December 15, 2014

Holiday Open House Treats...

Recently, we had our annual Christmas Open House at Clever Girl; and everybody had a splendid time.  The band was playing, the cocktails were flowing and the shop was buzzing with the Christmas spirit.  I discovered something that night: I discovered that our customers love caramelized bacon!  

I should have known this would be a hit, because anytime people discover this crunchy, sweet, spicy treat, they go a little bit nuts...  And, wouldn't you know that it's a recipe from Ina Garten?  
Here's what it looks like--and trust me, it disappears quickly, so make PLENTY.  Once you get going, it's easy to keep making batch after batch.  Wiz it up in the food processor (or a mini-prep works just fine, too, if you have one of those.)
Lay out your bacon on a rack and pop that onto a lined baking sheet.  (Hint: Don't let any topping land on the bottom of your pan, it may smoke if you do.)  Pop it in the oven and prepare for the stampede that is guaranteed to follow.
What's so nice about this caramelized bacon is that it's so versatile; great for tailgating, or with martinis at a cocktail party.  Top a burger with this and you'll hear the angels singing softly in the background.  Oh, and be prepared, while it's baking, a pack of dogs may spontaneously appear at your doorstep.
Caramelized Bacon
Gather the goods.  Here's what you need:

½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup chopped or whole pecans
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
½ pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top.

Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Add the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs.

Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it's underbaked, the bacon won't crisp as it cools.

While it's hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature. (The caramelized bacon can be made early in the day and stored at room temperature.)

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust.

The other item everyone was quite taken with was the cranberry cocktail skewers.  Truly, these couldn't be any easier to make.  We served them with our favorite mix from Stonewall Kitchen (that we conveniently sell both at the store and online, click here

These little beauties require only two ingredients and the result is an absolutely stunning little morsel of sweet-tart deliciousness.
Sugared Cranberries

Gather the goods.  Here's what you need:

2 cups sugar, divided
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries


Combine ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cranberries until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to wire rack; let dry for at least 1 hour.
Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining 1½ cups sugar until well coated; let dry for at least 1 hour.

Really, this is so simple.  Store them air tight, and skewer them up as needed.  They look lovely in a bowl, and some people like to serve them as a little nibble on their own.
Gathering with family and friends is such a wonderful part of the season.  Opening your home to others is such a special  gift.   I wish you all a Merry Christmas!  

December 7, 2014

"P" is for Paperwhites...

One thing I look forward to every early winter is the planting of the paperwhites.  I fill all sorts of bowls and containers with the bulbs, and enjoy the fascinating process of watching them grow.  From rather homely little bulbs, green shoots emerge, followed by the flowering stalks.  The sweet scent greets me every time I pass a container in the house.  

What's especially nice about paperwhites, much like hyacinth bulbs, is that they don't need soil to grow--just a bit of fresh water, and they are quite content.  As they grow taller and taller, I stake them with twigs and twine to keep them upright.  I found a picture on Pinterest and was inspired to top mine up with ornaments.  I love Pinterest, by the way. Check out ours right here.

P. S.  Remember, the Clever Girl Open House
 is THIS Thursday, December 11th, from 5-8 pm.
 We so look forward to seeing you in the shop!  

Related Posts with Thumbnails