A toast to marshmallow vodka

Just before Christmas, I attended a dinner party during which the women spent a hilarious hour  speaking in rhapsodies about marshmallow vodka. It’s a THING, y’all.

“It’s the best mixer for Diet Coke ever,” promised Susie Timm. “It tastes like a root beer float.”

JaimeeRose_MarshmallowVodka

I even made a man friend try it. First he sneered. Then he asked for more. In the end, he said, “OK, fine, I like your marshmallow vodka.”

My friend and coworker Amy Crist discovered that adding a twist of lime to Diet Coke and marshmallow vodka creates a coconut-tinged tropical-seeming dream.

So I bought mini bottles (and a few large ones) for gifts — and the girls are converted. I can’t think of a more apropos New Year’s Eve hostess gift.  I found it at Total Wine Superstore.

JaimeeRose_MarshmallowVodka

eRose_MarshmallowVodka

P.S. My friend Jami Reagan tells me that the Whipped Cream version of this  vodka is her new favorite — just add orange juice. “It tastes like a Creamsicle,” she says.

Happy New Year to you all.

By |2012-12-28T07:23:41-07:00December 28th, 2012|Recipes|0 Comments

Make It: Homemade Cheese Crackers

“Who makes their own crackers?” Tyson wanted to know when he saw what I was pulling out of the oven.

“The Barefoot Contessa,” I replied, and then he understood.

We love crackers in our house, especially at Christmas, when December dinners feel like one long string of appetizers. These cheddar-jalapeno crackers are wicked all by themselves. I obey the Barefoot Contessa without question, and these are from her new cookbook — a fancy version of what Cheez-Its want to be. If you serve them as an appetizer, you don’t need anything else. People will be too busy marveling that you made homemade crackers, because who does that?

I also brought them to a friend’s open house to share =  ideal hostess gift. (Would you like to know about my cool olive wood board – which I did not, and could not ever give away? Keep reading.)

The crackers were pretty easy, with a few modifications. Tips: Use the expensive cheese and grate it yourself. You may need twice the amount of water called for in the recipe. I added two teaspoons of chopped green onions and another teaspoon of chopped jalapeno to the second batch. Both were excellent. I also baked them for five extra minutes for extra-crisp results.

My olive wood board was handmade by my photographer friend Michael McNamara, who crafted it from salvaged Arizona olive wood. I fought off other friends for this one. (Sorry, Adrienne.) Michael plans to start selling them soon, so leave a comment below  if you’d like a heads up.

 

By |2012-12-12T05:25:45-07:00December 12th, 2012|Recipes|2 Comments

Christmas Breakfast Monkey Bread

This is genius breakfast — the kind you mix the night before in just a few minutes, then pull from the oven on Christmas morning, browned and glistening. It comes to you from my future mother-in-law, who is wise about Christmas breakfast and about simplicity in life.

Clearly, I need help with that.

RECIPE: Christmas Breakfast Monkey Bread

18-24 frozen Rhodes rolls

1 1/4 cups brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons powdered cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix

1/2 cup pecans, chopped, or slivered almonds — whatever nuts you have

The night before, place the frozen Rhodes rolls in a greased Bundt cake pan or an angel food cake pan. Sprinkle the rolls with 1 cup of the brown sugar, distributing the sugar as evenly as you can, and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the 1/4 cup brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, butterscotch pudding mix, and pecans together. Pour or spoon this mixture over the frozen rolls. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave on the counter overnight.

In the morning, bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, and serve hot.

Don’t forget the butter — though even the one Christmas I did, we still ate it. Yes, it’s that good.

By |2012-12-05T05:24:09-07:00December 5th, 2012|Recipes|1 Comment

Christmas Prep Part 1: Freeze Cookie Dough

I once interviewed the woman who runs OrganizedChristmas.com and she told me about making and freezing meals in November for busy December nights. She had entire pies, even, ready and frozen for the holiday. Like in October.

On Organized Christmas, she’s built a 6-week Christmas checklist plan that is so detailed that it even includes booking December babysitters the week before Thanksgiving. The mind reels.

I can’t imagine such calm preparedness, but this year I’m trying to greet December with less stress. My plan is simple, and I’ll share it here this week. Step one: Hire a housekeeper. (Yeah, yeah, but I’m so relieved. Merry Christmas to myself.) And mix all of the dough for your favorite Christmas cookies and stack a pile of  it in the freezer.

