Smoked Turkey & A Giveaway!

smokedturkey

Whew! What a busy weekend it was!

It all started with a good 3 miles of running after work on Friday. This half marathon training stuff is crazy. Just crazy. I’m only running 3-4 miles now, and I can’t imagine going 4 times as far!! Then, Saturday, we decided to do a practice holiday meal (since we’re probably hosting Christmas this year…YAY!) and invited the in-laws over…smoked turkey, potatoes, green beans, a twist on cranberry sauce that knocked everyone’s socks off (sharing that Wednesday) and a great dessert that I’m sharing with you guys Friday! It’s going to be a week of Thanksgiving…with a twist…on the blog. I hope you all LOVE it as much as we loved it!

Can I also brag a bit? As far as my side of the family goes…Christmas shopping is ALL DONE! I just have to get something for my husband, and of course, help him out with his family’s gifts. :-) Once I get started on shopping, I am a gift shopping machine. I kind of want to go in the attic and grab our container of gift wrap, but I think my husband would give me a permanent side-eye. Ah well…now to just relax and finish making the gifts that I plan on crafting.

So, that picture may not be the most picture perfect turkey (I think it’s because I didn’t butter the skin well enough and I tore it…womp wah), but OMG…it was SO tasty. And that’s all that matters, right? (especially once it’s carved up) Making the turkey in a smoker is a fun twist on the traditional oven-roasted turkey. It’s full of smoky flavor, and since the turkey is injected with a whole jar of marinade, the turkey is crazy moist.

NOTE: This recipe is intended for an electric smoker (we own a Masterbuilt one).

Smoked Turkey
Source: Dadgum, That’s Good

Ingredients:

  • one whole turkey, thawed
  • 1 bottle buttery creole injection marinade…make sure it comes with an injector or purchase your own (we used Tony Chachere’s)
  • cajun seasoning (we used Tony Chachere’s)
  • apple wood chips, for smoking
  • apple juice
  • water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Fill the smoker’s water pan 1/3 of the way full with half apple juice and half water (about 3 cups for our particular water pan). Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F. Rinse out and dry the thawed turkey in the sink (don’t forget to disinfect the sink after this!). Using the injector, inject the turkey (in various areas) with one full jar of the buttery marinade.
  2. Liberally season the skin (and carefully underneath the skin) of the turkey with cajun seasoning, being sure to rub it well into the skin. Cut the butter into small pats, and carefully place them under the skin of the turkey.
  3. Add a small handful of apple wood chips to the smoker (we have a special loader for this). Open the smoker, and place the turkey on a rack high in the smoker (in the center of the rack) and close the door. Every hour or so of the cooking process, add another handful of apple wood chips to your smoker (no more than 5 times for the whole cooking process of the turkey). Smoke the turkey for about 30 minutes per lb., ensuring that the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees.
  4. Remove the turkey from the smoker and place it on a rimmed baking sheet, covering the entire turkey with foil to allow it to rest. Allow the turkey to rest for about 30 minutes before serving.

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The 9Chefs Baking Competition

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about peppermint bark chess pie. I adapted the pie recipe for the 9Chefs Baking Competition, which was aired on WAFB (a local news station). I can’t tell you how many times I made that pie to practice, but it was to the point to where I pretty much didn’t need to look at the recipe for the competition.

I was INCREDIBLY nervous about this competition. The whole week of the competition, I would randomly get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. Would I drop my pie? Add salt instead of sugar? Look ridiculous on camera? I also had dreams about how it would go….I know it’s ridiculous sounding, but I’ve never done anything like this.

The morning of the competition, I left my house an hour early just to give myself ample time to settle in at the culinary institute (where it was held/taped). Well, typical Friday traffic didn’t happen, because there was a terrible accident on the Interstate, which, despite me leaving an hour early, I was 10 minutes late. I was the last one there…how embarrassing. :( I seriously thought I was going to get kicked out for being late.

When I arrived, I learned that we were going to be wearing chef jackets. Um…WAY COOL. After that, it was a whirlwind, but I remember we had a few minutes to set up our stations (we were allowed to bring any tools/appliances from home, so I had a bit to unpack haha) before interviews. Then, right after, the competition would start.

The competition allowed us 3 hours to bake two pies. One for tasting and one for presentation. With the pie I wanted to make, I knew I had to get it in the oven within the first hour, to give it ample cooling time. One thing I didn’t expect was that there were culinary students there to help us gather ingredients, and while we were frantically rolling pie dough and making fillings, the students washed our dishes for us. It was so appreciated. I’m sure the students have no idea this blog exists, but if they happen to see this, Thank You. Also, a HUGE thanks to the Louisiana Culinary Institute (LCI) for allowing us to use their kitchen, their ingredients and their equipment. It was very interesting (intimidating at first) to use commercial equipment, but with the help of the students and instructors from LCI, it wasn’t bad at all.

