Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Candy Acorns

PB and Chocolate Candy Acorns
Candy Acorns

Two favorite flavors, peanut butter and chocolate, combine in these adorable little acorn-shaped candies. They are a perfect complement to any autumn holiday table and fun for everyone when paired with real or artificial oak tree leaves.

The amount of powdered sugar you need will depend on the humidity in the room and the texture of the peanut butter you use.


Candy Acorns

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields 48 candies

Ingredients:

3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:

1. Blend together well, butter, peanut butter and extract. Add powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until a stiff and smooth dough forms. Refrigerate briefly (5 minutes) if dough is too soft.
2. Divide dough into 48 elongated balls and roll each between your hands, pinching at one end, to form an acorn.
3. Set pointed side up on a parchment or waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Once all acorns are formed, refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up candies.
4. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or 1 to 2 minutes in a microwave, until smooth.
5. Dip each acorn, smooth top-side down, into chocolate. Twist lightly and pull gently to form the acorn cap and stem. Set back on the cookie sheet, sides down this time, and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cooking with Kids

Check out this awesome infographic from Cabot Cheese with all sorts of tips about cooking with kids. This is something I do often, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner you can garner help from the littles in your house and they will surely appreciate the meal more than they would if they didn't pitch in. It's an excellent way to teach them so many things at one time. Give this a look! (Click to View Larger)

Cooking With Kids Infographic
Presented By Cabot Cheese



Mini Cheese Balls

Mini Cheese Balls
Mini Cheese Balls

If cheese balls are the hit of the party, mini cheese balls are an even bigger hit. Do you know why they're better? Coatings. Yep, when it comes to cheese balls, I like equal parts coating and cheese, but with a big cheese ball, you can't get that. Once that outer crunchiness and extra pop of flavor is gone, it's all cheese. These minis solve that problem and they're cute to boot!

Bacon Coated Mini Cheese Balls
Oh, yes you can. Bacon coated mini cheese balls.


These are perfect for a holiday cheese and cracker plate and my kids also like these for after school snacks. They each like different coatings, so I mix it up for them. Use your imagination and see how many coatings you can come up with.

Mini Cheese Balls
Mini Cheese Balls


Mini Cheese Balls

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 40 minutes
Yield: Makes 36 cheese balls

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon paprika (I like smoked paprika for this)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped nuts, small seeds, chopped herbs, crumbled cooked bacon, etc. optional

Directions:

1. Soften cream cheese at room temperature.
2. Blend with shredded cheese and seasonings until well combined.
3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, covered, until firm enough to roll.
4. Roll into 36 balls (about 1-inch in diameter) and roll each ball in chopped nuts, seeds, herbs or bacon if desired.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Pie with Praline Sauce

Sweet Potato Pie with Praline Sauce
Sweet Potato Pie with Praline Sauce

Sweet potato pie is a staple in the deep South, differing from pumpkin pie by mere spices. Quick to make and paired with a sweet Praline Sauce, it's just the right dessert for any Cajun meal or holiday table. It's also the best alternative to pumpkin pie, so if you have pumpkin pie haters at your feast this year, give this one a try.


Sweet Potato Pie with Praline Sauce

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 2 hours
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes - about 1 pound
1 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 9-inch pie shell, baked

Directions:

1. Prick sweet potatoes and bake in a 450 degree F oven for 50 minutes or until soft. Cool and remove skins.
2. Combine potatoes with cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Pour into baked pie shell and bake in a 375 degree F oven for 50 minutes, or until center of pie is set.
4. Cool completely and serve topped with Praline Sauce.


Pralines (said like PRAW-leen if you're from the South) are the most commonly found and popular candy in New Orleans. There are candy shops devoted to the confection. This heavenly rich sauce has all the flavor of a true praline and is perfect drizzled atop vanilla ice cream, cake or Sweet Potato Pie.

Praline Sauce

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 20 minutes
Serves: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.


