Parade Punch For Mardi Gras

Oscars tonight and Mardi Gras tomorrow – I just had to make this punch to celebrate two special events. Fill a glass full of ice, add rum to taste (optional), followed by a punch base full of fresh fruit juices, lemon-lime soda and a touch of grenadine to fill your glass. Then a splash of Proseco if desired. You could also make ice cubes using the punch base.

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This recipe comes from David Guas of Bayou Bakery and will be a perfect cocktail while watching the Oscars tonight and maybe if there is some left over we’ll enjoy it again tomorrow during Mardi Gras.

Parade Punch For Mardi Gras

  • 3 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed is always best (I used 7 large oranges without pulp)
  • four (6 oz.) cans of pineapple juice
  • 1-2 liters lemon-lime soda (I only used 1 liter)
  • 1 cup lemon juice (3 big lemons)
  • 1/4 cup grenadine
  • white rum to taste
  • a splash of Proseco (could use Cava or Champagne)

Juice the oranges and lemons. I like to put the juice through a sieve to remove any pulp from the oranges or lemons.

Combine the first five ingredients (or the punch base) and refrigerate overnight. I used a plastic gallon milk carton. To serve fill each glass with ice, add 1-2 oz. white rum (optional). Add punch base to the top and finish with a splash of Proseco. How appropriate are these Hurricane glasses too!

This is very refreshing and is too good to put any booze in it because it goes down so quick!  Wish I could get fresh oranges this good all year round.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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King Cake Scones

Mardi Gras is just around the corner and will be celebrated in the US on February 28th this year. Making a traditional “King Cake” has been on my list of recipes to try for a long time.  Once again I made something different but I am very happy I did.

First I made  cupcakes with a granddaughter and then a King Cake using Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, which happens to be one of my easiest and most popular recipes on my blog right now. This is my first scone recipe and the first scones I have ever made. What better time to share this flavorful scone than for Mardi Gras.

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I have made lots of muffins (search muffins), biscuits (search biscuits) and even scuffins (search scuffins for 3 recipes). In case you were wondering, a “scuffin” has the shape of a muffin but the soft flaky dough of a scone and like a jelly donut, there is a sweet filling of fruit.  The textures go from crisp on the outside to soft in the middle – great combination of flavors too.

This recipe is pure goodness (is that a word) without any nuts, raisins or such ingredients. Just a lot of “fat” that makes these scones appropriate for Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday.

I not only love my hundreds of cookbooks but I also enjoy reading my magazine subscriptions. Louisiana Cookin.com, a favorite magazine featuring Southern specialties, has provided this wonderful breakfast/brunch treat. I used all of the ingredients but completely changed the baking directions because I used a scone pan instead of baking them on parchment paper.

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This is one of the many pictures I took on my last visit to New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras in the US.

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King Cake Scones, Adapted

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. chilled, unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, chilled and diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup whole buttermilk, divided (1/2 cup for the scones and 1/4 cup to brush on top before baking)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • buttermilk glaze (see below)
  • purple, yellow and green sanding sugars

Preheat oven to 425°F and lightly oil a scone pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Whisk the sour cream, 1/2 cup buttermilk and the two extracts. Add this to the flour mixture. Bring mixture together with your hands until you achieve a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out and knead a few times; flatten into a round disk.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges and place each wedge in a well of the lightly oiled scone pan.

Bake until lightly browned for about  25 minutes; let cool completely. Drizzle scones with buttermilk glaze and sprinkle with the three sanding sugars.

Buttermilk Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. buttermilk

Combine above ingredients and immediately sprinkle colored sugars on top before the glaze dries. Serve with your favorite jam or cream or just eat them plain.

These scones are pretty darn good!!!

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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Beef and Barley Soup For Two

Usually I never make such a small soup recipe but while looking through Cooks Illustrated “Dinner for Two” magazine I chose this soup to try first.  This is a very fragrant soup with a taste to match! This recipe actually would serve 4 people.

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Barley is a major whole grain food and is one of the first cultivated grains in history. There are numerous possible health benefits associated with this plant-based food. It is favored for its nutty flavor and chewy, pasta-like texture. It comes in two forms; hulled and pearled form.

Quick-cooking barley has been pre-steamed and is rolled thinner than pearl barley so the cooking time is about 30 minutes shorter. Both are equally nutritious. Did you know that half of the barley grown in the world is used for animal feed and another 30 percent is sprouted and ground for malt, an ingredient in beer?

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I have one other soup recipe using barley, Split Pea and Barley Soup which is excellent too.

