Sunday, December 27, 2009

Menu Week: 2009 Finale

Well, I am in Florida half of this coming week, then retreating at a friend's apt for the end of the week. But, here goes for this menu

Monday: St. Augustine (after a quick leftover breakfast of Christmas Baked Oatmeal)
Tuesday: more said baked oatmeal, late lunch at Silver Ring Cafe in dtown Lakeland for a cuban sandwich
Wednesday: whatever I can find in my apt for breakfast (not much), somewhere in St. Matthews for lunch with Aarica while out doing errands for the office
Thursday: salad at Founders for lunch since I still will have not had any time to go to the grocery store.
Friday-Sunday: I think I'm going to make pumpkin pancakes, salads, and some Butterfly Garden's soup. Think I need to eat some collards or maybe some blackeyed peas since it will be new years - or maybe even some cornbread.
Sunday night (or Monday): Lynn's with some friends who are passing through looking at Boyce College.

Looking forward to 2010.

Taste of Cross Creek: The Yearling

This may have been the longest I have ridden in a car just to eat dinner. Fam and I drove up to Alachua County (near Gainesville) to eat at Cross Creek's The Yearling. This restaurant is near Marjorie Rawlings' homestead near Cross Creek and Lake George (I think). It is out in the middle of nowhere.

Here are the positives of the night:
I didn't have to pay (thanks Dad)
Fried green tomatoes
honey mustard sauce
sauteed shrooms and onions for the steak
the hushpuppies (I had 1 1/2)
the juiciness of the steak
the music (best)

Here are some of the negatives:
the price (way over priced for what you get)
how well my steak was cooked (I asked for medium, I got well, no pink)

So, while I am glad I had the experience, I have no need or desire to return.

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

The first time I tasted non-Kraft marshmallows was the first season I worked at Williams-Sonoma for the holidays. I thought they tasted like cardboard. Oh, well.
But, I thought these looked so good, that I decided to give it a go. With the new thermometer I got from the rents for Christmas, it was perfect and easy.

3 pack unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 oz crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

In mixer bowl, combine water and gelatin. Let sit.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, syrup, and salt until sugar is dissolved (over medium heat). Then turn it up to high and let boil till it reaches 240 degrees. Pour in mixing bowl with gelatin. Turn on medium till incorporated with gelatin. Then turn on high for 15 minutes (you may want to lock the bowl in). Pour in extract and combine for about 30 seconds.
To make ready a 9x13 pan, cover the pan with aluminum foil, then sift a good amount of powdered sugar over the entire thing.
Pour in marshmallow mixture (will be sticky and resemble marshmallow fluff). Smooth out the best you can. Top with crushed peppermint candies. Let sit uncovered over night or at least 12 hours.
Cut into 2 inch cubes with a pizza cutter. After cutting, roll sides of cut marshmallows in powdered sugar to keep them from sticking.
Eat them, give them, put them in hot chocolate.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 (almost) in review

Well, 2009 in cooking has been good. If you remember, I tried going through every cookbook - well, I didn't make it. I ended up getting more cookbooks, and just didn't get to them all. You might remember I tried a brief stint at a 90% vegetarian, found that didn't work either. I like meat too much - so does my body.
Here are some of my favorite things I cooked this year:

Homemade Baked Ziti
Baked Christmas Oatmeal
Triple Cranberry Cookies
Asian Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Egg
Seaside Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Vegan Spiced Banana Pancakes
Whole Wheat Apple Cider Couscous
Cranberry Shortbread Bars
Mushroom Turkey Enchiladas
Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits
Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
Best Roast Chicken
Foster's Turkey NC BBQ
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins
Mexibean Bake
Triple Strawberry Cookies
Asparagus, Mushroom, and Citrus Salad
Strawberry Cobbler
Spring Sugar Cookies
Thai Lentil Soup
Chocoholic Cookies
Roasted Vegetables

No, I didn't list all of them - but these are my faves for the year that I have made. Check better on January 1 to see the new goals for 2010.

Homemade Baked Ziti

This is actually one of my most requested meals. I've made it for people over the years and they enjoy it. Tonight, I made it for our family for my birthday (soon) and my sister-in-law's (just passed). I ate it. So good.

1 green pepper
1 yellow onion
olive oil
1 pkg mild italian sausage
1 box penne or ziti
1 large jar of super chunky mushroom spaghetti sauce
chardonnay (optional)
10 oz 1/2 inch cube mozz cheese
8 oz pkg italian cheese blend shredded
Chop pepper and onions, saute in olive oil. Take out of pan. Crumble and cook sausage till mostly done. Add back in the veggies and sauce and wine if you are using it. Simmer.
Cook pasta till al dente. Drain.
Mix all together and add in the cubed cheese.
Pour in a 9x13 pan and sprinkle the italian cheese over the top.
Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes at 425 until the top cheese is slightly browned.
Enjoy with salad and garlic bread.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Greek Christmas Tree Crescent Rolls

My Blog Spark gave me the opportunity to host a giveaway for Pillsbury on my blog. It was fun. Well, as promised, one of the menu items today for the Christmas day dinner table was this Christmas tree made out of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.
It is all gone.

