Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved chocolate studded cake and sweet breads and she dreamed of what it would be like to create a chocolate chip cake/bread fusion. Little did she know that this amazing confection already existed.
When I first discovered the chocolate chip panettone - I was blown away. This was the egg rich, chocolate chip loaded sweet bread with cake like qualities that I had been dreaming of. Traditionally, panettone is made with whisky soaked raisins but let's face it - no one dreams of breads studded with raisins. It's not that I'm opposed to fruit laden sweet breads but I would argue that chocolate chips just add more oompf to this delicious creation.
Chocolate chip panettone is one of the greatest breads ever. Want to know why? The first couple of days after the bread is baked, I slice off giant wedges and eat it for breakfast. If there is any panettone left after day two, the remainder gets toasted and enjoyed warm with a thin pat of butter. I have the best of intentions of turning the leftover sweet bread into french toast after day 4 but to be honest - our panettone has never lasted that long.
Chocolate Chip Panettone
3/4 cup warm milk
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Remove loaf from pan and let cool 3 hours.
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread originally from Milan. I did a little research into the Panettone and discovered that it's name is believed to be loosely translated into "cake of luxury." I couldn't agree more.
Just imagine gathering up all of your favorite local restaurants in one place where you could sample all of their best dishes. That would be incredible, right? Well last month, my dream came true. I first heard about this amazing event called the "Taste of Monroe" on Facebook and I bought tickets immediately. All of my favorite local restaurants (and future restaurants) were represented -- and they all brought samples!!!
Our ticket price covered all of the tastings. There was everything from beer and wine samples to honey fried chicken with collards to waffle house waffles. And yes, I sampled it all. You didn't think that I would pass up a hot fudge sundae from Scoops, did you?
From top to bottom and left to right
Shrimp and Grits from South on Broad
Mr. Jones Burger from LR Burger
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup from Panera
Asiago Cheese Bagel Bites from Panera
Bok Choy Broth from Bruce's Sweet Shop
Barbecued Chicken from Shanes Rib Shack
Honey Fried Chicken and Collards over Cornbread from The Monroe Country Club
Pesto Shrimp Chip from Silver Queen
Honey Hot Boneless Chicken Wing from Amicis
Buffalo Chicken Dip and Chicken Salad from the Cotton Cafe
Waffles from Waffle House
Hot Fudge Sundae from Scoops
Toffee Marshmallow from Scoops
Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream from Bruce's Sweet Shop
Cupcake Display from Posh Cupcakery
My personal favorite was the Shrimp and Grits from South on Broad. I didn't think that I was a grits fan but this was so good that I found myself desperately trying to scrape the last of the grits out of the bottom of my cup with my empty shrimp tail. It was THAT good.
It was really interesting to see what each restaurant chose to offer as their "taste" at the event. Just imagine that you could only offer someone one taste from the repertoire of things that you make in your own kitchen. What would it be?
Thanksgiving dinner at the Davis house this year was a compilation of talents. I asked each guest to contribute their best dish to the meal. Roll baking duty always goes to my mom because - well, we can all agree that she's the roll master. My MIL brought stuffing and cranberries. And, after I passed out all of the cooking assignments for the dinner - there really wasn't much left for me to make.
Thanks to a willing sister in law - I didn't even have to make the green beans for Thanksgiving this year. I actually like to make green beans but blogging a new recipe with a house full of dinner guests while entertaining on Thanksgiving is a recipe for disaster - trust me. I made these beans for Ben and I a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and we really enjoyed them.
I am especially thankful for everyone who contributed to our Thanksgiving meal this year. Pulling together our best dishes is a great way to put on a great meal.
Green Beans Amandine
8 ounces haricots verts
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Did anyone else mistakenly refer to these green beans as "almondine"? I've made other versions of this recipe for years and I've always referred to them as green beans almondine. My bad. It does make me wonder though, how many of my other recipes I've been pronouncing incorrectly.
Two turkeys, 15 pounds of mashed potatoes, 6 pounds of sweet potatoes, 4 dozen rolls, 2 salads, gravy, stuffing, green beans, corn casserole, cranberries, 2 pies, 1 cake, 1 tart, chocolate pretzels, sugar cookies and homemade ice cream. I would say that Thanksgiving 2018 was a feast of epic proportions. These are the meals that home chefs live for. Lots of food, lots of wine, pretty table decorations and plenty of guests to enjoy it all.
Before we dove into any of that scrumptious Thanksgiving fare - we kicked off our meal with a bowl of creamy lobster bisque. Inspired by the darling little pumpkin bakers that really became table decorations, I decided to start off our meal with a somewhat non-traditional soup course. Lobster bisque was the first thing that came to mind when I started to think through hearty soups to compliment our Thanksgiving meal. After all, who doesn't like lobster?
8 lobster tails
1 stick butter
1/3 cup olive oil
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 yellow onions, diced
4 stalks celery, sliced
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
Place steamer basket in bottom of a large pot and add 1" of water. Bring to a boil. Add 2-3 lobsters at a time, cover and steam 2 1/2 minutes. Reserve water in bottom of pot.
Remove tails, split tails in two and remove meat. Chop meat. Reserve shells. Refrigerate lobster meat.
Chop shells into 1" pieces.
Add brandy and cook 5 minutes. Add wine and cook another 5 minutes on high.
Add reserved steaming water and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered for 1 hour.
Ladle bisque into bowls and top with warmed lobster meat and garnish with parsley and tarragon.
We had 21 people at our house on Thanksgiving to eat up all that delicious food, but we still managed to end up with enough leftovers to get us through at least a couple of extra meals. We did NOT have a lot of leftover lobster bisque though. I guess that means that it was a hit.
No matter how prepared I think I am for Christmas, I inevitably find myself pulling together at least a few last minute gifts. When there's no time left to shop - I head to my kitchen for gift inspiration.
What better way to say "Merry Christmas" than with a batch of snowy White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins? Whip up a batch of these tasty muffins and pass them out to a deserving teacher, a friendly neighbor, a helpful friend or a stressed out co-worker.
White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
Spoon into well greased mini muffin tins. Bake 5 minutes at 425. Turn oven down to 350 and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes.
Allow muffins to cool on wire racks.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
I do a lot of online shopping at Christmas time and our delivery drivers (USPS, Fed Ex and UPS) not only have to make frequent stops at my house in December, they also have to endure the antics of a very rambunctious Weimaraner. I feel like I need to thank these tireless delivery drivers so I may just have to prepare a little bucket of treats to leave outside my door this week. I saw this idea on Pinterest.
If I tuck in a few of my White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins - my bucket will be complete. Now all I have to figure out is how to keep the dog OUT of the treat bucket.
I started the tradition of making Gingerbread houses with my kids from the time they were barely old enough to stick cereal pieces onto a frosted Gingerbread roof from their high chair. I've got to say that our first attempts at Gingerbread houses were pretty sorry looking. They were less than structurally sound to begin with and then we would pile on as much candy as we could before the eventual collaspse occurred. It took years to convince my kids that the HEAVIEST Gingerbread house was not necessarily the best house.
Over the years of building Gingerbread houses, our decorating has become a family Christmas tradition. This year was no exception. We had a blast with this years Gingerbread House decorating party. I'm not going to say which house won the decorating contest this year but I will say that MY DAD has officially been asked to step down from the competition. (Seriously - how many years in a row can he win this contest?) From now on he is going to be the Davis family Gingerbread House building CONSULTANT from now on.
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Transfer mixture to bowl of standing mixer. Beat in flour and baking powder.
Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Roll out the Gingerbread to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters.
Place on silpat lined cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes at 350.
Let pieces sit at room temperature until firm. (I like to let mine sit out overnight to dry.) Assemble front, back and sides first. Let dry before adding roof.
Now the fun begins - Decorate!!!
If the novelty of new toys has already worn off and you're looking for a great way to entertain your kids for the next few days until they go back to school - let them create a gingerbread house. The sheer amount of snacks and sugar will draw them to this activity and it will keep them busy for hours.
We decorated our Gingerbread houses on Christmas night but there's no reason that you cant make it a New Years Eve activity. Oh, and if you need some Gingerbread House consulting - you can contact my dad. ;)
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