Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sugar Cookies

Here is a very good basic recipe for sugar cookies. I know I am just about "cookied out" but this is a good one to save and try at a later time if you are feeling the same way I am! It is from the The Doubleday Cookbook. I don't know if I will get another chance to post a recipe before the New Year since I'll be away for a few days. My plans for New Year's eve are to be home with my husband and youngest son and bring in the New Year via Dick Clark!!!! I don't care to go out on New Year's eve. Hope all of you have a happy and safe New Year and let me know what your plans are!!!

This recipe makes approximately 7 dozen

3 3/4 cups sifted flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until just blended (lowest speed if you use mixer). If your kitchen is very hot, wrap dough in wax paper and chill about 1 hour (I always chill the dough for at least one hour) so it will roll more easily. Roll 1/4 of dough at a time on a lightly floured board to 1/16" - 1/8" thickness and cut with plain or fluted cutters (a 2" or 3" size is good). Transfer to baking sheets with a pancake turner, spacing cookies 2" apart. If you like, brush with milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in top 1/3 of oven 8-9 minutes until pale tan. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Reroll and cut trimmings.

For softer cookies: Roll dough 1/8" - 1/4" thick and cut with a 3" cutter; bake as directed 10-12 minutes until edges are just golden.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I had planned on posting an old sugar cookie recipe that I have been using for many years, but of course, time got away from me today. I feel as if I am totally baked out!!!! I finished up 3 different kinds of cookies and an apple pie. Here's an idea for anyone that might be baking a pie for tomorrow: why not try red or green sugar crystals on the top of the pie. I made an apple pie and it just looked so festive!!!! Well that is my "tip of the day!" Have a great holiday everyone!!!! Debbie

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dunkel (Dark) Gingerbread with Chocolate Chunks

This recipe comes from a German website which you can find here. This is a recipe that is great for a large crowd. It is dense and moist and goes a long way since it is quite rich. My husband loved this cake. The cake did take twice as long to bake compared to what the recipe states. Mine baked for a good hour. I also used a stout beer in this cake and would suggest that any dark German beer is fine. I found that when the cake cooled down to where it could be sliced and eaten (about two hours later) you could somewhat taste the beer. Almost like a tinge of bitterness. I waited again to taste it until the next morning and it was perfect. All the flavors had blended perfectly. So remember that this cake is best when served the next day and also a less strong beer might be better than a stout. It is definitely worth making and like I said, it would be perfect for a large crowd. I'll be back again tomorrow to post my favorite sugar cookie recipe that I started using about 25 years ago!!!!! Still have more cookies to bake and not even sure which ones I will be making. I'm not very organized....there are so many good cake and cookie recipes out there that I just can't decide....!!!!

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dark German beer

1 cup molasses

1 tablespoon fresh ginger (I used 2 teaspoons ground ginger)

1 stick unsalted butter, softenend

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 (3 1/2 ounce) bar German dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) finely chopped crystalized ginger (don't substitute for this)

Confectioners sugar to garnish, optional

Preheat over to 350 F. Generously butter and flour a 10 cup Bundt pan. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together the dark German beer, molasses and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in a large bowl and beat at medium speed with a mixer for 2 minutes, or until mixture is light and fluffy. In 3 additions, alternately beat in flour mixture and beer mixture at low speed until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate and crystallized ginger. Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top of batter.

Bake 30 - 35 minutes (I baked mine 1 hour) or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Dust cake with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Tip: I have found that when buying crystallized ginger it is about 1/3 of the price if you can find it at either an Asian grocery store or in the Asian food section of your local grocery store.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


These shortbread cookies are delicious and so easy to make. I made the dough the night before and baked the cookies the following evening. I brought them in to work the next day and they were gone before noon! They are very buttery tasting and just plain good. I will be making them again this week for my Christmas tray. Still haven't decided which other ones to make for Christmas day - there are just so many good ones to make. That is what I will be doing this coming Tuesday and Wednesday...baking, baking and then more baking. In fact as I am typing this, I have a spiced gingerbread cake in the oven that I am kind of leary about. It is a recipe from a German website which uses a cup of stout beer and and lots of crystalized ginger. I have absolutely no idea how this will turn out but since I like gingerbread I thought it would be interesting to make. It also calls for 3.5 ounces of chocolate so how bad could it be. If it is good I will post it because it is something different. I'll let you know how it turns out.

From the Dorie Greenspan book "Baking - From my home to yours"

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 cups all purpose flour

Decorating (coarse) sugar

Beat butter at medium speed until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth and velvety, NOT fluffy and airy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the egg yolks, again beating until homogenous. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour and continue mixing at low speed for 30 seconds more, just until flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. The dough will not clean the sides of the bowl nor will it come together in a ball - and it shouldn't. Work the dough as little as possible - it should feel like Play-Doh. Scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface and gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. The dough can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months.

To bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove a log of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Whisk one egg yolk until it is smooth and brush some of the yolk all over the sides of the dough - this is the glue - then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with decorating sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged, and slice the log into 1/3 inch thick cookies. You can make these as thick as 1/2 inch or as thin as 1/4 inch, but no thinner than that. Place the rounds on the baking sheets leaving an inch of space between them. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes. (My first batch I baked for 17 minutes and they burned - so watch carefully from 13 minutes on.) They should be pale on top, slightly golden on the edges and light brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and let the cookies rest a minute or two carefully lifting them onto a rack with a wide metal spatula to cool to room temperature.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranberry Vanilla Coffeecake

This recipe comes from the December 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine. Right in time for the holidays! This is a very festive coffeecake to me since it has cranberries in it. I hardly ever use cranberries for anything any other time of the year except for November thru December. It's pretty simple to make. I used a 9 inch springform pan lined with parchment paper. I also am not familiar using vanilla bean so I substituted one teaspoon of vanilla extract and used that in the cake. I think it turned out fine. This is definitely best eaten once it has cooled or the next day at the latest. I had a slice this morning (the last of it) and it really had lost some of its taste. Just not nearly as good. This would be great for breakfast or even as an afternoon "pick me up" with some coffee. Enjoy!

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 oz) - I used fresh

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided

2 larges eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. (I used a springform pan.) Line bottom with parchment paper and butter parchment paper. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife (reserve pod for another use if desired.) Add sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl. (I omitted this step since I used vanilla extract in cake.) Pulse cranberries with 1/2 vanilla sugar (I used plain sugar) in processor until finely chopped - do not puree. Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternatively in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined. Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Top with remaining batter and smooth top. Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble on top of cake. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do You Dare??

When I visited Natashya's blog Living in the Kitchen with Puppies today she had a challenge for other food bloggers....would they care to show their shelves of cookbooks to other bloggers so we can all show each what cookbooks we have in our collections. I definitely thought this would be fun. I really don't have that many, but the ones I do have are ones I really treasure. I buy some cookbooks at yard sales and some (if I really want it) I pay full price for at the book store. My most treasured ones are about 30 years old and are the Doubleday Cookbook, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I have had them probably 30 years ( older than a lot of people reading this!) and they have NEVER failed me. I turn to them time and time again. If there is an ingredient I'm not familiar with, they will have it in there - what it is and what it's used for. Every recipe is a winner and I still use their recipe for sugar cookies. Can't find a better one ever. I have some newer ones also, like Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my Home to Yours. Another great book. So now you all have seen my collection!!!!! I'd love to see yours!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce

Guess what I did with the leftover tomato sauce from my Chicken Cacciatore dinner? I used it on top of spaghetti squash! It was delicious! This was the first time I had made spaghetti squash and I still can't believe how simple it is to make and how tasty it is. Especially with tomato sauce. Here are some ways to cook the squash:

If you decide to cup it up before it is cooked let me tell you it is tough. That is the way I did it. I didn't realize at the time you can cook it whole. (Duh). It took alot of muscle to get this sucker cut but I did it. Make sure to cut it lengthwise in half or in quarters. Just remember not to cut it too small or you will have short strands. Remember to scrape out the seeds and pulp like you would with any squash or pumpkin. You then bake it with the rind side up for about 30 or 40 minutes. I put mine on a nonstick baking pan with a little water and cooked it at 375 degrees. When it's done you just separate the strands by running a fork through in the stem to stem direction.

If you decide to cook it whole it will take a little longer and you'll need to watch out for burns when removing the pulp and seeds. Remember to pierce the squash several times with a sharp knife so you don't have an explosion in the oven. You also bake it at 375 degrees.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Giada's Chicken Cacciatore

This chicken cacciatore recipe is definitely a keeper. It's the first time I've used white wine instead of red for this recipe and also it calls for capers. I love capers! I found it at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. It's a recipe that is originally from Giada De Laurentis. The oregano, basil, garlic and capers just blend so well together. I did not have fresh basil so I used dried instead. I did use fresh parsley which I added when the dish was almost done. I also used a whole cut up chicken. I served this over pasta. Delicious!!!!

4 chicken thighs

2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/2 cup all purpose flour for dredging

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (I used regular)

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 2 teaspoons of dried basil)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano (I also added basil at this point.) Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs. (Mine took closer to 45 minutes for all.) Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and sauce.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes

I had a large bag of potatoes that I needed to do something with and quick. They were at the point of growing "eyes." Not pretty when that happens. I really don't know how they even lasted as long as they have around here. I love potatoes and could eat fries every night (but I restrain myself). Anyhow, I came across this recipe the other day at allrecipes. I'll tell you that since I discovered the world of food blogging I rarely look at my poor cookbooks. And believe me, there are a lot of them around here. My husband collects cookbooks (that is a story for another post though - it would be a long one!). These days it seems that most of my recipes come from somewhere on the net, be it another food blog or recipe site. It's not that I don't read my cookbooks anymore because I do. I just seem to get distracted by recipes and pictures of food on the net. I just want to make what I see right away!!!! Almost like a form of ADD cooking!!! Getting back to the potatoes they are very good. I didn't have thyme or rosemary on hand (seems like everything BUT that) so I used basil and oregano instead. I also omitted the nutmeg since I didn't know how that would taste with the two spices I substituted. These are definitely woth trying to see if you like them.

