Tag Archives: holiday

Bacon, Apple and Onion Stuffing Muffins

5 Dec

Bacon, Apple and Onion sTUFFINMy last recipe post – Chili-Cheese Wontons was a simple and elegant Hors d’oeuvre for holiday entertaining or a cocktail party. Life would be way too simple if the only entertaining during the holidays were cocktail parties. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple! There are sumptuous and comforting dinners to be served, brunches and lunches to be cooked, and finally guests who stay a few days and need to be fed around the clock.

This is when you need a crowd-pleasing recipe that can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled up to be served as an appetizer or a side dish at dinner or a brunch. That is exactly what I thought when I came across Rachael Ray’s Apple Onion and Stuffin’ Muffin’s recipe. Bread, apples, onions and celery are elements that can be consumed at all mealtimes. Combining them creates a luscious dish that can be savored at various meal occasions. Plus making muffins out of this stuffing nudges it from being just a dinner side to a brunch side or even a heavy appetizer. Holiday Muffins

I made various changes to the original recipe to personalize it. Specifically, I added bacon and introduced a tart apple to add multiple layers of flavor. The smoky and savory flavor profile of the bacon marries harmoniously with the tart granny smith apple as well as the sweet McIntosh apples. There is nothing to not love about these muffins – they are delectable and unique and best of all can be served at any time of the day!

Bacon, Apple and Onion Stuffing Muffins
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray’s Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins
Yields: 12 regular size muffins
Time: Active: 20 minutes; Inactive (Baking) 12-15 minutes

Ingredients
Butter favored cooking spray (Recommended: PAM)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup chopped bacon (I used center-cut thick bacon)
1 fresh bay leaf (use a dried one if you cannot find fresh bay leaves)
4 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped
1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, quartered and chopped
1 ½ McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, quartered and chopped
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
7 cups cubed stuffing mix (Recommended: Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing – Cubed)
2 to 3 cups chicken stock, store-bought from the soup aisle

Note:

  • To make these vegetarian eliminate the bacon. Increase the butter by another 1.5 tablespoons. Substitute the chicken stock with vegetable broth/stock.

Method:
1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a regular muffin tin (12 muffins), liberally with butter-flavored cooking spray and set aside.
2) Preheat a large skillet (12 inch) over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter melts, cook the bacon.
3) Add the bay leaf followed by celery, onions and then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook 5 to 6 minutes or until the vegetables and apples begin to soften.
4) Add the parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet. (This was about 2.5 cups of stock for me) Do not over-wet the mixture as this will make it harder for the muffins to stay together. Taste the mixture and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
5) Remove the bay leaf. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins.
6) Bake until set and crisp on top, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffing muffins from the muffin tray and serve hot or room temperature.

Mulled Wine

26 Nov

I grew up in Mumbai’s moderate (often hot) temperatures and extremely humid climate. Despite having lived for 12 years on the East Coast of America, I fancy going into hibernation each winter. I am a prime example of that over-bundled person you spot on 65-70 degree F day. Considering our winters are a lot colder, I am usually missing in action or devising ludicrous plans to stay warm. On my extensive list of tricks to stay warm, the realistic plan of “consuming copious amounts of hot beverages” ranks right below the unfeasible plan of “staying indoors”. During the day I imbibe abundant cups of hot tea and coffee and in the nights I indulge in my love for red wine.

Last winter, I was at a holiday party where the hostess served Mulled Wine and it took just a sip to conclude that it would become my favorite (alcoholic) winter drink. Mulled wine (also known as Glögg or Gløgg) is a traditional winter drink in Europe. It is usually made with red wine along with various winter spices and served hot or warm. “Mulled” in this context implies heated and spiced. Similar to Sangria in the summer, mulled wine with its combination of spices and honey augments the fruit of the vine.

I found Ina Garten’s recipe online and after a few attempts of adding and subtracting ingredients, this derived recipe is my favorite version. This is also a great way to give new life to a day-old opened bottle of wine. This drink guarantees to warm you and your friends up, while adding to the holiday cheer.

Mulled Wine Recipe
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Mulled Wine
Servings:  14
Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 (750-ml) bottles red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
5 cups apple cider (See note)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 large orange, zested and juiced
6-7 whole cloves
3 star anise
5-6 whole allspice berries
2-3 tablespoons of honey
Garnish: Orange peels or cinnamon sticks (optional)

Note:

  • Fresh apple cider can be found in the refrigerated juice section of all major grocery stores during apple season (Fall/Winter). If you are making this at another time of a year, use shelf-stable apple juice or shelf-stable apple cider.

Method:
1) In a large pot combine the wine, apple cider, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, orange juice, cloves, star anise, allspice berries and honey (per taste). Bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
2) Once it reaches a boil reduce the heat to low and heat for 10 minutes. Taste and add more honey if you want to make it sweeter.
3) Strain and pour into mugs or other hot beverage safe glasses. Add an orange peel or cinnamon stick to each mug to garnish. Serve warm.

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