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Turkey is well established as the go-to protein of Thanksgiving. Christmas it isn’t so clear. I grew up on ham for Christmas. Many bring the bird back one month later for another go-around. Those things are good and all, but Christmas only comes once a year. I say it’s time to roast a big chunk of beef. The best two options are beef tenderloin and prime rib. I have been told that warehouse stores like Costco are the best plays to get these hunks of cow as the best prices. Is it true? I headed out to my local Costco to find the answer.

Meat Price
Choice Ribeye Roast Boneleess $9.99/lb
The same hunk of meat that Ribeye steaks are cut from. A lot of flavor and a good option if you don't want to deal with the bone.
Choice Standing Rib Roast $9.69/lb
I myself prefer bone-in meat. It means more flavor. This is my favorite meat for Christmas dinner. Christmas is a special time of year and this is the only time of year where you can easily find this roast. This is what Prime Rib is cut from except this is Choice beef not prime beef. My Costco did not have any true Prime Rib during my visit. Even with choice beef you can have a steakhouse-like experience in your own home. I suggest using Alton Brown's recipe.
Choice Seasoned Standing Rib Roast $10.69/lb
This is a rib roast that has already been seasoned for you. You are you going to pay a $1 per pound for this and if you are talking about a 6 pound roast that's $6 more you are paying to have it seasoned for you. Save the money and do it yourself.
Choice Whole Beef Tenderloin $12.99/lb
Another Christmas favorite is roasting a whole beef tenderloin. It's super tender. Although I think the rib roast has more flavor. This is a good option if you want to leaner especially if you have already eaten way too many Christmas cookies.
Choice Peeled Beef Tenderloin $19.99/lb
Here is a beef tenderloin that has been peeled and trimmed for you. Tenderloin has a tough layer on the outside called silver skin that you should remove as it is not edible. It's not that easy to do. It is also missing what is called the chain meat which is small side piece of meat that has a lot of flavor and can be used to make a delicious beef sandwich. I think to save $7 a pound it is worth your time and effort to learn how to prep the tenderloin yourself. Below you will find a YouTube video showing you how.

These prices aren’t bad and are definitely better than a high end grocery store. However make sure you do a bit of shopping around. You may found better sales at large chain stores. For example, my local Meijer store will have a Certified Angus Standing Rib Roast for $7.99/lb during Christmas week. The prices are comparable to Sam’s Club as you can see in my Sam’s Club version of this post. Although my Sam’s Club did not offer the Standing Rib Roast.

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We are getting ever so close to one of the most antiipated days of the year – Christmas Day. How is your shoppping going? Have you been done for weeks or have you not even started? Whether you are in early shopper or a late one, most people probably pick out what they will eat on Christmas Day as one of their last decisions. And if you are still wondering what you might make, consider a large chunk of beef, available at your local Sam’s Club. People want to know how much that will set that back. I made a visit to my Sam’s Club in Ypsilanti, Michigan on Wednesday, December 17th to see what they had.

Meat Price
Emmbe Prime Rib $12.98/lb
This prime rib comes in a sealed packaged coated with spices and is hardwood smoked. It's not a huge portion so you would might need more than 1 of these to sufface or choose another option.
Whole Beef Tenderloin $12.98/lb
No cut of beef is more melt in your mouth than the tenderloin. I have cooked it for Christmas in the past. You can cut it into steaks and serve up some filet mignon or roast the thing whole (I like Alton Brown's method)
Choice Rib Eye Roast $9.98/lb
The biggest cut of beef I found on this trip was their Rib Eye Roast. It's the same cut that butcher cut rib eye steaks from. Very flavorful and the cheapest of the three options. Below you will find a video showing you how to cook one with a roasted garlic sauce. The person in the video cooked it to a high temperature that I would recommend. I would pull it at about 135 to 140 for medium. She pulls it at 150 for medium but with carry over heat it looks just barely pink. I would like more pink in mine but to each their own. Realize that the center will be the pinkest. If you have guests that want it more well done you can serve them the end pieces.

