Wednesday, December 26, 2012

See you in a week!

Love you all!  I'm taking the week off (mostly to play with the little one), and I'll see you bright and early in 2013!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Eat early and often, my friends!

Monday, December 24, 2012

All the pretty cookies!

I like to gather up all the new varieties of cookies that we've tried and add them to my list of old favorites.  Even though I mostly make the traditional cookies for Hanukkah and Christmas at our house, I am of the opinion that you can never have too many cookie recipes and I like to add something different from year to year.  Here are some suggestions if you feel your cookie list is getting a bit stale!

Show-off chocolate chip cookies

Cranberry cookie bars

Chocolate-orange cookies


Raspberry mascarpone cookies

Chocolate matzo treats

Graham crackers

Mom's shortbread

White chocolate ginger biscotti

Lemon-macadamia nut cookies

Thin and chewy molasses cookies


Grammy's chocolate cookies


Chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies

Lavender biscotti

Lemon and lavender shortbread

The world's best brownies

Lime and basil shortbread

Chocolate shortbread

Homemade Oreo cookies

Perfect vanilla sugar cookies

Perfect chewy chocolate cookies

Bourbon balls

Fudgy chocolate cookies


Matzo toffee

Cream cheese-raspberry brownies

Chai-pistachio sugar cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

Cream cheese-apricot brownies

Amish raisin cookies

Peanut blossoms

Italian cornmeal cookies

Lime swirl cheesecake bars

Friday, December 21, 2012

Italian Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Not all my friends are as crazy about mini-bell peppers as I am, so I recently tried making my appetizers in mushroom caps instead.  The filling is an Italian-inspired ground beef mixture, related to the Greek Stuffed Mini-Bell Peppers that I already shared. 

Italian Stuffed Mushroom Caps

2 packages (12 oz) of large mushrooms
1 lb ground beef
1 c cooked rice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T lemon zest
2 T fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 400.  Remove each mushroom stem and reserve for another use. 

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl by hand.  Using a small spoon, fill each cap and place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet.  Place on the high-middle rack of the oven and cook for about 5 - 7  minutes.  Turn on the broiler and cook a few more minutes until the meat is sizzling and cooked through. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate shortbread

I've been making chocolate shortbread for years, but just recently I came up with a better recipe than what I was using before.  At least I think it is.  It's a variation on my mother's classic shortbread, which I'll reprint below:

Mom's Shortbread

1 lb butter
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
Pinch of Salt
5 c flour

Cream butter and sugar together with electric beater until light and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla and flour slowly. Bake in a 9" x 13" glass dish at 275 degrees for an hour. When you remove from baking score in squares and sprinkle with sugar. 

To make the Chocolate Shortbread variety, make the following changes:
Add 1 c cocoa powder
Subtract 1/2 c flour

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Delicious soups to help remove the holiday pounds

Mostly Vegetable Soups

Click to purchase ~ $2

Just before the holiday gluttony kicks in, and just after the New Year gluttony ends, Mike and I fill ourselves up with healthy healthy soups and stews.  These comfort foods give us the boost we need to resist some of the worst abuses, and they also help to get us back on track in the New Year.  This has been our pattern for years now, and I'm happy to say that even if we pack on a few pounds during the week leading up to Christmas and the week in between it and January 1, we always manage to get them right back off before another two weeks have passed.

No, we're not special (as in "well isn't that special?")...we just choose our gluttony wisely!

Well, I've put together an e-booklet with 13 of our favorites.  While I can't make any health or nutrition or even diet claims for these soups (I am not a registered anything), I can tell you that they work for us. 

Tomato Basil Soup 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cucumber salad

I tend to think about this salad more in the summertime, but there's absolutely no reason not to serve it at other times.  Use an English cucumber, and slice it paper-thin with a processor if you've got one.  I did this one by hand, and my slices are a bit thicker.  I used shallots instead of the more traditional red onions, and doused it all with oil and vinegar.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds just before serving. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

A tasty mixture

Carrots, shallots, and fresh thyme from the garden, harvested just before the first snow!  Roast them all together in a bit of olive oil. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stuffed baked potatoes

Stuffed potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, whatever you call these...they can get pretty elaborate.  I've seen them stuffed with shrimp, caviar, all kinds of things, and even though some of them sound pretty good, I can't help thinking that the humble baked potato was meant to be a comfort food.  Comfort food doesn't include caviar at our house, sorry!

Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheddar

A large potato for every two people
A handful of broccoli florets for each potato
Lemon juice
Dry mustard
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream
Half and half (optional)

Bake the potatoes at 400 until softened, about an hour.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam or microwave the broccoli until softened.  Saute in butter in a skillet until lightly browned.  Spoon into a large bowl and add salt and a sprinkling of lemon juice.  

Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop the innards into the bowl with the broccoli.  Leave a little more than a 1/4 inch shell.  Place the shells on a foiled baking sheet and place back in the oven to dry out and crisp slightly.

Mash the potato and broccoli mixture by hand.   Add more butter if desired, along with a sprinkling of mustard, the cheese, sour cream, and half and half.  Spoon into shells.  Turn on the broiler and place the filled shells under it for 5 to 10 minutes to heat and brown.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Roasted green beans with herbs

The only way I don't like green beans is out of a can...yuck!  Still, I hadn't thought about roasting them until a friend mentioned it.  Brilliant

Roasted Green Beans with HerbsOlive oil
1 lb green beans, trimmed
3 large garlic cloves, cut lengthwise into thin strips
2 T fresh sage leaves
1 T fresh rosemary leaves
1 T fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of a baking pan.  Add the beans through the thyme to the pan and turn to coat and mix.  Add more olive oil as needed to lightly coat. 

Roast beans for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sushi Bowls

Here's another heart-healthy dish that's pretty darned tasty.  I came across the idea in the Fresh magazine from Hannaford, but I changed it quite a bit.  We prefer tempeh to tofu, so that's one really big change.  I'd suggest checking out their recipe and deciding for yourself.  Here's mine:

Sushi Bowls

Rice of any type, prepared in a steamer
1/2 c orange juice
1 T sesame oil
1 T rice vinegar
2 t fresh ginger, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 t  soy sauce
1 ( 12 oz.) package of tempeh
3 sheets nori seaweed wrappers
1 c shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
1 carrot, shredded
1 pickling cucumber, peeled and diced
1 avocado, cubed
2 T sesame seeds
Start rice in the steamer.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Mix orange juice through soy sauce in a bowl and crumble the tempeh into it.  Set aside, but stir from time to time.  
Heat a large non-stick skillet and heat the nori sheets one at a time on both sides until fragrant, about 45 seconds per side.  Set aside.
Place the rice in a large bowl and top with the drained tempeh (keep the sauce), edamame, carrot, cucumber, and avocado.  Top with sauce, crumbled nori, and sesame seeds.  


Monday, December 3, 2012

Show-off chocolate chip cookies

Yes, everyone likes Tollhouse cookies, but honestly, they don't really excite me that much.  DH, now that's a different story.  So sometimes I'll make the thin and slightly crispy chocolate chip cookies that he loves, but other times I pull out all the stops and make the thick and chewy monsters that I adore.

Take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and add some extra melted butter to it, plus an extra egg yolk.  The real trick is to follow the directions in The New Best Recipe book.  Spoon up 1/4 c of dough and form it into a ball.  Pull the ball apart to form two dough mounds with a jagged top.  Rotate the mounds and push them back together with the jagged tops next to each other and facing upward.  Place the dough balls on parchment-covered cookie sheets with the jagged edge up.  You should end up with about 18 cookies, 9 on each sheet.

Bake them at 325 for about 18 minutes, rotating and swapping the sheets halfway through.  Let them cool completely on the sheets before removing.