Three’s Company, y’all

Guacamole Sauce

Guacamole Sauce

It’s a marinade, it’s a dressing, it’s Super-sauce!!

Who doesn’t love efficiency in the kitchen?  So if you could spend a few minutes making one thing that could be used all week in several different ways, wouldn’t you be all for it?     I sure am!

Amazing Dip

Amazing Dip

Take this sauce for example… it’s a guacamole you’re going to love dipping into,  it’s a sauce to dress up some roast or grilled chicken, it’s a marinade to flavor fish or tofu, and finally, if you thin it out a little, it’s a dressing to dress up salads, from greens to veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

As I am prone to say at times like this..”that’s a lot of bang for your buck”.  And speaking of bucks, avocados seem to be plentiful now and the price is right.   Seems like the situation is just begging you to make this sauce/dip/dressing right now.   What are you waiting for?

 

MULTI-PURPOSE GUACAMOLE SAUCE

Yield:   Makes about 1 cup.  Adjust quantities to make more.

Ingredients:IMG_9230

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (according to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper, or dash hot sauce
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed

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Directions:

This couldn’t be easier…..put mashed avocado in a small bowl, add everything else to it, and stir to combine.

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Flavors will blend if you make it about an hour ahead of use time.  Cover and refrigerate till needed.

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 YUM_OH

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

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Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Ketchup Sauce

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Ketchup Sauce

Meatloaf, you got that right.  Meatloaf wrapped in bacon.  All the men I know love meatloaf,  and they love bacon.  Well, women do too.  This is another one of those times when bacon just makes it better.  Bacon that gets all crispy surrounding a thick, meaty meatloaf that’s been baked with a catsup sauce over it.  (Please excuse the drool, here.)

This is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, of The Food Network.   It’s superb!  And it’s an equal opportunity dish;  equally comforting to both men and women–and kids, too.

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This recipe is very easy to make, and takes very little time to put together.  You bake it on a broiler pan so the fat drips away into the pan below, allowing the loaf to bake faster, and gives the bacon a great crisp.  You can bake this in one big loaf, or divide it into two smaller ones and freeze one for a night when you need something quick.  If you have a big family you’ll need it all, and don’t count on leftovers.

Put some foil in the bottom pan to catch the drippings and make clean-up easier.

Put some foil in the bottom pan to catch the drippings and make clean-up easier.

When I made it I used a package of meatloaf mix that was about 1.25 lb. and halved the other ingredients so it stayed proportional.  For two people we ate about half of it,  and I promised Mr. D. a meatloaf sandwich on a hard roll for his lunch.  He just about swooned at that!  See, the psychology here, is that if I make one for him, then I can have one too, and not feel guilty.  🙂

BACON WRAPPED MEATLOAF

Yield:  4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices white bread ( any bread will do, even whole wheat)
  • 2 pounds ground beef (can also use 1 pound each ground pork and beef)
  • 1 heaping cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. regular salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 10 slices bacon, thin, not thick cut.

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • (reserve 1/3 of the sauce for serving)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line the bottom of your broiler pan with foil and spray the top part with non-stick cooking spray.  Have it ready to go.

2.  Place bread slices in a large bowl.  Pour milk over bread.  Allow it to soak for a few minutes.

3.  Add ground beef, onion, Parmesan cheese, salts, pepper and parsley to the bowl with the bread.  Lightly beat the eggs and pour over all of this.

4.  With clean hands, dig in and start squishing and mixing it up until everything is well-blended.  Shape the meat mixture into a loaf, (or two smaller loaves) and place on the broiler pan.   Now lay the bacon slices over the loaf, tucking the ends underneath the loaf.  If you made two loaves, cut the bacon slices in half.  You may need to stretch them a little, but thinner bacon slices will become crispier.

Wrap meatloaf with bacon slices, stretched thin.

Wrap meatloaf with bacon slices, stretched thin.

Note, I didn’t have enough bacon to completely cover the loaf, so I wrapped lengthwise.  If you have enough bacon, wrap crosswise, so the meatloaf is completely covered by the bacon.

5.  Once the meatloaf is wrapped, take 2/3 of the ketchup sauce and spread it over the loaf with a spoon or spatula.

Spoon ketchup sauce over the meatloaf to cover.

Spoon ketchup sauce over the meatloaf to cover.

6.  Bake for about an hour and a half, if making the full recipe.   This is great served with mashed potatoes.

You won't be able to wait for dinner when this is on the menu.

