Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chocolate Rum Balls - by Summer

I put off making these so long, that I actually went through one package of Oreos . . . they are dangerous to keep in the house!  At first I wasn't going to use my food processor to make these.  We are making progress with the kids being less scared of it, but it isn't very big, so I wasn't sure if it would all fit.  Plus, I thought it would be a great activity for my little guy to help me out when I was pounding the Oreos. 

After pounding out the cookies, I decided that they weren't crushed enough, so I put them into the food processor with the rest of the dry ingredients and pulsed them together.  It just barely fit, so I mixed the rum and honey by hand and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours. 

He liked to flatten them
While I was rolling them into balls, my son wanted to help make the "cookies" as he called them.  My mom helped him roll out a few.

These were easier to roll into balls than the truffles.  I just used black sprinkles, since I had a huge supply of them.  Like Lisa, I agree that they tasted a little strong with the rum.  But they were easy and make a great gift or hostess present.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Currant-Cranberry Spice Cake - by Summer

I have seen dried currants (at least the same ones that Lisa used) many times at my regular grocery store, but when I went to pick some up for this recipe - I couldn't find any.  I found regular currants, but the recipe specifically called for dried ones, so off I went to different stores in search of currents.  I finally found some. 

It didn't occur to me until I was making the cake that I wonder what type of canned cranberry I should be using - jellied or whole berry sauce?  I picked up some of the jellied and crossed my fingers that it was the right stuff to use.

This cake came together quickly and smelled pretty yummy.  I should mention that the recipe said to spray the pan with cooking spray and then flour it.  I had disastrous results with this - too much cooking spray, so I just washed the pan and then used butter and flour. I did add the walnuts to the batter since I had them on hand.  My cake baked for about 48 minutes and it was done.  It didn't rise a whole lot, so I was a little worried.

After it came out of the oven, I was inspired by my leftover jellied cranberry sauce.  I decided to make a cranberry glaze with it.  I warmed it over the oven and added powdered sugar and whisked away.  It was a nice pretty color pink.

I enjoyed the cake.  A friend of mine commented that it reminded him of carrot cake - I think it was the combination of currants and walnuts.  I agree.  It's a nice simple cake.  I can see substituting raisins instead of the currants in the future since they are way easier to find and I usually have them on hand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pistachio-Cranberry Bars - by Summer

These bars are perfect for this time of year.  I love making cookies for the holidays and I am always looking for new recipes.  What could be more festive than green pistachios and red cranberries?  This recipe is easy, although there were a few tedious steps.  Shelling the pistachios wasn't so fun and then chopping them took up the most time.  Since I have a love/hate relationship with my food processor, I once again opted to make the crust using a pastry blender.

When purchasing ingredients for this recipe, I accidentally bought evaporated milk.  In my head sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are the same thing.  Don't be fooled - they are very, very different!

One of my favorite things about this recipe was the fact that there were so few ingredients.  They tasted very different than I was expecting (my husband said the same thing too).  They were much sweeter - even with the tart cranberries.  I like them and found them quite addicting.  However, I was surprised that the nuts weren't very crunchy.  I am curious to see what would happen if you use a different type of nut, like pecans.  I will definitely making this cookie again!

Double Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding - by Summer

I was excited to try this recipe when my parents were in town.  My dad likes bread pudding and hadn't had any in years.  I found a French bakery that sells chocolate croissants, so we were in business.  This was quite easy to make - tear up croissants, whip some eggs and cream and melt some chocolate.
Pour the liquid over the croissants, let sit and bake.  I was excited because this was suppose to be rich with chocolate. 

The reviews were mixed on this.  I felt there was too much bread and it wasn't chocolately enough.  My mom thought it was too chocolately.  My dad didn't think there was enough "pudding" and it just wasn't my husbands cup of tea. 

In hindsight, I probably should have made half of a recipe.  Even sharing with my parents - it was way too much.  I actually wouldn't mind try making it again, but I would use less croissants.  And I think I would skip the chocolate ones (they are more expensive) and just add chocolate chips like the recipe suggested.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chocolate Rum Balls - by Lisa

Let's get ready to rummmmmmballlllll! LOL! We received an invite several weeks ago to our neighbors' annual Christmas party so I knew instantly when I'd make these treats. :)

These were really really easy to make. The only extra items I needed to pick up were the cookies (I used Trader Joe's Joe Joes) and sprinkles. Since it is the holiday season, I decided to roll them in Christmas themed sprinkles to make them a little more festive. :)

Initially, I didn't think everything would fit in my food processor, but I need not have worried - it worked out beautifully!

The dry ingredients came together smoothly, and then I added the rum and honey. Since I had a busy weekend coming up, I made up the mixture 2 days ahead of time stuck it in the fridge until I was ready to roll out the balls. As it is, the recipe suggest allowing a day or so for the flavors to develop.

When it was time to roll, I let the mixture warm up for 20 min or so, and this wasn't nearly as messy as the truffles. However, I did need to go out and get more sprinkles for the last 10 or so rum balls. I wound up using about 2 1/2 bottles total.
Before heading out to the party, I sampled one so I would know how they tasted. Unfortunately, these didn't really grab me. The rum was pretty overpowering in my opinion. I guess I prefer my rum in mixed drink form! However, those who did try them really liked them, so I guess I just have a sensitive palette! :)

Current-Cranberry Spice Cake - by Lisa

Mmmm...spice cake. Can't really go wrong with spice cake and this recipe did not disappoint! :) I swear, the whole house smelled delicious while this was baking. I had most of the ingredients I needed for this except for the currants. To be honest, I didn't know exactly what currants are; just that they are some sort of dried fruit something. I knew my regular grocer had a decently stocked aisle for dried fruits, but I was surprised to find only one brand for these! After I got home, I looked up the actual definition of currants and learned that what I got ("zante" currants) are actually not real currants. Doh!

So my next trial was locating my bundt pan. Since I have about 1/3 of the cabinet space I used to, I have to store some of my baking pans I don't use as much. I've been meaning to inventory those items, so I don't have to do what I did that night. Off to the closets and basement I went digging thru bins until I finally unearthed it!

Everything came together pretty well, and I got it all poured in the pan and ready for the oven.

 The cake was done after a little over 50 minutes. I didn't get any decent photos of it out of the pan, but let me tell you it was very yummy! My whole family devoured it in a matter of days! :)