holiday fare 1 cookies

[My sincere apology for the delay in posting this blog. It was just one of those weeks where urgent jobs kept surfacing, stealing time from my writing. Hope these additional recipes arrive in your inbox on time and will provide some inspiration for you to create some new and unusual holiday treats. –CMT]

Kitchen assistants taking a break.

kitchen assistants taking a break. I usually start my serious holiday baking this week, especially since my feline kitchen assistants are eager to pick up some odd jobs like diving after anything that falls on the floor and licking the bowls, of course. Just kidding, but really, I need a solid two weeks to get all my sweets and savories planned and prepared.You can print these recipes using the PDF link at the end of this post.

I won’t bore you with the typical chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie recipes. My treats are special, and will add a festive and delicious touch to your table. This week it’s cookies.

golden cups  So delicious, these tiny little pies will melt in your mouth. If you prefer, you can substitute chopped slivered almonds or pecans for the walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • Salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. On the day before (or within a week of baking, make dough), soften the cream cheese. Sift flour with ¼ tsp regular salt.
  2. Blend butter with cream cheese till streaks are gone; add flour. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in foil, and refrigerate.
  3. Early on the day, preheat oven to 375°
  4. Beat eggs in medium bowl on medium speed, add sugar, melted butter, and pinch of salt. Stir in nuts and vanilla.
  5. Divide dough in 4 parts (each fourth will make 12 cups). Refrigerate all but one. Pinch off and form into 12 balls.
  6. Press each ball into ungreased 1 ¾-inch muffin tins, forming slightly rolled edges at top. Fill half full with nut mixture (about 1 heaping teaspoon).
  7. Bake 20 minutes till light golden and filling is set. Cool a minute or two before removing to wire rack.

Cool pan between batches. Makes 48 cups. Recipe can be doubled or halved according to your needs.

 

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aunt olga’s christmas cookies  In Philadelphia, our neighbor across the street would send a platter of cookies over to our house every Christmas. She was descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch. “Deutsch” (pronounced doitch) means “German,” and they are famous for their amazing food. Anyway, these cookies don’t look like much, the ingredients are rather common, but they have that certain “umami,” an indescribable flavor that keeps you reaching for more. Follow directions to a tee for best results.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cups softened butter
  • 3 eggs (divided)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3¼ cups flour

Directions

  1. Cream butter and sugar, add 2 of the eggs. Mix well.
  2. Stir soda and cream of tartar into the flour. Add to butter mixture. Dough will be stiff. Cover with wax paper and chill for at least an hour. Or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Pinch off dough and roll into small balls the size of a walnut. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet 3-4 inches apart.
  4. Once arranged, cover a flat-bottom tumbler or jar with a flat lid with wax paper, Secure with a rubber band. Use to flatten each cookie as flat as possible.
  5. Brush tops with beaten whole egg and decorate with colored sugar, confetti nonpareils, or cinnamon and sugar. Bake 10 minutes till lightly golden and egg is set.
  6. Cool on wire racks. Store in tight-lidded cans or plastic bags. Crisp and amazing!

 

marina’s wonder cookies  I worked with a young woman who brought these into the office one Christmas. I had to have the recipe—they taste like expensive chocolate-covered toffee, but you won’t believe the simple ingredients and ease of making them. If you’re careful, you can break these up pretty evenly, but they will often break randomly. It’s okay. They taste so good, no one will complain!

Ingredients

  • ¼ box of saltines (1 sleeve)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ large package chocolate chips (dark or milk—your preference)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a large cookie sheet (with sides!) with cooking spray. Arrange saltines in a single layer to cover the bottom of the cookie sheet.
  2. Place butter and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat.
  3. Carefully pour boiling mixture over crackers to cover evenly. Place in oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven to wire rack. When bubbling stops, sprinkle chips over top and spread with an offset spatula as they melt. Cool and refrigerate.

 

old-fashioned no-bake cookies  This the closest thing to fudge without all the work. I have a friend who folds in mini marshmallows at the end. That sounds good!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • ¼ lb butter or margarine
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups oats (the old-fashioned kind are most nutritious—just sayin’)

Directions

  1. Line a couple of cookie sheets with wax paper. Measure out oats in a bowl.
  2. In a large saucepan, place sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa. and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter, then the oats. Keep stirring and work quickly or mixture will begin to dry out.
  4. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper or use a small cookie scoop. Keep them small so they dry evenly.
  5. Stack in containers in the ‘fridge between sheets of wax paper.

 

no-bake apricot coconut candy cookies  Make anytime up to one week ahead. Nice to tuck in among the regular cookies on your cookie plate or gift boxes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs water
  • ½ cup Light Karo Syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dry (powdered) milk
  • 2 cups finely snipped dried apricots
  • 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mix butter with syrup. Stir in water, vanilla, and dry milk and mix well.
  2. Add apricots and coconut and knead until thoroughly blended.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls or use a small cookie scoop.
  4. Store in a loosely covered container at room temperature.

 

TIP: If you can’t find bulk apricots, the Dollar Tree has very good, reasonably priced bags of dried apricots.

