welcome

Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.



As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.



Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Friday, December 17, 2010

homemade granola

over the years i have tried many different granola recipes, and have finally decided on this one as my favorite.  it comes from the recipe book titled the ski house cookbook.  this recipe can be varied based on personal taste and what ingredients are available in the pantry.

ingredients:  3 1/2 cups of whole grain old fashioned oats, 1/3 cup coconut, 1/3 cup nuts (sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans), 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  mix these ingredients in a bowl.  next, in a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. melt and pour over the dry ingredients.  spread the mixture on a sheet pan sprayed with canola oil.  bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  when the granola looks slightly brown, remove from the oven and cool. then, add 2/3 cup of either raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, or other dried fruit. store in a covered jar and enjoy for breakfast.  the granola can also be prepared without the nuts or dried fruit and served with them as toppings at the table, so each guest can personalize their granola for breakfast.

christmas meal planning

i have been working on holiday menus for the past week. over the years i have collected many christmas books, and these are three of my favorites.  country living's country christmas contains a variety of recipes as well as decorating ideas for the holiday.  martha stewart's books always include wonderful ideas for wreaths, table arrangements, as well as menu ideas and desserts.

i have been reading susan branch's book for wonderful poems, phrases, and delightful drawings about winter and the christmas season. her hand painted drawings are colorful and charming. i have found several ideas for this year's celebration.

tea and christmas peppermint spoons

since i am an avid tea drinker i often sample a variety of teas each week.  although my preference is for green tea, and choose that over many others, i do enjoy all teas made by tea forte. these teas are prepared in silken infusers and allow the tea leaves to gently infuse into the hot water. i believe this accounts for their superior taste.

for the holidays, i purchased their collection which contains crimson nectar, apple pomegranate, and sweet orange spice.  i have been waiting to sample them, and just admiring them in my spode christmas bowl in the dining room.  these teas are more costly than standard tea bags and average two dollars per serving.

also for the holidays, i purchased peppermint tea spoons that can be used in tea, coffee or hot cocoa. i believe i will use them in hot cocoa on a snowy evening by the fireside.  a warm drink, a cozy fireplace, and someone to love makes the season wonderful.

bread dressing with leeks

before preparing the bread dressing, it is very important to clean the bunch of leeks.  i slice them in half, separate the leaves and allow them to soak in cold water while thoroughly cleaning them before cutting into pieces for the dish.

other ingredients for the dressing include:  celery, yellow onions, salt, pepper, and bacon.  after chopping the celery, onion and slicing the bacon, i prepare the casserole dish.  it must be sprayed with canola or olive oil prior to cooking the dressing.  next, i make the broth.  using bouillon cubes, i make several cups of chicken, turkey or vegetable broth.  this year, i used vegetable broth for the dressing.

toast your crusty croutons or pre purchase croutons in the deli.  i find that these are much better quality than the bagged croutons, providing a better dressing. mix the croutons and other ingredients together after they have been sauteed in a large skillet with a bit of olive oil.  after the ingredients are mixed, add enough broth to moisten but not allow the croutons to become too soft.  place the dressing in the casserole dish and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes.
 here are photos of the bread dressing before and after baking.  if you prepare the bread dressing earlier than needed, be certain to place in the refrigerator to keep cold before baking. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

mache lettuce salad with walnuts and parmesan wafers

by using mache lettuce greens, walnuts and a parmesan wafer, this simple salad resembles any gourmet salad served in a restaurant. to make the parmesan wafer, finely shread parmesan cheese into a bowl.  prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, so the cheese will not stick or burn to the sheet while baking.

next, place small rounds of the cheese on the paper and decorate the wafers with parsley, dill, or any other fresh herb of choice.  dried herbs work well also, but if fresh herbs are available, choose those first.  then, bake the wafers in the oven on 350 degrees for just a few minutes.  perhaps only two to three depending on your oven.  watch these carefully, as the wafers will burn quickly.  it is acceptable to have browned edges, and that effect will add to the crispiness of the wafer.  allow them to dry on the sheet pan and save until ready to assemble the salads. these wafers were made with parsley. i often serve this salad with peppercorn dressing.

