Almond Cherry Shortbread (Snowballs)

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Snowballs

1 cup butter, softened

¼ cup icing sugar

1/3 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup ground almonds

2 cups flour

15 candied cherries, halved

about 1/2 cup additional icing sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 300° F. Cream together butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in flavorings , ground almonds and flour and mix well to form dough. To form cookies, take about a tablespoon of dough and begin to form a ball. Push one half of a cherry into the ball and pinch the dough together to hide the cherry, and then finish forming the ball. It should be about 1 1/2” in diameter. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about 20 minutes. Do not brown the cookies, they should be just starting to have a hint of color when they are done. Cool in the pan for about 4 minutes, then gently roll the balls in icing sugar and allow to cool completely on wire racks.  The recipe should yield about 30 cookies.

More sweet treats

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I’m revisiting some favorites,  Ginger Oatties and Praline Crunch.  I feel like I should try some new recipes, but sometimes the old standbys are very comforting:)

Christmas Treats

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It feels like the right time for a few sweet Christmas treats. I’ve got a double batch of these Peanut Butter Chocolate Spirals cooling in the fridge. After I run a few errands, the dough will be ready to roll. We’ll have fresh cookies in time for coffee break :)

PB Chocolate Spirals

Peanut Butter dough

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Cream together butter, sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add slowly to peanut butter mixture, mixing until well combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Chocolate dough (in the same bowl as the PB dough)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in egg. Add melted chocolate, mixing thoroughly. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add slowly to chocolate mixture, mixing until well combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Once the dough is chilled, take half of each amount of dough and roll into 1/4″ thick rectangles. Layer the chocolate dough on top of the peanut butter dough. Beginning at the long end of the rectangle, roll doughs together to form a tightly rolled log. Re-wrap the roll and chill for about an hour (or up to 3 days). Repeat with remaining dough. For a more marbled effect in the baked cookies, fold the rectangle into thirds and roll dough into a rectangle again before forming the final log.

When ready to bake, slice the rolls of dough into desired thickness of slices (about 1/4″). Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350° F for about 12 minutes, until the centers of the cookies are firm and bottom is golden brown. Baking time will depend on thickness of slices. Cool on pan for a couple of minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Season

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Pumpkin patch, Davison Orchard, Vernon BC

Dear  Sister  the Younger made a truly wonderful Thanksgiving feast for us last weekend–turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.  Dessert was this delightful Pumpkin Crunch cake.  It’s lighter than pumpkin pie, but with the same yummy spices and taste.  The original recipe called for cinnamon, but Dear Sister subbed pumpkin pie spice instead, and I really liked the depth of flavors from the additional spices.  And you know it’s good when even the non-dessert eaters enjoy a slice!  Sadly, I forgot to snap a picture, but click here for a peek.

Pumpkin Pecan Crunch

1 can (14-15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1  yellow cake mix
1  cup pecan halves
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spice and salt. Pour into greased 13×9 glass baking dish. Layer DRY cake mix evenly on top of pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle pecans on top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool to room temperature; serve with whipped cream.  Makes 12-15 pieces.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Note  To make a small batch of pumpkin pie spice, combine  3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves, and if desired a pinch of cardamon.  Store the mixture in a clean small jar or spice container.

 

Thanksgiving Sunrise

Thanksgiving Sunrise

 

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic

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The last of the summer”  We had a cold snap right at the beginning of September, so hubby harvested  the tomatoes, and suddenly they’ve all gone ripe at once.   Lots of years I will make tomato sauce and freeze it, but it’s a bit of work.  Roasting is easier, and probably just as tasty, or perhaps even more so.  These amounts are approximate, it’s not rocket science (thankfully!).  The addition of herbs is wonderful, rosemary, basil, oregano, or even thyme.  But as you can see in the picture, I didn’t add any to this round of roasting and they still taste delightful.  Serve hot over your favorite pasta, with crusty bread to sop up the juices.  Freeze small portions (about 3/4-1 cup containers), to add to pasta sauce in winter.

