Author Archives: TaMara
Christmas music will start this week, but before that, I wanted to feature this song. Catches my ear every time it comes on the radio while I’m working:
Photo of Mrs. J’s great cookies by JeffreyW
A friend asked me if I would like to spend the afternoon baking holiday cookies with her for a charity exchange. I was happy to, the colder it gets, the more I enjoy baking. She asked me if I had any good cookie recipes. I tried not to laugh. I picked out three of my favorites and realized it would be a great idea for this week’s recipe exchange.
My very favorite this time of year are Citrus Drops, because with all the sweets, the buttery tartness is welcome. Click here for the recipe.
Next up are my Fruit Pie Cookies, an idea that came to me when I had leftover pie filling and a mini-muffin tin. They are delicious, pretty, but a bit time consuming to make. Recipe is here.
And the always fun, M & M Cookies, a hit with kids of all ages. Click here.
That just scratches the surface, for all the cookie recipes on the blog (there are 78 of them), you’ll find them here, there are some gluten free options, too.
What’s on the weekend menu? What’s your favorite cookie for the holidays? Do you make cookie trays to give as gifts? Share your favorite recipes in the comments.
Tonight’s featured recipe is one that I loved when I was a kid. My best friend and I would make them when we had sleepovers. Perfect for cold New England days. It took me a while to find the recipe again. Easy and elegant.
Looking for another cookie to add to the cookie tray you give as gifts? These are very pretty. You can add chocolate drizzle to really make them look festive (I’d melt semi-sweet or cacao chocolate chips for the drizzle).
Easy to make, pretty to look at.
Coconut Lace Cookies
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup regular oats
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp water
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
baking sheet, bowl
Combine flour, oats, sugar, coconut, & baking soda in bowl, mix well. Add water, butter & syrup and stir well. Drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes until almost set, remove to rack to completely cool. Makes 2 dozen.
Tags: brown sugar, butter, chocolate chip cookies, christmas cookies, citrus drop, coconut, corn syrup, flour, food, friday recipe exchange, fruit pie cookies, holiday cookies, menu, oats, recipe, sugar
My sister-in-law is making some pretty scarves. They’re $10 plus shipping. If you’re interested in having her make one or several for you, please email me (click here) and I’ll get you all the deets. These make great gifts. The photos below show available colors, though she can probably make them in other colors. Click on any photo to embiggen.
This popped up in my mail just before Thanksgiving from Men Who Cook regular, Joshua D. I thought the timing was perfect since I always post not-turkey recipes after the holiday. So if you’re tired of turkey, Joshua has the perfect remedy:
This was an impromptu recipe too good to not share! One point: how much honey you will need will depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes. True it’s November but this is a good recipe to hold for summer plus if you have spare canned San Marzanos hanging around that will work beautifully!
(Note from TaMara, I changed amounts to serve 4)
- 12 oz dried penne
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (or two cans of diced tomatoes, San Marzanos preferred)
- 3 large shallot, sliced
- 2 -4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp basil, chiffonaded
- 1 tbsp oregano, chopped
- Few drops honey
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup parmigano reggiano
Cook penne in boiling salted water) for about a minute under package directions. While pasta is boiling, cook shallots in a skillet over medium heat. After about 2 minutes, add in tomato with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes break down, about 4-5 minutes. Add in sliced garlic,wine and herbs and cook for another minute. Drop in honey and stir well. By now the penne should be very toothsome. Add penne to skillet (if water gets into sauce this is good!) and cook together until sauce thickens slightly and penne is done to your liking. Turn off heat and mix in most of cheese. Serve with slices of toasted ciabatta or your favourite bread. Top with more cheese and enjoy!
Joshua De Mers
I thought to combat Turkey Fatigue, it would be nice to have some fresh vegetables and pasta. Have leftover cranberry sauce? Use it to make some cobbler.
On the board tonight:
- Pasta Primavera
- Crusty Bread
- Cranberry Apple Cobbler
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 ea. green, red, yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 8 oz frozen sliced carrots
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1 yellow squash, cubed
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp ea, crushed rosemary, basil, oregano
- 12 oz bowtie pasta, cook according to package directions
- ½ cup grated parmesan
skillet, saucepan and large serving bowl
Put water on to boil. Heat oil in skillet, sauté onion & garlic, until onions are translucent. Add peppers, sauté for 2-3 minutes, add the rest of the fresh vegetables and more oil if necessary. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add tomatoes & spices. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain cooked pasta well. In serving bowl, add pasta, vegetable mixture, & parmesan. Toss well and serve immediately.
Cranberry Apple Cobbler
- 5 cups peeled & sliced apples*
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup raw chopped cranberries (or 1 cup whole cranberry sauce, reduce sugar to 3/4 cup)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
2 qt baking dish, buttered
Mix ingredients together and spread in the bottom of baking dish. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, until bubbly.
