Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Cocktail

Guys, 2014 has flown by so fast. It's insane. This has been an amazing year. I recapped all of the fun things I did over on my travel blog, if you're interested. I contemplated doing a recap here of my favorite recipes but honestly, it's not as fun to recap food as it is to recap travels and crafts. Sorry, food. You're still my #1, I swear!

Anyway, since it's New Year's Eve, I thought I would be festive and share a little boozy fun that you can whip together this evening. It's barely even a cocktail recipe. It's more just a decorative suggestion that will make any cocktail look really festive. This would work for birthdays too. Actually, if you changed up the sprinkles to be thematic, then it could work for virtually any holiday. Red sprinkles for V-Day! Green sprinkles for St. Paddy's! Red, white, & blue sprinkles for the Fourth! Pastel sprinkles for Easter! I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
Ingredients [for one]:
graham cracker crumbs
rainbow sprinkles (or other sprinkles to suit the holiday)
honey
ice
dash imitation vanilla (imitation vanilla tastes like birthday cake)
4 oz. RumChata (or Bailey's or chocolate cream liquer)

*You could also just use milk if you want to make mocktails for the under-aged drinkers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I Ate: Pasta

So, I'm going to Italy next year and the pasta we will eat there will be better than any of the stuff that I'm sharing today. But whatever, this stuff is delicious too.
I just wanted to share this while it's still 2014 because I really need to go on a little diet in preparation for holiday. I want to look cute and also I want to be able to eat like a fiend.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Moroccan Eggs

I'm currently enjoying a few days off of work because my company has a "use it or lose it" policy when it comes to vacation days. Last year, I had the same chunk of time off at Christmas and it was so great that I wanted to do it again and purposely saved a few days for the end of the year. It's been awesome having cuddles with George Michael, sleeping in, and relaxing. It has also been a prime time for blogging, which I love. I'm just cooking and crafting and vegging and it is amazing. This is what my life would be like if I were rich and I didn't need a real job. Dare to dream, right?

Lounging around at home also means having time to make luxe breakfasts. Lately, I've really been into eating giant breakfasts on the weekends (when I actually have the time to cook a hot meal in the morning) and today's post is a new favorite. The heartier the breakfast is, the less likely it is that I'll have to make a lunch. Not that I have anything against lunch, but a meal isn't that enjoyable if I have to peel myself away from a Law & Order: SVU marathon.

The breakfast I'm sharing today is super hearty and delicious and beautiful. It's my take on Moroccan eggs (which is also called shakshuka). I mean, it's colorful, seasoned with plenty of spices, and it's great for sharing. The recipe quantities below are for two people, but this can easily be doubled or tripled and turned into a brunch dish to share with a party of people.
Ingredients [for two]:
2 slices bacon, chopped
¼ onion, diced
¼ bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, sliced
1½ cups cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
crostini or pita bread
+ 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
+ crumbled feta

Friday, December 26, 2014

Meringue Mushrooms

I'm super crazy excited to share today's post because it's so friggin' adorable. Seriously, I am so smitten. As I may have mentioned several times, we hosted a Christmas party this year. It was the first time in a while that we were having such a big family bash. When I was younger, we'd have dozens of people (I have four aunts and two uncles and so many cousins) crammed into a small house and it was awesome. Since it was an extra special occasion, I wanted to do a fun and festive dessert, instead of the usual bread pudding. Don't get me wrong, bread pudding is awesome, but you can make that any time of year. I wanted something with a wow factor that would take a little more effort. I decided to make a bûche de Noël, a.k.a. a yule log.

So, because I'm not a professional blogger, I don't have the time or the means to make intense holiday desserts way in advance to share them here, which means I'm a little late sharing today's post. I mean, you can't make this for this year's Christmas. But that doesn't mean you couldn't refer back to this recipe next year and the year after and the year after, so I thought it would still be useful to share. Plus, it's one of the cutest desserts ever so I had to document it. Oh, and you could totally make the mushrooms whenever, because they're delicious and they're gorgeous.
Ingredients:
meringue mushrooms [yields 1.5 to 2 dozen mushrooms]
2 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 oz. chocolate chips

roll cake (for full directions on making roll cakes, refer to my my roll cake post)
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cake flour
+ butter for greasing

cream filling
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
¼ cup mascarpone
¼ teaspoon salt

ganache
4 oz. chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Christmas!

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, Happy Christmas! To everyone else, enjoy this winter season and be well.

