Archive for ‘Holidays’

October 31, 2011

Ghosties Cupcakes

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We have been reading the “Three Little Ghosties” book by Pippa Goodhart, this Halloween. It has best illustrations! (by AnnaLaura Cantone"). This is where I got the name for these cute little cupcake treats.

For my daughter’s Halloween Party at school we were assigned a dozen cupcakes. For this recipe I used my Chocolate Cake recipe and Vanilla frosting recipe:

Chocolate Cake

2  cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 package of instant chocolate pudding (only the powder)
1 1/4 c. milk
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks room temperature butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350

Whisk together flour, baking powder, pudding powder and salt. Measure out the milk, set aside.

With an electric mixer in a large bowl combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each to incorporate well before moving on to the next ingredient.

Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating – half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk.

Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter. It makes the perfect size cupcakes. Scoop a heaping scoop of the batter into each cup. Stick one Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle of the batter in each cup.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. (The time will depend on your oven.  Since moving and changing ovens I have had to cook these for 21 minutes otherwise they deflate because they aren’t cooked thoroughly.)

 

Vanilla Buttercream

1/2 cup shortening (used the Crisco stick because it’s easier to measure)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-4 T. whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, beat the shortening and butter together, add the vanilla bean and extract.  Incorporate the sugar gradually – 1c. at a time. Once sugar is incorporated (it will look dry) add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you like. It will be about 2-3T for a medium consistency.

Cover with a wet cloth while not in use, or place in the fridge if you plan on using it much later.

Use a cake decorating bag or a zip lock bag and spoon in the frosting. Cut a big sized corner off the bag. Pipe on the ghosties by holding your bag straight up and down and squeeze some frosting in a spiral motion onto the cupcake. You can also squeeze the frosting out and press down a little then back up and then down again, repeating this action.  

Eyes & Mouth

Melt some of your favorite milk or dark chocolate in the microwave (at 30 second intervals stirring each interval until completely melted) or melt in a double boiler (I use a small pot with a few inches of simmering water, and a metal mixing bowl that is big enough to sit on the pot, not in it).

Allow the chocolate to cool enough to handle.  Pour your chocolate into a zip lock baggie, cut a super small tip off the corner of the bag and pipe on the eyes and mouth. Using dots for the eyes and different shapes for the mouths – oval, sad, circular – filled in solid with chocolate.

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September 7, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

(recipe from Just Get off Your Butt and Bake)

This recipe is a fantastic idea for teacher gifts. My daughter and I made this for her teacher on the first day of Kindergarten. Crispy, sweet, cinnamon-spiced popcorn with a creamy chocolatey swirl is such a perfect snack. Seriously, it almost did not make it to the teacher. Actually I’m pretty glad that we were giving it away because my daughter and I would have eaten it all in minutes. My mom took some home and instead of sharing with my dad and brother, she saved it for herself. Really it is that good.

This would work really well as a Halloween treat for a costume party, or to give away as Fall treats! However, I would eat this at any time of the year and it would make me smile. What will make you smile is that this is very easy to make.

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn

12 cups of Popped Popcorn (1 cup of kernels)

1 cup nuts (optional) – cashews, almonds, peanuts, pecans

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Karo Syrup

a pinch of salt

1 stick or cube of Real Butter

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Almond bark, vanilla chips or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Pop your popcorn – I use my air popper so that there isn’t the added oil from popping in a pan and it cuts down on the hard kernels too. You could even use microwave popcorn, but I’m not sure how buttered microwave popcorn would taste. Remove any kernels.

You will need about 12 cups of popcorn.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted add your brown sugar, Karo Syrup and salt.

Over medium heat melt the butter and sugar (You can do this part in a microwave by cooking in 2 minute intervals and stirring until completely melted).

While the butter and sugar are cooking get the vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda ready. Once the sugar and butter are melted, remove from heat and add these last three ingredients. The caramel will lighten in color and sort of poof up…this is good!

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Pour the caramel over the popcorn in a very large bowl (or a few big bowls if you don’t have one large). Toss the caramel and popcorn until completely coated (oh and you can add nuts at this point too).

Place your pan or pans in a preheated 250 degree oven.

Stir every 5 minutes and rotate pans. The recipe I used said to cook for 20 minutes for crunchy corn, I think it was more like 30-35 minutes.

Remove the popcorn from the oven and lay out on wax paper on the counter to cool. It will get crunchier as it cools.

