Archive for December, 2010

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Pierogi with a Few Steps

December 31, 2010

I don’t normally show steps with my recipes.  I find that sometimes they are too distracting.  Do you really need to see a picture of an egg in a bowl before you beat it? 

This recipe has a couple of steps to it and I know that many people think it’s a complex recipe.

It isn’t. 

It’s a little time-consuming because when I make this recipe I make 9-10 dozen pierogi.  After I boil them, I let them cool and then stick them in bags for the freezer.  That way I have them at my fingertips when we want a nice hearty quick meal.

The dough recipe is from my great-aunt.  The potatoes and sour cream really make the pierogi light.  Some pierogi is too doughy, but this isn’t.  Make the filling a day ahead, you want it to be cool while you work it.  If it’s warm it will be too wet and you’ll have a mess while you’re trying to seal them.  Once you’ve made the dough, you can  add whatever filling you like, savory or sweet.  When I was a girl my mom made plum ones from the plum tree in our yard.  If you make sweet ones I suggest frying them in butter and dusting them with powdered sugar.  Blueberry ones are great for breakfast this way.

Make sure that if you make more than one filling, you keep them separate and labeled unless you enjoy the mystery of not knowing what you are eating until you bite into it.

Make your fillings the night before.  Here’s the potato filling.

Here’s the kraut filling.  I had some shiitake mushrooms so I added them to the mix.

This is what the dough looks like before you roll it out.  You want to make sure to slowly add the water-you may not use it all.  The dough should be tacky to the touch.

I use a glass to cut out the pierogi to the right size.

Fill ’em half way.

Seal them really tight,  you may need a little bit of water to do that.  If you don’t seal them properly they’ll open up when you boil them.  That would be a disaster.

I boil them in water salted with chicken flavored soup base (like JB Jamison’s).  I use that for boiling potatoes too, instead of salt.  If I’m making sweet pierogi I do use salt instead though.

Pierogi

  • Potato Filling:
  • 1-½ cup Mashed Potato (mashed With Only Butter)
  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • ½ pounds Bacon, Fried And Cut Into 1/2 Inch Strips
  • Sauerkraut Filling
  • ½ pounds Bacon, Fried And Cut Into 1/2 Inch Strips
  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, Chopped
  • ½ jars Sauerkraut (32 Ounce Jar; I Use Frank’s Brand With Caraway Seeds, Drained And Rinsed)
  • Dough
  • ¾ cups Mashed Potato (just A Peeled, Boiled, And Mashed Potato)
  • 4 cups Flour
  • ¾ cups Butter, Softened
  • 4 whole Egg Yolks
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cups Sour Cream
  • ½ cups Water

Note: Make the fillings the day before because it is best to work with at room temperature.

For the potato filling:
Fry the bacon and remove from the pan. Dice the onion and saute it in the bacon grease until translucent. Add the bacon and onion to the mashed potato. Salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.

For the sauerkraut filling:
Fry the bacon and remove from the pan. Saute the onion in the bacon grease until translucent and then add the mushroom until liquid reduces. Add the bacon, onion and mushroom to the drained and rinsed sauerkraut. Add pepper to taste. Saute the sauerkraut mixture for 5-8 minutes. Let cool and drain.

For the Dough:
The base of the dough is mashed potato. DO NOT add any butter or milk to this mashed potato. Add to the mashed potato the flour, softened butter, egg yolks, salt, sour cream and water. Note: As you combine all the ingredients together for the dough, make sure to add the water slowly (you may not use all of it). It should still be slightly tacky.

Roll out half of the dough onto a floured surface about 1/8 inch thick and cut into circles that are about 3 1/2 inch in diameter. I use a glass for this. Place a spoonful of the either filling on one half of the dough. Fold over the dough and press the edges together. If the dough won’t seal, put some water on the edge and pinch it together. You must make sure they are sealed tight or they will come apart when you boil them.

Place the completed/stuffed pierogis into salted boiling water. I use a large pot and add 10 of them at a time making sure you don’t crowd the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they float. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

I put them on a cookie sheet so that they don’t overlap and can cool and drain.  If you plan to freeze them, just stick the cookie sheet in the freezer to flash freeze them before you place them in a bag.  This will help prevent them from sticking together inside the bag and becoming one giant pierogi.

