Monthly Archives: December 2011

Crunchy Curry Roasted Black Eyed Peas

Happy New Years Eve!

I hope you all have more exciting plans than me which will include putting the girls to bed and then taping my eyelids open for the next five hours waiting for midnight.

What has become of me?

Seriously.

I can barely stay up until 1o:00 these days while watching super intense episodes of Breaking Bad (which by the way, that show is CRAZY!). I don’t know how I think The Hubs and I are going to be able to do this tonight.

These might help though.

I present to you now what very well may be the most addictive thing I have ever concocted. Good lord. They are crunchy and salty and slightly spicy from the curry powder.

You use leftover black eyed peas to make these (which you know I am all over); and they are so easy, you can totally whip them up with a baby on your hip.

Oh and you know that chomping on black eyed peas on New Years Day brings you good luck right?

So make up a big batch of these and go to town. (Not out on the town. Just to town….you got babies to take care of. You aren’t cool enough to go out anymore silly…)

Crunchy Curry Roasted Black Eyed Peas

Serves 2

1/2 cup cooked and drained black eyed peas

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all ingredients together on a sheet pan until the peas are well coated in oil and seasonings.

Spread peas so that they are not touching one another on a single layer.

Bake for 30 minutes.

I asked The Dude if she felt lucky, and she said “Mmmmhmmmphf” through her mouth full of peas. That can’t be a terrible way to start off the new year.

Brown Butter, Molasses, and Cider Shortbread Cookies

Well people we made it to the week of Christmas!

Are you all ready to go? Are all of the presents bought up? The house clean for company, or if you are traveling, is the packing done? Have you finalized your goody menu? Am I totally giving you a panic attack?

Sheesh. I’m pretty sure I just gave myself one. Are your wine glasses clean? Maybe it’s time to dirty one up.

I’ll wait.

Okay. Now that we are starting to feel a bit more relaxed, let’s talk about those goodies. As if I haven’t already made enough fattening stuff over the past few weeks, I thought I would play around with some shortbread cookies for you.

These are pretty fun. A perfect holiday cookie. The molasses gives them such a rich, warm flavor. And then at the end you get the slightest kick of sweet apple cider. Very nice.

But really it is all about the brown butter.

See all those little brown specks in there? Heaven. When you brown butter, it becomes nutty. The nuttiness is what makes these cookies really special. Special enough for the big guy. I’m pretty sure these are the cookies that Santa will get on Christmas Eve.

Uh-oh.

Great. And now she is beckoning her father over for a taste as well.

Okay so maybe Santa won’t be eating this particular batch of cookies.

Wonderful.

Well I guess I can’t cross cookie baking off of my to-do list just yet. Looks like it’s time for me to head back to the kitchen.

Where did my wine glass go?

Brown Butter, Molasses, and Cider Shortbread Cookies

1/2 cup butter

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small pan cook butter over medium high heat until brown and bubbly. About 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl stir together flour and salt, and set aside.

Combine butter, molasses, apple cider, and vanilla in a mixer.

Stir in dry ingredients.

Roll out to a 1/4 inch thick disc, and cut into desired shapes.

Bake for 12 minutes.

When cooled, coat with Apple Cider Glaze (recipe below).

Apple Cider Glaze

1/2 cup plus 3 teaspoons apple cider, divided

1 cup powdered sugar

Boil 1/2 cup apple cider over medium high heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally until it is reduced by half.

Let cool completely (it will continue to thicken into a syrup-like consistency) before stirring it into powdered sugar.

Add in 1 teaspoon of unreduced cider at a time until desired consistency.

Saturday Selections: Peppermint Bark Snack Mix Brownies

I am pretty pumped.

After a short hiatus, college football is back. And so is the Peppermint Bark Snack Mix!

Yes. Look closely and you will see that I may have just sprinkled this holiday snack mix all over some brownies.

And you thought this stuff was good on its own.

You wanna talk about some serious Christmas-y football noshing, put this on top of your frosted, chocolatey brownie.

The salty, crunchy texture that you get from the cereal and pretzels cuts the richness of the brownie. Oh and can I go ahead and tell you, it is mega addicting? I know this because The Hubs and I hovered over the pan last night at 10:00 doing that move where you are “just trying to even up the lines.” You know, you cut off a million little slivers, so it doesn’t seem like you are eating that much?

