Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Search of Turkish Delight

The family just went and saw the latest Narnia movie.  It was  fantastic.   My mind started to wander and I thought of the first Narnia movie and Turkish delight popped into my mind.  I had an urge for Turkish Delight, but had no idea how to make it.  Thus begins my search for a Turkish Delight recipe.

I  have searched the Web and found several recipes that I want to try.   I will keep you posted on my experiments with Turkish Delight.

PS If any of you have a recipe for Turkish Delight or tips on making Turkish Delight, please feel free to comment.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

"'8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'"


Geri

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cooking With The Kids: Holly Cookies

The kids and I just got done making Holly Cookies.  Holly cookies are like Rice Krispie treats only you use corn flakes or frosted flakes.  They are super simple to make  and the kids have a blast making and decorating them.

Holly cookies have become a family tradition.  We make these cookies every year for Christmas and they are loved by both kids and adults.

Holly Cookies

Ingredients:
1/3 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons green food coloring
6 cups corn flakes or frosted flakes
Cinnamon red hot candies
Vanilla frosting

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat.  Do not burn the butter.
2. Add the marshmallows to the melted butter.  Stir until the marshmallows have melted.
3.  To the melted marshmallows add the vanilla extract and green food coloring.  Stir until combined.
4.  Add the cornflakes to the marshmallow mixture and stir  until the flakes are well coated.
5. Drop the cereal mixture by tablespoonfuls on wax paper.  Decorate the cookies with the cinnamon red hot candies using the frosting to hold the candies in place.  Let cool.
6.  Store cookies (single layer) in an airtight container.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Cooking: Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Today, my daughter Becky and I made some Peppermint Bark Pretzels.  Becky came up with the idea after having some peppermint bark.  They are easy and fun to make.  This is a recipe the kids can make pretty much by themselves with a little supervision on your part.

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Ingredients:
4 cups of pretzels
1 pound chocolate candy coating
1/2 pound of vanilla candy coating
1 regular size candy cane  crushed -you want to have fairly small pieces not large

 
Directions:
1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the chocolate candy coating according to package directions for the microwave.
3. Dip the pretzels one at a time in the chocolate coating and set on the parchment paper to dry.
4. Melt the white candy coating according to package directions for the microwave.
5. With a spoon, drizzle the white candy coating over the pretzels on the parchment paper.
6.  Sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the pretzels.
7.  Let the pretzels set and store in an airtight container.

Have fun with this and enjoy.

Geri

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Baking: Blondies

I love to eat blondies with ice cream.  The blondies in this recipe are not made from scratch but from a cake mix as the batter.  In my opinion, they turn out just as chewy and gooey as the ones I make from scratch.

Mix up a batch and enjoy.




                                      Blondies

Ingredients:

1 box of French or Golden Vanilla cake mix
½ cup butter melted
2 eggs beaten
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup shredded coconut


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish.
3.  In a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, butter and beaten eggs together with a spoon.
4.  Stir into the batter the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts and coconut.
5.  Spread the batter evenly into the baking dish.  Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until edges are a golden brown.
6.  Cool blondies completely.  Cut bars into 4 rows by 6 rows.

Makes 24 bars.





Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Cooking: Pistachio Tart

Tonight I made a light dessert loaded with flavor.  It starts out with a nutty crust followed by a cream cheese layer, pistachio pudding, Cool Whip and finally a sprinkling of nuts.   It is MMMM   Good.

The funny thing is I usually make this dessert around the holiday time.  But it is so yummy, versatile, and easy to make you can make it anytime.  If you are not a fan of pistachio pudding, use your favorite pudding.  Same goes for the nuts, use your favorite.




                                        Pistachio Tart


Ingredients:

1-cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese – cut into 1 - inch chunks
2/3 cup powdered sugar sifted
1 (8-ounce) carton Cool Whip - divided
2- (3.4-ounce) boxes pistachio instant pudding and pie filling
2-1/2 cups cold milk
¼ cup coarsely chopped pistachios


Directions:

1.Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Lightly butter the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and pistachios.  
4.  Grate the butter into the flour mixture.  With fingertips work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornflakes.   This makes the crust.
5. Spoon the flour mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan and press into the pan.
6.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until edges start turning a light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let it cool.
7.  In a large mixing bowl add the cream cheese.  Beat the cream cheese and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar.  Beat until the sugar and the cream cheese are incorporated.  Add half of the carton of   Cool Whip and beat for another minute or until the Cool Whip is blended into the  cream cheese mixture.   
8.  Spread the mixture over the crust.
9. In a medium-mixing bowl add the pistachio pudding and cold milk.  Beat for two minutes with a whisk.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
10. Spread the pudding mixture over the cream cheese layer.
11. Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the pudding layer and sprinkle pistachios over the Cool Whip.
12.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 or more hours.  Serve chilled.




