Browsing articles from "December, 2011"
Dec 30, 2011

Reader Submission Recipe: Spicy Pepper Cookies

TOTAL TIME: 15 min to prep, 8-10 min to bake
3-4 dozen cookies

I brought to you earlier this week a Holiday Cookie Box Social designed by Meghan Ely and Ariana Ewing of OFD Consulting. Well today, I have Meghan’s Spicy Pepper Cookies she wanted the readers of Pretty Tasty Things to test out and try. Here’s what she had to say about her cookies:

“This year, I decided to try a Spicy Pepper Cookie, which I found on I spent over three years working in Catering at The Jefferson Hotel, so I’ve always found myself drawn to more creative combinations thanks to my culinary colleagues! This particular recipe called for a great deal of freshly ground pepper and sea salt, as well as cardamom, which I’ve yet to use. It’s was a relatively easy recipe to execute and I was really pleased with the results. In the future, I’d probably try and add more spice to it with perhaps cayenne pepper and then dip it in chocolate to offset the spice. I nearly followed the recipe to a T although after I creamed the sugar and butter, I ditched my beloved Kitchen aid mixer and hand mixed the rest with my equally beloved (and most favorite kitchen tool I might add!) wooden spoon. I always fear I’ll over mix otherwise.”

3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 each whole egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine butter + sugars. First, preheat oven to 350°. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Once the butter and sugars are well-combined, stir in the egg, milk and vanilla.

3. Add dry ingredients. Add all the spices and flour to the wet ingredients and continue to stir until well-mixed. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes before baking.

4. Bake the cookies. Drop cookies onto silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned around the edges for softer cookies, or until quite golden for crispy cookies.

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Dec 28, 2011

Party Inspiration: A Winter Wonderland Holiday Cookie Box Social

I know the holidays are sadly over, but I have one last holiday party inspiration I am super excited to show you exclusively on Pretty Tasty Things. Ariana Ewing and Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting based here in Richmond, Virginia designed this impeccably beautiful and crafty holiday cookie box social this season. It’s just insane how everything from the DIY touches to the color scheme was put together so perfectly.

According to Meghan, this cookie exchange party is an annual tradition with her friends. In her words, the party itself came from humble beginnings. I held one my first year out of college in my new city of Richmond with what I imagine to be about a $25 budget. The decor was paper chains made from construction paper and I believe the menu consisted of chips and salsa. The party is truly proof that the best part will always be the party goers themselves. Although, I’m happy to say that the menu has gotten much better over the years. We normally spend the first hour visiting and then dive into the cookie exchange itself with everyone introducing themselves and telling us about their recipe. Everyone then walks around and grabs cookies until they’re gone. I ask all guests to bring copies of their recipes, which comes in handy.

Lets take a look at all the wonderful details!

Ariana designed all the details for the social. She said she found inspiration in everything and everywhere especially gathering ideas from Pinterest, a virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share things you love from the web. She took her favorite photos and created an inspiration board that would help her stay on track of exactly what her vision was. In her words, I chose a sort of winter wonderland theme with touches of peacock blue, silver, white and touches of grey to use throughout. I wanted the guests to feel as though it was a departure from the traditional with the color scheme, touches of DIY and glamour mixed in, but I did not want to stray too far away from the holiday feel.

According to Ariana, yarn is the new up and comer in the wedding and event planning décor. The trees are made from styrofoam cones with yarn wrapped around and secured with a hot glue gun. For an added whimsical touch, pom poms where added in white and silver as ornaments. Silver and turquoise ornament balls were added as accents.

I just love the pom-poms on top of the yarn tree!

A wine barrel? I need me one of those!

To create the tree skirt and table runner, they purchased the fabric from U-Fab. They selected a grey and white chevron print, which is very hot this season. The table runner was made using No Sew tape and excess fabric was used to drape around the bottom of the tree.

The fireplace. Man-oh-man. Isn’t this gorgeous? Above the fireplace they decided to take a tree branch and dust it with white and silver spray paint. It was then hung from the ceiling, dripping in sparkly ornaments. I just love the branch above the fireplace, it’s a beautiful piece of art! Bunting was strung across the fireplace easily made from gorgeous scrapbooking paper and ribbon.

In front of the fireplace, a hot chocolate bar was set up. It’s always the main beverage at their cookie social parties and this year, Meghan brought back more chocolate from Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle, Ireland. It was a huge hit with the guests and luckily, they have enough for next year’s party as well.

An array of appetizers and desserts were served along side all the cookies and desserts. My favorite appetizer I see are the tater tots, which according to Meghan, pays homage to the weekly happy hour started with her work friends at Maymont back in the day. Her favorite spot for the best tots are, of course, Sticky Rice!

Special thanks to Ariana and Meghan for submitting their seriously fabulous holiday cookie box social! You ladies certainly outdid yourselves. Stay tuned later this week for Meghan’s Spicy Pepper Cookies she prepared for her social!