I have been studying for months whether a membership to Sam’s Club is worth the price. So in each case I examine whether or not an item will save me money by buying it there. In this case, I can get a Rib Eye Roast from Kroger for $8.99/lb and I know that several local grocery store chains have whole beef tenderloin for under $10/lb. Sorry, Sam’s Club the prices on these items does not justify a membership in this case. Shop around and if you can’t get a better deal in your area. For some, Sam’s Club still might be the better option. Know your options and don’t assume that Sam’s Club membership alone is going to bring you the best bargain.

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Zyliss Christmas Gift Ideas

This post includes product recommendations. This is my honest opinion on what the best product I think is to buy and what I would purchase for myself. You will find Amazon affiliate links but I have not been paid by the maker of this product to endorse it.

I have not been shy sharing that Alton Brown and his show Good Eats has played the most influential role in my love of food and cooking. This creative show not only taught me about the food itself but also about the tools used to make the food. Good Eats was where I was introduced to Zyliss, a Swiss company founded in 1948 by Karl Zysset. It all started with a garlic press and since then they have introduced some wonderful and colorful tools to make the cook’s life easier in the kitchen. Some of my favorite products of theirs are basic tools, but done in a fantastic way. To learn more about them check out this video. After that I will get into some of their products I personally recommend as gifts.

Zyliss Handheld Pizza Wheel
This was their first tool to check my attention. It’s a pizza cutter that doesn’t have a handle. Might sound strange at first. This cutter just has a plastic cover over the wheel. This allows your hand to be closer to the action and gives you greater control, making it easier to apply the right pressure to cut through pizza. I use it a lot to cut through raw dough, like when I am making homemade crackers. It’s also super easy to clean because you can completely remove the metal wheel. Now the plastic on mine did break after many years of use. It broke where the metal wheel attaches. I plan to replace it soon and when I do I will have an extra metal wheel as a backup.

Zyliss Fruit Peeler
No doubt my favorite peeler. I love this thing. It’s meant to be used on soft fruit, but I use it as main peeler. I have peeled peaches with it and was able to get the skin off without cutting too much into the fruit. It’s easy to hold onto as well as to clean. I have had it for several years and it’s still doing a wonderful job.

Zyliss 5.5-Inch Kitchen Knife
I own this knife. The best part about it is that it comes with a protective sheath. This keeps the knife protected and sharp in the drawer. This is also handy if you need travel with it, such as going camping, you have the perfect choice. I take it with us on all our camping trips. The purple color is pretty too!

Zyliss Stainless Steel 4-Inch Serrated Paring Knife
I bring this knife along camping too. Useful for the small jobs.

Zyliss Metal Ice-Cream Scoop
Another Zyliss item I was introduced to by Alton Brown. This scoop is easy to use. The handle fits your hand like a glove and the way the shape of the scoop makes it easy to really dig into the ice cream and come out with a perfect looking scoop, even when the ice cream is rock hard. I also have used this scoop for removing seeds from pumpkins and other hard squash.

Zyliss Stainless Steel Cheese Knife
This knife slices through cheese with ease and is easy to hold. It has an inner blade that you can use for thin slices of hard or semi-soft cheeses. If the cheese is too soft it doesn’t work. Most of the time I just use the main blade. I also like the tip on the end that makes it easy to serve the cheese.

Zyliss Silicone Spatula
This is a strong spatula that is stiff enough to get the job done while still having some bend to it. Comes in a many colors to fit your style and kitchen.

Zyliss Meat Tenderizer
Before I wrote this post, I contacted the company asking them about some of their new products, they said one of their more popular new items is their meat tenderizer. This tenderizer has a pins that get pushed down right into the meat. I have a similar device that is designed a bit differently – but works much better than a mallet tenderizer, which is a glorified hammer in my opinion. They just rip the meat, where these pin style tenderizer actually do the job they are set out to. I use them whenever I make Alton Brown’s Swiss Steak.

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Ball Christmas Gift Ideas

This post includes product recommendations. This is my honest opinion on what the best product I think is to buy and what I would purchase for myself. You will find Amazon affiliate links but I have not been paid by the maker of this product to endorse it.

