Category Archives: Recipes

Love Cookies

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I enjoy cooking and baking for people. It is my love language. But Sunday night my hubby baked for me. He made these amazing oatmeal cranberry cookies.

OH, MY. He must love me very much (or he just really wanted cookies). They are seriously some of the best cookies I have ever tasted. Definitely in my top five. I’m calling them Love Cookies since they were made with love and I love them so much. Go make some now.

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Love Cookies

 

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups quick oats
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, soda, powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a mixer. Mix in honey and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in coconut, dried cranberries, and oats. Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture. Scoop dough with one inch scoop and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake until cookies turn golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Let sit 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

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Bonus Recipe: Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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chocolate-chip-oatmeal-cookiesI adapted this from a Ghirardelli’s recipe Melissa Reagan shared with me. I just exchanged the regular flour for gluten-free and added one more tablespoon of butter. That’s it. And it worked beautifully. Jackie is eating them as fast as I can bake them!

(If you are not gluten-free and want to try the original recipe, go here. Either way they are way yummy!)

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup butter plus one tablespoon, softened
 (I “defrost” it in the microwave for a few seconds)
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unsifted gluten-free flour
 (I used Pamela’s Artisan Gluten-Free Flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups oats, uncooked

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl (or bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment), beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color (about 4 minutes). Add vanilla and egg, and mix on low speed until incorporated. In separate bowl, stir flour with baking soda, salt, and spices; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Fold in chocolate chips. Use a small ice cream scoop to drop onto ungreased cookie sheets line with parchment paper. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie, 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on a cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling racks. Store in tightly covered container. Makes about 6 dozen 2″ cookies.

Gluten-Free Bread that Doesn’t Suck

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gluten-freebread.jpgSo…Jeff and I have gone gluten-free. It is not a necessity. But we are trying to improve some health issues that have been reported to respond well to a gluten-free diet. It has opened a whole new world to us. A crazy, weird, and expensive world.

I looked at prices and almost said diet schmiet, we can’t afford that. But then I found a book for my Kindle Fire that has changed my mind, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn. She has a section on what to buy and what to make, where to get the best deals on groceries, and basically how to make it work.
itbends.jpgOnce I had the basics down, I started playing with recipes. The first bread recipe I tried was okay, but not great. It had a metally taste and was very dense. It worked okay for toast with peanut butter. The second loaf I made was almost inedible. We are using it for a doorstop. But the third one, with a little tinkering, is AMAZING. It tastes great. It is soft and flexible like real bread. We are very, very happy with it.
This recipe came from the blog onegoodthingbyjillee.com. It is Jillee’s Gluten-Free Bread that Doesn’t Suck. And it doesn’t! It is yummy and flexible and light and moist.

I adjusted it to fit the ingredients I like and how I bake.  So I’m leaving Jillee’s name off. I hope she is not offended. I will be making my version over and over again. Enjoy!

 

Gluten-Free Bread that Doesn’t Suck

Ingredients
4 cups Pamela’s Artisan Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup powdered milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
⅓ cup honey
 or sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water

Directions
Spray gluten-free cooking spray into two 8-inch bread pans. I like to use ceramic pans.
Add the yeast and honey to the 2 cups of warm water and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and powdered milk together in a medium-size bowl and set aside. Put eggs, butter, and vinegar in the bowl of your mixer and mix for about 30 seconds with the paddle attachment. If the butter is chunky, that’s OK.
Add half the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the mixer. Mix just until blended, and then add half of the yeast water, then remaining dry ingredients and mix for another 30 seconds, until blended. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the rest of the yeast mixture, then turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 4 minutes. Your bread dough should resemble thick cake batter.
Spoon the dough into greased bread pans. Smooth the top of the dough with wet fingers, if desired. Wet a dish towel and put in your microwave. Heat on high 30-60 seconds until there is a little steam. Set bread in the microwave on top of the towel and let rise for approximately about 50 to 60 minutes. In last 15 minutes, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
When the dough has risen to about an inch above the top of the pans, place the pans in preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 35 to 55 minutes or until the bread’s internal temperature reaches 200 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. (This is very helpful! It’s hard to tell when gluten-free bread is done.) Mine was done in 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it.
Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove loaves from pans and place on racks to cool. Brush with butter if desired.
Allow bread to cool COMPLETELY. (Don’t cut into it while it’s still warm or you will flatten it.) Let the knife blade do the work. Don’t press down, just keep “sawing” across the top until you get all the way to the bottom of the loaf and hit the cutting board. The bread slices will keep their shape much better this way!

