Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spritz Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 and 1/2 cups flour

Heat oven to 400.

Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer until well-combined. Add egg yolks and extract and mix thoroughly on medium speed. Work in flour gradually.

Using 1/4 dough at a time, force dough through cookie press on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugars, if desired.

Bake 7-10 minutes, or until set but not brown. Makes about 6 dozen small cookies.

I've been making these for over 30 years (yikes!). They're Drew's favorite.

If you want to make a more cholesterol-friendly version, you may substitute the egg yolks for one whole egg.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cranberry Almond Loaf

This quick bread is light in texture and not too sweet. This recipe makes 2 loaves. Keep one for yourself and bring one to a holiday party as a hostess gift.

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups of light sour cream
1 and 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries

In a large mixing bowl, beat (on medium speed) oil and sugar. When light and somewhat fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add extract and cranberries. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Beat after each addition.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 loaf pans with Pam. Spoon batter evenly into the 2 pans. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour. When a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean, the loaves are baked.

After removing from pans, place the loaves on a rack to cool. While still warm, drizzle glaze (recipe below) over the loaves on cooling racks. Make sure you have a cookie sheet under the racks to catch the excess glaze. Allow glazed loaves to cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap.


Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar; 2 Tablespoons orange juice; 1 teaspoon almond extract. Combine all and mix until smooth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Appetizer Cheese Log

You can't have too many appetizer recipes during the busy holiday season. This cheese log is rolled in toasted, chopped pistachio nuts. It's easy to make and adds an elegant touch to your buffet table.

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar or parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup of shelled, chopped pistachio nuts
A variety of crackers for serving

Using an electric mixture beat first four ingredients until completely combined. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 1 and a half hours, until slightly firm.

In a small saucepan heat chopped pistachios for 5 minutes (stirring constantly) over medium heat, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and place toasted nuts on a plate to cool.

Place firmed-up cheese mixture onto a piece of wax paper and form, using the paper, into a log shape - about 6" long. Roll log in cooled pistachios and tightly wrap log in saran wrap. Refrigerate for several hours before serving with crackers or toasted rounds. This recipe may be made a day before using.

Pumpkin Pie

Several years ago I came across this recipe and abandoned the recipe on the pumpkin puree can label forever. This one is that good!

Standard 9" Pie Crust:

2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Crisco
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4-5 Tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut Crisco into flour mixture (You may do this in a food processor or by cutting through the mixture with a pastry cutter or by slicing through the mixture with 2 knives.) until crumbly. Sprinkle water on the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, tossing the mixture with a fork (lightly pulsing if using food processor) until all flour is moistened and dough can be formed into a ball. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured board and roll to an 11" circle. Fold pastry into quarters and carefully place the crust into a 9" pie pan. (Tip: Use metal pie tins. Before placing the crust in the pie pan, sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on the bottom of the pan to insure a baked bottom crust.)


Pumpkin filling:

3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 425. Place a foil-lined cookie sheet on the lowest rack in the oven.

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, egg yolk and sugars. Add salt and all the spices and mix well. Slowly stir in the milk and cream. Stir in pumpkin puree until completely incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell. Allow room at the top for filling to expand slightly during baking. If there is too much filling for your crust, you can place excess into buttered ramakins and bake alongside your pie. Place pie on the foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack. Do not cut until completely cooled. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Popovers!

If you have never made popovers you should try this recipe. They are crusty and delicious, served straight out of the oven, with whipped butter. Though butter is often the topping of choice, some like to top with honey, jam or maple syrup as well. They are really very easy to make and the presentation is spectacular!

Here is what you need to make six popovers.

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

Position oven rack near the bottom, but not in the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Mix together the flour and the salt in a LARGE bowl.

All wet ingredients should be at room temperature. The milk may be slightly warmed in the microwave. Eggs will warm to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm water, while still in the shell.

Whisk together the eggs and milk in a SMALL bowl.

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring the batter until just mixed. The batter will have small lumps (Do not overbeat).

Preheat a popover pan (or muffin pan, or individual ramakins) on a cookie sheet just until hot.

Brush the cups with melted butter (or canola oil) and fill them half full of batter.

Once they are placed back in the oven on the preheated cookie sheet, bake for 20 minutes at 450°F. Without opening the oven, turn the heat down to 375°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes until they are a crispy golden brown. It is very important that you do not open the oven during the baking time.

Makes 6 popovers. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Heavenly Brownies

This recipe always turns out for me. Not too moist or too cake like. I think it has to do with the ten minute beating of the eggs, vanilla and sugar. It adds a lot of volume to the batter.

If you are a brownie lover, try this recipe. I think you'll be pleased with the result. If you don't want the bother of frosting them, just sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Brownie ingredients:
8 – 1 oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate
1 – cup butter
5 – eggs
3 – cups sugar
1 – Tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ - cups flour
1 – teaspoon salt
1 ½ - cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a 9”x13” pan with Pam or grease with Crisco.

Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over very low heat and set aside. In a mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. Blend in chocolate mixture, flour and salt just until combined. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40.

When brownies have completely cooled, frost with the recipe below.


Frosting ingredients:

½ cup butter
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup milk

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or in saucepan over very low heat. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and ½ cup of the milk. Beat for at least 3 minutes (the longer you beat it, the less raw sugar taste). Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and beat for another 2 minutes. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Frosting will thicken as it cools. Let stand until spreadable.

Friday, February 15, 2008

French Apple Pie

This has been my favorite apple pie recipe for many years. It has a delicious crumb topping. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a foil covered cookie sheet in the oven to preheat as well.

Pastry Ingredients:

2/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Crisco shortening
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons chilled water

If you have a food processor, place all ingredients, except water, in the processor bowl. Cover and pulse until consistency of cornmeal. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, through port in processor cover, while on low speed, until dough forms a ball and cleans sides of bowl. If too much water is added, dough will become sticky.

[If you do not have a food processor, cut the flour and salt into the shortening (using 2 knives) until particles are the size of small peas. Then add the water, one spoonful at a time, etc.]

Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball. Flatten ball to a thick circle shape and roll on lightly floured surface, to form a circle large enough to fit an 8" or 9" pie plate. I prefer metal pie pans. I think the bottom crust bakes more evenly in them. Place your crust in the pie pan and crimp or flute edges. Set aside until filling is ready.

Pie Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
5 cups of pared and thinly sliced apples (I use Granny Smith)

Topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup firm butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Add all of the topping ingredients to a food processor and pulse until coarse.


To Make Filling -
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add sliced apples to this and make sure they are coated well. Place this mixture in your prepared pie crust. Generously spoon topping over the top of the pie until the apples are completely covered. Use as much of the topping as you can heap onto the pie.

Place pie on the cookie sheet in preheated oven. Loosely place (really just set it on top of the pie-don't press down or it will stick to the topping ) a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie for the first 40 minutes of baking. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling. Remove from oven, on the cookie sheet, and allow to rest for about 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese

Not only is this comfort food, but it also is a delicious meatless Lenten meal. Serve with a vegetable side and a salad - you'll never miss the meat.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/4 cup onion (diced)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg (beaten)
12 ounces shredded medium cheddar (use white and yellow or you may substitute gouda or asiago cheeses)
1 teaspoon salt (for salting the pasta water)
fresh black pepper to taste

Topping:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish (butter or spray with cooking oil).

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain.

In a separate large pot melt 3 T. butter on low heat. Slowly whisk in flour and dry mustard. Continue stirring for a few minutes, making sure there are no lumps. Slowly stir in milk, onion, and paprika. Once combined, add whole bay leaf. Simmer on very low heat for ten minutes, stirring gently every few minutes to prevent sauce from burning. After simmering, remove bay leaf. Remove pan from heat source. Slowly, just a bit at a time, stir in the egg until combined. Stir in 3/4 of the shredded cheddar and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the cooked and drained macaroni into the sauce mixture. Pour the coated pasta into the casserole dish and sprinkle remaining shredded cheddar on top.

To prepare topping -
In a small saucepan, melt 2 T butter. Remove from heat and add one cup of breadcrumbs and 2T parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the macaroni.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Smoked Turkey Quesadillas

In case you exhausted all your appetizer recipes during the holidays, here is a good one that can also serve as a meal.

8 seven inch tortillas
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
2 cups diced smoked turkey
1/4 cup diced green chilies
24 fresh baby spinach leaves (washed and dried)
1 jar of mild or hot salsa
1 pint prepared sour cream
2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 fresh lime for drizzle

Brush oil on one side of each tortilla. On half of the non-oiled side, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese, 1/4 cup of diced turkey and 2 teaspoons of the chilies. Quarter the lime and drizzle some juice over the cheese, turkey, etc. Top with 3 spinach leaves (or to taste). Fold tortilla in half and cook until golden brown, on both sides, in a large skillet. Once browned, remove from pan and cut into three wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Makes 24 appetizers.

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi is a delicious dish and is really quite simple to make. Here is what goes into it.

1/2 lb. angel hair pasta
1/3 cup butter
2 minced garlic cloves (adjust to your taste)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 and 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and veined
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (used as a thickening agent so you may need less)
4 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan. Saute garlic and onion until translucent. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink and looks done. Remove shrimp from the pan and add white wine to the pan. One teaspoon at a time, stir in bread crumbs until desired consistency of the sauce is reached. Return shrimp to the pan and coat with the sauce. Make a bed of pasta and place the shrimp on top. Generously grate parmesan cheese over all. Serve with a mixed greens salad.

If desired (and you are a fan of broccoli), broccoli florets can be added to the pan with the shrimp and cooked together -giving the dish an added dimension.