How To Make Edible Holiday Centerpieces

by Jackie Alpers on December 21, 2014

Doughnut tree made out of white powdered supgar donut holes for christmas winter wonderland centerpiece that you can eat.

In my latest article for the Food Network I show you how to make 5 fun, edible holiday centerpieces, including this tree made out of powdered sugar doughnut hole. Here’s how!

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Parmesan Crisps with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

by Jackie Alpers on December 18, 2014

Parmesan crisps with caviar

Festive enough for New Year’s Eve, this pretty appetizer only takes about 5 minutes to make. Bacon infused caviar adds an unique smokiness that will intrigue your guests and is fairly inexpensive, but any decent quality caviar will do. The one-ingredient parmesan crisps are a savory, no-carb alternative to blini.

Parmesan Crisps with Caviar and Crème Fraîche
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 ounce caviar
1/4 cup crème fraîche

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler to 480-500 degrees.
  2. Line a half baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Drop 1-to-2 tablespoons of the shredded Parmesan onto the baking sheets into tiny mounds. Bake 5 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely and loosen with a spatula. Top each parmesan round with a dollop of crème fraîche and caviar. Serve immediately.
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/12/18/parmesan-crisps-with-caviar-and-creme-fraiche/

Pile the shredded Parmesan into tiny mounds.

Jackie_Alpers_Photography_caviar_appetizer_Prep

Each of the crisps are unique and look like jeweled works of art.

Parmesan crisps with caviar

 

Parmesan crisps with caviar

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Snack of the Day: Cincinnachos! – Cincinnati-Style Chili Cheese Nachos: recipe and photo by Jackie Alpers

Ohio meets Arizona! Cincinnati style chili cheese nachos – Cincinnachos as they will henceforth be known. The best of everything for snacking season.

Start with My Recipe for Cincinnati Style Turkey Chili, substituting ground grass-fed beef or vegetarian ground beef crumbles if you prefer.

Cincinnachos! – Cincinnati-Style Chili Cheese Nachos
1 bag of good quality tortilla chips such as Trader Joe's Whole Grain or Blue Corn chips
1 cup of black or kidney beans, rinsed
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
Hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread a layer or tortilla chips onto the sheet. Drop spoonfuls of warm chili onto the tortilla chips then top with beans and onions. Cover with an even layer of cheese.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese melts, being careful not to burn the tortilla chips.
  5. Remove from oven and distribute the jalapenos on top of the warm nachos. Sprinkle with your favorite hot sauce and enjoy!
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/11/16/cincinnachos-cincinnati-style-chili-cheese-nachos/

 

Snack of the Day: Cincinnachos! – Cincinnati-Style Chili Cheese Nachos: recipe and photo by Jackie Alpers

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Mini German pancakes with Greek Yogurt. Photo & recipe by Jackie Alpers.

These healthier German pancakes are topped with fat-free Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, reducing the sugar content. I added a little spreadable fruit and garnished them with confectioners’ sugar so they still taste sweet. This recipe was first published on iVillage.com

Min German Pancakes with Greek Yogurt, Berries & Stone Fruit
3 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond-milk or low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh berries
1/2 cup sliced or julienned stone fruit, such as peaches or plums
1/4 cup mixed berry spreadable fruit (optional)
Confectioners' sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Dump all of the batter ingredients into a blender and pulse into smooth.
  3. Pour batter into greased or lined muffin tins, filling half-way.
  4. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until puffy and brown. The pancakes will deflate when you remove them from the oven.
  5. Spoon a tablespoon of yogurt followed by a teaspoon of spreadable fruit.
  6. Decorate with berries and stone fruit slices and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Enjoy!
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/11/12/mini-german-pancakes-with-greek-yogurt-berries-stone-fruit/

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Thai Grilled Chicken Thighs

by Jackie Alpers on November 3, 2014

Thai grilled chicken recipe and photo by Jackie alpers

All of the ingredients for authentic Thai cuisine are available at most grocery stores. Sambal Oelek and Thai fish sauce can be found in most Asian food sections. This recipe was originally published on iVillage.com

  • Thai Grilled Chicken Thighs
    4 chicken thighs
    3/4 cup light coconut milk
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil, preferably sesame oil
    1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
    2-3 tablespoons spicy Thai chili paste such as Sambal Oelek
    1 teaspoon fresh or freeze dried minced cilantro
    1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
    1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
    1 tablespoon chopped green onion
    1 tablespoon sesame seeds

