Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream Cheese

I saw this recipe on a website and how could I not make it!?!  I added my own twist with the whipped cream; I figured- you can't have red velvet without cream cheese!  This is a great decadent holiday treat - hot chocolate made from scratch really does taste amazing!

Yield:  4 servings

4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup white sugar
12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons red food dye
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Cheese:
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons white sugar
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon clear or regular vanilla extract

Optional Garnish:  Mini marshmallows

Pour milk into a saucepan and heat on medium, being careful not to scald it.  Add chocolate, vanilla extract, red food dye, and sugar.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted and milk is hot, then reduce temperature to low.

To make the whipped cream cheese, pour the heavy cream into the bottom of a mixing bowl and whip on high.  Add sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla extract and whip until peaks form or desired consistency is achieved.  Note - clear vanilla extract can be purchased at craft or specialty food stores and will keep your cream a brilliant white.  If you don't have it, no worries, there is no flavor difference!

To serve, ladle the warm hot chocolate into mugs and top with a dollop of the whipped cream cheese and a handful of mini marshmallows.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Martini Trio

Planning a holiday cocktail party?  What better way to celebrate than with a trio of festive martinis!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes.  Enjoy!

Candy Corn Martini

Eggnog Martini

Caramel Apple Martini

Serve and repeat!  Cheers!

Eggnog Martini

Mmm... boozy egg nog!

Yield:  2 martinis

1 1/2 cups eggnog (store bought or homemade)
3/4 cup Frangelico, or other hazelnut flavored liqueur
3/4 cup plain vodka
1-2 teaspoons of nutmeg, for garnish, if desired
2 cinnamon sticks, for garnish, if desired

Combine eggnog, vodka, and Frangelico in a martini shaker and add ice.  Shake until chilled.  Strain into martini glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg, then add cinnamon stick.  Serve while chilled.  Cheers!

Note:  Another way to garnish this would be to dampen the rim of the glass and roll in the nutmeg or in cinnamon sugar.

Caramel Apple Martini

There are a lot of fun ways to garnish this martini; rim the glass with green sugar or peanuts, or dip the apple slice in caramel and nuts.  Any way you serve it, it's delicious! 

Yield:  2 martinis 

1/4 cup sour apple schnapps
1/4 cup butterscotch schnapps
1/4 cup vanilla vodka

Caramel glaze (Hershey's works fine!)
Apple slices, for garnish (if desired)
Peanuts or chopped nuts, for martini glass or apple slice (if desired)

Fill martini shaker with cocktail ingredients and add ice.  Shake to chill.  Dip rim of martini glass in sugar or nuts, then drizzle caramel sauce around the sides of the glass, rotating the glass as you go to create a ripple effect.

Fill glass with martini and add apple slice, if desired.  Drink up!  Cheers!

Cointreau Cranberry Relish

This is a breeze to make and so much better than that cranberry-flavored canned jelly creature that no one ever eats!

12 ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier (orange flavored liqueur)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 oranges, zested


Bring cranberries, sugar, and water to a boil over medium heat until the berries begin to soften, or about 10 minutes.  Add the spices and reduce heat, then add the liqueur.  Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes or until desired thickness is achieved.  Remove from heat and stir in half of the grated zest, reserving the rest for the top.  Chill and serve with reserved zest as garnish, if desired.  Enjoy!

Pepperoni Pizza Biscuit Wreath

This is a perfect holiday appetizer recipe; it's easy to make, adorable, and delicious! 

Yield:  5-10 servings

2 cans buttermilk biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands)
60 (approx) pepperoni slices
1 pound Mozzarella cheese (note: I used block cheese, cut into cubes) 
1 egg, beaten

1/8 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
1 cup marinara or pizza sauce

Kosher salt, to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Start with the first can of dough and separate the biscuits.  Take 2-3 pepperoni slices and a piece of cheese (if using shredded, about a tablespoon of cheese) and wrap the raw dough around the filling, pinching the edges to seal and form a ball.  Repeat with the remaining biscuits.

Place the empty bowl that you plan to use for the pizza sauce in the middle of the pan.  Arrange the pizza balls, seam side down and sides nearly touching, into a ring on the baking sheet.  Remove the empty bowl and brush each ball with the butter and then the beaten egg (this will add shine and flavor).  Sprinkle the entire wreath with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and a pinch of salt, if desired.

Bake the wreath for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Warm the pizza or marinara sauce in the microwave and arrange a few basil leaves on top for garnish, if desired.  Remove the pizza wreath from the oven and place on a serving platter.  Place the dipping sauce in the center of the wreath and garnish with additional leaves.  Sprinkle more Parmesan cheese over the top, if desired.  Serve immediately, while piping hot!