November 30, 2011

Easy Vanilla Soymilk Eggnog

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Happy EggNog Month!!!
The weather is getting colder, Christmas songs are on the radio and people are starting to plan their packed filled holiday parties with cheer. 
Recently I was given an early holiday gift from a reader who enjoyed my blog and wanted to write a guest column highlighting my blog. 
{Soooo Exciting!}
Melissa also wanted to add a little guest post here about a favorite healthy treat to serve while hosting your guests during the holiday season.

Please meet Melissa from Blog Content Guild.
Add a Healthier Twist to Eggnog With The Right Grocery List

The holidays are the perfect time to throw a party, and they’re the perfect time to reward yourself for eating healthy all year long. One thing people love to indulge in around the holidays is eggnog. As we all know, a holiday party just isn’t the same without tacky sweaters and eggnog. So, why not make your own eggnog and serve it at your holiday party? All you’ll need to do is add the right ingredients to your pre-party grocery list. Don’t worry. You won’t have to use any processed ingredients to make this beloved holiday drink, and it doesn’t have to be incredibly unhealthy. Here’s a recipe for eggnog that will warm your heart without clogging your arteries: 

Easy Vanilla Soymilk Eggnog 
Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño
Melissa C. writes about food for the Blog Content Guild. 

Ingredients you’ll need to add to your grocery list:
5 cups organic vanilla soymilk
2 cage-free, organic eggs
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 pinch of ground cloves

Split up the egg whites from the yolks.

Mix the yolks with all the spices and sugar. 

Beat the egg whites.

Pour and mix the soymilk in with the mixture of yolks and spices.

Add the egg whites in, and stir vigorously for about two minutes. 

Caveat: This recipe serves around three people. You can increase the ingredient proportions based on how many people will be attending your party.

To add a touch of decadence to this already decadent drink, you can mix in some fine spirits. Try to find some spiced organic rum and Angostura bitters. When it comes to organic rum, Crusoe is a great brand to try out, and so is Papagayo. Some people substitute bourbon or brandy for rum. So, you could do that, depending on your taste preferences. Here are the proportions of spirits you’ll need to add to your eggnog, if you want to give it an extra kick:

- ¾ a cup of bourbon, brandy, or rum
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters

The proportions above will make a pretty strong drink. If you’d prefer just a hint of alcohol, try a ½ a cup of bourbon, brandy, or rum instead. Mix the alcohol in well, chill your eggnog, warm up around a fire with your friends, and have a wonderful evening! 

I really thought this looked to be a delicious recipe so you know me... I whipped it up the night she sent over the recipe and took a couple of pic's for you all to see. The results were a very light and flavorful eggnog without the heavy weight on your stomach, loved it.
Thanks again Melissa for sharing this fabulous holiday recipe.
Happy National Eggnog Month.

*Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 

November 29, 2011

Have A Sassy Little Holiday

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Ok, so I need to know who is getting into the holiday spirit???
I am!!!!

The time for cutting the tree down and trimming the house with all the holiday decorations is right around the corner and really puts me in the Christmas mood.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday...yup, tis the season to shop, shop shop!!! 

Now I know you are probably thinking I am one of those 2am morning crazies but in actuallity I am very reserved when it comes to my holiday shopping. I pick through sales and shop all year long, whether it's for birthdays or the holidays, it gives me time to pick out some really thoughtful gifts... and it doesn't create a massive dent in my wallet all in one shot. {yay}

With that being said... I do a little indulging. I mean, how else are you going to kick off the holidays season? 

Some time ago I found this amazing website, Flirty Aprons and they have just that. Some of the cutest and sassiest little kitchen apparel that you have ever seen. I bought the Luscious Lemons Flirty Apron and I LOVE it. 

So when I popped on yesterday for their Cyber Monday {which I am told is extending until Tuesday} I saw this amazing apron and I had to have it.
Is this not the cutest thing you have ever seen??? 
I am in love, and had to have it.

Now the question is... who is the lucky gal that I am going to give it to?

Tis the season!! <3

November 28, 2011

Kale and Jalapeño Breakfast Mini 'Muffins' {Secret Recipe Club}

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Welcome, welcome, welcome to November's Secret Recipe Club reveal. Hooray!

