Easy Christmas Recipe: Peppermint Bark

Alternate Title: I’m too tired to bake a seven layer cake but I still want to make a special Christmas treat.

Peppermint  Bark

Christmas is hard! There I said it. I love it, it’s magical and meaningful and it really is the most wonderful time of year. But if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to feel the “it’s almost Christmas, I’ve only finished half my shopping, none of my wrapping, I didn’t even send Christmas cards, there are tons of year end things happening at work and when I come home I want to fall asleep” time of the year.

It happens. Seven layer cakes are great, but sometimes you just need a quick fix for a Christmas treat. Hello, Peppermint Bark. Easiest recipe ever, but everyone will love you and think you are a culinary rock star. Seriously, I have people who expect this every year and it could not be simpler. Christmas Cheer in a hurry=everyone is happy.

Are you ready? You need White Chocolate Bark and Candy Canes. Unwrap them and crush them up.Peppermint Bark

Melt the chocolate. You can add some peppermint extract if you like, but it’s still good with just plain old yummy white chocolate.peppermint bark

Pour the chocolate out on some wax paper and spread it. Make it thick, thin or however you like it. Then just sprinkle on your peppermint pieces on top and gently pat them down into the chocolate. This year I did the same thing with Oreos. Yum! But use whatever you have. Leftover halloween candy? No one is judging, it’s called repurposing.peppermint bark

Pop it in the fridge. When it’s set, break it into chunks.Peppermint Bark

peppermint barkPackage it cute, spread some Christmas Cheer all around and go to bed happy that you made something homemade and yummy but didn’t spend hours. Go to bed happy with visions of sugarplums peppermint bark dance in your heads.Peppermint Bark

Peppermint  Bark

 Do you have a favorite treat this time of year? Want to see some other yummy recipes? Check out the Recipe Link Party over at Shue Love. Yummmm…

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Girl’s Night In: Pizzeria Style

I live with a boy now. It’s one of the consequences of getting married. While that’s a very good thing, it does tend to limit the Girl’s Only nights so I like to try to take advantage of the few times that Robb leaves for the weekend and host a fun night with my BFF. (BTdubs, she can come over when there is a boy here, I’m just talking about those real girl’s only nights. And this way I don’t have to kick anyone out. Thats rude :))

What was I saying? Girl’s Night In-Fun! While Robb was away playing (boring) golf all weekend, I made sure I planned a night where it would be just me and my BFF.

And that meant there had to be a theme. And girl friendly food. When Sarah and I think girl friendly food- that usually means cheese, not cucumber sandwiches. We went with Margherita so that means Pizzeria theme!

I grabbed a little gingham fabric at Joann, topped it with some craft paper and picked plain white dishes and napkins. Pizzeria=simple!

A simple salad with lettuce fresh from my garden and homemade vinaigrette we can count and coloring on the table until the wee hours make for a pizza perfect evening!

Recipe Favorite: Cornbread Salad

It never fails when I make this no one wants to eat it. It’s too pretty! But someone finally tries it and the rest is an empty triffle dish history.

You know Paula Deen is one of my favorites and this is one of her recipes that contains no frying or butter but it is still delish! For the whole recipe, go see Paula here, but this is how I make it. It is as simple as layering up all the ingredients- cornbread (that you can make yourself or pick up at your grocery store, I’ve done both), beans, corn, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes (that I forgot-oops!), cheese and ranch dressing- and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

And that’s really it! So simple, so pretty, so yummy! What’s your favorite go-to summer salad recipe?

Summer Came Early, Let’s Eat Ice Cream!

I failed pretty miserably at something last year. I hate to admit it, but I just didn’t make enough ice cream. Please don’t hate me, it was an honest mistake.

In order to stop this tragedy from happening this year, I made a deal with myself- when the first lightening bug appeared, I would start the ice cream making. (that’s what some of you call fireflies- they are lightening bugs around here.)

Somehow, a miracale happend in late April. I was taking Avery out for her last potty break before bedtime and I saw it. Just a little twinkle, but it was real and it was there.

And it meant one thing for me: ICE CREAM!

There are not a lot or recipes that are all mine. I cook most days but most of those things come from family, books, magazines or good old food network. But my Ice Cream is all mine and I hope you don’t think I’m a little overconfident when I tell you it is my favorite ice cream on earth. I love it.

When I think homemade ice cream, that means vanilla to me. I make other kinds too, but homemade vanilla is what I grew up on so its what I always start with. So, when I got my ice cream maker several years ago, I started with the classic vanilla recipe that came with it and while it was good- it was not the ice cream in my memories. It tasted too much like heavy cream and not enough like sugar, so I tweaked until I got it perfect, in my (not so humble) opinion.

I guess I should also mention here that I refuse to eat the ice cream with eggs in it. You don’t need that to make it rich and creamy. All you need is four simple ingredients.

1 1/2 cups of Sugar

2 Cups of Whole Milk

2 Cups of Heavy Cream

several splashes of Vanilla

and a cute little pig for company :)

That’s it and it has never failed me. This is also the base of most of my ice creams, but we’ll get to those a bit later in the summer.

Back to the Vanilla. You just want to mix the sugar into the milk with an electric mixer.Then add your vanilla- make sure you use enough. This is vanilla ice cream so you want to taste it. Taste test your mixture until you get enough. 

