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Holiday Gifts Ideas: Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

I love spritz butter cookies. They’re tiny little, melt-in-your-mouth bites that go great with a cup of coffee. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make. It helped that a friend of a friend loaned me her all metal, ratchet handled press. These are not easy to come by any more, at least not when I went looking. Most of the new ones are partially plastic and received tepid reviews, especially for durability and ease of use.

Speaking of reviews, I was reading the reviews when JLB posted her favorite recipe along with her review at Amazon. That ended up being the recipe I decided to use and it worked beautifully.

Although my Christmas trees kind of look like trilobites, they taste great.

If I make these again, I might divide the dough into thirds and make one plain and then make one with lime zest and another with lemon zest and dust with citrus powdered sugar.

Spritz Raw

Here is JLB’s perfect recipe (with my thanks!):

Spritz Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened/room temp – set on counter for about 15 minutes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla mixing well. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk.

Add dry ingredients slowly to the butter and sugar and mix until the dough is in small to medium sized clumps. Now mix with your hands to form dough into a ball. (Should have a consistency similar to Play Dough, but not dry.) If your dough is sticky, add flour; a tablespoon at a time. If it seems dry, add softened butter; a tablespoon at a time. (TaMara’s Note: I gently kneaded the dough for about a minute to get the right consistency)

Load dough into press. Top with colored sugars or other sprinkles. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8 – 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets before removing and placing on cooling racks.
Makes about 5 – 6 dozen.

Me again. A few tips on using the cookie press. Put your baking sheets in the freezer, this makes the cookie dough stick when you press them on the sheets. Like putting your tongue on a frozen light pole. :-) I put them out on the patio to cool in between batches before pressing more cookies.

Fill the cookie press 3/4 full, that seems to be the easiest to handle.

I pulled mine from the oven while they were still light colored. One batch got a little golden. It definitely changes the flavor and I preferred the light colored ones, but experiment, you might the golden ones better.

festive-holiday-wreaths

 

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Holiday Gift Ideas: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m busy baking for my annual gift boxes. These won’t be in them, because I”m working on two new cookie recipes I’ve never tried my hand at before. More on that later…

Chocolate Chocolate Cookie

These are pretty and very tasty.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

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Originally posted Nov 2011

Dinner Menu: Oven Baked Chicken and Garlic Baked Potatoes

Oven Baked Chicken

I’ve had this in my files to post for a while, so I thought it would make a good full dinner menu. I had run across two different techniques to improve on oven-baked chicken and decided to combine them to see what would happen. I will not make it any other way going forward.

The first thing that is different, you add the flour to the egg mixture, making a bit of a batter. Dip the chicken in it and coat completely. Hold up and let excess drip off, back into the bowl. Then place the chicken piece into the breadcrumb mixture.

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Take a spoon and generously spoon bread mixture over the entire chicken. Using a fork, press the breadcrumbs into the egg wash. Turn it over gently and repeat on the other side. Place on a baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper for ease of clean up).

Baked Chicken Prep

Bake according to directions below. This technique  works well with boneless or bone-in and any meat you would dredge in flour or breadcrumbs. It coats piece evenly, creates a tighter seal and you lose less of the breading. By adding flour to the egg mixture the batter keeps the chicken very most and creates a great, crunchy crust.

On the board tonight:

  1. Oven Fried Chicken
  2. Broccoli
  3. Garlic Baked Potatoes
  4. Sliced Pears

Oven Fried Chicken

  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken legs (or two additional thighs)
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup water**
  • 1/8 tsp ea. salt & pepper (or to taste)

large mouth bowl, large plate and baking sheet lined with foil or parchment

Wash and pat dry chicken. In large bowl, add water, eggs, flour, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Spread breadcrumbs and panko evenly on large plate. I often use extra seasoning in the breadcrumbs – garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and oregano, lots of pepper.

Take chicken pieces one at a time and dredge in the egg mixture, coating completely, dredge in bread crumbs until lightly coated on all sides. See technique above. Place on baking sheet. Bake  at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until temp registers 160 degrees. I usually cover for 10 or 15 minutes with foil at the beginning to avoid burning the crust. For even crisper chicken, place a wire baking rack on the baking sheet and cook chicken on that. I don’t have one big enough, so I haven’t tried it.

** add more if needed

Baked Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Butter

  • 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 metal skewers

Spread

  • 1 or 2 large head of garlic
  •  olive oil
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of rosemary, minced
  • 4 to 8 tbsp of butter

Skewer each potato (depending on the size of the skewer you can sometimes get 2 on it, leaving room between potatoes). Rub oil liberally on potatoes and then coat with a light layer of salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, peel white paper skin from garlic and slice off 1/4 inch off the top. Coat well in olive oil, place in a small baking dish (I saw a great recommendation making several and using a 6-cup muffin tin). Cover with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cloves are soft when pierced. (Of course you can use a garlic roaster if you have one). You can cook this while you are prepping the chicken and potatoes, then reduce heat.

