Monday, December 5, 2016

White Hot Chocolate

 If you're one of my regular readers, you know that I'm always looking for new versions of old favorites. So, I figured, instead of doing a regular hot chocolate, why not do it with white chocolate instead? It's rich and creamy and festive and sweet enough that you could definitely serve it as a dessert beverage. Or maybe just whip up a batch to warm you up on a snowy night. You'll definitely be thinking "why haven't I done this sooner?"
 Tbh, I kind of like it after all the craziness is over, say on Christmas night, after all the parties and food and wrapping and presents. It's a great way to cap off the holiday with something warm and comforting. If you're a fan of white chocolate, I promise you'll love it!

1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla whipped topping, for garnish

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine white chocolate chips and heavy cream. Stir continuously until white chocolate chips have completely melted. Stir in the half-and-half, and vanilla extract. Stir occasionally until heated through. Pour into mugs and top with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

To lighten it up a bit, just use any milk of choice instead of the heavy cream. You could even use almond milk, if you so choose.
For a little extra holiday touch, sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint sticks!

Monday, November 28, 2016

White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 For ages, I've been looking for a good pumpkin cookie recipe. Not that I don't LOVE the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies that Cathy always makes, but they're a little more cakey than cookie. What I really wanted was a COOKIE. You know, like with a crispy chewy texture. And then I happened upon this recipe on a blog called Sally's Baking Addiction. They're AMAZING! So easy to make, crispy and chewy, and just exactly what I wanted!
 Tbh, I had planned on posting the recipe in October when I usually do all pumpkin recipes, but I figured I'd save this one from the holiday season. Even though they're pumpkin, I still feel like Snickerdoodles scream Christmas, dontcha think? So here they are!
 You should definitely add them to your festive cookie repertoire. They're perfect for a cookie swap, and I just bet Santa would love them if you leave some for him along with a tall glass of milk. Oh, and one other thing... be sure to read through Sally's make ahead tips following the recipe. (Time management is always a good thing!) And definitely make 2 batches. Or three. Or four. I promise you they won't last very long! Love love love 'em!

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chunks

 Heat oven to 350ºF.
 Melt the butter in the microwave. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft. Fold in white chocolate chips. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. Chilling is mandatory!
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Roll the dough into balls, about 1.5 tablespoons of dough each. Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Roll each of the dough balls generously in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and arrange on 2 baking sheets. Slightly flatten the dough balls because the cookies will only slightly spread in the oven. The photo above shows what the cookie dough balls should look like before baking. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and press a few more white chocolate chips onto the tops, if desired. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.

Make ahead tips: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Baked cookies freeze well up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well up to three months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Joey's Bangin' Brussels with Sundried Tomatoes

 Whenever I'm at home just doing the usual Sunday housecleaning and such, my TV is most likely gonna be on the Food Network or Cooking Channel. It's a great thing when you're not just sitting in front of the TV and you can still basically get the gist of what they're making while you're busy tackling your household to-do list. Such was the case when I saw Marcella Valladolid making a Brussels sprouts dish. It had sesame seeds and chili peppers and cream. It looked good, but I wondered what I might do to tweak it a little. So I got to thinking. I liked adding sun dried tomatoes to my Collard Greens, so what if I add them instead of the chilis? I liked the idea adding a little texture, so instead of adding sesame seeds, I decided to add pine nuts for a little crunch. I also roasted my sprouts instead of steaming them in chicken broth and I added mushrooms too, just to bulk up the recipe a bit. Basically, by the time I had finished tweaking, I wound up with a completely different recipe! And it was a HUGE hit among my friends! I kinda figured the casseroles and hearty other dishes would be a big hit, but who knew Brussels sprouts would be the stand out???? We decided they were absolutely BANGIN', so now that's what they're called! Make them as a delicious accompaniment to your fabulous holiday dinner, or even just a casual dinner with friends.
If you're not a fan of Brussels sprouts, I urge you to give this recipe a try.
I PROMISE you it will change your mind!!!

Olive or vegetable oil
2 lbs fresh Brussels sprouts, halved
10oz Baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400ºF.
In a large bowl, toss sprouts with oil and salt and pepper until coated. Place sprouts on a baking tray, cut side down. Place in oven and roast until golden and caramelized on the bottom, and good 20-30 minutes, or even longer.
 While the sprouts are roasting, in a large skillet, saute mushrooms in a little more oil. When the sprouts are ready, add them to the pan along with the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good toss to make sure everything is coated. Adjust seasoning, if needed.

-When you're cutting your sprouts, be sure to cut them vertically through the stem end. If you cut them horizontally, then the leaves will all fall apart.
-The cream is meant to just coat everything to make it richer. It's not really a cream SAUCE. If you'd like things to be a little saucier, I would add a splash or two of chicken or vegetable broth.
-Btw, if you'd like to make this a Vegan recipe, just omit the cream and add a little Futter, which is a Vegan butter substitute. Great then!