Monday, December 10, 2018

Bailey's Irish Cream Cookies

 Here's a cookie recipe idea that was born out of a conversation about cupcakes. I had shared the Mini Egg Nog Cupcakes recipe on FB, and some friends wanted to know if I had a recipe for Bailey's Cupcakes too. Absolutely! So after I shared that recipe as well, I thought "wait, what if I do Bailey's COOKIES instead of cupcakes???" I immediately went on a search, and was VERY surprised at how many recipes I found! Great! The only thing was that many of the recipes had chocolate chips in them. I mean, I guess that's fine, I love chocolate chips and all, but it seemed to me that chocolate chips would overpower the flavor of the Bailey's, no?
  Then I found this recipe on a blog called Kirbie's Cravings, and she kinda said the same thing about not wanting to overpower the Bailey's flavor. Instead of chocolate, she used cappuccino chips, which I wasn't able to find without ordering online. So I decided to go with butterscotch chips, instead. They were DELISH! Not that you really need any chips at all, but why not? She also said she wanted to keep the cookies glaze free, but I decided to include a glaze, just to bump up the flavor even more. The results were amazing! The flavor is absolutely there, and the cookies are chewy and delicious! The recipe is super easy too! They're equally as perfect for St Patrick's Day as for Christmas, or just any day you feel like having some Bailey's! And if you're doing a cookie swap, this will be something new and different to bring to the party! I love that. Enjoy!

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 cup unsalted butter softened 
1 1/2 cups white sugar 
1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cups baileys 
1 1/2 cup cappuccino chips (or other chips of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
 In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg, Bailey's, and vanilla. Add in flour mixture at low speed until dough is formed. Add chips and mix on low speed until they are mixed into dough. Roll dough into balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter and place onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press palm of hand down on each cookie, so that they form round discs. Bake about 11 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light brown around the edges. Cookies will be slightly puffy when taken out from oven and will flatten after they cool.

For the glaze, just add a few tbs of Bailey's to about a cup of powdered sugar, just until it's the perfect drizzling consistency. Only add 1 tbs of Bailey's at a time, because a little bit of liquid goes a long way when it comes to powdered sugar. Once the cookies are completely cooled, leave them on cooling racks, and then thinly drizzle the cookies. Let them sit for a few minutes until the glaze sets.
To make the cookies extra pretty, place 3 chips on top of each ball of cookie dough just before you put the tray in the oven. Then you can really see what you're getting! 
Are you a chocolate fanatic?? Then by all means, use chocolate chips! You can also do white chips, cinnamon chips, or even salted caramel chips. They would all work, but I think I'll still stick with butterscotch!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Joey's Cranberry Pulled Pork Sliders

   Since this is the time of year when many people are attending or hosting holiday parties, I figured it would be a good idea to come up with something fun and yummy that you can serve to your guests, or to bring with you to your next party. Lets make sliders! They're the perfect little picky-uppy holiday party food! (yes, picky-uppy is a technical term.) And since they're just little, you now have the option of sampling many more food items from the table, instead of filling up on a big honkin' sandwich. Know what I mean? More is more!
 We all know how easy it is to make a pulled pork in a crock pot, but the twist here is making it with cranberries instead of just your basic BBQ sauce. Doesn't that sound yummy? Tbh, I had been looking for a cranberry pork recipe for a while and they all seemed to be very BBQ, with just a hint of cranberry. Well, frankly, I wanted it to be the other way around! I wanted sweet and tart cranberries with just a little hint of BBQ, and that's what we have here! The other thing I wanted was to use FRESH cranberries. Every year, when cranberries are available, I stock up my freezer with bags and bags. They freeze REALLY well, and will last me an entire year! It's nothing to take a bag of cranberries out of the freezer and stir up a quick cranberry sauce, and that's exactly what I've done! The good news is you can also just use a can of cranberry sauce, just in case you forgot to stock your freezer with fresh ones! This would also be a really great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from your big holiday dinner! Are you having turkey for Christmas? Now you can serve leftover cranberry pork sliders for your New Year's Eve Party! Look at me, always thinking ahead! And even if you're not making this for a party, it's an easy weekday meal! Just mix up the sauce the night before, turn your crock pot on before you leave for work in the morning, and then let it cook all day. Dinner is ready when you get home! It really is SO easy! And I'll say this once more.. if you don't have a slow cooker, NOW is the time to get one! I have several, and I use all of them ALL the time. Who knows? Maybe you'll get one for Christmas?? It could happen! But only if you're on the Nice list!

