Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Cookie Dough - Endless Possibilities

From one simple  batch of cookie dough, you can make an endless variety of cookies.  This recipe easily doubles.  For each of the add-ins listed below, use one half of the single recipe or one fourth of the double recipe.

Basic Creamed Dough

(Adapted from The Good Cook)

Makes about 1 ½ pounds, or about 40 cookies)

Single Recipe
14 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt

Double Recipe
28 tablespoons
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

In bowl of electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the beaten egg.  Sift together the flour, baking powder.  Add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until just combined. 

Add in suggested ingredients.  Bake in a preheated 375º oven for about 10 minutes or until firm and golden brown.  Remove from the pan onto cooling rack and cool completely.


(For single batch)
Chocolate Dough: Substitute ½ cup cocoa powder for ¼ cup flour.

Rich dough (suitable for piping): add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 egg yolk.

Swirls: Make one batch plain, one batch chocolate.  Roll flat. Top Plain with chocolate and roll jellyroll fashion. Slice. 

To ½ single batch or ¼ double batch add:

½ cup nuts, candied fruit, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, toffee bits (everyone’s favorite), or dried cranberries.

Roll into balls and make jam thumbprints or add chocolate kiss.

Add 1 tablespoon bourbon or other liquor.

Replace extract with rose water, orange extract, lemon extract, etc.

Glaze cookies with royal icing tinted and flavored (pink color with rose water; green color with mint, etc.)

Add 1 teaspoon spice (apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cardamom, etc.)

Pipe in cookie press.

Dip in chocolate.
Roll in nuts.

Let your imagination go!


Make a double batch, set aside. Make second chocolate batch in same mixer, so you won’t dirty it twice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Plans Have Gone Awry

My friends, I promised you a Chocolate Week this week. I've fallen on my word.  My kitchen is filled with all manner of chocolate goodies, waiting to be whipped up, photographed and uploaded.  Unfortunately, a little something got in the way. Was was it called again? Oh, I remember... DIVORCE!!  A very painful and time consuming procedure, I assure you. We're in the final stages and things have gotten a bit busy. So, look for chocolate goodies in the near future, just maybe not this week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Upon perusing my Facebook wall today, I discovered this lovely note from my friend,  Stewart:
This is for my friend Sally. Her oven is kapoot and she can't bake or nothing!
It was followed by this link: No-Bake Cookies

Well, folks, I have no choice do I? All my excuses have been demolished. All that is left is to make some nummy Christmas cookies sans oven.

Ah me!  How I suffer so!  Nummy cookies to create and yummy CHOCOLATE WEEK!! next week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Santa's Drug of Choice

Ah! The power of Christmas cookies!  Who can resist them?  Not even Santa.

Unfortunately, I cannot bake cookies this year as my oven is not working. Boo hoo!  So, dear friends, I must resort to other Christmas goodies. "What's that?" you query. Chocolate! That's what!  I cannot muck about writing on this blog.  I must needs scurry to the grocer to buy all manner of chocolate. You see, next week is (insert drum roll here) CHOCOLATE WEEK!! Oh yeah. It's chocolate time, babe! I have to come up with several recipes for next week. Sigh. Poor, pitiful me. I guess I'll have to eat all that yummy chocolate all by myself. (If anyone even THINKS about suggesting I invite others over for all that chocolate, just know you're messing up my mojo.)

So, get out your bain maries and get ready for CHOCOLATE WEEK!!!

This cute animation contains four very famous classical works. Can you name them? Answers will be given during CHOCOLATE WEEK!!

Bonus music trivia questions: What note does Santa step on? In what key is Silent Night? Answers will be given during CHOCOLATE WEEK!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fruitcake-free Fruit Crunch

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard all the fruitcake jokes.  The thing is, I like fruitcake! People who don't like fruitcake have never had a good one.

To ease you, my dear readers, into the daring task of trying fruitcake, here's a snack mix.  It has the flavors of fruity goodness, without  the cake.

I double-dog dare you to try it.

Fruitcake-free Fruit Crunch

2 cups wheat cereal squares
2 cups rice cereal squares
2 cups corn cereal squares
2 cups oat cereal squares
1 cup dried golden raisins
1 cup dried, chopped dates
2 cups dried sour cherries
2 cups mixed nuts (may be salted or unsalted)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice

Line two large rimmed baking sheets (15 x 10 x 1 or larger) with parchment paper.  Layer half of dry ingredients in each pan. Mix thoroughly.

