Cornbread Dressing at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us and I’m already feeling full.     

Thanksgiving

To kick off the week I’m sharing a family recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving side – cornbread dressing. 

Thanksgiving

My family’s Thanksgiving menu is extensive – lots of casseroles and carbs – and growing up we only ever had cornbread dressing, never stuffing. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in college that I even realized that dressing was more of a southern side and that most of America noshed on stuffing.

This recipe is passed down from my mema and even though I’ve been tempted to tweak it, I can’t fathom the thought of making it any differently than she did. So while the ingredients are bread-heavy, just know that you can work it off later. It’s so worth the calories. 😉

P.S. Dressing pairs perfectly with cranberry Moscow mules!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

*Disclaimer: Every time I make this recipe, I usually Facetime my mom 20 times because she never gives me the exact measurements. “It just has to look/feel/taste right.” This last time I prepared it, I took notes so that I had the proper-ish measurements. But feel free to FaceTime Brenda if you need a second opinion. 😉

Mema Howell's Cornbread Dressing
Serves 20
a southern staple at Thanksgiving
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 50 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 50 min
Ingredients
  1. Cornbread (White Lily cornbread mix recommended)
  2. Milk (per your cornbread mix)
  3. 1 sleeve of saltine crackers
  4. 4 slices of white bread
  5. 4 boiled eggs
  6. 1-2 medium sweet onions, chopped & sautéed
  7. 6-7 cups of chicken broth
  8. Salt & pepper, to taste
  9. 2 tsp sage (optional, add to taste)
  10. 4 raw eggs (+ eggs for your cornbread)
Instructions
  1. Following the instructions on your corn bread mix, make cornbread in a large cast iron skillet or casserole dish. Be sure to oil your skillet or pan well, using Crisco or vegetable oil. (I do a recipe and a half of White Lily** using a 9-inch cast iron, plus a 6” x 9” casserole dish.)
  2. While cornbread is baking, boil your eggs. Peel, chop and set aside.
  3. Chop 1 ½ to 2 sweet onions and sauté until slightly translucent.
  4. Crumble and combine cornbread, white bread and saltine crackers in a large (4-quart) bowl.
  5. Add boiled eggs, onion and black pepper.
  6. Pour 4 cups of chicken broth to start and begin mixing. Continue adding chicken broth, ½ cup at a time until the consistency is gloopy and wet.
  7. Mix the dressing (sometimes it’s best to use your hands) well, making sure there are no big chunks of bread. The dressing will be clumpy but the cornbread and white bread should be soft and broken down.
  8. Add finely minced sage and taste.
  9. Add salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Once you’re happy with the taste and consistency, stir in 4 large raw eggs.
  11. Pour mixture into a well-oiled casserole dish and bake until golden brown at 375°F – for about 40-50 minutes.
  12. If dressing isn’t browning, bump oven up to 400°F for 5-10 minutes.
  13. Serve with giblet gravy and or cranberry sauce.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/
**White Lily Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

Happy feasting!

/ / / 

Keep scrolling for a little Friendsgiving inspo! Chaz and Caroline hosted our dinner again this year and it was perfect. Caroline, once again, outdid herself with the tablescape and decor. Thanks for having us, Bagwell’s!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving

Pimento Cheese Cookies

Anyone else guilty of circling the food table at wedding showers?   pimento cheese cookies

*raises hand*

Why are finger foods so good? For as long as I can remember, the food served at wedding showers, baby showers, hell even Mary Kay parties (circa ’98) were little bites of pure bliss. They always felt guilt-free until you realized you just consumed 15 little weenies that had been cooking in grape jelly and bbq sauce for last 3 hours – albeit, everything felt guilt-free when you were 10.

pimento cheese cookies

All that to say, at a recent wedding shower I tasted a new-to-me nibble that was so delicious I immediately found the hostess to ask her for the recipe. Shout-out to Melissa (hostess with the literal mostess) because Anna’s fall shower was pure perfection and the menu was nothing but crowd-pleasers!

pimento cheese cookies

If you’re in need of a little appetizer inspo for Friendsgiving or just want to try something new for your next dinner party, these pimento cheese cookies* are the best combination of savory and sweet … and they pair perfectly with a glass of wine. Scroll down for the recipe! 

