recipe

Halloween Honey Cookies

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I tend to make the bulk of my rolled out cookies during the holidays. But since I was craving my honey cookies, and Halloween is just around the corner, I decided to make some this week. They'll make fun care packages...

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My favorite Halloween cookie cutter is the scary cat. When decorated with the spooky purple rubble sprinkles, it's adorable (and tasty!):
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Honey Cookies 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cream vegetable shortening, sugar, egg, honey, and lemon extract in your mixer or a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt; stir until well blended. Separate dough into 3 balls and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured board, roll dough 1/4-inch thick and cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters.  Place 1-inch apart onto prepared cookie sheets. 

Bake 8 minutes. They will look pretty brown due to the honey but don't fret! Adding the icing will moisten them up, making a crispier cookie better. Decorate with your favorite royal icing and cover with festive Halloween sprinkles like these or colored sugar. 


Rum Banana Bread with Milk Chocolate Chips

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Rum Banana Bread with Milk Chocolate Chips

Adapted from Pastry Affair's dark rum banana bread. Yields one 9 x 5-inch loaf 

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (about 4 average sized bananas)
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup rum (I used Malibu)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan or line it with parchment paper.

In a mixer or a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs individually and mix until combined. Add vanilla extract and mashed bananas and mix until combined. Mix in dry ingredients, scraping down bowl, and mix until all flour is evenly incorporated into the batter. Stir in the rum and the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 70-80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing from pan and transferring loaf to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Red Potato Salad

Potato_salad

It's one of those uncharacteristically hot San Francisco Fall afternoons. Which means it is the perfect time to make my favorite potato salad. It's the kind of potato salad that even the potato salad haters -- who characterize potato salad as a slimy mayo-drowned side dish of evil -- go back to for seconds.

Red Potato Salad Recipe

  • 3 lb bag baby red potatoes
  • 1 small Russet potato
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 4 pieces of bacon, crispy
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • fresh ground pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil for your potatoes, while hard boiling 2 eggs in a small sauce pan for 10 minutes and frying up your bacon. Clean red potatoes and quarter or chop into bite-size chunks. Peel Russet potato and chop into bite sized chunks. Boil potatoes until cooked through and soft, 15-25 minutes. Once potatoes are cooked through, drain off water and add potatoes to bowl.

Cool hard boiled eggs in an ice water bath, then remove shell and chop up and place in large bowl. Chop bacon into small chunks and also add to bowl. Clean green onions and chop up whites and light green portions and add to bowl. Add mayonnaise and mustard to bowl and gently combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Add freshly grown pepper to taste.

Serve warm or chill for an hour in the refrigerator before serving. Yields approximately 8 servings.


Miss Erika's Chicken Pot Pie

image from instagram.com

After coming across Martha Stewart's  pot pie recipe on an especially gloomy December evening, I got motivated to whip a couple up for dinner. Although mine are not as pretty as hers (I should have trimmed my puff pastry more aggressively), I'm pretty sure I improved upon the tastiness a little bit, in addition to slimming down the recipe to be just enough for two robust pot pies.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 14 baby carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek thinly sliced
  • 2 parsnips, coarsely chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 -3/4 cups half & half
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray glass baking dish with 1 TBSP olive oil. Add all vegetables and chicken to dish, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1 TBSP olive oil and bake until vegetables are starting to brown. Stir vegetables every 10min to keep from drying out. Should be ready in 45 minutes. Let chicken cool, then chop into bite-size chunks, and add back to dish of vegetables.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock and half & half, cooking until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper. Add to bowl with chicken and vegetables; toss to combine. Divide mixture evenly between 2 round baking dishes (approx 12 oz).
 
Cut puff pastry into two 8-inch circles and place on top of each of the baking dishes, crimping edges. Cut slits in the center of each piece of puff pastry to allow steam to escape; brush push pastry with beaten egg if desired. Place baking dishes on a baking sheet and bake until puff pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbling, approximately 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 


Miss Erika's Holiday Bread Pudding

our tiny bread pudding for Christmas Eve dessert

It's becoming a holiday tradition for me to make my bread pudding for bringing to our Sonoma Christmas dinner with L's family.