This is my second Secret Recipe Club reveal and I am so excited to be apart of this club for another month in a row... plus I have an excellent fellow blogger and recipe to share with you. 
This month I was giving the blog Cookin' With Cyndi  to search around and share a recipe that Cyndi has made. Cyndi is a California mom that loves to cook and her blog is just packed full with excellent dishes and recipes. There were quite a lot to choose from and I was watering at the mouth with recipes like her Winter Vegetable HashUberbackener Spinat mit Kase (Baked Spinach with Cheese) and a sweet taste with Cocoa Krispies Treats

It took me a little time to pick my recipe to repeat but when I saw these breakfast muffins I knew this is what I had to make... especially with the holiday weekend approaching.

These amazing little muffin poppers were perfect for having guests over or just to have on a Sunday breakfast. They are easy to make and even more fun to pop. The jalapeño's gave each 'muffin' a little heat which was a lovely combination to the kale and sharp cheeses. 

Paul and I went crazy for these and defiantly ate more than our fair share of the batch {what can I say, we couldn't help it}.

Delicious, portion sized and absolutely fun to pop, these 'muffins' are the perfect addition to your morning plate. Paired with a little sour cream and a glass of oj and you are set with a fantastic meal. 

Thanks so much for another fun Secret Recipe Club month and I can not wait to see what everyone else from Group D has come up with for Novembers delicious reveal.
Kale and Jalapeño Breakfast Mini 'Muffins'
Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 
Recipe adopted by Cookin' With Cyndi {and Kalyn's Kitchen}

1 bunch Kale, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (1/2 tsp. teaspoon minced garlic)
1 jalapeño, minced 
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup grated cheese (I used a blend of asiago, romano, and parmesan)
1/4 cup 100% whole wheat bread crumbs
6 eggs, beaten well
1/2 tsp spike seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut off kale stems and discard, then wash kale leaves and dry well. Pile kale leaves up on top of each other and cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide, then turn cutting board the other way and cut again so you have squares just under an inch square. Chop onion into pieces about 1/2 inch.
Heat olive oil in large heavy frying pan, then add onions and saute 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño and sauté about 2 more minutes, then add kale, turning over as it wilts and sauteeing about 5 minutes, or until kale is significantly wilted and softened.
Put sauteed vegetables into large bowl and add soy sauce, cheese, bread crumbs, beaten eggs, and spike seasoning. Stir gently until ingredients are well distributed. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray (I use silicone ones) and fill with egg mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes until eggs are well set and the top is lightly browned. 

Serve hot. This is good with low-fat sour cream or salsa.


November 25, 2011

Leftover Goat Cheese Fritter and Tomato Stacks

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and got to spend it with all their family, friends and loved ones.

I was lucky enough to spend the day in Virginia with some amazing southern food made by Paul's mother, mixed with great family, some football, a little scrabble and some vino. Wonderful. The day was perfect.

Now I am sure everyone has a ton of leftover recipes coming out over the next couple of days and I have one to add to the bunch, but it's not exactly a Thanksgiving traditional leftover.

{Don't run away, it is still delicious} 
I had an amazing salad the other night but as delicious as it was, there was a lot left on my plate and I just couldn't finish it all. But lucky for me, I had plans for my delicious little fritter. 

There are always ways to re-vamp leftovers and for me, anything with cheese has a ton of opportunities. This is very simple but with what was in the house it was amazing. I normally make my own fritters for my salads but when I have leftovers that were made for me, those won't go to waste.
Leftover Goat Cheese Fritter and Tomato Stacks
Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 

leftover goat cheese fritters (or make recipe below)
heirloom tomatos, thickly sliced
fresh basil, minced

Heat fritter in a convectional/ toaster oven for 1-3 minutes on medium heat until cheese is warmed inside. Layer on top of tomato slices. Top with fresh basil.
Goat Cheese Fritter
8 oz goat cheese
2 eggs
dried bread crumbs (I recommend using plain bread crumbs, not Panko for this recipe)
1/2 cup canola oil

Cut the goat cheese into 12 slices (freeze the goat cheese before slicing to make the cut easier). Batter the cheese in beaten eggs, and coat all over with breadcrumbs. Fry up each cheese slice in a couple inches of oil for 1-2 min on each side until breadcrumbs are nice and crispy. 
Remove fritter with a slotted spoon and let cool on a paper towel. 


