Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sugar & Spice Rosemary Cashews

I've had a small issue this year with our Christmas tree.

It's called I forget to water the poor tree.  Repeatedly.

Which means that my cats haven't had any water to drink, either.

Since the only good water in this house comes either from the toilet or the Christmas tree stand.  Just ask The Brothers.

So anyway, this recipe reminds me of my Christmas tree.

Because the heaps of pine needles surrounding my dehydrated Christmas tree look like rosemary.  And I always feel like I'm eating pine needles when I eat rosemary.  Really fabulous pine needles.  It's weird, and it's so fabulously delicious that when I buy a package, I want to sprinkle the stuff on everything.

These nuts are the perfect combo of sweet, heat, and herbs.

I served these at a party this weekend, and everyone loved them.

At least, I think they did.

I had three nuts left, so I'm assuming they were loved.

Merry Christmas Eve, Y'all!  Cook something yummy for your family.

Rosemary-Brown Sugar Cashews
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 lb. roasted and salted cashews
2 T finely minced rosemary leaves
2 T brown sugar
2 T melted butter
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Spread the cashews in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until the nuts are hot.  In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Toss the hot cashews with the butter mixture.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Swiss Cheese and Chive Cracker Spread

Swiss cheese is one of those things.  You either love it or you hate it.

I'm in the love category.  I grew up with Swiss; actually, it's the only kind of cheese that was ever in our refrigerator's deli drawer.  It was sink or swim at our house.

I've converted my husband, as I married him when he was a Swiss-cheese hater.

I made this for a party I had last weekend.  And there was about five shreds remaining in the bowl.  So I guess people liked it.

Let's be real here.

What's not to like about cheese, mayonnaise and crackers?

It's Christmas Eve's Eve!  I've got one more very special recipe for you tomorrow!  And then it will be CHRISTMAS!

Swiss Cheese and Chive Cracker Spread
Adapted from the Bunny Cookbook

14 oz. block Swiss cheese, grated with a fine grater (about 3 1/2 cups grated)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
.66 oz. package chives, sliced fine
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Ritz crackers, for serving

Mix ingredients together and chill for at least an hour before serving.  Before serving, let the spread sit on the counter for a few minutes to take the chill off.  It is easier to spread on crackers if it's not straight from the refrigerator.  Serve with Ritz.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Crunch

Christmas in a bag.

Make it for your friends.  And your family, too.

A two-ingredient treat that you can't screw up.

You'll eat it while you make it.

There might not be much left.

For your friends and family, that is.

But make it anyway.

Because it's Christmastime.

Christmas Crunch

2 lb white chocolate (I get mine from Old Kentucky Chocolates)
1 lb. red and green peppermint crunch pieces (also from OKC)

In a large bowl, microwave the white chocolate in 30-second intervals until just melted, stopping to stir frequently.  Stir in the peppermint crunch pieces.  Immediately spread on a half-sheet pan (12x18) and chill until hard.  Break into pieces of bark and package for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

More soup!

I. Love. Soup.

I. Love. Loaded. Baked. Potatoes.


This is the perfect soup.  Everything you love about baked potatoes, you can eat with a spoon.  Gracious, people.  Make this like, really soon.

It's quick.  All you do is...

Bake the potatoes

Peel them and roughly smash the potato pulp

Melt the butter

Whisk in the flour

Whisk in the milk and half-and-half

Let it thicken, then add the potatoes and the green onions

Simmer, then remove from the heat and add the toppings!  Sour cream and cheese, of course.

Eat it up, y'all.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Inspired by Southern Living

1 stick butter
2/3 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
5 large baking potatoes, baked, peeled, and pulp roughly smashed
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream

In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the stick of butter.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the milk and half-and-half slowly.  Bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly.  Add the potatoes, green onions, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat and add the cheese and sour cream.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cranberry Christmas Muffins

I just love cranberries.

They're so weird and tart.

And they sound hollow when you drop them.

But stir them into muffins and you get nothing but yumminess.

So you can only make these muffins between Thanksgiving and New Year's, because that's basically the only time fresh cranberries are available.  You'll want to make them more than once.