I'm spending the day with family, which is my ideal way to spend Christmas, and we'll be cooking up a feast, gorging on the feast, and enjoying each others' company.
xoxo.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Apple Cider Donuts

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! My office normally has Christmas Eve off but because Christmas falls on a Thursday this year, they decided to give us the day after Christmas (Christmas Post?) instead. It kind of makes sense because it would be silly to come in for work Monday and Tuesday, have off two days, and then come back in to work on Friday. That being said, I'm a little nervous and I wish I had today off because we're hosting a family Christmas party at our house tomorrow and I would have loved having all of today to prep. But, I'm hopeful. We usually have early dismissals on days before holidays so I'm pretty sure I'll be heading home a few hours early this evening.

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to share a fun and festive recipe today. I thought apple cider donuts fit the bill because they're sweet and delicious, they're seasonal, and they're a great treat for friends, family, and for Santa. He's coming tonight so if you whip up a batch just before bed, they'll still be warm when he slides down the chimney or whatever. I don't understand how that man climbs down a chimney and manages not to make a mess. I understand that he's magic, but even Harry Potter causes puffs of smoke when he uses floo powder. Am I wrong?
Ingredients [yields 1 dozen "normal" sized donuts or 2 dozen mini donuts]:
donuts
1 cup apple cider
2 cups flour
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
oil for frying

glaze
½ cup icing sugar
pinch cinnamon
½ teaspoon apple cider

cinnamon sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
pinch cinnamon

Monday, December 22, 2014

What I Ate: Buffalo Turkey Pizza

I've got just one last Thanksgiving leftovers post to share and it's a supremely delicious one. And like I mentioned before, I know it's been weeks since Thanksgiving has ended but if you plan on roasting a giant bird for Christmas, you can use these ideas for your leftovers.

Before I get into the recipe, can I share a story with you? When I was in third grade, my dad bought a computer for the family. It was awesome. I used it to play 'Rodent's Revenge' and used the 'Paint' program to draw random pictures. It was great. The game-playing was rather short lived, however, because I soon had to start using the computer for school. I have a distinct memory from fourth grade when I had to write a book report. I was typing it up on the computer and I guess I hit the 'insert' key by accident at some point between finishing the essay and editing time. As I was correcting and rewriting sentences, whatever I started typing would overwrite what I had previously typed and I didn't know what to do! I was freaking out and I thought I had broken the computer.

To solve the problem, I scrolled down to the end of my document and typed a bunch of blank spaces. I CTRL+C-ed the blank spaces and went back to where I needed to add text and CTRL+V-ed the blank spaces in. Wasn't I such a creative little kid? I'm an engineer now and I think it makes sense.

Anyway, I thought I'd share that story because the day I made these pizzas, the power line along one side of our kitchen (the one that the fridge and range are connected to) freaked out and stopped working for a bit. This was a problem because we couldn't bake our pizzas. And, it had snowed the day before Thanksgiving so the backyard was blanketed in crunchy frozen water so the grill was off limits. I realized that the gas line was still working so I manually lit the stove (because the starters are apparently controlled by electricity) using a blowtorch (which is overkill but I didn't have anything else immediately on hand) and grabbed my grill pan and "grilled" the first pizza on the stove top (until the electric line went back on and then it was back to the oven). Even in my old age (jokes), my creativity still abounds.
Ingredients:
quick pizza dough [2 pies]:
2-1/2 to 3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
2-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil

buffalo turkey pizza
1 batch pizza dough (ingredients above)
--
1 cup tomato sauce (8 oz. can is what I usually use)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups grated cheese
--
1 cup diced leftover turkey (or chicken)
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons hot sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, sliced

+ bleu cheese
+ grated parmesan cheese

Friday, December 19, 2014

What I Ate: Turkey Salad Sandwich

Greek yogurt is my mayo substitute.
Ingredients [enough for 4 to 6 sandwiches or individual salads]:
2 cups shredded leftover turkey (or chicken)
1 cup Greek yogurt (or mayo, if you prefer)
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1/2 apple, diced
1/2 cup grapes, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

+ bread
+ salad

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Boozy Candied Cranberry

Tis the season!... For sharing a Christmassy themed cocktail! As is typical of my cocktail recipes, this one is super sweet and delicious and incredibly easy to whip up. It's awesome because it's low-key, meaning everyone can assemble their own drinks so it's perfect for serving at parties. And, it's really festive and pretty! Every guest at your party will be Instagramming their libations, I promise.