*Editor’s Note: I went a tad over board with the pepper jelly, which you will notice in the photos below. So I recommend sticking to the ½ teaspoon measurement – the jelly will melt and spread while baking. A little goes a long way here. 😉

pimento cheese cookies

pimento cheese cookies

pimento cheese cookies

pimento cheese cookies

Pimento Cheese Cookies
Yields 24
a southern staple in cookie form
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Prep Time
2 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
2 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup refrigerated pimento cheese
  3. ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
  4. ¼ cup butter, softened
  5. ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  6. 4 Tbsp. red pepper jelly
Instructions
  1. Beat together flour and pimento cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute, until well combined.
  2. Add chopped pecans, cayenne pepper and softened butter; beat until blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  4. Place dough on a well-floured surface and roll to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch round cutter.
  5. Reroll the scraps and repeat.
  6. Arrange half of the rounds 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  7. Spoon ½ teaspoon of pepper jelly onto center of each round and top with the remaining rounds. Press the edges to seal.
  8. Bake at 400° F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to let them cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Notes
  1. Dough will need to be chilled for at least 2 hours before baking.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

Chocolate Chip + Pistachio Pancakes

It’s only Tuesday but I’m dreaming of weekend brunch. 

While I’m all for indulging at a local eatery with a curated brunch menu and bottomless mimosas, some mornings call for sleeping in and making your own breakfast (dangerously close to lunch time.)

If you’re in the mood for the latter, you will love these pistachio & chocolate chip pancakes! Keep scrolling for the recipe.

Chocolate Chip + Pistachio Pancakes
Serves 4
chocolate & pistachios are a total dream team
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Salted Honey Caramel Syrup
  1. 1 ½ cups clover honey
  2. ½ cup heavy cream
  3. 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  4. 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  5. 1 Tbsp. bourbon
  6. ¼ tsp. kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Chocolate Chip + Pistachio Pancakes
  1. 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 ¼ tsp. baking powder
  3. ¼ tsp. fine salt
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus for the pan
  6. 2 Tbsp. clover honey
  7. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1 tsp. orange zest
  9. 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
  10. ¾ cup lightly toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  11. 3 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  12. Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Salted Honey Caramel Syrup
  1. Combine honey and cream together in a deep saucepan and stir.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture registers 240°F on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, whisk in butter and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add bourbon and salt, whisk until full incorporated.
  5. Let cool before serving.
Chocolate Chip + Pistachio Pancakes
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until smooth, then add in the melted butter, honey, vanilla, orange zest and 1 ½ cups buttermilk until just combined.
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. If the batter seems very thick, stir in a little more buttermilk.
  4. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  5. Fold in the pistachios and chocolate.
  6. Place a baking sheet with a baking rack in the oven; preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  7. Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat and brush with butter.
  8. Ladle about ¼ cup batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook until light golden brown on the bottom and bubbles form on the surface, approximately 2 minutes.
  9. Carefully flip the pancakes and continue cooking until golden brown on the reverse side, approximately another 2 minutes.
  10. Transfer the cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
  11. To serve, stack 3 pancakes on each plate – drizzle salted honey caramel syrup and top with pomegranate seeds. Best enjoyed while hot.
Notes
  1. The syrup can be made up to 3 days ahead. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and reheat before using.
Adapted from Bobby Flay
Adapted from Bobby Flay
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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A Southerner’s Hummus

Your friends called. They want you to bring this boiled peanut hummus to their 4th of July party.

Seriously though, can we please make boiled peanut hummus a thing?

Like when brussel sprouts started popping up on every menu and chicken & waffles became the go-to brunch meal. I’d like to see James Beard nominated chefs do more with boiled peanuts. It’s such a southern staple!   

