Sunday, December 30, 2012

FROSTED: Start The New Year Off Right...Not With A Toast, But With A Bite



Every December 31st it is a tradition for my fiance, a bunch of our friends, and I to get together for a relaxing dinner dinner filled with scrumptious food and drinks at our favorite local German restaurant. Afterwards everyone gathers at my house to watch the ball drop in Times Square on the television while we enjoy several bottles of champagne.

But this year some of the women in our group of friends are new moms. So, while they may savor a glass of the bubbly at midnight; they will not be able to partake in as much champagne consumption as in previous years.  In honor of all the new moms out there this New Years (such as my sister Misty) and all those responsible designated drivers, I am sharing some delicious champagne inspired treats that will allow them to have a little taste of that festive spirit of the New Year, without the headache the next morning.

So, as the 2013 countdown begins, raise your fork and savor the flavor of the New Year with these champagne goodies.

Strawberry Champagne Jello Shots
(Courtesy of Budget Bytes)


Ingredients:
(Yields approximately 24 square jello shots)
  • 1 bottle (750 milliliters) of pink champagne
  • 1 box (3 ounces) of strawberry jello
  • 3 envelopes of Knox gelatin

Directions:

1.  Place the jello mix and plain gelatin in a bowl and stir to mix. Pour in one cup of boiling water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.

2.  Slowly pour in three cups of chilled champagne and stir gently. Allow the bubbles to pop until the surface is almost bubble free. Pour the jello mix into an 8 x 8 glass dish. Cover and chill until firm (about 4 hours or overnight).

3.  Once the jello has completely set, use a sharp knife to cut into 24 squares. Serve chilled.



Champagne Vanilla Pudding with Berry Sauce
(Recipe by Family Fresh Cooking)


Pudding Ingredients:
  •  2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Stevia (or your favorite sweetener)
  • 2 cups of fat free milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons of Champagne
  • 12 ounces of frozen blueberries
  • 12 ounces of frozen raspberries
Berry Sauce:
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of fresh fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup of fresh raspberries
  • Stevia (or your favorite sweetener) to taste

Pudding Directions:

1.  Prepare an ice bath to fit a medium bowl that will nest inside it. Set aside.

2.  Whisk to combine cornstarch, Stevia, and salt.

3.  In a medium sized heat proof bowl, whisk eggs. Add cornstarch mixture from step two and combine well.

4.  In a saucepan heat milk over medium high heat until boiling; stir and be careful that it does not burn. Pour hot milk into the egg and cornstarch mixture and whisk continuously to combine well.

5.  Pour mixture back into the saucepan and continue to whisk over medium high heat for two minutes until thickened.

6.   Transfer pudding from the saucepan to a heat proof bowl. Whisk is butter, vanilla extract, and champagne. Make any flavor or sweetener adjustments.

7.  Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir continuously until chilled.


Berry Sauce Directions:

1.  In two separate saucepans, add raspberries and blueberries, one fruit in each bowl.

2.  Heat berries into medium high until boiling. They should become saucy and the berries should burst. Remove the berries from the heat, transfer to heat safe bowls and stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of cornstarch per bowl.

3.  Let berries cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The sauce will thicken a bit more in the fridge.

4.  Taste the berry sauce and add some Stevia or your favorite natural sweetener to taste.


Pink Champagne Truffles
(Via Sprinkle Bakes)


Ingredients:
(Makes around 12 small truffles)
  • 7 ounces of high quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup of pink champagne
  • 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of red flavored gelatin (strawberry or raspberry)
  • Confectioner sugar
Directions:

1.  Pour the pink champagne into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until champagne has reduced to one teaspoon. Set aside and let cool slightly.

2.  Set a heat proof bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Add the heavy cream and champagne reduction to the bowl and stir until combined and hot. Gradually add the white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

3.  Sprinkle over the gelatin mixture and and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Mixture will thicken slightly and a little of the cocoa butter may rise to the top (pour this off). Cover and chill.

