Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day Twelve: Cherry White Chocolate Cookies Recipe

Today is the twelfth day of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences!  It went by so quickly for me, and I hope you all found it enjoyable.  There were some delicious treats that were shared, a guest blog post by my husband, and a milestone 100th post for the blog!  On the final day of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences, the recipe is for cherry white chocolate cookies. 

These cookies are chewy, sweet and tart.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved cherries.  Cherries are a super fruit and an antioxidant powerhouse.  So, I am not sure if I am decreasing the benefits of cherries by baking them in a buttery, sweet cookie, but at least we are eating our fruits.  Try this unique cookie flavor combination and let me know what you think!

Cherry White Chocolate Cookies Recipe
Recipe adapted from Very Best Baking
Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies
Preheat oven to 375o

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.   This will take 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Next, gradually beat in flour mixture until all is well incorporated.  Now stir in white chocolate chips and chopped cherries.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookies from the trays and place on a cooling rack.  I find that doing this quickly upon taking the cookies out of the oven works best so the white chocolate chips don't stick to the tray. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day Eleven: Gingerbread Cake Pops Recipe

The Day 10 recipe of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is for Gingerbread Cake Pops!  Cake pops are one of the hottest desserts to serve your guests.  They are so fun to eat and come in some many different flavor combinations.  For these cake pops, I wanted to use popular holiday flavors in this fun trendy dessert style.  I served these cake pops on a festive platter, but they can also be served on lollipop sticks standing up in a glass or vase.  Hope you enjoy!     

Gingerbread Cake Pops Recipe
Makes about 20 pops
Preheat oven to 350o

Gingerbread Cake
1 box of Gingerbread Cake Mix (plus, water, oil and eggs)

Cream Cheese Frosting Mixer
6 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar

12 ounces white melting chocolate

Prepare the gingerbread cake according to the recipe on the packaging. Bake in a 9x9 pan for specified time on packaging. Once cooked, allow cake to cool completely. Once the cake has cooled completely, crumble the cake into a large bowl. 

Next, it is time to make the frosting.  In a medium bowl, add in the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Beat the ingredients together until well blended.  Now add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time until smooth. 

Now, with the large bowl with the crumbled cake, spoon about half of the frosting over the cake.  Mix well and check the texture.  You want the cake to be moistened by the frosting in order to hold the cake together in a ball form.  Add additional frosting until the cake/frosting mixture is firm. 

Roll the cake into 2 inch balls and place them onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Place all of the cake balls into the refrigerator and allow to set for at least an hour. 

Once the cake pops are set, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.  Dip each cake pop into the chocolate to fully coat.  Place them back onto the wax paper and place sprinkles on top to decorate.  Allow the chocolate to harden onto the cake pops before serving.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day Ten: Baileys Spiced Cake Cocktail

The Day 10 recipe of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is for Baileys Spiced Cake Cocktails!  Baileys is perfect to mix into any holiday drink.  The smooth, creaminess of Baileys goes well in so many drink combinations, hot or cold.  This cocktail tastes like liquid spiced cake!  You have to try this, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Baileys Spiced Cake Cocktail Recipe
Makes 1 cocktail

2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
1 ounce Cake flavored vodka
Dash of nutmeg

In a cocktail shaker,  mix 4-5 pieces of ice, Baileys, and vodka. Shake the shaker to mix the ingredients together.  Pour the cocktail into a small glass or martini glass.  Top with a dash of nutmeg and enjoy! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day Nine: Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints Recipe

The Day 9 recipe of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is for Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints!  These cookies are buttery and delicious.  Shortbreads are a butter based cookie that, to me, just sings the holidays!  These cookies are easy to make with short list of ingredients, but don’t let that fool you.  This simple combination of ingredients allows the different flavors to all shine through.      

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints Recipe
Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes
Makes approximately 42 cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon water
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the softened butter, sugar and almond extract.  Beat at medium speed for about 2-3 minutes, scraping bowl often, until creamy.  Next, add flour and beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.   Now, cover the dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.