You won’t be able to wait for dinner when this is on the menu.

SOURCE:  The Pioneer Woman via The Ranting Chef, then modified

 

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Have you ever thought about how many different breakfast foods you can create using just milk, eggs, and flour?  This one is an interesting example.  Especially considering it’s name.

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This baked, puffed egg dish is neither Dutch, nor does it have anything to do with babies.  Sometimes called a German pancake, it has very little to do with Germany, either.  Said to have been invented by German immigrants who settled in this country, and who were referred to as “Deutche”, this is most likely how it got it’s name.  But no matter,  it is delicious whatever name you may give it.

Dutch Baby

Dutch Baby

Another example of this same type of baked item is the pop-over.  Same ingredients, but baked individually in little cups, a popover is generally eaten with dinner, whereas a “dutch-baby” is usually served as a breakfast item with syrup or fruits spooned over it.

Trying to come up with something a little different for a weekend breakfast, I made this recently.  I served it with sliced strawberries and blueberries spooned over it.

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DUTCH BABY WITH FRUIT

Yield:  Serves  4

Milk, eggs, butter and flour, plus a blender makes this easy!!

Milk, eggs, butter and flour, plus a blender makes this easy!!

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour,
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, or a mixture of blueberries and strawberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Blend milk, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt together in a blender until batter is smooth.

3.  Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy oven-proof skillet)until bubbling;

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Pour batter into the center of the skillet.

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4.  Bake in the oven until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top and serve warm with fruit.

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5.  Prepare fruit topping by washing and slicing the berries, picking over the blueberries.  Sprinkle with sugar to taste and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir to mix and let stand while Dutch Baby bakes.

 

 

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SOURCE:   adapted from AllRecipes.com

Coconut Biscotti

 

Coconut Biscotti

Coconut Biscotti

When you serve biscotti, you’re styling’, did you know that?  These crunchy, nutty, hard cookies are custom-made for dunking in a frothy cappuccino, or nibbling on between sips of dark, thick, espresso.  Or maybe you’re having them at the end of the day with a glass of sweet dessert wine.  If it’s wine you’re having, make it a wine from Tuscany, the reputed home of biscotti.

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A surprising fact to me is that biscotti were first developed for Lent, when all types of festive and fancy baking was curtailed. Their plain appearance is deceiving.  You may think that the cookie is plain and boring, but not so.  In going through my recipes recently, I noted that I have quite a number of recipes for biscotti, and they are all different.  The several characteristics they all share are the elongated shape, usually cut on a diagonal, the inclusion of toasted nuts, and the fact that they are twice baked, making them crisp and crunchy.

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The name of these cookies, when translated, breaks down to bis (twice) and cottare (to cook).  Because they are a firm, sturdy cookie they are perfect for packing and shipping to someone far from home.

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This recipe utilizes coconut in several forms;  toasted and finely ground in the dough, and coconut oil used for shortening in the dough; there is also coconut cream (liquid) and coconut flavoring in the glaze.  The basic cookie is not sweet, but the glaze they are dipped into adds a touch of sweetness at the end.  If you choose not to dip them into the glaze, they will still be a very enjoyable mildly sweet treat.

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The nuts called for in the recipe are salted macadamia nuts, chopped; however I didn’t have any so I used a combination of hazelnuts and cashews from a jar of salted nuts, and they worked just fine.

If you have never made biscotti before this could be the recipe to get you started,  especially as we approach the start of Lent.  I have never given up sweets for Lent because I can’t survive without a goodie now and then, but I do try to abstain from rich decadent desserts.   With biscotti on hand, I know I can have my “goodie” without going overboard.

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COCONUT BISCOTTI

Yield:  Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    Coconut oil, melted, is the shortening in this recipe.

    Coconut oil, melted, is the shortening in this recipe.

  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut cream ( may use milk or cream instead)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. coconut extract
  • coarse sugar for decorating, if desired

Directions:

1.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Spread 1 cup coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 3 minutes.

Coconut flakes, toasted

Coconut flakes, toasted

Let cool completely.  Transfer to a food processor; add the granulated sugar and pulse until finely ground.

Pulse in processor with sugar.

Pulse in processor with sugar.

3.  Whisk the coconut-sugar mixture, the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave;  add to the flour mixture along with 1/3 cup water and the vanilla, and mix with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough forms.

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Stir in the chopped nuts and the remaining 1/2 cup coconut flakes, gently knead until the dough comes together.