Beef and Barley Soup For Two, Adapted

  • 8 oz. chuck shoulder ranch steak (what I found at my grocery) or (beef blade steak)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin (I did not add – I’m not into mushrooms)
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme minced, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used low sodium)
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking barley (Quaker Oats) or pearl barley (adjust cooking times)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced or 1 tbsp. dried

Cut away any gristle from the steak, usually in the middle and trim any noticeable fat. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium saucepan and brown beef on all sides 5-10 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Add the carrots, onions and mushrooms if using to the fat. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low, stirring occasionally so the vegetables don’t stick. Stir in tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, just for 30 seconds or so. Stir in beef and chicken broth and soy sauce scraping up any browned bits – you will have some too! Add beef and bring to a simmer; cook for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the barley and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the beef and barley are tender. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.

Comment: The barley continues to soak up liquid even under refrigeration. There was no broth left… I needed to add 16 more ounces of beef broth to the soup, then I adjusted the seasonings. Cook’s Illustrated was a little off with this recipe and I did not add the 6 oz. of mushrooms which would have made the soup extremely thick!

For future reference I would add an additional 8 oz. of beef broth, 8 oz. of chicken broth, a tsp. extra soy sauce, a little more tomato paste and more thyme to taste. Adjust any other ingredients as desired. The soup is really worth making and reminded me of Beef Bourguignon when I first made it and before the barley expanded a lot more.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies are fun to make because you can add any filling you want – this is a cookie that can be made to your taste and of course your family. I was thinking about Valentine’s Day and something sweet to make and this cookie popped up. First as an email from KAF (King Arthur Flour) and then it was in Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies, which I just bought. I mean chocolate and raspberry – what a great pairing!

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One thing I like about recipes coming through KAF  is that there are comments from people who have actually made the recipe along with their suggestions. A couple of comments suggested that the cookies needed more flavor; one blogger suggested adding espresso powder which I know to be a chocolate enhancer. Another suggested a tbsp. of Amaretto.  Hmm… a delicious liquor or added chocolate enhancer – I went with the espresso powder, but only added 1/2 tsp. versus 1 tsp. that was suggested. Very nice chocolate flavor with a sweet touch of the raspberry jam and a drizzle with chocolate.

Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints, Adapted

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup raspberry jam (wouldn’t peanut butter or another filling be delicious too)
  • 1/3 cup each milk and white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets or if you prefer line with parchment paper. Sift the flour, cocoa and espresso powder together and set aside.

Beat the softened butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and blend in the egg white and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing only until combined.

Scoop the dough into tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. A cookie scoop works really good! Place on the baking sheet and make an indentation in the center of each ball with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon handle.

Fill each indentation with raspberry jam.

Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes, or until they feel firm to the touch and the jam is bubbling. Remove and allow to cool before transferring to a rack to finish cooling completely.

Of course I wanted to drizzle these cookies with chocolate. I melted white and milk chocolate separately over just simmering, not boiling, water and drizzled over the cookies. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the chocolate.

Store at room temperature or they can be frozen.

Recipe from Cooking with Aunt Juju

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Yin Yang Beans

The ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang is a concept used to describe how  opposite forces are in actuality complimentary to each other. It is believed that everything has both yin and yang aspects and it is important for these forces to be balanced. It has been mentioned that the first references to yin and yang came from “I Ching”, the five classic works compiled and edited by Confucius.

This philosophy is based on the Taoist belief that food plays an important role in Chinese culture specifically Chinese cuisine and medicine. It is suggested that a person’s health can be improved with diet changes in order to restore a healthy balance between the yin and yang in the body.

Yang foods are said to be warming, drying and invigorating to the body and yin foods are cooling, damp and soothing. Yang foods include lamb, chicken, salmon,  and ginger. Yin foods are many vegetables (including green beans) fruit, crabs, clams and lettuce. Neutral foods are eggs and white rice.

Most food we eat can  be designated as being predominantly yin, predominantly yang or a balance between the two. In this recipe two ingredients are yin; green beans and scallions. Some yang ingredients are ginger, garlic and ground pork. I also served these green beans with salmon which is very yang and a side of rice which is a neutral food.

Cooking methods such as stir-frying are considered yang and blanching is classified as yin. So in my green been recipe I have used two cooking methods as I blanched the beans first and then stir-fried them. This enables a cook to create a harmonious state of well-being by using such ingredients  as green beans with ginger or chicken with mangoes. What it comes down to is a “balanced diet”.

The symbol for yin yang is called the Taijitu.

