30 Cinco de Mayo Inspired Cocktails

30 Cinco de Mayo Inspired Cocktails | KitchenMeetsGirl.com

We’ve rounded up 30 of the best cocktails, perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo! From margaritas to mojitos, we’ve got a drink to please anyone! So raise your glasses & spend the day celebrating the best way you know how – with a rim of salt & a squeeze of lime!

 

35 Cinco de Mayo Inspired Cocktails

Please note: not all of these photos belong to me. To pin a specific image, please click on it to visit its original source. If you want to pin this collection as a whole, feel free to pin the collage image above!

 

Blackberry MojitoBLACKBERRY MOJITO | The View from Great Island

Blue Curacao MargaritaBLUE CURACAO MARGARITA | Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Champagne MargaritasCHAMPAGNE MARGARITAS | The Kitchen is My Playground

Cheater Margarita SmoothiesCHEATER MARGARITA SMOOTHIES | Farm Fresh Feasts

Cherry-Lime MargaritasCHERRY-LIME MARGARITAS | Cook the Story

Chocolate MargaritasCHOCOLATE MARGARITAS | Kitchen Meets Girl

Citrus Moscato SangriaCITRUS MOSCATO SANGRIA | Laylita’s Recipes

Colada MargaritaCOLADA MARGARITA | Cooking on the Front Burner

Fiery Green MartiniFIERY GREEN MARTINI | The View from Great Island

Fresh Blackberry MargaritaFRESH BLACKBERRY MARGARITA | Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Fresh Grapefruit MojitoFRESH GRAPEFRUIT MOJITO | The View from Great Island

Frozen Mango-Lime MargaritasFROZEN MANGO LIME MARGARITAS | Kitchen Treaty

Frozen Pineapple MargaritaFROZEN PINEAPPLE MARGARITAS | Taste Love and Nourish

Jalapeno MargaritasJALAPENO MARGARITAS | Wine & Glue

Key Lime Pie MargaritasKEY LIME PIE MARGARITAS | Kitchen Meets Girl

Mango MargaritaMANGO MARGARITA | Cooking with Curls

Mango Coconut MargaritaMANGO COCONUT MARGARITA | Snappy Gourmet

Mango Passion Fruit MargaritaMANGO PASSION FRUIT MARGARITA | Laylita’s Recipes

Margarita Lime Jello CubesMARGARITA LIME JELLO CUBES {SHOTS} | Liv Life

Margaritas with Lemon & BasilMARGARITAS WITH LEMON & BASIL | Cook the Story

MexaratiniMEXARATINIS | A Spoonful of Luxe

Mexican Chocolate ShotsMEXICAN CHOCOLATE SHOTS | Snappy Gourmet

Midori ColadaMIDORI COLADA | Kitchen Meets Girl

Moscow MuleMOSCOW MULE | Kailley’s Kitchen

Peach Jalapeno MargaritasPEACH JALAPENO MARGARITAS | Dessert for Two

Perfect Fresh Blended Pina ColadasPERFECT FRESH BLENDED PINA COLADAS | Sweet Anna’s

Rose MargaritaROSE MARGARITA | Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Skinny Spicy Tequila CocktailSKINNY SPICY TEQUILA COCKTAIL | Keep It Sweet Desserts

Sparkling Limon-Lime MargaritaSPARKLING LIMON-LIME MARGARITA | Frugal Foodie Mama

Strawberry Margaritas STRAWBERRY MARGARITAS | Laylita’s Recipes

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Peppermint Swirled Fudge

This easy white chocolate peppermint swirled fudge only takes a few minutes to make – and no candy thermometer!

This easy white chocolate peppermint swirled fudge only takes a few minutes to make - and no candy thermometer!

I’ve always been something of a fudge purist – maybe that was because growing up, my grandmother made the absolute best chocolate peanut butter fudge – a version that I made myself sick on one Christmas because I ate the entire batch myself and didn’t eat any healthy food to balance things out.

Her recipes, of course, involved a candy thermometer…but were totally worth the extra work.

This peppermint swirled fudge is just about as good.

