Christmas Cookies 2012!

Cookie Request List:

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
The orange in these cookies and the chewiness makes these unbelievable! They spread lots on the pan!

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with lemon glaze
My mom said the cakiness of these reminded her of the black and white cookies from the bakery. This batter looks too thin when going on the pan but puffs up into these little sweet spots. I would make them smaller next time. Love the lemon in these!

Classic Spritz
The key to these is NOT to over cook them. They are so little the timing on these needs to be closely watched.

Almond Crescents

Rum Balls My personal favorite!

Pecan Tarts

Snickerdoodles Katie swears by this recipe!

Also making vanilla caramels with seasalt and molasses caramels thanks to Michelle!
We learned this year that the molasses caramels need to boil much more than a soft ball, almost to a hard crack stage. We doubled each recipe to fill 1 jelly roll pan!


Dangerous Almond Cream & Pear Puff

This recipe was adapted from Puff-Pastry-Tart-Filled-with-Almond-Cream-at Epicurious with a few important changes. Super easy. Super delicious. Dangerously good.

5oz (half a can) pure almond paste
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 (17 1/4-oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed about 40 min 
2 T egg white
3 ripe pears, sliced 1/4 in thick slices

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Purée almond paste, granulated sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until combined.
Add 1 egg, vanilla, and almond extract and purée until consistent.
Butter parchment paper and place on cookie sheet. Top with 1 puff pastry.
Use rolling pin to stretch out dough slightly to approximately 9x11in.
Roll out 2nd puff pastry piece to the same size.
Brush a border on the edges of both puff pieces with egg white to help them stick together.
Mound almond cream in center, spread evenly.
Place a layer of pear slices evenly spread across the puff.
Cover with 2nd puff piece and press the egged edges together lightly.
Make several small slits all the way through pastry, at about 3-inch intervals, to create steam vents. 

Bake in lower third of oven until puffed and golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.


Homemade apple pie perfection!

Next time, I would add more cinnamon and ground cloves (something that I just remembered from baking my first apple pie with my mom in 2nd grade for a Girl Scout event!)
The apple texture and sweetness is just to my liking using Braeburn Apples.


Finnish Bread

This is not quite a full recipe for Grandma's whole wheat molasses bread since she cooks by feel not by measuring but this is close to the real thing! My brother Don said last time the recipe didn't turn out too well but he will try again!

4 c warm water
1/2 cake of yeast
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c molasses
5 c all purpose flour
9 t shortening
     Add cup of flour or T shortening in one at a time working it in we'll as you go.
Then add 4c all purpose flour
    ( recipe weighed out to 950 grams of all purpose flour total )


Apple Cinnamon Muffin Squares

Cinnamon Muffin Mix
substitute applesauce for oil
add 1/4C  additional water than recipe calls for

peel and dice 4 large apples

Spray a 9x13 pan
Spread 1/2 the batter in the pan
Topwith a solid single layer of apple pieces
Cover with remaining batter
Sprinkle with streudel topping

Bake at 375 for 15-20 min until set and lightly browned


Grilled Veggies with Quinoa

If you don't know much about Quinoa, check it out! Even Wikipedia taught me a lot such as:
Quinoa is not actually a grain because it is not part of the grass family.
This has been around 3-4000 years for human consumption!
Quinoa leaves are also edible, but not commercially available.
Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
Its protein content is very high (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes.
Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein.

We used the 4 cups of leftover veggies from our last blog post for veggie quesadillas, tossed with rice cooker quinoa, topped with a little chopped parsley and feta for a delicious and superquick dinner

To make perfect quinoa every time use your rice cooker!
2 1/2 C Quinoa
4 C Water or Broth
Cook 30 minutes in rice cooker
Remember to unplug after cooking, don't keep it on a warm setting.


Veggie Quesadillas

This is a quick weeknight meal that is filling, and delicious! Also meatless!

2 Carrots, medium diced
2 Small Red Onions, medium diced
1 Zucchini, medium diced
1 Squash, medium diced
2 Giant Red Peppers, medium diced

3 t garlic powder
1/4t cayenne pepper
2 t oregano
pinch of salt
4 oz of tomato sauce
Salt & Pepper
2 whole wheat tortillas per person
1/2 C Colby Jack Cheese per person

Add 1T olive oil to a large cast iron skillet heated to medium high. Add in all the chopped veggies. As they cook down, add 1 T garlic powder, 1 T oregano, and Salt & Pepper.

In a second pan heat pan to medium. Add 1 t of olive oil and 2 veggie patties. Flip occasionally until they defrost. Use a spatula (I used my Meat Chop'N Stir from Pampered Chef) to break up the burgers. Add 2 t garlic powder, 1/4t cayenne pepper, 1 t oregano, and a pinch of salt. 

Once veggies are grilled, divide them in 1/2. Put 1/2 in a storage container for future meals this week. Take remaining 1/2 and add to the seasoned veggie patty mix. Heat to encorporate and add about 4 oz of tomato sauce. Divide into 8 portions, about 1/3 C veggies per tortilla.

Clean out the cast iron skillet, lightly oil and wipe out til dry. Reheat skillet to medium. Add a tortilla. Layer 1/4 C cheese, 1/3 C veggies, 1/4 C cheese. Fold over and smush. Cook on side until starts to brown and cheese starts to bubble. Flip and brown on other side. Repeat.

Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.  Makes enough for 4 people for dinner, 8 tortillas total.


~Fancy~ Grilled Cheese & All-Grown-Up Tomato Soup

So, Guy & I wanted to make a quick and easy comfort dinner: Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese. Yum! We both started doctoring the soup & this is what we came up with. It was great! As for the Grilled Cheese, Guy remembers having this at the Chicago Diner when he was still in high school. I don't know how we have had a relationship for 13 years before he shared this grilled cheese secret, but its now my favorite way to have grilled cheese!

~Fancy~ Grilled Cheese

2 Wheat Bread
1/2 C Shredded Carrot

1/2 Refrigerator Dill Pickle, sliced thinly

optional: diced green onion
3 Slices 2% American Cheese
Smart Balance

Heat pan and butter bread. Place 1 slice of bread butter side down to brown. Top 1 slice of bread with 1 1/2 slice of cheese. Top with carrot and pickle. Top with 1 1/2 slice of cheese and 2nd piece of bread. Flip when well browned on first side. Cook until well browned Yum!

All-Grown-Up Tomato Soup
8 oz Small Dry Pasta - I had stars, orzo would work, but keep it small

26 oz Condensed Tomato Soup (Family Size)
28 oz Can of Diced Tomatoes - don't drain!
13 oz Water
1 Lg pinch Saffron
3-4 Tbsp Tandoori Powder

Diced White Onion

Cook pasta as directed (mine was 3-5 min). Drain.
Heat tomato soup, diced tomatoes, water and spices. Add drained pasta when ready.
Top with cilantro and diced onion. Enjoy!


Linguini with Clam Sauce


1 box of whole wheat pasta
1 T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/8 t red pepper flake
1/8 t ground black pepper
1/4 C lemon juice
3/4 C white wine
10.5 oz can of baby clams, drain
small can minced clams in clam juice, don't drain
1/4 C hot pasta water
1/2 C fresh parsley

Drop pasta in boiling water before starting to cook the sauce so you can add to the sauce right away!
Heat olive oil. Add garlic. Cook for 2 min on medium heat.
Add spices, lemon juice and wine. Bring to a boil.
Add clams and juices. Heat until warm.
Add 1/4 C hot pasta water (this helps thicken the sauce)
Add salt to taste.
Toss pasta in sauce, add parsley.
Serve immediately
Serves 3-4