Category Archives: Holidays – Easter

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

 

 

Believe it or not, I learned most about stereotypes long before I moved to New Jersey (surprising, I know!). 

As a native Ohioan, or more suitably I should say Cincinnatian, we have a serious love-hate relationship with Kentucky.  Depending on the situation, we will either turn up our nose and clearly make known, with all of our stereotypical glory, that the Ohio River creates a solid state line separating modern civilization with that other state.  Followed by some type of joke about cousins marrying cousins.

And then in other cases we’ll proudly proclaim that it is our sister state, our comrade, our next door neighbor that produces arugably the world’s best whiskey, hosts infamous horse races, and is home to the cowboy hat wearing, gun-slinging Mr. Raylan Givens (for all you Justified fans). 

In this case I think it goes without saying that Kentucky would be our friend.  Our close friend.  Dear friend.  Our great Makers Mark-producing, Knob Creek-making, cousin kissing friend!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby coming up I wanted to share these, but they are a really delicious treat for any type of party.  Make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks, sometimes I add coconut, sometimes I dip them in an extra layer of chocolate, and sometimes I just nibble on them with a glass of red wine.  Truly an easy and succulent treat.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cookies Cookbook

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers, crushed
  • 6 oz dark, or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Kentucky Bourbon (or can substitute other bourbon)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Begin by crushing the vanilla wafers in a food processor (or by placing them in a large plastic bag and crushing them with the back of a spatula or rolling pin).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 minute increments, stirring in between.  Remove the chocolate from the heat and add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon and salt.  Next, stir in the vanilla wafers and half of the pecans.

Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining half of pecans.  Refrigerate the cookies for at least one day prior to serving to allow flavors to merge.  

 

 

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Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour anyone?, Holidays - 4th of July, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Easter, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Ohio, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans and Bleu Cheese Crumbles

Give me a handful of asparagus and I will give you two million different ways to eat it.  Or more.  You all know how I feel about the sleek veggie (see: Feta, Walnut, Sundried Tomato Asparagus) — I could simply eat it every day.  And because asparagus season is upon us, I am literally eating it every single day.  In every kind of way.

But this little number?  Brace yourself, because I’m not sure there is even a word to describe it.  Delicious just doesn’t cut it…

Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans and Bleu Cheese Crumbles

(The candied pecans are really what make this recipe stand out, so if you’re going to skip a step – don’t skip candying the pecans — it just takes 5 minutes!)

  • Roasted Asparagus (recipe below)
  • Candied Pecans (recipe below)
  • about 2 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1 ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Balsamic vinaigrette (or olive oil and balsamic vinegar)

Roasted Asparagus

  • 3 bundles thin asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

(I used the very thin asparagus, but if you use the more average size you will need to cook the asparagus for about 10-15 minutes longer)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop ends off of asparagus and lay out on a baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over to coat completely, season with salt and pepper. Roast Asparagus for about 8-10 minutes ( again, you’ll have to cook them longer if you have the larger asparagus).  Remove from oven, cool and then cut in half for the salad.

Candied Pecans

  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 4 tbs sugar

The candying process with the sugar only takes a few minutes and happens fast, so you want everything set up and ready to go ahead of time.  Line a baking tray with wax paper (or a silpat mat) and set aside and have your cup of pecans waiting nearby.

In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the sugar on medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves and reaches a golden amber color.  Add the pecans and quickly stir to coat and then transfer to the lined tray.  Spread the nuts out (I like to keep some of them in clumps, but you can spread them out thinner if you’d like) let cool.

Once your nuts are cool, assemble all of the ingredients in the salad and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette or just a good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Filed under All Posts, Healthy Options, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Easter, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Scrumpdidily Salads, Seasonal - Spring, Vegetables

Easy Easter Cookie Pops

 

These are just too great not to share.  Inspired by my 60-Second Cookie, it’s a similar concept – buttery crackers, creamy peanut butter, and smooth white chocolate.  They are just as delicious as they are simple to make.  

They are perfect to make with kids, you can use them as favors, create a centerpiece display, or just eat them all before anyone else has a chance to try them (oops).  Luckily they can be made in a snap. 

  • Buttery Crackers (like Ritz)
  • Peanut Butter
  • White Chocolate for Dipping
  • Lollipop Sticks
  • Styrofoam board
  1. Spread Peanut Butter between crackers and insert stick.
  2. Place the cookies in the freezer while you are melting the chocolate so that the peanut butter hardens and your stick doesn’t fall out while dipping.
  3. Once your chocolate is melted dip the cookies into the chocolate.
  4. Insert the lollipops into a styrofoam board for chocolate to set. Decorate as desired.