I have to say right now that the concept of canning is not on my mind at all. With my garden virtually dead of every living thing besides the kale struggling to hold on and a few select herbs. However, that doesn’t mean that I am not thinking about Ball Jars. In fact I think there are some great items from Ball that you can give away as Christmas gifts, even if the receiver isn’t going to can something for another 6 months (or ever!). Ball isn’t just for canning enthusiasts anymore.

Below I assembled a list of items that would make wonderful gifts this holiday season.

Sip and Straw Lids
When we found out that this was actually a thing, my wife couldn’t wait to get them. You can turn any Ball jar into a drinking glass. Large jars, medium jars, small jars – they all work. The lids themselves fit perfectly. Great for smoothies. The straws are of high quality and are easy to suck smoothies through. I also loved them for whenever we do a juice fast. We use a 32 oz Ball jar for the juice and then put a regular lid on it. Do all 3 juices for the day and then when we are ready to drink them, just pop off the lid and pop on the sip lid, insert straw and enjoy. They have: regular mouth and wide mouth
We own both types and use them all the time. One of our most used purchases of 2014.

Drinking Mug
If you prefer drinking out of something with a handle, then try the Ball Drinking Mugs. You can buy the sip and straw lids will work with these mugs for a great combo gift.

Jar Infusor
If you are bored of ordinary water or like those flavored waters, you can make your own with their jar infusor. Place lemon, berries, mint, etc into the infusor that sits right down into the water and you don’t have to worry it getting in the way as you are drinking. They fit on any jar, just select whether you need a wide mouth or a regular mouth infusor.

Ball® Collapsible Funnel
Here is a Ball product that will come in handy for canning as well as everyday use – a collapsible funnel. Takes up less space, so easier to store and is made to fit both regular and wide mouth Ball Jars and will work for non Ball items as well.

Ball Dry Herb Jars
For storing your dried herbs or spices these jars with a shaker lid are a good choice. Although I don’t usually shake anything out of the lids, preferring to take the lids off and use a measuring spoon, I still like the size of these jars. They fit well in my spice drawer. I have cinnamon, ginger, ground mustard, and garlic powder in them as I write this.

Other Gift Ideas
Besides these ideas, you can just give the gift of jars. The small jars are very useful for things other than just food. If you have a crafter in your family, they will find many uses for a set of small jars. Or if you have a friend that is really into canning, they could always use extra lids or rings. They make great stocking stuffers. Of course you can become really creativity with who you give your Ball jars by including something inside them. Ball has a ongoing list of ideas on their facebook page.

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My Current Food Mill, Time to Replace?

My Current Food Mill, Time to Replace?

This post includes a product recommendation. This is my honest opinion on what the best product I think is to buy and what I would purchase for myself. You will find Amazon affiliate links but I have not been paid by the maker of this product to endorse it.

One of my favorite kitchen gadgets that you see me talking about a lot on the blog is a food mill. I use them for making applesauce, tomato sauce, even mashed potatoes. They come in handy for those wanting to make baby food. It’s a huge time saver in the kitchen. I love being able to make applesauce without having to do any peeling – that’s what the food mill is for. I think it’s an underrated tool that most people have forgotten about. It would make a great Christmas present for someone this year.

I have been noticing that my food mill is starting to look more and more like my 13 year old winter ravaged mini-van. It was given to me by someone wanting to rid themselves of one more item cramping up their cabinets only to later realize it’s usefulness and asking to borrow back. Needless to say the mill has seen better days plus it’s a big pain in the butt to clean! I have been looking up food mills to add to my Amazon wish list for this Christmas season. I have selected which food mill I think would make the best Christmas present. It had to meet each of the four criteria below.

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes

1. Easy to clean
This no. 1 on my list. It has to be easy to clean. I have owned one for years that is not easy to clean. Why? Because it does not come apart. It needs to be able to come apart, so that you can easily clean all the components. If it doesn’t, you will be struggling to get into every crevice.