November 23, 2011

Mini Pumpkin-Nutella Whoopie Pies

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*Exciting news… I am going to be re-vamping my site right after the holidays. I am working with a fabulous blogger who I LOVE and we are throwing around some great ideas to really give my page a nice cozy feeling with some color and {spice}. Stay tuned*

So it was a two day work week for me, how could you go wrong, and I am so excited to be out of here and ready to hit the long road south to Virginia. I am also excited because rumor has it we will all be hitting up Black Friday “Virginia-style” and I can wait to see what goodies I come across for the holidays.

So I had to share this amazing dessert I put together. I actually had made these when Paul and I took our little vacation to The Von Trapp Lodge in Vermont a couple of weeks ago and they were gone before I could even take pictures of them to share with you all. Well that only meant two things… everyone MUST have thought they were delicious and I HAVE to make them again. So that is just what I did, and with no remorse.
I saw these in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, one of the many reasons I chose the magazine for my Big Giveaway, and the thought of these pies made me so excited I had to make them. Knowing that portions are sometimes always a problem, I really wanted to make mini’s instead of the big pies in hopes that one {or two} would be enough to suffice my craving, and I was right. I also made the outer cookie pie before we headed up to Vermont and I didn’t know the kitchen accommodations and didn’t want to attempt to put together the filling if it was going to be a mess so I did what any sensible woman would have done… I whipped out the Nutella!!!

These whoopee pies were nom nomm! I had never had a whoppie pie before but I loved these so clearly I must like them. They were fairly simple to make and switching the filling for Nutella was the added ease in putting these pies together quick and easy. I put them in the refrigerator for a little to set the pies and they were ready to be served and popped.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time for pies, and although these are a little unconventional, they work all the same to satisfy that chocolaty pumpkin craving around the holidays.
Mini Pumpkin-Nutella Whoopie Pies
Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño
Recipe adopted by Everyday Food Magazine

2 cups all-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Fine Salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pure pumpkin Puree
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Nutella spread, for filling
dust with confectioner's sugar to serve

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, melted butter and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and whisk just until combined.

Drop dough in 2 Tablespoons mounds, 1 inch apart on to two parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until tops of cookies spring back when gently pressed, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room temperature butter, 1/2 cup heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar on medium high until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread filling on flat side of half of a cookie, sandwich with remaining cookie.

To serve, dust with confectioner's sugar.
Makes about 35 pies.

Come see these and much more at the Cookie Swap!!!

November 22, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash with Sausage and Apple Stuffing

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One more day till we leave for the beautiful beaches of Virginia for Thanksgiving weekend!

The house is being cleaned, the pups are taken care of and we’re almost finished packing our bags and getting the new car prepped for a nice 8 hour drive. The past couple of Thanksgivings have been spent with my family so it will be a nice change of pace to head south to Paul’s mom’s house and have Thanksgiving southern style. I haven’t been down to Virginia in quite some time so this will be a nice treat. Hooray!!
Now being that we were going to be traveling I knew I wasn’t going to be cooking anything, at least that I know of, for Thanksgiving dinner so I had a few recipes in mind that are a few of my holiday need-to-cook recipes. I made an outrageous Pumpkin Gnocci with Crisped Sage and Parmesan- Regiano that not only rocked me but I impressed myself that I was able to cook something so wonderful. I also put together a perfect pumpkin breakfast with Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes and a tall Pumpkin Spiced Latte… yum.
So close to a month ago I was over a girlfriends house for an early Sunday dinner and she had made stuffed pumpkins. They were delicious but as we were eating she was telling me all the things she would change about the recipe to make it sweeter and more rich… and this got me thinking. I had a perfect idea of what I would want in a stuffed squash and this sparked this recipe.

I really like the idea of the acorn squashes because when halved, they are small enough bowls to be a full serving meal. Plus, even though it’s not as cute as an adorable pumpkin, it still has a very festive feel with the green and yellow exterior colors of the squash. And to go even farther, it’s that heart healthy squash that is flourishing in every farmers market and grocery store everywhere you turn, so if I were you I would get in on the fun of this beautiful fall veggie.
Now with all my Thanksgiving Day magazines coming in prepping me for the most beautiful and collaborative dinner menus, I had come across some stuffing ingredients that really peaked my tastebuds. I thought sweet sausage, apples and onions would be a fabulous base to a dish, so why not as a stuffing in an acorn squash. Done and done. The smell from these bad boys was intoxicating and we couldn’t wait to dig in.

