December 16, 2011

'Tis the Gift to be Gifting: Puppy Chow

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Don't let the name fool you, lovelies ... this treat ain't for puppies!

Known in some parts of the country as Muddy Buddies, I was first introduced to this out-of-this-world treat by my friend (and stylist) Amy Keller.

I've since made it on my own and packaged it for my annual holiday homemade-edible-tasty-treat gift boxes. Let's just say I'm glad I only allow myself to have it once a year because it is addictive. Truly a crowd pleaser!

Puppy Chow

1/2 cup butter  (1 stick) 
3/4 cup peanut butter 
1 bag chocolate chips 
1 (12 oz.) box Chex Cereal (corn or rice) 
3 cups powdered sugar 
1 paper grocery bag or gallon size Ziploc bag 

In a large stockpot melt the butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips together. Stir. Add the box of Chex and stir to coat.  

Place powdered sugar in grocery or Ziploc bag. Pour in cereal mixture and shake until all pieces are coated.


xx JN

December 15, 2011

Sweet & Savory Couple

This weekend I prepared my 3-Bean Chili for a function I was attending on Sunday - because I was transporting and serving the chili outside of my home, I knew that lugging a bunch of garnish with me wasn't an option. So, instead, I thought I would prepare homemade cornbread to accompany it.

If you're looking for a cornbread recipe that isn't too dry, has great flavor, and an extra added twist, you just might love this:

Cheddar & Chive Cornbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/3 cup chopped scallions

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until most of the lumps are dissolved. Do not overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar and the scallions and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20-minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from The Barefoot Contessa.

Aren't they so cute together?

December 14, 2011

'Tis the Gift to be Gifting: Peanut Blossoms

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Cannot make enough of these little treats this week: pleasing co-workers, friends, family and fashionistas all week long. Super easy recipe with uber-incredible results! Box in 1/2 lb. boxes (typically will hold 6-cookies per box) and tie with holiday-inspired raffia or ribbon bows. (I love the 1/2 lb. boxes with the clear opening so you can see how adorable they are!) This specific recipe has been in my family since I was a wee-one.

Peanut Blossoms

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar, set aside
48 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in a large bowl or stand mixer. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 1-2 mins). Add egg, vanilla, and salt; continue beating until well mixed (1-2 mins). Add flour and baking soda. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 mins).

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. (Trust me, just when you think your dough ball is too small, it’s probably just perfect!) Roll each ball in the 1/4 cup sugar. Place 2-inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. 

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 unwrapped chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets, cool completely on wire racks.

Makes 4 dozen cookies ... and creates as many happy faces!

xx JN

Mulled Cider with Winter Spices

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Simply love this mulled cider recipe originally featured in Bon Appetit in 1998.

Mulled Cider with Winter Spices
12 cups apple cider (I prefer freshly pressed cider which you can typically by at the grocery store, supplied by your local orchard)
1/4 cup orange juice
Peel (orange part only) from 1 orange, cut into strips
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups applejack or regular brandy (optional)

Mix first 10 ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer mixture 30 minutes to blend flavors. Strain mulled cider into mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and citrus peel. Serve cider, passing brandy separately, if desired.

Promise it will be a crowd-pleaser! 
xx JN

December 8, 2011

'Tis the Gift to be Gifting: Perfect Hot Cocoa

Feeling overwhelmed with what to give someone this holiday season? Maybe the time has come to think outside the (big) box (stores) and get back to the basics: homemade, consumable gifts. Over the next few days, I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes that make great gifts ... not to mention they are a joy to make!

The chill was officially in the air today in New York City, so if you're thinking of ways to warm up from the inside out, you might want to try this recipe that makes enough for you and your friends! You can divide this recipe into four pint-sized jars and couple with another tasty treat as well! xx JN

December 1, 2011

A Very Vintage Christmas

Stop what you are doing and take note, lovelies: you must purchase the new David Ian: Vintage Christmas CD immediately. This playlist is a lovely mix of nostalgic favorites and contemporary classics. With ingenuity behind each track, Mr. Ian's innovative jazz arrangements are fresh yet timeless, and you will be left humming your favorite titles with new zest.  I promise you this will be the first album you choose to listen to this season whether you're trimming the tree, sitting by the fire, or setting the table before your favorite friends come over for some holiday cheer! xx JN