Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cardamom Stars

It is so hard to believe today is Christmas Eve.  My son is so excited...I am too!  We have our first of many family celebrations today.  Yay!  I hope you all have a very happy, healthy and blessed holiday season! 
Merry Christmas!

These cookies have been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember. 
I remember the first time I made them all by myself I felt like I had really accomplished something big.  The way some people feel when the cook a turkey for the first time (which I still have yet to do!)
Cardamom Stars
2+3/4 c. sifted flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. sour cream
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom onto waxed paper.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Stir in flour mixture, a third at a time alternately with sour cream.  Cover and chill several hours or overnight.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Using cookie cutter, cut into stars.  Place on lightly greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 F for 7 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely. 
Cover cookies with pink glaze (see below) and decorate with ornamental frosting (also below)

 Pink Glaze
Mix together 1 lb. powdered sugar and 6 T. water.  Stir until smooth.  Tint with red food coloring to make light pink.  If glaze stiffens add water a little at a time to make smooth again.
Dip the cookies into the glaze and let dry on cooling racks.  You could also use a spoon to glaze the cookies.  If the glaze is as smooth and runny as it should be it will drip from the cookies - you may want line the table or counter with wax paper under the cooling racks.
Can you see the way the drips fall into perfect pink little circles on the wax paper?  Its hard to keep little fingers away from them! 
Ornamental Frosting
Beat one egg white with 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/8 tsp. vanilla until foamy.  Slowly beat in 1+3/4 c. powdered sugar until frosting stands in firm peaks and is stiff enough to hold a sharp line.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sweet Cashew Popcorn

I love getting together with my family.  When we are together we like to tell stories and play games - board games, word games, card games. We also like to eat snacks.  All kinds of snacks.  Some of our favorites are Jelly Bellys, M&Ms, popcorn, party mix, scotcharoos, chips - the list goes on and on.  I am so excited that my brother and his family will be coming in from Tennessee later tonight.  I can hardly wait for us to all sit around the table laughing, playing games and eating of course! 
Last week I whipped up a batch of this delicious popcorn/cashew mix.  It came from a recipe I have for a sweet cereal mix.  I wanted to see how popcorn and cashews would taste instead of Chex and Crispix cereal.    I chose to use my new favorite popcorn.  Popcorn Indiana's Kettle Corn.  It is so good.  I could not stop eating it.  I literally ate it until my tummy hurt.  But it was worth it.  This will definitely be a new addition to our snack table this year (if I don't eat it all first!)
Sweet Cashew Popcorn
1 - 10 oz bag popped popcorn
(I used Popcorn Indiana's Kettle Corn)
1 large can of cashews
1/4 lb. butter (not margarine)
1/2 lb. brown sugar
1/4 c. lite Karo syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Dump popcorn and cashews into a brown paper sack (spray inside of sack with Pam first)
Mix butter brown sugar and Karo syrup in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour syrup over popcorn in sack and SHAKE!  Microwave on high 90 seconds.  SHAKE!  Repeat.  Spread out on cookie sheets or wax paper to cool.  Break apart any big clump as it cools.  Store in airtight container.

Popcorn on Foodista

Monday, December 21, 2009

And the baking goes on....

"Jetchy, I want cookie"
(My niece, Naomi, came to visit while we decorated our Cardamom Stars.  She helped herself to a taste!)

Over the weekend I put together plates of the cookies I made last week and, along with my husband and son, delivered them to neighbors.  I hadn't done that for a while.  Too long.  It felt so good to knock on their doors and surprise them with a tray full of goodies.  I think it would be fun to do that throughout the year - not just at Christmas!
On the plates of cookies were Turtles, Caramel Chai cookies, Cardamom Stars, Eggnog Thumbprints from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch (which by the way - I have a new favorite frosting. Who knew rum mixed with butter and powdered sugar would be so good?), carmel cashew popcorn and Intimints from Picky Palate.
So as of yesterday I thought I was done with my holiday baking.  I spent the afternoon with my mom and one of my sisters baking candy-cane shaped coffee cakes - another Christmas tradition in our family.  While I was at my parents house my mom brought out an envelope of holiday recipes she has collected through the years.  I found a few recipes I think I'm gonna try between this week and next!
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to see my blog!  It is fun to read the comments you have left!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caramel Chai Cookies

So yesterday was my first official day of my Christmas baking.  I had an idea in my head for a Chai sugar cookie with a caramel kiss on top.  I got a little impatient and put the kisses on while they were too warm.  I used a butter knife to "frost" the cookies with the melted chocolate and caramel.  I drizzled melted frosting over the top for an added touch.

