Archive | November, 2013

Delicious Thanksgiving Treats!

26 Nov

I am such a huge fan of Thanksgiving, and I am fairly certain that at the very least, most of us enjoy the food.  ALL HAIL the Thanksgiving Feast!  For me, the food is most certainly a big part of the sheer enjoyment I feel on the day “The Holidays” truly begin. 

Strategically placed turkey with the the fixins is ALMOST all I can think about!

Strategically placed turkey with the the fixins is ALMOST all I can think about!

Growing up, some of the dishes I anticipated most were carefully honed, crafted, and handed down from my Mammaw to my mom.  I remember hovering around the kitchen begging to get a lick of the chocolate silk pie, or my grandmother’s deliciously moist cornbread stuffing.  I could eat that stuff cold, I could eat it in between to slices of bread, with NOTHING ELSE (talk about carb on carb), but most of all, Thanksgiving just wasn’t the same unless I saw those golden mounds of cornbread with little crusty crests, interspersed with bits boiled eggs, celery, and all things savory…  Hold on; let me wipe up the drool… 🙂

When I was younger and just starting to cook, the internet was my oyster and every recipe was a chance to create a new, MORE perfect recipe.  With each click, a potential new flavor combination, something out of the ordinary, a culinary pearl… In short, I got tired of the tradition and wanted something innovative!!  We all go to that place, in fact I think it’s how old family recipes get lost forever, and most of us spend the rest of our lives trying to recreate those “tired old recipes” we were trying to escape.  Call it rosy-food-retrospection,  but at this stage in my life, after trying so many different recipes, I think it’s safe to say that I have landed on what I believe to be those dishes for my family.  I’m not saying I won’t ever try something new, but herein lies two recipes that, in my humble opinion, are ones that will not disappoint (at the very least YOU) and the having of them should leave you excited and unstressed for next holiday season… and the one after that and so forth.

 The more I cook and the older I get the more I appreciate clean, simple, and delicious recipes and ingredients.  My recipe for Mulled Cranberry Sauce and Yam Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows are both best made ahead, which means more time for you to enjoy the holiday and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade come Thanksgiving morning.


Mulled Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

12-14Oz Fresh Cranberries

1-1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

Fresh Cranberries, simmering until bursting, and finished in an old fashioned mold bought on Etsy!

Fresh Cranberries, simmering until bursting, and finished in an old fashioned mold bought on Etsy!

1-Cup Muscat or Dessert Wine

Juice from 1 Orange

Bundle of Mulling Spices in a Cheese Cloth

Directions:

1) Bring Muscat and sugar to a boil over medium high heat.

2) Add rinsed and picked cranberries, bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 10 minutes with mulling spices and orange juice.

3) Use food mill or immersion blender (my preferred method) to blend.  You can make it chunky or perfectly smooth depending on the family preference.  I find everyone likes it smooth, even if they prefer it chunky, but not vise versa.

4) Top with orange zest and pour into serving bowls or molds to set.


** You can serve this warm or cold, it’s UNREAL the day after with your Turkey sandwich!!!

Yam Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows:

Note: This soufflé recipe isn’t difficult at all.  I have used caramel, nuts, fruits, and a variety of other ingredients to dress up yams, but actually I find that they make the most impact on the plate the same way they did when you were a kid, beautifully whipped with butter, brown sugar, and spices.  What makes this special, the WOW factor, is that I make my own marshmallows… It’s seems like a daunting task, but it’s really not, and you take ALL the credit. Plus you can give the extras out as gifts or plop them into hot chocolate to selfishly enjoy with a Christmas movie!

Homemade Marshmallows: I like this one by Alton Brown

Finished Mallows, the candy thermometer, and setting gelatin! These are DIVINE!

Finished Mallows, the candy thermometer, and setting gelatin! These are DIVINE!