In a pan melt some butter (or I like to use bacon grease) with a little onion and sauerkraut. Saute. In a separate pan melt some butter (or bacon grease) and brown the pierogi so that they get nice and crisp. Serve with sour cream.

One dough recipe makes about 3 dozen pierogi.

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Panini-palooza

December 28, 2010

I got this Panini press for Christmas from my father-in-law.

My husband has been wanting to buy me one of these for a few years but I kept telling him no.  I didn’t want one because it would just be a gift for him that I would be using.  But now I’ve changed my mind.

I can’t wait to start to use this.  I’ve been searching for some recipes and plan to get shopping this morning.

I’ve been told that I can not only make sandwiches on this but also meat.  With the messy sandwiches I plan to line the press with parchment paper so that it will be easier to clean.  I have visions of breakfast, lunch and dinner being made on this bad boy.

Heaven.

Any suggestions?

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Merry Christmas

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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Another Thumbprint Cookie

December 22, 2010

This is another great thumbprint cookie.  If you like pistachios, you’ll love this cookie.  It looks so pretty, but it’s an easy cookie to make.  I make them this time of the year because I love the green of the cookie.  I think it’s pretty festive.

Meeshie loves these.  She likes to hide them from her dad so she can eat more of them.

Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies

  • FOR THE COOKIES:
  • 1 C Butter, Softened
  • ⅓ C Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ t Almond Extract
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1 package Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix (3.4 Ounce Box)
  • ½ C Miniature Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 C Pecans, Finely Chopped
  • _____
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 2 T Butter, Softened
  • 2 C Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 3 T Milk
  • _____
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • ½ C Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 t Vegetable Shortening

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the butter and sugar on high speed, about 4 minutes. Add the egg and extracts. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and pudding mix. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Put your chopped pecans in a little bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the nuts. Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Prepare the filling. Beat together the butter and sugar on high speed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and slowly add the milk (you may not use all of the milk—just use enough to get the filling nice, thick and smooth). Mix until combined and smooth. Spoon into the center of the cooled cookies. Place the cookies on a rack or waxed paper to glaze.

Prepare the glaze. In the microwave or over low heat, melt the chocolate and shortening. Stir frequently until smooth. Make sure that you do not scorch the chocolate. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies in a very thin stream, crossing back and forth.

This recipe makes about 36 cookies.

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Almond Raspberry Thumbprints

December 21, 2010

Here’s another cookie recipe.

I participated in a cookie exchange last week.  Cookie exchanges are so much fun.  I love trying new cookies. 

This is not the cookie I made for the exchange.  I had to make too many cookies for the exchange (7 dozen) so I made my shortbread cookies.  I would have made these if I didn’t have to make so many.

It is a cookie that I make every year for Christmas.  Sometimes I drizzle some chocolate over the cookie along with the glaze.  It’s a great cookie that’s so easy to make.  You don’t have to make it with raspberry jam, but I really like raspberry. 

Almond Raspberry Thumbprints

  • 1 C Butter
  • 2/3 C Sugar
  • 1 t Almond Extract
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1/2 C Raspberry (or your favorite) jam
  • Glaze
  • 1 C Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 t Milk
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract

Combine the butter, sugar and almond extract together in a bowl.  Beat at medium speed until creamy.  Reduce the speed and add the flour.  Beat, scraping the bowl often, until mixed well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make an indentation in the center of each cookie (the edges will crack slightly).  Fill the indentation with the jam, about 1/4 t per cookie.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 14-18 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown.  Let stand for about one minute before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Combine the ingredients together to make the glaze, whisking until smooth.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

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The Egg Nog

December 19, 2010

I found this recipe for egg nog a number of years ago.  I’ve made it on and off for Christmas Eve ever since.  When I don’t make it, my family looks for it. 

This recipe makes a large amount of egg nog that is perfect for a large gathering.

When I was a girl, my mother made an egg nog with rum and whiskey in it.  It was a thinner egg nog than this recipe.  This one is like ice cream.  A really tasty ice cream.  This year I plan to set some aside for the children to enjoy.  I’ll adjust the amount of Southern Comfort to the rest of the nog.  I also adjust the amount of milk because we only drink skim milk.  I may use half and half or I may double the heavy cream.  I’ve done it both ways and you can’t tell the difference. 