Riiiiight.

After just eating “a couple of bites” a rather large section of the pan of brownies went missing.

Woopsie. I guess we know which two people just bought themselves an extra hard CrossFit workout today.

Peppermint Bark Snack Mix Brownies

FOR THE BROWNIES:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Stir in salt and baking powder. Set aside

In a mixer, combine sugar and butter.

Add in eggs one at a time.

Stir in vanilla.

Blend dry ingredients into wet until moistened.

Spread into the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan and bake for 25 minutes.

Let cool completely before frosting.

FOR THE FROSTING:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a mixer combine all ingredients until smooth.

Spread over cooled brownies.

Sprinkle liberally with approximately 1 cup of Peppermint Bark Snack Mix.

Cheesecake Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yes. You read that correctly.

I had a life changing experience a few weeks ago at an Iron Bowl get together. My new culinary BFF (hi, Jessica!) made some amazing cupcakes that had a pumpkin pie in the center.

A pumpkin pie.

In the center of a cupcake.

It was incredible. The pie was velvety and the cake was nice and tender. But probably the most surprising part was how it all made for one cohesive bite. It was a fantastic dessert experience.

I was inspired.

But what pie/cupcake combo do I choose?

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Look, people, I know it is scary. The calories, the time…the calories. But look. ‘Tis the season, right? If Christmas is good for nothing else, it is good for stuffing your face with insane treats so that you can feel bad about yourself later.

And if you are really scared to have these in your house, you could always make them, eat one, and then give them to your neighbors. You know the neighbors that you are trying to bribe with sweets so that they will love you forever and maybe remember that you have babies who go to bed early so maybe they shouldn’t leave their dogs outside in the cold so that they bark incessantly and wake said babies up, and besides that’s mean to the pets that you supposedly love anyway.

Hmm?

Oh wait, that’s just my neighbors?

Oh…well…let me get back to these cupcakes that you are going to make for you and yours.

Like I said, they do take a little bit of time to throw together but they are COMPLETELY WORTH IT. So let’s get to it.

First off, you need to make your cheesecakes. I just ripped off the filling from my Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bites, but instead of the shortbread crust, I went with a more traditional graham cracker thang.

Simply crush up a few sheets of graham crackers and then stir in some melted butter and sugar. Then press a little bit of the mixture into the bottoms of a mini muffin pan. Top it off with some spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter and bake it for about 20 minutes. When they are done, let them cool on the counter, and then place the pan into the freezer for about an hour so that they are super easy to pop out of the tin. Trust me on this one. If you skip this step you will be fraught with heartache and cheesecake crumbs everywhere.

When the cheesecakes are nice and frosty, you can go ahead and make up the cake batter.

Then fill the cupcake liners just slightly less than half way full, and place a cheesecake inside each one.

Then pour cupcake batter over the cheesecakes to fill up the papers.

Bake them up and let them cool completely before frosting them. I always use Paula Deen’s Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. It is no fail, rich, and delicious. And frankly, I don’t really see any reason to try to improve upon it.

So there you have it. Cheesecake and red velvet cupcakes. Hey, think about it like this, this will make one less desert that you have to pick and choose from at your next party.

Cheesecake Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

FOR THE CHEESECAKES:

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (3 sheets)

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 tablespoon vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and press into the bottoms of a well greased mini muffin tin. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat together cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar.

Stir in yogurt, vanilla, and egg.

Spoon onto graham cracker crumbs and bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature and place in the freezer for at least one hour.

FOR THE CUPCAKES:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk

1 oz (fluid) bottle red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together, flour, cocoa powder, salt, and soda. Set aside.

Blend egg, yogurt, and vanilla into butter and sugar mixture.

Alternately stir in flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Stir in red food coloring.

Pour batter into lined cupcake tins slightly less than halfway full.

Place a mini cheesecake into batter.

Cover with batter to fill the tins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting with a cream cheese icing.

Woops….looks like I’ll be listening to the neighbor’s dogs barking again for the next year too.

Mulled Apple Cider Risotto

I didn’t get hooked on mulled apple cider until after The Hubs and I got together.

Every Christmas, my mother-in-law busts out this little old carafe that sits on top of the stove and fills it up with apple cider and mulling spices. She will leave it warming there all day so we can come in and out sipping on it as we please.

