Category Archives: Cooking at Home with Karie Engels

The Simplest Chili

What’s the best chili recipe out there? The one you love.

ChiliLike many of you, I have several “go to” recipes that I often put to work, yet I am always on the hunt for something new, something different.

I find a new recipe, give it a whirl as is and take notes. I jot down the flavor combinations, what I would change, what I loved, what I don’t love so much and if I would add, subtract or change cooking time. The end result is generally a slight modification of the original.

The original recipes are fantastic and I don’t modify them because I think I’m making them better, they are already amazing. I modify them for me. Perhaps I drop the salt level and add a bit more of another spice or ingredient to offset it. Perhaps there is a flavor in the recipe that I simply am not a fan of. I am not making the recipe better, I am simply tailoring it to my taste.

The temps have been low, the skies dark and the snow was piling high. I wanted something warm, so a few weeks ago I sat down in search of the perfect chili recipe. I browsed through cookbooks, online sites and asked a few culinary-friendly peeps what their thoughts on the perfect ingredients for a great bowl of chili.

So the question was, how many different recipes are there for chili? More than I initially realized and I found it’s deliciously overwhelming. I could talk to one neighbor and he would tell me his recipe is the only chili anyone should ever  cook. If I talk to another neighbor, she would tell me hers is the only “true” chili. Nothing else will do. Do you know what the perfect chili is? It’s the chili you like. It’s whatever makes your taste buds dance. When it comes to cooking in your home, that’s exactly how you should cook. Try new recipes and if it just seems like it’s missing something or has too much of something else, instead of dismissing it, give it a twist and tweak and make it your own. It may become a family favorite.

chili stepWhat I found is that people are serious about their chili recipes. Some only use ground beef. Some only chunks of sirloin. Some a mixture of ground beef and pork and the thickness and vegetable content and type varied as well. By a lot.

So I jotted down all the “basic” ingredients and decided to wing it based on what I like in my chili. Again, what’s the best chili recipe? It’s the one with all of the ingredients in it that you like.

I like my chili to be colorful. I know that sounds strange, traditionally it’s a brownish-orangish-red color, however I love green, purple, red, yellow and Mother Nature has an incredible palette of colors in her vegetables that allow me to make the recipe as visually appealing as I would like.

Next, I like crunch. I know the flavors need to meld to create chili perfection, so I added all the veggies in early with a small amount of each, set aside to add a few minutes before the simmer portion was finished. I like a smattering of fresh flavor and crunch.

Thickness. Some chili peeps were adamant that it needs to be thick like molasses, while others were more of a soupy-sloshy consistency. I didn’t focus on this portion at all, I simply gathered my ingredients.

I love fresh vegetables and decided this recipe would reflect that. I added green pepper, jalapeno pepper, small red chili peppers, white and purple onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes and a smattering of spices ( see in recipe below )

Chili Step VIII did not use tomato puree or sauce as a few of the recipes called for. I purchased 3 – 14 oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and took 2 of the cans and puréed them with a bit of garlic, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper before adding to the dish. The third can went directly into the chili without modification.

How was it? Superb. It was spicy, it was chunky and full of flavor. I am working on my sodium level, so I kept the sodium level down with S&W’s low sodium beans, did not add any other salt, however I did toss in a bit extra pepper, garlic and cumin. ( Heart healthy facts below recipe )

Simple Chili

chili finish IIIIngredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 small red chili peppers, diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced or chopped ( your choice )
  • 1 red onion, diced or chopped ( your choice )
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 3 14-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1   14 ounce can S&W 50% less sodium kidney beans, drain and rinse
  • 1   14 ounce can S&W 50% less sodium black beans, drain and rinse
  • 1 cup water ( variable, to desired thickness )
  • Fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions for garnish

**Note: I did not add salt to this recipe. Taste before simmering and add salt to taste.

Directions:  

Add 1/8 cup olive oil, 2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, a small bit of chopped garlic and black pepper to food processor or blender and puree. Set aside.

In large pot add a bit of oil and ground beef or meat of your choice. Toss in onions, peppers and half of the garlic.

When meat is cooked, drain excess oil/fat and add tomatoes, tomato puree, other half of the garlic, seasonings, water and bring to boil.

Add beans, cover and simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

**I kept out a bit of the fresh garlic, onions, tomato bits and green pepper to add to the pot 10-15 minutes before serving to maintain a bit of color and “crunch”.

Top your chili with what you love. I chose cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, green onions, fresh tomatoes and jalapeno slices.


