Filed under: Dessert, Just for Fun, Snacks | Tags: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, marshmallows
When I was a kid, I used to love Dr. Seuss books and much to my delight, my children love them as well. I’m sure part of it is the fact that I’ve been reading One Fish Two Fish and Oh the Places You’ll Go, along with many others since they were babies; but none the less, I love that they love those stories. Naturally because it’s Christmas time, we’ve been reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I’ve read the story to them at least once a day, every day pretty much since Thanksgiving. We even downloaded the TV special on iTunes (the original, not the Jim Carey version.)
Some time ago I came across a Dr. Seuss inspired cookbook, aptly named, Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook and I decided to order it for
myself the kids for Christmas. After it arrived, I read it cover-to-cover (as I do with every new cookbook) so now that Christmas time is here, I knew the kids would have fun with the idea of making Cindy-Lou Who Christmas wreaths inspired from the cookbook. I kind of felt like the Grinch when I was making this. No, not because I was going to try to steal Christmas, but rather, like the part of the book that goes:
Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
It was a wonderful, awful idea. We made these sugary wreaths at 9am (and they had each eaten one my 9:15 am.) Giving preschoolers that much sugar in the morning was an awful idea, but it was so wonderful to watch them get so excited about it.
There really is no recipe; I just followed the directions for crispy rice treats on the bag of marshmallows, except used corn flakes instead of rice crispy. I added a few drops of green food coloring (the book’s recipe doesn’t do that, but I thought it would make them more festive) used my mini doughnut pan to shape them, add a few craisins on top, and enjoy.
*I’ll be taking a break from blogging over the next few days to fully enjoy the holiday with my family. Peace and Love to you and yours and I’ll probably see you again before the New Year!
A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store to pick up some milk but of course, in true Alyssa fashion, there is no quick trip to the store. I still had to walk up and down every isle, looking at everything. I must look like a nut to the people who work at the store. I can spend hours there, looking at everything, reading labels, putting things in my cart and putting them back. Anyway, this particular day, I was so glad I took my time to look, because on the bottom shelf pushed to the back in the baking isle were a few cans of pureed pumpkin. Just pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. I may, or may not have snatched it off the shelf. I may, or may not have raced to the check out to buy it. I may, or may not have hid it in the back of the pantry like someone was going to break in and steal it.
No, I’m not some kind of crazy pumpkin nut. To be honest, I never really cared for the stuff that much before. It’s just that there are not the same kind of pumpkins you carve for Halloween, and the canned stuff couldn’t be found anywhere on the island. You know the saying, something like, “you never appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Well that has been my feeling about pumpkin. To my other foodie friends who have been making pumpkin recipes and posting them for months, you may have noticed me tell you how great it was and how I was
jealous excited to see the post.
Well, now I had my very own can of pumpkin and it has literally taken me weeks to decide what to make with it. Indecisive me decided to finally use it to make a super easy (and pretty good) risotto. And of course, I wanted to figure out a way to make this a make-ahead dish as it’s the week before Christmas and I’ve got tons of stuff on my nap time to-do list (ok that’s a lie, I wanted to spend nap time catching up on Real Housewives of Atlanta.) There were many slow cooker risotto recipes I came across while doing a quick web search, but all required stirring at various points during the cooking process, which I thought kind of defeated the point (and I didn’t want to have to pause the RHWoA or miss a minute of any cat fight!) So when I saw this recipe for a baked risotto that was so simple, I knew I had to try it. My verdict: it was a bit gummier than a traditionally made risotto, but it was so easy that I’d do it again.
Baked Pumpkin Risotto:
*Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake’s Easy Baked Risotto
3 1/2 cupsTurkeyStock ( used up what I had made after Thanksgiving)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh thyme to garnish
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Combine stock, pumpkin, cumin and rice in a casserole. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in cheese and butter. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
I saw this recipe for gingerbread play dough on Pintrest not too long ago and added it to one of the hundreds of pins of things to make with the kids. We were stuck in the house all last week, “C” was sick and my husband was out of town. “M” was getting quite restless because we weren’t able to go out and play with friends, so I thought it was the perfect time to pull out this recipe.