 

ALSO, cookie scoops will make your life SO much easier. I don’t know how I ever lived without them before a couple of years ago! My first two, a 1-teaspoon and a 1-tablespoon size, were from Pampered Chef, a gift from my son, but they were pretty expensive. Here in Maine, we have a discount store, Marden’s, where I was SO fortunate to find meatball size scoop, same quality, for $4.00! Don’t you just love bargains???

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAconnie’s currant cookies  Currants are small, round, seedless dried berries related to gooseberries. I call these Connie’s because I had to come up with this recipe myself after losing the one given to me by a coworker many years ago. Her name was Michelle, but everyone call her “Mitch.” She was a big woman, built like a football player, but she was a kind and gentle soul who baked me a batch of her currant cookies the Christmas before my first son was born. These are great with a hot cup of tea and a good book!

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ – ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup Zante currants (next to the raisins in the grocery store)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until very fluffy and light in color. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on high for two minutes.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually add dry to wet, combining slowly, including ½ cup of the milk. If batter is too stiff, add remaining ¼ cup milk.
  4. Stir in currants and mix till distributed.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 11 minutes.
  6. Remove to cooling rack. This makes 11 dozen.

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mother’s day breakfast

CooksJ_logo

Most of the dishes I feature are personal favorites, some are new, and many come from family and friends. I pull recipes from all kinds of sources, including you! Just comment at the end of any post if you have any suggestions for additions or improvements to my recipes, or drop off a note to me at the Aroostook Republican office in Caribou, and I’ll get back to you.

These are the recipes that appeared in the newspaper this week, May 7, 2014. I’ve also added two bonus recipes that weren’t in the paper and will probably do that every time. I have found a way for you to easily print these from online. Just look for the link at the end of the post. This blog is still emerging, and the layout might change over the next few weeks as I get a feel for the formatting tools, but my goal is to make it as easy to navigate as possible. —Connie

MOTHER’S DAY RECIPES
Kids and Dads love to prepare breakfast on Mother’s Day. These recipes are so easy but so delicious. The first two recipes are similar but one is savory and the other sweet; both start out with a Yorkshire Pudding or “popover” kind of base.

Warning: Do not use skillets that cannot go into the oven, like teflon-coated or pans with plastic handles! Cast-iron or Guardian aluminum are best.

Toadinthehole
toad in the hole
Kids will get a giggle out of the name of this dish, which originates in England and is thought to get its name from how it resembled a toad poking its head up out of a hole. Serve it with a nice fruit cup or sliced strawberries on the side to provide a bit of texture variation and some acid to counter the richness.

1 scant cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
½ cup water
2 eggs
Half a pound of uncooked breakfast sausages (I like Jones brand)
1 Tbs butter

Preheat the oven to 400°. Mix the batter first so it has time to sit: Put the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and pour in the milk and water. Whisk together, then beat in the eggs. Whisk until completely smooth and set aside.

Place a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat and put in the sausages. Cook, turning often, until they are browned on all sides. Put in the butter and let it melt; make sure the pan is well coated with fat (you might be able to skip the butter if your sausages are fatty enough). Arrange the sausages evenly in the pan, then give the batter another stir and pour it over. Pop the pan in the oven and bake 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350° and bake another 10 minutes.

Serves four if everyone behaves, but you might want to double it.

gigantic apple popover
This is a fun dish that will delight any mom!

2 apples, peeled and sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar (or substitute Splenda)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp oil
2 packed Tbsp brown sugar (or substitute Splenda)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 425°. Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet and saute the apples over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the sugar and cinnamon and cook just a little more, until soft but not mushy. Scrape them into a pie pan, arranging them to cover the bottom, and let cool.

Place the eggs, milk, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat well, then stir in the flour and salt. Whisk vigorously, and make sure it’s smooth, or you can use a blender or a hand mixer.

Pour the batter over the cooled apples and put the pan in the oven. Let bake 20 minutes, then turn down to 350° and bake another 20 minutes or until golden on top. DO NOT open the oven door while the popover is baking!

Cut in thick wedges, and serve hot or cold.

BONUS RECIPES

overnight coffee cake
This was my mother’s recipe. It is easy for kids to make the night before, and it will create a tantalizing aroma in the morning!

2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (divided)
1 cup sour milk, buttermilk, or sour cream (if available, but regular whole milk will do)
2/3 cups butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, your choice)
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl place flour, white sugar, milk, butter, ½ cup of the brown sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed till combined, then add eggs. When well-mixed, pour into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine remaining brown sugar with nuts and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

Next morning, preheat oven to 350°. Uncover pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Top should be golden brown.

Not just for Mother’s Day. This is great for Christmas morning or to serve to overnight guests. They’ll think you’re amazing. And you are!

PBSmoothie

peanut butter banana smoothie
This dish will intrigue and surprise Mom, but be sure to make enough for everyone!

2 bananas, broken into chunks
2 cups milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbs honey, or to taste
2 cups ice cubes

Place bananas, milk, peanut butter, honey, and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth, about 30 sec. Makes 4 servings. This one is addicting.

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