It’s Groundhog Day, Again …

The comma placement in this phrase is so. very. important. People really underestimate the importance of the comma.  (Eats Shoots and Leaves – anyone??)

D&D_GroundhogDay.gifI just cannot help myself, I love this movie. I saw it in the movie theater in 1993 when it was released and I was rather on the very pregnant side. I have never been a fan of going to the movie theatre. Too many people (ugh, people) and noise, and icky butter popcorn smell. Nope, not my thing.

I was a little shocked to find out that this is the 25th anniversary of the movie, but … duh, the Boy will be 25 this year too. Lord help me.

I do watch this movie every year, just like I watch the Grinch every Christmas. It is a tradition and while we really don’t have any six extra weeks of winter, um, every, it is still fun to get a sense of what the poor yankees have to deal with.

I will say – we are so very not equipped to deal with any real winter weather in any way. We had to close down streets, I-10, and especially bridges just a couple of weeks ago for ice – again. First time since 2014. So much for global warming. None of this makes sense to me.

That said, Phil has no bearing on our winter at all, but the movie is just so fun and I just can’t help myself. In an odd way, all the strangeness of the movie works and the funny little aside is that the Boy’s middle name is based on one of the actors. Not spelled the same way, but the inspiration was there because he was funny. Nope not Bill Murray. Or Andie McDowell either.

Spinach Dip

I did not make spinach dip this year for Thanksgiving since it was just a family meal and no need for any more leftovers than we already had, so I made this for Christmas Eve. Because for the Boy this is a requirement. You know when he runs out of Hawaiian rolls, he will use regular sandwich bread and make a sandwich out of this.

Not sure how I feel about that, but now that I am thinking on it. This might make a base for a pretty good grilled cheese (w/some cheddar or something) sandwich on some crusty Italian bread from the good old Publix. Might need to give that some more thought and surprise the Boy with it.

D&D_14958 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, drained and all the liquid pressed out
1 can water chestnuts, minced*
King’s Hawaiian Rolls

Mix together cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add vegetable soup mix, and mix to combine thoroughly. No, I mean it. This is important.
Add spinach and water chestnuts and mix. Refrigerate overnight.
Let sit at room temperature for about an hour or so before serving. You do not want it to be ice cold – not good eats. Serve with Hawaiian rolls. Sliced horizontally and then vertically, so you get 4 pieces of Hawaiian bread from each roll.

Serve and make a total pig of yourself. It is just inevitable.

*I think you can get minced water chestnuts at the store, but I like sliced and then I mince them myself. I am not sure the Boy knows they are in there, but …. we’ll just keep quiet about it then, won’t we.

There is nothing terribly special about this, but it is another of those traditions that started back in my trouble youth, as Jimmy Buffet would say – read: early 20s. Another recipe that my mom let me add to the Christmas eve tradition and it just stuck. Nothing wrong with it being vegetarian and I do not do much mayo or any sour cream – the original recipe was overloaded with it. Again my friend Marie is the one that said, put the cream cheese it – have been doing it ever since (like the late 80s – oh, lord).   I added the Hawaiian rolls a few years later and that really works well.

That said, any holiday is better with a great dip. Or two, or ten.

Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

New in the Christmas Eve cookie/treat rotation – salted caramel snicks. It is basically a thumbprint cookie and you fill the little divot with a home made caramel sauce. Once again, I made the dough, refrigerated it, baked the cookies a couple of days later, again stored in the fridge and made the caramel sauce a day later. Worked out pretty good. Before I went forward with the caramel, I had the Boy test the plain snick and he really like it.

D&D_2523This was really pretty easy to do and when you sort of divide the labour over a couple of days, it is even more so. I like working like this so I can bake/prep a little bit after work each day – gives me some fun without being too terribly stressful. And thinking ahead when baking is always a good thing.

Snickerdoodle Dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
12 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Salted Caramel Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Make the snickerdoodle cookies: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar and kosher salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined. Whisk 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, vanilla and egg together in a large bowl until well combined. Pour in the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until the dough just combines.

Stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, portion and roll the dough into 30 (1-inch) balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar to coat, and then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the balls 2 inches apart. Using the end of a wooden spoon or your index finger, press each dough ball in the center to create a deep divot. Refrigerate the dough balls on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until light golden brown on the bottom, about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the salted caramel filling: Pour the sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it turns liquid and deep amber brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until smooth. Add the cream and kosher salt and stir until incorporated. Fill the divot in each cookie with the hot caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Let the caramel cool for 30 minutes to set before serving. [I just need to make this again to just eat w/a spoon.]

21 December 2017

Source: Ree Drummond

Christmas Sugar Cookies

These cookies are required for Christmas. These are also forgiving and amazingly good. They are crisp and believe it or not, not that sweet. I use them many times a year. You can make ahead and divide dough into pieces to bake a little at a time.

