Dec 30, 2011

Bourbon and Orange Pecan Pie

I first saw this recipe as I was reading a holiday recipe article on Real Simple.  The addition of orange zest really intrigued me, so I knew I had to give it a shot....besides, my husband's favourite pie is pecan pie, so I didn't feel I could go terribly wrong.

Ingredients
  • 1 store-bought pie-crust, placed into a 9-inch pie pan
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves

Normally I would make my own pie crust, but I was feeling lazy and decided on store bought instead.  Not as good but worth the time saver since I decided to start making this around 9pm.  Ha! 

 Directions

1.   Set an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 350ยบ F.
2.   Fit the pie crust in the bottom of a 9" pie pan.  I had a little extra on one side that wasn't needed.  So I cut off the extra crust dough to make it an even height all the way around.
3.   Place the pie pan on a foil-lined baking sheet.
4.   In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, bourbon, orange zest, and salt. Stir in the pecans.
5.   Pour the pecan mixture into the crust.  You may need to stir it a little in order to get the pecans spread evenly.
6.   Take your extra pie crust, mush it together (I just used my hands), and hand "rolled" it on to the counter.  Then I took a mini leaf cookie cutter and cut three leaves out and placed them on the top center of the pie.
7.   Bake until the center is set, approximately 55-65 minutes.
8.   Let cool to room temperature before serving.

 Enjoy!  Goodness knows we did. ;)

Dec 21, 2011

I Heart You Because...

I originally found this idea on Pinterest, but can't seem to find the link for it.  Instead of paying someone for a download printable for it, I decided to make my own.  It was really easy, and I love it!!
  1. Take an old frame that you like.  I used a black 5" x 7" frame that we had laying around.
  2. Cut a piece of cardstock (any colour/print you like) to fit the frame.  I used light blue solid.
  3. Use the Jubilee Cricut Cartridge to cut out the letters.  The "LOVE♥YOU" is it's own character on this cartridge.  The "I" and the "because" were all done as individual letters.
  4. Glue the wording onto the cardstock.  Make sure to put a blank line too!
  5. Put the glued together cardstock in the frame behind the glass.
  6. Hang where desired.  I hung ours on the wall in the entrance to our bedroom.
  7. Use a dry erase marker to write your love notes!  They easily wipe away to be replaced with new notes for your loved ones.  (The dry erase marker has a velcro on one side so we can stick it to the wall right next to the frame.)
It is SO nice to have this!  I catch myself glancing at it multiple times a day, waiting to see what new thing my husband loves about me.  He wrote the above note to me when I first put it on the wall.  :)  And I learn little and big things that he notices about me on a regular basis.  

Plus, what a blessing it is to be able to show my husband I love him too.  I can show him I've noticed when he does the dishes, or let him know how proud I am of him in his work, or thank him for leading our family spiritually. 

It is SO encouraging! We absolutely love it.  And I know you will too!

Skillet Date Balls

I mentioned in a previous post (Eggnog Spritz Cookies with Rum Glaze) that I made a two different cookies for our Community Group Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.  These Skillet Date Balls are absolutely fabulous...and oh so addictive.

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped dates
1 egg
2 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 cup pecans, chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
1.  Melt butter over low heat.
2.  Add sugar and blend.
3.  Add chopped dates. 
4.  Stir in egg (stirring like a crazy person, so it won't curdle).
5.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring all the time.
6.  Add Rice Krispies, nut and vanilla.  Mix well.
7.  Using a teaspoon, drop into powdered sugar.  Cover with powdered sugar.
8. Roll (or press) into balls while hot.
9.  Enjoy your tasty new obsession.


 HOLY FREAKIN' GOODNESS!

Eggnog Spritz cookies with Rum Glaze

Last week I went to an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with my church Community Group.  It was SO much fun!
 I even decided to do a tacky manicure to match my ugly sweater.  You will notice it in some of these photos, so I knew I needed to explain.  :)

We did a potluck meal, and...if you know me AT ALL...you would know I signed up for dessert.  I LOVE baking desserts. :)   I decided to make two different types of cookies:  Eggnog Spritz Cookies and Skillet Date Balls.  I can't decided which cookie I like better.  It probably just depends on my mood because both tend to call my name persistently from the kitchen....ALL. DAY. LONG.

Eggnog Spritz Cookies with Rum Glaze

 Cookies:
 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Rum Glaze:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 
COOKIES:
1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees (if using a dark/nonstick cookie sheet, heat oven to 325F).
2.  Beat granulated sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
 3.  Beat in vanilla, rum extract, and the egg until smooth.
4.  Beat in the flour and nutmet.
5.  Pick your desired cookie shape (I used Christmas trees) and place 1/4 or so of the dough at a time into the cookie press.
6.  Press out cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  They don't really puff up or spread out much so you can fit a bunch on the sheet.
7.  Bake 6-10 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
8.  Cool for about 1 minute on the sheet.
9.  Remove from the cookie sheet onto a wire cooling rack.
10.  Cool completely.