Did You Know:

Chili BeansHeart disease is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide and claims more than 370,000 Americans each year. But what you may not know is that 80 percent of heart disease deaths are caused by preventable factors, like obesity, physical inactivity and more. Thankfully, beans help fight 6 major heart disease and stroke risk factors and can be easily added to tons of unexpectedly delicious recipes, like post-workout smoothies, blondies, burgers and more.

Thank you S&W Beans for the sample assortment of S&W 50% Less Sodium beans – certified by the American Heart Association – to use in a recipe for our readers!

Fast facts:

  • Body Weight & Diet: Many Low-cal fruits and veggies come with a boost of fiber to support digestion and keep you feeling full longer to help you meet your healthy weight goals.
  • Cholesterol: Veggies, like beans, are naturally cholesterol-free and rich in soluble fiber to control bad cholesterol.
  • Blood Pressure: Most fruits and veggies contain no sodium which helps keep blood pressure (a risk factor for heart disease) at bay.
  • Diabetes: Beans provide insoluble fiber to lower risk for type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. Plus the soluble fiber slows absorption of carbs to help keep blood sugar in check.

 

Just Spices’ Cucumber Gazpacho

Spice up your Saint Patrick’s Day Menu with a spring favorite.

This time of year isn’t only about celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. Spring will arrive in a few days, and as it approaches we begin planning our garden footprint, purchasing seeds or seedlings and setting our menu flavors to a lighter, fresher fare.

This recipe is light, refreshing,  and a perfect pairing with a bit of greens and a chilled brew.

Just Spices’ Cucumber Gazpacho

just spices_vegetablebroth_cucumbergazpacho (1)Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 avocado, peeled
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoon Just Spices Vegetable Broth Seasoning

 

Preparation

  1. Cut all ingredients into small pieces and combine everything in a blender.
  2. Add the Vegetable Broth Seasoning and blend until you get a smooth texture.
  1. Garnish with thin cucumber slices or chopped chili.


Spice up your St. Patrick’s Day with Just Spices’ Cucumber Gazpacho recipe featuring their Vegetable Broth Seasoning ($5.99). Just Spices is a new U.S. spice company with over 20 organic spice blends, available exclusively through its website, justspices.com. All Just Spices products are certified USDA organic, with no flavor enhancers, each a standard 100 milliliters and ranging from $5.99 – $7.99.

Delectable Gluten-Free Brownie Recipes for the Holiday Dessert Table

Whether you choose to avoid gluten due to allergies, or want to bake a batch of everyone’s favorite treat for the holiday season, Blends by Orly has you covered. They have sent us these two delectable brownie recipes – one for Chocolate Chip Blondies and one for Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies – that are rich, delectable and gluten-free, to share with our readers.

Irene's Delectable Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Blondies

gluten-free-chocolate-chip-browniesIngredients

  • 2 bars margarine or butter (softened)
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Blends by Orly London Blend
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Heat: Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with non stick oil.

Mix: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until lightened in color. Add eggs + vanilla and mix for 2 minutes or until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together Blends by Orly London Blend, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix all ingredients together on med-high speed for 3 minutes, or until fully incorporated. Add chocolate chips for 30 seconds or until dispersed within the dough.

Bake: Spoon batter into the baking pan and smooth out to an even layer with a pallet knife, spatula or the back of your spoon. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the outer edges are brown. Let blondies cool and slice into small squares. These blondies can be refrigerated for 10 days or frozen for up to 9 months.

Orly's Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Makes 9 large brownies or 16 small brownies

orlys-gluten-free-chocolate-peanut-butter-browniesIngredients

Brownies:

  • 1 cup (250g) butter
  • 1 cup (300g) tightly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (250g) dark chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup (80g) Sydney Blend
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup (65g) cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ heaping cup (100g) peanuts chopped (optional)

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • ¼ (57g) cup butter
  • ½ (125g) cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Heat: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 9″ square tin with baking paper.

Preparation

Mix: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar for about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time. Add the melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together Sydney Blend, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on medium-high speed until combined into a thick batter. Add peanuts (or chocolate chips) and incorporate through the mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly.

Frosting: Cream the butter and peanut butter together until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar and starting on slow speed, whip together until the sugar is completely mixed in. Add 1 Tbsp of cream and 1 tsp of vanilla extract and continue to whip together on high-speed until you have a soft and smooth consistency. Spread this mixture on top of the brownie batter or swirl within the batter with a spatula.

Bake: Bake brownies on center rack for 30-35 minutes or until set. For gooey brownies, bake 5 minutes less.


