Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sparkling White Sangria

Well, this is my last post for 2011 but no worries…I’ll be back next year!  It seems only fitting for me to finish the year with a jazzy cocktail going into New Year’s weekend.  I like champagne but don’t really love it straight up without a little something else to enhance it.  This Sparkling White Sangria mixes sparkling wine with fruit nectar and triple sec and, while it isn’t really white or sangria, this fizzy cocktail is fruity, sweet, and refreshing.  If you can’t find apricot nectar, use any nectar you like (I used mango) and if you prefer prosecco or cava over champagne, any sparkling wine will do (I used cava).  This is an easy, fun cocktail for New Year’s so if you want something other than boring old champagne at midnight tomorrow, toast your honey, bestie, or loved one with this!

Be safe, have fun and please have a very Happy New Year!!

The ingredients:

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher or bowl and serve chilled.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Mango nectar for apricot nectar

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Real Simple Magazine

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Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes

Want to make an impression on someone this weekend? Try these Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes. These cakes have cinnamon and ginger and are super chocolatey with a warm molten center that will impress anyone. I used regular cinnamon in these although the recipe calls for Saigon cinnamon (anyone know what that is?) and it tasted delicious. These bake quickly in the oven and should be eaten within a few hours of baking in order to keep the molten center. Just be careful that you don’t dig in too quickly or else the entire center might come flowing out. Don’t have Cabernet? No big deal. Use any red wine you might have on hand. These pair deliciously with wine (or milk!) so if you are planning on a low key New Year’s Eve and want to put a smile on your sweetie’s face, definitely consider these.

The ingredients:

Melt the butter and the chocolate in the microwave for one minute. Stir until the mixture is fully melted and mixed thoroughly.

Add in wine, vanilla, and powdered sugar.

Stir in eggs and yolk.

Mix in flour, cinnamon, sugar, and cloves (if using which I didn’t).

Spray four ramekins with non-stick spray and divide the batter evenly. Bake for 15 minutes in a 425°F oven.

Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Ground cloves

Substitutions:

  • Ground cinnamon for Saigon cinnamon

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: McCormick Gourmet

Spice-Rubbed Chicken

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t eat any beef or pork so I eat a LOT of chicken. Therefore, I’m always interested in any new way to prepare chicken that’s not boring or ho-hum. I have a fully stocked spice cabinet so this recipe for Spice-Rubbed Chicken was a no-brainer for me. Brown sugar is mixed with paprika, coriander, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and rubbed on chicken breasts and baked until fully cooked. This spice mixture is sweet and spicy and utterly tasty. The recipe calls for 16 chicken breasts (really?!?) but I only baked up 3 and still made the full amount of spice mixture that it called for. I plan on keeping the rest in an air-tight container for future use because I will make this again. Whip some of this up and tuck it away for those nights when you just don’t know what to do with those chicken breasts that have been sitting in your fridge for a couple of days and either need to be made or frozen. Serve this with a salad or side of veggies and you’ve got a quick meal for last minute guests as well. They’ll be impressed!

The ingredients:

Mix the brown sugar and all of the spices in a small bowl.

Lay chicken breasts flat and light rub each side with a little bit of vegetable oil (or spray with non-stick spray). Sprinkle the spice mixture on the chicken and rub until the whole side is coated. Repeat on the other side.

Refrigerate chicken for 15 minutes and place chicken on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reads 165ºF – 170ºF) in a 400ºF oven (mine took only about 15 minutes).

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

Spice-Rubbed Chicken

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t eat any beef or pork so I eat a LOT of chicken.  Therefore, I’m always interested in any new way to prepare chicken that’s not boring or ho-hum.  I have a fully stocked spice cabinet so this recipe for Spice-Rubbed Chicken was a no-brainer for me.  Brown sugar is mixed with paprika, coriander, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and rubbed on chicken breasts and baked until fully cooked.  This spice mixture is sweet and spicy and utterly tasty.  The recipe calls for 16 chicken breasts (really?!?) but I only baked up 3 and still made the full amount of spice mixture that it called for.  I plan on keeping the rest in an air-tight container for future use because I will make this again.  Whip some of this up and tuck it away for those nights when you just don’t know what to do with those chicken breasts that have been sitting in your fridge for a couple of days and either need to be made or frozen.  Serve this with a salad or side of veggies and you’ve got a quick meal for last minute guests as well.  They’ll be impressed!