4.  Check for firmness at 5-10 minutes. This mixture firms up quickly and should not be left in the refrigerator for too long.

5.  Roll the scooped chocolate with your hands into small balls (about the size of a large grape) and roll into powdered sugar.

 (Image from Diamonds For Dessert)

Dark Chocolate Cookies With Champagne Buttercream
(Courtesy of  I Am Baker)


Chocolate Sugar Cookie Ingredients:
(Makes around 24 cookies)
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups + 1 Tablespoon of all purpose flour
  • 1 scant (barely) cup of dark cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt

Champagne Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1 (2 pound) bag of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons of champagne
  • 1-3 Tablespoons of milk

Dark Chocolate Cookie Directions: 

1.  In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread to much at baking. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough has formed and there is no longer streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency.

3.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4.  Turn the dough onto a sheet of wax paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough into an oblong disc between the paper with the rolling pin. Transfer dough (wax paper and all) to a large cookie sheet. Wrap the dough tightly onto the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

5.  After chilled, remove the top sheet of wax paper and roll dough a little thinner. It should not be sticky. You may dust the surface lightly with flour if it is sticky, but not too much. You don;t want streaks of white flour baked onto your dark cookies.

6.  Roll dough into a 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Cut out round circles from the dough and transfer to the parchment lined cookie sheet. Be careful not to stretch out the cutout shapes or they will be distorted after baking.

7.  Refrigerate the cutouts for  30 minutes. This will help the cookies maintain a crisp shape during baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

8.  Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.


Champagne Buttercream Directions:

1.  Put butter and shortening in mixer and combine until smooth. Add powdered sugar in one cup at a time until fully incorporated.

2.  When almost done mixing, add in champagne. You can add more or less to taste. 

3. If you find the frosting to be very stiff and hard to work with then add some milk to add a bit of moisture.


Champagne Cream Puffs
(Recipe from The Craving Chronicles)


Puff Ingredients:
(Makes approximately 45 cream puffs)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
Champagne Pastry Cream Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup of champagne
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Chocolate Glaze: (Prepare at least an hour before assembly)
  • 4 Tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of milk
  • 4 ounces of bittersweet (dark) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted  

Cream Directions: (Prepare first; must be chilled at least 2 hours)

1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Set aside.

2.  In a saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream, champagne, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then remove from heat.

3.  Beat the eggs and egg yolks into the cornstarch mixture. While whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/4 cup of hot heavy cream into the cornstarch mixture to temper the eggs. Return the rest of the heavy cream mixture to heat and return to a boil. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the pot, whisking constantly until the pastry cream reaches a pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla extract.

4. Pour pastry through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl to remove any lumps. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Puff Directions: (Must be prepared at least several hours before serving)

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

2.  Bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture boils, using a spatula, stir in the flour all at once until a thick paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Briskly beat the eggs in one at a time with the spatula, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next, until dough is smooth and shiny.

4.  Fill a large zip-top food storage bag (or pastry bag) with the dough. Snip 1/2 inch off the bag tip and pipe small mounds of dough about as wide as a quarter and 1 inch high  (about 1 inch apart) on the prepared baking sheets. You should get 20-24 (5 or 6 rows of 4) per baking sheet.

5.  Bake one sheet at a time at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees F. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown on the tops and sides. Turn off the oven and let puffs sit in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and poke each puff on the side with a pairing knife to release steam. Cool completely on a wire rack.

6.  Use puffs the same day they are baked, or freeze them in a zip-top freezer bag for up to a month.

Chocolate Glaze Directions:

1.  Combine heavy cream, milk, and chopped chocolate in a bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well. Continue microwaving in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in confectioners sugar. Set aside to rest until spreadable but not runny. (You can pop in the fridge to speed up this part.)

Assembly Directions:

1.  Prepare the pastry cream first. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

2.  Puffs can be prepared several hours before serving, or prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer. If using immediately, let the puffs sit at room temperature. If frozen, thaw puffs at room temperature, then rewarm in a 350 degree F oven until warm and crisped.

