Wednesday, December 22, 2010

chocolate chip cheese ball

This is one of those recipes that I saw in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook years ago, started drooling, and clipped and put in a safe place.  Over the years, I've continued to think of this dessert and continued to drool...

...and drool...

...and drool.

This year I finally found an excuse to make this ball of deliciousness (thank goodness!).  It was worth the wait.  If there is ONE THING that you do this holiday season, promise me you'll make this.  Okay?  Okay.

This is the simplest thing in the world to whip together.  Mix together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

Add the sugars and whip until nice and fluffy.

Then toss in the mini chocolate chips and fold them into the mix.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to let it firm up.

Now...for one of my favorite parts...form the mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for another hour.

Why is this one of my favorite steps?  Because I get to lick the bowl!

Pull the cheese ball out of the fridge right before serving.  If you like, you can roll it in crushed pecans, but that's totally optional.  I opted for pure cream cheese and chocolate chip goodness.

Surround it with Nilla Wafers and watch the crowd go wild!

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
from Gooseberry Patch's Christmas in the Country
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 t. vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T. brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Cookies for serving

Blend cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Place on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball. Refrigerate for a least one additional hour. At serving time, roll ball in chopped nuts. Serve with cookies for dipping. Makes about 2 cups.

Monday, December 20, 2010

and he said "lemon"?!

Every year, I ask my husband what kind of birthday cake he wants.

Every year, the answers go something like this:


"Double chocolate."

"Triple chocolate."

This year, I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday cake, and he said, "Lemon."


A few years ago, he was searching for something to make for his office potluck, and he came across a Gooseberry Patch recipe for Grandma Gracie's Lemon Cake.  He whipped it up, took it to work, got some rave reviews, and has been in love with the cake ever since.

And what's not to love?

This cake is incredibly easy to make.  Just grab a yellow cake mix, a box of lemon pudding, 3/4 cup oil, 3/4 cup water, and 4 eggs.

Mix these items together and pour into a lightly greased cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.

While the cake is baking, whip up 2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1/3 cup of lemon juice.

Now here's where the magic happens...

The second the cake is out of the oven, poke holes all over it with a fork and then pour the glaze evenly over the top.  The glaze will penetrate deep into the cake, preserving it's moisture and creating a sugar rush that's to die for.

For an added touch, dust with powdered sugar.

When it came time to blow out the candles, the love of my life was certainly happy...

But, when it came time to eat the cake, he couldn't contain his excitement.

Now that's good cake!

Click here for the printable recipe for Grandma Gracie's Lemon Cake from Gooseberry Patch.  It's definitely one to try.

In looking through some old family recipes, I came across a similar cake recipe...but this one is for grown-ups.  :-)  I know you'll love it!

Wine Cake
1 butter recipe cake mix
1 small package of lemon instant Jell-o pudding mix
1/2 cup white wine
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 cup white wine

Mix the first five ingredients and pour into a bundt pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes before removing cake from pan and placing on a cake platter.

Mix together remaining ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Pour over cake.

Christmas Morning Breakfast and Brunch Ideas!
I consider lemon or wine cake a perfectly valid Christmas morning breakfast. :-)  But, if you are looking for something a little more...well..."breakfasty", check out all of the great recipes linked up below.  Be sure to link up your own!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

crock-pot beef bourguinon

It's cold outside!

And...I love it.

I love cold weather, mostly because that means you get to eat hot food!  There's just something magical about curling up on the sofa with a bowl of hot steaming stew.  Anyone with me on this?

This recipe is perfect for those cold days when you need something hearty, hot, and filling.  And, because it's made in the slow cooker, you don't have to fuss to get it ready.  There's no slaving in the kitchen and very little dishes to do.  It's a great winter meal!

Grab 4-6 bacon strips and cut them into smaller pieces.  Cook and stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until they are crisp.  Remove them from your skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside for later.

Place 2 1/2 pounds of beef stew meat into a gallon size ziplock bag.  Add 1/3 cup flour (gluten-free works fine!), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Seal the bag and then shake it.

Shake it good...real good (pretend I just said that in an Elvis voice).

Brown your coated stew meat in the bacon grease (depending on the size of your skillet, you'll probably want to do it in 2 batches, adding more oil if you need to).  You don't have to get the meat cooked through...just browned on the outside to enhance the flavor.  Remove the beef and let it hang out with the bacon for a minute.

