This is the second year that I’ve participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I had such an amazing time with it last year, and this year was even better. Because we traveled over Thanksgiving I actually mailed my cookies out early, so there was no frantic late night visit to the post office! Well, the visit to the post office was late at night, but it wasn’t frantic! One of the best things about the Cookie Swap (besides raising money for cancer), is learning about new food blogs! This year I received delicious White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies from Rose Bakes, some amazing Cranberry Pistachio cookies from Cookies on Friday and some out of this world Chocolate and Caramel Drizzled Coconut cookies from DeLisha’s Recipes (ps Monica has amazing penmanship!).
For my part, I made triple ginger chocolate cookies. I was trying to do my best to replicate the ginger cookies at Bakery Lorraine, and I think they turned out really well. I experimented with a few batches, and these were definitely the winners. I sent my cookies to Clawson Live, It’s Not Easy Eating Green, and Jamie’s Recipes. I had such a great time going through everyone’s blogs, and being slightly intimidated by all the great things I read!
I can’t wait to do it again next year! If you’re interested in participating, you can fill out the form here to be kept up to date!
Triple Ginger Chocolate Cookies
1 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1/2 c. Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Minced Fresh Ginger
3 Tbsp. Chopped Candied Ginger
1/4 c. Molasses
Coarse Sugar for sprinkling on top
Mix brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking coda, and spices in a separate bowl, and add to butter mixture.
Add molasses and mix until it looks like cookie dough!
Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on a liked cookie sheet, two inches apart.
Today’s post is sponsored by Bing. I was excited to accept their challenge to use Bing Search to come up with some recipes and entertaining ideas.
Bing’s Smart Search in the new Windows is a faster way to find what you’re looking for and get things done on your touch device. One search brings you information from across your device, the cloud, apps, and the web. Visual results designed specifically for touch make it easy to find what you need. There’s no need to open a browser—simply swipe and tap to start searching.
I don’t know about you, but we’ve got a pretty busy calendar for the next few weeks. One of the biggest things is a huge family get together the week-end before Christmas. One of the events at the get together is a family brunch for about 50 people. I think the biggest key to reducing stress around the holidays is having a plan. Right now we have a list of about twenty things that need to get done around the house before family arrives and that is separate from the brunch list.
We have to take a few things into consideration for the brunch including the various ages of the guests, allergies, diets (although I don’t know who really diets in December!) limited seating space. I turned to Bing to help with various brunch ideas including recipes. The first recipe that caught my eye was for a leek and swiss chard tart by A Thousand Threads.
I put my own twist on this recipe, but I loved that Bing gave me a place to start. For my version, I made individual tartelettes, and used some different ingredients. The best part about this inspiration was that it got me making food two weeks early! Now, I can freeze the tartelettes until the day of the brunch, and have one less thing to make and a lot fewer dishes to clean!
Thanks again to Bing for helping me get started with my holiday entertaining. I’d love to see what kind of recipes you come up with using Bing.
If you’re a Texas reader, you might be be wondering what a tourtière is, but if you grew up in Canada, at least the east coast of Canada, you should know what’s coming! Tourtière is hearty Winter fare. It’s exactly the kind of thing that warms you up after you’ve walked miles and miles in the snow! Normally, tourtière isn’t south Texas appropriate, but I’m taking advantage of this week’e upcoming freezing cold temperatures to bring you some Canadian comfort food! This is a dish that my grandmother made a lot in the Winter. It was also one of the signature Canadian dishes when I worked at the Canadian Pavilion at Epcot. If my grandmother and Disney made it, it must be legit!
Tourtière is essentially a ground meat pie. There is a lot of room for personalization here, but the idea is some ground beef and pork (or maybe lamb if you’re fancy!) and some seasoning. I also add a dry gravy packet. You don’t want the pie to have a soggy crust, but you also don’t want it to just be ground meat. The gravy powder turns the liquid in the pan into the perfect sauce. I use a brown gravy packet, but you can experiment with what you like. The same goes for the veggies. This is a perfect opportunity to sneak something a little healthy into your meal. I know some people don’t like to “deceive” their kids by hiding the vegetables, but let’s face it, those people are a little crazy! (That’s not just my opinion, right?!)
If you want to be all fancy, you are more than welcome to make your own pie crust from scratch, but I’m not going to lie, I usually just use refrigerated crust from the store! You can make this ahead of time and put it in the oven before dinner, but it really doesn’t take that long to put together. I usually serve this with a salad or some fruit. If it’s especially cold, this is wonderful with mashed potatoes or rice.
So, even though it’s 80 degrees in south Texas today, know that we will be enjoying comfort food this weekend when the temperatures fall. For those of you hating me right now because I’m not freezing yet, keep in mind that we pretty much boil in the Summer!
