Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

{Photo credit: Martha Stewart|}

I wish you all a fabulous New Year's Eve filled with champagne toasts and happiness!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting Eat Drink Pretty in 2010. We have lots of prettiness in store for the new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Doughnut holes with raspberry jam

{Photo and recipe credit: Food and Wine}

The new year is almost here which usually means one thing for me...time to get back to being healthy. I am on and off Weight Watchers throughout the year which seems to work for me but I tend to slack off big time around the holidays and then get pretty serious around the beginning of the year.

So what's with the doughnuts? Well, since there are just a few days left before the year is over I am heading to the kitchen to make some of the items that will definitely be off limits while on Weight Watchers...things like fried doughnuts.

What are your New Year's resolutions?  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cupcakes and Cutlery inspiration challenge

Sharon of Cupcakes and Cutlery blog invited me to participate in her inspiration board challenge for December. Please head over to her blog to check out my New Years Eve board including decor, menu and drink ideas.

Thanks to Sharon for asking me to participate!

Photo credits:

Photo Sources (from left to right):
Branches and Lights via Style Me Pretty
Salmon Blini Puffs via Pepperidge Farms
Cocktail via Hostess with the Mostess
Soup cups via Style Me Pretty
Napkins via The Knot
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup via Style Me Pretty
Cake via The Knot
Girl in dress via Style Me Pretty
Tray passed appetizers via Style Me Pretty
Sparklers via The Knot
Orange paper flower via Style Me Pretty

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ginger sandwich cookies

Even though the holidays are pretty much over, the urge to bake cookies never leaves me. I made these ginger sandwich cookies on Sunday morning after browsing recipes on my iPad. These treats are really good, but super filling (they are basically two huge cookies sandwiched between a scoop of frosting). I brought them to work and received a lot of compliments.

Ginger sandwich cookies (recipe adapted from the Food and Wine iPad application: Holiday issue)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

Filling

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the cookies

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.  In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 minutes.  Beat in teh egg and molasses.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until incorporated, scraping down the bowl.

Working in 2 batches, drop scant tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, 3 minutes apart.  Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, until risen and fallen and slightly firm; shift the sheets from top to  bottom and front to back halfway through for even baking.  Let cool slightly, then transfer the parchment paper to racks to let the cookies cool completely.  Bake the remaining cookies.

Make the filling

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the lemon juice.

Arrange the cookies in pairs on a large work surface.  Spoon or pipe 1 rounded tablespoon of the lemon filling onto the flat side of half of the cookies, pressign them together so the filling spreads to the edge.

Note, though the recipe calls for baking for 20 minutes, I found that was too long and the first batch got a bit burned.  I would leave them in for about 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The holidays

The holidays were really good to me; filled with family, delicious food, sparkling wine and most importantly, the weekend was really low-key.

Erik and I celebrated Christmas Eve at my parent's house.  I brought the above bouquet for my mom, which would also be a simple wedding bouquet for a December or January wedding (those are chrysanthemums and hypericum berries).

My brother Ron and his wife Nikki made pickles wrapped in cream cheese and salami.  My husband ate almost all of these, he loves them.
I made mini BLTs (an idea I got from Country Living magazine).  I went the simple route and used store bought Pillsbury biscuits (the smallest ones), fried up a package of bacon and assembled them with a tiny bit of mayo, a slice of roma tomato and a bit of iceberg lettuce.  They were a big hit!

If you are ambitious you can also make them with homemade biscuits.  Check out the Country Living recipe here.
Nikki and Ron also made red velvet cake ball pops.  YUM.
Erik and I celebrated Christmas Day at our house, just the two of us in the morning. This is our cozy living room. 
I made mini quiche for breakfast along with roasted fingerling potatoes and sausage.
Erik and I are completely smitten with our kitty, Kody.  He was very lazy on Christmas Day as you can see.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend as well!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A cozy little Christmas

{Photo credits: BHG Celebrate the Holidays iPad app}

I have awesome holiday plans this weekend; stress-free, quality time with family, food and champagne-filled and most importantly, relaxing.  My husband and I are staying in town (St. Paul, MN) and we only have to travel about 12 miles to get to my parent's house for Christmas Eve.

