Jan 26, 2012

Absolutely the BEST Cheese Fondue I've Ever Had

We were given a fondue pot as a wedding present, and we love it!  The first time, we went to the store and bought a box of fondue mix that is already pre-made.  It was okay, but not great and certainly not fabulous.  So, I went on the hunt and came across a recipe on Real Simple.  I knew I had to try it.  I changed it up just slightly, so my recipe is as follows.

Ingredients
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1/2 cup Gewurztraminer white wine*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pound Jarlsberg grated cheese (approx. 8 cups)
1 pound Italian Fontina grated cheese (approx. 8 cups)
1 loaf hearty bread, cut in approx. 1 inch cubes - I suggest sourdough or rosemary
1 pound roasted small red potatoes (see below for recipe)
*TIP:  I use my favourite Gewurztraminer from St. Clair Winery.  But for all of my Washingtonian readers out there that may not want to order this FABULOUS New Mexico wine, may I suggest my second favourite: Gewurztraminer from Columbia Valley.

Roasted Small Red Potatoes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
ash and quarter your potatoes.
Spread potatoes in a single layer on a shallow roasting pan.
Sprinkle olive oil over the potatoes.
Add a dash of salt and pepper (I always add more salt than pepper).
Stir to coat, and spread out again in a single layer.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.

BEST Cheese Fondue Ever
Rub the inside of a medium saucepan with the garlic clove halves; discard garlic.
Add the wine, lemon juice, and mustard.
Whisk until combined.
Heat until simmering over medium heat.
Add the cheese, 1 cup at a time, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.  -  Make sure you keep this on medium heat so you don't burn the cheese!
Pour smooth cheese mixture into a fondue pot to stay warm as you eat.
Serve immediately with the bread and potatoes....and leftover bottle of wine.  :)
I dare you to not gorge yourself on this tasty goodness. In fact, I might just have to go grab one.more.bite.

Jan 19, 2012

Luc's Goodest-Looking Everything Cookies!

I sat down to my computer tonight to this fabulous email and recipe from my sister and nephew.  I LOVE it!!

Sarah-
Background: Luc is my best helper in the kitchen. And we have recently made a few of the recipes you shared on your blog.

Tonight, Marc-Andre and Rob had a bible study and Luc was home with me and his little brothers. I asked him what he wanted to do special tonight, and he asked to make cookies. I said, "hmm I'm not sure we have all the ingredients for cookies. We just have a little of everything." So Luc says, "then let's make Everything Cookies!"

So I looked up a recipe for cake batter cookies, and then let him go to town. He added all kinds of sugary extras and lovingly dubbed them the Goodest-Looking Everything Cookies. When I took a picture of his colorful, sweet batter creation, Luc asked me if I was taking pictures for Aunt Sarah's website. I thought that was a lovely idea, so here is Luc's contribution for your food blog :)

Luc's Goodest-Looking Everything Cookies
Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/4 c oil
1/4 c water
Questionable quantities of the following (or any combination of sugary yumminess void of nutritional content)
Chocolate chips
Mini M&Ms
Heath Toffee Bits
Wilton rainbow candy chip sprinkles
Directions
1.   Preheat oven to 350F. 
2.   In mixer add all ingredients and mix together well. 
3.   Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. 
4.   While they are cooking, don't forget to lick the dough off the mixer!
5.  Bake for 8-9 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden.

6.   Enjoy with huge smile and a glass of milk (to cut sweetness and add some nutritional content)
If you like these, please be sure to leave a comment for my super awesome nephew!  :)

Jan 12, 2012

Vietnamese Green Beans

When I lived in Seattle, I was right around the corner from this super amazing Vietnamese restaurant.  It was a hole-in-the-wall type of look from the outside, but when you walked in the atmosphere was rather lovely.  They had done a great job of "setting the mood".  

Upon my first visit (of many), we asked our waiter for his suggestions.  Turned out, he was one of the owners so he could definitely give us some hints.  His first, "You absolutely MUST have the green beans."  I thought that was a strange recommendation, considering I always think of it as a random side to an awesome entree, instead of the main deal itself.  But, after hearing that it was a special Vietnamese recipe that his Grandmother brought over, we decided to order them.  And oh.my.gosh. they were good!  I mean, I seriously get cravings for those bad boys.  

Now that I'm in Albuquerque, I can't just pop in for a craving satisfaction.  So I decided to try my hand at making them.  It's not exact, but it's really close.  These are SO good!!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds  (I got these from the bulk section of my grocery store for, get this, $0.04!!)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon peanut butter
3/4 lb fresh green beans, with edges cut off.
4.5 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions
Heat the oil in a skillet.
Then cook the green beans in the oil and skillet until they are just a little tender, stirring occasionally.  You don't want to overcook them!  You need a good pop still.
Once crisp-tender, remove the green beans from the heat.
In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together.
Pour the ingredients over the beans and stir well to coat all the beans.
Enjoy!

Handmade Christmas Cards

I love making Christmas cards.  Every year I try to make a bunch for all the family.  One design, but multiple cards to send out.  This year, I went with the gingerbread theme, because I just got a new Cricut cartridge that had a cute little cookie design I've been wanting to use.

Aint it cute!

Start with an 8.5" x 11" sheet of green cardstock.  Cut it in half so it's now 5.5" x 8.5".  Then fold it in half so it's 5.5" x 4.25".
 Then I used a 12"x12" sheet of printed cardstock from the Paper Studio Ornamental Christmas Papers pack and cut the background image on page. 38 of the Just Because Cards cartridge.
 Then cut the gingerbread cookie design from page 58.  Layer 1-shift and Layer 2 were both cut at 7 3/4".  I used pop-dots to glue the cookie down to the card, to add dimension.
 the "Merry Christmas" sentiment was cut from page 77 of the Jubilee/Celebrations cartridge.  It's cut at 1/2" from the Shadow layer.  The background oval was cut from page 58 of the Just Because Cards cartridge, at 1 1/4" Stencil-shift.
 Glue together
 Then I used pop-dots to attach the sentiment to the cookie, to make it look like the gingerbread man is actually holding it.
 Then I stamped this "Happy Holidays" stamp on the card cover inside, and coloured it in with green and gold glitter glue.
 Stamped my logo on the back...
And the card is complete...completely cute and ready to bring cheer to family and friends. :)

The only downside is that you can't actually eat the yummy looking gingerbread cookie. :/

Jan 5, 2012

Neighbor Christmas gifts

One of my favourite things about growing up in a military family is the community.  Neighbors support neighbors.  People welcome you with open arms because we all know what it's like to have to move around every couple of years.  When spouses deploy, friends step up.  It is an absolutely beautiful thing...something I missed terribly "on the outside" after my dad retired.

But this year I'm a military wife.  So I felt I needed to step it up for the holiday neighbor cheer.  And I think I knocked it out of the park.  :)

I first got this idea from a great blog called How Does She.  It seemed doable, inexpensive, fun, crafty and tasty...all in one.  That's a pretty good combination, in my book.  So I went for it.

Here's how:
 Take a 4"x4" piece of wood.
Trace around the edges onto the back of your Christmas-y scrapbook paper.  I did all the sides except the bottom.  Cut out the paper.
 Dremel tool the rough edges.  My husband wanted a chance to use his power tools. :)
 Spread Mod Podge all over one side.  Don't be afraid to make it a good coat.
Lay your pre-cut scrapbook paper on top, and press it down.  I used an old credit card, started from the center, and worked my way out to the edges so there wouldn't be any bubbles or creases.
 Once it's completely dry, sand the edges so it's smooth and even.
Drill holes in the top.  Use a drill bit that is about the same size as your lollipop stick.  I just stuck the lollipop sticks next to the bits and eye-balled a close match.  And I chose to put 6 holes on top.
Then I used a stencil that said "Merry Christmas" and painted with a red acrylic paint.  I also decided to use just a brown paint pen on some of them.  It was easier and faster.  But I really like the way they both turned out. 

 Now comes the tastiness part.  :)   I decided to do a mixture of Oreos and Ritz peanut butter cookies.

First, I stuck a lollipop stick into the cream of Double Stuff Oreo.
 
Then I dipped them into melted white chocolate, fully coating the cookie.
 Let cool and harden on wax paper.
 I did the same thing with the Ritz.  Take one Ritz cracker, spread creamy peanut butter on it, put a lollipop stick in it, and stick another Ritz cracker on top.
Then dip it completely in melted milk/dark chocolate (whichever you prefer), and let cool and harden on wax paper.

Now comes the fun part.  Drizzle melted white chocolate over the dark chocolate Ritz cookies....and melted dark chocolate over the white chocolate Oreo cookies.  And sprinkle with coloured crystal sprinkles.  I chose red and green, considering it's Christmas. :)
Oooo pretty.  
 
 Wrap them individually with a candy bag, and tie with a ribbon.

Place one in each of the holes in the wood block.  And VOILA!  I loved how it turned out!
And I have to admit, the Ritz peanut butter/chocolate cookies were, by far, my favourite...and my husband's favourite, too!