4 or 5 lb pork roast (shoulder or butt)
1 large sweet onion, sliced

1 12oz bag fresh cranberries plus 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tbs butter
OR 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs lemon juice

Place pork and onions in a 5 quart slow cooker.
If using fresh cranberries, place them in a small sauce pot with sugar, water, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let it simmer until the berries start to pop, about 10-15 minutes. Mash slightly. Let it cool for a bit, then add to mixing bowl. If using canned cranberries, just add a can of whole berry sauce to the mixing bowl. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Stir until well blended. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and onions. Cook on low for 9 or 10 hours or on high for 5 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, remove all the meat and onions from the cooker. Using two forks, shred the meat, discarding any bones and large pieces of fat. Add the other half of the sauce to the shredded meat. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve on fresh bakery rolls with pickles and cole slaw on the side.

 To serve as sliders:
Using a big serrated knife, slice a package of King's Hawaiian sweet rolls in half horizontally, and remove the top layer in one piece. Spread a layer of the pulled pork over the bottom layer of bread. Next cover the pork with several slices of deli provolone cheese. Place the top layer of rolls on top. Cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350ºF for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Then use a big knife to cut into individual sliders.

When serving as sliders, you have a rectangle of rolls, but the provolone cheese is round, so what do you do to make them fit? Simply cut the slices of cheese in half! Now you have a flat edge on the slices of cheese to place up against the flat sides of your rectangle of rolls. Simple!
 Btw, the liquid that is left in the cooker is REALLY tasty. You could add it to a small pot, stir in a slurry of flour/water, and simmer until thickened  to turn it into some fantabulous gravy, perfect for mashed potatoes or for dipping your sliders!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mini Egg Nog Cupcakes

  Usually around Christmas time, my focus always goes right to finding cookie recipes, but full disclosure, I don't always have the best luck with making cookies. (I guess that's my Achilles heel.) So for this week's recipe, I decided to go with cupcakes instead! I made these little bites of heaven last year for my family's Christmas party, and everyone loved them! Making small bites for a big dessert table is always a good idea because then you can sample several things without having to commit to a giant piece of cake, etc. Know what I mean? This recipe is from a blog called Life Love and Sugar, and it's SUPER easy. Easy to mix, easy to bake, always a big hit. Sounds like the perfect party dessert, dontcha think? Yum.

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup egg nog
1/4 cup milk 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add butter, egg whites, vanilla, nutmeg, eggnog, and milk and mix on medium speed just until smooth. Do not over mix. Fill cupcake liners a little more than half way. Bake 12-14 minute or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. Makes 48 mini cupcakes or 12-14 regular cupcakes. 

To make it easier to fill your cups, use a cookie scoop!
If you're making regular sized cupcakes, use a 2 oz ice cream scoop, and then bake them for 18-22 minutes or until they test done.
For extra egg nog flavor, add a tsp of rum extract!
Use any kind of buttercream or cream cheese icing you want. I made Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream and added egg nog, nutmeg, and rum extract. Also added an extra sprinkle of nutmeg on top!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Round Two Mac and Cheese

 OK, so, I know I'm gonna get a bunch of flack for saying this, but I never considered mac and cheese as being part of Thanksgiving Dinner. I know. I know. For many people, it is just not Thanksgiving without it, but it was never something my family ever included with our holiday meal. Other holiday parties? Yes, absolutely! But definitely NOT Thanksgiving.
 So, if you are also someone who doesn't usually include mac and cheese in your big feast, here's a great way for you to use up some of your leftovers! And yes, I've seen the videos where people are absolutely HORRIFIED watching the video from The Kitchen where they're adding leftovers to a mac and cheese, as if this is some sort of sacrilegious act. And to that I say, no one is trying to CHANGE your beloved favorite mac and cheese! But who says there can't be other kinds too?? I have literally TEN different recipes for mac and cheese on this blog, and frankly I can't wait to find ten more! So how about let's just keep our culinary minds open, and try new things, shall we?
 So, back to this recipe! Everyone always loves to make a turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the day after Thanksgiving, but there's never anything to do with the leftover vegetables, right? Well, here you go! Add them to mac and cheese! Even if we're not talking about Thanksgiving dinner, it's a great way to use up leftover vegetables. You just add a few fresh ingredients and make an entirely new casserole out of it. Perfect! For my Round Two, I added roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, but you can add any kind of veggies you have leftover. I mean isn't adding cheese sauce usually how parents get their kids to eat vegetables anyway? It's a total win! Oh, and here's a thought.....  if you are someone who MUST have mac and cheese with your holiday meal, this could be a round ONE mac and cheese side dish for your big feast!
Give it a try! I promise you'll love it!