Heat oven to 350°F.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place cookies 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.   Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb (edges may crack slightly).  Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake 14-16 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheets, then remove to cooling rack.  Cool completely.

Combine all glaze ingredients in small bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.

1)      You can use any of your favorite jam flavors. 
2)      To drizzle the glaze over the cookies, I used a sandwich baggie.  I spooned all of the frosting into the bag, cut a small part of one of the corners off the bag and squeeze the glaze over the cookies.
3)      These cookies would also be good with melted white chocolate drizzled over top instead of the glaze. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day Eight: Pumpkin Scones Recipe

The Day 8 recipe of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is for Pumpkin Scones!  For me, pumpkin flavored treats isn’t just for the Fall.  In my house, we enjoy pumpkin flavor into the winter months.  Pumpkin is always spiced with the warmest of spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, which is perfect for winter too. 

These scones are beautiful and delicious.  The scone is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Plus, they are topped with a sweet and spiced frosting.  Have these for an indulgent breakfast or as an afternoon snack. 

Pumpkin Scones Recipe
Recipe adapted from Sweet Pea Kitchen
Makes 12 Scones
Preheat oven 425o

For the Scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg
For the Powdered Sugar Glaze:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
For the Spiced Glaze:
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 425o. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with fit the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.   Add the butter and blend it  into the flour mixture with your hands.  Then, mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, heavy cream and egg.   Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball.  Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 4 inches by 12 inches.  Use a large knife to slice the dough making three equal portions.  Cut each of the portions in an X pattern (four pieces) so you end up with 12 triangular slices of dough.  Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

While the scones are cooling, make the powdered sugar glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. When scones are cool, spread the plain glaze over the top of each scone. Allow to firm.

While the powdered sugar glaze is firming, combine all of the ingredients for the spiced glaze. Drizzle over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (about an hour).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day Seven: Mulled Cider Recipe

Day 7 recipe of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is Mulled Cider!  This warm cider is perfect for those cold winter days.  The aromatic spices steeped into the sweet cider will make you fall in love with this easy recipe.  Plus, your entire house will fill with the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you are in the mood, you can kick this mulled cider up a notch by adding a shot of your favorite rum to your cup before serving. 
Mulled Cider Recipe
Serves 12-16

1 gallon of apple cider
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 orange
Rum {optional}

In a large crock pot, pour in the gallon of apple cider.  Next whisk in the pumpkin pie spice.   This will be difficult to fully integrate into the cider, but as the cider warms, the spices will mix in better. 

Cut the orange in half and place both halves into the cider, cut side down.  Warm the cider on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours before serving.  Ladle cider into mugs to serve. 

If you would like to add rum to your cider, pour one ounce of rum into your mug, top off with cider. 

1)  Home alone and really in the mood for mulled cider?  No problem.  I tried this the other day and it worked.  In a mug, mix cider, 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin spice and 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest.  Microwave until warm, about 2 minutes, and enjoy! 
2)  Cut this recipe in half or even quarter it if you are having a smaller gathering. 
3)  If you don't have a crock pot, this can also be made on the stove top.  Simmer for 2-3 hours until warm and infused.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day Six: Red Velvet Trifle Recipe

Day 6 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is upon us!  Today is a big day because it marks two big milestones; 1) we are halfway through the Christmas Indulgences posts and 2) this is the 100th blog post on PammiCakes Recipes!  Being a blogger has been such an amazing adventure, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me and reads the blog!  I am having a blast trying new recipes and DIY projects, then sharing them all with you.  I never thought that my MBA Marketing class project of creating a personal brand would have turned into a hobby for me in the future.    

