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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Posted in Pictures by Sarah on December 30, 2009

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Daily Christmas Cookie Recipe: Whole Grain Chocolate Cookies

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 21, 2009

This recipe is from Mark Bittman’s blog.  Mark Bittman wrote the cookbook bible: How to Cook Everything!  The recipe comes from a guest poster, Suzanne Lenzer, who was on a quest to find a recipe for cookies “so delicious that you would never guess it was (sort of) good for you.”

Hope to try it out!

Whole Grain Chocolate Cookies

Yield About 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Put the butter and sugar in a separate bowl and use a wooden spoon to cream them together until light and slightly fluffy; add the vanilla and continue mixing until it’s well combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar; at this point the batter will become quite firm. Add the oats and mix them in evenly, then add the chocolate chips. You may have to knead the dough by hand at this point to fully integrate the oats and chips.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up balls of dough and put them on the prepared cookie sheet about two inches apart. Once you’ve filled the sheet, flatten each ball slightly with the back of a spoon or the flat side of a measuring cup; you may need to moisten the spoon or cup to keep the dough from sticking.

Bake the cookies until the top is set and cracked, about 14 minutes. Set on a rack to cool and serve.

Chocolate Italian Wedding Cookies

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 16, 2009

I got this cookie recipe from this amazing article in the New York Times highlighting a fantastic tradition in Pittsburgh weddings:  the Cookie Table!

For a great read, check it out:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/dining/16cookies.html

FOR THE COOKIES:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE ICING AND DECORATING:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk, as needed
  • 1/2 cup decorative sprinkles.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a mixing bowl, add walnuts, and mix again.

In a small saucepan, combine shortening and milk. Place over low heat until shortening melts. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and stir to blend. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until well blended. While warm, roll dough into 1- to 1 1/2-inch balls. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on one or two baking sheets.

Bake until surface is no longer shiny, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

DIRECTIONS FOR ICING & DECORATIONG

Place confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and mix in enough milk to make icing just thick enough to coat the top of a cookie.  Dip top of each cookie into icing, then into sprinkles, and set aside to dry.

Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 6 to 7 dozen cookies.

Daily Christmas Cookie Recipe: Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 15, 2009

Many thanks to Women’s Health Magazine for today’s Christmas Cookie post.  They look yummy and are described as “soft and chewy”!

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar or date sugar
  • 1/3 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed, or honey
  • 2 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed, or honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded peeled apple
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup of the oats with the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice and brown sugar or date sugar. Process until the oats are coarsely ground and ingredients well mixed.  Then, stir in the remaining oats.
In another bowl, combine the juice concentrate or honey, butter or oil, vanilla, apples and raisins. Mix well.
Combine the contents of the blender & the bowl, stirring just until incorporated, then fold in the egg whites.
Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto 2 no-stick 9″ x 13″ baking sheets.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, checking frequently during the last 5 minutes to avoid over-baking.  Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

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Pumpkin Bread

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 14, 2009

Got this delicious-sounding pumpkin bread recipe from a friend.  Can’t wait to try it!

Ingredients

  • 1  cup  pumpkin pie filling (not pure pumpkin)
  • 1/2  cup  canola oil, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  molasses
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground cloves
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground ginger

Preparation

Heat oven to 350° F. Oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin pie filling, oil, sugar, molasses, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the bread from the pan. Invert it onto a cutting board. Serve warm.

In Advance: Bake the bread and let it cool. Wrap and set aside at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Cover with foil and warm in a 250° F oven for 30 minutes.

To Freeze: Place the cooled bread in a resealable plastic bag or cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap. Store for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Refrigerate the bread overnight. Remove the plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil, and warm in a 250° oven for 30 minutes.

Daily Christmas Cookie Recipe: Pecan Fudge Brownies

Posted in Pictures by Sarah on December 11, 2009

These are definitely one of Mom’s favorites!  I prefer them pecan-free, but you can always mix up this optional ingredient to add your own unique twist.

