Husband and I just finished our 2nd Annual No Booze November. Why on earth would we ever do such a thing? For several reasons: 1. It saves money. Liquor is expensive! And 2. To prove to ourselves we weren’t alcoholics. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but we were having 2 or 3 drinks every night when we would come home from work, and it was getting to the point where I was actually craving it. Dangerous territory! So we decided, for the second year in a row, to drink no alcohol in our home, or purchase it from a liquor store (Thanksgiving was excluded). I am happy to say we did save money and I no longer have as strong of cravings as before.
BUT. As soon as December first rolled around we decided to celebrate! So we held the 1st Annual Team S. Liquor Appreciation Day on December 1st. Continue reading Cucumber Lime Margarita Jello Shots
I try to avoid simply re-posting someone else’s recipe, but I’m making an exception in this case because (1) it’s incredibly delicious, and (2) the original recipe was a little tough to follow since the crust recipe was on a different page. Going back and forth was confusing so I decided, mostly for my own record keeping, to consolidate the two and make it a little easier to follow. So without further adieu, I give you:
So my husband and I are fairly competitive people, and there is no better playing field than the kitchen. I was making a basic apple pie for our Thanksgiving feast and I guess he felt a little left out, so he made an apple crisp. But not just any apple crisp, this one would be gluten free. He used the basic apple crisp recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but substituted regular flour with a gluten-free blend and added a little xanthan gum to hold it together. And in true My-Husband fashion, he added about 1/4 Cup of Old Heaven Hill bourbon to the apples. Continue reading Gluten Free Apple Crisp
My mother-in-law said she is upset with me because she didn’t need to know that these things existed. Now that she does… well, it’s a good thing I live 4 hours away because these things are addicting and delicious! Continue reading Apple Cider Caramels
See Updates Below. I’ve made these a few times since the original post and have made some changes. Items NOT to do are
crossed out, items TO do are in green.
I got a fancy schmancy new mini cheesecake pan from my hubby for Christmas so I gave it a try on New Year’s Day. It’s nice and heavy so it’s not going to warp over time or anything, and the bottoms are just little round disks that fit in each cup so you can just press them up from the bottom to get the cheesecakes out. No more fussing with forks and knives to try and magically make them pop out and look beautiful!
There was a good recipe on the box of the pan but it called for a crust made out of chopped nuts which I didn’t have. So I went online to find a mini cheesecake recipe that used a graham cracker crust instead. It was surprisingly difficult! Apparently these days people prefer a crust made from vanilla wafers. So in the end I used a combination of about 5 different recipes to make my mini cheesecakes. Here are the results:
Meg’s Mini Cheesecakes
12 or more 20 2″ cheesecakes
- 2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C margarine1/4 C butter, melted
- 1/2 C white sugar
- 2 – 8oz packages cream cheese, room temp
- 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6-12 maraschino cherries
- 1/2 C chocolate chips (optional)
Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache (optional)
- 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
- 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Grease the cups of a mini cheesecake pan with shortening (or spray with cooking spray; I don’t like to use that stuff because it leaves a sticky film on all my baking things)
- Combine graham cracker crumbs with
margarinemelted butter and 1/2 C white sugar. Mix with a fork until the mixture is evenly combined and crumbly. Press 1 Tbsp of the mixture into the bottoms of the cheesecake pan cups. (I went a little up the sides too, but that ended up being too much crust, so I’d recommend sticking to just the bottoms)
- Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until silky smooth with no lumps. (Optional: Split the cheesecake batter in half and add the chocolate chips to one half). Spoon on top of the graham cracker crusts, filling nearly to the top.
- Bake for
15 minutes25 minutes.
- Optional: Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan bring heavy whipping cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Do not stir. Let sit for 5 minutes. Then stir until the chocolate mixture is smooth and let cool for another 15 minutes.
- When the cheesecakes are done, place the pan on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes to cool. Use a butter knife to gently loosen and remove the cheesecakes (if you’re using a pan like mine where the bottoms are separated from the rest of the pan, you can loosen the edges of the cheesecakes and press the bottoms up to easily get the cheesecakes out.)
- Press one maraschino cherry into the tops of the plain cheesecakes. Spread chocolate ganache on the tops of the chocolate chip ones. I also left some of the chocolate chip cakes without chocolate ganache, and on some of the ones with cherries I put a dollop of ganache on top and pressed the cherry into that.