My husband's family lives in North Dakota and we usually make the 6 hour drive to spend the holidays there. A winter storm never fails to make an appearance to add a little stress to the drive. Once we arrive in North Dakota the time spent there includes comforting German food, lots of movies, lots of laying around. Holidays spent in North Dakota are great, too.

Since Erik and I are staying in town, we have Christmas Day wide open and we decided to create our own tradition. It will include sleeping in, opening stocking stuffers and indulging in a huge, delicious homemade brunch.

These lovely photos come from the Better Homes and Gardens iPad application. It's a great resource for party planning and includes tons of different party themes with decor ideas, menus and recipes.





How amazing do these mini quiches look?  Check out the recipe, looks quite easy.

Mini quiches (recipe from BHG)

Ingredients

1 15 oz package rolled refrigerated unbaked piecrust (2 crusts)
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (2 oz)
1/2 cup finely chopped red sweet pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped peppered or smoked cooked ham
1 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onion
1 1/2 tsp. all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. Italian seasoning, crushed
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half and half, light cream or milk
Fresh herb sprigs, such as basil, oregano, or thyme (optional)

Preparation

Let piecrusts stand at room temperature according to package directions.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut each piecrust into four equal sections (eight sections total).  Press piecrust sections onto the bottoms and up the sides of eight 4-inch fluted individual tart pans with removable sides.  Trim excess dough from tops of pans.

Line each pastry shell with a double thickness of foil.  Place pans on a baking sheet.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake for 2 to 3 minutes more until pastry is set and dry.  Remove from oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine cheese, sweet pepper, ham, green onion, flour, Italian seasoning, saltk and black pepper.  Divide mixture evenly among pastry shells.

In the same bowl, beat together eggs and half and half.  Pour egg mixture over cheese mixture in each pastry shell.  Bake for 20 minutes or until filling is set.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  If desired, top each quich with a fresh herb sprig.  Makes 8 servings.

I'll be taking off the rest of the week and returning with new posts on Monday.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Real party: a Joyeux Noel Christmas Dinner

This gorgeous dinner party will not only get you into the holiday spirit but will make your mouth water! Paula of Frog Prince Paperie sent me this impressive event she designed and hosted for her in-laws to celebrate the holidays.

As told by Paula:

My father's family is from the New Orleans area, and our cooking at holidays always has a strong cajun/southern influence. It's from this I took my inspiration to create a Joyeux Noel dinner complete with an appetizer and dessert spread in neutral creams, dark brown and teals.

Some of the unique details...I used family heirlooms to display the pre-dinner appetizers and our desserts. The desserts were all made from family recipes we make every holiday, but I modified them all to be bite sized, so we could all have a little of each with a little less guilt!

I designed the placecards, boxes, menus and food labels and accents; all proceeds from these are going to the Alzheimers Association. The chair ruffles are a DIY project that were super easy to make - they are a 7 inch strip of material with two loose basting stiches pulled tight to make ruffles. They were folded in half and pinned to ribbons draped over the tops of the chairs with boxwood sprigs and tiny bulbs as accents.

This menu is beyond impressive.  And I thought I was decent at throwing dinner parties...um, no, there is no comparison.



Adorable favor boxes. 

A beautiful tablescape.

No detail was forgotten.  The crystal napkin rings are from Trade Winds Tiaras.





The appetizers look absolutely divine!  Raw oysters and homemade crab dip?  Delicious. 





If you thought the appetizers were lovely check out this dessert display! 





Thanks so much to Paula for sending this truly amazing dinner party my way.  I can only hope my future dinner parties will be as gorgeous and delicious as this! 

Be sure to check out Frog Prince Paperie on Etsy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vegetable tarte tatin

{Photo credit: Food Network}

The residents of MN had yet another snow storm yesterday.  That meant an hour and a half commute for me (30 minutes on the train, an hour drive home) plus getting my car stuck trying to get up my driveway.  Today is the "official" first day of winter and yet we have more snow on the ground than pretty much the entire season last year (I just made that up but it sounds about right).

What better way to spend a cold, winter evening than sipping a glass of red wine and enjoying this gorgeous vegetable tarte tatin.  I discovered this recipe while flipping through the pages of the latest issue of Food Network magazine.  It is made up of hearty root vegetables and buttery puff pastry.  I plan to make this over the holiday weekend.

