Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

White Cranberry Cashew Truffles

"Buttery cashews, jewel toned cranberries, and lavish white chocolate combine to make this dreamy candy that's an ideal holiday gift." I couldn't have said it better myself.

These caught my eye because they were something different and even though I'm all about tradition during the holidays, I love trying new things as well.

They were one of my favorites out of the three treats we made for our treat bags. Creamy, crunchy and a slightly tart from the cranberries. 

White Cranberry Cashew Truffles
Better Homes and Gardens


1 cup lightly salted roasted cashews

1/2 cup dried cranberries

12 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice

12 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped (or almond bark)

2 tablespoons shortening

Flaked coconut and/or snipped dried cranberries (optional)


1. For filling: In a food processor, combine cashews and the 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Cover and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Place 12 ounces white chocolate in the food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped. In a small saucepan, combine whipping cream and butter. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.

2. With the food processor running, carefully pour hot cream mixture through feed tube into finely chopped white chocolate. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape side of bowl if necessary. Add white chocolate mixture to cranberry mixture. Add brandy; mix well. Cover and chill about 3 hours or until firm. Shape filling into 3/4-inch balls; freeze for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, for coating: In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, combine 12 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Pour very warm tap water (100 degrees F to 110 degrees F) into a large glass bowl to a depth of 2 inches. Place measuring cup containing white chocolate in large bowl. (Water should cover bottom half of measuring cup.) Stir white chocolate constantly with a rubber spatula until melted. (This takes about 20 minutes; don't rush. If water cools, remove measuring cup. Replace cool water with very warm water; return measuring cup to bowl of water.)

4. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a fork, dip frozen balls of filling into coating, allowing excess coating to drip back into measuring cup.

5. If desired, sprinkle tops of truffles with coconut and/or snipped dried cranberries. Chill about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator or freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 60 truffles.

*Cook's note-- if you're making these in mass quantities, you might want to go with the almond bark. My sister and I found that the white chocolate tended to get too hard and then wasn't so pretty looking anymore.*
Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Moistest Turkey EVER!

In the rush of everything Christmas related, I almost forgot to post this amazing turkey we had for Thanksgiving.

My sister found the recipe via Food Network which claimed it's the top rated turkey on their site. I'd have to agree.

The turkey is brined in some deliciously different spices and then before cooking, stuffed with aromatics. It made for the moistest turkey we'd ever eaten. Really, throughout the whole dinner that is what everyone talked about was the turkey. This will now be our go to recipe for Thanksgiving (and Christmas) dinner.

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey
Food Network

*This turkey will need to be started 2-3 days before serving*

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 gallon vegetable stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger

1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup water

4 sprigs rosemary

6 leaves sage

Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pecan Pie Bars

My friend Andrea brought these treats over to our family and they were such a hit, I had to get the recipe.

Pecan pie in bar form with a delicious shortbread crust. Yum! These are great for crowds or as neighbor treats because they make a whole jelly roll sheet full.

Delicious warmed up in the microwave with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Pecan Pie Bars
Andrea Wittwer and All Recipes


3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups chopped pecans


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease the sides and bottom of one 15x10 inch pan.

2.In a large bowl combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, margarine or butter and salt until the mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Press firmly into the prepared pan.

3.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes.

4.In a large bowl stir the eggs, corn syrup 1 1/2 cups white sugar, melted margarine and vanilla until blended. Stir in the chopped pecans.

5.Spread the filling evenly over the hot crust. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until set. Let cool before slicing.  Makes about 48 bars depending on how small they are cut.

*I think these are best eaten the day they are made.*

Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Buttermilk Waffles---Williams Sonoma vs. King Arthur Flour

I just started making my food shopping list for Christmas. I might have started breaking out in a sweat just looking at the length of my list.  Luckily my Mom and sister will be here to help. My list included over 26 sticks of butter, 17 cups of heavy cream, and 7 packages of cream cheese. (This is for the whole week though, not just Christmas Day. I say that to rationalize the shocking amount of fat I will be consuming.) I hope  no one with a bad heart will be in attendance.  I'd better run a few extra miles in preparation.

To make up for all the goodies that I've already started eating, I decided to skip the treats and post a slightly healthier recipe.

Ever since having these delicious waffles at my sister's house I have been a loyal fan. We have waffles pretty much every Sunday and I freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts during the week. I'm a huge fan of  Williams Sonoma. They  have so many tried and true, delicious recipes that have become staples at our house.

That being said, I'm also a huge fan of King Arthur Flour. I have this book that has so many yummy recipes. Their buttermilk waffles are no exception. With a whole stick of butter and two teaspoons of vanilla, their flavor is fabulous. No egg white beating required and one batch makes about 10 waffles. Perfect for leftovers during the week.

