Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Brunch - and Happy Holidays

from ShowFood Chef and Family~

As I look around the room, late afternoon on this Christmas Day, I am feeling so emotional. After a morning of laughs with my visiting in-laws, tons of presents, chasing the dogs to get the stockings back and feeling my daughter's baby move in her "pregger" tummy, I can't help but whisper a quiet "Thank You."

In the midst of our food-induced drowsiness, everyone of us are taking an electronic break. My husband is watching a short-film on television, one son is watching a movie on his new ipad, my mother-in-law is playing a word game on her iphone, my father-in-law is reading a book on his kindle, my other son is creating music with his new software, my daugher and her husband are on Skype talking to my mother on the other side of the United States. It's an amazing time to be alive. The world feels both giant and tiny at the same time. We're all in the same room chatting with each other, but also connected to the whole planet.

In a few minutes I'll be starting our Holiday Dinner that will include Ham, Toasted Couscous w/Corn & Tomatoes, Carrot and Zucchini Ribbon Salad, Roasted Potatoes w/ Escarole, and Celeriac Slaw. Later we'll go bowling together - yeah, you heard right - it's a family tradition.

Late tonight we'll end with another family tradition called "Dirty Bingo". It sounds like quite a few families have a version of this game. It involves rolling dice, trying to score doubles, choosing a wrapped secret gift from a pile of them, then trying to "take" presents from each other based on how the dice play out.

Every year when we play this together it dissolves into so much laughter you can hardly breathe.

Earlier today, our brunch included these easy to make and gobble down "Eggs & Bacon In The Round". I'm sharing the recipe/process with you in case you'd find them fun and tasty, too.

RECIPE: Eggs & Bacon In The Round

For Each serving, you'll need 1 egg, 1 piece of bacon, 1 piece of toast and a bit of butter.

1) Toast slices of bread with just a bit of butter spread on them. Then cut a round out of each toast (the size of your muffin tins.)

2) Place the rounds in each muffin hole, wrap a piece of bacon around each round.

3) Break an egg onto each round and inside the bacon wrap.

4) Bake in a 350F pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until eggs are set.

*Garnish with parsley or chives, or a drizzle of good Olive Oil.
I hope this posting finds you with people that you love, wonderful memories of people from your life, and the hope for a wonderful year in the making.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Food Gift - Chai Tea Caramels

Here's another FOOD GIFT idea that has been a hit at my house. These Chai Tea Infused Caramels are full of the warm, slight peppery and cinnamon flavors of a cozy Chai Tea or Chai Tea Latte, but can be carried around for a quick nibble or snack.
Chai Tea Caramels

These can be made ahead of time because they keep for quite awhile, making them perfect for gifts, a party or travel snacks.

I sent a bunch of these into my husband's office a few months ago and I'm still famous for them. Haha :D
My teenage son's friends ask me about them every time they visit, and my mom loved the soft edible caramel that didn't stick or break her teeth.
Be sure to watch the temperature on these because (like a lot of candy making), sometimes it feels like the temperature will never move above 200F and then all of a sudden it zooms up and surprises you. If that happens, all is not lost, you'll just have harder caramels ( ala See's Candy type caramels.) For the softer, easy to chew caramels make sure you take it off the heat right at 248F. You'll love the toasty flavors of these addictive sweets, and your family and friends will be very complimentary and impressed that you made your own caramels.

If you don't have, or can't find a nice Chai Tea, try a different highly flavorful tea like a smokey black tea or a fruity berry Tisane (herbal) Tea.

Recipe: Chai Tea Caramels

2 cups Heavy Cream
3 Tablespoons Chai Tea
3/4 cup Agave Syrup (or 1 cup Corn Syrup)
2 cups Sugar
5 oz. (6 Tablespoons) Butter
1/4 cup Mild Molasses
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Cloves
Pinch of Pepper

***Prepare an 8" x 8" sided baking pan by spraying it, lining it with parchment paper (that hangs over a couple inches), and spraying the parchment.***

1) In a saucepan, bring the cream and tea to a simmer (but do not boil), take off the heat, cover and let the tea infuse the cream for about 10-15 minutes.