This was so great! The house smelled like freshly baked ginger bread cookies all morning and I didn’t have to worry about my waist line (the stuff smells great, but just like all play dough tastes like crap.) “M” happily spent the day making cakes, cookies, and pies.
Gingerbread Play Dough
*Slightly adapted from Gingerbread Playdohfrom the Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon. ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon all spice
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet ingredients and transfer mixture to a sauce pan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will clump, but just keep stirring until a dough forms. Remove dough from the pan and knead until smooth. Store in an airtight container
Before I started this blog, I knew that I wanted to post these pretzels. I first made them about a year ago after I received a copy of Food Network Magazine with a spread on soft pretzels. I knew “M” a lover of all things pepperoni would love the pepperoni pizza stuffed pretzels. I think I even made them just a few days after I received the magazine which is so not like me. I usually book mark recipes and then never come back to them. Anyway, “M” loved them. And I made them many times before we moved, I even brought them to parties and get togethers and they were always a hit.
I swore as soon as we moved into our villa that stuffed pretzels were top on my list of things to make. But, as frequently happens, life got busy and the thought of making the dough, stuffing the pretzels, and baking them off just seemed like more work than it was worth. Well I finally got around to making them, and now I’m thinking what the heck took me so long. I had previously used the recipe featured in the magazine by Guy Fieri, but I always thought the pretzels came out a bit tough. This time I decided to switch recipes and try Alton Brown’s method. Well, Alton, you have yet to steer me wrong! Making the dough took less time than I anticipated (not including the time to let it rise, but that was just enough time for me and the kids to build a train track around and under the dining room table.) And for some reason, I remembered stuffing the pretzels to be very tedious, but it went fairly quickly. I will be making more pretzels again soon. Now that I have a great go-to recipe (and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand) my head is buzzing with other ideas for stuffings/dips/etc for them!
Pepperoni Pizza Pretzels
*Adapted from Alton Brown’s Homemade Soft Pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 4
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup mini pepperonis
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water 2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds to garnish
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately about one hour or until it doubles in size (mine sat for about 2 hours…we were really into building our train tracks so I lost track of time.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Once the dough has doubled, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface. I find it’s easiest to work with a quarter of the dough at a time. Roll dough into a long rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, slice dough into one inch rectangles. Divide the pepperoni and cheese evenly among each rectangle. Fold the rectangle over to enclose the filling, making sure to pinch the seams. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. Repeat with all of the remaining dough (keep the formed pretzels covered with a towel to prevent them from drying out. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil. Once the water boils, place pretzels into the water (carefully!) for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheets. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Continue with the remaining pretzels. Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown.
Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.
Sometimes I think I must be psychic Ok not really, but I must say I planned well this week. I had already planned on making these wings for dinner when our gas went out. You see, here they just give you a big cylinder of gas and you don’t know how much you have left until there is none. Usually no big deal, you call the company and same day, they drop off a new cylinder. However, this was the third one we have gone through in just a couple of weeks. My husband and I concluded that there must be a leak somewhere in the gas line. We had someone come out to look at it and that was where the fun started. He says he will put a whole new gas cylinder on and come back the next day to figure out where the leak is. I say, no way are you going to just allow gas to leak the rest of the day, it’s just too dangerous, and we could blow up the house! He says, don’t worry, I don’t check the leaks with fire. Ahhhh! Needless to say, we still have no gas, which means no stove.
But, back to my psychosis, I mean being psychic….I had planned to make some wings in my electric pressure cooker anyway, so dinner that night wasn’t ruined. I used a modified version of Sandra Lee’s recipe for slow cooker wings, and I have to say, they turned out pretty good. Love Sandra! She’s like Martha Stewart meets a drunken sailor. She always makes such beautiful table settings to go along with a strong cocktail. Anyway, beside the point, the wings turned out well and I didn’t even need to risk blowing our villa up!
Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Wings
*Adapted from Sandra Lee’s Hot and Sticky Wings
3 lbs thawed chicken wings
1/2 cup ketchup
1 12 oz. jar pineapple jam
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons lemon pepper
1 habenero, seeds removed and diced
Chopped green onion, for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Combine wings and the next five ingredients in a slow cooker (or electric pressure cooker like me) and cook on high 2-3 hours in a slow cooker (one hour in a pressure cooker.)
To serve, put wings on a platter and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds
Be sure to check out this link party at Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms’ blog! Link up or check out some of the other great links!
“Maaaaaaaa, no tat-ting pittures…..I WANT CAAAAAAKKKKKEEEE!!!!”
That was “C” the whole time I was trying to snap pictures of the cake we made together.
A few weeks ago, Lulu’s Hypermarket opened about 5 minutes from our villa. If you’ve never heard of a hypermarket, it’s like a super Wal-Mart or Target. It has everything from electronics, to home goods to groceries, usually at a discounted price. They also have a bunch of international produce and other items, which is fun to look at, but our first visit I almost fell over when I saw a silicone Christmas tree cake mold. It’s not that I’ve never seen a Christmas tree shaped cake pan before, I just wasn’t expecting to find one in the Middle East. Especially amazing was that is was only one Dinar (that’s about $2.65!) I may or may not have actually screamed a little bit out of excitement! But we got home and I tucked it away, waiting until a bit closer to Christmas to use it.
Then a few nights ago, we went to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at my husband’s job. They put together a wonderful celebration complete with fake snow, a visit from Santa, a live nativity, and a real camel dressed up for Christmas. The kids were still buzzing about the event the next morning so I decided today would be a good day to pull out our tree pan and bake a cake (plus it would probably make “M” stop reminding me about the part of the evening where the Christmas camel pooped on us while trying to take a picture with him. Yeah, it was gross!)
I didn’t really feel like making a cake from scratch, so I pulled out a box of cake mix and some food coloring. I’ve seen this on several blogs, but I’ve been dying to try these rainbow cakes/cupcakes. Since I was only able to find red and green color at Lulu’s, I thought it was the perfect time to try a Christmas version of the rainbow cake.
There really is no recipe (especially since I used a box cake mix.) All you do is divide the batter, color each and alternate pouring the colors into the mold and bake as directed. I thought it turned out pretty cool, but I did learn a few things over the last few days:
1. Don’t get too excited about baking a cake that you forget to grease the cake pan, even if it is silicone.
2. Don’t try to take pictures of food the kids will actually want to eat while they are actually around. They will just whine, cry and try to stick their fingers in every shot.
3. Don’t try to take pictures of a Christmas camel while standing close to it’s rear-end. It’s just gross.
I’ve said before that we never used to eat lamb much because in the States it can be expensive for the chops. Here inBahrain, however, because lamb is such a large part of local cuisine, it’s very affordable. We have lamb chops now at least once a week, but we usually order them for delivery. The place that makes them does such a good job that I’m rarely inspired to make them myself. Yet, the other day when my husband pulled out the 2kg bag of shrimp, he also pulled lamb chops out of the freezer so I had to do something with them.
I would have liked to try to make the same lamb chops we have delivered, but I have no idea how they are seasoned. I do know that they must cook them in over very high heat because they always have a nice crust on the outside, the same way a good steak from a nice steak house would. So I decided to pull out one of my cookbooks for inspiration for a marinade and try to cook my chops the same way as our favorite ones here. My husband thought they were too acidic, but I thought the flavor was nice.
Rose-Balsamic Lamb Chops
*adapted from Lavender Balsamic Marinade from The Complete Guide to Making Sauces by Christine France
8 lamb chops
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried rose petals
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Place the lamb chops in a bowl and sprinkle on the shallot and rose petals. Mix the vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over the chops. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the chops and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Garnish with extra rose petals.