Recipes and photographs provided by Blends by Orly

Blends by Orly are made with the highest quality wholesome gluten-free ingredients, and are also OU Kosher certified, nut free, vegan and corn free. Blends by Orly provides a simple way to prepare baked goods that are so delicious that people would have no idea they are eating something that is gluten-free. Blends by Orly allows you to make your exact favorite recipes by just replacing the wheat flour with one of the Blends by Orly. Blends by Orly are sold in stores throughout the USA on Amazon and online.

 

Chef Kamran Naseem’s Filet and Brussel Sprout Medley

As winter approaches and the nights lengthen, date night makes a comeback.

Baby, it’s getting cold outside and winter nights in front of a warm fire are on the list. Grab a bottle of red, spend the night “in” with your love and create an intimate moment for two.

Manhattan’s Reserve Cut, has just welcomed a new Michelin-starred executive chef, Kamran Naseem, and offers his recipe for a kosher twist on the Filet Mignon, with seasonal ingredients that make an ode to winter. The weekend just became a bit more delicious and possibly more romantic.

Filet and Brussel Sprout Medley

By Chef Kamran Naseem at Reserve Cut in NYC

filet-mignonIngredients

  •  2 cups Brussel sprout leaves
  • 1T shallot
  • 1T Garlic
  • 1/4 cup squash (diced & sautéed)
  • 2T pecans (toasted)
  • 1T maple syrup
  • 1T Red Wine vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup pastrami (chopped)
  • 1t chile flake

Directions for the Brussel Sprout Medley:
In a hot pan, add canola oil then the Brussel sprouts. Add shallot and garlic, followed by squash and pecan. Add maple syrup and let reduce. Deglaze with red wine vinegar and then finish with pastrami, chile flake and salt.

Directions for the Filet:
Boil 1 cup of garlic cloves until very soft, purée, add ¼ cup olive oil, water to thin.  Then Salt. Cook filet in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium. Transfer steaks to plate.

Cheese Ravioli with Honey-Garlic Bourbon Sauce

525457d0dbfa3f2d4f00eb95-_w-540_h-640_s-fit_Making pasta for the family isn’t as daunting as it sounds. It’s involved and takes a bit of time, but the recipe is simple. The more you practice and your technique evolves, you will find yourself mulling over creative and delicious ways to enhance future dishes.

The following link is directed to a previous post for making fresh pasta. how to make pasta, and contains step by step instructions. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Karie@YourHomewithKarieEngels.com or message on the Facebook page.

The same idea applies to the filling. The recipe below is simple and as you work with it more often, you will find delectable combinations using fresh herbs, chicken, mushrooms or a variety of cheeses. Stay away from butter and oils with fillings as they don’t cook as well.

Once your pasta is rolled and ready, the fun begins!

Cheese Ravioli with Honey-Garlic Bourbon Sauce

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Prepare the Filling

herbsiiIngredients

  • 1 8 ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 4 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley or combination of herbs of your choice

Method

Combine all ingredients, mix well and set aside.

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Spoon the Filling

pexels-photo-111212-largeRoll out the pasta dough into thin sheets. Brush egg wash over a sheet of pasta. Drop the filling mixture on the dough by teaspoonfuls about one inch apart. Cover the filling with the top sheet of pasta, pressing out the air from around each portion of filling. Press firmly around the filling to seal. Cut into individual ravioli with a knife or pizza cutter and seal the edges well.

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the ravioli, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the ravioli float to the top and the filling is hot, 4 to 8 minutes. Do not empty ravioli into a colander or strainer as they may burst. Gently remove from water with a slotted spoon.

Prepare the Sauce

While your pasta is boiling is a great time to begin your sauce…..

Ingredients

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter. Add cream, pepper, salt and Honey-Garlic Pepper Seasoning.
  2. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and slowly add cheese.
  4. Return to stove on low and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add ravioli, sprinkle with cheese and fresh herbs and serve.

Gaea’s Olive Oil Cake

Shake up your holiday dessert table this year with zesty, fresh flavors.

Christmas dessert tables are filled with a various assortment of sweet delicious pastries. Holiday decorated cookies take center stage while heavily frosted cakes and cinnamon spiced pies wait to be cut. This year we are adding a bit of a zesty twist to our collection.

Friends and family will love this decadent fresh, citrusy addition and will be begging you for the recipe.

Gaea's Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil CakeIngredients

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces of Gaea Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 10 ounces milk
  • 2 ounces orange liqueur
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces blanched almonds, finely chopped
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, Gaea olive oil, milk, liqueur, orange juice, and lemon zest. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture.
  3. Whisk until well blended. Fold in the almonds.
  4. Pour the mixture into the buttered cake pan. Bake for 1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

What makes Gaea Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil so delicious?

