Tag Archives: Christmas

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

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

 

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.

Marshmallow-Dips-Variety-590x412

*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!!

Rouladen3

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!!! 

 

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