Category Archives: Recipe

Cookies

Yesterday, we exchanged gifts at work since I am leaving today heading for Alabama. I made cookies for everyone at work this year. Last year, everyone got a cake, but I had a request for cookies, so cookies it was. One of the cookies I made, and I made four varieties, was a simple sugar cookie. It’s adapted from a recipe called “The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies.” I scooped mine instead of rolling them out. They are so buttery and sugary that you can’t help but love them. The recipe turned out so well (with a few modifications) that I wanted to share this recipe with you.

The Best Sugar Cookies (It makes about 60 cookies.)

1 1/2 cups of butter, softened
2 cups of white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
5 cups of self-rising flour
(You can also use 5 cups of all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt, instead of the 5 cups of self-rising flour, but I find using self-rising flour easier in this recipe.)

1. Start by creaming together the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Then beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Stir in the flour.
4a. Here is where it’s deviated from the original recipe. In the original recipe, it calls for chilling the dough for an hour. This is called for if you plan to roll out the cookie dough to 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick and use cookie cutters to make cute little shapes.
4b. I chose to scoop out the dough using a 1 inch cookie scoop and rolling the dough into a ball and placing a few inches apart on the pan. I try to fit twelve cookies per pan. You can roll the balls in sugar or in red and green sugar sprinkles to be more festive, though I did not do this (mainly because I couldn’t find the sprinkles I wanted).
5. Either way you choose I suggest lining the pan with parchment paper before placing the cookies on the pan.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
7. Place cookies in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes if you rolled out the dough, or 10 minutes if you scooped the dough.
8. Cool before serving. If you are going to icing the cookies make sure they are cooled completely. For icing you can use a mixture of water or milk and confectioners sugar. It should be thick enough to spread and thin enough as not to soak into the cookie.

So there you have it, the best sugar cookie recipe. They are absolutely yummy. I made a batch from leftover dough last night and ate the whole pan of cookies. If I didn’t eat the whole pan I might have one day been able to have abs like the guy in the picture, but is it worth it?

I know my instructions are a little wacky, but I like to explain every step as opposed to minimal instructions that can lead you astray.

Enjoy!


Pimento Cheese 

As a native southerner, there are things that I truly miss about the South. Most of those things have to do with food, because it sure as hell isn’t the politics. One of those foods that I have been craving is a simple blend of cheese, mayonnaise and sweet peppers known across the South as pimento cheese. Some people will say there is nothing like the homemade variety, but I always enjoyed the store bought kind. However, you can’t buy it in the north, so if I want some, I’ll have to make my own.

The recipe for most pimento cheese consists of mixing just six or so ingredients. Typically, it includes sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos and some simple seasoning, such as salt and pepper. Common variations on the recipe include the addition of onions, cream cheese, garlic or Monterey jack cheese.

Pimento cheese is so ingrained in the lives of many Southerners that we don’t realize our passion for the stuff doesn’t exist outside the region. Call me a hick, but I was shocked when I realized people outside the South had never heard of the spread. It makes a great sandwich or as an appetizer when put on celery or a cracker. Combine it with pepper jelly and put it on a cracker and you’ll swear you’ve died and gone to heaven. My mother would often make finger sandwiches and she’d have pimento cheese and chicken salad, separately of course, but on the same platter.

But you don’t have to travel down South to enjoy authentic pimento cheese: Its basic ingredients are readily available everywhere, and it’s a cinch to make. It can take as little as 15 minutes to go from inspiration to completed dish. I almost asked my mother to sneak some on the plane but figured with current regulations, she wouldn’t get very far. She and my niece will be flying up on Thursday. More on that tomorrow.

Classic Pimento Cheese

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, makes about 2 cups

10 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (4-ounce) jar pimiento peppers
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon horseradish sauce (optional)

To make your pimento cheese chunky-style, for spooning atop crackers, or digging into with a fork: Stir all ingredients together in a bowl, mashing with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for at least one hour and preferably overnight.

To make your pimento cheese smooth, especially good for fancy piping and dipping: Increase mayonnaise to 3/4 of a cup. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for at least one hour and preferably overnight.


