Foodie Blog Roll 2

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Santa Hat Party Mix!

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This one of a kind party mix is sure to be remembered! I was looking for something fun to make with my siblings this Christmas and came across this idea on another cooking blog. Of course I had to alter it to fit my families smacking needs, and that it did! With the salty-sweet combination, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser! There are SO many fun things you could do with this basic recipe. Give it a try! (I think this will have to be a new Christmas tradition for my family!) Yum!
Santa Hat Party Mix
Seriously, how cute are these little hats?
This was adapted from Cookies and Cups

For the Santa Hats:
Red melting discs
Mini marshmallows
White sprinkles (nonpareils)

Melt the red discs in a double broiler (or microwave). Dip the bugles in the candy and set to dry on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Pour the nonpareils in a bowl. When the candy coating is set, place a mini marshmallow on the tip. Dip the bottom of the "hat" back in the melted candy, then dip in the sprinkles. :)

For the Sweet and Salty Mix:
1 C rice chex
1 C corn chex
3 C mini pretzels
1 C salted dry roasted peanuts
1 to 2 C red and green dark chocolate m&m's
White chocolate for melting (or white candy discs)

Pour all of your ingredients except the m&m's on a large baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the mix. Stir mix and coat with chocolate. After it is dry, add the m&m's. Yum!

Add the Santa Hats to the mix and pour into serving bowl.
I did not get to "gift" any of this mix as it was all gone before I got the chance, but you better believe I would LOVE getting this snack as a gift! 

This wraps up my 2010 blogging, and while I am sad that the holidays are over, I am really excited about the new year and all the yummy things I am going to create! So stick around, and have a very Happy New Years!  XOXO
    Cookin' Cowgirl

click to print recipe

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Dippy Spoons

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These fun little spoons are so fun to make and they jazz up a cup of coffee or hot cocoa! There are SO many ways these can be decorated and packaged. I came up with the name for these little guys based off an inside joke that I have with my sister. We have this little saying- "Dippy Please," and as I was filling the spoons with chocolate, I thought, "Ooooo, I have a good name for these!"
I'm excited to try these for more occasions and with more decorations, but for now, here are my Christmas ones.

Chocolate Dippy Spoons

Chocolate and white chocolate dippy spoons with mint chocolate drizzle.

I love these ones! These are my Christmas Trees and my Tangle of Lights.

You will need
Chocolate melting discs
White chocolate melting discs
Mint chocolate *
Assorted sprinkles
Lollipop plastic bags
Ribbon or twisty ties

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line up your spoons on the pan so that they are ready to go once your chocolate is melted. In a microwave or double broiler, melt about a cup of your chocolate discs. (I used a microwave. Place the discs in a microwave safe bowl, and heat on medium for about 30 seconds. Stir and heat again, in 20 second incriments, until the chocolate is melted. Do not burn the chocolate!)
Begin filling the spoons with the melted chocolate, taking care not to over them. To do this, I took a metal spoon and scooped up some chocolate and poured it in each of the plastic spoons.
Once the spoons are filled, use sprinkles to decorate, then place the pan in the fridge until the chocolate is hardened. If you are going to use other melted chocolate to drizzle over the top, let the spoons harden first and then come back with the second chocolate. 
Continue melting the chocolate and filling the spoons until done. I did it in two batches-the chocolate and then the white chocolate. 
*For the mint chocolate, there are two ways you could do this. One, I saw some green mint chocolate chips (cute) at the store. Those would be perfect for melting down and drizzling over the top. Two, I bought white mint chocolate discs because they were 1/2 the cost and once I melted  it, I added 3 drops of green food coloring to give it a light green tint. Either method is fine! Once it was melted, I poured it in a small zip-lock bag and cut off the corner to drizzle on the spoons.
Once all the spoons are hardened, wrap them up in little baggies and tie them with ribbon or twisty ties. 
Here is my pile of Chocolate Dippy Spoons.
I saw this bucket at Michale's craft store and thought it would be perfect to carry the spoons in. I'm taking them to my parents house today for Christmas!
These make a great gift for anyone! If adding one of these to hot cocoa is a bit too chocolaty, stirring it into a glass of warm milk might be just the trick. There are SO many cute ways you could do these and it would be a fun Christmas craft. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Red and Green Muffins