And even better – this version is super duper simple.  I don’t know about you, but I need E-A-S-Y right now.  With just over a week until Christmas and about a million things left to do, I am all about fast and no-fuss recipes!

This easy white chocolate peppermint swirled fudge only takes a few minutes to make - and no candy thermometer!

For this homemade fudge, you need only four ingredients: white chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, peppermint extract, and Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips {I found mine at Walmart in the baking aisle}.  Trust me – if you like peppermint, you need these! ;-)

Doodle loves tossing some of the peppermint chips into his mug of hot chocolate, and I’ve been known to flavor my coffee with ‘em.  But in this fudge?  It’s just the perfect amount of peppermint flavoring and crunch.

This easy white chocolate peppermint swirled fudge only takes a few minutes to make - and no candy thermometer!

I’d love to know: Do you make fudge using a candy thermometer?  If so, what’s your favorite flavor?

Peppermint Swirled Fudge

Peppermint Swirled Fudge

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2/3 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips, plus more for topping

Instructions

  1. Line an 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two sides. Spray lightly with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk over medium-high heat. Stir constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in peppermint extract and peppermint chips. The peppermint chips will melt quickly and give your fudge a pretty light pink swirled effect.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan, and sprinkle with additional peppermint chips if desired. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours, or until set. Keep stored in the refrigerator for one week.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/peppermint-swirled-fudge/

XO, Ashley

 

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Reese’s Capped Snowmen Cookies

Need a last minute holiday treat but don’t have a ton of time on your hands?  These Reese’s Capped Snowmen Cookies are super easy to make, and are a great project for little hands to help with in the kitchen!

Need a last minute holiday treat but don't have a ton of time on your hands?  These Reese's Capped Snowmen Cookies are super easy to make, and are a great project for little hands to help with in the kitchen!

You guys.  I’m so crazy excited about this post, because I’ve teamed up with some other seriously talented bloggers to give you some fun ideas for your holiday entertaining.

And let’s just get it out here now: there’s nothing on this list that is skinny jean friendly in any way.  We’re talking Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups here.  Just enjoy the last few weeks of the holiday season and eat those chocolate goodies while you can.  We’ll talk healthier foods in January, mmkay? ;-)

Need a last minute holiday treat but don't have a ton of time on your hands?  These Reese's Capped Snowmen Cookies are super easy to make, and are a great project for little hands to help with in the kitchen!

Seriously.  Someone explain to me how Christmas is next week already.  I’m sort of having a freak out moment because I’ve realized I have not one gift wrapped, still a few to purchase, a party to host on Saturday, and a million other things still left on my to-do list.

Lucky for me making a cute little cookie for a room of first graders is something I’ve actually got checked off and ready to go.

Need a last minute holiday treat but don't have a ton of time on your hands?  These Reese's Capped Snowmen Cookies are super easy to make, and are a great project for little hands to help with in the kitchen!

Doodle had such a fun time helping make {and um, sample} a few of these cute little guys.  Normally, my kiddo is over the sweets after eating just one {a concept I do not understand}, but he’s been asking for one of these festive cookies pretty much every day after school.

Batch number two, here we come.

Need a last minute holiday treat but don't have a ton of time on your hands?  These Reese's Capped Snowmen Cookies are super easy to make, and are a great project for little hands to help with in the kitchen!

Quite honestly, chocolate and peanut butter is one of the best combinations ever, yes? ;-)

Reese’s Capped Snowmen Cookies

Reese’s Capped Snowmen Cookies

Ingredients

  • 24 Nutter Butter Cookies
  • 12 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, halved
  • 1 package white CandiQuik
  • 48 mini chocolate chips
  • 48 mini M&M's
  • orange jimmies
  • black frosting for piping (I used this)

Instructions

  1. Melt CandiQuik according to package directions. Dip 3 or 4 cookies into melted CandiQuik and place on wax paper to set. Working quickly, place mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on for the hat, 2 chocolate chips for the eyes, an orange jimmie for the nose, and 2 mini M&M's for the buttons.
  2. Repeat, until all cookies are dipped and decorated.
  3. Allow to set completely - I chilled mine in the refrigerator to speed the process along. Once set, pipe on a scarf with black frosting. Since I only needed a little bit, I used this ready made kind I purchased in the baking aisle at my grocery store.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/reeses-capped-snowmen-cookies/

What’s your favorite way to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? We made these snowmen cookies last year using Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and they are still one of our favorites!

