Monday, October 31, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is my go to breakfast or dessert when I'm entertaining large groups.

It's quick,  you can make it in large quantities,  it's inexpensive and most importantly its ridiculously decadent and delicious.   It's also microwavable for days. You know how Chinese food tastes better the next day? It's almost like that.

My friends who stayed with us in the Outer Banks this weekend have already emailed me that they are craving it again. Yup ... and it's just. bread. pudding. I dare you to not like it .... it's impossible.

Sometimes I will throw in butterscotch or white chocolate chips, maybe even some coconut flakes. You could do so much with it, but never leave out the caramel topping.

Shopping List (serves 8-10)
1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread, cubed
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup caramel sauce (at least)
(if you add candy chips about one cup will do the trick)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl add your bread, eggs, milk, cream and sugar. Combine with your hands or a large spoon. Grease a 9x13 brownie or cake pan and pour in your bread mixture.

Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the edges are completely golden. Top generously with caramel sauce and sprinkle on some more brown sugar. Serve warm or cold  -- either way its REALLY GOOD.

Best of the Weekend Halloween Edition

Spooktacular weekend in the Outer Banks for Halloween this year ...

I'll take a little wind over rain and snow any day. Did you know that fresh salsa on top of brie cheese on a baguette is really tasty? Scrabble and red wine, good friends, A LOT of laughing, amazing costumes, beachy venues with gorgeous yet creepy chandeliers. Can you ask for anymore?

Happy Halloween! Looking forward to seeing some trick-or-treaters tonight! Drool worthy bread pudding recipe here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brown Sugar and Butter Sweet Potato Cups

How cool would it have been if I had gotten that little meringue whip at the top to form a little heart?

Instead it's just a squiggle ... drat!  Next time (when I make these to impress family members for Thanksgiving) I will remember to be more precise.

Heart or no heart, these little potato cups are awesome.

They are the perfect serving size, kind of like a cupcake, and the brown sugar and butter make the mashed sweet potato decadent while the fluffy sweet meringue seals the deal.

Did I mention they are REALLY easy too?

My next sweet potato adventure will be to duplicate the cinnamon butter that Outback Steak House puts on their sweet potatoes. Has anyone ever had that? It's sooooooo good.

Shopping List (makes 4 small ramekins)
3 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
2 or 3 egg whites (depending how much meringue you want)
1/2 cup white sugar

Boil sweet potatoes in a large pot for a bout 20-30 minutes or until they are easy pierced with a fork. Remove from the pot and the skin should peel off easily. (Be careful not to burn yourself with the steam)

Slice potatoes into smaller pieces and mash with a potato masher. Add your brown sugar and butter. With an electric mixer beat on medium speed until they are smooth and combined.

Rinse your electric mixer parts and in a separate bowl add your egg whites. Whip on high with the mixer adding the white sugar one teaspoon at a time. Whip until soft white peaks form.

Place mashed sweet potato into the ramekins and top with meringue. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until the meringue browns at the top. Serve.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red Hot Candy Apple Jello Shots (in real apples)

While trying to come up with more ideas for fall party treats, I realized I may have been a little selfish recently in only making caramel  apple jello shots ...

While I prefer caramel apples, there are others (like my boyfriend) who like candy apples better ...

I think they are tasty, but they get stuck in my teeth and that drives me crazy...  they sure are glossy and pretty though. 

They make me think of carnivals and circuses, cinnamon red hot candies,  nail polish and sports cars.

This time of year you don't have to wait for a carnival or circus to eat one, along with caramel apples you can find them prepackaged at the grocery store with coconut flakes sprinkled on top. Yum.

For these Red Hot Candy Apple Jello Shots all you need are small red apples, cherry Jello and Goldschl├Ąger (cinnamon schnapps). For a kid friendly non-alcoholic version just use cold water mixed with a tablespoon of cinnamon instead of vodka.

It really does taste just like a candy apple! Here are some tips to remember when making jello shots in apples:

They will brown a little overnight while the jello hardens (I found the red apples browned more quickly) despite the lemon juice trick. Don't worry though, when you slice them before serving, you can slice off the outside layer that has browned the most, leaving you only with fresh white apple!

Also keep an eye on leaking apples. I always have left over jello, don't toss it after you fill the apples. Wait about 20 minutes to see if any have leaked and then use your reserve to refill the apple and level them out.

Buy small apples. Look for the small apples they sell in the bags. You want your slices to be bite sized and regular sized apples will be too big.