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1 onion, diced
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. sage
pinch of cloves
1/4 c. corn
1/4 c. carrots, diced
Dough for a double pie crust
Cook ground beef, sausage, garlic and onions over medium heat.
When meat is fully cooked, add gravy packet and seasonings.
Add veggies and cook for 5 minutes.
Line a deep dish pie plate with pie dough, fill with meat mixture and top with pie dough.
Vent the top crust of the pie to allow for steam.
Cover pie in tinfoil and bake in a 425º oven for 20 minutes. Remove tinfoil and bake another 20 minutes.
One of the most popular recipes on this blog is for Ina Garten’s Sweet Potato Casserole. This is one of my go to Thanksgiving recipes, but since it’s been a couple of years since I first posted it, I thought I’d repost it today with some new pictures and some tweaks to make everything go a little more quickly. When we ate this the other night my husband commented that this side dish was almost a dessert.
My only issue with the original recipe was that it is very time consuming. It’s not difficult, it’s just lengthy. I thought I’d try to do this with canned sweet potatoes. I don’t really like sweet potatoes because of the sugary syrup, but I remedied that by rinsing the sweet potatoes. I thought I’d try this with eggnog since I had some left over from when I made the eggnog cheesecake. The eggnog flavor is pretty similar to adding the spices to the cream. I aIso decided to serve this in individual portions … I needed to break out those cute whit bowls! If you want to try the original recipe, click here. Stay on this page if you want to try the revamp!
Ina Gartens Sweet Potato Casserole
1 can sweet potatoes
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. eggnog
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 Tbsp. butter
6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
Rinse the sweet potatoes.
Combine orange juice, eggnog, butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper
Combine the sweet potatoes with the orange juice mixture. I use my immersion blender for this, but a mixer or food processor will also work.
Place sweet potato mixture in individual oven safe dishes.
Melt butter and brown sugar in a skillet over medium heat.
Add apple slices and saute until lightly browned (about 10 minutes)
When I was younger I wasn’t a fan of squash. My dad used to mix squash in with the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, and I thought it was a travesty! Who tries to mess with the perfection that is a mashed potato with large amounts of butter?! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate the squash. I still wouldn’t add it to my mashed potatoes, but I love squash soup.
This squash soup brings together all the colors and flavors of Thanksgiving. Your little kids may not love it, but if it’s cold where you are, the adults will definitely enjoy it! If you want to fancy up the soup you could top it with bacon, sour cream, or even some apples. In the picture, I topped it with toasted pine nuts. Speaking of the picture, I think it goes without saying that Candice took and styled this one!If you’re serving this at a buffet, you could put out a little toppings bar for people to choose from.
When I made this soup it was pretty thick, but I really enjoy it that way. If you prefer it a little thinner (after all, you can never be too rich or too thin!), just keep adding chicken stock until you get it to the right consistency for you. I will sometimes thin it out with heavy cream, but I’m crazy that way!
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just over a week away, and then it’s just a hop, skip and a jump until Christmas. Do you feel ready?
Curried Squash and Carrot Soup
4 c. cubed butternut squash, cooked
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter
4 c. chicken stock
1/4 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
optional garnish: bacon, apples, sour cream
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add carrots and onion and saute until onions are translucent.
Add squash, chicken stock and curry and bring to a boil.
Boil for 2 minutes and then reduce heat. Simmer for twenty minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender and then put pack in the pot.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
you can make this soup in advance and then reheat.
I keep thinking life is going to calm down at some point, but fun opportunities keep appearing! This week I got to take advantage of two great nights thanks to my association with the San Antonio Bloggers. I’ve written about the San Antonio group before, and it makes me sad that not every blogger gets a support group like this one!
On Tuesday night I was fortunate to be able to participate in an event for Humana where I got to demo the Alphabet Soup recipe from a few years ago. I had a set up just like on tv ( I prefer to think of tv instead of the sample girl at Costco!). I also got to meet 4 other fabulous bloggers, Roni Noone, Elizabeth Van Huffel, Vianney Rodriguez, and Alyson Boyd.
There were lots of laughs about butane burners and hominy (not together), and I got to go home with my own Chef’s jacket, so all in all, it was a pretty fabulous night!
The very next night, Tori and Christina from the San Antonio group threw a little shindig at the Apricot Lane Boutique near my house. I got to go up for about and hour and check out all the new things. Apparently the owners go on buying trips to Los Angeles every six weeks, so you’ve got to get while the getting is good! The store gave us a gift card, and I’ve got my eye on an adorable Texas necklace! If it wasn’t for the party I don’t know that I ever would have gone into the store. That’s why I love this group, I get to see all kinds of things that are normally off my radar!
I’m looking forward to a little rest and relaxation … oh wait, Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner … maybe in January!