Need a last minute holiday treat but don't have a ton of time on your hands?  These Reese's Capped Snowmen Cookies are super easy to make, and are a great project for little hands to help with in the kitchen!

Be sure to check out all of the other awesome ideas, below:

XO, Ashley

 

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Biscoff and White Chocolate Saltine Toffee

Did you know you can make toffee with Saltine crackers?  Well, you can, and with a mix of brown sugar, Biscoff, and white chocolate, this easy sweet treat is absolutely phenomenal!

Did you know you can make toffee with Saltine crackers?  Well, you can, and with a mix of brown sugar, Biscoff, and white chocolate, this easy sweet treat is absolutely phenomenal!

Okay, so if you haven’t made Saltine toffee before, you’re probably wondering how on earth this stuff works – and tastes.  I spotted it last year on Sally’s blog, and I trust her 100 percent, so I knew it would be great.  I made her chocolate and peanut butter version for Christmas Eve, and almost ran out of the stuff before the tray made it to my mom’s house.

Oops?

It’s sticky and chewy and not skinny-jean friendly, but it’s totally worth it.  Trust me on this.

The undersides of the crackers are coated with a caramelized glaze of butter and brown sugar…

Did you know you can make toffee with Saltine crackers?  Well, you can, and with a mix of brown sugar, Biscoff, and white chocolate, this easy sweet treat is absolutely phenomenal!

…with the salty crackers sandwiched between the toffee and the mixture of melted white chocolate and Biscoff.

This is decadence at its finest, and I’m totally on board with it.

Did you know you can make toffee with Saltine crackers?  Well, you can, and with a mix of brown sugar, Biscoff, and white chocolate, this easy sweet treat is absolutely phenomenal!

I’ve also heard this treat referred to as “Christmas Crack” – primarily because it’s made with crackers…but also because it’s nearly impossible to stop eating it.

Did you know you can make toffee with Saltine crackers?  Well, you can, and with a mix of brown sugar, Biscoff, and white chocolate, this easy sweet treat is absolutely phenomenal!

Biscoff and White Chocolate Saltine Toffee

Biscoff and White Chocolate Saltine Toffee

Ingredients

  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers (about 40 crackers)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 6 tablespoons Biscoff
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • sprinkles, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and arrange rack in the center position.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Arrange crackers evenly on your baking sheet, leaving a bit of space in between each cracker. I was able to fit 5 rows of 8 crackers on my sheet.
  3. Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until melted. Allow mixture to come to a boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Pour the hot mixture over your crackers and bake for 5 minutes.
  4. While your crackers are in the oven, melt the Biscoff in a small saucepan or in a microwave safe bowl. Remove the toffee from the oven and spread the melted Biscoff over the top. Quickly sprinkle with chocolate chips, and return to the oven for 1 more minute.
  5. Remove from oven and use a spatula to gently smooth out the Biscoff and white chocolate mixture. Place in the freezer for one hour to set. Break into pieces to gift or enjoy yourself.
  6. Keep airtight in refrigerator or at room temperature for 10 to 14 days.

recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/biscoff-white-chocolate-saltine-toffee/

XO, Ashley

 

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Gingerbread Drop Cookies



Hi! My name is Sue, of Munchkin Munchies, and I am so happy to be here with Ashley today on her fabulous blog!  I’m sharing this cookie recipe today as part of a Virtual Christmas Cookie Exchange, organized by Liz of Hoosier Homemade and Becca of Crumbs and Chaos.  

