Homemade Egg Nog – Recipe #blogmas2015 Day Five!

Creamy goodness that will knock you on your butt.
Creamy goodness that will knock you on your butt.

How about a recipe?

I love eggnog.  Once December comes, you’ll often find me enjoying a nip of nog after work as supper is made or on the weekend relaxing.  It’s part of Christmas for me.  Usually in these instances though, I just buy a carton from the store and add a bit of my own “Christmas Cheer” to it.  I particularly enjoy a splash of spiced rum in mine.

For special occasions though, when I am entertaining a group (of adults – this stuff is for grown ups only), I like to pull out this recipe and whip it up.  So in the spirit of blogmas, I’m passing this recipe on to you.  Please keep in mind that this recipe will fill a punch bowl, so cut back accordingly if needed.  Though I can’t imagine why you would want to.

A reminder – this is best served chilled on the day it’s made.  Use the freshest eggs available to you.  This recipe is modified from an old “Company’s Coming” cookbook I believe.

Ingredients

12 of the freshest eggs you can find

1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups whipping cream (I never said this was good for you)

1 tbsp vanilla

7 cups cold milk

2 cups light rum

1 cup whiskey – I normally eliminate the whiskey and light rum and add 3 cups of spiced rum instead.

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Directions

Beat egg whites in a large clean bowl until they start getting thick.  Add the 1 cup of sugar.  Beat until they are thick.  I like to use an electric mixer for this step.

Whip those whites and sugar
Whip those whites and sugar!

In a second (very) large bowl, preferably one that has a lid, beat the egg yolks and salt until thick.

yolks
Beat those yolks baby!

Add the whipped egg whites to the whipped egg yolks.  Beat until they are completely incorporated and the mixture is thick.

Whites and yolks together.
Whites and yolks together.

In a third large bowl – there are a lot of dishes to clean up in this recipe – beat your whipping cream until it starts to thicken.  Add the 2 tbsp of sugar and the vanilla.  Beat that until it gets very thick.

whipped creamy goodness
whipped creamy goodness

Add your whipped cream to your egg mixture.  Do this slowly a bit at a time, stirring after each addition.

mixing

Add your milk, and your rum and whiskey (or just spiced rum – how I like it!), beat continually.

milk
milk
Oh my! There's the rum!
Oh my! There’s the rum!

Store this chilled with a lid on until you are ready to use it.  Serve in a punch bowl with a sprinkle of nutmeg.  If you don’t have a punch bowl, a large pitcher will do.  When you take it out of the fridge before transferring to the punch bowl, it’s best to beat it again, as the whipped portion will separate and rise to the top as it sits.  Refrigerate any unused portions (ha ha – as if!) for a couple of days at most.

Store bought egg nog will aways be second best after experiencing this!
Store bought egg nog will aways be second best after experiencing this!

Avocado and Eggs on Toast

Mmmmmm.....
Mmmmmm…..

My new favourite breakfast.  Or lunch, or snack.  It’s delicious, easy to make, and though it is a bit high in calories and fat, it is loaded with protein and fiber, and the fats are all the good ones.  It’s also very filling, and will stay with you for quite a while.  This recipe is for two slices of toast.  You could easily cut the recipe in half, which would really be plenty for breakfast, and would cut the calories and fat in half.  I also used white bread because it is what I had on hand.  I don’t really eat bread anymore, but may buy a loaf of healthier stuff to keep in the freezer for when I make this.  You could use whole wheat or a variety of different healthier breads to up the nutritional value.  Try it now, thank me later.

Update: A friend of mine on Facebook just suggested using poached eggs instead of scrambled.  The soft yolk would be like a sauce.  Definitely trying that next time I make this!

Ingredients

2 slices bread (nutritional breakdown below is for standard white bread)

2 tsp margarine or butter

2 large eggs

non-stick cooking spray

1/2 ripe avocado

1 small tomato, diced.

salt and pepper to season

Directions

Spray a small pan with the non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and scramble them.  Cut the avocado in half and remove the skin from one half, cutting it into chunks.

Toast your bread and butter it.  Add the eggs to the toast and place the cut up avocado on top.  Sprinkle with tomato.  Season with salt and pepper.

That’s it.  It doesn’t get much easier (or delicious) than that.

Nutritional Facts

Calories – 508, Fat – 30 grams, Fiber – 6.4 grams, Protein – 20 grams

Mini Easter Cheesecakes

Sweet and Delicious
Sweet and Delicious

I made these little gems to take to our family Easter Dinner today.  They’re a sweet treat and fairly quick to make if you need something to take somewhere.  They are modified slightly from a recipe I found on the Kraft Canada website.  Enjoy, and Happy Easter to everybody!