So this cocktail, as the name might suggest, uses the candied cranberries I shared yesterday. It's a sparkling wine-based drink that's sweetened with the syrup from candying the cranberries and then it's decorated with the candied cranberries themselves. It's super cute. You're going to love it.
Ingredients [for one]:
1 tablespoon candied cranberry syrup
squeeze orange juice
candied cranberries (just a few to float around the drink)
4 to 6 oz. sparkling wine (moscato, champagne, prosecco, or whatever you like)
*garnish: orange wedge and candied cranberries

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Candied Cranberries

Christmas is about a week away and I'm really excited. We're hosting a family party this year and we'll be cooking up a storm. Because we're Korean, typically, when my mom or aunts hosted family parties, they would make a feast of food but it was all "main course" stuff and even if the party was supposed to start at 7, the food wouldn't be ready until 8 and my sister and I would whine about how starving we were. I don't think Korean people understand the concept of appetizers (except for the dried cuttlefish and peanuts that the adult males would eat alongside their brown liquor, a.k.a. "anju").

But, when I host a party, I like to make a few dishes for people to nosh on when they arrive. I was born in America so I am an avid supporter of the appetizer. Make-ahead dishes are always preferable, of course, and it's nice to have a variety. And I think that candied cranberries are a fun and festive snack. They're gorgeous and delicious and really easy.
Ingredients:
1 cup cranberries
1 teaspoon orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar - white, raw, or brown - for coating

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What I Ate: Turkey Soup & Sandwich

It's soup season. So far, I've shared a potato leek soup and a broccoli & cheddar soup, both of which are on the denser, heavier, higher caloric content side. Today's soup is much lighter, though, the accompanying sandwich is on the naughtier side. Anyway, I've previously shared a turkey soup recipe here (which incorporated leftover roasted vegetables and kale). This one's more of a classic take and it's equally delicious.

And I know it's been weeks since Thanksgiving, but I wanted to share a leftovers meal because it was delicious and with Christmas approaching, it's likely that you'll be roasting another bird and you'll need something to do with the leftovers. I just want to give you a little inspiration. Or, you might be reading this next Thanksgiving, making plans for your future leftovers. Who knows?
Ingredients:
soup
1 tablespoon oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 shallot, diced
2 cups leftover turkey meat, diced
turkey bones (2 to 4, leg bones are good)
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups water
4 sprigs thyme, stripped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup ditalini pasta

sandwich
roll
leftover turkey, sliced
grated fontina cheese
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons hot sauce
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno, sliced

Monday, December 15, 2014

Korean Pork Belly | Bo Ssam (보쌈)

When I was a kid, my mom would devote a day or two each season for kimchi making. On these occasions, she would always make bo ssam, Korean-style boiled pork belly, to eat wrapped up with some cabbage leaves with some of the fresh, new kimchi. We never had bo ssam unless we had spent the day making kimchi.

I don't conduct my own intense sessions of cabbage kimchi making (though I should). And yet, I make bo ssam anyway. But, true to our family tradition, I only make it after I've made a batch of quick kimchi because we need julienned radish kimchi when we eat bo ssam. It's a friggin' easy dish to slap together, but it looks pretty impressive and it's delicious.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 lb. pork belly
2 cloves garlic
½ inch piece of fresh ginger
¼ onion
water
+ napa cabbage
+ salted baby shrimp
+ ssamjang
+ oysters
+ gochujang
+ sliced hot peppers

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bruce Bogtrotter Chocolate Cake

In third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Craig, read us two really amazing books that I'll never forget: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and Matilda by Roald Dahl. The former is a historical fiction novel about the Nazis invading Denmark and doesn't have much to do with today's post; I just wanted to mention it because it's such a good book and it's the first book to have ever made me cry. The latter is a purely fictional novel about a young girl with awful parents who has to beg to be sent to school. Her teacher turns out to be wonderful but the school itself is run by a mean lady, the Trunchbull. It turns out Matilda has magical powers and she saves the day. Yada yada, but that's not why I bring it up.

The reason I mention this at all is because there's a scene in the book where the Trunchbull calls an impromptu assembly for the whole school. She yells for a chubby little boy, Bruce Bogtrotter, to come up to the stage because she knows that he stole a piece of cake from her. She sits him down and then forces him to eat a massive chocolate cake in front of the whole auditorium. He doesn't realize that it's a punishment until he announces that he's full and then the Trunchbull tells him he must eat the entire thing. In the end, he accomplishes the task (cheering from his classmates helps boost his morale).