I’m sharing a recipe I’ve never tried before and I really think you’ll like it; Gingerbread Drop Cookies with Gingerbread M&M’s.
Not long ago, I was browsing facebook and saw that someone had posted a photo of some gingerbread M&M’s that they had found at Walmart.  I was kind of excited because I love M&M’s and I love gingerbread, so I ran over to Walmart that night and lo, and behold, there they were, right on the shelf with all the other seasonal goodies:)
I thought the candies would be great in a simple drop cookie.  I’ve made ginger cookies before (my husband’s favorite), but I wanted to look for more of a gingerbread cookie.  I searched the internet and found the perfect cookie from Domestic Bliss. It looked and sounded just right. It did not disappoint! These cookies are chewy and sweet, and with all the spices added, they are a Christmas classic:)  The m&m’s lend the perfect taste treat!

Gingerbread Drop Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for coating)
  • 1 cup gingerbread m&m’s

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, shortening and brown sugar.
  2. Add each of the spices and mix.
  3. Add the molasses and the eggs and mix well.
  4. Add the flour and mix well.
  5. Add the m&m’s and mix on low until incorporated.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and place on cookie sheet, an inch apart.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/gingerbread-drop-cookies/

I hope you enjoy these fun, festive and tasty cookies!

 
Thanks Liz and Becca for inviting me to your Virtual Christmas Cookie Exchange; it’s been fun!
Be sure and visit all the other fabulous participants featuring their cookie recipes!

Candy Cane Meringue Cookies shared on Bless This Mess by Sweet Treats and More

Chocolate Filled Gingersnaps on Barbara Bakes by Taste and Tell

Chocolate Peppermint & Oreo Cookies shared on Let’s Dish by Mandy’s Recipe Box

Chocolate Strawberry Truffles shared on Sweet Sugarbelle by Hoosier Homemade

Crispy Maple Sugar Cookies shared on Mandy’s Recipe Box by Bless This Mess

Gingerbread Drop Cookies shared on Kitchen Meets Girl by Munchkin Munchies

Iced Gingerbread Cookies shared on A Family Feast by Roxana’s Home Baking

Italian Almond Cookies shared on Munchkin Munchies by Your Homebased Mom

Molasses Cookies shared on Crumbs and Chaos by Kitchen Meets Girl

Orange & Ginger Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle shared on Your Homebased Mom by A Family Feast

Orange Ginger Pecan Cookies shared on Sweet Treats and More by Let’s Dish

Snowmen Cookie Pops shared on Roxana’s Home Baking by Sweet Sugarbelle

Soft Chocolate Gingersnaps shared on Taste and Tell by Crumbs and Chaos

Soft Gingersnap Cookies shared on Hoosier Homemade by Barbara Bakes

Christmas Cookie Exchange

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XO, Ashley

 

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The BEST Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

No, really.  This is the BEST homemade hot chocolate mix.

Like, ever.

The BEST Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix - ever!

That stuff that you purchase in the cardboard canisters at the grocery store?  Yeah…those don’t have anything on this.  And guess what?  This takes less than 5 minutes to mix up.

Plus, it makes a ton (and can easily be doubled, tripled…you get the idea), and is perfect for holiday gift-giving.  Especially when you’re as craftiness-impaired as I am.

See the cute little tag wound around the jar with the instructions on how to make an individual steaming mug of creamy, chocolate bliss?  You can get the printables here (they’re free, and Jason and Jennifer’s entire site is amazing – so go check it out).  Even if you don’t do crafty and/or creative, you’re totally covered here.

The BEST Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix - ever!

Mix together four ingredients, pour ‘em into a jar, print some labels, and BAM.  Easy gift-giving: DONE.

This mix is perfect gifted along with some Kahlúa (I used the Cinnamon-Spice flavor in mine, and it was two-mug worthy!), although the Peppermint Mocha would be equally as fabulous.

The BEST Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix - ever!

Happy Holidays!