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4.  Divide the dough in half and shape into two 9-by-2-inch logs;  place 1 log on each baking sheet.

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Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the logs are firm and golden, about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300*F.

I baked them both on one sheet and they spread into each other.

I baked them both on one sheet and they spread into each other.

5.  Let the logs cool 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board.  Slice diagonally, with a serrated knife, into 3/4-inch thick pieces.

Cut on the diagonal and lay flat on baking sheet to be re-baked.

Cut on the diagonal and lay flat on baking sheet to be re-baked.

Arrange the slices cut-side down on the baking sheets.  Bake, flipping halfway through, until just golden and centers still have a little give, 20 to 25 minutes.  (It has been my experience that over-baking can happen at this stage of the game, so I underbake a little to be cautious.)  With these cookies, I baked 8 minutes on the first side, turned them over and baked for 10 minutes more.  They were plenty crispy, and they continue to crisp up as they cool.  Cool completely on wire racks before glazing.

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6.  Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, coconut cream, (or milk) and coconut extract in a small bowl until smooth.  Dip the biscotti in the glaze and sprinkle with decorative sugar if desired.

To store:   Allow the glaze to harden completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Separating the layers with wax paper will keep the cookies from sticking together.  They will keep “forever”, but we always eat them up way before then 🙂

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SOURCE:   FoodNetwork Magazine

5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Avocados

Avocado and Egg on Toast

Avocado and Egg on Toast

Avocados will make you healthier right now!!  And here’s 5 good reasons why…..

1.  They protect your eyes from disease.  Avocados have a very high content (more than any other fruit) of the carotenoid lutein, which protects agains cataracts and macular degeneration–a leading cause of blindness.

2.  They will lower your cholesterol.   Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance that has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  In one study, 45 people saw an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for just one week.

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3.  They help regulate and reduce blood pressure.   Avocados are a great source of potassium, containing even more than bananas.  Studies confirm that eating foods high in potassium (and low in sodium) can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

4.  They are a great source of vitamin E.  Avocados are the greatest fruit source of vitamin E,  an antioxidant that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health.

5.  They will moisturize your skin.  Avocado butter and oil, two deep-conditioning emollients, will soften skin, eliminate dry patches, and restore your skin’s elasticity.  Try some beauty products enriched with avocado butter and oil.

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Now to get you started on the road to eating more avocados, here is one of my favorite ways to eat them.  Most mornings I grab my coffee, a hard boiled egg and some fruit, or a nutrient dense muffin, but when I’ve got a few extra minutes, this is the breakfast I love.  It starts with whole grain or rye toast with mashed avocado spread on it.  That is topped with a runny egg, either fried or poached.    There’s something about the combination of crispy toast, creamy avocado, and runny egg that is so satisfying.  It doesn’t get any better than that, and it keeps me going all morning.

AVOCADO and EGG ON TOAST

Yield:   Serves one

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread, toastedIMG_9085
  • 1 oz, mashed avocado ( about 1/4 small avocado)
  • splash, fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  •  hot sauce, optional

Directions:

1.  Mash the avocado in a small bowl with a splash of lemon or lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

2.  Heat a small non-stick skillet, or egg poaching pan, over low heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Crack the egg into the skillet or cup of poaching pan.  Cover and cook to your liking.

My old egg poaching pan still does the job!

My old egg poaching pan still does the job!

3.  Spread the avocado on the toast, top with the egg, and add a splash of hot sauce, if desired.

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Love this breakfast!

Love this breakfast!

SOURCE:   Health.com

Mustard Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Potatoes

Mustard Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Potatoes

Mustard Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Potatoes

Man, was this ever good!

Perhaps I should back up and start at the beginning.    This is pretty much a pantry meal.  That is, with a couple of substitutions, I had everything on hand to make it.  And in spite of the substitutions, it was delicious.  Well, that’s what this blog is all about…..cooking as economically as possible, and making it taste fantastic.

First off, I discovered a package of chicken thighs getting dangerously close to their blast off date, ahem, I mean expiration date.  You can use any chicken pieces that you have available, but I happen to love thighs so I keep several packages of them in my freezer at all times.

Whole grain mustard is called for and also peppercorns, crushed.  However in a gift package I received a jar of whole grain mustard that also contained whole peppercorns, so I used that.  The mustard really wakes up the chicken, so be sure to use it.  The seasoning on the skin and underneath it, really allows the chicken to brown up nicely, and smells heavenly.