These muffins are spicy with cinnamon and ginger and tart with cranberries - but the best part of these muffins is the sugar crust.

This sugar crust is what makes these muffins really special.

So here's how you make this special crust:

After the batter is folded together without the sugar, toss the sugar on top of the batter.  Break up the brown sugar a little bit so that it can be stirred in.

And now just fold the sugar into the batter.  Don't stir it too much; you want the sugar to actually not be totally stirred in.

Now scoop it into muffins!

And bake.  And put butter on top.  And eat.

Merry Christmas!

Cranberry Christmas Muffins
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup fresh cranberries
6 T sugar
6 T brown sugar

Makes 10 muffins.

Whisk together the butter, egg, milk and vanilla.  Add the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger and whisk until just combined.  Stir in the cranberries.  Pour the sugar on top of the batter and fold in carefully - don't over-mix.  You want the sugar to not be completely combined so that it creates a sugary coating on the outside.

Scoop into 10 greased muffins and bake on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until done.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby Greens with Blue Cheese, Red Onions, Dried Cherries and Raspberry Vinaigrette

I'm pretty sure this is my longest-named recipe.  The recipe with the longest name, that is.

This salad just has so many good things in it, I couldn't leave any of them out of the title.  Because they're stars. And being left out might hurt their feelings.

Plus, after posting two dessert recipes in a row, I owed you a salad.

This is a good one and my husband loves it.  Yours will too.  Probably.

I like to make vinaigrettes, but if you can't find raspberry vinegar, just buy a bottled raspberry vinaigrette.  It will be almost as good.

And in case you're curious, I got my raspberry vinegar at Jungle Jim's.

So here we go.

Baby greens, in a bowl.

Red onions: check.  Now add the sliced almonds.

Blue cheese: yum.  I used Gorgonzola.

Nuts.  Pine nuts are best.  But pine nuts cost almost as much as gold these days.  So you could also use sliced almonds or walnuts.  But whatever nuts you choose, definitely toast them first.

Dried cherries: love these things.  Craisins would be good too.

And here's the vinaigrette.

Toss it up, eat it up.

Baby Green Salad with Blue Cheese, Red Onions, Dried Cherries and Raspberry Vinaigrette

5 oz. package baby greens
4 oz. package blue cheese crumbles (Gorgonzola is a good choice)
1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced into thin half-moons
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (or almonds/walnuts)

Raspberry Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 T sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
Pinch salt

In a large salad bowl, layer the salad ingredients.  Whisk together the vinaigrette in a separate bowl.  When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peppermint-White Chocolate Christmas Cookies


I'm not going to waste time with preliminaries or entertain you with details from our trip to Disney World.

Not today, anyway.

Drop what you are doing and run to Wal-Mart and purchase these:

I might have bought two bags because I might be slightly obsessed with these Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips.

Like I need a new obsession in my life.

I'm still obsessing over the window candle-lights that I can't find ANYWHERE because they're sold out EVERYWHERE and I'm not happy because only SOME of my windows have candles in them.

So I made myself cookies to help myself feel better.  Stop judging me.  We all self-medicate in one way or another.

So, I wouldn't even have known about these little peppermint chip jewels if a small group friend had not introduced me to my new little peppermint delights.

Thank goodness for small group friends.

And thank goodness for imaginary internet friends.  It's because of you that I have someone to share this recipe with.

Make someone's month, and make these cookies for them.  It's an unlikely, unusual, unexpected and even slightly odd combination of flavors that is to die for.  Not to sound like a child of the '90s or anything.

Stop reading this and go pick up some of these peppermint crunch chips.  And don't waste your time going anywhere but Wal-Mart, because that's the only place I could find them.

Oh, and serve them on a Christmas plate.  Just don't cover up Santa.

Peppermint-White Chocolate Christmas Cookies
Adapted from Grandmama's Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
10 oz. bag Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a mixer, blend the oil, both sugars, eggs and vanilla until combined.  Add the salt, baking soda, flour and oats and mix until almost combined.  Add the remaining ingredients and use a spatula to combine completely.  Don't overmix, though, because you want the cookies to be tender.

Scoop onto baking sheets and bake on 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Makes 34 cookies.