Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

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“Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer and more pleasant and purposeful.” — Richard G. Scott

A friend in the office made this bundt cake recipe and loved it, and she doesn’t even like chocolate.  She got the recipe from this site: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/chocolate-peppermint-bundt-cake/

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (we use Dutch processed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies, for decorating
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. 3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. The mixture will be thick. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until completely blended. Whisk in the sour cream, peppermint extract, and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
  4. 4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
  5. 5. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate glaze. Place the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepan and put over medium heat. Stir until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  6. 6. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes or peppermint candies. Cut into pieces and serve.

Note-if you don’t have sour cream, you can use plain Greek yogurt instead. The cake will keep on the counter for 2-3 days. Be careful when covering it because the glaze will stick to plastic wrap. I like to cover it with a cake topper.

Christmas Cracker Candy

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“Take responsibility of your own happiness, never put it in other people’s hands.” –Roy T. Bennett

I got this recipe from my friend Tris, who brought it to a work Christmas party.  Salty and sweet; put it in Christmas tins and deliver it for neighbor gifts.

Cracker Candy

1 tube of saltines (~ 40 crackers +)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (either salted or unsalted; do not use margarine)
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar (I prefer light)
1 bag chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet)
1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans (or toasted chopped almonds)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Line cookie sheet with foil & spray with non-stick cooking spray. Line crackers end to end on sheet, breaking crackers to fit the end if necessary. In a saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Once melted, add brown sugar and turn heat to medium. Continue stirring until boiling – then boil for 3 minutes (set timer). Pour over crackers, spread evenly working quickly. Put sheet into oven – bake for 5 minutes. Remove – pour chocolate chips over top – place a sheet of foil over and let melt for ~3 minutes. Spread melted chocolate over the top evenly. Add nuts to top – replace foil and refrigerate until set.
(can be frozen)

Avalanche Popcorn

christmas

This is SUCH a delicious Christmastime treat.  I got this recipe from my friend Tris, who brought it to our office Christmas party.

Avalanche Popcorn

  • 8 c. popcorn
  • 1 c. white chocolate for melting
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 c. mini marshmallows
  • 1 c. Rice Krispies
  • ½ c. semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, place the popped popcorn, removing any unpopped kernels
  2. Set aside.
  3. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and peanut butter in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment until chocolate is smooth and melted.
  4. Pour the white chocolate-peanut butter mixture over the top of popcorn, but do not stir yet. Add Rice Krispy cereal and mini marshmallows and gently toss or stir to coat.
  5. Pour the popcorn mixture on a large piece of parchment paper and gently spread to a single layer.
  6. Place the milk chocolate melting candy in the microwave and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment until smooth and melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the top of popcorn.
  7. Allow to cool until chocolate has hardened. Break into pieces before packaging or transferring to a bowl to serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

The Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

These are hands down the BEST gingerbread cookies I have ever had.

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They were thick and soft and they were delicious. Emilie made them last night and we decorated them with homemade icing and red hots and jelly beans.  Recipe source: http://theparsimoniousprincess.blogspot.com/search?q=gingerbread+cookies

gingerbread

 

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
5 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated.

Add molasses.  Mix.

In a separate bowl, combine the soda, salt, spices, and flour.  Add to the wet mixture. Mix until smooth.

Before you roll out the dough, you need to let the dough chill for a couple hours.  Flatten the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, then wrap it up, and put it the fridge. This makes rolling out the chilled dough a little easier because it’s ready to go.

Once your dough has chilled, roll it out onto a floured countertop until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a lined or greased baking sheet, bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown.  Let the cookies cool on wire racks before you decorate.

We used homemade icing that we put in a large plastic bag with a hole cut at the edge to squeeze the icing from before adding the candy.

Make-Ahead Gravy

This make-ahead gravy recipe might take some of the stress out of getting everything hot and ready to serve at the same time; or it can supplement your gravy if your turkey didn’t have much in the way of drippings.