That first hour, I was completely in the zone. The room was actually VERY quiet, and I thought it would be crazy/loud/hectic like you see on Chopped, but every competitor was quietly doing their thing. It was so cool to glance around to see what everyone was making, and to watch how everyone works differently in the kitchen. After the first hour, I relaxed a bit and worked on decorations/whipped cream topping. I also got to really take this whole experience in once the pies were in the oven….that first hour, the room felt so quiet, but after everyone had their pies in, we all would just randomly chat and it became a pretty friendly environment, which I didn’t expect at all. It was a relief, but we were all amateur home bakers…I think we were all pretty nervous about it. Once my pies were out of the oven (about 2 hours in), I concentrated on cleaning my station/packing my tools and letting my pies cool.

9Chefs Baking Competition

After 3 hours, this is the display that I left for the judges. My pies could have cooled a bit more, and man, I was SO nervous slicing the pie that quite a few of them just broke (compared to the blog photo from the recipe post). I was really hoping that the taste would make up for it. :-)

9Chefs Baking Competition

Once the competition was over, we went to a waiting room to allow the judges to taste the pies and did our post-competition interviews. I think that’s when the butterflies really set in. My pies came out great but of course, I had to question if I did enough….

If you’d like to see how the competition went down, here’s the video on YouTube. If you want to skip to the results, just drag the player to about 20 minutes in. :-)

One of the big questions my friends and family have asked me is if I would do this again. In a heartbeat. I really loved it!

Thanks again to WAFB and LCI for the wonderful opportunity, and congratulations to the winners!

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream – These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal – My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies – Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles – Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie – I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes – Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade – Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies – These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette – This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013”. :-)

Homemade Holiday Gifts: Part 3

I think this is my favorite part of giving food for gifts: the packaging. There’s so many fun options out there, and I really enjoy choosing every aspect of how the food will be presented.

I like to package each recipe in their own bag, so my cellophane bag collection over the years has gotten a bit crazy. I decided this year is going to be a de-clutter year for sure, which is SO hard…so many cute designs out there! My favorite places to buy these printed cellophane bags are at the Dollar Tree, World Market and Michaels (Wilton brand).

Holiday Packaging 3

After that, I just simply choose some sort of box or tin to put everything in. When it comes to tins, I really love to purchase them at Hobby Lobby, especially when they’re 50% off that week (since they can be a bit spendy), because they come in many different sizes and so many different varieties of prints. I prefer to purchase smaller boxes/tins for coworkers and large boxes/tins for neighbors/families to share. :-)

The ones on the left are treat bags (box material in a bag shape) from Wal-Mart, which were VERY affordable…3 for $1! The ones on the right, believe it or not, were from TJMaxx.

Holiday Packaging 1

I also went to World Market a while ago, and found these. I love the box material bags (obviously)…they look perfect for stacking cookies, and I think the parchment paper would work well to separate flavors or just act as a sort of food safe tissue paper in boxes/tins. :-)

Holiday Packaging 2

I’m also a big fan of wax paper with baker’s twine. I’ve used that in the past as well, and I think it works well (especially for stickier foods).

Another pointer…if you want to get a little bit ahead and purchase your packaging for next year, check out the post-Christmas clearance! Some places, like Target, go down to 90% off on decor.

So, to show what I’ve done in the past for gifts, here’s a couple of pictures of gifts from previous years…

Two years ago, I wrapped oreo truffles in foil wrappers (usually found in the candy-making aisle of a craft store), and wrapped cookies in clear cellophane bags. The marshmallows on the right were wrapped in wax paper.

Two years ago packaging

Last year, I purchased these adorable boxes at Target (in the dollar bin area), and stuffed them with fudge, elf’s mix & decorated cookies. Below, I made a large tray for my husband’s office, which contained elf’s mix, eggnog cranberry bread, decorated cookies, fudge and candy cane biscotti (which I realize I never posted last year…oops). To cover it all, I just wrapped each gift in cellophane wrap (found at Dollar Tree).

Last year's packaging

In case you missed it, here’s the other posts in my mini-series:

Homemade Holiday Gifts: Part 1 (the prep)
Homemade Holiday Gifts: Part 2 (the recipes)

Thanks so much for following this mini-series, and I hope you consider making some food gifts this year. :-) Not only is it a great excuse to bake (and get rid of the food), family/friends will definitely enjoy the personal touch on homemade gifts!