Shopping List (makes about 30-40 slices/shots)
5 small red apples
1 cup water
1 cup Goldschl├Ąger (cinnamon schnapps)
1 package cherry Jello (3 oz. package)

1. Half and hollow out  apples cutting them from the stem down. I used a melon baller to hollow the apples and it worked well. After hollowing them squeeze some lemon juice on top to reduce browning. 

2. Boil one cup of water in a sauce pan, add jello and stir until it dissolves. Turn off the heat on your burner.

3. When your mixture is just warm, add the cinnamon schnapps.

4. With your apples arranged so they fit tightly and secure on a cookie sheet or in cupcake tins, pour your  jello mixture into your apples. Refrigerate overnight.

5. Cut halves in quarters and those quarters in half again. Trim the slices that have browned with a paring knife. Serve immediately.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hot Buttered Apple Cider Rum

I know what you're thinking "Butter in a drink?  Where is Paula Deen?"

Well the truth is she inspired this one.  After I saw her cinnamon candy sticks and melting butter pads in this recipe from an old Food Network Magazine  I had to come up with my own version. 

Mine is a bit stronger because I added butterscotch schnapps for a caramel flavor as well.

Soon I will be carving pumpkins with friends on our deck at the beach house with the sound of cold, autumn ocean waves behind me.

And how about drinking these hot toddy's on top of the widows watch while star gazing at night? Yes, I think that will do just fine ... Doesn't Halloween at the beach sound magical?

I might head over to Party City on my lunch break tomorrow and pick up some fake cobwebs and orange blinking lights for the house.

Counting down the days.

Shopping List (makes about 3 cups, depending on mug size)
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 stick of butter and 3 thin butter pads
1/2 cup of rum
1/2 cup butterscotch schnapps

Warm up your cider in a sauce pan until very hot, turn heat to low and add your sugar and butter. When butter has melted pour in your rum and schnapps and stir.

Serve in mugs with a cinnamon candy or green apple candy stick and top with a pad of butter.

Drink responsibly, this is a strong toddy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Red Potato Bites

My Dearest Friend Savory,

A mutual friend emailed me yesterday and let me know that you are feeling neglected. I want to take this opportunity to let you know I am so sorry, and I miss you too.

We go way back and I would never choose cupcakes and jello shots over you, I promise. I hope I can make it up to you, perhaps these little potato bites will do the trick.

Talk to you soon.

Love always,


Imagine cool, light sour cream, seasoned with garlic and salt, melting in your mouth with soft warm potato and fresh herbs.

Fancy it up for a party or feed it to your man during game time. Either way,  it's easy, it's pretty and it's certainly savory.

We saved some left over bites and had them as a side dish for dinner the next night too. I will definitely be making these again. 

Shopping List (makes a dozen potato bites) 
6 baby red potatoes
Roughly 5-6 large tablespoons light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh chopped chives and parsley

Boil your potato bites in salted water until they are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork on all sides.

Cool potatoes slightly and then cut in halves, also slicing a small part off the bottom so they stand upright.

In a separate bowl mix your light sour cream, salt and garlic. Top each potato with the sour cream. Chop and sprinkle your fresh herbs on top.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Best of the Weekend

A picture perfect lunch on the terrace with avocado, blue cheese and chicken salad, garlic stuffed green olives,  jalapeno potato chips, and pomegranate juice.

Gazing at the giant gold fish in Grandpa's garden.  These particular goldfish are at least 15 years old.  Honey was mesmerized by them.

Our fall leaf ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains ...

Finally getting started on Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

And the view from the top ...

Welcome Monday, you're not so bad after such a lovely weekend.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cranberry Margarita

I had planned on posting these really delicious baby red potato bites (a perfect Sunday football snack or party app.) but I'm in such a cranky mood right now that a cocktail just seemed much more appropriate.

It's Friday and I could use a margarita, how about you?

A postal services truck that was going only 10 mph some how managed to cut me off this morning and it was enough to make me curse out loud. 

Coffee splashed out of my mug on to my desk and I almost cried about it because I had just finished cleaning up coffee that I had already spilled in the bathroom while doing my makeup.

I don't know what's going on with me ....  but it's been a rough 24 hours.

All I can say is TGIF.  Tonight we will hop in the car with the Honey Bear and head to Southern Virginia to spend sometime with the grandparents and I think it's just what I need.

Long games of evening scrabble, fall leaf rides through the Blue Ridge Mountains, family brunch and maybe even a trip to a vineyard.

