Christmas Brownie Mix in a Jar

November 27th, 2016

Brownie Mix Instructions

It may be too soon for holiday baking, but it is not to soon to think about special gifts for friends and neighbors.  The idea of homemade mixes has always appealed to me.  During the busy holiday season I know I would love to get a simple mix like this.  With just a few additions you can sit down to a pan of brownies warm from the oven.

Brownie Mix Label

The labels for the small mouth quart size mason jars came from Evermine.  I ordered  custom large oval labels with instructions on how to use the mix,  small custom round labels for the lid and tags with our names on them to let people know who they were from. Tied with red and white twine you will have a festive jar for giving.

Brownie Mix

You will find all of the information you will need at this Evermine page.  It is just a matter of dumping layers of the ingredients into the jars; flour mix, cocoa powder, brown sugar, white sugar, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and pecans.  I am having fun with this.

Cousins 2

These are a few of the recipients for the brownie mixes; our Grandkids and their cousins.  I am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season.

Chewy Pecan and Chocolate Diamonds

November 29th, 2015

Pecan triangles 1

We had a festive Thanksgiving celebration with the kids this year.  My DIL Kristen is a creative cook and likes to shake things up a bit.  Instead of a traditional pecan pie, she made these Chewy Pecan and Chocolate Diamonds.  The original recipe came from Epicurious.   The shortbread crust is topped with a caramel pecan topping.  To make it even more delicious, Kristen added chocolate chips to the final baking.

Pecan triangles 2

We loved these bars.  By cutting them into diamond shapes, there are edge scraps left for the cook and other family recipients.  Your guests or gift receivers can have the pretty ones, but the scraps are a treat just for you.  I will be making these as Christmas treats.

Pumpkin Profiterol 2

 

Instead of Pumpkin Pie, we had Pumpkin Custard Profiteroles with Maple Caramel.  Rachel helped her Mom make these amazing cream puffs.Mother and Daughter cooking

Rachel Cooking

It is great to have the kids participate in the meal preparation.  Four year old Cameron also got into the act by helping with the pecan diamonds.

Thanksgiving 2015 with Cam

As the casseroles came out of the oven, Michael carved the turkey and we sat down to our delicious meal. I am thankful for my family and for all of you who follow my blog.

To get you into the Christmas spirit watch this video of Rachel.  She is a new member of a competitive jump roping team and shows lots of talent.  https://youtu.be/ly-yG94eqBU   Here is another one https://youtu.be/QQJBbWjG-F4  Our dog, Daisy seems to be enjoying the show.  Rachel’s team will be performing at Disney World and possibly at next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

CHEWY PECAN AND CHOCOLATE DIAMONDS

INGREDIENTS

  1. Crust
    • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  2. topping
    • 1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (about 14 1/2 ounces)
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

PREPARATION

  1. for crust:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil. Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt in processor. Add butter and process until mixture begins to clump together. Press dough evenly onto bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake crust until set and light golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand while preparing topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  2. for topping:
    1. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils; boil 1 minute. Add pecans and cream; boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour hot topping over warm crust.
    2. Bake nut-topped crust until caramel is darker and bubbles thickly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool completely in pan (topping will harden).
    3. Lift foil out of pan onto cutting board. Using heavy sharp knife, cut crust with nut topping into 1 1/2×1-inch diamonds. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.)

For variation, add 1 cup of chocolate chips sprinkled over the top near the end of baking time.

Printable Recipe

Thanksgiving Tried and True Side Dishes

November 16th, 2015

Sugar-Spiced-Nuts-2

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share a few dishes that have been on my table and on my blog in the past years.  These are recipes that have worked well for me and I am sure they will add a special punch to your usual menu.  Notice that I am not including a recipe for turkey.  I would not presume to tell you how to cook your turkey.  Everyone has their personal idea of the best way to do that.  Let’s start with appetizers.  Because there is a huge meal waiting in the kitchen, appetizers should be light.  These Candied Spiced Almonds require a little attention upfront, but can be made way in advance.

Chipoltle-Cheddar-Wafers-1

I always love homemade savory shortbread crackers and the addition of dried cranberries to these appetizer rounds make them perfect for the holidays.  The recipe for these Chipotle Cheddar Cranberry Nut Wafers can be found here.

Sweet-Potato-Soup-1

If you prefer your sweet potatoes as a first course, this Creamy Sweet Potato Soup is sure to be a hit. It is easy too.  The sweet potatoes are cooked in the microwave and the mixture comes together smoothly with an immersion blender, although you could puree it in a blender or food processor.

Leek-Bread-Pudding-1

Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding makes a great dressing if you do not stuff your bird.  It is an Ina Garten recipe and you can make it ahead of time.  Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta or you can leave it out all together if you have vegetarians at the table.

Cranberry-Lime ChutneyThis Cranberry-Lime Chutney is definitely a new take on cranberry sauce.  It is a combination of fresh cranberries, lime, apples, onion, raisins, pecans, and lots of spices.  It is best made ahead of time.

Green-Beans-Gremolata-3

Instead of a green bean casserole, try these Green Beans Gremolata.  This dish is best made with the thin French Haricot Vert.  They have been readily available in several supermarkets that I visit.  They are usually found in a cellophane bag. The beans are cooked quickly and then tossed in a mixture of garlic, parsley, parmesan and pine nuts.

Acorn-Squash-4

This Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage could almost be a meal on its own.  But it would certainly look pretty on the Thanksgiving table.

Apple-Bundt-Cake-11

Instead of an apple pie you could make an Apple Bundt Cake.  This spice cake with a caramel frosting is a snap to make and there is a good tip on how to turn your cake out of the bundt pan easily.

