Friday, December 24, 2010

Eggnog Tiramisu Trifle

It's what's for dessert for our Christmas eve.

Just a quick post. If you need a great Christmas dessert, look no farther!What says Christmas more than eggnog? Combine that with espresso dipped lady fingers and some chocolate...oh yeah!
I came across this recipe on  I halved the recipe because I didn't have a big enough bowl for the full recipe. The original recipe has gorgeous chocolate leaves on top, but I went the easy route and just used ground chocolate to top mine. Love the leaf idea, but I got to be realistic at this point...not gonna happen! Besides it will taste just as divine without the chocolate leaves.

Eggnog Tiramisu Trifle
Bon Appétit  | December 2003
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon dark rum
4 tablespoons brandy
12 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 8-ounce containers mascarpone cheese
2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
7 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
2 6.15-ounce or four 3.5-ounce boxes Champagne biscuits or Boudoirs (about 60 crisp ladyfinger cookies)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, finely ground in processor
Whisk 1 1/3 cups sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup rum, 3 tablespoons brandy, yolks, and nutmeg in metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and candy thermometer inserted into mixture registers 140°F for 3 minutes, about 5 minutes total. Remove bowl from over water. Whisk mascarpone, 1 container at a time, into warm custard until blended.
Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, vanilla, 1 tablespoon brandy, and 1 teaspoon rum in large bowl until cream holds peaks. Fold in mascarpone mixture.
Bring 1 cup water to simmer in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and espresso powder; stir to dissolve. Mix in liqueur. Submerge 1 biscuit in espresso mixture, turning to coat twice; shake excess liquid back into pan. Place dipped biscuit, sugared side facing out, around bottom side of 14-cup trifle dish, pressing against side of dish (biscuit may break). Repeat with enough biscuits to go around bottom sides of dish once. Dip more biscuits and arrange over bottom of dish to cover.
Spoon 2 cups mascarpone mixture over biscuits; spread to cover. Sprinkle 1/4 cup ground chocolate over, making chocolate visible at sides of dish. Repeat with more biscuits dipped into espresso mixture, mascarpone mixture, and ground chocolate in 2 more layers each. Cover with 1 more layer of dipped biscuits and enough mascarpone mixture to reach top of trifle dish. Sprinkle remaining ground chocolate over, covering completely. Cover and chill overnight.
Gently press stem end of largest chocolate leaves around edge of trifle. Fill center with smaller leaves. (Can be made 8 hours ahead; chill.

I can't wait to dig into this bowl tonight!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We have a winner...and some really great dinner rolls

 And the cookbook giveaway winner is...(drum roll please...) Melly (Melissa) Congrats Melly!! I hope you enjoy A World of Cake as much as I did.

 And now on to the most delicious dinner rolls ever. They are soft, buttery, little pillows of bread. I feel a bit Homer Simpson like when I think about these rolls. "Mmmm rolls...mmmm... What can't they do?"
If you want a great roll to go along with your Christmas dinner, these are the ones. Don't let the yeast scare away from making these rolls they are quite easy to make. And really, is there anything better than freshly baked bread items? I think not!

Buttery Dinner Rolls
(printable recipe)

1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup scalding hot milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 1/4 cups of sifted all purpose flour
2 Tbs of melted butter for brushing rolls

Sprinkle the yeast over very warm water in a large bowl. (warm water should feel comfortably warm when dropped on wrist) Stir until yeast dissolves.
Bring the milk to a boil. Add sugar, the 1/4 cup butter, and salt to hot milk and stir until the sugar dissolves and butter is melted. Cool mixture to 105 to 115 degrees.
Add milk mixture to yeast, then mix in egg. Mix in 4 1/4 cups of flour, one cup at a time to form soft dough. (I put mine in my kitchen aid with the dough hook and mixed it together and let it knead for a couple of minutes.) If you make them without a Kitchen-aid mixer than flour your surface with about 1/4 of flour and knead the dough lightly for 5 minutes, working in the flour
Place dough in a warm buttered bowl; roll the dough around the bowl so it gets butter all over. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hrs.
Punch dough down and knead for a couple minutes on a lightly floured surface. Dough will be a little sticky, but use as little flour as possible otherwise the rolls will not be as feathery light as they should be.
Pinch off large golf ball sized pieces of dough and shape into round rolls. Place in neat rows, not quite touching, in a well-buttered 13x9x2 pan. Cover rolls and let rise in warm place until doubled, 30-45min.
Brush tops of rolls generously with melted butter, then bake in a 375′ oven for 18-20minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm with plenty of butter.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spinach and Sausage Frittata Bites

These little frittata bites are the perfect addition to your party menu. They are easy to make, can be made in advance, and best of all there's no bread or cracker involved! I don't know about you but when I'm planning to have a party where only hors d oeuvres are served, it seems like almost everything is on a roll or served with a cracker or a chip. That's why I loved this recipe. It's a tasty little morsel and no chip/cracker/bread needed. The other thing I love about this recipe is its so versatile. You can add just about anything you want. The original recipe called for swiss chard in place of the spinach but when I went shopping there was no chard available so I substituted spinach. You could change the type of cheese or meat as well. It makes a great addition to your party menu but would also be great for your Christmas breakfast or brunch. Simply cut the frittata into larger pieces and it can be your a main course.