This superb ORGANIC, extra virgin olive oil is a must-have in any kitchen. The “Koroneiki” variety organic olives are hand-picked and “cold-pressed” within hours of harvesting, producing an exceptional quality organic olive oil with unique flavor characteristics and fresh aroma. This oil has a characteristic aroma of fresh green olives and a fruity taste. A classic mix of ripe and green olives make this medium fruity oil especially versatile in the kitchen.

Crockpot Eggnog French Toast with Maple Creme Syrup

The holidays are a busy time and with company coming in from out of town, feeding a hungry crowd is priority.

The morning after is just as busy a time as the festive holiday dinner and a hearty, delicious breakfast is a must when it comes to treating family and out of town friends.

The ingredients list is simple and more than likely you will have all of these items on hand to create a delicious brunch dish during the holiday season.

Crockpot Eggnog French Toast with Maple Creme Syrup

  • Difficulty: Simple
  • Print

Crockpot_French_Toast_25fwbIngredients

  • 1 (18 ounce) French bread loaf
  • 8 Lucerne™ eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups Lucerne™ Light Eggnog, divided
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup maple syrup, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Directions

1. Line a crockpot with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Cut bread into cubes and place in crockpot.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Add 2 1/4 cups eggnog, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/2 cup maple syrup, whisking well. Pour mixture over bread cubes.

3. Cover, turn on low for 4 hours. Remove lid and sprinkle in pecans. Scoop on plates and drizzle top with Maple Creme Syrup.

4. In a microwavable bowl or mug, pour maple syrup. Microwave for 1 minute. Whisk in 1/4 cup eggnog

Jeff Anderson, Executive Chef at Albertsons and Safeway stores graciously gave us permission to publish this recipe.

Fabulous flavors in 30 minutes or less

Quick and delicious meals are on the menu this week, and we have been looking for light and delectable flavors to remind us that spring and summer are on their way. Each dish posted has a total start to table time 30 minutes or under and is promised to be delicious.

Silky Seafood Spaghetti with Lemon Parsley Chili Aioli

Silky Seafood Spaghetti with Lemon Parsley Chili Aioli

Silky Seafood Spaghetti with Lemon Parsley Chile Aioli by Judith Klinger for Honest Cooking.  An incredible combination of flavors with a prep time of 10 minutes and a cook time of 10 minutes for 20 minutes start to table.

Ingredients

  • Lemon, Parsley, Chili Aioli
  • 1 fresh egg yoke
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 chili peppers
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 T,  of finely minced parsley

Seafood Spaghetti Ingredients

  • 10 oz dried linguine pasta
  • 1 lb  mixed seafood (see note on site)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 large ribs of celery
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf

For complete recipe and method please visit HonestCooking.com

Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan-Seared Scallops by Use Real Butter. A quick dish with flavors that dance in your mouth.  Scallops pair well with sides such as risottos, a quick tossed salad and perhaps roasted vegetables.

  • 4 large dry scallops
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine

For full recipe and method please visit Use Real Butter

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Braised Greens and Grapes

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Braised Greens and Grapes

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Braised Greens and Grapes by BHG. Chicken coated with pecans, wheat crackers and nutmeg, launches the ordinary straight in to the stratosphere. 28 minutes start to table will have you dining in style.

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup crushed saltine or wheat crackers
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 10 ounce bag mixed salad greens
  • 4 small bunches grapes
  • 1/3 cup frozen harvest blend or white grape juice concentrate, thawed

Full recipe and method please visit BHG

We would love to hear from you! If you have questions, comments or would like to see something specific on our site, please leave a comment below or contact us at: Karie@YourHomewithKarieEngels.com  We appreciate you stopping by!

An Evening In with Dinner and Cocktails

Butterflied Rib Steak

Butterflied Rib Steak

If you haven’t finalized your dinner menu for Valentine’s Day, I have a gorgeous culinary creation and a cocktail or two to add to your list of possibilities.

Butterflied Rib Steak by Marcus Bawdon ~ When I first found Marcus’ site, CountryWoodSmoke, I was originally drawn in by the photography and stayed for the delectable recipes. The carnivore in me was entranced.  Take some time, poke around and sign up for updates.  You won’t want to miss a single post.

“Beef ribs are a very cheap cut, and are a firm favourite when smoked low’n’slow like these Dinosaur Ribs less common is the method of butterflying the meat out to form a nice butterflied rib steak, which needs cooking over high temperature to at least medium to medium/well, they are a little harder work to eat having a little gristle here and there, but they have a wonderful beefy taste that makes it so worthwhile.” -Marcus Bawdon of CountryWoodSmoke.com

Before, during or after dinner really does  require a cocktail or two. It simply wouldn’t feel like Valentine’s Day if chocolate wasn’t involved in some way, and the martini is the perfect way to get your chocolate fix.