Related image

Yin Yang Beans, Adapted

  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. haricots verts green beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half if they are long (I like to leave the tails on)
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. ground pork (about 1 ounce) – or more if desired (bacon would be a good substitute)
  • 1 tbsp. pickled ginger, minced (see comment below)
  • 1/4 cup snipped scallion pieces (green part)

In a saucepan bring 1/2 tsp. of the salt and the water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for a minute or two until they are bright green and the water almost returns to a boil. Drain well in a colander. Then I like to dry between two pieces of scott towels to thoroughly dry the beans. If there is any water on the beans they will braise versus stir-fry.

In a small bowl combine the soy sauce and rice wine; set aside.

Heat your wok until on high; swirl in the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until the aromatics are fragrant; add the pork. Stir-fry about 1 minute or until the pork is no longer pink. Add the beans, pickled ginger and scallions. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Add the soy sauce/rice wine mixture and stir-fry another minute or until the pork is cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender.

Comment: Pickled ginger comes in different forms. The author suggests buying the one with the least preservatives and I totally agree. If you don’t have access to a Chinese/Japanese store you will probably only find the “sushi” kind of pickled ginger. Chinese groceries carry this light pink pickled ginger and a deep pink variety that is available in shreds. A red dye has been added to reach that color. See pictures below.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

This is another great recipe by cookbook author Grace Young which I have slightly adapted.

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Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao “anything” is a favorite Chinese dish. When we lived in the country there was a little Chinese restaurant in a neighboring village and we would sometimes go there for a quick meal and I always ordered this.  Authentic, definitely not, but it was good and our choices were very limited unless I cooked. Our village only had a pizza parlor, an Italian restaurant (known for their pizzas) and occasionally a new restaurant would appear but usually did not last long.

As the years go by I enjoy cooking more authentic dishes and not the typical “American version”. This recipe was inspired by “Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories” by Grace Young. This is an excellent reference on Chinese cooking. In addition to great recipes Grace gives detailed information on “woks”, ingredients and stir-frying. I did find that she uses more minced ginger than I care for in many of her recipes. This recipe listed 2 tbsp. and I used 1-1/2 tbsp.

Kung Pao Chicken, Adapted

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tbsp. ginger, minced (use the side of a spoon to peel the skin and a zester to mince it)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced using a garlic press
  • 2-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. plus 1 tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or you can use sherry vinegar, divided
  • 2 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. cold water
  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 4  dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end (includes the seeds) add more if desired
  • 1/2 tsp. roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup scallions, snipped into strips
  • snipped chives for garnish

Combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 tsp. rice wine, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. cold water. In another bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil and the remaining 1 tbsp. rice wine.

Roast your Sichuan peppercorns  in a dry skillet on low heat. Lift the skillet and check if you can smell their wonderful aroma. Cool and finely grind.

Heat your wok and swirl in 1 tbsp. peanut oil, add the chilies and ground Sichuan peppercorns. Stir fry until the chilies just begin to smoke. Add the chicken allowing it to sear and cook until lightly browned but not cooked through.

Add the remaining peanut oil and stir fry the bell peppers. Swirl the broth mixture and stir-fry 1 minute or until chicken is cooked through. Add the peanuts, scallions and sprinkle on the remaining 1 tsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

Linking to Fiesta Friday #156!

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Pineapple, Vidalia Onion and Blue Cheese over Assorted Greens

This salad was one of my first recipes I posted on my blog way back in late 2011. It was and still is a family favorite. Simple ingredients with a basil vinaigrette make a delicious side especially during the summer when you are grilling.

It has undergone a few changes  to include an assortment of greens instead of just red leaf lettuce. I’ve also added  cherry and Kumato tomatoes, toasted and chopped pecans, pineapple juice instead of lemon juice in the basil vinaigrette and a fresh basil garnish.

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Pineapple, Vidalia Onion and Blue Cheese Over Mixed Greens

  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped – fresh is really important, plus extra to garnish
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh pineapple juice
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • power greens including baby spinach, chard, kale and mizuna
  • fresh pineapple, sliced and cut in half
  • Vidalia or any sweet onion, thinly sliced and cut in half
  • blue cheese crumbles, reduced fat
  • cherry and kumato tomatoes, sliced in half
  • toasted, chopped pecans

Combine the fresh basil and vinegar and let sit for a few minutes to release the basil’s wonderful flavor. Add the olive oil, pineapple juice  and salt and pepper to taste; set aside. The dressing is enough for 8 servings.

Core and peel the pineapple and cut into slices; cut each slice in half. Peel the onion and cut into thin slices; cut these in half as well.