Now you can melt the white chocolate and drizzle over all the popcorn – as little or as much as you’d like.

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~Enjoy~

Amanda

September 5, 2011

Easy 5-step Baby Back Ribs

RIB FAIRY DUST (Just for those guys out there…)
3T. Kosher Salt
3T black pepper
2T brown sugar
1T paprika
2T garlic powder
1T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Easy Baby Back Ribs

While these ribs do take a couple hours to cook, they are simple and do not require much attention or preparation.

1.  Pull off the membrane from underneath each rack of ribs and cut each rack in half.

2.   Coat the ribs evenly with the spice rub, making sure to get both sides.

(At this point you can place the ribs in a glass baking dish cover the ribs and allow them to sit overnight. Or you can move on to the next step.)

3.  Wrap each rack in foil.

(place one piece of foil on the bottom and one on top. Crunch the sides together, leaving room for any steam to move around in the packet.)

4.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours @ 325 degrees.

(Place the ribs in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet so any drips are not caught by the bottom of your oven)

5.  Once your ribs are done, remove them from the foil.  Finish directly on the grill until both sides are crisp and the rub starts to sizzle.

(If you like barbecue sauce on your ribs, add the sauce during this step. With the grill on med-low, add sauce to the top side of your ribs, close the lid and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Turn and coat the bottom half of your ribs, close the lid and cook a few minutes more. Repeat this step until you have a good layer of caramelized barbecue sauce on your ribs. (2 or 3 times).)

Some people par boil their ribs, but here my opinion why to avoid this method…boiling meat pulls the flavor out of the meat and into the water. Boiling  meat is for making rich Stocks, not to barbecue meat – would you boil a great Ribeye? Remember, tender meat comes from meat that is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, not from the boiling process. Have you ever cooked anything too long in the crock pot and found it was dried out although liquid was in the pot? Yep liquid can dry out meat. It also pulls the flavor from your meat, that is why most roasts call for wine, tomato sauce, or stock to add flavor to the meat while cooking low and slow.

However, If you insist on the boil method, I can attest that ribs do come out tasty, but think how much tastier they could be cooked in their own juices? 

-Enjoy

Amanda

April 25, 2011

Un-Traditional Easter Dinner

Since our family had to postpone Easter dinner until next weekend, I decided to make Braciole for Easter. It’s a dish I attempted and failed at before so it was time for another try.

Braciole is an Italian dish made with steak (sirloin pounded into think strips, or flank steak pounded to about a 1/4’”) stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs, then stewed in a tomato sauce.

Technique: Braising. Braising and stewing begin with searing meats to lock in the moisture and create a good crust on the meat. Another great side effect of Braising is the sauce. Braising uses a small amount of liquid so by the end of the cooking process the sauce has reduced and developed deeper flavors.

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I begin with the tomato sauce since it should simmer for 30-minutes, then I use that time to make the stuffing and prepare the steak.

Tomato Sauce

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion, finely diced

8oz mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

crushed red pepper

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

4-5 basil leaves

salt and pepper

In an oven safe pot saute the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms until they are softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow to cook about 3 minutes.

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Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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After 30 minutes add the torn basil leaves to the tomato mixture and stir.

Steak

1 flank steak

1/2 c bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/4 c parmesan cheese

1/2 bunch of parsley

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper

NOTE: Add other ingredients to the stuffing such as, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, green onion, spinach, mushrooms, etc…

(Next time I am going to try spinach, provolone and sun dried tomatoes, and I won’t process it in the food processor).

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Place all the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s paste-like.

Lay the steak out on a cutting board and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing over the steak, then roll it up starting with the narrow end.

Tie the ends and middle with kitchen twine. Sear the steak on all sides until it is brown, then add it to the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The longer you cook it the more tender the meat.

I served the Braciole with roasted asparagus and basil butter orzo.

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April 23, 2011

Easter Egg Decorating

Here is a great egg decorating idea that I would like to share with you. I got the idea to marble the eggs and using olive oil from Food Network.

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Food coloring (I used the neon colors for these eggs)

1/2 cup boiling water for each color

1 t. vinegar for each color

10-20 drops of food coloring for each color

(Note: we followed the directions on the food coloring box and also mixed colors to make turquoise and raspberry for the marbling)

eggs (however many you want to color)

olive oil

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Color your eggs the base color – you will want your lightest colors to be the “base” color.

