Bourbon Party

Bourbon has recently seen an increase in popularity recently — especially in our liquor cabinet — so I decided to craft a menu around bourbon for a small gathering of friends we had a few weeks ago.

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Recipe: Fruit and Nut Wrap

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution to eat healthier during the week, I have made a concerted effort to eat breakfast on a regular basis. Additionally, keeping a lot of fresh fruit and veggies in the house has been awesome – I love having fruit on my cereal and side salads with nearly every meal.

These breakfast wraps are a kind of copycat recipe from a coffee shop on campus. I used to study in this coffee shop all the time when I was an undergrad – loved it here, even though it always had a slight wet socks smell to it…

Anyway, I have been consuming these wraps nearly every day for the past two weeks, and I am just beginning to consider switching up the ingredients to give myself some variety (I’m definitely a creature of habit in that I can eat the same thing day in and day out for a few weeks straight). Also, these are great for a breakfast on the go, if you are accustomed to eating in your car or at your desk.

Today's breakfast, served computer-side.

Fruit and Nut Wrap
Makes 1

1 flour tortilla
1 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp Neufchatel cheese (or just plain ‘ol cream cheese)
1 Tbsp fresh granola (the small bits work best)
3 medium strawberries, sliced
½ banana, sliced

  1. Spread the peanut butter and cream cheese across the center of the tortilla
  2. Sprinkle granola on top of PB and CC (I recommend not doing this part ahead of time [as in, if you like to make your breakfast the night before] as the granola will get soggy)
  3. Lay sliced fruit on top of granola
  4. Roll up like a burrito, wrap in plastic wrap, ready for travel

Cheers!

30-by-30: Crème Brûlée

Only a few days into the new year and I am already way ahead of accomplishing my 30-by-30 goals in 2012! (If you’ll remember, I didn’t manage to get any of them under my belt in 2011, but 2012? Rock on.)

Boyfriend gifted me a crème brûlée set for our anniversary, complete with kitchen torch (FIRE!) and ramekins. After a few iffy attempts to get the torch going, we were finally able to impress our neighbors with some mad flambéing techniques.

The actual process of making the crème brûlée custard was relatively easy. And even though I almost managed to burn the cream, they turned out absolutely delicious, better than some restaurant-made desserts I have had in the past.

I’m so happy to say I have accomplished one of my culinary 30-by-30 goals, and get to share the recipe with you! Grab your torches!

Cheers!

Crème Brûlée

Recipe adapted from the BonJour Crème Brûlée set
Makes 4 individual servings

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp fine (regular) sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup turbinado sugar for topping

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees; while the oven is heating, prepare a pot of boiling water
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine creame and 2 Tbsp sugar
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appears around the edges of the pan, about 5-6 minutes
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth and light
5. Pour hot cream mixture into egg yolks, a little at a time, beating continuously until well blended
6. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl
7. Divide mixture among four 4-oz ramekins
8. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and fill pan with boiling water to halfway up the sides of ramekins
9. Loosely cover pan with aluminum foil and carefully place on middle shelf of preheated oven (be really extra careful! Lots of hot things going on here)
10. Bake until custard is just set, about 25 minutes (again, be extra careful taking these babies out of the oven)
11. Chill for 2-3 hours
12. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top of each dish, tilting and shaking to coat custard completely
13. Using a kitchen torch, move the flame continuously over the surface of the ramekins in a circular motion until the sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly
14. Serve alone or with fresh berries; can be refrigerated for later use

Falling Off the Radvent Wagon…and Cookies!

I know. I’m sorry. I knew, in my heart, that this would probably happen. Attempting to write a post every day during the busiest month of the year probably wasn’t the best idea.

But, to make it up to you, I have today not one but two Christmas cookie recipes!

I, like many, have a set of recipes that I make each holiday season, specifically baked goods. I only make these things during the month of December, and, even if there are other recipes that make guest appearances, these are the ones I absolutely have to make each year, no excuses.

So first up we have cran-pistachio cookies. This recipe is originally from The Girl Who Ate Everything. I fell in love with these cookies the first time I saw them, and re-fell when I actually made them and ate them. Yum.

The second cookie is the festive cherry bite. I feel like people either love or hate maraschino cherries. I get that they are so ridiculously processed, but I don’t eat these things on anything except in these cookies. I won’t even eat the one on the toothpick in my fruity drink from Bahama Breeze. So get your fill here, kids.

I think my love for both of these cookies stems from the final steps in each recipe, specifically that you only barely cook them in the oven, and then let them set on the cookie sheet before stuffing them into your mouth. Gooey. Delicious. Don’t forget to save some for Santa.

I promise to make a concerted effort to pick up my Radvent slack starting tomorrow (now that I am done with finals, and nearly done with Christmas shopping and planning). Until then… Christmas Puppy.

Is Santa here yet?

Cheers!

Cran-Pistachio Cookies
Originally from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 box (4 serving size) pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup dry roasted salted pistachio nuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl stir cookie mix, pudding, and flour
  3. Add melted butter and eggs and stir until incorporated
  4. Add pistachios and cranberries and mix well
  5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are just set and the bottoms are a light brown; do not overbake!
  7. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely; once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Cherry Bites
Family recipe
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 egg, well beaten
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 11oz jar Maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

  1. In a large bowl, blend together butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking powder
  3. Gradually blend flour mixture into butter mixture
  4. Gently fold in chopped cherries
  5. Wrap mixture in wax paper and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Once chilled, roll into small balls and baked on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes until just set and the bottoms are a light brown; do not overcook!
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely; once cooled, store in an airtight container.