3.  Prepare the chocolate glaze an hour or so before assembly to allow to firm up.

4.  When ready to assemble the puffs, but a small X in the side of each puff about halfway between the top and bottom. (You can do this in the same place that you poked to release the steam.) Fill a pastry bag fitted with wide opening decorating tip with the champagne pastry cream. Insert tip into the X in the side of each puff and gently fill with pastry cream.

5. Once filled, dip the top of each cream puff in the chocolate glaze and set on a rack to firm up. Serve within hours, or if necessary refrigerate overnight.



No need to pop a cork...just grab a napkin and a fork! How decadent would these bubbly sweets be served at your New Year's Eve champagne tasting party (Juneberry Lane), on a dessert bar at champagne inspired birthday soiree (Juneberry Lane), or as a favor at your New Year's Eve wedding reception.

So, celebrate the start of 2013, with tasty, champagne flavored cuisine. Have a wonderful weekend and a safe and happy New Year!


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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elf on a Shelf Free Printables!!


Hello there & Happy Holidays!  Just popping in to share these fun, free "Elf on a Shelf' printables with you!  As you know, your littlest family friend is supposed to make his/her departure on Christmas Eve, so surprise the kiddos on Christmas morning with this note left in his regular spot on the mantle:)

I also whipped up a couple of others...a 'special treat' version and a little note from Santa to remind your little that it is Elf's last day, so treat him well!!  


You can download them on our Google Drive page here:








https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzu5w7KxC6K3N2w2ZmVER2VxTWs/edit?usp=sharing


There you go...hope you like them!!!! Photobucket

Friday, December 21, 2012

FROSTED: Decorate Your Tree With Something Sweet...Bake Ornaments That You Can Eat!!


Every year for Christmas it is a tradition for my mother to buy myself, my brothers, and my sister Christmas tree ornaments. They have ranged from ballet shoes to represent dance classes we had taken, sporting equipment for different sports we participated in that year in high school, and Greek letters to represent the sororities we were a part of in college. So now that we are all grown we have a collection of decorations for our own family Christmas trees.

Now every year I enjoy decorating my fiance and I's Christmas tree with ornaments that remind me of my youth. I wonder what this year's ornament is going to be? If only my mom could purchase a tree decoration that would reflect my love for sweets and baking! This got me thinking how fantastic it would be if I could combine my love for desserts and ornaments....into EDIBLE ORNAMENTS!!

So this week, in honor of my mother's ornament tradition, I am sharing with you some recipes for some tasty tree trimmings that will decorate and delight. Hang some of these confections on your tree and have all of your guests squealing with glee.

Christmas Tree Sugar Cookie Ornaments
(Recipe provided by Manu's Menu)

(Via She Knows)

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups of butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
 (Image from Betty Crocker)
Directions:

1.  Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment on low to medium speed.  Mix until well incorporated, but don’t over mix or you will incorporate too much air into the dough (not good if you would like the cookie to hold its shape while baking).

2.  Add the eggs and mix. Add your vanilla to the mixing bowl and stir briefly.

3.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and add it to the bowl and mix. The dough will be ready when it clumps around the paddle attachment (don’t overmix or the dough will become tough).

4.   Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of baking paper.  Place it on a cookie sheet and into the fridge for at least 1 hour.

5.  Roll out the dough further if you need to and cut out the cookie shapes.  Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Re-roll the scraps and repeat. Also, you may want to keep your cookies a bit thicker, just to make sure that they don’t break.

6.  Put the cookie dough shapes back into the freezer for 10 minutes to 15 minutes to chill again (or you can keep them in the fridge for longer, depending on how warm it is where you live).  They will then hold their shape better when baked.

7.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 175°C – 350°F for 8 to 12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. Let the cookies cool to room temperature and then decorate them.


