Dec 7, 2014

Holiday Butter Cookies

I found this recipe on the Huffington Post website. Because of its versatility, they call it "the only cookie dough recipe you need to know." I certainly wouldn't go that far, but I just took the first couple of batches of these cookies out of the oven, and I do like this recipe quite a bit right off the bat. They have a great texture and are buttery tasting.

The Huffington Post writer goes on to say the following: "The holidays are stressful enough, so make things easy by appointing this the season of one basic butter-cookie dough. Then, you can customize it based on the occasion, whether you're going to a bake sale or cookie exchange, throwing a dinner party or just having a late-night craving for a little something sweet. This brilliant recipe calls for just five ingredients: salted butter, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and flour. No matter how you shape them or upgrade them with flavors, they're wonderfully buttery, crispy, light and rich."

At this point, I've only tried a vanilla version, but I'm anxious to try a couple of additional flavorings suggested on the site, either adding 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or 2 teaspoons of finely grated orange or lemon zest. I can hardly wait!

Anyway, here is the basic recipe.

3 sticks salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Red, pink, orange, or multicolored decorating sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add yolks and vanilla, beat again to combine, and then beat in flour.

Form dough into 1" balls and arrange on large, ungreased baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2" apart. Transfer decorating sugar to wide, shallow dishes. Press 1 ball of dough with the bottom of a decorative patterned glass. Then dip the glass in sugar and flatten a cookie with it, so the pattern and sugar transfer to the top of the dough. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Bake until cookies are lightly golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest on baking sheets 2 minutes, then gently transfer to baking racks to cool.

Nov 29, 2014

Garden Pea Soup

My sister Emily told me about this recipe the other day, and I couldn't wait to try it. Her husband, who doesn't like peas, even enjoyed this soup, as did her kids. I made this without the lemon peel because I didn't have any at the time. I also added a little leftover ham to a part of the soup, which was quite tasty, but it can work with or without the ham. Anyway, this is easy peasy to make.

5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 small potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 package frozen sweet peas
1 shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4-inch piece of lemon peel
whipping cream to drizzle in each bowl

Cook potatoes, peas, and shallot with 4 cups of chicken broth in saucepan until potatoes are tender. Pour cooked ingredients, remaining broth, and lemon peel into an Osterizer and blend until smooth, about 30 to 35 seconds. Pour the soup back into the saucepan to reheat. Season, as needed, with salt. Serve in bowls with whipping cream drizzled in each serving.

Jun 7, 2014

Eclair Cake

This no-bake eclair cake is more of a dessert than a cake, but I didn't come up with the recipe or the name. While this may not be the kind of thing you choose to serve foodies, I love it nonetheless. And I'm not embarrassed to say that. :-)

2 (3.4 oz) packages vanilla instant pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
12 oz. package Cool Whip
2 (14.4) oz packages graham crackers

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups powdered sugar

Blend milk and vanilla pudding mix for about 2 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip. In a 9 x 13 pan, layer graham crackers to cover entire bottom of pan. You may need to cut and shape the crackers to fit nicely. Pour half of pudding/Cool Whip mixture on top and level. Put another layer of graham crackers to cover entire surface. Cut and shape graham crackers accordingly. Put the second half of pudding/Cool Whip mixture on top and level. Put the final layer of graham crackers on top with bumpy side down. This will help the top look more smooth when you go to put the frosting on top. Once again, cut and shape crackers accordingly to avoid pits and cracks.

For the frosting: microwave butter and milk just enough so that they are melted together. You do not need to
boil it. Add cocoa and powdered sugar and blend together. This will be a runnier frosting/glaze. Pour over top of
graham crackers and smooth out nicely. Refrigerate overnight and dig in!
Recipe from Chef in Training at

Jan 2, 2014

Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup

Just tried this hearty soup recipe from one of my favorite online sources--Mel's Kitchen Cafe--as my first new recipe of the new year, and this is a winner! I love the combo of sausage, veggies, beans, and pasta. Lots of flavor plus a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to finish it off. Adapted slightly from the original source.

1 pound ground Italian sausage (you can substitute a lean sausage as a more healthy alternative)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked small shell pasta
9 ounces spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned, 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. If your sausage is lean, you may need to use a teaspoon or so of oil so it doesn't stick to the pan. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, about 5-10 minutes. If there is excess grease, drain it before proceeding. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shell pasta, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn't sticking. Stir in the spinach and simmer for another minute until the spinach is wilted. Serve with sprinkled Parmesan cheese. Serves 8.