2. Stainless steel inside
I don’t want the bowl to be plastic. I need it to be strong and I don’t want it to look bad after the first use. One of the main things I use a food mill for is tomato sauce. They would stain up the plastic really bad, really fast.

Roasted Applesauce

Applesauce

3. Must fit over pots or bowls without falling off
The food has to go somewhere. The mill needs to fit over a bowl or a pot with it being completely stable. The one I own now has hooks on the bottom which is good and bad. It is good in that when it fits on a bowl it fits really well. But if I don’t have the right bowl or pot handy, it can be a balancing act that I want no part of.

4. Easy to grip for good control
If it’s not easy to work with you aren’t going to use it. It’s just like that shirt that you always have hanging in your closet but never comes off the hanger because you just don’t feel comfortable in it. The handle must be sturdy and easy to hold onto.

My Top Choice for Food Mill
If you were buying a food mill for Christmas for your favorite foodie family member or friend, the food mill that I would suggest is the Oxo Good Grips Food Mill.

Why Buy the Oxo Food Mill
Criteria 1 – Easy to clean
Yes it does come with 3 different discs, which is a cool feature I have lived without and could continue doing so. But the fact that it comes with 3 discs, means you can take them out – which means you can clean it easily. Score! 1 out of 1. The discs are removable via a spring loaded lever.

Criteria 2 – Stainless steel inside
It’s plastic on the outside, but the inside is completely stainless steel – ideal for throwing hot foods directly in and not of that staining I am concerned about. 2 out of 2.

Criteria 3. Must fit over pots or bowls without falling off
I like the legs on this thing. They are really big, way more substantial than what it is on my current mill. They have a non-slip covering on them. The one I have now is more like clips and they are made of metal so unless I have the perfect bowl, I have had it slip off and make a mess. Even though the legs on the Oxo are larger, they do fold up for easy storage. 3 out of 3.

Criteria 4. Easy to grip for good control
This one I have to just trust my eyes, since I can’t feel it for myself. The top handle and the side handle are large. They look very easy to hold onto. I don’t want any puny wire handles.

The OXO Good Grips Food Mill meet all the criteria. A lot of other food mills I looked at meet 2 or 3 of them, but not all 4. I found some with interchangeable discs but they didn’t have very good feet. I want my next food mill to be an OXO, I highly recommend you give this one a try as well.

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Meyer Lemon Fudge

They say when life gives you lemons make lemonade. Very wise counsel. But I say when Frieda’s Specialty Produce gives you Meyer Lemons make fudge. I know that’s a little different but hey fudge is delicious, and who says it has to be chocolate. Plus it is Christmas time so fudge seemed very appropriate. I researched some fudge recipes. I wanted to use fresh lemon juice and zest and I wanted to use milk. I found a recipe from the site, Through Clouded Glass. This recipe called for lemon flavoring or extract but I opted for 1 Meyer Lemon’s worth of juice, which worked out to perfection.

One of the biggest concerns with making fudge is taking a bite and filling like your candy takes like your last trip to the beach. Grainy fudge is no fun. In order to make a better texture I like to make my sugar finer. The small the granules of sugar the less likely of experiencing grainy fudge. The sugar I used is Morena Pure Cane Sugar. It has a better flavor, it less processed, and is non-GMO. In order to make it finer, I just run it through my food processor for about 30 seconds.

I was very excited in how this turned out. It is melting in your mouth good. It’s a great way to showcase the wonderful flavor of Meyer Lemons, which once you try, you will never want to go back to the old standby lemon. Also makes me want to try out other wonderful citrus throughout the winter months – I have visions of Blood Orange, Cara Cara, Sumo mandarin, maybe even Ugli Fruit fudge dancing in my head. The nice thing about the lemon fudge is that it wasn’t as heavy feeling as traditional chocolate fudge. Even if you lost all self control and devoured several pieces, you wouldn’t regret it as much later as with the heavier chocolate.

To get that wonderful yellow color you see in my fudge, you have to cheat a little bit and add food coloring. I don’t use just regular food coloring, I prefer gel paste food coloring. It has more vivid color and doesn’t add any liquid to whatever you adding it to. It easily mixes right in. The stuff will last you a long time.