Cranberry Cake

image

If you look over to the top left corner, you will see something new (actually it’s been there about a week). It is a post that I will be featuring. Currently, it’s of a cookie recipe that is one of my favorites, but not one that I’m making this year (Occasionally. I will be changing my featured post, so keep a watch for changes in that space). This year, I’m making another of my favorite recipes, this one is for Cranberry Cake. It’s an old fashioned butter cake, very rich, but the cranberries offset the richness with just the perfect tartness. As you know, I’ve been feeling pretty low, but baking, and cooking in general, tend to make me feel better. If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. This recipe is originally from The Kitchn, but I made a few modifications. Enjoy.

Cranberry Cake

Makes one 10-inch springform cake. Alternately: Four 4-cup loaves or 24 to 30 cupcakes.

All ingredients should be at room temperature before you begin.

3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups cranberries (12-ounce bag)

Optional pecan topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, unroasted

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan (or a collection of smaller pans. This make 10 to 12 cups of batter.) I used two 6-inch springform pans.

Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth and increased in volume. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. If using hand beaters, beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.

Beat in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract, if using. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.

Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.

To prepare the optional pecan topping, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the pecans and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts are well-coated with the butter and sugar. Spread over the cake batter.

Bake 60 to 80 minutes for the springform. For smaller pans, start checking after 30 minutes, but expect small loaves to take at least 40 minutes. I have found that it usually always takes at least 60 minutes. Tent the cake with foil in the last 30 minutes of baking to keep the top from browning (this is especially important for the pecan topping).

Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.


Christmas Cookies

20131217-230110.jpg

In the tradition of my mother, each year I make lots of cookies at Christmastime. In the past three days, I have made fifteen dozen cookies. Before Christmas I will most likely end up making 20-25 dozen cookies in all. When my mother made cookies, she always made tea cakes in Christmas themed shapes, covering them with icing and sprinkles. My mother and my sister still make these, so I make a different cookie. I make what I call the “Ultimate Christmas Cookie.” These cookies are pistachio/cherry cookies dipped in white chocolate. With the red cherries and green pistachios, they have a natural Christmas color to them. I first saw this recipe on a Food Network holiday cookie special, but have since made it enough times to make some adjustments of my own to them. People always seem to love them.

This year, as with last year, I also made a tropical variation in honor of a wonderful friend of mine who lives in Hawaii. This variation uses macadamia nuts and pineapple instead of the pistachios and cherries. Many people who have tried them, like these even better. If you can find dried peaches, you can also use pecans and peaches for a nice southern flavor, and I’ve been told that pecans and cranberries is another delicious variation, but I’ve never tried it.

In addition to the pistachio/cherry and macadamia nut/pineapple cookies, I also tried a new cookie this year, pecan caramel shortbread cookies. These cookies turned out to be my favorite cookie ever. So I am posting the recipe for both cookies.

Ultimate Christmas Cookies

Ingredients
1 (8-ounce) roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 (11-ounce) bag white chocolate chips

Directions
Open sugar cookie log and press into a rectangle on cutting board. Add pistachios and cherries, kneading/mixing into the dough, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight. If you keep them refrigerated overnight, the flavors meld together for a more delicious cookie.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop out cookies and make a one inch ball of dough. Slightly press the ball to flatten the cookies a little. Transfer cookies to a baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until golden around the edges. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

While cookies are cooling, melt white chocolate chips in a bowl over simmering water. (Microwaving for 1 min. 30 sec. on medium power gets this process working quicker. Then place bowl over simmering water to finish the melting process.)

When cookies are cool, dip bottom half of cookies into melted white chocolate and place on waxed or parchment paper to cool.

The green of the pistachios and the red of the dried cherries makes a wonderful Christmas themed cookie. To add a little more festivity to them, I often sprinkle some red and green sprinkles on the white chocolate before it hardens.

Pecan Caramel Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup finely Chopped Pecans
1/2 cup of caramel pieces (or toffee bits)
1 (11-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar; stir in vanilla. Add flour; mix on low until well blended. Stir in pecans and caramel bits; mix well. Press the cookie dough together to form a log, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Slice the log of dough so that the cookies are roughly 1/2 inch thick; press the cookie slightly to make sure that the dough is compacted together and retains its shape and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for 15-18 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack.

While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate chips in a bowl over simmering water. (Microwaving for 1 min. 30 sec. on medium power gets this process working quicker. Then place bowl over simmering water to finish the melting process.)

When chocolate has melted, spread chocolate on the bottom of the cookies and place on waxed or parchment paper to cool.

By the way, a word of advice on each of these cookies: if you freeze the dried fruit and the caramel pieces overnight, they are much easier to chop, especially if using a food processor. They these ingredients aren’t frozen then they will clump up on the food processor blade. In the case of the caramel bits, if they are not frozen, they slide around the blades of the food processor and generally make a mess.


