Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year's Eve!

I've been away, hence no posts. I doubt anyone noticed.
I'm getting ready to go to a friend's house for the evening. The dogs are going as well. IT's just a casual get together. I'm taking a Tex-Mex style spinach artichoke dip. I'll post recipes/pictures later.
I'm also taking drunken cherries, a spicy habanero bloody mary mix that I've been itching to try, vodka, rum, a cranberry mixer, and Taboo (the game).

Happy and safe celebrating to all!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Do you ever have "those" days? Or weeks?

It's been one of "those" weeks. I just want to bang my head against the wall--preferably brick. I'm in a funk.

So, today I decided to try a few more recipes I've wanted to try. I made the Coconut Lime Snowballs (CL) and Mocha Truffle Cookies. I'll post pictures and recipes later. Right now, I need to get ready for my school staff Christmas party (oops, I'm not being PC. Oh well.) I intended to make the cookies my offerings. Well, I just now finally read the invitation. Dessert will be provided. Bring a side dish. Oops. Oh, and the party starts at 6:30, not the 7 I was thinking. Oops again. Finally, it's not where I thought it was. The good news is that it's much closer to my house than I was thinking, so that's save me about 25 minutes drive time each way. So, now I have lots of cookies...I guess I will put some in w/ my coworker gift bags. I'm sure the chocolate will be appreciated.

The chocolate cookies are AMAZING. Very rich, brownie like. It's hard to eat more than one; they are that rich!

Mocha Truffle Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour, all-purpose
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Add instant coffee and blend well. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add sugars, eggs, and vanilla to coffee mixture. Add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon on greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not overbake.

These are just OK. IMO, the lime flavor doesn't come through enough. These are similar to balls I've made w/ orange juice concentrate, where the orange flavor really shines. To me, these are just sweet balls of coconut.
And my photography is awful!

Key-Lime Coconut Snowballs (Cooking Light)

Use regular limes if the Key limes are not available. Unsweetened coconut is often labeled "desiccated" or "pulverized," and is often sold in health-food stores.

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 4 cookie sheets)
6 tablespoons fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon grated Key lime rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Combine crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, rind, juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add 2/3 cup coconut, and beat with a mixer at medium speed for 1 minute or until no longer grainy. Add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating until well combined. Cover and chill 20 minutes.
Shape crumb mixture into 24 balls, about 1 teaspoon each. Place remaining 1/3 cup coconut in a shallow bowl; roll balls in coconut.

Note: Refrigerate balls in an airtight container for up to one day.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 2 balls)

CALORIES 121(20% from fat); FAT 2.7g (sat 2.1g,mono 0.3g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 1.4g; CHOLESTEROL 1mg; CALCIUM 30mg; SODIUM 40mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 0.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.2g
Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Continuing the peppermint theme

I made Peppermint Meltaways last night/today. This recipe came from the Land O Lakes website, via Val on the CLBB.
The mint flavor in the cookie is subtle. The cookie is very light in texture, and not too rich. I forgot to take the peppermint extract to school today, where I had my students make the frosting and ice them. We just added extra crushed peppermint to the icing. My students loved them, and they were well-received at an after school party. This is a recipe I'll make again.

Peppermint Meltaways

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter -- softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Glaze Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter -- softened
2 tbsps milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops red food color -- if desired (2 to 3)
Candy canes or hard peppermint candy -- crushed

Combine sugar, butter and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and cornstarch. Beat until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate until firm (30 to 60 minutes).

Heat oven to 350°F. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Stir in food color, if desired. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies (Hah! I only got about 24, and I didn't think they were that big--one of my students ate the cookie in one bite, but she's probably a bad example as she does that with almost all food).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Possibly my new favorite!

Chocolate Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Peppermint buttercream is sandwiched between homemade chocolate cookies, then the sandwiches are rolled in crushed candy canes

MAKES ABOUT 18 SANDWICH COOKIES (I got 16 out of each batch I made)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (I used double this)
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)

FOR COOKIES: Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of a glass or hands, flatten each ball to a 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

FOR FILLING: Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in a medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops of food coloring. Beat until light pink, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons of filling evenly over the flat side of 1 cookie; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in a single layer in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 weeks).

Source: Bon Appétit, December 2005
Author: Julie Hasson
Page: 144

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Holiday Baking and Sharing & WDB

Every year since 2001, a group of girls and I have gotten together for some holiday baking. While the group has changed (RangerGrrl and I are the only ones who have been there year after year), the sharing of good sweets, conversation, and friendship remain constant. Here's the goods. I'll link to recipes if possible, though some that I used are from Bon Appetit and are not on the Epicurious website yet.

Top: Maple-Walnut Spice Cookies (me), Candy-I forget what these are called-cream cheese, powdered sugar, ADDICTIVE, Anise Cookies, and Chocolate Crinkles (all made by RangerGrrl ).
I think I had an ADD moment when making the Maple cookies and used 1/2 cup less flour than was called for, hence the flat appearance. However, the reviews were good--if you like maple. I was also said that they could do without the icing/nuts. The spices in these cookies are amazing-cloves, cinnamon, ginger. Yum!
The candies are delicious--I could eat all of them in a sitting. Anise cookies-if you like licorice, these are for you! They are RangerGrrl's favorites. Moist and cake-like, the anise flavor is evident but not overpowering.