chicken fajitas

almost everyone i know makes fajitas, and here is my recipe for an easy weeknight meal.  first, select a whole wheat, low fat, low carb fajita shell.  there are several brands available at the supermarket.  i spray them lightly with canola or olive oil and place on a sheet pan.  when ready to serve, i gently warm them in a 350 degree oven for approximately four or five minutes.  i watch them through the oven door, so they do not become crispy.

i prepare my toppings in advance.  i use shredded cheddar cheese, but a mix of cheeses can also be selected.  chopped black olives, chopped green onions, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes or a salsa, sour cream, and the chicken are prepared.  i usually grill my chicken breasts in advance and slice into thin strips. 

i serve the fajitas with my homemade tomato or Spanish rice and a few tostito chips to accent the place presentation.  when it is serving time, warm the shells with the cheese on top.  remove them from the oven add the toppings, fold and serve.  sometimes, i grill green peppers and the onions on the stove top and add them after i remove the cheese topped shells from the oven.  then, i complete the fajitas with the toppings. 

the homemade Spanish rice complements the meal and some guests will choose to eat the rice with their blue tostito chips.

ice cream or sorbet extracts

when searching for flavorings for making homemade ice cream or sorbets, i highly recommend this brand. made by lorann gourmet. they are often found in gourmet cooking stores or candy making shops. the taste of these extracts are clean without any aftertaste, and provide a rich and flavorful natural taste to the products.

they are available in many flavors and every one i have tried offers a full body flavor and authentic taste. some extracts are clear and others have color, so keep in mind that they may change the color of the ice cream or sorbet.  most recipes suggest using one teaspoon of flavor and that will be sufficient when using this brand.

caramel pecan topping for ice cream

sometimes i need a quick dessert and surrender to a topping by the silver palate.  this caramel pecan topping is one of the best choices served over vanilla ice cream.  i remove the topping from the jar and gently microwave the sauce until just warm and smooth.  pour over vanilla ice cream in an attractive glass dish and your guests will truly enjoy this treat. be certain to take enough time to scoop the ice cream into attractive balls or use an ice cream form which adds to the presentation of the dessert.  no additional nuts are needed since the silver palate provides plenty of large size nuts that are crunchy and especially tasty when warmed. this jar will serve six people.

sometimes desserts can be easy!

spinach and red pepper quiche

one of the ways i incorporated my leftover turkey white meat this year was in this spinach and red pepper quiche.  the crust is made from crunchy bread crumbs and then is layered with mozzarella and Swiss cheese.  i used one ten ounce box of frozen spinach thawed and drained thoroughly on top of the cheese.

then, i added chopped red pepper, the turkey white meat and some chopped onion.  for the quiche filling, i use eggs, half and half and season to taste.  i pour the filling over the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes until quiche filling is set.  for this quiche dish, the cooking time is less, since the circumference is wider than the traditional 8 or 10 inch casserole.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

flavored pancakes with syrup


although making pancakes from traditional ingredients is somewhat easy, i have found these stonewall kitchen mixes to be both simple to prepare and very tasty.  i highly recommend both of these flavors--toasted coconut or cinnamon apple.

these mixes produce fluffy pancakes that are full of flavor and taste. the cinnamon apple syrup is a wonderful choice for the apple pancakes and improves the taste over a customary maple syrup.  i highly recommend stonewall kitchen pancake mixes for a homemade taste with a great flavor for your next breakfast meal.

vanilla carrots

these thanksgiving dinner carrots were boiled with a vanilla bean.  i simply added the vanilla bean to the water as i cooked the carrots.  after the water was almost evaporated, i added one to two tablespoons of margarine with a couple of tablespoons of light brown sugar.

these carrots have a unique taste that is not top heavy on vanilla flavor, but the bean adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the carrots that complements the sugar.

french toast

i use several french toast recipes for various occasions, but this classic recipe is quick and easy to prepare.  typically for four servings, i mix three to five eggs with a flavor of choice.  i have used vanilla or almond extract, orange or lemon extract or even rum extract.  other choices would be coconut or maple. 

once the eggs and flavor are mixed, use thickly sliced firm bread.  i use a ciabatta or a round bread.  i like the longer slices of bread for the toast presentation. the success of french toast depends on the bread selection.  make certain the bread is firm and not soft.

