Monday, December 17, 2018

Closing Out the #KitchenMatrixCookingProject with Pecorino-Parsley Brown Rice Cakes


It's the end of the road for the #KitchenMatrixCookingProject. We've been working out way through Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix* for over fifty weeks.

First, let me start off by thanking my #KitchenMatrixCookingProject gals - Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm and Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories - who cooked along with me for a year. You can read more about our project here. But, I can tell you that committing to a year-long cooking project is no easy task and these ladies were fantastic. So, thank you, Wendy and Karen. I so appreciate your dedication to this with nothing more than my gratitude in return! You are both amazing.

Second, I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of my favorite weeks of cooking. There were so many fun ingredients, but these were the three that I enjoyed the most!


Whole Duck Cassolet: I loved this week because it definitely got me out of my comfort zone...and it was delicious! Click here for the recipe.


Spring Rolls: These were a hit and really, really fun to lead a group of teenagers in making them. What a blast! Click here for the recipe.


Spice Blends: Making my own spice blends has been something I've done for years. I really enjoyed seeing how the other gals used their homemade spice blends for delectable dishes. Click here for the recipe.

For me, those three weeks encapsulated why I organized this project: I cooked things that were previously intimidating to me; I cooked things with kids and getting kids into the kitchen is always a positive; and I found recipes or processes that I will continue to use moving forward. So, despite a little bit of fatigue in these final weeks, this project was a success in my book.


Lastly, the three of us took turns selecting the recipes and, in this final month, Karen picked the recipes. This week, she selected Brown Rice + 12 Ways. Bittman offers everything from pilafs to stews. I ended up loving his rice cake variations. I made a riff on the Parmesan Scallion cake, using Pecorino and Parsley instead. And my typically rice-eschewing husband had two cakes! But, first, here's what the others shared...





Ingredients
  • 2 C cooked brown rice
  • 1 C grated cheese (I used Pecorino Romano) + more for serving
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • butter for cooking
  • Also needed: skillet


Procedure
In a medium mixing bowl, place the rice, cheese, and parsley. Mix together (I used my hands) until well-combined. Form into patties and set aside.


Melt butter in a skillet and place the patties in the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on one side; you should have a nicely browned crisp bottom. Flip over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan to a serving platter.


Sprinkle with more grated cheese for serving. Serve hot. We served this with oven-roasted cod and a spinach salad for an easy weekday dinner.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Eggnog Gingerbread Layer Cake #ChristmasSweetsWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sweets & Treats, LorAnn, and Dixie Crystals, 
#ChristmasSweetsWeek sponsors. I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development, 
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.


Well, we're at the end of #ChristmasSweetsWeek! Much gratitude to Terri of Love and Confections and Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures for coordinating this amazing event. Not only did they keep all of us bloggers organized, but they lined up some great sponsors. Please visit my kick-off post for information about the prizes and to enter the giveaway. You may also enter at the bottom of this post. Good luck!

And now for the final line-up of Christmas Sweets...

Beverages 



Candies 



Desserts 




Eggnog Gingerbread Layer Cake

So, I can admit that this is the third gingerbread layer cake I made. The cake part was fine, but the frosting and decorations needed a little work. Thankfully, my tastetesters were game and didn't tire of it! And I finally did make a cake that not only tastes good, but looks good, too.


In this recipe I used sugar from Dixie Crystals, eggnog flavoring from LorAnn Oils, and fun sprinkles from Sweets & Treats*. Again, it's great to have such generous event sponsors.

Ingredients


Cakes (makes two 9" rounds)

  • 1-1/4 C butter, room temperature
  • 1 C unsulphured molasses
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar (prefer Dixie Crystals)
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar, lightly packed (prefer Dixie Crystals)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t eggnog flavoring (prefer LorAnn)
  • 3 C flour
  • 1-1/2 t baking powder
  • 1-1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t ground fresh black pepper
  • 1 C eggnog

Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 12 oz butter, softened
  • 1/2 C  light brown sugar, lightly packed (prefer Dixie Crystals)
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t eggnog flavoring (prefer LorAnn)
  • 3-1/2 C powdered sugar (prefer Dixie Crystals)
  • 3 T eggnog

To Finish


Procedure

Cakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until lightened and fluffy. Add in the molasses and sugars. Continue beating until well-combined. Beat in the eggs and extracts.

