Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Absolute Favorite #1 Savory Recipe of 2013


Pineapple BBQ Jalapeno Poppers. From one of my favorite food blogs, Jo and Sue. They are spicy, sweet --oh forget it, there are no words for how good these are. I asked my mom what her #1 favorite recipes were for both sweet and savory. We both picked the same two recipes!

My Absolute Favorite #1 Sweet Recipe of 2013


Perfect Fudgy Milk Chocolate Brownies.  No frosting, no nuts, just simple, sweet perfections. I asked my mom what her #1 favorite recipes were for both sweet and savory. We both picked the same two recipes! Check back later today for the savory reveal.

JamHands.net 25 Best Recipes of 2013


2014 will soon be here. The past year has gone by so fast. We've had a lot of tasty recipes here at Jam Hands over the past year. I wanted to share my favorites with you folks. Here are my top 25. Enjoy!




Monday, December 30, 2013

Chocolate Pinwheels


Another classic Christmas recipe from the Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. This version takes Ethel's Sugar Cookies and tweaks the recipe just a bit to make delicious Chocolate Pinwheels.


Yule Log Cake (Bûche de Noël)



This Yule Log cake isn't just for decoration. It is fantastically delicious. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was blown away by how light and delicious this dessert is. Great for Christmas when you have had a big dinner and want something that isn't too heavy for dessert. Make this a new Christmas tradition at your house, it is amazing!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cherry Almond Cookies



My cherry cookies are looking a little rough in these photographs. That's because I forgot to take pictures the day I made them and this was on day 3 or 4 of them bouncing around a cookie tin. Sorry for that! The good news is I will have to just remake them for prettier pictures later.

My mom always made them as sliced cookies and rolled the roll of cookie dough in chopped walnuts that had been colored green with food dye. I'm not sure where that came from, it's just always how she made them. Many thanks to Spice Gals for this recipe. They were very tasty cookies. Enjoy!


Holiday Punch


Punch is something that I consider mandatory for parties. Does anyone else feel that way? I love it. Typically punch recipes make a ton, they are delicious, and they are very adaptable so if you have random juices in your freezer or fridge, they tend to taste great no matter what you use.

This recipe for Holiday Punch comes from Dessert Now, Dinner Later. I actually added a bottle of cranberry-apple juice to this just to stretch it. Next time around I will make it with just the called for ingredients to get just the pineapple and tropical punch flavors.


Cinnamon Chip Snickerdoodle Cookies


Another cookie that made an appearance this Christmas were these Cinnamon Chip Snickerdoodles. They were supposed to be chewy and soft, but I think I made my cookies too small because they weren't either of those things.

Don't get me wrong, they were tasty, but big, chewy and soft snickerdoodles they were not. I did like the cinnamon chips in the dough, so I would probably try these again, a half batch, and see if I can get them to be a better texture if I make them larger sized. For the recipe, please visit Averie Cooks.

Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels


It's a bit hard to see the ham in these Ham and Cheese Pinwheels but it is indeed there. I love puff pastry. I am of the opinion that it beats out crescent rolls every single time. Pinwheels are easy party food that come together quickly.

These pinwheels can be made the day before, just wrap it tightly with cling wrap and let it chill in the fridge until you are ready to slice and bake. I kept mine simple since it was for the kiddos, using just ham and cheese but you could add a Dijon style mustard if you wanted for more flavor. I skipped the egg wash to save time, but if you want your to look pretty, go for it. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gumdrop Fudge


I loved and hated this recipe. The taste was great but the fussiness of fudge almost had me chucking it in the trash before I had it all cut up. The recipe had been reviewed as oh-so-easy as it was made in the microwave. That should have been my first red flag.

I had read that it could be hard to cut through the gumdrops in this fudge and I thought to myself, oh really how hard could it be? Pretty damn hard is the answer. In the picture above you may notice a piece of fudge that has a white piece in it. To clarify, that is not a white chocolate chip, it is a piece of gumdrop. I bought a box that had red and green tops with white bottoms.

Not only was it pretty hard to cut, which by the way required washing my knife after every single cut to get a clean cut, it was also pretty hard to get it to release from the tin foil. The consistency even after refrigerating overnight was extremely soft. After cutting the fudge I dropped the pieces into small paper liners and let them sit on the counter. After several hours uncovered they had lost their stickiness and were able to be picked up and eaten.

So in the end, I was wishing I had gone with my tried and true Creamy Dreamy Fudge instead of the fussy gumdrop. The good news was that even though it was a giant pain, the fudge was well received and loved by all the kiddos.

I think if I ever try this again I will go with a different recipe that is more of a traditional cook on the stove top style of fudge like the one posted at Shugary Sweets. The consistency of that fudge looks much better my microwave version. Anyhow, live and learn! For those brave enough to try, the recipe follows.


Sausage and Cream Cheese Pinwheels



These little pinwheels are great party food. I'm hesitant to say 'guy food' because food is food, but the fact is all the guys at the holiday party were going crazy over these. You could add in seasonings if you like but it is delicious just the way it is.

I am not a big fan of crescent dough so next time I would use puff pastry and possibly maple sausage since I have experienced many times the deliciousness that is maple + sausage + cream cheese.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Chocolate and Orange Butter Cookies



My two favorite cookies this Christmas were the Snowball Cookies (no nuts) and these Chocolate Orange Butter Cookies, courtesy of Clawson Live. Be very careful not to over bake. My oven is very temperamental so I had to adjust both the temp and the time. Knowing your oven is half the battle when it comes to baking! If baked properly they will be tender, rich and delicious.

