Category Archives: Fun with Food

Christmas Recipe: Eggnog Cupcakes

Standard

Christmas is the time of year for friends and family, but almost as importantly for baking, eggnog, and rum!  In an effort to make the most delicious holiday dessert known to man, I decided to seek out a recipe for eggnog cupcakes.  I had the criteria that this ultimate recipe had to contain both rum  and eggnog in both the cake and frosting.  I found the perfect recipe on Annie’s Eats Blog.  You can find a link to the original recipe here.  I mainly only modified the recipe for use as mini cupcakes.  I also used Sailor Jerry spiced rum, a family favorite around this time of year!

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup spiced rum
  • 1 cup eggnog
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2½  sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2½ tablespoons eggnog
  • 1 tablespoon spiced rum
  • cinnamon for dusting

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the mini muffin tins with mini muffin cups.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  In a large bowl, combine the rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, cider vinegar, vanilla, and sugar.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients.  Mix well.

2.  Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way full.  I used a cookie scoop to do this and it worked very well.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  When you are able to handle the cupcakes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg and whisk until well incorporated and smooth.  Add the eggnog and rum.  Whisk until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

4.  Frost the cupcakes using your desired frosting method and dust with cinnamon.  I used the Wilton dessert decorator plus since I have had trouble in the past with pastry bags.  I have to say, it was awesome!

The frosting did turn out a little too buttery for my taste, but others loved it…It may just be due to the fact that I actually saw how much butter went into it!

How to Cook a Turducken: My Turducken Experience

Standard

Turducken!

I have always been intrigued by the idea of doing a turducken for Thanksgiving.  Nothing seems more like a feast than stuffing a turkey with a duck and a chicken!  I have seen turducken available at the store for several years now, but they look more like a weird, processed turkey ham than an actual turkey, so I have avoided them.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could just stuff one myself.  The one problem with this concept was that I would have to de-bone all three birds myself.  This was a task that I was really not looking forward to, and almost killed the thought of doing a turducken at all this year.  I called around, however, and found that not only could I buy a turkey, duck, and chicken at whole foods, but that they would de-bone all three for me…for free!  At that movement, it was decided.  On the spot, I ordered a 12 to 16 pound turkey, a 4 pound duck, and a 3 pound chicken and started looking for instructions on how to cook this beast!

De-Boned Turkey, Duck, and Chicken from Whole Foods

I found conflicting results on the temperature to cook at, and the length of time cooking would take.  The only recommendation that whole foods had for me was to cook the beast low and slow.  I settled on 300 degrees, and based on my research assumed it would take 5 hours to roast (in reality, it took 7, and that was after we got desperate and raised the oven temperature around hour 6).

First thing in the morning, I made up a batch of my cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta (minus the chicken broth).  I also made a batch of sausage and cornbread dressing (minus the chicken broth), a recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com.  We were planning to eat around 6, so I got to work assembling the bird a little after 11am.  I opened the paper to find a nearly totally de-boned turkey.  I had expected them to leave the wings and drumsticks intact, but only the wings remained.  There were also no giblets or bones reserved for my stock, as requested…we made it work though.

De-Boned Turkey

I laid out the turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, and added a layer of sausage and cornbread dressing.

Turkey with Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Next, I laid out the duck, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and added a layer of the cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta.

Duck with cornbread stuffing

I repeated this with the chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper, and adding cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta.

Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing

Next, I folded together the sides of the chicken.

Fold together the chicken

I also folded together the duck, and used a metal skewer to hold it together.

Fold together and skewer duck

I repeated this with the turkey, leaving the skewer for the duck in place temporarily.

Skewer the back of the turkey

I then flipped the turkey onto it’s back and removed the skewer from the duck, leaving the skewer for the turkey in place.  Since the legs were de-boned, I filled them with stuffing and tied them with butcher’s twine.

Tie legs with butcher's twine, if necessary.

I then carefully placed the bird into the pan, tucking in any extra skin.  I sprinkled it with paprika, covered with foil, and stuck him in the oven!

Place the Turducken breast side up in a roasting pan. Cover with foil until the last hour of roasting.

At 300 degrees, I would recommend allowing 7 to 9 hours for cooking.  The internal temperature of all layers should be at least 165 degrees.  Also, allow the beast to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.  The cooler the bird, the easier it is to cut and see the beauty of all layers of poultry and stuffing!

Allow the birds to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.

For the record, the turducken turned out amazing!  I served it on hot plates, and it helped keep the meal hot at serving time, even after letting the bird rest for so long.