  • 1 loaf of Challah, stale, torn into bite-size chunks (approx 9 cups)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • 1 package chocolate chips

Preheat oen to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and bourbon together. Add bread chunks, stirring them into the egg mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow bread to soak up the egg mixture. Pour into buttered 2 quart baking dish. Add chocolate chips and gently toss with bread chunks.

Bake 45 minutes or until set.


Cheddar Cheese Scones

  image from farm9.staticflickr.com

Nothing says Thanksgiving appetizer like baked treats loaded with butter and cheese, yes? Thus, my cheddar cheese scones, hot out of the oven and destined for tomorrow's Thanksgiving buffet table...

  • 3 cups flour, self-rising
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (8 TBSP)
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Butter 2 cookie sheets or spray with cooking spray; set aside. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 c.) Sift dry ingredients together. Add butter, cutting in or thumbing in, until butter is integrated throughout, leaving you with tiny flakey crumbs that clump together if you squeeze them. Slowly pour in buttermilk, stirring in with a knife until just combined. Add cheddar cheese and combine in with your hands. You will have a very sticky dough. You may roll out the dough on a floured board to a 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness and cut with a 2" pastry cutter into rounds, or use a floured ice cream scoop, or your hands, to make the balls of dough equal sizes and drop onto your cookie sheets. Personally, I prefer the drop scones, as you get some crunchy bits on top.

Bake 12-15 minutes until they are golden on top. makes up to 20 drop scones, 24 rolled scones.

Cap'n Crunch Coffee Cake

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I've been making one variation or another of this coffee cake since I was in high school. For my most recent batch, whipped up to celebrate my friends Sharon and Ian's housewarming party, I decided to try a little something different with the topping. Instead of the usual brown sugar and butter topping, I went with some Cap'n Crunch. And it was delicious!

For the Topping

  • 3 Cups Cap'n Crunch Cereal, smashed by hand so it is partially crumbled
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup powdered milk
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TSP salt

Combine all these ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

For the Coffee Cake

  • 3 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 5 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1/2 Cup butter (room temperature) or shortening
  • 1/2 Cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375. Grease your loaf pans or muffin tins (I've even used brioche tins with great success for these.) Mix all the coffee cake ingredients in a large bowl or your mixer until blended together, about 1 minute. Spread batter into pans and sprinkle topping over the  top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the topping starts to brown. Then cover with foil to resume baking for another 20 minutes. Test with cake tester and remove from oven when cake tester comes out clean. Muffin tin sized cakes usually are ready in about 30 minutes, but larger pans have taken up to an hour in our terrible electric oven.

Enjoy!

 


almost aioli

I am not one to make mayonnaise from scratch. Thus I give you: an almost aioli that will be close enough for most folks...

In a small ramekin or glass bowl, mix together the following:


  • 2 heaping soup spoons of mayo
  • a splash (1 tsp?) of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated w/a small hand grater
  • juice of half a lemon
  • two twists of pepper from a pepper grinder


Use a fork to blend the ingredients together. Cover w/plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Very tasty on baguettes, as a sandwich spread or for dipping your artichokes leaves in.


Roasted Chicken and Veggie Soup

My significant other is down for the count battling some sort of yucky illness. This clearly calls for my making a gallon or so of my roasted vegetables and chicken soup for dinner. Roasting the veggies is an extra step that adds to the preparation time, but it also adds to the depth of taste, making it well worth it in my opinion.

For Roasting
1 Napa cabbage, cut into wedges
2 cups plum tomatoes chopped or a can of San Marzano tomatoes
15 smallish russian banana fingerling potatoes, chopped
3 small eggplants, chopped into small chunks
1 large red onion, diced
6 medium size red carrots, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts. seasoned with salt and pepper

For the Soup
1 head of garlic
1 TBSP olive oil
1 can canellini beans
1 64 oz carton vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine

Arrange the veggies and the chicken into as many baking/roasting pans as required to hold them in a single layer (you can roast in batches.) Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and add some optional chopped up fresh dill (to taste) then pop into 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes (pull out vegetables when they start to brown, cook chicken until cooked through and skin is golden.)

Brown 5 chopped cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add all roasted vegetables plus 2 cans of canellini beans, 64 ounces of veggie stock, and one cup of white wine. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Freezes well.


Potato+Leek+Artichoke Casserole

image from farm7.static.flickr.com

We had a nice bit of Fall weather in September, before the Indian Summer fell upon us and made the apartment unfit for cooking. While it was still cold enough to use the oven, I did some side dish experimentation, and made this truly delicious casserole to accompany pork chops.

