recipes, food and cooking

December 1, 2003

HO! HO! HO! I'm counting down to Christmas and as usual there is never enough time. I'm about to start my holiday baking, are you? I've added lots of new recipes to the Christmas section at Razzle Dazzle Recipes, including a new Christmas Bread category and Christmas Dessert Recipes.

Starting this week on Wednesday's I am pleased to announce that Mark R. Vogel will be contributing a new weekly food column. If you have never read one of Mark's columns in the newspaper, I think you will find his informative, witty column a great read. He also shares a recipe with you. You'll find the link to Mark's column at That's My Home starting Wednesday.

     Mary Ellen        

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RECIPES FOR DECEMBER

COOKIES, COOKIES, COOKIES

SUGAR COOKIE CUTOUTS

1 C. butter, no substitutes, softened
2/4 C. sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and flavorings and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Refrigerate until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Place 1-inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 375° F. for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Icing:

2 C. confectioners' sugar
1/4 C. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 t. vanilla or almond extract
1 to 2 T. milk as needed

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Blend in enough milk until desired spreading consistency is reached. Food coloring may be added, if desired. Frost cookies as desired. For decorative frosting, fill a pastry or plastic bag with 1 cup icing, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. Outline cookies or decorate as desired by controlling the icing flow through the tip of the bag.

KRIS KRINGLE'S KRINKLES

3/4 C. shortening
1 C. white sugar
1 egg
1/4 C. molasses
2 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves

Combine all ingredients, mixing well with the addition of each ingredient. Form dough into a log. Cut log in half. Roll each half into a 1 1/2 - 2" diameter log. Cut each log into 1 - 1 1/2" pieces (depending on size of cookies desired). Form each piece into a ball. Place dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls with a fork dipped in sugar.

Place cookie sheet in a 350° F. oven for 10-12 minutes. The finished cookies should have cracks on the surface. The cookies should have a crispy surface upon cooling and a chewy center.

TOFFEE SLICES

1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 1/2 C. flour

Toffee filling:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C. butter
2 T. corn syrup
1 t. vanilla

Chocolate drizzle:
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Base: With an electric mixture, beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in flour until well combined. Press mixture over base of an 8­inch square pan. Bake in 325° F. oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Toffee filling: Mix condensed milk, butter and corn syrup and cook stirring over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour toffee over baked base. Bake 25­30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.

Drizzle: Melt chocolate until smooth. Drizzle over the filling. Chill and cut into bars.

ICED BUTTERSWEETS

Cookie:
1 C. powdered sugar
1 C. butter, softened
1/2 t. salt
2 t. pure vanilla extract
2 C. All-Purpose flour

Filling:
1 C. powdered sugar
2 T. flour
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. coconut

Icing:
1/3 C. chocolate chips
2 T. water
2 T. butter

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, cream 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup butter, salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla until fluffy. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Blend 2 cups flour into creamed mixture. Shape dough for each cookie; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With thumb, make imprint in center of each cookie.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.

In a small bowl, cream 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla and cream cheese until light and fluffy; stir in nuts and coconut. Fill each warm cookie with about 1/2 teaspoon filling.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips with water and 2 tablespoons butter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar; blend until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

GINGERBREAD SPRITZ

2 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 C. margarine
1/4 C. molasses
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Stir together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat together margarine until smooth. Add molasses and brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture until all combined. DO NOT CHILL!

Prepare cookie press with desired design. Fill press and place cookies two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for about 6 minutes or until the edges are firm but not browned.

Remove and cool completely on wire racks.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN

BREAD IN A JAR

2/3 C. solid vegetable shortening
2 2/3 C. sugar
4 eggs
2/3 C. water
2 C. fruit (see variations)
3 1/3 C. flour
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2/3 to 1 C. raisins or nuts (dredged in some of the flour)
8 wide-mouth, pint-size canning jars (with rims and pretreated lids; see note)

In bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add water and beat well. Add fruit.

Into separate bowl, sift together flour, cloves, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to batter. If desired, add raisins or nuts and mix.

Grease insides, but not rims, of canning jars. Pour exactly 1 cup batter into each jar. Do not use additional batter or cake will overflow the jar and will not seal.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Evenly space open jars on cookie sheet for even browning. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

When done, remove jars one at a time using two potholders. The jars will be very hot. Leave other jars in oven as you seal first jar. Work quickly. Seal with pretreated lids, then twist on screw ring to secure. You will hear it seal with a ping sound quite fast. Repeat process with remaining jars. Cool completely on countertop out of any draft. Breads can be served after 1 hour. Remove tops, slide knife around jars to loosen, invert onto breadboard and serve warm. Makes 8 breads.

Variations: You may choose any combinations from this list, combine them or come up with your own. Do not exceed 2 cups total. Options include: Grated apples, shredded carrot, mashed banana, 1 1/2 cups applesauce and 1/4 cup pineapple, canned cranberries, grated zucchini.

