Monday, November 24, 2008

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans, chopped fine
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in small bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 1 hour.

Whisk egg white(s) with fork or whisk in another bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. One at a time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, letting excess drip off, then roll in pecans. Place balls 1 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Using teaspoon measure or your finger, make indentation in center of each ball.

Bake until set, 10 to12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Adapted from Cookscountry.com

Danish Almond Sweet Bread

Called Danish Pastries in the Franson household, absolutely necessary for the Holiday Season to be complete, not to mention they are some of the best things you have ever tasted. These pastries are equipped with a perfect hint of almond flavor, soft pastry dough, a crunchy topping and filling in the middle of it all that will make you fall off your rocker.

Danish Almond Sweet Bread
...
Dough
Put in blender:
1 ¼ c scalded milk
1/3 c shortening (melt with milk)
1/3 c sugar
1 t salt
2 eggs
Pulse in blender, then add:
1 T yeast
Pulse again, then wait 3 minutes.
Pour all into large bowl, and add:
4 c flour
Knead for about 3-5 minutes.
Cover and let rise in a warm place 35 minutes.
...
Filling #1
Scald in microwave and set aside:
1 c milk
Mix together:
1/3 c sugar
2 T flour
¼ t salt
Beat in with a fork:
3 egg yolks (save the whites!)
Pour hot milk into mixture and stir well.
Heat in microwave 2 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds,
until thick like pudding.
...
Filling #2:
Mix with pastry blender:
½ c butter
½ c flour
1 c sugar
¼ c oats
1 ½ t almond extract
¼ c sliced almonds
...
Topping
Mix:
½ c almonds
¼ c sugar
...
Punch down dough. Divide in 4. Roll each out to a rectangle 8” across and 12” long. Mentally divide the rectangle into thirds lengthwise and spread each filling onto the middle third. With a pizza cutter, cut slits across each side, crosswise, all the way to the bottom, 1” apart. Alternate sides and cross the strips over the middle. Make sure the top and bottom are tucked in so filling does not leak out. Brush the top with beaten egg whites, then sprinkle with Topping.

Let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, making sure the bottom and top are both slightly brown. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Almond Rocca

A wonderful homemade toffee that will make you crave more with every bite. You don't absolutely need a candy thermometer to make this, but it is recommended. Have all the packages open before you start.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 - 1 cup sliced almonds, divided
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

In heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add sugar. Stir for 2-3 minutes until sugar is well incorporated, turn up heat to medium. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a low boil. You may need to turn up the heat slightly depending on your burner size, but don't over-do it. Maintain a constant low-boil for about 5-6 minutes. The sugar granules should begin to dissolve and the mixture will begin to get puffy if you don't stir it for a few seconds and will begin to turn a light golden brown. Be patient! At this point add about 2/3 of the almond slices. Keep stirring until mixture darkens to a light brown and the temperature reaches 302 degrees F (hard crack). If you don't have a thermometer, judge by the color. Just don't let the toffee get too dark. (Every time I have made this, a little bit of the butter separates from the toffee, so I just pour off the excess grease when I take it off the stove. I don't think its anything to worry about.) Take off stove and immediately pour mixture onto a wax-lined cookie sheet and spread out to desired thickness, working quickly. Evenly spread chocolate chips over the top of toffee to melt. Once melted, spread over toffee with rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining almonds over top. Let cool on counter-top of in fridge until chocolate solidifies. Enjoy.



White Chocolate Popcorn

This is the perfect treat for parties or for putting in cute cellophane baggies to give to neighbors for Christmas. Get creative with holiday sprinkles if you so desire!


2 bags microwavable popcorn (fat free is fine), popped
1 bag real white chocolate chips, melted
In a very large mixing bowl, or 2 larger bowls, place popcorn and drizzle chocolate over the top. Fold several times with large wooden spoon or rubber spatula until chocolate completely covers the popcorn. Let cool and dry before serving. This can be done in the mixing bowl or on wax paper on the counter. If you need to speed up the drying process, place in fridge.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lemon Butter Pound Cake

I have to say I own some mean cake recipes. Of all of them, I think this is my favorite. It is absolutely, positively divine. Amazing. Soft, dense like a pound cake should be, with an exquisite tart, yet sweet, lemon topping that makes you want to swear to eat nothing else ever again in your life. Enjoy.

Adapted from Jeanine Franson, my mother-in-law's, recipe.

