Bacon Pralines

I know, I know. It’s gimmicky. Been done to death. Horribly unhealthy, etc. And I’m really not one to indiscriminately add bacon to things — especially sweets — but it’s something I always suspected might be worth the indulgence, so I’m not sorry for this praline adulteration. Not one bit.

I used my dad’s recipe for pralines and simply swapped out a portion of the pecans for an equal amount of chopped, cooked bacon. The results were pretty much what you’d expect. But if you’re a purist, you can’t go wrong with the original recipe. Just serve a little bacon on the side.

Find Darcie’s post here, and let us know what you think if you decide to try these!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Bacon Pralines

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly
If you're looking for a dessert that's a little bit different, these bacon pralines will fit the bill. Deliciously.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 16 Large marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon (finely chopped)

Note

If you'd prefer a regular praline to one loaded with bacon, simply remove the bacon and add another 1/2 cup of toasted pecan halves to the recipe, then sprinkle pralines with Maldon or other finishing salt just after you've spooned them onto the surface to cool.

Directions

Prepare your surface by covering a heat-safe area of your counter or a table with freezer paper. Spray paper well with cooking spray.
Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans and bacon. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 240° F. Remove pot from burner, add vanilla extract and beat mixture vigorously with a spoon until it begins to thicken. This will ensure the pralines don't spread too much.
Drop mixture by tablespoon or two onto greased freezer paper. Cool to room temperature before serving.

 

Cranberry-Gin Cocktail

DRINKS WEEK! DRINKS WEEK! DRINKS WEEK!

OK, maybe we’re a little excited about this week around these parts, but it’s a fun one, and we have a beautilicious beverage to kick things off — Cranberry-Gin Cocktail with Candied Cranberries. Darcie’s original recipe has a great sweet-tart kick that’ll keep the party spirits high. And can you imagine a more Christmasy-looking beverage? Another nice thing — since the recipe makes loads of candied cranberries, you can snack on them by the handful, something I’ll personally vouch for, since I didn’t get to sample this drink until AFTER we’d finished shooting for the day. Those candied cranberries sustained me.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Cranberry Cocktail | Amy Roth Photo

Cranberry-Gin Cocktail

Serves 1
Meal type Beverage
Occasion Casual Party, Christmas
Get festive with this ruby-red cranberry-gin cocktail with candied cranberries. Tart & a tiny bit sweet with the scent of rosemary, it's holiday in a glass!

Ingredients

Candied Cranberries

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Cocktail

  • 2oz gin
  • 2oz cranberry juice
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Pellegrino Melongrano e Arancia soda (to taste)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • candied cranberries

Directions

Candied Cranberries
In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup sugar with the water until fully dissolved, then remove from heat. Pour in the rinsed cranberries and allow to sit for 1 hour. Remove the berries with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack for 1 hour. Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl. In batches, roll the cranberries in the sugar. Return to the wire rack and allow to dry for at least 2 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Cocktail
Mix the gin, cranberry juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and top up with Pellegrino soda. Garnish with rosemary and candied cranberries and serve.

Cheddar-Bacon Dog Treats

Crunchy Cheddar-Bacon Dog Treats

Darcie and I are both dog lovers, so today’s post was a given for this year’s Advent Calendar. Gil and I adopted Ru (aka Rufus T. Firefly Roth) nearly nine years ago and, while we’ve always kept him active and never go crazy with his food, we don’t hold back from giving him treats he enjoys. Darcie’s family adopted a gorgeous puppy named Artemis this year who is every bit as active as you’d imagine a puppy to be! While Ru and Artemis may differ in age and temperament, they’re unified in their approval of these bacon-cheddar dog treats. Make a batch for your own pampered pooch or as a gift for the dog-lover in your life. We promise they’ll be gone in a flash!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Bacon-Cheddar Dog Treats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 pieces cooked bacon (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

In a food processor, pulse the oatmeal until floury, but still slightly chunky. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until well combined and evenly distributed.
Form dough into a ball and roll out about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to form shapes as desired.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F (200°C), or until browned and crispy. Let cool, package and distribute to deserving pups!

Sichuan Party Mix

We started yesterday with sweet, and move on to spicy today with this savory and tongue-tingling Sichuan Party Mix. Check out Darcie’s post for a little backstory involving her days in Shanghai, which provided the inspiration for this terrific recipe!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Sichuan Party Mix

Allergy Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
This Sichuan Party Mix couldn't be easier to make — toss everything together, then bake!

Ingredients

Sichuan Party Mix

  • 1/2 cup pretzels
  • 1/2 cup soup crackers
  • 1/2 cup sesame melba rounds
  • 1/2 cup salted, roasted edamame
  • 1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Seasoning Mix

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried, sliced Asian chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Directions

Sichuan Party Mix
Toss all of the nuts and crackers together (feel free to change up the mix according to your taste).
Seasoning Mix
Melt the butter in a microwavable bowl and stir in the spices until well combined.
Pour seasoning mix over the party mix and stir to coat. Spread the mix on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated oven at 350°F (280°C) for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Allow to cool, then arrange in gift bags or boxes.