using a griddle, spray with canola oil and heat the griddle to 350 degrees.  dip the bread in the egg coating and place on the griddle.  flip the bread when the egg coating is cooked on the bottom.  this process takes about 4-6 minutes.

keep the toast warm in the oven on a sheet pan while the rest of the toast is cooking.  i serve the toast with fresh maple syrup, powdered sugar and sometimes flavored syrup. warm the syrup before serving.  serve with a breakfast meat and fruit.

baked french onion soup

i have been using this recipe for french onion soup for years.  it came from a magazine and seems to have such a great flavor, taking less time than others i have tried from time to time.

using 10-12 medium sized yellow onions or a mixture of white and yellow onions, saute them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot.  as the onions brown, they create a wonderful taste.  this process may take 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of the stove burner.

after the onions brown, add the wine.  the recipe suggests adding Merlot, but i often add Cabernet to deepen the flavor of the soup.  add about 3 to 4 ounces. then, add the beef broth.  i usually make my own broth from bouillon cubes and have the broth warm to add to the onions.  this saves cooking time.  i typically add 4-6 cups of broth and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

add black pepper to taste and cook for another minute or so.  if you decide to use low sodium broth, you must add salt to this soup or the taste will be bland.

prepare crusty toasty croutons or bread slices for the top of the crocks.  using ceramic soup bowls, float the croutons over the soup and top with a combination of Swiss and Gruyere cheese.  bake for 10 minutes or place under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes. 

this soup tastes like it has been cooked all day and will be a delight to your family.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

bake by nick malgieri

this is a new cookbook given to me for my birthday this year.  i can't wait to start baking from the selection in the table of contents.  the author covers everything from cookie dough and tarts to pound cakes, coffee cakes, biscuits and scones to brownies and sandwich cookies.  the photographs and step by step instructions are numbered and clearly presented.  variations to the recipes are offered at the bottom of each page. preparation photos are included in the process section.  the chapter on one step breads and rolls looks amazing.  i have been enjoying reading the recipes and will begin baking soon. check it out at the local bookstore.  i don't think you will be disappointed.

vegetable broth for soups or roasts

this is my favorite brand of vegetable bouillon to use for roasting chicken or turkey. it is made by Rapunzel and is flavored with sea salt and herbs. i typically prepare four cups of broth with the cubes and place at the bottom of the roasting pan to increase humidity to the chicken or turkey during baking. 

this brand offers great flavor and can be used for soups or bread stuffing too. i used this brand for my bread dressing this Thanksgiving.  the flavor was balanced and offered a great rich taste which was neither salty nor bland.

popovers


crusty popovers are a delicious treat to offer friends and family for any meal of the day.  for breakfast, popovers are served with jam or fruit butters to accompany any breakfast entree.

for lunch time meals, popovers can be served with a quiche, chicken salad or a summer fruit salad.  for dinner, popovers are traditionally served with a roast, but compliment any supper entree.  during thanksgiving week, i baked smaller popovers instead of the traditional larger size often noted in most recipes.  i own two sizes of popover pans, and it must be noted to choose the proper recipe for the size of the pan.  the larger popover recipes will often state the quantity as six popovers.  for the smaller variety, the pan offers 12 spaces.

here is my favorite recipe for popovers from the herbal breads cookbook by Donna Frawley:

2 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 tsp salt.  preheat the oven and the popover pan at 425 degrees.  beat eggs and add milk.  add flour and salt.  beat for 2 minutes with electric hand mixer.  remove pan from oven and spray with non stick spray.  pour batter evenly into pan filling only 2/3 full.  bake for 25 minutes and check if using a smaller 12 popover pan.  if using a larger pan for 6 popovers, check at 30 minutes.  maximum cooking time for the larger popovers would be 40 minutes.

serve warm for the best result. these popovers can be varied with cheese, dill, almond and poppy seeds, or even herbs.  experiment by adding a 1 tsp of your favorite flavors.

warmed breakfast fruit

my family enjoys warmed fruit for breakfast on special occasions.  usually, i combine both lite syrup canned fruits with fresh fruit.  for thanksgiving this year, i used canned peaches and pink grapefruit mixed with fresh pears, blackberries and raspberries.