Toast the nuts in a dry skillet until you can smell their nuttiness. Allow to cool and chop into pieces.

To serve: On chilled salad plates place an assortment of greens. Beginning at the outside of each plate and moving toward the center, place a half slice of pineapple followed by a half slice of onion twice. Finish with a third slice of pineapple. Each plate should have 3 slices of pineapple and 2 slices of onion cut in half. Scatter the tomatoes around the salad, top with the toasted nuts and blue cheese. Drizzle the dressing over each salad, garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

Angie over at Fiesta Friday has kicked off her Healthy Challenge and I am sharing this simple, healthy and delicious salad which includes two required ingredients; pineapple and greens. This recipe was inspired by The Hunt and Grunt Club.

FiestaFriday Healthy Recipe Challenge

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Bacon-Onion Spiral Bread and Vermont Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Does this sound delicious, or what? I mean a bacon and onion filling inside  the bread, then the bread is paired with delicious Vermont cheddar and bread and butter pickles for a special grilled cheese. I could not resist making this – my kind of ingredients and it was easy to make in a 9×5-inch loaf pan. From just the aroma in my kitchen while I put it together and then baked it, I knew this would become a favorite.

Then I made sandwiches – oh my what a perfect combination of flavors! You can taste the bacon and onions, the crunch of the pickles and the creamy smoothness of the melted Vermont cheddar. Not to mention the final touch of grilling this sandwich full of delicious ingredients.

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This recipe was in the latest issue of “Sift” a publication by King Arthur Flour (KAF) which I have adapted slightly.

Bacon-Onion Spiral Bread

  • 12 oz. thinly sliced bacon, cooked and finely chopped (about 10-11 slices)
  • 1 tbsp. bacon fat
  • 1-1/2 cups onions, finely diced (but not to the point of making juice)
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika

Cook the bacon until crisp, reserving 1 tbsp. of fat. Allow the bacon to cool, finely chop and set aside.

Add the 1 tbsp. of bacon fat and  onions to a heavy skillet set over medium-low heat. This is when  I like to use one of my heavy copper skillets. Cook, stirring frequently for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are translucent and just starting to brown; allow to cool. Add the onions to the bacon and stir in the flour, pepper and paprika; set aside.

  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (I did use whole) (98° to 105°F)
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 1 tbsp. bacon fat
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. instant or active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for brushing the dough before adding the bacon mixture and also to brush on top of the loaf prior to baking

Combine the dough in the order listed. Mix and knead the dough until soft and supple – this took me about 10 minutes by hand.  Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

After its first rise, pat the dough into an 8×18-inch rectangle. Brush with the beaten egg mixture and spread with the bacon mixture, leaving 1″ at the short end uncovered. Save the beaten egg mixture to brush on top of the loaf before baking. Roll the bread up from the short end, pinch the seam closed, and place seam-side down in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it domes 1/2-1-inch above the pan, about 40 minutes. For me it took a little over 60 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Once risen, brush the top of the loaf with the remaining beaten egg mixture, slash the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Tent with foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the inside of the bread reads 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

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The magazine suggested the following sandwich using this delicious homemade bread.

Bacon Onion Spiral Vermont Cheddar Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices bacon onion spiral bread
  • Vermont Farmstead’s Governor’s Cheddar, grated (melts faster if it is grated)
  • bread and butter pickles or apple butter
  • melted butter for brushing the top and bottom of the sandwich (optional – the sandwich browns nicely without it)

Now, this is a much different version of the typical sandwich I would make with American cheese. The cheese has a subtle honey and fruit notes that balances the cheddar’s bite. Then paired with the Bacon Onion Spiral bread really takes this sandwich over the top.

Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thickness. Layer the grated cheese on 1 slice and top with bread and butter pickles. Add another layer of cheese and then top with another slice of bread. If desired you could brush the top and bottom slices with melted butter (which I did) or I even heard mayonnaise was good to use. I like to grill this in my panini maker. Be sure to grill it long enough to thoroughly melt the cheese.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

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Linking this to Fiesta Friday.

Here are three kitchen gadgets which made these recipes easier.

This cherry cutting board helps me to cut straight slices of bread for sandwiches; the salad shooter is a necessity when you have a lot of cheese to grate and then of course my panini maker which always makes beautiful sandwiches or as Oprah calls them her “love sandwiches”.

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Bacon, Beer and Pecan Toffee Sundaes

Ice Cream in the winter? Sure if the toppings are bacon bits, toasted pecans and a smooth and delicious bacon infused toffee sauce. Oh, and then there is the stout beer  infused with vanilla beans and a sprinkling of sea salt to finish.