1 lb cut pasta, any shape
4 tbs butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 tbs mustard
1 lb Velveeta cheese
leftover veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, or root vegetables
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbs melted butter
5 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Heat oven to 350ºF.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, boil the pasta until al dente.
While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the fresh thyme and continue to saute. Add flour and stir well for a few minutes until it blends with the butter. Add the milk, mustard, and Velveeta in chunks. Slowly whisk over medium low heat until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens slightly. Be sure to stir all the way to the bottom to insure that the cheese sauce doesn't burn.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it well and add it to a big mixing bowl. Now add your leftover veggies and all of the cheese sauce to the bowl. GENTLY toss everything together. Pour into a large casserole dish. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and the bread crumbs, then sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Place in oven and bake for 1/2 hour or bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle crumbled bacon over the top. Let it stand for about 10 minutes and then dig in!

Be sure to boil the pasta in SALTY water. It needs more salt than you think it will need. How do you know how salty it is? TASTE IT. Yes, Taste the water before you add pasta to it. Also, make sure the water is boiling before you add the salt, otherwise the crystals will sink to the bottom and and leave marks on your pot.
When you make the cheese sauce, you will think that this is FAR too much sauce for this amount of pasta, but just go with it. When you bake it, the pasta will absorb some of the sauce and it will be the perfect creamy mac and cheese texture when it's done!
If you have a specific go-to mac and cheese recipe, by all means, use it! Just add your leftover vegetables and some fresh herbs like thyme, or sage, etc.
If you want to make it vegetarian, just leave out the bacon!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Joey's Celery, Apple, and Fennel Slaw

 I've often had the debate about which recipes are a MUST at Thanksgiving. For some people, it's just not Thanksgiving without Mac n Cheese. For others, you can't have Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes, cranberries, and stuffing. We all have our family traditions and favorite dishes.
In my family, one of the things that MUST be on the plate, is home made cole slaw. Cole slaw, you say???? Yes! It's something my Mom always made for Thanksgiving, and so it will always be on my Thanksgiving table.
 Just as with cranberries, I have my favorite recipe for cole slaw, but I still like to try other different versions and variations. Especially when you have a big plate of heavy casseroles, you definitely want something bright and acidic to cut through everything and balance it out.
 I've always loved the crisp anise flavor of fennel, so I wanted to try it in a delicious slaw. Funny thing... I searched and searched for what I thought would be the perfect recipe, and then I wound up not following it anyway. LOL I have a habit of doing that! Well, what can I say? I like to taste things and then say "what else does it need? And then I go from there.
 So if you'd like to try a new something to brighten and freshen up your meal, give this slaw a try. It really goes SO well with a big Thanksgiving feast!

1 tbs vegetable oil
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs mayonnaise
salt and pepper
 2 granny smith apples
3 ribs of celery
2 bulbs fennel plus 1 tbs chopped fennel fronds 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, mayo, and S&P. Set aside.
Core apples, (no need to peel). Slice the apples thinly, then cut into thin match sticks. Slice the celery into thin slices on an angle. Slice the the fennel as thinly as possible across the bottom of the bulb.
All of this slicing is even better if you have a mandoline slicer. (just be very careful of that blade!)
Toss everything in the dressing. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those dishes that can be made very far ahead. No one likes a soggy cole slaw. If you absolutely MUST make it ahead, I wouldn't go sooner than the night before.
For an extra hit of fresh anise flavor, you could add a little chopped fresh tarragon. I probably would have added some to the recipe, but I didn't have any on hand!