I used Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (just because mom doesn't have a big enough food processor to make my own hummus), red peppers, and parsley. I love hummus - much more than cream cheese. Decided to go this route.

2010 Christmas Menu

Enjoyed a nice Christmas day meal with Granny, Papa, Mom, Dad, Alan, Tywonn, Don, David, and Mai. Food was good. Over quicker than it took us to cook it. Such is life.

Here was the low-down:

Smoked Mullet
Beer-glazed ham (1 bottle wheat beer, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp dry mustard)
Fried Mullet
Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits
Christmas Tree Hummus Appetizer
Roasted Broccoli and Red Peppers
Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
KFC Mock Coleslaw
Deviled Eggs
Hush Puppies
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Onions
Orange Carrot Cake
Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
Lemon Meringue Pie
Tea, Unsweet Tea, Coke, Diet Coke, Beer

Tomorrow, we start cooking again. Still 3 meals to go - then eating out the rest of the trip home!

Baked Christmas Oatmeal

This might be a Christmas tradition. This was very, very yummy. Make it the night before, the first person who gets up in the morning puts in the oven (that was definitely Dad), and then serve it warm with cool whip and/or milk. Yum! Much better when it is cold outside, but can't you just see...sitting in your new pjs, holding a bowl of warm baked oatmeal in your hand, sipping on coffee. Ahhh, sweet!

I found this in a Christmas across the US cookbook a friend let me peruse at work. They make it here. So good. Glad I copied it.

2 cups oats
1 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar (you could actually lower this if you wanted)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 large granny smith apple (unpeeled), diced
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
2 cups water (I will use all water next time)
1 cup ff vanilla yogurt
2 eggs
2 T unsalted butter, melted.

Mix all dry. Stir together vanilla through butter. Combine. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and cover, let sit overnight in fridge.
Turn on oven to 350 and take out oatmeal to come to room temp while oven is preheating. Uncover and bake for 50-60 minutes or until set.
Serves 12-14 (so you get many leftovers). I didn't warm mine up, poured a little milk over it, and topped with cool whip.

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread

I love other food blogs. These help when you finish all the stuff you had on tap to make, you look at your kitchen partner, and say at 830 on Christmas Eve, "I'm in the mood to make something" after you've been baking all day and you aren't going back out to Publix.

I found this on a new food blog that I'll definitely be looking at more in the future.

These were actually really yummy - very Christmasy. Just adjusted it slightly.
2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 C finely peppermint chopped candies
3 oz. dark chocolate chips, melted

Cream all up to chocolate. Press in a greased aluminum foil lined pan and prick with a fork several times. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. Let melt, spread over dough. Pour crushed candies on top of that, spread evenly. Drizzle (with fork) the dark chocolate on top.
Let chill completely before trying to cut into fun shapes or triangles.

Homemade Cocoa Vanilla Frappacino

My sister in law and I basically had the kitchen to ourselves this morning as we cooked away for the noon Christmas meal. And on top of that, I am trying to get more into coffee. It is growing on me. And one of these girlie drinks are definitely more affordable at home than even at my favorite place, Caribou.
We used a Christmas present that I received at the office, my brother's French Press, and Mom's magic bullet.
This recipe makes one, so we doubled it.

½ c. milk (we used 2%)
1/3 c. strong coffee (Christopher Bean Organic coffee, french press style)
2 T. sugar (or 3 Splenda packets) - we used Splenda
1 t. cocoa powder
dash vanilla extract, or caramel flavoring (other optional flavors)
1 ½ c. ice
Put all ingredients except ice in blender and blend until sugar is dissolved. Add ice and blend.

Orange Carrot Cake

My Dad likes carrot cake, I like carrot cake, Papa likes things with orange or other citrus in it. So this new recipe out of Taste of the South magazine was a winner today.

2 cups chopped pecans
2 1/3 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 T orange zest (used a Cara Cara orange from the back yard)
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups fresh grated carrots

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 sticks cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

For cake: mix dry ingredients, then wet, combine. Fold in carrots and nuts.
Bake in greased and floured round cake pans (2) for 30-35 minutes at 350. Let cool completely.
Beat butter and cream cheese till smooth. Add in vanilla, then the sugar. Till smooth.
Layer cakes and frost. Decorate with pecans and orange zest and carrots.

Old Fashioned Pecan Pie

It doesn't matter how you say "pecan" but most people will admit it is a darn good pie. I really liked this one - better than most I've had and definitely better than the one I had last year. As I dished Mom a piece today, a bite of it happened to make it in my mouth. I think this recipe is out of Bon Appetit.