Seeing this stack in the freezer is comforting. I may not have frozen meals, but we can have cookies anytime the mood for hot cocoa strikes. And I have a head start on the marathon baking session that strikes my fancy every year at the most inopportune times (say, Dec. 23).

My sugar cookie recipe is below.

Wrap it in parchment, and tie with twine if you’re worried about people taking tastes. (Or, ahem, trying to keep yourself out of the dough.)

 

These cookies are thick, soft and ruled by butter and vanilla. You don’t need icing, but cream cheese frosting and sanding sugar come with compliments implied.

Sugar Cookies

From Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies

3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
additional granulated sugar (for topping)

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. (Note from Jaimee: I use Martha Stewart’s cheater sifting method. Dump everything into a bowl and whisk it to break up clumps and lighten.) In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat well. Beat in eggs one at a time and then add milk. On low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula and beating only until thoroughly mixed.
Divide the dough in tow and wrap each half in wax paper or Saran Wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for three hours or longer if you wish.
Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 400 degrees.
Place one piece of the dough on a lightly floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to desired thickness and cut into shapes.
Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar, if desired, and bake 8-9 minutes.
Let cool completely before frosting.

Notes from Jaimee: Do not overmix. Roll them out 1/2 inch thick. They can be hard to transfer to a baking sheet after they’re cut. Genius: my sister Kapri figured out that it’s much easier to roll the dough directly on a Silpat mat or parchment paper, cut out your cookie, and peel the excess dough off the mat. Also: underbake for the softest cookies. These snowflakes are the size of my outstretched hand and they baked for 8 minutes. You don’t actually want browned edges.

P.S. My favorite chocolate cookie recipe is here.

By |2012-11-28T05:01:22-07:00November 28th, 2012|Recipes|0 Comments

Easy Homemade Vanilla to Give Friends & Neighbors

Our gift to friends and neighbors this Christmas: homemade vanilla that we bottled and labeled ourselves. This is a crazy easy but impressive handmade gift. You don’t have to do anything but pour, shake, wait, and give with glee.

I’m a vanilla freak and excited to share my brew around town. Vanilla means dessert, which means joy.

Directions: put vanilla beans in a jar (you want 5 beans per 8 ounces of vodka). I bought my vanilla beans here.

Pour in the vodka. Feel free to use the cheap stuff.

It will look like this.

Shake it once a week for at least a year. Then, it will look like this — which is 18 months later:

Decant into small bottles, available here:

Attach a fun label. I designed mine in Illustrator and printed it on sticky-backed label paper.

Give it away.

What’s the best neighbor gift you’ve ever received?

By |2012-11-26T23:07:34-07:00November 26th, 2012|Recipes|0 Comments

The best Thanksgiving gravy trick ever

I’ve tested this on gravy snobs across the country, and everyone grudgingly agrees: whatever you think you know about making killer turkey gravy cannot compare to opening this jar.

 

Directions: While your friends across the country are stressing out over a hot stove at the last minute, hoping to escape floury lumps, you pour Williams-Sonoma’s Turkey Gravy Base into a pan. Fill the empty jar with milk, and add that too. Stir in whatever turkey drippings you have, and a teaspoon or two of fresh chopped rosemary.

You are finished.

Serve and brag.

Brag, brag, brag.

There is no last-minute fussing, no roux-making drama, no appearance of lumps. Ever.

Smother yourself in gravy compliments.

Feel smug.

Make some more.

Buy it here. (For our family of about 25, we need two jars.)

P.S. How are you setting your table? Is there bougainvillea in your backyard? Hot pink flowers and pumpkins are so desert chic. See my ideas here.

 

By |2012-11-19T07:26:22-07:00November 19th, 2012|Recipes|3 Comments

Thanksgiving Sides, Sexed Up: Green Bean and Bacon Bundles

Thanksgiving is about side dishes. I like to sex them up. Usually, this means adding one of the following: bacon, walnuts, or pomegranate seeds. And butter. Always that.

My favorite creation thus far, inspired by the window of Williams-Sonoma: green bean bundles bound with bacon and twine. Everyone gets their own pretty little package on the plate.

The Williams Sonoma recipe asks you to sprinkle them with butter and brown sugar. I didn’t do that. It felt a too naughty. Here’s what to do instead, adapted from that recipe:

You’ll need

  • 8-10 thick bacon slices
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and blanched in salted water
  • sea salt, for finishing

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon in batches until the slices are just beginning to brown along the edges but are still very underdone and pliable, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool, then cut each slice in half crosswise. Drain pan.

You can also cook it in the microwave — my preferred method, just until it’s halfway done.

