Monday, December 5

Peanut Butter and Grape Curd Doughnuts



When I started blogging about six years ago, I was pregnant and housebound with two little boys. I started sharing stories about being a mom, being pregnant, and of course sharing my love for food. It was a social and creative outlet that I so badly needed at the time.

About six months after I started my blog I started to make connections with other food obsessed people out there, and it was around that time that I started following a  blog named Savory Simple. The creative mind behind the blog, was a girl by the name of Jennifer. I immediately was drawn to her photos, and her gourmet twist on everyday foods. 

Fast forward another year, Jen  and I met at a blogging conference in Virginia. She and I started chatting after the event, and quickly became friends. 



I keep a small circle of close friends, I have a couple women that I've known my whole life, my family, and Jen. I joke that she's my work wife. Some days I chat with her more than I do my own husband. She's my go to for advice with recipe development, social media tactics, photography, and sometimes she's basically my therapist lending advice and listening to me complain about life. We can both be slightly sarcastic, dry, snarky.... no room for BS personalities, so she gets me!

Over the last few years we've traveled together, met up at blogging events and she even convinced me to eat oysters! Which by the way, they are now my favorite thing ever. She's a true friend I am so grateful for.

Jen and I in Prince Edward Island, May 2016

Well over a year ago, she started writing a book called the Gourmet Kitchen, I feel like I've been apart of it from the beginning, talking to her daily during the writing and recipe testing process. So when it was released in October, and I received an advance copy, I was THRILLED. I have received  a lot of cookbooks to review here on my blog, and I know a lot of people who have written them. But I can honestly say I have never been as excited to thumb through a cookbook as I was with this one. 

I have tried a few of Jen's recipes from her blog and a couple in her new book, like her Cheese and Broccoli Baked Potatoes, No-Bake Toasted Coconut Bars, Cauliflower Bacon Soup, and Parmesan and Rosemary Shortbread..  Being passionate about food and even attending culinary school, this girl knows her stuff. With her direction, the everyday home cook (like me!) can transform their meals into gourmet dishes. 



One day last month my Nana gave me some jars of grape concentrate that she made and canned using wild grapes she picked. At first I figured I would make a couple batches of jelly to put up. But then I remembered Jen's recipe for Concord Grape Curd, and I knew what I needed to make it. Three batches of curd so far in the past week...... and I can tell you for a fact that it's amazingly addictive. We have been eating way too much of it! Paired with peanut butter, it's pretty much mind blowing. 



Of course when making anything, I always think of ways it can turned into a donut. I immediately knew I had to make a batch of yeast doughnuts and fill those babies to the brim with curd and peanut butter. Not going to lie... I am a complete genius for going this route. Peanut Butter and Grape Curd Doughnuts are the bomb. 



Peanut Butter and Grape Curd Doughnuts
Curd recipe from Jennifer Farley's book, The Gourmet Kitchen 
Recipe yields about 10 donuts


Ingredients for the donuts:
1 tbs active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tbs kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup whole milk, room temperature
About 4 cups  bread flour (or all purpose)
2 qts vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I recommend NOT using natural peanut butter)

For the curd:
1 lb Concord Grapes
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 oz unsalted butter, (8 tbs) cubed at room temperature

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water and sugar, mix with a fork just until it is all combined. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until it's foamy.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, using the dough hook, mix salt, eggs, butter, milk and 1 cup of flour until combined.

Add in yeast mixture and the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time with the mixer on medium low speed, until the dough is starting to pull away from the edges of the bowl.

Turn the mixer to medium speed, and allow it to "knead" the dough for about 4 minutes. Or until the dough is nice and elastic.


Turn the dough out into a large buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise until it doubles in volume. 

Meanwhile prepare your grape curd. 

Place the grapes and water into a sauce pan over medium low heat. Allow the grapes to heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the grapes start to break down, use a potato masher to press them gently, juicing them. Once there is a decent amount of liquid in the pan, remove from heat and allow it to cool for a little bit. Press the grapes through a food mill, to separate the juice from the seeds and skin. Discard the seeds and skin. Reserve 1 1/4 cups grape juice for the curd making. 

In a medium sauce pan, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, a sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl whisk cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the juice and create a slurry. Whisk in the remaining grape juice and lemon juice. 

Combine the juice mixture with the egg mixture in the sauce pan. Place it over medium heat and whisk until it's smooth. Make sure to get the bottoms and sides to prevent the curd from sticking. It should take about 10 or 15 minutes to thicken. 

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the butter, 1 tbs at a time until it is all combined and melted in. 

Transfer the curd to a a bowl, and place a piece of plastic wrap over the top, and place it in the fridge to cool for at least 15 minutes. 