Refrigerated pie crust (with so much else to do in the holiday season, no reason to slave over a homemade dough)
6 T unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange zest (you couldn't really taste this in the pie)
3 eggs
2 cups pecans (chopped or halved)

Have dough thawed but still chilled.
Melt butter over medium heat, stir in sugar until melted. Remove from heat. Add in the rest until eggs and pecan. Lightly beat eggs and combine. Pour nuts into the bottom (pricked with fork) of the dough. Pour mixture over it - slowly, letting it sink down, then pouring more in till all is used (we used a deep dish and it worked well).
Bake for about an hour at 350 on a cookie sheet (to catch any spills) till done (not wobbly at all).
Enjoy with ice cream or cool whip.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Orange Cranberry Coconut Granola

This is a healthy granola recipe - perfect for the winter. It is very yum. I'll be giving it to people this Christmas - then using the rest for the remainder of the winter.

3 cups oats.
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup chpped pecans
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/3 cup orange juice (I used cara cara orange juice from the backyard)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup coconut

Mix first 4 ingredients. Take honey through cinnamon and melt over medium heat until honey is melted. Combine. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet. Stir. Bake another 5 minutes. Stir. Stir in craisins and coconut. Bake another 8-10 minutes or until browned, don't BURN!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Honey Cranberry-Pecan Cornbread (Quick Bread)

I've tried a couple new recipes these week: one turned out good, one was trash worthy. You win some you lose some. Joy the Baker definitely has some winners on her site - you can't go wrong with any of the ones (that I've tried).
Cornmeal with fruit is an acquired taste. I tend to like it - some of my family doesn't. So, maybe they will like this one tomorrow.
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal (or stone ground corn)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/2-3/4 cup chopped pecans (I changed it to pecan from walnuts because that is what I had)

Combine dry. Mix wet together. Combine. Fold in berries and nuts. Spray 4 smaller loaf pans (or 2 large). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done (for smaller pans).

I like the texture - and these would be great warmed up for breakfast with a little bit of maple syrup drizzled on top!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge

Believe it or not - I've never made this before yesterday. It is good stuff. This is definitely what needs to get out of my kitchen (in little gift bags) before I eat it all. So good and addicting, creamy and delicious!
This recipe is from Tina, who has been making it for 20 years - a family recipe. Thank you for sharing the recipe and for the tips on how to make it come out just right (without a candy thermometer!)

5 cups of sugar
1 large can evaporated milk
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 jars marshmallow fluff (7 oz each)

Melt sugar and milk over low heat - add butter, stir until completely melted. Bring to boil for about 10 minutes (I had to raise the heat to about a 6-7) - stirring constantly! :) (You get your arm workout for the day!). When it begins to thicken, remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and marshmallow fluff (who can't like this stuff, I mean, its totally not healthy for you, but so good). Pour into a buttered 10x15 pan with sides. Smooth out. Let chill (in fridge or on counter). Cut into small squares and give away!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Menu Week: Christmas (Dec 21)

Yeah - its that time of year again, the week of Christmas. Fun times ahead this week:
Monday and Tuesday - leftovers trying to clean out the fridge before being gone for 6 days!
Wednesday: pizza, apple slices, and cookies (from a jar mix gift that bonnie and justin gave me) for my ride to the airport. Dinner at Wendy's in Lakeland - right beside a Publix!
Thursday: Sonny's! Can't wait for some St. Louis ribs! And, me, my sister in law, and mom are baking all day
Friday: Christmas baked oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch with family is smoked mullet, christmas tree appetizer with hummus, WW coleslaw, baked mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli with red peppers, Alan's roasted whole onions (yum), black pepper biscuits, pear salad (the one at the top of the blog), carrot cake (Dad's request), lemon meringue pie (for Alan and Papa), and Pecan Pie (just because).
Saturday: Brunch with immediate fam before seeing the Nutcracker with Mom and Ty: egg cuties, roasted fruit salad with panettone croutons, roasted asparagus with lemon, cheddar herb biscuits. Dinner is cooking at home for Ty's and my bday since they are about a month apart: baked ziti, homemade italian breadsticks, apple salad with goat cheese, cherry cheesecake parfaits
Sunday: sweet potato hash with fried egg for breakfast before church in Winter Haven, dinner with immediate fam at the Yearling restaurant in North Florida.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Molasses Maple Ginger Cake (2009.46)

Ok - I've fallen a little behind - just because I don't have anything to make out of these last few cookbooks and I'm making tried and true recipes these last few weeks for the holidays. But, I'll try to squeeze some out here.
This is out of a new cookbook I won at Taste and Tell's blog - Get Cooking is the name of it. Some good recipes, pictures with almost all if not all of them. Great instructions in this cookbook for the novice cook - so if you are just starting out or know someone who is young and getting married with little to no cooking experience - this might be a good choice.

I ran out of molasses so I had to change the ingredients and therefore changed the name too. It was Gingery Gingerbread, but I changed the name. My friend said "I like the bite in it. It is subtle, but then Pow - you get the spice in your throat at the end".