I will be making these again to get better pictures. I would have rolled them in powdered sugar but I already had two other kinds of cookies rolled in powdered sugar so instead I melted chocolate chips with cream and put that on top. If you love chocolate and orange and a deep chocolate flavor, you will love these.


Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies


Another classic from the 1963 Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. These cookies aren't overly sweet. You could just sprinkle a bit of sugar on top before baking if you like, but we went with a basic powdered sugar glaze and sparkling sugar.

Chocolate Crinkles


This recipe, along with many that we made this Christmas, comes from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, published in 1963. They were good but I would probably try other recipes just to see if I liked the texture better on another recipe. Other people in my family liked them much more than I did so it is probably just a preference thing. It is a classic recipe with a great star rating so I'm chalking this one up to just me being weird about the texture of my cookies. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A few quick pictures of our Christmas party. Have a wonderful Christmas!


















Monday, December 23, 2013

Grinch Cake



The family had a Grinch afternoon where we watched the Grinch (the Cat in the Hat version) and made a Grinch cake together. The cake was a basic yellow cake mix with two mashed bananas added. Otherwise you just make it the way the box says.

You can add green food coloring to the batter after it is in the pan but I thought it was unnecessary as the frosting covers it up for the most part.  I mixed in real chocolate jimmies with the frosting and also added extra on top. The kids had a tricky time pronouncing "Grinch" and kept calling him the "Grunch."  It was really cute!

Recipe from Oh Bite It!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Tree Pudding Cups




My original plan for these Christmas treats was to make a little Christmas tree farm. When I spotted the candy holiday characters I added those in as well. I had planned on using some Oreo cookie crumbs (blitz them in a food processor briefly) as the 'dirt' under the trees, but somebody in the house ate all the Oreo's, so I had to improvise.

I added some chocolate frosting to the tops of the cups just to fill them to the brim. Add a marshmallow peep, perhaps a few sprinkles and a festive candy character and you are set! I have seen this set of candies at Joann's and Michaels. They were $2 cheaper at Joann's for those of you still shopping.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Menu Planning, Holiday Fairy Garden and Decorations


How are your holiday plans coming along? All of ours are falling behind schedule. While I planned ahead and got almost all of my shopping done a month or two ago, the actual preparation of cookies and menu planning has been last minute. Anyone else in the same boat?

Our fake charlie brown tree has a lot of character. We got some expensive but really adorable lights that have something like 15-20 different settings, and they all change color, which is quite beautiful. The kids made a lot of homemade ornaments, some of which were sacrificed to the dog gods (aka Sophie and Lulu the Boston terriers). The dogs have pulled ornaments off the trees and devoured them.



We went with an outdoorsy sort of theme this year with lots of little woodland creatures all over the house.


The fairy garden got a Christmas makeover.


So far the final menus are looking like this...

Christmas morning menu:



Christmas Eve party menu:


  • holiday punch
  • crab dip w/ toasted baguette
  • shrimp cocktail
  • prime rib w/ blue cheese-bread crumb sort of baked spread on the side 
  • cookie trays
  • buche de noel 
  • hot chocolate (crock pot)
  • for the kids: cheese and summer sausage cubes, veggie tray, ham and cheddar puff pastry spirals, loaded potato skins

Here's hoping we can pull it all off. Of course I will share pictures and recipes after the parties. Have a good weekend!


Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce


Are there any other Panettone fans out there? I wanted to try out a recipe to use up some panettone so I adapted a recipe from One Stitch Two Stitch. For my recipe I combined both panettone and eggnog. If you would prefer, you could use heavy cream instead of eggnog. Alternatively, you could use a raisin bread or cinnamon bread with the eggnog too. It is very adaptable.

I have included the recipe for the vanilla sauce. It thickened up a bit too much for my liking, so I would probably go with a sprinkling of powdered sugar next time around.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gingerbread Log Cabin



It is day four on the gingerbread log cabin project, and I think we are finally done. 


White Chocolate Dipped Chewy Gingerbread Cookies



Last week we made a spicy and chewy gingerbread cookie. This week we sweetened things up a bit by dipping the cookies in melted white almond bark and garnishing with holiday sprinkles. If you have never tried almond bark, it is sold in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips. It melts really well, easier than regular chocolate I have found. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cranberry Pork Chops



We don't make many pork chops at our house. I haven't quite mastered the art of cooking pork chops so they are perfectly done so I am a bit hesitant to try it. I decided to be brave and try out this recipe from The Cooking Mom and it turned out delicious. 

Do you have a preference for pork chops with the fat trimmed off or still on? I've heard that there is more flavor if you cook the chops with a bit of fat still on it, but it is such a hassle to cut up that in the future I will go with all the fat trimmed off.

Are there any pork chop experts out there? Please share your tips for cooking a perfect pork chop in the comments.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chocolate Eggnog


Chocolate and eggnog. It might not be a combination that immediately sounds like it works, but trust me it does. This drink will vary in sweetness depending on the brand of eggnog you buy, as well as how much chocolate syrup you add.

I buy a slightly thinner and not too sweet style of eggnog, and I took it easy with the chocolate syrup. It wasn't overly sweet, rather it was just right. Many thanks to Mostly Homemade Mom for the recipe.