In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices until combined. Alternating between the dry ingredients and the eggnog, mix everything together to form a thick batter.

Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the pan should come out clean or with crumbs, but not batter.

Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes and then run a butter knife around the rim of the cake pan to loosen from the sides. Allow cakes to cool completely in pan before inverting and icing.


Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Beat in the brown sugar until well-combined. Add in the extracts, then gradually add powdered sugar to mixture. Beat until mixture is lightened.

To Finish
Once cakes have cooled, scoop a dollop of frosting between layers. Then apply an even layer on the top of the cake and sides of the cake. Sprinkle to decorate as desired. And, just before serving, press the cookies to the top and sides of the cake. Don't adhere them too early as they will get soggy.


The Giveaway
#ChristmasSweetsWeek products 
included in this recipe...

You may find Dixie Crystals on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.
You may find Sweets & Treats on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.


You may find LorAnn Oils on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

*DISCLAIMER: Thank you ChristmasSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Lorann Oils & Flavors, Torani, Joyjolt, and Sweets & Treats Boutique for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The ChristmasSweetsWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The ChristmasSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the ChristmasSweetsWeek posts or entry.

A French Winophiles Fête: Foie Gras, Pain d'Épices & Champagne Drappier #Winophiles #vignoblessignatures #clubvignobles #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the December #Winophiles event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

This month, Lynn of Savor the Harvest, is hosting the French Winophiles as we celebrate the holidays French-style. You can read her invitation: here. Merci beaucoup to Michèle Piron, Vinconnexion, and Vignobles & Signaturesour generous event sponsors!

I received four beautiful bottles of French wine and will share all of them in turn, but for this French Winophiles Fête, I'm sticking with a quintessential classic: Champagne. This bottle from one of the event sponsors Drappier.


There were more than a few discussions of what makes something 'French-style'. And you can see the outcome. If you are reading this early enough and are so inclined, join us on a live Twitter chat: Saturday, December 15th at 8am Pacific. Or search for the hashtag - #Winophiles - and read all the posts. These will come online live between Friday and Saturday. Cheers.

Here's the #Winophiles' French-Style Season offerings...

Foie Gras

As for me, I decided to do something I love: combining sweet and savory. And I also decided to do something I don't usually do: eat foie gras. Don't get me wrong, it's not the foie gras controversy that keeps me away (remember, my state of residence has banned foie on and off for years); it's just not something I usually buy. In fact, when something is banned - say a book or a food product - I am more apt to hunt it down and partake. Really. Besides, many a French holiday meal typically starts off with foie gras.

You might ask: is it ethical to eat foie gras? I say, yes. In this country, foie gras is produced by just a handful of farmers who have the highest of standards and practices for their animals. This foie gras is from Hudson Valley. If you're curious, you can google them. They have some nice clips about their process. And when compared to the mass-produced nightmare that is factory farmed meat, foie gras looks idyllic.

Pain d'Épices

I've had foie gras seared. And I've had it with a slice of toasted brioche. I love that combination. But when I read about pairing an unctuous slice of liver with grilled gingerbread slices, pain d’épices, I was sold. I made small gingerbread squares, places seared foie gras on top of the cookies, then added a smear of lemon marmalade for a rich, spicy, tart holiday nibble.

Ingredients makes lots more cookies than needed!
  • 1 C butter
  • 1 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C unsulphured molasses
  • 6 C flour + more as needed
  • 1 C ground almond meal (or almond flour)
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 t ground white pepper
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • Also needed: cookie cutters (I used a small rectangle), parchment paper, rolling pin



Procedure
Melt the butter and whisk in the molasses, sugar, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and blend till you have a stiff dough. Split dough into quarters and roll into a ball. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/4" thick. Use cookie cutters and place the cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place the trays in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness. They should be firm and nicely browned. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a minute or so before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough. 

Champagne Drappier

Drappier is a Champagne producer based in the Urville region of Champagne, at the heart of the Côte des Bar. Founded at the beginning of the 19th century, Drappier Champagne produces both vintage and non-vintage cuvee. And this one - Brut Nature - is a no added sulphur, 100% Pinot Noir wine.