I hope this has been helpful!  Enjoy the Holidays and all that they have to offer…including turducken!

Thanksgiving Recipe: Cornbread Stuffing with Apricot and Pancetta

Standard

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love turkey! For that reason alone, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to hang out with family and to have an extra day off, but for me (like most), it’s about the food! At Mom’s house, Thanksgiving is all about tradition. The menu consists of nearly all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods, right down to the candied yams! My favorite part of the Thanksgiving prep every year is making the stuffing! My sisters and I line up, taking turns adding a wide array of spices until we all agree that it is spiced just right, though it never touches the bird until it has met Mom’s exacting standards.

As the years have gone by, I have begun hosting my own Thanksgiving dinners. As much as I try, I just don’t have what it takes to make Mom’s stuffing just right. Instead of trying to copy a masterpiece, I have decided to move on from traditional and try something that is all my own.

The stuffing that I prefer to use on the big Turkey Day is a cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta. It was strange, the recipe came to me one day out of nowhere, and I had to rush home to try it out! Because of this, the original recipe for my stuffing includes chicken broth so that the stuffing can be baked in a casserole dish. If you want to use this recipe in the bird, omit the broth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-inch square) pan cornbread (from mix or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkish apricots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
Directions:
1.  Crumble cooked cornbread into a large mixing bowl.
2.  In a medium skillet, saute celery, onion, butter, pancetta, and cumin until onions are tender.  Stir in preserves, pecans, and apricots.  Toss with cornbread.
3.  Place mixture in a greased 2 quart casserole dish.  drizzle broth over stuffing.
4.  bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until heated through and lightly browned.

Halloween Cookie Recipe: Pumpkin Cutout Cookies

Standard


Did you know that October is National Cookie Month? Last year for the occasion, I wanted to send each of my sisters a care package with a cute little owl card and some pumpkin cutout cookies. Not only did I want my cookies to look like pumpkins, I wanted them to be made with pumpkin as well. I searched around but could not find a recipe that was well reviewed, so I came up with my own!

Ingredients:

For  Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Libby’s Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
For Icing
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • food coloring
Directions:
  1. Beat together sugar, pumpkin, and butter. Add egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. beat flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Move to a well-floured surface and knead in any remaining mixture and additional flour if necessary to form a semi-workable dough.  The dough will be pretty sticky coming straight from the bowl.  Shape into ball, cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough on floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough into desired shapes.
  4. Bake 14 minutes or until cookies are light in color, and do not indent when pressed in the center. Do not over-bake (I use air-bake pans.  This helps keep the bottoms of the cookies from burning).  Cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Combine together powdered sugar, milk, and remaining vanilla extract in a small bowl. Mix well and add desired food coloring. Frost cookies and enjoy!

This year, when I made these cookies, I decided to use fondant frosting.  I rolled it out and used the same cookie cutter that I had used to make the cookies.  I don’t have a secret recipe for fondant, I just found one on Allrecipes.com and used gel food coloring.  I still used the frosting recipe in this post to adhere the fondant to the cookies.  See the finished product below!  Also if you are looking for a card send along with these yummy cookies, check out my shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/ElationGreetings

Tons of Tomatoes? Make Marinara!

Standard


This year was my first attempt at a garden, and I am happy to say that for the most part it was a success!  One thing that I learned is that one tiny tomato plant  produces lots and lots of tomatoes.  I also learned that they all ripen right around the same time!  When deciding what to do with all of these red beauties (along with a few from our produce delivery service), I felt that marinara was a natural choice.  Home-made marinara is another first for me.  I did a little research, and with the help of my husband came up with a tasty recipe that has a little bit of everything.  Here is what we did:

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb Tomatoes
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Large Mushrooms, Stemmed and Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1/3 Cup Spinach, Sliced into Strips
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, Divided
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar*
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
Directions:
Preheat your grill on medium heat.  Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the stems.  Using 2 tablespoons olive oil, brush the cut side of each tomato.  Place the tomatoes cut side down on the grill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.  The skin will start to wrinkle and turn brown at the ends and should be easy to take off.  Remove the tomatoes from the grill and remove the skins.
Meanwhile, in a large pot heat the olive oil on medium.  Add the onions and saute until they start to caramelize.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, spinach, and oregano and cook for 5 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, sugar*, and 1 tablespoon fresh basil.  Bring to a simmer and cook on low, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon of basil just before serving.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
* Note that a few of our tomatoes were slightly under-ripe.  If you are using fresh, fully ripe tomatoes, you may not need to use the sugar.
I hope you enjoy!