M & M Cookies – the best ever.

Okay – best M & M cookies ever. My mom always made these for Christmas, I am not sure why, but I tend to make them year round. I guess it just one of those things I make to make the Boy happy at anytime of the year – and, yes, it really does seem to work. I think I need picture of him eating them, but do not expect he will allow that at all.

D&D_20831 cup Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cups M & M’s, plain or peanut, but no – do not do peanut – just saying

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together Crisco and both sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix to combine. Add vanilla. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 2 batches, scraping down the mixing bowl as needed. Add M & M’s and stir to combine.  Use a #30 disher to scoop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until golden – turning half way through.

D&D_iPhone_image6I am not sure what else there is to say about this recipe that I have not said before. I keep Crisco in the fridge just for this recipe because I love it so much. Maybe it is just a reminder of my mom, but at the same time it is a really good cookie recipe too.

I am guessing it is a bit of both. Yep, it is.

 

Get it Right – my favorite kitchen company.

Several years ago I saw a New York Times posting on great kitchen things to give for Christmas. The one that caught my eye was Get it Right spatulas. I had pretty much your every day crappy spatulas at the time – you know – too big, stained easily, couldn’t put in the dishwasher because of wood handles, etc. and so these were really intriguing. They were pharma grade silicon, all one piece (no wood handles), in pretty colors and I had finally found an ultimate spatula that fit my small hands.* So I ordered a couple. And then a couple more. And then a few more. Shipping was free if you spent a minimal amount – no brainer. I really do need to get the bacon spatula if no other reason than just to say I have a bacon-colored spatula. Someone has a sense of humor and I appreciate it.

When I am in a baking mood, I can really go through spatulas and the GIR spatulas were dish washer safe – hell – they were safe up to 464 degrees F. I bought colors to go with my kitchen and then with my mood – first it was lemon yellow, and lime green, and orange – all my favorite colors and my favorite citrus. Then when winter turned bleak I ordered grey and black. Finally when spring started to come around again, a robin’s egg blue.

Well, this past year Get it Right had a kickstarter for there newest venture – a ladle and a spoonula – a cross between spoon and spatula – so I signed up. I have never been disappointed in anything from them and once again, I went the citrus route – orange and green. This was my Christmas present to me. And I know I made a good deal of it and I do love supporting a company that I feel like I’ve been with from the beginning. To be a bit of a dorky food geek – this is my football team. dd_1743

The coolest thing is that I have recently seen America’s Test Kitchen endorse them and use their spatulas in there show – how about that.  Get It Right has lots of other things too, but these are just my favorites. Please check them out – you will be really happy you did.

*This was important for me. I really have small hands and some spatulas are just too difficult to work with.

Sausage & Eggs

When I was young I had all kinds of allergies. Lord knows that is the truth. I had to go through food allergy testing to see what I was allergic to after my fish incident that sent me into anaphylactic shock at 5 years-old after dinner one night – lips turn blue and throat closed up. So I had to be tested to see what other things I was allergic to. 

Mostly just trees, grass, mold, dust mites, dogs, cats, air in general, but eggs seemed to be a problem too. So my mother never really feed me eggs. Nor did I get the MMR shots as a kid, nor did I get flu shots – No vaccine built in an egg. I did finally get the MMR to go to university, had to – they do not let you in otherwise, but by then I was about 25 then.

But no matter what, the only time growing up that I had eggs was this non-recipe recipe. And I guess that is why this is the only time I eat them now.

It is one of my favorite things, um, ever. 

Basically, you cook a pound of sausage in a skillet and then scramble up a few (4 or 5) eggs and then cook them in the grease left by the sausage. This, to me, is pretty much heaven on earth. My mom made this for us for dinner – not breakfast. I don’t think she used hot sausage, but I always use hot sausage for any recipe that calls for breakfast sausage. In my head there is no other kind. Don’t get me started on sage sausage (blech) or lord help us, maple sausage (I love maple syrup w/sausage, but maple flavor in sausage – that is just too strange to be believed).dd_2016-12-25-14-13-50

I am pretty sure I just told you how to make this. It is quick, easy, and amazingly good. My mom had good handle – a very good handle –  on what was good. And this is good in spades.

It is a favorite Christmas breakfast (not dinner) for us – or maybe just me. Well – sometimes you just want what you want and everyone else has to go along with plan. I am pretty sure no one complained.

2015 – Parmesan Shortbread – Nigella
2015 – Fusilli with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan Cream

Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

It just would not be Christmas morning without the ubiquitous sausage balls. I love these and eat them from Christmas through January. And then I’m done. I feel like if I made them any other time of year they just would not be special. That may be stupid, but it is how I feel.

My mom made the bisquick version and I did the same for a long time. But honestly, that was the only time I used bisquick and I would end up throwing it out at a certain point between the holidays. Seemed wasteful so when I came upon this Cook’s Country recipe, I knew I had what I needed. This is no more complicated than the bisquick version either. Dead simple.