The recipe includes your typical hummus ingredients but swapping out the chickpeas for boiled peanuts changes the flavor in the best way possible. Scroll down for the recipe!

 

Boiled Peanut Hummus
Yields 1
a southerner's spin on a middle-eastern dip
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup shelled, boiled peanuts
  2. 2 Tbsp. tahini
  3. 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  4. ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  5. ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  6. 1 small garlic clove
  7. 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  8. Kosher salt
  9. Chips or pita
Instructions
  1. Toss boiled peanuts, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. Slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil while the food processor is running.
  3. Continue to purée the mixture, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the hummus reaches a smooth consistency.
  4. Season with salt, to taste.
  5. Serve with chips or pita.
Adapted from Bon Appetite
Adapted from Bon Appetite
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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P.S. Recipe is kid approved too! 😉

Tiramisu

The perfect dessert for a Monday?

Anything involving espresso … ie: tiramisu.  

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend (& work buddy) Eleonora, spent Sunday with me whipping up this delicious dessert for our office. Eleonora is from Italy so she is the perfect person to make tiramisu with, not to mention she’s just so much fun to be around. I could listen to her stories and wisdom all day! 

We aimed to be authentic as possible, even ordering a moka pot to brew the espresso with. Any chance I have to cook (or live) like an Italian, I’ll gladly take it!

Though we did encounter a minor mishap with the cream and mascarpone mixture (I accidently over whipped, making butter), the overall recipe was fairly simple.

PS – my advice for creating the smooth filling is to whip the mascarpone first (medium speed) and then slowly pour in the heavy cream. Scroll down for the full recipe!

Our tiramisu was a total hit with our office so if you’re in need of a crowd-pleasing dessert, I definitely recommend adding this to your menu!

Tiramisu
Serves 12
creamy and caffeinated - a dreamy dessert!
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Ingredients
  1. 8 egg yolks
  2. ½ cup sugar
  3. ¼ cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur (optional)
  4. pinch salt
  5. 16 oz. mascarpone cheese
  6. 2 cup heavy cream
  7. 6 pkgs lady fingers or savoiardi
  8. 5 cups hot brewed espresso (you may need more or less)
  9. ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or grated bittersweet chocolate
Instructions
  1. Place the egg yolks, sugar, Kahlua, and salt in the top of a double boiler or a large bowl set over a simmering water bath. Whisk the contents constantly for 6 minutes until it becomes thick and leaves a ribbon on the surface when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. For egg safety, the temperature should reach 160°F.
  2. Remove from the water bath and set the bowl on ice to cool. Stir it occasionally.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone cheese on medium speed until fluffy.
  4. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and continue mixing on medium speed until you reach stiff peaks.
  5. When the egg mixture is completely cooled, fold the whipped mascarpone and cream mixture into the egg mixture.
Assembly
  1. Dip each lady finger one at a time into the espresso and arrange in a single layer on the bottom of your pan.
  2. Spread a third of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers. Dust the top with cocoa powder.
  3. Repeat each step until you have 3 layers.
  4. For the top and final layer, you can spread the remainder of filling or if you’re feeling a little adventurous, pipe the filling decoratively until the dish is fully covered.
  5. Dust the top with cocoa powder and chill for 24 hours to let the flavors meld and for the dessert to firm up.
Notes
  1. We left the coffee liqueur out but used a little bourbon-infused vanilla extract and really good espresso – both offering a delicious flavor.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

Lemon Blossoms

When life gives you (a bowl of) lemons (that are nearing expiration)…

…make Lemon Blossoms!

Last week, I realized I needed to use up my lemons before they went bad. Surprisingly, I opted for a sweet treat over lemonade (or a cocktail – gasp) and remembered a delicious recipe my sister had shared with me years ago. These little bites of pure lemony bliss are best when baked in mini muffin tins – making them bite size and extremely dangerous. 😉 Scroll down for the recipe!   