D&D_25491 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer,  cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Sift flour into butter mixture, 1 cup at a time until just combined. Dump out onto plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Cover with plastic and chill 3 to 4 hours.*

Roll out dough until 1/4 inch and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Brush and sprinkle with colored sugars. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Remove cookies to a rack to cool completely.

December 2002 – best sugar cookies ever
January 2003 – bake on parchment, spilled sugar comes off easier than a Silpat – for cast boy – granulated sugar is pretty too.
24 December 2003 – 8 minutes, to D&S for Christmas Eve
24 December 2004 – vvg as always
24 December 2006
December 2007
December 2008
February 2012 – Mardi Gras
28 January 2014
19 January 2016 – Mardi Gras practice

30 December 2016 – new Moravian cookie cutters

22 December 2017 – made dough; 23 December baked. Made a few St Pat’s day too.

*Or overnight. This dough keeps pretty damn well for a few days as long as it is properly wrapped.

Pecan Pie – necessary for Thanksgiving

In my family, you always got what you wanted for your birthday meal. That included dessert. In my case it was tacos with corn tortillas and all the fixing and then … guess it, and it makes to no sense at all – pecan pie. I think I might have been a very strange person when you get right down to it. Yeah, I was, and still am, strange. But at this point in life I really do not care anymore.

D&D_2326I have made the recipe for at least five years and possibly more, but I like the idea of making the custard on the stovetop before filling the crust. It is a little bit of extra security in making a pie. The custard is half way there and then you bake – lovely when it is all said and done. And there is the other requirement – the Boy always wants this for Thanksgiving and to be honest, I cannot blame him, because I do too.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted – Renfroes
1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in the pie plate for 30 minutes*

Adjust oven rack to second-lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a sauce pan, heat syrup, brown sugar, cream, and molasses oven medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and salt and then whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.

Take pie pan out of the fridge and put the pecans in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and place in oven, but immediately reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center is slightly jiggly, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Cool pie on a cooling rack for at least and hour and then set in the fridge for at least 3 hours more, but a day would be better. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

D&D_2342This is lovely gooey in a non cloying way – I think it is the lack of corn syrup. Maple and molasses bring so much depth to the pie. Really do not think I will ever do anything else but this.

*Used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and it worked really well (need to figure out what to do with the other one, hm?). Just make sure you put it in a glass pie pan (Anchor) and put it in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Makes a difference. Oh, and do chill it for 30 minutes. Again, makes a difference.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country or whatever – why do they need two names after all. It is just confusing. At least to my little blonde self.

22 November 2017

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.

 

Pesto – amazing 

pesto [pes-toh]

noun, Italian Cookery.
1. a sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated Parmesan blended together and served hot or cold over pasta, fish, or meat.
In college, I made some great friends, and one of them was a girl named Karen T. (cannot believe I remembered her whole name, but somehow that makes me feel good, but won’t divulge).
She threw excellent (read: grown up) parties. If you said you would attend, you were actually expected to do so. She was a great cook – the first person I knew to make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. She totally rocked, and she also introduced me to pesto. I think it was her mom’s recipe, photocopied, and I remember this most clearly, the recipe was called “Pesto by the food processor method.” Hysterical now, but at the time a totally new thing for me.
D&D_1998
It is basically the “recipe” I still make today, except I substitute walnuts for pine nuts. I don’t notice a difference, so it works for me. And I always have walnuts in the freezer.
It’s great for pasta, for pasta salad, add some sun-dried tomatoes and it is excellent in my sun-dried tomato pesto torte. Have I not made that for you? Damn, will rectify that situation soon.

Basil – 2 bunches, stems removed mostly
Garlic – 2 cloves or or more if you would like it
1 1/4 cups walnuts or there abouts – fear the pine nuts.
1/4 cup really good olive oil
A good bit of freshly grated Parmesan – indeed.

First chop the garlic in the food processor. Then add the walnuts and mix it up again   Do this before you add the basil. Because this is a good thing. It just seems to work so well. Then stream the olive oil in and the when it is all done, add the Parmesan. And if you want to go crazy add some sun-dried tomatoes. Because that is amazing. Yep.

I was to go to Italy with Karen and Dierdre in the spring of 1993, but giving birth to the Boy put those plans into a stall. Never regret it. And he was eating pesto as a 3 years-old – he was that kind of boy. Sushi, sure. Pesto, yep. Mushroom pate – always. Kids will try anything if you don’t make a big deal of it.
Karen moved to New Jersey and we lost touch, but some things stick with you in an important way. And I miss them both.

Dulce de Leche Krispies

I have always loved rice krispie treats. They taste amazing and are dead simple. My mom always made them around the holidays – I really do not remember them any other time to be honest, but I will make the when ever the mood strikes.  And make them you should because the store bought ones are vile.

The first time I made a mistake with rice krispie treats, it turned out to be an excellent depth to the general recipe on the box. I let the butter brown just a little bit – wow – that made a different.