Benedictine

20130721-231125.jpg

Cream cheese, cucumber juice and a touch of onion may sound like an unlikely combination for some people, but it sounds delicious to me. The dish is known as Benedictine and is a Kentucky favorite. It’s a recipe that I have never tried, but is one I’d like to try. I came across this recipe in my weekly email from NPR about their most emailed stories of the week. After reading it I felt compelled to share this recipe with my readers because it seems like a cool and refreshing accompaniment to any summer party.

From the article, it appears that Benedictine is not well known outside of Louisville, Kentucky. I’d never heard of it before reading this article, had you? But this creamy, cool cucumber spread has persisted in Kentucky ever since Jennie Benedict, a famous Louisville caterer, invented it around the turn of the 20th century.

Benedict opened a tearoom on downtown Louisville’s South Fourth Street in 1911. Back then, that was the city’s bustling commercial center, packed with stores, cafes, theaters and hotels. Today, it’s a few boutiques and several wig shops.

Susan Reigler, a former restaurant critic for Louisville’s newspaper, The Courier-Journal, wrote the introduction to the re-release of Benedict’s Blue Ribbon Cook Book in 2008. Reigler says Benedict’s role in the city’s culinary history was huge and that the roots of many of the city’s flavors can be traced back to her recipes.

Of course, some of Benedict’s concoctions have fallen out of favor — like calf brains and peptonized oysters for the sick. But Reigler says Benedictine has endured.

“I think it’s just very different. It’s very refreshing. It’s a light spread,” she says. “What could be more light and delicate than cucumber juice?”

One source of contention among Louisville chefs is whether to include the two drops of green food coloring that Benedict used in her recipe. The dye lets people know that it’s not just a plain cream cheese spread, but the practice is no longer popular with chefs like Kathy Cary, who prefer more natural ingredients.

Cary has owned Lilly’s, a restaurant that specializes in Kentucky cuisine, for the past 25 years. For her, the dish is truly a way to showcase both local cucumbers and local traditions.

“Mine is really about … celebrating the cucumbers,” Cary says. “Obviously, no dye, no food coloring. And it’s filled with texture, and sort of the crunch of the cucumbers.”

Some cooks serve Benedictine as a dip, others as tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off. But Cary usually puts hers into a hearty sandwich with homemade mayonnaise, bacon, bibb lettuce and sprouts.

20130721-230914.jpg

Recipe: Jennie Benedict’s Benedictine

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons cucumber juice
1 tablespoon onion juice
1 teaspoon salt
A few grains of cayenne pepper
2 drops green food coloring

To get the cucumber juice, peel and grate a cucumber, then wrap in a clean dish towel and squeeze juice into a dish. Discard pulp.

Do the same for the onion.

Mix all ingredients with a fork until well-blended (using a blender will make the spread too runny). Serve as a dip or as a sandwich filling.

Recipe: Lilly’s Benedictine

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill

Combine ingredients and mix well.

With plenty of cucumbers and onions around, you can be sure that I will be. Making this dip. Most likely, I will do a slightly modified version of the second recipe since I like the idea of the chopped cucumber in the dip. Do you think you will try it? Or have you already had Benedictine?


Chinese Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival or Yuanxiao Jie is a traditional Chinese festival, which is on the 15th of the first month of the Chinese New Year, which is today. The festival marks the end of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year.

Chinese started to celebrate the Lantern Festival from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 221 AD). Like most other Chinese festivals, there is also a story behind the Festival. It is also believed that the festival has Taoist origins.

This is a festival for people having fun. On the night of the festival, people go on streets with a variety of lanterns under the full moon, watching lions or dragon dancing, playing Chinese riddles and games, and lighting up firecrackers. There is really a lot of fun for the young and the old. The festival is not well celebrated in the US, though you may find celebrations in some Chinese communities, such as Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, California.

The Chinese Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese festival/holiday, which is celebrated by the Chinese in many countries. It is the first major festival after the Chinese New Year. The Lantern Festival is also known as the Little New Year since it marks the end of the series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year. Koreans celebrate this festival as the Daeboreum. This festival originates from Zigong in the Sichuan province of China.

Traditionally, the date once served as a day for love and matchmaking. It was one of the few nights without a strict curfew. Young people were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers acted busily in hopes of pairing couples. The brightest lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope.