In medium bowl, sift:
3 c. flour (spoon lightly into cup to measure)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
In large bowl, or in stand mixer, beat till light and fluffy:
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. shortening
2 2/3 c. sugar
Then add and mix until just blended:
1 c. milk
3 T. pure lemon extract
Then add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Scrape bottom and sides of bowl several times in the process.
Add:
5 eggs, one at a time, beating until completely blended, but not whipping.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13" pan at least 2" deep. Pour in batter and bake at 320 degrees about 1 hour 15 minutes, until light golden brown and toothpick or knife inserted in center comes out clean. Check for doneness after 1 hour, or as soon as you smell the goodness of the cake and see that it is beginning to brown.
While cake is baking, prepare a mixture of 6 ounces of lemonade concentrate and 3/4 cups sugar. (I like to 1 1/2 times this) Microwave for a minute and mix well till thoroughly dissolved.
As soon as cake is out of oven, run a knife around sides of pan and prick top all over with a fork (a meat fork if you have one). Pour lemonade mixture over hot cake and spread to cover completely, including sides. Let it soak in completely; then sprinkle sugar lightly over top. For a crunchy texture, sprinkle again before serving.
Ages well; freezes well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Southwestern Chicken

Adapted from Katherins Fields' recipe of the same title.

In crock pot, place:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Pace medium salsa (Picante or chunky), enough to generously cover chicken breasts in crock pot, I don't know, about 4 cups?

Cook on medium/low for 6 hours or so until chicken is very soft and you can shred it with a fork. Shred!

Add and mix in:
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cans kernel corn, drained

Allow to heat through before serving. This is a very versatile recipe, so serve it with tortilla chips, over rice, over a taco salad, by itself in all its glory or in tortillas (make sure you use a good slotted spoon if you do this.) Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, cheddar cheese or Mexican blend cheese. Serves 8.

Note:
You only need about 1 large chicken breast each for 2 people. This is my favorite recipe to make when I either don't feel like cooking or when I am having a large crowd over for dinner and don't want to stress about it.

Jam-dotted Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Coconut & Lime

12 T. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 c. flour
½ t. baking powder
Good quality jam (I used Smucker's Simply Fruit Jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with butter. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until smooth. Add baking powder and flour to form a thick dough. Roll into small 1 ½ inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. With your spoon or fingertip, make a shallow dent in the top of each cookie. Fill with a tiny bit of jam. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grandma Haack's Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce


If you want Authentic Italian, here you go. My "Grandma GG", Anntoinette Jannetta Haack's, parents were born in Italy and she made this sauce all the years that she was a mother. She is 94 now and still going strong! She still makes this sauce.
As a child, my grandfather would "taste" the sauce all day, dipping bread into it and occasionally sneaking a chunk of Italian sausage out of the pot. Use nothing but the best and freshest ingredients for the sauce to taste right. Use the sauce over any type of noodles (homemade or fresh pasta is best), for a special pan of lasagna, for chicken Parmesan, you get the point.

Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce
Antoinette Jannetta Haack

Day 1

8-10 oz. round steak, pounded to about 1/4 inch thin
2 bunches Italian parsley, chopped, divided
4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. hot or mild Italian sausage
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
handful of torn fresh basil

Place one handful chopped Italian parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in center of piece of steak. You may also use two smaller pieces of steak, each pounded thin and make two rolls if you can't find a piece large enough. Roll up steak tightly and secure with skewers, toothpicks or cloth twine. Sear on all sides in a skillet over med-high heat. Place in bottom of crock pot.

Slice sausage into 3/4 inch pieces and cook in skillet over medium heat until done. Be cautious not to over cook them or get them too dark on the outside. Put crushed and diced tomatoes and basil in pot over the steak. Put sausage in as well. Stir carefully paying attention not to disturb the steak in the bottom.

Meatballs :
1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 lbs. quality ground beef
salt & pepper to taste

In large mixing bowl, place other bunch of parsley, bread crumbs, eggs, raw ground beef and salt/pepper. Mix (your hands work best) until well combined. Roll into balls about the size of a small walnut, about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. Brown meatballs in skillet over medium heat, making sure they don't get too dark, until they are mostly done. Dab with paper towel or drain in colander. Put these into the sauce too, covered in tomato sauce.

Cook sauce in crock pot on high for 8 hours, uncovered, adding water if needed throughout the day. Let cool to room temperature, cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

Day 2

Heat sauce back up in crock pot for 6-8 hours, uncovered.
Once warm, add one small can of Contandina tomato paste plus 2-3 cans of water. Stir until well incorporated. The sauce may require additional water throughout the day. It should be a dark, rich color and most of the sausage and steak should be dissolved from cooking so long.