Today the recipe for the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences is Red Velvet Trifle!  This recipe might be my favorite recipe that has been featured in the 12 Days so far.  Red velvet cake is so moist and delicious with its subtle chocolate undertones and vibrant red color.  Trifles are so easy and versatile that you can use any flavor combination you love to create the perfect dessert.  Trifle is a layered dessert that usually consists of 3-4 different elements layered together in a glass bowl.  This trifle consists of red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, homemade whipped cream and white chocolate chips {YUMMY}.  This dessert will definitely be the hit of your holiday dessert table.  As you can see from the photos, I made individual servings of the trifle, but you could use one large glass bowl for a larger crowd. 

Red Velvet Trifle Recipe
Serves 12-18
Preheat oven 350o

Red Velvet Cake
1 box of Red Velvet Cake Mix (plus, water, oil and eggs)

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Whipped Cream
2 cups cold heavy cream

6 ounces white chocolate chips

Prepare red velvet cake according to the recipe on the packaging.  Bake in a 9x13 pan for specified time on packaging.  Once cooked, allow cake to cool completely.  Once the cake has cooled completely, cut the cake in to small 1 inch cubes. 

In the meantime, you can prepare the frosting.  In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the cream cheese, butter, heavy cream and vanilla.  Next, 1 cup at a time incorporate the powdered sugar with the mixer on a low setting.  You don't want this frosting to be as stiff as a regular frosting.  We want this to be a bit softer so it spreads easier over the layers of the trifle.  Set frosting aside. 

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on medium/high for 2-3 minutes.  Watch this cream as you don't want to over beat it, but you want to have nice, stiff peaks. 

In your trifle bowl, glass bowl, individual bowls or wine glasses add a layer of your cubed red velvet cake.  Next, spoon your frosting over the cake.  Then add the whipped cream and top with a sprinkle of white chocolate chips.  Now, repeat those layers and top with Christmas sprinkles!  Enjoy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day Five: Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe

For Day 5 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences, it is all about tart cranberry orange bread.  I love making quick breads.  They are easy and the perfect pastry to make when you are in a pinch for a hostess gift.  This bread is perfect for breakfast, snacks or served along with a cup of tea.

The flavor combination of cranberries and oranges, to me, is one of the best pairs to incorporate into breads or muffins.  I love the tart, fresh cranberries mixed with the tangy orange, and balanced out by the sweet bread.  This bread would be a perfect addition to you dessert buffet or a great accompaniment to your Christmas breakfast.  I hope you enjoy!   
Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe
Makes one 9x5 inch loaf
Preheat oven 350o
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from 1 orange
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 tablespoon melted butter
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

In a large bowl, mix sugar and orange zest.  With your hands, massage the zest and sugar together to infuse the sugar with the orange flavor.  Now, mix in both flours, baking powder and salt. 

Next, incorporate the orange juice, egg whites, butter and vegetable oil.  Whisk together until smooth.  Fold in the fresh cranberries and walnuts with a spatula. 

Line the bottom and sides of the loaf pan with wax paper.  Pour the bread batter into the lined loaf pan and place into the center of the oven.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Once the bread is cooked, let the bread cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, remove onto a cooking rack.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day Four: Poinsettia Sparkler Cocktail Recipe

The Poinsettia Sparkler is the fourth recipe on the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences.  The Poinsettia Sparkler is a sparkling wine or champagne cocktail that is the perfect match for any of your holiday gatherings.  This drink is smooth, tart, bubbly, festive and very easy to drink. 

This cocktail is the perfect way to great your guests for your holiday party. Wouldn't these look beautiful served on a silver platter?  Who wouldn’t feel welcomed and special being presented with these cocktails?  I know I would.  These cocktails are perfect for a celebratory cocktail party, dinner party or brunch.  Top them off with some fresh cranberries that will float on top for a gorgeous garnish. 