Roasted Tomatoes

about 4 cups, cut cherry tomatoes in half, chop larger tomatoes in bite size pieces

garlic cloves, peeled, a head or more for intense garlic flavor

salt and pepper, generous lashings

olive oil, splash it freely

optional, a small sprinkle of sugar, a teaspoon or less, to help caramelize the tomatoes

herbs to taste, fresh or dried

Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Place tomatoes and herbs in a single layer in the baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sugar, if using.  Bake at 375°F,  30-40 minutes, or until garlic cloves are tender.

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Fresh Sour Cherry Cobbler

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We are coming to the end of sour cherry season now.  There are still a few cherries  hanging on the branches, but everybody seems to have had their fill–even the birds aren’t interested anymore.  I made a small batch of sour cherry jam, and tried two new cherry recipes this summer; this cobbler,  and a sour cream cherry pie.   The pie was, ahem, less than stellar, which is why you won’t see a post about it here :)  This is the keeper.  We gobbled most of it down instead of lunch.

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Please read the recipe through before starting, there are three little steps–the butter, the batter, and the cherries.  It’ll be much quicker if you know the procedure before you begin.

Sour Cherry Cobbler

1/2 cup butter

1 cup flour

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp almond flavoring

2 cups pitted sour cherries (fresh not frozen)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly spray the sides of a 9″x13″ cake pan with cooking spray.  Add butter to the pan and put in the preheated oven to melt completely.  Meanwhile,  in a mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and baking powder.  Add milk and almond flavoring and stir to combine all ingredients.  Remove pan from oven.  Carefully pour batter evenly over the melted butter.  Do not stir!  Toss pitted cherries with 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp flour.  Carefully dot the cherries over the batter.  Return pan to oven and bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes, then serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream or vanilla yogurt.

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Cauliflower Rice

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I know this technique has been around for a while, but somehow it never made it onto my radar, until the other day when hubby and I were watching a cooking show, and one of the guests showed how easy it is to make.  If you like cauliflower, it’s such a fun way to eat it.  But if you think you’re gonna low-carb it, and eliminate real rice from your diet by substituting this dish, fuggetaboutit.   It tastes like cauliflower, it smells like cauliflower, it is cauliflower.  (And please, please don’t set your little kids up for failure by telling them it’s rice!  Which is exactly what happened on the cooking show. Kids aren’t stupid; the mom tasted it first and her reaction was less than convincing, so no surprise when her two young boys refused to even taste it.  This hurts my heart, to see two young children embarrassed in front of millions of TV watchers;  if that poor mom thought she was going to make things better, I’m pretty sure it backfired.  Now they have another reason not to trust what Mom says about food.  Pardon me, I didn’t mean to rant.)

Nonetheless, it does make a reasonable substitute for rice in some meals.  This week, we subbed it in for rice with chicken in mushroom sauce, very tasty.  At another meal, we ate it as a side with chicken caesar salad.  We’ve enjoyed it so much, it will become a regular addition to our mealtimes.

One of the nice things about cauliflower is, while having a distinct ‘cauliflower’ taste, it is bland enough to pair up with almost any other flavor of herb or spice that you care to think about.  Also, adding other vegetables can make it a sort of pilaf (think celery, grated carrot, green peas, onions, bell pepper, etc, etc),  then go one step farther by adding a source of protein and you’ve got dinner.  You’re only limited by your imagination :)

Cauliflower Rice

1 small/medium head of cauliflower (enough for sides for 4-6 adults)

3 sliced scallions

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp finely minced fresh thyme

1/2 cup chicken broth

salt and pepper

Wash, trim and break into florets.  Whiz the pieces in a food processor for a few seconds, until the size of (you guessed it) rice grains.   Alternatively, grate the florets on a box grater.  Heat a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add cauliflower and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes, then add green onions and fresh thyme.  Be sure to stir often to avoid browning the veggies.  As the cauliflower softens and the herbs become fragrant with the heat,  add half of the chicken broth.  Cook 2 minutes more, then add the remaining broth.  Stir and taste to adjust seasonings if necessary.  Cook a minute or two longer if needed, being careful not to overcook.  (The “grains” are small, it’s a fine line between done and overdone.)