Lemon Blossoms
Yields 2
bites of lemony bliss
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 18½ oz. package yellow cake mix
  2. 3½ oz. package instant lemon pudding mix
  3. 4 large eggs
  4. ¾ cup vegetable oil
Glaze
  1. 4 cups powdered sugar
  2. 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 lemon, zested
  4. 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  5. 3 Tbsp. water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease your mini muffin tins with cooking spray or butter.
  3. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Once the cupcakes are baked, turn out onto a tea towel.
  6. To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water.
  7. Mix with a spoon until smooth.
  8. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze while they are still warm.
  9. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips.
  10. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in an air tight container.
Adapted from Paula Deen
Adapted from Paula Deen
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

 

Crudites & Carrot Mimosas

Crudité is like charcuterie’s West coast, vegetarian cousin.

ie: a beautiful platter of raw or lightly blanched vegetables that are frequently served as an accompaniment to dips.

While a meat and cheese board is always a crowd pleaser, it never hurts to rotate in some veggies. With Easter this weekend, I wanted to share some appetizer inspiration. For my platter, I chose colorful carrots, thinly sliced cucumbers, snap peas, heirloom tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, endive leaves and sweet mini bell peppers.

The options are endless when it comes to arranging your spread, but my general rule of thumb is to start on the on corners and work your way in. I also like to layer cutting boards and use small bowls to add a little dimension. 

Serve your crudités with carrot & orange mimosas and you’ve reached your daily veggie intake with a little bubbly too. 😉 Happy Easter!

Candied Conversations

Why spend 2+ hours making homemade candy conversation hearts when you get pick some up at Target?  

Because you can customize the messages (i.e.: “love you more than vodka“). That’s why. 😉

Candy hearts are one of my favorite sugary treats – right up there with Blow Pops and chewy Sprees. Everyone has their vice, right? The mix of nostalgia that comes with these Valentine classics and the fact that they are homemade, make them the perfect gift for your students, galentine or even co-workers. The recipe itself is super simple (the kneading is time consuming) but all in all it’s totally worth having creative control over the colors, flavors, and copy. Scroll down for the recipe!

| cookie cutter |

Homemade Conversation Candy Hearts
Yields 60
if homemade means organic, these are organic
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ tsp. unflavored gelatin powder
  2. ½ cup clear soda
  3. 6 cups powdered sugar
  4. food coloring
  5. flavored extract
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve gelatin in soda (I used Sprite).
  2. After about 5 minutes, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to melt the gelatin completely (until you cannot see any granules).
  3. Using an electric mixer, mix in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
  4. Keep adding the powdered sugar until you have stiff fondant-like dough, it will be somewhat sticky.
  5. Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar and begin kneading the dough. You may need extra powdered sugar to fight the dough’s stickiness.
  6. Divide dough to your desire – depending on how many color/flavors you want to make.
  7. Add in extras (I used mint and almond, separately) and food color. Continue to knead until the color is fully incorporated.
  8. Taste the dough to make sure the flavoring is to your liking.
  9. Roll the dough to a ¼ inch thickness and cut in to desired shapes using cookie cutters*.
  10. Lay out the candies on a baking sheet, lined with parchment.
  11. Let dry for 48 hours, flipping over the candies occasionally to ensure even drying on both sides.
  12. Once candies are completely dried out and hard, use edible markers to add your messages.
Notes
  1. *I used a 1 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and had plenty of room to write fun messages.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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More Valentine DIY’s – here & here.

| cellophane baggies |

 

Dirty Bird Nachos

As promised, I wanted to share another Super Bowl recipe in honor of the Atlanta Falcons taking on the Patriots this Sunday.

Say hello to these cheesey, spicy and slightly peachy layered chicken nachos. Chicken nachos are a classic that I’ve unintentionally ignored over the past several years. I used to eat chicken nachos at El Toreo in my hometown at least once a week during high school. Saying that out loud makes me feel a little embarrassed.  I digress.

If you love a spicyxfruit type of heat (think mango habanero) – you will love this recipe.  Scroll down for more!

