Maple-Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Rutabaga with Hazelnuts

IMG_5852I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home to spend Christmas with my family for the first time in 4 years and coming from a family that loves to eat, I couldn’t be more excited! My sister-in-law and I have been planning Christmas dinner for the last week, picking the perfect sides, appetizers and drinks for our first Christmas on the Island. IMG_5855

I love brussel sprouts and root vegetables, they are the perfect winter dish, which is why I was automatically drawn to this recipe. I’ve done roasted root veggies before with olive oil and some S & P… but the flavor of the maple syrup and hazelnuts make this dish amazing. IMG_5882

Its a perfect side for chicken, turkey or beef (we are doing it with a stuffed beef tenderloin…recipe to come). This has become one of my favorite new brussel sprout recipes- last time I tweaked it and added 1 pound of parsnips (pealed and diced). You could add just about any root vegetable to this recipe and it would be fantastic! Enjoy!
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Maple-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Rutabaga and Hazelnuts (Click for printer friendly version)

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds rutabaga, skin removed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (5 cups)
  • 3/4 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ounce toasted hazelnuts, chopped (1/3 cup) (optional)

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together maple syrup, oil, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add rutabaga, and toss.
  2. Transfer rutabaga and all but 2 tablespoons glaze to a rimmed baking sheet (leave remaining glaze in bowl). Spread rutabaga in a single layer, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and roast for 35 minutes, tossing halfway through and making sure rutabaga is spread toward the edges of pan.
  3. Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. Toss brussels sprouts with remaining glaze in bowl and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Remove sheet from oven, and add sprouts. Toss, and spread in a single layer. Roast vegetables, tossing every 5 minutes, until glaze is very thick and vegetables are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Season with pepper and sprinkle with hazelnuts.IMG_5902Recipe from Whole Living
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Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Blossoms (Gluten Free too!)

Christmas = peanut butter blossoms (to me). I am a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate any way you serve it, but these cookies are always the best! I found this easy recipe a long time ago online and since then I’ve tweaked it to make it better. These are gluten free and only require 6 ingredients that you probably already have laying around in your kitchen! Whats better than not having to go to the store? I always manage to go in to the grocery store only needing bananas and almond milk and I some how end up with $60 worth of crap in my cart (even when I use the small one!) needless to say saving a trip to the store is good for my bank account! Here’s what you’ll need..

Ingredients-

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (don’t use the fancy stuff for this, Jiff or Skippy works best)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • Hershey’s Kisses (unwrapped please!)

Instructions-

Preheat oven to 350. Combine sugars in medium bowl. Beat egg and vanilla, combine with sugar. Add peanut butter and stir until completely incorporated. Using your hands, roll dough (about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) into balls and evenly place them on a un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before pushing a kiss gently into the center of the cookie. Allow to cool completely before covering (the kisses will be soft while cookies are cooling down) Enjoy!

Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie and I’ve found it… the most delicious chocolate chip cookie EVER.

Nutella on anything is amazing- then you stuff it inside a chocolate chip cookie and you’re on cloud 9. I found this recipe on Ambitious Kitchen yet another one of my new favorite blogs. Two tricks to this recipe, browning the butter before mixing it with the sugar gives the cookies a wonderful nutty flavor and making sure to refrigerate the dough before baking it keeps the cookies chewy and plump!Three different kinds chocolate chips (dark, milk and semi-sweet) combine for awesomely chocolatey cookies. 

I don’t know if I’ll make a normal chocolate chip cookie again! sprinkling the cookies with some coarse sea salt gives that salty sweet combination that I love! Gooey and delicious, you’ll be addicted too!

Nutella Stuffed Brown-Butter Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.

Chill your dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or place in freezer for 30 minutes (I tried putting mine in the freezer the first batch and found it was nearly impossible to work with the dough- so try to leave enough time to put dough in the refrigerator even if its only for 1 hour).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies 9-13 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. I continued my holiday baking with an updated version of the chocolate cinnamon pretzels I blogged on before. This time I used pretzel thins which catch even more cinnamon, sugar and chocolate! I crushed up some candy canes and sprinkled them on top! Its a great combination! I’ve packaged up all my holiday goodies! Happy Holidays everyone!

How to eat your holiday meal (the proper way)

etiquetteChristmas is right around the corner and you know what that means (NO, not lots of presents!) your bound to being eating a holiday meal at someone else table, whether it’s at your grandparents house or maybe even your new boyfriend’s family, you don’t want to be caught with bad manors at the table! I feel sometimes my generation missed a step along the way, etiquette schools no longer exist (do they?) and while I had a set of grandparents that wanted to make sure I knew the proper way ladies should sit at the table and how to set one, I probably never would have learned had it not been for them (and you mom!). Even though our world has become pretty informal (I wear jeans to work everyday and when I have to dress up I feel like a alien has taken over my body) but heavens to Betsy your future mother-in-law asks you to set the table and you put the forks and knives on the wrong sides… you’ve gone from husband material to eating at the kids table in a matter of seconds (which would probably be more fun anyways…). I found this cute “Dinner Etiquette” guide with some illustrations (for those of you who are more visual learners) on one of my favorite new blogs, “A Cup of Jo”. Hopefully her guide will help you out this holiday season! Enjoy!