Top: Peanut brittle (Chimene). What is a holiday without crunchy peanut brittle? This stuff is addictive! Fudge (Joann, our host)--fudge is another favorite of mine. Yum! Chocolate haystacks (?) (Chimene's daughter). Gingerbread truffles (me). This is a Bon Appetit recipe. I mentioned them below. I haven't had the finished product, but with spices, cream, and chocolate, how can it be bad?

Finally, Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies-the finished product on the top row, and the sandwich parts on the bottom right.
The biscotti is Pistachio-Cranberry made by Maria--some coated with chocolate. Cranberries and pistachios--that's an awesome flavor combination!
I love chocolate. I love mint. Thus, I think this ma be my new favorite special occasion cookie. The chocolate is rich--I used Penzey's Dutch Process Cocoa. I'll link to the recipe as soon as it's on Epicurious. Or check out the December Bon Appetit. This is a must-try recipe for mint lovers! It's not as labor intensive as I thought it would be. I made the cookies last night, and then the filling today at Joann's house. I iced them while sitting and talking. Piece of cake!

Now for weekend dog blog #15. My dogs have been really needy/clingy--mostly Harley, so here he is thinking he's a lap dog (all 140 #s of him)!

Peanut was feeling left out, so had to join in. Nothing like laying around with 180 #s of dog on/against you!

Check out Sweetnicks to see all the other cute dogs in this weeks' WDB!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Holidays--Celebrations and Cooking

Skim down for what's cooking in my kitchen! Recipes and pictures to follow!

Today was the 18th Annual Neiman Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade, held in downtown Dallas. I love this day. I have been volunteering as a child escort since 2000 (I missed last year due to teacher certification testing). It's hard to explain how much fun and special this day is! The children in the parade are all Children's Medical Center of Dallas patients. Many of them have been looking forward to this day for weeks. They are the celebrities--they ride on some element with a character or other celebrity--Miss America, Miss Texas, sports figures, etc. My child was with Buster the Bunny (???? No one I'm familiar with!) and rode on a convertible Porsche! I walked alongside in my frumpy official parade volunteer uniform: red sweat pants, red turtleneck, white official parade sweatshirt, Santa hat. Oh yeah, it was in the 70s when the parade started. There was a few times I felt like I was going to melt! Anyhow, my child had a great day, as did all the kids. Now it feels like the holiday season!

This day always makes me a bit nostalgic as well. Though Dakota didn't ever get to see a parade in person, I would tape it and give to him. He loved watching the parade! The marching bands, the dancers, the colorful balloons--he got excited as the sight of them all! As do many other things throughout the year, I can't get through the parade without my mind wandering to my precious nephew. The sounds of him watching the parade are among those memories that I tuck way back, but bring forward periodically to keep them fresh. I never want to forget the joyous sound of his voice. While the parade is what really helps me get into the holiday season, it's also a reminder of what is missing this holiday season. This will mark the 4th Christmas without him. We only had him for 5 Christmas's. Precious memories, how they linger.

I've started preparing for baking tomorrow. I have the filling for Gingerbread Truffles chilling in the fridge. OK, I licked the spoon. The spices remind me of chai spices with chocolate. You steep heavy cream with whole cloves, allspice, fresh ginger, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. You then strain this mixture into a mixture of melted white and bittersweet chocolate and candied ginger. Yum! Once that chills, you form balls and coat them in either more chocolate or cocoa powder.

I also made the cookie part of BA's Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich cookies. It's a rich, chocolate shortbread. The filling is flavored w/ peppermint extract and colored with red food coloring for a color burst. You then roll the cookies in crushed peppermint. Chocolate and peppermint are two of my flavors, and I love them together!

To balance out the calories and fat in these recipes, I am making two recipes from Cooking Light. One is the Key Lime Coconut Snowballs (Nov 05) reviewed here by Joe from Culinary in the Desert. The other recipe is Maple-Walnut Spice Cookies (Dec 05). I'm also considering the Sesame Sweets either tomorrow or in the upcoming weeks.

I'll post pictures and reviews tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

He's Walking!

Dad update: He had knee surgery Monday on his 'good' leg. They removed the screws and pins from his broken leg and put him in a walking boot. Wednesday, he took a few steps on his own (when noone else was home-not smart, but he can be bull headed). :)
He can walk several steps now on his own. Yay! I am going up there in a week to see the Nutcracker and so will drive the extra mileage to their house to see him.
He starts PT next week, so will be getting more sore, but he's well on his way to recovery!


This Sunday I will be doing some holiday baking with friends. I'll post pictures and recipes soon after. I'm breaking from my usual routine of fudge and toffee and making some new recipes. Hope they are winners!