Egg nog is rich and there is no reason to be concerned with calories.

Egg Nog

  • 6 Eggs, separated
  • 3/4 C Sugar
  • 1 pint Heavy Cream
  • 4 pints milk
  • 1/2 pint Southern Comfort
  • 1 T Vanilla
  • 1 T Nutmeg
  • 1 T Cinnamon
  • 1 t Ground Cloves

In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of sugar until thick. In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. In a third bowl beat the cream until thick. Add the cream to the yolks, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, Southern Comfort, vanilla,  nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Stick in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serve in a large punch bowl.

You can substitute the Southern Comfort with spiced rum or set some of the egg nog aside before you add the liquor for those that don’t like or want liquor in their egg nog. 

It’s a variation of Paula Deen’s.  I’ve tweaked throughout the years and we love this one.

I’ve never worried about the raw egg factor.  I’ve always felt the alcohol kills any of the bacteria that may be there.  But then I grew up in an era where you never concerned your self about salmonella and I still eat raw cookie dough.

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Rudolph Reindeer Pops

December 17, 2010

I made reindeer pops.  I love making cake pops. 

I made turkey ones for Thanksgiving.

I made these to add to the cookie trays I give out.  They were so much fun to make, too.  I used the yellow cake recipe and add almond extract to it and the frosting.  I cut up the small pretzel twists for the antlers, used the red cinnamon balls for the nose and cut up mini-marshmallows for the eyes.

Yellow Cake

  • 2 1/4 C All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • 3 1/2 t Baking Powder
  • 1 t  Salt
  • 1 1/4 C Milk
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 C Butter, softened
  • 1 T Vanilla
  • 3 Large Eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.

Measure the milk in a 2 cup measuring cup then add enough vegetable oil to bring the liquid up to 1 1/3 C.

Beat the butter and vanilla and add the milk mixture.  Add the butter/milk mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed

Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Note: I used Baker’s Joy, but you could use Pam or butter/flour the pan.  Of course if you use flour, just use a pinch or two of the flour you have already measured out.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wedding Cake Frosting

  • 1/3 C white Crisco shortening, softened
  • 1/3 C butter, softened
  • 4-6 T of heavy whipping cream, unwhipped (I actually used half-n-half)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ t almond extract
  • 2 ½ C confectioner’s sugar, sifted

In a large bowl using an electric mixer at medium speed beat together the shortening and butter with the cream, salt and almond extract until smooth (about 3 minutes). Add the confectioner’s sugar, beat well until smooth and fluffy. You can add more confectioner’s sugar and cream to achieve the desired consistency but for this use it was just how I wanted it.

Once you have finished baking the cake, let it cool.  Take it out of the pan and crumble it in a large bowl.  Add the frosting, a little at a time, until you get the right consistency to form golf ball sized balls.  I usually use a little more than half of the frosting.  Place the cake balls on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer to set.  Once they’ve set, I place them in a Ziploc bag for later.

When you are ready to assemble, take the cake pops out of the freezer and poke them with a lollipop stick.  Melt some almond bark in a narrow, deep container according to the directions on the package.  Dip the pop in the melted almond bark, shake off the excess, and decorate.  I stick the pops on some old styrofoam packing.  Make sure to have everything in hand because the pops set quickly.

Enjoy!

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Do You Fondue?

December 15, 2010

The year that Meeshie was born my husband bought me the best gift for Christmas.  He gave me two electric fondue pots.  My only problem with them is that I don’t have a third one.  Every time we make fondue I wish I had a third pot and then I forget about my wish until next time.

Do you love fondue?  Have you ever had fondue?  When I was a girl, my mother made fondue for Christmas Eve.  I loved it.  I loved making my own food and so did my brothers and sister.  Back then we had the old orange pots that sat on top of the sterno.  Not the most efficient thing in the world, but I didn’t care.  I was making my own food.

Now I have these great electric pots which are great for a few reasons.  One, you don’t have to cook anything on the stove and transfer it to the fondue pot.  Two, everything stays as hot as you want.  Three, less things for me to clean at the end of the night.

