Friday, December 31, 2010

FFWD—December Roundup—My Go-To Beef Daube, Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts, and Speculoos

Just a quick round up of the recipes for French Fridays With Dorie for December before December and the year are through!

A couple weeks ago I made Dorie’s Go-To Beef Daube (pages 244-245).  I made just a few simple changes.  The recipe called for 2 large onions and 6 shallots.  I don’t think so! ;)  I did use one onion.  And that was plenty.  I didn’t have any parsnips.  Instead of Cognac or brandy, I just used water.  In place of the red wine, I used POM Wonderful pomegranate juice.  And I didn’t have any fresh herbs for the bouquet garni, so I used dried herbs and didn’t put them in cheesecloth.  All my changes worked well.  This was a great Sunday meal.  I made mashed potatoes to go with it.


I made the Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts (page 18). I doubled the nuts and egg, but not the sugar and spices.  I’m glad I didn’t double the sugar, they would have had too much.  The spices were also perfect without doubling them.  I used one cup each of cashews, pecans, almonds and walnuts.  I gave lots of these away for Christmas and munches on my fair share! ;)


And finally for this month, I made Speculoos (pages 406-407).  These are a fun, perfectly Christmas cookie.  Similar to a thin crispy gingersnap, but with cinnamon as the key flavor and not ginger.  I like them!


These were easy and fun to roll out (the dough chills while it is already rolled in between plastic wrap.  I had fun with different shapes and some sprinkles!


Taylor wanted to make one, so he made a big gingerbread boy cookie and had fun decorating it.


There you have it, December French Friday’s With Dorie at my house.  Get the book and join in the fun.


My little Sammie didn’t feel very good today, this is him about 5:00 p.m.


He went to bed with a fever (but medicated).  :(  Bummer!  Speaking of bed, I must go there so I can get up early and workout.  Wishing you all a Happy New Year!  Be safe and have a wonderful 2011.  I’m looking forward to it!


Here’s our spoiled little puppy.  He comes in from going potty outside in the foot of snow on the ground and gets all wrapped up in a towel to dry off and cuddle.  No, he’s not spoiled at all. ;)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dinner! Chicken & Arugula Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and Pear Salad

We had some friends from Kansas who are in Utah for the holidays come over for dinner a few days ago.  For some reason that day I was craving spaghetti so I planned to just make that for dinner.  Kevin reminded me that Dan doesn’t like spaghetti, as in there's only one food he really dislikes and it’s spaghetti.  Not the sauce, but the actual spaghetti pasta, it gives him the heebie-jeebies.  Weird.  He said he likes all other pasta.  I then remembered some meatballs I’d had in one of Paige's classes back in Kansas and I decided those are what I’d make and serve with penne pasta.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to do justice to savory food in photos.  Kevin got me a light box for Christmas, maybe once I figure that out I’ll get better.  But I did snap a few pictures of these fabulous meatballs.  One of the keys to making these is to make them small—the more the merrier, then everyone can have a plateful of meatballs instead of just one or two big ones.  This recipe makes 60 meatballs with one pound of ground poultry.  Another great reason to make these meatballs is that they freeze well.  Check out Paige's post about them from a few months ago.  These are perfect for pulling out of the freezer when you need a quick meal.

The meatballs were very well liked by our company (they begged for the recipe ;).  Paige has posted the recipe on her blog, which is adapted from an article in Food & Wine magazine back in the 90’s. 