Pumpkin-Dump-Cake-1

If you are in a hurry you could make this Pumpkin Dump Cake.  For a while this cake was on my DIL’s family Thanksgiving table every year.  I first made it for Kristen for her birthday and she loved it so much that she shared it with her family.  They adopted it for Thanksgiving.

Apple Crostada 2

Instead of that apple pie you could make this free form Apple Crostata.  This is one of my favorite desserts.

Enjoy the preparations and fun of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Spiced Ginger Cake: Delicious!

April 19th, 2015

Ginger Cake 1

Ruth Reichl, food critic, former Gourmet Magazine editor, and prolific author has just published her first novel called Delicious!.  This is a “must read” for foodies.  The evocative descriptions of making, tasting and enjoying food is so much a part of the story that it kept me reading long into the night.  The main character is a twenty something gal from California who moves to New York City to interview for a job at a food magazine called Delicious!; think Gourmet Magazine.  Her assets for the job are a perfect palette for discerning flavors and an ability to write well.  One of her tests for getting the job is to cook something for the editor.  She makes this gingerbread cake.  She is hired immediately and all of the staff want her recipe.

Ginger Cake 2V

In the book this is called Gingerbread, but to me it is more like a ginger spice cake.  It is the only recipe in the book and is worthy of its starring role.  The flavor is complex.  You must grind whole spices to achieve the desired flavor.  Whole peppercorns (Yes, peppercorns in a cake), whole cloves, whole cinnamon sticks, and whole cardamom.  There is a generous amount of freshly grated ginger root (1/4 cup) and the zest of 2 to 3 oranges.  Once the cake comes out of the pan it is painted with a bourbon reduction and then drizzled with an orange and powdered sugar glaze.  The cake is moist and so good that it is now my favorite by far.  David is off on a motorcycle trip for two weeks.  I had a dear friend spending the weekend with me since I am still finding it hard to get around.  I have an appointment for x-rays on Monday to determine if I have broken anything in my leg. Jackie and I dug into the cake on Friday night and we both oohed and aahed over it as we scraped our plates clean.  She said “Hurry up and take pictures of this so we can have more”.

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

I highly recommend this book.  The scenes of an Italian Market and different restaurants are a fun look at New York City.  There is also a story line about a girl who writes to James Beard during World War II.  It is an historical look at how Italians were treated during the war.  Many places stopped serving spaghetti because it was considered “Enemy Food”.  All and all, this was a fun read and the recipe is an added bonus.

BILLIE’S GINGERBREAD ( From Delicious! by Ruth Reichl )

CAKE:
Whole black peppercorns
Whole cloves
Whole cardamom
1 cinnamon stick (I used 2)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large pieces fresh ginger root (1/4 cup, tightly packed, when finely grated)
Zest from 2 to 3 oranges (1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 6 cup Bundt pan.

Grind your peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom (individually) and measure out 1/4 teaspoon of each (You can use pre-ground spices, but the cake won’t taste as good.)  Grind your cinnamon stick and measure out 1 teaspoon (Again, you can use ground cinnamon if you must.)

Whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk into the sour cream.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until the mixture is light, fluffy, and almost white.  This should take about 3 minutes.

Grate the ginger root-this is a lot of ginger-and the orange zest.  Add them to the butter/sugar mixture.

Beat the flour mixture and the egg mixture, alternating between the two, into the butter until each addition is incorporated.  The batter should be as luxurious as mousse.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until cake is golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Remove to a rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

SOAK:
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

While the cake cools in its pan, simmer the bourbon and the sugar in a small pot for about 4 minutes.  It should reduce to about 1/3 cup.

While the cake is still in the pan, brush half the bourbon mixture onto its exposed surface (the bottom of the cake) with a pastry brush.  Let the syrup soak in for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack (I used a serving plate).

Gently brush the remaining mixture all over the cake.

GLAZE
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted or put through a strainer
5 teaspoons orange juice

Once the cake is cooled, mix the sugar with the orange juice and either drizzle the glaze randomly over the cake or put it in to a squeeze bottle and do a controlled drizzle.

Printable Recipe

 

Orange Zest Cornmeal Cake

March 9th, 2015

Cornmeal Cake 4

It is strawberry time in Florida.  I wanted to make a simple cake to showcase berries.  This flavorful cake was the perfect vehicle.  It is citrusy with the orange zest and a bit crumbly with the cornmeal.  I really love this easy cake; so much so, that I am going to be making it from now on for strawberry shortcake, a simple tea cake, or served with ice cream.  David ate it last night with chocolate sauce.

Cornmeal Cake 3V

Yummy cake indeed.  Even if baking is not your thing, this is so quick and easy that you cannot fail.

Cornmeal Cake 1 Close

On another note, the light is returning.  It may not be Spring yet, but we bloggers tend to have an eye for the quality of light.  I have been struggling all winter trying to take good pictures in less than perfect light.  The shift in the angle of the Sun has improved my photography.  Spring shows itself in subtle ways.  Some sense it in the smell of fresh soil and the warming air currents.  Some sense it by listening to new bird calls and some, like me, can feel it in the light.  May this returning light brighten your days.

Cornmeal Cake 2 close

This cake will also brighten your days.

ORANGE ZEST CORNMEAL CAKE

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter.  Add a round of parchment paper and grease again with butter.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine butter, sugar, orange rind and vanilla in a stand mixer.  Blend on medium speed until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and cornmeal alternately with milk, beating just until evenly incorporated.  Scrape into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Invert, remove parchment paper and flip to top side. Slice and serve when cool.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.