Archive | December, 2011

Need a quick and easy appetizer? Try this – Chicken Dip/Spread

28 Dec

This is one of those recipes that developed under just the right circumstances – an impromptu gathering of friends, limited time to whip up a snack, and having to use what was on hand as there was not a chance of me getting to the store for any additional ingredients. So I scanned my cabinets, fridge and basement food storage and this appetizer was born. It’s simple, it’s quick, and I generally have all of the ingredients on hand to make it without notice. It’s a major hit and I get requests to bring it to parties often. It’s great on pretzel crackers, chunks of bread, celery – you name it. It’s pretty universal. You can make it the day before an event, but it’s still great the same day. If you want it to be more of a dip than a spread, just add in more sour cream until it reaches the consistency you are looking for. Add in some red pepper flakes for some spice if that’s how you roll. Swap out the garlic salt for onion salt. Use chicken that you have on hand if the thought of canned meats makes you cringe. Easy!

Chicken Dip/Spread

1 13oz can chicken, drained

1 8oz block light cream cheese, left out for about 1/2hr to soften

1/2 cup light sour cream

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 cup dried chives

Place all ingredients in a bowl and using a hand mixer, Blend until combined. Eat immediately or let chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Don’t be intimidated, it’s just a pumpkin roll!

27 Dec

I’m not sure why, but some people are intimidated by anything that involves rolling up a thin cake with a filling inside. Sure, there is always the possibility that the cake can crack or filling can ooze out, but is that really a cooking failure? You can still eat it! It will still taste delicious even if it doesn’t look as pretty as you think it should.

That being said, as long as you follow the basics and have a nice moist cake, pumpkin rolls and jelly rolls are easy peasy!

This recipe is an adaptation of the Cook’s Country recipe. They know their stuff. I love Cook’s Country – they take all the guesswork out of it for you and stop you from wondering when trying a new recipe if it’s going to be worth it. This is because they are already giving you the best tested version of it!

I only use a double batch of the cream cheese filling for this as I like to be able to still taste the pumpkin in the cake, but don’t feel the single batch is enough filling. Feel free to use the single batch recipe below, or double like I do.

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

INGREDIENTS

  • 1cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1cup sugar
  • 1cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 batch cream cheese filling recipe (see below)
  •  Confectioners’ sugar for dusting finished roll

INSTRUCTIONS

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and 18- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet and line with greased parchment paper. Whisk flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and sugar until pale yellow and thick, 6 to 10 minutes.

Add pumpkin and mix on low until incorporated. Fold in flour mixture until combined.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until cake is firm and springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Before cooling, run knife around edge of cake to loosen, and turn out onto clean sheet of parchment paper that has been dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Gently peel off parchment attached to cake and discard.

Roll cake and fresh parchment into log and cool completely, about 1 hour. (notice all that powdered sugar all over the counter and the stuff on the counter. That’s what happens when you slap the cake on the parchment!)

Gently unroll cake and spread with frosting, all the way to the edges, leaving 1inch of space at the far end. Re-roll cake snugly, leaving parchment behind. Slice off rough ends (and eat them like it’s your job!) Wrap cake firmly in plastic wrap and chill completely, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. I slice mine in half and freeze each piece wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap to enjoy later!

Cream Cheese Filling

Ingredients
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened but still cool
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 ounces cream cheese , softened, cut into 4 pieces (DO NOT soften in microwave!!!)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese one piece at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and mix until no lumps remain.

Snickerdoodles!

19 Dec

I have to admit, I love eating these cookies, but have only made them one time in my life – for this post! I don’t know why. It’s not like they are hard to make! But when I thought of cookies, this wasn’t one that popped into my head as an Oh, I gotta make those! My husband requested them for Christmas so I obliged. I’m glad I did. This recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewarts cookie recipe. I got around 4 dozen of them. They are nice and fluffy and chewy. And they taste just as great out of the freezer. Get your bake on!

Snickerdoodles


2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar + 2 tbsp for coating
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats.
Cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, and mix until well incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon + 2 tbsp sugar. Set aside
Using your fingers, roll cookie dough into balls, about 1-1/2 inches. Roll cookie dough balls in cinnamon sugar, and place on prepared baking sheets. Space cookies at least 1 to 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks and serve! Or layer between waxed paper and freeze in an airtight container.

S’mores Marshmallows – word up.

15 Dec

Ever had a need to whip up a quick sweet for a holiday party and didn’t want to have to bake? These are a great sweet treat to take with you and can be made in not time at all. No baking is required, and minimal time is needed. I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like S’mores, so these are a hit.

These can also be frozen if you wanted to add them to your holiday cookie trays. And you don’t need a holiday to make them! Any party will do!

Ingredients:

1 bag marshmallows

1 bag chocolate candy melts

1cup crushed graham crackers

Melt chocolate candy melts in the microwave following package directions. Working in batches, dip half of all the marshmallows in the chocolate, and then while the chocolate is still melty dip them in graham cracker crumbs.

Now, you can stop here if you only want to have half of the marshmallows covered in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. I prefer to cover them completely to keep the marshmallows fresh.

Repeat the process again to cover the other half of the marshmallows and let the chocolate set. Store in an airtight container and freeze until ready to use, or eat right away!

Pumpkin Spice Gingersnaps

13 Dec

So if a pumpkin mated with a gingersnap, you would have these cookies. There, I said it. They have that ginger bit with the smooth pumpkin aftertaste. mmm. Oh, and they are HEALTHY. I know. A healthy cookie. I decided to make these because I do love pumpkin (DUH!) and gingersnaps, and why not have a cookie option that isn’t going to go straight to my ass this Christmas!

This recipe is an adaptation of this recipe over at Simple Bites. I had to make some modifications due to what I had on hand, but it was still healthy changes!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Gingersnaps

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup turbinado sugar plus 1/4 cup for rolling the cookies (unprocessed raw sugar, I got mine from Trader Joes)

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

Sift together flours, baking soda, kosher salt , ginger and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. In the bowl your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together with the paddle attachment until fluffy and creamy, about three minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. To the butter mixture add: molasses, pumpkin puree, white vinegar, and the egg. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and stir on low speed to combine. Turn off mixer and remove paddle. Roll the dough into 36 1-inch balls.

Combine the 1/4 cup turbinado sugar and the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll each dough ball into this mixture and return to baking sheets, 12 per tray, evenly spaced. They will puff up and spread only a little bit when baking.

Bake cookies for  8 minutes on the middle and lower shelves of the oven, rotating the pans once midway though the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets before moving to wire racks. After cooling completely, eat up, or layer between waxed paper and freeze in an airtight container.

Drool! Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies. Half dipped in white chocolate. Wipe your mouth.

8 Dec

Red velvet cake is delicious. Shortbread cookies aren’t too bad, but not my favorite. I as willing to give them another try though because I do love Red Velvet flavored things. And these are decadent half dipped in white chocolate! I doubled the recipe below to get about 30 cookies. What your recipe yields depends on the thickness of your dough and the size of your cookie cutter.

My pup was napping in his bed in the dining room while I was making these up. He then got curious and had to come out and see what the heck was going on since I was rocking out to Christmas music like I Elvis. His look says ‘my human is an idiot’. However, it loses its bite when you see the fact that he couldn’t make it totally OUT of his bed since his blanket is still on his back like a shawl. Bahahaha…take that weenie dog 😉

 

This is what the dough looks like prior to working it with your hands and adding the water.

Naked baked cookies. You could easily skip the step of  the half dipped white chocolate sprinkled in Andes peppermint chips. The cookies are still delicious alone. But the white chocolate? It elevates them to phenomenal. Just sayin’.

 

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1 Tbsp. red gel food coloring

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1 1/2 tsp. shortening
andes peppermint chips for sprinkling (or the sprinkle/topping of your choice)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Cover and pulse until combined. Add the butter and red food coloring. Pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Then continue to process until mixture begins to clump together.

Scoop dough onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water –  knead lightly until nearly smooth. If the mixture is still crumbly, sprinkle with 1 additional tablespoon of water. Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured cutter of your choice, cut out dough (i used a heart shaped cutter and it was about 3 inches wide at the top of the heart). Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press scraps together and reroll.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

In a small saucepan, melt white chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Smear half of each cookie with the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with the Andes peppermint chips (or sprinkles of your choice) and place on waxed paper until set.

Eat or freeze, layered between waxed paper and stored in an airtight container.

Childhood Memories – Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

5 Dec

I love chewy oatmeal cookies! Warm from the oven, still soft enough that they may lose their shape a little when being taken off the cookie sheet. Mmm. And the smell in the house when these are baking! oh.ma.gawd.

This recipe yields about 4+ dozen – be sure to space them out far enough because they do ‘melt’ onto the cookie sheet and can run into each other if you don’t leave enough room.

Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 1/4 c. softened butter
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 c. rolled oats

Heat oven to 375 degrees F and line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment or a Silpat mat. Beat together butter or margarine and sugars in a large bowl until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a smaller bowl. Add flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and blend well. Stir in oats. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie (or if you want them crunchy, 10 to 11 minutes) rotating cookie sheets on shelves halfway through for even baking. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack.

Cool completely and store in tightly covered container, or layer between waxed paper and freeze.

It’s the Holiday Season….

2 Dec

Wow, did this year go fast! I’m still in shock that Thanksgiving is behind us and we will soon be celebrating Christmas! WHERE does the time go???

Every year over Thanksgiving break, I take the week off and get my holiday baking accomplished. I throw on Pandora and listen to the Christmas station and tackle that years cookie recipes. This year, I made 6 types of cookies and a pumpkin roll. I cleaned the whole house in between, top to bottom. We did our yearly gingerbread houses after Thanksgiving dinner, complete with sarcastic rivalry at who’s would be best, and who would get done last (always my sister-in-law!). I got to spend some time with friends and catch up, and lastly, got to transform my house for Christmas. I love this time of year. It’s not about the presents, it’s about the cozy atmosphere that the lights on the tree give. It’s about sharing good food with friends and family. It’s about honoring traditions, and making new memories. And this year will be about remembering my mom as we move forward in life without her, but keep her near us.

Now for the cookies – I will be sharing these recipes with you over the next few weeks.

Ginormous Chocolate Chip Cookies – click here to be taken to the recipe. These are AMAZING!

Peanut Butter Cookies

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

Snickerdoodles

Healthy Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

I baked every recipe above in 3 days. The shortbread cookies I would say took the most amount of time on same day assembly since there was the dipping in the chocolate and sprinkling involved, after waiting for them to cool. Baking time/prep time wise, the Ginormous Chocolate Chip cookies took the longest (1hr chill time after mixing and dropping dough). I made the Red Velvet Shortbread one day, did the Ginormous Choc Chip Cookies and Snickerdoodles another day, and everything else on the third day. If you are pressed for time, I’d recommend mixing up a few batches of the dough and baking them throughout the week. Most of these recipes yield about 4 dozen, so you’re looking at about 1/2hr of baking time with rotating the cookie sheets.

Baking these up and freezing them makes for an easy, homemade dish to take to a party – just pull out of the freezer and go! They’ll be thawed by the time you get to your destination!