Drunken Rum Balls!

Ah, New Year’s Eve.  A time when we celebrate this year’s successes and failures and next year’s possibilities.  A friend of mine once said something very wise (in my opinion): “I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I make decisions.”  I really like that.

And I always find it interesting how some people decide to ring in the new year.  I know some who refuse to go anywhere, staying in and going low key.  Some who could care less and sleep through it – go to bed early, even!  For me, whether I’m home or out, I enjoy the decadence of a new beginning.  The lavish.  The slightly over-the-top excessive.  And so… Drunken Rum Balls.


Drunken Rum Balls

  • 1/2 cup ‘Nilla Wafers, finely rolled with a rolling pin
  • 1½ cups pecans, finely chopped
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, + some extra for coating
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate cocoa powder, I prefer dark
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup rum
  • shredded coconut, opt for coating

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  You will note that the rum amount has a range.  If you want to go a little lighter on the strength, go for ¼ cup.  But in the name of NYE, I always opt for 1/3 cup.

When using the 1/3 rum mixture, your mixture will be slightly loose.  If you have some time, you can allow the mixture to refrigerate for a while to set up.  This will make forming the ball shape easier.  If not, no worries.  Just roll with it.  (Ha!  A little ball humor there!)

In a separate bowl, add powdered sugar and shredded coconut.  Here’s your chance to get creative.  I added some sparkly crystals to my last batch.  You can try other sprinkles, colored crystals, etc.  You can skip the coconut altogether.  You can skip the extra powdered sugar.  Have some fun and see what you can come up with!

Form the rum ball mixture into 1-inch sized balls.  Cover with your coating and continue to roll into ball shape, adding more coating as you go along, as necessary.  Click on this link to see a small video on how I “assemble” my rum balls.

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It’s a messy process, but that reminds me of another wise quote:  “Never trust a chef who doesn’t lick her fingers.”  😃

May 2017 be filled with love, family, friends, and prosperity for one and all.  Happy New Year from The Saucy Tomato!!!  🎉🎇🎆🎉

Fa-Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra & Chinese Turkey

One of my many favorite Christmas movies is A Christmas Story.  Often this time of year, we end up ordering out because we’ve been too busy or it’s too late to cook, and for some reason — I think because of this movie — I crave Chinese food the most in December.  And every single time I eat it, I think of one of my absolute favorite Christmas movie scenes:  the Chinese restaurant scene.

For whatever reason, I usually end up ordering too large a portion of Wonton Soup.  After all the broth is gone, I have wontons leftover.  This happened again recently, and I found a clever way to reuse of them.


Asian Fusion Wonton Soup

  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-4 leftover wontons, diced
  • 1 head bok choy, chopped
  • 2-4 tbsp chunky peanut butter

Combine all the ingredients in a pot and simmer until bok choy is soft and peanut butter dissolved.  Ta-da!  Now you can deck your hars with Thai and Chinese food, all in one!

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Feel free to get creative — adding anything from red peppers to red pepper flakes.  The world is your wonton!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, filled with the most important things of all: friends, family, love, and Jesus. 🎄💝🎄

Holiday Old-Fashioned

Joe Cocker said it best: “I get by with a little help from my friends.”  Around the holidays, sometimes my friends are bourbon and rum.  Ha!  I stumbled across this recipe for a Holiday Old-Fashioned and decided to give it a whirl.  But first, you gotta get some other friends together – rosemary, ginger, and grapefruit…


Rosemary, Ginger, and Grapefruit Syrup

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, strained
  • 5 2-inch-long slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 12 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 2-inch strips grapefruit zest

Combine sugar, water, and grapefruit and stir over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Gently bruise the ginger and rosemary with the back of a spoon to release their oils.  Add them to the pot along with the grapefruit zest.  Lower heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, being careful to not allow it to boil.  Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

At this point, you can keep the mixture in a container for personal use, or make yet another great stocking stuffer!  (For the grown-ups, of course!)  Divide the ginger slices, rosemary sprigs, and grapefruit peel evenly among jars, then fill with syrup.  Write down or print the recipe for the Holiday Old-Fashioned on a slip of paper, punch a hole in it, and tie it around the jar with some twine.  Stockings stuffed!


