Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Recipe - Peppermint Bark

Everyone I know loves Peppermint Bark at Christmastime. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, minty candy canes. While it's always best to temper your chocolate, you can use untempered chocolate. If you do, however, please be aware that Peppermint Bark made from untempered chocolate will melt quickly and will need to be stored in the refrigerator. Also, it will not travel at all well.


8 oz. (1 1/3 Cups) dark chocolate, chopped
8 oz. (1 1/3 Cups) white chocolate, chopped
6 peppermint candy canes


1. Unwrap the candy canes and place them in a food processor. Pulse on/off several times, until the canes have been chopped into small pieces. Alternately, place the candy canes in a large Ziploc bag and seal tightly. Use a rolling pin or mallet to roll/smash the candy canes until they are the size you desire.

2. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with smooth aluminum foil.

3. Melt and temper the dark chocolate. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet using an offset spatula to spread it to a uniform 1/8” thickness. The chocolate does not have to reach all sides of the sheet, as it will be broken up later. Place the tray in the refrigerator to firm up for 15 minutes.

4. While the dark chocolate hardens, temper the white chocolate.

5. Remove the tray from the refrigerator and spread the white chocolate in an even layer over the dark chocolate.

6. While the white chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the chopped candy cane pieces over the entire surface evenly. Press down very slightly to ensure they stick. Place the tray back in the refrigerator to firm up for 30 minutes.

7. Once bark is completely set, break into small, uneven pieces by hand.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Recipe - Provencal Turkey Roast

My husband is French, and he prefers his holiday meals with a French accent. This Provencal Turkey Roast with Riesling is perfect for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. And it’s so easy to prepare, much easier than a whole turkey. There are no bones to worry about, and carving couldn’t be easier. Braised in fruity Riesling wine from the Alsace region of France, the white meat is light and juicy. You don’t have to get up early on holidays, either, at least not for this turkey. While it does require two hours in the oven, it takes only minutes to prepare. And the sweet shallot gravy is certainly a plus.
Provencal Turkey Roast with Riesling


1 4- to 4 ½ pound turkey breast roast, without bones, tied by your butcher
2 T. Herbes de Provence
8 sage leaves
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 T. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
3 T. olive oil, plus 1 T.
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, sliced on the bias into chunks
10 cipollini onions, peeled
1 C. low sodium chicken stock
1 C. dry Riesling wine
2 T. butter
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 T. flour


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Set the turkey breast roast in a roasting pan and make the rub by mixing together the herbes de Provence, chopped fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and garlic. Use your hands to pack the herb paste on the turkey breast, and make sure your rub it all over the roast.

3. Toss the chunks of carrots can cipollini onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Scatter then in the roasting pan on either side of the turkey breast.

4. Pour the chicken stock and Riesling wine into the bottom of the roasting pan around the turkey.

5. Roast in oven for two (2) hours, basting occasionally.

6. While the turkey rests, make the shallot gravy by melting butter in a saucepan, then adding the shallots and saut̩ing for five (5) minutes until they are translucent. Add the flour and cook for one (1) minute more. Pour in the roasting sauce and turkey juices, and whisk until thickened Рabout three (3) or four (4) more minutes.

7. Cut the string off the turkey, and slice the roast. Serve with the roasted vegetables alongside and the gravy on top.

Serves about six.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Recipe - Christmas Grog

The first people who drank grog drank nothing but a mixture of hot rum and water, sometimes with a few spices sprinkled on top. Not bad, but not nearly as good as what we enjoy today.

In the 18th century, Edward Vernon, a British admiral, was nicknamed "Old Grog" because of the grogram fabric he liked to wear. "Old Grog" served his men a pint of rum a day in an attempt to prevent scurvey. Of course it didn't work, but his sailors enjoyed their admiral's efforts. :) Then "Old Grog" issued the now-famous Captain's Order Number 349, stating that all rum must be mixed with water, a dash of brown sugar, and lime juice in order to make it more palatable. The sailors really didn't like this too well, but nevertheless, they christened the weakened drink after Vernon.

Grog has undergone many changes since "Old Grog's" sailors drank it. Today, we drink grog comfortingly warm or refreshingly cool, and we enjoy it either way. Surprisingly, the rum originally used in grog didn't become available to the general public until the 1980s. (Yes, the 1980s!) It is sold under the label, "Pusser's Navy Rum," pusser being navy slang for purser, the person who sold the rum to the sailors. (And by the way, the British navy stopped rationing rum to its sailors only in the late 1970s.)

And if you're ever told you have "grog blossoms," you might want to check the mirror. Grog blossoms refer to the broken blood vessels in your nose - an effect of drinking too much of this delicious beveridge.

Warm grog is always a great drink to have around Christmastime, and it lends itself especially well to parties. Just make sure designated drivers stay far away from the drink (and all other alcoholic drinks), and don't let even non-drivers have too much. It is potent.


