Santa Pancakes

My poor kids have been sick on and off pretty consistently for the few weeks. My son especially. I wanted to add a little brightness to their day so I made some fun pancakes this morning. It’s super easy to slice up some strawberries and bananas, throw in some blueberries for eyes and garnish with a little whipped cream and you’ve got yourself a pretty cute little St. Nick on your breakfast table!

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Pecan Cranberry Green Beans

I think one of my last posts was about how I don’t do too many side dish recipes on here. Well, here’s another one. I make these green beans for Thanksgiving every year. Sometimes for Christmas as well. They are always a hit and are so easy, you can make them any night of the year.

If you want to call it a recipe, you can, but the amounts are entirely up to you. I eyeball everything.

Fresh green beans (not canned!), trimmed and snapped in half

Bacon, cut into small pieces

Pecans, roughly chopped

Leeks, sliced in half moons

Dried cranberries (big handful)

Cook the green beans until crisp-tender. You can boil them for a few minutes or you can microwave them with a little water. My microwave has a fresh veggie setting that cooked them perfectly. You want them soft, but al dente.

In a skillet, crisp up your bacon. I used about 8 slices of bacon for a pound of green beans. Remove the bacon from the skillet, but keep the rendered fat. You really only need a couple tablespoons, so if there’s a lot, you can discard some, but keep at minimum 2-3 tablespoons.

To the rendered bacon grease, add your sliced leeks and cook until soft and starting to caramelize. Add the green beans, pecans, cranberries and bacon back to the skillet and toss altogether. Taste to see if you need salt and pepper, but you probably won’t.

This comes together within minutes, so save until the last minute and serve it warm.

Cranberry Brie Appetizer Bites  

Full Disclosure here: This is not my recipe. I got from one of those recipe videos that are all over everyone’s Facebook/Instagram feeds. I don’t remember which one, but it was definitely either Tasty or Delish.

Either way, these are so yummy! I made them as a Thanksgiving appetizer, but you could use them for Christmas. Or New Years. Or any random Tuesday for that matter. They are super easy and really tasty.

You just need a wheel of brie cheese, a tube (or two; I’ll explain in a minute) of crescent roll dough, chopped pecans, and prepared cranberry sauce. Rosemary is optional.

In the video, they used a sheet of crescent roll dough without any perforations to make the triangles into crescents. I can’t find that particular item in any stores near me, so I bought two tubes of the dough with the perforations and just sort of “mushed” everything together to create my own solid sheet of dough. Then I cut the dough into small squares to fit into a mini muffin tin. My mini muffin tin has 24 spaces so I made 24 squares and placed a square of dough into each cup.

Then, cut the brie into the same amount of cubes and placed them into the cup on top of the dough.

I topped each one with a small spoonful of prepared cranberry sauce. I made my own (recipe here), but you can use your own recipe or buy canned. Make sure it is the whole berry sauce though, not the jellied. Finally, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of each one.  The video also topped each one with a few rosemary leaves, but honestly, I couldn’t taste any rosemary, so you could probably leave it off.

After you have assembled everything, bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at minimum room temp.  We had some leftover and they are not quite as good cold from the fridge.

Ham and Peppers Egg Casserole

Like I’ve mentioned before, every Christmas for as long as I can remember my mom made a casserole for breakfast. Now that I’m a mom myself, I’ve continued the tradition. 

I tend to change the recipe up year after year, but this year’s was really good! I was so happy with how it turned out!

Ham and Peppers Egg Casserole 

3 whole eggs

6 egg whites

1 cup milk (whole, low fat, half and half… doesn’t matter)

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives 

Olive oil 

5 sweet mini Peppers, diced

1 leek, diced white and light green parts

Frozen hash brown potatoes

Diced ham

1 cup shredded cheese 

In a skillet, heat up the oil and sauté the peppers and leeks with a little salt and pepper until soft. Set aside to start cooling slightly. 


In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, chives and a little more salt and pepper. 

In a buttered baking dish, add a layer of hash browns. Top with the ham. I used leftover ham from a dinner we had a couple days before, but you can use any ham. Then top with the sautéed veggies and cheese. I used cheddar, but you can use whatever you want. 


Finally, pour the egg mixture over the top. You can make this the day before and stop here if you want. That way it’s ready to go Christmas morning. Just cover it tightly and store in the fridge.


When you’re ready to bake it, put it in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until eggs are cooked and the top is nice and golden brown. 


Let it sit for a few minutes so the eggs set up a bit. This will make it easier to serve up.


Enjoy! 

Slow-Cooker Ham

Typically, in my family growing up, we only had ham twice a year: Easter and Christmas. My parents would go to the Honey Baked Ham store and pick up their ham. On Christmas or Easter morning, we would put it on the counter and let it come to room temperature and eat it that way. They come fully cooked, so that makes things easier. Throw in some sides and the holiday meal was all set. 

Serving ham at Christmas is a tradition believed to have originated with the Germanic people at a tribute to Freyr, who was the Norse god of harvest and fertility and often associated with boars. In Norse tradition, the sacrifice of the boar had the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar was roasted and carried into the banquet hall to music and great fanfare. The tradition may have its origins in Classical Germania, Scandinavia and England, but it has definitely spread worldwide and ham is now a traditional Christmas dish all over the globe.

Back to 2016… I wanted to try something a little different this year, so for our little dinner party we had the other night, I wanted to see what my slow cooker could do. Well, now I’m hooked. This is how I will always make ham! I don’t make it often, but when I do, this is going to my new go-to.