*Notes for next time: Less margarine in the crust… or actually use margarine. I used Crisco. The crust didn’t bake the way I wanted it to; it just sort of crumbled to pieces. Also, less sugar in the crust too. Turns out, graham crackers already have a ton of sugar in them so adding more into the crust was a bit of overkill. Then again, I dislike super-sweet things so those who like sugarsugarsugarsugar can probably keep the sugar in the crust. I may also not fill the cheesecake cups to the top with batter. The first batch I made came out of the oven after 15 minutes, cooled completely, and when I tried one it was still gooey in the middle, though the edges and top looked done. Bake longer, or fill with less batter. Or both.
Things I’d Like to Try Someday:
- Cinnamon Mini Cheesecakes With Pumpkin Pie Frosting (awakeninspiration.wordpress.com)
- imabonehead: Cooking Classy: White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake (cookingclassy.blogspot.com)
- Mini Twix Cheesecakes (simplybittersweetmcom63.wordpress.com)
Three recipes for today!
1. Blue Cheese Fondue with Pears
2. Stuffed Mushrooms
3. Spatchcocked Cornish Game Hen with Blue Cheese Dressing
It was our anniversary on Monday and per our tradition a fantastic from-scratch meal was made. Yes, most people question the idea of working for your meal on special occasions like anniversaries, but Husband and I have always enjoyed cooking together. We haven’t had a chance in a very long time as our schedules are never in sync so this was a special treat for us.
I only took a few pictures, and not many of the finished product – everything was too tasty and we devoured it before pictures could be even thought of. But everything turned out REALLY good.
First, appetizers. I didn’t know Husband was planning to surprise me with my all-time favorite food: stuffed mushrooms (especially Husband’s version) so I planned to make an appetizer as well. I made a cheese fondue from a particularly… uh… higher-class-than-me cook book that I have never used. It’s a British cookbook so the measurements were all in milliliters and grams and I had to look up substitutions and term definitions for some of them, but all in all it turned out alright.
Blue Cheese Fondue with Pears
This makes a TON, so you better have a lot of friends coming over
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved
- 8 oz. shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 8 oz. Gorgonzola cheese (original recipe calls for Roquefort cheese, a french blue cheese, but it was $7 for 3.5 ounces! No thank you.)
- 1/2 C dry white wine (we used Little Black Dress’ Pino Grigio)
- 4 Tbsp half-and-half
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of black pepper
- 6 pears, quartered and sliced (I tried a variety; Bartlet, Red Anjou, and Bosc. The Red Anjou were my favorite; sweet like the Bartlet but with a nice flavor as well. The Bosc were perhaps not ripe enough; they were not sweet at all and were crisp like apples)
- Rub the cut side of the garlic clove on the sides and bottom of the fondue pot
- Pour in the white wine and heat until bubbling. Reduce the heat
- Gradually add the cheeses until melted and blended
- Whisk together the corn starch and half-and-half. Add to the cheese mixture.
- Add the nutmeg and pepper.
- Keep warm and serve with sliced pears.
Husband’s Stuffed Mushrooms
I don’t know what the proportions of this delectable dish are, nor do I think that I know all of the ingredients. They are locked away in Husband’s head, but this will get you started to a delicious stuffed mushroom.
- Cream cheese
- Blue cheese
- Bacon or cured ham
- Large stuffing mushroom caps
- Butter, melted
- Bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese, shredded
- Fry the bacon and crumble to small pieces. Set aside.
- Wash the mushroom caps and line them up in a baking dish, “cup” side up
- Cream together the cream cheese and blue cheese. Spoon into mushroom caps. Top with bacon pieces.
- Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and melted butter until well mixed. Sprinkle over the mushroom caps.
- Bake in the oven at ___°F until the bread crumb topping is golden brown and the cheese mixture is heated through and melty.
Once the appetizers were devoured we started eating the main course: Spatchcocked Cornish Game Hen. Yes, Husband chose that recipe mainly because it has a funny name, but it was really delicious! Spatchcocking is a method of preparing the hen whereby you cut out the spine, spread the bird out and place it with the inside facing down, then flatten the bird out and chop it in half between the breast plate. See a video of it at BBC.com. The recipe is adapted from one in my Nigella Kitchen cookbook.
- 1 to 2 thick slices sourdough bread
- 1 Cornish hen
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp Fresh chives, or to taste, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp dried Sage, or to taste
- 3-4 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
- 6 ounces (about 6 cups) watercress, spinach, and arugula salad or other feisty leaves
- 3 tablespoons cold-pressed canola oil or good extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) crumbled blue cheese
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon steak sauce
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, good white wine vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF and leave the bread slices out on a wire rack to dry a little.
To spatchcock the Cornish hen, get some strong, sharp scissors (or poultry shears) and cut down either side of the spine, take out the spine, then press down on the breast to open it out flat. Cut the Cornish hen in half. Put it into a small roasting pan.
