"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wine Wednesday - Martini and Rossi Asti

So tomorrow is New Year's Eve, which means that champagne will be the drink of choice. If you haven't picked any up yet, Martini and Rossi Asti is a great choice, though actually a sparkling wine, that can be found at any grocery store. I know it's a pretty commercialized brand, but I've always really liked it (my college roommate, Jennifer, always said it was her favorite!). Many grocery stores will have it on sale this week for $10-12.

Martini and Rossi was founded in Northern Italy by two men (Martini and Rossi) in 1863. The Asti is said to be fruity and floral - and I would say it's fairly sweet. Their website has recipes for several cocktails, including a Kir Royal. I first had a Kir Royal when I was in Provence several years ago - they are often served at cafes. A Kir Royal is made from champagne and creme de cassis, which is black currant liquor. The website's recipe calls for 1 part creme de cassis topped with 4 parts Asti - Yum! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

After Christmas, I decided it was time to try something new! So last night I made this recipe out of a cookbook my mom had given me for Christmas. I was a little nervous about it and the cookbook didn't give too many specific details - so I was on my own for some of it. But it turned out pretty well! It wasn't as hard as I thought it might be, and the best part is that there are so few ingredients!

1 large chicken, cut into pieces (you can buy them already cut)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
All-purpose flour

Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Place it in a large saucepan or a stockpot. Cover with water. Cook over medium heat until tender (I cooked it for about 45 minutes). Drain the chicken but save your broth (I just used tongs to take the chicken out, then poured the liquid through a strainer). Place the chicken in a large bowl. After the chicken cools some, tear it off the bone - you will add it back in later. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups of the broth with just enough flour to make a stiff dough (I just kept adding flour until it was stiff enough to roll out - I have no idea how much I added!). Roll out very thin on a lightly floured surface before you cut into squares (I suggest cutting into 1 inch squares using a pizza slicer). Bring the remaining broth to a boil in a stockpot. Drop your dumplings into the broth. Add the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole

One last Holiday recipe - just in time! Merry Christmas!

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups of mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/3 cup of milk

Combine ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a greased 2 quart casserole. Cover with topping and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Topping -
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of plain flour
2 1/2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients well. Sprinkle on potatoes just before baking.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bread Pudding

Kent and his family have been making bread pudding for their Christmas dessert for years. This particular recipe is their favorite. And I have to say - it is so amazing!!

Bread Pudding
8 large day-old croissants, torn into small pieces
4 cups of milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of sugar
1 cups of pecans, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the bread in a lightly greased 13 by 9 inch pan. Pour the milk over the bread and let it stand for 10 minutes. Using your hands, blend the mixture well. Stir the eggs and the next five ingredients into the bread mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until firm. Serve with custard sauce. (Yields 15 servings)

Custard Sauce
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter or margarine
1/2 cup of half and half
2 tablespoons of whiskey or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Cool, stir in whiskey. (Yields 1 1/2 cups)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wine Wednesday - Sparkling Christmas Punch

I have not tried this punch yet, but it sounds really good! I wanted to post a Wine Wednesday recipe that would be good for a Holiday party. I think this will be great! Let me know if you try it!

Sparkling Christmas Punch
2-3 cinnamon sticks, crushed
1 tsp. ground allspice
3 qt. apple cider
3 qt. cranberry juice
Juice of 3 oranges
1/3 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
3 (1 liter) bottles club soda or ginger ale
6 c. champagne or vodka, chilled

In non-aluminum 8-quart saucepan, combine cider, juices and brown sugar. Heat to simmering over medium low heat. Add spices and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. Remove spices, if necessary, before serving.
Pour into bowl. Add soda or ginger ale and liquor immediately before serving. Garnish with apple slices. Serves 40 (1 cup) servings.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pork Roast with Jezebel Sauce

This is one of my favorite things that Kent makes. It has a great spicy sauce to put on the roast and always reminds me of Christmas time. If you need a main dish for a Holiday party, this works really well. It's very easy to double. It can also work well as an appetizer if you cut the pork into small medallions.