- ¾ cup flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 tbsp milk
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in milk until soft dough forms. Drop by tbsp onto hot apple mixture. Bake additional 30 minutes until golden brown.
* if you want to substitute equivalent amount of pie filling, reduce sugar to ½ cup.
- Loaf of Crusty Bread
- 1 small onion
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 ea. green, red, yellow bell pepper
- 8 oz frozen sliced carrots
- 1 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 12 oz bowtie pasta
- 4 oz grated parmesan
- 5 apples
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup raw chopped cranberries
- 1 stick butter
Also: Milk, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, oregano, olive oil
Reposted from 2011 Thanksgiving:
Okay, let’s jump into the cooking a turkey debate. And acknowledge that a perfect turkey is in the eye of the beholder…or cook.
Last year I had my very first deep fried turkey – I know, late to the party as usual – and I really enjoyed it. But considering deep frying of any kind terrifies me, you will not see me attempting that anytime soon. There’s a reason only JeffreyW has deep frying recipes on the blog. I will, however, enjoy the labors of anyone who wants to deep fry one for me (I’m looking at you little brother).
Traditionalists seem to like to roast their turkeys, basting and slaving over a hot oven for the perfect bird. I’m not a traditionalist by any means. Have I mentioned I’m lazy? Yes, I do believe I have.
There is nothing wrong with this and for expert cooks, the perfect bird is attainable. But for the rest of us mortals, traditional roasting can be a challenge. It’s too easy to over cook or under cook, leaving your white meat dry or your dark sections pink and unsafe – sometimes in the same bird. But in case you want to roast, here are step by step instructions:
And here’s everyone’s favorite Alton Brown with a video demonstration:
Next up are the briners. I have to tell you I do not understand brining a turkey. I’ve had brined turkey, it’s not my favorite. But if you have a desire to brine, here’s our trusty Alton again (seeing a theme here?):
One thing you’ll see in all these examples is no one stuffs a turkey with stuffing. In my humble opinion this is the easiest way to dry out your bird or accidentally poison your guests. Stuffing needs to reach a temperature of at least 165 degrees to be fully cooked, at this point your bird will be completely dried out. If you are looking for stuffing that tastes like it has been cooked inside the bird, do what my friend Alton does (no not that Alton), he buys and cooks turkey thighs and legs in chicken broth (or you can use the neck and giblets) and then uses that broth to season both his stuffing and gravy. And both are wonderful. Cook the stuffing in a casserole dish, covered for really moist stuffing. If you like a crunchy top, take the lid off once the stuffing is warmed through and bake until golden brown on top.
So what do you do with that big cavernous space in your turkey if you’re not going to stuff it? Fill it with flavor. I use a spice infuser or a spice bag and fill it with all kinds of wonderful spices, depending on my mood. I’ve also added a whole onion or citrus fruits (all should be disposed of after cooking), to infuse the bird with intense flavor. Citrus bird is one of my favorites after the traditional rosemary-garlic-sage spices.
This recipe for a citrus bird sounds wonderful and I may try it this year (yes, I do cook a turkey even if I’m having Thanksgiving elsewhere – how else are we going to have leftovers?):
So how do I cook my bird? After many mishaps, I’ve decided that the easiest and most foolproof way is to use a cooking bag. I usually roast at a higher temperature than on the instructions (375 instead of the 325 they recommend) and the last 15 minutes or so, I open the bag, pull it back and let the skin brown nicely.
Whatever spices I decide to use in the infuser I also mix with butter and put under the skin of the bird at the breast and thighs. I then coat the bird in olive oil and spices to get a nice browned texture. This gives me a perfectly flavored bird that I don’t ever have to worry about, so I can then concentrate on all the sides. It’s never failed me.
So if you are a novice, or even a seasoned cook, but don’t want to take any chances on disappointing your guests, I say go with a roasting bag.
Are you cooking the turkey this year? How are you preparing yours? Want to share a favorite recipe? Nervous about pleasing a house-full of hungry company?
I may have a few more sides to share or we’ll head straight into desserts. Until then…
I thought I sneak one of JeffreyW’s recipes in the mix, from last Thanksgiving:
Mrs J was set on making pumpkin pies and ran across this recipe that added sweet potatoes and toasted, sugared pecans. It turned out very well, I think.
No menu this week, but I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.
This is by far the most requested dessert I make. This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers this week. Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation. If you’re looking to wow, try this one. From 2009:
Cranberries are on sale! Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up. I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take. It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner. You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
- ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
- 2 tsp butter, softened
8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl
Preheat oven to 350°
Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.
Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.
* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.
I was listening to an old CD of Aretha and thought it would be good for tonight. Had the hardest time picking just one:
Love these guys: