Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 7: Molasses Cookies

These cookies are delicious!  Clearly, I'm not going to post a recipe that isn't good, but these cookies really are one of best!  My co-worker brought some to work a few weeks ago, and I have made two batches since then!

They taste similar to ginger snaps, but with a more pleasant spice taste, not quite so sharp.  The texture is soft and chewy and they will stay soft for several days too. 

 Molasses Cookies

6 oz. softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses (not black strap)
1 egg
2 c. flour
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
Granulated sugar for rolling

Sift together flour, spices, salt and soda.
Cream butter, sugar and molasses (I usually do this by hand, if the butter is soft enough, just until thoroughly incorporated - if you beat the batter too light I think the cookies spread more).
Add egg and mix until incorporated.
Stir in flour mixture.

Refrigerate the batter - an hour to overnight. 

Scoop and roll in sugar.  Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 6: Gluten-Free Quiche

I've been experimenting lately with gluten-free recipes as there seems to be increasing interest and need for GF recipes.  Quiche is usually eggs, cream/milk, cheese, and meat or veggies baked in a pie crust.  Since the filling was naturally GF, I needed to come up with a way to make a crust without using any kind of grain.

After several tries, I decided on an almond flour, butter, and cheese crust.  It has the texture of a graham cracker crust, and the nuttiness of the almond meal pairs really well with the cheesy filling.

Gluten-Free Quiche Lorraine

1 cup almond flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces bacon (about 8 slices) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
4 ounces shredded cheese, about 1 cup (cheddar and swiss both work well)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine almond flour, melted butter, and 1/2 cup cheese and mix very well.  Firmly press into the bottom of a 9" pie pan.  

Bake for 20 minutes until gold brown and cheese looks toasty.  Set aside.

Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate. Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients except cheese in medium bowl.

Spread cheese and bacon evenly over bottom of warm pie shell and set shell on oven rack. Pour in custard mixture to 1/2-inch below crust rim. Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean, and center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32 to 35 minutes. 

Quiche, fruit, and coffee with homemade eggnog....a delicious Christmas morning breakfast!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 5: Holiday Eggnog

Merry Christmas Eve! 

Eggnog is the quintessential Christmas party drink.  It usually makes an apperance at every Christmas party.  My grandmother still makes it every holiday season and it is delicious, but her recipe calls for uncooked eggs.  I'm not really that picky about the whole raw egg thing, but I definitely felt better when I found an excellent version that thoroughly cooks the eggs.  It takes a little more time to make because of the cooking and chilling time, but you'll definitely be rewarded for your efforts!

I usually make the recipe without the "nog" and let each person doctor it to their liking.  My sister likes hers minus the alcohol, while my uncle prefers "Nog-egg"! :)

6 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon  salt
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in milk, one-half cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly, until custard registers 160 degrees on instant read thermometer, thickens, and coats the back of a spoon, 25 to 30 minutes.

It will look like this:

Pour custard through sieve into large bowl; stir in vanilla and grated nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least three hours and up to three days.

Just before serving, whip cream in medium bowl to very soft peaks and gently fold into custard mixture until incorporated.


I'll be back on Monday with recipe #6.  I'm taking a break tomorrow to spend time with my family.   Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 4: Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach artichoke dip is one of my favorite appetizers!  I have tried several versions, but I really like this version I adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.  It is a little more complicated to put together than some recipes but it is worth it in the end.   

I think it’s creamy and cheesy without being to rich.  You can serve it with tortilla chips, toasted baguettes, or crackers.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup milk
6 ounces cream cheese
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.  Add garlic and heat for 30 seconds.  Remove onions and garlic from pan and set aside.

In the same pot, warm milk over medium heat. Whisk in cream cheese until melted, about 3 minutes. Add onions and garlic, artichokes, spinach, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/4 cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 3: Party Meatballs

I promised some non-baking recipes, so today I thought I'd post a great appetizer!  I have made the recipe several times over the last few weeks and it is always a huge hit!  

I catered an anniversary party last night and made two large pans of meatballs and every single one was eaten.  I didn't get a picture because they were gone so fast!

Party Meatballs
2 lbs prepared meatballs
12 oz chili sauce
16 oz can cranberry sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients and cook until heated through and bubbly.  This can be done in a crockpot, on the stove, or in the oven.  I like to cook them in a 9x13 pan for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 2: Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

Chocolate peppermint crackle cookies for me were always those cookies that sounded so appealing in theory – dark chocolaty cookies with just a hint of peppermint, perfectly crackled snow white tops, crisp on the outside, cake-like in the middle.  