It is just a little thing, but it has become something that I look forward to every holiday season the most. So much so in fact that when we couldn’t go do any traveling for Christmas last year because we had a 5 week old, I made sure that our house was stocked with apple cider and spices.

But I naturally over bought, and after a couple of weeks, grew quite tired of drinking apple cider. So I started trying to think of ways to incorporate it elsewhere. I started making my morning oatmeal with the cider, mulling spices, and cayenne. (P.S. It is totally amazing. Do it!) Then one morning, my mind went to risotto. But the problem was, when do you serve a sweet risotto?

Hmmm…maybe breakfast or dessert.

Okay. But who wants to stand over their stove and stir for an hour just for dessert? Or worse, first thing in the morning.

So I started researching some baked risotto recipes and tried it out. Now to be totally honest, you really do lose a little of the creaminess when you bake it as opposed to stirring on the stove top. But again, you only lose a little of the creaminess. It is still risotto. And you barely had to do any work.

You toast up the risotto in some butter and pour in your apple cider and spices. Bring it to a boil and pop it in the oven.

While that is cooking, get some water warming in a pot (or maybe your sweet little carafe) on the stove and when your risotto come out of the oven, gently stir that in about a cup at a time. Don’t worry though, this takes maybe 5 minutes. Stir in some orange zest and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Such a hearty, comforting, warm breakfast. Might be nice for Christmas morning dontcha think? We enjoyed ours on a random Saturday. It was perfect.

Oh and I would like to add that the person who enjoyed this the most at my house was Monkey Mode…just thought you might like to know.

Mulled Apple Cider Risotto

2 tablespoons butter, divided

2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups apple cider

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

3 cups warm water

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 425.

Warm apple cider in a pot until simmering, and add salt, nutmeg, allspice, cayenne, cinnamon, and honey.

In a medium dutch oven or oven proof pan with lid, heat one tablespoon of butter. Toast rice for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour warmed apple cider mixture into the rice, and stir until it comes to a boil.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes.

While the rice is baking, warm 3 cups of water and zest half of an orange.

When rice is done baking, pour in the water 1 cup at a time until it is incorporated.

Stir in orange zest and remaining tablespoon of butter.

Serve immediately with chopped pecans.

Saturday Selections: Peppermint Bark Snack Mix

This time of year is very special to me.

It is the time of year where I get to watch football and enjoy my Christmas decorations at the same time.

It is totally nerdy, but I really enjoy sitting around my Christmas tree and having fun football games to watch. I love it whenever ESPN gets all holiday-fied and has the little snowy college football logos. And just last night I sat around listening to my sister try to come up with all of the ways that you could change around the lyrics to classic Christmas songs to make them Alabama related. Yule tide carols became Roll Tide carols. Santa became Saban. Reindeer became Richardson. You get the idea.

It’s the little things in life, right?

Little things like this snack mix inspired by peppermint bark.

Such a great snack for watching football games this time of year. It is a fun, salty-sweet snack mix with all of the flavors of peppermint bark.

The pretzels give it a wonderful salty crunch and cut down on the sweetness of the peppermint and white chocolate.

All you do is grind up the peppermints into dust in your food processor. You can leave a few little chunks of course, but you want it to really cover all of the pieces of pretzel, Chex, and chocolate chips.

You can eat it right away, but I really thought that this was better after it sat in a Ziploc overnight. It really let the peppermint infuse all of the other ingredients.

Merry Football!

Peppermint Bark Snack Mix

20 peppermints

3 cups broken pretzels twists

4 cups rice Chex cereal

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

Pulse peppermints in food processor until it is a fine dust with only a few small chunks remaining.

In a large bowl combine peppermint dust with remaining ingredients.

…oh and here is a little early Christmas present to all of you from my sister, The Hubs, and me. You’re welcome.

(and I am so sorry Trent…I love you…don’t hate me.)

Richardson the Bad-Ass Running Back

Richardson the bad ass running back

Had some really crazy hair

And if you ever saw him

You might even stop and stare

All the opposing D-lines

Used to talk trash all day

Thought they could stop poor Richardson

From making any touchdown plays

Then one foggy Saturday night

Saban came to say

“Richardson with your hair so tight,

Won’t you make some plays tonight?”

Then how the Bama fans loved him

As they shouted out with glee

Richardson the bad ass running back

You’ll go down in history