Posts Tagged ‘12wksxmastreats’
Welcome to another week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, a weekly blogging event hosted by Meal Planning Magic. If you haven’t been by in the past, you probably don’t know that I love dressing up nuts for a quick, easy, and super tasty snack at parties. It’s become a staple at my annual holiday party. I’ve done Crock-Pot Sugared Nuts and Mixed Spiced Nuts in the past, but I think this recipe is my favorite. I love the sweet vanilla flavor. And it’s done in 30 minutes – a nice little recipe to keep in your back pocket for last minute guests this holiday season.
Adapted from Taste of Home via That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Makes 4 cups
- 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 Tbs. vanilla
- 1/2 Tbs. vanilla paste (optional)
- 4 c. unsalted almonds
Preheat oven to 300º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together both sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy, about a minute. Whisk in vanilla and vanilla paste (if using).
Stir in almonds until they’re completely coated. Pour half of sugar mixture over almonds and stir. Pour remaining sugar mixture over almonds and stir until almonds are evenly coated.
Spread almonds in an even layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring the almonds and rotating the pans midway through baking.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on baking sheets before moving to an airtight container.
Welcome to the first in 12 weeks of Christmas treats, a weekly blog hop hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Now I know it’s early to be thinking about Christmas, but the holiday season is a particularly busy one for me and I like to get a jump start on those holiday care packages and the big holiday party that my hubby and I host each year. So I’m already making lists of goodies that I want to make, and trying to pencil in some time to get baking. This particular bread recipe freezes well without the glaze (and tastes great without it, if you prefer) and will definitely be making an appearance in some of my care packages this December.
Cranberry Orange Bread
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Makes 1 standard loaf (or two smaller, half loaves)
Ingredients for the Bread:
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pan
- 2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 c. cranberries, halved
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
Ingredients for the Glaze:
- 1 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 4 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat oven to 350F. If using a standard loaf pan, grease the pan with 1 Tbs. softened butter and lightly flour. Same thing for a disposable aluminum pan. (My pans, purchased from Michael’s craft stores, did not need to be greased, so I omitted this step.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in cranberries.
In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and orange zest. Pour mixture, as well as melted butter, over dry ingredients. Gently fold in until no dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared baking pan and bake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes for a standard loaf pan, and 35-45 minutes for a half-loaf.
Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert bread onto a rack to cool completely before adding glaze.
If using disposable liners, cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze, without glaze.
Glaze Bread: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until smooth, adding extra orange juice by the teaspoon, if needed, to thin glaze. Drizzle over loaf. Store at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days.
If glazing after freezing, allow bread to thaw completely before adding glaze.
I never had the traditional pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving dessert when I was growing up. To this day, I won’t touch a pumpkin pie. If pecan pie is my only option, I might indulge, but I don’t have the same affinity for it as most people. These pecan pie truffles, however, are another story. You can’t keep me out of my stash of them. I made mine with bourbon so that they would keep at room temperature (I’ll be shipping some to a special someone and serving them at my holiday party this year).
Recipe Substitution: If you don’t want to use bourbon in this recipe, you can use coconut or almond milk. If you do, be sure to refrigerate the truffles until serving.
Pecan Pie Truffles
Adapted from VegNews via Growing Up Veg
Makes 2 dozen truffles
- 2 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans (more for garnish, if desired)
- 1 c. graham cracker crumbs (~1 sleeve of Keebler graham crackers)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbp. maple syrup
- 1/3 c. bourbon
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 12-18 oz. dark chocolate candy melts
Place graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, bourbon and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse until well mixed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon, portion pecan mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter and place onto prepared baking sheet. Roll each ball between palms to shape slightly.
Freeze for 2 hours.
Melt candy melts in microwave. Using two forks, dip each truffle in candy melts. Allow excess to drip off before returning to baking sheet to set. Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.
Allow to set in fridge/freezer 2 hours before serving.
Store in an airtight container. Pecan pie truffles are fine at room temperature but I recommend storing them in the freezer if not serving within a few days.
I learned to drink alcohol by drinking girly drinks that didn’t taste like alcohol – Smirnoff Ice, Fuzzy Navels…. and this one, I hesitate to call it by the name I knew it for fear that I will offend you. But I’m going to tell you anyway. I knew this drink as a Dirty Girl Scout. You can bet that I got a lot of shocked looks when I recently started talking about this drink again, at work nonetheless. However, one sip of this concoction and I was no longer the lunatic talking about naughty-sounding things, but I was the genius who introduced them to the dangerously good liquid thin mint. I drink this all year long, you can dress it up for the holidays with a peppermint stick or a candy cane.
Liquid Thin Mints
1 oz. peppermint schnapps
4 oz. chocolate milk
candy cane or peppermint stick (optional garnish)
Place 1/2 – 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add peppermint schnapps and chocolate milk. Shake like crazy.
Pour, enjoy, and try not to get too drunk.
Check out the below links for more contributions to the 12 Weeks of Holiday Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic
I really enjoy making various candies during the holiday season because they keep so well. I can make the candy in advance and freeze it. I can give it away, and know that the recipients can store it for a while or freeze it if they are experiencing a sugar overload.
