Cherry Cheese Danish (Denmark)

For some reason, I always assumed that Danishes (the pastry) were just one of those things that American’s named after another country, but were really just an American creation. That is actually not true. Danishes are actually from Denmark!

A Danish pastry is basically a buttery, flaky pastry with a sweet filling, such as fruit, chocolate, cinnamon. The origin is thought to go back to a bakery workers strike in Denmark in 1850. Because the Danish workers were on strike, bakery owners were forced to hire workers from other countries, most were from Austria. Those workers brought with them new baking traditions (hence why the pastries are categorized as part of the viennoiserie tradition).  After the labor dispute ended, the Danish bakers continued using the Austrian techniques, adjusting them slightly to make them their own.

I’ve always loved danishes. Anytime there is a breakfast buffet somewhere with the pastries at the end, I will always grab one. And the cherry cheese are my favorite.

I found this recipe on another blog: http://hugsandcookiesxoxo.com/2015/11/mini-cherry-cheese-danishes.html and it was SO EASY!!!!!!!

All you need is cream cheese, some sugar and vanilla, cherry pie filling and a tube of crescent rolls.

Whip the cream cheese and sugar until soft.

Don’t unroll the crescents. Cut them into slices. The recipe says to cut 10, but I only got 9 of what I thought was a good size.

Using a small measuring cup, flatten out the disks you cut. Not too thin, you’re just trying to create a well to put the filling in.

Fill with a dollop of the cream cheese filling and a dollop of the cherry pie filling.

Bake at 350 degrees. The recipe says 18-20 minutes, but I think they could have come out at 16. Just keep your eye on it.

Just beware: These are addicting! They are small and light, so you don’t realize how many you’ve eaten until you’ve eaten too many!

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Cheesy Popcorn Two Ways (Christmas Movie series)

Love. Romance. Amore. All standard fare in most, if not all, holiday movies. (Click that link to check out my Unofficial Holiday Movie Guide, the inspiration for this series of posts!)

Like real life, this love can come in many forms from family to friendship to romantic love. Over my extensive Christmas movie watching experience, I have pin-pointed three most common love themes in these movies:

  1. The Hate-to-Love love: A very common plot device, these movies begin with the two main characters loathing each other. Fighting and bickering from the get-go. Sometimes they are competing for the same end-goal (Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Window Wonderland), sometimes it’s a personality conflict (Let it Snow, Mistle-tones, Matchmaker Santa, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Charming Christmas). No matter, they will be forced to work side-by-side and eventually each will let his/her guard down and they will see that there is more than meets the eye. And love will blossom.
  2. Parent-Teacher love: This isn’t quite as common, but does come up. Usually a single parent and precocious child, who is also an outsider, catch the attention of a caring teacher. The parent and the teacher work together to help the child overcome a problem (Cookie Cutter Christmas) or the teacher helps the child bring back the belief in Christmas (Northpole). The magic of it all brings the two adults together to live happily (and merrily) ever after.
  3. Fake love: Ah, the pretend boyfriend turned soulmate plot line. From the beginning of the scheme, you as a watcher from the outside knows that this whole thing will unravel. The plan is never fully fleshed out, which makes it prime for a comedy of errors. It usually stems from a girl, who has what her parents consider a dead-end job, wanting to impress her family. Likely because she has perfect siblings and she is the black sheep (Holiday in Handcuffs). Sometimes it’s because one person (or both) are so far happily single but their parent’s just really want to see them settle down already, so they pretend for family dinners to keep the ‘rents off their backs (Hitched for the Holidays). This isn’t a new plot device either, the 1945 Barbara Stanwyck classic Christmas in Connecticut had Ms. Stanwyck pretending to be married to keep up the appearance of domestic bliss. Technically in this one, Barbara Stanwyck doesn’t fall in love with her fake beau, but rather someone else, but while she is pretend-married so hilarity still ensues.

These movies are total fluff. It doesn’t make me love them any less, but yes, they are total popcorn movies. Which is why this is the perfect thing to munch on while enjoying these cheesy flicks.

This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite holiday snacks. I know you can get all kinds of popcorn all year long, but around the holidays, those tins start showing up in stores. You know the ones? With the divider inside separating the butter, caramel, and cheesy popcorn? I never buy them, but one always ends up in the breakroom at my work and it is very hard for me to resist the third that contains the cheesy popcorn. It always makes a mess, but it is oh, so good.

Of course the easiest way to make popcorn at home is in the microwave, but I heard those are really bad for you. Like, full of chemicals bad. Luckily, making popcorn at home not using the microwave is actually really easy. 

