“I think the most significant work we ever do, in the whole world, in our whole life, is done within the four walls of our own home.” – Stephen R. Covey

Friday, December 25, 2009

5 Days of Cookies: Day 4 & 5

Here are two of my favorite cookie recipes. An old classic and a holiday family favorite!

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies


* 1/2 cup shortening
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 12-ounce package (2 cups) semisweet chocolate pieces
* 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (filberts) (optional)


In a large mixing bowl beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Beat mixture until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Stir in chocolate pieces and, if desired, nuts.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F oven 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Makes about 60 cookies.

Make-Ahead Tip: Bake and cool cookies completely. In an airtight or freezer container, arrange cookies in a single layer; cover with a sheet of waxed paper. Repeat layers, leaving enough air space to close container easily. Seal, label, and freeze up to 1 month.

Aunt Janie's Spice Drop Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup coconut
1 cup spicedrops, cut in small pieces.

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Beat well.
Sift dry ingredients.
Add to creamed mixture.
Add remaining ingredients.
Stir together.
Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet.
Bale at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Makes ~ 4 dozen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

5 Days of Cookies: Day 3 - Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies


* 2/3 cup butter, softened
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* Powdered Sugar Icing (optional)
* Decorative sprinkles and/or small candies (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. If necessary, cover and chill about 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until 1/4 inch thick. Using a 4-1/2- to 6-inch cookie cutter, cut dough into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

4. If desired, prepare Powdered Sugar Icing. Spread and/or pipe the icing (if using) onto cookies. If desired, top iced cookies with sprinkles and/or candies. Makes 14 to 16 cookies.

5. Powdered Sugar Icing: In a small bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches spreading consistency. If desired, tint with paste food coloring.

6. Candy Windowpane Cutouts: Prepare as directed, except roll dough until 1/8 inch thick and use a 2-1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut dough into desired shapes. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Cut small shapes out of the cutouts' centers. Finely crush 3 ounces hard candy (about 1/2 cup). Fill each center cutout with candy. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes; cool cookies on foil. Makes about 36 cookies.

7. Sugar Cookie Pizza: Prepare dough as directed. Spread into an ungreased 12-inch pizza pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until edge is firm but not brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Frost with homemade or canned cream cheese frosting and decorate with candy-coated milk chocolate pieces or other small candies. Use a pizza cutter to cut cookie into wedges. Makes 16 cookie wedges.

(Thanks Better Homes and Gardens !)

Monday, December 21, 2009

5 Days of Cookies: Day 2 - Maple Cookies

Maple Cookie Recipe


1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (Grade B preferably)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1 Cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy.
2 Add the vanilla extract (AND MAPLE EXTRACT) and egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the maple syrup and mix until well incorporated.
3 In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for thirty minutes.
4 Preheat the oven to 350F. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie, about 1 inch balls, onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen.

Cookie Interruption: Delicious Dinner Post

We are interrupting the cookie marathon with a recipe from dinner last night!

Now I am going to post the true recipe (Thanks Food and Wine - but I drank beer with this!) and insert my own variations to "keep it real".

On the chalkboard menu we have:

Braised Chicken Legs with Green Olives


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 whole chicken legs (3/4 pound each) - MINE, 2.25LB PKG BONELESS SKINLESS THIGHS
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces thickly sliced lean bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice - MINE, NOT SO LEAN
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 small turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces - MINE, A LITTLE LARGER CHUNKS
1 cup pitted green olives, preferably Picholine - MINE,CHEAP AND WITH PIMENTOS
2 large thyme sprigs - MINE,GENEROUS SPRINKLE OF DRIED
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large cast-iron casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (DRY WELL OR IT WILL POP AND BURN YOU LIKE HELL). Add 3 of the legs to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and brown the remaining 3 legs over moderate heat.

2. Pour off the fat in the casserole (USE BIG STRONG MAN FOR HELP WITH HEAVY PAN FILLED WITH HOT OIL). Add the bacon, onion, carrots and turnips and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until barely softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the olives, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and stock. Nestle (IE: SHOVE) the chicken legs in the casserole so they are partially submerged and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook for about 45 minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are tender. (FINISH YOUR BEER/WINE DURING THIS TIME AND FIND SOME FANCY RICE TO COOK - MINE WAS RICE'A'RONI)

3. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter; cover and keep warm. Strain the broth into a large measuring cup and skim off as much fat as possible. Return the broth to the casserole and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken and vegetables to the casserole, cover and cook for 5 minutes to heat through, then serve.

Also good to know: relatively cheap, new appreciation for turnips, makes the house smell good and makes the strong man feel useful.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Days of Cookies: Day 1 - Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti

I will be posting a new cookie recipe every day until Christmas!

Today's delicious cookie is Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti


10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chunks (about 6 ounces)


Position racks evenly in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Continue to cook until the butter browns and gets a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Then slowly add the butter and vanilla until evenly mixed, about 30 seconds more. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined.
While mixing slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet, in 2 additions, mixing just until absorbed. Fold in the peanuts and chocolate pieces.
Divide the dough evenly into thirds, and put each portion in the center of a baking sheet. Shape the dough with slightly wet hands into logs about 2-inches wide and 15 inches long. Bake until set and brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. (For even baking take care to rotate the pans-- top to bottom and front to back--about half way though.) Cool logs on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Cut logs crosswise, with a long serrated knife at about a 45 degree angle, into 1/2-inch thick cookies. Place cookies cut side down on the baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes more. Cool biscotti on the baking sheets. Serve.
Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.


Thanks Food Network, they were delicious (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/peanut-butter-and-chocolate-biscotti-recipe/index.html)!