Sugarplum Chai Latte Mix (decaffeinated)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened decaffeinated ice instant tea granules (from Walmart)
1 cup powdered non-dairy coffee creamer
1 cup powdered French vanilla flavored non-dairy powdered coffee creamer
1 box (three 2-ounce packets) The Fresh Market (sweetened) Mulling Spices
1 teaspoon salt
Makes 4 cups.
In a food processor, combine ingredients and blend well.
Package for gifts along with the following instructions:
Place 2 tablespoons mix in a mug. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir to dissolve. Enjoy.
12 ounces Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 (12-ounce) bags milk chocolate morsels
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil or baking parchment paper and then spray with non-stick cooking spray. Coarsely chop the peanut butter cups. Place 2/3 of the chopped peanut butter cups in the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place the sweetened condensed milk in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high until boiling. Add the chocolate morsels and let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and melted. (Note: You may need to heat the mixture for a bit more to fully melt the chocolate.)
Once everything is melted together, spread evenly over peanut butter cups in prepared pan. Immediately sprinkle the surface of the fudge with the remaining peanut butter cups, pressing them lightly into the fudge. Cool until firm. (I like to cool the fudge on the counter until it’s room temperature, then cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator to harden completely.)
Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Herb & Cornbread Biscuits
4 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 (6-ounce) box cornbread stuffing mix
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Makes about 15.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the flour and stuffing mix in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Make a “well” in the center. Pour the whipping cream into the center of the well. Blend just until dough cling together.
Using plenty of extra flour on a clean work surface, roll out the dough to 1-inch thickness. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits, cutting them as close together as possible. (The key to good biscuits is to avoid having to knead or roll the dough too many times.)
Arrange the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet allowing a bit of space between each. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot with plenty of room temperature butter and your favorite jam, honey or cooked breakfast meats.
Dijon Honey Butter
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
Makes about 3 cups.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth, light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat well. Store airtight in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. Serve as a spread for ham or sausage biscuits or as a topping for grilled or roasted pork.
Brandied Cranberry-Orange Relish
2 (12-ounce) bags fresh cranberries, picked through
2 navel oranges, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 (2-ounce) packet The Fresh Market (sweetened) Mulling Spices
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons brandy
Makes about 2 3/4 cups.
Place cranberries along with the remaining ingredients, except the brandy, in a medium sucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring often until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens a bit, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Cool to room temperature or prepare ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Butter Spritz Cookies
1 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pound candied red cherries, cut in half
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
Makes about 150 cookies.
Place oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a heavy standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together the butter, sugar and salt. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whipping cream and flavorings. Blend egg mixture into the creamed mixture. Gradually add the flour while the mixer is set to low speed. Blend just until well combined, stopping to scrape sides and bottom of bowl a couple of times while blending.
Fill cookie press with dough and attach your chosen shape as directed by the manufacturer. Press onto parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing a bit of space between cookies. Press a cherry half into the center of each cookie. Place in the center of the oven, baking one sheet at a time. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are light golden brown and the edges are a bit darker.
Place the cookie sheet on a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer cookies from the parchment to the cooling rack and cool completely. Drizzle tops with melted chocolate. Once the chocolate hardens, dust with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bark
1 1/2 pounds white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup shelled (salted and roasted) pistachios
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup Craisins
1/2 cup dried apricot halves, cut into thin strips
4-6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon coarse flake sea salt or kosher salt
Place two-thirds of the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat cooking at 30 second intervals, stirring after each cooking segment, until melted and smooth. Stir in the remaining white chocolate and let stand for several minutes.
Transfer melted chocolate to a parchment lined baking sheet and spread to form a 14-inch square. Sprinkle with pistachios and walnuts, then scatter with apricots and craisins. Rap pan on countertop several times to let nuts and fruit settle into the melted chocolate.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate as previously directed for white chocolate. Drizzle bittersweet chocolate over fruit and nuts. Immediately sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.
Leave undisturbed until candy hardens. Break bark into pieces. Store airtight at room temperature for up to one month.
Carrot-Spice Dog Treats
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup coarsely grated carrots
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Water, if needed
Makes about 50.
Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs. Stir in the carrots.
Combine the dry ingredients. Add to the dough in two additions to form a stiff dough. Add a bit of water if necessary.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet with at least 1-inch space between each. Using the palm of your hand flatten the balls until1/4-inch thick. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes.
Let cool thoroughly. Store airtight at room temperature for up to one month.
Tired Tootsie Soaking Salts
2 pounds Epson Salt (about 4 cups)
1 pound baking soda
40 drops essential oil (geranium, lemongrass, bergamot, peppermint)
Few drops liquid food coloring, if desired
Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size zip top plastic bag and seal. Shake to distribute essential oils and coloring if using.
