the cooking process
  •  To reduce sodium, you may rinse the meat in water before cooking
  •  Cabbage cooks very quickly and will get soggy, so add cabbage the last 30-45 minutes
  •  Use leftovers for sandwiches or dice them to make corned beef hash
  •  If you prefer not to make the gravy, serve with  mustard and horseradish on the side

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Ingredients

  • 6-8 red or yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly minced
  • 3-4 lb corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
  • 3 Tablespoons mustard
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Seasoning packet that comes with brisket
  • 1 head cabbage, cut through the core into 8 wedges
  • 1 bottle of dark beer,such as Guinness  ( or 2 cups of red wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1/2 cup honey or brown sugar

 Directions: 

Place potatoes, onion, carrots, and garlic in the crock pot. Place  brisket, fat side down, over the vegetables. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, brown sugar and seasoning packet. Spread the mixture on top of the corned beef.  Pour in beer (or wine).

Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is fork tender. Add cabbage around the meat and push down to immerse in liquid. Cover lid and continue to cook for about 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

Remove meat from the crock pot and place a tent foil on top to let it rest for about 20 minutes.

While meat is resting, make the gravy.  Remove vegetables from crock pot. In a saucepan, bring sauce from the crockpot to boil and add in mustard, Worcestershire, horseradish and honey and mix. Simmer until gravy is reduced by half.

To serve:  slice  the corned beef against the grain and place on a serving platter along with the vegetables and gravy.

 

Irish Soda Bread 

 

 Ingredients 

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (plus 2 Tablespoons to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 ½  cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup raisins, currents or other dried fruit ( optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 Tablespoons sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or 2 knives until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Measure buttermilk and add the egg to the measuring cup, whisking lightly with a fork to incorporate. Pour into the flour mixture, along with dried fruit and stir together just until mixed.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and lightly knead to shape into a round loaf. ( Do not over knead)  Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a lightly greased cast iron skillet.

With a knife, score the  top of dough in a “X” shape to help heat get into the center of the dough while it bakes. Sprinkle remaining sugar on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with butter.

Enjoy your fabulous dinner  on St. Patrick’s Day or any other day!

 

 

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

These pumpkin shaped rolls are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner!   If you have a favorite dinner roll recipe, just add the pumpkin puree to your dough mixture.

And for those of you who may be thinking… I  don’t have time to make rolls from scratch but want the pumpkin shape…here’s a short cut:

  • Purchase a bag of frozen bake and serve dinner rolls
  • Place on a pan coated with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours ( or as directed on the package for defrosting)
  • Continue with recipe below after ” roll each piece into a ball shape”…..cut into sections and follow the recipe to get the pumpkin shape!

Makes 12-14, depending on size

Ingredients

  •   ½ cup warm water
  •   1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  •   2 Tablespoons sugar or brown sugar
  •   ½ cup milk
  •  4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  ½ cup pumpkin puree
  •  1 large egg
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ( optional)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water (egg wash)
  • Pecan pieces for stems

Directions:

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large mixing bow if mixing by hand), add yeast and sugar in warm water and let sit for 10 minutes until dissolved and starts to foam.

Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan (or microwave)  until butter is melted. Off the heat, whisk in pumpkin puree, egg, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

Add to the yeast mixture and stir.  Using a dough hook, gradually mix in flour on low speed and knead on medium speed until dough pulls from the sides of the bowl (This will take about 10 minutes). If the dough seems sticky and does not pull from the sides of the bowl after this time, add 1 Tablespoon of flour at a time.

(If mixing by hand, mix with a wooden spoon and transfer dough to a work surface dusted with flour and knead for 5-7 minutes, until smooth but slightly tacky. It should spring back when poked).

Place dough on a working surface and knead for about 1 minute. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or cloth. Let dough rise in a warm spot until doubled, about an hour. Punch dough down and transfer to a work surface and knead a couple of times.

Roll dough into a log and cut into 12 -14 pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball shape and flatten the top slightly with the palm of your hands. Using a knife, cut 6-8 slices around the dough, making sure not to cut the center.  Using a handle of a wooden spoon or your finger, poke a hole on the top of each dough (for the stem) . Place dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let  rise again, without covering, for about 30-45 minutes. If needed, poke the tops again.

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Brush dough with egg wash and  bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Insert pecan slices on top for the stem. Serve with butter…

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Honey Butter (optional)

  • 1 stick (½ cup) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup  honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ( optional)

Mix  all ingredients together using an electric mixer or fork  until fluffy

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

There’s no need to buy packaged pumpkin pie spice when making your own is so easy! Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of the spices that go into a traditional pumpkin pie such as  cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and allspice. It’s also a staple spice used in many other holiday recipes such as butternut squash, breads, sweet potatoes, pies, cakes, coffee and cocktails. So why not make your own blend, especially if you already have most of the spices.  It’s also great as a gift packaged in small jars!  

What I like about making my own blend is that you can adjust the spices to your taste…add more cinnamon, use less ginger or skip the cloves if you’re not a fan. And you can make as much as or little as you want. 

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container or jar.  Or  you can just mix all ingredients in a jar, place lid and shake to combine.

 

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Categories : Holiday

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

What’s better than pumpkin cheesecake pie?  Eating the pie without a fork in one bite! (ok..maybe two bites)

I took a short cut and  used the ready to roll refrigerated pie crust as I had some in the fridge. I also had some pumpkin caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s so I just drizzled that on top. Yum!

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Makes 12-14 mini pies

Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
  •  ½ cup sugar ( brown or granulated)
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Whip Cream:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

Optional toppings: caramel sauce, sea salt, melted chocolate, cinnamon, etc

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350  degrees.

Unroll pie crust and cut into 2 inch circles.  Press one circle into each mini muffin cup sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, egg, heavy cream, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and salt and beat until smooth. Fill each muffin cup with the filling and bake for 18-20 minutes or until set.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the sides, if needed.

To make the whip cream: In a large bowl, beat heavy cream and sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Top with whip cream and any other toppings desired!

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Place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Strawberry Mascarpone Cheese Bites

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

This strawberry dessert recipe is easy, yummy, and has less calories than most desserts!  Adding blueberries on top creates the red, white and blue theme for your 4th of July get together.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. strawberries, rinsed and pat dry
  • 6 oz mascarpone cheese, softened  ( or cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • Optional garnish: Blueberries 

Directions

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together mascarpone cheese, powered sugar, vanilla and salt until fluffy. 

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Place mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or into a zip log bag. Refrigerate.

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Cut the tops off the strawberries. Using a pairing knife, core strawberries removing the white interior.  Cut off a small portion of the pointy tip so it stands flat.

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To Assemble:  Pipe mascarpone cheese mixture into each strawberry and top with blueberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Tip: the filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator  but it’s best when eaten within a couple hours of assembling as it will become soggy.

Cucumber Jalapeno Martini

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

When it comes to Cinco de Mayo cocktails, Tequila usually gets all the glory, so I’m making a vodka inspired cocktail. If you’re not a vodka fan, just substitute the vodka with tequila, moisten the rim of the glass with a lime wedge and coat the rim with salt for a margarita!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-4 jalapeño slices (more or less as desired)
  • 4-5 mint leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into slices
  • 1 cucumber sliced, seeds removed
  • juice of 1/2  lime
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • ice

DIRECTIONS

To make simple syrup: In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle jalapeno slices, mint and lime slices together.

In a blender, combine simple syrup, cucumber, and lime juice  and blend until smooth. Strain into the cocktail shaker. Add vodka and ice and shake until cold.

Pour into martini glasses and garnish with cucumber and jalapeño slices.

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