As always, wishing you Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

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We have some cooler days right now, perfect weather for a treat from the oven, in this case cookie, as in one big one.

There are all kinds of recipes and methods out there for skillet cookies, but to me, the point of baking a cookie in a frying pan is to keep it simple and fast with a very minimum of prep work and clean up.  The trick is to let the butter soften and begin to melt over very low heat, but not let it get hot.  You want to be able to get on with it quickly, and not have to wait while the butter cools off before you stir in the egg (nobody wants scrambled egg in their cookie!) plus if the dough is too hot all the chocolate chips melt.  Then it becomes chocolate skillet cookie (no chips!).

The other thing about this recipe is that you need an oven-proof skillet/frying pan.  Lots of you probably have a cast-iron pan, and that works great.  If you don’t, as you can see in the picture above, I used my ordinary non-stick skillet, but wrapped the handle in a couple of layers of aluminum foil.  At 350° F, the foil is enough to keep the handle from getting damaged.

So that sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t really.  Once through the process and you’ll be a dab hand next time:)

Skillet Cookie

Preheat oven to 350° F.

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt, if desired

1 cup chocolate chips

In a small bowl, stir together flour, soda and salt (if using).  Set aside.  Using an 8″ ovenproof skillet, soften butter on lowest heat of stove-top burner.  When butter is softened and beginning to melt, remove pan from heat.  Stir in sugar and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Incorporate beaten egg quickly.  Then add flour and chocolate chips, mixing well.  Smooth the dough to the edges of the pan.  Bake at 350° F for about 20 minutes, until cookie is just set and golden brown.  Cool 10-15 minutes and then gently loosen cookie from pan and slip out onto cutting board to slice into wedges.

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Raisin Spice Cupcakes (Birthday Cupcakes #2)

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In addition to the strawberry cupcakes I made for my niece’s birthday celebration, hubby made a request for some raisin spice cupcakes.  So we had some of each type on the birthday plate.  This is a kind of family heirloom recipe.  I have a handwritten copy of my grandmother’s, who got it from her sister, Julie, and my mom made it often when we were kids.  We know it as Aunty Julie’s Cake.  My sister and I usually have a bit of a laugh every time we make this cake, as it reminds us of the childhood memory we have of the time her and I decided to surprise our mom with some baking.  The recipe is written without any flour mentioned.  The adults knew you had to add flour, but the young teens didn’t know that yet :)  Needless to say, the first round was a complete flop!  I think we feed it to the chickens, hoping nobody would have to know about the fiasco.  We phoned Grandma to find out where we went wrong;  she was very kind to explain, but I’m sure she had a bit of chuckle too.  Besides including an amount for flour, I’ve also made a couple of other  minor adjustments over the years.

Aunty Julie’s Raisin Spice Cupcakes

½ cup butter

1 ½ cups brown sugar  (may be reduced to 1 cup)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 2/3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg OR allspice

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup raisins

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and soda and spices. Alternate additions of flour and milk to creamed butter until all flour is incorporated. Gently fold in raisins. Pour into greased and floured 9”x 9” cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  Makes about 24 cupcakes using medium size paper liners.

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Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

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We were invited to celebrate my niece’s 17th birthday last weekend.  I made cupcakes.  I like the recipe, it’s got good flavor, but next time, I’m skipping the icing and calling them muffins.

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with large/jumbo cupcake liners.

4-5 large strawberries

1 2/3 cup + 1 tbsp flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 large egg

1/4 cup strawberry yogurt

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pulse strawberries in food processor until finely chopped (not pureed). Pulsed strawberries should measure about 1/3 cup. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. When butter mixture has cooled slightly, stir in yogurt, milk, egg and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the butter/milk mixture into the flour. Gently stir to combine all ingredients. Fold in the strawberry puree. Batter will be quite thick. Divide batter among 12 cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes (375 degrees F) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.  Makes 12 cupcakes.

 

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