Spinach and Sausage Frittata Bites
Bon Appétit  | June 2010
by Tori Ritchie (slightly adapted)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 12-ounce bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces mild Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage broken into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Drain the spinach and chop, then place in kitchen towel and squeeze dry. Set aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to skillet and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add sausage and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking up with fork, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Whisk eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Add the spinach and cooled sausage mixture, then feta; stir to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.

Bake frittata until set in center, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer baking dish to rack and cool frittata 15 to 20 minutes. Place platter atop dish with frittata. Using oven mitts, hold baking dish and platter firmly together and invert frittata onto platter; place another platter atop frittata and invert again so that frittata is right side up. Cut frittata into 20 pieces. 
Can be made 1 day ahead. Place frittata pieces on rimmed baking sheet. Cover and chill. Rewarm in 325°F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rum Cake and a giveaway!

I recently made these mini rum cakes. The recipe came from "A World of Cake" written by Krystina Castella. This is one of the best rum cakes I've every eaten. It's moist and buttery with just the right rummy punch. I was given a copy of A World of Cake to review and GIVEAWAY!
Have I got you attention now??
Read on...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rosemary Spiced Nuts.

 These are the best spiced nuts I've ever made. I've made them for parties for a couple of years now and they are always devoured. I served them for a gathering I had at my house earlier this week, and one of my guests dubbed them crack nuts She swore she was addicted after one hit. Okay maybe they aren't quite that addictive but I dare you to stop with just one handful. These nuts are great for parties or to put them in cello bags tied with ribbons and give them as hostess gifts, either way your recipients will think you're amazing. (just reaffirming what you already know! ha ha) 

I had a hard time finding unsalted nuts the first time I made these so I used salted mixed nuts and left out the salt and they worked just fine. Any nuts will work in this recipe except Brazil nuts, they contain a lot of oil and the spice mixture can't stick to them. I just pick them out and use the regular mixed nuts.

Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts 
(printable recipe)
source: Fine Cooking
1 lb. (4 cups) mixed unsalted nuts (if using salted nuts omit adding salt in recipe)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt (omit if using salted nuts)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Scatter the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, shaking the sheet a couple of times during baking, until the nuts are nicely toasted, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, set a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the coriander and cumin and toast until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, brown sugar, rosemary, and cayenne. Return the skillet to low heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Keep warm.
Put the nuts into a large bowl, pour the warm spiced butter over the nuts, and add the salt (omit salt if using salted nuts. Stir until the nuts are well coated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Let the nuts cool completely.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Butterscotch Fudge

Is that pumpkin fudge as good as it looks?  No. It's not. It's way way way better!! You may think you have will power of steel, but if you love pumpkin and cinnamon, you will find this fudge irresistible. I can't walk by the pan without cutting off a small piece. 
I never knew that pumpkin fudge even exited until a couple of years ago when it began popping up on baking blogs. I thought it sounded good, but fudge has always been one of those things that I could take or leave. Most of the recipes I've seen use white chocolate chips. I don't really like white chocolate so I've just always put off making pumpkin fudge. Pumpkin and butterscotch, however are the perfect combo. I made this pumpkin butterscotch pie a couple of years ago and fell in love with the flavors together. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is the perfect time to make this fudge!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Fudge
makes 3 1/4 pounds
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12-ounces (2 cups) butterscotch-flavored pieces
7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a 13x9x2" baking pan.
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. (use care while stirring, the mixture is extremely hot and may sputter and bubble.) Reduce heat. Boil over medium heat till mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 234 on a candy thermometer, stirring constantly (about 15 minutes).Remove from heat and stir in butterscotch pieces till melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla. Mix until combined.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator. 

Even if you've never made fudge before, this recipe is pretty simple. However, I recommend using a candy thermometer to make your fudge. A candy thermometer will help to ensure that you bring the fudge up to the right temp. It's important to get the fudge to the right temperature so you don't end up with a grainy texture.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranberry Chutney...