Poinsettia Sparkler Cocktail Recipe
Serves 1
Sparkling white wine
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3 ounces cranberry juice
Fresh cranberries

Chill a champagne flute with ice for a few minutes.  Discard ice.  Next, pour the Cointreau and cranberry juice into the chilled champagne flute.  Stir them and top off the rest of the flute with the sparkling wine.  Garnish with fresh cranberries.
1)      This cocktail can be made non-alcoholic by using sparkling cider or tonic water.
2)       Want to kick it up a knotch?  Add one ounce of vodka or tequila to the drink.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day Three: Fudge Filled Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

Readers, you are in luck!  Because I loved this dessert treat so much, Pamela has allowed me, her husband Bill, to be her guest blogger on day 3 of the Pammicakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences.  These Fudge Filled Peanut Butter Cookies are unbelievable.  Pamela baked this amazing stack of cookies that our families were fortunate enough to get to enjoy during this holiday season.  In about 4 days, I probably had 15 of these in 3 different houses.  Mmmmmmm!

As you would expect, the combination of the peanut butter and the chocolate are perfect.  The sweet and rich tastes are complimented well by the soft texture.  Although the pictures Pamela took illustrate a striking resemblance to hamburgers, they certainly are not!  You’d be foolish not to start baking these cookies immediately!

Fudge Filled Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe
Recipe adapted from Host A Cookie Party
Makes 48 sandwich cookies
Preheat oven to 350o

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, unsalted
2 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Fudge Filling
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or no-stick cooking spray. 

First beat the peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs. Beat just until blended.

Then, combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Add to creamed mixture on low speed, mixing just until blended. Drop by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. 

Bake the cookies for 6 to 7 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling, microwave the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips in medium microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth when stirred. Stir in vanilla. Let cool 15 minutes. Spread generously on flat side of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat side down, to form sandwich cookies.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day Two: Challah Bread French Toast with Apple Walnut Compote Recipe

For day 2 of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences, I am bringing you Challah Bread French Toast with Apple Walnut Compote.  The perfect way to start out your day is with this indulgent breakfast!  I just stumbled into this recipe recently due to a mistake on a trip to the grocery store.  Fortunately, due to a little confusion at the grocery store, we ended up with a loaf of Italian bread and challah bread the other night for our pasta dinner.  We kept with tradition and had the Italian bread during dinner, but we saved the challah bread for the next morning’s breakfast. 

Challah is a slightly sweet, egg bread that is braided. They are truly lovely loaves of bread and such a nice treat.  It makes for the perfect base for this french toast that is savory and delicious.     The crispy pan fried outside and the soft, chewy, sweet bread on the inside is such an amazing way to kick start your day.  I made a quick apple walnut compote to serve on top the challah bread to increase the indulgency of the meal.  The warm, soft apple apples combined with the challah bread is a match made in culinary heaven. 

Bread French Toast with Apple Walnut Compote Recipe
Serves 2

Challah French Toast
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons milk
4 slices of challah bread

Apple Walnut Compote
2 apples, cored and cubed
1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

First start the compote on the stove, so it is ready once the french toast is cooked.  In a small sauce pan, add all apple walnut compote ingredients up above.  Stir the ingredients together so all the apples are coated.  Cover the sauce pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the apples are soft. 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg whites, vanilla, cinnamon and milk.  Once all ingredients are incorporated together, dip one piece of bread in the mixture at a time.  Flip to coat both sides. 

Place the egg soaked bread onto a hot griddle that has been greased. Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Serve with a hearty serving of the apple walnut compote and maple syrup.  Enjoy!

1)      This would also be delicious without the apple compote.

2)     If you don’t have apples, you can substitute pears, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or anything else you have on hand.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day One: Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints Recipe

Welcome to the first day of the PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences ! Thanks for stopping by.  I am so excited for holiday baking season!  It brings me so much joy to cook and bake for people that I love.  It must be my mix of Irish/Italian blood always cooking and baking for a small army.  I must have learned this from my mother.  At any family gathering, she always serves at least 4 vegetable sides, a main dish, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls and a table full of beautiful desserts.  It is fantastic because we always leave extra full and with at least one large grocery bag full of leftovers for the week!