Meyer Lemon Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups fine sugar
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 drops yellow gel paste food coloring
  • 10 oz white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer Lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Line a 8 x 8 baking pan with wax or parchment paper. Spray with oil. Set aside.
  2. Place the sugar into a food processor. Process for 30 seconds until the sugar is fine.
  3. Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  4. Boil for 5 minutes, do NOT stir during this time.
  5. Remove from the heat. Add in the food coloring, then stir in the white chocolate until completely melted.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  7. Quickly place into your 8 x 8 pan. Smooth out with a spatula.
  8. Allow to complete cool to set up before cutting.

 

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Whole-Foods-Market-Shopping-Guide Looking to buy that perfect ham to complete your Christmas meal? If you have a Whole Foods Market nearby here are some options that are available for you.

Selection and prices are based on what I found in the Ann Arbor, Michigan store in December 2013

Wellshire Farms

Type Price
Semi Boneless Half Ham $6.99/lb
Spiral Cut Half Ham $4.99/lb
Spiral Sliced Boneless Half Ham $7.99/lb
Black Forest or Virginia Ham Nugget $12.99 for 28 oz
Boneless Black Forest Half Ham $7.99/lb
Virginia Boneless Half Ham. $7.99/lb

Wellshire Farms is based out of Swedesboro,NJ. The entire line of products are free of nitrates and nitrites and never contain artificial ingredients or preservatives. You will see their meats labeled as “uncured” because they do not have any added nitrates or nitrites. All of their hams are fully cooked and come from pigs fed a vegetarian diet that is free of any added antibiotics or hormones.

The company began in 1993 under the name Yorkshire Farms. They changed the name to Wellshire in 2003. They began selling their products exclusively to Whole Foods Market in 2008.

What is a Black Forest Ham
One of their offerings is a Black Forest Ham. Originally Black Forest Ham come from Germany. It contains certain spices that give it it’s unique flavor. Ones made in the United States are not officially defined so it may vary from company to company. They should be flavored in the Germany fashion as well as a similar process of a long cold smoking that gives the ham a black coloring on the outside.

What is a Virginia Ham
Like the Black Forest, this is a type of ham that is based on the seasonings and curing process of hams in Virginia. A Virginia style ham very well may be a country ham. These hams in hung to age in a smokehouse. They tend to be more salty than city hams, which is the ham style most of us are accustomed to. Again the name is not necessarily regulated, so you might find a Virginia ham to be seasoned but not necessarily cured like a country ham.

Pederson’s

Type Price
Organic Uncured $7.99/lb
Organic Uncured Petite $10.99/lb

Pederson’s Natural Farms is based out of Hamilton, Texas. They have been around since 1992. They do not use any artificial ingredients or preservatives in their products. To read more about how they treat their animals, check out their website.

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Time to complete your Christmas shopping with the purchase of your holiday ham. Below you will find a list of stores throughout Michigan and what they have to offer in terms of price and selection of hams. I typically go for a shank portion bone-in ham. The cheapest deal I saw is at ALDI where you can get a shank portion ham for 99 cents a pound.

Related ham posts : Reasons NOT to Buy a Boneless Ham | Alton Brown’s City Ham recipe | Difference in Types of Ham | Spiced Root Beer Glazed Ham recipe | Can You Freeze Leftover Ham?

Whole Foods Market
Check out my guide to the hams available at Whole Foods.