any combination of fruit can be used.  i have selected blueberries, apricots, canned pears, fresh peaches, apples, and pineapple over the years.  i simply place the fruit selection into a ceramic casserole dish, add some orange juice and a bit of brown sugar on the top and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

the fruit accompanies waffles, pancakes, crepes, quiche or eggs very nicely.

brussels sprouts

one of the best tasting fall vegetables would be Brussels sprouts. this mini cabbage is very easy to make and can adjust to a variety of flavors or seasonings.  i often parboil the sprouts first for approximately ten to fifteen minutes and then drain the water, and saute with a dash of olive oil. 


the sprouts cook well after the outer layer of greens are removed and they are sliced into halves.  the quick preparation makes these a wonderful addition to any weeknight meal.  to flavor the sprouts, i used small slices of pancetta, but bacon or prosciutto could be used for variety. the sprouts taste well seasoned with salt, pepper, flavored salts or other seasonings based on your family's preferences. here are some ideas for flavoring. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

chocolate mocha cookies

nigella lawson has a great recipe for chocolate cookies.  i modified her chocolate mint cookies by using another flavored cocoa this time.  i chose to use a ghiradelli chocolate mocha flavored cocoa and these cookies were quite tasty.
preheat the oven to 350 degrees
cream 3/4 cup of light brown sugar with 1/2 cup of soft butter.  add one egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  then mix the dry ingredients together.  ( 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 cup flour)  slowly add these to the mixer to incorporate.  then stir in 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips.

these cookies can be glazed, but i chose to serve them without the glaze this week. bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool.

roasted cornish hens

when the weather is cold outside, it is so nice to be able to serve roasted Cornish hens.  these hens have tender meat and are much smaller than a standard whole chicken.  two small hens will serve 3-4 people easily with other side dishes for a dinner meal.

i simply place the hens in a roasting dish on a small rack and use about 1 cup of chicken broth added to the base of the dish.  either spray the hens with olive oil or use a small amount of olive oil to coat the skins of the hens.  then, my favorite seasoning for the hens would be herbs for poultry by dean and deluca.  this well rounded seasoning adds a great flavor to the birds. i secure the legs with string and position the wings so the hens rest flat on the rack.

i bake them in the oven on 400 degrees for one hour and then check to make certain the inner temperature is 180 degrees.  these hens are very tasty and will warm up anyone on a fall day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

basic parsley buttered carrots

the addition of mini peeled carrots to the marketplace produce aisle is a true time savor.  there is no longer any excuse for not serving this vegetable each week. carrots are  a wonderful colorful vegetable that offer a host of nutrients for the body and must be selected for family meals.

i simply boil the carrots until tender and drain. then, i use a bit of margarine and parsley before serving them for dinner.  another great carrot recipe is to drain the carrots and add a couple of tablespoons of margarine and one tablespoon of brown sugar while still in the saucepan to create a wonderful glaze to the serving.

i find that mixing the margarine in while the carrots are still hot in the pan offers far less use of margarine at the table.

smashed petite red potatoes

these smashed red potatoes are delicious compared to other types of small potatoes.  i like the texture of these potatoes and the recipe can be changed to include the addition of sour cream or herbs. 

these are simply petite red potatoes that are cleaned and boiled with their skins intact. when placed in a saucepan, i boil them for about 25 minutes until tender.  then, using a potato masher, i smash the potatoes in the pot, and often add some margarine or sour cream to smooth them into a creamy consistency.

herbs or spices can be added as desired.  i often add a pinch of salt, some black pepper or parsley.  other options would be dill or any favorite seasoning.  these potatoes will become a great winter favorite and much better than anything from the box or frozen aisle in the market.

primula tea

i have used this tea pot for several years now when i have additional time to really spend drinking and enjoying flowering tea.  these tea buds are very unusual looking but open nicely in a clear pot to form beautiful flowers through the glass kettle.

this product does seem to be a bit pricey, but both their earl grey blends and green tea blends are tasty flavorful tea products.  the glass carafe is quite hot and requires much care compared to one of my standard ceramic pots.  the glass is quite fragile and thin, but allows for the beauty of the tea bud to be admired.

birthday cake for karen

for my birthday this year, i decided to bake myself a cake.  usually i select a birthday cake from a pastry shop which specializes in french bakery items.  and, i certainly love the buttercream frosting for my special day.