The ingredients:

Mix the brown sugar and all of the spices in a small bowl.

Lay chicken breasts flat and light rub each side with a little bit of vegetable oil (or spray with non-stick spray).   Sprinkle the spice mixture on the chicken and rub until the whole side is coated.  Repeat on the other side. 

Refrigerate chicken for 15 minutes and place chicken on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15-18 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reads 165ºF – 170ºF) in a 400ºF oven  (mine took only about 15 minutes).

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

Orange Pepper Soup with Cilantro Purée

The last time I was at the produce market, I picked up a big bag of orange peppers for no reason other than to have something colorful and different in my refrigerator.  I cut some up for stir-fry, threw in some with chicken in curry sauce, and chopped some up for salad.  But since produce markets give you more than you need, I was still left with several that I didn’t know what to do with.  That’s when I came across this recipe for Orange Pepper Soup with Cilantro Purée.  The recipe calls for yellow peppers but the orange peppers are just as sweet and worked just as perfectly in this chilled soup.  Although this is loaded with other flavors like garlic, onion, potato, apple, ginger, and fennel, the orange peppers are the star and are beautifully complemented by the other ingredients.  The other highlight to this soup is the addition of curry powder which lays low in the background and provides a subtle warmth.  The cilantro purée adds another layer of fresh flavor that works deliciously with the peppers.  To easily make this soup vegetarian, use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.  This soup would be perfect for a warm summer evening but it was still just as a good on a cold December day.

The soup ingredients:

Chop all of the produce (all of it will go into the blender so a coarse chop is fine).

Heat a skillet with butter and sauté the onion and fennel until soft.

Add in the curry powder, ginger, and garlic and sauté 1 minute.

Stir in the white wine and cook until evaporated before adding in the chopped peppers, apple, potato, chicken broth, and salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer 20 minutes.

When mixture has slightly cooled, add to a blender and process until smooth.  Chill for 2 hours and stir in lemon juice.

The purée ingredients:

Add all ingredients into a blender and process. 

Add a small amount to the soup with crème fraîche or sour cream before serving.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions: 

  • Orange peppers for yellow peppers

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Potato-Apple Latkes

I’ve spent several of the last Christmases in Evanston, Illinois with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. When it comes to Christmas dinner, we don’t really have anything traditional, usually lasagna or sandwiches, whatever we feel like. But, when it comes to Christmas breakfast, my uncle is always in the kitchen scrambling up eggs, baking biscuits, and whipping up a warm batch of latkes. This Christmas I stayed home and didn’t care about what I did or ate on Christmas day except for what I ate for breakfast. So, I decided to make the latkes myself and ended up making Potato-Apple Latkes. I don’t know what my uncle puts in his latkes but these are nothing more than potato, apple, flour, salt, and pepper. I used Granny Smith apples because I already had some on hand and they added the slightest hint of sweetness without taking away from the traditional latke taste. Latkes are a great alternative to regular breakfast potatoes or hashbrowns and although I think my uncle’s latkes are better, these were still pretty darn good.

The ingredients:

Peel the potatoes and shred them with a kitchen grater. Repeat the same procedure with the apples and place in a strainer or colander over a bowl to drain for 20 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to press down the potatoes and apples to get as much liquid out as possible. With clean hands, squeeze excess water by hand if necessary.

Place dried potato-apple mixture in a bowl and add flour, salt, and pepper and mix.

Add oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, place mixture into the pan, flattening with your hands or the back of the measuring cup. Cook on both sides until brown.

Serve with sour cream, crème fraîche, or applesauce.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Jingle Juice

It’s only two days until Christmas – how did that happen?  There are no hints of cookies left in my house as I shipped most of them away to family and took the rest in to my coworkers.  So, I don’t have a cookie recipe for you today but instead have a festive little cocktail, Jingle Juice.  This drink has orange juice, lemon juice, vodka, orange liqueur, and cherry juice and packs a punch!  My lips puckered a bit when I first tried this because it’s pretty acidic so if I make this again, I’ll swap out some of the orange juice for sparkling water.  Substituting lemon-lime soda for the vodka and orange liqueur would make this a fun mocktail for any kiddos running around also so if you need something festive for a Holiday party, a weekend get-together or just for sitting by the fire watching Home Alone (again), check this out!

Happy Holidays and best wishes, everyone!

The ingredients:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a pitcher or bowl and pour into a glass over ice.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Southern Living Magazine

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