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Instead of the fingerling potatoes, I used 2 medium-sized russets, cut into wedges, and I used dried chopped rosemary for the fresh.  If you do that, remember to use less of the dried, usually about 1/2 of the fresh herb that’s called for.

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You know, I really like making dishes using whole pieces of chicken, especially the dark meat.  There’s just something about tender chicken falling off the bone, that’s so je ne sais qua.

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MUSTARD CHICKEN THIGHS  W/ROSEMARY POTATOES

Yield:  Serves 4

Ingredients:IMG_8724

  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. mixed peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • kosher salt
  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise( ( used russet potatoes, cut into wedges)
  • 2 tsp, chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 red or green pepper, cut into strips, optional

Directions:

1.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 450*F.

2.  Whisk 1/2 cup water, the mustard, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, the lemon juice, peppercorns, 1/2 the garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and toss, loosen the skins and rub some of the mustard mixture underneath.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, skin-side up.  Roast on the upper rack until golden and crisp, 25 minutes.

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2.  Meanwhile, put the potatoes and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap; pierce in several places with a knife to vent.  Microwave until just tender, 10 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

3.  Combine the remaining garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the rosemary and 3/4 tsp. salt in a bowl.  Add the potatoes and bell pepper strips (if using), and toss.  Transfer to a separate rimmed baking sheet.  Roast on the lower rack until the vegetables are tender and golden, about 20 minutes.

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4.  Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest.  Move the vegetables to the upper oven rack and continue roasting until browned, 5 more minutes.  Serve with the chicken and any pan juices.

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Treat your sweetie to this meal for Valentine’s Day.

 

SOURCE:   Food Network Magazine

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hi, folks,  How are you?  Are you doing all of those things that winter offers?   Snowball fights?  Mittens?  Ski Caps?  Building snow men?  Hot chocolate?

I’d like to tell you that I’m frolicking in the snow, but I’m afraid of flying ice balls, afraid of skiing, especially the lift part, and very afraid of falling down and breaking an important bone somewhere in my body.  So I’m indoors looking out, watching the icicles hanging from the roof grow longer and longer every day.  Since today is a Monday (as I write this), it’s snowing again.

This winter has become so predictable.  You know, like, “if it’s Monday it must be snowing”.  Schools are closed, Mr. D. home from work, and all appointments cancelled.  I’m getting used to it!

One thing I really like to do on a day like this, is make myself a cup of hot chocolate,  with a marshmallow, or cream on top and a sprinkle of shaved chocolate.    Mmmmmm, so warming, so good.   But that fits into the predictable routine, what I want is something unpredictable, like these cookies.

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Let’s have our hot chocolate and eat it too!!

These cookies incorporate all the ingredients you expect to find in a cup of hot chocolate. They are rich, chocolaty and delicious.  They are great for any time of year, but I think wintertime is perfect, and especially for Valentine’s Day.  Change the colored sprinkles for any other holiday or special occasion.  They are always a hit.

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HOT CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Yield:   Makes about 50  cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butterIMG_9150
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 25 (aprox) large marshmallows

For the icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugarIMG_9171
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • assorted sprinkles

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, or a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently.

 

Choc. chips and butter in microwave safe bowl.

Choc. chips and butter in microwave safe bowl.

In the microwave, at 50% power, this takes approximately 1 1/2 minutes.  Heat for 1 minute, stir, and reheat for another 30 seconds if needed.  Stirring will help the chocolate to blend with the butter and become thick and smooth.  Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.

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2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

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3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed until well combined.

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4.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend until just combined.

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5.  While mixing, add the flour mixture slowly and blend until all is incorporated.

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Scrape down the bowl, then cover and refrigerate about 1 hour.  If making the dough a day ahead, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.

6.  Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat type liner.  Use a tablespoon (or a tablespoon sized scoop) to scoop the dough, then roll with your hands to create balls.  Arrange the balls about 2-inches apart on the baking sheets, then flatten slightly.   Bake cookies for about 12 minutes.

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7.  While the cookies bake, cut the marshmallows in half crosswise.  This will be easier to do if you  dip the knife blade into a glass of hot water after every marshmallow.  Cuts easily, with no sticking.

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When the cookies have baked, remove from oven and press one marshmallow half -cut side down- into the center of each cookie.

Cookies after baking.

Cookies after baking.

 

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Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 2 – 3 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

After baking the marshmallows will puff a little but do not turn brown.

After baking the marshmallows will puff a little but do not turn brown.