Last-Minute Gifts for the Coffee Addict

One week and a smidge before Christmas and you’re still not sure what to buy for a certain someone? Well, if that someone loves a great cup of joe, you’ve come to the right place.

1. I’ve gone on at length about how great our coffee is now that my barista husband uses a Chemex 6-Cup Coffee Maker. Or try the smaller 3-Cup model if they don’t need quite so much coffee at one time. Buy from Amazon and get free 2-day shipping.

2. Another reason for our great coffee? Great coffee beans. Tonx sources high quality beans, roasts them perfectly, then sends out your package within one day of roasting so you have the freshest cup of coffee imaginable. Sign up for a gift subscription here by Dec. 16th and receive it in time for Christmas.

3. Grind those beans perfectly with a Kyocera Ceramic Coffee Grinder. This manual, adjustable burr grinder puts you back in charge of your coffee. Order from ThinkGeek by Dec. 16th and get 25% off plus free shipping.

4. If you don’t like dealing with paper filters, the Able Kone Filter is a treat. Pricey? Yes, but so worth it if you want to get every last drop of those delicious coffee oils.

5. Maybe your coffee lover is all stocked up on beans and accessories. How about a coffee-themed photo print or two? U.S. customers can still get Christmas delivery from my Etsy shop if you ship via FedEx ($13), plus all prints are 25% off with code 25MERRY at checkout. Just DM me through Etsy to set up a custom listing for Christmas shipping.

6. A fun mug with a message always makes a great stocking stuffer.

What are your favorite coffee-related items? Anything on your wish list?

Day 25, Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Thank you so much for joining me these past 25 days! It’s been an enjoyable, if exhausting, ride.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas (or just a happy December 25th if you’re not of the Christian faith) and the best new year yet! I’ll probably take a few weeks off, but hope to pop in now and then to say hi and share a recipe or two.

xoxo,
Amy

Day 1, Mini Apple Pies

Hello, and welcome to this year’s Advent Calendar! Are you in the holiday spirit now that December’s here? Maybe you’re the organized sort with your shopping done and presents wrapped. Maybe you’re dreading the idea and hope to put it off for another day. If so, consider yourself among friends; have a glass of prosecco and hang out for a bit. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’m here to help! My goal with this series is to post every day till Christmas with gift ideas and recipes (many southern-inflected, all gluten-free). Think of it as my own NaBloWriMo, only my failure is guaranteed the posts are planned to end on Christmas day. Wish me luck; it’s a huge undertaking for someone who typically posts once a month.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

You won’t find sweet stuff here everyday, but let’s start off with a bang, shall we? For your consideration, mini apple pies: all the goodness of the deep dish version, but portable, adorable and (hint, hint) perfect for giving. If you’re missing Hubig’s —and who isn’t? — okay, this isn’t the same, but close your eyes and pretend for a bit, then send some love their way.

For this recipe, as ever, I turned to Joy the Baker, who is unable to steer you wrong in matters of pie. Like Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson sifted together, she’ll buck you up and won’t let you fail. But even if you do (hey, shit happens), it’s still pie, and you can eat your mistakes.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

Once again, I brought out my prized Cup4Cup flour, which cured me of a fear of pie crusts. I don’t fear much in the kitchen and mostly keep my cool no matter what, but I absolutely am a big old drama queen when it comes to pies. Silly, I know, but you weren’t around to witness my abject failure whenever I tried to make a gluten-free version. Vapors were experienced, cursing ensued. But this flour is a dream to work with and the flavor’s right up there, too.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 1

But you’re not here to read about my issues. You want pie, and pie you shall have. With pictures. After the jump.

Continue reading “Day 1, Mini Apple Pies”

Holiday Treats, Part II

…and a side of insulin.

I’ll continue to post about pralines every year because they really are one of my favorite things of the season. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I have my first bite. After my 20th bite, it just feels like I need a nap.

Creamy Pralines

After making several batches of these in one weekend, I have a few tips to ensure success. First, spray the waxed paper very well; these are sticky suckers that need the lubrication. Second, don’t bother with the candy thermometer until about 5 minutes after you’ve added the pecans; it really just gets in the way and the mixture won’t come up to temperature before that. Third, after you’ve added the vanilla extract, beat the praline batter vigorously until it really begins to thicken and your arm is getting tired. If you spoon them out too soon, they’ll spread too much, which leads to thin pralines that take up far too much counter space.

2 cups white sugar
1 stick butter
16 large marshmallows
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
finishing salt

Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F. (I always go to 240 degrees. The end result is much better at the higher end of the range.) Remove from burner. Add vanilla and beat until mixture thickens. Drop by tablespoon or two onto greased waxed paper. While still hot, sprinkle with finishing salt.

Yield: 48 small pralines or 15 large.