Ok, onto the first holiday indulgence; Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints.  I stumbled upon this recipe while going through the Sunday paper.  My Sunday morning ritual is to go through the paper and clip my coupons before I head off to the grocery store.  I love coupons and saving money where I can!  In the weekly fliers was an advertisement featuring cookie recipes.  I started salivating immediately when I saw the chocolate caramel thumbprints photo.  These cookies combine some of my favorite things; chocolate, cookies, caramel!  Unite those three into one creation and it sounds perfect to me and my taste buds.  We tried them out the other weekend and they stood worthy of being part of the 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences.  So without further ado, I present the Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints cookies!

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints Recipe
Recipe adapted from Host A Cookie Party
Makes 4 dozen cookies
Preheat oven to 350o

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature 
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup caramel flavored topping

Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  

Beat brown sugar and butter in medium bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add egg yolks, water, vanilla and salt. Beat until well combined. Add flour and cocoa on low speed until well blended.

Beat egg whites in a shallow bowl until foamy. Place pecans in a separate shallow bowl. Measure about 2 teaspoons dough for each cookie. Form into balls by rolling between your palms. Dip each dough ball into egg whites, then roll into pecans. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Using the back of a teaspoon or your thumb, make a rounded indentation in the top of each cookie.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. It may be necessary to recreate the indentation once again with a spoon. Place about 1 teaspoon caramel topping into the indentation of each cookie. Bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for several minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

1)      As I always preach on this blog, use what you have.  If you don’t have pecans, no problem.  Use walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds instead!  They would all work really well.
2)      Invest in cookie scoops!  These help save so much time and size all the cookies the same.  This helps save time and ensuring consistency through your entire batch.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences - 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December 1st is in two days, which means Christmas is only 25 days away. Christmas is my favorite holiday because it means lots of time spent with family and friends, beautiful decorations, twinkle lights, oh yeah and lots of cookies, candies, and treats.

Join me for the 2nd annual PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences.  Starting on Saturday, December 1st, I will be sharing 12 holiday recipes with you. These recipes could include cookies, drinks, breads and other types of treats that we all love to indulge in.  So get your cookie sheets ready, your mixing bowls in order and your Christmas sprinkles organized, because we are going to be doing so serious baking, drinking and indulging over the next 12 days in preparation for the holiday. {Well it really isn’t serious; it will be lots of fun}
So join me starting tomorrow to prepare for the Christmas holiday season!

To see the 2011 PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences, follow the links below for each day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lentil Stew Recipe

Sitting down to the dinner table with a steaming bowl of hearty soup after a long, cold day is extremely satisfying.  Soup is one of my favorite things to eat in the fall and winter.  The temperature is starting to drop here in the northeast and I am on a mission to find some new soup recipes.  My sister introduced me to this lentil stew, and I am so glad she did.

This lentil stew is flavored with warm cinnamon and cumin spices that create a comforting meal.  This spice combination for the stew was a welcomed changed from the typical chicken noodle soup or tortellini soup.  This recipe serves six, so my husband and I were lucky enough to freeze two additional portions for future dinners after a long day of work.  This stew froze well and tasted just as good as it did the first night we made it. 

Lentil Stew Recipe
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, diced
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes with juices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup dried barley, rinsed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

First, heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat.  Add onions and carrots to the  hot oil, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes until soft and tender.  Next, stir in the garlic and cook for 2 additional minutes.  Now add in the cumin and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the lentils, broth, tomatoes with juices, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick to the soup pot with the onions and carrots.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Once at a boil reduce the heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes partially covered.  Add the barley to the stew, cover partially, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. 

1)      As I mentioned above, this stew freezes well.  Portion your extra stew into individual Tupperware containers to freeze for later.
2)      This stew can be made vegetarian with vegetable stock. 
3)      Serve this stew with a dollop of non-fat plain yogurt for added creaminess.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

State Nail Art - DIY

As you can see, PammiCakes Recipes has gone through a rebranding phase.  Not only will PammiCakes display delicious recipes, but now it will showcase DIY projects completed around my house.  In addition to my passion for cooking and trying new recipes, I love crafting, painting and DIYing around our home to make it represent who my husband and I are.  Luckily, my husband is extremely patient with me, because my DIY ‘to-do’ list tends to grow at a much faster rate than our completed projects. 