HOLIDAY PINE CONE POTPOURRI

8 pounds (approximately) pine cones (any type of cones or pods)
3/4 oz. bayberry fragrance oil
1/4 oz. cinnamon fragrance oil
1/4 oz. clove fragrance oil
1/4 oz. orange fragrance oil
1/8 oz. bay essential oil

Fill a 30-gallon trash bag about 3/4 full with cones. Sprinkle the oils over the cones, mixing them so that the oils are distributed evenly. Fasten shut near the top of the bag, leaving room to jiggle and mix the cones around occasionally, for a few days until the scents are blended.

Display in decorative baskets or bowls along with - for color and variety -long cinnamon sticks, tangerines or pomegranates, cedar tips or your own cut-evergreen tips. Or keep by the fireplace and toss in for a quick burst of scent.

CAPPUCCINO IN A JAR

1 C. powdered non-dairy creamer
1 C. powdered chocolate drink mix
2/3 C. instant coffee granules
1/2 C. white sugar
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
3/8 t. ground nutmeg

two 12 oz. canning jars

First you need to make the instant coffee into a fine powder. This can be done by either putting it into a food processor and blend until it becomes a fine powder or you can put the coffee into a zip lock bag and roll it with a rolling pin till smooth. Combine all ingredients in a bow and stir until well mixed. Spoon into the jars. Add directions and a poem. Give as a gift to the coffee lover in your life.

This makes a great Secret Santa gift. To make the gift even better, give a nice coffee mug and a spoon, along with a package of biscuits or a bag of Hershey kisses.

Mix 3 tbsp. of powder with 6 oz. of hot water. Stir well and enjoy.

Attach on tag - Even when the coffee grows cold, your friendship warms my cup.

TOFFEE COFFEE MIX

2/3 C. instant coffee
1 C. nondairy creamer
1 C. brown sugar

Combine all ingredients well in a bowl. Place in airtight jars.

Attach this to the Jar:

Toffee Coffee

To serve, place 2 to 3 teaspoons of mix in a mug and add boiling water.

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EASY APPETIZER RECIPES

BLUE CHEESE TARTS

Crust:
1 (3-oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 C. flour

Place ingredients in food processor bowl and mix until dough forms a ball. Pinch off small pieces and roll into balls a little larger than a marble. Place a ball into each cup of the mini muffin tins. Spread with fingers across bottom and partially up the sides to line the cup, forming a shell.

Filling:
2 eggs
1/2 t. salt
White pepper
1 t. onion juice
1 t. flour
1/3 C. milk
1 (5-oz.) pkg. crumbled blue cheese

Beat eggs, add salt and pepper, onion juice, flour and milk. Add the blue cheese. Carefully spoon filling into each pastry cup.
 
Bake at 375° F. for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot.
 
Makes 3 dozen.

Recipe from: "Entertaining at Aldredge House" from "Best of the Best from Texas"

CRESCENT WRAPPED CRANBERRY BRIE

1 (8-oz.) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 brie cheese round, 8-oz.
3 T. cranberry chutney or whole-berry sauce
1 T. chopped pecans
1 egg, beaten
1 apple, 1 pear, sliced
Grape clusters 

Heat oven to 350° F. Coat cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Unroll crescent dough. Separate dough crosswise into 2 sections. Press dough to form 2 squares. Cut corners off both and reserve to use for cutouts. Place 1 dough round on cookie sheet.

Cut brie crosswise into 2 equal layers. Place bottom half on dough circle. Spread with cranberry sauce. Sprinkle with pecans. Top with other cheese half. Bring dough up around side of cheese, pressing and pinching dough. Place remaining dough circle on top of cheese; press dough evenly around side of cheese.

Cut shapes from reserved corners of dough. Brush wrapped cheese with egg; top with dough cutouts; brush with more egg. Bake at 350° F. for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving on plate; arrange fruit around cheese.

Yield: 12 servings.

SPICY SOUTHWESTERN DIP

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 C. sour cream
1 C. Picante Sauce
Cream cheese until smooth. Stir in sour cream and Picante sauce.

Chill several hours to blend. Serve with tortilla chips and toasted pita wedges.

Note: To toast pita bread, cut into single serving wedges. Spray with vegetable spray and sprinkle with cilantro, pepper flakes, salt and black pepper and bake until crisp. Cool and store in plastic bag.

CHERRY BRIE APPETIZER

1 (5-inch) wheel Brie cheese (15 to 16 oz.)
1/4 C. cherry jelly, preserves or spread
1/2 C. coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
1/4 C. coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 t. grated orange peel
Water crackers or French bread slices

Refrigerate Brie until chilled and firm (or freeze 30 minutes). Cut Brie in half horizontally.

Place jelly in a small microwave-safe container. Microwave on High (100 percent) power 25 to 30 seconds or until melted. Combine melted jelly, cherries, pecans and orange peel; mix well. Reserve 1/4 cup.

Spread remaining cherry mixture evenly on cut side of one piece of Brie. Top with the other piece, cut-side down. Lightly press together. Microwave on High (100 percent) power 40 to 50 seconds or until cheese is soft, but not runny. Lightly press top section into cherry mixture.

Top Brie with reserved cherry mixture and garnish as desired. Serve with crackers or bread.

Makes about 20 appetizer servings.

