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Friday, December 31, 2010

Bacon Mac & Cheese with Gruyère

Bacon Mac & Cheese with Gruyère

What are you doing New Year's?  We are staying in and grilling out filets.  We are also having this mac and cheese.  We had this for Christmas Eve and I LVED it!  It rivals the Gnocchi Mac & Cheese I made earlier this year.  The recipe is from Chef Michael Symon.  He created the recipe for the official Wisconsin cheese website.  There are 12 Michael Symon recipe creations on the site (so far).  I believe this is the first of many that I will be trying.

This is extremely simple to make.  Nobody would guess that that it is a quick stovetop mac and cheese - I love that!  You really should splurge on the gruyere, it really makes this mac and cheese special. 

Bacon Mac & Cheese with Gruyère



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spicy Meat Sauce - The Meatball Shop


This is the sauce that we had with the meatballs from yesterday.  The recipe is also from The Meatball Shop in NYC.  It is really easy to make.  It is also pretty spicy.  It isn't burn your mouth or make your nose run spicy, but it makes your mouth pretty warm.  If you aren't into spicy foods, just reduce the amount of red pepper flakes.  We happen to really like spicy food, and we loved this sauce!  The original recipe calls for ground pork shoulder.   I had sausage in the fridge, so I used that instead.  I thought the sausage worked really well.  I will definitely be making this sauce again and again.  






The Meatball Shop - Spicy Meat Sauce
8 cups
NY Daily News
(Printable Recipe)

1 large yellow onion, small dice (about 2 cups)
1 pound sausage
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp tomato paste
2 28-ounce cans tomatoes, chopped (preferably San Marzano) (I pulsed mine in the food processor)

Cook the onions and sausage with the olive oil, chili and salt over a medium heat in a large pot (6 quarts), stirring constantly until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the onions are soft and beginning to brown (about 15 minutes).

Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for five minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and stir constantly until sauce begins to boil.

Continue cooking for 35 minutes, stirring every four or five minutes so that the sauce does not burn.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beef Meatballs - The Meatball Shop

Homemade Beef Meatballs - recipe from The Meatball Shop in NYC

I love a really good Italian meatball, but I haven't been able to replicate the same taste/texture at home - until now.  I have finally found a great meatball recipe courtesy of The New York Daily News.  They wrote an article about The Meatball Shop in NYC, and, much to my pleasure, they included several recipes.  I was SO excited to try them out.  I decided to go the traditional route and make the beef meatballs first.

Wow!! These meatballs were amazing!  They were very moist and flavorful.  I really liked the creaminess that the ricotta added.  I think that is the missing ingredient to my previous meatball attempts.  The meatballs were as good (if not better) reheated the next day for lunch.  We both really liked this dish and thought it was just as good as anything we have eaten in an Italian restaurant.  I wish I knew about The Meatball Shop when we were in NYC this Fall - we will have to check it out next time!

Homemade Beef Meatballs - recipe from The Meatball Shop in NYC


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie

Look no further, this is the BEST LEMON PIE!  I saw this recipe in the November issue of Better Homes & Gardens and put it on my list of Christmas desserts.  We usually just have a regular lemon icebox pie, but the title of this recipe really made me want to try it. Lemon Velvet Cream Pie - who doesn't want to try that?!

The original recipe calls for a regular pie crust.  Chicken Legs insisted on a graham cracker crust, so I changed it.  The original recipe also stated that the pie would be very full.  I took that to mean that it wouldn't fit in the standard 9" deep dish pie pan, so I decided to go with a springform pan.  I am so glad that I did.  The filling was all the way to the top of the graham cracker crust - perfect! 

The pie tasted fantastic.  It didn't make it through the weekend.  Chicken Legs finished it off Sunday night.  I am using this as my "go-to" lemon pie from now on.  If you prefer key lime pie, just substitute key lime juice for the lemon juice.  We will be trying it that way soon.

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie


Monday, December 27, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Melting Moments

Melting Moments

These cookies were a gift from one of my employees, Elise.  Elise makes these cookies every year, they are one of her family's Christmas traditions.  They refer to these cookies as Pink Hamburgers - because of the pink icing.  The cookies are very light and delicate.  The filling has cherry juice and almond extract.   The almond flavor is more prominent and I love it!  Elise brought these cookies to a cookie swap we had a few years ago and I've been in love with them ever since. 

Melting Moments

Elise also gave me these super cute cat measuring cups!  They couldn't be any cuter, well, unless there was an orange one.  Cant' wait to put these to use.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Creamy Limoncello

Creamy Limoncello
Several months ago my Mom sent me a link to an NPR article on homemade creamy limoncello. I've had limoncello before, but never creamy limoncello.  It looked easy, so I decided to make it for the holidays.

This doesn't take very much actual hands on time.  It just takes some planning.  The rinds soak for a week, but in a pinch you can soak them for 48 hours.  I ended up soaking mine for 9 days - the longer you soak them, the more intense the flavor will be.

Limoncello is meant to be served chilled.  It is best to store the limoncello in the freezer.  It won't freeze because of the high alcohol content.  I used Everclear.  If you can't find Everclear, you can use 100 proof vodka.

