Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sage Gin Cocktail

By Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics

This cocktail is light, crisp and refreshing. A great accompaniament to a festive holiday dinner. Make the simple syrup in advance and you can assemble the drink within minutes.  Enjoy!

Sage Gin Cocktail*

Sage Gin Cocktail CoverIngredients
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce sage simple syrup
1/2 ounce lime juice
sparkling water or club soda
fresh sage leaves for garnish
 
Sage Simple Syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup water
8-10 fresh sage leaves, rolled and finely chopped 
 
Directions
Step 1: Make Sage Simple Syrup – Combine honey, water and chopped sage leaves in a small sauce pan and heat on medium high.  Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and the honey is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit for several hours or overnight. Strain sage leaves from simple syrup and store in refrigerator.
 
Step 2: Make Cocktail: Add gin, sage simple syrup, lime juice to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into large glass. Top with sparkling water or club soda and a fresh sage leaf.
 
*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.
 
 
 
 

Big-Batch Cocktail Recipe: Spiced Eggnog

By Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics

Be sure to shake or stir well before serving. You can see how the milk and light cream separate.

Be sure to shake or stir well before serving. You can see how the milk and light cream separate.

I will have to admit, I’m not an eggnog lover.  Yet, I know there are many of you out there so I wanted to make sure to find a great-tasting recipe that was flavorful and easy to make ahead of time.

This eggnog recipe requires a little more time than the Hot Buttered Rum Apple Cider recipe, but, it’s just as delicious. It not only makes a great holiday party cocktail but add it to a mason jar with a bow and you have a great hostess gift for any eggnog fan.

Note:  If you’re in a pinch, buy some ready-made eggnog and add a teaspoon or two of your favorite spices and a cup of rum in your pitcher and you’re set!

Spiced Eggnog Cocktail*

Serves: 12-20
 
Time: 20 minutes plus chilling time (4-24 hours)
 
Ingredients
4 cups 2% milk
5-7 whole cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks (save the egg whites for your breakfast omelet)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups light rum
4 cups light cream or half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 
The nutmeg adds beautiful speckles to the cocktail. If you're in a pinch, buy some ready-made eggnog and add a few pinches of your favorite spices and a cup of rum in your pitcher and you're set!

The nutmeg adds beautiful speckles to the cocktail.

Directions

Step 1: Combine milk, cloves, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and cinnamon in pot and very slowly heat to a boil, stirring at all times. (Start the burner on low for about 5 minutes and then gradually bring to a medium or medium-high heat.) When mixture boils, remove from heat.
 
Step 2: In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until fluffy. Then, slowly add the hot milk mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly and making sure not to cook the eggs.  Pour mixture back into large pot and heat, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thick.  Don’t let the mixture boil!
 
Step 3: Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, removing cloves. Let cool for about 1 hour.
 
Step 4: Add rum, cream, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and nutmeg to the milk and egg mixture and refrigerate overnight or for about 4-6 hours before serving.
 
*Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com
 
 
 

DIY Hot Cocoa Mix

By Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics

This is a super simple dry mix that’s perfect for last-minute gifts.  I particularly love it for office or teacher gifting. Just add it to a pretty container or a small mason jar with a bow and you have at least 6-12 gifts ready to go at a moments notice!

DIY Hot Cocoa Mix*

DIY Hot Cocoa MixIngredients
1 cup hot chocolate mix
1 cup powdered  milk
2/3 cup instant coffee
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 
Directions
Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
 
Step 2: To make – add 2 tablespoons mix to 8 ounces hot water. Garnish with whip cream or marshmallows and mini chocolate chips.
 
Recipe adapted from Yummly.com
 
 
 

Big-Batch Cocktail Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum Apple Cider

By Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics

The hustle of the holidays are well upon us. Whether your scrambling to get some last minute shopping or baking in, or preparing for a holiday party this weekend, I hope you find time each day to take just a few minutes to stop and enjoy the beauty of the season. The lights, sounds, smells and excitement of children are such wonderful little blessings that help us remember it’s not the gifts or glamor, but the moments that make this season so special.

This make-ahead recipe is ready in minutes and makes your house smell so delicious!

This make-ahead recipe is ready in minutes and makes your house smell so delicious!

One of my favorite memories growing up was the annual Christmas caroling party my parents hosted in our tiny farmhouse. I, along with my siblings, would help my mom decorate the house and prepare all the food. Looking back, I’m in awe of how she did it: four kids, working on the farm full-time and still managing to turn our house into a magical masterpiece at Christmas! What I learned was her awesome ability to plan, organize and create simple, great-tasting foods…and throw one heck of a party!

So, in the effort to help with your holiday celebrating, I wanted to share some seasonal favorite recipes  that are easy to make and just as delicious to enjoy. (Check our recipes section for additional recipes.) Most of them you can make ahead of time so, hopefully, (yeah, right!) you can avoid the last-minute rush of making cocktails or setting out the appetizers and actually have a few minutes to compose yourself before the razzle dazzle begins. Enjoy!

Hot Buttered Rum Apple Cider*

NOTE: This cocktail is best enjoyed while strolling through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, wrapping presents in the wee hours of the night or simply snuggling up on the couch and watching your favorite Christmas movie.

