Eggnog Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

It is a tradition for Tim’s family to drink eggnog at Christmas dinner, so I went ahead and concluded that they must like eggnog in a dessert as well so I decided to make these cupcakes for our get together with them.  And I was right!  Everyone really enjoyed them.

These cupcakes were fantastic – very moist and dense.  Although for me, the real star was the cream cheese frosting.  I’m not a huge fan of drinking eggnog, so I found the frosting to be the best part.  But there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with the cupcake itself.  The eggnog taste wasn’t overpowering at all.  I’ll definitely make these again next year!  Heck, I might even make them again for New Year’s!

My changes include – increasing the cinnamon and nutmeg used in the batter from a 1/4 tsp each to a full teaspoon each.  I also increased the amount of frosting because I really swirl it on heavy with Wilton’s 1M star tip.  I also added some eggnog to the frosting to help it reach the consistency I wanted and I figured a little extra eggnog flavor couldn’t hurt!  I sprinkled each frosted cupcake with ground nutmeg for decoration.

Eggnog Cupcakes

Source:  Life’s Ambrosia

Makes 12

You will need:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)
  • additional nutmeg for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, using a hand held mixer cream together oil and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix until combined. Beat in eggnog. Gradually add in remaining flour, beat just until combined.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with cupcake mixture. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs on it.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the cupcake pan. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Frost with maple cream cheese frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

You will need:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons butter {one stick}, softened
  • 2 tablespoons eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2- 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar – approximate
  1. Using a stand mixer on medium speed cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Beat in maple syrup.
  3. Gradually add in powdered sugar and beat until it becomes a thick spreadable mixture.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of eggnog until desired consistency is reached.

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Brie en Croute

Baked brie is something I have spotted on blogs and in magazines for many years.  I always knew I would enjoy it, but I guessed that Tim never would.  So I had to wait for an occasion where it could be enjoyed by a crowd.  Well, the opportunities finally came this year.  I prepared it for Thanksgiving at my house and for Christmas at my mom and dad’s.  It was excellent.  Gooey, buttery pastry, tart cranberries, and flaky are a few ways to describe it.  I definitely recommend it!  I hope you don’t wait as long as I did to try it!

Brie en Croute

source: adapted from Pepperidge Farm

Ingredient measurements are approximate:

1/2 package of puff pastry {one sheet}

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/4 cup finely chopped nuts – almonds, pecans, or walnuts

1 wheel of brie – approx 1 pound {I cut the rind off}

egg wash {one egg + 1 Tbs water}

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw pastry sheet at room temp for 40 minutes, then unfold and roll into a 14″ square.

Place nuts, dried fruit, and honey in center of dough.  Place brie on top, fold the dough to close and press seems to seal, cutting off any excess dough.  Invert and decorate with pastry scraps.  Place seam side down on baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden.  Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving {or up to one hour}.

Serve with crackers, apple slices, crusty bread, etc.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

I stumbled upon this recipe while reading an issue of Real Simple one night and I decided to make them the next morning since I had all of the ingredients.  I don’t remember what possessed me to buy Splenda in the first place, but I’ve had it for several months and am trying to get rid of it.  I made a few changes including adding orange zest and using regular Splenda instead of the “plus fiber” kind.  We thought they were great!  Perfect for our breakfasts this week.

Blueberry Muffins

Source:  Splenda

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

zest of one orange

1 cup Splenda with Fiber {I used regular}

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Add splenda and honey, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups evenly.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden.  Cool n wire rack.

Thanksgiving 2010 Recap

Oops, I better get this recap out before Christmas!

I was very happy to be able to host Thanksgiving again this year.  We had a total of seven people including T and me, my parents, and grandparents.  Since our formal china is an heirloom from Tim’s family, he really enjoys hosting an occasion where it is suitable to use it.  And I just love using our other fancy serving items that were wedding gifts which we seldom use.

Again this year, our guest arrived around noon and we ate around 1:00.

Here’s what I posted last year and it was a nice reference for this year too.

This year’s menu:

various appetizers – cheese, crackers, sausage, brie en croute, grapes, etc

roasted turkey

mashed potatoes

gravy

stuffing

apple salad

cranberry sauce

green bean casserole

rolls with honey butter

dessert – apple pie, pumpkin pie, custard pie, cinnamon ice cream, pumpkin ice cream, angel food cake and strawberries.

drinks – water, coffee, hot cider, wine, etc…  I had eggnog but totally forgot to serve it.  Curses!

Just for future reference, this is roughly how I managed my time and preparation in the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year:

Saturday & Sunday – grocery shop, de-clutter and clean the house/furniture, begin to locate & wash special serving dishes & utensils, roasting pan, etc.  Make brine and store in fridge.

Monday evening after work – make homemade cinnamon ice cream base, prepare pie dough and refrigerate it, make compound butters and refrigerate, and make cheese spread appetizer.

Tuesday evening – make cornbread, churn ice cream.

Wednesday all day (I was off work) – cube & dry bread for stuffing, make 3 pies, chop vegetables for stuffing and aromatics for the bird’s cavity, brine turkey, clean the house some more, and set up the table.

Thursday – in the morning drain the brine, rinse, fill the bird’s business end with aromatics, spread on herb butter, roast turkey; finish setting the table; make hot cider (big crock-pot); make mashed potatoes and keep warm in medium-sized crock pot; set out appetizers; set out butter so it’s soft when needed.

When turkey was done and resting covered in foil, bake the stuffing, heat up the green beans, and make gravy (thank you mom).  Then carve the bird (thank you grandma), warm up the rolls, fill drink glasses.  Etc…

Eat!

Overall, it was a great day and the food was delicious!  Thank you family!  I wish I took more pictures!

 

Bob Andy Pie (custard pie)

I wanted to make a new pie recipe for Thanksgiving this year, possibly even an unusual or nontraditional pie.  That’s when I remembered the custard pie that was served at the restaurant that I worked at for (too) many years.  I went in search of a similar recipe and found one on Tasty Kitchen.  I have no idea where the name came from, but I guess it has something to do with the Amish??

It was pretty good, but not exactly like the one from the restaurant.  Next time I’ll reduce the amount of cinnamon and probably add a dash of nutmeg.

Bob Andy Pie

  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 9 Inch unbaked pie shell
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – I will probably just use 1 tsp next time.
  • ½ teaspoons salt

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Crack eggs in a medium bowl; brush pie shell with a little of the egg whites. Whisk eggs until thoroughly mixed; whisk in milk. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl, then whisk into milk mixture.

Set pie shell on oven rack and pour filling into shell. Bake until custard has set and crust is golden, about 50 minutes.  {I baked it for 60 minutes and it was still jiggly, but it set up once it had cooled.}

Cool and serve room temperature or chilled.

Turkey Brine

I strongly believe that a brine is essential to a delicious and moist turkey.  I’ve done it twice now and will never look back.

Here’s my recipe which is definitely enough for a bird that’s in the range of 15 to 25 pounds.  The first time I used it on a 24 pound bird and the second time was on an 18 pound bird, and it worked great both times.  If you need to, just adjust the amount of water that you use for a smaller or larger bird but keep everything else the same.  You don’t have to be really precise here – the salt and liquid are the most important ingredients, the spices and everything else just add additional flavor.  If you have concerns about the salt use 1.5 cups of salt, but 2 cups is recommended.

In my experience, I saw no reason to heat all the liquid up just to cool it down again.  So, I only heat the cider with everything else, then I add the water to the cooled mixture.

And another note  – I feel that it is a two person job to pour the brine into and out of the bag.  The first year that I did it, Tim was on second shift and I had to do it by myself and I ended up with a river of brine flavored turkey juice running down my counter and onto the floor.  Needless to say, I was pissed and almost cried.  And you better believe I let the profanities fly…..and then I sanitized my whole kitchen.  This year, Tim helped me and we still laughed that it would be nice to have an extra set of hands to hold the bag open!  Good times!

Turkey Brine

source: adapted from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients {again, they are approximate, eyeball the peppercorns and cloves}:

2 cups apple cider or apple juice

1.5 to 2 cups kosher salt

2 cups brown sugar

peel of 2 whole oranges – peel only, no white part

5 dried bay leaves

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp dried rosemary

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

3 Tbsp peppercorns

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

10 whole cloves

~1 gallon of water

You’ll also need a large bag {or two if you want to be extra safe and double up to prevent leaks}.  Sometimes these are sold as oven bags, turkey bags, or brine bags.  You can usually find them in any grocery store in the Ziploc storage bag aisle.

Directions:

In a large stock pot over med-high heat, combine everything but the water.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Allow to completely cool, then add the water, and store in the fridge until needed (3-5 days before is fine).

When you are ready to brine, remove all packaging from your turkey, check the cavity for the neck and giblets and remove them.  Rinse the bird and look it over for any feathers, remove any that you find. {Clean your sink well after the turkey has been in it.}  Place the turkey in the large bag and then place the bag in a cooler or other storage vessel.  Pour in the brine and add additional water to cover the bird.  Close bag, cover with ice if using a cooler and let set for 8-10 hours/overnight.  I have heard you can leave it for 12-16 hours+, but 8-10 hours has worked for me.  If possible, turn the turkey at least once during brine time.

Once brine time is up/in the morning.  Pour off and discard the brine, rinse the turkey and pat it dry, place on roasting rack.  {Clean your sink again.}  Fill cavity with aromatics – I like to add a quartered onion,  1 or 2 celery stalks cut to fit inside, 1-2 carrots cut to fit, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, bunch of fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley), and a quartered orange &/or lemon.  Rub the turkey skin with butter if you like.

Roast as directed for the recipe you are following, a rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees or until internal temp reaches 170 degrees.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

I have made this stuffing for the past 3 years and it is phenomenal!  I always get compliments on it.  It takes a little planning ahead, but it is super easy.  For Thanksgiving, I usually make the cornbread on Tuesday evening, then I cut the cornbread and sourdough bread into cubes on Wednesday morning (let them sit out all day and night to dry), and then make the stuffing the day of Thanksgiving.

Cornbread Stuffing

Source:  Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 1 whole pan of cornbread
  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread {or French bread}
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups celery (leaves and stalks), chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoons ground thyme
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • S & P to taste
  • I have also added a pinch of poultry seasoning and/or a pinch of dried sage before, delicious but optional.

Preparation Instructions

Chop the cornbread and loaf of French bread up into 1-inch cubes. Spread them out on two baking sheets and let them dry for approximately 24 hours.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add one stick of butter. When it’s melted add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until onions are almost translucent. While it’s cooking chop up any fresh herbs you will be using.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add ½ a teaspoon of basil, ½ teaspoon of ground thyme, and ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley {and any other herbs you want to add}. Stir until combined.

Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually ladle the broth mixture into the bread, tossing lightly as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture, tasting as you go and adding more seasoning and herbs if needed. Add salt carefully. You don’t want to over salt your stuffing.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well. If the mixture is not quite moist enough add a bit more chicken broth and stir.

Either stuff the bird and bake according to turkey directions or place in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

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