Meijer
Various locations throughout the state. Prices may be slightly different in each store, check your store to be sure.
Cook’s or Hormel Cure 81 Spiral Sliced Half Ham (in natural juices) $1.37/lb (limit 2)
Dearborn Spiral Sliced Ham $3.99/lb
Cook’s Shank or Butt Portion HaM $1.19/lb (Limit 2)*

Hiller’s
Stores in Ann Arbor, Berkley, Commerce Township, Northville, Plymouth, Union Lake, and West Bloomfield.
Hiller’s Signature Fire Glazed Spiral Sliced Half Ham $2.49/lb
Butt or Shank Portion Fresh Half Ham $1.79/lb
Winter’s Fire Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham $2.99/lb
Dearborn Torch Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham $3.99/lb
Dearborn Classic Trim Semi-Boneless Half Ham $2.99/lb
Kentucky Legend Quarter Sliced Hams (Original, Brown Sugar, Black Forest) $3.99/lb

Busch’s
Stores in Ann Arbor, Saline, Clinton, Tecumseh, Dexter, Pinckney, South Lyon, Plymouth/Northville, Carleton, Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, and Rochester Hills.
Dearborn Spiral Half Ham $3.99/lb
Busch’s Spiral Sliced Ham $2.49/lb

Spiced Root Beer Glazed Ham

Kroger
Various locations throughout the state. Prices may be slightly different in each store, check your store to be sure.
Kroger Spiral Sliced Ham $1.37/lb (limit 2 with additional $10 purchase)
Smithfield Shank Portion $1.17/lb
Cumberland Gap Semi Boneless Ham $1.67/lb
Hickory Hills Boneless Ham $2.89/lb
Private Selection Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham $2.99/lb

Nino Salvaggio
Locations in St. Clair Shores, Troy, and Clinton Township.
Dearborn Spiral Sliced Ham $3.99/lb
Winter’s Spiral Sliced Ham $2.99/lb

Neiman’s Family Market
Locations in Alpena, Tawas, and St. Clair.
Spartan Whole Boneless Ham $1.99/lb
Spartan Honey Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham $1.99/lb
Winter’s Spiral Cut Ham $2.99/lb

Plumb’s
Locations in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Norton Shores, Muskegon Heights, Newaygo, N. Muskegon, and Whitehall.
Spartan Spiral Sliced Half Ham $1.99/lb
Sugardale Whole Boneless Ham $1.69/lb
Frick’s Shank Portion Ham $1.49/lb
Frick’s Butt Portion Ham $1.59/lb
Kentucky Legend Quarter Sliced Hams (Select varities) $3.99/lb
Spartan Whole Boneless Ham $2.69/lb
Spartan Boneless Half Ham $2.89/lb
Alexander & Hornung Half Ham $1.99/lb

Tom’s Food Center
Locations in Portland and Okemos
Smithfield Honey Glazed Spiral Sliced Half Ham $1.26/lb
Smithfield Whole Bonless Ham $1.58/lb

ALDI
Locations throughout the state
Appleton Farms Spiral Sliced Half Ham $1.49/lb
Appleton Farms Shank Portion Ham $.99/lb – LOWEST PRICE IN MICHIGAN
Appleton Farms Butt Portion Ham $1.19/lb

What I Use When I Bake A Ham

Here are some tools that I use whenever I am baking a ham.
1. Roasting Pan – You need something big to bake your ham in and a roasting pan is the perfect vessel. I don’t recommend not stick in this case as I always find that I still end up with burnt sugar in the bottom from my glaze. It’s harder to clean a non-stick pan without scratching it and ruining the non stick. So just go with an stainless steel that you can scrub easier.
2. Electric Knife – Makes carving the ham a whole lot easier. You don’t need something expense here. A cheap one works just fine.
3. Probe thermometer – Even thought hams come cooked most of the time, you still need to heat it up. Don’t trust the instructions that came with your hand, trust a probe thermometer to get your ham reheated to the properly temperature. I have had ham that has been overcooked, a dry ham is not something you ever want to experience.

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Mini Chocolate Peppermint Donuts

This past fall, I made these mini pumpkin donuts that tasted so yummy and looked so cute. It was the first time I used the Mini Donut Pans I got from a friend when they were ridding themselves of items in preparation for a move across country. When I bite into that first donut it helped lessen the sadness of them moving away. It also got the creative juices flowing. I thought I have to make a Christmas version. That could only mean two things – chocolate and peppermint. I love, love, love that combo. I eat beyond my fair share of chocolate peppermint treats in the month of December. It was the first treat I made for this year’s Christmas season.