Even though eating an entire chocolate cake on one's own sounds rather disgusting, I used to dream about this chocolate cake all the time. It just sounded so delicious and amazing. And because my mom was never keen on giving us much sugar, it was just one of those rebellious fantasies I had. Even though there is a Roald Dahl cookbook that I could have used, I decided to work from my own imagination. After all, this cake's been in my dreams since the third grade.
Ingredients:
cake
4 oz. 60% cacao chocolate chips (Ghiradelli brand; or semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup butter, room temperature
1½ cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
¼ cup dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1 cup hot water

ganache
6 oz. 60% cacao chocolate chips
¾ cup heavy cream

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chicken Liver Mousse

A few weekends ago, baby sister and I went to Philadelphia to visit my cousin and her husband. While we were there, we visited the Mutter Museum and we ate at Tria. I mention these two specific things, as they relate to today's post. The Mutter Museum, because it's gross and you see lots of innards (mostly human) and Tria, because we ordered and ate a chicken liver mousse, which was delicious. The meal at Tria (and maybe a bit of the Mutter Museum visit) inspired me to make a chicken liver mousse at home.

Organs are not a popular cut of meat and I think they skeeve most people out, including myself. Even the word, "organ" sounds disgusting, even if you're innocently talking about the ancient piano-like instrument. And to be frank, for the most part, they're not delicious, at least not to me. For one, the texture is either mushy and chalky or chewy and tendon-y. Also, the flavor tends to be much more concentrated and gamey because organs are meant to be pumping blood or cleaning blood or filtering air or other maintenance-y stuff. And of course, the shape isn't the most appealing. However, when you take a tub full of creepy little chicken livers and whizz them up with plenty of seasoning and a little booze, you end up with a super tasty spread that looks lovely and fancy that will make everyone "ohh" and "ahh."

This is the perfect party appetizer because it's easy, it can be made ahead of time, and it's cheap. I mean, chicken livers are so friggin' cheap (probably because they gross everyone out) and a little goes a long way. And honestly, you don't have to tell anyone what this is. You can just set it out and if your guests are hungry enough, they'll go for it, fall in love, and become liver lovers.
Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken livers
1 oz. salt pork, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely sliced
4 sprigs thyme, stripped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup cognac
2 tablespoons heavy cream
+ olive oil
+ crostini
+ cornichons
+ caramelized onions

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Green Bean Casserole

Over the Thanksgiving break, a few friends from high school organized a little reunion of sorts. It was a ten year reunion, which grosses me out because it makes me feel ancient, but age is just a number and you're as young as you feel, or something. It was hosted at a bar where we mingled with drinks and reminisced about our younger years. It was one of the weirdest experiences of my life because it was such a blast from the past but everything still kind of felt like high school and we all looked older but we all still looked the same and even though I was shy back then (and still am to a degree) people still remembered me and friends I hadn't seen in years complimented my blogging, which was really surprising. Like I said, it was weird. I think that if we'd had a five year reunion, maybe the ten year wouldn't have felt as odd. Doesn't matter, because despite all the weirdness, it was really nice. Most everyone has settled nicely into meaningful careers and the group I was with seemed quite content, which was lovely to witness.

I just wanted to share that little anecdote. I should consider myself lucky because when I hear about bullying, I really cannot relate because in our year, we had our cliques but everyone got on well. Even now, the jocks are still jocky and the pretty girls are still gorgeous and the nerds (the group I fall into) are still smart. And we all still get along.

That weekend really made me miss my youth. Anyway, let's get on with today's recipe, shall we? Even though green bean casserole wasn't something I grew up on (my parents never made this dish), I still remember the Campbell's commercials for it right around the holiday season. And the first time I ate this was when I went to dinner at a friend's house. I always loved going to my non-Korean friends' houses for meals because it meant I got to try new and cool dishes. On this particular evening, S's mom made meatloaf and green bean casserole, even though it was spring. She used all of the cans advertised in that infamous commercial and it was delicious.