 

Homemade Holiday Gifts: Part 2

Do you have your mixer and bowl ready?

A fridge full of butter?

Are you snacking on chocolate chips?…..No? That’s just me?!! :-P

Since I make gifts every year, I’ve come to learn that you don’t have to use super fancy recipes to impress. Based on feedback, those sugar cookies I’d spend hours decorating, while pretty, weren’t a favorite. Hilariously, the easiest thing to make (like dipped pretzels) usually won out. So, I wanted to share with y’all some tasty, yet not too time-consuming favorites for gifting.

First, here’s the favorites for cookies. These are the recipes you can make in advance, freeze, & bake when you’re ready.

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies — These are just wonderful classic sugar cookies. Beats anything you can buy in the store!

Thick and Chewy
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies — Again, just a classic cookie, but for the holidays, I like to buy the chocolate chips with red/green white chocolate chips mixed in the bag. Makes these more festive. Hint: You can also omit the chocolate chips and substitute in Christmas colored M&Ms!

Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies — These aren’t very Christmas-y, but if you wanted, you could sprinkle the tops with Christmas colored sugars.

(I’ll also be posting another recipe for the chocolate cookies you saw in part one’s pictures next week, if you’re interested!)

Here’s some other past favorites that I’ve gifted:


Oreo Truffles — The condensed milk version of these doesn’t require refrigeration, and these are super easy to make/dip. Sprinkles hide imperfections, too!

Elf's Mix
Elf’s Mix — This was a FAVORITE last year. It’s a great salty/sweet combination, and so festive too! Super simple recipe too…gotta love how the easy ones are the favorites. :-)

Fudge
Mom’s Peanut Butter Fudge — The picture just doesn’t do this fudge justice. It’s insanely good. I cut them into tiny 1×1 inch squares. They are just so rich, but delish!


Peppermint Marshmallows — These are perfect to add to a basket with hot cocoa mix!

Eggnog Cranberry Bread
Eggnog Cranberry Bread — This is a favorite for the holidays. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten from this bread! The streusel puts it over the top!

Biscotti
White Chocolate, Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti — This recipe is such an easy biscotti to make. It actually was my very first post on this blog. I love the red/green/white ingredient combination and the flavors just work so well together!
Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles
Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles — While these need to stay in the fridge (due to the cream cheese), I find that these truffles would be the perfect gift for neighbors. The mint taste isn’t too overpowering, and it’s just a cute twist on the classic peppermint bark.

I’d love to hear from y’all…what are your favorite recipes for gifting?

Stay tuned for a the last post in this series: food gift packaging.

Check out other posts from this mini-series:
Part 1: The Prep
Part 3: The Packaging (coming soon)

 

Homemade Holiday Gifts: Part 1

I absolutely love baking during the holiday season. I’m always looking for excuses to bake, and during the holidays, I tend to find a ton of excuses. :-)

One of our biggest traditions around the holidays is what I like to call the annual bake-palooza, which is the weekend before Christmas. Basically, we live in the kitchen for the majority of the weekend and bake, bake, bake for friends, coworkers, neighbors…you name it! It doesn’t sound fun to most, but to me, it’s a blast! Over the years, I’ve learned which recipes are great for gifting, and which recipes, while impressive, are just too much work to make for 15-20 gifts.

This year, I’m doing something different. While I’m still baking up a storm, I figured I could lighten the load a little by spreading out the majority of the work—the cookies.

Since we’re making a ton of goodies (husband likes to help), I had to do the math to see how many batches of each recipe I’d need to make for gifts. Most cookie recipes make 24 cookies (check your recipes first), so after doing the math, I decided 11 batches of cookies was a good number (2 of those being cookie dough gifts, which is a whole ‘nother gift idea). Of course, I doubt we’ll need all of those cookies, but I wanted to make sure I had extra dough, just in case…you can never have too much cookie dough, right?

One of the first things I always do for a big bake-palooza, is to stalk the grocery ads. I refuse to buy butter that’s over $2/pound box. I live in a fairly low to middle cost of living area, and from experience, I know $2 is rock bottom for the price of butter. It’s probably different in, say, New York or Los Angeles, but the idea is to buy butter when it’s the cheapest. Oh, and buy a LOT of it. I bought 12 boxes. Did you know that you can freeze butter? Just in case you don’t use it all..