Once garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves out of their skins. Using a fork, mash garlic, butter, pinch of salt and minced rosemary to smooth paste. Serve with potatoes.

Shopping List:

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, 2 bone-in thighs, 2 legs (or additional thighs)
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large head Broccoli
  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 4 large pears
  • parchment paper (my preference) or foil
  • 2 heads of garlic

Also: rosemary sprigs, olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter

 

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Thursday Recipe Exchange: Spicy Pumpkin Cookies with Crumble Topping

Finally got down to some cooking. I started the week out with Pumpkin Squares (recipe here), a real favorite with everyone, so a big pan goes pretty quickly. Then it was on to a good spicy pumpkin cookie, the featured recipe tonight. The photo shows both a crumble topping and a cream cheese frosting, but since I really preferred the crumble topping, that’s what I included in the recipe. These freeze well, so they can travel to Thanksgiving dinner with family.

I really wanted to make a Pumpkin Bundt Cake this year, so I went searching for recipes and adapted one to use buttermilk, click here, which I thought created a very moist, flavorful cake.

And finally, Pumpkin Cream Pie with a brown sugar whipped cream topping, which I am really enjoying at Thanksgiving instead of the traditional custard pumpkin pie. Pictures and recipe here. I’ll probably make it again this year.

For the pet lovers, Bixby update is here. He’s five months old this week and a wild thing. And as I was writing this, JeffreyW put up some adorable photos of shelter puppies in sweaters, click here. Please keep your squeals to a minimum.

Now it’s your turn. Are you a fan of pumpkin? I know it can be one of those ingredients that inspires a very strong response, either positive or negative. What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe or product this time of year? If not pumpkin, what treat really puts you in a fall mood?

Tonight’s recipe:

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies with Crumble Topping

Cookies

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice

Cream together butter and sugar; add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, mixing well. Sift together dry ingredients and slowly mix into pumpkin mixture and mix until well combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then drop by spoonful on a baking sheet. Top with crumble topping, pressing gently into the dough. Refrigerate remaining dough until ready to bake.

Bake for 12-13 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 2 dozen

Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together until crumbly

That’s it for this week. Stay warm – TaMara

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Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Cake Slices

This was a much more successful pumpkin recipe. Very moist, very flavorful And if you’re creative, you can make it look like a pumpkin. Because I’m at high altitude, I should have remembered to add 2 tbsp extra flour. Next time.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

  • 2-1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp buttermilk powder
  • 3 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup water

Icing:

  • 1 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk (more or less as needed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

bowls, bundt pan

Butter and flour bundt pan generously. In bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes), add eggs, beat 1 minute. Add pumpkin and vanilla and beat on low until incorporated, scraping sides frequently. Alternate adding the flour mixture and water until all are incorporated with the pumpkin mixture and batter is smooth.

Spoon into the bundt pan and gently tap pan on the counter to remove any bubbles and even out the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert on a plate and remove from bundt pan. Let cool completely before frosting.

Icing:  Add vanilla to powdered sugar  and then slowly add milk until mixture is smooth. Pour evenly over cooled cake. (I added yellow and red food coloring for some Halloween fun)

 

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Pumpkin Squares Revisted

I make these every year and they disappear quickly. This year was no different. Not all my pumpkin creations are a success. Playing around with an oatmeal pumpkin cookie, I came up with an inedible concoction. Luckily Bixby and his playmates were not quite so discerning, so it wasn’t a complete waste of ingredients. I was glad to whip a batch of squares up after that to restore my faith in my own cooking.

Pumpkin Squares

Cake:

  •  4 eggs
  • 1-2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil or butter
  • 15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice (less if desired, I like them spicy)

mixing bowl & 13×9 baking dish, greased

Beat eggs, sugar, butter & pumpkin together, add dry ingredients, mixing well. Spread into baking dish, bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Cool & frost (frosting below). These are rich, so I would cut them into at least 24 squares.

Frosting

  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups powdered sugar

mixing bowl

Mix together cream cheese, sugar & vanilla. Mix until smooth.

You can frost & freeze in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy.