Those who do not carry lanterns often enjoy watching informal lantern parades. Other popular activities at this festival include eating Tang Yuan, a sweet rice dumpling soup, and guessing lantern riddles, often messages of love.

Yuanxiao (glutinous rice ball) or Tangyuan is the special food for the Lantern Festival. It is believed that Yuanxiao is named after a palace maid, Yuanxiao, of Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty. Yuanxiao is a kind of sweet dumpling, which is made with sticky rice flour filled with sweet stuffing. And the festival is named after the famous dumpling. Yuanxiao is sticky, sweet and round in shape, symbolizing family unity, completeness and happiness.

You can find Yuanxiao in oriental food stores. If you enjoy cooking, here is a recipe of Yuanxiao for you.

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups (500 g) sticky rice flour
butter 7 oz (200 g)
black sesame powder 7 oz (200 g)
sugar 8 oz (250 g)
1 tsp wine

Methods
1. Mix the butter with sesame powder, sugar and wine together. You need to heat a little bit. Make small balls about 0.3-0.4 oz (10 g) each.
2. Take 1/2 cup of sticky rice flour. Add water into the flour and make a flatten dough. Cook it in boiled water and take out until done. Let it cool down. Then put it in the rest of the sticky rice flour. Add water and knead until the dough is smooth.
3. Make the dough into small pieces about 0.3-0.4 oz (10 g) each. Make it like a ball using hands first and then make a hole in the ball like a snail. Put the sesame ball into it and close it up.
4. Cook them in boiled water. Make sure to keep stirring in one direction while cooking. When they float on the water, continue to boil for about one minute using less heat.


Moment of Zen: Cooking

I love to cook, not generally in the nude, but I love this picture nonetheless.  You can get lost in cooking and your worries go away.  Generally when I cook, especially things like the cookies I made the other night, I am cooking for other people, so I enjoy the joy they get out of eating what I made.  So that is my moment of Zen for today, because with the holidays, there will be lots of cooking going on around here.

Tait requested that I share the recipe for my pistachio/cherry cookies.  I first saw this recipe on a Food Network holiday cookie special, but have since made it enough times to make some adjustments of my own to them.  People always seem to love them.

Sugar Cookies with Pistachio and Dried Cherries
Prep Time:15 min
Inactive Prep Time:30 min
Cook Time:11 min

Ingredients
1 (8-ounce) roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 (11-ounce) bag white chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Open sugar cookie log and press into a rectangle on cutting board. Add pistachios and cherries, kneading/mixing into the dough, and refrigerate overnight. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop out cookies and make a one inch ball of dough. Slightly press the ball to flatten the cookies a little. Transfer cookies to a baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until golden around the edges. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

While cookies are cooling, melt white chocolate chips in a bowl over simmering water. (Microwaving for 1 min. 30 sec. on medium power gets this process working quicker. Then place bowl over simmering water to finish the melting process.)

When cookies are cool, dip bottom half of cookies into melted white chocolate and place on waxed or parchment paper to cool.

The green of the pistachios and the red of the dried cherries makes a wonderful Christmas themed cookie. To add a little more festivity to them, I often sprinkle some red and green nonpareil holiday sprinkles on the white chocolate before it hardens.

A nice variation to these is to use dried peaches and pecans instead of dried cherries and pistachios.  It gives them a totally different but very “Southern” flavor to them.


A Gay Christian Life

Love is Love <3

BosGuy

The life and interests of a gay, urban professional from Boston

myhusband&i

two guys making out & trying to make it

NAKd.life Opus

Real men. Really NAKd.

Jamie Fessenden's Blog

The musings of a gay fiction author

Recked with Finn West

"Your body, naturist & lifestyle blog"

Sex, Love, Xander

The Ins & Outs of Being Out

Stumbling Through Life

the struggles of a Pansexual Christian

jackiperrette

exploring life, writing & alternative romance

gaygeeks.wordpress.com/

Authors, Artists, Geeks, Husbands

A Queens' Queen in Exile

Memoirs on the death of camp

Kade Boehme

Southern boy...hold the charm...extra sass.

The Amazon Iowan

Blog of Author Heidi Cullinan • full website at heidicullinan.com

Lust Spiel Magazine

Gay literature meets gay art meets much more

Mia Kerick

Love is What I See

The Novel Approach Reviews

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

badass theology

very reformed. very christian. very gay.