2) Strain the tea out, then in a larger saucepan add the tea infused cream to the Agave (or corn syrup), sugar, butter and molasses.

3) Bring to a boil, stir often and continue to boil until the mixture reaches 248F on a candy thermometer. This takes about 15-25 minutes.

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla and spices.

5) Pour into the prepared pan and allow to sit overnight or about 12 hours.
6) Flip onto an oiled cutting board. Cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap in parchment paper squares or cellophane wrappers.These can last for several weeks if kept out of the heat or moisture.Give these in a filled mug, a decorative box, a party bag or maybe you have another idea. I'd love to have you share some ideas in the comments. Have a wonderful season and much love to you and yours from ShowFood Chef. :D

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Food Gift - Olive Oil Cranberry & Oat Scones - Mix In A Jar

These scones are made with Olive Oil instead of butter, yet are flaky and moist. The mix is simple and when layered in a jar makes a fun, colorful and unique gift. Olive Oil Cranberry & Oat Scones
Mix in a Jar

I have a few friends who love the idea of cooking, but get a little intimidated by the language in recipes some times. Once it calls for "cut in the butter" they stop reading. Here's a perfect gift and recipe if you know someone like that, including if that someone is you. For the cranberries I used a package from Melissa's Produce that I received at the IFBC (International Food Blogger Conference). I also buy their products because they're always in good condition and reasonable.

If dried cranberries are not your favorite, these can easily be made with dried cherries, apricots or other dried fruits. The scones freeze really well, so bake a couple for today and freeze some for that busy holiday morning.

Can you imagine how impressive you will look when, in the middle of everything else that's going on, you bring out home made, golden, hot fruity scones for everyone?
Have fun with the decorating, and maybe personalize the tags. The recipe is super simple. Try the recipe for yourself, then fill a few jars. I really think they make cute food gifts with a lot of style.

This week I'll be posting a few different food gift ideas, so stay tuned or bookmarked know what I mean.

Sending you the happiest wishes!

[To make the scones, follow this recipe. Directions for the Food Gift can be found below.]

Recipe: Olive Oil Cranberry & Oat Scones

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Oats
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon dried Orange Zest
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 egg
1/2 cup Olive Oil

1) In a Medium bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking powder, zest and brown sugar.
2) In another bowl, stir together all the liquid ingredients: cream, egg and oil.
3) Using a fork, toss and stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until it starts to ball up in lumps.
4) Remove all the dough onto a floured board or counter and push (or knead) the dough a few times to form a large ball. The dough will be very moist (more moist than the usual scone dough.)
5) Pat the ball into a large round disk about 6-8 inches in diameter (about 1 1/2 inches thick.)
6) Sprinkle just a little flour on the top, then using a knife cut the circle in half, then in fourths, then in eighths.7) Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet about an inch apart (*Optional - sprinkle with sugar) and bake in a preheated oven set on 350F for about 12-15 minutes or until golden and cooked through, but not too dry.***To FREEZE*** Place the baking sheet of triangles in the freezer BEFORE baking them. Let them freeze for a few hours, then bag them or put them in containers and take out for baking as needed. They can be frozen for a couple weeks. Baking may require a few more minutes.


1) In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups Flour and 1 teaspoon Baking powder. Then using a funnel, pour it into a Pint size jar.
2) For the next layer, top with 1/2 cup Oats. Then, 1 teaspoon of dried orange zest, then 1/3 cup Brown Sugar.
3) Add the 1 cup dried Cranberries as the topper.
4) Close up tight, and don't forget to copy and add these easy directions:

To Make Your Own Olive Oil Cranberry & Oat Scones:

1) In a Bowl, mix 1 egg, 1/2 cup Heavy Cream and 1/2 Cup Olive Oil.
2) Pour the Jar contents into the bowl and mix everything with a fork until combined.
3) Place the moist dough onto a floured board or counter and knead together just a couple times.
4) Form into a disk about 6-8 inches round. Cut in half, then into fourths, then into eighths.
5) Sprinkle with sugar. Bake the triangles, about an inch apart, on a parchment lined pan in a preheated 350F oven for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy!