Brittany wrote this on 29 December 2015
It is funny sometimes how things stick with you.
Years ago, (why do so many of my posts start with that…?) I was watching Giada DeLaurentiis make a pasta dish on one of her very first cooking shows, Everyday Italian. They featured the finished product first and it was wonderfully creamy and rich looking. I drooled all over the couch.
Then I heard what it was: Vodka Sauce. I wrinkled my nose and nearly changed the channel, but got caught up in all the adjectives she was using to describe the food. Tangy. Velvety. Smooth. All things I did NOT associate with vodka. So I put off doing whatever it is I was supposed to be doing (probably laundry) and watched.
Ooooh baby. It looked absolutely glorious. I mean, the dish was finished off with heavy cream and cheese. How could that be wrong?! (The correct answer to that is, it can’t.) My favorite part? Four ingredients. Four stinkin’ ingredients and you end up with this lovely, easy to make sauce that tastes extra special. And I have been making it ever since.I have mentioned before that our family likes to have an extra special pasta dish for our New Years dinner. This seafood one is a major favorite, but today’s recipe would be excellent as well. It really is a great meal for company and in my experience, adults and kids alike love the flavor. Don’t worry; the alcohol gets cooked out and the bite of the vodka mellows. No one eating this is in danger of getting schnockered. Although, what you do with any leftover vodka is your own business.
Vodka Sauce W/Spicy Sausage
Recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
I never serve this without the sausage, but obviously, you can omit it. If you don’t have sausage, this is outstanding served alongside grilled chicken. If you want to make it for company but don’t have the time to let the sauce simmer, make it a day or two ahead of time, but stop after you cook down the sauce and the vodka. Let it cool and store it in the fridge. Before you serve it, warm it gently on the stove and then continue with the recipe, adding the rest of the ingredients.
1 quart homemade or purchased plain marinara sauce
1 c vodka
1/2 c cream
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb spicy italian sausage in the casing
1 lb pasta-penne, penne rigati, fettuccine, or linguini all work well
fresh basil for garnish, if desired
In a medium sauce pan, heat the marinara sauce and the vodka together over medium heat. Bring it to a slow simmer and let the liquid evaporate until its thick again. This will take about 30 minutes, depending on your sauce. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside. Brown the sausages in their casings until cooked through, then slice into coin shaped pieces. Set aside. When the sauce has thickened and the vodka has lost its bite, add the cream. Gently heat through-do not let it bubble- and then stir in the cheese. Heat until cheese is melted and the whole sauce is smooth and creamy. Stir in the sausage and gently toss the whole thing with the pasta until coated evenly. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.
Brittany wrote this on 22 December 2015
These cookies will no doubt bring back a flood of memories for many of you. Christmas baking sessions of yesteryear, cookie exchanges of your youth, or church parties in the basement. Few trays of holiday delights would be complete without these little bites of shortbread.
Snowballs are often called Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, or jumbles. All are correct and all refer to the same kind of cookie. Originally from Europe and dating back to the middle ages, these all contain butter, flour, and a bit of sugar. The nuts and flavorings mixed in vary by region and, well, century. These days almond flavoring is often added, but I prefer to let the flavor of the pecans come through. Sometimes these can be hard and dense, but this recipe is light and tender and absolutely melt in your mouth. The pecans inside are like toasted little bits of crunchy goodness. Festive and wonderfully delightful.
Years ago, I was at a family Christmas celebration that was being hosted by my sister-in-law. She had a huge rubbermaid container of these cookies sitting on the counter and while the family tucked into them, I held back. The last I remembered, those cookies were tasteless and dry. Definitely not good eats. But I had one anyway (it WAS Christmas after all…) and it was fantastic. The best little snowball cookie ever. When I started experimenting to get the most perfect version to post here, I compared all recipes to the cookies from that one special Christmas. Turns out, the recipe from Land O’Lakes was the front runner and I never changed it. Classic and simple, these come together super fast. They look festive and absolutely lovely on a platter during the holidays and are a great recipe to make with your kids. Tasty and fantastic, they are great-no matter what you call them!
Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes)
Recipe from Land O’Lakes
2 c flour
2 c finely chopped pecans
1/4 c sugar
1 c (2 sticks) softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 325.
In the large bowl of a mixer, combine all ingredients except powdered sugar, just until blended well. Scoop by heaping teaspoonfuls and roll between your hands to form a smooth ball. Place on a lined sheet pan. These cookies won’t spread so I place them 4 by 5 on the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are just BARELY starting to brown. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and then gently toss in powdered sugar. Set on a rack and let cool completely. If desired, roll again in powdered sugar to achieve a full on white ‘snowball’ look. Store at room temperature, tightly sealed, for up to 5 days, or freeze for several months. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 15 December 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CornishHenHolidays #CollectiveBias
This may sound surprising, but cornish hens are kind of nostalgic for me.
My parents are no doubt scratching their heads right now, since I never ate them as a kid. But when my husband and I were first married and moving around during his time in the Navy, I discovered a double pack of cornish hens at the super market. It was cost effective and perfect for just the two of us so I gave them a try. Turns out they were perfect for us. I kept several tucked in the freezer at all times, and when we had company, I just roasted up a few extra. Now, three kids, three states, and three different jobs later, I find that they still make me think of those early honeymoon years.
Of course, I am talking about the Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hens. Easily recognizable and just as scrumptious as they were 15 years ago! This is probably due to the fact that they have no added hormones or steroids. Just a fresh, all natural product. They are widely available, but I found mine at Walmart in the frozen food section. Each hen is individually wrapped, protecting it from freezer burn and frost, so naturally, you can find them next to similar products, such as whole turkeys.Look at those beauties! I have been buying this product for a long time, so when they say they are wrapped for protection, they aren’t kidding! Every single hen I have ever eaten has been pulled from the packaging clean and perfect and beautiful. Definitely a sign of quality.
I know they look kind of big in the picture above, but they are just a bit bigger than my husbands hand. Perfect serving size for an adult. We usually cut one in half for my two youngest kids to split, but they love that they each get their own ‘drummie’. They make dinner feel so special but are really wonderfully easy to prepare, which makes them a shoe-in for holiday dinners. When you don’t need to roast (or want to take the time to roast) an enormous turkey, or spiral cut ham the size of Texas, try these cornish hens instead. They cook faster and are much easier to find space for in the oven! They also just naturally have more flavor to them. Wether you roast them like the recipe here, butterfly them and throw them on the grill, or even tuck them in the slow cooker, you won’t be disappointed in your results! I have mentioned before that I like to use coupons and since we don’t get a daily paper, I rely on my iPhone for discounts. I am a huge fan of the IBotta app which is incredibly easy to use. It has to be if I am going to use it! Want to give it a try? Install the Ibotta app today and get $1.50 cash back when you purchase your Tyson Cornish Hens.
Memories are a powerful thing. While this dish makes me think of those first years as a married woman, it will forever remind my kids of cozy meals and the comforting smell of dinners at home. That is a nostalgic as it gets.
Rosemary-Orange Cornish Hens W/Carrots & Onions
This dish has simple flavors with a simple technique. Roast meat on vegetables and glaze. Badda bing-badda boom.
4-Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hens, thawed
5 large carrots, scraped and cut to the size of snacking sticks
2 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings or half moons
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 T soft butter
salt and pepper
1 c orange juice
1/4 c pure maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 375. In a large roasting dish, smear the softened butter evenly around the bottom. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pull the leaves off of ONE of the rosemary sprigs, trying to leave them in large clumps. This makes it easier to remove later. Sprinkle them evenly over the vegetables and set the pan aside. Remove the packaging from the cornish hens and discard. No need to rinse these birds! Just tuck the wing tips back and under and place them on the vegetables in the roasting pan. It is fine if the hens touch but they shouldn’t be too crowded. Sprinkle the hens with just a pinch of salt and pepper (inside and out) and place the whole pan in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, simmer the orange juice, syrup and remaining rosemary sprig. Leave the herb whole so that you can remove it in one piece later. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the glaze has reduced by half and has thickened a bit, about 15 minutes, but it depends on your juice and your syrup. Set aside. After 45 minutes, check the hens. The drumsticks should move easily when wiggled and the juices should run clear when you pierce the thick part of the thigh. If not, give the hens another 15-20 minutes. When they are just about finished, brush them liberally with the glaze and let them continue to roast for five minutes. Repeat two more times, watching so that they don’t burn. Then remove the pan and set the birds on a serving platter to rest. Remove the veggies from the dish to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. If desired, serve the broth over rice on the side. Enjoy!