12 December


Mini Fruitcake Loaves

December 27: National Fruitcake Day

Highlander’s Mum would make traditional fruitcake for the family for Christmas, starting her holiday baking months before to give them time to age in orange juice-soaked cheesecloth. Sometimes she would make large round cakes, other times she would make them in large loaf pans. We make ours mini size to give away as gifts to Highlander’s family who don’t have the time to make them for their own holiday celebrations. They appreciate the childhood memories when they eat fruitcake for Christmas. Slice and serve with hot, heartwarming tea or rich eggnog for a festive holiday snack, especially on National Fruitcake Day!

Recipe

From Highlander’s Mum

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups mixed candied fruit (green and red cherries, lemon and orange peels, candied pineapple pieces, etc.)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 ½ cups mixed, chopped nuts (we used pecans, walnuts and slivered blanched almonds)
  • 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 grated rind of a large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • candied cherries (green and red)

Directions

Mist mini loaf pans or cake pans with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the fruitcake mix, raisins and nuts.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over the mixed fruit and nuts and coat well.

In another bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs and grated lemon rind. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts. Mix this into the above until well blended. Divide the batter evenly into the wells of the mini loaf pan. Top with green and red candied cherries.

Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour (test the cake for doneness with a toothpick and bake for another 10-15 minutes). Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Notes

  • Optional: Soak a piece of cheesecloth in orange juice. Drain the cheesecloth and wrap a mini fruitcake loaf in it. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least two weeks to age.
  • National Fruitcake Month is December. National Fruitcake Toss Day is January 3.

No-Churn Egg Nog Ice Cream

eggnogicecream

December 24: National Egg Nog Day

We look forward to toasting a seasonal drink every Christmas Eve—egg nog! But it has been a warm winter in Texas (and always in Islander’s home state of Hawaii) so we try to keep cool by eating egg nog ice cream. This delightful dessert is a simply sweet alternative (or addition) to Christmas cookies, fruitcake or Yule logs. Enjoy some no-churn egg nog ice cream on National Egg Nog Day! 

Recipe

(Adapted from Delish)

Ingredients

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heaving whipping cream
  • 1 14-ounce can condensed milk
  • ¼ cup egg nog (we used lactose-free, non-alcoholic)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk with egg nog.

eggnogicecreamsteps1

Stir in the ground nutmeg. Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it. Place in a loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap or put the mixture in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Let stand for a few minutes and scoop into cones or dessert dishes. Sprinkle with additional ground nutmeg, if desired.

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Notes

  • Spike up your Christmas “spirit” by mixing in 1-2 teaspoons of rum or rum extract/flavoring in the recipe.
  • Search our blog for other recipes related to egg nog and the winter holidays.

Candied Maple Bacon

December 17: National Maple Syrup Day

Maple syrup and brown sugar on bacon? Oh my! This is a triple threat treat that is both savory and sweet at the same time. It is so irresistible just right out of the oven that we are too impatient to let the candied maple bacon slices cool to a crisp. This snack is definitely not for the health conscious so we rarely indulge on candied maple bacon—except on National Maple Syrup Day (and the upcoming National Bacon Day on December 30)!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thick cut bacon (we used maple flavor)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar

Directions

Line a jelly roll/lipped baking pan with foil and place a wire rack in the middle. Cut the bacon in half and place the slices on top of the wire rack. Brush with maple syrup. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn over the bacon slices on the wire rack. Brush again with maple syrup and sprinkle with more brown sugar. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more or until crisp. Watch carefully to make sure the bacon does not burn. Remove from the oven and immediately place the candied bacon on a sheet of waxed paper to prevent sticking to the wire rack as it cools. Serve at room temperature or reheat if desired.

Notes

  • In addition to December 30, some sources note that other bacon holidays include February 26 and September (the Saturday before Labor Day). These are additional days that we get to indulge in candied maple bacon!
  • Search our blog for other recipes that include maple syrup as an ingredient.

Egg Nog White Russian

eggnogwhiterussian

December 24: National Egg Nog Day

Sip on a seasonal cocktail on Christmas Eve! Add a twist to the traditional White Russian by mixing in egg nog instead of cream or milk in a martini glass. Rim it with cinnamon-sugar for a festive flavor and top this delicious drink with a dollop of whipped cream for a snowy center. Egg Nog White Russian is perfect on National Egg Nog Day and the night before Christmas.

