Lightbulb Oven: Winter cocktail edition!

I love winter beverages! Here's a few that I wanted to share before New Year's. Believe me when I say I will be having all three of these before we exit 2009.

Caramel Hot Chocolate

For a grown ups-only version of this yummy drink, add about 2 ounces of Godiva or Starbucks liqueur, Kahlua, or dark rum to this dessert-worthy drink.

Per serving

1 cup milk
3 caramels (or 2 tablespoons caramel sauce)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Combine the milk and caramels or caramel sauce in a small saucepan
over low heat. Whisk to melt caramel. When caramels are blended in,
whisk in cocoa. Continue whisking to blend and froth slightly. Serve
with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Bourbon Milk Punch

I am kind of in love with this Southern drink! Even though it's cold, it's kind of rich so I think better suited for winter than warm weather. I also like to add seltzer and a little vanilla sometimes for a grown-up egg cream.

For each cocktail

2 ounces bourbon or dark rum
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
8 ounces milk
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Cracked ice

In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, sugar, and milk. Add ice to
fill and shake to mix. Strain into a tall glass and top with a
sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.

Homemade Eggnog

If you've only had eggnog from a carton, you really need to try a homemade one. It's much less cloyingly sweet and so much more satisyfing! It can also be made without bourbon if you prefer.

4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 cup bourbon
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch cloves

Combine the egg yolks and half the sugar in a heatproof bowl. Heat
inch water in a saucepan until simmering and place the bowl on top.
Whisk until the yolks have thickened and are pale yellow. Whisk in
the milk and bourbon and remove from the heat. In the bowl of a mixer,
whip the egg whites and the remaining sugar until soft peaks form.
Fold a third of the whites into the yolk mixture, then gently fold
that mixture back into the rest of the whites.

Beat the cream, nutmeg, and cloves until the cream is thickened but
not stiff. Fold into the egg mixture and chill until ready to serve.


I can't believe it's nearly over.

Happy December, you guys! 2009 has been such an, um, interesting year. ItalicAnd I think 2010 will be just as action-packed. Hope you're all enjoying winter's appearance (finally!) and staying warm.

This month's recipes:

Almond Joy Macaroons: Made with cocoa nibs and almond flour, these cookies are quick to make and so much better than a candy bar!

Wedding Soup: My new favorite soup!

Grandmother Bread: I found the original version of this recipe on an amazing website called Chickens in the Road. It's so easy to make homemade bread--there's not much more delicious than a slice of fresh-from-the-oven bread.

Have a great December!


Grandmother Bread

This recipe is based on the one I found on Suzanne McMinn's awesome website. (She's living the dream, y'all. My dream, anyway.) I use the whey left over from cheesemaking for this bread, but you can use water or milk if you're not feeling super-industrious.

3 cups water (a mixture of equal parts milk and water), warmed to about 112°F
1 envelope dry yeast
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar or mildly-flavored honey
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 4 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, stir together the liquid, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let it stand 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups of the AP flour and 1 cup WW flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of WW flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more AP flour and begin kneading. Continue adding both kinds of flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cowl with a towel and let dough rise in a warm spot until doubled. (Usually about an hour.) Sprinkle in a little more WW flour and knead again, then divide the dough in half. Shape the dough into boules (round loaves) or regular oblong loaves and place into greased round or loaf pans. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and let rise about an hour, until the dough fills the pan and is nearly doubled again.

Heat the oven to 350°F and bake until golden and the loaves sound kind of hollow when you tap them.

Let cool for about 5 minutes in the pans, then turn out and let cool on a rack. (Or do what I do and cut a slice and eat it with butter right away.)

Wedding Soup

The name of this soup is a misnomer: it is not served at weddings; instead, the name refers to the "wedding" of meat, pasta, and vegetables in this soup. I love it because it's hearty enough to be satisfying but not so heavy it makes me sleepy.

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup grated romano
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
2 large carrots, diced
4 ribs celery with leaves, diced1/2 gallon chicken stock
1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced and washed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt, to taste

1 cup acini di pepe or stelline pasta, cooked to al dente and rinsed

In a medium bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients until blended.
Cover and refrigerate while making the rest of the soup.

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the
onion and garlic and stir just until the onion is translucent. Add the
oregano, carrots, and celery and saute for about 2 minutes. Season
with salt, add the chicken stock and bring just to a boil. Turn down
the heat and let the soup just barely simmer while you make the

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment. To make the
meatballs, scoop out rounded teaspoons of the mixture and roll them
between your palms to make smooth balls. Place them as you form them
on the lined baking sheet.

Bring the soup up to a real simmer. Add the meatballs to the soup a
few at a time and and let the soup simmer until they are almost cooked
through, about 8 minutes. Add the kale and simmer about 5 minutes more.

Stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning.* Just before serving, add
the pasta.

*The soup can be prepared up to this point a day ahead. Refrigerate
until cold, then cover. Reheat before adding the pasta.

almond joy macaroons

    I made these on a whim when I was craving candy but didn't want a real candy bar. They definitely scratched the itch, and then some.

    4 large egg whites

    Pinch salt

    1/2 cup sugar

    4 ounces unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted and cooled (see below)

    1/4 cup cocoa nibs

    1/2 cup ground almonds (or almond flour)

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil. Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the baking sheet and toast in the oven just until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Re-line the baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil.

    In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip egg whites and salt until they become white and begin to stiffen. Add the sugar in 3 parts. Continue to whip until the egg whites are very stiff but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the toasted coconut, cocoa nibs, and almonds.

    Drop the mixture by tablespoons onto the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch around each cookie. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The outside should be golden brown but the insides should still be moist. Let cool completely before removing from the pan.

    Makes about 2 dozen.