- Drizzle the hen with 1 Tbsp of olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, thyme, chives, black pepper and sage, and throw in the garlic cloves. Roast until the hen is reddish-gold on top, and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Poultry should be cooked to 162°F at the thickest part.
- Meanwhile, combine the blue cheese, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, buttermilk, whole milk and vinegar in a bowl and mix gently until well combined. Thin if necessary with a little iced water. Put it in a covered container and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Cut the dried sourdough bread slices into croutons. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan and fry the croutons until golden and crisp. Set aside.
- When the hen is done cooking, remove from the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the spine and oregano sprigs. Arrange the salad leaves on a couple of plates.
- Set each half of Cornish hen on top of the salad on the plates (include some of the garlic cloves if you wish). Take the blue cheese dressing from the refrigerator and pour it over the hen and the salad. Sprinkle with croutons.
A chain letter. That is what Amish Friendship Bread is, except with this one you end up with tasty bread at the end. Actually, mine ended up more like a brownie or dense cake but it is still tasty. The idea, for those who don’t know, of Amish Friendship Bread is that you start with a bag of goo (yeast, milk, sugar) and there are certain instructions to follow for 10 days. On the 10th day you measure out 3 or 4 parts to put in individual bags and give to your friends, and you use the leftover batter to make the bread. Then your friends start the process over with their “starter” bags, continuing the chain.
I’m still wrestling with calling it Amish bread. Instant pudding is used, and I’m pretty sure that’s not Amish. Also, you can’t use metal utensils but plastic and silicone are ok? I thought it was anything that was a machine, or made with a machine, couldn’t be used In which case, metal would be ok because you can smith metal; you don’t need anything but fire to make metal utensils. I think that perhaps it started out being an Amish recipe but somewhere along the line it was changed quite a bit. For this reason I’m changing it’s name to 10-Day Bread of Fun.
Anywho, I signed on to take a starter bag from a co-worker of mine. It turned out pretty good, though I doubt I’ll do it again because I don’t know anyone nearby who would want to take on 10-day bread. The idea of milk and yeast sitting on the counter for 10 days is a put-off to a lot of people, but I promise, it doesn’t go bad!
There are several variations one can do to make the bread; I chose to make chocolate strawberry bread:
10-Day Chain Bread
Starter Ingredients (start here if you have not been given a bag of “starter”)
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 3 cups white sugar, divided
- 3 cups milk
Starter Directions (only if you are making the starter from scratch and have not been given a starter bag Skip to 10-Day instructions below if you have a starter already)
- Starter (begin here if you have not been given a starter bag already. Skip to step 2 if you have) In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.
- Day 1 is the day you were given (or made) the starter. Don’t do anything else to it.
- Days 2-4 just mush the bag around and let out any air the yeast has produced.
- Day 5: Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk.
- Days 6-9: mush and let out the air
- Day 10: Stir in Day 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Remove 3 cups and place 1 cup each in large zip-lock bags. Give these three bags to your friends as their starter.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
- With the remaining batter (just over 1 cup), add the following ingredients (check out the Variations below for additional/other ingredients) and stir until well combined. Batter may be a little lumpy (at least mine was):1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 – (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup nuts
- Grease 2 large bread pans, 4 small ones, a 9×13 pan, a couple 8×8’s or whatever baking pans you want to use. Dust with cocoa, cinnamon and sugar. Pour in the batter and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours. Toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when done.
- Banana: omit the instant pudding, add 2 mashed bananas
- Chocolate: use chocolate instant pudding instead of the vanilla pudding, add 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder and 3/4 C chocolate chips
- Chocolate Strawberry: add about 1/2 to 3/4 C sliced fresh strawberries to the Chocolate variation above. (my own concoction, thank you 😀 )
- Apple Cinnamon: add 1 diced small apple and 1 C raisins
- Butterscotch: use butterscotch pudding in place of the vanilla pudding, add 1 cup of butterscotch chips
- Your Choice: this is a versatile recipe and you can use any flavor of pudding you want, can add whatever nuts you want, whatever kind of chips you want. Make the bread your own!
This week, two recipes for the price of one! I was feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen and needed to do something drastic. I used my 2-year anniversary at my current employer as an excuse and set to work finding a recipe that would be easy enough for me to make with the ingredients I already had, but that would also yield fantastic, almost over-the-top results.
I found this recipe for flaming cupcakes and thought it would be perfect to try on Valentine’s Day! I, of course, did things a little differently. She made the cupcakes from scratch, but I used my favorite boxed mix – Pillsbury. I also added semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter before I scooped it into the cupcake tin. I also didn’t use her frosting recipe, which I should have. Continue reading Valentine’s Day Cupcakes