Category Archives: Holiday

Christmas Past …

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I am having fun today searching my blog for special treats and recipes I shared over the last seven  Decembers.  You can click on the posted link and it will take you to the original blog post and the recipe!   I must start out with my favorite sugar cookie recipe!

Christmas always means Sour Cream Coconut Cake at our house!

Looking for a few colorful recipes this one caught my eye.  Perfect for some Christmas eve appetizers this red and green taco dip is surely festive!

Layered Taco Dip

Hot fruit compote is so easy and incredibly good with breakfast on a cold, snowy, Christmas morning.  Okay, so it may not be cold and snowy where you are (or where I am) but the hot fruit compote is still my sous-chef dish-washing mom’s favorite!

Speaking of breakfast … this Apple Sage Sausage recipe was a huge hit every time we served it at our bed and breakfast.

Unbelievably Delicious Apple Sage Sausage Balls

It’s not too late to “gift from the kitchen” with this Better Than Starbucks Hot Chocolate! Check it out!

I am having a blast taking a walk down memory lane from Christmas’ past!  I hope you enjoy these pictures and recipes too!

Oh! Brine Your Turkey!  I know many of you deep fry your turkeys and I hear that is an awesome way to tuck in the moisture and flavor.  I haven’t ever eaten deep-fried turkey but I have brined a few and highly recommend as the way to go! 

My family can attest to the fact that if it is “broccoli” I love it! Add the au gratin and I am all in!

Another favorite au gratin comes in the form of Brussel sprouts.  Ah, so yummy!

Looks like I need to stop looking backward and get to the kitchen for some Christmas weekend cooking!  Before I sign off I would be remiss for not including this Peppermint Fudge Cake Roll.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!
~Blessings, Catherine

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Take the Cake

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Christmas is quickly approaching!  And you know what that means!?  Party time!  Christmas parties and potlucks are some of my favorite get-togethers of the whole year, but there’s always the question of what to bring.  No one wants to be the person whose dish doesn’t get eaten. So how do you know what will be popular?  My advice, bring a classic.  Stick to the normal crowd pleasers and then dress them up in their Christmas best!  I know time is always an issue, so here are some of my favorite simple treats for potlucks that I’ve found on Pinterest. Whether you’re hosting or just attending, these are guaranteed to get gone.

However, if you’re looking for something a little fancier, keep reading.

My mom’s birthday was right before Thanksgiving, and I made her a classic chocolate cake with whipped ganache.  I found the inspiration on, you guessed it, Pinterest, and was able to easily recreate it!  The design looks elaborate but is really very simple. It would make a stunning dessert for Christmas dinner.  Here is the Pinterest picture I found.So here’s what I did.  I’ll be willing to bet most of you already have a killer chocolate cake recipe, so I won’t bore you with mine, but I would recommend jazzing it up with espresso or your favorite liquor (I used Bailey’s Irish Cream).  I filled and iced the layers with a traditional whipped ganache (also flavored with Bailey’s), and then covered it with a soft ganache. After that, I simply piped rosettes and topped them with my favorite Lindor chocolate truffles.

The tricky part was the basket in the middle.  This cake would still be spectacular without it, but it does add a very dazzling showpiece. I had never made a basket like this before and was able to get it on the first try.  It really isn’t as complicated as It looks.  I know you can do it if you have time!

You make the baskets by drizzling melted almond bark (or tempered chocolate if you’re brave) over some air-filled water balloons (I happened to have those on hand because I’m a child) and set them up in some cups.  Put those babies in the freezer to chill, then just pop the balloons.  Tips! Make sure you POP the ballon instead of letting the air slowly seep out.  I did that at first and it made the chocolate break because it was too slow.  You just gotta rip it out like a band-aid.  Also, make more than one.  Even I, being the culinary genius that I am, make lots of mistakes. 😉 I think at least two of the four that I made broke.

After you finish decorating, cut the cake with a HOT knife to get those beautiful, picture-perfect slices.

Well, there it is!  I hope you can wow your friends with this fabulous cake! Merry Christmas!

Abby Hughes

Soft Ganache
 
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This ganache is very versatile. Great for icing cakes or making into truffles. This recipe will ice one 8-inch cake.
Author:
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 16 oz.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. Chopped Dark Chocolate (or chips)
  • 8 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
Instructions
  1. Heat heavy cream to simmer in a saucepan. Be careful not to scorch.
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate.
  3. Let sit for 3-4 minutes before stirring.
  4. Add vanilla and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour over cake while warm. If making truffles, refrigerate till firm and roll into balls. Cover with chocolate or cocoa powder.