The challenge of DIY and craft projects keep me motivated and one of the reasons why I find DIY so much fun!  Sometimes projects can be disasters, but usually with a little creativity a solution to the problem can be fixed to make it all work out.  I hope you all enjoy these DIY additions to the blog.  I am excited to share them with you!

The first DIY project I shared a while back was our ‘new’ kitchen post.  We added a mosaic tile backsplash to our kitchen.  We definitely got a lot of help with this project from Bill’s father, but nonetheless, we had a vision and jumped in with both feet.  We were so pleased with the end result, that there was no turning back with updates and projects I wanted to take on. 

There is a small confession I need to share with you all, I am obsessed with Pinterest!  I could search on there for hours and my creative side just gets all giddy.  There are so many amazing ideas and creative people in this world.  This state nail art idea is, of course, on Pinterest and felt confident in my DIY abilities to recreate this myself.  Ok, let’s get started on how I tackled this beautiful piece of artwork.  Below are all of the items you will need. 

Things you need:
Wood board
100 Grit sandpaper
Small nails
Print out of selected state or country
Painters tape
Wall hanging bracket & nails

First, use 100 grit sandpaper over the entire board.  This will help the paint to really ‘stick’ to the piece and helps to remove any rough edges that were left over from when the board was cut.    Once the sanding is finished, wipe the board with a clean cloth to remove any dust.  We found the wood board at Michaels.  They had lots of different shapes and sizes to select from.  Plus it had the nice detailed edge that I was looking for. 

Now it is time for the paint.  We used leftover paint from a previous project (more on that in another post).  The paint was paint and primer in one (Behr Ultra Paint, Moon Rise). It only took two light coats of paint to completely cover the board.  Always use light coats, as this helps against drips and keeps the coats nice and smooth.  Allow the paint to dry completely before moving onto the next steps.  I waited about an hour. 

While waiting for the paint to dry, I printed off an enlarged outline of my desired state, Massachusetts.  To do this, I went to GoogleMaps, searched Massachusetts, then took a screen shot of the screen.  I copied the screen shot into a word document, adjusted the size of the picture and paper size.  Easy as that!  I am sure someone will have an easier way to do it, but this worked for me.  Next, cut out your state outline. 

Once the board is dry, I attached a wall hanging bracket to the back.  You can purchase these kits with the little brackets and nails at any hardware or craft store.  Make sure you do this part now while you can lay the board down flat.  It will be much more difficult to nail it in with the nails on the front.

Next, use painters tape to attach the state outline to the board.  I made rolls of tape and placed them between the board and the paper so that I had a visual of the entire outline of the state.  Now comes the fun part, nailing in all of the nails!  This will take time, but I strangely found this therapeutic.  I got into a rhythm and the next thing I knew, it was done.  Nail only about 1/3 of the nails into the board.  Make sure they secure, but also have enough height coming out of the board to loop the thread around.  I started in a corner and just went around the entire outline.  Don’t worry about nailing into the paper.  Once you have placed your nails around the entire outline, lift out the paper. 

Now we are in the home stretch.  The board looked pretty awesome with just the white background and the shiny gold nails.  I debated to leave it as is, but I moved onto my next step of adding the navy blue thread to connect it all together.  This was so much fun swinging the thread to all the different parts of the board.  I started in a corner, knotting the thread and went around the edge of the entire state, just to get it started.  Then I went crazy going all around the state in an overlapping fashion.  There was no rhyme or reason to the pattern.  Once I was happy with the thickness of the thread on the board, I decided to stop.  I honestly couldn’t tell you how much thread I used, but it was a lot!  Tie a knot around one of the nail heads once you are finished. 

I love how this came out.  We were born and raised in Massachusetts and it will be fun to display this in our home.  I apologize for not taking any photos of each stage of the project.  I completely forgot!  Hopefully it all makes sense.
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