I thought I might try my hand at making green bean casserole too, except I changed it up a bit: no cans. This dish was a hit at last year's Thanksgiving so I made it again for this year's Thanksgiving and it's so delicious that I'm pretty sure it's going to make an appearance at every Thanksgiving that we host henceforth. It's 100% homemade. Okay, maybe not, because I didn't grow the green beans or wheat and I didn't mill the flour from the wheat I grew and I didn't go and rake salt from the ocean. But, I didn't use a can of green beans, a can of mushroom soup, and a can of french fried onions. It's (mostly) homemade.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb. haricots verts
2 tablespoons butter
4 to 6 baby bella mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup heavy cream
1 small onion or 1 leek, thinly sliced into rings
¼ cup potato starch
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 egg white
+ oil for frying

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fish Sauce Wings

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I went to see 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' with my sister. I read the books while I was in Turkey, in the spring of 2012 in anticipation that the movies were going to be released later that same year. As I am apt to do, I became obsessed, the way I did with Harry Potter, Twilight, A Song of Ice & Fire, and potentially with the Divergent series (which I have downloaded but have yet to read). What can I say? I love a good series. I dragged my sister along to the first movie and she's been my faithful companion to the second and now the third. I think she's a fan, which surprises me because we have pretty different tastes when it comes to books and media. I can tolerate reality television. She binge-watches reality television. I enjoy fear; I can't even say the word "horror" in front of M. She's a fan of cheese (i.e. rom-coms) and can watch a movie marathon of blonde protagonists chasing 'bad boys.' Me? Not so much.

We are so incredibly different, sometimes we question how we could even be related. But one thing we absolutely have in common is that we both love a good makeover montage and we absolutely love to eat. My sister always says that if not for her, my food blog would barely have any content because she's the one that eats everything I share. That's partly true. I think I'd still have a decent amount of content, but I think a lot more food would go to waste. M is the leftover champion in our house and she's kind of a scary beast when it comes to yelling at us about wasting food.

Anyway, it's awesome living together because she gets just as excited about planning the next meal as I do. On this particular evening, I was feeling a little uninspired. We had just gone grocery shopping that morning and from the protein choices we'd purchased, wings seemed like the easiest bet. I was going to make my usual Korean style wings but then I remembered the fish sauce wings that I had in Texas back in February. We'd gone to Houston to visit my cousin and her hubby and right from the airport, we went to an awesome eatery called Hay Merchant (which you can read about on my blog) where we had really delicious fish sauce wings.

I decided to take a stab at recreating them and it turned out to be a delicious experiment.
Ingredients [enough sauce for 1 dozen wings]:
½ onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
+chopped Thai chilies
+1 dozen fried chicken wings

Monday, December 8, 2014

Korean Steamed Egg (계란찜)

The last few weeks have been quite intense. I've been doing loads of online shopping (hello, Black Friday & Cyber Monday) and my bank account is only just starting to recover. My family has never been huge on gift giving, mostly because as kids, my parents couldn't afford extravagant gifts. So, we've always been more of a thoughtful gift family but now that I'm making money, I do like to treat my loved ones. I'm grateful for my upbringing because I think it's made me more appreciative of what I have now and it prevents me from taking things for granted.

Which is just an okay segue into today's post. This Korean steamed egg dish is the easiest, cheapest side dish but it's so loved by my family. It's crazy cheap but it's homey and delicious. I don't really have any memories of my mom making 계란찜 (gaeran jjim) from my childhood. I just remember eating it when we'd dine out at Korean restaurants. The staff didn't always bring it out; it only happened once in a while but I always got so excited and happy. It was like a treat, even though it was just glorified scrambled eggs.

So, I didn't learn this recipe from my mum. However, I'd say this is somewhat authentic. I learned this recipe from eavesdropping while at a Korean restaurant. A woman at the table next to us asked the waitress how the restaurant made gaeran jjim and I listened and then I went home and gave it a go. The result: success.
Ingredients:
2 eggs
equal volume of chicken stock (about 1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
+ scallions
+ hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Today is the last day of gingerbread week! It's so sad! Except, it's Friday so I'm probably the happiest I've been all week. Anyway, I've just got a simple variation on my classic hot chocolate recipe. It's gingerbread hot chocolate, duh! I thought it was a nice and cozy way to end the week. It's supposed to rain and maybe snow tonight so I'm going to whip up another cup when I get home.

