Archive for December, 2010

December 25, 2010

Candied Orange Peel

The holidays are here (in case you didn’t know) and that means that although today was Christmas – you will probably be spending the next few days entertaining and visiting lots of friends and family. You never want to show up empty handed (Miss Manners 101 for today), so start off by whipping up a dip (check out my Spinach Dip or make your own variations of it, or make a hummus – it super easy, I make them all the time). If you have a sweet-tooth, then why not try these Candied Orange Peels (stop right now and go dig those orange peels out of the compost pile & wash them…. they will be fine!)

BEFORE

I love these things & always figured they were WAY harder to do than this. [I adapted this recipe from Handle the Heat (bookmarked this weeks and months ago – I will have to chocolate dip next time) and also from All our Fingers in the Pie – thanks guys!] Start off with your oranges & peel them (wow – you got this, see!) You probably want to have at least 3 oranges peels (I think thats what I used when I made this – any by the way… go ahead and use lemons or grapefruit too!) Cut as much of that white pith stuff off (be careful, blood and finger parts do not go well in this dish) then throw them in a pot with water to cover and a bit of salt. Boil for 15 minutes, drain. Fill pot back up with clean water & boil for another 15 minutes or so and REPEAT the water part again. Finally rinse them off and combine a 50-50 mixture of water/sugar (I used 1 cup and cup sugar) and boil for about an hour.

almost there...

CAREFUL now because your candied orange peels are almost done and really really hot (this is why I need tongs – mental note for next time I go to BB&B). Take the peels and place them on a drying rack (or two, I found out if they overlap than they stick together) – they might drip a little as they dry, so put something under them or be prepared to wash your counters! The next day you are going to put them (a dozen or so at a time) in a baggie (re-use those ones from the fruit section in the market) with sugar. Shake (just like the shake & bake commercials – you know what to do here, come on: even the little ones can say “I helped” when you get to this point) and you are DONE.

ENJOY

Put these candied peels on top of chocolate desserts, or in baggies on tops of presents, or in cute little dished for people to snack on, or – yeah – you get the idea! Cherish the sweetness of these treats as your cherish the sweetness of family…

December 24, 2010

Chocolate (mousse) Cups

YUM – I love Chocolate (although I hate headaches – one of which I had a pretty major one while everyone else was enjoying these at Aunt Pat & Uncle Mikes during our annual tree decorating this year)! Every year we bring dessert to Tree Decorating (and in recent years I have begun to take over the cooking from mom – and it is almost always chocolate) while Aunt Pat makes her Bacon/Cheese wrapped Hot Dogs in Buns with bacon beans – YUM (earlier mentioned headache kept me from taking photos of them like I had planned). The eclairs were made for this event and I also wanted to attempt to make these mousse filled chocolate cups.


To make these chocolate cups I melted down chocolate and put them in mini-cupcake paper liners. ADVICE… when if you try this, do it in two batches: first just get a very thin base on and then go reinforce the cups (since the bottoms were really thick). You must make sure to get it thick enough though so that after chilling in the fridge for a while you can peel off the paper.

To make this mousse just take a pint of heavy whipping cream (with some sugar) to make whipped cream & add about 8oz (my mouse was more like whipped cream – I did not add enough chocolate) of melted chocolate OR use your favorite mousse recipe! Then just fill the cups with the mouse (and top with whatever) and enjoy.

CHOCOLATE heals all – so get out there and enjoy it (and be sure to leave some feedback for me here on the blog)

One last thought/quote (found on the net) on this Christmas Eve: “I don’t understand why so many “so called” chocolate lovers complain about the calories in chocolate, when all true chocoholics know that it is a vegetable. It comes from the cocoa bean, beans are veggies, ’nuff said.”

December 23, 2010

Eggnog Martini & lights

Growing up in a house with 2 Jewish parents (in an area where I was one of the very few Jewish Kids) I had lots of cool menorahs, went to decorate the tree annually (just did it for the 29th year – we have being doing this with Pat & Mike before I was even concieved!), but always wanted by own “Hanukkah Bush”. Now as an adult, in my own house, with a boyfriend who loves Christmas – we got a tree!! We got a real 3 foot high ‘table-top’ tree, decorated with white (and blue/white snowflake) lights, homemade mint garland, and ribbon bows. After decorating the tree and picking up a container of EggNog (making my own – one day soon?) and sitting on the couch with the dogs, there was nothing more that we wanted than EggNog Martinis….