Mini Chocolate Peppermint Donuts

When I was searching out recipe inspirations for the base for these donuts one thing I had in mind is I wanted to use oil, not butter. Not just because I was currently very low on butter at the moment, but butter doesn’t make for moist cake and these donuts are in fact cake. Oil does a better job, even though butter tastes better, I am all about using oils in my cake. It’s what I do when a make Devil’s Food Cake. The recipe I liked the most I found on the blog, Delicious Shots, I used that as a guide to making my peppermint version.

Mini Chocolate Peppermint Donuts

Here are some notes to read before trying this recipe:

1. SPRAY THE PANS! I cannot express this enough. They need to be sprayed really well or your donuts will not come out whole. I don’t care if your pans are non-stick that isn’t enough. I like using the Coconut Cooking Spray you can get from Trader Joe’s

2. To crush the candy canes, I put them into a zip top plastic bag and then smashed them with a rolling pin until they are pretty much dust. You can do less if you want larger chunks.

3. For the glaze I always just eye ball it. I pour powdered sugar into a bowl, then add enough water to make it into a glaze. The amount of humidity varies so much that it is hard to really give exact measurements, plus it’s easy enough not to screw up. It it’s too thin add more sugar, too thick, add more water.

Mini Chocolate Peppermint Donuts
 
Ingredients
For the donut batter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup cooking oil, vegetable, canola, sunflower
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extra or a few drops peppermint oil
  • ½ cup hot water
For the glaze
  • water
  • powdered sugar
For the topping
  • One box of candy cane, crushed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Start by mixing together the brown sugar, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. In another bowl combine the oil, egg, and milk, stir to combine.
  4. With the mixer running, slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients, when just combine, slowly pour in the hot water. Then add the peppermint. You can taste to make sure you have the right strength if you like. The batter will be thin, don't worry that is what you want.
  5. Spray very well your mini donut or muffin pan. Add enough batter to come about ½ to ⅔ ups. If using a min donut pan, don't go above the grove that makes the hole.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  7. Wait for at least 10 minutes before de-panning. They should come out easily if you sprayed the pans enough. Allow to finish cooling on a rack before glazing.
  8. Make your glaze by mixing powdered sugar and water until the right consistency. Dip the donuts in the glaze. Then immediately into a bowl of crushed candy cane. Allow the donuts to sit for a few minutes for the glaze to harden before enjoying.

 

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Is there such a thing as too many Brussels Sprouts recipes? I don’t think so. I love to try many different things with my new favorite cabbage family veggie. Sprouts are always good roasted in the oven. There is something warm and comforting about eating tons of roasted vegetables during the winter months, especially at Christmas time. This recipe I wanted to try out comes from the Pioneer Woman, particularly from her Christmas episode. Just as my appreciation for Brussels Sprouts has grown so has my appreciation for vinegars, with Balsamic being at the top of that list. This gave me a good reason to try a Balsamic reduction something that I have not tried before. You can print the recipe out at Food Network’s website. Here are my cooking notes:

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

1. The recipe has only 5 ingredients – Brussels Sprouts, oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and dried cranberries.

2. Roasting them is a breeze. They need to be cut in half first. Place them cut side down.

3. While they were roasting I made the reduction. The recipe calls for it to be really thick, but you also have to be careful not to make balsamic caramel, which may not be a bad idea, but I don’t want it to stick to my teeth when I was eating it. Just get it thick enough to coat the sprouts and call it a day. Lucky for me I saved the dish for another day’s meal so actually being the fridge help to dissolve “the candy”. I also burned my finger on that mixture. Be very careful, not something for the novice, clumsy cook to make.

4. Dried cranberries on top not only add color but added texture and a sweet-tart flavor. I think cranberries just scream holidays. Could you use fresh? I don’t think I would like to bite into a whole cranberry, without any added sweetness, even thought I have the sweeten Balsamic glaze.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

The glaze was outstanding, great way to dress up roasted Brussels Sprouts. I might have discovered a new idea for candy. If you get a dark black looking candy in a package from our household you have a hint of what it is!

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