Melt-In-Your-Mouth Boozy Chocolate Egg Nog Fudge

Claudia's Cookbook - Melt in your Mouth Boozy Chocolate Egg Nog Fudge cover

We never really had Egg Nog in our house growing up. I think one of the first times I ever had Egg Nog was when I worked at Starbucks during university and had to try some in their Egg Nog Latte. It was that Christmas that I had the bright idea to throw a holiday party at my house and make Egg Nog from scratch. I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard, and homemade Egg Nog would be pretty decadent. So, I searched the Internet for a recipe. It was then and there that I was introduced to Martha Stewart and her Classic Eggnog recipe. It was also then that I came to the conclusion that Martha also must have been a raging alcoholic. 

I was so excited when I went to the liquor store and bought all these “adult” liquors, like dark (not light!) rum, cognac and bourbon that was in the recipe. I mean, I was a university student, so my booze selections back in the day mainly consisted of cheap beer and terrible wine coolers. $70 later, I was pumped to begin my egg nog making journey. I hurried home and began making my homemade egg nog that I was certain would catapult me into ‘amazing hostess’ status in the eyes of my friends. After a day of refrigeration, the egg nog was now ready to be tasted and served. I took a sip of the creamy liquid and paused. It took a few seconds for me to realize that my throat was burning and that my breath could cause a fire if exposed to an open flame. Either Martha likes her egg nog STRONG, I couldn’t handle the ‘adult’ liquors, or I did something horribly wrong to the recipe. I quickly called my Dad into the kitchen. I mean, he of all people would be able to tell me if I screwed up the recipe or if his adult tastebuds found the egg nog delectable. He took one sip and couldn’t drink anymore. I think his exact words were “Holy god, what did you put in that?!”

I panicked. Not only did I spend $70 on alcohol that smelt like something you would put on open wounds, but I had guests who I had to dazzle with my homemaking skills. I called in my Grandmother. Surely, she could tell me what I did wrong? She came into the kitchen and took a small sip. I stared at her nervously. She paused, then said “It’s not bad actually”, continued to pour herself a mug and left the room. It was then that I had a new appreciation for my Grandmother’s love of strong liquor, and perplexed ideas of what made Martha Stewart queen of the kitchen. I served the egg nog, and it went over fairly well with my friends. But not as well as Martha’s cupcakes a few years later. 

I still enjoy experimenting with egg nog and alcohol. In small doses, they go together rather nicely. This fudge recipe incorporates my favourite holiday items: booze (bourbon), dark chocolate and egg nog – store-bought of course…I learned my lesson the hard way! This fudge is extremely decadent and soft. Much softer than typical varieties and definitely does melt in your mouth. It is important to keep this fudge in the refrigerator until you want to serve it. The egg nog gives a nice nutmeg hint to the chocolate. The bourbon is very mild in this recipe, and gives the fudge a nice warmth. This recipe is also super easy to make. The hardest part is waiting a few hours before you can dig in. 

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Overnight Ham and Egg Breakfast Casserole

Claudia's Cookbook - Overnight Ham and Egg Breakfast Casserole cover

I love the weekends for more reasons than just the fact that I can sleep in and not have to drive 45 minutes to work in the dark. I also love weekends because it means I have more time to make something other than a smoothie for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I love smoothies. But they are a little hard to drink day in and day out when it’s winter and cold in the morning. 

The best breakfasts are those that don’t require a whole lot of effort. That gives me more time to sit in my pyjamas, sip coffee on my couch and watch all the food shows I recorded during the week. This overnight breakfast bake is pretty much the perfect dish for any morning. All you need to do is combine all the ingredients in a pan and put it in the refrigerator overnight. When you wake up in the morning (or early afternoon like I sometimes do), you simply place it in the oven and bake for 1 hour. It’s seriously the best for mornings when you have to feed a few hungry people and you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen – like Christmas morning. Claudia and I actually made this casserole the night before my wedding this past August for my hungry and beautiful bridesmaids. They actually liked it so much, one of my bridesmaids had 3 helpings and immediately asked for the recipe! This simple casserole is warm, comforting and delicious. It also incorporates all the best breakfast items like eggs, cheese, ham and bread. You seriously cannot go wrong with this dish. 