To the eye, it's a beautiful golden color with flecks of rose. On the nose, I get citrus. And, on the tongue, it has a generous array of herbs and stone fruit. This is a lovely Champagne that paired beautifully with the foie gras.


And because I didn't want to leave the boys out of this fête, I tracked down some sparkling apple-pear juice from France.


Two more things are needed for a truly fabulous French-style feast, in my opinion: cheese and dessert. So, in addition to the foie gras, I served warmed Camembert with slices of bread. That's always a hit. 


And for a truly French-style seasonal dessert, I would present a Bûche de Noël. I didn't make one for this post, but we make one every year for our Christmas baby. And you really can't go wrong with a Bûche de Noël. Ever. This was our Nutty Bûche de Noël from a couple of years ago. And the one below was posted here.


Well, that's a wrap on our 2018 French Winophiles event. Thanks to all the bloggers who have sipped, posted, and taught me so many things this year. Join us, again, in January when we are exploring the Biodynamic Wines of France with Gwen of Wine Predator leading the conversation. À Notre Santé...Joyeuses Fêtes!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Spiced Eggnog Sugarmen #ChristmasSweetsWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sweets & Treats, LorAnn, and Dixie Crystals, 
#ChristmasSweetsWeek sponsors. I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development, 
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Well, we're almost at the end of #ChristmasSweetsWeek! Much gratitude to Terri of Love and Confections and Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures for coordinating this amazing event. Not only did they keep all of us bloggers organized, but they lined up some great sponsors. Please visit my kick-off post for information about the prizes and to enter the giveaway. You may also enter at the bottom of this post. Good luck!


One of the event sponsors - Sweets & Treats - offered us some festive sprinkles and I immediately picked their Reindeer Food collection which includes gingerbread man quins, red sugar pearls, brown jimmies, white nonpareils, and other classic sprinkles. It's so fun and was the perfect bling for my Spiced Eggnog Sugarmen.


Another sponsor - LorAnn Oils - offered us super-strength oils and I picked my favorite holiday flavor: eggnog! These super strength oils are 4 times as potent as extracts, so adjust accordingly.

But, first, here are today's Christmas Sweets...

Beverages



Breakfast



Candies



Desserts





I call these 'sugarmen' because they're shaped like gingerbread men, but it's a sugar cookie base. You get it, right? These have just a quick squeeze of royal icing in the shape of a scarf...and that's where I put the sprinkles. 

Ingredients
Eggnog Sugar Cookies
  • 2-3/4 C flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t eggnog flavoring (prefer LorAnn)
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • zest from 1 organic lemon

Royal Icing
  • 3 egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 6 C organic powdered sugar, or more to thicken icing (prefer Dixie Crystals)
  • juice from 1 to 2 organic lemons (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 t eggnog extract (prefer LorAnn)
  • sprinkles to finish
Procedure
Sugar Cookies
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Set aside in a bowl.

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla extract, eggnog flavoring, and zest. Mix. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing completely.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill dough for at least 2 hours. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper.

Shape them with your cutters, using flour to keep them from sticking. Place on a silicone mat-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, depending on size of cookies. Cool completely on wire racks. Make the royal icing while the cookies cool.

Royal Icing
Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, eggnog extract, and lemon juice. Beat for another minute. If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it's too thin, add more sugar. This icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To Finish
Pipe the royal icing over cooled cookies. As I mentioned, I made little scarves on my sugarmen and sprinkled them with the sprinkle mix. Let icing set before storing or serving. You'll see these spiced sugarmen on top of my cake that I'll share tomorrow for the last day of #ChristmasSweetsWeek.


The Giveaway
#ChristmasSweetsWeek products 
included in this recipe...

You may find Dixie Crystals on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.
You may find Sweets & Treats on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.


You may find LorAnn Oils on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

*DISCLAIMER: Thank you ChristmasSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Lorann Oils & Flavors, Torani, Joyjolt, and Sweets & Treats Boutique for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The ChristmasSweetsWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The ChristmasSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the ChristmasSweetsWeek posts or entry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Snickerdoodle Fudge #ChristmasSweetsWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dixie Crystals, a #ChristmasSweetsWeek sponsor. 
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development, but all opinions are honest and 
they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Welcome to the fourth day of #ChristmasSweetsWeek! Much gratitude to Terri of Love and Confections and Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures for coordinating this amazing event. Not only did they keep all of us bloggers organized, but they lined up some great sponsors. Please visit my kick-off post for information about the prizes and to enter the giveaway. You may also enter at the bottom of this post.