The BEST Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

makes 5 1/2 cups dry mix

The BEST Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process is best!)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • For serving:
  • Kahlúa
  • marshmallows

Instructions

    To make the mix:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. You may also use a food processor if your powdered milk granules are too large.
  2. Pour into a large airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.
  3. To make a single serving:
  4. Fill your mug halfway with hot cocoa mix, add water or milk, and enjoy!
  5. If desired, add 1 ounce Kahlúa and top with marshmallows

adapted from Alton Brown

http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/best-homemade-hot-chocolate-mix/

If you’re looking for some other ways to use Kahlua in your holiday entertaining, be sure to check these out, too:

Kahlua Collage

Cinnamon Cookie Martini

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass

Cinnamon-Spiced Monkey Bread

Autumn Russian

Be sure to follow Kahlúa on Facebook and Pinterest.

To get inspiration for more great recipes and entertaining ideas with Kahlúa and for a chance to win the ultimate holiday party, please visit www.kahluaholiday.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kahlúa. The opinions and text are all mine.

XO, Ashley

 

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“Kiss”-mas Tree Centerpieces

In the holiday spirit for a festive centerpiece, but aren’t super crafty? These “Kiss”-mas Tree Centerpieces made with Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates are super easy to make and are a fun project to work on with kiddos!

In the holiday spirit for a festive centerpiece, but aren't super crafty? These "Kiss"-mas Tree Centerpieces made with Hershey's Kisses are super easy to make and are a fun project to work on with kiddos!

I’m super excited about this post, because I’ve teamed up with some other fantastic bloggers to bring you festive ideas using Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to get your holiday planning started off right!  If you’re looking for some great ideas for holiday entertaining, these gals have you covered:

 In the holiday spirit for a festive centerpiece, but aren't super crafty? These "Kiss"-mas Tree Centerpieces made with Hershey's Kisses are super easy to make and are a fun project to work on with kiddos!

I’ll admit it: I’m not that mom who spends hours working on craft projects with Doodle. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s mainly that crafting and I don’t work well together. I don’t have that “crafting” gene and it’s unlikely at this point in my life that it’s going to make an appearance.

But creating a cute little red, white and green tree made with Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates is something even I can handle.

Bonus? Doodle thought I was super cool when we put these little trees together.

{on a side note: our trees have already been eaten, so if you have little kids around who might ask say a million times if they can just have one Kiss off of the tree…you might want to wait just a bit closer to the holidays to assemble these}

In the holiday spirit for a festive centerpiece, but aren't super crafty? These "Kiss"-mas Tree Centerpieces made with Hershey's Kisses are super easy to make and are a fun project to work on with kiddos!

All you need for this quick and easy project are some cone-shaped pieces of foam – I got mine at Michael’s in both the 6-inch and 9-inch sizes.

I used approximately three bags of Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates for the 9-inch tree and two bags for the 6-inch tree.  I snapped toothpicks in half, and inserted each half into the bottom of a Kiss.  These were a little difficult to press in, so I had my husband poke tiny holes with a super small screwdriver (cleaned first, of course) to get things started.

Once the picks were inserted into the candies, I let Doodle go to town sticking them into the foam.  We used a decorative cupcake pic we found at my local cake supply store for the tree topper, but I think you could easily find something similar at your favorite craft store (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.).

In the holiday spirit for a festive centerpiece, but aren't super crafty? These "Kiss"-mas Tree Centerpieces made with Hershey's Kisses are super easy to make and are a fun project to work on with kiddos!

What’s your favorite way to use Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates in your holiday baking?  Or do you prefer to eat them plain?  I like to taste test ‘em while I’m working. ;-)

XO, Ashley

 

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Cranberry and Walnut Brie

Need a quick and easy, yet impressive appetizer?  Look no further than this Cranberry and Walnut Brie with Sugared Cranberries!

Need a quick and easy, yet impressive appetizer?  Look no further than this Cranberry and Walnut Brie with Sugared Cranberries!

With the holidays just around the corner, there’s all sorts of entertaining to do…and not much time to get things ready, amIright??  If you’re like me, you’d like something special to “wow” your company, but don’t want to spend all evening in the kitchen.  That’s why I love keeping Pepperidge Farm®  Puff Pastry on hand in my freezer.

You can find Pepperidge Farm®  Puff Pastry in sheets, shells and cups.  For this recipe, you’ll need the sheets.