Ingredients (for 24 cheesecakes)

4 blocks cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

24 Golden Oreo cookies

1 tub of Cool Whip, thawed

food colouring

candy, chocolate or fruit to decorate

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a regular sized muffin tin, put in some pretty cupcake papers.  In the bottom of each one, place one Golden Oreo cookie.

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended.  Add eggs, one by one, blending after each one until just blended.

Pour or scoop (I use an ice cream scoop) batter into muffin cups evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until centres are almost set.  Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

To decorate, put a few drops of desired colour of food colouring into the cool whip and mix well.  Top chilled cakes as if you were frosting a cupcake.  Add decorations.  I used Mini Eggs and Peeps.  You could totally go wild with this using whatever you wanted.  Jellybeans would be great, mini creme eggs, or fresh fruit (preferably berries that aren’t cut so they aren’t as apt to bleed).  The possibilities are truly endless.

Store in the fridge until about a half hour before eating.

Hope you all have a fabulous Easter and enjoy the time with family and friends.

Until next time.

 

 

Weekend at Home – In the Kitchen

I love to cook, I love to bake. If you know me, or if you read this blog, you know this. But sometimes I find that cooking gets a little tedious for me. If I haven't planned ahead, it's getting home at 5:00 pm through the week, and thinking to myself, what the heck am I going to cook? What can I throw together to get supper on the table fast?

It loses something like this. The passion goes out of it and it becomes a pain in the ass. Then the weekend comes and we go out somewhere, or you just don't feel like it, so you just eat whatever. It's not always like this, but sometimes that's the way it goes.

This weekend the weather has been BAD. I figured that we weren't going anywhere and that we wouldn't be seeing anyone. I got up Yesterday morning and thought to myself: I feel like cooking! I feel like baking! A quick trip out to the store (once the laneway was shovelled) and I was good to go. I thought I would share some pictures of some of the things I made. Though if you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen these. 🙂

 

The beginnings of Italian Wedding Soup

The little meatballs that go in

The finished product

Homemade spaghetti sauce at the beginning stages

A few hours later, all done.

Tasty lemon loaf

A meatloaf – last nights supper.

This morning I made a banana bread.

 

I had a lovely weekend, home with my family.

Now I have to figure out what to cook for supper tonight. I was thinking a nice teriyaki chicken…stay tuned!

 

Spinach Dip – Quick, Easy, and Delicious

Deliciousness
Deliciousness

I’m a fan of a good, hot spinach dip.  Sometimes I’ll order one if we’re out for dinner or drinks, and it’s such an awesome treat.  I had never made one myself, but we were having some friends over and I had a craving, so I thought I would try my hand at it.  Because I just sort of threw this one together based on my own tastes and what I know of spinach dip, the measurements are approximate, but for the most part I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these ingredients.  Enjoy.

Ingredients

1 pkg cream cheese – softened

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 pkg Knorr (or similar) dried vegetable soup mix

1 cup (and then some!) grated marble cheese

Directions

In a medium sized bowl, add all ingredients except for cheese and stir to combine.

Photo 4Add the one cup of grated cheese….

Photo 1Mix thoroughly, and add to a prepared baking dish. I used a Pampered Chef 9 inch stoneware pie plate.  If you use a glass baking dish, I would treat it lightly first with olive oil or cooking spray.

Photo 3

 

Top with the desired amount (lots) of grated cheese, and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, keeping an eye on it and removing from the oven when the top is melted and golden.

Photo 7

 

This is great served simply with tortilla chips, corn chips or even Doritos in a pinch.  I personally think it’s best with baked or fried pita chips.  I make my own by cutting the pocketless pitas into 8th’s, coating with olive oil and seasoning salt, and baking for about 20 minutes, turning half way through.  They get crunchy on the outside, but maintain their chewiness inside.  So good!

You could change this dip up any way you like, adding different ingredients like a shake or two of hot sauce to jazz it up a bit.  You could also finely dice some sweet red pepper and throw it in.  Some crumbled bacon on top would add to the decadence as well.  Adjust it to your preferences, that’s what cooking is all about!

Enjoy!

Trifle – Tiramisu Style

TiramisuI love this recipe.  It’s beautiful to look at, and as Paula Deen always says – “we eat with our eyes first.”  It’s also delicious, which helps as well.  It’s slightly adapted from a Kraft Canada recipe.  I love the Kraft website and magazine.  It’s filled with recipes that are quick, tasty, and have ingredients that are accessible.

This is more of a trifle than actual tiramisu – as the traditional tiramisu has mascarpone and lady fingers, etc.  This is quicker, cheaper, and a little milder than the traditional recipe.

I made and served this on Saturday night.  It was a perfect compliment to my Chicken Marsala, and was quick to whip up on Saturday afternoon.  Highly recommend.

