Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies


How cute are THESE??? Normally we do gingerbread men, but a few years ago I found this cookie cutter in a clearance bin at the grocery store post-season and decided it needed to be broken in.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Directions:
 
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended. In a large bowl (KitchenAid's great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
 
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.)
 
Preheat oven to 375 deg. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.
 
Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Use additional flour to avoid sticking. Cut out cookies with desired cutter-- the ginger bread man is our favorite of course, or Christmas trees.
 
Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.
 
Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!). 
 
Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack. If using cookies to build a little house, you must RE-CUT the cookie straight from the oven. Since the cookie expands slightly while baking, you will have rounded edges, so re-cut using the cookie cutter, or knife if building your own house immediately while hot. My kids favorite thing is to eat the scraps from the hot cookies. I just toss them on the bar and they magically disappear.

The photo of the trees was my first attempt at using the flooding technique. Here is a great tutorial on how to flood your cookies with royal icing. Hopefully your turn out a little better than mine.

Royal Icing recipe:

1 lb or 1 box of powdered sugar
5 TB meringue powder
1 scant 1/2 cup cold water

Beat all together to desired consistency. For the houses, I used thicker sticky icing and for the trees a little runnier so I could flood the cookies.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Caramels

2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint (4 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup butter (salted, if you use unsalted add 1/4 tsp salt to recipe)
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Grease a 12x15 inch pan with some butter (a smaller pan will simply give you thicker caramels)

In a medium-sized pot, combine all ingredients, except vanilla, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Monitor heat with a candy thermometer. When temperature reaches 234 degrees (250 for chewier caramels), remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Cool, cut into desired sized squares and wrap in wax paper or parchment.

Tips for caramel making:
  • Make sure you have about an hour of uninterrupted time. You need to watch that thermometer because it can jump up fast.
  • Stir the caramel frequently, constantly if you prefer.
  • Please note that the mixture will double in size when coming up to heat, so make sure your pot is big enough.
  • A tall skinny pot is better to use than and short wide pot, as this can leading to scorching on the bottom.

Cole Slaw

1 16 bag of cole slaw mix
2/3 cup light mayo
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tb milk
2 Tb vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients. Serve.

It's that simple :) I make this when my husband smoks a pork butt because it's delicious with pulled pork.

Roasted Broccoli

We love broccoli in this house and this was an instant favorite.

4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
EVOO
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (put pine nuts in a small skillet and toast on the stove)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart (you can skip all of this by using the huge bag of broccoli from Costco). You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.
 
Recipe from the Food Network.

Boston Baked Beans

2 (16 ounce) packages dried navy beans
4 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion
4 -6 whole cloves
1 meaty ham bone

Directions:

1 Prepare beans: Rinse well and discard any stones or shriveled beans.
2 Soak beans in water in a 5 quart Dutch oven, using the overnight or quick soak method.
3 Overnight Method: Cover each cup of dried beans with 3 cups of water; let stand for a minimum of 12 hours.
4 Quick Soak Method: Add beans to boiling water, allowing 3 cups of water for each cup of beans, bring back to the boil and boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and leave for an hour, then cook in same water.
5 Bring mixture to a boil, add salt, reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
6 Stir in molasses and next 3 ingredients.
7 Stud the onion with the cloves; tuck onion & ham bone (or salt pork) into the beans.
8 Cover and bake in a 250F oven for about 7 hours; check & stir about once an hour.
9 Add more water to keep beans moist but not too wet OR remove lid to thicken mixture through evaporation; it all depends on your preference for thick or runny!
10 Discard cloves, chop onion and return to mixture.
11 Remove meat from ham bone (or cut salt pork into pieces, discarding fat) and return to mixture.
12 Add salt to taste.


Deep Dish Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 whole unbaked pie crust "deep dish"
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 TB brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup melted salted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups (heaping) chopped pecans

Preparation Instructions

Mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.
Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
Pour syrup mixture over the top. Cover top and crust lightly/gently with foil. Bake pie at 350ยบ for 50 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.
NOTE: PIE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY JIGGLY WHEN YOU REMOVE IT FROM THE OVEN. If it shakes a lot, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minute or until set. Required baking time seems to vary widely with this recipe.
Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.

**This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. However, since I wanted a deep dish pie, I doubled her recipe (I posted it to keep it with my recipes because it's the BEST!)** 

Garlic Red Mashed Potatoes

4 lbs small red potatoes
2 cubes butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chives

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add potatoes. Boil until tender, but still a little firm (10-15 minutes). Drain.

Whip/mash potatoes with remaining ingredients until smooth and creamy.

A. Maze. Ing.