Saturday, December 25, 2010


Christmas morning homemade Cinnamon Rolls. (recipe here)

Homemade Gingerbread Cookies (recipe here)
My sister gave me a Dachshund cookie cutter and I was so excited to use it. I just added a little bit of dough as the ear.
I always under bake my gingerbread so it stays softer in the center.
I like to make other shapes with my gingerbread dough...stars and holly leaves.
...and little men.
And here is a picture of our Christmas Roasted Chicken with cranberry mushroom stuffing.
Have a beautiful holiday with your family and friends!

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."
~Roy L. Smith

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!"
~Hamilton Wright Mabie

"Great little One! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth."
~Richard Crashaw

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


189. My Christmas Baking continues and today we made Rugelach. I made this recipe years ago and have always returned to it. It was originally in the "Everyday Food" recipe magazine and was called Walnut and Brown-Sugar Rugelach.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • opt: Bakers fruit filling instead of walnut/brown sugar filling
  • Sparkling Sugar
  1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and salt until well combined. Add flour, and pulse just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half; flatten into smooth disks, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw before baking).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine egg with 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash.
  3. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper, and roll out into an 11-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick), dusting lightly with flour as needed. Using a large dinner plate as a guide, cut around dough to make a perfect circle; trim off and discard scraps. Brush circles with egg wash; dividing evenly, sprinkle with walnuts and brown sugar and raisins or spread fruit filling over dough.
  4. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each circle into 16 equal triangles. Starting from the wide end, roll up each triangle of dough;
  5. place on lined baking sheets, seam side down. Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle sparkling sugar over.
  6. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 23 minutes. Transfer rugelach to a wire rack to cool completely.

"Non-cooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment;
but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet."
~ Julia Child

Monday, December 13, 2010

Almond Shortbread Cookies

188. A very delicious and memorable cookie is the Almond Shortbread Cookie. I discovered this recipe years ago and have enjoyed making it year after year. This Christmas, I made a change that turned out to be very, very delicious!
I did a twist with Hershey's Kisses...the candy cane Kisses. These little kisses are so yummy!
I made the recipe but placed the Kisses on the cookies after they came out of the oven while the cookies were still hot.
Almond Shortbread Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup almond butter or almond paste
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • Hershey Candy Cane Kisses
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, almond butter or paste and white sugar until smooth. Mix in extract. Mix in flour until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make a small indention in the center of each ball, using your thumb or back of a small spoon, and fill the hole with jam, or leave indention and bake.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately place Hershey Candy Cane Kisses in center of each plain cookie. If using jam, remove from oven and carefully remove cookies from cookie sheet or wait one minute. Allow cookies to completely cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar, extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle lightly over cookies.

Wow! The flavors are amazing! The cookies are buttery and the surprise is with the almond and peppermint flavor mix. It is fantastic.
I also made half the cookies with raspberry jam. These are always a big hit!

"Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first.
The Birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love
which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years.
Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart."
~ George M Adams

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pinwheel & Checkerboard Cookies

187. My Christmas Baking has begun. These Pinwheel and Checkerboard Cookies recipe is from the Taste of Home recipes from the December/January issue from 2004.
Pinwheel & Checkerboard Cookies

  • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Red and green gel food coloring
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  • Divide dough into fourths. Tint one portion red and one portion green. Stir chocolate into another portion. Wrap chocolate and plain portions in plastic wrap; chill for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  • For pinwheel cookies, divide red and green portions in half. Roll out each portion between waxed paper into a 9-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Remove waxed paper. Place one green rectangle over a red rectangle. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat. Chill for 2 hours or until firm.
  • For checkerboard cookies, divide plain and chocolate portions in half. Roll out each portion between waxed paper into a 6-in. x 4-in. rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into eight 1/2-in. strips. I like to use a plastic ruler to measure and use as a knife to cut each strip.
  • Stack the strips in groups of four, alternating plain and chocolate strips and forming eight separate stacks.
  • Form a four-stack block by alternating chocolate-topped and plain-topped stacks. Repeat. Press together gently. Wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Unwrap and cut pinwheel and checkerboard dough into 1/4-in. slices. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 9-11 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 6 dozen pinwheel and 4 dozen checkerboard cookies.

These cookies turned out beautifully.

The steps took several hours but the end result was well worth it.

"Love came down at Christmas; love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign."
~ Christina G. Rossetti

Thursday, December 2, 2010


186. This is a Bluefish, and yes, the Bluefish is on my kitchen counter. Several weeks ago, our doorbell rang and when I answered, it was our friends Danny and Ryan. They were arrayed in full length chest waders. Obviously, they had just been fishing. Danny pulled something large out of the back of his truck and Ryan ran up holding this huge Bluefish. I squealed with delight. You see, Danny talks about fishing and I have told him stories of how my father was a fisherman. So, I was promised a fish someday. Well that day came, and here in my hands I was holding a 31-inch Bluefish caught offshore Long Island.
They smiled as I held this prize and thanked them, but then they hopped back into their truck and drove off.
I was so excited...but then I what do I do??? So much for my father being a fisherman and going along fishing with him. Now I had to put my money where my mouth was.
I grabbed newspaper, rubber gloves...several sharp knives and garbage bags, donned an apron and headed out back to our patio table.
Many times I had seen my father fillet a fish, gut it and clean it. He showed me dozens of times but it had been so long ago. I first tried to remove the scales but the fish was too big!!! HELP, I NEED AN IRON CHEF, NOW!!!
So, I dove in, cut off the head. Cut along the back and filleted one side first, scales, skin and all. Then flipped it over and cut off the skin and scales in one swipe. Repeated with the second side and then checked for bones. Not bad for someone who has never filleted a bluefish before. I felt like an Iron Chef!
The bones were massive but the flesh was beautiful. Because the fish was fresh it barely had a scent.
Bluefish has many dark patches in the flesh and they can be very fishy tasting.
Danny told me the best way to prepare the bluefish is to soak it in lemon or lime juice for about 15 minutes. This helps to remove the fishy taste. Rinse thoroughly and then soak the fish in milk for 15 minutes. I found that it changed the texture of the flesh significantly. In a sense, the acid "cooked" the fish.
But I used a milk and egg batter and then mixed cornmeal, flour, garlic salt, cracked pepper and kosher salt as the coating.
I placed it on a lined baking pan sprayed with oil and then drizzled melted butter over the fish.
I broiled on high for about 15 minutes, rotating the pan and turning larger pieces.
It was so delicious. Bluefish is white with strains of dark red patches but tastes so delicious. It is similar in texture to a salmon or flounder and is very meaty.
What a great feeling of accomplishment! And, I served baby red potatoes with butter and fresh dill and brussels sprouts. Cocktail sauce and tarter sauce is a delicious compliment but the fish stood up very well on its own. Thanks Danny and Ryan!

"Don't tell fish stories where the people know you;
but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish."
~Mark Twain

"Fish die belly upward, and rise to the surface.
Its their way of falling."
~Andre Gide


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