1 stick softened unsalted butter
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 T ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
3 T grated fresh ginger
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

Mix dry, cream wet. Alternate adding the dry with the wet - alternating the buttermilk. Till all combined. Pour into sprayed 9x13 pan and cook in a 350 (325 glass pan) oven for 35-40 minutes.
Let cool. Serve with anything: cool whip, powdered sugar, lemon curd, chocolate ice cream, whatever you fancy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Taste of Louisville: Meridian Cafe

Thanks to Aarica's 3 year old camera phone for these pictures! I didn't grab mine this morning before heading to work!
I will always give a restaurant two tries before I make any final judgment. Well...the first time I went to this little cozy St. Matthews restaurant was over the summer. Actually, the restaurant came to me. We got an order to go. It was cold by the time we ate it and their hummus is just a little different then it ought to be.
Today, Aarica and I went with a gift certificate that my sister in law sent through I'm glad I didn't pay for all of it!
Aarica had the tomato soup - she said she liked her's better.
I ordered the chicken salad - not very mayonnaise-y. Had good veggies in it and nuts - which I like. The bread was a wheat bread toasted - yum (best part). I enjoyed the dill pickle spear very much. So, I had 1/2 the sandwich. I exchanged the chips for the roasted balsamic tomatoes - everyone raves about - eh, not so much. I will puree them in boxed tomato soup for dinner tonight - at least get use out of them.
Aarica ordered "The Alana" - pita, cajun hummus, roasted veggies. The pita was good. Hummus shouldn't be cajun though.
Fave parts: the decor/ambience (even though crowded, not very loud), the dill pickle spear, and the bread.
Not so fave parts: the waitress, the hummus

Pillsbury Christmas Giveaway

Christmas giveaway - does it get any better - free gifts from Pillsbury and My Blog Spark.
I just need your help.
The following two recipes - I have been given crescent roll coupons from Pillsbury - you need to decide which one you would like me to add a "kim davidson" twist to.
Crescent Bacon-Cheese Tartlets

Crescent Holiday Tree

I'll make it, put the recipe and pictures on here, and maybe it will get chosen for Pillsbury's www.
You can play a part - just leave a comment saying which one you would like me to make. I'll tally the vote on Friday, make the recipe while I'm home over Christmas (so I don't eat it all), and then randomly pick a winner. You will get 2 free coupons from Pillsbury (who can't eat more crescent rolls) and 3 pretty white platters (oval, useable year round, stackable). They are great. I loved getting my box today!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Week: Dec 14

Wow - only 2 more weeks left in 2009. I'll probably keep doing the menus next year because they really have helped in grocery planning and not waisting as much food.

Monday - chili for lunch made by Rayann - I brought the dessert (maple coconut bars) and Aarica brought the fab chips of hint of lime tortilla chips and sourdough bread. Dinner was Sarah Foster's Chicken Cacciatore, spaghetti squash, salad (made by Wendy) and maple molasses snack cake
Tuesday - Meridian Cafe with Aarica for lunch. Dinner with be roasted butternut squash salad and tomato soup with Becca.
Wednesday - leftover soup and salad for lunch (brown bagging it) with Liz and salad for dinner probably
Thursday - chicken salad for lunch with veggies and an egg white omelette for dinner
Friday - Fruit and veggies for lunch, larabar, muffin, pbj for dinner with some fruit and veggies - working all day between work and mullins. LONG DAY!
Saturday - a new Meditteranean grille with Sarah (Zaytun I think is how you spell it) and a big salad for dinner so I can eat some popcorn for my Christmas movie marathon!
Sunday - baking some pb fudge (recipe courtesy of Tina) and trying to clean out my fridge so all the leftovers before I go home for Christmas on Wednesday at lunch!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Maple Coconut Blondies

I first started making blondies about a year ago. Why didn't anyone tell me to make them sooner? Well, this is another recipe that I wish I had come up with. I mean, I love maple. I remember one of my roommates my freshman year of college, Becky, lived in maple land (NH) and brought us all maple candy for Christmas presents. Then, the first season I worked at W-S for the holidays, I bought a tin of maple syrup. Its pointless to go back to pancake syrup anymore. Now, I use 365 brand at Whole Foods.
On to the coconut...I have always loved it. Coconut cake, cream pie, macaroons - not much coconut I don't like. The above picture is a friend of mine, Lori, when we were in Asia drinking raw coconut juice - just a bit different than the stuff I baked these with today.
I just had to lick the spoon to know these are going to be great. I got the recipe from Baking Bites www - she also has a new cookbook out if you wanna get a great little Christmas present for the baker in your life.
Enjoy! These are going to the office tomorrow. These are so easy - 1 bowl. less than 5 minutes to oven!

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (really, please do maple fans a favor and don't use Aunt Jemima - save her for your pancakes if you have to)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup ap flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded coconut

Mix all together. Fold in coconut. Bake in greased 8x8 pan at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cut into squares.
Sprinkle with coconut for a festive touch.

12 Days of Baking - Day 12 - Santa Cookies

I don't remember ever setting out a plate of cookies for Santa. But, if I were going to start that tradition - these would be it. I like this recipe just like it is - and it makes a bunch (for Santa's bowl full of jelly)! So, if you have a cookie swap or an office to bake for - these are it. The cranberries, white chocolate chips, and pecans (or walnuts) are just the thing.
Enjoy. And Happy Baking for the holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 11 - Cornflake Wreaths

Second to the last day...This has been fun. This one is definitely a fun one that you can do with kids of all ages! :) My friend, Lorrie, gave me this one. Lorrie is one of my many bosses, but more importantly, she is my friend.