Chicken & Arugula Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, by Paige Vandegrift, adapted from Food & Wine Magazine (My changes are in red—Katrina)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sautéing the meatballs (I ran out of olive oil and used canola)
3 thin slices pancetta or bacon, (about 2 ounces), chopped (I used bacon)
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 oz. arugula (or spinach), stemmed and finely chopped (I used spinach)
1 pound ground chicken (dark meat is best) (I used ground white turkey meat and it was a 19 oz. package)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs)
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (about 1 ½ ounces)
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large shallots, minced
¼ cup brandy, white wine or water is also fine (I used some chicken stock)

One 35-ounce can Italian (Roma) peeled whole tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped in a food processor (this is a difficult sized can to find, a 28-oz. can is fine, but you can add half of a 14-oz. can if you like a lot of sauce) (I used both a full 28 oz can and a 14 oz can)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (I used about 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large non-reactive skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the pancetta/bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, capers, egg, ¾ teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Add the arugula mixture and beat until well blended. Roll the mixture by teaspoonfuls into ¾ -inch balls.
In a large skillet, heat some more olive oil. Add half of the meatballs in a single layer and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a large plate. Repeat with the second batch of meatballs, adding more oil if necessary. Discard the fat and wipe out the skillet.
In the same skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy/stock/water, whichever you’re using, raise the heat to high and cook until evaporated. Add the tomatoes and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer over low heat until hot through and very tender—15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.  Serve with one pound of any pasta if desired.


I sauteed them in three batches.




Almost ready!


These are some great meatballs and a simple tomato sauce.  To go with the pasta and meatballs, I decided to make a Fresh Crispy Pear Salad that Suzanne at Thru The Bugs on My Windshield posted recently.  I just served the salad with some mixed greens and it was great as well. 


You can get the recipe on the link above to Suzanne’s blog.  Check out her amazing pictures!  Served with some good crusty whole grain bread, this meal was perfect and I could eat it everyday and was happy to share it with company!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TWD—Rewind, Almost-Fudge Gateau

I was looking through the Tuesday With Dorie recipes that I missed because we were allowed to pick whatever recipe we wanted that we’d missed in the past. 
I was actually going to just skip it because we’ve definitely had enough chocolate/cookies/goodies around here.  But I decided to make it since we had some friends over for dinner who are here from Kansas.  (Thanks for coming over, Berghouts!  So fun to see you.)

I saw on the P&Q that Valerie was going to make the Almost-Fudge Gateau and just in my browsing it had already caught my eye.  So I decided that’s what I’d make.


The super rich, decadent almost-too-fudgy gateau was easy to make and baked off without a hitch.  Mine didn’t even sink in the middle as Dorie said it might.  She suggested putting the glaze on the bottom side, but I decided to just do it on the top since it wasn’t cracked or sunken in the middle.

I’m taking it easy on eating so much/so many goodies for a while, so I only took a little bite of Kevin’s piece of the gateau and it’s really fudgy, rich and tasted great.  Everyone liked it.  I omitted the coffee and forgot to add the water instead.  I made the cake with 70% dark chocolate and the ganache with semi sweet chocolate as that was all I had left.


The middle of the gateau was just slightly underdone (I baked it 30 minutes), but that actually just made it fudgier.  I would probably make this again for someone who really loves chocolate.


I made a darn good dinner to go with the chocolate as well and will be sharing that with you very soon!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a fantastic New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone!! (Rocky Road Fudge, Soft Gingersnap Cookies With White Chocolate, Philly Fudge, Most Excellent Cookies Ever-Chocolate Mint Cookies, and Divinity Chocolate Truffles)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.  We are pretty much ready here.  After wrapping most of the presents last night after the boys went to bed, they were beyond excited all day today checking out the presents constantly, trying to figure out what could be in each one.

DSCF2920I made more Rocky Road Fudge Candy today.  After finding these fun marshmallows in the store, I just had to give them a try in the fudge.


The fudge sliced with some great marshmallow shapes.  Fun and festive!


A little intermission from Chip.  I love that he always has one ear up and one ear down.  Chip weighs all of about 5 1/2 pounds.  He’s becoming less shy and starting to chew on things.  (We’re in a puppy training class with him.)   I’ve been calling him Chipper Chew.