Pecan Fudge Brownies

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups (about 5-1/4 ounces) roasted or raw pecan pieces
  • 10 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, divided
  • 3 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 large eggs, beaten to combine, preferably at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop 8 ounces of the semisweet chocolate into small chunks (no larger than about 1/4 inch on each side) and place chunks into a medium bowl and combine with pecans.

Finely chop remaining 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate; place into heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum 3 quart pot along with finely chopped unsweetened chocolate.  Place butter slices into the pot with chopped chocolates.  Set pot over very low heat and stir almost constantly until almost melted.  Remove from heat; stir until completely melted and smooth. Add cocoa powder; whisk in briskly until most lumps are dissolved. Scrape pot sides and bottom with rubber spatula. Cool mixture 15 minutes.

When chocolate mixture has cooled 15 minutes, add granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt; stir thoroughly to mix well (mixture will have the texture of wet sand).  Add beaten eggs in 3 additions, carefully beating in each addition until combined (when eggs have all been added, batter texture should be smooth).  Add flour; stir in just until almost incorporated. Add chocolate chunks and pecans and stir in until evenly distributed.

Turn into 9 x 13 baking pan & spread evenly.  Bake in preheated oven 26 to 31 minutes, turning pan back-to-front once about halfway through baking time.

Remove brownies to cooling rack. Cool completely before covering or cutting.

Daily Christmas Cookie Recipe: Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 10, 2009

Sorry, Girl Scouts, mom has your Thin Mints beat with these babies!

Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. Nestle mint flavored semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Confectioners’ sugar
Prep

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Melt 1 cup chocolate morsels; set aside.

In large mixer bowl, beat granulated sugar and butter until creamy.   Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla extract.  Then beat in eggs.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.   Stir in remaining 1/2 cup mint chocolate morsels.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Freeze until firm.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Coat with confectioners’ sugar.   Place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes until tops appear cracked.  Let stand on cookie sheet, 5 minutes.

Daily Christmas Cookie Recipe: Snickerdoodle

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 9, 2009

Neither a snicker, nor a doodle, but tasty tasty tasty.

Snickerdoodles

Ingredients
  • 2 3/4 cups (360 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coating:

  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

Use an electric mixer or hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar until smooth (about 2 to 3 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is soft, cover and refrigerate until firm enough to roll into balls (one to two hours).

Once the dough is firm enough to roll, shape the dough into 1 inch round balls.

In a large shallow bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Then, roll the balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar.

Place on the prepared pan about 2 in. apart.  Then, using the bottom of a glass, gently flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick.

Bake the cookies for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until they are light golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Can store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for about 10 – 14 days.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Christmas Music!

Posted in Life by Sarah on December 9, 2009

I am still working on the cookie recipe for the day!

Until I do, I’m including a quick post to share with you a recent Christmas album I bought on iTunes.  It is full of really beautiful classic classical Christmas music.  It is called “Angels on High” and is part of the “A Robert Shaw Christmas” collection of albums.

If you like the Vienna Boys Choir Christmas album, or any madrigals type songs, you’ll LOVE this album!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Posted in Recipes by Sarah on December 8, 2009

One of the easiest and – in my opinion – tastiest Christmas treats on the platter every year!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 Bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Bag White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Bag of Thin Pretzel Twists (you can use pretzel rods, but I love the light crispiness of the twists)
  • Shortening (optional:  I’ve read a few recipes that call for anywhere between 1 Tbsp. to 1/4 c. of shortening.  I don’t think mom makes hers with shortening, though it probably adds flavor.  If you do use shortening, I’d recommend Spectrum Organics Shortening, which is much more heart healthy)
  • Sprinkles! (also optional)
Directions

Place chocolate chips (and shortening) in a large glass microwaveable bowl and melt in microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir then heat 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer or until melted and smooth.

If you’d like all your pretzels to be covered in sprinkles, you can pour sprinkles directly into the melted chocolate.  Using a fork or tongs, dip pretzels one at a time into melted chocolate, tapping fork on edge of bowl to remove excess.

Place on wax paper on a cooking sheet.   If desired, pour sprinkles over pretzels while chocolate is still melted, to allow the sprinkles to stick.  Put in refrigerator until firm.  Keep chilled.

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