Ahhhhh all better.  Now, about this margarita, local grocery stores just started stocking fresh cranberries in the produce section. Their tart factor is just about the same as a regular lime margarita but the color is GORGEOUS and it's so seasonable.

Rim the glass with sugar and you've got a crowd pleaser, or a mood tamer, whatever you need ;)

Shopping List (makes two cocktails)
1 1/4 cup cranberry juice   
1/2 cup sugar   
1 1/2 cup cranberries (fresh)   
3/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup grand marnier

Place your cranberries and sugar in a sauce pan on medium heat until the berries burst (about 10 minutes). With a bowl or large glass under a strainer, pour your cranberry and sugar mixture into the strainer so that the syrup runs out into the glass or bowl below.

In a cocktail shaker add your cranberry juice, lime juice, tequila, grand marnier, ice and cranberry syrup. Shake vigorously and pour into a sugar rimmed glass.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strawberry Jello Shots in Mini Chocolate Bowls

I kind of feel like if aliens made jello shots on Mars this is what they would look like.

But, either way guess what?  I've discovered you can  get jello to harden in chocolate without it melting and falling apart.

Now .... can you cut them into perfect slices? No, not really ... but the chunks are still really pretty.  I actually think I would rather serve the chunks over the bowls!

Next time I am going to stick with the smaller bowls (the bigger ones break to easily) and I want to try raspberry jello!

Shopping List
1 cup vodka (I used the rest of my bottle of Pinacle Whipped)
1, 3 oz. box strawberry Jello
1 bag chocolate candy melts
Wilton Dessert Dome Candy Mold

(For a kid friendly non-alcoholic version just use cold water instead of vodka)

1. Follow the instructions on these Wilton candy molds from Michaels using any flavor or color Wilton Candy Melt (which you can also purchase at Michaels) I used dark chocolate. After you make the molds put them in the freezer for about 5 minutes to really stiffen them up.

Tip: If your bowls crack just glue them back together with some more melted chocolate.

2. Bring one cup water to a boil and add your jello flavor of choice. After it comes to a boil and all the jello is combined, turn off your heat and let it sit until it's just warm.

3. Add your cup of vodka to the jello and water stir and pour into a cup with a spout. Let it sit until the jello is room temperature. It won't harden in that time. (About 45 minutes)

4. Remove your chocolate bowls from the freezer. Let sit for 5 minutes. If they are too cold they will crack easily.

5. Place your chocolate bowls into a cupcake tin to keep them steady. Pour your jello mixture into the bowls SLOWLY and carefully.

6. Refrigerate over night. To make into chunks wait until the jello is set, run a knife under hot water and then carefully chop the bowls in half.

P.S. Foodbuzz and -- all my favorite people (you) -- nominated me for a Foodbuzz award in the "Most Valuable Foodie" category. MVF! I like the sound of that. Voting is only open for the rest of the week, vote here. Thank you a million times!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Save the Ta-tas Pink Coconut Cupcakes

All this month I've been thinking "pumpkin" but I realized yesterday that I should be thinking  pink  instead.

How could I not think pink with the deluge of pink products everywhere I look?  Pink North Face jackets, pink football jerseys,  pink grapefruit Tic-Tacs, and even limited edition pink Essie nail polish.

But at the end of the day,  it's not about the pink merchandise, ribbons, or even these adorable pink cupcakes.  It's about hope and positivity.

About one in eight women in the United States (12%) will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, but in 2010 there were more than 2.5 million survivors. Hope.

Click here to join the fight against breast cancer and make a donation to Save the Ta-tas.

Pink Coconut Cupcakes
(Yields almost 2 dozen cupcakes)
1 box vanilla cake mix
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup Kelapo Coconut Oil (I've basically replaced my canola oil with this stuff, it's amazing with just about everything and has so many health benifits)
1/2 container store bought butter cream frosting
1 jar maraschino cherries with stems 
1 package 7 oz. sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix, eggs, water, and coconut oil with an electric mixer or whisk until combined. Fill a muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners then fill 1/3 of each liner with mix. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick test works. Let cool completely

Scoop your frosting into a large bowl and pour two tablespoons of the cherry juice, from the jar of maraschinos, into the frosting. Mix until combined (frosting should turn light pink). Frost your cupcakes with a butter knife with about one tablespoon each cupcake.

Pour some of your coconut flakes into a smaller bowl. Add about one tablespoon of  cherry juice into the flakes (coconut should also turn light pink). Dip your cupcake into the pink coconut (frosting side) to top each one. Fluff up the coconut to loosen after each cupcake.