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Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Holidays - Easter, Recipes, Seasonal - Spring, Sweet Treats

Eggs Benedict with Ham and Polenta Cakes

  

Brunch.  Ahhhhhhh, brunch!  It’s the little things in life that make my stomach smile and brunch makes that smile stretch just a little bit wider.  Like perfectly poached eggs on a sunny afternoon or a hot, strong cup of coffee…well, anytime of the day.  This is my idea of heaven. Heaven I tell you!

Springtime is filled with lots of celebratory occasions from Easter to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day and I like to take full advantage of these opportunities to break out the fine china and snazzy linens and start cracking open the eggs.

Since eggs benedict is the epitome of all breakfast dishes – and one of my favorites – I thought I’d share with you a slight spin on the classic. Traditionally, the poached egg tops Canadian bacon and an English muffin before getting drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce.  Here I have substituted shaved ham for the bacon and a crispy polenta cake for the muffin.  And, I will have to say — it is nothing short of sunny perfection. 

 Happy Spring y’all!

Eggs Benedict with Ham and Polenta Cakes

(serves 6)

  1. Polenta Cakes
  2. Poached Eggs
  3. Ham
  4. Hollandaise Sauce

Polenta Cakes

(*Make this ahead. It needs at least 2 hours to set, or you can make it the day before and let cool overnight).

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt
  • 2 tbs butter

In medium saucepan combine cornmeal, water and milk.  Whisk together continuously while bringing to a simmer.  Add a generous amount of salt, cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cornmeal becomes thick, the liquid is all absorbed and the cornmeal is tender, whisking occasionally.  Once cooked stir in the butter, check for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and cover with plastic wrap (to avoid a crust from forming on top).   Cool completely and refridgerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24.

Once the polenta has set, slice the polenta into six squares (or if you have circle cutters, whatever shape you desire).  Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet and sear the polenta cakes for about 5 minutes on each side, OR until they become nice and brown on each side. Serve warm.

Poached Eggs

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbs vinegar

First begin by heating up a medium-sized pot full of water to a simmer.  You want the water to be hot and bubbles starting to form, but NOT boiling. 

Next crack your eggs into an individual bowl or cup, so you are not cracking the egg directly into the water.

Once your water is hot enough, add the vinegar and with a large wooden or slotted spoon swirl the water in a circle making a circular whirlpool like effect.  Slowly drop your egg into the water and cook for about 3 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon.  Repeat with remaining eggs.

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tbs lemon juice  
  • salt and pepper
  • water

Place a metal bowl over top of a medium sauce pan filled with about an inch of water, creating a double boiler. Bring the water to just a simmer.  Put the egg yolks in the bowl and whisk continuously until the yolks begin to thicken and they double in size (be careful not to get the yolks too hot or else they will curdle).  Once the eggs have thickened, add the lemon juice and combine and then slowly drizzle the melted butter into the eggs while continuing to whisk.  Whisk until the butter is completely incorporated and you have a thick, sauce-like consistancy.  Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.  If the sauce thickens up before you are ready to serve add a little water to thin it out.

When you are ready to serve, place the egg on top of the ham and polenta cake on the bottom.  Top with hollandaise sauce and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

 

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Filed under All Posts, Breakfast; the most important meal of the day, France, Holidays - Easter, Recipes, Seasonal - Spring

Banana Cupcakes w/ Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Put on your frilly dresses because the Easter bunny is coming to town!   I love any excuse to make cupcakes, and really, is there any better way to celebrate a colorful spring holiday than with a delectable banana cupcake?  I think not. 

These are the cupcakes of all cupcakes — so easy to whip up, extra moist from the banana, and just overall, mouth-watering delicious. 

And just in case you run out of excuses (you can never have too many), once Easter has come and gone and you have those quickly browning bananas screaming to be made into something, you know exactly what to do with them — C.U.P.C.A.K.E.S.

Easy Banana Cupcakes

(Recipe adapted from http://www.cupcakeproject.com)

 Makes about 18

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas, ripened until outside is beginning to brown

-Cream butter and sugar in mixer

-Add eggs, one at a time

-Add sour cream, flour and baking soda

-Add vanilla and mashed bananas

-Mix just until incorporated and spoon into cupcake pan

-Bake for about 20 minutes at 350.

 Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Mix together cream cheese, butter and brown sugar until well incorporated. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Begin to add the powdered sugar a little at a time, being careful not to over mix.  You can adjust the consistency of the frosting by adding more powdered sugar to thicken or a couple spoonfuls of half and half (or cream) to loosen.

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Filed under All Posts, Holidays - Easter, Seasonal - Spring, Sweet Treats