Of all the candies I’ve made, fudge (along with bark) ranks up there as one of the easiest and fastest to make. I’ve made chocolate fudge in the past, but this particular recipe highlights dark dark chocolate, one of my favorites. For some extra holiday pizzazz, I filled cookie cutters with fudge and individually packaged the fudge, instead of making a pan and cutting it into square. I’ll be mailing these goodies in holiday care packages and giving them as favors at a holiday party, but if you have kids, this would also make a cute stocking stuffer.
Thanks again to Meal Planning Magic for hosting the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. Head over to her blog, or check out the linky at the bottom of this post, for more ideas for your holiday baking.
Dark Chocolate Fudge
Adapted from Taste & See That the Lord is Good via Chocolate and Carrots
Makes an 8×8 in. pan (or 8-10 2 in. cookie cutters worth)
- 3 c. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 14 oz. can condensed milk
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- sprinkles (optional)
Line an 8×8 inch pan or Pyrex with parchment paper and set aside.
In a double broiler, melt chocolate chips and condensed milk. Stir regularly until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or knife. Top with sprinkles, if desired.
Refrigerate until set.
Fudge in Cookie Cutters: Wrap the bottom of each cookie cutter in aluminum oil and set on a baking sheet before filling. Once set, remove the foil and package.
Freeze: To freeze fudge in pan, wrap tightly in saran wrap. To freeze fudge in cookie cutters, wrap or package each cookie cutter individually. Then seal in an airtight container.
For the first time in several years, I feel like we’ve had fall here in MD. Usually the weather goes straight from keep-your-ac-cranking hot to curl-up-in-front-of-the-fire cold. This year, we actually have had some beautiful fall weather. Sweatshirt weather. Apple picking weather.
While my apple picking buddy is away right now (and missed terribly!), I couldn’t let this year pass without a trip to the farm. My hubby and I took Sophie pumpkin picking for the first time. We had a picnic with some great friends. And I dragged my hubby to the apple orchard, to pick some of the tastiest apples of the year. Seriously. Apple picking apples taste sooo much better than store-bought apples.
I had a lot of plans for those apples, beyond eating. I probably didn’t pick enough. I made Apple Berry and Rosemary Shortbread from Desserts for Breakfast (who takes amazing photos if you haven’t visited her blog). I made a ton of apple sauce for Sophie (she only likes homemade apple sauce, not store bought apple sauce). And finally, I tried my hand at canning for the first time – I made apple butter, my contribution this week for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. While the apple butter is a great contribution to a holiday breakfast table, I’m planning on giving my jars as Christmas gifts to teachers as part of an apple-themed basket along with some apple-scented items from Bath and Body Works.
- I used Red Delicious apples for this recipe. The original recipe calls for 2 lbs. MacIntosh apples and 2 lbs. Granny Smith apples. However, author Eleanor Topp says that you can use whatever is fresh and local. The different types might “change the texture of the butter slightly, but starting with quality fruit is the most important thing.”
- The recipe refers to a “procedure for shorter processing time,” also from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving. Those directions are interspersed in the recipe below, so that you can time everything appropriately.
- I did not use any special canning equipment. I used a large stockpot instead of a canner, and regular kitchen tongs instead of canning tongs. The only thing I bought were mason jars.
- I found the labels for the jars at Money Saving Mom. Head over there to download your free printable labels.
Adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving via Epicurious
Makes 7 cups (4 – 8 oz. jars)
- 4 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and diced (~10-12 apples)
- 1 c. apple cider
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
Get the apple butter started: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine apples and apple cider. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half and apples have started to soften.
Meanwhile, fill a boiling-water canner (or a very large stockpot) with hot water. Bring to a boil. Using tongs, place canning jars in boiling water. Water should come about 2 inches over the jars. Boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. (This step took ~45 minutes for me.)
Continue with the apple butter: Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Increase heat again to medium-high and boil for another 20 minutes or so.
A few minutes before apples are ready, add lids to boiling water and sanitize according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Line a baking sheet with a couple of clean dish towels while you’re waiting.
Finish the Apple Butter & Can: Using an immersion mixer, puree apple butter to desired consistency. Remove jars and lids from canner/stockpot and place on lined baking sheet. Pour apple butter into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch of room to the rim. If needed, remove air bubbles from jar by sliding a clean spatula between glass and food. Add additional apple butter if needed.
Wipe rim of jar to remove any excess food. Center lid on jar and screw on band until fingertip-tight. Return sealed jars to the canner, adding boiling water if needed to ensure that the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Boil for 5 minutes.
Remove jars and return to lined baking sheet to cool to room temperature, at least 24 hours. Check jar seals – the lids should be turned downwards and should not move. Tighten band (mine came loose even though jar was sealed).
Label and store in a cool, dark place until giving away or enjoying.
Every November, I stock my freezer with fresh cranberries that begin to appear in the grocery store. Usually, I use them to make a cranberry pear tart, or some muffins, whenever the mood strikes. I tend to forget about this appetizer, which I first had back in college. I wish I had gotten a photo before we dug in. This brie, my contribution to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic, is a wonderful, seasonal, appetizer for the Thanksgiving of Christmas season.
Make Ahead: The cranberry mixture can be made earlier in the day. Top brie and bake just before serving.
Baked Brie with Cranberries
- 1/2 c. triple sec
- 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
- 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1-8 oz. wheel of brie
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small saucepan, combine triple sec, brown sugar and cranberries over medium heat. Cool, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst.
Place brie in an oven-safe serving dish. Top with cranberries mixture. Bake until brie has softened, 10-15 minutes.
Serve hot, with fresh bread or crackers.