Ultimate Christmas Eve Cocktail

Food

Last weekend Andy and I enjoyed a night in, decorating the Christmas tree and sipping on festive beverages.

While you’ve probably had spiked eggnog before – rum i’m guessing? Andy and I discovered that nog + peppermint schnapps is a by-far superior combination.

The schnapps blends really well with the thickness of the eggnog, and cuts back on the drink’s sweetness while also adding a festive peppermint burst!

To make the treat yourself simply pour out the desired amount of eggnog (feel free to venture beyond the suggested serving size), drizzle in a splash of schnapps (again, feel free to be heavy handed), and top with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and nutmeg!

Have these ingredients on-hand for all Christmas get-togethers and celebrations!

P.S. Only 8 days until Christmas!

Advertisements

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Food

I’m an avid fan of Food Network‘s Holiday Baking Competition and, as a result, have watched many-a-baker create Mexican hot chocolate inspired goodies. While I’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying Mexican hot chocolate, I’m a sure-fire (spicy reference intended) fan of chocolate and pepper combined and have been eager to try out this flavor profile during the holidays.

This weekend I made my first batch of Mexican hot chocolate cookies and it was truly love at first bite!

SO gooey, with a satisfying zip of spice from the cayenne pepper and chili powder. The recipe is also really easy which is another plus, especially this time of year!

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • 4 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use bitter chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together in the microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) in 25-second increments, whisking between each interval. Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature.
  3.  Beat the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and eggs on low speed until well combined. Pour in the cooled chocolate and continue to mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate batter and mix on low speed until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  6. Scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie (they expand!).
  7. Bake the cookies for approximately 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. The cookies should be puffy and still fairly soft when removed from the oven.
  8. Immediately slide the cookies, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy this recipe with friends, co-workers and loved ones this holiday season.

P.S. 13 days until Christmas!

Original recipe retrieved from http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/spicy-mexican-hot-chocolate-cookies-1962907#reviewsTop

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Food

With every season there are a handful of recipes that are on my absolute must-make list. For fall, we’re talking butternut squash, homemade applesauce, cheesy bowtie bratwurst casserole and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

It’s no secret that pumpkin spice is a an all-time favorite for most (#PSL season started two months ago), and this recipe combines the rich, rustic spices of fall with milk chocolate for a winning combination.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also love this recipe for the cookies’ consistency (think dessert AND breakfast) and love how many batches the dough renders.

And while this recipe is super simple, it’s also quite elegant – great for both cookie connoisseurs and beginning bakers alike!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
  6. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds.
  7. Stir in the chips.
  8. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges.
  9. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks or paper bags.
  10. Share with friends and family for a hyggelig time!

2.jpg

*Original recipe retrieved from FoodNetwork.com

Fruit Kabobs!

Food

It’s that time of year again: barbecue season! And while we all love a good burger, bratwurst, and heaping serving of potato & macaroni salad, sometimes we find ourselves in the mood for something a wee bit healthier.

Fruit kabobs are a simple way to fill that health-craving void. All you need for these simple kabobs are wooden skewers, strawberries and a fresh pineapple (or canned pineapple chunks if you’re in a rush).

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash strawberries and cut them in half.
  2. Cut your pineapple by first cutting off the outside skin. Proceed to cut the meat of the pineapple into chunks.
  3. Spear your kabobs, rotating between pineapple and strawberry.
  4. Enjoy!

Protein-Packed Spinach + Kale Smoothie

Food

smoothieThis Thursday I had the grand pleasure of having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. Many of you out there can commiserate with the pain, odd looks from people who are staring at your enlarged “chipmunk cheeks” and your inability to eat just about everything.

None the less, while the past five days have been trying in their own regard, they have made me much more adventurous in the smoothie realm!

Following an oral surgery such as a wisdom tooth extraction, it’s vital that you don’t allow your inability to chew get in the way of your nutrition. As I discovered, smoothies are an easy, delicious and pain-alleviating way to get the nutrients you need when you are unable to chew or, seriously, even open your mouth.

While I tried several veggie smoothies over the past week, this Spinach + Kale smoothie has by far been my favorite. Check out the simple recipe below:

Ingredients:

2 cups spinach

1 cup kale

1 tablespoon peanut butter

3/4 cup milk or almond milk

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use a vegetable-based powder)

1 frozen banana

Directions:

Blend spinach, kale, peanut butter, milk and protein powder until smooth. Add in banana and blend again.

Enjoy immediately or store in a mason jar for later!