To use, place 1/2 cup of foot soak in a basin and fill with hot water. Soak your feet for 20-30 minutes. Ahhh ... relax!
King Ranch Casserole
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Vegetable oil spray
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 small onions, chopped fine
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Ro-tel
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1 pound Colby Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 1/2 cups corn chips such as Fritos, crushed
Serves six to eight.
Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Lay tortillas on 2 baking sheets, lightly coat both sides with oil spray and bake until slightly crisp and browned, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then break into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, chiles and cumin, and cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in cream and broth, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes; chicken should be slightly underdone. Off heat, stir in cheese and cilantro until cheese is melted.
Scatter half of tortilla pieces in 13-by-9-inch baking dish set over rimmed baking sheet. Spoon half of filling evenly over tortillas. Scatter remaining tortillas over filling, then top with remaining filling.
Bake casserole on lower rack until filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle corn chips evenly over top and bake until corn chips are lightly browned. Let casserole cool for 10 minutes.
Bean-And-Beef Enchilada Casserole
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
Salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chile peppers, undrained
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 ounces sour cream or light sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 (6-inch) tortillas
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.
In a large skillet, season ground beef and onion with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain fat and discard. Stir pinto beans, chiles, chili powder and cumin into meat mixture; set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, flour and garlic powder until combined; set aside.
Arrange half of the tortillas to cover bottom of prepared baking dish, overlapping to fit as necessary. Top with half of the meat mixture, sour cream mixture and enchilada sauce. Repeat with remaining tortillas, meat mixture, sour cream mixture and enchilada sauce.
Cover with foil. Bake about 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil; sprinkle casserole with cheese and bake 5 minutes more or until cheese melts.
Yellow Squash Casserole
6 medium yellow squash or zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup soda-cracker (saltine) crumbs or rich round cracker (such as Ritz) crumbs
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup fine soda-cracker crumbs
4 teaspoons melted butter
Serves four to six.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6-cup casserole well and set aside.
Cook squash, onion and garlic in water in covered, very large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until soft, 25 to 35 minutes. Drain well, mash as with potatoes and mix in salt, pepper and the 3 tablespoons butter. Beat in eggs, then stir in the 3/4 cup cracker crumbs, sugar and nutmeg. Spoon into casserole.
Topping: Toss the 1/2 cup cracker crumbs with the melted butter and scatter evenly over casserole.
Bake uncovered until nicely browned, 40 to 45 minutes.
BANANA PUDDING RECIPES
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (divided)
Pinch of kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
25 pecan shortbread cookies
5 large, ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
To make the pudding, place ice in a large bowl to make an ice bath.
In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons sugar and the salt. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until smooth and pale; gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture.
Put milk in a medium saucepan. Put remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Split vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out seeds and rub seeds into the sugar with your fingertips to help distribute them. Add sugar and the vanilla bean to the milk and bring just to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Remove vanilla bean and slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Return to saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking continuously, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Set saucepan in the ice bath, whisking occasionally, until cold.
In another bowl, whip cream to soft peaks, then whisk 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the chilled pudding. Gently fold in another 1/2 cup of the cream. Roughly chop 2 of the bananas and mash them lightly with the back of a fork. Fold bananas into pudding. Gently fold in a little less than half of the remaining whipped cream. Cover and chill both pudding and remaining whipped cream.
Put the cookies in a zipper bag and gently whack them with a rolling pin or mallet until crumbled into medium to small chunks. Set aside some of the finer crumbs in the bottom of the bag for garnish and stir nutmeg into the larger chunks.
To each of 6 pretty glasses or Mason jars, add a layer of cookie crumbles, a layer of pudding, a layer of sliced bananas (use about a quarter of a banana for each layer) and then a thin layer of the reserved whipped cream. Repeat layers, and then top with a sprinkle of fine cookie crumbs and a dash of grated nutmeg. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.
Note: The bananas will start to brown if you store the finished dessert overnight, but they will still taste fine.
Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
50 vanilla wafers
Serves eight to 10.
Chill egg whites and a small mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cream egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, salt, flour and cornstarch. Beat in milk until blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until custard coats spoon and it begins to bubble, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla, reduce heat and continue stirring until custard thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Peel and cut bananas into thin slices.
Line bottom of an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with half the vanilla wafers in a single layer. Spread sliced bananas evenly over the wafers. Spread half the custard over the bananas. Repeat layers.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat the chilled egg whites in the chilled bowl on high speed with an electric mixer. Add remaining 4 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. Spoon meringue over the custard and gently smooth out with a spatula, making sure to seal the meringue to the custard and all pan sides. Use the mixer beaters to create meringue peaks.
Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes, until meringue is toasted brown on top. Turn off oven and leave pan in oven with door closed 5 minutes, then crack open the door and leave pan in oven about 15 minutes longer. Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Chill about 3 hours before serving.