Thursday, December 18, 2014

Overnight Eggnog French Toast


After the tree has been put up and decorated, the stockings are hanging in front of the fireplace, and all the Christmas shopping is finished, you can finally sit down, kick up your feet, grab a glass of wine, and relax.

Oh, but don’t get so comfy in that big chair just yet. Remember last week when I told you the Holidays are all about the food….{singing & dancing} ’bout the food….’bout the food.

Oh, sorry, I just love the verse of that song! And if ya don’t know what song I’m talking about…listen here (and it includes the lyrics so you can sing while making this in the kitchen and impress your kids or hubby!).



This Christmas holiday make it all about the food by starting your morning off with my Overnight Eggnog French Toast. A French toast casserole that’s easy and quick to make. And if it’s only the adults eating it, you can go ahead and add a little (or a lot) of bourbon to the sauce to make it taste more like the eggnog you know {smile}. You can also make a non-alcoholic version by leaving out the bourbon.


And the best apart about it is you make the night before so all you have to do Christmas morning is preheat the oven, toss it in, and bake it. After everyone is finished unwrapping all their presents, you can sit down and enjoy homemade French toast for breakfast with your loved ones.

A beautiful ending to all the chaos that just took place in the other room and a delicious way to begin your day.


Happy Holidays!



Overnight Eggnog French Toast

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1 inch thick slices (or bread of your choice)

8 eggs

1 cup Eggnog

2 cups of my Bourbon and Brown Sugar Sauce

Dash of ground cinnamon

Dash of ground nutmeg

Ingredients and directions for my Bourbon and Brown Sugar Sauce found here.

Directions

To prepare French toast

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Lightly grease a 9” x 13” baking dish. Set aside.

Pour half of Bourbon and Brown Sugar Sauce over the bottom of baking dish.

After you’ve cut bread into 1 inch slices, place them over the sauce in the baking dish, so it resembles the original loaf. If you have extra bread, just cut into smaller pieces (small, square chunks) and place between edges of dish and bread or on top of loaf.

Pour other half of Bourbon and Brown Sugar Sauce over the bread and in between slices.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and eggnog. Slowly pour egg mixture over bread in baking dish. Separate the pieces slightly as you pour over the top, so the mixture can be soaked up by all of the bread.

*Be careful when pouring over the top of the bread, if you have low edges, egg mixture might run out of dish. Not that it happened to me or anything, I’m just sayin the mixture will follow the eggs.* If it does, hopefully you have it placed on a counter that you can just wipe it all into a bowl and pour again, carefully this time {chuckle}.

Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the top to your liking.

Cover dish with aluminum foil (because you’re going to be baking it covered) and place in refrigerator for overnight, or at least 8 hours.

In the morning, preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Remove dish from refrigerator and leaving foil on, place into oven for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, increase oven temperature to 375F degrees, remove foil from dish, and continue to cook for about 20-45 minutes, depending on your oven.

You want it to crisp some of the bread and cook all the eggs. Make sure you check the bottom and middle before serving to make sure all the eggs have been cooked. You don’t want the egg mixture runny. It should have a clear brown liquid on bottom from the Bourbon and Brown Sugar Sauce .

After removing dish from oven, let sit for 5 minutes.

Can be served with powdered sugar sprinkled over the top, warmed Eggnog poured over the top, maple syrup, butter, or fresh fruit.

Disclaimer ~ "All about the bass" song by Meghan Trainor, uploaded from YouTube. I have no rights to the song, music, lyrics, or video.

All content and images (excluding video "All about the bass" from YouTube) are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Russian Tea Cakes #fbcookieswap


This year I participated in the Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap co-organized by Julie at The Little Kitchen and Lindsay at Love & Olive Oil. In order to participate, we submit an application and when you're accepted, you receive three names of other bloggers that are participating and you have a deadline to make one dozen cookies for each person and mail the cookies off to them.

Not only do you get to try some delicious cookies from other bloggers, but it's also for a good cause. When we submit our application, each participant donates a small sum which goes to Cookies for kids' Cancer. And the brand partners, OXO, Dixie CrystalsCalifornia Olive Ranch, and Brownie Brittle, will each match the donations, up to $3000. That's a lot so a big Thank You to all brand partners!