Once you have colored all your eggs and they are dry, mix your dark or “marble” color. (This is where we made turquoise and raspberry.

Drizzle just a little olive oil in the color and using tongs or a spoon, break up the oil just a little bit.

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(I’m not sure how well this works for the store bought coloring kits because the dye in those kits doesn’t seem to color the eggs nearly as fast as food coloring)

Roll your egg in the dye-oil mixture and then remove to a rack to dry.

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The oil also gives the eggs a little sheen!

December 26, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

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Merry Christmas everyone! Hope everyone had a Christmas shared with great family and friends, and filled with lots of cheer and great food!

My Christmas was awesome – lots of really great food, time with my wonderful family and cooking! My daughter made out this year with a Leapster AND a Wii from Santa– we spent some time “Just Dancing” and working off some of the effects of our holiday binging, which we’ll need after this recipe.

When we were kids, my mom would make us cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Unbeknownst to her, it became a tradition in my brother’s, and my, mind. A year or two back we didn’t have cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast and my brother was hugely disappointed. Considering I had not ever made homemade cinnamon rolls, now was the perfect time to try it out. Since my daughter was born I have hosted Christmas at my house, this usually includes Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast and lunch. This year we had Christmas Eve dinner (Cuban Braised Beef), breakfast, snacks and the usual Prime Rib Roast with scalloped potatoes, green beans with bacon, and homemade brioche rolls.

The credit to the great cinnamon roll recipe goes to Ree Drummond and her book, The Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook, the recipe is also online at her website http://thepioneerwoman.com/ – a really great website…she’s pretty darn creative. (however I cut her recipe in half – her recipe made 50 rolls! Holy moly I did not need that many).

2 c. whole milk (I used 2% it worked fine)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkt of yeast)
4 cups (plus 1/2 cup extra, separated) All-purpose flour
1 t. (heaping) baking powder
1 t. (scant – just less than 1t.) baking soda
1 T. (heaping) salt
Melted butter (to spread over the dough)
1 c. granulated sugar
Cinnamon to sprinkle generously over the dough

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm (I prefer 100-115° for yeast bread), sprinkle in the package of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, mix together the 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture into the dough together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down. Let the mixture sit at room temperature about 30-minutes before you roll it out).

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour.  Form a rough rectangle with your hands. Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough thin into a rectangle (roughly). Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough and spread to cover all the dough. Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end of the long side, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans. Using a neat trick I have seen in lots of recipes (and because it cut much easier than a knife) I used dental floss. By sliding the floss under the roll, then crossing the floss over the roll and pulling the floss tight cutting all the way through the cinnamon roll. The cut is fast clean and easy. A knife was much more difficult! Any other thin string would work, but floss is all I had. It worked well and did not leave any minty flavor on the dough.

Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. You can adjust your oven temperature if the rolls brown too fast.

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Choose a Frosting:

CREAM CHEESE ICING (pictured)

(adapted from Peter Reihnhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday)

3/4 block of cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. lemon extract

 

Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It will be spreadable. Spread frosting generously all over the cinnamon rolls.

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REGULAR ICING (from Peter Reihnhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday)

16oz. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/8 c. melted butter
1 t. lemon extract or vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients and stir well. The mixture will be thick, but pourable. Spread all frosting/icing over the cinnamon rolls generously – this makes them better. The longer this icing sits the more gooey the rolls become.

This will be our family’s new holiday tradition…

December 23, 2010

T’was a Christmas Cookie Party

This year Linda Marrone invited me to fill in as a judge for her Christmas Cookie Party. I was super excited and felt honored to have my opinion count so much.  Going into this adventure I thought it would be simple – taste cookies and pick my favorites. However, it was not so easily done. The cookies were amazing and all had their own appeal. I spent at least 45 minutes tasting 13 cookies and deciding which was the best, and changed my mind along the way. Taking into consideration taste, texture, the look of the cookie, and how traditional the cookie. My kind side wanted everyone to win because they all put so much work into these cookies and they all were really really good. But I had a job to do, so I got down to business.

Like I said the task was not an easy one, but it sure was fun and yummy! I enjoyed meeting the ladies, they were all so creative and enthusiastic, and you can tell they loved being part of the Christmas Cookie Party and getting together with one another each year. No wonder this is the 30th year Linda has held this party! What fun!