Potato, Leek and Artichoke Bake

  • 1 TBSP olive oil, plus 2 TSP or a mister
  • 3 Leeks (white and light green portion only), thinly sliced into half moons and rinsed of all dirt.
  • 1 14oz can of atichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3.5-4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced (via mandolin)
  • salt and pepper to taste

I adapted this from a recipe in Everyday Food. I omitted the celery and changed up the cheese including decreasing its amount, and bumped up the amount of leeks.

Preheat oven to 425. Brush 1 1/2 quart baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat; add leeks. Cook 8-10 minutes until softened. Add artichokes, broth and cheese, and stir until combined. Remove skillet form heat, add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange half the potato slices in overlapping rows to act as the base for your casserole. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the artichoke mixture, making sure to evenly spread it out across the potato slices. Layer with remaining potatoes. Mist with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake 40-45 minutes until mixture is bubbly and edges of potatoes are crispy and golden in color. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

The leftovers from this made a great addition to my lunch as well. Reheated for 2 minutes in the microwave at work.


Following a Weekly Meal Plan

A Farmers Market haul

The past month has been terrible from a "you are what you eat" standpoint. Being incredibly busy at work, vacation, then coming back to even longer hours at work has meant we've been doing a ton of eating out. And not a ton of healthy seasonal cooking at home.

This is why yesterday I pulled out all the items in my pantry cupboard to take stock of what we had on hand, and then made a week's meal plan that made good use of what we had on hand. I should note that I had no idea I had 8 cans of enchilada sauce in that cupboard. This is one of the primary drawbacks to using a deep, tall shelf next to the stove as a pantry, but when you're a renter in a high price city, you make do.

Here's what I came up with to help thin out the cupboard, and stop eating out so much:

  • Sat: mus sa mun curry with beef over rice
  • Sun: bean and beef enchiladas
  • Mon: chicken stir fry
  • Tues: Bean and cheese quesadillas
  • Wed: lasagna (make sauce ahead on Sunday)
  • Thur: pork chops
  • Fri: eat out for dinner

I also made sure we had a ton of yogurt and healthy cereal for breakfast, and plenty of tasty yet healthy snacks to keep me away from the cheese. This reminds me I really need to figure out how to make my ideal spicy trail mix. I love that stuff.

Today, I'm doing some prep work (making pasta sauce and a chicken+bean soup), making some sides (bean salad, potato salad, corn muffins) and mixing up chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough for the freezer. That sounds like a fine way to spend a Sunday don't you think?

Easy Pasta Sauce

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 a red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 15 baby carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a stockpot and heat on medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become partially translucent. Add in the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 1 hour.

I'll be using this for my lasagna this week.

Chicken and Black Bean Soup

  • 1 32 oz container Imagine organic chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 a red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 15 baby carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast fillet (i.e. half a chicken breast)
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp poultry seasoning blend of your choice

Pour chicken broth into stockpot and heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Sprinkle chicken breast with your favorite poultry seasoning and salt and pepper then add to the hot broth and poach, removing once meat is white all the way through. Cool chicken until it is at room temperature, then shred into bit size pieces. While your chicken is cooling, reduce heat to low and add in your separately olive oil sauteed onions, garlic and carrots (I did mine at the same time for the pasta sauce then split the total cooked mixture in half). Add back in your shredded chicken and simmer for an hour.

Makes 4 servings. 5 points plus per serving.


Ranch Chicken Marinade

This recipe was inspired by my colleague sharing this recipe for Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kebabs. My version is pared back to a quantity suitable for dinner for two, and to reflect that rosemary is not a favorite herb in this household.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
splash of lemon juice
splash of red wine zinfandel vinegar
two twists of pepper from the pepper mill
1/2 tsp sugar
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast (a little over 1 lb) chopped into small chunks

Combine all but the chicken in a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Let stand 5 min while you chop up the chicken. Place chopped chicken in a ziploc bag, and pour marinade over the top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to cooking chicken by your preferred method.

 


Our Easter Eats: Spicy Lamb Roast and Strawberry Gooey Bars

Sonoma County vineyards
As planned, I made Jam Hands' gooey bars for easter dessert. I couldn't find lemon cake mix though, so they became strawberry gooey bars, since that was the one fun flavor I could find at Target. They looked incredibly festive. No photos of them, unfortunately, as I never did figure out a good way to capture their yumminess in a photo without making a mess.