Top with a cherry.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gluten Free Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Party Cookies

Happy Friday before a long weekend everyone! I'd like you to meet my friend Liz from Reston Style, trying out "Reston Style in the Kitchen." Liz does some amazing things with gluten free ingredients, which I admittedly know nothing about,  but probably should.

I mean soft baked, peanut butter, chocolate chip, gluten free, party cookies? She had me at cookie. Okay, meet Liz:

Michelle is the nicest friend EVER for letting me show off my party cookies on her blog!

I fell in love with the Betty Crocker gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix when I recreated Michelle's bacon-chocolate-chip cookies a few months ago.  I also learned that if you follow the recipe on the box you get a fairly good traditional chocolate chip cookie,  BUT if you use egg whites instead of a whole egg you get SOFT BAKED cookies,  which are my favorite!


Now since my blog, Reston Style, is all about adding a touch of style to your daily life, I decided that these cookies would look (and taste) better with a splash of color! I mean, sprinkles make everything better, right?! And trust me, you will not be able to tell that these cookies are gluten free. My friend (and cookie connoisseur), Reid, thought they were amazing!


Shopping List: (makes 2 dozen cookies)

Betty Crocker gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix
real vanilla (it's already GF)
Reeses peanut butter chips (variations - any other extra candy chips)
1 stick of room temperature butter
Carton egg whites (or the whites of 2 eggs)
Colored jimmy sprinkles

Follow the recipe on the back of the box and mix everything together, replacing the egg with 3 tbs of egg whites (or the whites of 2 eggs), add 1/3 of the bag of peanut butter chips and 1/2 the small jar of sprinkles and mix it with your hands in a large bowl (it's too gooey for a spoon).

Once it's really mixed, wash your hands and form the cookies into 1/2 inch thick circles. Because of all the butter, they shouldn't stick to your hands at this point. The smoother you make the dough circles, the prettier your cookies will be since they don't spread as much as traditional chocolate chip cookies.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove them from the baking sheet right from the oven with a spatula and place them on a cookie rack to cool for at least 5 minutes, then enjoy your super soft baked, gluten free cookies! Store extras in a ziplock for up to a week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

I have to force myself to eat breakfast every morning.  If it were up to me I would simply drink coffee until it was time for lunch, but we all know that skipping breakfast tells your body to store more fat  (no thank you!)  so I bought some bagels this week to bring to work.

Just like everyone else in the United States I also bought some canned pumpkin  ...  Have you ever had pumpkin cream cheese?

If not,  you should.  It's velvety smooth  and  ... By adding more pumpkin than cream cheese you are cutting the fat content of your breakfast in half!

Two table spoons pumpkin,  one table spoon cream cheese,  some spices and voila!  I'm going to make this at the beach for our Halloween extravaganza too.  I hope everyone doesn't get all "pumpkin"ed out.  Impossible.

Although, there is rumor of a pumpkin shortage ...  now that would be a scary Halloween.

Shopping List (enough for over a dozen bagels)
8 oz. cream cheese
15 oz can organic pumpkin
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tea spoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger

In a bowl mix half of your can of pumpkin with 4 tablespoons cream cheese (always feel free to taste test to your liking adding more of less pumpkin or cream cheese) add your honey and spices and mix.

When all is combined spread on top of of toast or a bagel.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Ale Sundae

I have a really hard time throwing away my food magazines.  I found this recipe in a Food Network Magazine from November 2009.  Food just never goes out of style ya know?

I tweaked their "Guinness sundae" into a pumpkin ale sundae.  I'm not really a beer drinker, but there is something about drinking "pumpkin" beer  (on top of ice cream!)  that makes it sound much better.

Not to mention that it's beer reduced in sugar and butter ... how can you say no to that?

By the way, it's FREEZING in Virginia/DC right now.  Did a cold front move into your neighborhood last night too?  It's like we skipped fall and it's winter already.  Not cool.

Shopping List (makes at-least 5 sundaes)
1 bottle (12 oz.) Pumpkin ale
1/2 cup Brown sugar
4 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Cocoa powder
Vanilla ice cream
Shortbread cookies

Bring one pumpkin ale or other stout beer and 1/2 cup brown to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat and cook until syrupy, (watch carefully it over boils easily from the carbonation) about 15 minutes.

Whisk in 4 tablespoons diced cold butter and then cocoa powder until combined. Let cool.

Drizzle over vanilla or butter your choice of ice cream and serve with shortbread cookies.
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