For your veggies, you want about a cup of onion.  You can either peel and chop a regular onion or use pearl onions for a fun twist.  I love the idea of pearl onions because the non-onion eaters in my family can more easily pick them out.  If you use the pearl onions, try to get the ones that are peeled and frozen...peeling these little buggars was quite the chore!

Grab about 2 cups of baby carrots.

And finally, peel and dice 2-3 potatoes.

Add these veggies to a large (we're talking at least 6 quart) slow cooker, along with 8 ounces of sliced fresh mushrooms, a green pepper that has been cut into chunks, 1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic (optional), and the bacon and stew meat.

Over the top of the veggies and meat, pour 1 can of beef broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes (undrained), and 1/2 cup of dry red wine.  Then, sprinkle the whole mixture with 2 teaspoons of dried marjoram, 2 teaspoons of basil, and 3 bay leaves.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Your house will smell fabulous!

Serve this chunky stew in large portions alongside a big buttered piece of cornbread.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Crock-Pot Beef Bourguinon
4-6 strips bacon, chopped
1/3 cup flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 T. vegetable oil (if needed)
2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups baby carrots
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1-2 T. minced garlic (optional)
2 t. dried marjoram
3 bay leaves
2 t. basil

Brown bacon in a large skillet until crispy, about 10 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.  Combine flour, salt, pepper, and stew meat in a gallon size plastic bag and shake until coated.  Brown meat in bacon grease, adding more oil if necessary (may have to do this in 2 batches).  

Place vegetables, stew meat, and bacon into a 6 qt. slow cooker.  Over the top, pour diced tomatoes, beef broth, and wine.  Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.

Cook on low for 8 hours.  Take out bay leaves before serving.  Serves 10.

Nutrition: 427 cal, 23g fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 81mg cholesterol, 611mg sodium, 25g carbs, 4g fiber, 3g sugar, 27g protein, 89% vit. A, 56% vit. C, 6% calcium, 21% iron.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

egg nog

I'm home!!! :-)  I've missed you all so much!

New Zealand was absolutely wonderful...words cannot describe.  I hope all of you have an opportunity to visit someday if you haven't already.  We loved the mountains, plains, forests, caves, and...surprisingly...the food!  I had heard that their food was nothing to write home about, but descriptions of our wonderful meals kept filling up our journal.  I can't wait to reproduce a few dishes and share them with you in the next several weeks.

One reason I enjoyed New Zealand food so much is that they don't use high fructose corn syrup.  I have a mild intolerance to fructose and have to avoid hard to do in the United States!  I ate like a queen in New Zealand and enjoyed all kinds of foods that I've had to give up at home.  How depressed I was to return home to be reminded that most holiday treats list HFCS as a primary ingredient, including one of my favorite holiday beverages...egg nog.

After having no luck finding HFCS-free egg nog in the grocery store, I set out to make my own.  Luckily, I found an excellent and easy recipe on Tasty Kitchen.  I think it turned out wonderfully!

The ingredients list: 2 cups of milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 t. allspice, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. nutmeg.

First, whip the sugar and egg yolks in a blender until they turn a light yellow color.

Then, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients.  I didn't happen to have ground allspice in my pantry, so I ended up dropping a few whole allspice in the mixture.

Bring the milk mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat.  If you used whole allspice, don't forget to take it out!

Scoop out a few generous tablespoons of the hot milk mixture and pour into the blender while the egg yolks are blending.  Blending the yolks while you do this is crucial!

Then pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan, whisking the whole time.

Cook over medium low and keep whisking until the mixture has thickened slightly.

Then, transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate!  Enjoy cold topped with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.


Egg Nog
Recipe taken from Tasty Kitchen
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a blender and blend until the mixture turns light yellow.  Meanwhile, heat the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.  Whisk a few generous tablespoonfuls into the yolks, and then whisk all of the yolk mixture into the milk.  Heat over medium-low, whisking constantly, until the mixture slightly thickens.  Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate.  Serve cold.  Makes 6 servings.

Linked up with Foodie Friday

Holiday Beverages!

Yes, yes, I'm really late getting This Week's Cravings up, but better late than never! This week we are focusing on holiday beverages.  Check out the linked up recipes for fun drinks and foods with secret holiday beverage ingredients!

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