Belly Button Bread

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Belly Button BreadI make this bread. We call it Belly Button Bread. It has nothing to do with belly buttons. Although I have to admit when it is rising it looks a bit like a belly—well a middle-aged belly maybe. And the little divots we put into it before it bakes sort of look like innie belly buttons. At least that is what Darla thought when she saw the first loaf. The moniker stuck and its been Belly Button Bread ever since.

The original recipe started from a recipe I saw on the Naked Chef. (He never was nekked that I saw.) I’ve added, subtracted, messed with, and generally overhauled the recipe to be something that is easy for me. The basic recipe is what follows. But we change it up sometimes and add cheese or thinly sliced tomatoes or basil or garlic or olives. I have even made a sweet version and topped it with cinnamon sugar and butter. YUMMO.

Play around with it as much as you want. Or stick to the recipe. Just be careful who you give it to once it is baked. They will keep asking for it and you’ll feel obligated to bake more and more and before long you’ll lose your job and live to watch yeast get all foamy, and smell this amazing bread baking. Be careful!20140313_180609

I put the salt and bread flour in my fancy dancy mixer and give it a whirl. You can just use a big bowl. Whatever works. Then add the honey to the warm water and mix before adding in the yeast.

When the yeast water is all foamy, turn the mixer back on and slowly add it to the flour. Once it is all mixed up, I take off the paddle and put on the hook attachment. Then I add more flour until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides in one big lump. You can mix it in by hand in the bowl or on a floured surface until you have a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Knead for five or six minutes.20140313_193346

Put it in a bowl that is coated with oil, pop on the lid and wait for about an hour. This is when it kind of looks like a belly. Sort of.

Then it is divided into two pans, brushed with oil, poked, and left to rise again.

Finally it is dusted with rosemary, baked on high heat, and fills your house with a  smell that will make you weak in the knees. Really it will.

focaccia doughRECIPE

Ingredients
2 cups warm water
2 TBS active dry yeast (about 2 pkgs)
2 TBS honey or sugar
2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour if you don’t have this)
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 TBS kosher salt
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (or whatever oil you have)
1/2 TBS rosemary, roughly chopped or banged around in a mortal and pestle

Directions
Combine the warm water, yeast, and honey in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 5 minutes. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the bread flour and two cups of flour, kosher salt, olive oil, and the yeast mixture on low speed. (Or do all of that in a bowl or on a floured surface using your hands.) Add in more flour until the dough has come together. Continue to knead with dough hook for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.Lightly coat the inside of a plastic, lidded bowl with olive oil and put the dough in the bowl. Attach the lid and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Punch down and divide into two pieces.

Dust two baking pans with corn meal (or if using metal pans you can coat liberally with olive oil). Put the dough onto the pan and press it out to fit the size of the pan (leaving it free form makes it look more authentic). Drizzle or brush the top with olive oil. Spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. (Chef’s Note: Yes, this is strange. But when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic belly buttons. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.) Cover with plastic wrap.
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Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Ten minutes before the dough is finished rising a second time, preheat the oven to 550 degrees F (or as hot as your oven goes).

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with  rosemary and lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving (or dig in immediately before Jackie can get his hands on it).

Enjoy!

Yum, Yum Cake a.k.a. Tres Leches Cake

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This weekend I am at a friend’s home, affectionately called “The Farm,” in western Minnesota. Once a year six to eight women leave their homes, families, and good sense behind to come together to giggle, eat (copious amounts of food), play games, and relax in the light-filled hearthroom overlooking the amazing snow-covered lake. It is bliss.