Makes 12 servings 


Grating Butter Into Flour Mixture

Butter Incorporated Into Flour Mixture

Baked Crust

Cubed Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese and Powdered Sugar Incorporated

Cream Cheese Mixture Spread Over the Crust

Pistachio Pudding Layer

Cool Whip Layer

Ready for Fridge









Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Cookbook Christmas List: Two Known Authors - One Unknown

Every year I put out my Christmas cookbook  wish list.  In past years, my list has included:
    
                                           Julia Child:  Baking With Julia
                                           Sheila Lukins: USA Cookbook
                                           James Beard:  Beard on Bread and Beard on Pasta

just to name a few.

This year I have three must haves on my list.  They are:



Alton Brown:  Good Eats 2:  The Middle Years.  
I love Alton Brown.  His show is fantastic and educational.   I have his other cookbooks and they are a  culinary class.   You learn about different techniques, the hardware you need, why you need to cook or bake foods in certain ways.  His cooking books are my reference books for cooking and baking.
Alton's books also have  some recipes.   Some of my favorite recipes of his are Beef Jerky, Cheese Soup, Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel cookies, Corn Dogs, Green Bean Casserole, Biscuits, Scones, Chicken and Dumplings.  The list goes on and on.


              



Dorie Greenspan:  I was introduced to Dorie Greenspan's  cookbooks a little over a year ago.  I was looking for a book devoted to pancakes.  Yes, pancakes.  I found a book at the library by Dorie Greenspan   "Pancakes: From Morning to Midnight."  One of the tastiest books I ever checked out.  This started my following of Dorie Greenspan.  Last year,  I received her Baking book - "Baking: From My Home to Yours."  My favorites are her Blondies, Creamy Scones, and Harvest Cake.  Absolutely delicious.

Sarabeth Levine:  This cookbook is my journey into the unknown.  I have read great reviews of her products and I made her  Creamy Tomato Soup that was featured on her blog.  It was delicious.  I also read several of her blog posts and  decided I kneeded her cookbook.    I will let you know in  future blogs about my cooking adventures with her cookbook.

Well, this sums up my cookbook wish list for 2010.    I believe I made good choices.

Geri

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies
My holiday baking is in full swing.  A few days ago, I made some Ginger Cookies and today I made some Chewy Oatmeal cookies.  These are the best oatmeal cookies ever.  They are a staple in my cookie exchanges.

I make both a regular batch and a batch using pistachios and dried cherries.  They both are indescribably delicious!!

Enjoy!!


Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

1-cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla
1-½ cups flour
1-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups quick oats
1-cup sunflower seeds
1-cup coconut


Directions:
1.    In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
       Set aside.
2.    Cream together the butter and sugars.
3.    Add the eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.
4.    With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar
       mixture and mix well.
5.    Slowly add the oats, sunflowers seeds and coconut.  Mix well.
6.    Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least one hour.
7.    Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
8.    Measure one tablespoon of cookie dough and roll into a ball.  Place on a
       cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
9.    Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start turning a golden color.
10.Cool for two minutes; remove to a wire rack for cooling.
     When completely cooled, store in an airtight container

 Makes 3-dozen cookies.


Variation:  Substitute ½ cup pistachios and ½ cup chopped dried cherries
                   for the sunflower seeds. 



Friday, December 10, 2010

Got The Munchies?

Do you like to have munchies around?   I do.   I confess,  I am a snacker.  Whether it be reading a book, riding in the car, waiting for someone, I like to snack.   And whenever I go to a store offering free samples, I am there waiting in line.

At home, I have nuts, pretzels, carrots, celery, apples, cookies, etc. to snack on.

One of my family's favorites is Chipotle Ranch Pretzels.   I have bowl set out on the kitchen table so my kids can eat them as they are doing their studies or just passing by.  My husband also likes them just as much.


                        Chipotle Ranch Pretzels


Ingredients:

7-1/2 cups pretzels
1 envelope of Ranch Salad dressing mix
¾ cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Put pretzels in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3. In a medium-mixing bowl put the Ranch salad dressing mix, vegetable oil, and garlic powder and chipotle chili powder.  Whisk together until well combined.
4.  Pour the Ranch dressing mixture over the pretzels.  Toss the pretzels until well coated.
5. Pour pretzels into an ungreased 15x10 inch-baking dish.
6. Bake pretzels for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

Makes 7-1/2 cups
 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Baking: Ginger Cookies

The scent of the holidays is in my kitchen.  I love the smell of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

I am baking some ginger cookies.  These ginger cookies are drop cookies that have a slightly crisp texture and a wonderful flavor.  I've added black pepper to the recipe to enhance the ginger flavor.

Try baking some of these cookies.  Who knows, they may become part of your holiday baking tradition.



                                                        Ginger Cookies

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup butter melted
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup sugar

Directions:

1. In a medium-mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ground black pepper.  Set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat brown sugar and butter together until well blended.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated.  Add molasses and beat until well mixed. 
3.  By heaping spoonfuls, add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture beating slowly.
4. Add the lemon zest to the batter beating slowly.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours.
5. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
7.Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in sugar and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.
8. Bake cookies on the center rack in oven for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are just set. 
9. Remove cookies from oven and cool 1 minute before transferring to wire cooling racks. 
10.  Store the cookies in an airtight container once the cookies have cooled completely.