DSCF2926 I made these Soft Gingersnap Cookies with white chocolate that I saw Maria post at Two Peas and Their Pod.  I tried some with no chocolate, some with mini semi sweet chocolate chips and some with chopped white chocolate. I baked some on a baking sheet (they baked flatter than the ones on the pizza stone) and some on a pizza stone as Maria said her friend suggested who shared the recipe with her.  The best ones by far were the ones I did just as the recipe suggested with the white chocolate and baked on a pizza stone.  These are some great soft ginger cookies and again I was surprised how much I liked the white chocolate.  Give these cookies a try sometime!




While trying to find different fudge recipes to make, I came across a post on the blog, Dying For Chocolate for Philly Fudge.  Who knew National Fudge Day was on June 16?  I’m so happy to know this now.   Fudge isn’t just for Christmas anymore!  On Janet’s post, there are also links to many more fudge recipes.


This fudge is a softer one that has a hint of cream cheese taste and needs to stay in the refrigerator.  It tastes great!


One of my friends from Kansas, Tiffany, who moved to Albuquerque before we even left Kansas (so yes, she left me first! ;) called me a few days ago and told me someone gave her the best cookie recipe ever and that I just had to try it.  Try I must!  These are a chocolate cookie and once it’s baked and comes out of the oven, you put an Andes Mint on top, let it melt a few minutes, then smooth it over the cookie.  (I sprinkled mine with some festive sprinkles.)  The cookies are good!  Mine were slightly crisp and chewy.  Tiffany said hers were a little more soft chewy.  I think it’s an altitude issue here.


I’m not sure of the origin of the recipe Tiffany shared with me, but here it is.

Most Excellent Cookies Ever (Chocolate Mint Cookies), origin of recipe unknown

3/4 cup butter
1  1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water

2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet choc chips
2 1/2 cups flour
1  1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Andes Mint candies (1-2 packages)

Melt butter, brown sugar & water over medium heat until melted, add in choc chips and stir until completely melted. Cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to mixing bowl and beat in 2 eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix. Let chill for 45 minutes. Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 min. Place an Andes Mint on top of each cookie as soon as they come out of the oven. Allow to melt and then swirl with a knife. Yummy!

Thanks, Tiffany!  Miss and love ya to pieces!  I love it that when people eat a yummy cookie they often think of me. ;)

And finally (for now), yesterday I decided to make divinity.  Then I realized I am almost out of corn syrup.  So I searched the internet for an alternate kind that doesn’t have corn syrup and found a recipe on Kraft Foods for Creme Divinity that uses marshmallow creme and I had a jar in the pantry, so I gave it a try.

Now, when a recipe says “Beat until mixture just begins to lose its gloss and hold its shape when dropped from spoon.” (about 5 minutes) that you should not get interrupted when it’s almost to that stage and turn back to look a few minutes later and see that it is well past “gloss”.  You just shouldn’t do that if you want divinity.  Well, needless to say, that is what happened to me.  I wasn’t about to just toss the concoction, so although it was a little stiff, I threw in the pecans and rolled the now nougat-like mixture into small balls.  After those sat for about an hour hardening up slightly, I then dipped each ball into melted chocolate and once the chocolate hardened, I swirled some white chocolate on the top of each.


These are really good little truffles.



A certain someone has taken over claims on this chair.  We don’t mind so much because we want him to stay off our new black leather couches!  ‘Sides, he’s cute when he’s all nestled down in the chair.  “The children were nestled all snug in their beds…..”

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TWD—“Cardamom” Crumb Cake (Cinnamon/Ginger/Nutmeg)

This week’s recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie, chosen by at great gal, Jill from Jill's Blog is Cardamom Crumb Cake on pages 38-39 in Baking From My Home to Yours.  I made the cake on Monday to take to a little family night we had going to sing carols with our friend Bob and some others at his apartments. 

The cake is supposed to have espresso and coffee, but I didn’t do that.  I left out the espresso and just used water for the coffee.  I also didn’t use cardamom, I don’t have any and after looking up information about it, it is expensive and not so easy to find.  I have wanted to get some, but have never used it.  In place of the cardamom, I used a combination of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  With three tablespoons of orange zest, that is definitely the key flavor to my version of this crumb cake.  The recipe calls for whole milk, but I just used 2%, which is fine.  I thought it was good.  The cake is nice and moist.  I just snapped a few quick photos before taking it to our activity.