Amy’s first risotto

091222_risotto

So… yeah. It’s been a while. How’ve you been? You’re looking great — have you lost weight? My apologies for abandoning this site, but things got seriously out of hand at work those last few weeks leading up to Christmas, and I couldn’t find time to do any cooking at all, and what’s a food blog without food? Keeping quiet seemed like the way to go.

The weekend before Christmas was a little less hectic, so I did manage to cook something before taking off for Louisiana — a risotto. Actually, my FIRST risotto. (Oh, stop your gasping.) I’ve always avoided it because the thought of standing in one spot stirring for so long didn’t appeal, but it was snowing and I had a bunch of mismatched ingredients in the house that didn’t add up to much else, so hey. Why not? It was that or shovel the driveway.

My parents sent me back to Jersey with about five pounds of frozen shrimp and crab meat the last time I visited. All that was left in our freezer was one container of crab, so I set my sights on turning out a delicately-seasoned risotto. (Going easy on seasonings isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but crab requires a light hand.) It couldn’t have been easier, really. I sweated some onion in a decent amount of olive oil and butter with 4 bay leaves, added a little garlic once the onion was translucent and cooked it for 30 seconds or so, then added a cup and a half of arborio rice, stirring it in the fat until the grains were just starting to look chalky. Then the laborious process (or so I imagined it would be) of adding liquids and stirring, stirring, stirring started. I began with 1/2 cup of dry white wine, cooking until it was absorbed, then added warmed shrimp stock one ladle at a time, until the rice was creamy and cooked through.

At this point, I stirred in about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, then folded in the crab and some finely chopped green onions. And you know what? It blew my mind. I really thought that making a passable risotto would be beyond me, but when you start with great ingredients, I guess it isn’t so hard.

091222_arancini

Of course, I made extra so we could have arancini with the leftovers the following day. To start, I made a quick tomato sauce with another freezer find — a Ziploc bag containing about half of a large can of crushed tomatoes. (I don’t throw anything away if I can help it.) I added it to some sauteed onions and garlic, then hit it with a shot of sherry vinegar, a pinch of sugar and some crushed red pepper, before setting it aside to simmer while I finished up the rest of the meal.

The spinach was simply wilted with some olive oil and green onions. It would’ve been heavy on the garlic if only I had some in the house, but no. Rassafrassin’ snowstorm.

For the arancini itself, I mixed in a little more cheese and some milk to the cold risotto and formed it into golf ball-sized portions, stuffed with a small piece of cheese. (Which I think was taleggio, but can’t say positively. We always have a few types of cheese in the fridge at any given time.) The rice balls went into flour, then egg wash, then panko bread crumbs before spending about 15 minutes in the freezer to firm up.

Now, for someone raised on deep fried foods, I have a distinct fear of frying on two fronts: leaden, soggy food and an oily smell permeating the house. So this was the first time in maybe 20 years I’ve actually fried anything in more than a few tablespoons of oil. Heating the oil to 375F helped with the leaden aspect, and the fact that each batch took only a minute or so to fry didn’t leave my house smelling like a fast food joint. Can’t say deep fried stuff will appear on the menu very often, but I’m much more comfortable preparing it now.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Due to circumstances beyond my control, there wasn’t much in the way of cooking at Christmas, either. My parents are renovating their kitchen (and it looks AMAZING), but the appliances didn’t make it on time, so we ate out. A lot. Not a problem if you like fried seafood (which I do), but let’s just say it’s good to be back in my own kitchen, reacquainting myself with green vegetables and whole grains.

It was a difficult Christmas, to be honest. Everyone was “off,” as we had an unexpected death in the family just a few weeks ago and, as always in such a large extended family, someone’s going to be in terribly poor health. But it wasn’t all bleak by any means and there were many bright spots to be found — laughing with my cousin over her mother-in-law woes, watching a young cousin pulling a flaming barbecue pit on a toy wagon tied to a modified big wheel (no, seriously, I was crying with laughter and yes, I have pictures, but I’m pretty sure his mom would kill me if I published them), talking food and dogs with one of the best cooks in my family (who promises to give me his recipe for pickled mirliton, mmmm). But the icing on the cake was seeing two of my oldest and dearest friends from high school again, one for the first time in about 20 years. I can’t even tell you how happy Facebook makes me at times.

Because we ate out so much, I have almost no food pictures, but did snap a few of my dad shucking oysters on Christmas Eve. Good stuff.

091228_oysters

091228_shucking

091228_shells

Hope you all had a great holiday. Here’s to 2010 and wishing you all a happy turning of the page. Thanks for stopping by in 2009!

Season’s greetings from the Roths

091212_otis1

Hi all, and happy Hanukkah! We had slightly non-traditional latkes (fried in duck fat) for breakfast this morning as a late start to the festivities, but there’s been a distinct lack of cooking going on around here otherwise. I’ll try to do better by you, but can’t promise anything until next weekend.

Instead, you get cute holiday pictures of the dogs after the jump!

Continue reading “Season’s greetings from the Roths”