About Laura

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Candy making, of any kind, was always something I was terrified of in the kitchen. I eased myself into it with Salted Caramel Sauce, then pushed myself a little further when I made Vanilla Bean Caramels for the first time. After those two things, I wasn’t scared of it anymore. The next thing I wanted to conquer was peanut brittle, which is one of the husband’s favorite thing on the planet.

My mom used to make cashew brittle all the time at Christmas, as a homemade treat for gift-giving, and it was delicious. But, I’d say my standard for peanut brittle was set when I first had See’s. Buttery, chock-full of peanuts, and tender to the bite – it was everything that a peanut brittle should be. After trying several recipes, I’ve narrowed it down to this one as coming the closest to what I’ve been searching for.

I like to use Spanish peanuts (still in their skins) for my peanut brittle. I usually find them around the bulk nut section of the produce department this time of year. But, I’ve also made it with regular old cocktail peanuts.

I usually make a couple batches to give as gifts, as it can be made well in advance. And folks are usually happy to receive something other than cookies. You can also swap out the peanuts for cashews, or even mix. Just keep a very close eye on it once you’ve added the nuts, as the temperature rises very quickly towards the end of cooking time!

Source: adapted from Food.com

Cranberry Margaritas

Happy Friday, guys! With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, I figured a festive cocktail was in order. I’ve made margaritas with almost every fruit under the sun now, but this cranberry version has always stood out as one of my favorites.

A cranberry syrup is made from fresh cranberries and sugar, then pushed through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp. Then the usual suspects are added for margarita mixing…tequila, triple sec, and margarita mix. Which, if you’re not doing so already – save yourself several bucks and make your own! It’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. You (and your cocktails!) will thank me.

I like to serve them with a sugar rim that’s had a bit of orange zest mixed into it, but a standard salt rim is also wonderful. Garnished with a few cranberries and a wedge or two of citrus, it doesn’t get any more festive than this!

Their gorgeous red hue lends perfectly to Christmas parties, especially since a large batch can be made up in advance and refrigerated until party time. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Homemade Stromboli

Since I’ve gone homemade, pizza Friday has long been the favorite night of the week at our house. There’s just something about making your own dough and sliding that pizza pie into the oven in your own kitchen that is so satisfying!

But, about once a month we like to turn our favorite pizzas into homemade stromboli. It’s a little different, and adds some variety! Dough is rolled out into a long oval, toppings and cheese are piled on, then everything is rolled up together and baked. Pizza sauce is served on the side for dipping, as opposed to inside the roll – which tends to make this Italian specialty soggy.

They’d be great for a party or Holiday get-together too, as they’re served as individual slices. I also love the fact that I can cook two of them in the oven at the same time. With pizza, I’m limited to one at a time.

Toppings can vary of course. I’ve found that when I use veggies, I like to give them a quick saute or roast first to release some of the moisture. I’ve done mushrooms, onions, and peppers that way to make a delicious veggie stromboli. But, I’d say our favorite variation is pretty traditional – deli pepperoni and salami with mozzarella and provolone cheese.  If I have some deli ham in the refrigerator I’ll occasionally add that in too. Whatever floats your boat – the only limit is your imagination!

Homemade Stromboli

2 balls pizza dough
cornmeal, for dusting
1/4 lb. deli-sliced pepperoni (sandwich sized)
1/4 lb. hard salami
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 slices Provolone cheese
olive oil
pizza sauce, for serving

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.

On a clean work surface, use your hands to spread pizza dough into a 12×6-inch oval. In the center of the dough, place the half of the sliced pepperoni, leaving a 2-inch border at the ends to wrap. Repeat with the half of the salami and half of the sliced Provolone cheese. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on top, right down the middle.

Tuck the ends of the oval in on top of the cheeses. Then, take the flap of dough closest to you and fold it up and over the toppings, then tuck and roll the stromboli over. Seal the other side of the dough into the stromboli by pinching it closed with your fingers.

Carfeully place the stromboli on the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat process with the remaining ingredients to make another stromboli.

Using a serrated knife, slash the top of the dough gently, 4 or 5 times to create pockets for air to escape. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil.

Carefully slide the parchment paper with the stromboli onto the hot baking stone. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve with individual servings of pizza sauce.

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As I mentioned on Friday’s post, I joined in on a really fun virtual cookie swap with some other bloggers. These gals really came through with a whole slew of different and delicious cookies!

I’m always looking for something new to bake each year, to go along with our traditional favorites – and all of these look like sweet treats my family would enjoy. I know yours will too! I just hope I have time to bake them all before Christmas…

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