Directions:

1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until thick and sugar begins to dissolve.
2. Add evaporated milk and stir well. Heat untli bubbling. Continue to cook and stir for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and add pecans and vanilla. Stir well and let cool for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened before serving.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tortilla Española

 Tortilla Española


Tortilla Española is a traditional Spanish dish served at many local restaurants and bars in Spain. Served hot or cold it's delicious either way. The oil may seem excessive, but is necessary for the true flavor of the tortilla. Honestly, don't freak out about it, you'll be blissfully unaware after your first bite!

Tortilla Española


Tortilla Española
Printable Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 45 minutes
Yield: 12 as an appetizer, 6 as a meal

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes or other waxy potato, peeled, quartered and sliced thinly
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 whole eggs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over low heat, add the potatoes, onions and salt and cook, turning often, for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not browned.
2. Drain potatoes in a colander over a bowl. Drain as much oil as possible and reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil.
3. Beat eggs well and add paprika, salt and pepper. Pour hot potatoes into eggs and stir well.
4. Put the 2 tablespoons of oil back into the same skillet and pour in the potatoes and eggs.
5. Turn heat to medium and cook until eggs are nearly set on top, 5-7 minutes.
6. Put a large plate facedown over the skillet and invert the tortilla.
7. Slide the tortilla back into the skillet, uncooked side down, and cook for another 3 minutes.
8. Slide tortilla onto a plate and cool for several minutes before cutting.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Sausage Gravy and Bacon Biscuit Wedges

Sausage Gravy and Bacon Biscuit Wedges
Sausage Gravy and Bacon Biscuit Wedges
That's right ... heart attack on a plate. Now, I don't mean to cause anyone harm or ruin your health, but we don't eat this way every day. I think saving something like this for once in a while is just fine. After all, my grandma lived to 97 on this type of food and a happy heart.

All kidding aside, if you're going to eat something bad for you, do it right, just don't do it often. This recipe calls for real butter, real sausage, real bacon and real milk - and I don't mean the skim kind. If you really need to you can go for turkey sausage and turkey bacon, just please don't use margarine for those biscuits, they really won't taste the same.

Cut butter into small cubes - about 1/2" each and add to flour, baking powder and salt mixture.


Add crumbled bacon - about 8 slices will yield 1/2 cup.


The best way to get the butter into the flour mixture is to rub it in with your hands. You can use a fork or pastry cutter, but you won't be able to feel if there are larger lumps of butter left. 


Once the milk is added and the dough comes together it needs to be kneaded. About 5 folds and turns should do it; the less you handle the dough, the more tender it will be. When the bacon bits pop out of the dough (they will!)  make sure you push them back in there, you don't want to lose any of it. 


Roll or press dough into an 8-inch circle - even if it doesn't look like a circle when you're done.


Score and then cut dough into 8 even wedges.


Put wedges on a greased pan or use silicone as above. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 - 21 minutes.


Baked and risen bacon biscuit wedges. Let cool briefly before splitting. 


Cook sausage until no longer pink. Add flour and stir well until no dry flour is visible. Add milk slowly, 2 cups first then stir until it starts to thicken. Add remaining milk one cup at a time until thickened as desired.


Add as much black pepper as you like - we like 2 teaspoons for our double batch.



Around here we double the recipe and each person gets 2 biscuits and a bucketful of gravy.

Sausage Gravy and Bacon Biscuit Wedges
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

For the Bacon Biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup bacon crumbles - about 4 slices
1 cup milk or buttermilk


Directions:

1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium mixing bowl.
2. Cut in butter and bacon until mixture resembles large crumbs.
3. Add milk half a cup at a time until a soft dough forms.
4. Knead dough about 5 turns and folds - less is better.
5. Form into an 8-inch disc and cut into 8 even wedges.
6. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 15-21 minutes or until risen and lightly browned.

For the Sausage Gravy

Ingredients:

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

1. Cook sausage in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan until no longer pink.
2. Add flour and stir well until no dry areas are left.
3. Add milk, 1 cup at first, and stir until it begins to thicken.
4. Add remaining milk a cup at a time until the gravy is the consistency you like.
5. Taste for seasoning and add salt if you like.
6. Add pepper and stir well. Serve over bacon biscuits cut in half lengthwise.