Ingredients
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

**You can use cookie cutters and make all kinds of fun shapes!!!

 

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Yam Soufflé: I adapted this one from Ina Garten, whom I think makes the best of everything, generally.  I will also say that after several years of going back and forth between canned and fresh, I have decided there isn’t much difference here and so I take the help from the can.  Trust me on this; there is no discernable difference in taste!

 

Ingredients

4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large) (I used CANNED!!! Easy PEASY!!!)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Open can, place the sweet potato meat into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I mash it up a bit, usually over heat) and add the orange juice, cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Mix together until combined but not smooth and transfer to a baking dish.

Bake the potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through. About 5 minutes before you remove them, top with homemade marshmallows!

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Hope you enjoy! Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours!!

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SUPER EASY and DELICIOUS Peanut Butter Pie!

4 Nov

Peanut Butter Pie!I am a HUGE lover of peanut butter… But even more than that, I love peanut butter and chocolate together.  When I was a kid, and to this very day, one of my all time favorite birthday cake recipes includes a deliciously peanut-buttery frosting on a decadently moist chocolate cake! Yum! Therefore, it should be no surprise to you that anytime I run across a peanut butter and chocolate recipe I have to take a look.  Recently, I stumbled on this recipe and decided to give it a whirl, and boy oh boy it did NOT disappoint!

The recipe I am including can be found on The Pioneer Woman website but I want to tell you about a couple changes I made, mostly for convenience… Since I last blogged I started my own business and so I don’t have quite as much time as I once did.  Still, I love to make at least one dessert per week from scratch…Er, sort of scratch… Even with a little help from the grocery store, it’s still so much better than anything you can buy pre-made!  Here goes:

1) Although I think that a homemade crust would be better than a store-bought crust, I decided to opt for a store-bought Oreo crust for convenience. I know, I know, a store-bought PROCESSED crust!!?  Please kindly close your mouths! 🙂  I GENERALLY buy organic and non-processed foods, but you know what?  Every now and then I think it’s just fine to take a little help! So trust me on this, if you want to, BUY THIS CRUST, it’s easy and tastes ALMOST as good as the one you would have made!

2) Trust this recipe! I know Dr. Oz and the media has scared the CRAP out of us about partially hydrogenated soy bean oil and corn syrup… So why would you EVER purchase cool whip? (Unless you’re from the south where I am pretty sure it’s a constant staple for potlucks and church gatherings)  But here, in this recipe, you have to use it.  Pioneer Woman says so, and although I haven’t tried a substitution in this particular recipe, I have in others and it seems to create a less creamy and short lived pie… Again, it’s not like you’re eating tons of stuff with cool whip in it! You get your nails done, you dye your hair, an occasional pie with cool whip isn’t gonna kill you, so DO NOT TRY TO SUB WHIPPED CREAM FOR COOL WHIP! IT WON’T BE THE SAME! 

3)  Save the whipped cream as a topper! 🙂 This pie is really rich! I think it’s made even more wonderful with some deliciously fresh whipped cream! It just lightens everything up a bit!

4) Crumble some cookies on top!  I actually took some Oreos and crumbled them onto the top.  It’s not necessary, but it sure was tasty! Sprinkles would be nice too!

5) The longer you let it set, the firmer it gets! It was almost tastier the next day!Cupcake

Ingredients: If making this with the pre-made crust the recipe takes about 5 minutes to whip up if you’ve thawed your ingredients! So simple! So Good!

FOR CRUST

  • 25 whole Oreos
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • Or 1 store bought chocolate cookie shell!

_____

PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:

  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1-1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Cool Whip, Thawed

Preparation Instructions

Crust:
Crush the Oreos until they’re fine crumbs. Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine. Press into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

*Or do nothing because you bought your pie shell pre-made

FILLING:
Whip the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth, slowly add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Mix in the thawed Cool Whip and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing  the surface with a spatula. Allow to set in the fridge for at least one  hour before serving.

Pie!

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