2 ounces dark rum, preferably Pusser's Navy Rum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (make sure this is fresh)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 ounces hot water
Slice of orange
Cinnamon stick


Mix the rum, lime juice, brown sugar and hot water together until the brown sugar is dissolved.

Serve warm garnished with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick.

You won't even feel the cold!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Recipe - Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

Can’t get enough of holiday pumpkin pies? Or, do you simply love pumpkin and wish you knew a different way to use it other than in pies. If you do, we’ve got the answer for you – Pumpkin Pie Pancakes. These terrific pancakes have all the spice of pumpkin pie and are wonderful with maple syrup for breakfast, or made thin - crepe-style - and served with ice cream for dessert or brunch.

If you’re making them for brunch, you can save some time by whisking all the dry ingredients together the night before and keeping them covered at room temperature. Whisk the wet ingredients together as well, but keep them covered and refrigerated. You can even measure out the pumpkin puree and keep it covered and chilled as well.

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes


1 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. granulated sugar
3 T. (packed) light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 C. buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 T. dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 C. unsweetened pumpkin puree
Maple syrup or ice cream for topping


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, rum and vanilla, and blend thoroughly.

3. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with the whisk, stopping when everything is just combined. (Don't worry if the batter is a bit lumpy.)

4. With a rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold in the pumpkin puree.5. If necessary, lightly butter, oil or spray your griddle or skillet.

6. Preheat over medium heat or, if you're using an electric griddle, set it to 350°F. If you want to hold the pancakes until serving time (or for up to 20 minutes), preheat your oven to 200°F.

7. Spoon 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake, allowing space for spreading. When the undersides of the pancakes are golden and the tops are lightly speckled with bubbles that pop and stay open, flip the pancakes over with a wide spatula and cook until the other sides are light brown. (These are soft and puffy, so turn carefully.)

8. Serve immediately, or keep the finished pancakes in the preheated oven while you make the rest of the batch.
Yield: Sixteen 4 1/2 inch pancakes

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recipe - Candied Pumpkin for Halloween! :)

Since it's almost time for Halloween, how about some candied pumpkin? I love this recipe. :)

Candied Pumpkin


2 small pumpkins or 2 large winter squash
¼ C. slaked lime (cal or builder's lime, available where building materials are sold)
7 C. water
10 C. dark brown sugar or piloncillo
3 C. white sugar
6 cinnamon sticks, 2 ½"- 3" long
¾ tablespoon anise seeds
½ teaspoon whole cloves
2 C. heavy cream for whipping (optional but delicious)


1. Perforate the pumpkin or squash with holes about the diameter of a drinking straw, making 8-10 wholes for a small pumpkin. The holes should go all the way through the shells.

2. Place the pumpkins in a large stockpot with the slaked lime and water to cover and soak for 3 hours. Remove pumpkins from lime solution, drain and rinse thoroughly.

3. Put the pumpkins back in the stockpot with the 7 cups water and remaining ingredients (except the whipping cream) which will form a syrup. Cook over medium heat for 2 hours or until the pumpkins are tender, basting with the syrup from time to time.

4. Allow the pumpkins to cool in the syrup. Cut into pieces and serve pieces topped with syrup and whipped cream. Pumpkins may be prepared ahead and stored up to 4 days in the refrigerator, with the syrup stored in a separate container in the refrigerator. If using whipped cream, whip just before serving.

Each pumpkin serves 8.

Recipe - Double Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

Want to enjoy the great taste of apples, but still eat healthy? We already know apples are good for us, but it's been discovered that cinnamon is heart healthy as well. You can replace a meal with this delicious and filling Double Apple Cinnamon Smoothie. I love it, and I think you will, too. Just make sure you top it with enough cinnamon to be healthful. Enjoy!


1/4 C. frozen apple juice concentrate, not thawed
1/2 C. cinnamon applesauce
3/4 C. vanilla or plain fat-free or light soymilk
3/4 C. low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/8 teaspoon apple pie spice
Powdered cinnamon


1. Combine all ingredients in a blender container.

2. Cover; blend at high speed for 1 minute.

3. Pour into frosty mugs, if desired, and top with powdered cinnamon.

Yield: 2 servings.

Fall Shopping Tips - Apples

There are hundreds of varieties of apples. Some are tart, some are sweet, some have a honeyed taste, and some are rather floral. Whatever variety you prefer, look for apples that are hard, with the stems still attached and no bruises. The skin can be glossy or rough, but it should always be taut, never wrinkled. Apples don't keep as long as many people think, and should be used within two weeks of purchase. Store them in a cool place in your kitchen or refrigerate then uncovered. If you want to cut up some to freeze for pies and tarts later in the year, try using McIntosh. This variety freezes well.