Creamy Limoncello

I ordered the bottles from Speciality Bottle when I ordered the vanilla extract bottles.  I ordered the labels from My Own Labels and matched them with the vanilla extract labels.

Creamy Limoncello
I thought the lemon and orange peels looked really cool while they were steeping


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Red Velvet Brownies

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I saw this recipe in the December issue of Southern Living and knew I had to try it.  I had never heard of red velvet brownies - red velvet cake but not red velvet brownies.  I was intrigued.

I took last Friday off and had a chance to give these a try.  OMG!  These are unbelievable!!  This is my new favorite Christmas treat.  I've made it so many times this holiday season that I have the recipe memorized!  These are super easy to make (maybe too easy), and I love that it only uses one bowl!  (less cleanup for Chicken Legs)

This is the kind of dessert that calls to me in the middle of the night.  I had to get up last weekend and eat one for breakfast.  I gave these away to friends and co-workers instead of a pound cake this year.  These will be a new holiday tradition in our house.

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I saw this post on The Italian Dish last year, and I LOVED this idea!  I immediately made plans to give homemade vanilla extract to my friends and coworkers this Christmas.  It is SO easy!  You only need two ingredients - vanilla beans and vodka.  Who knew it was so simple?!   Make sure to plan ahead - this needs to steep for about 8 weeks before it is ready to use.  I started this back in October so I could give it out at Christmas.

I used The Italian Dish's recommendations for supplies.  I got the Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Beanilla, the bottles from Speciality Bottle Company and the labels from My Own Labels.

Homemade Vanilla Extract


The cards are from moo.com - I love them!  I even decorated the Plain Chicken for Christmas.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract


Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nine Sons Rising Biscuits & NY Butcher Shoppe

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Nine Sons Rising to see if I would be interested in trying out their biscuits.  Nine Sons Rising was founded by two mothers with nine sons between the two of them! They make gourmet biscuits, preserves and dessert toppings from all-natural, in-season ingredients and have distribution in the New York Butcher Shoppes throughout the Southeast.  I had never been to the New York Butcher Shoppe in Cahaba Heights, so I was really excited to check out both!



I was given vouchers to sample four biscuit flavors.  I chose Angel (plain), Bleu Cheese, Sweet Potato and Devil (jalapeno jack).  They were all really good!  Our favorite were the Devil biscuits; they packed a nice kick from the jalapeno jack cheese.  I could even see bits of jalapenos.  

I was really surprised at how they baked up.  The are very flat in the pack, and I was worried they wouldn't bake up.  But they did!  They were nice and fluffy.  I loved that they are baked frozen, straight out of the pack.   So easy!!

We had all 4 varieties with dinner, but these biscuits are perfect for entertaining.  They would be great sandwiched with some ham or pork tenderloin for a quick hors d'oeuvre.  I will definitely be serving these this holiday season.

Our experience at the New York Butcher Shoppe was wonderful as well.  They carry USDA Prime beef - we bought two NY Strips when we picked up the biscuits.  They were wonderful!  We enjoyed them so much that we went back and bought two hand-cut filets (and biscuits) for dinner last night.  They were the best steaks that we've ever had.  The New York Butcher Shoppe also carries wine, side dishes, sandwiches and specialty foods.  We are their newest fans!
This place is not to be missed!! If you are in The Ham - it is located in the Heights Village shopping center in Cahaba Heights (behind the Summit near Yankee Pizzeria and Dairy Queen).

New York Strips

Filets

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Treats

Christmas is 8 days away and Festivas is only 6 days away!  Here is a list of some of my favorite Christmas/Festivus treats - just in case you still need some inspiration!















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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Muddy Buddies

Muddy Buddies

Muddy Buddies, Puppy Chow, Reindeer Chow - whatever you call this, it is good stuff!  My brother-in-law recently moved out to Colorado, and  I was looking for a treat that would be good to mail to him.  I knew I wanted to make a type of candy or snack mix and these Muddy Buddies popped in my mind.  I haven't made Muddy Buddies in ages.  I forgot how good this stuff is!  What's not to like - peanut butter, chocolate, powdered sugar.  I am going to make sure this is on our Christmas snack list from now on.

Muddy Buddies

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake

Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake

Every year I give a few special friends a Christmas pound cake.  I make the cake in my favorite Christmas tree Bundt pan and ice the peaks to look like snow.  I've been making a Vanilla Butter Cake for several years, so I decided to branch out with a new cake this year.  I decided on this cake from Paula Deen.  I love almond, and I've never had a bad Paula Deen dessert.  It had to be a winner.  

This recipe made enough for a Christmas tree cake and a loaf pan.  Chicken Legs sampled the pound cake loaf and gave it two thumbs up.  I used the glace icing that I use on sugar cookies to ice the peaks.  My favorite part about giving this cake to friends is the presentation.  I buy monogramed boxes from BakingBoxes.com and tie a big beautiful bow around it.  The pictures below don't do the box justice.  It looks so much better in person!  

Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake

Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake

Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake
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