This is the first year I participated and it won't be my last as it was so much fun! I'm such a procrastinator and meeting a deadline always makes me turn up the juice. But having to meet a deadline when I have to figure in my work schedule kind of made me less of a procrastinator, which was a good thing because I was ahead of the curve. Well, maybe just by a day or two {smile}.

The bloggers who sent me cookies were Laura at Main Line Feast , Janelle at F-Chem 101 , and Kristi from Inspiration Kitchen.  Laura sent me Spiked Chocolate Pecan Pie bites that were so delicious! They were all buttery, nutty, and chocolatey. Janelle sent me Chocolate Coconut Icebox Cookies and y'all know how much I love coconut! While Kristi sent me Mexican Wedding Cookies, which were just scrumptious.

Everybody who participated will be posting our recipes today on each of our blogs, so head on over and check out the other girls' cookie recipes too. You can also search #fbcookieswap and see all the photos related to current and past cookie swaps. And if you missed this years deadline and are thinking about joining next year, you can receive notifications and sign up now for next years Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap here.

The bloggers who received my Christmas Russian Tea Cakes were Alison at Fridgg, Sara from Sara Ran Away With the Spoon, and Brett at Green Thumb White Apron. And now I'm sharing my recipe with y'all.


The original recipe came from my mom and is a Christmas tradition in our family. My mom has made these cookies every Christmas for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I knew them as Butterball cookies but they're also known as Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Italian Wedding Cookies.

To make them more Christmassy, I added a little hint of red and green color with the candied cherries. And since I changed the recipe, I've renamed these Christmas Russian Tea Cakes.

The result, as described by Allison, is magical. But don't just take her word for it, make them yourself and taste a little Christmas magic.


Christmas Russian Tea Cakes

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon minus 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract*

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 and 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup red candied cherries, chopped

1/4 cup green candied cherries, chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 cups powdered sugar in a small bowl for rolling cookies in after baking

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Chop walnuts and place in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop candied cherries and place in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sifted powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix until creamy.

Blend in walnuts and candied cherries.

Slowly add in sifted flour and mix until all ingredients are blended. Mixture will be crumbly but it rolls together nicely when making balls.

Take about 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough between your hands and roll into a ball. Place 2" apart onto prepared cookie sheet. They should maintain their round shape after baking and should not spread.

Place into preheated oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Cookies should have similar color as when uncooked and should not be allowed to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes on cookie sheet before placing onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper under wire cookie rack before you start rolling cookies in powdered sugar.

After cookies have cooled, roll each cookie in a small bowl of powdered sugar, covering entire cookie, and place back on wire cookie rack. You can also sift powdered sugar over the tops before storing for an extra layer of dusting.

Can be stored in an air tight container for up to 1 week. Trust me, they won't be around that long!

*Helpful Hints*

- * The vanilla and almond extract will equal 1 Tablespoon together.

- You can use more candied cherries, if you like.

- You can also make these with pecans instead of walnuts. I prefer walnuts because they taste more buttery to me.

- If you don't have parchment paper available, you can also place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Just watch them carefully. I think the parchment paper helps prevent the bottom of the cookies from browning, so that is my preference. My mom has always made these cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.

All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Coquito ~ Puerto Rican Eggnog


‘Tis the season for eggnog and I’m not talking about just any eggnog, No M’aam! I’m talking about eggnog with a tropical twist, Coquito, or also known as, Puerto Rican Eggnog.

I was reminded of this recipe after passing all the eggnog in the milk section at my local store today. I can’t believe I haven’t remembered this version of eggnog, especially after going through my coconut phase.

Ok, some might want to call it more of an obsession, but what can I say? I absolutely L-O-V-E the tropical, nutty flavor of this island nut. And obsession is such a strong word {chuckle}.

Back to this Puerto Rican eggnog, which is still a thick and creamy drink like the traditional eggnog, yet it has no eggs. That’s right, this is an eggless eggnog. Quite an oxymoron there, wouldn’t ya say? Egg-less Eggnog {smile}.