GLAZE:
1.  In a small bowl, stir all glaze ingredients (sans nutmeg) with a spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.  (I like it to have a little bit of form though so it doesn't just drip everywhere)
2.  Pour mixture into a small resealable plastic food-storage bag; cut off a tiny corner of the bag.
3.  Squeeze the bag to drizzle glaze on cookies.

4.  Before the glaze is set, sprinkle nutmeg over the cookies.

These are SO tasty.  Enjoy!

Dec 19, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

 I wanted a quick and simple, yet tasty treat that my husband and I could snack on, or even eat as a meal with a salad on the side.  So I made Pepperoni Pizza Bites.  Super simple and oh so tasty.

 Ingredients
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tube Pillsbury pizza crust
pepperoni slices (I used about 20)
¾ cup mozzarella cheese
½ cup marinara sauce
(this can easily be doubled, tripled, even quadrupled and still fit in the pan.  I just wanted a small batch since there were only two of us)
 First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix your melted butter and garlic together.  Brush some into the bundt pan.  Make sure to leave a little of the butter/garlic mixture for later.

Then, pull a small section off the pizza dough and roll it into a ball.
 Flatten the ball out.  I just used the palm of my hand.  Put one pepperoni slice on top; then a pinch of mozzarella cheese (as much as you can fit); and another slice of pepperoni on top of that.
 Fold the edges over together.
 Make sure to smoosh all the insides in as you fold the dough over on itself.
 Pinch the edges together.  You want a good seal so it doesn't open in the oven.
 Put these pizza balls around in the bundt pan.  One pizza dough container will fit one layer around the pan.  If you make more, just smoosh them tighter and higher in the pan.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes until nice and golden.  

Heat the marinara sauce and pour into a ramekin.  This will be used for dipping.  

Put the baked pizza bits around the ramekin, and you have a nice little appetizer.  Just pull apart, dip, and enjoy! 

 This would be perfect for parties.  And kids would LOVE it!

Dec 11, 2011

Gingerbread Crepes with Eggnog Whipped Cream

When I was in Las Vegas last month for my husband's work conference, I had the privilege of doing a few fun activities with some of the other conference spouses.  The first adventure I went on was a walk down the strip to the Bellagio.  They had a Dale Chihuly glass exhibit throughout the lobby.  I love Dale Chihuly glass!  He's from the Seattle/Tacoma area, and there's a large exhibit in the Tacoma Art Museum.  Plus, I got to see one of his traveling exhibits displayed at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens a couple of years ago.  The shapes and colours are mesmerizing, especially when mixed with nature.  I love it.  So it was an activity I didn't want to miss.  :)

While on the walk there, I met this really nice lady.  We spent the majority of the afternoon chatting as we walked around the glass. 
After the Chihuly art display, we were treated to free gelato at this really great bakery inside the Bellagio (which, incidentally, is the home of the World's Largest Chocolate Fountain).  While in line waiting for my super tasty mint chocolate chip gelato, we watched the skilled chef as he created chocolate crepes.  The lady I was walking with expressed how much she liked crepes (I mean, who doesn't?!?!).  But I had to confess that I had never made them before.  So, she challenged me to learn when I got home.

When I came upon this recipe, on page 48 of the EatInEatOut Holiday 2011 catalog, I knew this was my opportunity to learn.  And I was right.  They are so tasty!!  Sweet, but oh so tasty.

Ingredients:
Eggnog Whipped Cream:
1.5 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup eggnog
1.5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Gingerbread Crepes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

FOR WHIPPED CREAM:  
1.  Chill a mixer bowl in the freezer until cold.
2.  Pour chilled whipped cream and eggnog into the bowl and beat on high until the mixture begins to thicken.
3.  Add granulated sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
4.  Gently fold in nutmeg and refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR CREPES:
1.  Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.
2.  Whisk ingredients together.
3.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  This allows the batter to thicken and the spices to combine.
4.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
5.  Spray with a non-stick cooking spray.  
6.  Pour batter by the 1/4 cup onto the skillet and immediately swirl to cover the pan.
7.  Let cook about one minute, until bubbles start to form in the middle of the crepe and the edges begin to pull away from the pan.
8.  Gently flip the crepe over and cook the other side for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until cooked fully.
9.  Remove from pan.
 10.  Repeat with remaining batter, spraying pan in between crepes and separating cooked crepes with layers of wax paper / paper towels.
 11.  Fill each warm crepe with approximately 1/4 cup eggnog whipped cream, and wrap.
12.  Top with extra whipped cream, and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.

13.  Devour.  :)

TIP:  I served with sausage and coffee to help cut the sweet.  These are super sweet!  But very tasty indeed.