I use the sheets all of the time to make puff pastry filled with brie and jam.  But after I made my Simple Cranberry Sauce last week, I knew that’s what I was using to fill my next puff pastry!  I added some chopped walnuts (pecans would be fabulous, too), for some extra crunch, but they’re optional.

Need a quick and easy, yet impressive appetizer?  Look no further than this Cranberry and Walnut Brie with Sugared Cranberries!

You can certainly buy canned cranberry sauce to use instead of homemade, but believe me – it’s totally worth it to make your own, and it only takes a few minutes.

Or, you can secretly set some aside on Thanksgiving, and you’ll be set to go to make this appetizer as a quick snack after all of your Black Friday shopping. ;-)

Just thaw one puff pastry sheet and set your brie wheel in the middle.  Top it with 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce (if you’re purchasing some from the store, whole-berry works best) and 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped nuts.  Fold up the edges of the pastry, and then brush with an egg wash before putting it into the oven.

Need a quick and easy, yet impressive appetizer?  Look no further than this Cranberry and Walnut Brie with Sugared Cranberries!

Just before serving, I topped my puffy pastry filled brie with sugared cranberries and a sprig of basil, for color.  Mainly because I’m not that great at folding up the edges of the pastry, and I wanted the top to look super pretty.

Again, totally optional, but I think those sugared berries just scream “Winter.”

And also, “eat me.”

Need a quick and easy, yet impressive appetizer?  Look no further than this Cranberry and Walnut Brie with Sugared Cranberries!

You can serve the brie with crackers or slices of hearty bread – but be sure to eat this while it’s still warm and gooey and the cheese oozes out of the pastry when you cut into it.  I’m not gonna lie – I ate plenty of that cheese without any medium other than the serving utensil.

Need a quick and easy, yet impressive appetizer?  Look no further than this Cranberry and Walnut Brie with Sugared Cranberries!

Cranberry and Walnut Brie

Cranberry and Walnut Brie

Ingredients

  • 1 Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry sheet, thawed
  • 1 brie wheel
  • 1/4 cup Simple Cranberry Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • sugared cranberries and basil for garnish, if desired
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • For the sugared cranberries:
  • 1 cups fresh whole cranberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Thaw one puff pastry sheet and unfold it. Place your brie in the middle of the sheet and carefully top with cranberry sauce and chopped nuts. Gently wrap the pastry around the brie and pinch the top closed. Brush the surface of the pastry with the egg white. This will make your pastry nice and shiny.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  4. Top with sugared cranberries and a sprig of basil, if desired. Serve with crackers or bread.
  5. To make the sugared cranberries:
  6. Warm 1/2 cup of maple syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cranberries. Place in refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours.
  7. Place 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl. Pour berries into a colander and allow them to drain for 15 minutes. Next, add a few cranberries at a time to the sugar, tossing gently to coat. Place berries on a parchment lined baking sheet and let stand until completely dry.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/cranberry-walnut-brie/

XO, Ashley

I’m always looking for ways to spark new creative ideas with my recipes.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and don’t forget to check out more recipes at www.puffpastry.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

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How to Brine a Turkey

Let’s talk turkey.  Specifically, how to brine a turkey.

It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds, and I’m going to walk you through it.

Brining a turkey is easier than you think!  I'll walk you through it at www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com

Last year, my uncle made a comment that struck fear deep in my heart: he suggested that sometime soon, my cousins and I should start hosting Thanksgiving.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but even though I blog about food, I really have no desire to take over the reigns of this family tradition.

Preparing that much food for 20+ people?  Ugh, not top on my list of wants, unless we can also serve these.  And lots of ‘em. ;-)

Anyway, I decided I should give this whole brining/roasting a turkey thing a go.  Get some practice in so that when my time comes, my family event doesn’t end up like the Griswold’s Christmas Vacation.

I fervently began doing research on turkey preparation, brining, and roasting, and I was a bit overwhelmed at first.  But when I stepped back, broke it down, and took it step-by-step, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it might be.  In fact, this bird turned out amazing, even on my first try.

So here’s my message to any of you who are cooking your first Thanksgiving turkey this year: if I can do it, you can, too.