Once the donut dough has doubled in volume, punch it down removing any air bubbles. Fold it out onto a floured surface and roll it with a rolling pin to be about 1/4-1/2 an inch thick. Cut dough scraps into small pieces and fry for doughnut holes.

Using a 3-4 inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into circles, placing them on a floured surface to rise until they double, or almost triple in volume. 

Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven on your stove top or in an electric fryer until it reaches 350-365 degrees. Careful not to crowd them, my 10 qt fryer only allows me to fry 3 donuts at a time

Once the doughnuts have finished rising, fry them on each side until they are golden brown. Remove from oil, and drain on paper towels or a paper bag.

Allow them to cool completely before filling. 

When ready to fill, heat peanut butter for about 20 seconds or until it's soft and pipe-able like frosting.

Cut a small hole on the side of each doughnut the size of your piping tip. 

Add peanut butter into one piping bag, and 1 cup of curd to a second bag. 

Place both bags into a 3 piping bag that is fitted with a round tip. 

Fill each donut with the filling. 

When you are finished filling them, lightly dust them with powdered sugar.



GIVEAWAY!!!!

Jennifer and her publisher would also like to give one of my lucky blog readers a copy of her book. To enter follow the directions on the Rafflecopter widget below. 




a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Gourmet Kitchen for review but received no monetary compensation to write this post. All opinions expressed are 100% my own!)

Friday, December 2

Peppermint Bark Marshmallows



I am not huge on gift giving material items during the holidays. I know that sounds a little bah humbug.  I just do not like the pressure of trying to buy presents for someone that probably doesn’t need or want that gift. So I normally stick to what I know everyone in my life enjoys. 



Food. 




There is truly nothing better than an edible gift in my opinion (except maybe kittens) My friends and family usually get little tins or baskets of all my favorite foods either purchased from my favorite stores/bakeries, or made by me. 





Last year, several of my friends received tins of peppermint bark. So when I was approached by my friends at The Feed Feed and Williams Sonoma and asked to create a fun holiday treat, using Williams Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark…. I said HECK YES! Or better yet #BarkYEAH!  I already loved the stuff anyways, and knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. 





Use it in some of my edible gifts!




This year I am gifting hot chocolate mix in cute mason jars, and pairing that with a stack of my homemade peppermint marshmallows. To dress my delicious, but slightly boring looking marshmallows up, I topped them with a dark chocolate coating, and a big piece of that delicious peppermint bark from Willams Sonoma.





Peppermint Marshmallows

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups water, divided
4 envelopes plain gelatin
3 cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups light corn syrup
¼ tsp peppermint extract
Non stick cooking spray
2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tbs coconut oil
Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark

Directions:

Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil, and spray it generously with non stick baking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,  add half of the water, peppermint extract and all of the powdered gelatin together and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.

Add remaining water into a 2 qt sauce pan along with the corn syrup and granulated sugar. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, watching it closely, allow it to boil until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

Turn  the electric mixer on medium/low speed, and slowly add in the sugar and corn syrup mixture. Once it is all added, slowly turn mixer to high.

Mix on high for about 8 minutes, or until the marshmallow is shiny and stiff.

Using a rubber spatula, quickly pour the marshmallow into the prepared baking dish. To smooth it out, you can spray a rubber spatula and carefully press and smooth it out.

Allow it to cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours, if not overnight.

On a clean surface (like your counter) coat it lightly with powdered sugar, and transfer the set marshmallows on to it. 

Lightly dust the top of the marshmallows with powdered sugar

Using a sharp knife or kitchen sheers cut the marshmallows. Toss cut marshmallows with powdered sugar, and set aside on a piece of wax paper.

In a microwave safe bowl, add dark chocolate chips and coconut oil and microwave for about 45 seconds or until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Drizzle the tops of each marshmallow with chocolate, place a broken piece of peppermint bark on top of each marshmallow.

Allow to sit for about an hour for the chocolate to set.

Serve with hot chocolate, or enjoy as is! 

(Disclaimer: I partnered with The Feed Feed and Williams Sonoma to create this recipe and blog post in return for compensation. However, as always… all opinions expressed are 100% my own!)

Thursday, December 1

Cinnamon Roll Waffles #BunnyBakeOff




~The following post contains sponsored content. Thanks to brands like Annie's Homegrown, I am able to take the time to develop new recipes for you all and partake in exciting contests like Annie’s very first Great Bunny Bake Off!~



Christmas mornings in my house, as well as most families with  young kids, are a whirlwind. Typically our morning would start around 4-5am, approximately 2-3 hours after Santa has finished his (HER) Christmas duties stuffing our stockings and wrapping gifts.