This is one of a very few recipes I received from my Dad’s mother before she was no longer able to cook. She passed away just days before I moved to Louisville for seminary, so things from her are very tied to the current chapter in my life. I adjust the recipe when I make them so that the wreaths are truly green. Mine end up looking more like piles of holly leaves with berries than wreaths. Grandma Francis was a good cook, but not a great baker. This no-bake recipe is an easy one for the busy holiday season, even for those who are not very handy in the kitchen and a great one to get kids involved with.

Christmas Wreaths

¾ stick of butter or margarine
1 bag of marshmallows
½ teas vanilla
½ teas almond extract
1-2 teas green food coloring (or to desired color)
4 C corn flakes
Cinnamon candies (Red Hots)

Melt butter and marshmallows on stove. Once melted, mix in vanilla, almond extract and food coloring. Add corn flakes and coat thoroughly. Dip onto wax paper covered cookie sheets/trays and form into wreaths as desired. Add candies for trim. Let set until firm then enjoy. Yield is based on personal preference for size.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 10 - Biscotti

Lauren and I met through her husband who works at the Seminary. Lauren is a fantabulous cook and mother. We have many conversations about waht recipe we are cooking and what Food Network stars we like.

So when I was thinking about the most favored holiday baking recipe in our family I immediately thought of EVERYONE's favorite recipe: Ricotta Cookies. However my mother has made me solemnly swear to never give that one away! So I chose my other most requested cookie:

Cranberry Almond Biscotti. To this day I still deliver a batch to a few dear families from the first church Heath was on staff at here in Loiusville. Although the traditional biscotti I grew up on in my large Italian family contained some form of anise, these don't so they have much more broad appeal. Everyone always asks for these (including my hubby who is prone to depleting my final product:)

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
3 T unsalted butter melted and cooled
1/4 t almond extract
1 c dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds (OR white chocolate chips- a delicious variation)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl beat the eggs with sugar at medium speed until pale and creamy approx. 3 min. Beat in the butter and almond extract. Pour the egg mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the dried cranberries and almonds (or white cc).
Using slightly floured hands, shape the dough into 3 slightly flattened 10 inch logs on the prepared baking sheet
Bake for thirty min. or until golden. Let the logs cool slightly.
Using the serrated knive slice the logs 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal. Serve This makes about 2 dozen.
That is where I stop! most people will go on to the last step which is to bake them again. Everyone I know LOVES these because they are not hard as rocks like most of the biscotti you buy. Literally no one in my large Italian family double bakes their biscotti...They are SOOO much better this way. But if you want to make them hard...(notice my lackluster endorsement)Arrange them back on the baking sheet cut side up and bake for another 10 min until golden and crisp. Let cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

I look forward to making these. I love biscotti! Thank you Lauren

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

12 Days of Baking - Day 9 - Wintermint Brownies

Tuesday was National Brownie Day. And, in honor of that day - I want to share with you Day 9 of holiday baking - Wintermint Brownies.
I also make these every year. I still have some in my freezer from last year - and they are yummy crumbled into some cool whip or vanilla low-fat ice cream.
I love the look of these - the bright white stripe in the middle because of the York Peppermint Patties. I love the texture - nice and chewy - but deeply chocolate.
Enjoy these - and whatever other brownies you made in honor of National Brownie Day!

Monday, December 07, 2009

12 Days of Baking - Day 8 - Triple Cranberry Cookies

These cookies were hard to begin with, and an amazing result!
The reason they were hard is because I went to three different grocery stores to find whole fresh cranberries. Thank you Whole Foods!
This guy makes amazing oatmeal cookies. My next door neighbor and friend, Sloan, and I made his triple strawberry cookies this summer. For the holidays, the minute I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make them. I will now ALWAYS make these. I love any oatmeal cookie - and these are fabulous!
They get their tartness from three different means of cranberries (and orange juice/zest): whole, cooked, dried. They get their sweetness from vanilla wafers, dark sugar, and turbinado sugar.
You have GOT to try these. They are soft and crunchy and so yummy! Did I say these were good?
The recipe is on the link above - and very easy and details directions - no mess no fail recipe! Just follow it! I got 36 out of these.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 7 - Maple Pancakes with Maple Cranberry Syrup

We all get our recipes from someone. I mean - not often do most of us totally from scratch without ever having something before just create a recipe. There is nothing new under the sun. If we are making spaghetti - it is usually because we have tasted spaghetti before.
My friend, Brandi, who is a great cook, baker, relatively new Mom, pastor's wife, shared this recipe. A lot of times when life is busy you need "semi-homemade stuff". She got these recipes from the former chef here at Southern Seminary. And, the way she used will see...
I love Brandi - and am thankful for her friendship. The above picture was taken at her holiday baking party last December - it was a ton of fun!

These next two recipes are from Chef Pam Price. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you wanted to post them. :) I actually made this for Ruth (my secret sis last year) but used sugar-free syrup since she is diabetic.