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This is definitely not part of my New Year’s resolution diet but it was a recipe I have been saving and wanting to make for some time. It’s a cinch to make the sauce ahead of time, fry up the bacon and toast the pecans. Then when you are ready to enjoy this scrumptious dessert just assemble and enjoy.

I live in “bacon country” –  home of Camp Bacon which is an annual festival held every year in June, the world famous Zingerman Deli is located here where you can find all kinds of bacon such as juniper and thyme, cherrywood (in addition to applewood) and peppered bacon to name a few. Zingerman’s also offers a cooking class using this very indulgent ingredient called bacon which I have yet to sign up for. They also published a book “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon“.

Bacon, Beer and Pecan Toffee Sundaes

  • 1/2 cup bacon, diced or about 4 slices (I prefer the smokiness of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon but how about a maple-flavored bacon?)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1/2 cup stout beer (I used a stout brewed with vanilla beans)
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped or use candied pecans
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Cook the bacon until very crisp, remove and reserve the fat. You can remove the bacon fat if desired and use a clean pan. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, beer, butter, heavy cream and a dash of salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. I strained the mixture (if you used the bacon fat) through a sieve removing any bacon pieces. Place in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. The mixture will separate but just stir together and serve at room temperature.

Scoop the frozen yogurt or ice cream into bowls and spoon the toffee sauce on top. Garnish with the bacon, pecans and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Toasted Pecans:

  • 1 cup pecan halves

I prefer to toast my pecans in a dry skillet. Cook on a low heat until you smell the nuttiness of the pecans, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Roughly chop and set aside.

Candied Pecans:

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1 tbsp. honey

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans on a foil lined baking sheet and heat the nuts for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, pick up the foil and pour the pecans into a small bowl; add the honey and corn syrup. Stir well to coat.

Place back on the baking sheet while separating the nuts as much as possible and cook another 5 minutes. Separate the nuts as much as you can and cool completely on a sheet of waxed paper.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

This recipe is adapted from Michael Symon of “The Chew”.

I’m sharing this sinfully rich ice cream sundae with Angie @ Fiesta Friday #153 and the two co-hosts this week, Quinn and  Monika.  Next week begins a “healthy challenge” and I better get out my Weight Watcher’s recipes.

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

For a long time I have been wanting to make a “red velvet” dessert. I’ve collected recipes for cupcakes, cakes, brownies, cookies and bundt cakes. Even though I love to bake all kinds of things a bundt cake has always been a favorite as they are attractive for entertaining and they always freeze well.

Keeping with the holiday season a red dessert seemed very appropriate and festive. Happy New Year to Everyone and the Best in 2017!

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This recipe comes from the Food Network which I have adapted. I have indicated where I changed the recipe.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Bundt Cake, Adapted

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. sour cream (I used low-fat)
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream (I will add less for a thicker filling)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the above ingredients in a food processor until smooth; set aside. You really do need  a food processor to get all the ingredients incorporated well. I found the filling was a little too thin and would adjust the ingredients to get it thicker.

Cake:

  • cooking spray(I always like to use Crisco instead) and dusting of flour for pan
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-3/4 sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I omitted the cocoa powder for a more vibrant red color – it did not affect the taste)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used 1 cup oil and 8 tbsp. (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (I used low-fat)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp. red gel food coloring (I used 2 tbsp. of red velvet cake flavor from KAF – see comment)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Cover a 10-15 cup Bundt pan with Crisco and then flour, tapping out the excess. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder (if using), baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl whisk the vegetable oil, (butter if using), sour cream, eggs, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Spread 3 cups (next time I will use 2 to 2-1/2 cups) of the batter into the prepared pan. Carefully add the cream cheese mixture and spread out. Finally add the remaining cake batter evenly over the top. Bake until the top is cracked and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and  cool for 20 minutes, then invert onto a plate and let cool completely, for at least 2 hours before adding the glaze.

The cake did overflow a bit and I cut off the excess once it was baked.

Glaze:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (I always sift this kind of sugar to prevent lumps)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I did use low-fat)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • I added shimmer gold sugar (edible glitter would also be decorative)

Combine the above ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread over the cooled cake.

Comment: King Arthur Flour sells a product called Red Velvet Cake Flavor which I used instead of the red gel food coloring. It has a deeper and darker red velvet flavor with bright citrus notes.  I also omitted the cocoa powder which can darken the brightness of the red color.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

This is my last recipe to share with Fiesta Friday in 2016. A special thanks to the two co-hosts Jhuls and Ginger.

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