Recipe

  • 1 shot Vanilla Vodka
  • 2 shots Dark Rum
  • 1 shot chocolate liquor
  • 16 ounces Egg Nog

Combine in mixer, shake, pour into martini glasses, top with nutmeg and shaved chocolate… enjoy the season with family!

More treats that we are I am making over the holidays will be posted in the coming days – as they get made and enjoyed! (I’m a ‘new’ blogger – not quite to the “make to post before” stage… you get it as I make it!)

Merry Christmas (Eve Eve) from Pennsylvania and Rachel, Rich, Boca, & Donner!

December 22, 2010

Eclairs

Normally I find a recipe – bake & wait just for feedback after experimentation. Well, it just so happens that I have an award winning baker who I work with (yes, I’m lucky!) and turned to Deb for some advice on eclairs. Well, my co-workers decided that my family was too important to risk a flop on a “Deb recipe” so I should use my co-workers as my “test dummies” (wow, how kind they are – just caring about my family and loved ones and not even thinking about their own pleasure… cough, laugh, cough)

School Eclairs

Eclairs - attempt 1

So I gave these a shot earlier in the week using the Paula Dean recipe that Deb gave me. Now when someone says “eclairs” you think – “NO WAY” can I make these (yes, I was there a month ago – so I don’t know why/when it popped into my head that I wanted to make them this year for our annual tree-decorating with my ‘Aunt & Uncle’ (little Jewish girl is OCD in tree decorating, and loves it!). BUT – I tried the recipe, and wow – its not that hard at all (just takes time). I baked, didn’t fail, brought to work for feedback and got…

  • “Amazing”
  • “Awesome:  but something isn’t right”
  • “The filling is ‘different’, I like a more ‘puff-pastry’ shells”
  • “The pastry tastes ‘cakey’ – should be flaky”
  • “Wow – you made eclairs, I never got to taste them” (Mom – haha)

SO… on to the “real” attempt….

Lets just say that this is TWO firsts for me… not only is this the first time that Food Network has let me down (the recipe did not have enough detail – the shells should have been lighter, which might have happened if I knew to whip them more, but the taste of the custard I also was not a huge fan of), but also the first time that I am going to go against Deb’s advice on cooking. I found two wonderful blogs (with very simular recipes) that I followed the second time. I baked these eclairs the night before (at my parent’s because we are in “broken oven” stage right now) and then woke up [early] before heading to decorate the tree (for the 30th year – longer than I have been alive) with my “aunt & uncle” – longtime friends from Jersey.

The pastries puffed up like donuts miniature loafs of bread clouds, and were ready to be filled! I made the shells the night before (if you do this – please make sure to refresh them in a warmed oven for a few minutes, otherwise they are ‘soggy’). I used Paris Pastry’s Eclair for 90% of attempt #2 but also looked to Sweetcakes Bakeshop for help… you should check out these great blogs too!! The filing came together so easily, although I think I left it to cook just a few moments too long since it was so thick that I couldn’t just pipe it through the bag and had to cut a hole in the eclairs which I didn’t want to have to do! Making the chocolate top is as easy as melting some chocolate [dark, duh], sugar and milk in the microwave and just dunking the tops!

ECLAIRS

Eclair experiment #2 = success…. now on to try them yet again – maybe after I get through some of the other things on my to do list. (for the full recipe – check out Paris Pastry, she’s got it down & I’m just out of space/energy on this!)

So ~ be sure to leave your feedback for me here on my blog and I leave you with this last thought… “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”

December 18, 2010

May-Day… SOS

“Houston – we have a problem”

“Its the end of the world as I know it (and I [don’t] feel fine)”

… Just a few of the phases that went through my head Thursday night when after about 20 minutes of making cookies and preheating the oven and then the oven not being warm at all! Rich proceeded to take apart the whole oven and found out that the igniter- glow bar thing is DEAD! No one has one in stock – we will have to order it (or take donations for a new oven!?) and and I am out of oven commission for a while (thanks Mom & Dad for letting me use your oven to bake this weekend).

Anything posted for the next few days has either (A) already been cooked, (B) was cooked at my parents [thanks again mom/dad and you know that I do share], or (C) didn’t need the oven!

“I’m a surviver – I’m not gonna give up – I’m not gonna stop – I’m gonna work harder – I’m a survivor – I’m gonna make it – I will survive – Keep on Surviving!”

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