Christmas Morning Pancakes (ideas/recipes from Chef Pam Price)

I like to add cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg to my favorite store bought boxed pancake mix then pack it into a mason jar with the recipe for Christmas Morning Pancakes. Sometimes I add a package of country ham, apples and festive holiday cloth napkins.

Recipe for Christmas Pancakes:
Mix pancake batter using water and enough pancake mixture to form a smooth batter the consistency of sour cream. Peel two apples, core and slice into very thin slices. Place griddle or pan on medium heat for two minutes. Place one teaspoon real butter in the pan swirling to cover the surface. Add 6 apple slices in a circle shape. Pour batter over the apples. Lower the heat slightly and cook until bubbles come to the top and the edges appear dry. Flip and cook the other side. Remove to heated platter and keep warm . Repeat to make as many pancakes as desired. Serve with maple cranberry syrup and sliced fried country ham.

Maple Cranberry Syrup (also from Chef Pam)

1-cup maple syrup
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a one-quart saucepan, combine the syrup and cranberry sauce. Heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberry sauce is melted. Stir in the walnuts. Pour into a small decorative jar. Give instructions on a recipe card to serve warm. Store covered in the refrigerator up to four weeks.
*This would also be a great gift for an anniversary, birthday, or hostess gift.

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 6 - Candy Cane Fudge

Ok...still waiting for more recipes, so I'm going with one of mine. I am making it tomorrow night for a dessert party I am going to on Tuesday. So good and definitely right for the holiday!

Oikos Chicken Pineapple Salad

A few weeks ago, I got some coupons for some Stonyfield Organic Oikos Greek Yogurt. Today was the first day I tried some in a recipe. If you a reader of this blog, you know I LOVE chicken salads. Here is another winner, with a great smooth, rich, healthy, tang, taste from the Oikos yogurt.

2 1/2 cups cooked diced chicken
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
scant 1/4 cup scallions (the green part of the green onion)
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup Oikos Greek Plain Yogurt
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 8 oz can pineapple tidbits (well drained)

Mix everything.
To make this even more yummy - you could add some cashews (goes great with pineapple). Serve on greens or in pitas (to go with the Greek Yogurt).
I look forward to trying many new recipes with the Greek Yogurt. The only thing in this yogurt is nonfat organic milk - with live active cultures. And, unlike many other yogurts - this only has 9 sugars (most are at least 19).
Thank you Stonyfield!

Friday, December 04, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 5 - Cappuccino Mocha Punch

I love this girl. This girl has been a true friend to me the past 4+ years. We met at a Shanes concert at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh and then dinner at Red Robin. Never would have dreamed this girl would have so much impact on my cooking, homemaking, and walk with Christ. (Sorry for no picture. Not for lack of, but for blogger being mean to me. I'll try to upload one again!)

Here is a hospitality tip from Rachael:

Hospitality Tip: the true sense of hospitality is the welcoming of strangers. Christmas is the perfect time to minister to neighbors, inviting them over for a cookie swap or a night of watching Christmas specials. Remember that hospitality is not entertaining, it is inviting people into your life to serve them and sacrificially love them with the love of Christ. So this Christmas season remember to listen and be attentive to the needs of those around you. You won't know those needs unless you take the time with them. Be purposeful. Amidst the joy that we celebrate, there are many who are desperate for a Savior. You can be the voice of hope as you share Christ through your love towards them in hospitality. Lord willing there will be more time after Christmas to continue with a gospel centered relationship where your neighbors can see that Christ is not just celebrated one month out of the year but He is your purpose for living each day.

If you like coffee and have a party to host - here you go:

Cappuccino Mocha Punch

Recipe serves 75 (see below for personal use)
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 small jar instant coffee (approx. 1 cup)
3 gallons of milk
3 quarts vanilla ice cream
3 quarts chocolate ice cream

Boil together water, sugar and instant coffee for a few minutes to make coffee syrup. Let cool and refrigerate until ready for use.When ready to use, mix the coffee syrup with milk. Then add the ice cream by scoops.
**For personal you can divide the recipe by ¼. To make an individual serving, combine 1 T coffee syrup, ¾ cup milk, and 1 scoop of each ice cream. You can store the coffee syrup in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

Menu Week: December 7

Well, let the last month of the year commence! And the many holiday parties, dinners out, Christmas eating, celebrating, etc! What a month! I think I figured out that I have 3 days this month when I don't have anything to do but my 8-5! WOW! I will enjoy this month, but also be glad when it is over!

Three main meals this week: chicken pineapple salad, salsa chicken in the crockpot, and Sarah Foster's Green Rice (recipe of the week out of my new cookbook of her's, her 2nd).

