Category Archives: Holiday

Recipes for Valentine’s Day

I really don’t like Valentine’s Day.  In fact, I hate it.  And, no – nothing happened.  Nothing traumatic or heartbreaking happened for me to feel this way.  I can think of several other occasions to celebrate love besides a holiday concocted for it.  But, I’ll tell you what.  The best Valentine’s I remember is the first one I spent with Binks.  Specifically, he brought me a box of chocolates, which we ate standing over the sink.  I would take a bite and then give him the rest.  We did this methodically with the entire box.  Best. V. Day. Ever.

So, aside from the creepy flying baby in his underwear, the tolerable thing about Valentine’s is the food.  The glorious decadent food.  In honor of, I’ve put together a list of foods that I think would be great for any Valentine’s.  Happy VD my sweet friends.

1.  Raspberry Coulis

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Drizzle this on – anything.  Pancakes.  Cheesecake.  Straight into your mouth.  Wonderful.

2.  Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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A little on the nose, but who can resist a beautiful red velvet cake?   And, I promise you that this cake is irresistible.

3.  Garlic Bread

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This may not be on the nose and mostly on the breath but this garlic bread is completely worth it.

4.  Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

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I love making and decorating sugar cookies for Valentine’s.  It’s a creative and personal way to show someone you care.

5.  Cream Puffs

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Looking more difficult than it actually is to make, cream puffs are a delicious way to impress a Valentine.

6.  Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

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Pizza is a love in our house and this Chicago style deep dish is a decadent main course for a casual meal with anyone you love.

7.  Funfetti Cookies

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A classic sugar cookie gets an instant glam makeover by adding your favorite sprinkles.

8.  Donut Muffins

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I dare you resist donuts at any time.  Waking up to these in the morning will truly show a loved one how much you care.

9.  Pesto Macaroni and Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers

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All my favorite flavors and ingredients combine to make a dish that makes me swoon.

10.  Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These are a favorite cookie in my house and everyone that tries them falls in love.

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Filed under Desserts, Favorites, Holiday

Pecan Pie with Butter Crust

I have dreams about this pie.  Wicked dreams.  If I had to fight someone for this pie, I would.  And, if we’re talking last piece – it’s on like Donkey Kong.  No joke.  This is a serious pie.  Ever since I made this for Thanksgiving, I have been looking for reasons to make it again everyday since then.  

Oh this pie is the mac daddy of all pies and really just should have a holiday on its own.  Albeit usually seen during Thanksgiving, this pecan pie, my friends, needs a special place at your dining table.  I have held off making this pie in fear that I could not even compete with the store-bought version to which my entire family has grown accustom.  And, using a recipe that lacked corn syrup really made me nervous that people wouldn’t have the nostalgia of the ‘typical’ pecan pie.  Luckily I’m dead wrong and I will be making all pies for all future pie holidays.

Also, it’s not a looker per se, but it’s all substance.  Don’t judge this pie by my evidently rushed pie crust formation.

Oh, and the crust.  It’s the only time that flakey can be a marvelous thing.  It has taken me a while to develop this pie crust and I can say that I’m so happy with it that I declare (yes, declare) that I’ve done it.  Perfectly flakey and light without being too weak to hold oodles of golden brown sugar and toasted pecans.

Pecan Pie

yields 8 servings

Filling adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp half and half
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans and 1/4 cup whole pecans for decorations
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust, recipe below

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter.  Add in the brown sugar, white sugar and flour, and mix well.
  3. Finally, add the half and half, vanilla and nuts.
  4. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.  Top with pecans for decoration, if using.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Then, reduce temperature of oven to 300F and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Pie Crust

yields one 9-inch crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes – keep it chilled
  • 4 tbsp ice water

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl.  Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea sized pieces of butter.  Pour the water over the mixture and using a fork until the mixture comes together into a ball.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  You can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.
  3. Roll out the dough, and place in a pie plate.  Fill and bake.

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Filed under Desserts, Holiday, Pie

Chocolate Almond Toffee

When I first started dating Binks, around the holiday season six years ago, I made him a care package filled with goodies.  As I had just met him there was no meaning for the packaged goods, other than being delicious and wanting to impress him with deliciousness.  It worked.  Six years and a baby later, I can tell you that he still remembers that package.

The one treat that impressed me the most was toffee.  Considering that working with melting and browning sugar perfectly can be temperamental, this recipe was really forgiving and workable.

Toffee is a staple during the holidays, but considering the history of this simple candy, it means that much more.  Without question, Binks always brings up his first bite of the toffee after opening the package.

Now, to save myself from eating the whole batch, I package it away as edible gifts for friends.