In 4-cup (or larger) glass measure, melt butter in microwave.  Add honey, brown sugar,  ginger and spice.  Whisk to combine.  Drizzle half of liquid mixture over each pan of cereal mixture.  Gently stir to coat cereal mixture.

Bake at 325º for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Cool pans of crunch on wire racks.  Break apart any large pieces. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cheapy and Easy -- And Beefy!

No, I'm not insulting my friends.  Here's a beef recipe that's cheap and easy.

Chuck, Top Round and Bottom round roasts are some of the cheaper cuts of meat. Prepared properly, they taste like money. Try this for your holiday table!

Penny Pincher's Money Roast

Place raw meat in dish. Salt and pepper roast (Preferably using Koshering salt), turning to season all over.  Let meat sit out on the counter for about 1 hour, to bring to room temperature.  (One hour is well within the FDA's recommended maximum time of two hours.)

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 325º.

Place roast in greased pan.

Cook at 325º for 30 minutes per pound, for medium; 35 minutes for well-done.  For instance, if you have a 3 1/2 pound roast, cook it for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  This cut should not be served rare.

Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes, then serve.

The key here is that you will be using the right temperature for the right cut of meat.  If you cook it too high or too low, the roast will dry out. Different cuts of meat require different cooking times.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cranberry-Chai Tea - Perfect for Holiday Gatherings!

Miss Sally-Page darlin', 

I need a nice hot Christmas tea recipe to be served at a brunch. Ya got one, girl? We used to do a cider/tang thingie in NC. I might do that.......... Mulling (no pun intended) it all over in my little brain. 


Dear Pam,

How spicy do you like it? Let me be clear; I'm talking about TEA. Oops. I beg your pardon. That's none of my business.

Your wish is my command. Just for lil ol' you, an easy to make, easy to double recipe.  You can make this in advance and simply reheat it.  I like to make a big pitcher of it to have on hand.  When friends pop by or winter winds chill my fingers, a quick zap in the microwave and  tea is served.

Cranberry-Chai Tea

4 cups water
1 tablespoon fennel seed
6 green cardamom pods
12 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
6 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
2 (family-sized) tea bags
¼ cup brown sugar
4 cups cranberry juice cocktail

In a medium saucepan, add fennel seed, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns.  Heat on medium until spices are fragrant, but not burned, about three minutes.

Carefully add water and ginger root.  Add tea bags. Bring water up to 190º or until almost beginning to boil. Do not let it boil.  This should take 15 – 20 minutes.

Set pan off heat and let steep three minutes. Remove tea bags and strain out spices.

Stir in the brown sugar and cranberry juice cocktail. Reheat on medium temperature. Serve warm.  May also be served chilled.  (May be served warm or chilled with a shot of vodka or rum!)

May be made ahead, chilled and reheated. Candied ginger can be added to individual servings, if desired.

Makes ½ gallon.

Double Recipe:

8 cups water
2 tablespoons fennel seed
12 green cardamom pods
24 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
12 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
4 (family-sized) tea bags
½  cup brown sugar
1 (64 ounce) bottle cranberry juice cocktail

Makes one gallon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cracked Pepper – Bacon Biscuits

Cracked Pepper – Bacon  Biscuits

3 cups Heart Smart Bisquik Mix
1 (4.5 ounce) package real crumbled bacon*
½  tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 cup skim milk

Place mix in large bowl.  Add in bacon, being careful to remove moisture-absorbing packet.  Add pepper.  Mix well.

Add milk.  Stir just to combine.

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake 8 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Makes about 75 small biscuits.

* Alternately, fry one pound of bacon until crisp.  Drain and crumble.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tart Cherry Liquor

Just in time for gift giving or holiday toasting!

Tart Cherry Liquor

2 cups vodka
1 1/4 cups tart cherry juice
1/2 cup sugar
(1 teaspoon almond extract -- optional)

Pour all ingredients into clean quart jar. Screw on lid.  Shake. Set aside in dark location. Shake everyday for a one week. Sugar should be dissolved.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tomato Preserves

After my T-day post, I received this lovely query.

Dear Auntie, 

Yes, my grandmother made [Watermelon Rind Preserves], and I remember them fondly. She also made tomato preserves that were wonderful. Have you ever had those? 


Dear Donna,

Tomato Preserves? Why I won a State Fair of Texas ribbon for them this year!

For the, recipe, click here: Tomato Preserves