Serves: 8-16
 
Time Required: 10 minutes plus time for spiced butter to firm in refrigerator. Then, 5-10 minutes to warm apple cider and melt butter in cider.
 
Just a few simple ingredients make this big-batch cocktail recipe so simple and perfect for holiday gatherings.

Just a few simple ingredients make this big-batch cocktail recipe so simple and perfect for holiday gatherings.

Ingredients

For Spiced Butter
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
 
For Cocktail
64 ounces (half gallon) of apple cider
Spiced Butter
Cinnamon Sticks
Rum or Apple Brandy
 
Directions
Step 1: Make spiced butter. Combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl using a fork.  
 
Step 2: Use a plastic scraper or spatula to form butter mixture into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
 
Spiced butter has been chilled and then cut into chunks and added to simmering apple cider.

Spiced butter has been chilled and then cut into chunks and added to simmering apple cider.

Step 3: Place apple cider in large pot and heat on the stove until it simmers.  Reduce heat to low.

 
Step 4: Remove spiced butter from refrigerator and plastic wrap. Cut into small chunks and add to hot apple cider.  Stir until butter is melted. Optional: Transfer to a crock pot for buffet service.
 
Step 5: To serve, add hot cider to a mug with a cinnamon stick and a shot of rum or apple brandy, if desired.
 
*Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef on Yummly.com
 

Pork Vegetable Stew with Thyme, Oregano & Lemon-Pepper

Pork Veg Stew Cover PicBy Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics

Oh baby, it’s cold outside! Temperatures across the country are dipping below normal recently.  So, I wanted to share a simple, healthy stew that will keep you warm inside and out during this busy holiday season.  While the ingredient list is long, the steps to make it are quite simplistic so you can easily make this on a weekend afternoon while you squeeze in some holiday baking.

This recipe is adapted from the original version found in Midwest Living magazine. Pair it with your favorite cornbread recipe and you have a comforting meal the entire family will enjoy.

Pork Vegetable Stew with Thyme, Oregano & Lemon Pepper

A comforting stew full of veggies and soft, succulent pork.

A comforting stew full of veggies and soft, succulent pork.

1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cubed

1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 medium onions chopped
28 ounces chicken broth, 1/2 cup reserved
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups (16 ounces) frozen corn
1 pound red potatoes, cubed
2 cups (16 ounces) cut green beans
 
Step 1: In a stovetop and oven-proof dish, brown half of the cubed pork in 1 tablespoon hot oil and brown.  Remove meat and place on a plate.  Add remaining meat and onion and brown.
 
Step 2: Return all meat to stove and add all but the reserved 1/2 cup chicken stock, thyme, oregano, lemon-pepper and bring to boil.  Then, cover and bake in oven for 1 hour at 325.
 
 
Step 3: Combine flour and reserved 1/2 cup chicken stock. Add it to the pork along with the corn, potatoes and beans. Stir well and cover. Bake another hour or until vegetables are tender.
 

Gingerbread Biscotti with Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting

By Angela Keyser, HQO Marketing Director

Biscotti FinalI’ve been wanting to make homemade biscotti for some time but just never had the time or reason to make them.  Well, I was heading home to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and wanted to take something that would travel well. I came across this recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti and thought it was perfect – my dad loves ginger or molasses cookies at Christmas so I thought this recipe would be a fun surprise for him and an unexpected treat to dip into his morning coffee. The result; a resounding success! (They were gone in record time, devoured by many in the family.)

Below is an adaptation of the Land O Lakes recipe. These are perfect for traveling, hostess gifts, holiday gift-giving and more. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Biscotti with Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting

Ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves make these biscotti wonderfully flavorful.

Ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves make these biscotti wonderfully flavorful.

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
3 tablespoons mild molases
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
 
Frosting
6 ounces white chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Step 2: Combine butter, sugars and spices in medium bowl and beat until well combined.
 
Step 3: Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
 
Step 4: Add molasses and beat until blended.
 
Step 5: Add flour and baking powder and mix on low until just combined.
 
Biscotti dough log.

Biscotti dough log.

Step 6: Divide dough in half and shape into 12-inch logs on floured surface. Transfer to greased cookie sheet, placing each log about three inches apart.

 
Step 7: Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops of logs are cracked and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
 
Step 8: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
 
Biscotti after first baking step.

Biscotti after first baking step.

Step 9: Cut logs 1/2 inch thick on a diagonal with a serrated knife. Place back on the cookie sheets, cut side up.

 
Step 10: Bake for about 5-10 minutes. Turn biscotti and bake another 5-10 minutes or until they look dry and crisp. Remove from oven and completely cool.
 
Frosting Step 1: Place white chocolate in microwavable bowl and heat on high for one minute.  Continue heating for 15 second increments until chocolate is melted.
 
Frosting Step 2: Add vanilla and cinnamon and stir until well combined.
 
Frosting biscotti with a ziplock bag and on cooling racks that are on baking sheets makes the job and clean-up really easy.

Frosting biscotti with a ziplock bag and on cooling racks that are on baking sheets makes the job and clean-up really easy.

Frosting Step 3: Place white chocolate mixture in a small ziplock bag. Cut a small corner off the bag and drizzle white chocolate over biscotti. 

 
Allow biscotti to sit at room temperature until chocolate sets.  Then, store in air-tight container for up to five days. Or, freeze for up to one month.