And yes, I made dessert first. Because it was a lot less daunting than making a lamb roast for the first time.

I used Charles Phan of the Slanted Door's lamb marinade, at my colleague Melita's suggestion. I love spicy sweet combinations, and knew from the get-go that I was going to love this marinade.

I modified mine slightly to be as follows:

2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1 small jalapeño, stemmed and chopped (left the seeds in)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce

I combined all the ingredients in a bowl then used my pestle to smash them all together nicely. I placed my Boneless lamb leg roast into a ziploc plastic bag, poured the marinade over it, then sealed the bag up and left it in the refrigerator to soak it up for about 2 hours.

I preheated the oven to 375, and baked the lamb, having poured the marinade over the top of it in the baking dish, until it was no longer pink in the center, which was about an hour and a half. I served with a tamrind chutney, some sour-cream laden mashed red potatoes, and some Roederer sparkling wine.

Glad that I finally tried my hand at lamb. It wasn't any trickier than any other meat I've roasted thus far. Too bad I can't make gyros at home...


Red Velvet Cookies

sort of more auburn velvet cookies

I finally got around to making those red velvet cookies I saw over on Fake Ginger's blog.

After making them today, I would call these more like devilishly chocolate chip cookies more than red velvet, truth be told, but I did really like them. I'm less excited about having ruined my manicure with the red food coloring.

I made a couple of tiny tweaks to the recipe, trying to get more of a red velvety taste, and to account for the original recipe's comments regarding amount of wet ingredients.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg


In a liquid measuring cup, add together:
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1 tsp lemon juice
fill up to 1/4 cup line with heavy cream

In a large bowl, sift or stir together:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder


1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugars in an electric mixer. Mix in the egg. Pour in the cream mixture, scraping down the sides to get as much of the red coloring into your bowl as possible. After this is just mixed in, add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. You will have a fairly thick dough.

Use a cookie scoop to form your cookies. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to firm up.

Yields 38 cookies.


Tea and Sympathy

SconesOver the past few days, the news has alternately made me angry and disappointed. Disappointed overall in the lack of empathy I'm seeing folks have for others who lack their privilege. And angry to see those smugly assured they will never be poor, or female and pregnant raising a child alone, and thus can not imagine why we should provide social support for those who need it.

When I've seen folks in my twitter feeds being hateful, I've unfollowed. When I've seen thoughtful posts such as the one I linked to above, I have shared them. I am only one person, but I try to do what I can.

Most of what I can truly impact is, of course, my own immediate surroundings. How I behave, my empathy for others. And of course, my baked treats. For as long as I can remember, I've used baking as a way to show those close to me that they have my love and support. (And I've contributed a fair number of treats to charity bake sales.)

This is why today I am finally getting off my butt and making my blueberry scones. I'd wanted to bake them for my team for Christmas, but I battled a nasty cold for most of Christmas, and colds and baking do not mix. So there you have it -- Christmas in February: Frog Hollow jam and scones from me. It's a small gesture, but one from the heart.

Recipe adapted from the Ritz Carlton Book of Afternoon Tea, a gift many years ago from the fabulous Miss Mitzi.

  • 3 cups flour, self-rising
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (8 TBSP)
  • 1 1/3 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup dried blueberries (Substitute a cup of Guittard milk chocolate chips if you are not a blueberry fan)

Butter 2 cookie sheets or spray with cooking spray; set aside. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 c.) Sift dry ingredients together. Add butter, cutting in or thumbing in, until butter is integrated throughout, as tiny flakey crumbs. Slowly pour in milk, stirring in with a knife until just combined. Add blueberries, and stir in. You will have a very sticky dough. You may roll out the dough on a floured board to a 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness and cut with a 2" pastry cutter into rounds, or use a floured ice cream scoop to make the balls of dough equal sizes and drop onto your cookie sheets. Personally, I prefer the drop scones, as you get some crunchy bits on top.

Bake 12-15 minutes until they are golden on top. makes 20 drop scones, or 24 rolled scones. 3 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points per scone.