Butter isn’t the only thing I shop for…I usually go through 3 bags of flour and sugar, multiple bags of chocolate chips, as well as 2-3 cartons of eggs. All of these go on sale this time of the year, and I know I sound like a cheap person for saying BUY EVERYTHING CHEAP, but seriously, when you’re baking multiple gifts, it all adds up! (and hey, saving money on ingredients means more money to buy pretty packaging, right?)

Once you have your ingredients, now of course you can make your dough. Since I’m usually doubling (or tripling) some recipes, I do that math in advance. Write those numbers on a post-it or something and stick it next to your recipe OR retype out your recipe with the correct amounts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve doubled a recipe, only to realize I forgot to double one thing…like sugar. Yup. Not good. Just do the math in advance. :-)

Side note: Just keep in mind your mixer size when you’re doubling or tripling recipes. My standard 5 qt. mixer can usually handle a double batch of cookie dough, but tripling really pushes the limits on the capacity of my bowl. I was able to triple recipes just fine in the 7 qt. mixer I have, though. 

Once your dough is mixed, use a medium sized cookie scoop (or large, if recipe calls for it), and scoop dough balls out. My freezer is a side by side, and a 9×13 cake pan fits just fine in there. So, I scooped them out into a cake pan, making sure to leave a tiny bit of space between dough balls, to make sure they don’t freeze together.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (1)

If you have more than one layer of cookie dough, just layer balls of dough between sheets of wax paper.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (2)

Once you have your cookie dough scooped out, place the pan into a freezer and allow the dough balls to freeze for 1-2 hours, until they are fairly set. Then, take them out of the pan and throw them into a freezer bag. Allow all of the excess air out of the bags, and seal until you’re ready to bake them.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (3)

To bake the cookies, all you need to do is place the balls on a cookie sheet, allowing a couple of inches in between for spreading, and bake at the temperature specified for the recipe for just 1-2 minutes longer than called for.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (4)

You can see that I burnt the cookie in the back, but that was because it was meant to be baked 25 degrees cooler than the others. Whoops! Glad I learned that lesson before the big baking weekend!

Stay tuned for the next posts in this mini-series: one about favorite recipes for gifting and another about packaging. :-)

Thanksgiving Time

In a couple of short days, most of us will be surrounded by family and/or friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. I’ll never forget the first time we hosted Thanksgiving three years ago. I thought that being a married gal automatically meant my husband and I could magically throw together the perfect Thanksgiving.

Ha.

My mother came to our house early to bring her dishes, and to make sure I was still breathing (she knows best, right?). She found me in my pajamas with a sink full of dishes, no more counter space for prep and well, I was two steps away from crying (Ok, I actually did cry…), drinking, calling a restaurant to tell them “YOU WIN”. I learned a lot about hosting a holiday meal that year, and I have my mom to thank for that. I was so stressed about how much more had to be done, that I couldn’t even tell my husband how he could help me. I was overwhelmed, but since most of the recipes I was working on were Mom’s recipes, it was easy for her to step in and help out. By the time guests arrived, the food was ready, my hair was brushed and there was counter space in our kitchen again.

Moms are awesome, aren’t they? (Actually, if it wasn’t for Mom AND my husband, I probably wouldn’t have hosted a meal again…)

I felt like last Christmas was our first big hosting success. I felt like my husband and I truly had everything under control. When my in-laws arrived and asked what was needed, I wasn’t flustered at all. In fact, we really didn’t need help…I was sort of proud of us. I immediately called my Mom as people were eating to tell her that I did it without crying. :-) It was a proud moment…for real.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who cried the first time they hosted a holiday meal?

Anyway, I wanted to share some of our family/friend’s favorite dishes with y’all. I may have made them at different times of the year, but they have all been hits, which I think would still be perfect for a Thanksgiving feast. If you are a last minute planner like me, feel free to squeeze one of these recipes in for the holiday!

Thanksgiving Time

Appetizers:

Crawfish Cheesecake
Mini Crawfish Pies
Cheese Fondue
Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Side Dishes:

Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad
Grilled Corn Grits
Mom’s Cornbread Dressing
Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Desserts:

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Caramel Apple Pie
Pecan Pie Macarons
Turkey Cake Pops

What are your family/friend’s favorite dishes for Thanksgiving? Please share them!

 

 

Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

“Thank you. What is it?”

“It’s a bundt.”

“Bunn-t?”

“Bundt.”

“Bonn—bonnk??”

Name that movie. :-P

I can’t help it. Anytime I bake or eat a bundt cake, that scene pops in my head. As I was mixing this cake, I had the scene playing on YouTube at the same time. I’m a weirdo. I know.

