Friday, December 8, 2017

Eggnog Baked French Toast

It snowed last night!! San Antonio hasn't had this much snow for 30 years! While it was snowing we were having a perfect snowy night dinner, this Eggnog Baked French Toast. The powdered sugar on top even looked like snow! I have made a bunch of variations of this dish with different fruit, but it was time for a Christmas upgrade. Instead of half and half and a little syrup like my regular recipe here, I just mixed eggnog with the eggs and you can totally taste the eggnog flavor. I grated a little fresh nutmeg on top before baking too. If you are an eggnog lover, this needs to be in your recipe collection!

Eggnog Baked French Toast
1 16oz loaf french bread (day old bakery bread works great)
8 oz cream cheese
4 TBSP butter or margarine, melted
1 3/4 cups eggnog
10 eggs
Sprinkle of nutmeg
Powdered sugar

1. Cube bread and layer half of it in a 9x13 in. pan. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and sprinkle evenly across the bread. Cover with remaining bread cubes.
 2. Pour melted butter evenly over the top. Mix eggnog and eggs and pour over evenly. Press down with spatula so that all the liquid is absorbed by the bread. Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
3. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45-55 min. If it starts to get too brown, lay a sheet of foil on top until it has finished baking. Remove from oven and sift powered sugar over top. Cut into squares. Serve with syrup
Makes 8-12 servings

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Spritz Cookies

I have an old Pampered Chef cookie press tucked away in my pantry, and sometimes I forget it's there! I needed to make a treat for a cub scout pack meeting last week, with practically no ingredients on hand, and I remembered my cookie press. So here's the Pampered Chef Spritz Cookie recipe that I used. It calls for vanilla extract, but I like to use almond. It's an easy dough to work with, not too sticky. I divided it in half and added green food coloring to make some trees and wreaths. I sometimes have a hard time getting the dough to stick to the pan instead of stay on the press. I found that using just the right amount of dough is what makes it work for me (which is 1 and a half clicks of my trigger). A cold pan is supposed to help with that too. Spritz cookies aren't just a Christmas cookie even though that's how I think of them. My press has all different shapes, even a 4 leaf clover and pumpkin. If you don't have a press and want to try these, just roll them into tsp sized balls and press them down a little with your thumb. Happy baking.

Spritz Cookies
Pampered Chef
1½ cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
3½ cups flour
Colored sugar or sprinkles (optional)

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed of the electric mixer about 3 minutes or until creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the egg and vanilla; beat well.
3. Add the flour; mix on low speed just until blended, scraping down the sides as necessary. (The dough will be soft; do not refrigerate.)
4. Fit the cookie press with the desired disk and fill it with the dough. Press the dough onto the cookie sheet 1" apart.
5. Decorate the cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles, if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown. Cool the cookies 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove cooking rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Green Bean Casserole Cups

We made these last Thanksgiving instead of regular old green bean casserole and they were awesome! The recipe comes from a Tasty video that you can find here. It makes 6 servings, so take that into consideration when buying ingredients. So if you have those family members that need their green bean casserole, try upping your game with this fancy looking version. Also, don't accidentally grab the honey wheat Ritz...true story.

Green Bean Casserole Cups
One sleeve RITZ crackers
2½ cups condensed mushroom soup, divided
1 cup french fried onions, divided
2 cups chopped green beans
¾ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup milk
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C.
2. Place RITZ crackers and ½ cup french fried onions in food processor. Reserve 3 crackers and the other ½ cup of french fried onions. Pulse the mixture to form a fine crumb.
3. Add ½ cup of mushroom soup, pulse until combined. The texture should be pliable. If too dry add more soup, if too wet add more crackers.
4. Take a spoonful of the mixture and mold it into a muffin tin.
5. In a bowl, combine green beans, cheese, remaining soup, and french fried onions. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Scoop the mixture into the cracker cups.
7. Crush the reserved RITZ and top each muffin.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 6 muffins cups

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mini Baked Alaska

If you've never had Baked Alaska, let me tell you about it. Think layers of cake and ice cream all underneath a dome of crispy meringue. Man these are good, but a lot of work!!! I'm not giving specific measurements on this really, just explaining what I did to end up with 12 beautiful Mini Baked Alaskas. For my cake, I used a pound cake mix and baked it in a 9x13 inch pan for 28 minutes. I was able to get exactly 12 rounds. Brownie would also be great or even a sugar cookie! I used Blue Bell Milk Chocolate Ice Cream and Talenti Roman Raspberry Sorbetto (which was amazing). This took a lot of freezing time and freezer space, so make sure you've got plenty of both. I wasn't sure how much meringue icing I would need so I made it in batches. I mixed 1/2 cup meringue powder, 1/2 cup water, and 4 cups of powdered sugar. I ended up doing 3 batches of this which was perfect to cover 12 by piping. So 1 batch would work for 4. I also used little squares of foil to freeze everything on because it made it easier to fit them all into my freezer. I added a video at the bottom of me tapping my fork on the finished dessert so you can hear how crispy it gets in the oven! If you need a dessert to wow, these are show stoppers!!!