Cheddar Apple Pork Meatballs

Meatballs1 lb. ground pork

1 cup reduced fat mexican blend cheese

1 medium onion, grated

1 medium apple, grated (I used honeycrisp)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, whisked

salt and pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

I adapted this recipe from a recent Everyday with Racheal Ray issue, lightening it up a bit. Pork and apple is such a classic combo, and the cheese makes the meatballs a little different (and tasty).

In a large bowl, stir together all of your ingredients, saving the egg for last to bind it all together. Spray cookie sheet with non stick spray. Form pork mixture into 16 equal sized meatballs, and place onto cookie sheet. Broil for about 10 minutes. If you are doing WeightWatchers, it's 3 PointsPlus per meatball.

I served these with egg noodles tossed with 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream and 2 TBSP butter.

One of my favorite new recipes in some time. I froze the remaining meatballs for a future dinner.


Giants Cocktail

During the second game of the World Series, my significant other concocted an easy and delicious cocktail that I've christened the Giants Cocktail in light of its orange hue and its inspiration. Taste-wise, if you loved Orange Julius as a kid, you'll love this cocktail.

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 1 tsp vanilla syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 7 ice cubes

Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend for 20-30 seconds until frothy. Serve in the chilled cocktail glass of your choice. Makes 2 drinks.


Holiday Star Cookies


Holiday star cookies, originally uploaded by almostgold.

Starting in on the frosted+sugared cookies now.

 Merry Christmas Cookies

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream vegetable shortening, sugar, egg, honey, and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt; stir until well blended. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  Lightly grease cookie sheets.

On a lightly floured board, roll dough 1/4-inch thick and cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters.  Place 1-inch apart onto prepared cookie sheets. 

Bake 8-10 minutes. Ice with your favorite royal icing technique. I like to slather them in frosting then cover them with colored sugar. 

Share with those you love.


Faux Slaw

For the longest time, coleslaw kind of grossed me out. It was always this weirdly slimey mess of vegetables you'd get on the side of your turkey club sandwiches at diners. And not something I wanted to eat.

But at some point, I had some really good tangy, crunchy cole slaw. Probably from East Coast West deli or Max's Opera Cafe. And now, every so often, I get the craving for it. But just for one serving. Last night, I came up with a faux slaw that acted as a coleslaw stand-in snack while I played on the computer.

Faux Slaw

  • 1 handful shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 handful shredded carrots
  • 1 handful broccoli slaw
  • 1 TBSP Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
  • 3 or 4 turns of the pepper mill
In a small salad bowl, combine the veggies, add the salad dressing, combine until well-coated. Finish with the pepper. Fast, easy, tasty, and a little lower-calorie than a traditional coleslaw.

Surviving Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite holidays. But the catch has always been getting through the week without having to go buy a new pair of jeans due to overindulging. Keeping that in mind this year, I planned some easy and low-cal casseroles to get us through the week, and leave me to freely indulge in all my turkey day favorite dishes.

First though, I need to do a shout out for my favorite side dish at this year's Thanksgiving dinner table: Martha Stewart's Sweet Potato and Sage Casserole. And yes, I brought home a hefty glad storage container full of it.

Black Bean and Corn Casserole

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz corn kernels
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed/drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 12 tortilla chips, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375. Spray your casserole dish (shallow and wide works better than a deep round for this) with your non-stick spray of choice (I use an olive oil spray.) Using a non stick pan on medium heat, cook the onion, garlic and bell pepper, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until both are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the corn.

Whisk the eggs and egg whites, milk, hot pepper sauce and ricotta together in a large bowl. Add the beans and the cooked vegetables. Spread evenly in your casserole dash, top with the cheese and the crushed tortillas. Bake until browned and bubbly. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and freshly ground pepper on top. Serves 6.

Turkey Tetrazzini

  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 8 oz fettuccine, cooked per package directions, drained
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375. Spray your casserole dish (use a deep round if you want it more creamy, a shallow and wide dish if you like the crispy noodles) with your non-stick spray of choice (I use an olive oil spray.) Season the ground turkey with garlic powder, salt and pepper then brown in a non stick pan. Set aside.

Whisk broth and milk together in a medium-size saucepan. Stir in one tablespoon of butter. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened and boiling (8-10 min.) Add salt and pepper, remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and ricotta.

Add your noodles, vegetables and turkey to the cheese sauce. Stir together until everything is coated with the sauce. Pour into the casserole dish. Top with the mozzarella. Bake until browned and bubbly (20-30 min.) Serves 6.