Design: Ariana Ewing, OFD Consulting
Cookies: Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
Photos: Travis Ely
Fabric: U-fab
Craft Supplies: Michaels, Ikea and Hobby Lobby

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Dec 21, 2011

Recipe for: Chocolate Sauce for Churros

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 20-25 min
2 cups

Churros aren’t complete without its’ partner in crime, the chocolate sauce. I showed you yesterday how to make churros. You’re welcome :) Today, pair it with a bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce that compliments the sweetness of the churros. This chocolate sauce is a little more bitter than sweet since I used both bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder, but you can use semi-sweet chocolate if you have a very sweet tooth. Churros and chocolate is the ultimate combination to end the night, or if you prefer to eat churros during breakfast, pair it with my easy steps for cafe con leche.

2 cups milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 sugar
pinch of salt

1. Start the chocolate sauce. In a small sauce pan, whisk together the milk, sugar, salt and cocoa powder on medium low temperature for about 5 minutes. Whisking occasionally.

2. Add chocolate and simmer. Add the chopped bittersweet chocolate to the mixture while turning the temperature down to low. Stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. The sauce will be very watery at first, but continue to stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until the sauce slowly thickens. You must stir to prevent the chocolate from sticking and burning to the bottom.

3. Serve. Once the sauce has thickened, ladle the sauce into cups or mini bowls. Serve immediately with the hot, fresh churros.

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Dec 20, 2011

Recipe for: Homemade Warm Churros

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 20 min to prep, 10 min to cook
20-25 churros

Our first experience with a churro was during our honeymoon in Spain. The first day we arrive, we literally wondered the streets in Barcelona and found ourselves at a very random carnival right by the water. The smell of fried dough engulfed the air and we soon found ourselves at a churros stand buying a batch for only a few euros. The churros were nothing but fried dough shaped into sticks made on the spot. They were hot, crispy, but light at the same time. They were sweetened with a light dusting of sugar. These churros were an addicting and great snack to hold us down for dinner. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited I actually made the exact version at home. I found it a lot easier than I thought and even tastier with a warm chocolate dipping sauce, which I’ll showcase on Pretty Tasty Things tomorrow.

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
3 eggs
vegetable oil for frying

1. Prepare cinnamon + sugar mixture. On a plate or narrow dish, combine the sugar and cinnamon until well-blended. Set aside.

2. Start the dough. In a nonstick saucepan, bring to a simmer the water, butter, salt and vanilla extract on medium heat stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. When the ingredients have melted down, turn the temperature to low. Immediately add the flour stirring vigorously until no lumps remain. The texture of the dough should be a very thick paste. Remove from heat.

3. Finish the dough. Place the dough in a mixing bowl. With the wooden spoon, mix the eggs in one at a time. The dough may appear separated, but just continue to stir. The end texture of the dough should be thick and gummy. Add the dough into a pipping bag using an extra large star tip.

4. Fry the churros. In a cast iron pot, add vegetable oil just about 1-inch high from the bottom. Heat on medium high temperature. To test whether the oil is ready, drop a small dollop of dough. If it sizzles immediately, the oil should be ready. Squeeze 4-inch lengths of dough into the hot oil, cutting them off with a knife. Fry 4-6 at a time for about 1 minute per side until the churros are lightly golden brown. Remove the churros from the oil and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.

5. Coat in cinnamon + sugar mixture and serve. Once all the churros have been fried, dip each one in the cinnamon and sugar mixture you prepared early. Serve churros immediately with yummy chocolate sauce, which I’ll show you tomorrow!

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Dec 14, 2011

Isabel’s Picks: From Blogger to Cookbook

I didn’t realize how intense the world of cooking blogs were until I actually started Pretty Tasty Things. There are literally tons of cooking blogs out there. Literally, a crapload. BUT, there are only a special handful of bloggers that have made it from blogger status to cookbook status. Maybe some day, I’ll get there. But for now, I’ll just be in awe of those that have made it. I’ve selected five of my all-time favorite cooking blogs that have inspired me in some way with my own cooking journey. These would certainly be worthy to make it to my cookbook collection. Maybe for Christmas, I’ll treat myself to a new book. But for now, check out their sick (in a good way) blogs.

And in no particular order:

Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
Not out yet, but soon. I am envious of her baking skills. Looks so effortless.

La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre
My inspiration. Her photography is out of this world. If you don’t even care about cooking, check out her blog for her stories and photography.

The Steamy Kitchen by Jaden Hair
Makes cooking Asian food so simple and beautiful. Really need this because I LOVE eating anything Asian.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
This woman can do it all including a show on the Food Network.

Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
Natural cooking is something I don’t do a lot of, but her recipes are super creative. Her following is enormous.

These are my blogger to cookbook picks that I certainly have my eye on. How bout you? Who are you favorite food bloggers or favorite cookbooks?

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