In the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to do something "red and green" in the kitchen. These fresh cranberry and zucchini muffins are the perfect thing to pair with coffee for breakfast or to have alone as a snack. Not too sweet and with a hint of tartness, these healthy muffins should be a new "Christmas go-to."

Red and Green Muffins
3/4 C whole wheat flour
3/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/3 C unsweetened apple sauce (I used a 4 oz cup)
1/2 t vanilla
1 C shredded zucchini
3/4 C fresh cranberries, cut in 1/2

In a medium bowl, mix together all dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, apple sauce and vanilla. Then add zucchini and stir.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir to combine; do not over mix. Pour in cranberries and fold in to combine.
Prepare a muffin tin with Baker's Joy spray (or paper liners) and divide mixture into 12 cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack for a few minutes, then remove muffins and let cool on wire rack.

 I love the bits of green zucchini.
 These muffins would be a great gift as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Roasted Butternut and Saffron Risotto

This is such a filling and comforting meal on a cold winter day. This was the first thing I made after my jaw surgery when my diet got bumped along to "soft pasta." Maybe it was because I was on a liquid diet for 2 weeks prior, but I thought this was simply the BEST thing I had ever put in my mouth! Creamy and rich, this dish is a must.

Roasted Butternut and Saffron Risotto

Roasted Butternut Squash
5 C roasted butternut squash (1 large squash)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut in small cubes. Cover a sheet pan with foil and place squash on the pan. Drizzle oil on top, add salt and pepper and mix together making sure squash is covered in oil. Roast on  400° for about 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Remove from heat and grate nutmeg over the top. Set aside to cool.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 oz pancetta, diced
2 C Arborio rice
1/2 C dry white wine
6 C chicken stock
1 envelop of saffron powder*
1 C freshly grated Parmesan

On a back burner or in the microwave, heat chicken stock. Have it stay at a simmer so if will be ready when you need it.
In a heavy bottom pot, heat olive oil then add shallots, pancetta and garlic. Cook for a few minutes on medium-low heat until the shallots are translucent. Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Add wine and cook for a few minutes. Add two cup of chicken stock and saffron to the rice. Keep stirring until the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes. Continue to add the stock a little at a time and stir until the rice seems a little dry. Do this until the risotto is cooked through but still al dente; about 30 minutes total. Add salt and pepper if desired.
Meanwhile, puree about 1/2 of the squash (optional).
Add all the squash to the risotto and stir to combine. Mix in the Parmesan and serve.

* I got my saffron envelops at Whole Foods. There were 3 envelops to a pack and it cost about $7.00. They also had saffron threads for much more. The saffron gave the risotto a beautiful yellow color (the squash didn't hurt either).

Risotto is one thing that I was scared to make for a long time and I'm not really sure why. I cannot believe it took me so long to make it! It is really quite simple and not hard at all! It's one of those things that is quite forgiving. Just make sure you have enough stock on hand and keep stirring and you can't go wrong. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lasagna with Spinach and Ricotta

One of my husband's favorite things to eat is lasagna, especially his mom's lasagna! I have used her original recipe several times and have made different variations of it but have never blogged it. I think I now have MY recipe down pat and I can't wait to share it. I am still using Prego for the sauce as this is one thing that Chris is picky about, but homemade sauce or any other store bought sauce is fine also. Lasagna really is easy to make, it is just a little time consuming. Try it and let me know what you think!

Lasagna with Spinach and Ricotta
 (That picture is actually straight from the fridge. It was hard to take a picture of the lasagna right after it was cooked because of all the steam. There is a picture of it below.)

