Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holland Butter Cookies

One of Mom's favorite cookies to make were Holland Butter Cookies -- when asked what she was making for a dessert, she would say "Hollands". I also make these for Christmas, although we finished most of them off before Christmas day. They are simple to make and taste good -- two key criteria for most of us.

Cream: 1 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar
Add the following and mix until it doesn't stick to the bowl:
1 egg yolk beaten
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Press on cookie sheet to 1/4 inch thickness. Scatter nuts (3/4 cup chopped nuts) on top and press lightly into dough. Bake in 300 degree overn until light brown (bake longer than most cookies). Let cool a few minutes and cut into squares (do not let cool too much before cutting).

For Christmas, Mom sometimes used used red and green sprinkles instead of the nuts for a festive touch.

Key Lime Spritz Cookies

I had saved this recipe for key lime spritz cookies from Midwest Living last year (it intrigued me) and made them as part of Christmas dessert. They were a big hit, so wanted to post the recipe. Here is the link to the recipe:

I didn't have key limes or key lime juice so I used regular lime. While the icing was optional, I think it was a good addition. I didn't take a picture, but there is one with the recipe.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Italian Pot Pies

This is a delicious recipe from the most recent issue of Everyday Food. I used a homemade tomato sauce that I have on hand in the freezer. I also made this in the morning, put in fridge, and brought to room temp for an hour before baking.

Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound ground beef sirloin, thawed if frozen
2 cups homemade or best-quality store-bought tomato sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce; bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat mixture has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, Parmesan, baking powder, rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; make a well in center, and add butter and milk. Stir just until dough comes together.
Spoon meat mixture into four 8-ounce ramekins; mound dough on top. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet; bake until topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in topping comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Creamy Patoato Soup

Ever since Tastespotting came back, I have been watching it day by day. Last week, I saw a delicious looking recipe for Creamy Potato Soup and I knew I hadto try it. Ever since I first tried Baked Potato Soup at The Outback, I have been trying to replicate it.

My first attempt to replicate it was disgusting. I didn't realize that potatoes turn gray/brown if you leave them out. After that episode, I put my dream on the back-burner--until I saw this picture.

One thing that really excited me about the soup was that the recipe called for the use of an immersion blender. As luck would have it, I recently received one as a surprise gift!I was surprised about how much the soup changed after I blended it. It really thickened up into what appeared to be a hearty dish.

The soup turned out really well. It was a little bland by itself, but with the bacon, cheese and green onions, it was really quite delicious! I think probably it just needed a little salt. What is the rule of thumb really with "Salt to taste"? I never add enough.

I increased the ingredients to make 1 1/2 recipes and that was just enough for 6 hungry guests with one bowl extra. Be sure to make tons of toppings available for the best results.

You can check the recipe again here, but let your mouth water after the flavors melded in this steaming bowl:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whipped Hot Chocolate For Two

The Barefoot Contessa Family Meals cookbook is spectacular. I love the pictures, I love how the writing sounds just like her show, and so far, I love the food.

Last night, it was particularly cold in Southern California (like 55!). Joey and I decided to catch up on some episodes of Heroes and drink hot chocolate. I was excited to try this recipe because it would allow me to use my new immersion blender for the first time!

The hot chocolate was some of the best Joey and I have ever had. It had a flavor all to itself. The chocolate flavor powered through. It was the perfect evening treat for a cold day, and simple to make! Just increase the amounts if you want to make more, this recipe makes two generous size mugs (3 mugs with my Fiestaware ones).

Whipped Hot Chocolate for Two
1 1/2 C. Whole Milk
1 C. Half and Half
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or semisweet baking squares
2 ounces milk chocolate (go for non-Hershey. I used Cadbury)
1/2 T sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk and half and half in a saucepan over medium-low until just before simmering (small bubbles should appear around the edges) stirring throughout to avoid the milk skin.
2. Meanwhile, roughly chop chocolates
3. Remove pan from heat and add chocolates. Stir until melted.
4. Return pan to heat. Add sugar and vanilla. Heat until desired temperature.
5. Remove from heat and whip hot chocolate with the immersion blender a couple of pulses before serving.
6. Pour into mugs and enjoy immediately! (contents of mug may be hot, use caution)