Thursday, December 29, 2011

A look back at 2011

I love watching the year in review type stories that are everywhere this time of the year. I'm always amazed at all the things that happen in that 365 days. This is my look back at the year that was...through food of course. So here's my Top Ten list based on post popularity from the past year. I had fun flipping back through this year of baking, I hope you enjoy it too.

Brownie sundae bowls

Best Ever Carrot Cupcakes

Zucchini Corn Bread

Fresh Fig Preserves

Two-Bite Smores


Watermelon Lemonade Slushy

Strawberry Honey Butter

Nutella Truffles

1. And now for the number one viewed post this year, taking it by a landslide.....drum roll please!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip
Here's to 2012! I hope you'll join me for another year of baking and eating. Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Morning Coffee

If you're anything like me,  morning coffee knows no holiday. I want my mug of piping hot coffee first thing everyday. Christmas morning is no exception. In fact, I think it's just a good excuse to kick that ordinary cup jo up a notch. So just because Starbucks is closed, (or at least I hope they are!) doesn't mean you have to settle for an ordinary cup of coffee on Christmas morning. Add a shot of this gingerbread syrup, a glug or two of warm milk, a spritz of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and you'll never miss Starbucks!

It would make a great gift as well!

Gingerbread Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1(1-2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, sliced*
1 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
8 whole peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, sugar. Stir in ginger, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, and nutmeg; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool then strain through a fine mesh sieve, or double layer cheesecloth.

*My sister introduced me to gingerbread syrup. I've made it a few times and like this recipe best. Feel free to add more or less of any of the spices to suit your tastes. You could substitute the fresh ginger with 1 1/2 -2 teaspoons of ground ginger or several pieces of crystallized ginger.  Don't just save this syrup for your coffee, it's also great on pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, etc....
Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

 Red velvet and Christmas are a perfect combo in my world. I mean what could be more perfect for Christmas celebration than a bright red cake topped with a luscious creamy white frosting? It's a decadent treat with colors that are tailor made for the season. I've had the recipe for these cookies dogeared in my copy of Taste of the South magazine since last year. I thought they looked like a perfect Christmas cookie. I'm so glad I finally tried this recipe. They are everything wonderful about red velvet cake, in a cookie. I think that I even like them a little better than red velvet cake. The cookies are rolled in sugar before they are baked which gives the outside just a slight crunch, that's so good. ( I'm not just saying that to sound like Giada ,it really is good, but I'm pretty sure she'd also approve of the slight crunch on the outside.)
 If you like red velvet cake these cookies will not disappoint. Plus they how perfect are they for serving at a holiday party??!

Red Velvet Cookies
Printable Recipe

For the cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Red gel food coloring

In a large bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla, beating until well blended.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Add desired amount of red gel food coloring, stirring well. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using your hands, roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll balls in remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets; flatten slightly with a spatula.
Bake until slightly soft, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Spread cream cheese frosting on flat side of 1 cookie. Top with another cookie, flat side toward filling. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.

Cream cheese frosting filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, beating well. (I put green gel coloring into half of the cream cheese frosting and left half white.)

Source: Taste of the South, Dec/Jan 2011

Hohoho yeah!