Ingredients

1 block cream cheese, softened

2 pkg of instant vanilla pudding powder

3 cups cold milk

2 cups cool whip

1 pkg – Mr. Christie Nilla biscuits – you won’t use the whole box, but they’re great for snacking.

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee. I brewed a Tassimo disc of espresso and then just topped up to the 1/2 cup with hot water.

2 squares semi-sweet chocolate – coarsely grated.

raspberries for garnish

Directions

Whip cream cheese with a hand mixer in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the powdered instant pudding mixes and cold milk.  Continue beating until thickened and smooth.  Add cool whip and fold in by hand.

Line the bottom of your trifle bowl with the Nilla wafers, and stand them up around the edge of the bowl too, so you can see them from the outside.  Drizzle half of the coffee over them.  Add half of the pudding mixture and spread out evenly.  Sprinkle the top with half the chocolate.  Do another layer of biscuits, coffee, pudding mixture, chocolate.  Garnish the top with whole raspberries.  The recipe on the website calls for more cool whip on the top, but I leave it off.  I find it overkill and don’t think it’s needed.  Without it you can see how beautiful the chocolate and raspberries are.

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

I hope you enjoy, it’s a favourite in our house.  Great to take to a potluck, and a good recipe to have on hand at this time of year with all the entertaining that we do.

Another Tater Tot Casserole

It seems like everywhere you look for recipes online, you will find one for a tater tot casserole.  I always wanted to try making one.  I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, but I like things like French fries, hash browns  etc.  When I went grocery shopping this weekend, I bought a bag of the tater tots to keep in the freezer for whenever inspiration struck.

It struck yesterday.  I was sitting at work, trying to figure out what the heck to cook for supper on a Monday night when I really didn’t feel like cooking. I remembered the tots in my freezer.  So while I ate my lunch, I took to the internet to search for a recipe.  I was kind of overwhelmed by the number of them, but I read enough of them to get the general idea, and take what I liked from each of them to make my own version.  What I did is in the recipe that follows.

Ingredients

Frozen Tater Tots – about 2/3 of a bag

1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef

onion

fresh mushrooms, sliced

3 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup

1-2 cloves garlic minced or the minced garlic in the jar is fine

cheese – a bunch, maybe 2 cups shredded.  I used mozzarella because it was what I had on hand, but cheddar would be better.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Start by browning the ground beef in a skillet.  Dice and add the onion and garlic.  Cook until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Drain if there is excess fat.

In a large bowl, combine soups and cheese.  Add tater tots and stir until they are all evenly coated.

Spread ground beef in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.  Add tater tot mixture on top and spread to cover beef.

Bake uncovered for at least an hour, until bubbly and hot and browned a bit on top.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

It was great with a bit of ketchup.  All the measurements (as you can see) are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste, as I just kind of threw it together.

This recipe has the possibility of being personalized any way you like it.  You could add other vegetables – a layer of corn between the beef and tots would be good.  Extra cheese on top while baking would also be very good, but I ran out.  This would also be good with a bit of sausage meat mixed in with the beef, or if you’re feeling particularly sassy (and breakfasty) to replace it altogether. Cooking is all about making things your own.  Try, and enjoy! 🙂

 

Baklava

This is a delicious, flaky, sweet pastry, full of honey, nuts and sweet goodness.  There are many claims about the origin, and many countries make various versions of it today, including Greece, Turkey, and variations in the Middle East as well.

This is a version of a recipe I found in a cookbook years ago, tweaked a bit here and there.  I’m sure that some purists will have opinions on whether this take is “correct” or not.  All I know is that when I make this recipe, there is rarely any left over.  This is really not hard to make.  The biggest thing is the time it takes.  From start to finish, including the time in the oven, plan on a couple of hours.  It’s a bit tedious, but delicious, and worth it.

 

Ingredients

Nut Mixture

2 cups walnuts

2 cups raw pistachios, shelled

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 large pinch cloves

Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup honey + more

dash lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

Pastry

1 cup unsalted butter

1 pkg Phyllo Pastry

Directions

Put walnuts and pistachios in the food processor separately, pulsing until coarsely ground.  Put into a bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and cloves.  Mix to combine.  Set aside.

 Next, make the syrup.  In a medium sized saucepan and heat until dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Pour the honey in and stir to mix.  Boil without stirring until the sugar reaches the soft ball stage, 239 degrees on a candy thermometer, or about 25 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and let cool to lukewarm.  At this point I usually add another healthy dose of honey and the vanilla and lemon juice.

Next, melt the butter in the microwave and get your workspace ready for assembly.  Lay down a clean dishtowel, and spray it liberally with water.  Lay the sheets of Phyllo down on top and then add another damp dishtowel on top.  Keep the Phyllo covered when you’re not working with it, in between layers so that it doesn’t dry out and rip or crack.