I also loved this because each half was, as I said, a whole meal which left lots of left over’s for lunch the next day. You know I had to brag a little in the lunch room when everyone pulled out their salads and bologna sandwiches and I had my beautiful Stuffed Acorn Squash.
Beautiful presentation and absolutely delicious… I think would be a must-have on the Thanksgiving table.
Well, it’s back to cleaning and packing. :)
Roasted Acorn Squash with Sausage and Apple Stuffing

2 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 lb. each), rinsed

8 ounces bulk pork sausage
2 sweet apples such as Fuji (1 lb. total), peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
½ cup fresh sage leaves, washed, dried, and minced

3 tbsp pecans, chopped
3 tbsp dried cranberries
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Slice the squash 
lengthwise in half and then take a sliver off the bottom ends off so when filling later the squash lays flat on the pan. Scoop out and discard the seeds.

Pour a thin film of olive oil into a large, heavy baking dish. Place the squash halves, cut side down, into the dish. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the squash is soft and tender but not mushy.

While the squash is roasting, pour a little olive oil into a large heavy skillet and sauté the sausages, onion, garlic, celery, apple, cranberries, thyme and sage leaves until the sausage is no longer pink; stir often until apples are tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in pecans and dried cranberries. Turn the contents of the skillet out into a large bowl and mix in the egg and breadcrumbs and set aside.

Place a bit of butter in each squash half. Fill each half with enough stuffing mixture to create a heaping mound in each half. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve with salt and pepper.

Recipe and Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 

November 21, 2011

And The Winner Is???

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Our ONE lucky reader, for the chance to win a year subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine and help start their own magazine empire is...

Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie said...
My favorite part of that magazine is the photos.

November 11, 2011 10:10 AM  

Congratulations Erin! And I have to agree, I think cooking photos, especially Martha's Everyday Food, are wonderful. They completely draw me in and more too often make me a little hungry. I hope you enjoy your free year subscription and thank you everyone who entered to win this wonderful giveaway.

I think my next giveaway will be an accomplishment of 100 blogger followers, that would be amazing!!!

*Thanks everyone and have a wonderful holiday!!* 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Crisped Sage and Parmigianno-Reggiano

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So so happy. 

Late Friday night I was finally able to pick Paul up from the airport and bring him home from Air Assault School. He passed one of the toughest trainings in the Army and just as proud and excited I was for him, I was also so as happy he was finally home.

There is something special about when Paul goes away for Army, obviously all of the wonderful and amazing things he is doing for our country but it does something wonderful for our relationship as well. When Paul is away, we somehow resort back to high school when you passed love notes and giggled when you heard from each other on the phone. Of course all of this is more recently done now my cell phones, text messages, and skype but the idea being that when he goes away, we get the chance to miss each other. When you spend every moment with someone and living with them, you sometimes forget how great it can be to just get excited to call them, catch up, have a little mushy sweet-talk on the phone and actually miss them.
Anyways, that’s my long-winded view explaining how although I love him and love being with him, it’s wonderful to have the house to myself every so often with a good chick flick, a glass of vino and a surprising sweet phone call from a handsome soldier.

In the end, I am so happy he is finally back home and with an extra badge on his chest that I know just how hard he worked for and earned. Saturday came and we went to his units Hail and Farewell, where new were introduced and a special long-time veteran was retiring. It was such an excellent night with fabulous beer (brewed by a retired unit soldier himself), touching stories and wonderfully amazing people. Sunday we SLEPT IN, and it was wonderful…perfect end to a relaxing and fun weekend.
So here we are now in the week of Thanksgiving, I can’t believe that!!! I mean where did the fall go? Or was it every really ever here?

Well, either way, fall has been all over my kitchen. I had been staring at this recipe for a long time trying to decide when to make it, knowing that if I could actually pull this one off, it would be an excellent dinner, one for the books. Now, this isn’t one of those dinner that your going to throw together in 20 min and be ready to chow… it takes patience and time but I can promise you it’s all worth the wait.
I actually saw this recipe with carrots, but the soft orange coloring mixed with my obsessive love for fall cooking put pumpkin directly in my head and I couldn’t turn back. I did my research to find the absolute best version of this recipe, found it and nailed it. This dinner had substance, flavor, texture, and elegance all wrapped up into one main dish. It was perfect.