    Instructions

    1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients. Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade for basting.
    2. Put the rest of the marinade in a resealable plastic bag along with the chicken thighs and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours. Discard used marinade.
    3. Grill over medium heat, covered, until cooked throughout, about 6-8 minutes on each side.
    4. Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds and serve with the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce.
    http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/11/03/thai-grilled-chicken-thighs/

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I’m Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving

by Jackie Alpers on November 3, 2014

 Recipe for spicy mashed potatoes and gravy served with biscuits for Thanksgiving

There was a time in history when an all white meal consisting mostly of flour and milk was the most depressing idea imaginable. In Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”, Ebenezer Scrooge famously sat down to a bowl of gruel awaiting him, while ghosts sat in its wake. This was supposed to signify how miserable and miserly he was.

I used to be a bit of a scrooge myself when it came to Thanksgiving dinner. I hate stuffing, I hate green bean casserole… and turkey tastes the same as it does on any other day. The only part of the meal that I looked forward to was the mashed potatoes, and the gravy which I’d use to smother the rest of that mess in.

Then I met my husband. One of the first things that we did as a couple was come up with our own Thanksgiving ritual. Early Thanksgiving morning we go to the fancy supermarket on the other side of town and buy whatever we want. That first year it was Yellow Yukon potatoes for mashing, the white vegetarian gravy that comes in an envelope, Pillsbury Grands, good wine and something special for the cats.

We’ve pretty much stuck with that, though every year we also select a new chili-pepper-heavy spice blend, incorporated in with spice blends from Thanksgivings past, which we mix with an unusual amount of butter and the broth from the potatoes to make the spiciest, creamiest mashed potatoes. We then stir the extra broth from the potatoes and a couple of crumbled vegetarian sausage patties into the gravy powder and serve up the whole thing as one wonderful, white, gloppy mess.

Here’s the recipe the best that I can relay it. We have so many spices that I can only say to use your own favorites and season to taste.

Spicy Southwestern Style Mashed Potatoes With Sausage Gravy
3-5 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
2-3 tiny onions, preferably Cipollini onions
4 cans (14.4 ounces each) or two boxes (32 ounces each) of Swanson vegetable broth
4 sausage patties, crumbled, origin of your choice (turkey, soy, pork, etc.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup butter
Suggested spices to taste. We like it hot! 
1 tablespoon New Mexico red chili powder
1 teaspoon Smokey bbq seasoning such as Stubbs
Salt, pepper and all of the other spices you care to improvise with.

Instructions

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes, and then boil them in a large dutch oven with the vegetable broth, onions and a generous portion of spices
  2. When the potatoes are soft, drain them, but keep all of the broth. Leave about a cup of the broth in the dutch oven and smash the potatoes into the broth with some butter and season with all of the spices you can handle.
  3. Whisk two cups of the reserved broth into the gravy mix. Stir in the sausage and and heat according to the package instructions.
  4. Plop a generous portion of the mashed potatoes on a large plate. Make a well in the middle with the serving spoon and fill the hole with gravy. Serve with Pillsbury Grands topped with more gravy, and generous portions of red wine. Eat until you can eat no more.
  5. Then watch a movie and fall asleep happy...and may all of your Thanksgivings be white.
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/11/03/im-dreaming-of-a-white-thanksgiving/

Biscuits cooling on a platter.

biscuits photo by jackie Alpers

A lovely mound of mashed potatoes smothered in sausage gravy.

Thanksgiving recipe for spicy Southwestern mashed potatoes and gravy, served with biscuits.

Biscuits and sausage gravy POV.

Recipe for spicy Tucson style biscuits and gravy.

 

 

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Carb-Free Sausage, Egg & Cheese Muffin Cups

by Jackie Alpers on October 28, 2014

no-flour sausage muffin-cups-JackieAlpers

There’s no flour in these muffin cups, yet they’re still light and fluffy! The secret is to beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. I mixed in spicy Italian chicken sausage and cheddar cheese, but feel free to experiment with your favorite sausage and cheese combinations. This recipe was originally published on iVillage.com.