 

Organizing such a party is no small task in itself, but everyone involved brought an appetizer, a white elephant (or used) gift, and everyone makes 15 dozen cookies and some even hand make containers for their cookies. Really a great time is had, the ladies laugh the entire time and really just enjoy themselves.  Holiday cheer is definitely in the air.

Below are some photos of the winners, cookies, containers and other randomness I enjoyed along the way! Thanks everyone you did a FANTASTIC job – all the cookies were great you are all really winners, I’d eat all the cookies (in fact I did).

Meet everyone involved (Yes the baby helped with cookies too):

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Please excuse the photo quality – I was in low light at night…

FIRST PLACE – SWEDISH SNOWBALL COOKIES by Laura Vance and Laurie Oswald for Laurie’s mom’s recipe.

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SECOND PLACE – PECAN EGGNOG ROUNDS by Breana Coons & Lauren Coons.

2nd Place Cookie

THIRD PLACE – LEMON SUGAR COOKIE SNOWFLAKES by Sandy McCleary & Kristin Stokes.

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FOURTH PLACE TIE – MOLASSIS SUGAR COOKIE by Paula Tlachac & VIENNESE ROUNDS by Sheryl Seaman

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These are all the other cookies that were fabulous as well!

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THE CONTAINERS –

I am sorry I did not get a good shot of the third place winner Debbie Coleman’s Santa Head. She put a lot of work into these containers, but my photo didn’t come out sorry!  The container was a wonderful Santa Head with Santa’s beard filled with little bells.

FIRST PLACE – PHOTO COLLAGES (filled with memories over the years of the individuals who participate in the cookie party). by Linda Marrone & Kim Sayre

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SECOND PLACE (also the second place cookie) – ELF BUTTS by Breana and Lauren Coons

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FOURTH PLACE – SNOWMAN MITTENS by Darlene Cobbey and Carol Smith

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These are some of the other containers – homemade and not.

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We were lucky enough to have Christmas carolers from Carson High School choir stop by. I have never had carolers stop by my house and it was such a treat – a really neat Christmas tradition you always see in books and Christmas shows/movies, but in real life – I have to say I was thoroughly impressed and just topped off the evening.

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Here are some random photos of Linda’s holiday decorations around the house. (I just love her house).

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December 19, 2010

Gingerbread House 2010

This is our very first attempt at a homemade Gingerbread house. My daughter wanted to make people, but I wasn’t that ambitious this year – it being my first year and all. So while this house is NOT perfect with crooked windows, bent sides, and short pieces, I’d say this was a relatively successful house.  I definitely have some experience to apply for next year. My mistake was that I forgot to photo copy the template that was given to me, so I freehanded some of the cut outs (that is why we had some crooked and short parts…oops).

Mix the dough and roll it out (according to the recipe below).

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Lay out your templates and cut then pieces out of the dough. The recipe said to roll the dough out on cookie sheets, but I have a tapered rolling pin and it didn’t work well. So I rolled it out and transferred the pices to the sheet – not a great idea!  

Once you roll out your dough use a sharp knife to cut out the templates. We cut out windows and put some crushed life savers in the middle to make “stained glass” windows. It worked very well.

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Bake and cool completely.

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Stained glass windows…cute huh? (check out my uneven bottom – that is what serrated knives are for!)

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Now it’s time to decorate. Advice from my friend Linda (who is a seasoned gingerbread house maker, and the one who provided this recipe) says decorate all panels of your house including the roof and allow the decorations to dry completely so things do not start to slide off when you assemble the house. I think only an hour or so is necessary, the icing (if you use the recipe I will post below) dries pretty fast. We waited overnight, only because by the time we were done decorating it was dinner and bath time…

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After you decorate your house and let it set, comes the tough part. It is time to assemble your house. More advice from Linda – put up the 4 walls and allow those to dry overnight before assembling the roof. This way your structure is solid before adding the weight of the roof and all it’s decorations. You don’t want your house collapsing at this point because you’ve worked very hard up to this point to ruin anything…

 

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For your base I suggest using a piece of cardboard covered in foil. Then you can move your house around if you need. 

Just a note before I explain assembly, I put icing on the bottom of the house while I was assembling to add extra stability. So as you set up your house, add a little icing ot the bottom of each of the walls on the base.