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Perishke – Ukrainian Cottage Cheese Buns in Creamy Dill Sauce

Claudia's Cookbook - Ukrainian Cottage Cheese Buns with Creamy Dill Sauce cover

 There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than warm buns. You can interpret that however you like. I mean, whatever floats your boat, you silly animals. But right now, I’m talking about these dough buns above, otherwise known as “Perishke” in Ukrainian. Delicious, soft, warm cottage cheese filled buns smothered in creamy dill sauce. One bite and you will forget all about those other warm buns you were thinking about.

Growing up, we actually never had a lot of these in the house. I recall having them sparingly at community or church functions. This was another recipe that we received a ton of requests for, so it was a great way for us to get reacquainted with this traditional Ukrainian dish. After making these, Claudia quickly proclaimed that these will be on our table every Christmas dinner moving forward. They are very decadent. The cream sauce gives the entire dish a sweetness while the dill reminds you of summer, with a hint of freshness. The cottage cheese filling is rich and super flavourful. I can see why so many people have asked for this recipe over the past few years! It truly is spectacular and super simple! 

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Ukrainian Beef-Filled Pyrizhky

Claudia's Cookbook - Ukrainian Beef Filled Pyrizhky cover

I bought a Christmas CD yesterday. It was the first CD I’ve purchased in legit 3 years. Of course it is filled with Christmas tunes from one of my favourite guilty pleasure TV shows, Nashville. With only a few weeks left until the holidays, I figured I should get into the spirit. Also, the most recent Christmas CD I had was Justin Bieber’s, so it was definitely time for an update. 

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I love when we receive recipe requests. Especially for Ukrainian dishes. A few months ago, we posted Ukrainian Cabbage Buns and they were a huge hit. Ever since that post, we have received a ton of emails and comments asking for a meat-filled version. Well friends, here it is.  The ultimate recipe for Ukrainian beef-filled buns, or ‘Pyrizhky’. I would also like to note that because there are so many different crossovers in food and culture between Ukraine, Poland and Russia, that these may be called by a different name depending on where you are from/grew up. In Russia and other places, these are sometimes referred to as ‘Pirozhki‘ or ‘Piroshki’. Regardless, they are beef-filled baked buns that are beyond amazing. The dough is flaky, buttery and soft. Perfect little bite-sized pieces of heaven if you ask me. 

You can definitely make your own fillings as well to go with this dough recipe. You can incorporate mushrooms, ground pork, mashed potato…the options are endless. Not to mention, this recipe is super easy to make. 

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Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Claudia's Cookbook - Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls 26

Bring on Christmas! I am ready….I am so ready. Purchase presents for loved ones – check. Spend the last two weeks at the gym to prepare for the carbo-loading onslaught of delicious food – check. Complete all baking to share with others – double check. Purchase the best Christmas sweater ever – triple check with a gold star!

I’ve made so many cookies, bars, and cake balls over the last couple weeks that I wanted to do something different. I’ve seen so many amazing recipes lately of cinnamon buns. Therefore, I figured I’d join the party and bake some too. These are absolutely perfect in every way. They are so easy and require minimal time to make. They also have a delicious hint of gingerbread, which I love this time of year.

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Cousin Linda’s Poppycock

Claudia's Cookbook - Poppycock cover

Soooo….it’s -43 celsius here in Winnipeg. How are you?! Yeah, it’s cold. I know I talk about the weather a lot, but how can’t you with these temperatures? And…it’s not even officially winter yet. To chase away the winter blues, I decided to book a flight to Arizona again this year to visit Claudia and my Dad in February. I figured with this snow and cold, I will be needing warmth and sunshine by then. Here’s hoping I don’t get the flu this time around!

I also cannot believe that Christmas is 2 weeks away. I am really enjoying all the holiday recipes that are floating around out there. A couple weeks ago when I asked what everyone was baking for the holidays on our Facebook Page, I had a request (I love requests!) from a loyal follower (Hi Bon!) for a recipe for Poppycock. I had never made it before, but soon learned that my Cousin Linda had one that she was famous for. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I tried it immediately. I can see why it’s so popular in her house – her granddaughter actually sneaks some into her room at night to munch on. This recipe is delicious!

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Butter Tarts

Claudia's Cookbook - Butter Tarts cover

I watched my first Christmas movie of the season today. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on TV this afternoon. Not the original animated one, but the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard reboot. I’ve actually never seen the original. Or A Christmas Story. I may have seen It’s a Wonderful Life once…but I can’t be 100% sure. Please don’t judge me. As a kid, I grew up watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer during summer vacation – that’s how much I loved that movie. There was really nothing else in my holiday movie repertoire. Well, I guess National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but only because my Dad loved that movie. What are your favourite holiday movies? Feel free to tell me in the comments section!