Greek Yogurt and Walnut Dip

Food

Working at Chobani, I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate Greek Yogurt into my cooking. Aside from being a great snack or mini-meal, the yogurt’s thick and creamy texture make it a healthy, versatile ingredient to cook with, and can be used as a substitute for butter, oil, cream cheese, mayo and, most commonly, sour cream.

While I’ve used Chobani yogurt in Swedish meatballs, tuna fish salad, shrimp tacos, bean dip, cheesecake and salad dressing, my simplest rendition was created using the recipe I’m featuring today: Yogurt, Dill and Walnut Dip. 

I originally found the recipe on Real Simple and love how few ingredients it takes to make a filling and healthy snack. Because – let’s be honest – dip is addicting, so the healthier the better!

INGREDIENTS

  • cups Plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, walnuts, dill and kosher salt.
  2. Top with additional chopped dill and walnuts.
  3. Serve with carrots or pita chips.
  4. Enjoy!

Grandma Labriola’s Pat a Choux Dough Recipe

Food

Growing up, I was very fortunate to come from a food-loving Italian-American family. With homemade meals and desserts set on our table day in and day out, I grew up learning to appreciate food and the culture and traditions that come with it.

While my grandmother is adept at making absolutely every kind of dessert imaginable, one of my favorite treats was always cream puffs. (I think most children could empathize with this).

Below you will find her recipe for pat a choux, a light pastry dough used for making cream puffs and eclairs, among other French-inspired treats.

While the end result of a homemade cream puff is quite impressive, I think you’ll find that the process to making them is actually quite approachable.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Bring 1 cup water and ½ cup butter to a boil in a sauce pan on high heat
  2. Once boiling, shut the stove off
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and stir until the dough forms a ball
  4. Take the dough off of the stove and beat in four eggs, one at a time
  5. Use a spoon to drop the dough onto an un-greased baking sheet, spacing them apart. There should be enough dough to make 12 cream puffs.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown
  7. Allow the pastries to cool, away from drafts
  8. Once cooled, cut off the tops of the pastries
  9. Pull out the soft dough in the middle of the pastry
  10. Fill the pastries with filling (whipped cream for cream puffs– homemade or, if you’re in a rush, store bought)
  11. Top with powdered sugar
  12. ENJOY!

How to Make Muddy Buddies

Food

This time of year, it’s easy to become cookied-out. In other words, feel as if one more Christmas cookie will simply cause you to burst, being as sick of them as you are.

So what sweet treat do you make when planning for a New Year’s Eve get together? Simplest answer: Muddy Buddies.

4

One of the easiest dessert snacks you can make in THE entire world, this treat is immensely satisfying and (quite frankly) a bit addicting.

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups of wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Directions:

  • Measure your cereal out into a large bowl
  • Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave (approximately 1 minute)
  • Stir your melted ingredients
  • If not fully melted, place in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds
  • Stir in the vanilla extract
  • Pour melted ingredients over top of the cereal
  • Mix everything together
  • Place the coated Chex cereal into a sealed plastic bag with the confectioners’ sugar
  • Shake it up!
  • Lay the Muddy buddies out on waxed or parchment paper to cool
  • Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in a cool space
  • Enjoy!

Whether you’ve made these a million times or are a muddy buddies novice, I know you will enjoy this sweet and savory treat!

1.jpg

 

*Recipe retrieved from Chex.com

 

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Roll Recipe

Food

‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice and nothing is more decadently delicious than a pumpkin roll!

As I’ve mentioned before, this dessert certainly looks more complicated then it truly is. So if you’re looking to break the usual thanksgiving pie cycle, look no further.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 9 oz of cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup), room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions to make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour a 17 1/2- by 12 1/2-inch jellyroll pan.
  • Beat the eggs, granulated sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice until smooth, using an electric mixer.
  • Sift together the flour, ginger, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
  • Add the sifted ingredients to the egg mixture and blend until fully combined.
  • Spread the batter in the jellyroll pan.
  • Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes.
  • Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle some of the confectioner’ sugar on a large tea towel.
  • Invert the cake onto the towel.
  • Fold the sides of the towel over the cake.
  • Roll the cake up in the towel starting with a 12 1/2-inch side. (In other words, roll it “hamburger style”).
  • Cool in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Finishing touches:

  • Combine the confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  • Unroll the cooled cake and spread the mixture on top of the cake.
  • Re-roll the cake and refrigerate until ready to be sliced and served.
  • Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
  • Enjoy with family and friends!

pumpkin-roll

The original recipe has been adapted by the author, resulting in the recipe above.