I might have had a sip or two of this drink before sitting down to write this post or it might just be sitting in a glass beside me, on the table, half full. Hey, somebody has to try these recipes before they get to you and if that is the selfless sacrifice I have to make, then count me in {wink}.


Like your traditional eggnog, you don’t have to serve this drink with alcohol (but what fun is that). Seriously now, you can leave out the alcohol for those that don’t drink and it’s just as yummy.

So if you love coconut like I do or maybe you just want to try an eggless eggnog, try my version of Coquito for a tropical twist on your Holiday season.

Coquito – Puerto Rican Eggnog

Ingredients

Makes 48 ounces

4 cups coconut canned milk, unsweetened

2 cup heavy cream

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Honey for glass preparation – at least 4 ounces

½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut

4-6 coconut strips

Dash of nutmeg for topping

Cinnamon sticks, 1 per glass

For alcoholic version ~ Rum to your own tasting

Directions

Place coconut milk, heavy cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a blender. Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Pour into a small pitcher, cover, and refrigerate until chilled. Overnight is best so the flavors can mingle.

Prepare the glasses when ready to serve.

Pour about 3 Tablespoons of honey onto a flat plate for every 2 glasses to prepare. Place flaked coconut on same plate as honey, keeping them separate.

Roll the rim of the glass around in the honey so it covers the entire rim. Gently repeat same process in flaked coconut so rim of glass is covered with honey and coconut.


Place glass on counter and drizzle honey into the inside of the glass. You can use as much as you like here, keeping in mind it will sweeten your drinks. A little bit of honey for a mild sweet flavor. More honey for sweeter drinks.


For alcoholic versions, pour in desired amount of rum.

Pour in chilled coconut milk mix.

Sprinkle with a dash of ground nutmeg over the top, place either 1 to 2 coconut strips or a pinch of sweetened, flaked coconut on top.

Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Serve and enjoy!

Watch me make this here on Simmer.

Remember to drink responsibly this Holiday season.

All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dreamy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip



It's all about the food....'bout the food...'bout the food this month as December is the season for parties. You have Christmas parties for work, Christmas parties with family and friends, another Christmas party with your other friends, and the Christmas party with your neighbors. And that's just the Christmas parties. Then there's the New Years Eve parties and New Years parties.

You'll not only need food for main courses, but you'll need appetizers, chips and dips, and drink ideas. Plus you'll need food for the kids while you're out doing "grown up stuff".


This dip is perfect for any of the above. Plus it's quick and easy to make and you probably have all the ingredients in your cupboards right now.

It's also quite versatile. You can serve it with anything from graham crackers, pretzels, chocolate or vanilla wafers to banana chips and plantain chips. Trust me, I tried them all, for the sake of saving you from having to do all the hard work, of course.

I'll just dance a little more this season to help burn off the calories. Ha, if you saw me dance you wouldn't have let me taste test my dip with all the different dippers {chuckle}. Remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine dances....


 Feel free to try it with your own likings and let me know what combinations you serve it up with.

Dreamy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 Tablespoons honey

Directions

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add cream cheese and peanut butter, blending together until creamy.

Mix in cinnamon and honey throughout mixture. Mixture will be thick like a cookie dough.

Refrigerate in an air tight container until ready to serve. Can be stored refrigerated up to one week.

Serve in a bowl with side of pretzels, wafers, banana chips, plantains, or Annie's cocoa and vanilla gluten free bunny crackers, as pictured in the photos.

*Helpful Hints*

- Can also use whipped cream cheese, low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, or Neufchatel cheese, room temperature.


Disclaimer ~ I do not represent Peanut Butter & Co., nor did I receive any monies for this post. I just love their Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter and found it delicious in this recipe.

All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.



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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Peppermint Meringue Cookies


Can you believe its December? And you know what that means, don’t you? Yep, cookie making season is officially here!

I love baking cookies, especially Christmas cookies. There are so many different kinds, flavors, textures…I think you get my hint. There are just so darn many Christmas cookies to make that one month is not enough time to bake them all in!