My favorite part of crumb cake is the crumb topping.  This is a good one with even more orange zest in the crumb topping.  Thanks for the great choice this week, Jill.  You can get the recipe on Jill’s blog. 

DSCF2891Happy Holidays!


Chip loves this little, pink stuffed octopus with crinkly legs.  We’re having fun with this new addition to our home.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—The Finale: Russian Teacakes

12 Days

Well, here we are at the end of Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies and we have exactly one week until Christmas!  I’m finishing up this round up of some fantastic cookies and holiday goodies with one of my all time favorite cookies—Russian Teacakes, aka Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowballs.  What other names do you know for these cookies?

These are one of my favorite cookies and my moms, too.  They practically melt in your mouth.  I got this recipe from Chef Paige, she told me this is the recipe she has been using since she was in 8th grade and she believes it was from Betty Crocker.  Instead of just finely chopping the pecans, she pulses them in a food processor with the flour until they are finely ground.  I used to make these with some pretty coarsely chopped pecans, but I do like the way they are more delicate with the ground pecans.


Russian Teacakes, by Chef Paige, adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ t. salt

¾ c. pecans

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the vanilla. Set aside.

Place the flour and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add to the butter mixture with the salt. Stir to form a soft dough.

Mold into 1-inch balls and bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 400° until set—about 10 minutes.

Toss in powdered sugar (be gentle, they break). Finish cooling on a wire rack. Store air tight.

Makes 48 cookies.


When I made these a few days ago for my Christmas goodies addition, I really just snapped these few pictures.  Some other similar cookies I posted last year that are also delicious are these Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies.  I can’t believe I haven’t made these yet for the holidays this year.  That must be remedied! 

Ready or not, posting along with the rest of the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies group has been really fun and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caramel Pecan Fudge and Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme Drops Fudge

It’s fudge time!  I really like fudge.  I like it enough that it’s dangerous for me.  I only make it during the holidays.  And then I give most of it away.  You know, you have to square off those edges nicely. ;)

One of the things I find most enjoyable is making up different kinds of fudge.  I do that with brownies, too.  One of my favorite brownies are Caramel Pecan Brownies.  I decided I needed to make Caramel Pecan Fudge.


I love how it sliced with the chunks of caramel and pieces of toasted pecans.  I used Kraft caramels and cut each into about six pieces.  I just used the easy fudge recipe from Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk.  I always use the fat free condensed milk, so all my fudge is low fat. (bwah!)  I cannot tell a difference between the fat free and the regular. 

Caramel Pecan Fudge, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! (Adapted from Borden’s)

3 cups chocolate chips (18 ounces) I used 1 cup semi sweet and 2 cups milk chocolate

1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk

pinch of salt

3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans

24 Kraft caramels, unwrapped and cut into six pieces each

Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with enough foil to hang a little over the edge of the pan and spray it with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips and salt and melt over medium heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the chopped pecans and caramels.  Spread the fudge evenly in the pan.  Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.  Lift the fudge out of the pan with the foil edges and set it on a cutting board.  Cut into one inch squares.


Have you seen the new Hershey’s Drops?  There’s milk chocolate and cookies’n’creme.  When I saw them last week, I had to grab a bag of each.

I decided to make fudge with the Cookies’n’ Creme Drops mixed in.  Again, this was really easy.


These have a great sweet crunch and contrast with the smooth, chocolaty fudge.