The next part is highly scientific, but key to perfect texture. Let me show you, then explain…

… now write this down, with a CLEAN FINGER, reach in and see if you feel the sugar. It may be a teeny bit grainy, but if you feel lots of sugar you’re going to want to keep mixing. If you happen to lick your finger after this test, that will also tell you if you got enough vanilla. It’s a win-win. It’s just super important you do your vigorous mixing here because next you want to gently add the cream. Mix this on a very low speed. We’re making ice cream,  not whipped cream. I speak from experience. We’re ready for the magic. Start you cream maker up and pour it in. 

Wait about 25 minutes (or whatever your freezer tells you to) but if you happen to stick a spatula in, you can see how it starts to freeze. You may want to take a little taste test, quality control is of utmost importance when making ice cream. 

Then it is done. And Perfect. 

Remove the stirrer thingy (technical term) and listen as the hallelujah chorus plays in the background. If some falls off, you know what to do. Scrape it all into a container and pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours to get it to that perfect consistency.

As all kinds of physical and chemical changes can happen at this point, you may want to scrape the remaining bits off the freezer…

… examine it carefully just to be sure it is, in fact, perfect. Another taste test may be appropriate here. 

And just to be completely and totally sure you have the best ice cream ever, I always like to enlist the help of my chief taste tester. 

Once all the approvals are granted and you’ve let it hang out in the freezer for a couple hours there is one thing left to do. EAT! I promise you this ice cream is perfect all by itself, but if it happens to find it’s way on top of Pioneer Woman’s Brownies, that isn’t a bad thing either.

And just in case you want to try it and don’t want to scroll through 492 pictures, here’s a handy dandy printable recipe for you.

So what’s you’re favorite homemade ice cream? Do you like simple vanilla like me, or do like to get all wild and crazy and throw in bananas or strawberries? Tis the season so I say we get to eating some ice cream!

BFF Staycation Part 2: Foodie Fooderson

When we were last together,  I took you along to the flea market with my fabtabulous BFF for some thrifty finds and told you there was lots more where that came from. I wasn’t lying, let’s move onto the food, shall we?

You must know that Sarah is an ah-mazing cook and every time I go to her house it’s a guarantee that I will feel ill because I eat too much of too good food. Yumm. So when she offered to start our day off with waffles, I said HECK YES!!! Are you ready to be jealous? Take a look at the fixins’

(just a little side note, this actually occurred before Easter so her runner was completely in season, my blogging is what’s behind on the times.) Anyway, back to the food and can I just say Oh, bless. That is Nutella. Hazelnut heaven in a jar.  Put it all together and sprinkle on some chocolate chips and there you have- waffle heaven on a plate. Bless, again. 

Oh my. And we were just getting started. We made our way to Destination #1: the Flea Market at the Nashville Fairgrounds and as you can imagine worked up quite an appetite. We were brainstorming about where to go for lunch and Sarah remembered a place she had heard of called “The Grilled Cheeserie.” No further explanation was needed so we googled and found out it was a food truck and not that far away from us. Buckle your seat belts, we were there and it was love at first site. 

Sarah and I went with this food truck like peas and carrots, Easter and a bunny, cheese and bread…

True love. Take a minute or 30 to look at the menu and drink selection, that’s what we did. 

The special of the day was a mini grilled cheese and tots so that made up our minds. I had smoked gouda on sourdough with bacon (pause to wipe the drool) and pickles. And of course tots. Who can resist tots like these?

Sarah got rosemary bread with buttermilk cheddar, bacon and pickles and of course the tots. I didn’t want to hear “give me some of your tots, man” throughout the entire lunch. Just kidding, but I’m glad I didn’t have to share.

In true food truck fashion, we opened up the back hatch and tailgated in the parking lot.

I have eaten at a lot of different places on every end of the spectrum, but this was my first real food truck experience. It did not disappoint- until it was gone. I must mention they also had a squeeze bottle of “herbed mustard.” I got a little container of it just to see what that was all about. Holy mustard, batman! How did I live before tots dipped in herbed mustard? As soon as my little garden is full of herbs, we are going to try to make our own.

We shopped on (more on that later) and despite our full-of-cheesy-goodness bliss, we got hungry again. We stopped one more place- Hot &Cold and I failed to take pictures for 2 reasons:  one it was a small super trendy spot with spectacular hipsters behind the counter and more Tory Burch flats waiting in line than in Nordstrom and I just couldn’t pull the trigger shutter; two it was so good that the 2 seconds it would have taken to take a quick picture would have been totally devestating.

Hot & Cold, as you can imagine has coffee (Nashville’s own Bongo Java) and ice cream (Las Paletas gourmet popsicles and Jeni’s Ice Cream). Once again, we stared and stared at the menu for longer than socially accepable before deciding what to sample. Yep, that long to decide on a sample. It took one teeny spoonful of Brown Butter Almond Brittle to make up my mind. OMG. I have never tasted ice cream like that before. I could eat it everyday, for a month, then I would have a heart attack but die oh so happy with an ice cream mustache. 

And there you have it, how 2 hungry BFFs ate their way across Nashville. I’m going to have to go get a snack after reliving this. While I’m gone, please leave a comment about your food truck, ice cream, whatever food experiences so I can add them to my list to try AND also beg my awesome BFF to share some of her amazing recipes, tricks and tips with all of us here. She’s a teacher and crazy busy right now, but I bet if we all beg she’ll totally have the time this summer-pah, pah, pah-lease???