Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Sauce Thumbprints for Thanksgiving—Cuz Why Wait 'Till Christmas For Cookies!?



While everyone else is stressing about finally perfecting an un-cracked pumpkin pie, you could be breezing around with the ultimate Thanksgiving treat: Cranberry Sauce Thumbprint Cookies! 

Fact: Everyone loves cookies. And you're going to start baking them for Christmas the day after Turkey Day anyway, so why wait? Make these thumbprints for your family's celebration!


This really is the easiest shortbread cookie recipe ever. We're talking butter, sugar, flour, pinch of salt. That's it! I added almond extract, since that's my favorite holiday cookie flavoring. If you want to leave it out (or use vanilla extract, instead) that's fine, too! 

The difference between these babies and your everyday thumbprints is that I'm using little mountain of canned cranberry sauce in place of jam. I thought it was a good idea but, turns out, it's a great idea! It's sweet-tart and totally perfect. Stick with the jellied stuff for the right consistency. 




If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year and stressing about time, whip up the dough tonight and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to start baking. I'm curious, are you a prep-a-food-few-day-ahead host or do you pull an all-nighter the evening before the big day?




Like I said, this recipe really could not be easier but here's a quick video walking you through it incase you'd like some extra guidance. 

Wait! I almost forgot. Cranberry Sauce. Canned or homemade? Loose or molded? I'm dying to know. Our family does a homemade cranberry mold with yogurt that's out of this world. 


CRANBERRY SAUCE THUMBPRINT COOKIES:
MAKES: about 1 dozen

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt
1 can jellied cranberry sauce, for filling

1.Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone mat. 
2. Beat the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the almond extract and beat until combined. Add the flour all at once and a nice big pinch of salt. Beat on medium-low speed just until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes. 
3. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; make an indent in the center of each with you thumb. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Add a heaping 1/4 teaspoon cranberry sauce to the center of each cookie. Bake until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 




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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Turkey Cheese Balls for Thanksgiving Dinner—Only 5 Ingredients, Totally Make-Ahead!



Thanksgiving is a little over a week away—how did that happen!? What are your plans this year: Are you hosting? Spending it with friends? Going out to a restaurant? I'd love to know! 

For a minute there, I thought we were going to host our 1st Turkey Day in Brooklyn for boyfriend's parents. It would have been a blast—cozy and small with way too much pie—and I planned to make these individual cheese balls as double duty snack/place settings.


You may have noticed, my cheese balls look like turkeys. GAH! Yes, that's correct. I had this idea a few months ago and I couldn't wait for November to arrive so I could share it with you. It's like a miniature T-day meal for your plates when guests arrive. 

Here's the deal: Since hand-shaping turkeys can be time consuming, I'm keeping the actually cheese ball recipe as simple as possible. First, we'll mix some shredded cheddar, hot sauce and parsley into softened cream cheese...









Then we'll roll 'em in Cheeze-It dust. "What's that," you say? Oh just some very finely ground Cheeze-It crackers that'll add another intense, colorful layer of cheesiness to your hilarious turkey cheese balls. No biggie. And seriously, no fuss. 

For live-action instruction and a full turkey-shaping tutorial, I uploaded this video to my YouTube channel for you all. 




Otherwise, let's move right into the recipe. One feature that I love—besides the fact that it's shaped like a teeny, tiny turkey (eeks!)—is that the cheese balls are totally make ahead. You can prepare this Thanksgiving snack up to 2 days ahead; tightly wrap with plastic wrap and stick 'em in the fridge until you're ready to use. I'd let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before guests arrive.




As I said, my recipe is super simple but you can swap in ingredients (or add to it) to tailor it to your personal Thanksgiving style...

  • Want something more Ina-esque? Replace the cheddar with crumbled blue cheese, add a few chopped pecans and snipped chives. 
  • Love a Southern T-Day Feast? Just add chopped pimientos to my original recipe for a Pimiento Cheese Spread variation. Get down with your cheesy self! 












TURKEY CHEESE BALLS
SERVES: 6 to 8

1 (8-ounce) block reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus leaves for serving
2 cups Cheeze-Its 
PANTRY STAPLE: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Beat the cream cheese, cheddar, hot sauce, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste with a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and combined. 

2. Pulse the Cheeze-Its in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until very finely ground—almost like dust! Transfer to a shallow bowl. 