 
Whipped Ganache
 
Prep time
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Use as an icing or filling.
Author:
Recipe type: icing
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 24 oz.
Ingredients
  • 16 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 8 oz. Chopped Dark Chocolate or Chocolate Chips
  • Vanilla Flavoring
Instructions
  1. Put cream in a heavy saucepan. Heat to simmer. Be careful not to scorch.
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate.
  3. Let sit for 3-4 minutes before stirring.
  4. Add vanilla and stir until smooth. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
  5. Whip till stiff peaks.
  6. Use to ice cakes or as a sweet filling.

Pumpkin Muffins and the Pumpkin Patch

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Who doesn't love fall?  If you don't, you can just leaf!  Okay, that pun was not my best.  But let's be honest, fall is arguably the best time of year.  It's finally cool enough to wear those cute sweaters, drink pumpkin lattes, and light cinnamon bun candles in every room! My nephew, Destin, just had his first birthday a few weeks ago, so my mom and I drove all the way to Oklahoma for his party.  Let me tell you, 12 hours is a LONG time to be in a car!  Unfortunately, my nephew probably won't remember that I was there,  so I made sure to get in the video.   Every little bit counts when you're competing for "favorite Aunt" status.My sister threw a perfectly sweet party at Parkhurst Pumpkin Patch.  We roasted smores, climbed hay bales, pet goats, and even got lost in a corn maze!  The adults had a great time, but honestly I think Destin's favorite thing was his new bouncy balls.  He's such an adorable little chunk!  Look at that face.  Yes, his cheeks are just as squishy as you are imagining them to be.We had a great week visiting with my sister, Anna.  I have to brag on her a little because she made some magazine-worthy meals while we were there.  I really enjoyed the delicious spaghetti squash pumpkin soup! Ever since that visit I've caught the disease. The fall fever.  The sweater spirit.  The pumpkin pox.  When it comes fall and winter, all I want to do is bake.  The only problem is that if I make it at my house, I'll eat everything!  So, at the coffee shop where I work, I made some acorn shaped pumpkin spice muffins with a maple glaze.  That would appease me.  I almost took some home to my family, but at the end of the day, I forgot.  The next morning I went to the gym like I normally do, and when I came home, the house smelled AMAZING!  To my surprise, when I walked in the kitchen, my dearest mother had made pumpkin muffins! She has made these muffins so many times for my brother and me.  They are my absolute favorite!  They are the perfect texture.  So moist, and delicious.  Sometimes she makes them with banana or applesauce instead of pumpkin.  I don't know which kind I like best... no wait, I do know. It's the ones with the chocolate chips! Those are my favorite. These muffins just make me feel warm inside.  Like snuggling up on the couch with a plaid blanket.  There's just something magical about them.  So, here's her recipe for pumpkin spice muffins.  I know first hand that these will make your family look forward to fall every year.  Enjoy!   Also,  you can follow my lovely mother on her blog at praiseyouinmystorm.wordpress.com Abby Hughes
Pumpkin Muffins
 
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This versatile muffin is always a hit!
Author:
Serves: 24 medium muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups pumpkin, bananas, or applesauce
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients.
  4. Stir flour mixture into liquid mixture just until combined.
  5. Scoop into greased muffin tins.
  6. Bake 15 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for medium muffins.
Notes
Batter will keep in fridge for 4 days.

Family, Friends, & Heritage Food: Pecan Puffs, Peanut Clusters, Fudge, Scotch-a-roos

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Crystal BSN web-15Last week I was given the gift of spending time with my niece Crystal and her family.  After 6 years of classes, while raising three children and still working part of that time, Crystal realized a life-long dream of becoming a registered nurse.  We attended her graduation and then the pinning ceremony later that day.  Soon she will take her NCLEX (National Council Licensing exam) and will officially become a RN-BSN.

Crystal's Pinning
Crystal’s Pinning

My sous-chef dish-washing mom participated in the pinning of her grand-daughter along with Crystal’s husband, Kevin, and her best friend and nurse-mate, Alicia.  This was an especially sweet moment for mom as she reflected on her own pinning, becoming a Registered Nurse some 63 years ago.

Family Forever For Always Plaque
At every turn throughout this weekend, I’m reminded of the importance of family and family history.  Crystal treasures her family heritage and includes that heritage in all aspects of her life. From decorating her home with family memorabilia to the recipes she uses in preparing food and treats for the weekend.

"The Grandmas" Treat Plate
“The Grandmas” Treat Plate

When we arrived her kitchen table was covered with “treats”. Crystal explained that she wanted to honor the “grandma’s in her life” by using their recipes for the weekend festivities.  I was so touched and intrigued that I want to share those recipes with you. But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading

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