but this year was different, and i decided to make a single layer cake and decorate the cake with a chocolate ganache that i make frequently for a variety of desserts.  and then, decorate the cake with a vanilla buttercream icing.

since i am not really a baker or cake decorator, i decided to use a very simple initial design.  i am quite proud of how the initial looks on the cake and i think for future events, i will expand on this idea and continue to use monograms of different styles.  i may have to investigate how to form monograms, so this information will certainly be coming to the blog soon.

the ganache recipe is quite simple:  6-8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, a very good brand, melted over a stainless double boiler.  when the chocolate is melted completely, i simply add 1/2 cup of whipping cream slowly stirring to incorporate.  this ganache icing comes together very quickly and looks glossy and delicious from the start. 1 tablespoon of flavor is then added for taste.  sometimes i use orange or lemon, and today i used almond. then, i simply pour the ganache over the top of the cake and spread to the edges and sides with a flat thin spatula.  the icing will harden in a matter of an hour or so, with about 4-5 tablespoons left over for a one layer cake.  this recipe might be enough for a two layer cake.  it certainly would be enough if extra buttercream icing was going to be used for the base of the cake and additional decorating to possibly hide thinner ganache at the edges.

the buttercream recipe has been posted on the blog under maple icing, however for this cake, i used Watkins vanilla for the flavoring. this is my standard icing recipe and the flavors change based on what is desired for the cake. this makes life simple.  : )  Watkins vanilla is so tasty and i have tried several different brands over the years.  another great brand is Nielsen-Massey vanillas.  i have also used their vanilla beans, sliced them and scraped them into the icing for a great result as well.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

thanksgiving reading

before preparing my menus for the holidays, i look to my resources for ideas, instead of falling back on the same old dishes.  this week i plan on spending some time reading cookbooks and coming up with some new recipes for thanksgiving week.

these two cookbooks are a great start for ideas.  one year i tried a classic peanut soup from williamsburg, and this year seems to be on the rotation for soup again.

classic egg foo young

my recipe collection spans thirty years of clipped magazine recipes, found recipes from newspapers and from a whole host of stores and restaurants.   i have saved this recipe from Joyce Chen, a television food host long before there was even a food network.  i remember watching her on PBS when i was in my twenties.  i have saved this recipe, and we enjoy eating this classic Asian dish with white rice. some might call this a vegetarian omelet, but the sauce makes it egg foo young.  for this evening, i made vegetarian egg foo young.  however, i have added shrimp or chicken to the dish quite successfully.

here is the recipe:
5 eggs mixed with a fork in a bowl, 1 cup fresh bean sprouts or shredded lettuce, 1/2 cup celery, 1/4 cup sliced onion, 4 oz canned sliced mushrooms drained, 1/2 cup of shrimp or chicken if desired, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 tsp sherry.  mix all ingredients.  drop by large tablespoonfuls onto a skillet sprayed with canola oil.  brown both sides.  it is easy to tell when the dish is ready as the egg takes only a few minutes to cook through.  keep the egg foo young warm in the oven while preparing the sauce.

sauce recipe:  2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tsp catsup, 3 1/2 tablespoons of flour dissolved in 1/4 cup water.  mix all ingredients except flour/water mixture in a saucepan over a low heat.  slowly add the flour/water mixture to thicken the sauce as it comes to a boil.  it is important to stir constantly as the flour/water mixture is being added, or the sauce will form lumps.
serve this entree with white rice. 

breakfast crumpets


every saturday morning i try a new breakfast recipe.  this recipe comes from a cookbook i have used for years called tea time at the inn.  this book features recipes from many bed and breakfast inns from around the county.  most of the recipes within the cookbook are basic recipes that seem to be time tested over the years.  this crumpet recipe is very similar to an english muffin recipe i have also used successfully. however, these directions are even more simplified and require less ingredients.  by using english muffin or crumpet rings on the griddle, these morning biscuits are very easy to prepare, shape, cook and serve.   after cooking, the crumpets cool on a wire rack for a bit, or can be served warm right off the griddle. i enjoy them sliced in half and toasted with jam or marmalade.  we used stonewall kitchen's lemon pear marmalade for this meal.  here is the recipe:  1 package of dry yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 3/4 cups of warm water, 2 cups flour, 1 tbsp. baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt. dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water.  whisk well.  heat griddle to 400 degrees.  grease crumpet rings and place on griddle.  pour batter into rings until half full.  cook until bubble form.  flip with ring to brown other side of crumpet.  serve and enjoy.  this is one half of the printed recipe and makes about nine crumpets. they are light, airy and oh so delicious!