 My kids love them topped with whipped cream and syrup. What can I say, they take after me. I usually throw in a few banana slices because adding fruit makes me feel better about the whipped cream. I love having two recipes to alternate between and they are both delicious.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles
King Arthur Flour

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups Round Table Unbleached Pastry OR 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 tablespoons sugar (leave this out if you want savory waffles, such as the type you'd use as a base for creamed chipped beef or creamed chicken)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pecan meal (optional, I never use this)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter or margarine and vanilla. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients just until almost smooth.

Spray your waffle iron with a non-stick cooking spray before preheating it. For an 8-inch round waffle iron, use about 1/3 cup batter. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the iron stops steaming. Yield: about ten 8-inch waffles.

*cooks note - If you have a scale, this is a recipe where measuring the flour really makes a difference.*

Posted by: Sallie
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Egg Nog Marshmallows

One of my most vivid Christmas memories is seeing the kitchen counters, of the house I grew up in, covered in plates and mass quantities of goodies. My mom (and her little helpers) would spend weeks making delicious treats.Then we would all hop in the car and deliver the treats we'd made to all of our friends and family.

Now that my sister and I are grown we still talk about how amazing our Mom is and how we can't believe she made ALL THOSE TREATS by herself. Especially with three little kids underfoot. Being mothers and cooks ourselves we realize all of the love and work that went into the holiday plates. I know my Mother's love for cooking is what inspires us and brings back so many fond memories of our childhood.

Once we were on our own we would still get together every year and make our annual Christmas plates. My Mom lives too far away now  for our annual baking days but my sister and I are keeping the tradition alive. Some years we make LOTS of treats and other years (when the holidays creep up way too fast) we keep it simple. But no matter what, we always remember our Mom and the fun Christmas memories she gave us.

This is one of those years that we just kept it simple. We tried out a few new recipes and this was one of our favorites.

Eggnog Marshmallows
Better Homes and Gardens 

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (4-1/4 tsp.)

3/4 cup cold water

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup

1/3 cup refrigerated egg white product or 2 pasteurized egg whites*

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. rum extract

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Nonstick cooking spray

2/3 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

4 oz. white baking chocolate with cocoa butter or vanilla-flavored candy coating, chopped

White nonpareils


1. Lightly coat an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap or line bottom of pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Coat the plastic or paper with nonstick cooking spray; set pan aside.

2. In a large metal or heatproof bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of the cold water; set aside.

3. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan stir together remaining 1/4 cup water, 1-3/4 cups of the sugar, and the corn syrup until combined. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan (see Candy Thermometer, below). Cook, without stirring, over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 260 degrees F, (hard-ball stage) 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove from heat; pour over gelatin mixture in bowl and stir well to combine (mixture will foam up).

4. Meanwhile, in a clean large mixing bowl beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight), 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in rum extract and nutmeg until combined. With the mixer running on high speed, gradually add gelatin mixture to egg white mixture, beating about 7 minutes or until thick (like the consistency of thick, pourable cake batter). Quickly pour marshmallow mixture into prepared pan, spreading to edges of pan. Lightly coat another piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray; place, coated side down, over marshmallow mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours until firm.

5. Remove plastic wrap from top of marshmallows. In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle about a quarter of the mixture evenly onto a large cutting board. Loosen sides of marshmallows, if necessary, and carefully invert onto the cutting board. Remove plastic wrap or paper. Sprinkle top with some of the remaining powdered sugar mixture. Using a knife that has been dipped in warm water, cut square into 20 marshmallows. Place squares, a few at a time, in a large resealable plastic bag. Add remaining powdered sugar mixture; seal bag and toss to coat all sides of marshmallows with powdered sugar mixture.

6. In a small saucepan, cook and stir white chocolate just until melted. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes or until cooled but not set. Spread in a thin, even layer over the top of the marshmallows. Top with nonpareils. Store marshmallows between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Makes 20 large marshmallows.

Posted by: Sallie & Julia

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Martha Stewarts Cream Cheese Pie Crust

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a delicious dinner at my Mom's. It was so fun being in the kitchen with my Mom and sister. The turkey was amazingly moist. Everyone agreed it was the best turkey ever (I'll be posting the recipe soon.)
 The kids did a wonderful job of decorating the tables and I enjoyed THREE pieces of pie and  didn't even feel guilty because it was Thanksgiving.  I used a new pie crust recipe my friend Heidi told me about. A pie crust with cream cheese? How could I resist?  It was simple to make and the cream cheese made the crust really easy to work with. It turned out beautiful. My only caution-- make sure you use either a pie crust shield (or wrap the crust with foil) to prevent it from overbrowning. I wasn't paying attention and let the top get too brown but the inside crust was delicious!
Cream Cheese Pie Crust
Martha Stewart

*Makes one 9-inch crust*

2 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces


1.Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter and cream cheese into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining.

2.Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together. (Alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor.) Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
3.Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Posted by: Sallie
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