Orange Muffins with Honey Butter

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest

Directions
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Cream the butter and honey with a whisk or electric mixer.
Gradually whisk in the egg, orange juice and zest; mix in the dry ingredients little by little.· Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake in a 350° F oven for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a skewer or the tip of a knife.

Orange Honey Butter
4 T. softened butter
2 T. honey
1/2 T. grated orange zest

Nanaimo Bars

From the kitchen of Marta Smith, my wonderful sister-in-law.

The Nanaimo bar is a dessert of Canadian origin popular across North America. A type of chocolate no-bake square, it receives its name from the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light custard or vanilla butter icing, which is covered in chocolate.

Many varieties are possible by using different types of crumb, flavours of custard or icing (e.g. mint, peanut butter), and types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint flavoured custard or mocha flavoured custard.In my opinion, these are best served as a dessert alone, without any other sweet treat.

I love to sneak one before breakfast; there is nothing better than a sweet chocolaty treat hitting your pallet early in the morning!

Ingredients

For base, blend in mixer:
3/4 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs

Combine in separate bowl and then add to chocolate mixture:
3 c. Graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
Mix until dry ingredients are well coated. Press firmly into ungreased 9x13 pan. Set aside.

For filling, cream:
1/3 c. butter
Add:
1 98g box vanilla instant pudding
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk

Beat until resembling frosting. Spread evenly over base & chill in freezer until filling layer is nice and firm.

Heat in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth:
3 T. milk
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Spread quickly over top of filling. Chill in freezer until all layers are quite firm, but not frozen solid, about 30 minutes. Cut into rectangles or squares. Place in plastic container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving. To serve, let sit at room temperature for 3-5 minutes, still frozen but soft enough to bite.

Makes 4 dozen bars.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fresh Raspberry Pie

American Pie Dough for Fruit Pies
from The Best Recipe cookbook
For one double-crust 9-inch pie

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting dough and work surface
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
12 T. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 T. all-vegetable shortening, chilled
6-8 T ice water

Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat. Cut butter into flour with 5 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal and is a pale yellow. Turn mixture into medium bowl. (I use my pastry blender and cut the butter that way by hand.)

Sprinkle 6 T. water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula, adding only enough water necessary for dough to stick together, up to 2 T. more. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch wide disk. Dust disks lightly with four, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.


Raspberry Filling

In bowl, mix carefully:
4 pints fresh or 48 oz. raspberries, rinsed if fresh
1/4 c. quick tapioca
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. lemon juice
t. vanilla extract

Roll out dough for the bottom layer of your pie, so it extends about 2 inches farther than side of pie plate when placed over dough upside down. Dust work surface with flour occasionally to make sure dough doesn't stick. Once dough is rolled out, gently fold dough circle in half and then in half again to easily transfer to pie plate. Unfold and gently position dough. Trim excess dough around edges of pie plate. Place filling on top of dough in pie plate.

For the top dough, you can do a lattice, like I did, or roll out the second dough-disk and do a traditional double crust pie. For lattice directions go here.

Pumpkin Soup

1/2 large or 1 small onion, chopped
3 T. butter
3 c. chicken broth, divided
2 c. pumpkin (pure, canned, not pie filling)
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. half & half

Saute onions in butter until soft. Put 1 c. broth in blender with onions along with all ingredients except half & half. Transfer to small pot on stove top. Add remaining 2 c. broth. Heat thoroughly. Add half & half soon before serving. Heat, serve!

My thoughts:
This recipe is one of the easiest I have. It was also given to me by Marta, my SIL. It is SO quick, it is ridiculous. It is a tradition in my home to make it Halloween night every year with homemade bread and hot mulled cider.

Apple Crisp

Prepare:
8-10 apples, peeled, sliced to 1/2 inch thick slices

In bowl, mix with pastry blender:
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1 c. oats
2/3 c. butter
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread topping evenly over apples. Bake for 30-45 minutes until apples reach desired firmness and topping is slightly browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

My thoughts:
My sister in law, Marta, gave me this recipe long ago and it is to this day written on a small piece of paper in my old recipe box. My husband told me a few weeks ago while eating a generous portion of this delectable dessert that, "yeah, they will have apple crisp in heaven." True, true.

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