Spritz Cookies

2/3 c. sugar

1 c. butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 t. salt

2 t. vanilla

2 1/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix sugar, butter, egg, salt and vanilla until combined.  Add flour.

Refrigerate for 30 min to 1 hr.  Put dough in spritzer and place spritzed dough on cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.  Cool on rack.

 

 

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Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

Brownies

3/4 c. butter

7 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. salt

4 large eggs

1 c. all purpose flour

1 c. roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Frosting and ganache

1 c. chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)

1/2 c. butter, divided and at room temp.

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1/8 t. salt

1/8 t. ground nutmeg

1 T. milk

1 t. vanilla extract

7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For brownies:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line 13x9x2 inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on each end.  Butter the foil.

Place 3/4 c. butter in heavy large saucepan.  Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in sugar, vanilla and salt, then eggs 1 at a time.  Fold in flour, then nuts.  Spread in prepared pan.  Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.  Place pan on rack; cool.

For frosting and ganache:

Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 c. butter in medium bowl to blend.  Beat in powdered sugar, salt and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla.  Spread frosting over brownies.

Stir chocolate and 1/4 c. butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Drop ganache all over brownies and spread evenly.

Chill in fridge for 1 hour until ganache is set.

 

Adapted from Epicurious

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Fairy Cookies

1 c. powdered sugar

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. butter

1 c. vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

4 1/2 c. flour

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cream of tartar

granulated sugar and sprinkles for rolling (mix 2 parts sugar to 1 part sprinkles)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl mix together sugars and butter, till creamy.  Then add vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Add to sugar mixture and stir till combined.  Chill for 1 hour.

Using a stainless steel scoop (either 2 T. or 1T. depending on how big you like them) scoop dough out and roll into a ball.  Roll dough in sugar mixture till evenly coated.  Put on cookie sheet and press lightly with bottom of glass to flatten.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on cookie size.  Cool on racks.

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Cheesy Ham Quiche with Hash Brown Crust

3 cups shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and patted dry

4 T. butter, melted

3 large eggs, beaten

1 c. half-and-half

3/4 c. diced cooked ham

1/2 c. diced green onions

1 c. shredded cheese (cheddar, gruyere, fontina etc.)

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a 9-inch pie plate, toss the hash browns with the melted butter and press into the bottom and sides to make a crust.

Bake for 20-25 min. until golden brown and beginning to crisp.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  When the hash brown crust is ready, pour the egg mixture over it and return to the oven.

Lower the oven temp. to 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed.

Adapted from Paula Deen

 

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Holiday Sangria

2 bottles red wine (pinot noir, or red blend works great)

1 c. brandy

1/2 c. Cointreau

1 c. orange juice

1/2 c. pomegranate juice

1/2 c. cranberry juice

1/2 c. simple syrup

Orange slices

Lemon slices

Blackberries

Cranberries

Apple slices

 

Mix all ingredients together and let stand in a tightly sealed container or pitcher for at least 24 hours in the fridge before serving.  Serve over ice.

 

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Simple Syrup

1 part granulated sugar

1 part water

Heat sugar and water in saucepan until sugar dissolves.  Cool.

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Chocolate Peppermint Bars

Chocolate Peppermint Bars1/2 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. kosher salt (you can use table salt but I like the larger size of kosher)

1/2 c. butter, room temp

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1 c. coarsely crushed peppermint hard candies (1/4 lb)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 13 x 9 inch glass pan with buttered aluminum foil, with a two inch overhang at each end of pan.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Beat in egg until combined then mix in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candy.

Spread dough evenly in pan and bake until puffed and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, about 20 minutes.

Cool completely on rack in pan then lift with foil overhang and transfer to cutting board.  Cut into bars and lift off foil with a spatula.

Adapted from Gourmet.

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Carmelized Onion, Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 medium leek, light green part only, thinly sliced

1 t. crushed garlic

1/2 t. dried thyme

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

3 oz. goat cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 nine inch prepared pie crust (or you can make your own)

1 egg + 1 t. water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter.  Add garlic, saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Then add onion, leek and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 15 minutes or until onions are soft and slightly browned.

Place pie dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Put cooked leek and onion mixture on center of pie dough, spread it out evenly over dough, keeping it about 1 inch from the edge.

Place crumbled goat cheese evenly over the leek and onion mixture.

Fold edges of pie dough over the filling, slightly overlapping as you go around.  This is supposed to be rustic so don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

Beat egg and 1 t. water in small dish with a fork.  Brush egg wash on the edges of the tart.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are nicely browned and goat cheese is just starting to brown.

Cook’s Hint: Sometimes I like to add crumbled bacon or prosciutto to make this more of a heartier appetizer.

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Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan and Lemon

3 heads broccoli (approx. 3 pounds)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated

1 lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 400º.

Trim approximately 1 inch off the ends of the broccoli stalks and cut broccoli lengthwise into spears.

Arrange broccoli on nonstick cookie sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

Toss to coat evenly.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and bake until the cheese melts and forms a crisp shell over the broccoli, approximately 8-10 minutes.

Remove from oven, drizzle with the juice from the lemon.

Cook’s note:  For better presentation, I like to put the finished broccoli into an oven safe dish and sprinkle 1/4 c. parmesan on top

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Cookie-cakes:

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground ginger

1/4 t. ground nutmeg

1/4 t. ground cloves

1 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1 (15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin

1 large egg

1 t. pure vanilla extract

Candied Pecans:

2 T. brown sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 t. water

1/2 c. pecans

Fillings:

6 oz mascarpone cheese, softened

3/4 stick (6 T.) butter, softened

1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar

1 T. bourbon (or 1 t. vanilla extract)

For cookie-cakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices in a bowl.

Whisk together sugar, oil, pumpkin, egg and vanilla in separate large bowl until well combined, then stir in flour mixture.

Using a 1 oz scoop, drop the batter onto the baking sheet, making 16 mounds about 2 inches apart.

Bake until springy to the touch, about 14-18 minutes.  Transfer to racks to cool.

Form and bake remaining batter on the other baking sheet.  You should have 32 cakes.

For candies pecans:

Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper.

Stir together sugar, salt and 1/2 T. water in a small saucepan.  Heat over moderate heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil.  Stir in pecans.

Spread mixture on lined sheet pan and bake until coating is bubbling and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Cool completely on pan on a rack.

Coarsely chop candied pecans.

For filling:

While cookie-cakes are baking, beat mascarpone cheese, butter and salt in a bowl until smooth.  Add confectioners sugar and bourbon and mix until smooth.

Chill filling until firm enough to hold it’s shape when spread.  About 30 min to 1 hr.

Assemble whoopie pies:

Spread 1 heaping T. of filling on each flat side of cooled cookie-cakes, then top with other half of cookie-cake.  If necessary, chill whoopie pies just long enough to firm up the edges again, about 30 min.

Gently press pecans into the filling around the middle of each whoopie pie.

 

Adapted from Epicurious and my friend, Ken 🙂

 

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