 

Originally posted 10/2011

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Pasta Pr0n – Garlic Shrimp

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Shrimp, Ham, and Kale in a Garlic, Lemon, and Butter Sauce

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We watched an episode on The Food Network where a New Orleans joint offers a dish called Shrimp Magazine – named for the street where the restaurant is sited.  I watched the chef prepare the dish on the video a few times and figured I had it down.  A few days pass and I am less sure but I forge ahead.  The only recipe a search turned up looked close but seemed a little off from my memory.  The chef dredged the shrimp in seasoned flour and sauteed them in butter, turning once to brown both sides and then started adding all the rest of the ingredients:  Artichoke hearts, diced ham, tons of garlic, lemon zest and juice, grated Parmesan, green onions, chopped basil, white wine, and salt and pepper – serving it all over angel hair pasta.  I went with kale instead of artichoke hearts and didn’t add the basil.

I knew the shrimp wouldn’t like being with the kale as it cooked down so I removed it to a dish as soon as it was done and only added it back to the pan with the cooked pasta to toss prior to plating.  I used white wine to help break down the kale and added lemon juice and zest along with salt and pepper.  I minced at least six cloves of garlic, using some with the shrimp as it cooked, the rest after the shrimp were removed, along with a bit of olive oil.

Everything worked pretty well although I wish the ham had a better dice, I chopped some thin sliced ham that helped the flavor but did nothing for texture.  I think next time I may use crispy bacon lardons.  Mmm… bacon!

Oh, and I need a better name for it.

 

Bourbon Baked Apple Crisp

Final Baked Bourbon Apple

Wandering around the web today, someone posted a recipe for Bourbon Baked Apples. Hmmm, I have bourbon. I have apples. Guess I need to bake some Bourbon Apples, stuffed with oatmeal crumble.

Bourbon Baked Apple Crisp

  • 4 large favorite apple
  • 1/2  cup oats
  • 1/2  cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup softened  butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup bourbon (depending on taste – you can substitute more cider if you prefer)
  • vanilla ice cream

In a bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Add softened butter and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. You want it to be crumbly.

apples stuffed2

Cut the top off the apple, enough to use as a lid. Scoop out core and seeds, being careful not to pierce the bottom of the apple. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired  and then stuff with the oats mixture, packing it in and covering out to the edges of the apple. Place the top of the apple back on and press down.

Place apples in a large baking dish. Pour apple cider and bourbon in the bottom of the pan. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until skin is soft and wrinkled and flesh is soft. During the baking period, baste every 10 minutes with the cider/bourbon mix.

Serve immediately with ice cream.

 

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Ice Cream and Gelato Treats

Key Lime Pie2

I’m swamped with work, trying to catch up after a week away, so tonight in true summer fashion, we’re going to have a repeat. But it’s a delicious repeat. Last year, friends lent me their Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker to test drive, so I spent a week making various frozen treats, testing them on all the neighbors (I was very popular that week) and posted the results. This summer I bought my own Cuisinart, so I thought it was time to pull out the recipes and make some ice cream and gelato. After all, it’s just been too hot to cook. Perfect time for frozen treats.

While Gelato is by far my favorite, I played no favorites and included ice cream and sorbet in the selection. These recipes all make between 1 and 1-1/2 quarts.  Here’s the lineup:

Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream (recipes here)

Blueberry Sorbet (recipe here)

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato (recipe here)

What’s your recipe for fun this weekend? What delicious things are you cooking up for this final weekend of July (oh, how can that be)?

Now for the recipe that started the whole thing, the reason I borrowed my friends’ ice cream maker. A while back I was searching for gelato recipes and came across one for Key Lime Pie. It sounded awesome. I tucked it away, planning to try it someday. Someday finally came and I put my own twist on it:

Key Lime Pie Gelato

  • Gelato Plain Base (recipe below)
  • 1 graham cracker crust, broken into pieces and frozen (recipe below)
  • 3 tbsps fresh lime juice, preferably Key lime*
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest

Make the Gelato Plain Base and chill as directed. Make the graham cracker crust as directed and freeze.

To make Key Lime Gelato: Gently whisk the limejuice and zest into the base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just after churning quickly stir in the graham cracker crust pieces, reserving some for garnish. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

*after you mix in the lime and zest, give it a taste and add more limejuice as desired. If you’re prefer it a bit more tangy, you can add up to 2 more tbsp without worrying about consistency.

Graham Cracker Crust

Note: You can substitute graham cracker pieces if you don’t want to make an actual crust. I just like the buttery flavor and texture of the actual crust in the gelato.

For the graham cracker crust: Mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 cups graham cracker crumbs together. Press firmly onto the bottom of a well buttered 8×8 glass baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool and remove from the baking dish, break into bite-size pieces and freeze in a covered container.

This recipe is the base for most gelatos, it’s also good frozen by itself:

Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.

*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.

One final note. If you’re wondering what the difference is between Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream, click here for a pretty good explanation.

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