Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Stove Top Potpourri~A Pinterest Find!

 One of the things I have been shopping for lately is some type of candle, or anything, really, that would smell like Christmas through the entire house. Well, wouldn't you know, I was clicking my way through Pinterest the other night, when I came upon this Holiday Stove Top Potpourri Mix. It is exactly what I was looking for! It smells amazing, and it will last all season long, with very little upkeep. You gotta love it!!
Holiday Stove Top Potpourri Mix
1 Orange (or just the peel)
1/2 cup Cranberries
1 tablespoon Whole Cloves
3 sticks Cinnamon
bit of Grated Nutmeg (if desired)

Quarter the orange. Put the orange and all the other ingredients into your saucepan. 
Fill the pan with water.
Place on the stove, on your smallest burner, on a low setting. 
Refill water as needed.
Don't let the water completely evaporate. It's a good idea to just fill
the pot everyday when you turn it on.
This one mix will stay good for weeks. It will turn brown 
from the heat, but it will still smell incredible!

My Pinterest Find came from Calli at Make It Do.
Check out her site to see the creative ways she has
 to package this potpourri mix as a gift!

Thanks for joining me today!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crunchy and Sweet Candy Cane Divinity

This holiday season I seem to be hooked on candy canes! Cookies with candy canes, a front door wreath with candy canes, even wrapping paper!! I don't know why, but for some reason, they are my thing this year. So, I thought I would start off with some Candy Cane Divinity. I haven't had divinity in years, and I don't know if I have ever made any. I think I may remember making some when I was a little girl, but I kind of forgot about it. That was, until I saw this recipe. I make a lot of Christmas food baskets, and this will definitely be in them!
 Candy Cane Divinity
(adapted from Country Living)
4 cups Sugar
1 cup light Corn Syrup
3/4 cup Water
3 large Egg Whites
1 1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
6 drops Red Food Coloring
1 wooden Skewer
10 Candy Canes
Using pan spray or oil, grease a 9"x9" pan. Grease
a spoon or flat spatula also. Set aside.
Combine your sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan.
 Add water.
Cook over medium heat until the mix reaches
260 degrees on a candy thermometer. This should
take about 20 minutes. Notice that I am using
3 different thermometers? It is not necessary, of course.
But, I have had problems with some candy
thermometers not being calibrated correctly, and I
just want to be triple sure the temp is correct.
Once your sugar mix is cooking, beat the egg whites
to stiff peaks. Use the medium high speed. You will
know they have stiff peaks when you can dip the edge
of your spatula in the mix and as you pull it out, the
beaten egg stands tall, and does not fall back into the mix.
Once your sugar mix is to temperature,
reduce your mixer speed to medium, and slowly
pour the sugar mix into the bowl of egg whites.
Be careful, it is very hot.
Add the peppermint, and continue to beat until the mix
becomes very thick and fluffy. This should take about
12 minutes.
During the 12 minutes, open 10 candy canes and
place them in a small plastic bag. Break the candy canes
into small pieces by hitting them through the bag
and cracking them. A hammer or meat cleaver works well.
Once your mix is fluffy and thick, immediately
transfer it to the prepared pan. Using the back of the 
prepared spoon or the flat spatula, smooth out the
divinity so it is flat. 
Take the red food coloring, and dot the top of the divinity
with it.
Use your skewer, and swirl the red food coloring
through the divinity to create a marbled effect.
Sprinkle the top generously with the crushed
candy cane pieces. Press down so they adhere to
the divinity. Here is something I learned while doing
this: I love the look of the small and large candy cane
pieces, but the large ones are in the way when we go to
cut the divinity into pieces. Smaller pieces work better.
Let the divinity sit for 2 hours at room temperature,
to become firm.
I cut my divinity  into 4 rows, and then I turned the
pan, and cut row rows that way. I still thought the pieces
were too large, so I cut them again, but not until I took the
larger pieces out of the pan. It seemed to be easier that way,
and they held their shape better.

Thanks for joining me today!
Stop by again for more candy cane and other fun holiday recipes!

We are partying right here:
Foodtastic Friday
Foto Friday
Foodie Friday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oh, so good.....Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty!

I have heard of the Brown Betty for years now, but this is the first time I have ever made one. It is so simple, and good, I can't believe I waited this long. I was curious about the origin of this fabulous dessert, and I did a little reading. Did you know that the brown betty has been around since colonial times, and is one of the oldest known desserts? It was basically designed around the fact that bread gets stale, but you don't throw it away, and voila!..... the brown betty was born! I am thinking it was born into a nice family too, because the recipe is a mix between a cobbler and bread pudding. Sounds like they may be cousins! Whatever it's heritage, this Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
Apple Pumpkin Brown Betty
(adapted from Food Network magazine)
1   2-3 pound Sugar Pumpkin
3 tablespoons Butter
1 cup cubed Bread
2 Gala Apples
1/4 cup light brown Sugar
1/4 cup Golden Raisins
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
pinch of Salt
Maple Syrup (for drizzle)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the top off of your pumpkin.
Scoop out the seeds and the stringy pulp.
Peel and cut your 2 apples into 1/2" pieces. Set aside.
Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in your skillet.
Add the bread cubes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about
4 minutes and until golden in color.
Transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan,
along with the apples, brown sugar, and raisins to
your pan. Cook about 4 minutes. The apples
should be crisp tender.
Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Add the bread back in, and mix together.
Put your pumpkin in a small baking dish.
Fill the pumpkin with the apple mixture.
Add approximately 1" of water to the dish.
Cover the pumpkin with the pumpkin top, and
cover the top, loosely, with foil.
Bake until tender, about 1 hr, 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Then remove the foil, and let the top brown by
baking it for approx. 10 more minutes.
Transfer to your serving plate, and drizzle with maple syrup.
To serve, scrape the pumpkin flesh and stir into the apple mixture.
 Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yummy, Yummy Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Crepes!

I think that crepes are one of those recipes that carries a little bit of mystique with it, don't you? On the surface they seem difficult to master, and I always file the recipes into my "make someday" folder. Well, no more! When I was assigned Denise's blog, Creative Kitchen for the November Secret Recipe Club I found a great recipe for crepes, and I decided it was time to step outside my comfort zone a little. I am so glad I did! Denise's recipe for crepes was easy to follow and oh, so good! I served mine for breakfast, and they were a huge hit. I do need to practice my technique some, but I don't think that is a problem, as I plan on serving them on several occasions during the holidays! You can make these for breakfast, lunch, dessert or, I was thinking, maybe appetizers?!!

2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled & sliced
1 teaspoon Butter
1 tablespoon  Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 tablespoon Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups whole Milk
2 Eggs
2 cups Flour
pinch of Salt
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
Place your apple slices in your pan with a teaspoon of butter.
Add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir together
over medium heat. Add the cream cheese, and melt
everything together.
Place milk and eggs in the blender.
Blend thoroughly.
Then add flour, 1 cup at a time, blending after
each addition. Add the remaining ingredients, and
blend until smooth.
I poured the mix in to a measuring cup, 
and poured it onto the hot pan that I had melted 
a teaspoon of butter in.
Swirl the pan so that it is coated with the batter.
After a few minutes you will see bubbles as the crepe
is cooking. Turn the crepe over to cook the other side.
Denise says in her recipe that she found it easiest to turn with
her hand, and I agree.
I put my apple mixture in the center of the crepe.
Place the crepe on the plate, and roll by putting the top 
of the crepe over the apples, and puling snug, but not too tight.
Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.
I think it looks Christmasy, don't you?

Read Denise's original recipe for all her great ideas on what to 
fill your crepes with. She suggests things like Nutella, strawberries,
lemon curd, maple syrup, peaches, and more!

I can't tell you how happy I am I tried these crepes. I used up
all of my batter practicing on getting my crepes thin, but I kept
everything I cooked. I think I will freeze them, and then pull them out
to experiment. I really do think there is an appetizer 
recipe in there somewhere!

Thanks for joining me today!
Let's see what everyone else made!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sensational Pumpkin Bread Pudding w/ Gingered Creme Anglaise

I can never say no to bread pudding. It doesn't matter how good I am trying to be, or how full I say I am. If bread pudding is on the menu, I am a goner! This Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Gingered Creme Anglaise is the perfect example. It is to die for! The pumpkin flavor is subtle, but upfront, and the pudding  is creamy, yet crispy, with a ginger creme anglaise topper that just hints that the ginger came to the party. You have to try this! You will be so glad you did!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding 
w/ Gingered Creme Anglaise
(adapted from C&H Sugar)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
4 cups White Bread, stale or day old
4 Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 cups Milk
1 1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 cup canned Pumpkin Puree
1 cup Sugar
pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 tablespoon Butter

Gingered Creme Anglaise
1 cup Milk
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1-2 teaspoons ground Ginger(to taste)
5 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanila

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
I had a fresh loaf of french bread, and I wanted to use it,
so I cut it into small cubes, placed it on a baking sheet, and.....

  dried it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
If your bread is already stale, just go ahead and
cut your bread into cubes.
Butter a 13x9x2"  baking dish.
Pour your cubed bread into the dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together all your ingredients,
except for the butter.
Pour your mix over the bread crumbs.
Pat down all the bread cubes so they are wet.
Let sit for 10 minutes to make sure the bread is fully soaked.
Place the 1 tablespoon of butter on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes. The pudding should be set
in the center, but not dry. The edges will puff up
during baking, but it will deflate when your pan is
removed from the oven.
While the bread pudding is baking, make your
creme anglaise. Place the milk, cream, and ginger in
your  pot, and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, remove
the pot from the heat, and let it stand, covered, for
15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar until
it is pale and thick. This should take 3-4 minutes.
I used a whisk for this, and it worked great.
The recipe calls for straining the cream mixture through
a fine sieve, discarding  the ginger. If you don't have one,
you can improvise like I did. Place a piece of cheesecloth
over a small bowl. Pull it somewhat tight.
  Pour the cream mixture through the cheesecloth
into the bowl. The ginger will sit on the top and will not go through.
Discard the ginger with the cheesecloth.
Slowly pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture.
Stir constantly until blended.
Return the mix to the saucepan.
 Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with
a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
Be careful not to let it boil. If the sauce boils, it will curdle.
If it curdles, remove the sauce from the heat immediately,
and pour it in your blender. Spin around a few times,
but be careful it doesn't splash you because it is hot.
When I felt the sauce was thick, I checked it by pulling
my spoon out of the sauce pan and running my
finger across the back of the spoon. If the line looks like
the picture, your sauce is thick and you should take it off the heat.
 If the line runs, it needs to be thicker.
Add the vanilla,
 but make sure the heat is not on when you do.
Your sauce is done. Place it in a small container, and let it cool.
I think the best way to eat this Pumpkin Bread Pudding is to
heat the pumpkin bread, and add a couple spoonfuls
of chilled or slightly room temp creme anglaise. 
Of course, the pudding is great cold also!

When I made this recipe, I cut it in half, as my family is small.
But the recipe I gave you is for 8-10 servings.