...or is it relish?

Ever wonder what the difference between a relish and a chutney is? Me either until I started this post. As I got started to write this post I remembered that last year for Thanksgiving I made this cranberry rum relish. Which made me wonder why that would be considered a relish and not a chutney.  Just in case there are those out there like me that want an answer to this burning question, I thought I'd try to find out the difference. So the answer is...well it gets a little tricky because chutney and relish are often used interchangeably as condiment terms. The term chutney comes from the East Indian word chatni, meaning "strongly spiced," and is described as a condiment which usually consists of a mix of chopped fruits, vinegar, spices and sugar cooked into a chunky spread. In general, relishes are cooked less, use less sugar, if any, and are more crunchy to the bite. However, chutneys can be savory, and relishes can be sweet.
Still confused? Me too! I'm calling this a chutney because it has fruit mixed with vinegar, spices and sugar. Chutney or relish, it's a great accompaniment to your Thanksgiving meal!

Cranberry Chutney (printable recipe)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, diced
2 tsp jalapeno, finely diced
4 cups cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1-1/4 cups sugar
Zest from 1 orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice 
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and the oil and, when the foam subsides, add the onion. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the onion is lightly browned.
Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook covered on medium for 8-10 minutes. Uncover the pan, stir, and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes, or until the apple is cooked through, all of the berries have popped and the mixture is a uniform color.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quince and Apple Pie

 "A quince for you, a quince for me, quinces we shall eat" Quinces are one the oldest known fruits. They proceed the apple and are believed by many to be the Forbidden Fruit that Eve offered Adam in the Garden of Eden. In Greece, it's known as the fruit of love and plays a part in most wedding celebrations. Quince trees have been grown in Asia and through out the Mediterranean for over 4000 years. Although quinces have been around for centuries, they are a relatively new discovery for me. They have begun to pop up recently in our local markets so I thought I'd give baking with them a try. Who doesn't want to try the "fruit of love"? I mean if it was tempting enough for Adam...

The quince is a relative of both the apple and the pear, but most varieties  cannot be eaten raw. In the raw form, quinces are usually very hard, even when fully ripe, and very astringent. When cooked however, they turn a beautiful rosy color and a have a lovely floral-like flavor. Because quinces naturally contain a high amount of pectin they are often used in jams, jellies, chutneys and marmalades. They are also wonderful to use in baking and can be substituted for apples or pears in most recipes.

I decided I'd poach my quinces and mix them with apples in a pie. I don't think that it's necessary (or possible!) to improve on a classic apple pie, but the quince mixed with the apples was a nice change from the traditional apple pie.  Because they are in season in late Autumn, quinces are a great choice for your Thanksgiving dinner. If you are looking for a little variety this Thanksgiving, consider a quince and apple pie.
 For the pie crust on this pie, I used part white whole wheat flour and part regular all-purpose flour. I also made a crust with some vegetable shortening as well as butter. Because I used the white whole wheat flour, the vegetable shortening helped make the crust a bit more tender, flaky. I also thought the white whole wheat flour gave the crust a slightly nutty taste that was great with the quince.

Quince and Apple Pie 

Pie Crust
Makes two 9 inch single crust or one 9 inch double crust pie.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour -( I used 1 cup of white wheat flour and 1 1/2 all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup(2 sticks) cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup shortening- chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter and shortening over the dry ingredients and pulse until it is coarsely cut in-you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Drizzle the water over the mixture. Using on/off pulses, pulse just until the dough holds together when pinched. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. divide into two equal pieces. Form each piece into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Prepare the quince:
3 quinces peeled and seeded
2 cups water
1cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
Quarter the peeled, seeded quinces, and cut into quarter-inch slices. In a heavy bottom pot, combine water and sugar. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds. Place the vanilla bean and the seeds along with the quince slices in the pot. Poach the quince 15 minutes. Cool, drain and discard the vanilla bean.
Look at the beautiful color the quinces turn when poached!

Assembling the pie:
4 tart/sweet apples (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, etc..) peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
Milk, to brush on the crust. 
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Pour the sugar mixture over the apples and quince stir to coat evenly.Add lemon juice, toss to coat.
Roll out one disk of the pastry dough on a floured board into a 14-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters, center it on the pie plate, unfold and gently pat the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate.
Spoon apple/quince mixture into the pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter.
Roll out the second disk into a 14-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters, center on top of the pie and unfold. Trim, seal and flute the edges.Make slits in the center to vent the pie. Brush the surface of the crust with milk.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and juices bubble, about 45 to 55 minutes.

