Eat + Drink
> GINGER GREYHOUND / February 4, 2015
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final_1Deal of the week 10 for $10 grapefruits!

It is that time of year again, citrus season. My favorite part of citrus season really is fresh squeezed greyhounds as known in our household as “healthys”. There is really nothing more refreshing than fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. When grapefruits are fresh they are a brilliant pink and the citrus scent is intoxicating. It is a luxury to sip on fresh squeezed greyhounds and at a dollar each, I will be serving up a Ginger Greyhound for happy hour this weekend.

Ginger Greyhound

Ingredients: to make a bigger batch – squeeze grapefruits first and store in pitcher. Nobody can stop at just one!

Grapefruit // Ginger (1” root /peeled) // Lime (wedge) //Rosemary (fresh) // Agave Nectar or simple sugar // Vodka // Ice

Prepare:

Muddle: Ice, ginger, lime wedge, 1” fresh sprig of rosemary

Transfer: remove excess ginger, lime wedge and rosemary sprig and transfer muddle to cocktail grass, add more ice

Pour: 1 shot of vodka on top and add ½ cup of Grapefruit juice. Top off with a teaspoon of Agave Nectar (stir)

Garnish: Wedge of lime and 6” sprig of fresh rosemary

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Growing up, the holiday treats would start to arrive the middle of December. My grandmother had a way of sending the best Christmas treats and we would look forward to getting them in the mail. There were the most delicious roasted peanuts, syrup straight from Vermont and Sweet Sloop (Harbor Sweets). The Sweet Sloops were my absolute favorite – I would rip open the box and have two or three before handing them over for everybody to enjoy.

While I was looking though my cookbooks this Holiday season, I remembered how much I loved that butter crunch toffee sloops and decided that I wanted to make homemade caramels to gift this holiday season. I was planing on sending out a bunch of gifts and wanted to make them personal by including a homemade holiday treat.

Full disclosure – I have had a few caramel fails. I just started to make candy and so it took a few attempts to get this one right. I even tested out a few different recipes and landed on Ina Garten’s Fleur De Sel Caramels. They only take about fifteen minutes to make and then they have to set for a couple of hours. These caramels are the perfect balance of creamy and salty all in one bite. They wrap up great in parchment and are easy to ship. I have even made a few extra batches to have in the house for guest during the season.

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FLEUR DE SEL CARAMELS (Ina Garten’s recipe)

Ingredients:

– 1/4 cup light corn syrup
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Prep: A baking pan with parchment paper (covering the sides) and brush the paper lightly with oil.

Boil: In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown.

Heat: In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Finish: When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful — it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Fill: Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

Roll, Cut & Wrap: Starting with a long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch-long log and then cut into pieces. Lastly, wrap with parchment.
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> SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER / December 13, 2014
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santa's little helperIt is crunch time – the final countdown to Christmas!

Gifts still need to be wrapped and holiday treats still need to be cooked. It is the time of the year where there are people everywhere, slow traffic and just overall heightened anxiety. With the final few weeks left this Holiday season, I just want to sit back, admire the lights and the tree and enjoy the Holiday without worrying about what I need to do next. With all this stress, it is time to whip up a Holiday favorite – Santa’s Little Helper. This warm cinder is the perfect treat for this weekend.

It is great to make a few cups before bed or while you are up late assembling gifts for the kids or wrapping presents for family.

Santa’s Little Helper:

  • 2 cups of Apple Cider
  • 1/2 cup of spiced rum
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed (juice)
  • 1 tbs of honey
  • Lemon and cranberries as garnish (if you want to infuse cranberry into the cinder boil them along with all of the liquid)

Combine all of the ingredients into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer – serve hot with cranberries and lemon. You can also add cinnamon sticks, cloves and a touch of nutmeg.

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Best of luck getting though your list this weekend and hopefully you will have some time to enjoy the Holiday season!

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Homemade Hot Coco in the morning is real treat. Not only does it taste sweet, it brings me right back to my childhood.

Hot Coco with a fresh batch of cubed marshmallow toppers (recipe posted yesterday) today, was the perfect beverage to end this cold and wet week. With fresh marshmallow toppers it is impossible to have just one cup. I found myself topping off my marshmallows a few times before I reached the end of the cup! Bellow is the basic Hot Coco recipe that I use when I want to make Hot Coco from scratch, but most of the time I use William Sonoma Hot Chocolate mix and just warm up my milk on the stove.

