Tuesday, December 19, 2006

C is for Cookie

I still can't compete with AR's holiday baking bonanza, but I'm working on it!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wedding Cookies / Walnut Balls

The Christmas baking has begun!

I saw a recipe for "wedding cookies" on Mommy Cooks, and it looked similar to the walnut balls I always look forward to at Christmas time.

Click Here for Printable Version

Wedding Cookies / Walnut Balls

1 ½ cups butter or margarine, unsalted
¾ cup confectioners' sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups almonds, finely ground (I used walnuts)
1 tablespoon + plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
confectioners sugar (extra)

- Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C).

- Cream butter or margarine in a bowl, gradually add confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat until light and fluffy.

- Add almonds and vanilla.

- Blend in flour gradually and mix well.

- Shape into balls using about 1 teaspoon for each cookie.

- Place on ungreased cookie sheets, and bake for 15 minutes. Do not brown.

- Cool slightly, then roll in the extra confectioners' sugar.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ravioli-Pierogi Hybrid

My last kitchen adventure started as a batch of cheese ravioli. Then I saw two lonely links of italian sausage and some mashed potatoes in the fridge. Next thing I know I've made a batch of pasta wrapped sausage, potato, & cheese with a little bit of minced onion and grated carrot... sort of a cross between a ravioli and a pierogi. I know it sounds like a strange combo, but it was pretty good - honest!

Click Here for Printable Version

After making ravioli, freeze solid, and store in ziplock bags. To serve, boil for 6-7 minutes and then toss with butter, salt & pepper.

2 links Italian sausage
½ onion, minced
1 small carrot, grated
1½ cups mashed potatoes
5 oz ricotta cheese
½ oz romano cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon salt

- Remove the casings from the sausages and crumble the meat into a skillet. Cook for a few minutes and then add onion and carrot, stirring, until the sausage meat has browned and the onion is golden.

- Place sausage mixture into food processor and pulse a few times. Add mashed potatoes and pulse a few more times to combine. Remove to bowl.

- Stir in ricotta, romano, and salt. Mix well and taste to check seasoning.

2 cups flour
1 egg
1-teaspoon salt
¼ cup water (+ more as needed)

- Mound flour in a bowl or on a large work surface.

- Form a well in the mound and add the eggs, salt and water.

- Begin mixing with the fingers of one hand while using the other hand to push flour from the edges of the well into the egg mixture.

- Continue mixing with one hand taking more and more flour from the interior of the well as you go and keeping the walls of the well intact with the other hand. At one point, the dough will be intact enough to fold the well over the dough so that you can continue mixing.

- Form the dough into a ball and knead for 5 minutes or longer until the dough is smooth and feels silky.

- Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

- Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to rest for about 15 minutes before rolling.

Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies

I pulled out the cookie cookbook I got last year for Christmas and bookmarked a few to try. I'm not sure how many I will get to, but here is the first experiment - Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies. These are thin and crispy cookies that are sandwiched together with melted chocolate.

Click Here for Printable Version

Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies
Courtesy of The Cookie Bible

2/3 cup butter
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

MELT butter in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Drop by level teaspoons, about 3 inches apart, onto foil-lined baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula.

BAKE in preheated 375° F. oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks. Peel foil from cookies.

MICROWAVE morsels in medium, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Spread thin layer of melted chocolate onto flat side of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches.

Makes 42 sandwich cookies

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Roast Beef

One recipe from college we will never give up... hot roast beef sandwiches.

Italian roll + thinkly sliced deli roast beef + american cheese + cheap brown gravy + lots of black pepper ... put sandwich together, throw in the oven for a few minutes to heat up, and then broil to toast everything. YUM!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hoisin BBQ Chicken

The temperatures are finally back to normal, so I didn't feel too bad about sending Craig outside to grill some chicken. I remembered I had an open jar of hoisin sauce in the fridge, so I decided to put something together using it (to be honest, I have no clue how long its been in there). It turned out pretty good!!

Click Here for Printable Version

Ingredients :
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Dry Rub :
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Garlic powder
1/4 Tsp Ground ginger
1/4 Tsp Black pepper
1/8 Tsp Five spice powder
Glaze :
2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp Honey
½ Tbsp Rice wine vinegar
½ tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Cold water

- Combine the salt, garlic powder, ground ginger, black pepper, five- spice powder and rub evenly on both sides of chicken.

- Combine the hoisin sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water and stir until smooth. Add the cornstarch solution to the hoisin sauce, whisking for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.

- Grill the chicken, brushing frequently with hoisin glaze, until the juices run clear.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Chili Sauce for Enchiladas

On Mom & Dad's last adventure, they brought us back a variety of dried chilis. Tonight I decided to break out a bag and make a homemade chili sauce for a chicken enchilada dinner.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

12 long red chiles (dried)
2½ cups water
½ onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp. flour

First Prepare the Chili Pods:
- Wearing gloves, take dry chili pods and rinse them in warm water. Remove the stems and some seeds. Place the cleaned chiles in a saucepan, add water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and cover pot to allow the chilis to steam for another 10 minutes.

- Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until a smooth puree is obtained or use an immersion blender as shown.

- Strain the puree through a sieve or colander to remove chopped bits of skin and any remaining seeds.

- Now you have a straight chili puree. You could probably use this as is, but I decided to add a little more flavor to it.

- Place oil in a saucepan and sauté onion. When transparent, lower heat, add garlic and sauté for one minute.
- Add flour and mix well.
- Add chile puree and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add water to thin if necessary and salt to taste.
- Simmer 10 minutes.

Earlier I boiled and shredded a few chicken breasts and then tossed it into the sauce to simmer away for a bit.

Tasting Note:
To me this wound up tasting just like chicken paprikash. Add a little cream or sour cream and it would be chicken paprikash.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Marinated Beef Stew

We've been eating turkey for days, so I thought some beef was in order for dinner. I decided to make beef stew using some of the ingredients I still had out from Thanksgiving - like cognac and allspice berries and serving it over left over mashed potatoes instead of noodles.

Click Here for printable verson

Step One: Marinate the Beef
1.5 pounds London broil cut into cubes
1 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
¼ cup cognac
2 bay leaves
8 cloves garlic, smashed
10 whole peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 onion, sliced
5 whole allspice berries (optional)

- Combine all the ingredients in a large ziploc bag and refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Step Two: Make the Stew
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chunked
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
½ cups dry red wine
1 tsp dried thyme
Additional beef broth
2 Tbsp Corn starch (optional)

- Strain the marinade from the meat, reserving all the liquid, but discarding everything else. Keep the marinade.

- Melt the butter into the olive oil in a large pot. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and then coat with flour. Sear the pieces of beef until well browned on all sides, in batches if needed, and remove all meat to a plate.

- Add more olive oil to the pan if needed and sauté the onions, carrots and celery until almost translucent. Deglaze the pan by pouring in about 1 cup of the reserved marinade and ½ cup red wine and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in the rest of the marinade, browned beef, and thyme into the pot and bring it to a simmer. Simmer, covered, on low heat for about 2 hours (adding broth if necessary).

- If you prefer a thicker stew, combine 2 Tbsp corn starch with 2 Tbsp water until well combined. Add to the pot and stir until thickened.

Can you believe I forgot to take a photo of the finish product?!