Tip: Cherry mixture can be prepared in advance; store in refrigerator 1 to 2 days. Spread cherry mixture on Brie just before serving.

Source: Cherry Marketing Institute

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QUICK BREAD RECIPES

EGGNOG POPPY SEED BREAD

2 1/2 C. all­purpose flour
1 C. white sugar
1/4 C. poppy seed
1 1/4 C. prepared eggnog
1 1/2 T. grated orange peel
3 T. vegetable oil
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. nutmeg
1 egg

Heat oven to 350° F. Grease loaf pan.

Mix sugar, oil and egg together. Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to sugar mix alternately with the eggnog. Stir in grated orange peel and poppyseeds.

Pour into loaf pan and bake 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen sides from the loaf pan and remove from pan. Cool on wire rack.

MINCEMEAT RUM MUFFINS

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. white sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 C. margarine melted
1/2 C. apple juice
2 eggs
1 C. mincemeat (canned)

Combine dry ingredients and blend well. Melt margarine and stir in juice and eggs. Beat well. Stir liquid ingredients into dry mixture. Add mincemeat and stir until moistened.

Spoon into muffin cups. Brush tops of muffins lightly with rum, sprinkle with sugar. Bake 375° F. 15-20 minutes.

GINGER SCONES

2 1/4 C. unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 C. granulated sugar

1 T. baking powder

1 t. finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen

4 1/2 oz. candied ginger, finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

3/4 C. heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400° F.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder and pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out the circles with a 3-inch round cutter, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.

Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops with the remaining cream.

Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.

Yield: 8 scones

Source: Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery

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DESSERT RECIPES

CAPPUCCINO CUPS

12 chocolate wafers
2 T. instant coffee granules
1/4 C. hot water
1 1/2 C. half and half cream or milk
1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
3 1/2 C. thawed cool whipped topping

Place 1 cookie in bottom of paper lined muffin cups, makes 12-16. Dissolve coffee in hot water in medium bowl add cream, pudding mix and cinnamon. Beat with whisk about 2 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into muffin cups. Freeze until firm.

To serve: Remove dessert from paper cups. Place on dessert plate. Top each one with whipped topping and drizzle with melted chocolate. Light, easy to make and delicious. Christmas tip: could be garnished with red or green cherries or food coloring could be used.

I get e-mail all during December requesting this recipe.

PUNCH BOWL CAKE

1 (18 1/4-oz.) box yellow cake mix
4 C. shredded coconut, divided
1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 (12-oz.) tubs refrigerated whipped topping
1/2 C. chopped pecans, divided
1 (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling

Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in two layers. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and allow the cake to cool completely.

Crumble one layer of the cake into the bottom of a punch bowl. Sprinkle with half the coconut. Top with crushed pineapple, distributing evenly. Spread 1 tub whipped topping over the pineapple layer. Top with 1/4 cup pecans. Crumble the second layer of cake over the pecans. Spread the remaining coconut and the cherry pie filling on top of the second layer of cake. Top with the second container of topping. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup pecans.

Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours to allow the flavors to mingle.

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RESTAURANT RECIPES

THE UNION HOUSE PECAN CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH KENTUCKY BOURBON SAUCE

1 C. finely chopped pecans
1 C. dried bread crumbs (made from day-old Italian bread)
6 whole chicken breasts (10 to 12 oz. per breast), halved, skinned, boned and trimmed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C. buttermilk
1/4 C. (1/2 stick) clarified butter or vegetable oil (about)
1 C. Kentucky Bourbon Sauce (see recipe)
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (see recipe)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine pecans and bread crumbs in a shallow dish for dredging. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

Dip chicken pieces in buttermilk, then dredge in crumb mixture, patting to coat.

Heat butter in a large skillet; place coated chicken breasts in the butter. Do not crowd. Cook over medium heat in batches if needed, adding additional butter as needed. Cook chicken until lightly browned on both sides, turning once after about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a baking pan and bake in preheated oven 5 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Chicken should be firm to the touch but not hard. While chicken bakes, make Kentucky Bourbon Sauce and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

To serve: Place chicken breasts on a warm plate and serve with Kentucky Bourbon Sauce and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Makes 6 servings.

KENTUCKY BOURBON SAUCE

1/4 C. maple syrup
1/4 C. bourbon
1 C. seasoned chicken stock
2 t. cornstarch
2 T. cold water
4 T. whipping cream

In a small saucepan, combine syrup and bourbon. Heat to simmer, then reduce by half. Add stock and return to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water in a dish and mix well. Add to boiling mixture. Simmer until thickened, about 1 minute, then add cream and heat through.

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

6 large Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut, boiled until fork tender and drained
6 T. (3/4 stick) butter
1 to 2 T. roasted garlic (see note)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash potatoes with butter, garlic, salt and pepper by hand. Do not whip with electric mixer. Potatoes should have small pieces in them.

Note: To roast garlic, trim ends from one bulb of garlic. Drizzle bulb with olive oil. Set in a small metal pan, cover pan with foil and bake in preheated 325-degree oven 1 hour or until garlic is soft.

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