Mini Baked Alaska
12, 2 1/2 inch cake or brownie rounds
1, 1 1/2 quart container of ice cream
1 pint of sorbet
3/4 cup meringue powder
1 1/2 cups cold water
12 cups powdered sugar

1. Prepare your ice cream layer by scooping out a ball of ice cream with a regular sized ice cream scoop. Use the side of the ice cream container to flatten out the bottom of your scoop as you pull it up. This will make it sit nicely on the cake.
2. Using a tablespoon sized scoop, take out a small ball from the bottom of the scoop of ice cream, then scoop out the same size of ball of sorbet and place it into the hole. See the 3rd pic down. This can get messy, so make sure you are using ice cream that is hard. If your ice cream starts to soften up, stick it back in the freezer. Put the ice cream balls on something that will fit in your freezer or little squares of foil, like me. FREEZE THESE FOR 4 HOURS OR LONGER.
3. While ice cream is hardening, make the meringue icing. I ended up making it in 3 batches because it was a rainy day and I wanted to make sure my meringue peaks stayed stiff. For each batch mix 1/2 cup meringue powder and 1/2 cup cold water. Beat until peaks form. Then add 4 cups of powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
4. When ice cream balls are completely frozen, pull them out one at a time. Place the ball on a cake round. Pipe or spread on meringue icing however you want (I tried all kinds of tips) making sure to cover the cake and ice cream completely. Stick back in the freezer. Repeat for each ice cream ball.
6. When ready to serve, bake at 500 degrees on a baking sheet for 3-4 minutes until golden. Watch to make sure it doesn't get too dark. This crisps up the meringue, so I definitely recommend this method. You can also use a kitchen torch to toast it, but it doesn't crisp up like baking it does. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 LARGE portions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Banana Brownies with Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting

I'm trying to eat healthy this month. Today is not a good day for that. I had some overly ripe bananas that I needed to make something with, and instead of banana bread I made banana brownies! I can't stop eating them! The brownies are thick, but not cake like. I've been keeping mine in the fridge and they are so fudgy! The frosting has a little bit of peanut butter, so you're getting that classic peanut butter and banana flavor. Oooo the frosting would be great with Nutella too...hmmm. So if you're looking for something to make with those old bananas, try these brownies instead of bread!!

Banana Brownies with Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting
adapted from
3/4 cup unsalted butter 
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 
2/3 cups cocoa powder 
2 cups sugar 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup overripe mashed banana 
4 eggs 
1 1/4 cup flour 
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 
1/4 cup salted butter, softened 
1/4 cup shortening 
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cups cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar 
1/4 cup milk, half and half, or cream 

 1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
 2. In a large microwave safe mixing bowl, heat butter and chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 increments, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. 
3. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in sugar, salt, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. 
4. Gently stir in flour until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. 
5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with fudge like crumbs. Let cool completely before frosting. 
6. To prepare frosting: In a mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, shortening, and peanut butter until light and creamy, scraping down sides when needed. Add cocoa and powdered sugar and half of the milk; beat very well. If too thick, add more milk until desired consistency is reached. Beat a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Spread over cooled brownies.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Frozen Slushies

We have been eating these slushies all summer! I had never tried to make anything but ice cream in my ice cream maker before, but these work so great! All you need is a packet of unsweetened drink mix (like Kool-Aid), water, sugar, and your ice cream maker. I have a 1.5 quart Cuisinart ice cream maker (pictured below) but any electric salt free machine will work. So if you're looking for a sugar rush and brain freeze, this is your treat. :) 

Frozen Slushies
4 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 pkt of unsweetened drink mix

1. Dump water, sugar and unsweetened drink mix into freezer bowl of ice cream maker. Make sure bowl is completely frozen first.
2. Put in the mixing paddle and cover with the plastic lid.
3. Turn machine on and let it run until mixture reaches slushie consistency, about 20-30 minutes.

Makes 5 8oz servings

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hot Fudge

Only a few more days left until school starts here, but that doesn't mean summer has to end, right?! It'll be hot in Texas for weeks still, so we have plenty of time to eat ice cream with this hot fudge! I have made a couple batches of this in the last few months. I separate it into freezer and microwave safe plastic containers, or even glass canning jars, put one into the fridge to use and stick the others in the freezer! Then when I'm ready to pull one out, I move it to the fridge to thaw. When we need to heat it up, I open the container and put it into the microwave for 30 seconds. We have had hot fudge all summer long! 

Hot  Fudge
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 cups sugar
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 cup butter, cut into TBSP sized pieces
2 TBSPs light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium sized saucepan, whisk cocoa and cornstarch, and sugar together. Slowly whisk in evaporated milk. Stir in butter pieces and corn syrup. Whisk together, over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
2. Boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
4. Blend hot fudge sauce for 2 minutes using either an immersion blender, or by pouring sauce into a stand blender.
5. Serve immediately or pour into jars and store in refrigerator or freezer. Sauce thickens as it cools.
Makes about 4 cups.