Butter the bottom of a large Pyrex or French White dish. Place a sheet of Phyllo on top of the butter lining it up so that two sides are flush with the sides of the pan.  Butter this layer with a brush.  Fold over any extra neatly and brush the top of that.  Add another layer of dough, continuing to brush with butter in between, alternating sides on which you are folding so that it’s not lopsided.

When you have used about 1/3 of the stack of Phyllo, add half of the nut mixture evenly over the buttered dough.

Continue to layer sheets of Phyllo, buttering as you go, until you’ve used up another 1/3 of the dough.  Spread the remaining half of the nuts.  Finish with the last third of the dough, continuing to brush with butter each layer.  When I get to the last piece of Phyllo, I like to trim the extra off, to make it nice and neat looking.

When you’re done layering and buttering, cut lenghwise in even strips about 1/3 of the way down through the pastry.  Try not to press down as you cut.  Next, meeting up with the ends of the vertical cuts, cut diagonally to form a diamond pattern.  Pour any remaining butter on the top.

Bake on a low rack in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  It will start to really puff up, especially in the centre.  Keep a close eye on it through oven door and remove when it is golden brown and flaky all over.  The centre will have puffed up, just pierce it through one of the cuts with a sharp knife.

Immediately after removing from oven, pour the syrup evenly over the pastries.  It will bubble as it starts to soak in.  Take a knife and cut almost right to the bottom and let pastries cool before eating. Cut all the way to the bottom and lift out of the pan.  You could do this in a large metal pan as well, but you would have to keep an extra close eye on it so it doesn’t burn, and perhaps drop the oven temp slightly.

 

If you like, you can reserve some of the nuts after chopping them up and sprinkle a few on the plate for garnish.  This is a very sweet dessert, and is wonderful served with a strong coffee or tea.

It keeps well out of the fridge overnight or for a day or so, though after that, I like to store in the fridge.  If it lasts that long that is. 😉  Best served at room temperature.

This is truly a wonderful dessert.  Don’t let the ingredients (if you’ve never worked with Phyllo) discourage you from trying to make it.  It takes a little while, but as with most things in life, a little extra effort reaps great rewards.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Easy – But Yummy – Pasta Salad

When I start making this pasta salad, I know that summer has arrived.  Everyone has their own variation, this is mine.

Summer in a bowl

Ingredients

1 bag – pasta of choice. Hardier pastas work best.  I’ve used Rotini, Fusilli, Farfale (bowtie), and Scoobi-Do is a favourite.  It’s a nice change from  the traditional elbow.

1 jar – Miracle Whip

2 cans – flakes of ham – some people like tuna, I prefer the taste and saltiness of ham

4 eggs – hard boiled

mustard – a healthy squirt

dried dill – a healthy shake

curry powder – to taste

salt and pepper – to taste

Directions

Cook the pasta in salted water to al dente.  Strain and run under cold water until completely cooled.

In a large bowl, break up flakes of ham and cut up hard boiled eggs.  Leave both in fairly large chunks as they will break down more when you stir it all together.

Dump the pasta on top, and add Miracle Whip and combine, to get desired creaminess.  Add mustard, dill and curry, along with salt and pepper, all to taste, testing along the way of course! 😉

That’s it.  It’s best served chilled, though if you plan on storing it in the fridge for a while, the pasta will absorb the dressing, so before serving add a bit more and give it a stir.

I prefer mine very simple, but there are literally hundreds of things you could add to this salad – bell peppers, green onions, spanish onion.  You could add fresh peas if you had some from the garden or market.  That’s what’s nice about it, add what you like to make it your own and suit your tastes.

Serve with a burger or hot dog or whatever summer treat you’ve got off the grill, and enjoy!

Super Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This one is super easy.  I was going to make something totally different for a potluck I was going to on the weekend, but due to a stovetop malfunction (long story) I had to change my plans and I was scrambling on a Sunday morning to find a recipe I could make with the grocery store closed using only what I had on hand.  Luckily I had some pineapple, and this turned out pretty good.  It’s very light and airy.  I found this recipe on the BigOven.com iPad app.

Ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup margarine, melted

pineapple, sliced in rings

maraschino cherries – I didn’t have these, but they would be a sweet, colourful addition

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup pineapple juice – I didn’t have this either, so I substituted orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar with melted margarine until completely incorporated.  Spread into the bottom of a 9″ cake pan.  Arrange pineapple pieces and cherries in a decorative design in the brown sugar.  Set aside.

In another small bowl, whip the egg yolks with a mixer until light yellow and thickened.  Gradually add in the sugar and beat well.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and juice.  Mix completely together.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold gently into batter.

Pour batter and smooth over pineapples in pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes.  Top will be brown, tester inserted should come out clean.  Let it cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

Serve warm or cold.

This would be awesome with a scoop of ice cream, or some whipped cream, or even better, some rum enhanced whipped cream.  Yum!