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered (I used baking potatoes)

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (I used basil)

1 teaspoon dried thyme (I used oregano)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I omitted this)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, onion and garlic; toss to combine. Add the thyme, rosemary and nutmeg; toss well. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until potatoes are hot.

Transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1 in. baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden and almost tender. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper; toss well. Bake 5-8 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Apple Cake

This is the last of the apple recipes for a while. I baked this back when I sat here with almost a bushel of apples!!! The cake was a very good cake but I did not add enough apples. The batter had looked very thin to me and it looked like it was all apples and not enough batter. I should have trusted the recipe as it was written and added the amount of apples it called for. I'm sure it would have been even better. I would make this again just using more apples. I found this at Confessions of a Tart.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 to 4 large apples or 5 smaller ones

confectioners' sugar for dusting

Peel and core apples, then slice them thinly. Prepare an 11 inch tart pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you don't want the apples to brown, you can squeeze some lemon juice on them, but there really is no need to since they go in the batter anyway.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. Melt the butter and let it cool. In a large bowl combine the eggs and sugar. Using a mixer, mix on medium speed until batter becomes pale and thick.

Add in the slightly warm, melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended then add apples and stir until the apples are coated. Add in the sifted dry ingredients until well incorporated.

Pour into the prepared tart pan and place into the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, dust with confections sugar. This is best servied while it is still slightly warm. Can also be served with whipped cream.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stir-Fry Broccoli and Beef Tenderloin

I made this dish last week and it was delicious. Both my husband and son raved about it and I will definitely be making this again and again. Maybe next time I will try this with chicken or shrimp. I think both of them would be fine. I found this recipe at My Kitchen Snippets. It's another great food blog that I check all the time.

1/2 pound of beef tenderloin or flank steak, sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces

1 pound of broccoli-cut small

1/2 red pepper cut into bite size pieces (I used a whole pepper)

1/2 yellow pepper cut into bite size pieces (I used a whole green pepper)

1 small onion - cut into bite size pieces

1 clove of garlic-chopped

1 tbsp of chopped ginger (I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger)

Marinade for beef:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp of cooking wine (I used semi sweet red wine)

1 tbsp cornstarch

For Sauce:

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp of pepper

1 cup chicken stock (more or less depending on how much sauce you like)

1 tsp cornstarch

Marinade sliced beef for thirty minutes. Mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat pan with about 2 tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef and stir-fry until it is nearly cooked. Remove beef and set aside. In the same sauce pan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil, stir-fry garlic, ginger and onions until fragrant and lightly brown. Add in the peppers and broccoli and stir fry for a minute. Add in the sauce and bring it up to a boil. Cook until the broccoli and peppers are cooked but still slightly crunchy. Lastly, add in the beef, stir fry for a few seconds or until sauce and everything is well mixed. Check seasoning. Serve with rice.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chicken Tetrazzini IV

Another great recipe from allrecipes. My husband has been requesting this for years and I have never made it. It is so simple to make and it is great for leftovers or for making the day before and then just popping it in the oven the next day. This goes well with a side salad and also some crispy bread. I am a sucker for great bread and I definitely over did it last night. I ate more bread loaded with butter than anything else! We had an Italian bread with this and I just love the ends (the elbows I call them!) I can't resist them! Enjoy!

1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti, broken into pieces

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream (I used evaporated milk)

2 tablespoons sherry

1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained

2 cups cooked chicken

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used a bit more to cover top)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Meanwhile in a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in chicken broth and cream. Return to heat and bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sherry, then stir in cooked spaghetti, mushrooms and chicken. Pour mixture into the prepared baing dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven until bubbly and lightly browned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Award!

Katherine from smoky mountain cafe has passed on an award on to me! Thank you Katherine! She has a great blog with lots of wonderful recipes. Please stop by and visit her site. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Favorite Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Welcome December!!! Now with Thanksgiving behind us, we have Christmas to concentrate on and all the great foods (especially cookies) that Christmas brings. I absolutely love baking Christmas cookies and cut out sugar cookies are my favorites. As soon as I make some I will definitely post them. But for now let's start the season with some gingerbread. I don't know why I haven't made this before. It is just so easy and absolutely delicious! It definitely reminds me of the holidays. This is a very moist gingerbread. The recipe comes from allrecipes. I have found lots of good recipes on there lately.

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup molasses

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour (mine baked 45 minutes and was done) in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.