Bundt cakes, to me, are a bake and pray type of cake. I say pray, because you know that moment where you’re holding a plate against the bundt pan getting ready for the infamous flipping of the pan? Yeah, I totally pray that the sucker comes out in one piece. It’s a huge bummer when you’ve worked so hard to bake a cake and the darn thing just sticks to the bottom of the pan. Of course the solution is to make a trifle, but a perfect, pretty bundt cake is so much more of a baking ego boost. :-P

I wanted to make a fun patriotic cake, and instead of making the red, white and blue cupcakes that I made a couple of years ago, I decided that this would be the perfect time to make a red velvet cake. Red velvet is one of my favorites. I actually think it’s sort of a requirement to love a red velvet cake as a southern gal. :-P This recipe was moist, had the perfect crumb and the icing was a perfect mix between a glaze and a frosting, which was great to just drizzle all over the cake to make the fun patriotic look happen.

Just a note: If you make any red velvet cake, I highly recommend Wilton’s No Taste Red. When making red velvet cake, you usually need a good bit of food coloring to make the cake red, and sometimes regular red dyes can add a bitter after taste to your cake if you add too much.

Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: Kiss My Bundt Bakery (via LA Times)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (sift after measuring)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Mix on medium speed using the paddle attachment for about a minute.
  3. In another large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time to the wet ingredients. Make sure to do this slowly so that the batter doesn’t develop clumps.
  5. Pour the batter into a 10-12 cup bundt cake pan that has been greased and floured (or you can use simple baking spray…just make sure it’s meant for baking, since those contain flour). Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. Then, (say a small prayer ha!) invert the pan onto a plate. (If the cake doesn’t feel like it’s going to come out of the pan, just let it cool for an additional 15 minutes.) Allow the cake to cool completely (about an hour) before frosting.
  7. To decorate the cake, I ended up just placing the frosting (one color at a time) in a ziploc bag and cutting the tip off. Then, drizzle the frosting over the cake and add sprinkles. Enjoy!

 

Merry Christmas!

Cookies

I can’t believe it’s Christmas Day! This is my favorite holiday of the whole year, so of course, I had to make cookies for the occasion.

I know this is random, but I just wanted to share a local Christmas carol that just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me unless I watch this during the season. If you’ve been to NOLA (or, of course, lived in NOLA), you might have heard of a few of these things/places.

Hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas!

Elf’s Mix

Elf's Mix

This past weekend was what I call my annual “bake-palooza”. When it comes to coworkers and neighbors, I just find it much easier to gift food. My idea is…when in doubt, give food. :-)

Every year, I have so much fun coming up with the recipes for gifts. I have so many ideas written on paper, but I usually narrow things down to 5-6 recipes, just to remain sane. This was a new recipe for gifts, and it couldn’t have been easier. I based it off of bunny bait, which I bookmarked on my friend Amy’s blog. Of course, I changed the mix up to make it more Christmas-y and added holiday oreos for an even more fun Christmas colored addition.

The mixture of sweet and salty ingredients is what makes this mix so awesome, and just to let you know, it makes a LOT. I thought I’d have to make a double batch, but after making one batch, I realized I had more than enough for gifts.

Of course, I wasn’t going to call this bunny bait since, well, it’s not Easter. I had to call it something else. When I had it cooling on a silicone mat, I kept telling myself it looked like a Christmas elf barfed in my kitchen. Kinda gross, I know. Since I don’t have to guts to name a dessert “Elf’s Barf”, I decided to play it safe and call it “Elf’s Mix”. :-P

Elf’s Mix
inspired by Sing For Your Supper‘s “Bunny Bait”

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of popped microwave popcorn
  • 6 oz. almond bark
  • 1 bag of mint M&Ms
  • 15 holiday oreos, chopped
  • 2 cups of pretzel sticks, broken into small pieces
  • Christmas sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Place the popped popcorn, pretzel sticks, M&Ms and oreos in a large bowl or pot. Place 4 oz. of almond bark in the microwave in 30 second increments, until well-melted.
  2. Add the melted almond bark to the popcorn mixture and stir the mixture thoroughly. Spread the mixture out on a large silicone mat or wax paper. Top with Christmas sprinkles.
  3. At this time, microwave the additional 2 oz. of almond bark in a disposable plastic piping back in 30 second increments until well-melted. Then, snip the end off of the bag and randomly pipe the almond bark over the popcorn mix. Allow the mixture to cool.
  4. To serve, break up the mix into pieces and place in a bowl. Enjoy!