8.  Make the icing:  combine melted butter, sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl add vanilla and gradually add the water, mixing as you go, until the icing reaches a smooth consistency and is thick but still able to drizzle.   Place wire cooling rack with cookies on it over a baking sheet–to catch any icing drips.  Spoon a small amount of icing onto the top of each marshmallow, and use the back of the spoon to spread it a bit.  Let the icing run over the edges of the marshmallow, onto the cookie.  After icing just a couple of cookies, top with sprinkles before the icing dries.  Continue icing the remainder of the cookies in the same way.

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9.  Allow icing to set up about 30 minutes before serving, or storing in an airtight container.

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SOURCE:   The basic cookie is an adaptation of a chocolate cookie from Rachael Ray

 

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

 

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

Good morning, world….I hope this is not too many sprinkles to start off the week.   Once in a while I get carried away with sprinkles.  They’re so joyful and happy looking, they lift my spirits.  And in this world of white that surrounds us here, we need a little (read, a lot) of color. IMG_9134

Here (pretend I’m pointing) you’ll find cookies.   Not just any cookies, but the most colorful and buttery delicious cookies I could come up with.

The cookie base is a traditional sugar cookie:  scoop-able dough, not the roll-out kind.

The flour gets whisked together with the baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

Softened butter is beaten together with vanilla and granulated sugar.

Then an impossible number of sprinkles gets stirred in.  Isn’t this fun?  Like a party about to happen.

Add in those sprinkles!!

Add in those sprinkles!!

The dough needs some time in the refrigerator before the cookies are baked.  The butter needs time to re-chill and the egg needs time to moisten the dough.  A 2-hour chill is good although overnight is better.

The dough is portioned into 2 tablespoon balls and rolled into more rainbow sprinkles.   If it feels like too much, that’s absolutely right.

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These cookies are chewy in the center, crisp at the edges, and packed with sprinkles and vanilla.  They’re the perfect way to get in the mood for whatever celebration lies ahead.

VANILLA CONFETTI COOKIES

Yield:  makes about 18 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperatureIMG_9120
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

Directions:

1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.    Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla.

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla.

3.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Adding in the dry ingredients.

Adding in the dry ingredients.

The dough will be thick ( you may have to finish incorporating the mixture with a wooden spoon).  Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.

Add in those sprinkles!!

Add in those sprinkles!!

4.  Place the remaining 1/4 cup sprinkles in a bowl.  Scoop up 2 tablespoon of dough and roll in a ball.  Dip the ball in the bowl of sprinkles to cover lightly.  Put the balls on a platter.  Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and dough.  Chill the dough balls for at least 2 hours.

Form balls of dough, roll in more sprinkles, then chill.

Form balls of dough, roll in more sprinkles, then chill.

5.  Place oven racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6.  Transfer the chilled dough balls to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each ball.

Leave space, cookies will flatten out and spread.

Leave space, cookies will flatten out and spread.

7.  Bake until the cookies have spread and are just beginning to brown aground the edges, but are mostly pale and soft, 8 to 10 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.  The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Beefy Bolognese Sauce

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These are the days when I think a lot about comforts….and comfort foods.   Which brings me to the question:  just what is a comfort food?

If each of you were to give me an answer, I would probably get over 400 answers, so that means everyone has their own definition of what comfort food is to them.  For me, comfort foods take me back to my younger days, when Mom was doing the cooking.  There were so many dishes she made that I loved, so anything that reminds me of one of those meals is a comfort to me.  Comfort foods are tied up with memories….the family eating together around a big table with lots of talk and laughter going on, and enjoying favorite foods.

Bolognese Sauce with penne pasta

Bolognese Sauce with penne pasta

One of my most favorite memories is the meat sauce that Mom always made from scratch, and served over pasta with lots of grated cheese over the top.  I’m guessing that pasta in some form is considered a comfort food by many people all over the world.  Therefore a recipe for a good meat sauce (Bolognese Sauce) should be in every cook’s repertoire.  It’s so versatile, it can be served over anything;  rice, bread, potatoes, polenta, and pasta, of course.  It goes with any pasta shape.

So welcome to my kitchen today while I prepare my best Bolognese Sauce for you.  This is not a sauce that needs to cook slowly on the back burner for hours.  What helps to speed up the blending of flavors is cooking it in a Dutch oven.  The Dutch oven, even with the lid on, allows the sauce to reduce a little, thus concentrating the flavors.  This method of cooking it also lets the layers of flavor come through, as the bacon, ground meat and veggies all get browned in the same pot, which is then deglazed with the cooking liquid.