And with the help of the cutest four year old boy I know, I made a batch of  turtles. 

There are also cardamom stars in the works - a family tradition.  I will post those pictures after we frost them this weekend!

Caramel Chai Cookies
1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 packet of  powdered Chai tea drink mix
1 bag of Hersheys caramel kisses
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix softened cookie dough with dry tea mix until completely mixed together.  Roll into ball and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes. 
Place kiss on top and let it start to melt.  Using a butter knife, gently smooth it around the top of cookie. 
Drizzle with frosting or melted chocolate if desired.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Streusel Apple Cranberry Pie

Do you ever get a recipe or an idea for a recipe that you just cannot get out of your head until you make it?  That's what happened with this pie.  It is a recipe I tried about a year ago for a friend and for some reason I started thinking about it a few weeks ago - and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  When I mentioned this to my dad he kindly offered to be my taste-tester if I really felt I needed to make this pie.  What a guy! 

The recipe calls for a store bought crust, but I like to make my own.  This time I tried using half shortening and half butter and I really liked it!  It was easier to handle and roll out and I think it tasted better too! 

My parents joined us for dessert Sunday night and the pie was a hit!
Now it's off to the grocery store...I'm starting my cookie baking this week - yay!!!
Streusel Apple Cranberry Pie
(Pampered Chef, Delightful Desserts)
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c.brown sugar
3 T. butter or margarine
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (I used Pecans)
Crust and Filling:
1/2 package refrigerated pie crust
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. dried cranberries (I used craisens)
2 tsp. orange zest
7-8 red baking apples
Preheat oven to 350 F.  For struesel topping, combine flour and brown sugar.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Stir in nuts.
For crust and filling, let pie crust stand at room temperature 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Add cranberries and zest.  Mix well and set aside.
Peel and slice apples, toss apples with sugar mixture until evenly coated.  Set aside.
Gently unfold crust onto floured surface.  Roll crust to 11 1/2 inch circle.  Place in pie pan and roll up the sides.  Spoon apple mixture into crust.  Sprinkle evenly with struesel topping.  Bake 50-55 minutes.  Cool at least two hours before serving.  (Tastes delicious with ice cream!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Great Opportunity!

As you saw from my previous post, Picky Palate is one of my favorite blogs to follow.  It is actually the very first one I ever saw and I was HOOKED. 
So tonight I was checking in to see what was new and saw that the latest post has a link to the Kraft website for a really great opportunity to help feed the hungry this holiday season.  And a fun giveaway from Jenny at Picky Palate.  Check it out here

Holiday Treats

Well, I won't say that I have officially started my holiday baking, but I'm definitely looking into what I want to try this year.  And this world of food blogs has opened my eyes to so many new recipes.  I love it!  I visited Picky Palate this week and found this great recipe for Candy Cane Kiss Centered Brownies.  I have to admit I bombed my first round of these.  I know you're wondering how someone can mess up brownies from a box.  Well, I didn't let them finish baking all the way and I had a big, half-baked brownie mess on my hands.

I didn't want all the brownie pieces to go to waste so I decided to try something with them.  I melted Hersheys chocolate bars, mixed in the brownie pieces and a bag of mint M&Ms.  (If you haven't tried these M&Ms yet, you should.  They are sooo good!)