Recipe

(Adapted from Spec’s)

Ingredients

  • Cinnamon-sugar (to rim martini glass)
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces coffee liqueur (we used Kona coffee liqueur)
  • 2 ounces egg nog
  • whipped cream
  • grated nutmeg

Directions

Rim the edge of a martini glass with cinnamon-sugar. Set aside. In a shaker, pour the vodka, coffee liqueur and egg nog. Shake well.

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Pour into martini glass. Garnish with whipped cream and grated nutmeg (optional).

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Notes

  • Try the recipe for Gelatina de Rompope (Mexican Egg Nog Gelatin) for a Christmas Eve dessert on National Egg Nog Day.

Winter Solstice Cocktail

wintersolsticecocktail

December 21: Winter Solstice

‘Tis the season to toast the shortest day of the year with a Winter Solstice cocktail. The citrusy spirit is refreshing and it is fizzy and festive for holiday entertaining. Garnish this drink naturally with the Christmas colors of green and red (mint leaf and raspberry). Then bid farewell to fall and welcome winter with a Winter Solstice cocktail.

Recipe

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces orange vodka (we used Clementine vodka)
  • ½ ounce orange-flavored liqueur (we used Triple Sec)
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ice cubes
  • club soda, chilled
  • 1 mint leaf
  • raspberry

Directions

In a shaker, combine the orange vodka and orange-flavored liqueur, lemon juice and ice.

wintersolsticecocktailsteps1

Shake well and pour into a highball or martini glass. Fill with club soda. Garnish with mint leaf and raspberry. Serve immediately.

wintersolsticecocktailsteps2

Notes

  • Thanks to Cathy M. for giving us some Meyer lemons from her backyard for this cocktail recipe. She had an overabundance of fruit and they were huge and ripe this season.
  • In addition to or in lieu of the cocktail, celebrate the solstice with a wintery sweet soup, ginataan bilo-bilo, during the Dōng Zhì Festival.
  • Search our blog for other holiday beverages and recipes.

Oatmeal Raisin Banana Muffins

December 19: National Oatmeal Muffin Day

If you are dashing through the snow/sun or having a harried holiday, grab a quick and healthy snack—oatmeal raisin banana muffins—to give you some energy to get through the day’s errands, such as buying last-minute Christmas gifts. These muffins are also good to serve to guests with fresh fruit for a simply wholesome breakfast when they visit during winter break. So make some muffins with oatmeal for National Oatmeal Muffin Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Chiquita Bananas)

For the topping

  • ¼ cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking)
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

For the oatmeal raisin banana muffins

  • 2 bananas, overripe and mashed
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter. Mix until well combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl or mixer, mash the bananas with the egg. Stir in the buttermilk. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour and oats mixture.

Add the brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Stir in the pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix until moistened. Fold in the raisins. Scoop the mixture into cupcake papers.

Sprinkle the topping on each muffin. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container. Reheat if desired.

Notes

  • Make buttermilk at home by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a cup of milk. Let stand at room temperature until the milk curdles and thickens. Stir ¾ of this buttermilk mixture into the recipe and discard the rest.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

December 14: National Biscuits and Gravy Day

May 14 marks National Buttermilk Biscuits Day. Seven months later, it’s National Biscuits and Gravy Day. When we make buttermilk biscuits, we usually eat them with butter or fruit spreads. This time we smothered them with a creamy white pork sausage gravy for a filling weekend breakfast/brunch. Buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy are popular where we live in Texas and is a quintessential Southern staple because of their down home deliciousness. Make them for breakfast or brunch and especially on National Biscuits and Gravy Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food Network)

  • buttermilk biscuits (homemade or canned)
  • 1 pound pork sausage (we used Jimmy Dean brand regular sausage)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3+ cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

While baking the buttermilk biscuits, crumble pork sausage into a skillet. Cook over medium high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Gradually mix in the flour. Lower the heat to medium low and pour in two cups of milk.

Keep stirring until thickened then add another cup of milk (at least five minutes). For a thinner gravy, pour another cup of milk and keep stirring. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm buttermilk biscuits.

 

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