After the kids spend about 15 minutes ripping their gifts open, it is my husband’s job to start assembling toys, and juicing them up with batteries. My job is to get rid of all the wrapping paper and boxes, plus get breakfast going.



With only a handful of hours of sleep, and a house filled with kids bouncing off the walls before sunrise (thanks Santa….) breakfast has to be easy. Because it is Christmas morning, I want to give them something special, not the typical cold cereal that I dish up on school days. But I want it to be something almost as easy to prepare as that cold  cereal.



This year, I’ll be making these easy cinnamon roll waffles, they require little to no prep thanks to Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cinnamon Rolls. Their cinnamon rolls can be found ready to go in the refrigerator section of your grocery store, and are as easy to prepare as that school day cereal. As great as they are prepared according to the packaged directions, sometimes it’s fun to use them in a way they were not intended for. To top of the easy continence factor we over caffeinated, over tired moms crave….. These cinnamon rolls are hydrogenated oil and corn syrup free, and made with unbleached flour… so basically they are wholesome and homemade, am I right?



Thanks to Black Friday, I came home with a new waffle iron and immediately knew I wanted to make my Annie’s Cinnamon Rolls into some Cinnamon Roll Waffles, and then top them off with some festive eggnog glaze, and pomegranate arils. Which is EXACTLY the type of breakfast I need to whip up quickly for the kids on Christmas morning.



Cinnamon Roll Waffles with Eggnog Glaze

Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup eggnog
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pure Maple Syrup (optional for serving)
Pomegranate arils ( optional for serving)

Directions:

Prepare your glaze by whisking the frosting package of each cinnamon roll can together with powdered sugar, eggnog and nutmeg until smooth. Set aside for serving.

Heat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer's directions.





Place one cinnamon roll in at a time, and cook until the waffle iron indicates they are finished.


Serve warm waffles with glaze, syrup and pomegranate arils.

(Yields 10 waffles)




This recipe was so fun, and so simple to prepare, I encourage you all to give it a try, or try using Annie's baking products in your own creations!

You can even enter to win a year's worth of Annie's products! I've partnered with Annie's Homegrown in their Great #BunnyBakeOff to give three lucky winners a chance to win one year’s worth of Annie’s new Organic Baking Mixes and Doughs!  

Here’s how to enter: 1. Follow @AnniesHomegrown on Instagram.
2. Create a new Instagram post sharing your most delicious baking recipe made with at least one Annie’s Organic Baking product.
3. Tag @annieshomegrown, #bunnybakeoff and  #contest in the main post caption. Three grand prizes will include one year’s worth of Annie’s organic baking products and the first 100 submissions will automatically win one free Annie’s baking product! Grand prize(s) awarded in form of free product coupons. Here are the full details and official rules: http://www.annies.com/annies-great-bunny-bake-off-giveaway-rules

(Disclaimer: I received monetary compensation to develop this recipe and write this post. However as always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own!)

Sunday, November 20

Mama's Cheesy Bacon and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms




For years I've been making these mushrooms for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are so simple, inexpensive and a crowd pleaser. How can you go wrong with cream cheese, crab, and bacon?



Mama's Cheesy Bacon and Crab Stuffed Mushroom
Ingredients:
12 baby Bella mushrooms,stems removed
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 can of crab meat, drained
1/2 cup crispy bacon crumbles
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup melted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl combine, cream cheese, crab meat, bacon, red onion, and Parmesan cheese. Once everything is combined, stuff a small spoonful into the center of each mushroom. 

Place stuffed mushrooms on a baking sheet. 

In a separate mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs and butter. 

Sprinkle over the tops of the mushrooms. 

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are toasted brown.

  


Friday, November 11

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Wedges with Maple Syrup





What a week it has been.... am I right? 

The last few days I've spent a lot of time thinking about how our recent changes within our government may affect me, my family, friends, and community. And though I am skeptical our about our president elect . I don't want him to fail. While I watch my liberal friends and conservative family duke it out online, I've stepped back, watched, listened, and pondered. 

I have decided to not partake in the bashing of our new commander and chief.... however I am not celebrating his presidential win. I am going to live my life as I always do, and I will raise my children to be kind and to be smart. To listen, and to be heard. And to make sure they too work hard to raise a better generation. Because we as a country are so much better than this. 

Now that I have thoughts in my head on what I can do to make a difference, I also need to get back to life. I find it a difficult task to do, especially since I have been sharing holiday recipes. The holiday season may be tough for many families as we all seem to be so deeply divided. 

So I ask you all to try, try very hard to listen to one another, to put judgments aside, and enjoy your Thanksgivings with each other. And most of all, be thankful for your friends, family and the fact that we live in one of the best countries in the world.... as imperfect as America may be.... there isn't anywhere else in the world I'd rather call home.