Dirty Bird Nachos
Serves 4
"Rise up!" - Nachos
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1lb chicken breast or tenders
  2. salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
  3. 4 Tbsp. olive oil*
  4. 6 flour or corn tortillas
  5. 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  6. zest of 1 lime
  7. ½ cup peach preserves**
  8. 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  9. 1 ½ cup mild cheddar cheese
  10. ½ cup parmesan cheese
  11. 6 oz. goat cheese
  12. 2 jalapenos, sliced
  13. 1 small shallot, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Drizzle 3 Tbsp. olive oil over chicken and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  3. Bake chicken for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.
  4. Once chicken is cooked and cooled, slice or shred and set aside.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
  6. To make the chips, cut each tortilla into 6 triangles and place on a baking sheet in one even layer.
  7. Mix together melted butter, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, lime zest, pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle or brush mixture over each chip.
  8. Bake chips for about 8 minutes or until golden and crispy.
  9. For the spicy peach “toss sauce,” add peach preserves and Sriracha to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
  10. Pour warmed sauce over chicken and toss until completely coated.
  11. Begin layering ingredients in a cast iron skillet – chips, shredded cheeses, crumbled goat cheese, shallots, chicken and jalapenos. Repeat 3 times (ending with cheese) for 3 layers.
  12. Bake nachos at 425°F for about 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  13. Dig in!
Notes
  1. *I used a blood orange-infused olive oil, but good ol’ EVOO will work just as well.
  2. **Since peaches are not currently in season, preserves or an excellent alternative. I used peach mango preserves but any sweet fruit preserve will work well.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

 

Sriracha Maple Wings

True story: I shot this “Super Bowl” recipe a few weeks ago, thinking it wouldn’t matter that it wasn’t team-themed because it’s not like Atlanta would be in the Super Bowl or anything…

I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong. The Falcons are headed to Houston, y’all!

Before you guys think I don’t have any hometown spirit – I do. Truthfully, I hadn’t been paying attention to our wins. Also, I love the Patriots and had always planned on cheering them on come February 5th. However, as a faithful ATLien, I will be channeling my inner Samuel L. Jackson and rising up to all of Matt Ryan’s (& team’s) glory.

Woah. That is the most football-y paragraph I’ve ever written. Moving on to the wings…

This recipe marries two of my favorite flavors (sweet & spicy) and is so easy to whip up. All very crucial qualities when feeding a crowd of football fanatics. Scroll down for the recipe!

Maple Sriracha Wings
a staple amongst football fanatics
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Ingredients
  1. 2½ lbs chicken wings
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. 3 Tbsp ground ginger
  4. ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  5. 2 tsp salt
  6. ½ tsp black pepper
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 3 Tbsp water
  9. 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  10. ¾ cup pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Sift together the flour, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to make your dredging mixture.
  3. To make the egg wash, whisk together the water and eggs.
  4. Dip each wing into the flour mixture, followed by egg and finish by dredging the wing back into the flour again.
  5. Lightly oil a baking rack and place on top of a baking sheet.
  6. Arrange wings on the baking rack and spray or drizzle the tops of the wings with a little more olive oil.
  7. Bake at 375°F for about 45 to 50 minutes, flipping the wing pieces half way through the cooking time.
  8. When the wings are crispy and fully cooked toss them into the *Maple Sriracha Sauce.
  9. *While the wings are baking, prepare your sauce by slowly simmering together the Sriracha and maple syrup. Let the sauce reduce to about a half cup.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/
PS – Now that my Dirty Birds are headed to the Super Bowl, I feel like it’s necessary to honor them with a special recipe of sorts – so check back next week for some more Super Bowl party inspiration!

Hello from Highland, North Carolina

Cheers to another girls weekend in the books!

If you can’t already tell from previous trips I’ve posted about, my friend group is made mostly of very organized planners. We send out “save-the-weekend” emails months in advance, meal plan, research restaurants and make reservations – I guess you could say we’re professional vacationers at this point. 😉 Even with some planning involved, our weekend in Highlands was super low-maintenance, with athleisure and pajamas being our primary uniform. We even canceled our Saturday night dinner reservation to watch football and eat pizza – it was wonderful!