Hot Fudge from the freezer

Monday, July 31, 2017

Food from my Trip to England and Ireland

I'm so glad that I'm writing this post right after dinner because if I wasn't, I'd be crying for this food!!! I have been home from my trip to England and Ireland for 11 days. We had so much yummy food, and tried lots of new things like Yorkshire pudding, Marmite, black pudding, and Cornish Pasties. I fell in love with Cornish Pasties. A traditional Cornish Pasty is a meat hand pie filled with beef, potatoes, swede (turnip), onion, and seasoning. We had Cornish Pasties for 3 meals while we were in England, and I have been craving them since I got home. I have done some research found that they are a protected food!! Cornish Pasties have PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication) which means a true Cornish Pasty has to be made IN CORNWALL and to certain specifications. This means I can never have a genuine Cornish Pasty in the US! :( Luckily the Cornish Pasty Association provides a recipe to make your own, and you can bet I'll be trying that! I had scones almost every day while on my trip. Look through the pics to see which one was my favorite. I have already made some since I've been home. :) I have a new recipe to try that I got at the Highclere Castle gift shop. It is Lady Carnarvon's scone recipe, so I'll be trying that one soon too! I must admit that there were a couple of pizza nights and even a stop at KFC. Haha. I couldn't get over that they don't have ranch dressing there! Another thing that bothered me was that you are charged for soda refills. I will definitely miss the clotted cream. The stuff we buy in jars here doesn't even compare. I'm glad to be home and out of my pastry coma, but the thing I will miss most are the amazing bakeries!

Our first dinner was at Bread Street Kitchen, a Gordon Ramsey restaurant in London.

 Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Pudding at Bread Street Kitchen
Yorkshire pudding was like a crispy, airy roll.

Sides with my Roast

Short Rib Burger from Bread Street Kitchen

Banana Split Crepe from Kensington Creperie 

Donuts from Bread Ahead in Borough Market
We had one of the salted caramel with a piece of honeycomb.

Yummy sandwich from Little Dorrit Cafe

 Fruit Scones from Patisserie Valarie

 Salad with Chicken, Peaches, Avocado, and Honey Mustard Dressing from The Orangery at Kensington Palace

Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots from The Orangery

Afternoon Tea with Wild Berry Tea from The Orangery

Grocery Store Trip in Newbury

Breakfast at AirBnb in Highclere

Highclere Castle Coach House

 Pasty from Highclere Castle Coach House (really good)

 Scone from Highclere Castle Coach House (also A+)

My Scone at Highclere Castle :)

Bread from Methuen Arms in Corsham

Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas from Methuen Arms

Ice Cream from Methuen Arms

Breakfast at Sign of the Angel in Lacock

Breakfast at Sign of the Angel

 Hobbs House Bakery in Tetbury

Viennese at Hobbs House Bakery
It was like 2 shortbread cookies with buttercream and raspberry jam in the middle.

Mac and Cheese from Absurd Bird in Bath

3 Sliders from Absurd Bird

Eggs Benedict at The Kennard (hotel) in Bath

 Full English Breakfast at The Kennard

This tastes like beef bouillon. Not my favorite.

Bath Bun from the Assembly Rooms Cafe in Bath
Tasted like a roll and came with cinnamon butter.

Scone with Cream and Jam from Assembly Rooms Cafe

This might have been my favorite place. We visited the Cornish Bakery 3 times on the trip. Once here in Bath, once in Tintagel, and once in Newquay. 

Cornish Pasties at The Cornish Bakery

Cornish Bakery again in Tintagel

This was one of 3 favorite things I had. This is a cheese and onion pastry from The Cornish Bakery.

Hedgehog Cone from Chapel Porth Beach Cafe
This was Cornish vanilla ice cream rolled in clotted cream and hazelnuts!!

This might look like salad, but it's Rocket. An arugula like lettuce. Lots of dishes come with Rocket. Also, something I learned is that Ranch dressing doesn't exist in England.

Scones to go from Newquay
Another of my favorite things was a chocolate almond croissant from The Cornish Bakery. It was so good I couldn't stop eating it to take a picture. This is it's cousin the almond pastry. Almost as good.

Now we're in Ireland. French Toast at Glashaus Hotel 

Aaaaand a scone. 

Another pic of the scone from Glashaus Hotel. This was my favorite scone from my whole trip. I think it had something to do with that clotted cream, plus it was served warm.

Cheese from England served and eaten in Ireland

This was an interesting dining experience. We stayed in Kilbride Manor, a manor house in the village where Gavin lived. We were the only guests and had this large old dining room all to ourselves.

Fruit at Kilbride Manor

Scrambled Eggs at Kilbride Manor

Apple Custard Pastry at Russborough House in County Wicklow

We tried black pudding and white pudding for breakfast on our last morning in Ireland. They are sausage, the black made with blood, and the white with oatmeal. Not my favorite.

This was the last thing I ate before we left. A spinach pastry at the Avoca Food Market in Malahide Castle.

Also bought a couple things at the Avoca Food Market. :)