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As I mentioned in the post yesterday marshmallows keep for weeks, making them a great homemade gift idea. I have come up with two quick options for Hot Chocolate kits, but you can also make smore kits with these delicious treats. I am planning on giving out these mugs/Hot Coco kits to all of Gjelina’s preschool teachers. They are also great to have around the house just in case you need quick gift solutions this Holiday Season. Here is a quick list of super cute mugs that would pair wonderfully with fresh marshmallows and hot chocolate.

Paper Source (Peace/Love/Joy)
Anthropology Limited Edition Golden Monogram Mug
West Elm Tiny Heart
Mark and Gram Heart Mug

* William Sonoma Hot Chocolate (premade) packets to add to mugs or to Marshmallow package

All you need is some cute packaging such as red and white twine, gold bells and a snip from the Christmas Tree to create these cute Homemade packaged treats!

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> HOMEMADE: MARSHMALLOWS / December 4, 2014
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final_2_marshmelloIt has been raining all week, so I decided that I would get a jump-start on cooking some holiday treats. Let it be known that baking is not my strength in the kitchen. I have been reading up on homemade treats for the Holidays and marshmallows keep coming to the front of my list. I also just received my Fine Cooking magazine, which highlighted a marshmallows recipe so I decided to embark on this new cooking adventure.

These fluffy, delicate beauties will amaze you. I am obsessed with the success from my first batch of homemade marshmallows and I am looking at ways I can incorporate them into other baked goods such as cupcakes with marshmallow frosting, Hot Coco toppers, smores, homemade rocky road ice-cream and caramallows. They were so much fun to bake and they were finished in less than 30 minutes. You don’t even have to turn your oven on and they taste like nothing I have ever had and certainly not like a store bought marshmallow.

Marshmallows are fun share with your family and friends and despite their airy consistency, they are surprisingly sturdy, stored in an airtight, dry place they can last up to a month which makes them a great homemade gift idea!

Strawberry Blonded loved helping out with this kitchen fun recipe almost as she liked stealing a taste of the marshmallow fluff before it went into the pan.

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Vanilla Marshmallows

Preparation:

¾ cup of convection sugar

¼ cup of cornstarch

Cooking Spray

Mix together sugar and cornstarch. This mixture is just for coating the greased pan and the marshmallows. This will prevent the marshmallow from stick together (coat the bottom, top and side of pan // top of mixture //and used once marshmallows are cut). Cooking spray is to coat the pan before you add the sugar and to coat the knife when cutting into your marshmallow.

1 box of unflavored gelatin (usually includes four ¼ oz packets of gelatin)

Pre-mix 4 – ¼ oz packets of gelatin with 3/4 cup of water and let sit for at least five minutes. Do this before you start on your syrup.

Heat:

2 ¾ cups of sugar

¾ cup of light corn syrup

½ cup of water

candy thermometer

Mix all of these ingredients in a 2-3 quart saucepan and put on high heat. This mixture will start to boil. You will be heating this syrup up to 250 F.

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Combine and Whip:

2 egg whites

2 tbs vanilla

In a mixer or using a hand mixer whip the two egg whites (4-6 mins) on medium speed. You can start whipping when the syrup reaches 240 F and then when the syrup reaches 250 F slowly add the syrup to the egg whites whipping at medium speed. Once all syrup is added it is time to start adding the gelatin, which is now hard and lumpy. You slowly add piece-by-piece of gelatin broken into small lumps. Once it is all incorporated, beat the marshmallow at an high speed for another six minutes. You will notice that the marshmallow is now thick and triple in volume. Add vanilla.

Pour the marshmallow into your pan and let sit for at least three hours or preferably overnight. If the sides have been greased and sugared the marshmallow will pop out by cutting the sides and flipping the pan. Cut the marshmallow as desired and sugar each side to prevent sticking.

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Coming up tomorrow – adding homemade marshmallows to the best Hot Coco receipt and great holiday gift ideas for these treats!

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I am going to keep this post really brief because I am guessing that everybody is shopping, cooking or traveling today and I just wanted to post one quick side dish for anybody looking for a last minute add to Thanksgiving. In the winter, I cook brussel sprouts about once a week and this is my favorite way to cook them so that they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The pancetta adds a smoky flavor and the lemon adds a touch of citrus. If you need one more dish this Thanksgiving, Pancetta and Brussel Sprouts are a great addition to the Thanksgiving feast.