And in my…umm, let’s just say older years, there are still some I’ve never made before. Yes, it’s true, I have not baked all of the different kinds of Christmas cookies out there. I know, I can’t believe it myself.

So far this year, I’ve made two different kinds of Christmas cookies that I’ve never attempted to bake before. One being these meringue cookies I'm sharing with you today and the other is the Christmas cookies I made for the cookie swap, that I will be sharing with you on December 15th.


 
I don't know why I've never made these cookies before. After all, they're light, airy, and fat free. Yes, fat free since their main ingredients are egg whites and sugar. That means gluten-free too!

Even though these were a little messy for me to make (anything that involves piping stuff is messy for me), the end result are these beautiful snowy white meringue cookies sprinkled with silver and gold with a kiss of peppermint flavoring. The perfect cookie for any Holiday party.


I kept singing the Christmas song from Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, "Silver and Gold" while I was making these cookies. You too can listen to it right here ~

    .
Now that you’re in the mood, here’s the recipe for my Peppermint Meringue Cookies so you can enjoy them at your home too, while singing "Silver and Gold" {smile}.

Peppermint Meringue Cookies

Ingredients

4 egg whites

1 cup sugar

2 pinches Cream of Tartar

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gold decorating cupcake gems (found in the baking aisle)

Silver decorating cupcake gems

Directions

Preheat oven to 195F degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Making sure to fit the parchment paper on the cookie sheet by cutting off any overhang. I found it easier to crinkle the parchment paper when placing it on the cookie sheet so it stays in place and won’t roll everywhere with its natural shape from being on the tube. Set aside.

Fill a large saucepan halfway with water. Heat until boiling. Turn down heat after it begins to boil.

In a large metal mixing bowl, combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Using a small hand whisk, whisk together for about 10 seconds, until all ingredients are combined.

Place over heated water and whisk until sugar dissolves. This should only take a couple minutes. Remove from heated water.

Using either a hand or a stand mixer, whip mixture on High speed until peaks start to form.

Add in vanilla and peppermint extract. Continue to whip until stiff peaks start to form. You can tell this when you remove the wire whip away from the mixture and it remains peaked.

Now it’s time to make the cookies. Using a pastry bag and an open star tip, carefully make round circles going wide then narrowing as they go up in height. Making about 2 inches in height and placing 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Or you can make any design you wish.

Sprinkle with your gold and silver decorating cupcake gems {Feel free to sing during this time}.

Bake for 90–120 minutes. That’s one hour and a half to two hours baking time. You don’t want them to brown, so keep an eye on them after 90 minutes if they need to cook a little longer. They should have a crispy outer shell when tapped.

After meringues have baked, leave them in the oven, turn off the heat, prop the oven door open about 3 inches to let the cookies cool and crisp up a little more. Leave like this for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove cookies from the oven.

To remove the cookies from the parchment paper, either gently twist off the cookies or gently pull parchment paper away from the cookies. They should come off clean.

There might be a little sticky going on and that’s where the gentle pulling of the parchment paper away from the cookie works best. Be careful not to squish the cookies between your fingers while trying to remove them from the parchment paper.

Store in an airtight container for up to one month. In high humidity climates, they will keep for 2-3 weeks in storage.

*Helpful Hints*

- I didn’t find this out until after I made my cookies which I made on a rainy day but meringue is best made on a day without humidity. Because the humidity causes soft and muted peaks instead of stiff and sharp peaks.

- You can also add any flavoring or coloring you like to these cookies.

- Keep a damp towel nearby when making these because you will get it on your hands. Unless, of course, you’re a professional, but for those like me, it will get on your hands {smile}.

Disclaimer - "Silver and Gold" is from the classic 1964 CBS Special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", sung by Burl Ives. Video uploaded from YouTube.*

All content and images (excluding video "Silver and Gold")* are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.
Follow Julie's board Sweet and Spicy Monkey on Pinterest.

Featured here ~ Sweet and Savoury Sundays #93 & Gluten- Free Holiday Drinks & Cookies



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