I made little individual pies. So cute!
    They dined on mince and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
    And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
    They danced by the light of the moon.
~ "The Owl and the Pussycat," by Edward Lear

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

Somehow this month has gotten away from me. With Hubs in Iraq, I've had somewhat of a bah humbugish attitude about Halloween this year. So here it is the day before Halloween and I've yet to bake anything remotely Halloweenie (ha Halloweenie now that's just asking for comments!) So since I didn't do any Halloween baking I thought I'd round-up a few of the coolest things I've seen out there in the blogshpere and share them with you.

These little meringue ghosts are from Dulcis in Furno's blog and are some of the most adorable ghosts I've ever seen! 
Meringue Ghosts

This cute and clever pumpkin cake come from Taste and Tell. It's decorated with Trix cereal!! How unique.

If your looking for something goulish this Halloween, these Lady's Finger's from Martha Stewart will fit the bill!

Spider Bites!
Or if creepy crawly things are what you want, check out these spiders by Bakerella.

There are so many more amazing, creepy, wonderful Halloween treats out there but these are a few of my favorites! I hope they inspire you to get baking this Halloween.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Fritters...they're not dessert!

...Or even a breakfast pastry. Nope in Barbados, pumpkin fritters are a side dish! Yes, you read that right, they serve these sugar dusted fritters as a side dish with the meal. A doughnut like side dish, now that's one way to get the kiddos to eat their veggies!
Hubs and I visited Barbados 3 years ago, around this time of the year. While we were there, we had pumpkin fritters several times. They were always served as a side along with savory dishes. I totally fell in love with the pumpkin fritters during our trip to Barbados. When I got home, I wanted to make the pumpkin fritters but couldn't find much information on how they  were made. I wrote a post about our trip to Barbados, and was so excited when I got a comment from Cynthia of Tastes Like Home. Cynthia is originally from Guyana, but has lived in Barbados for many years. Who better to ask for help with making these pumpkin fritters? Cynthia was kind enough to send me a couple of different pumpkin fritter recipes. My first fritter making attempt, didn't go so well. I think the pumpkin they use in Barbados may be a different variety then the pumpkin we have here in the States. However with Cynthia's help and some trial and error, I finally got a pumpkin fritter that's pretty close to the ones we had in Barbados. Thanks Cynthia!

So serve them whenever you want, just don't pass up these bites of fried pumpkin deliciousness!
Pumpkin Fritters
printable recipe

2 lbs- 1 sm pumpkin pie pumpkin (sometimes called sugar pumpkin)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup flour (approximately)
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Garnish: 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel the pumpkin and cut into chunks. Place in medium sized pot, cover with water.
Add a generous pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.
Boil the pumpkin in salted water until soft.

Drain and mash pumpkin. In a little bowl mix the sugar and spices.Stir mixture into the mashed pumpkin.

Whisk an egg and mix into the pumpkin along with the milk.
Add baking powder and flour until it comes to a good dropping consistency.(I only needed about 3/4 cup of flour)
In a cast iron skillet or frying pan add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan about a 1/2 inch. You need enough to shallow fry the fritters.
When the oil is hot enough to fry, drop rounded teaspoons of batter into the hot oil.
Use caution when working with hot oil! Don't overcrowd the pan.
Fry the fritters in batches of about 5 or 6. Fry both sides on a medium heat until dark brown.
Adjust heat when cooking so fritters cook through without burning.These fritters should be fairly thin with a creamy consistency inside when cooked. Sprinkle fritters with the mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
Serve immediately.
Makes 20-25 fritters

When you clean you pumpkin, don't throw out those seeds. They make a wonderful snack when roasted. Go here for a great recipe. I sprinkled mine with Cajun seasoning before I toasted them. Yum!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Retro 50's Housewife Shower

My youngest sister is getting married in a few weeks, so of course that means a shower must be thrown! Her wedding has a definite retro vibe and her own personal style has always been anything but traditional. With that in mind, we decided on a 50's housewife theme for her shower. The colors she's using in her wedding are aqua with touches of yellow and red. Perfect for our retro theme. Even the menu was retro. It included such classics as, pigs-in-a blanket, deviled eggs, and the piece de resistance, the sandwich loaf complete with cream cheese icing and stuffed olive decoration.

When I was trying to come up with ideas for the shower, I stumbled across the Wedding Chicks website. They have great DIY project ideas and lots of FREE customizable templates. I was able to customize the colors to match our shower.

This cute template was the inspiration for our dessert table

The "Candy Bar"
Ready to be the perfect housewife!
We asked our guests to wear their best 50's housewife dresses, aprons, and pearls. Desperate housewives??!!
Congratulations little sis!