Christmas

Cranberry Fig Brie Bites

This is a popular Christmas appetizer not only in our home, but with many families that I know.  The only difference with mine is, per usual, I kicked it up a notch with the addition of fig jam.  The jam adds just the right amount of sweetness that definitely offsets the tartness of the cranberries.

These truly are a perfect holiday treat that your guest will happily pop in their mouths throughout the evening.  Not to mention your happiness when this all comes together for you in about 25 minutes, prep AND baking time!  Feel free to change up the jams or cranberries for something more savory or spicy, plus toasted pecans are a fun topper to them too!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for dusting the dough and cutting board
  • 1 (8oz) tube crescent dough
  • 1/2 cup fig preserves
  • 1 (8oz) wheel of brie cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish *remove prior to eating

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the flour down and roll out the crescent dough while pinching the seams together.  With a pizza cutter, cut the crescent roll dough into 24 equal-sized squares.  Gently press each piece of dough square into a 2″x2″ size and place in the muffin tin.

Spoon a small dollop of fig jam into the center of each crescent square, followed by a cube of brie, another dollop of cranberry sauce and a sprig of rosemary.  Bake until they’re a light, golden brown (about 12 minutes).  Serve warm.

CranberryBrieBites

Christmas on the “Ranch” Rollups

I just love this time of year!  Not only because of the family time, presents, décor or music, but also because of all the yummy appetizers to be had!

This one here is a cinch to make and looks great on your Christmas Eve buffet.  Its creamy, yet has great crunch from the fresh vegetables and tremendous flavor from the bacon and ranch seasoning.  Plus you can add in any additional veggies you may have on hand (shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, etc.), which is a great way to sneak in a little bit of extra nutrition for your picky eaters!  This is definitely family and kid-approved!

 

The Starting Lineup 

  • 4 large garden spinach herb flavored (green) tortillas
  • 2 (8oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (1oz) packet Ranch Seasoning
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, Ranch seasoning, crumbled bacon, red bell pepper, green onions, jalapenos and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.

Spread an even amount of the cream cheese mixture over each tortilla.  Roll up like a jelly roll and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight.  Slice each roll into 1″ pieces and arrange on a serving dish.  Enjoy!

RanchRollups

Overnight Gingerbread French Toast

Everything’s bigger in Texas, right??  So it’s no surprise that a Sunday brunch or Christmas morning breakfast inherits that same thinking.  This French toast casserole delivers thick chunks of chewy bread laden in a sweet custard, which is loaded with all the flavors of Christmas.  The flavors of everyone’s favorite lil-guy-shaped -cookie, gingerbread!

This recipe is fantastic, because the night before (say Christmas eve after the children have gone to bed), you can easily whip this together.  In the morning, pop it in the oven and it’ll be ready at the same time everyone is finished opening their gifts from Santa!  Trust me, even the little ones will leave their toys when they smell the aroma of gingerbread coming from the kitchen!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 loaf bakery sourdough bread, cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 6 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp each brown sugar and granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp each ginger and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar, butter, whipped cream and maple syrup (garnish)

 

Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with melted butter.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Whisk in all other ingredients, besides the bread.  Add the cubed bread to the bowl and toss to coat.

Once coated, pour the mixture into your prepared loaf pan, making sure any excess liquid is also added.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and give the bread mix a quick toss.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  *Optional serving suggestion:  Slice thick and place on a hot, buttered pan to sear the outsides of the French toast.  Serve with powdered sugar, warm maple syrup, a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.  Enjoy!

GingerbreadFT

Puff Pastry Pecan Rolls with Bacon Caramel

These sticky buns are quite the guilty pleasure and one that needs to be taken advantage of!  They’re sweet, salty, and unlike your typical breakfast bun, these are made with puff pastry which gives a light and airy crunch to them, a la Baklava!  Plus, they have baaccooonnn!!  To answer the old age question, nothing, I repeat nothing, is better than bacon!

*Make sure to serve fresh and warm as the caramel will harden.  You can reheat them.

**These can also be made using your standard dough recipe for an equally delicious and softer bun!

***They’re also great as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb bacon + grease
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 (17.5oz) package puff pastry (freezer aisle)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place a 12-cup muffin tin on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cook the bacon slices until almost crispy, but not quite done.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Pour the bacon fat into a small pot.  Once the bacon is cool, crumble into small pieces.

Place the pot of bacon grease over medium-low heat.  Add 1 cup brown sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes (the mixture will look granular).  Slowly stream in the maple syrup and whisk vigorously as the mixture begins to bubble.  Once the syrup comes together, add the cream and kosher salt.  Remove from the heat and whisk until all of the cream is incorporated.  Reserve until ready to use.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Unfold both sheets of puff pastry and arrange the sheets so that the fold lines run parallel to the counter edge.  Generously brush the sheets with the melted butter.  Combine the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the buttered sheets.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup crumbled bacon and some of the chopped pecans over the pastry.  Gently press the bacon and nuts into the sugar mixture with your palms.  Roll the pastry away from you, forming 2 tight logs.  Use a serrated knife to cut each log into 6 equal pieces.

Pour 1 Tablespoon of the caramel into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon each crumbled bacon and chopped pecans.  Place sticky buns cut-side into caramel in each muffin cup and gently press down, maintaining the round shape.

Bake until the caramel bubbles and the buns are deeply golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Work quickly to release the sides of the buns from the muffin cups, using a small knife, as if you wait they will stick.  Carefully invert the muffin tin onto another baking sheet/serving tray.  Spoon any caramel that remains in the muffin tin over the buns.  Serve immediately.

PecanPuffPastry

 

Creamy Crockpot Cocoa

It’s that time again!!  Today is the first day of winter in 2018 and we could all use a cup of rich, velvety hot cocoa!  It does not matter if you’re in the northern blankets of snow or the southern “cold” 60-degree temperature.  A large mug of hot chocolate really brings the season to life!

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Marshmallows, peppermint candy canes, whipped cream (Garnish)

 

To your crockpot, add all the above ingredients, cover and set on low, stirring ever so often till combined, 2-3 hours.  Set on warm and serve with your favorite accompaniment’s.

This makes about 12 large mugs/24 smaller cups.  It can easily be doubled for a large party.  Enjoy!

HotCocoa

 

Pecan Pie Baked Oatmeal

Now that summer is long gone, I have pushed aside my avocado toast in favor of a more warm and hearty breakfast.  These brisk morning’s remind me of my childhood; getting ready for school and having those Quaker Oatmeal packets (was always apple-cinnamon flavor for me) to warm me up!  I, naturally, had to one-up those days and figured why not combine that with my favorite Fall pie, pecan of course!!

I tell you what, though I made this with breakfast in mind, this has also graced our table with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Soooo, what may not be finished in the morning, will surely be devoured come night fall!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8×8 inch oven safe casserole dish.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, eggs and vanilla.  Add to the dry mix and thoroughly combine.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

While the oatmeal is baking, combine the topping.  In a small saucepan, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup to a low boil, stir in the pecans.

After the oatmeal has baked for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and evenly pour the pecan syrup over top.  Return to oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve warm for a sweet and hearty breakfast or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Enjoy!

 

PecanPieOatmeal2

 

The BEST Roasted Potatoes

Friend!!  These potatoes are like a religious experience…they’re also like a science experiment. lol  “What?” you say…Yes, though easy, they have a couple ingredients you’ve probably never added to make roasted potatoes.  Which is why they’ve never turn out quite like these!  These roasted potatoes have a crunchy coating on the outside and are warm and tender in the center with a beautiful golden brown color, every single time.

A few things you want to remember when making the perfect restaurant-style roasted potatoes are:

  • You MUST parboil.  If you only roast in oven, your potato will almost always be overcooked or undercooked and not be too pretty to look at.  Plus the baking soda in the boiling water creates an alkaline pH that helps break down the potatoes surface, resulting in a starchy paste like exterior that will help make that crunch you’re after.
  • Please cut them in 2-inch (or even 3″) pieces for maximum surface area.  You always want the have a good exterior/interior ratio with roasted potatoes.
  • Russet potatoes are the best choice for this given they will make the crispest crust and fluffiest interior.  Save the Yukon Gold’s for mashed potatoes.
  • Please feel free to play around with the amount of baking soda and cornstarch as you make this recipe through the years.  Also, every oven operates a bit different, so just always watch to see if they need taken out sooner or need to roast a bit longer.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs russet potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 hefty teaspoon+ baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bacon drippings too if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp+ cornstarch
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (400 if using a convection setting).  Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, along with the 1 Tbsp kosher salt, the baking soda and 2″ cubed potatoes.  Boil for roughly 10 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.  You don’t want them overdone as they’ll finish in the oven.

Drain the parboiled potatoes in a colander and allow excess moisture to evaporate (a minute or two).  Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil/a bit of bacon grease and sprinkle the cornstarch over top.  Roughly toss around in the bowl and a thick “mashed potato-like” paste will seem to build up over the potato cubes.

Finally, transfer to a baking sheet, lined with foil or nothing at all (parchment paper will not allow it to crisp up on the side touching the potato).  Spread them out evenly and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.  At this time, shake the potatoes around (you may need a thin spatula to release any stuck potatoes from pan) and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes and your potatoes are a beautiful golden brown and crisp all over.

Season with more salt and pepper or herbs and serve immediately, enjoy!

RoastedPotatoes

 

 

Creamy Crockpot Cocoa

‘Tis the season!  This is a fairly popular recipe for the beloved mug of Christmas cheer and my family’s favorite!  So much so that I’ve been known to make a batch for our Christmas Eve party and another within 24 hours for Christmas Day!  Plus, besides the rich and creamy flavor, the large batch (can be doubled even) allows you to enjoy the gathering and NOT the kitchen while making individual cup by cup for your guests.

If serving for a party, make sure to set up a “Hot Cocoa Bar” with marshmallows, sprinkles, candy canes, flavored syrup and perhaps some Baileys or Schnapps’ for the adults!

*This can also be made in a large pot on the stove top in only 30-40 minutes!  You can serve from there or you can quickly make and transfer to a slow-cooker to keep warm!! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

So simple!  To your crockpot, add all of the above ingredients, cover and set on low, stirring ever so often till combined, 2-3 hours.  Set on warm and serve with your favorite accompaniments.  Makes about 12 large mugs/24 smaller cups.  Can be doubled if a large party.

CreamyCrockpotCocoa

 

OPTIONAL:

*Peppermint Marshmallow Stir Sticks:

  • Chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet, but you could even use white!  Milk chocolate is too bland and artificial, to me), melt in a bowl in the microwave.  Stir every 30 seconds until melted.
  • Stir Sticks or skinny candy canes (stick halfway into the large marshmallow)
  • Large marshmallows
  • Crushed peppermints or sprinkles, etc. 
  • Wax paper

    Dip the “marshmallow-on-a-stick” at least halfway into your melted chocolate of choice, drizzle off excess and the roll into the crushed peppermints or sprinkles or leave as is.  Transfer, stick up, bottom of coated marshmallow down onto a sheet of wax paper.  This can also be refrigerated for quicker hardening of the chocolate.

Marshmallow-Dips-Variety-590x412

*Borrowed pic, courtesy of @RoseBakes. as I forgot to take one!  Oops!

%d bloggers like this: