Tag Archives: Christmas

Eggnog Pancakes with Maple-Nog Syrup

It’s that time of year again….Yep, you have a quarter-gallon left in your half-gallon of Eggnog and since the tree is down and gifts have dispersed, you have very little desire to drink it.  Oh what to do.

Well, we are BIG advocates of not wasting food in our home, even if it becomes a game of “Chopped” in my kitchen to see what I can come up with.  Funny, how usually it’s the best tasting of meals too??  Anyway, that was the exact case one cold and cloudy morning, as I stared blankly at the lack of ingredients in my refrigerator….then I spotted the eggnog!

Combining the magic ingredient with a basic pancake recipe made for our last bite of the holiday season!  Plus, with that eensy-teensy bit left in the bottom of your half gallon, it makes for a wonderful syrup addition!  Points for mom!!

Now the only problem, is that they were so yummy that I’m concerned to if I can buy the ‘nog in July??….. answer to be continued.

 

The Starting Lineup

Eggnog Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of your favorite eggnog
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Maple-Nog Syrup

  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite eggnog
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt

 

Syrup:

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the maple syrup and the eggnog and bring to a simmer.  Cook until it’s reduced by a quarter, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and swirl in the butter and salt until melted.  You can keep warm, on low, stirring ever so often.

Pancakes:

Preheat either a large skillet or an electric griddle to medium/medium-high heat (about 350 degrees for your griddle).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry mix (flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt).  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (eggnog, eggs, butter and the rum and vanilla extracts).  Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk together until just combined, small lumps are ok.

Using a ladle or measuring cup (spray with nonstick for ease of batter removal), pour about 1/3 cup rounds onto your preheated, buttered or lightly oiled cooking surface.  Cook until bottom side is a golden brown, flip and repeat on the other side.

Serve with your favorite pancake accompaniments:  fresh fruit, powdered sugar, toasted pecans or walnuts AND that fabulous warm syrup!!  Enjoy!

EggnogPancakes

 

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.

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

German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

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Mile High Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This is a holiday favorite in my home!  Whether it be the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas…or even my birthday, yes please!!!  You have a buttery, flakey crust combined with tart apples, sweet caramel and a touch of salt.  Excuse me why I wipe the drool on my chin.

Hey, do you think a scoop of vanilla ice cream could make this any better??  Let’s try!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten + 1tbsp water for egg wash
  • **1 jar caramel sauce
  • **1/2-1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 homemade OR store bought pie crusts 

Start this recipe by preparing your favorite pie dough recipe or thawing out your store bought dough (i.e. Pillsbury).

Now onto the apples!!  In a large bowl put in the lemon zest and the juice.  Follow that with the peeled and sliced apples and toss to coat. 

  

you can use a mandoline (be careful) or a sharp knife

       In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and sugar.  Pour this over top the apples and gently toss together. 

   With the pie dough:  roll one out in a circular shape on a floured surface until it would easily fit in a 9″ pie pan.  With the dough that overhangs, gently tuck under and give scalloped edges or trim off with a very sharp knife. 

  

look at those chunks of butter in that crust…oh my!!

 Here is when we now pour in that massive, mile-high amount of seasoned apples into the dish!  Go slow to pack them in tightly because there’s a lot!! 

 **Caramel Sauce:  following the package directions, take off the lid of the caramel jar and heat for 20-30 seconds till softened.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt at a time and taste until you get your perfect sweet & salty flavor!

Pour about 1/2 cup of this now salted caramel sauce overtop the stacked apples.  Reserve the rest of the sauce for garnish when serving. 

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  *Also, place a baking sheet in the oven as well to preheat.

Top crust!!  Again, roll out your dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until your form a rough 12″ circle.  Using a butter knife, pastry cutter OR pizza cutter, cut into 1/2″ wide strips.  Carefully weave the delicate dough overtop the stacked salted caramel apples to form that iconic lattice crust.  Brush the top of the lattice crust with a thin layer of the egg wash. 

 Once your pie is ready to go, place in the preheated oven ON the preheated baking sheet for.  Let bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven down to 375 degrees.  Continue baking the pie for another 45 minutes till crust is golden.  If the pie seems to be browning too fast, just loosely cover with a some tin foil.

Once your dessert has finished cooking, allow to cool on a wire rack for 2-3 hours.  Cut into slices and serve with the remaining warm salted caramel sauce drizzled overtop.  Enjoy!!! 

 

Thanksgiving Waffles

For real…THIS IS GOOOODD!  When you’re at a loss for what to do on the next after-holiday-morning, have very little desire to cook again and have 2 pounds of stuffing or dressing leftover…I ask you to please give this a try!  It’s so easy and yummy that it’s become a tradition in our home and we’ll often make it more than once!

Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s easily adaptable to most palates.  Now of course I’m using my cornbread stuffing here, but that goes with sweet OR heat!  So slather on the syrup or the hot sauce..it’s a win-win!!

The Starting Lineup

Optional

  • Syrup (for sweet lovers)
  • Hot Sauce (for savory lovers)
  • Cranberry sauce & turkey (for the purists)  

As stated above, this easy-peasy breakfast or brunch recipe has become a tradition in our home after a prior busy holiday day!  Like, it’s really, REALLY good!!!

Heat your waffle iron to about mid-temp and place a few spoonfuls of your stuffing/dressing onto each waffle inlay.  Close and allow to do its magic! 

 While the ‘stuffing waffles’ are cooking, cook the eggs to your taste.  *We prefer ours over-hard, but to each their own!  I imagine a runny yolk would be good over this if desired, even scrambled!  …while also crisping up your bacon side!

Once the waffles have crisped up, layer your eggs on top with the garnish of your choice!  We often like a bit of sliced green onions and Louisiana style hot sauce!  Mmmm….when’s brunch again?? 

 


Scratch Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

The great debate: Stuffing vs Dressing.  Yes, I know what the difference is between the two, stuffing goes INSIDE the bird, while dressing is cooked OUTSIDE the bird.  However, growing up in my household, no matter which way we cooked it, we called it stuffing.  So you’re just going to have to deal with the title 😉

The flavors in this holiday side dish are just fabulous!  There is a sweet heat in the cornbread and a savoriness with the sausage and classic thyme & sage spices!  Plus, my favorite thing, is how there is still texture to the dish…I loathe mushy, pasty stuffing.  This definitely isn’t one of them!

*Make how you please, but I like to prepare the cornbread and dry it out at LEAST a day before I finish it.  This is a busy enough time of year, help yourself out a little! 🙂

*Also, this is a southern style cornbread, meaning NO sugar.  If you prefer yours sweet like a true Yankee 😉 feel free to add in a Tbsp or two..but when made into a stuffing it really isn’t needed.  Personally.

The Starting Lineup
Jalapeno Cornbread

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt & sugar, each
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup corn kernals, roasted (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeded & minced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced  

Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

  • 1 recipe of Jalapeno Cornbread, cubed & dried
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage, cooked & crumbled
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3 celery, chopped fine
  • 1 pckg sliced mushrooms
  • 5 tsp butter
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 cup half-in-half
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth (low sodium)
  • 4 large eggs
  • A pinch each (salt, pepper & cayenne pepper)  

Starting with the cornbread…

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish.

In either a skillet or under the broiler, cook the corn till it starts to take on a little color (mere minutes).  Set aside. 

   In a bowl, whisk the milk, oil, honey and eggs till combined. 

 In a another large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Next add the milk mixture into the dry mixture and whisk till smooth. 

     Finally fold in the corn, jalapeños and green onions into the mix and pour the batter into your greased baking dish. 


 
 Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean (about 60 minutes in my oven…everyone’s oven is different).  Cool in pan for 2-3 hours to set. 

 *Onced cooked and set, cut the cornbread with a serrated knife into 1″ cubes.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place the cubed cornbread onto two baking sheets (spread out evenly) and put into oven.  Rotate the filled baking sheets every 20 mintutes or so until the cornbread has dried out (crouton like), at least an hour. 

   

Good morning (since you’re likely finishing this the next day)!!  We’ll start this preperation by cooking the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once browned and crumbled, set aside on a paper towel lined plate. 

In that same skillet, add in 2 Tbsps of the butter, the chopped celery, onion and mushrooms and cook down for about 3 minutes.  To that, add in the thyme, sage and minced garlic.  Cook for 30-60 seconds and then add the sausage back in along with the chicken stock and remove from heat, allowing to cool. 

   While the pan is cooling, whisk together the eggs, half-in-half, salt, pepper & cayenne till combined.  Then SLOWLY add in the chicken stock mix to the eggs while constantly whisking.  *If that stock is still too hot and you combine it with the eggs too fast, you’ll basically end up with scrambled eggs.  No good.  So please do it slowly while constantly whisking.  Temper the eggs. 🙂 

     Now set the oven to 375 degrees.  

Here is where you gently fold in the cubed & dried cornbread into the wet mixture.  Once all saturated let sit for roughly 15-20 minutes to REALLY let the bread soak up the liquid. 

   Transfer to your 9×13 baking dish and drizzle the remaining 3 TBSP butter overtop the dish.

Bake your glorious scratch-made stuffing uncovered for 40 minutes till the top is a golden brown and then let rest for 20.  Enjoy your hard work! 

 

Real-Deal Green Bean Casserole (no cans)

You may be thinking..why go through all the effort when the Campbell’s soup Green Bean Casserole recipe has been around for decades??  Well, because THIS is the best, that’s why!  I luckily stumbled upon this goodie years back and just tweaked a couple of things to suit my family.  There’s no going back to the dark side now!  ..Well, maybe occasionally, it does remind me of good memories growing up 🙂  Anyway…  Now besides what you may be thinking is a lot of work, this can all be done in an hour and it’s ALL fresh!!  You actually KNOW what your family is consuming.  That’s kind of awesome.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 4+ slices bacon (grease reserved after fying)
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 heaping tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided (1:1)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsely, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper 

    Yes…there should also be the thyme, bacon and milk pictured…but lets just hope you’re reading the ingredient list 😉

      

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large deep skillet, cook the bacon strips till desired doneness and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.  Then add the extra virgin olive oil straight into the excess bacon grease and heat till almost smoking. 

 To the hot grease/oil, add in the sliced shallots (about 1/4 cup at a time, it took about 3 batches) and fry until they turn a nice golden brown and and crisp up.  Once done transfer to another paper towel lined plate and set aside. 

  *Meanwhile, you can either steam the green beans on the stove top OR take an easier way out and add them to a large microwave safe bowl with about 2 Tbsp of water.  Cover the bowl with a plate or saran wrap and microwave on high in 2-minute increments until that perfect soft but slightly crisp texture is achieved!  Make sense?  Soft and crisp?  Yes, it’s a thing! 😉
Now that the shallots are done frying up, dispose of the excess grease/oil EXCEPT for roughly 2 Tbsp’s worth.   You will now add all of the mushrooms to the grease over a medium-high heat.  Stirring occasionally, the mushrooms will start to ‘sweat’ and release their moisture.  Keep cooking until all of the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Finally you will add in the minced garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook for 30-60 seconds and transfer the mushroom mix to a bowl, set aside. 

   While the mushrooms are cooking down, whisk together the flour and milk in a bowl until the flour is dissolved. 

Now add this right to the same skillet (you’ve been cooking everything in/mushrooms just removed from) while constantly whisking and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat to medium-low, whisking occasionally, and in about 10 minutes it will reduce down and thicken up nicely.  *should ‘coat’ the back of a spoon.  Remove the skillet from heat. 

  

See how it’s starting to ‘coat’ the whisk and reduce down?

Ok, here is the real easy part!  Now is when you can fold in the mushroom mix, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, the cooked and chopped bacon, parsely, nutmeg, salt & pepper and the GREEN BEANS to that milk/flour rue you just made.  Resist the urge to spoon in mouth…though I’m 100% guilty! 

     Pour this holiday staple side dish straight into the non-stick coated casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese and the fried shallots you made earlier.  Pop into the preheated oven and bake (uncovered) for 20-30 minutes! 

Enjoy and Happy Eating!! xo


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