 Cookies’n’Creme Fudge, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! (Adapted from Borden’s)

2 cups, 1 pkg. (12 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s special dark chips)

1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons butter

pinch of salt

4 ounces Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme Drops (about half a bag) 3 ounces roughly chopped (a good heaping half cup)

Line a 9 inch square baking pan with enough foil to hang a little over the edge of the pan and spray it with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt and melt over medium heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the chopped Drops.  Spread the fudge evenly in the pan.  Add the remaining whole Drops evenly over the fudge.  Refrigerate until firm about 2 hours.    Lift the fudge out of the pan with the foil edges and set it on a cutting board.  Cut into one inch squares.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TWD—:( Big Distractions, Didn’t Make the Cake and A New Little One At Our House

Hi!  I hate it that I didn’t get to this week’s recipe, I never like missing a recipe.  But I just couldn’t get it done.  Besides all the holiday baking I’ve been doing, we also have a new member of our family.

This is Chip.


Awwwwwww!  Chip is 4 months old, his birthday is August 12, 2010.  He is a miniature Australian Shepherd.  He’s really sweet.  He’s potty training.  I thought I was done with that forever, but here we are again.  He’s doing great!  Hasn’t had any accidents in the house (yet) since he got here two days ago.  Yes, I even got up at 2 a.m. and took him outside for a potty break.


We are excited to have him join our family.  The boys are thrilled to pieces.  We’ve been promising them we’d get a dog for about a year now.  They wanted one last Christmas, but we told them since we were moving we didn’t want to have to deal with a dog then.  So we promised them we’d get one this Christmas.  After finding Chip available online, Kevin and I went to meet him.  We’d shown the boys pictures of him and they knew we went to see him.  When we returned, we just told them we liked him but hadn’t decided anything yet.  When really, we liked him so much when we met him that we paid for him right then.  That was Friday.  On Sunday, while we were out to a family function, we then planned to surprise the boys by showing up at the breeder’s house and picking up the dog.  They were definitely surprised!




Having a puppy in our home is totally new to both Kevin and I.  Kevin has even always talked about how much he DOESN’T like dogs.  I just couldn’t see depriving four boys of not having a pet their whole lives and since I love cats but am allergic, that wasn’t an option.  Guess who really likes the puppy?


I love his little brown eyebrows and the tan fur sticking out of his ears.  (The dog, not Kevin—ha, just kidding!)  This next one is blurry, but Kevin just likes to sit around and hold Chip.  I think someone likes a little puppy more than he’s led on!


We’re having a lot of fun with the puppy and it’s definitely keeping us more busy, which is also what took my time away from getting to this week’s TWD recipe for Apple-Coconut Family Cake that was chosen by Amber of Cobbler du Monde.  Amber has the recipe on her blog.  Check the TWD site to see those who did make the cake.  (Sorry, Amber!)

Happy Holidays!  Gotta run to take the pup for another potty break! ;)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Giveaway Winners, Award Thank-Yous and Top Five Best In Dessert Blogs Recognition from Guide to Culinary Schools

First of all, a winner was chosen on for the $75 gift code giveaway from CSN Stores and the one chosen was comment #29, Katrina (no this person was not chosen because of her fabulous name) ;)

Katrina said...

My big wish list item is a trunki for my daughter...I just love making her happy.

Katrina has a cute mommy blog called Wakeboarding Mama and a cute little toddler named Violet.  I’m sure she’ll put that “trip” to CSN Stores to good use for Christmas.  Congratulations, Katrina!


I wanted to give a thank you shout out to two bloggers who recently sent me some blog awards.

Lisa at Sweet As Sugar Cookies send me the One Lovely Blog Award.  Thanks, Lisa!  I think your blog (and you) are darn lovely, too. ;)

Another couple awards I received were from Erin at Samantha's Day.  First of all The Versatile Blogger

And The Stylish Blogger Award.  Thanks Erin, that’s so nice of you to think of me!


Finally I was also excited to hear from the Guide to Culinary Schools that Baking and Boys! was chosen (they made a list of their favorites) as one of the Top Five 50 Scrumptious Dessert Blogs.  Wow, don’t I feel special!  Thanks!  Check out their list of GREAT, scrumptious blogs!  I’m super honored to be on that list.