Baking this week: Candy Cane Fudge, Oreo Truffles, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, XXX Cranberry Cookies, Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins, Peanut Butter Cream Brownie Trifle, Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

4 Parties this week: 2 desserts, 1 lunch and one dinner (all should be tasty).

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 4 - Cranberry Apple Salad

This girl has provided much wisdom in the last few years of my life (and laughs, and recipes, and talks, and food, and anything else you can think of). I am truly grateful for her. She provides you with a recipe that you can use throughout the holiday season - that's why you always need to keep cranberries on hand (because you can only find them this time of year in the produce section). (This is a picture of the dessert and of Leah and her precious son. Quick story. I visited with Leah and her family the day B was due, but he wasn't going anywhere. He came the next day. I chose this picture because it shows Leah's affinity and closeness with her son, and daughter as well. She loves being a Mom and wife!)

The Cranberry-Apple Salad is a dish unique to my family. It contains chopped cranberries and apples mixed with mini marshmallows and some whipped topping. The end result is a fluffy, beautifully pink concoction unlike anything you have had before. When I was growing up, I was a very picky eater, did not actually eat the salad (my youngest brother ate enough for all of us!), and really never thought I would make it when I was “on my own”. The first year that Nathan and I were in seminary, we could not travel home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I was devastated, and greatly missed my family. Two other couples who were good friends of ours were not traveling, so we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner together. That meal with the Sperdutos and the Russells is one of my fondest memories—we had such a great time! I knew when we discussed sides that I had to make my mom’s Cranberry-Apple Salad, even if I didn’t eat it. Here’s the secret though: as an adult, I made it myself, tried it, and really liked it! And since then, though we still do not travel home for Thanksgiving, I make the Phillips Family Cranberry-Apple Salad for almost every Thanksgiving!

Phillips Family Cranberry-Apple Salad
2 cups cranberries
1 apple, pared and cored
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups Dream Whip (found with Jell-O)
Chop cranberries and apple using a mini chopper or food processor. Stir together cranberries, apples, sugar and mini marshmallows. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, prepare Dream Whip according to package directions. Fold Dream Whip into cranberry mixture. Serve immediately. This salad is a pretty pink color that can only be appreciated in person!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Random Dinner and Loneliness

This contains no recipes - well, maybe I'll put what I had for dinner tonight.
OK - here's dinner: 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 3 tsp pom arils, 4 pecans - all mixed together; plate of baby spinach with ketchup as my dressing; 1/2 kroger breadkfast muesli bread with honey peanut butter. Yes, I don't always cook gourmet things.
I come to a dividing line. I'm trying to think through this - so if any of you care to respond, I welcome the conversation.
Dinner is meant to be shared. Lunch - give or take (most of us work) - we can eat in the rush of everything. But, I long for the day that I have people to eat dinner with. Yes, the loud crunching (remind me not to make anything that makes noise), the slurping of soup (remind me not to make soup), or the complaining of "I don't like ________" (reminder: you can't please everyone all the time, as my Dad used to say). Dinner...I actually enjoyed Thanksgiving meal because we all sat around the table, people enjoyed what I cooked, people were talking, there was conversation. Not so much in my apt. Some days it is very nice to come home to the quiet. Some days - like today - I wish I cooked a nice healthy meal and actually sat down to the table (instead of the chair in my living room), carried on a conversation about "how was your day, honey" or "what did you learn in school".
Dinner and loneliness. I've read many articles through the years that even if you live by yourself, you need to fix a meal, sit down at the table with the table set. I sometimes do that - most of the time I don't. "Maple Street Memories" by the Statler Brothers is my conversation piece tonight (and one of my favorite songs, I rememember singing it in the car when I was younger).
I can see how the elderly lose their appetite - they don't want to eat by themselves. I wish I had that problem - I eat. But, sometimes it is just more interesting when you eat with others.
I like discussing the food with others, I like having a warm body in the house along with me.
And I pair this with the fact that I love living by myself.
Anyway, just thought I would share.
"She's got a hundred dollar wallet made of caribou" - quoatable words by David Wilcox as I listen to "Daddy's Money", staring at my empty black and red bowls, knowing that I have to do Bob's Biggest Loser Boot Camp video before going to small group tonight - in the cold.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

12 Days of Baking - Day 3 - Dark Mint Truffles

Working in seminaries provides one with the opportunity to meet many people - and then know people all over the world. Brian, a friend of mine who now works in Texas, used to work in North Carolina. He is great with chocolates as you'll soon see in these recipes. I wanted to make all of these as soon as I saw the recipes. Holy yum!

Here's a little story from him: (the above picture was taken with another friend of mine: Wendy)
Like most of us, my memories of Christmas are crowded with smells from Grandma’s kitchen. She was a master craftsman in her art and the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve was an ongoing celebration of home-baked sweets including fruit pies, cream pies, cobblers, cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and donuts. Candies, such as fudge and lemon-bars, though faithfully present were relegated to second string when forced to compete with Grandma’s star performers. One year I was intrigued to spot a new-comer among the home-made candies. It was a chocolate of some sort, rough in shape and kept in the refrigerator. Grandma simply called them “frangos”. Lighter in texture than fudge, yet rich and minty, these chocolates soon dominated the “candy” category and subsequent years witnessed the unnoticed departure of the other candies from the menu. As the years progressed, family tastes slowly changed with the times becoming more health conscious. The quantity and variety of Christmas desserts dwindled. Instead of reproducing the entire array of baked desserts, grandma would select a few favorites to highlight from year to year. The minty chocolates, however, had established themselves as a Christmas staple and so, while never center-stage, they became an ongoing Christmas tradition.
After college, I moved to the South and took the recipe with me. I soon discovered, however, that the soft chocolates did not fare well in the warm Southern climate. I modified the recipe slightly by portioning the chocolates onto wax paper, chilling them in the freezer, and then dipping them in melted chocolate chips. This created a “truffle” with a hard chocolate shell and a soft minty center that can remain indefinitely at room temperature and travel to parties. In the years since, it has become my most popular (and requested) party contribution.