Vegetable tarte tatin (recipe from Food Network)

Ingredients

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
4 cloves garlic, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon small fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
6 ounces mozzarella, grated (about 1 cup)
1 8.5-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss both kinds of potatoes, the parsnips, onion, garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons water and the sugar in a skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan, until amber, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and 1/4teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour the caramel into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and spread with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the sage and oregano on top.
Arrange the roasted potatoes and parsnips in a single snug layer on top of the caramel. Scatter the onion and garlic over the roasted vegetables; sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle. Pierce the pastry all over with a fork, then lay it on top of the mozzarella, folding the edges under to fit, if necessary. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the dough is cooked through, 15 to 20 more minutes.

Let the tart cool 10 minutes in the baking dish, then carefully invert it onto a cutting board. Replace any vegetables that stick to the dish, if necessary.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blog post: glittering lemon sandwich cookies and a free holiday download

Remember these adorable glittering lemon sandwich cookies I posted on Friday? I baked them over the weekend with my sister and packaged them up as holiday gifts.  The cookies were a bit time-consuming because you have to roll a bunch of tiny little balls but they are so worth it; lemony, crumbly, sugary and delicious. And so, so cute! 





Lindi of Love the Day designed this gorgeous holiday tag. They are perfect for attaching to any wrapped gift.  Lindi is offering the tags for all you lovely readers as a free download.  Click here to download the label (these are perfect for anyone wrapping gifts at the last minute this week!). 

Also, be sure to check out Love the Day's Etsy shop for adorable printable collections.

The above boxes are from Cooks of Crocus Hill and I finished it off with lace, a white ribbon and twine.




Thanks so much to Love the Day for the free download!

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Glittering lemon sandwich cookies

{Photo credit: Epicurious}

Happy Friday!  How adorable are these little sandwich cookies?  I love anything mini and anything that glitters so these are perfect.  I am having a baking party with my sister tomorrow and these may end up on the list.

Glittering lemon sandwich cookies (recipe from Epicurious)

Ingredients

For Cookies
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
White and colored sanding sugars

For Filling
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

Special Equipment:
a heavy-duty sealable bag

Make Cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.

Beat together butter and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in zest and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.

Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into sugar, turning to coat. Reshape if necessary and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filled.

Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.

Form and bake more cookies on second baking sheet.

Make Filling and Sandwich Cookies:
Beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well. Transfer to sealable bag and snip off a corner.

Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on flat side of each. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Thanks for visiting Eat Drink Pretty today!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Real party: a berries and branches holiday party

I am excited to share this lovely, seasonally appropriate party sent over by Renee of Renee Takes the Cake blog.  Renee hosted this party in her home earlier this month with an overall theme of berries and branches.  I love the color scheme and overall look and feel of this party; holiday inspired without going overboard on typical holiday details.  And just wait until you see all the amazing food Renee served.

As told by Renee:

All the food and drink were either based on a berry, wine, and/or cheese. The colors were mainly berry red with some blue and brown mixed in for contrast.

The menu consisted of the following:

Dessert:

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cranberry Coconut Macaroons
Goat Cheese Truffles
Peppermint and Cream Cheese Cake Pops
Candy - Strawberry Zaza Chews, Gummie Raspberries, Filled Red Raspberries and Blue Raspberry Rock Candy. Homemade Peppermint Bark was given as a take home favor.

Food:

Assorted Cheeses and Crackers
Brushetta with Pears, Goat Cheese and Honey
Brie en Croute
Three Cheese Artichoke Dip

Drink:

Cranberry Sangria
Assorted Wine

Photo credits to Liz Hough Photography.
Gorgeous cupcakes with sweet toppers by Love the Day. 
Looks like Renee has mastered cake pops.  I have yet to make them successfully!


















This sangria looks amazing!









I would have loved to be a guest at this well-planned, beautifully designed party.  Thanks so much to Renee for sending this gorgeous, festive party my way. 

Vendors:

Custom Printables - Love the Day 
Mod berries and branches table runners, cranberry garland, and serve ware - Home Goods
Branch candle holder, mod berries and branches candle holders, and red candle holders - Crate and Barrel
Small branches and the white rock shaped vases on the dessert table - Save-on-Crafts
A Silhouette SD was used to create the shapes that were added to the mirrors