Chocolate Almond Toffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Before beginning, line a cookie sheet with foil.  Cover everything.  I’m ultra-paranoid about candy sticking to the pan so I double wrapped the pan.
  2. Over medium-high heat, in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and salt.  Mix constantly.  (Keep the vanilla extract handy.)
  3. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and stir the mixture continuously until you get it to a boil.  It should be a smooth boil – not a rolling boil.  If it’s a rolling boil, then reduce the heat more.
  4. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you want to stir until you get the mixture to look like the color of a raw almond, a deep amber.  It’s completely normal in this process for the mixture to become gelatinous and mesh together.  Just remember to keep stirring.  It will get to the amber/almond stage.  Be patient.  Another way to test if the mixture is done is to take a bit of the sugar mixture and drop into ice-cold water.  It should be brittle when it hits the water.
  5. If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should be 290-300 degrees.
  6. Once the mixture reaches the temperature, remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pan and it should naturally spread to a good thickness.  I like for it to be 1/4 inch thick.  If not, use a spatula to spread more.  Don’t worry about it being perfect.
  8. Once you are done with the sugar mixture, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.  The chocolate will melt so take a spatula and spread the chocolate across the toffee mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate, and press the looser almonds slightly into the chocolate to make sure it sticks.
  10. Cool the toffee in the fridge until completely cooled.
  11. Once cooled, break apart into shards.  Store in an airtight container.

 

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Filed under Candy, Desserts, Favorites, Holiday, Uncategorized

Happy VD

On this day of love.

I would like to express love.

To my always and forever.

And to my from this day forth.

Hope you are spending your day with your loves!

🙂

How are you spending (or how did you spend) your day of love?  Who/what do you love?

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Filed under Breakfast, Holiday, Vegetarian

Post Gobble Gobble + Giveaway

Oh man, oh man!  What a week!  The vacation is coming up in T-3 days and I am getting very excited!!  As should you be because I’m doing my first ever giveaway! 🙂

Let’s recap the week.  Well there was Turkey Day! I won’t bore you with the food details, but let’s just say there was plenty!  The best part was that I got to celebrate with the most important people in my life!  Thanksgiving Day was a reminder of how blessed I am to have the family that I do!

If you remember, I contributed the following:  macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, strawberry pie and apple pie, and it turned out fabulously!  Let me tell you – the roasted garlic mashed potatoes – TO DIE FOR!  It was the roasted garlic that made it.

Garlic lurve:

I will be using roasted garlic way more than ever now that I know it’s so simple!

I don’t know about you, but I cannot do after-Thanksgiving leftovers.  My MIL made a kick-a$$ turkey but I cannot eat it the next day.  Something about reheated turkey (or chicken) does not work for me.  And luckily, because we’re taking a vacation soon, everyone was less insistent on us taking a boatload of leftovers!

So, for breakfast, I tried out Amy’s breakfast burrito.

and some pears with cinnamon:

Of course pumpkin butter had to be involved

And let’s not forget the answer to the case of the sleepies! 🙂

Do I grind my coffee every time I want to drink it?  Heck yes!

And, with all the work from yesterday, I forgot to eat lunch – I never ever thought I’d hear myself saying that.  So, I do what I do best and hit up the salad bar at Jason’s Deli.  I wasn’t kidding when it came to eating color.

Perfect for me and Binks to share

You won’t find anything in this salad except veggies, hummus and some balsamic vinegar!

And, I also got started on this:

Yep!  These are good ole’ dried habaneros!  I plan on grinding them into a fine powder – the uses thereafter are endless (use a tad in some Indian dishes, Mexican dishes, throw in someone’s face, etc.)  You would be surprised how a little goes a long way – not just in spice, but in flavor.

So now for the giveaway!

I have been planning for this vacation since I got engaged to my Binks.  This vacation means more to me than all the other trips we have taken (Rome, France, Tokyo, Chicago, and the list continues)!  And, it’s finally happening!

Can you guess?  If you do, you’ll be the the lucky person to receive a special treat – trust me, it’s a “Good Thing”!

Do you trust me when I say that it’s like eating a cloud of goodness?  What is it?  It’s my all-time favorite fall cookie, an adaptation from the great, the big M herself!  And do you think I’d leave you with just a baked good?  Heck no!

So, the rules:

Leave a comment telling me where you think I’m going (random, I know), and what your all-time favorite vacation location would be.

Tweet about this giveaway, and leave a comment saying you did the same.

All entries made by 11/30/2010 5:00 p.m. CST will be considered.

Make sure you provide your e-mail as I will be e-mailing the winner!

I will annouce the Winner on 12/1/2010 and let you all know where I will be going!  Can’t wait to read your entries!

Good luck!

🙂

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Filed under Giveaway, Holiday, Uncategorized