One of our best tricks for keeping the weekends fuss free and easy going is divvying up the meals. I volunteered to make an appetizer and cocktail for Friday. I’d been itching to test out a recipe from my new cookbook (thanks, Sissy!) and thought our mountain weekend would be the perfect opportunity. Naturally, I chose something bacon-based.

I put together a platter of crostinis with whiskey bacon jam, Brie cheese and pear. Talk about a crowd-pleaser. I made the jam the day before, stored in a mason jar and packed all the fixings to whip up the crostinis Friday evening. Scroll down for the recipe! 

For the cocktail, I mixed up an herbal + citrus rendition of a Moscow mule – unofficially coining it The Highland Mule. I combined all the ingredients in a pitcher, set out some rosemary and sliced grapefruit for garnish, and kept ginger beer close by in the fridge to top everything off. Both treats were delicious and more importantly, easy to travel with. 

Whiskey Bacon Jam
spreadable bacon is the new kale
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Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 lbs thick cut, peppered bacon
  2. 3 medium shallots
  3. 3 gloves of garlic
  4. 3/4 cup brewed coffee
  5. 1/3 cup whiskey
  6. 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  7. 4.5 Tbsp maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Chop bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook completely in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, stir occasionally.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Pour out all but 1 Tbsp of bacon grease and add chopped shallots and mince garlic.
  4. Saute shallots and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Slowly pour in the brewed coffee, whiskey, light brown sugar and maple syrup. Stir well.
  6. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn heat to low, simmering for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
  7. Once the mixture has thickened and is almost glazelike, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  8. Combine mixture and cooked bacon in a food processor or blender.
  9. Pulse until the mixture is a spreadable consistency, with visible bits of bacon.
  10. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
  11. For the crostini - spread jam on to toasted rounds of a French loaf. Top with slices of Brie cheese and pear.
  12. **This recipe yields about 7 oz. of jam.
Notes
  1. The jam is good in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Adapted from Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook
Adapted from Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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The most special part of the weekend was hiking to Sunset Rock, where our dear Allison is getting married this April (this was her first time seeing the ‘venue’!). We poured champagne, Alli made a toast and tears may or may not have been shed.  It seems the older we get, the more sentimental we become. I think we all cherish these weekends because we know in a few short years it will be husbands and children occupying most of our time and girls trips will be few and far between. So until then, we’ll load down the car with cases of wine and pimento cheese and trek to any city, cabin, condo we can!

Check out our first girls trip to Highlands, NC here and last year’s staycation here!

P.S. Don’t forget to check back this afternoon (3 pm EST) for an exciting giveaway! 

Fave Five: Seasonal Snacking

We’re practically 10 days away from Christmas and I’m over here just hoping I can Amazon Prime my way through the 25th. 

I’m assuming some of you may be in the same boat. So for the third installment of Fave Five, I’m recapping some of my best holiday nibbles (& cocktail) to accompany your online shopping binge. And when the delivery man fails you – hopefully he won’t…but if he does – you can gift homemade treats and spread some Christmas calories cheer.  

| Winter White Martini

| Sissy’s Sausage Balls

| Christmas Crostinis

| Caramel Bacon Popcorn

| Chocolate-dipped Fortune Cookies

For more holiday merriment, check out this fun DIY.

Spiked Hot Xoco

Sometimes all you need in life is a warm cup of hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and a splash of Baileys. 

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…Or a heavy pour of Baileys – it’s up to you and I don’t judge. 

While fall may be my favorite season, the holidays are my favorite time of year. As we pulled out the Christmas décor and blasted Glow in the living room it only seemed fitting that we sipped a hot toddy as well. So just in time for the cold weather, let me introduce you to your new favorite nightcap – Spiked Hot Xocolatl. 