Start with a spiral cut ham. You can easily find these during the holidays at the grocery store. Or you can get them year-round at the Honey Baked Ham store. I’ve never noticed them at the grocery store any other time of year, but then again, I wasn’t looking. Farmer John’s does sell hams all year, but they aren’t spiral cut. I got mine at the happiest grocery store on earth: Trader Joe’s. I know for sure they only have them seasonally.

Anyway, you just need the ham, some Honey Dijon mustard, and brown sugar.

***Apologies in advance for the pictures in this post. I was having lighting issues!!***

Coat the outside of the ham in the Dijon. You can pretty much put on however much mustard you like, there just needs to be at least a light coat for the sugar to stick to. After you’ve applied the mustard, add a pretty thick coat of brown sugar. Again, there’s no measurement here. Just eyeball it and use what you like.



Cook the ham on low for 3-4 hours. The ham is fully cooked already, so you aren’t really “cooking” it necessarily. The end result is a super tender and warm ham with a bit of tang from the mustard and some sweetness from the brown sugar, both flavors compliment the salty ham so well.

And what’s really nice? You get lots of great use out of the leftovers. Stay tuned and I’ll share some ideas with you!



Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese (U.K.)

Hi Readers!! I was going to post this awhile ago, but I’ve been sick all weekend. Ugh. Being sick around the holidays is the worst, right? I’ve had lots of things to do so I’ve been heavily reliant on DayQuil to get me through it all. I finally took yesterday to just sit and do nothing and try for some recovery time! 

During football season, my husband and I have friends over to watch the games. We are all involved in a Fantasy Football league and it’s a lot of fun. This past weekend, we had a little spur of the moment dinner party for some of our friends who watch football with us. I made a slow-cooker ham, which I’ll share later, but for our appetizer, I made these little gems. Before I get into it, I will give you a fair warning: THESE ARE ADDICTIVE!!

Ok, you’ve been warned. 

For my appetizer, I made bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. It’s OK. I’ll give you a minute to savor those words.

This is an appetizer that originated in 19th Century U.K. and if often known as Devils on Horseback. The dates (or sometimes prunes) are often stuffed with almonds, but can be filled with other things like cheese or mango chutney. The dates are then wrapped in bacon and baked until the bacon is nice and crispy. Devils on Horseback are commonly found at Christmastime, but after trying them, I think I will find any excuse I can think of to make them.

This is a fairly simple appetizer to make and the result is a perfectly sweet/salty/creamy/crispy bite.

Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

15 slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise (don’t use thick cut bacon for this) For the kind I bought, it was the full pound.

30 pitted dates

8 oz log of goat cheese

You should be able to buy your dates pitted, if not, you will have to cut a slit down the side and remove the pit yourself. This recipe assumes you have the pre-pitted dates.

Take your date and find the hole in top/slit down the side where the pit was removed. Carefully open the date.

 

Fill the date with goat cheese. I tried a make-shift pastry bag with a ziplock bag, but that didn’t really work. I also tried using a spoon, but that ended up being more messy than I wanted to deal with. Ultimately, I just used my fingers. The goat cheese is pretty crumbly anyway so it worked perfectly.

Put the date back together and wrap it in half a piece of bacon.

 

Place seam-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. You could also stick a toothpick in it to hold it together, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, until the bacon is nice and crispy.

Serve hot.

 

I made 30 of these beauties for 5 people and they were gone in a heartbeat!

Shortbread (Scotland)

Believe it or not, this was my first time making shortbread cookies. I’ve made shortbread-like crusts before, but for some reason I’ve never made the actual cookies. I figured it would be really simple. Basic shortbread is made of a whopping three ingredients: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 3 parts flour. You can make additions and adjustments from. How easy is that, right?

My first time making this delectable, buttery cookie absolutely did not go as planned. In fact, it went the opposite. And I was lured into a false sense of security while I was at it. I thought it was going well until the end product came out of the oven in a big ol’ mess. I mean, it still tasted good, but visually? Not so much…

I think I may have put a little too much butter in the dough because the shortbread spread out a lot. I also think I rolled it out a bit too thin. I should have left them on the thicker side so they would have been a bit more biscuit like. As I said, they still tasted good, but they just didn’t come out the way I’d visioned.

Now, a little history:

Shortbread originated in Scotland back in the Medieval times, but the first printed copy of a recipe wasn’t until the early 1700s. It began as more of bread that was twice-baked and coated in sugar and spices until it was hardened into a sweetened biscuit. Eventually, the yeast in the bread was replaced with butter and became closer to what we know it as today. Shortbread was expensive at the time so it was considered a luxury and saved for special occasions such as Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration). Now a days you can get shortbread year-round and all over the world, but it is still very much associated with the holidays.

Even though my didn’t turn out visually like I wanted, I will still share my recipe. I really do think I added too much butter, so I removed the extra half a stick I added at the end, so hopefully that will help. I also made everything in a bowl with a pastry cutter, but I wonder if using a mixer would have been better to incorporate everything a bit more.

Shortbread

½ cup sugar

1 cup butter, cut into pieces

2 cups flour

a splash of vanilla extract

green and red sprinkles

In a bowl, mix together your sugar and flour. Add your butter and vanilla and cut the butter into the flour-sugar mix until it looks like coarse crumbs. Using a stand mixer may make this easier and better combined. I will try that next time.

Dump the dough out onto a surface, add your sprinkles, and begin kneading the dough together. This takes some patience and is a great arm workout.

Once everything is together and formed into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the disk into a larger piece. I made mine about ½ an inch and I really think I that ended up being way too thin. Aim closer to about an inch thick.

Cut into the shapes you want (small bite-sized squares, longer rectangles, circles, whatever) and put on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.

Hopefully the minor adjustments I made to the recipe will help the end result, but even if it doesn’t, it still tastes great! Just don’t enter it into a cookie beauty contest!