When I was at the grocery store last week, I spied the first eggnog of the season. It still seems a little early to me, but since everyone now also has out all their Christmas decorations, it must be time to begin! I’ve been bouncing different cheesecake ideas in my head, and this was the idea my husband liked the most. The great thing about a cheesecake is that it’s basically a blank canvas, and you can add whatever flavor you like. Right now I have a list of about 10 that I want to experiment with. I’m pretty sure I won’t get them all done any time soon!
I love the idea of a slightly spiced cheesecake. Eggnog is something most people love or hate, but I think that has a lot to do with texture. If you’re not into drinking heavy cream, you’re not going to like it, no matter the flavor. Cheesecake is a pretty heavy dessert, so everything matches perfectly. I used a store bought ginger snap cookie for the crust. Because I made cupcake sized cheesecakes, I had to use a biscuit cutter to size the cookies to fit in the pan. Next time I might try a snickerdoodle, just because they’re softer to start. The gingersnaps softened up with the cake, but they were a pain to cut. I had to use my rolling pin to hammer the biscuit cutter!
Eggnog Mini Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust
3 x 8oz cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. eggnog
Fill two cupcake tins with liners and place a cookie in each opening. You may have to cut down cookies to size using a small biscuit cutter.
Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg.
Add vanilla and eggnog and mix until smooth.
Fill each cupcake opening 3/4 full
Place in a 425º oven for 5 minutes, and then lower the heat to 250º and continue baking for 15 more minutes
When the baking time is finished, turn off the oven and open the oven door, and leave the cheesecakes in the oven for an hour.
Place the cheesecakes to chill in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream and grated nutmeg
This is a recipe that I think is perfect for any holiday entertaining. If you keep a roll of puff pastry in the freezer and a wheel of brie in the fridge, you can have this ready in a half an hour! I made a couple of these for the photo shoot with Candice, and I may or may not have eaten an entire one all by myself! This was official blog business, so I don’t think it had a calorie count!
For the warm cranberry, I used our cranberry sauce recipe, and instead of letting it set up in the fridge, I served it warm over the cheese. If you don’t want to make your own sauce (it only takes 5 minutes), then you just need to heat up some canned cranberry sauce over low heat on the stove. I think part of what makes this dish beautiful is the envelope fold of the pastry. Just set the brie on your sheet of pastry, but fold the corners up first, just like an envelope. This is the first time that I’ve tried Trader Joe’s puff pastry, but I have to say that I like that it comes rolled instead of folded over. Any puff pastry will work, but this was the easiest I’ve used.
If you’re serving this at a party, I would set out some crackers or french bread. When it was just me and I was “taste testing,” I just used the pastry! Waste not, want not!
I think Candice made this shot look absolutely amazing. It has me thinking of Winter and Christmas and all that is lovely about November and December! Just looking at the picture makes me want to go make it again right now! (fyi: the bottom photo is mine; the top one is obviously Candice’s!)
I’ve written about Nanaimo Bars before, but it’s been a while, and I thought I could tweak the recipe a little for the holiday season. Am I the only one who has trouble believing that it’s already November?
So, now that the holidays are upon us, it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes. I decided to go with a pumpkin Nanaimo bar because I had never seen one before, and I love to find uses for the instant pumpkin pudding that’s available this time of year. Pumpkin flavor fits this dessert perfectly. If you haven’t tried the original recipe for some crazy reason, make sure to try this one!
Just a word of warning about the pudding powder, here in San Antonio you can only buy it at WalMart. I’m not sure if that’s the same everywhere though. Do me a favor, if you live somewhere else, let me know if you see the Jello brand pumpkin pudding at any other grocery store. Another heads up, pumpkin pudding is only available from October until December.
If you looked at the picture and thought how amazing my skills have gotten recently, don’t be too jealous, Candice and I had another food photo shoot last week. Basically I made a bunch of food and held the reflector while she made everything look amazing! I’m hoping she does a couple of tutorials with this, because she had some pretty genius ideas for putting it together.
I have two more shots from her that I’ll post over the next couple of weeks. Trust me, you’re going to want to come back and see these pictures, and try the recipes!
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c. coconut
1/2 c. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. instant pumpkin pudding mix powder
2 1/4 c. icing sugar
1 1/4 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a heavy saucepan.
Add the egg. Stir to cook and thicken. Remove the pan from heat.
Stir in crumbs and coconut and press into a 9×9 ungreased pan.
In a separate bowl, beat together milk, custard powder and powdered sugar until light and creamy.
Spread over graham crumb layer.
Place pan in freezer while making the top layer.
Melt chocolate chips and butter together over low heat, or in the microwave. Cool for about ten minutes.
Pour chocolate over the frosting layer and spread to cover the entire pan.
There’s not too much to say this week. We are now officially overloaded with candy and there is a definite sugar hangover being experienced at our house! With 5 kids trick or treating and hardly anyone coming to our house, we’ll be good for sugar for at least 6 months. How was Halloween at your house?