So the next time, I did the same thing and then added some vanilla to the mix. Even better.

And then I did all of the above and salted them with crushed Maldon salt* and it was stunning.

I think this idea also will work for me. I am a huge fan of dulce de leche – so much that I will purchase dulce de leche ice cream and I am really not a fan of ice cream in general. That should be impressive. It is to me.D&D_1917

I got this recipe from Food & Wine magazine online and just had to give it a go. The author, Marcia Kiesel, switches out the marshmallows for the dulce de leche. The addition of nuts is also an interesting twist. I think that will inspire me to try different nuts – salted pistachios perhaps – in the future just so see how it works.

2 dozen krispies

3/4 cup crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
3 1/2 ounces blanched sliced almonds
5 tablespoons dulce de leche at room temperature, plus more for topping
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the rice cereal with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Spread the oiled rice cereal in an even layer on a large nonstick rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the rice cereal is very crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

In a the same large bowl, mix the sliced almonds with the toasted rice cereal. Using a rubber spatula, blend in the 5 tablespoons of dulce de leche and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil, stirring well to coat the rice cereal and almonds thoroughly.

Line nonstick rimmed baking sheets with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the rice-almond mixture onto the pan and gently flatten them into 2 1/2-inch-wide disks. Lightly sprinkle the krispies with salt. Bake them until they are lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

Let the krispies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute. Carefully transfer them to a platter to cool completely. Dollop each one with 1/4 teaspoon of the remaining dulce de leche and serve.

The krispies can be stored in an airtight container overnight. Guessing they won’t last much longer than that.

Source: Food & Wine

9 June 2017 – The Boy really liked them and they went over well in the test kitchen.

 

Peanut Butter Cornflake Cookies 

I am typically not a fan of no bake cookie things, excepting Rice Krispie treats, but I thought to give this a go. It reminds me of something completely random my mom made me as a child – one day, I will try to explain it, but I am sure it will not make any sense to anyone but me. That said, these are flavors of my childhood excepting the cornflakes. I think they are kind of cute in their on strange way.

D&D_19561 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups corn flakes

In a large saucepan, add sugar, then spray measuring cup with vegetable spray and add peanut butter and light corn syrup. Cook over medium to medium high (depending on your cooktop) until the middle of the mixture starts to boil. Stir constantly so sugar and peanut butter don’t burn. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cornflakes until evenly coated.

Spray a #20 disher with vegetable spray and scoop and drop on to waxed paper. Do this quickly before the mixture sets up. Let cool on waxed paper for 30 minutes. Store at room temperature.

Thoughts: These are super sugary. But in small doses are good. Hope The Boy and my test kitchen at the office enjoy them.

I think they work because corn flakes have, pretty much, no flavor.

And the votes from my test kitchen are in and they are very positive. I do wonder what this might be like with, wait for it, pretzels.

17 June 17

Source: www.spendwithpennies.com/peanut-butter-cornflake-cookies/

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

The Boy asked for these and I always try to make things that make him happy. So I made these for Easter. It is a peanut butter cookie that I had never tried, but instead of peanut butter chips, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that is what the Boy requested.

It is an odd thing. I love peanut butter – peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter in my oatmeal – with raisins if possible – but I am not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. I think it is because so many of them have a dry, sandy texture. I also do not like peanut butter mixed with chocolate. As I have said over and over, I am not a chocolate person and there are only a couple of things I like mixed with my chocolate – caramel, toffee, or nuts – or some combination of the three. No peanut butter, no coconut, certainly not orange, oh dear lord, please no mint, blech. I know, I am seriously fussy – about just about everything.

Anyway, back to peanut butter – this is a recipe I’ve had for years and have never tried so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. This is … wait for it … a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe that I have modified, but I will qualify that by saying it is a recipe from her maternal grandmother that her grandfather loved. Family recipes are the vast majority of the time a very good thing. So I tried this – it’s easy to put together with things that I had on hand which to me is a huge bonus. If you compare it to the original, I did make a few changes (I only use light brown sugar for instance) and swapped out the peanut butter chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips, per the Boy’s request.D&D_1841

I have learned over the years that if you taste the raw dough you will get a good sense of what the cookie will taste like and I thought this worked out well. I also made a test cookie with no chocolate chips just to try it as a straight up peanut butter cookie. It worked well. That said, it is a soft cookie, so it is best to let it cool completely before moving it about too much.

Hood approved of, and ate half of, the plain peanut butter cookie – think there might be some dog treats with this in the future.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter **
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sanding sugar for the top (optional)

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

Sift together dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (disher), place cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if your going for that thing (nice crunch). Bake about 10 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let rest on baking pan for at least 4 minutes then move to cooking rack to cool completely

* I always use unbleached, just a habit.

** I am a Jif PB person.

Source:  Modified from Epicurious