Start assembling with the front or back panel, and one of the side panels. Add icing to the “inside” part of the front or back panel and press the side wall into the icing. Use containers to help hold up your panels as you work and as the icing dries. (see my photos above for holding up the roof…).

Once your 4 walls are up allow the icing to harden over night.

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Once your walls and the roof are assembled you can start creating your scenery…We used ice cream sugar cones for trees and put some icing on them to look like snow.

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At the end I added some powder sugar for “snow” effect. I also saw some fake (non-edible) snow at Pier One that would have been really cute, too.

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Now our happy little crooked Gingerbread house is complete for this year! I am happy with our first homemade house…

 

GINGERBREAD:

These recipes below came from Linda Marrone
6c. all purpose flour
2/3c. shortening
1 ¾c. sugar
1t. vanilla
1 8-oz container sour cream
2 eggs
1T cinnamon
1T ginger
2t. baking powder
1 ¼ t. salt
1t. baking soda

In a large bowl mix shortening sugar, sour cream, vanilla, eggs. With mixer at low speed, beat until well mixed. Whisk together 3 ½ cups flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix into wet ingredients. With hands, knead in remaining 2 ½ cups of flour to make a soft dough. Divide dough and shape into a disk, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is not sticky and is of easy kneading consistency.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll dough on greased and floured cookie sheet. Cut out patterns.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 – 18 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

ORNAMENTAL ICING:

1 16oz. package confectioner’s sugar
½t. cream of tartar
3 egg whites at room temperature
½t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. With mixer, blend until smooth, then beat at high speed until very stiff.

Keep the icing covered as it dries quickly. (3 cups).

 

DECORATIONS (ideas create your own)

You can use a variety of items for decorating the house.

For the roof you can use vanilla wafers, necco wafers. Life savers for wreaths. Ice cream sugar cones for trees. Cinnamon candies, peppermint candies, candy canes, gum drops, M&Ms, rock candy, runts, and any other creative ideas you come up with. You can also opt to get the gingerbread house candy assortment from Wilton or King Arthur Flour or from a craft store.

 

 

December 14, 2010

Classic Bread Stuffing

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While Thanksgiving has come and gone, I still wanted to share this recipe, but I didn’t get the chance until now. This recipe is the one my mom always used, and she either got it from that 1960’s edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook, which is falling apart, or it’s the same recipe my grandma used to make (maybe both).

I am not sure about you, but when Thanksgiving comes around and I think Stuffing, I do not think about all those versions out there with nuts and meats and fruits. I think of plain ol’ classic bread stuffing with onions, carrots, celery and poultry seasonings. Plain and simple, but it is what my family and I like the best. Don’t get me wrong I like the other stuffing out there, but when it comes to Thanksgiving this is the only recipe I use.

1-2 loaves of bread (sourdough or French – I use a mix, the sourdough alone gets too tangy for me)
3T. poultry seasoning
1 large white onion
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1/2 stick of butter
salt and pepper
6 cups of chicken broth

  1. Cube or tear the bread, sprinkle 1T of poultry seasoning over the bread and allow the bread to dry out a day or two – tossing occasionally (so all pieces dry out).
  2. Dice the onion, celery and carrots (mirepoix).
  3. Melt butter in a large pan. Over medium heat, saute the veggies until the carrots are soft and the onion is translucent. Add salt and pepper and 1T poultry seasoning.
  4. Toss the mirepoix with the bread in a large bowl.
  5. Add remaining 1T of poultry seasoning to the broth.  Add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time to the stuffing (stirring between each addition). Continue doing this until the bread is sticky.
  6. Place in a large baking dish and bake 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Notes:

Bread – I use the loaves from the bakery, if the loaves of bread are large I use about 1 1/2 loaves.

Store bought “Poultry Seasoning” is a mixture of sage, thyme, marjoram, black pepper, and nutmeg (I do not know the ratios – McCormick’s doesn’t give that  secret out.

December 6, 2010

Skiba Kolachi

Kolachi w/Nut Filling

 

When I think about food this time of year my mind immediately thinks of baked goods. Thanksgiving it’s about the savory foods, but this time of year is about treats and baking. Which if you know me, you would know I am fairly new to baking, but I’m beginning to really like it more than I ever thought I would.  My favorite is baking homemade breads. Breads can be challenging, but there is nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when eating warm fresh bread right out of the oven, that you worked on with your own two hands.  Baking with yeast can be intimidating and can be somewhat of a process, waiting around for dough to rise, then rest, then sequences of folding or kneading, and then another rise and finally baking. Then hopefully it turns out! Right?