So yes, a perfect weekend and a perfect dish... all shared with my perfect wonderful guy. {haha}

Make time for each other with special meals or special moments, but also enjoy the time you have to miss each's just as special. 
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Crisped Sage and Parmigianno-Reggiano

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, about 4 medium, scrubbed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch allspice
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
Salted water, for cooking gnocchi
1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup shaved Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese

Allow the cooked potatoes to cool slightly, then carefully peel while holding potato with a kitchen mitt. While still hot, puree potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool completely before proceeding. Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, egg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper and mix well. Gradually add in enough flour to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Brieflyknead the dough to incorporate the flour, being careful not to overwork.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and place 1 piece on a lightly floured work surface. Roll piece into a long rope, about 1/2-inch in diameter, flouring lightly if needed. Slice the rope into pieces 1/2-inch wide. Holding one piece at a time, roll the tines of a fork against the dough until slight indentations are formed. Repeat with each piece of dough, setting formed gnocchi on a floured kitchen towel or baking sheet.
Immediately add the gnocchi to the boiling water and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes once they have risen to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon or skimmer and set aside briefly while making the sauce.

In a skillet over high heat add the butter when pan is very hot. Let butter sit undisturbed until almost all melted and outside edges have begun to caramelize. Quickly swirl the skillet and add minced sage. Let cook for 30 seconds longer, season with salt and pepper to taste and add gnocchi to skillet to toss with sauce and rewarm if necessary. 

Serve immediately with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 
Recipe adopted by Emeril Lagasse


November 18, 2011

Air Assault, Air Assault, Air Assault Sugar Cookies

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 Air Assault, Air Assault, Air Assault!!!!

This is all my man was yelling every time his left foot hit the ground during ruck sack marches or formation. Paul has been at Air Assault school for the last two weeks and just got home late last night. During that time, from what I have heard, he's endured some of the toughest training that the military has to offer... being 'dubbed' the 10 hardest days in the Army.

Paul was learning to repel from 90 ft up off of buildings and out of helicopters. The class is not only physically exhausting but mentally as well as each soldier needs to not only know exactly what they are doing, but they need to perform as well otherwise results could be fatal. 

The 1st day, day zero, one of the most physically and mentally tough stages of the course, 63 soldiers had already failed out of the class and were sent home. WHAT?!?!?! I know, I was shocked... all this time to fly to Georgia and on the 1st training day your already out. That is seriously intense. 

The days went on like this but without such mass numbers until around day 7 when they had their huge test, to which I believe it was expected to lose another 50 cadets. This was all so smoking to me because he was now at a school just like the ones we watch on the History Channel about military trainings and the toughness and detailed smartness these soldiers have to go though.

Official Air Assault Badge {of which I tried to replicate}

Needless to say I was proud enough that Paul was up to the challenge, trained and trained before he left and I knew he was going to put all he had into this school.

We didn't get to talk much, most days not at all, but I would get 1 or 2 texts at random parts of the morning or day with a quick hello or love you {mostly at around 3:30am - wake-up time}. Yikes! But not hearing from him meant he was still in the class so my fingers were crossed and I prayed he would just do his best and make it through.
Well, I am here to tell you that he passed!!!

AHHHHHHHHHH, I was so excited. This was so huge for him and I was so unbelievably proud. I picked him up at the airport last night at about 9:30pm and as soar and beat up as he was, it was so amazing to see him and have him back home with me.

For his little homecoming I made him my sloppy version of Air Assault Sugar Cookies. {Not to bakers, writing in gel is really hard and too messy for me to ever do again}. I covered all grounds though, the actual Air Assault badge that he had received, little Army guys, stick figure repelling from a helicopter {90ft off a UH-60, Blackhawk helicopter to be exact} and of course his Army camp helmet. 

He laughed at my efforts and thought they were the cutest things. I tried. lol. But he ate a bunch and then we were off to bed. 

All I can say is that I couldn't be happier or more proud of him and I am so happy he is back home with me now. 
He is such a wonderful man and truly is 'Army Strong', lol. 

Congrats Baby!!!