Here is the recipe:
Dark Mint Truffles:

1 ½ Cup Powdered Sugar
½ Cup Softened Butter (one stick)
1tsp Vanilla Extract*
1tsp Mint Extract*
2 eggs (whites)
36 oz (3 bags) Dark Chocolate Chips (I prefer Hershey’s Special Dark)
*Note: Do not use artificial flavorings. They contain too much water which will make your chocolate grainy.

Cover two cookie sheets with wax paper and set aside.
Cream sugar and butter, then blend in two egg whites, one at a time, making sure each is fully combined before adding the next. The mixture will resemble cake frosting at this stage. Mix in vanilla and mint extract. Melt one bag of chocolate in a microwave (60 to 90 seconds, be sure to mix well after the first minute). Allow chocolate to cool slightly and then add to mixture. Combine thoroughly (filling will look like cake batter) and spoon onto wax paper (like making small drop cookies). Place in freezer for ten to fifteen minutes to set firmly.
Melt the other two bags of chocolate in a double boiler. Remove fillings from freezer, dip in melted chocolate and return to wax paper. When all the chocolates are dipped, return them to the freezer for another ten to fifteen minutes to allow the chocolate to set. They may then be moved to air-tight containers for storage or served. Allow them to warm to room temperature before serving.
He also has: peanut butter, white raspberry, and english toffee truffles. Let me know if you want any of those recipes.
Thanks Brian. Keep making that chocolate. I know everyone who eats one feels the need to eat the rest of them (and then go run)!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Baking - Day 2 - No-Bakes

This post is brought to by January 4. Why? Because that is the birthday that this girl and I share. We met when I was the dorm manager for the girls' dorm on Southeastern Seminary's campus. Man, that was many years ago.
Recently - she shared this with me on facebook. And, no, its not a baked goodies - but its a yummy, no-bake winner!
I'll let her tell you:
When I was young, I was known for burning everything in the kitchen. I thought you were supposed to scrape off the black on toast! My mom taught me this recipe and it was a perfect fit for me, since it wasn't really something I could burn in the oven!

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cup oats (I use quick oats)
Bring first five ingredients to a boil. Boil between 1 min. and 1 min 20 secs. (if you boil too long, they will be too crumbly and won't stick, if you don't boil long enough, they will be too runny and will never harden)
After that, remove from heat and pour over other two ingredients.
Drop into cookie-size globs. If it seems too runny (didn't boil long enough) you can add more oats to help it harden. ENJOY!

You can find these on almost any Christmas dessert table. So, why not whip up a batch tonight - saves electricity from turning on the oven!

12 Days of December Baking - Day 1 - Buckeyes

So exciting to start December off with baking ideas! :) December is a fun holiday filled months - full of parties, get togethers, visitors, etc - and we all know you need fun, new, wonderful goodies to share!
Take this time to bless others - and not eat everything yourself.
I asked a few of my wonderful friends - who are great bakers as well - to share some of their holiday yummies and stories.
Day 1 is from my suite mate here at work. I love having someone to talk to now in the office - and they are great at photography - so I'm learning from her! She tells a story of some yummy, easy Buckeyes and shares her family's recipe: (this is a picture of her husband Jamie and their dog Zorra).

I'm the buckeye of the family (born in Ohio), so these were always made in my honor (or at least that's what I liked to think). And a story that I always think about is one Christmas my brother decided he'd be funny and put a real buckeye amongst the candy ones. Well, my dad would sit down and pop the candies in his mouth without paying attention. So, without realizing it, he grabbed the real one and popped it in his mouth, and almost broke a tooth on it. Needless to say, my brother never did that again; and I think my dad paid more attention to what he was eating.

1 lb. butter or margarine, melted
2 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 ½ lbs. (10 cups) powdered sugar (see note at bottom)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla

Cream well and shape into small balls. Chill one hour. (Makes about 100 balls.)

12 oz. chocolate chips
¼ lb. paraffin wax
(to make it easier for coating - you can use the dipping chocolate in little containers by Bakers - I live by those things during the holidays - addition by KD)

Melt chips and wax in top of double boiler. Dip balls in melted chocolate with toothpick, leaving a small area. Place on waxed paper to set.
Note: I usually use creamy peanut butter; either works well. Also, I cut the powdered sugar to 2 pounds so they aren’t so dry. Also, to make them not as rich and sweet, use all natural (no sugar added) peanut butter.