Last year I was on a mission to learn how to make homemade bread. My dad knew this so for Christmas he gave me a really cool oven bread stone and several bread books he uses (my Dad likes to cook and bake as much as myself). One of the books was by Peter Reinhart, called Artisan Breads Every Day. That January, Peter Reinhart ended up in Reno teaching a bread class. Failing horribly at his Babka recipe, I decided to jump on the opportunity to attend his class to learn a little more. Before taking this class the whole concept of baking and having to abide by the rules was intimidating, see I cook to my own rules and make up and alter recipes comfortably – except when it comes to baking! So a few things I learned from that class were 1) baking is not as strict as I once believed it to be, and 2) even Peter Reinhart deviates from his own recipe directions. As for the Babka Peter ended up having to lower the oven temperature to cook the bread through without burning the outside (my Aha! moment, this is where I went wrong). There was a lot I learned from this class I could share with you, but this article would run on for days so for now I give you this recipe for Kolachi. It is one of the simplest yeast doughs I have made.  Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned baker you will enjoy how simple it is to make Kolachi dough.  I even made this recipe all by hand – no stand mixer (which is rare for me). 

Kolachi is of Slovak origin and this particular recipe has been passed down through my family (from Croatia). Two of my fondest holiday treat memories are ones that my Grandma Skiba made, Kolachi and clothespin cookies.  These two treats are tastes that remind me of Christmas and have become staples to my holidays just like the Christmas tree.  Grandma Skiba was a seamstress so in addition to Kolachi and clothespin cookies I remember all the hand made gifts she made for me. My favorite is a stocking that is completely hand embroidered from top to bottom with my name on it. I hang it up each year to remember her by. Several years ago my Aunt in Kansas began making Kolachi and clothespin cookies and sends a package to me, which I selfishly hide away and eat when my daughter is not looking. The first time my Aunt sent me the package I had not tasted either of these treats in years, but once I tasted them you know how some things just trigger wonderful memories from your childhood – yea, a nostalgic experience! Since Kolachi is not a very well known recipe and because I enjoy it so much I wanted to share this with you.  I hope you enjoy – from my family to yours!

SKIBA KOLACHI

Dough
1 cup milk
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large cake yeast (fresh!), soften in warm milk (or 3 pkgs of dry yeast)
3 eggs, beaten
5 cups flour

  1. Heat the milk to a near boil stirring constantly, remove the milk from the heat and stir in the butter, sugar and salt stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Cool to warm (80-90°F). (Remember anything over 140°F will kill the active yeast).
  2. Whisk in the yeast, then let sit while you get the flour ready and beat the eggs.

 3.   Add eggs and flour, mix well with a wooden spoon.

 

4.   Knead the dough lightly and form into a ball.

5.   Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it doubled in size (about an hour). 

6.   Punch down (isn’t yeast dough therapeutic) and divide in 7 or 8 balls about 6oz each.

7.   Roll into rectangles.

8.   Spread nut filling or date nut mixture and roll up jelly roll style crimping the ends and slightly tucking them under to keep the filling from oozing out.  (3 rolls to a pan).  Your rolls will be about 3 inches wide and 7-10 inches long

9.   Prick with fork 2” apart.  Let rise for 30min – 1 hour.  Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until brown. 

  Recipe Notes: If dough is too soft, knead in a little flour. 
You can use this dough to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or bread. (I have not yet tried either of these uses).

FILLINGS

Nut mixture (Pictured)
2 lbs shelled nuts ground. (nuts to be ground finely or they will poke through the dough).
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups milk (add a little at a time)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla.

  1. Grind nuts until coarsely ground, add the sugar and grind until the mixture is finely ground.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, and milk, adding the milk a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  3. Cook on low heat to combine, then cool before spreading on dough.

Date & Nut Mixture
Small package of dates
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup hot water
2tsp. vanilla
1 lb. ground nuts

  1. Mix dates, sugar, flour, and water and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla
  3. Mash the dates with a potato masher.
  4. Add 1 pound ground nuts, cool before spreading on dough.

Notes: If mixture is too thick, add a little water.

Slice into 1” pieces and serve. You can wrap the loaves in press ‘n seal or plastic wrap to keep. Keep stored at room temperature.

Makes 7-8 loaves.