Divide the green beans into 12-13 equal portions. Gather each portion into a neat bunch and wrap a half slice of bacon around the center to hold the beans together. Tie again with twine to  hold it together.

Heat the skillet again and place the bundles on the skillet with the loose ends of the bacon underneath. Turn and brown on each side.

Finish with sea salt.

What are your sexy side discoveries? My friend Jill swears by Tom Colicchio’s parker rolls. Baby, I believe.

By |2012-11-13T05:20:44-07:00November 13th, 2012|Recipes|6 Comments

Easy S’more Pudding (in a Mason jar)

My friend Jill had a birthday. She likes things in Mason jars. I’ve been wanting to make S’more Pie for ages. Tyson found the perfect chocolate pudding at Trader Joe’s, and a simple, sweet treat was born. Happy Birthday to Jill.

I love the chocolate pudding in a jar served at the new Federal Pizza in my neighborhood, but decided to replace the Oreo crust with a graham cracker crust in true s’more fashion. The rest of this is just an easy assemblage of very good pre-made ingredients.

You need: Belgian chocolate pudding from Trader Joe’s, which is the best chocolate pudding I’ve had, a jar of marshmallow creme, and and graham crackers, butter, and sugar to make a crust. Did you know they sell graham cracker crumbs now?

Stir together the pie crust, which is fun and easy, I promise. (The recipe is here.). You can bake it in a pie plate as directed or just spread it on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle the top with salt before baking.

Let it cool, then add a layer of crumbling, buttery crust into a short Mason jar.

Add a layer of pudding and a layer of marshmallow creme.

Use a kitchen torch (or a candle-lighter) to toast the top of the marshmallow. If there’s a man who lives in your house, he will think this is great fun.

Then tie up the treats with mini wooden ice cream spoons, twine, and a birthday candle, of course.

I think these are the next dinner party dessert chez moi — so easy and fun to have your very own s’more pudding in a jar to take home and finish later.

By |2012-11-07T06:44:16-07:00November 7th, 2012|Recipes|1 Comment

Knife in my Heart Halloween Cupcakes

My annual entry to the Rose Family Gross-Out Halloween Buffet is as follows:

Bleeding Knife In My Heart cupcakes. Mmmmm.

The knife is candy, too.

My nephews are going to squawk. My Aunt Cynthia will wrinkle her nose and squirm. Tyson has already eaten three.

I can’t wait.

How to make them yourself: Gather supplies. I absolutely used a mix. For red velvet cake, Sprinkles’ mix is killer, but I think homemade cream cheese icing makes the cake underneath a moot point.

I chose red velvet cake, because it looks like blood, of course.

I think mini versions are best for parties. Everyone feels OK making a small indulgence.

I found my candy knives at ABC Baking Cake Decorating in Phoenix (on a very happy day — I was THRILLED). They’re by Wilton, so I bet you could find them in your ‘hood too. They’re online here — and half off.

At ABC, I also found these mini sugar bones. I’m still considering their Halloween role.

My baking cups are nut cups from ABC also — 99 cents for 25. You don’t even need a muffin tin.

Once your cakes are baked and cooled, use a big star tip to pipe on a pile of icing and add red Wilton gel for “blood.” Make sure to help it “drip” down the sides.

Then stab that cupcake in the heart.

(Shudder and squeal.)

P.S. Want to see photos from my Mom’s past Spookfests? She even has her own coffin. Witness the carnage from 2011 here,  2010 here (ear wax!), and 2009 here (scabs!). This year’s party is Nov. 3. It’s that kind of  year.

Photos copyright Jaimee Rose

By |2012-10-22T05:25:12-07:00October 22nd, 2012|Recipes|2 Comments

Pure, unadulterated potato evil

In a pile on Puddinn’s counter, there was cheese, cream, potatoes, onions, olive oil, butter, and fennel (trust me, cooked fennel is good). I saw it, helped her stir, then had to go immediately home to make another pan for myself. And Tyson.

It’s the Barefoot Contessa’s Potato Fennel Gratin, and it’s just damn mean. This is probably why my jeans feel tight, no? I’m going to go climb the Coit Tower stairs in San Francisco right now. (One last day! Travel report to come later this week.)

Think that’s enough cheese?

I served it with roasted rainbow carrots, a salad, and a pork tenderloin recipe that still needs some work.

Make it for Thanksgiving, and then meet me at the foot of Camelback to atone. We’ll have to go up and back eight times, I think.

By |2012-10-15T05:30:55-07:00October 15th, 2012|Recipes|0 Comments

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