Mocha Mint Martini

Mocha Mint Martini

Mocha Mint Martini by Shaun the Bartender 

For this spirited cocktail, Shaun gives us Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Creme d Cacao, Creme de Menthe and Irish Cream all in one glass.  This sounds a bit like a thin mint with a delectable coffee finish.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 oz. Vodka
  • 3/4 oz. Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Cacao
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Menthe
  • 1/2 oz. Irish Cream
  • 1/2 oz. Light Cream

Method:  Pour everything into a mixing glass with ice.  Shake a few times to blend the cream with the other ingredients.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Add three coffee beans into the drink for garnish.

You can find more about Shaun the Bartender at his site.

All-American Sweetheart Martini

All-American Sweetheart Martini

The All-American Sweetheart Martini by Karen Miner for SheKnows.com

This next cocktail has a delightfully fresh aura for a night of love.The combination of peach, orange and strawberry flavors are a delightful prelude to spring.

  • 2-1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1-1/2 ounces peach schnapps
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce strawberry puree
  • Ice
  • Heart-shaped gummy candy (garnish)

Method and Recipe here.

If you are still on the hunt for a few more cocktails, follow the links below.

Dazzling and Delicious Valentine’s Day Cocktails

Sensual Cocktails

Celebrate the Flavors of New Orleans this Mardi Gras Season

mardi grasCelebrating the end of the season of Carnival, Mardi Gras has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century. Steeped in rich traditions, New Orleans is a city full of sights, sounds, and flavors that you can bring into your home this Mardi Gras season.

Even if you have never been to New Orleans, you can introduce the spirit of Mardi Gras into your home this year with these fun and festive party ideas:

• Decorate for the occasion: Candles in the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold can be placed around the room or used as centerpieces on tables. But don’t stop with just decorating the room: Purchase a variety of inexpensive masks, hats, boas, and beads at your local party store for your guests to wear. These colorful costumes are common in New Orleans during Mardi Gras celebrations.
• Stock the bar: Have a variety of ingredients on hand to make traditional Mardi Gras cocktails such as Hurricanes, Pimm’s Cups, or a classic Sazerac. Chicory coffee or nonalcoholic punches made with fruit juices and ginger ale are a great option for those who don’t wish to imbibe.
• Serve the classics: An integral part to any Fat Tuesday celebration, food is an ideal way to bring the soul of New Orleans into your party. Consider serving your guests classic dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, king cakes, and beignets.

While delicious beignet’s will be served on the 4th of March, they are a decadent option on any day with your morning for after dinner coffee.  For a sweet end to your celebration, try the recipe below for Vanilla Beignet Bites with Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam. We used Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Pure Vanilla Powder add a sweet twist to this New Orleans classic that is sure to please our and your guests.

Vanilla Beignet Bites

Vanilla Beignet Bites

Vanilla Beignet Bites with Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam ~ Yield 6 dozen

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar; set aside to activate yeast. In a medium bowl, add butter, half-and-half and vanilla extract; stir and set aside. In a small bowl whisk eggs; set aside.
  2. In a bowl of a free standing electric mixer, add flour, sugar, salt and cardamom. Place bowl on mixer stand which has been fitted with a dough hook. Turn mixer on low speed and combine dry ingredients.
  3. Turn mixer to medium speed then add activated yeast mixture. Add half-and-half mixture, then add the whisked eggs. Mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. Dough will be slightly sticky.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead, about 2-3 minutes; adding additional flour only when needed.
  5. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. After dough has risen, place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut dough into small rectangles, about 1 x ½-inch pieces.
  6. Heat oil to 375°F; carefully place dough in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds. Turn beignets so both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels; dust with Vanilla Powdered Sugar while bites are still warm. Dip Vanilla Beignet Bites in Nielsen-Massey’s signature Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam.

Vanilla Powdered Sugar (Yield ½ cup sugar)
Ingredients

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder

Directions
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and vanilla powder.

Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam (Yield 1 cup jam)
Ingredients

  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • ½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract

Directions
In a small bowl, add jam, vanilla and lemon extracts. Whisk until jam is smooth and serve with warm Vanilla Beignet Bites. Vanilla-Lemon Raspberry Jam can be refrigerated and also served with whole grain toast, English muffins or scones.

You can find additional Nielsen-Massey Vanillas recipes here.

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