Pizzelle Candy Cone Ornaments
(Courtesy of Country Living)


Ingredients:
  • 2 egg whites,  room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons of royal icing or ready-made frosting
  • Decorations such as sprinkles, nonpareils, sanding sugar 
Directions:

1.  Heat a pizzelle maker. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder over the egg whites, and fold to combine. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla.

2.  Make pizzelles according to manufacturer's instructions.

3.  Immediately roll into a cone shape, and let cool. Use a wooden skewer to gently pierce small holes to thread string for hanging. Lightly brush the top edge of the cones with the icing and sprinkle with decorations. Let set and fill the cones with an assortment of your favorite candies.

(Picture by Floating Raindrops)

 Stained Glass Cookie Ornaments
(Via The Comfort of Cooking)

(Image from Annabel Karmel)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 15 small hard candies for cookie center (I used Jolly Ranchers), crushed

Dough Directions:

1.  Using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, cream the butter, gradually adding the sugar. Beat in the egg until evenly mixed, then blend in the vanilla extract and salt.

2.  With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the creamed ingredients, about one third at a time, until evenly blended.

3.  Divide the dough in half. Flatten each portion into a disk and seal in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.


 Creating Cookies Directions:

1.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a sturdy baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat the foil with cooking spray. Between 2 sheets of waxed paper lightly dusted with flour, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet.

2.  Cut out the cookies with a large cookie cutter or a round biscuit cutter. Use a lightly floured spatula to transfer the shapes to the baking sheet, leaving about an inch between cookies. Remove the centers of the cookies with a smaller cookie cutter of your desired shape.

3.  Place a pinch of crushed hard candy into the center of each cookie and bake until the cookies start to brown lightly around the edges and the candy is melted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. To prevent sticking, line your serving plate or tin with waxed paper and place additional waxed paper between layers.

Creating Ornament Directions:

1.  Immediately after removing cookies from oven, gently dot a small hole in the top of each cookie with a toothpick. Gently swirl the toothpick in a circular motion to create a larger hole.

2.  Allow cookies to cool completely, then hook through each hole with a wire ornament hook. Garnish with a ribbon, if desired, and hang.


Nothing could be more sweet than a Christmas tree full of goodies to eat! Imagine how fantastic these baked decorations could look hanging from miniature Christmas tree centerpieces at a holiday bridal shower, as a way to serve those winter desserts to your guests at your Christmas Eve gathering, or as a perfect way for your children to leave cookies out for Santa.

So string up the lights, wrap all of the toys, and bake some ornaments for all to eat and enjoy. Have a wonderful weekend and a Merry Christmas!



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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FROSTED HOLIDAY SPECIAL: Go The Extra Mile...Serve Your Christmas Cookies In Style

Over the past six months I have shared with you a variety of different recipes for sweets that will delight guests; such as: Dessert Dips, Breakfast On A Stick, Pumpkin Spice Treats, and Gingerbread Inspired Goodies.  So now that you have perfected a variety of different scrumptious recipes for this holiday season, what are you going to serve and display them on? Don't show up at your next gathering with fabulously frosted treats displayed on a plain paper plate or in that same old Tupperware set!

Instead, create some new festive serving dishes that will show off in style all of those holiday confections you have been so busy whipping up in the kitchen. So take a peek at these crafty containers and make the season merry and bright at your next winter gathering.

Mint Serving Tray
(Courtesy of Tutto Bella)


What You'll Need:
  • Mints
  • A Cookie Sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Oven

 Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet.

2.  Arrange the mints in any design you want on top of the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Allow extra room on the sides. Bake approximately 8 - 10 minutes.  

3.  Take out and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a cookie sheet. Remove parchment paper from the bottom of the tray. Be careful as tray is fragile and could break easily.



