Friday, December 2, 2016

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread is a traditional, fun cookie perfect for parties and family celebrations. These cookies can be decorated with any colors and in any style. The best part is all ages can participate in decorating the sweet confections. Dark molasses is the secret ingredient to perfect this cookie. String the cookies on wire for decoration around your home if you can resist the urge not to take a bite of each one.

Gingerbread People Holiday Cookie Projects: White Snowflakes, Dreidel Trios and Ornaments

Ingredients

Gingerbread:

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Royal Icing:

2 cups or more confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon egg white*
Decorating:
Raisins, as needed
White chocolate chips, as needed
Various food coloring
Various colors of sanding sugar

Equipment: Pastry bag fitted with small, round tip; cookie cutters in the shape of gingerbread men and women, dreidels, Christmas tree ornaments, and snowflakes; wire, string or yarn for stringing

Directions

Make the Gingerbread: In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix. Add the eggs and mix. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix.
Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together. Working in batches and mixing after each addition until just combined, add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Shape the dough into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 1 or 2 cookie sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with desired cookie cutters.

To make the Royal Icing: In a mixer, blend the confectioners' sugar, milk, and egg white together. Add more sugar to get a pipe-able consistency.

To make Gingerbread Men and Women: Use gingerbread man and woman cookie cutters and cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. Decorate them with raisins and white chocolate chips for eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons down the front. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, add some festive colors to your icing with food coloring and lay out colored sugars in small glass bowls with spoons. Using a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe a few colorful borders or white borders and coat with sanding sugar. When set, add more lines of icing in white.

To make snowflakes: Use a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make holes in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the holes will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Using only white icing and a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe thin lines from the center of the cookie out to the points, like spokes of a wheel. Connect the spokes with thin lines between them, making a spiderweb effect to give it the look of a snowflake. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

To make ornaments: Use any holiday-themed cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make holes in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the holes will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Meanwhile, color some of your icing in festive colors with food coloring, or use colored sugars. Using a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe a few colorful borders and decorations on the cookies. When set, add more lines of icing in white. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

To make dreidel trios: Use a dreidel cookie cutter and cut out 3 cookies. Lay 1 on a greased sheet pan. Fanning out at an angle, with the handles overlapping at the top, lay 2 more dreidels next to the first one (it will look like a paper-doll effect). The handle is now 3 layers thick; press on it gently to thin it slightly and make it larger. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps as needed.
If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make a hole in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the hole will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Color some of your icing blue with food coloring, or use blue colored sugar and white icing together. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip, pipe Hebrew letters or stars of David on the cookies' faces. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gingerbread-holiday-cookie-white-snowflakes-dreidel-trios-ornaments-recipe.html#!?oc=linkback

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Slapping a Salmon on the Table

This is one of the best things I ever bought.
It's one of those grilling machines. This one is about as basic as it gets: You open it, there's a non-stick surface on the bottom and a non-stick surface on the top. You plug it in, wait for it to heat up, pop your food in, close it, and cook stuff until it's done.

Last night, I put a slab of frozen salmon on there. Well, first I rubbed it with olive oil and salt and sprinkled the top with dried dill weed, then I slapped it on there.

Eight minutes later, it was done to perfection.


I use this gizmo for panini, brats, grilled sammiches, grilled veg -- oh, for many things.

And the salmon was YUM.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, November 25, 2016

White Chocolate Cappuccino Cookies

These cute coffee mug shaped cookies are perfect for the day after Thanksgiving as you begin the day with family sipping coffee preparing for the big game, a shopping spree, or a movie day. Use a flavored latte coffee mix to boost this cookie's richness. You can even dip the cookie in your coffee for a twist. White candy coating is literally the icing on the cookie in this holiday favorite.

White Chocolate Cappuccino Cookies



Ingredients

2 envelopes mocha cappuccino mix
1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces white candy coating, melted
Baking cocoa, optional


Directions

In a small bowl, dissolve cappuccino mix in hot water. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cappuccino mixture and egg yolk. In another bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll.
Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. cup-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Pipe melted candy coating over cookies as desired, or dip each cookie halfway into melted candy coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. If desired, dust with cocoa.
Freeze option: Transfer wrapped disks to a resealable plastic freezer bag; freeze. To use, thaw dough in refrigerator until soft enough to roll. Prepare, bake and decorate as directed.Yield: about 4 dozen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tomato Cauliflower Soup #Vegan

We had a few baby tomatoes left and the tag end of a head of cauliflower, so I made this soup.

Tomato Cauliflower Soup

  • cooked cauliflower, reserving some
  • peeled tomatoes, chopped, reserving some
  • dash of lemon juice
Put these into a blender or food processor and whirl.

  • olive oil
  • onion
Cook the onion in olive oil until the onion is tender and translucent.

Put the cauliflower/tomato stuff in with the onion and add:
  • water
  • veg bouillon
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • blob of salsa
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the reserved cauliflower and tomato and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Most satisfying.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes


Friday, November 18, 2016

Polish Tea Cookies

We're just past the middle of November, so it's time to start thinking about cookie swaps and family gatherings. For the next few weeks, I'll be bringing you some fabulous cookie recipes.

These Polish Tea cookies are perfect for a cookie swap. They're a lot like thumbprint cookies, but are filled with jam. A soft butter taste combines with jam and almonds in this cookie. Almonds give these a great texture and pair perfectly with the jam filling. You can pop them like candy since they're the perfect size!

Martha Stewart's Polish Tea Cookies


INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
Extra granulated sugar, for rolling
1 egg white
Jam, for filling

DIRECTIONS

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well. Add the flour; beat again.
Chill dough for several hours.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine almonds with 2 tablespoons sugar. Form dough into small balls and dip in lightly beaten egg white, then in almond-and-sugar mixture. Press center of each ball with your thumb.
Bake for 5 minutes, then remove and push down centers again. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly and fill centers with jam.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Massive Mushroom

This should be vegetarian. The version of it I had at the restaurant was vegetarian, but we had this package of locally sourced ham that was calling our names and keeping us awake at nights, so we thawed it out and I chopped up a piece and added it to this.
That's ham, fresh tomatoes, and a mix of tri-color bell peppers and onion.

While that was cooking, I took the stems out of a couple of portabella caps, filled them with red cooking wine, and broiled them for about 5 minutes. Then I poured the wine out into cooking dishes, flipped the caps, and broiled them a few minutes more. I put them, gills up, into the dishes, divided the veg/ham between them, and topped them with Italian cheese blend (Romano, Parmesan, and Asiago) and sprinkled them with Italian seasoning. I broiled them until the cheese was melted.

We liked the flavor, but the ones at the restaurant had more cheese and less juice.

Still, it's something we'll try again, probably without the ham next time.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes


Friday, November 11, 2016

Southern Honey Glazed Ham

Dark glazed edges and spiral cuts create a masterpiece of succulent flavors as the perfect centerpiece to any fall feast.

Southern Honey Glazed Ham


Ingredients

1 (8-pound) bone-in shank ham
4 cups water, or as needed
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch ground cloves

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
Place ham in a roasting pan. Pour in water to a 2-inch depth. Cover with a tight fitting lid.
Bake for 6 to 8 hours in the preheated oven (all day or all night).
Remove from the oven, pour off drippings and reserve.
Skim fat from the top of the drippings, and discard.
In a small bowl, mix one cup of the drippings with honey, brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and cloves.
Pour this over the ham, cover and return to the oven.
Remaining drippings may be discarded or reserved for other uses.
Bake for another 30 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.