3. For each turkey, roll about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture until a flat, oval-ish shape to be the turkey breast. Roll about 1/2 teaspoon each into the legs, then make two little pinches of cheese mixture for the wings. Roll each piece in the Cheeze-It dust and arrange on a small serving plate. Roll two ting balls cheese mixture and place at the ends of the legs to look like bones. Repeat with remaining cheese and Cheeze-It dust.

4. To serve, surrond each cheese ball with a few parsley leaves. Serve with miniature crackers (I used Triscuit Minis because they're the perfect size...and totally amazing). You can make these cheese balls and store in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, up to 2 days ahead of time. 


Leave a comment or send me a Tweet if you try the recipe, I'm dying to know what you think! xoxo - Erin


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

5-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles That Make Sweater Weather That Much Better!


I thought I was over pumpkin, at least for a while. I went a little gourd crazy this year: Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Pom Pom Pumpkins, Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Chorizo. Gah! It's like, put down the can opener girl, right!?

That was until this morning, when I warmed up the last Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffle I had in my freezer from this post I wrote for Freutcake. Could I go another year before making these delightful, just-barely-sweet, perfectly spiced beauties again? Definitely not! I need another batch asap. So my pumpkin craze continues. 



I realized I never shared this recipe with you on F&F and that's a total shame. Let's correct that. The secret ingredient: Pancake-waffle mix! I know, I know..."that's cheating!" No it's not. Everyone needs a little extra help in the morning and it's OK to ask for help. 

In fact, we conducted an official pancake mix taste test in the Good Housekeeping kitchen and the winner (Hungry Jack Buttermilk Mix) and the mix I ended up using for these waffles (Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Mix) both tasted absolutely lovely. And that's science! Enough talking, let's just get to the recipe...

PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE WAFFLES
SERVES: 4

1 cup pancake-waffle mix
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup pumpkin pie filling
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚F. 

2. Whisk the waffle mix and instant espresso powder until combined. Add the pumpkin pie filling, maple syrup and egg. Stir with a spatula until just combined—it’s okay if the batter’s a little lumpy!

3. Preheat a waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add one-fourth of the batter and cook until golden brown, then transfer the waffle to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter.





And as always, if you want a little more instruction (or if you just love cool videos) here's a quick how-to number I put together for my YouTube channel. Take a look and please subscribe if you're into it! There's plenty more to see! xo -Erin



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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

9 Tips For The Best Rice Krispies Treats Ever—Number 4 Changes Everything!


You don't need me to give you a recipe for Rice Krispies Treats! It's the first recipe you learn to make when you're little: Melt butter and marshmallows, stir in cereal, smush into a baking dish. But chances you're making one of these nine Rice Krispies Treat mistakes and there's an easy fix for all of them...


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Monday, October 20, 2014

30 Second Craft: Easiest Ever Polka Dot Pumpkins with Pom Poms—Modern Halloween DIY!



It's Monday! Blek, right? But would pom poms and pumpkins make you feel better? Obviously! This whole mess started with one glue gun: I finally bought one at the craft store near our office and needed to test it out—duh!—so I started gluing miniature pom poms to the pumpkins hanging around in our apartment...and I couldn't stop. It felt too good! 


My point: Why have plain pumpkins when you can have polka dot pumpkins covered in these colorful, fluffy babies? Lucky for all of us, it's a one step DIY project that only requires three items. Here's how it works:




POLKA DOT PUMPKIN
SUPPLIES: 

- Hot glue gun
- Miniature pom poms
- Small pumpkin 

First and only step: One at a time, put a small dot of glue on your pom pom and press onto the pumpkin; repeat as desired. Remove any glue strands when you're done.

NOTE: Rest your glue gun on a paper plate or other surface to catch drips.





 
You're a smart, fabulous, crafty person but if the instructions weren't crystal clear—or if you just LOVE crafty videos—I made this  little ditty for my YouTube channel. Please give it a watch! And hey, I'm making a real effort to post a new video at least once a week so I'd love it if you subscribed. So much fun to be had! xo -Erin 
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Friday, October 10, 2014

DIY Thank You Gift: Homemade Beeswax Candles In A Snap! With Stress-Busting Aromatherapy.

Wishing you the happiest Friday, coffee in hand! It's been a crazy three weeks and I'm finally ready to come up for air and tell you a little bit about what's going on. I took a new job! Today's the day I'm changing my "statutes" on Twitter, Pinterest, etc. but I wanted to let you know first. 