But, mine never tasted or looked that good in reality and I tried several versions.  I hated being disappointed in the result, so I stopped making them,

Until…….I found this recipe.  (On a side note, Simply Scratch is a GREAT blog for any kind of recipe!  She has some of the best step by step pictures.)  

Anyway, back to chocolate peppermint cookies....these are truly the perfect one!  I simplified the recipe just slightly as I didn't have fresh mint available, but I can’t wait to try it again this summer when my mint plant is booming. 

Another unique part of this recipe is rolling the cookie dough in granulated sugar before rolling it in powdered sugar.  It keeps the cookie from absorbing the powdered sugar so they stay perfectly white.  Since the dough does have to rolled into balls, then rolled in sugar twice, it’s a great one to make with friends or family so you can get a few helpers!

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies
1-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
7 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate, broken into pieces
3 whole Eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract
½ - 1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup (or more) granulated sugar, for rolling the cookie dough
1/2 cup (or more) powdered sugar, for rolling the cookie dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the middle of your oven.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a sauce pan over the lowest setting melt the chocolate and butter. Stir often to avoid scorching and remove when only a few lumps remain. Stir until completely melted then pour into a large bowl. Add the sugar to the chocolate and stir. When the chocolate has cooled a tad, gradually add eggs and vanilla and stir.

Add a third of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, mix by hand. Repeat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, measure and roll into uniform balls. Roll the cookie balls in granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, then place the cookie balls an inch apart on a lined or greased, rimmed baking sheet. Slide into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven. Remove and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack to finish.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Try to avoid eating them all off the cookie sheet!  They are even better while still warm.  I suggest taking a break from your holiday baking for a glass of milk and a cookie or two. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 Days of Recipes ~ Day 1: Chocolate Pecan Pie

Introducing The 12 Days of Recipes!  As I was listening to Christmas carols over the weekend and baking five pies and six red velvet cakes (at times like this I wish I had two ovens) and thinking about which recipe to blog about, it occurred to me: why not share all of them!  Everyone is always looking for good dishes to make for parties or when company comes over.

So…..Every day for the next 12 days I’ll post a holiday recipe.  All of these will be recipes that I have made, so I have tested them out for you!   I’m going to do an assortment: some baking, some brunch ideas, some dinner ideas…all perfect for your Christmas/New Year’s parties!

Day  1: Ooey Gooey Chocolate Pecan Pie

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Taste of Home and it is fabulous!   The chocolate adds a dark richness to the usual sweetness of a pecan pie.  This pie takes a while to bake, longer than the average pecan pie, but the center still stays soft and gooey while the edges taste like a moist brownie.

Next time you need a crowd-leasing dessert, try out this fudgy, nutty, buttery pie! 

Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp light corn syrup
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Unroll pie crust and ease into a 9” pie pan.  Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond edge of plate; flute edges.  For filling, melt butter and chocolate in a microwave; stir until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt. Stir in chopped pecans and butter mixture. Pour into pastry.   Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until center seems set. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Cool on a wire rack.

I actually finished up the last little bit as I was typing….perfect with a cup of coffee!  

Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Football ... and music?

Happy Sunday!  This week’s feature cake was made for my friend’s husband, Adam, for his birthday.  He is man of few interests: family, music, and Notre Dame football!  This presented a challenge – how to combine music and football into one cake!

His wife, Stefanie, came up with the coolest idea!  A football-shaped cake with a musical score on the laces, and a set of piano keys and a guitar fret instead of the usually white lines on the ends of the football.  I thought it was a fantastic idea…just wish I had thought of it :)

I started by carving the basic shape of the football…very basic at this point!  

Then I went back and trimmed it until I got the shape just right.  Next, I frosted it with chocolate buttercream….oh so yummy!  It takes a little while to get the frosting so smooth.  But, if there are any imperfections in the buttercream, they will show through the fondant.

I covered the cake with a reddish-brownish colored fondant.  I usually use crumbled aluminum foil to add texture to the fondant so it looks more like a football.  Unfortunately, I was completely out of aluminum foil, so I searched around the kitchen for something to add texture.  In the back of my cooking utensil drawer, I found my meat tenderizer…it created the perfect look!  Necessity is the mother of invention :)

Next, I cut out a guitar fret and piano keys from white fondant... 

 Then laid them on cake...

 After painting on some details, the cake was done!

The notes on the laces are actually from the Notre Dame fight song! 

Adam and Stefanie were both thrilled with the cake!  It is always so much fun making cakes for my friends!

I've been baking cookies like crazy this week, so next week I'll share several recipes...Molasses cookies, Raspberry almond thumbprints, Chocolate-dipped butter cookies with toasted coconut, and Chocolate peppermint crackle cookies.  Happy baking!