Holiday Old-Fashioned

  • 1/2 oz Rosemary, Ginger, and Grapefruit Syrup, plus a piece of zest
  • 3 dashes of bitters
  • 2 ounces of bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon club soda
  • ice

Add syrup, bitters, and bourbon to a shaker full of ice.  Shake and strain into a rocks glass.  Top with the club soda and garnish the zest.

That is the “official” recipe.  I tend to use whatever tastes good to me, or what I have on hand.  I enjoy it with rum and a splash of Sprite or club soda, my husband enjoys mixing it with whiskey.  Or skip the alcohol altogether and just add it to plain club soda.  A little bit goes a long way, so play around with it and have yourself a Merry Little Christmas … with your friends!

Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Ahhh, Christmas dinner.  Family, friends, loved ones alike.  And all of that FOOD!  If you’re lucky enough to not be in charge of the turkey or ham, you may be wondering if there is something you can bring that will stand out.  Something different than the norm.  Something to really add some wow your banquet table.  There is!

My husband is a huge fan of blue cheese.  Several years ago, I surprised him with a big batch of Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes.  He and my family loved them!  Now I make them every Christmas.  I will totally get the evil eye from my oldest stepson if I don’t.  They’ve become a staple, a tradition, and they are asked for by name.  It’s pretty much a given.  “And will you be bringing your Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes?”  Why, yes.  Yes I will.  Now you can, too.


Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 pound bag Russet Potatoes
  • 10 oz of crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 1 Bleu Cheese salad dressing, to taste
  • salt, pepper, & milk, to taste

Dice potatoes and boil in a large pot until soft.  Drain, then put back into pot.  Add crumbled Blue Cheese.  If you like, you can save a little to sprinkle on top when the potatoes are done for a prettier presentation.  I use all of mine for maximum flavor.  Smash together with a potato masher (I like the square faced ones) until cheese is fully mixed.  Add dressing until you get your desired consistency.  I prefer mine to still be somewhat thick and chunky.  If you like yours a little looser, you can add more dressing and/or some milk.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  This should serve your average family of about 10-15 — hopefully with some leftover for you to take back home. 😋

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Blue or Bleu?  Fun Fact!  The phrase “blue cheese” actually showed up in English a century and a half before the Frenchified “bleu cheese” version.  Now you know!  Merci beauBLUE!

Candy Cane Hearts – Stocking Stuffer #3!

Holy holidays, Batman!  Christmas is NEXT WEEKEND!  If you’re anything like me, this month has really gotten away from you.  I’m not even sure what I have on hand.  I need to take present inventory, wrap some stuff, and buy for anyone I may have forgotten.  And then just when you think you’re done, you come face to face with those empty stockings!  Or some holiday party!  Or your delivery people!  Or, or, or!

Have no fear!  I have yet another great and easy stocking stuffer / quick goodie / nice token of appreciation:  Candy Cane Hearts.  Crazy easy, I whipped up a bunch of these and put them in goodie bags last year for friends, made a tray of them for my buddies at the post office (they don’t get much love this time of year!) , and gave them to anyone I suddenly realized “Oh, shoot!” when I encountered them.  And the way this month has gone, I’ll definitely be making them again!


Candy Cane Hearts

  • mini candy canes
  • bag(s) of chocolate chips (dark, milk, or white – or all of the above!)
  • decorations of choice (sprinkles, jimmies, non-pareils, edible glitter, etc.)
  • small sandwich bags
  • wax paper
  • food dye (opt)

On a baking sheet lined with wax paper, align 2 mini candy canes tip to tip, creating the shape of a heart.  Repeat to create as many hearts as desired.

Pour chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave until melted, in 30-second increments so as not to scorch.