From Women’s Day Magazine 11/1999.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 turkey wings
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 c. water
  • 8 c. chicken broth
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ¾ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ tsp. Freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Put wings in a single layer in roasting pan; scatter onions on top. Roast 1 1/4 hours or until wings are browned.
  2. Put wings and onions in 3-qt saucepan. Add water to roasting pan; stir to scrape up any brown bits on bottom. Add to saucepan. Add 6 cups broth (refrigerate remaining 2 cups), the carrot and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Remove wings. When cool, pull off skin and meat. Discard skin; save meat for another use. Strain broth into saucepan; skim fat off broth.
  4. Whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until mixture is well blended and smooth.
  5. Bring broth in saucepan to a gentle boil. Whisk in flour mixture; boil 5 minutes to thicken gravy. Stir in butter and pepper.
  6. Freeze gravy up to 1 month. Reheat. You can add fat-skimmed drippings from a freshly roasted turkey.

 

Sandy Hager’s French Toast Extravaganza

My friend Julie shared this recipe with me.

Sandy Hager’s French Toast Extravaganza

  • 1 loaf French Bread (13 to 16 oz)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1 inch each.  Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13 inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly.  Pour mixture over the bread slices.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Spread praline topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline topping:

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans if you like
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Tangy Honey-Glazed Ham

tangy honey-glazed ham

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” –J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Tangy Honey Glazed Ham

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 pound) fully-cooked, bone-in ham
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 large orange, juiced and zested
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Add all ingredients to list

Directions – Cook time 2 h 45 m

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place ham in a roasting pan (use aluminium foil in pan for easy clean-up).
  2. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, honey, orange juice, orange zest, Dijon mustard, and ground cloves. Whisk together as you bring it to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Bake ham in preheated oven uncovered for 2 hours. Remove ham from oven, and brush with glaze. Bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, brushing ham with glaze every 10 minutes.

 

 

Best Funeral Potatoes

 

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Easter Potatoes

This is my favorite version of the many funeral potato recipes there are.  The ingredient ratio just seems perfect:

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-oz. bag shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 2 c. sour cream
  • 1 10-oz. can cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup
  • 2 1/4 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • OPTIONAL: Crushed cornflakes, seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.   Combine thawed hash browns, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, cheese, salt, and pepper and mix well.  Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Spread the mixture into a 9×13″ (or similar) dish and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the casserole is hot in the center and the cheese is bubbly throughout.  Serve with a salad and fruit or alongside roasted ham, turkey, chicken, or beef.

 

 

 

‘Island Park Christmas’ Recipes

  • 2 pounds pork
  • 2 cans Coke (NOT diet)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 3/4 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a reclosable bag to marinate, pour in one of the cans of Coke and 1/2 c. brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight. (I’ve done both…they both work.)

Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of Coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours. Remove pork from crock pot, drain off liquid, shred pork. (I use two forks because I’m too impatient to wait until it’s cool.)

Mix together (in a bowl or in the blender) other 1/2 can of Coke, can of chiles, enchilada sauce and brown sugar.

Put shredded pork back in the crock pot, cover with sauce, heat just until warmed through.

Cilantro Lime Rice

  • 1 cup. uncooked rice
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cups water (or chicken broth – leave out bouillon)
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules (or 2 bouillon cubes)
  • 1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 T fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.

In a bowl combine lime juice, sugar and chopped cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2-3 tomatillos, remove husk, cut in 1/2
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro (cut off most of stems)
  • 1 generous tsp of minced garlic
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1 jalapeno

Blend well.  Serve pork over rice and top with drained, rinsed black beans, cut up tomato, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado.

DiGiornos Pizza served with green salad 
Christmas Breakfast Casserole served with bacon and sweet rolls
Grandma Sycamore’s White Bread Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Progresso’s Tomato Soup
Trader Joe’s Yummy Gingerbread Cookies