Brining a turkey is easier than you think!  I'll walk you through it at www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com

I am by no means an expert here, so feel free to weigh-in with your turkey brining tips and tricks. I just want to share with you what I learned, and why I think brining is the way to go.

What is brining, anyway?

Brining involves soaking a turkey in a saltwater solution before cooking, which protects it from the ravages of heat and guarantees tender, flavorful meat from the surface all the way to the bone.  In other words, the brining liquid distributes moisture and seasoning into the meat, helps the meat retain more of its total weight after cooking, and makes for a moister and more flavorful meal.

Who wants dry, bland turkey, right?

Make sure you do not use a self-basting or kosher turkey, otherwise your turkey will end up too salty.  After defrosting your bird, remove the giblets and the neck from the inside.  Rinse both the inside and the outside of the bird, and pat dry with paper towels before placing it in the brining liquid.

What do I need for brining?

Not much – just a container large enough to hold your turkey and all of the brining liquid.  Much of my research suggested using a 5-gallon bucket with a lid, but that wasn’t about to fit in my refrigerator.  I also read that extra-EXTRA-large Ziploc bags would work fine, as would turkey size oven bags.  I went the Ziploc bag route since that’s what I found first. ;-)

Since I was worried the bag could leak a bit, I placed the bagged turkey onto a rimmed sheet to catch any potential drippings.

What do I put in my brine?

The general rule of thumb is one cup of salt per two gallons of water.  From there, you may also add sugar, vinegar, spices, and other aromatics.  In mine, I used a combination of salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, orange peel, fresh thyme and sage, and Worchestershire sauce.  I’ll provide my measurements below, but I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules on your aromatics here – use what you like and what you have in your kitchen.

Brining a turkey is easier than you think!  I'll walk you through it at www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com

Okay, I have my turkey in the brine.  Now what?

Make sure it’s covered and refrigerated (or in a very cool spot – 40 degrees or less) for at least 6 to 12 hours.  I turned mine over halfway through to make sure both sides had equal time to marinate.

After removing the turkey from the brine, rinse it, and then pat it dry to prevent soggy skin.  You may also place the turkey on a wire rack in the refrigerator set on a baking sheet and allow it to dry overnight.  Again, this encourages the skin to crisp during roasting.

Brining a turkey is easier than you think!  I'll walk you through it at www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com

How do I roast my turkey?

Preheat oven to 275 degrees and place turkey in a roasting pan.  Cover with foil and bake, approximately 10 minutes per each pound.

Then, raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees and remove foil.  Brush the turkey with melted butter every 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing – avoid the urge to cover the turkey with foil, since this can make the skin soggy.  Next?  Call someone else in to carve it, while you go relax with one of these.

My Favorite Turkey Brine

makes enough brine for a 20-pound turkey

My Favorite Turkey Brine

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons warm water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 5-6 cloves smashed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • peel of one orange
  • 1-2 sprigs each fresh thyme and sage

Instructions

  1. In a large bucket or container, mix salt and brown sugar into the warm water until no granules remain. Add in remaining ingredients, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature or refrigerate until cool.
  2. Remove the giblets and the neck from the inside of the turkey and reserve for later use, if desired. Wash the turkey inside and out with cold water and then place it in the bucket or brining bag. Cover with the brining liquid and then place in a cold place for at least 6 to 12 hours, turning once halfway through the brining process.
  3. After removing the turkey from the brine, rinse it, and then pat it dry to prevent soggy skin. You may also place the turkey on a wire rack in the refrigerator set on a baking sheet and allow it to dry overnight.
  4. To roast the turkey:
  5. Preheat oven to 275 degrees and place turkey in a roasting pan. Cover with foil and bake, approximately 10 minutes per each pound.
  6. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees and remove foil. Brush the turkey with melted butter every 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees.
http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/how-to-brine-a-turkey/

If you have turkey tips, leave ‘em in the comments below!

Looking for some other dishes to serve along-side your perfectly brined turkey?

