Saturday, December 26, 2015

French Bread Toasts

French Bread Toasts are the perfect accompaniment to warm, steamy soups as well as tasty, spreadable, creamy dips.  They are so simple to make - I almost thought about not posting the recipe.  However, everybody loves them!  They are crunchy, a bit savory from the olive oil and store well in a sealed container.  You know what that means?  You can make them ahead of time before your big shin-dig and store them until you need them.  On the counter.  No refrigeration necessary.  And you serve them at room temperature.  You can thank me later.

This year on Christmas, we went with a self-service soup bar (how fun is that?!?!?).  We served 3 different soups along with these toasts.  They are just so much yummier than crackers.  Trust me.  And the neutral flavor of them goes well with all types of soups etc.  

French Bread Toasts

1 lb French Bread Loaf
Olive Oil

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  On a large baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil. 

Step 2: Carefully slice the French bread with a serrated knife into 1/2 inch slices (rounds).  Place them in a single layer onto the baking sheet.  Drizzle with additional olive oil.

Step 3:  Once the oven is preheated, place the pan in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops start turning golden brown.

Step 4:  Remove from oven and flip the slices over.  The bottoms are likely pale compared to the browned tops.  Once the slices are all flipped up, place back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes - or until golden brown.

You can serve these warm, cold, or room temp.  Once they are cooled, you can store them in an air-tight container for up to a week.  Please note, these do not freeze well.

Friday, December 18, 2015

German Chocolate Truffles

Here is another sweet treat for the coconut lovers!  These German Chocolate Lovers combine caramel, coconut, chocolate and pecans.   I cannot lie, my inspiration behind this one was the German Chocolate frosting you find on a doughnut or cinnamon bun in the bakery.  This is a little more chocolatey than that - but it is oh so good and easy to make!  

German Chocolate Truffles
Yield: Approximately 50 truffles using a 1-inch scoop

1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Toasted
1 (13.4 oz) can of Dulce de Leche (I find it in the Hispanic section of our grocery store)
14 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1.5 LB Chocolate Candy Coating or Chocolate Candy Melts

To make the truffle centers:  
Step 1:  In a double-boiler, melt the the chocolate chips.  

Step 2:  Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, add in the Dulce de Leche.  Keep stirring until it is completely blended.  This may take a little work, but it will come together. Mix in the pecans and unsweetened coconut.  Cover and let rest for about a 1/2 hour.

Step 3:  Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

Step 4:  Pinch off small pieces of the chocolate dough or use a small scoop.  Roll it into a ball.  Experiment with a variety of sizes to decide what size you like best.  I have a small, 1-inch scoop that I've used for years.   With your hands, roll the dough into a smooth ball and the place on the wax paper.  Repeat until all dough is rolled into balls.

To Dip:
Step 1:  In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate candy coating until smooth.  Let it cool down until you can easily touch it without it being too hot.   You want it to be fluid and warm, not hot.  

Step 2:  Dip each chocolate ball into the melted chocolate coating (one at a time).  I like to do so by tipping the bowl slightly side-ways, tossing the ball in it, retrieving it with a fork and then tapping the fork to remove any excess coating.  Place on wax paper to set.  Top with a pinch of toasted coconut.  Repeat until are truffle centers are coated.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mexican Chocolate Truffles

This truffle is so smoooooooooooth . . .it is utterly amazing.  True Story.  The blend of chocolate with cinnamon and just a hint of cayenne . . .very flavorful, but not too spicy.  It is muy perfecto as is!

Mexican Chocolate Truffles
Yield: Approximately 20 Truffles

8 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 LB Chocolate Melts or Chocolate Almond Bark (for coating the truffles) 
Sprinkles for Decorating (optional)

Step 1:  Place chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Place heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat just until it bubbles.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  

Step 3:  Pour the spiced cream over the chocolate. Give it a quick stir and then cover the bowl the let it sit for 10 minutes.  The cream will melt the chocolate while it sits.  

Step 4:  Remove the cover from the chocolate/cream and stir until smooth.  If, by chance, there are still some small bits of chocolate that didn't melt, you can put it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.  Then stir again.  All the chocolate should be melted at this point.

Step 5:  Cover the chocolate and let rest so that it can firm up.  You can place it in the fridge for 2-3 hours or let it sit overnight (I usually let it sit overnight).   

Step 6:  Once the chocolate has set up, scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate and roll into balls.  Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  If you have a small cookie scoop - I recommend using this.  It will make uniform sized truffles.  I also find it easiest to scoop out all the chocolate first and then roll them.  Seems a little less messy that way.  Once they are all scooped and rolled, place them back in the fridge until it's time to dip them.

Step 7:  To coat the truffles, melt approximately 1 pound of chocolate almond bark or candy melts.  Follow the instructions on the packaging for melting.  Otherwise, in the top of a double-boiler, add the melts/coating and over medium heat, let them melt.  Once melted, let the melted coating cool a bit.  You do not want it to be too hot.  Rather, just slightly cooled and still quite melty :)  

Step 8:  Dip each truffle ball into the coating and place on wax paper to dry.  Decorate with sprinkles as desired (be sure to do so while the chocolate has not yet set!).  Place dipped truffles in the fridge to expedite the setting process.  

Step 9:  Once the chocolate is set - they are ready to be served!  Enjoy :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Scalloped Corn

Need a side dish that feeds a crowd for the holidays?  This is it.  Trust me, it's delicious and absolutely not-healthy-for-you-but-could-be-considered-a-vegetable.  That makes it absolutely perfect for holiday gatherings :)

Scalloped Corn
Serves 12+

4 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Salt
2 (16oz) Cans of Corn, drained
2 (16oz) Cans of Cream-Style Corn
8 Tablespoons Butter
1 Sleeve Saltine Crackers, Crushed (approximately 30-36 crackers)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
Step 2:  In a large microwavable bowl, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the milk, sugar, salt and corn.  Stir until combined.
Step 3:  Place 1/2 the corn mixture in the baking dish.  Top with 1/2 the crushed crackers.
Step 4:  Place the remaining corn mixture in the baking dish (on top of the crushed crackers layer).  Next, top with the remaining crushed crackers.
Step 5:  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the corn is bubbly and beginning to brown on the top.  Serve immediately.

FYI:  this does reheat well as a left-over, but it loses that 'crunch' on the top.  As well, in case you aren't feeding a huge crowd . . .this recipe can easily be cut in half, but retain the same baking time and use a smaller dish to bake it in.