Makes 2-1/2 dozen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookie Therapy

In previous blogs, I wrote about my kids study groups.  For  last night's study group, I had them do cookie therapy.

What is cookie therapy you ask?  You bake or buy unfrosted sugar cookies and have lots of icing (different colors), sprinkles, decorations, and candies.   The kids then decorate their  cookies and  best of all, eat their creations.

They have lots of fun and it releases a lot of study tension.  

Another tension reliever  I do is have them construct their own gingerbread houses out of graham crackers.

I get graham crackers, frosting, Christmas candies - candy canes, red hots, etc. plus M&M's , Necco Wafers, pretzel sticks, torn apart  shredded wheat, and anything else I think will be good.

The kids have fun doing both of these activities and I have found any age group loves doing it.

Have fun with it and be creative.

Geri

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Icing Tips.

Yesterdays blog listed some cookie tips.  I thought it would also be helpful to list a few icing tips.

1. Add coloring slowly to your icing to be sure you get the shade you want.

2.  Toothpicks are great for mixing colors in your icing.

3.  Be sure to cover your icing with plastic wrap when you are not using it.  This will prevent your icing from drying out.

4.  If you do not use all your icing you can refrigerate it up to 2 weeks.

5.  Keep you icing thin if you are coating your cookies with a brush.  Keep your icing thick if you are piping you icing.

6.  You can decorate your cookies with sugar crystals, silver balls, or nonpareils before baking your cookies.  DO NOT ice your cookies until they have cooled.



Have fun and share the fun with family and friends.


Geri

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cookie Tips

It is that time of year when we start our Christmas baking.  Most of us will bake cookies.

As I was looking through  some cookbooks, I found some helpful holiday baking tips I would like to share with you.


1.  Be sure to have plenty of cookie trays, parchment paper, rolling pins, cookie cutters, flour, sugar, eggs, and cookie decorations.

2.  If your cookie dough becomes too soft to  work with, put it in some waxed paper and refrigerate it for thirty minutes.

3. If you do not use all your cookie dough, you can refrigerate it or freeze it.

4.  If your cookies are going to be decorations, use a plastic drinking straw  to make a hole in the cookies where you want to run a ribbon through.

5. If you are rolling your dough between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper, sprinkle a little water on your work surface to keep the  paper from sliding.

6. Cool your cookie sheets between  batches of cookie baking.

7.  Do not put your cookies away until they have cooled completely.

Happy Baking.

Geri

Friday, December 3, 2010

Posole: A New Mexico Tradition

Posole is a traditional New Mexican  spicy corn stew eaten during the Christmas Holidays.  You can make posole with pork, chicken,  beef, or a vegetable protein.   In Northern New Mexico the posole usually is made with green chili and in Southern New Mexico it is made with red chili.

You can garnish your bowl of Posole with:
          
                            - thinly sliced radishes
                            - thinly sliced lettuce
                            - diced onions
                            -shredded Monterey Jack cheese

I have even heard of people sprinkling some corn nuts on top of their  bowl of posole.


I like to make my posole with chicken and I use whatever chili I have on hand.  Usually, I make a large pot of posole and keep any leftovers in the refrigerator.  It gets better with age.  Below is a Crock pot recipe for Posole.  You put everything in one pot and let it cook.  The aroma is wonderful and very inviting.

As for garnishing my bowl of posole, I just eat it with a warm flour tortilla.


Posole


1-pound fresh posole rinsed*
3 cups cooked chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 cup finely chopped onion
1-teaspoon cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
1 bay leaf
2-teaspoons salt
1-teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 cups red chili puree*
Salt & Pepper


.
1.   Put all ingredients into a 3-½-quart crock-pot.
2.   Cook on low for 10 hours or until posole “pops or blooms" (it resembles pop corn)
3.   Adjust seasoning if necessary.
4.   Serve in bowls. 




Makes 8 servings.

*Can be found in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores.

Feliz Navidad:)

Geri

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twenty Five Days of Christmas Baking and Cooking

Today is the first day of December which means I start my holiday cooking and baking.  This is my favorite time of year because I can indulge myself and not feel too guilty.  I bake cookies, cakes, bread, pies, etc.  I make candies, traditional New Mexican  dishes like Posole, Enchiladas, Tamales, etc just to name a few.

Today's recipe is an easy cookie recipe.  The cookies are bar cookies and they are delicious.  This recipe uses vanilla wafers but you can substitute graham cracker crumbs.

Chocolate Layered Toffee Bars


Ingredients

    * ¼ lb butter
    * 1¼ cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 50 wafers)
    * 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    * 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
    * 1 cup Heath toffee bits
    * 1 -14 oz can condensed milk
    * 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
    

Directions

    * Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    * 1. Melt the butter. Put the vanilla wafer crumbs in a medium bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well.
    * 2. Press the crumb mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking pan.
    * 3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the vanilla wafer crust.
    * 4. Sprinkle the coconut over the chocolate chips.
    * 5. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the coconut.
    * 6. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the cookie layers.
    * 7. Sprinkle the nuts over the layers.
    * 8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
    * 9. Cool completely before cutting into bars. 

Yield: Makes  24 bars



Happy Hanukkah