On Thanksgiving, I normally do not serve many appetizers, but I always am sure to have a couple out for my guests to snack on before the turkey dinner comes out. 

These sweet potatoes are possibly the easiest, tastiest appetizer on the planet, they are also great served as a side dish to almost any meal. 




Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Wedges
Ingredients:
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled
1lb of bacon
Pure Maple Syrup for dipping

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, and wrap each on in a slice of bacon. 

Place on a lined baking sheet, fat side down.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp, and the sweet potatoes are tender in the centers.

Serve hot with pure maple syrup for dipping. 


   

Sunday, November 6

Eggnog Cheesecake Pops




 (Disclaimer: I received monetary compensation to write this post in partnership with Pillsbury and Walmart. However, as always all opinions expressed are 100% my own!)

As a busy mom who loves to bake from scratch, I sometimes am pressed for time and need to take some shortcuts. Sure I know how to make a mean batch of homemade cookies. But sometimes, it’s just easier, and better for my sanity to turn to the refrigerator section at my grocery store, and grab some ready to go cookie dough. 





That way when I’m hosting parties, or am planning a baking project with my kids, I have one less thing to worry about making from scratch. Believe me, my kids and husband thank brands like Pillsbury for making the holidays just a wee bit easier! Mom can be a hot mess when she’s rushing around in the kitchen! 





These cheesecake pops are SO easy to make, fun for the kids to eat, and are pretty darn cute. You can even go one step further and let the kids decorate the trees with you! 





Eggnog Cheesecake Pops
1 16.5 oz roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
2 8z packages or cream cheese, room temperature
½ cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup eggnog, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 tbs coconut oil + 1 tsp
½ cup white chocolate chips
Raw sugar or other sparkling sugar to decorate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove cookie dough from it’s packaging, and press into the bottom of a parchment paper lined, 9x13in  baking pan, set aside.






In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip cream cheese and brown sugar together until fluffy and combined.

Mix eggs one at a time, followed by eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.

Pour cheesecake filling over the top of the cookie dough, and place in the oven.

Allow the cheesecake to bake for about 30 minutes, or until the center just barely jiggles.

Once the bars are done baking, place them in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Cut the bars into three sections, and then each rectangle into triangles. (should yield about 9 large triangles, or 12 small ones)

Place a popsicle stick into the bottom of each triangle.

Return to the freezer for about an hour.

Melt dark chocolate with 2 tbs of coconut oil in the microwave, heating it in 15-30 second increments, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Spoon chocolate over the entire cheesecake pop and place on parchment paper to dry (only takes about 5 minutes for the chocolate to harden)

Melt white chocolate with remaining coconut oil, for about 30 seconds, stirring until smooth.

Drizzle each cheesecake pop with white chocolate, and sprinkle with raw sugar or decorate as desired!

Tuesday, November 1

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie


Back when I was pregnant with my first child, I was a councilor at our local Girls Inc. location. It may have been one of the best jobs I had ever had. I worked with a great group of women, and we all loved working with the kids that spent their afternoons with us, many of them coming from low income homes with a lot struggling single moms.

That year for Christmas, we sat with each girl in the program, gathered their clothing sizes, shoe size and made a Christmas list of things they each really wanted. Then we each sponsored  a child (as did many local individuals looking to help out). It was such an awesome feeling, sending them home with gifts they all either needed, or wanted.





We also had an employee party that year complete with Yankee swap, it was my first exposure to pumpkin pie. I had gone 20-something years without ever having a bite of pumpkin pie. I was an incredibly picky and sheltered eater until I was pregnant, at which point I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. My only chicken and veggie eating self was craving nothing but red meat, and I was all of a sudden trying things I would have never thought to in the years/months prior. 

That first slice of pumpkin pie changed me. It started my obsession with pumpkin desserts, which eventually turned into Pumpkin week, and #30DaysOfPumpkin here on my blog. With so many pumpkin treats already on my blog, I haven't felt the need to post many this fall. But this? This one had to be shared!



Eggnog Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients:
1 unbaked pie crust
15 oz canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups eggnog
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp salt
Whipped cream for serving
Freshly grated nutmeg for dusting
Egg wash
Raw sugar for sprinkling the crust. 

Directions:

Pres pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate. Brush the top with egg wash, and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk pumpkin, eggs, sugar, eggnog, spice, and salt together. Once smooth, pour into unbaked pie crust. 

Bake at 450 for 5 minutes, and reduce heat to 350.

Bake until the pie appears to be set, and jiggles just slightly in the center. 

Allow it to cool to room temp and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  

Serve with fresh whipped cream and dust with  nutmeg.