Try these:

This Ultimate Green Bean Casserole is a fresh spin on the classic, using fresh mushrooms and cream to replace the traditionally used canned condensed soup. #recipes #thanksgiving #side dishes

 

 With just three basic ingredients, this Simple Cranberry Sauce comes together in practically the same amount of time that it takes you to open the canned version!

 

Copycat King's Hawaiian Rolls from www.kitchenmeetsgirl.com - these taste just as good as the store bought version, and are so easy to make: even for the novice bread maker like me! #recipes #bread

pumpkin-marshmallow-pie-title

XO, Ashley

 

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The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

This Ultimate Green Bean Casserole is a fresh spin on the classic, using fresh mushrooms and cream to replace the traditionally used canned condensed soup.  Believe me, this version is worth a bit of extra work!

This Ultimate Green Bean Casserole is a fresh spin on the classic, using fresh mushrooms and cream to replace the traditionally used canned condensed soup. #recipes #thanksgiving #side dishes

If your family is like mine, green bean casserole is standard fare on the Thanksgiving table {our group usually demolishes two 9×13 casserole dishes in a matter of minutes}…but it’s also one of those dishes that isn’t given much thought. Pop open a few cans of green beans, stir in some cream of mushroom soup, a bit of milk, dump on some fried onions, and you’re done.

Even though we scarf it down like it’s going out of style, green bean casserole has never been anything “special” in my family.

Until now.

In this version, you’ll use fresh green beans.  You’ll cook those for just a few minutes in boiling water, drain them, then quickly plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking.  This process is called blanching.  Blanching vegetables will have the added effect of making them more brightly colored, and preserve some of their crispness.

Mushy green beans = thumbs-down.

This Ultimate Green Bean Casserole is a fresh spin on the classic, using fresh mushrooms and cream to replace the traditionally used canned condensed soup. #recipes #thanksgiving #side dishes

Next, you’ll skip that can of condensed mushroom soup!  You’re going to make your own version of a mushroom white sauce.  It’s super easy, and takes only about 10 to 15 minutes.  Again, a few minutes longer than opening a can, but it’s sooooo much better!  All you have to do is combine a bit of butter, fresh mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper in a dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

Then, add a tablespoon of flour and cook for one minute – add in chicken broth and cream and simmer until the mixture is thickened.  Stir in your green beans and then arrange that yummy goodness into your baking dish.

This Ultimate Green Bean Casserole is a fresh spin on the classic, using fresh mushrooms and cream to replace the traditionally used canned condensed soup. #recipes #thanksgiving #side dishes

I don’t know about you, but I love those french fried onions in a can!  But to give your casserole that extra punch, combine the store-bought variety with some freshly made buttered bread crumbs.  Believe me, you’ll never go back to your old version again!

Let’s talk: What are your family’s favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

approximately 10-12 servings, one 9x13 casserole

The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

    For the topping:
  • 4 slices hearty bread, torn into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 ounces (about 3 cups) canned fried onions
  • For the beans and sauce:
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

    For the topping:
  1. Combine the bread pieces, softened butter, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until crumbles are coarse. Toss with canned fried onions in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. For the beans and sauce:
  3. Preheat oven to 425 and adjust rack to middle position. Fill a large pot with ice water and set aside. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  4. Boil about 4 quarts of water in a dutch oven. Add beans and 2 tablespoons salt. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the beans are bright green and crisp-tender. Drain the beans into a colander, and then quickly plunge the colander into the ice water to stop the cooking. Spread the beans onto the lined baking sheets to drain.
  5. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in the dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add butter, garlic, 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook until the mushrooms release their moisture and then liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add 3 tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add in the broth and simmer, stirring constantly. Stir in the heavy cream and cook until liquid thickens and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, or for about 12 to 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
  7. Stir in green beans, and then pour bean mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish. Spring with topping and bake at 425 until golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
  8. If you want to make this ahead, mix up your bread-crumb topping and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Combine with onions just before baking. You may make the bean and sauce mixture and refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours. To serve, heat casserole in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then add topping and bake as directed above.

from Cook's Illustrated

http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/the-ultimate-green-bean-casserole/

XO, Ashley

 

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