1 lb box lasagna noodles, I used whole wheat
1 lb ground hamburger
1/2 lb ground turkey sausage
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp fennel seeds
10oz box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4-1/2 c ricotta cheese, part skim
1 lb shredded mozzarella
3/4 c grated Parmesan
3 lb jar Prego sauce

Count your noodles so you know how to organize the lasagna. Cook the pasta to al dente; drain and set aside. Cook hamburger and sausage in a pan. When the meat is almost done, add chopped garlic, salt, oregano, basil, and fennel seeds and stir to combine. Set aside. Cook spinach and drain. Put back in pan, stir in nutmeg and set aside.
Spray a 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Start your layering! Put down a layer of noodles, then a layer of sauce, then a layer of meat mixture, then a layer of the mozzarella and Parmesan. You will only add the spinach and ricotta on one of the layers.

Keep layering until all of your ingredients are gone. You will end with noodles on the top, and then spread a final layer of sauce and cheese.
Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until bubbly and beginning to brown a little. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Before the oven
After the oven
click to print recipe

Bon Appétit

  You might also like:
Italian Egg Rolls
Homemade Rustic Pizza

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spices for Gifts

We went to Kansas to see Chris' family for Thanksgiving and since we drove, we decided to bring everyone's Christmas presents with us. I made these little spice jars for the girls as part of their presents but could not post this until I got back because I didn't want them to see it! :)

This is such an easy thing to do and it's fun! There are so many different spice mixtures that you could do. I chose to do my favorite one - Pumpkin Pie Spice. Just click on the link for my recipe.

Here are the supplies you will need:
Spice Mix
Empty spice jars
Tags (Preferably homemade)
Hole punch for tags 
Large bowl
Sifter and Funnel
Gift bags (optional)

I got my jars at Penzeys Spices but there are probably a lot of places with empty spice jars. Make sure you get jars with the little slots in the lid so the spices can easily be sprinkled out!! 

Add all of your spices together in a large bowl and sift together with sifter so that everything gets mixed well. 
Put a funnel in the jars and pour the spice mix through the funnel so you don't make a mess.
Put the lids on the spice jars. Punch a hole in a corner of the tags and secure them on the jars with ribbon. 

Get creative! I think I'll try an Italian blend of spices next. Sure, there are plenty of spice mixes already made out there, but how fun is this idea? These would also be great to put in stockings for little gifts, or in a homemade gift basket. Make sure to tell the recipients of this gift all the cool ways they can use your spices. For example, this pumpkin pie spice can be put in warm tea of coffee or even hot chocolate. It can be added to baking mixes or even pancake batter. It can also be sprinkled into savory dishes like sweet potato fries or squash risotto. 
This really is a great little gift and anything homemade is always greatly appreciated! Have fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cooked Apples

This week, my husband and I are at his parents house in Kansas for a week of vacation. He is hunting and I am, well......relaxing. I had a great time yesterday helping my mother-in-law put up the her Christmas tree and it really got me in the holiday spirit! I thought these cooked apples would be perfect to blog about because they are easy and comforting. They kind of remind me of these baked apples that my great grandma used to make; we called they "candied apples." They are delicious so I'm working on getting the recipe from my mom for those also. Hopefully I will be able to make those for you soon!
There are so many different things you can throw in here, but this is what I used:

 Cooked Apples 

3 apples, cored and sliced
64 oz bottle of cranberry juice
4 cinnamon sticks
Lots of freshly ground nutmeg
Juice and zest from tangerine

Add everything in a large pot and simmer, stirring occasionally,  for 40 minutes or until apples barely start to fall apart.
Here is what everything looks like right when you put it in the pot:

Finished product.

One of the best things about this is the juice after you scoop out the apples! We love to drink this hot; it's like cranberry cider! So good!!

You might also like:
Easy Apple Cider
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