Beef Broth Fondue

  • 5 cups Beef Broth (two 14-ounce Cans Of Beef Broth And 1 Can Of Water)
  • ⅓ cups Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Sherry
  • 2 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • Beef Tenderloin
  • Mushrooms

 Add the garlic to the electric fondue pot. Add the beef broth. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and sherry. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

You can marinate the beef tenderloin in your favorite marinade for about an hour before you cook it.

Spear the beef strips and mushrooms in the broth for about 3 to 5 minutes.

You can also serve the fondue with tater tots, veggies, bread and cheese fondue.

Cheese Fondue

  • 2 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour, Divided
  • ½ pounds Shredded Swiss Cheese, Jarlsberg
  • ½ pounds Shredded Gruyère Or Emmentaler Cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • French Bread, Cubed
  • Apples, sliced
  • Various Vegetables, Choped

Add garlic to an electric fondue pot. Add wine. Toss each cheese with a tablespoon of flour. Slowly add the cheese 1/4 pound at a time, alternating the cheese. Stir the cheese until melted before adding more cheese. When the cheese is melted, add the salt and nutmeg. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serve with bread, apples and veggies.

This is our traditional New Year’s Eve meal.  I’ve made it for Valentine’s Day, too.  This is the perfect meal for entertaining or a holiday.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

December 12, 2010

I bought Nutella for the first time over the Thanksgiving break.

I saw a pizza made with it that I really want to make, and haven’t yet, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I love it.  I’ve made sandwiches with it.  I’ve made crepes.  And now I’ve made this awesome cookie.  The original recipe is from Giada De Laurentis.  I’ve tweaked and it’s really easy and tasty.

Have you ever had Nutella?  It’s not like peanut butter.  Although you can make sandwiches with it just like peanut butter.  It has a distinct hazelnut flavor that either your going to love or not.  These cookies really showcase that flavor.

And since I’m still baking I thought I would share another cookie recipe.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

  • 1 3/4 C Flour
  • 1 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 T Cocoa ( I used the Ghirardelli Chocolate Hazelnut flavored cocoa)
  • 1 C Nutella
  • 1/2 C Butter, softened
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • Crushed nuts for garnish (I used pecans because that’s what I had on hand)
  • For the Glaze
  • 1/4 C Nutella
  • 1 t Shortening

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa.  Set aside.

In another bowl, add the Nutella, butter and sugars and cream together for about three minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated.  Stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

On a cookie tray lined with parchment paper, roll the dough into walnut-sized balls, place about 4 inches apart and garnish with a small amount of nuts.  Bake for 6-8 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.

While cooling, prepare the glaze.  Add the Nutella and shortening to a microwave safe bowl.  Heat slowly until the shortening has dissolved and the mixture is runny.

Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.

Makes about 3 1/2 cookies

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C is for Candy Canes

December 9, 2010

I love this time of year.

It allows me to spend a lot of time baking.  I love to bake.  I especially love to bake Christmas cookies.

Last Sunday I made six different cookies and I’m not done.  Meeshie loves to help me and I remember helping my mom when I was younger.

I give the cookies out as gifts.  I bring some to work.  I give some to my husband to bring to his work.  I bring some to my mom’s on Christmas Eve.

These candy cane cookies are one of the batches I made.  They are so yummy.  They actually remind me of butter mints.  I love butter mints.

Candy Cane Cookies

  • 1 C Butter, softened
  • 1 C Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 t Peppermint Extract
  • 2 C (a little less) Flour, sifted
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/2 C Crushed Candy Canes (for the white dough*)
  • Red Food Coloring (for the red dough*)
  • For the Topping
  • 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C Crushed Candy Canes

*I make the recipe twice adding the food coloring to one batch and the crushed candy cane to the other.

Cream the butter, sugar, and extracts until light.  Stir in the flour, crushed candy canes (for the white dough) and salt; and the flour, salt and food coloring for the red dough.  Wrap up the dough and let chill for at least an hour.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

When ready to assemble the cookies take some of the white dough and roll it out into a snake.  Do the same thing with the red dough.  Twist the two doughs together and curve them to the shape of a candy cane. 

Mix the powdered sugar and crushed candy cane together in a bowl.  Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of the cookies.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy.

When doubling the recipe, this makes about 3 1/2 dozen large cookies.

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