Another Super Summer Salad: Apple and Carrot Salad

Summertime heat makes me crave cold food all the time. I've been trying not to use that as a reason to eat potato salad 3 meals per day. This refreshing salad is fast and sinple to make, and low in calories, making it a great addition for your lunch bag or a pre-dinner snack.

  • 2 large apples (1 granny smith and 1 fuji or other red apple makes the prettiest salad) cored then cut into matchsticks with your mandolin or grated
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/4 cup(s) chives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Toss apples with lime juice. Add remaining ingredients. Makes 8 servings. 1 pt each for those of you on WW.

Seven-Layer Brownies

Since we are off to the fair today, I have snacks on the brain. Thus once a twitter friend was trying to decide on some brownies to make, I felt prompted to share my friend Carolyn's recipe, which I wheedled out of her when we did a holiday cookie exchange several years ago.

These are truly the most fabulous 7 Layer Brownies I've had, and so simple to make.

1. Melt 1 stick of butter in 9"x13" pan, then add the following layers:
2. 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3. 1 cup of grated coconut
4. 3/4 of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
5. 3/4 of a 12 oz bag of butterscotch chips
6. 1 cup chopped nuts (Carolyn used pecans)
7. Pour 1 can of sweetened condensed milk over the top

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for nugget style brownies.

I mean, how can any recipe that starts off with melting an entire stick of butter *not* be fabulous???

Potato Salad, Two Ways

Potato salad has been the quintessential summertime food to me for as long as I can remember. The highlight of any picnic as a child was cold fried chicken accompanied by my mom’s creamy potato salad.

So when the most recent heatwave turned our otherwise lovely apartment into an oven, I cracked open my 5 lb bag of red potatoes and got boiling.

After chopping about 3 lbs of the potatoes into bite-sized chunks, I tossed them into salted boiling water. I let them boil about 10 minutes until the average size pieces were cooked through (tested by spooning one out, cooling it with water, and tasting it.) At this point I tossed in some French green beans that I snapped in half and cooked for another 2 minutes.

After pouring the potatoes and green beans out into a footed colander and letting cool about 5 minutes, I split them into two bowls with roughly the same potato to green bean ratio.

In the first bowl, I added three heaping serving spoons of sour cream, 1/4 of a large red onion roughly chopped, and a teaspoon of grainy mustard, plus salt and pepper then stirred til combined. We used this as a side for our fried chicken.

In the other bowl, which had about a potato more in it, I added three heaping serving spoons of mayo, 1/4 of a large red onion roughly chopped, 1/2 cup of solid salami chopped into small chunks, 2 cups of shredded cabbage, a teaspoon of grainy mustard, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar plus salt and pepper then stirred til combined. I took this salad for lunch, and had small portions as an after work snack all week.

Sorry for the lack of photos on this, but potato salad is one of those foods that looks so wrong, but tastes so good.


Mini Bluberry Muffins

Made these babies again today.

Muffins2

In my fabulous mini muffin tray. MMMM. 

Muffin_pan

I love that I can just use these silicon pans without prep -- no liners, no buttering each cup. And they make perfect teeny muffins that even the dieting ladies at my office will eat. That's what I call a win/win.

Non-related, this place has been devoid of photos for the last few months due to my fabulous new computer. Leopard broke my ancient copy of Photoshop. And though I tried to find a free or chea or lite photo app, I ended up not taking pictures out of annoyance at not being able to play with them the way I like to.

But last week, I gave in and bought Adobe Photoshop CS4 . And I love it. Worth every penny.


Nilla Wafer Pudding

It has already been established within these pixels that I do love white trash 70s food. It is the comfort food my mom made while I was growing up, so I can't help it.

Tonight, I'm making Nilla Wafer pudding.

INGREDIENTS

1 box Nilla Wafers
1 box instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk for the pudding
2 bananas

ASSEMBLY
Make pudding. Line small round dishes with Nilla wafers on sides and bottom. Slice rounds of bananas and cover the bottom layer of Nilla wafers with them. Pour 1/3 of the pudding over the top. Make a layer of Nilla Wafers on top of that, then bananas, then pudding, repeat again.

BAKING
Pop into a 350 degree oven and heat until warm throughout (15-20 min). Enjoy the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.