Dinner etiquette

I’ve always been fascinated by etiquette, including which fork to use and where to put your napkin when you leave the table. It’s like a little game, and it can make you feel more confident and empowered. So, here’s a handy guide to eating dinner, illustrated by the fantastic Gemma Correll

If you’re a guest at a dinner party (pictured above), wait to start eating until the host or hostess takes his or her first bite (unless they absolutely insist that you start).
A funny tip that my grandparents used to tell us: The way to sit in your chair is to pretend a cat is in front of you, a mouse is behind.
Your wine and water glasses are to the RIGHT of your plate. Your bread plate is to the LEFT of your plate. If you remember that, you’ll never drink someone’s water or eat their bread again! (A genius tip from readers: To remember the order of the placesetting, think “BMW” — for bread, then meal, then water.)
Surprisingly, salt and pepper should be passed together, even if someone asks only for one. They’re considered “married!”
Never intercept a pass. For example, don’t snag a roll out of the bread basket when it’s on the way to someone else. (You’ll just have to ask them to pass the basket right back!)
Scoop your soup with your spoon tilted *away* from you. And surprise! It’s fine to tilt the bowl slightly away from you to get the last drop of soup. But never blow on your soup or food. Even if it’s piping hot!
Always taste your food before putting on salt and pepper. It’s considered rude to assume the food is under-seasoned before tasting it.
Once you’ve picked up a utensil, it should never touch the table again. You want your utensils to rest fully on the edge of your plate. (“No oars!” gasp the experts.)
When you are finished with your meal, your knife and fork should be placed on your plate diagonally from upper left to lower right (11 to 5 if you imagine your plate as a clock face). This is a secret code to the waiter (or host) that you’re finished.
If you have to go to the bathroom—or if you’re getting up at the end of the meal—just put your napkin to the left of your plate, loosely folded.

Yay, that’s it! Bon appetit!

Re-Posted from Joanna Goddard’s Blog “A Cup of Jo”

Rose’s Caramel Graham “Crack”er Bark

This holiday treat is totally addicting (you will see why I call it crack once you’ve made it) and a huge crowd pleaser. The delicious recipe is courtesy of my friend Jacki’s mom, Rose, who always has this graham cracker bark around the house during the holiday’s. The best part about it…it’s a snap to make and you can tweak the toppings to your liking! The classic recipe calls for slivered almonds, but we also added dried cherries to one and dark chocolate chunks to other (we doubled the recipe). Next time I’d love to try this recipe with some chopped pretzels or popcorn or a little Fleur de Sel sprinkled on top. Bring this to your next holiday party and you’re sure to be the most popular guest! Thanks Jacki and Rose for sharing! Enjoy! 🙂

Rose’s Graham Cracker Bark

Ingredients:

  • 12-14 graham crackers
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • Slivered Almonds (or another kind of chopped nut)
  • Dried Cherries (Optional)
  • Dark Chocolate (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 350degress. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Lay graham crackers side-by-side on the cookie sheet so there are not gaps between the crackers. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat until completely melted. Slowly add brown sugar to the melted butter and stir. Allow to the butter and sugar mixture to boil and thicken for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove sugar from heat and pour sugar mixture over graham crackers, spreading evenly. Sprinkle graham crackers with slivered almonds, cherries or chocolate (or both!). Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from the oven and allow it to cool completely (this is the hardest step as you will want to eat it right away!) before breaking bark into smaller pieces. To store, line tupperware or tin with wax paper, separating each layer of bark with another sheet of wax paper. Enjoy!

Baked Brie with Wild Blueberry Preserves and Candied Pecans

Holiday party season is upon us and if you weren’t at some kind of holiday gathering last weekend, I bet your calender is already chock-a-block full of ugly sweater and end of the world parties in the coming weeks. Holiday parties can be stressful and if the World really is going to end on the 21st you don’t want to spend your last precious moments on Earth stressing about what you’re going to serve to your guests. This baked brie is super easy, really tasty, only requires 5 ingredients and looks pretty on your table (seriously what could be better than that? baked creamy cheese wrapped in a delicious layer of flaky dough?) I’ve tried using other preserves like apricot or marmalade with this recipe- but I always come back to the whole blueberry preserves, the flavor combination can’t be beat! Don’t skimp on the cheap-o jam for this- the real chunks of blueberry make all the difference! Enjoy!

Blueberry Baked Brie with Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz wheel of brie (for larger or smaller wheels add more or less preserves)
  • 1 8oz can Pilsbury crescent dough sheet (the crescent rolls will work too but the seamless sheet of dough is better!)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup blueberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and unroll crescent dough on to cookie sheet. Place unwrapped wheel of brie on dough and spread evenly with preserves. Depending on your taste you can add more or less preserves. Being careful not to rip a hole in the dough, pull dough around the cheese tucking the corners into each other. Some people try and make this look fancy- I just fold the dough so there are no gaps or exposed cheese- the candied pecans will distract anyone from noticing you attempted to etched Rudolph on to the top of your brie wheel. If the end of the world really is less than two weeks away, do you really want to spend your last moments on Rudolph? I didn’t think so. 

Looks perfect, right? Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. When the brie has about 5 minutes remaining in the oven, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar to melted butter and stir until fully incorporated and it begins to thicken slightly. Remove from heat, add chopped pecans and stir. Remove brie from oven and transfer to serving platter. Pour sugar mixture immediately over brie and serve with crackers, pita chips or french bread. Enjoy! This is my favorite preserves to use for this recipe but any whole berry preserves will work!

Chocolate Cinnamon Pretzels

pretzel

This recipe was a Pineterst find. They turned out great and would be perfect holiday party snack! The original recipe called for white chocolate (which I hate) So I used semi-sweet chocolate chips and added some creamy peanut butter to the melted chocolate… I had to bag them up before I ate them all they were so tasty! This is the first of many blogs dedicated to Christmas/Holiday recipe ideas. Sign up to get my emails and I will be randomly selecting one of my followers to receive a goody bag with some of the holiday cookies and sweets I’ll be blogging on! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 16ounce bag of pretzels (I took the recipes advice and got the checkered pretzels so they would catch more chocolate)
  • 2/3 cup oil (I used vegetable)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture for sprinkling
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or white chocolate if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl whisk together oil, sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Pour bag of pretzels into microwave safe bowl and pour sugar mixture over them. Mix with your hands or use another bowl to pour mixture back and forth so all the pretzels get coated with the mixture.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir. Microwave another 45 seconds- 1 minute make sure the pretzels are warm.
  4. Spread pretzels evenly on to two cookie sheets covered with parchment paper and generously sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture while the pretzels are still warm.
  5. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a double boiler or in a sauce pan on low heat while constantly stirring, making sure not to burn the chocolate. Drizzle the chocolate over the cooled pretzels.
  6. I popped the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes to make sure the chocolate was hard before putting in air tight containers or decorative baggies.

Black Dog Quahog Chowder

chowderfinishedNothing compares to jumping on the Martha’s Vineyard ferry and grabbing a cup of fresh quahog (clam) chowder and a beer! It can be 85degrees and humid and I’ll still get a pipping hot clam chowder for the 45min ride to the rock. A really well done, thick and creamy New England style clam chowder is hard to come by- especially living in Utah… While I would much rather use FRESH clams for the recipe, these chopped clams did the trick. If you can get your hands on fresh clams (usually wholefoods or specialty seafood stores has them still in the shell) use those or if you are smart like my mother is, she cooks fresh clams in the summer and freezes them in batches for later. If you’re from New England you know what the Black Dog is, this is their famous chowder recipe and it comes out just as tasty at home as it does in their dining room. This view from my aunt’s porch and a glass of wine = a PVD (Perfect Vineyard Day)… You can see how easy it is to love this place, awesome views, great food and even better friends! From my pretend MV kitchen to yours…Enjoy! IMG_1127

B.D. Quahog Chowder – Serves 8-10                                                                                       Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces salt pork, rind removed
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups shelled quahogs with juice (6-7 cans of chopped clams in their juices)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 quarts light cream

SaltporkDice the salt pork and sauté in a large pot until translucent. Add diced onions and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Potato

Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of the juice from the clams and add the potatoes and seasonings. Simmer this mixture until the potatoes are tender. This should take about 10 minutes. Saute

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it is bubbling, add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. This is called a roux. Roughly chop the quahogs reserving any liquid. clams

Put the light cream in another saucepan and set aside. When potatoes are tender, add the quahogs to the large pot and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the roux and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is your chowder base, it will be very thick. Chowder base

Working with the light cream again, scald the cream by heating it until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Do not boil. milk

Stir the hot scalded cream into the chowder base, mix together, and remove from heat. At The Black Dog, they serve it topped with a dollop of butter (I left that part out) and oyster crackers in a coffee mug. Recipe from The Black Dog Cook Book.

Black Dog Quahog Chowder (Click for printer friendly version)