Once the chocolate is fully melted, spoon into the corner of a small sandwich bag.  Cut off a very small piece of the corner end.  Squeeze out chocolate gently, filling in the middle part of the candy canes.  Make sure that the chocolate goes all the way to the edge of the candy canes.  This is what holds them together.

Here is where you can get creative!  If you want to add a different color of chocolate, melt another type and create swirls and patterns of your choice.  Go even further with white chocolate mixed with food coloring.  I went with simple dark chocolate and Christmas colored non-pareils last year, but this year I think I’m going to go crazy.  ‘Tis the Season, after all!

Once all the chocolate is in place, sprinkle with decorations of choice.  Again, get creative!  Mix them up, alternate, make patterns.  Whatever your little heart desires.

Refrigerate for at least an 30 minutes to be sure chocolate is fully solidified.  Gently peel off wax paper and place in decorative baggies tied with ribbon or whatever packaging you prefer.

These are super easy to make and great for kids to help with.  Go classy or sassy or silly.  Just do whatever makes you happy!  I promise, they’ll make whoever receives them happy, too!

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White Chocolate Cherry and Dark Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Hearts

Slow-Cooked Rosemary Lamb Chops (2 recipes in 1!)

I never thought I liked lamb.  I had only had it served buffet-style, usually overcooked and rendered very gamey.  Then my husband had some that was prepared correctly.  Fresh and cooked perfectly.  The heavens opened and angels sang.  As with most things we enjoy, he and I decided to try to it at home.  We opted for lamb chops, grilled rare, with a red wine rosemary reduction.  Nailed it.  We never went back to the buffet again.

Last year, I made another great stocking stuffer: a slow cooked tomato confit made with rosemary, thyme, and garlic.  Because it was slow-cooked in my crockpot, the tomatoes and garlic were soft enough to spread and the herbs were actually palatable — even the rosemary (which is usually too stick- or needle-like and strong).  The confit was great mixed with eggs, spread on crackers, or added to a sandwich.  I put it in cute little jars, attached a label, and put them in gift bags along with my Gingerbread Latte Spice Mix (recipe here).


Slow-Cooked Tomato Confit

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 6-10 cloves of garlic, cut in chunks
  • 3-4 stems of rosemary
  • 4-6 stems of thyme
  • 2-4 cups olive oil, enough to cover ¾ of tomatoes 
  • salt & pepper, to taste

In a crockpot, add cherry tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cover ¾ of the way with olive oil.  Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or until tomatoes and garlic are soft.  Remove bare stems left from rosemary and thyme.

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The rosemary and tomatoes reminded me a lot of our rosemary lamb chops, and I got the idea to slow cook those in the crockpot with the confit mixture.  To the recipe above, I added lamb chops, seasoned with salt, pepper, plus onion and garlic powders.  I threw in some green olives for a nice briny kick and some potatoes.  It turned into a warm and gratifying meal for a cold December night!


Slow-Cooked Rosemary Lamb Chops

  • slow-cooked tomato confit
  • 4-6 lamb chops
  • green olives, to your preference (I use about 1 cup’s worth)
  • 2-3 potatoes, diced large
  • salt, pepper, onion & garlic powders, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook on low for the same 4-5 hours, spooning juices over lamb chops periodically until all ingredients are cooked through and lamb is at that roast-like point of falling apart.  Spoon potatoes into dish and smash for a base layer.  Add lamb and confit.  Top with some Paremsan cheese, if desired.

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Gingerbread Spiced Latte

I’m a coffee freak, and I love all the holiday flavors that come out this time of year.  Because I can’t afford a REAL pumpkin spice latte everyday, here’s something really similar that I do at home.  With the aromatic blend of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and the comforting hint of chocolate, it’s like the holidays in a mug.  You’re welcome.


Gingerbread Spiced Latte

Equal parts of the following:

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Dark Chocolate Powder

For a little more kick (about 1/3 of above amounts):

  • Cloves (opt)
  • Allspice (opt)
  • Salt (opt)

Mix all ingredients and put a spoonful in your coffee grinds before you brew, about 1 tablespoon per 4 cups.