One thing I am absolutely sure of – I love Claudia’s Butter Tarts at Christmas time! They are seriously delicious. She always makes the dough from scratch, and it’s always flaky and buttery. The filling is sweet and syrupy. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make until Claudia came over a couple weeks ago to show me. I am so glad she did.

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Soft Gingersnap Cookies

Gingersnap Cookies 13

I don’t know if it’s the snow on the ground, the cold temperatures or Target having the cutest holiday items in the entire world in their stores right now, but I am super excited for Christmas this year. I’ve been doing my best not to put on the Christmas tunes, put up my Christmas tree, and watch my favourite Christmas movies like Elf and Home Alone. After all, it’s still only November. I’ve always been a firm traditionalist and start these activities no earlier than December 1. I may have to break my rules this year – starting with featuring my first holiday baking item – these delicious Gingersnap Cookies!

Claudia came over this week to teach me how to make more of her holiday baking family favourites. These Gingersnap Cookies were high on her list to share with me. She actually adapted the recipe from her coworker (Linda), as they were a total hit at their workplace not too long ago. When I told Claudia that I wasn’t a huge Gingersnap cookie fan, she reassured me that these cookies would be worthy of my daily caloric intake. I have to admit Claudia was right (but really, when isn’t she?). These, my friends, are the perfect combination of all my Gingersnap Cookie wishes – chewy, soft, and not too heavy on the ginger or molasses flavour. I highly recommend these delicious beauties for your holiday baking line up.

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Pyrizhky (Ukrainian Cabbage Buns)

Pyrizhky 29

I cannot believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow. Where does the time go? I’m not gonna lie…I’m pretty darn excited. The copious amounts of delicious food, gift exchanges, and the celebration of family and friends is what I love most about this time of year.

Tomorrow, my family is having quite the Christmas Eve feast. Since we’re Ukrainian, we celebrate by having a huge dinner consisting of 12 meatless dishes. This year is the first in a long time where we will be having Pyrizhky, or cabbage buns. I never really grew up on these delectable little dough balls. My Baba, Grandma and Claudia never made them, so they were never a part of our Ukrainian feasts. This year, I decided to take some action and try to make them with Claudia. My soon to be Mother-in-Law was gracious enough to provide us with her recipe (and a bag full of samples!) to try. For our first attempt, they came out extremely well. This recipe makes approximately 13-14 dozen Pyrizhky. You can also use any other filling you desire, such as meat. However, we prefer sauerkraut.

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Egg Nog Cupcakes…and a surprise engagement.

egg nog, cupcakes, buttercream,

Two weeks ago I ventured to New York City with my best friend Denise for a quick 4-day vacation. NYC is by far my favourite city in the entire world. The hustle and bustle, lights, and delicious restaurants and bakeries on every corner is what I love most about the city. But after this latest trip, I have a whole new reason. On my last night in NYC, Denise and I ventured to Rockefeller Centre to see the infamous Christmas tree all lit up. Well, to make a long story short, it wasn’t lit up (apparently they turn it off at 10:30pm to conserve energy). I’m not going to lie – I was very disappointed. Mainly because I had been there for 3 nights already and this was my last opportunity to see the tree lit up before we departed the next day. While I was pouting and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to make the most of the evening and take some photos of my surroundings.

30 Rockefeller Centre © 2012 Claudia's Cookbook. All Rights Reserved.

As I was taking the photo above of 30 Rock, I heard a very familiar (and male) voice. I turn around to see my boyfriend, whom I thought was back at home in Winnipeg, standing there in the middle of Rockefeller Centre with a bakery box in hand. After the initial shock of seeing him wore off, he tells me to open the box.Proposal cupcakes

A proposal to rival all proposals. I was speechless but had enough strength to say “Yes”. And how could I not – besides it being the most amazing proposal ever, those red velvet cupcakes were the most delicious I have ever tasted – thanks to Tribeca Treats!

In honour of the holiday season, and the most important day of my life thus far, I wanted to bake and share a recipe that I love this time of year. These Egg Nog Cupcakes are dense, moist and sweet. Also, how can you possibly say no to egg nog buttercream icing?! Even if you aren’t a true egg nog fan, you will enjoy these.

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