Carb Free Sausage, Egg & Cheese Muffin Cups
3 eggs, separated
3 ounces low-fat or full-fat cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 pre-cooked Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage links
1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan, for garnish
light butter or creme fraiche for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Put the egg yolks and cream cheese in one bowl and the egg whites and Cream of Tartar in
  3. another bowl.
  4. Blend the egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 to 5
  5. minutes. Then, beat the egg yolks and cream cheese together until smooth, about a minute.
  6. Fold the yolk mixture into the fluffy whites with a rubber spatula, gently so the whites don't
  7. deflate too much.
  8. Remove the sausage from the casing and crumble into the batter. Add the cheddar cheese and
  9. gently fold to combine.
  10. Spoon the batter into 6 greased ramekins or oven-­safe mugs, leaving about 1/2” space at the
  11. top. (It will say on the bottom of the mug if they are oven­-safe.)
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan and cheddar and serve with Creme Fraiche or a pat of butter.
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/10/28/carb-free-sausage-egg-cheese-muffin-cups/

 

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Savarin Chantilly – French Bundt Cake with Apricot Glaze

by Jackie Alpers on October 15, 2014

french bundt cake on wedding buffet table

My niece got married in a field in Oskaloosa, Kansas last weekend. Afterwards we had lunch under a tent. My mother-in-law made all of the desserts including this Savarin, a rich airy cake soaked in a simple syrup and topped with apricot glaze and whipped cream. It’s traditionally served as a feast-day dessert in France. This is her recipe. It’s a little more complicated than the recipes I usually post, but I think it’s worth the effort. 

Savarin Chantilly – French Bundt Cake with Apricot Glaze
1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp yeast)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1/3 cup soft butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 egg
For Savarin Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup (or to taste) rum, kirsch or cognac
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Stir in rum, kirsch or cognac.
For Apricot Glaze
One 12-ounce jar (1/1/4 cups) apricot preserves. Heat in a saucepan at medium-low, then strain to remove solids.
For Crème Chantilly
To make homemade whipped cream, whip 2 cups heavy whipping cream with 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla, or feel free to use pre-made whipped cream.

Instructions

  1. Grease a 12-cup (10-inch) bundt pan.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside.
  3. Stir butter, sugar and salt into scalded milk until butter melts. Cool to lukewarm. Pour into a large bowl. Beat in 1/2 cup of the flour, egg and yeast with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the remaining flour and beat vigorously for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Cover and let rise in warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1 1/4 hours.
  5. Stir down batter and spoon into greased baking pan. Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes longer.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done and top is nicely browned. Cool 5 minutes and remove from mold onto serving plate.
  7. Prick top of Savarin in several places with a fork, and gradually drizzle with Savarin Syrup. Let cake soak up syrup before drizzling on more syrup. Continue until well soaked. This should take 30 minutes to one hour depending on how saturated you want your cake.
  8. Carefully pour warm apricot glaze over Savarin, spreading with a knife or pastry brush to coat completely.
  9. Allow Savarin to cool completely and serve with Whipped Crème Chantilly.
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/10/15/savarin-chantilly-french-bundt-cake-with-apricot-glaze/

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Cake decorated with sprinkles and full sized donuts

Does the thought of having to decorate a cake alarm you? Me too! Squeezing buttercream into and out of a a piping bag, is hard! Forget about me being able to form a flower, or writing someone’s name with that thing. Instead, I came up with some super easy ways to decorate cakes with regular old supermarket standards like these doughnuts. Personally I’d rather celebrate life’s everyday special occasions with  a cake covered in doughnuts instead of frosting flowers any day. You can see the rest of my ideas in my latest post for the Food Network.

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JACKIE ALPERS PHOTOGRAPHY: Nacho bagel  sausage snack

This snack is best eaten very late at night, preferably after attending a party of some other festive gathering. It’s easily assembled and pleasant to look at, even when blurry.

Snack of the Day: Nacho Cheese, Slim Jims and Beer Nuts on a Bagel.
One bagel, any variety
1/4 cup nacho cheese sauce
1 Slim Jim or other thin sausage
1 tablespoon beer nuts
hot sauce, optional

Instructions

  1. Slice and toast a bagel.
  2. Slather it with good quality nacho cheese sauce.
  3. Cut Slim Jims or other thin sausage sticks into small pieces. Arrange on top of cheese topped bagel in a pleasing pattern, and accent with Beer Nuts.
  4. Enjoy!
http://jackieshappyplate.com/2014/09/13/snack-of-the-day-nacho-cheese-slim-jims-and-beer-nuts-on-a-bagel/

Slice and toast a bagel, Slather it with good quality nacho cheese sauce. Cut Slim Jims or other thin sausage sticks into small pieces. Arrange on top of cheese topped bagel in a pleasing pattern, and accent with Beer Nuts. Enjoy!

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