I left my amazing spot in the Good Housekeeping test kitchen to launch a new TV channel. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into—and I was super hesitant to leave my dream job—but I swear this is the coolest things I've ever done. I can't wait to tell you more about it once I'm able to share details! In the meantime, I'd love to show you the thank you DIY project I made for my amazing colleagues at Good Housekeeping on my last day.

You know I'm a sucker for a playful pun (I mean, Birth-nay!—come on) so I was obsessed with crafting something bee-themed, that way I could express how "Bee-yond Grateful" I was for the time spent with such an incredible, creative, game-changing team. 

My plan: Make homemade beeswax candles laced with stress-relieving essential oils. And for an extra-sentimental touch, I poured them into the old tartlet molds I bought at a Good Housekeeping sale my first week on the job. They lived in our kitchen for decades! Such a perfect, retro touch.

This was my first candle-making experience. Um, it's amazing! And, like, the easiest thing ever. I ordered natural beeswax pellets from Amazon, along with a pack of wicks. Next, I stopped by the Whole Foods right by our office for some aromatherapy business.

I picked neroli oil for a soft, floral, clean, citrusy scent. People say it's a mood-lifter...and who doesn't need that in the office now and then, right!?


Let's get to it, shall we? Here's what you'll need to make these homemade candles...


DIY BEESWAX CANDLE SUPPLIES
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Waxed paper
- 1 to 2 dozen tartlet molds
- 1 to 2 dozen wicks 
- 1 pound bag natural beeswax pellets
- 1 large microwave-safe bowl
- Popsicle sticks for stirring 
- Your choice essential oil (optional)

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. 

2. Arrange tartlet molds (or small jars, if you'd prefer) on the prepared baking sheet. Arrange 1 wick in the center of each mold and snip as needed so they stand up!  

3. Put the beeswax in a microwave-safe bowl. Put it in the microwave and microwave in 1 to 2 minute intervals until totally melted. 

NOTE: I first tried melting my beeswax in a pot of boiling water and it was an epic fail! The microwave is sooo much more simple. Why make things harder for yourself, you know?




4. Add drops of essential oil to your melted wax; stir in with a Popsicle stick. Add as much or as little as you'd like! 

5. Divide the melted wax among the prepared molds and let sit an hour or until set—this may sound lame but I totally loved watching the wax cool and change colors! 

One last thing, let's chat about wrapping 'em up. A great inexpensive way to package your homemade candles (read: not buy individual gift boxes for everyone) is to use grocery-store flowers and baker's twine. Tie small snippings and DIY cards to each candle—done! 

Anyway, that's what I made, this is what's going on, I hope all's well with you! I'm exciting to loop you in a bit move over the next few weeks. Happy Friday. Cheers, all! xo Erin



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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fastest Fall Dinner Ever: 5-Ingredient Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Chorizo!

During a shoot this week, our camera man told me about how his lovely girl friends makes big pots of soup for him once fall hits. It's her creative solution for having a partner with long, unpredictable work hours. Soup's the perfect solution! It's cozy, make-ahead and easy to reheat when one (or both) of you get home from work late.

Since starting this new TV job, I never seem to make it home in time for dinner. It's been a big adjustment: Not only do I feel guilty about not being able to cook for boyfriend, I feel awful asking him to wait to eat his dinner until I come home. I'm curious: What's your meal schedule like? Do you eat together? Dine in shifts? I'd love to know!




Anyway, I figured I'd give this soup solution a try. On Sunday I made a big pot-o-Pumpkin Soup! But since I like full-flavored recipes, I added some spicy dried chorizo and hot paprika for a fabulous kick—that's super savory, too! You only need five ingredients to master this fun fall recipe. Want to dress it up a big, though? Add some fresh parsley and crusty bread for serving...
 

5-INGREDIENT SPICY PUMPKIN SOUP
SERVES: 6

5 to 6 ounces dried chorizo, casing removed and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can pure pumpkin 
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons hot paprika, plus more for topping (optional)

PANTRY STAPLES: Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Cook the chorizo in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and drippings release into man (you should have about 2 tablespoons drippings. If not, add a slash of olive oil). Transfer chorizo to a paper towel–lined plate using a slotted spoon. 

2. To the saucepan, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin, chicken broth, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. 

3. Divide the soup among bowls. Top with the chorizo and more paprika, if desired.

 
If that's not enough pumpkin for you, I have even more recipe! Try my 5-Ingredient Frozen Pumpkin Pie—INSANE!—Pumpkin Parmesan Risotto, Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, or my Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake (seriously my favorite things ever) xox - Erin
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