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Off to the kitchen to finish brining the turkey …. everybody have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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> SAGE SOURDOUGH STUFFING / November 19, 2014
Written by Posted in Eat + Drink Comments 1

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Thanksgiving is just over a week away and my kitchen has turned into a test kitchen for the perfect side dishes this Thanksgiving. With two kids, I need fast and easy receipts without sacrificing flavor and goodness. Truth be told, my mom was always in charge of the stuffing and it was not my favorite dish at Thanksgiving. First I am not a huge celery fan and second she added nuts. That being said I am a huge sourdough lover and so when we came across this bag of sourdough stuffing at Costco, I had to bring it home and test it out. To my delight the receipt on the back was easy and simple and delicious. I added my own topper (cranberries and pinenuts) to mix it up a bit and add a touch of color. Not only will I be cooking this stuffing for Thanksgiving, I will be gifting this bag of Boudin San Francisco to all my friends this Thanksgiving.

stuffingNote that this bag of Boudin Sourdough Stuffing is only available at Costco for a short selling season!

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Holiday parties are just one part of what make the Holidays so special.  The weekends get booked out in advance and filled with friends, family, food and Holiday cheer.  I always bulk up on my hostess gifts this time a year because I never like arriving to a party empty handed.

For gift wrapping ideas –  tie on fresh rosemary from the garden (shown) or gold and silver holiday bells.   Red and white waxed twine or burlap mixed with washi tape and fun gift tags are all that these gifts need.

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Instead of giving a tradition bottle of wine, why not give a bottle of olive oil that will be used long after the party is over.   Decorative soaps are perfect for a powder room or guest bathroom.  Seasonal dishtowels from Anthropologie also make great gifts that are thoughtful and affordable.    I have been testing out several different holiday candles the last few weeks and although traditionally around this time I swap my kitchen candle out for spiced pumpkin scents – this year the Oatmeal Cookie Candle by Boulangerie is the gift that I will be giving (it smells like you just walked into a bakery full of freshly cooked cookies).

Here is a short list of gift suggestions that will be sure to get you invited again next year!

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> TRICK OR TREAT / October 30, 2014
Written by Posted in Eat + Drink Comments 1

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Trick or Treat!

I volunteered to bring treats to Strawberry Blonded class for her Halloween party. Carmel apples have always been “my” treat growing up and when I saw a photo of mini caramel apple bites I thought that those were worth a test in the kitchen. Truth be told, I have never made caramel and I want to make it as Holiday gifts so I thought this cooking project would be a great place to start perfecting my caramels for the Holidays and a fun idea for a Halloween party.

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Embarking on making caramel turned out to be really fun – I was shocked at how easy it was once I got the candy thermometer ($5 from the grocery store). And dipping these apples into chocolate, nuts and sprinkles was a great project for Strawberry Blonded. Cooking the caramel mixture was is a bit dangerous for kids because of the heat factor!

Quick tips on this receipt: Make sure apples are dry before dipping and they have the sticks inserted before you start dipping so that the caramel sticks on the apples. If there is moisture the caramel will slide off. Have dipping ready to go and everything stationed so that once the caramel is ready the dipping can start. You can make apple bites these ahead of time and refrigerate, but be sure to serve at room temperature.

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Roasted Chicken Noodle soup was a favorite of mine growing up and has quickly become a favorite in my household. Strawberry Blonded loves chicken noodle and we have fun picking out noodles such as alphabet noodles or “car wheels” (as shown in the picture). What really gets me excited about cooking soup is the smell of homemade chicken noodle on the stove on a cold wet winter day.

When I am making roasted chicken noodle soup, I tend to have roaster chicken the night before for dinner and make the soup the following days with the left-over chicken and boil down the bones for homemade chicken stock. If I am in a hurry, I use a pre-cooked chicken and remove the meat for the soup and bones for the stock.

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Chicken Stock: 2 roasted chicken carcasses // 4 carrots (cut in haft and peeled) // 4 stocks of celery // 1/2 peeled onions // 5 cloves of garlic // tbs of salt /pepper // water

Pull off chicken and set aside. Throw the carcasses on a pot with carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Fill the pot with water and add salt/pepper. Cook on medium for one hour and then strain to remove all chicken/vegetable parts leaving just pure chicken stock. If you have time you can refrigerate the broth overnight and remove the top layer of fat. If you are making the broth while the soup is cooking you can transfer right away to your soup pot.

Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup:

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Keep warm and dry and enjoy!

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