Monday, December 27, 2010

A dash of this, a pinch of that

I'm taking full advantage of my vacation and procrastinating. I leave for Charleston and my cruise in 4 days, and instead of packing, I decided that I would cook! Tonight's menu: My mom's famous Chicken Enchiladas! However, I add something new each time, and this time I went a little wild. Here is my updated version of an old favorite.

Chicken Enchiladas:
Serves 4
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Chili Powder
Ground Cayenne Pepper, to taste
3 generous dashes of Cholula hot sauce
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked chicken, cut up
Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese, shredded
8 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 375*.

Sautee onion in butter. Add Chili Powder and Cayenne Pepper. Add 11/2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup, 3/4 cup Sour Cream, and drained and rinsed black beans to the pan and heat through.

Put chicken mixture in tortillas, top with cheese and roll up. Place in greased baking dish. In a separate container, mix remaining Cream of Chicken soup (roughly 1/2 can) and 1/4 cup sour cream (I always sprinkle a little chili powder in this mix as well). Spread this mixture on top of the filled and rolled tortillas, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese on top. Return to oven, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes.

Source: adapted from my mom

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine always has!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Parties

My favorite part about this time of year is, hands down, all of the parties! Every Christmas party means a chance to bake something festive and to see people I love!

For my sister's Christmas party I made my famous Red Velvet Cupcakes

Lorin and I at her Christmas party

For my mom's birthday, I made Red Velvet Cupcakes as well because they are her all time favorite and she is my inspiration for creating and baking them. (These are actually the cupcakes that started it all back in my tiny kitchen on Coming Street in Charleston.)

The 5 of us at Valhalla for mom's birthday.

Then I got a great recipe for Eggnog Cupcakes from my all-time favorite food blog, Annie's Eats. When I got an eVite to the Franco's Christmas Party, I knew just what to bring! And I knew it had to be amazing because they have a competition every year and I'd like to have a chance at it this year :) So, I spent an afternoon baking Eggnog Cupcakes at Josh's (which is not a very equipped kitchen, but my sister let me borrow her KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer, so I worked with what I had)


Final product

Eggnog Cupcakes

Yield: about 18-20 regular cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup dark rum or bourbon (optional) (I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum and it is NOT optional!)
1 cup eggnog
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar

For the frosting:
20 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2½ tbsp. eggnog
1 tbsp. dark rum (0ptional) (Again, Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, NOT optional!)

For garnish:
Ground cinnamon or grated nutmeg
Cinnamon sticks

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; whisk to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, vinegar, and sugar. Beat on medium-low speed until well blended. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling the cups 2/3 full. Bake 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If making mini cupcakes, I bake for 11-13 minutes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 20-30 seconds. Add in the powdered sugar, salt and nutmeg, and mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the eggnog and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4 minutes. With the mixer on medium-low speed, blend in the rum.

Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and decorate the cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large Wilton 1m star tip for these cupcakes). Sprinkle with ground cinnamon or grated nutmeg, and garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.

Source: Annie's Eats; cupcakes adapted from Baking Bites, frosting adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Enjoy and happy holiday partying to you all!!

*Snow Day*

I'm not typically a fan of winter. I do not like cold weather, I do not enjoy being stuck inside, I do not enjoy having to dress in winter clothing, and I do not like that the days are so short. However, I can stand winter when it snows, so what better way to usher in winter than to have a snow day?Fortunately, my semester ended on December 10, so I've had some time to relax outside of snow days, but I really enjoyed this one!
There is something about the silence and stillness that snow brings. It absorbs sound and covers everything around in a thick, white blanket. However, since I do get cabin fever pretty quickly, Josh and I took my mom up on an invitation to walk to her house for a visit. It's about 1/4 mile if we take the back road that runs between Josh's house and my mom's (very country, I know), so I took her some hot chocolate mix that I had made that morning. I adapted the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Confections of a Foodie Bride.

Hot Chocolate Mix
2-3 cups granulated sugar (adjust to taste)
24 oz high-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
9 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups Dutch process cocoa

In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet chocolate and dark chocolate until finely ground, using 4-second pulses. Process in batches, if necessary.

Combine sugar, ground chocolate, and cocoa powder whisking to blend, making sure to combine well. Store mix in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months.

Yields: 76 2-Tbsp servings, or 12 3/4-cup servings

To make Hot Chocolate:

8 oz milk

2 Tbsp Hot Chocolate Mix (above)

Splash of Pure Vanilla Extract

Bailey's or Peppermint Liqueur if desired (I'm a chocolate purist so I didn't try either)

Heat the milk and add Vanilla and Hot Chocolate Mix. Stir and enjoy!


Here is some of the fun we had while visiting my mom:

Josh and I. Those who know me know my disdain

for camo...however, I LOVE that he wore this

because it brought a huge smile to my face :D

And yes, I wore heels to hike through the just wouldn't be me if I didn't!

The railroad tracks covered in snow.

The little back road few had traveled that day.

Happy Winter!