This one's seriously so super perfect for curling up with a good book. We recently redecorated our living room (we even repainted the walls and ceiling and trim!) and during this little makeover, I made the coziest little reading nook. This hot chocolate is my new favorite reading nook beverage. I've been saving the fifth book in the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series because I didn't want it to run out of books before the sixth and seventh are finally published, but I couldn't wait any longer. Since it's a rather bloody, gruesome, intense adventure, I like to offset it with something sweet and warm, like this cutie pie of a drink.
Ingredients [for one]:
1 cup milk
small cinnamon stick
3 to 4 tablespoons gingerbread syrup
¼ cup chocolate chips (I like dark chocolate, or Ghiradelli's 60% cacao)
pinch salt
+ marshmallows
+ gingerbread cookies

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gingerbread Cocktail: The Tipsy Gingerbread Man

As I've emphasized over and over again, I'm not the biggest drinker these days. I enjoy a beer here and there, but I think I can safely say that my partying days are far behind me. However, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a nice cocktail at home every now and again. And one thing I love to experiment with, is making a delicious cocktail that doesn't have that nasty kick of alcohol.

Today's cocktail is just like that. It's mild, sweet, super girly, and so holiday appropriate. Might I suggest serving these at your Christmas party this year? Or you know, just make one for yourself while you curl up next to the fire with a good book. Whatever floats your boat.

At first, my creative juices were totally dried up because I said, "Okay, I'll just call this a gingerbread cocktail." But then, I panicked with the thought that I was being totally lame and I decided I really needed to come up with a cute name for this cocktail. Thus, "the tipsy gingerbread man" was born. I also considered writing the whole blogposht in drunky shpeech like thish but I thought that would lose its fun rather quickly. Yeah, you're welcome. I've spared you from a lot of weirdness.
Ingredients [for one]:
2 oz. Rumchata
2 oz. milk
+ whipped cream
+ chocolate syrup
+ cinnamon
+ cinnamon stick

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gingerbread Café Au Lait

I'm in such a giddy mood lately. Not only is it the Christmas season (which is the only thing that makes the wintertime bearable) but I'm in the midst of planning a trip to Italy. I booked the flights early in November (they were deliciously cheap) and now I've got to decide what we're going to do during those nine days abroad.

With all of this natural giddiness brewing inside, I don't need any coffee to help me along. And to be frank, in general, I don't do well on caffeine. Because I don't drink any caffeinated drinks regularly (it's more of a special occasion deal, for me) I get quite dizzy and my heart beats a little too quickly when I have coffee. And that's why, I love a good café au lait. It's half coffee and half milk, which means the potency is drastically reduced. And, because it's gingerbread week, I'm sharing a gingerbread version, duh. It's barely a recipe, but it uses the gingerbread syrup that I shared yesterday. Basically, the rest of the week will be filled with cozy gingerbread syrup-flavored drinks.
Ingredients:
strong french press coffee
steamed milk
+ cinnamon (ground or stick, if you like)
+ gingerbread cookies

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gingerbread Syrup

Coffee is a special occasion drink for me. I find that I don't really need the caffeine, I'm not a fan of the teeth un-whitening properties, and I have a hard time sipping on too-hot drinks. These qualities can be overlooked in the winter for sure though. There's nothing cozier than warming up my hands with a mug of something warm, especially if it's a deliciously flavored coffee. There's a particular coffee chain that I enjoy visiting (hint: its represented by a green and white logo with a mermaidy siren) for their flavored coffees. But, as I mentioned, since coffee isn't a necessity for me, I find it difficult to shell out $6 for a treat that isn't really even a treat.

Well, it turns out that most flavorings can be duplicated at home. And today, I'm sharing a gingerbread syrup because, as I mentioned yesterday, it is a week of gingerbread over here.
Ingredients [yields approximately ¾ cup syrup, or enough for 4 to 6 drinks]:
1 cup water
¼ cup packed brown sugar
scant ½ teaspoon cinnamon
heaped ½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
small cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies

This is going to be a full week of gingerbread, people. You have been warned! 'Tis totally the season, y'all.

So, this past weekend, we celebrated Thanksgiving and while our trousers were still unbuttoned (you know, from being so full of food), we started decorating for Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas because of the fairy lights. I wish I could keep them up all year round, but I think that they'd lose their glamour a little.

Anyway, for once in my life, I planned ahead and made something for this blog to be seasonally appropriate on this blog. A few weeks ago, I got myself into a gingerbread mood and whipped up some cookies and some other treats that I will be sharing later this week. It's about to get really spicy in here. And today, it's all about gingerbread cookies, which are the quintessential Christmas cookie.
Ingredients [makes approximately 1½ dozen cookies, really depends on the size of the cookies]:
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
¼ cup butter, room temperature (½ stick)
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

icing
1 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
½ to 1 teaspoon milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
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