roasted pumpkin seeds

every year after halloween, i roast pumpkin seeds from our halloween pumpkins.  yesterday, i cleaned the pumpkin seeds thoroughly, and placed them on a sheet pan sprayed with olive oil.

next, i drizzle them lightly with olive oil and season with a slight amount of fine ground sea salt.  mixing with my hands to distribute the seeds evenly on the pan, the tray is ready for the oven.

bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes and then continue to flip with a spatula until the seeds look dry and toasty.  this process could take about 20 minutes or so, depending on the amount of seeds and how evenly they are spaced on the sheet pan.  i baked these around 25 minutes yesterday.  the seeds could also be seasoned with pepper, cinnamon or any other sweet or savory spice from the pantry.

these are a delicious fall treat to enjoy every year.

asian chicken salad

over the years, i have tried several different recipes for an Asian style chicken salad that can be used for a meal or served for a luncheon.  this recipe comes from a hometown cookbook from traverse city michigan.

first, a selection of lettuce, spinach, or sliced cabbage is used based on preference.  then, sliced green onions are added to the salad. grill the chicken in small slices and add to the salad.

 next, the crunchy Asian noodle topping is stir fried.

i used 2-3 packages of broken ramen noodles, the seasoning from the chicken noodles, one stick of margarine, and 3-4 ounces of slivered almonds.  i stir fry these ingredients in a wok. the crunchy topping is allowed to cool before using over the lettuce greens.

next, i prepare the dressing.  using 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup of canola oil, i mix these ingredients in a cup until the sugar is dissolved.  some recipes suggest heating this mixture, but slowly stirring works well.

then, assemble the salad.  add the crunchy topping, drizzle the dressing and enjoy.  this is a great year-round salad selection and can be served with a popover or breadstick.  the dressing seems to be the key to the salad.

old fashioned ginger cookies

one of my very favorite cookie recipes comes from my friend cindy.  she shared this recipe with me about one year ago.  every time i bake these cookies, i think of her as the wonderful ginger smell fills my kitchen.

these cookies are very similar to a ginger snap and are very tasty.  i bake them more during the holidays and especially recommend them for fall meals.  they are great served with ice cream, or even with a cup of tea on a cool afternoon.  here is the recipe:

2 cups flour,1 Tbsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt, ¾ cup unsalted butter (or shortening), 1 cup sugar, 1 egg , and ¼ cup molasses

Mix dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, soda and salt) together in a bowl.
Cream butter, sugar, egg and molasses in mixer.
Add dry ingredients to the mixer and blend well.

If shortening is used, chill mixture first, and then roll into small balls. Coat with additional sugar. If butter is at room temp, must chill cookies as well.

I use unsalted butter and do not chill. Use a small cookie scoop to form the cookies, and flatten with the bottom of a glass or spoon dipped in sugar.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. These cookies are flat and crispy; similar to a ginger snap. I have also tried demerara sugar for the rolling stage for an added crunch.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

halloween meringue cookie bones


for a special treat this year, i decided to try another one of Martha Stewart's recipes for an unusual cookie.  her meringue bones are light, fluffy and a fun treat for people of all ages.

they were surprisingly easy to prepare.  they are made with egg whites and ultra fine professional grade pure cane sugar.  with only those two ingredients, the mixture is whipped over boiling water for five minutes.  after the mixture is heated and the sugar is melted, the bowl is transferred to a stand mixture and whipped for another eight minutes on high.

then, the mixture is placed into a pastry bag with a plain round tip, and piped onto sheet pans which are lined with silpat mats.  the pans are placed into a preheated 200 degree oven and baked for one hour.  since this recipe makes three sheet pans of cookies, i had to bake two of the pans first, and then the last sheet pan separately.

the bones are easy to form with the pastry bag.  i simply made two dots, then added the straight line, and finished the bone design with two more large dots at the opposite end.
i chose to serve the cookies on a shiny platter.