Dec 8, 2011

Christmas Stockings

This year, as you know, I got married.  Which means many things, like:  finding out I hog all the covers, learning my husband is extremely picky about bowls (yes, bowls), and grasping that the title "wife" really means "husband's homing device for all things he's misplaced randomly throughout the house".

But it also means making new Christmas stockings.  :)  My family has a tradition that my great-grandmother started, where we make our own Swedish folk-art styled stockings.  My grandmother has a billion on her mantle.  This was last year, and will be gaining 3 new additions to the set this Christmas.
  My mom has less, but her supply is growing quickly.  Also last year; also gaining 3 new stockings this year.  
This year, with Blair's arrival into the family, means I have to make four stockings (Blair = 3 - my grandmother's house, my mom's house, and our house, and one for me for our house).  Easier said than done.  I always thought they looked pretty straightforward and simple.  But alas, I was wrong.  (another thing I learned to say a lot more often now that I'm married).   So if you are looking for a quick, no hassle stocking, this is not for you.  It takes a couple of days.  But if you are looking for an awesome, one-of-a-kind heirloom stocking, this is a must.

Supplies List:
  1. Felt - at least two colours (one for the stocking body and the other for the liner and character)
  2. Fabric glue 
  3. Pinking shears
  4. Scissors
  5. Ribbons - anywhere between 9-15 different ones, depending on width of ribbon and personal taste
  6. Embroidery Floss (same colour as felt liner/character)
  7. Sewing machine / thread (same colour as felt body)
  8. Beads (optional)
 Steps:
1.   Using pinking shears, cut out two layers of felt the shape/size of the stocking body you want.  Mine are about 17" long and 5.75" wide at the widest spot, and the foot hangs to the right.
2.  Set aside the back layer, as you won't be needing it for a while.
3.  Using regular scissors, cut the ribbons so that each one is slightly longer than the stocking body (about 1 inch on either side).  You will need two strips of each ribbon; one for the front and one for the back.
4.  Embellish the ribbon as you see fit.  I used creative stitching on some (like sewing french knots with red thread on the noses of the reindeer ribbon) and beads on others (like making it look like snow around the snowman ribbon).
5.  Cut out your character.  I was given a duck when I was born, so I used that character again for mine.  I chose a rocket for my husband's because he is a rocket scientist (literally). 

6.  Layout the ribbons on top of the felt so you can see how you want them arranged.  Start about 1/2 inch down from the top.  Do about 4-5 ribbons, then leave a gap for the name, then about 3-4 more ribbons, then a gap for your character, then about 3-4 more ribbons on the toe.
7.  Once you have everything laid out and know that it fits in a way you like, pin down the two ribbons that will frame the name so you have a guide when you start stitching.   Remember, you are still working with just the front layer of felt. 
8.  Cross-stitch the name onto the felt. This is the hardest step. Since you are doing it without a guide, don't be surprised if you have to start over a couple times.  Goodness knows I did.  I chose to do 7 cross-stitches up and 5 cross-stitches over for each letter of the name.
9.  Once the name is finished, lay out all of the ribbons and the character again.  It will look something like this: 
10.  Using the fabric glue, glue the ribbons down, making sure to get the edges solidly glued to the felt front. 
11.  Flip the front layer of felt over and glue the extra edges down.
12.  It's now time for the second layer of felt.  Layout the second set of ribbons exactly as you had on the front.  TIP:  It helps if you lay them on top of each other for easier placement.
13.  Glue the ribbons down.  Flip and glue the extra edges down. 
14.  When everything is glued, the insides will look something like this: 
15.  Let the glue dry overnight so you don't gum up your sewing needle when you sew the front and back together.
16.  With pinking shears, cut a rectangle of the liner felt that is the same width (or just a smidge smaller) than the top of your stocking and about 2 inches long.
17.  Also with pinking shears, cut one long rectangle from the stocking body felt that was extra.  It needs to be about 4-5 inches long.  This will become the tab from which you hang the stockings.
18.  Pull out and thread your sewing machine.  (for me, this needs to be a separate step because I literally haven't used my rinky-dink little machine since my senior year of college!!  See the manual?  Yep, I needed it to even figure out how to store my thread on the machine.  I'm so lame.  But I'm learning!!)
19.  Fold the tab in half, so it is now two layers, and sew the bottom of it to the top of the back liner felt.
20.  Sew the liner felt rectangle to the tops of the inside stocking pieces.
21.  Sew along the edges the two stocking sides, along the right, bottom and left sides only.  Make sure to not sew the top closed, or you won't be able to get any presents in there!
22. Hang on your mantle...or in my case, hang on your wall because we aren't blessed with a mantle.

23.  Fill with fun goodies!!  (I don't have a picture of that step yet, but hopefully come Christmas morning our stockings will be overflowing with treats.  *hint hint*)