All you need is some popcorn kernels, cooking oil, and any toppings you want. Today I made cheesy popcorn because, why not? (Get it? Cheesy movies… Cheesy popcorn?)

In a pot over medium high heat, add about two tablespoons cooking oil. I used canola, but use what you have. Add one popcorn kernel and put the lid on. Wait a few minutes and when the kernel pops, you are ready to add the rest.

Add 1/3 cup of kernels to pot and cover. The popcorn will start to pop. As it goes, shake the pot a bit to get all the kernels.   

After most of the kernels are popped, turn off the heat and let it finish. It only takes a few minutes.

  
  

At this point you can eat it or top it however you want. Since I was making two kinds of cheese popcorn, I divided the batch in two.

 

For the Rosemary Parmesan popcorn, I added a sprig of rosemary to the pot with half the popcorn and put the lid on. Let this sit for s few minutes to infuse the Rosemary flavor.
   

For the cheddar popcorn, I just bought one of those boxes of Kraft mac n cheese (or “roni cheese” as my two-year-old calls it). They are only about a dollar each and the cheese packet is the perfect popcorn topping. 

  

Put the popcorn in a plastic bag and add about a tablespoon of melted butter and however much cheese powder you want. I used half a packet, but more would have been great too.

For the Parmesan popcorn, discard the Rosemary sprig and put the popcorn in a separate bag. Add the butter, a couple shakes of garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese. Use the stuff in the green container that you shake on speghetti. 

  

Shake your bags and run the popcorn all around to get it coated in your topping.    

Turn on a Christmas rom-com and snack away!

  

  

Cajun Cornbread Stuffing 

Like I mentioned before, I try to make a new stuffing every year. For some reason this year I couldn’t decide which stuffing I wanted to make, so I made two. Because I’m crazy and delusional to how much time there is in a day. Thankfully, freezing stuffing works and I was able to prep my two stuffings in advance.

Like I also mentioned before, I don’t really like stuffing, so again, I had the hubby do the taste test. I had to stop him from eating it so there would be enough for the big day! That seems like a good sign to me!

This may not be a traditional stuffing for Thanksgiving, but if it’s delicious, who cares, right?

8 cups of cornbread. Use whatever recipe you want or buy it from the store. I made two 7×11″ pans and it was plenty
1 stick of butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, off the stem
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup portabello mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 package Andouille sausage (12oz)
1 egg

In a skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Add the celery, onion, red & green bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Saute until veggies are soft. Add the 3 cups chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat.

Cut your andouille sausage into smaller pieces and brown in a skillet with a little olive oil.

In a large bowl, add your onion/pepper mix, sausage, and 1 beaten egg. After your cornbread is baked, cut it up into chunks and put it back in the oven to dry out. Put those cubes into the mix and stir it all together.

After it’s all mixed up as much as you can, pour it into your baking dish. You can keep stirring it around here too, if you need. Cut up the other 1/2 of your butter into pieces and place sporadically over the top of the stuffing. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes covered, then another 15 uncovered.

TIP: I always make the stuffing at least the day before Thanksgiving. If you do that, you can just put in the fridge before baking it and then bake it the next day.  You can also make it a bit further ahead of time and freeze it. If you do this, put in one of the disposable pans because when it freezes it will expand a bit from the liquid and you don’t want your baking dish to break. The day before Thanksgiving, move it to the fridge to thaw. Thanksgiving day, you can transfer it to your baking dish (or leave it in the disposable, if you want), top it with the butter and bake as per the instructions.

Sausage, Apple & Pear Stuffing

So, funny story: I’ve never really liked stuffing. Growing up, my mom (who also doesn’t like stuffing) would make a different kind of stuffing every year. When I got married 7 years ago and started hosting Thanksgiving at my house, I took over the tradition of making a different kind of stuffing every year.

I’ve been told the stuffings I make are good. And they do smell really great. I just don’t eat them. I think it’s a texture thing for me. But hey, to each his own, right? The rest of my family enjoys them, so I hope you do too.

This stuffing is a pretty traditional stuffing and very simple to make. Stuffings have a lot of steps involved, but they aren’t difficult.

For this one you need:

2 loaves French bread (or any hardy bread)
1 stick of butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped shallot
1 red apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, off the stem
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb sausage
1 egg
handful of dried cranberries

The day before, cut up your bread into cubes and leave out to dry. They need to be really dry. If you forget to do this ahead of time, you can put them in the oven at 375 for about 10-15 minutes, then turn the oven off, but leave the bread in there for another 10-15 minutes. I like to stir them around after I turn off the oven.

