Rum Balls

These Rum Balls are wonderfully dangerous. They may very well be my favorite holiday treat…or at least in the top three. They’re super simple — you’re basically making a batch of brownies, spiking them with rum & coating them with decorative sanding sugar or sweetened coconut. Best part is they store extremely well for 7-9 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator so you can easily make them ahead of time to have on hand as you finish preparing your other cookies or holiday treats.

Where they become dangerous is that it’s oh-so-simple to just grab one here or there when they call your name as you open the refrigerator door. Hopefully by the time your holiday party rolls around there will still be a few left for your cookie tray!

Happy Baking!

Rum Balls | theinspiredparent.com

Rum Balls

4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • coarse sanding sugar (or sweetened shredded coconut), for rolling
  • vegetable oil spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a 12 x 17-inch baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat-safe bowl held over a pot of simmering water, occasionally stirring.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and salt together. Gently mix in the melted butter & chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour, a little at a time to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into the baking sheet & spread evenly. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until the top is still shiny & a toothpick inserted to the center still has some crumbs on it when you remove it. Remove the tray & let fully cool on a wire rack.
  5. Once cooled, break the brownies up into small pieces. Place the pieces into the bowl of an electric mixer & use the paddle attachment. While the mixer is on low, add the rum and mix until the pieces/crumbs come back together into a ball.
  6. Using your hands, take pieces of the dough and shape them into 1-inch balls. Roll in the sanding sugar or coconut to coat them. Place the finished balls on a clean baking sheet and refrigerate (uncovered) until very cold - approximately 2-3 hours.
  7. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 7 to 9 days.

Notes

Recipe adapted from our well-loved cookbook, Martha Stewart's Cookies: The very best treats to bake and to share (2008).

http://www.theinspiredparent.com/rum-balls/

Oh so yummy!

Oh so yummy!

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Cranberry Chocolate Chip Macaroons

This year at Thanksgiving I purchased an extra package of fresh cranberries so we could try a few new cookie recipes. I’ve always loved plain coconut macaroons but we decided to change them up a little — figured the lovely pop of red from the cranberries would help liven these up a bit on holiday cookie trays.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Macaroons | theinspiredparent.com

We made some with chocolate chips & some without — the three of us preferred them with the added bit of chocolate but they were truly good either way. We prefer using bittersweet dark chocolate chips for these since they help balance the sweetness of the cookie. Our favorite chips are Ghirardelli or Guittard, if you can find them at your local shop.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Macaroons | theinspiredparent.com

On a storage note, storing coconut macaroons can be a bit tricky — if you put them in a storage bag, they tend to get soggy so your best bet is putting them in an air-tight cookie tin once they have fully cooled. Our best advice is to bake these close to your party — preferably no longer than 1-2 days beforehand for the best texture when serving.

Thankfully, this is a very simple cookie to whip together so it’s perfect for a last-minute event.

Enjoy & happy baking!

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Approx. 35 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 c. fresh cranberries, rinsed & finely chopped
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1 bag (14 oz.) shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cranberry pieces in the flour to coat them. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine.
  4. Drop batter by teaspoonful on the baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, 'til golden.

Notes

Store in an air-tight container or cookie tin.

http://www.theinspiredparent.com/cranberry-chocolate-chip-macaroons/

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Vegetable Soup with Italian Sausage

We have a bit of a love affair with different soup noodles…so many fun shapes & any of them will go perfectly with this super easy & versatile soup. Our daughter chose Garofalo Farfalline Pasta this time around but any of your favorites will be a great addition. For this latest batch of soup, we used Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage but love using different sausages from our local butcher shop and spicier varieties as well.

Veggie Soup with Italian Sausage | theinspiredparent.com

Once the soup has been ladled into the bowls, we typically finish things off with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly grated imported Pecorino Romano, which we always have on hand in our home. Yum!

Have fun, play with your seasonings and flavors — soup is one of the easiest meals to change up to suit your mood.

Enjoy & happy cooking!

Veggie Soup with Italian Sausage

Ingredients

  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 links of Italian Sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white or black pepper plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 5 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 c. low-sodium chicken stock
  • 5 c. water
  • 2-3 tsp. tomato paste, to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Onion powder and/or garlic powder, to taste
  • Grated Imported Pecorino Romano
  • 1 pkg. soup noodles, cooked according to package directions

Instructions

  1. Remove the Italian Sausage from the casings. Roll sausage into 1/2-inch meatballs. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add the meatballs to the pan & sauté on medium, turning the meatballs every minute or so. Browning the meatballs will take about 5-7 minutes - possibly a few minutes longer depending on how large the dutch oven is that you are using.
  2. While the sausage is browning & while you are working on the next few steps below, get the water started for the pasta - use a large pot & cook the soup noodles according to package directions - do not overcook the noodles. Once the noodles are cooked, drain as usual & then rinse them with cool water. Drain them again & add 1-2 tsp. olive oil so they don't stick together - set aside, covered, in the pot you cooked them in.
  3. Once the meatballs are browned, turn off the heat & transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels. Using another paper towel, lightly wipe out the bottom of your dutch oven to help remove most of the grease.
  4. Add 2 TBSP olive oil to the dutch oven. Turn the heat back on medium & add the onion, celery, salt & pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. If adding the red pepper flakes, do so now. Sauté for one more minute.
  5. Add the meatballs back to the pot along with the carrots, chicken stock, water & tomato paste. Bring to a boil & simmer for 20-30 minutes until the veggies are softened and the sausage is fully cooked.
  6. Depending on how much garlic & onion is in the brand of Italian Sausage that you used, you may wish to add a dash of onion powder or garlic powder to the soup. If you add either (or both), simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste. Once the soup is seasoned to your liking, add the cooked soup noodles to a warm bowl & ladle the soup over the noodles. Serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
http://www.theinspiredparent.com/vegetable-soup-with-italian-sausage/
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Simple Potato Leek Soup

This time of year we fall back in love with soups. So many yummy, comforting options. One of our favorites is Potato Leek Soup – we make it a variety of ways & some take longer than others but this version is easy for a weeknight or a quick lunch on the weekend – serve it with some warmed-up, crusty bread & you’re all set!

Simple Potato Leek Soup | theinspiredparent.com

Enjoy & happy cooking!

 

Simple Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 large leek (or two medium leeks), cleaned & chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/2 c. half-and-half
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Herbs/chives/sour cream to garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Cleaning the leek: Cut and discard the thick, green top & trim off the root end. Cut the leek in half, length-wise & rinse very well under cool water. Once cleaned, chop each half in 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. In a large dutch oven or soup pot, sauté the leek & onion in olive oil for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 tsp. salt & continue sautéing over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the veggies are softened. Add the chopped garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.
  3. Add the cubed potato, water & ground pepper. Bring to a boil & simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Remove 1 - 2 cups of the potatoes/onions/leeks - remove more or less depending on how chunky you would like the final soup - or if you want a smooth soup, do not remove any. Purée the remaining soup with a hand-held immersion blender. Return the veggies you removed, if applicable, back to the soup.
  5. Add the half-and-half and butter, once the butter is melted add salt to taste.
  6. Garnish as desired - we like various herbs - we love the Parisien Bonnes Herbes from Penzeys or you could add some chopped chives or even a dollop of sour cream.

Notes

One other way we like to bulk up this soup is to add cubed pieces of smoked sausage.

http://www.theinspiredparent.com/simple-potato-leek-soup/

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