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I chose to upgrade the standard hot cocoa ingredients with Xocolatl’s Vanilla & Cinnamon Spiced Drinking Chocolate and homemade marshmallows. (Bailey’s was a no brainer – anytime you have a chance to add Irish cream to anything, do it.) Homemade mallows are optional but I highly recommend taking the time to whip up a batch. They’re easier to make than you would think and keep well. They also make great treats for teachers, co-workers, neighbors… hell I’m sure the mailman even loves marshmallows. 

I followed Ina’s recipe and the results did not disappoint. Proof that when you have a stand mixer and a pound of confectioners sugar, you can accomplish anything.

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| ingredients include sugar, vanilla, corn syrup and unflavored gelatin |

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Spiked Hot Xoco
Serves 1
proof that everything is better with Bailey's
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup almond milk (or cow's milk)
  2. 3 tablespoons drinking chocolate
  3. splash of Bailey's Irish Creme or heavy cream
  4. optional: homemade marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Warm milk and drinking chocolate in a pot on the stove. Stir well.
  2. Add a splash of cream if desired.
  3. Serve in a festive mug and top with garnishes.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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May your holiday season be warm, bright and tad bit tipsy. 😉 

xo Bree

Easy as (Chocolate) Pie

Monday’s are hard but chocolate pies don’t have to be. 

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A few weeks ago, Stacey, Abbye and I put on our best domestic aprons and made Sunday dinner.  While Stacey roasted an entire chicken (recipe here) and Abbye whipped up a delicious batch of dressed up brussels – I took the easy (less healthier) route with a no frills chocolate pie. Don’t let its boring appearance fool you. I’m sure you’re like – “Bree, couldn’t you have added some whip cream or chocolate shavings to spruce it up a bit? You lazy thing you” Well, I could have but when you’re serving it with Jeni’s Ice Cream, no other additions are needed. 😉  

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Whether your pulling together a last minute dinner party or just having a mid-week chocolate craving, this recipe is easy as pie. 

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Chocolate Pie
Serves 6
a lazy girl's guide to chocolate pie
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Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pie shell
  2. ¼ cup flour
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  5. ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  6. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 2 eggs
  8. pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt stick of butter and let cool.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Pour batter into a pie shell and bake for about 35 minutes.
  5. Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream and enjoy!
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

xo Bree

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Brownies with a Secret

Remember that one time when I made avocado ice cream?

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Well, I’m back with more hidden veggie antics with a brownie recipe.

These chocolatey muffin-shaped treats are perfectly fudgey and have the vaguest hint* of “something” (read: zucchini) extra. They’re free of flour and even include a banana, so technically you’re getting fruit and veggies – winning. Now you don’t have to feel too guilty when you indulge in a brownie.. or four. 

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*Full disclosure – Stacey immediately recognized the zucchini when I had her taste test. But to my defense, the girl eats zucchini like 4 times a week. My other roomie, Kerry, was a little more impressed and couldn’t initially pinpoint what the secret ingredient was. I’m a tough critic when it comes to brownies and these were a win for me. So I’m calling it 2-1, zucchini brownies are the new thing! Scroll down for the recipe. 

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Chocolate & Zucchini Brownies
Yields 12
for when you need to eat healthy but really need to have chocolate too
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup creamy peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  2. 1 large (very ripe) banana
  3. 1 large egg
  4. ¼ cup brown rice syrup (or honey)
  5. ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. 2 tablespoons chia seeds (or ground flax seeds)
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed of excess liquid
  10. ¼ cup mini chocolate chips, plus an extra handful
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Using a cheese grater, shred 1 zucchini and squeeze/drain the excess liquid. Set aside.
  3. Combine all ingredients except zucchini and mini chocolate chips in a blender or food processor.
  4. Blend until the batter is smooth.
  5. Fold in zucchini and 1/4 cups of the mini chocolate chips.
  6. Prep a muffin tin with non-stick spray and fill each muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full.
  7. Top with the remaining mini chocolate chips.
  8. Bake for at least 30 minutes or until the tops are set.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

xo Bree