Decoupaging Glassware


What You'll Need:
  • Mod Podge Glossy
  • Paint Brush
  • Jar of Water
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Scrapbook Paper, Paper Doilies, or Lace
  • Glass Plates or Stemware
  • Recycled Jars or Cans (to dry plates on)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
Directions:

1.  Clean bottom of the plates or stemware with glass cleaner.

2.  Trace bottom of the plate or stemware on the scrapbook paper, paper doilies, or lace. Cut out the circle you just traced. **If the bottom of the plate or glass is slightly concave in shape then you will need to cut four four slits into the circles you cut, but not all the way into the center. Then cut four more slits centered between the first four set of slits. You should end up with eight equally cuts spaced.**


3.   Cover the bottom of the peice of glassware with Mod Podge.

 (Picture by Fabric Paper Glue)


4.  Center the circle cutout onto the bottom of your plate or stemware, pattern side down. Gently press the paper onto the glassware. If you are using paper with slits, then allow the material to slightly overlap at each slit.

5.  Liberally apply Mod Podge over the circle. Use your fingers to smooth out any wrinkles, but be careful when using scrapbook paper because it could tear.

6.  Lay the glassware upside down until dry. If using plates, then lay them upside down on the jars or cans to dry. Once dry, add more Mod Podge to seal in the material and glue it down.

7.   Once completely dry turn the glassware over and enjoy.

 **Note: Do not submerse the plates or stemware in water. Instead, wipe them off and wash the tops. Stack them with a paper towel in between so they don't stick together.**


(Image by Fabric Paper Glue)

(Picture from Urban Comfort)

Painted Glassware
(Courtesy of Stay At Home-ista)


Things You'll Need:
  • Glass Plates
  • Sparkle Glass Paint (Such As: Martha Stewart Brand)
  • An Adhesive Silk Screen Stencil in a Holiday Shape
  • A Craft Squeegee
Directions:

1.  Clean the plate. Peel the backing off the silkscreen stencil, and place it on the back of the plate.

2.  Apply the glass paint in a line around the edge of the stencil


3.  Squeegee the paint line across the stencil. Make sure that the stencil is covered by the paint. Peel stencil off slowly. Rinse stencil off with water and then repeat painting process again, until you have decorated the plate to your liking. Let dry completely before use.

**Note: Paint is not food safe, so use the underside/bottom of the plate. This is dishwasher safe, but must be put on the top rack.**


 Etching Glassware


Things You'll Need:
  • Adhesive Vinyl or Contact Paper
  • Stencil
  • Exacto Knife
  • Glass Etching Cream
  • Pencil
  • Glassware (Ex: Plates, Glasses, Trifle Dish, etc.)
Directions:

1.  Using a stencil trace an image, shape, or letters onto the vinyl with a pencil. Cut it out carefully with an Exacto knife. Cut away the shapes and letters, but leave the main piece together without cuts or tears. Peel away the shapes leaving the main space all in one piece.


2.  Peel off the vinyl backing. The place the vinyl against the glassware making sure to center the image where you'd like. Press it down firmly getting rid of any air bubbles.

3.  Apply a layer of etching cream on the exposed glass. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Be extremely careful when using this cream; it is very strong. I recommend using gloves when working with the cream and using it outside.

4.  Allow the cream to sit and rough up the glass surface. This takes approximately a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes.


5. Rinse cream off well with water using your gloved fingers to make sure that all the cream is washed off. Then peel back the vinyl and wash with soap and water. Dry your glass to see the full etching design.

**Note: This process if makes the etching permanent. The cream is acid and etches away at the glass surface. This transforms the look of the glass permanently...so you can not rub or wash off the etching.**


 (Image from I Still Love You)

(Picture by Covet Collective)

Such an easy and inexpensive way to impress your guests while showing off all of those delicious desserts that you have been mixing up all season. I can't think of a more festive way to serve that traditional Christmas Eve buffet dinner, set out those cookies that your children decorated for Santa, and toast some elegant New Year's Eve cocktails.

So put your baked goods on the wire rack to cool and design some holiday dishware that will not only be a feast to guests' eyes, but will also hold treats that will delight their taste buds. Have a wonderful week!


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