You can use any hardy bread you want. I’ve even heard of people saving the ends of their loaves of bread throughout the year (because no one wants a sandwich made out of ends!) and freezing them until Thanksgiving. Truthfully? You could totally buy the boxed stuffing cubes and I doubt anyone would even notice.

In a skillet, melt 1/2 a stick of butter and add your celery, shallot, apple, pear, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until softened. Add 3 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat.

While the fruit and veggies are sauteing, crumble and brown your sausage. I used just regular pork sausage, but you can use chicken sausage, hot italian sausage, sweet italian sausage, whatever floats your boat.

In the biggest bowl you have (hopefully you have something bigger than I do), add your onion/apple mix, cranberries, sausage, and 1 beaten egg. In batches to make it easier, add your bread cubes and mix in with the wet ingredients so it is all incorporated. I didn’t use all my bread because I thought it was enough. Just eyeball it.

After it’s all mixed up as much as you can, pour it into your baking dish. You can keep stirring it around here too, if you need. Cut up the other 1/2 of your butter into pieces and place sporadically over the top of the stuffing. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes covered, then another 15 uncovered.

TIP: I always make the stuffing at least the day before Thanksgiving. If you do that, you can just put in the fridge before baking it and then bake it the next day.  You can also make it a bit further ahead of time and freeze it. If you do this, put in one of the disposable pans because when it freezes it will expand a bit from the liquid and you don’t want your baking dish to break. The day before Thanksgiving, move it to the fridge to thaw. Thanksgiving day, you can transfer it to your baking dish (or leave it in the disposable, if you want), top it with the butter and bake as per the instructions.

Since it isn’t the big day yet, I haven’t baked mine, but I did have my hubby do a taste test (before adding the egg!) and he said it was delicious.

Enjoy!

A Couple Thanksgiving Tips

I’ll preface this by saying what I’m sure everyone already knows: I am by no means a cooking or Thanksgiving expert.

I will say, though, that I have learned from The Cooking School of Mom and have picked up a trick or two over the past 7 years hosting.

First, these two items are my answer to a perfect turkey. There are thousands of ways to prepare a turkey, but this has been my go-to. The dry brine is easier than a regular brine and it provides so much flavor. You just coat the bird the day before, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge. When you are ready to cook it, rinse off the brine, dry the turkey, coat the bird with butter–over and under the skin– and put the turkey in the roasting bag.

These bags are great. You just put the turkey in the bag and then into your roasting pan. Don’t forget to poke a few hole in the bag. Put the turkey in a 350 degree oven for about 2-1/2 hours for a 12-16 pound bird. The bags come with spot-on instructions and cooking times. Then you just leave it alone. It will roast in the bag and sort of baste itself; you don’t even have to worry about that. And it will get nice and golden brown. The turkey always comes out super flavorful and super juicy.

I get my brine at Williams-Sonoma because I’m lazy, but you could totally make your own.

My next tip is to pick up one of these poultry blends of fresh herbs. I like to use fresh herbs at Thanksgiving, but if I buy one sage and one thyme, I always end up with WAY more than I need and I end up throwing it away. This little guy gives you the perfect amount of each herb, so you don’t waste anything.

I didn’t use the rosemary for any Thanksgiving dishes, but it won’t go to waste. Stay tuned to see what I do with it.

I hope this helps!

Easiest Broccoli Cheese Soup Ever 

Two years ago, I got a Vitamix for Christmas and it quickly became one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. And I LOVE kitchen gadgets! I used the Vitamix more in the first few weeks of having it than I ever used the regular blender we got for our wedding (we had been married 5 years at that point). They are a bit pricey, but totally worth it. 

One of the coolest functions? You can actually make soup with it! It blends so fast, it makes hot soup!

That brings us to the easiest soup ever. It’s made out of stuff I always have on hand and you just throw all the ingredients into the Vitamix and let it do all the work. Seriously, the hardest thing you have to do is grate the cheese!  

To the blender, add 1-1/2 cups frozen broccoli, thawed; 1 tablespoon diced onion, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup grated cheese (or more, let’s be real here), 1 chicken bouillon cube. 

  

Turn on the soup setting and let it go until it stops. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can just blend everything together and the warm it up in a pot on the stove.  

The Vitamix will stop when the cycle is done and the soup is hot and creamy. Yep, 5-7 minutes and dinner is ready. 
    
 

This is definitely one to keep in your arsenal.

Recipe from Vitamix: https://www.vitamix.com/Recipes/Broccoli-Cheese-Soup/C-Series/Variable-Speed/Classic-64-Ounce