Pork Roast
6 tablespoons hot sauce
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons pepper
1 (3- to 4-pound) boneless pork loin

Garnishes: paprika, fresh parsley sprigs, cracked black pepper

Stir together hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce; set aside.
Combine garlic salt and pepper.
Place pork in a lightly greased roasting pan. Brush all sides of pork loin with sauce mixture; sprinkle with garlic salt mixture.
Bake at 325° for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 160°, shielding with aluminum foil the last 30 minutes. Let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Cut into slices. Serve with Jezebel Sauce; garnish if desired.

Jezebel Sauce
1 (18-ounce) jar apple jelly
1 (18-ounce) jar apricot-pineapple preserves
1/4 cup dry mustard
2 tablespoons pepper
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Stir together all ingredients; serve with pork.

(This recipe comes from Southern Living.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Peppermint Bark

This is super easy to make - but really good. It's great to give as Christmas presents to coworkers and makes a great snack for Christmas parties. If anyone has any other Christmas candy or food ideas, please let me know!

Peppermint Bark
Candy Canes (red and green or red and white)
2 pounds White Chocolate (baking squares can be found on the baking aisle)
1/2 tsp. Peppermint extract

Place the candy canes in a plastic bag and break into tiny pieces - I use a hammer for this! You should have about a cup of candy pieces. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once chocolate is melted, mix in extract and candy canes. Then pour onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper - a cookie sheet with sides works best. Refrigerate for about an hour. Break into pieces and serve.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cranberry Brie Bake

I've been a little behind on my blogging lately! But I'm going to try to post a lot of Christmas recipes in the next few weeks. I'm sure many of us will be headed to Christmas parties and will be looking for something to bring. We made this recipe last year around Christmas. It's so yummy, but best if you have a way to keep it warm as it's being served so that it will stay creamy. I adapted it from a recipe my friend Katie sent me. I'll post her original recipe as well.

Anna's Cranberry Brie Bake
One round of Brie cheese
A frozen package of filo dough
1 cup of cranberries
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 tablespoons of melted butter

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2) Put the cranberries into a pan with the orange juice and brown sugar.
3) Cook over a low heat until they begin to pop and release their juices, about 8 minutes. Continue to cook until the cranberries are soft but do not completely lose their shape.
4) As the cranberries are cooking, cut the rind off of the Brie.

*Take one sheet of filo dough and wrap it around the Brie. Then brush the sheet of filo dough with butter. Turn the Brie over, and wrap it with another sheet from the other side. Brush the sheet with butter, turn the Brie, and add another layer. Continue adding layers - probably about five or six total. Place the wrapped Brie in a round or square pyrex dish. Top with the warm cranberry mixture. Place the dish in the oven and cook until the dough is browned and crispy.

For Katie's Cranberry and Brie Stuffed Phyllo...
Use the same ingredients above. Follow steps 1-4 listed above.
Then, place the Brie in a food processor. Beat it until it becomes creamy - about 10 minutes. Cut the phyllo into 6-inch squares. Be careful not to allow them to dry out. Brush half of them with butter and lay the remaining ones over the top. Put a spoonful of the whipped brie in the middle of each square and some of the cranberry mix, being careful not to add too much of the liquid. Fold the parcels over to form a triangle and brush the edges that come into contact with oil before folding them over on themselves. Bake the phyllo parcels for about 12 minutes, or until golden and hot.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

This dessert is a must for any Christmas party. I made it last year when we had some friends over around Christmas. I am planning to make red velvet cupcakes this year for a girls Holiday party! This is a really easy recipe, even if you've never made a layered cake before. It comes from Patsy Smith's cookbook, A Cookbook for my Southern Daughter.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs
1 (1 oz) bottle of red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together dry ingredients. Add other ingredients in order and mix thoroughly. Bake in 2 greased and floured 8 inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup margarine
8 ounces cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Let margarine and cream cheese soften at room temperature. Cream well; add sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla and nuts. Spread on cake. (Nuts are optional.)
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