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For anyone who might want to cook it in a slow cooker….I have done it that way, and find that the sauce is a little more liquid than I like it, so I would recommend using a little less broth, or omit the wine.  The end result will still be very good, but my first choice is the Dutch oven.

Also, since making this is so easy, I like to make double the amount, and freeze half of it, so it’s ready for a quick meal anytime…

BEEFY BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Yield:  Makes about 4 cups, or enough for 1 pound of pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices center cut bacon, choppedIMG_9024
  • 8 oz. 90% lean ground beef
  • 4 oz. ground, lean pork, or sausage, casings removed
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup red or white wine
  • 1 ( 14.5-oz) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

1.  Place bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; sauté 5 minutes or until beacon begins to crisp.  Add beef and pork to pan;  cook 6 minutes or until partly browned, stirring to crumble.  Remove mixture from pan.

Browning all the meat.

Browning all the meat.

2.  Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes.

Sautéing the veggies.

Sautéing the veggies.

Add tomato paste; saute 1 minute until it starts to darken.

Add tomato paste.

Add tomato paste.

Add chicken broth and wine; bring to a boil.  Cook 1 minute, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return beef mixture to pan.

Add liquids, then return meats to the pan.

Add liquids, then return meats to the pan.

3.  Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cover; reduce heat to low, and cook about 1 hour, stirring several times to prevent sticking.  Taste before serving and add more salt, if needed.

Serve over your choice of pasta.  In the photos here, I used penne pasta.  Grate some fresh parmesan or Romano cheese over each serving and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.    DEEElish!

Oops, in my haste to take the photos, I forgot the cheese.  How could I ?

Oops, in my haste to take the photos, I forgot the cheese. How could I ?

Swedish Cardamom Bread

Swedish Cardamom Braid

Swedish Cardamom Braid

This very popular and delightful Scandinavian sweet bread is often served at Christmas time and is often braided, but can be baked in the typical loaf form as well.

It is one of the most popular items that we sell at our annual Chocolate Fest, which is sponsored by the women’s fellowship of our church.  The Chocolate Fest is coming up on February 7, and many of the women are baking up chocolate treats, but not everything is chocolate.  Case in point with this bread.

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Cardamom, a spice typically used in Scandinavian breads and baked goods, lightly seasons this soft pillowy bread.  I made up a batch last week, and we have been feasting on it ever since.  Mr. D. loves it, and has been asking me when I would make some, so I surprised him with two loaves of it.  I like to braid the loaves, making them look special with an egg wash and sprinkle of decorating sugar.

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Slices of this bread can be lightly heated in the microwave and spread with butter for breakfast.  It’s great with a cup of coffee!!

Makes a lovely light breakfast with fruit and coffee.

Makes a lovely light breakfast with fruit and coffee.

I make the dough in my bread machine on the “dough” cycle, then remove it, form the braids, and let it raise a second time before baking.  The ingredients in the recipe can be mixed in an electric mixer as well and left to rise in a warm place prior to making the braids.  So if you want to make this bread, but don’t have a bread machine, no problem.. you can use your mixer, and proceed as you would when making any regular bread recipe.

Braid it before baking.

Braid it before baking.

SWEDISH CARDAMOM BRAID

Yield:  2 braids,  or 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature, or slightly warmed in the microwaveIMG_9084
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla, or almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. freshly ground cardamom ( I use a full teaspoon.)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. yeast

Egg wash:  1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk or cream

Decorating sugar, optional

Directions:

1.  In the pan of a bread machine, layer in the ingredients, according to manufacturer’s suggestion.  Set for “dough” cycle, and start the machine.  Once all the ingredients are combined, watch carefully as the consistency can be somewhat “sticky”.  You may need to add more flour in small amounts until a smooth, non-sticky ball of dough is achieved.

2.  At completion of dough cycle, remove dough from the machine, and divide in half.  Keeping one half covered, divide the other half into 3 equal balls.  Roll each ball into a long rope.  Lay the three ropes next to each other, pinch together at one end, and braid them together. Pinch bottom ends together  (Just like making a hair braid!)  Repeat with the other half of dough.

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3.  Place each braid on a lightly greased baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.  Cover, and let rise for about 1  1/2 hours.  Brush braids with egg wash, sprinkle with decorating sugar (if using), and bake in a preheated 350*F. oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden.

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SOURCE:        The Big Book of Bread Machine Recipes,   Donna Rathmell German