So once again, one of my favorite Christmas treats, for breakfast, of course. With grape jelly, that goes without saying. Fred always liked mustard with his, but I eat sausage balls like I eat sausage biscuits with grape jelly. I find that I am not the only person to do that and that makes me less like a strange one. I get that mustard works, but I love the sweet with the hot sausage. Then again, I also like maple syrup with hot sausage and that does not make a lot of sense, unless you are me.dd_1705

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs sharp cheddar, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

 

 

 

Christmas Sugar Cookies 

So I treated myself with two new cookie cutters this year – an intricate snowflake and a Moravian star. The company is Salem Candle Works and the cookie cutters are made in North Carolina in the Moravian area of the state. I wish I had tried to do more things in the state when we live there, but once again, kind of like England, I missed opportunities. That said this is always my favorite sugar cookies – because they are stupidly good. They make me happy and I have been making this recipe since 2002. A Food Network recipe that really works and, honestly, is dead simple.dd_1745

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Sift in flour, a cup at a time. Blend until just mixed. Pour  onto a surface and mix til it just comes together. Press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 – 4 hours or up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to about an 1/8 inch and cut with cookie cutters. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the pan half way through. Let rest on baking sheet for a minute and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Dec 2002 – best sugar cookies ever

Jan 2003 – “for cast boy” – bake on parchment not on silpat. Used granulated sugar – very pretty.

24 Dec 2003 – best cookies, took to Samantha’s for Christmas Eve – 8 minutes.

24 December 2004 -vvg as always

24 December 2006

28 January 2014

30 December 2016 – 8 minutes with awesome new cookie cutters.

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Blondies

I think my favorite kind of recipe is one where I have all the ingredients on hand – no need to go to the grocery store. It also helps if it something that, in general I like, but made a little better because of a twist. I think that definition suits this recipe exactly. I had pretzels from a non-starter recipe for, well, something. I cannot remember, but I’m sure it was a good idea at the time. And there we are. This was my Friday night baking. I only do that if I have had a good week – and – have everything on hand. This was so not a disappointment. It has gone over well with everyone I’ve shared it with.

dd_1675

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup  brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
12 ozs semi sweet chocolate chips (1 bag) Ghiradelli
1 1/2 cup chopped pretzels

Line a 9 x 13 inch metal pan with parchment to overhang the long sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Over waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together both sugars and butter until light. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients. Stir in chips and pretzels.

Spread batter in baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Run a plastic knife around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. Then make into squares.

I made these for The Boy – we are just going to call it a Friday night special –  and I really loved them and The Boy did too. He is a huge fan of the blondies. But so am I.

The recipe says they can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks. They will not last that long.

Thank you Food & Wine – even though your website is more annoying than I had any idea of. Really – rethink your advertising. Left your site more often than stayed. I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

Toffee

I first started making toffee when I was pregnant with the Boy – and that is a long time ago. My favorite candy to make in winter, basically the only time we can do it here, is my grandmother Daisy’s Vanilla Taffy. That recipe though required the cooperation of mother nature in the form of really really low humidity. So far, this December that has been few and far between, so I satisfy my candy making desires by making toffee. This is a new recipe to me, but, in the grand scheme of things, I think it turned out very well. A few notes – you must have a candy thermometer. The old methods of figuring if you have heated your sugar enough may have worked 70 years ago, but in this day, that just seems a recipe for a disaster. Buy the damn candy thermometer – they are not that expensive. Or if you have a good digital instant read thermometer, those work too. I finally bit the bullet and got a Thermapen this year. I love it. It was probably last year’s model, but it is nothing short of amazing. And yes, it really works for candy too. dd_1692

So here are the details:

1 cup chopped pecans, or more if that works for you – Renfroes Pecans
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs corn syrup

1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 12 oz bag of Ghirandelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a skillet, dry roast the pecans until they become fragrant. Do not wander away or they will burn, it is inevitable. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle half the pecans on the baking sheet forming a single layer. Reserve the rest for the top of the toffee.

Put the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Clip the candy thermometer to the pan, but do not let it touch the bottom of the pot – that will mess up your reading. Heat mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted. Continue to cook, stirring occasional, until the sugar has melted. The toffee is ready when it reaches 295 – 305 degrees F.* This make take 15 minutes or so.

Pour the toffee over the pecans and spread evenly with a heatproof (read: Get It Right) spatula and tap the pan to get any bubbles out.

Let the toffee cool for a couple of minutes and the spread the chips evenly over the surface. Wait 3 minutes, until chocolate looks slightly melted and use and offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee. Sprinkle with remaining pecans and press them lightly into the surface.

Let cool at room temperature for at least an hour and put in the fridge overnight to cool completely. Once cooled, pull off the foil and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Can be kept there for three months, but do not expect it will be.

*This is when my OCD kicks in and I pretty much hover over the pot and stir the whole time. Well, off and on anyway.

Source: Simply Recipes