Beverages


Breakfast


Candies


Desserts



Snickerdoodle Fudge

Let me start with this: I had never had fudge before I met my husband. Well, I didn't even eat chocolate until we were already married and I was pregnant with our oldest son. But one version or another of fudge always ends up on our Christmas cookie platters because everyone else seems to like it! We've made DalMINTian Fudge, Pumpkin Fudge with Candied Kumquat Peels, and one R called 'Darkies Fudge.'

This fudge is amazing! And it's incredibly easy to make.  I know we all get busy around the holidays but you only need a handful of ingredients, about 10 minutes of active time, and to be patient for a couple of hours.



And, with this creation, I knocked two things off the boys' most-requested-during-the-holidays list: fudge and snickerdoodles. Snickerdoodles are probably D's favorite cookies in the world; he's made Pumpkin Snickerdoodles and Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches in addition to the regular cookies! So, he was more than eager to help me create a Snickerdoodle Fudge.


Ingredients
  • 3 C white chocolate chips
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 t cinnamon + 2 T for sprinkling on top
  • 4 T granulated sugar for sprinkling on top (prefer Dixie Crystals)



Procedure
Mix 2 T cinnamon and 4 T sugar together in a bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk over medium-low heat. Stir continuously. Once completely melted together remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and 1-1/4 t cinnamon. 

Pour into a baking dish lined with buttered foil or parchment paper. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top. Let chill for 2 hours. Cut into one-inch squares.


The Giveaway
#ChristmasSweetsWeek products 
included in this recipe...

You may find Dixie Crystals on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.
*DISCLAIMER: Thank you ChristmasSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Lorann Oils & Flavors, Torani, Joyjolt, and Sweets & Treats Boutique for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The ChristmasSweetsWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The ChristmasSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the ChristmasSweetsWeek posts or entry.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Salted Caramel Hot Apple Cider #ChristmasSweetsWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of JoyJolt and Torani, #ChristmasSweetsWeek sponsors. 
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development, but all opinions are honest and 
they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Welcome to the third day of #ChristmasSweetsWeek! Much gratitude to Terri of Love and Confections and Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures for coordinating this amazing event. Not only did they keep all of us bloggers organized, but they lined up some great sponsors. Please visit my kick-off post for information about the prizes and to enter the giveaway. You may also enter at the bottom of this post.

For now, here are the bloggers' recipes to inspire you to make some Christmas Sweets...

Beverages

Candies

Desserts



When I saw that Torani was an event sponsor, I did a little happy dance. We have lots of bottles of Torani in our cupboards. We add them to sparkling water for an easy homemade Italian soda; my husband and I add them to coffee for a special sweet treat. But when I received the bottles of Salted Caramel and Vanilla syrups, the boys asked for steamers and hot cider. Done!


And I served the cider in the Caleo double-walled mugs from sponsor Joyholt. You can read my thoughts about the mugs in my Gløgg (Danish Mulled Wine) post from earlier in the week.

Salted Caramel Hot Apple Cider 

Ingredients serves 8
  • 10 C apple cider
  • 3 to 4 cinnamon sticks + more for garnish
  • 5 to 6 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 4 T mulling spices (my homemade version)
  • 5 to 6  pieces candied ginger
  • peel from 1 organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon) + more for garnish
  • 8 to 16 t Salted Caramel syrup (prefer Torani), divided, depending on tastes (we opt for less)



Procedure
Place all of the ingredients - except the syrup - in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat immediately. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain out spices.

Pour 1 to 2 t of syrup into each serving mug. Pour strained cider into mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.

The Giveaway
#ChristmasSweetsWeek products 
included in this recipe...
You may find Torani on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.
You may find Joyjolt on the web
on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

*DISCLAIMER: Thank you ChristmasSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Lorann Oils & Flavors, Torani, Joyjolt, and Sweets & Treats Boutique for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The ChristmasSweetsWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The ChristmasSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the ChristmasSweetsWeek posts or entry.

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