I rolled the batter in a mixture of powdered sugar and crushed candy canes and rolled it up in wax paper.  I let this cool in the refridgerator.
The result?  It turned out very delicious, but hard to cut.  I think I'll try it again - with a few changes.  Maybe I'll spread it into a thinner layer-and not let them cool all the way before I cut into them. 
So, in the end I crunched it up into smaller pieces and my husband loves it. 
Not such a bad mistake after all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Italian Fruit Salad

So I'm guessing fresh fruit seems like a funny thing to talk about this time of year.  I know everybody's thinking about doing their holiday baking and grocery shopping for those big family gatherings and delicious meals.  I can hardly wait myself!
I was supposed to go to aChristmas party this weekend with friends - with an Italian theme.  I offered to bring a side dish and I found a very simple recipe for fresh fruit with a sweet glaze to pour over it.

Lots of beautiful berries, pineapple and grapes

A simple mixture of honey and orange juice to pour over the fruit

And voila!  A simple, sweet fruit salad
(I'm not sure what makes this Italian - I haven't visited there yet - but I'll trust the creator of this recipe knew what they were talking about when they named it Italian Fruit Salad)

Italian Fruit Salad

1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. orange liqueur - I used orange juice
1 pound strawberries, quartered
1/2 pound seedless grapes
1 large can mandarin oranges, drained
1 fresh pineapple cut into chunks
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 pint blackberries

In a small bowl, whisk together honey and fruit liqueur.  Wash fruit.  Add all fruit into a large serving bowl, add the dressing and toss gently.  Chill before serving

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Cookie Bake Sale

My son's preschool class is having their annual Christmas Cookie bake sale tomorrow. I think this will be one of the only times I actually get to send something homemade with him to school. I made of few of my favorites - chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter/ritz sandwiches dipped in white chocolate (yummy!)

I also decided to try a new recipe. Now normally I am a chocolately or chewy cookie kinda girl - but I found a recipe for Jam-Filled Cookies and something about there being cream cheese in the dough made me want to try them.
I'm so glad I did! They turned out great. I like that they were a softer shortbread cookie and the warm strawberry jam was delicious. And they look so festive too!

Easy Jam Filled Cookies (Kraft)

1 - 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. walnuts (I used pecans) finely chopped
3/4 c. preserves (I used strawberry)
1 tsp. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Separate 1 of the eggs; set egg white aside for later use. Add yolk, second (whole) egg and vanilla to cream cheese mixture; mix well. Gradually add combined flour and baking powder, beating until well blended.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 12x1 inch log; place 2 inches apart, on large ungreased baking sheet. Use fingers to make depression down length of each log. Beat reserved egg white with fork; brush over dough. Sprinkle with walnuts. Fill depressions with preserves, using about 3 T. preserves in each log.
Bake 25-27 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cheesecake

I had the privilege this week to make birthday treats for one of my co-workers. She told me she loves anything pumpkin or chocolate and she really likes cheesecake. I went in search of a brownie-type cheesecake and I came across one on The recipe is called Chocolate Chip Brownie Cheesecake. I switched the chocolate chips for peanut butter cups and added peanut butter frosting to top it off. It was yummy!!!
Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cheesecake

1 - (19.5 oz) package fudge brownie mix
3 - 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used chopped peanut butter cups)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom only of 9-inch springform pan. Prepare brownie mix as directed. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes or until set.
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add in sweetened condensed milk. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chocolate. Pour over brownie in pan.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake 50 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill thoroughly. Remove side of springform pan. Garnish as desired.
Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons Milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Mix in sugar. Mixture will be thick. Add milk one tablespoon at a time. Beat at least 3 minutes until fluffy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My First Attempt

This is my first time ever blogging. I got so excited a few weeks ago when I stumbled into the world of food blogs. I've seen all kinds of blogs, but never any for people who love food and baking as much as I do. So I've decided to give this a whirl! If anyone has any tips or advice please let me know!

I just took the last batch of Vanilla Spice cookies out of the oven - made special for my good friends - and my house smells delicious!

Vanilla Spice Cookies

1 package Spice Cake Mix
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped almond bark or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and vanilla in large bowl. Mix well. Dough will be thick. Add almond bark. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 min.
Let cool. Store in airtight container.