Tres Leches Cake to ShareThis year my contributions to the 48-hour feast were Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Scones and Tres Leches Cake. These are two of my most used recipes. They are always a big hit. And both are way easier to make than they look (double bonus!). I thought publishing the easier of the two recipes would be a good idea and maybe get this group of ladies to read my blog! This is a yummy dessert that is easy to throw together but by no means a gourmet recipe.

For the cake, I use a mix if I have it and make it from scratch when I don’t. White. Yellow. Purple. Whatever vanilla flavored cake you have will be just fine. WARNING: This is not a cake to make unless you have several people to help eat it. Otherwise you will need drawstring pants for a few days!

20130223_144516Easy Tres Leches Cake

1 vanilla flavored cake baked according to directions in a 9 x 13 pan (one with a lid is best)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 (or so) cup milk (whatever you have in the fridge)
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
whipped cream (homemade or from a tub or can)
1 1/2 cup coconut (toasted)

Bake and cool cake. Toast coconut in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently (it burns easily). Cool coconut and store in sealed container.

Using a fork, poke holes all over cooled cake. Pour condensed milk into a bowl. Add heavy cream to empty can and add other milk until the can is full. Add to bowl, add coconut extract, and whisk until well mixed. Carefully pour milk mixture over cake using the back of a spoon to push milk into all the holes. Refrigerate cake (or set it on the back porch if you live in MN).

To serve, place a piece of cake on a plate, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with coconut. Yum, Yum.

Aebleskiver Experiment

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The best of the experiment—brushed with melted butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Donut holes without the grease.

The best of the experiment—brushed with melted butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

Fresh out of the pan Aebleskiver.

Fresh out of the pan Aebleskiver.

My hubby is of Dutch heritage (although a little Irish and German have sneaked in to his almost pure blood). I am a mutt—more Irish than anything, a little French, German, English, with a whole lot of Hillbilly! So our traditions are a tad all over the place. We eat pinto beans, cornbread, fried potatoes, and fried okra while drinking sweet tea out of mason jars like my Hillbilly ancestors. We put out wooden shoes in the Dutch tradition on St. Nick’s Day. We wear all green and eat bangers and mash with Irish soda bread and Dubliners cheese for St. Patrick’s Day. We have embraced a global heritage and enjoy adding new traditions when they fit our family.

This Christmas I received an Aebleskiver pan. I think it is pronounced able-skee-ver in the plural and able-skeeve in the singular (one little ball). The cast iron pan has eight little holes in it and is used to make nummy pancake-like balls that are usually topped with powdered sugar and served around the holidays. It is a Danish tradition that I thought might work its way into our hearts. So we decided to experiment.

Aebleskive with chocolate ganache and powdered sugar.

Aebleskive with chocolate ganache & powdered sugar.

When I looked into recipes there were several, although most could be sorted into two basic types—baking soda recipes and yeast recipes. Last month we tried a plain baking soda recipe and a Mexican chocolate recipe. The plain ones were a hit. The chocolate ones bombed.

Today Jeff and I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen trying a yeast recipe with various toppings. We liked the cinnamon and sugar the best (dip the finished aebleskiver in melted butter and roll in a mix of sugar and spice). We tried them with powdered sugar, strawberry jam, and chocolate ganache (even chocoholic Jeff did not like that). These are much denser, much prettier, but not as tasty as the baking soda type. They tasted more like a small dinner roll than a pancake. I think they would make amazing little slider sandwiches. I am keeping a few to try with roast beef or chicken salad.

An aebleskive with strawberry jam in the center.

An aebleskive with strawberry jam in the center.

The traditional way of making them would include cooked apples (thus the name AEBLE) in the middle of the ball. We haven’t tried that yet. It is on our list to try next time with caramel sauce. It is an ongoing experiment!

The recipe below is for the yeast balls. If you want to try the baking soda recipe, the recipe is here.

Yeast Aebleskiver

1  1/2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast
2 cups flour
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, separated

Unsalted butter
Fillings: Raspberry or strawberry preserves, powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar mixture, chocolate ganache, cooked apples, or your favorite meats.

Aebelskiver cooking in the unique pan.

Aebelskiver cooking in the unique pan.

Heat milk in microwave safe bowl until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in milk.
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer until stiff. Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla into milk. Add the milk mixture into the flour and mix well. Fold egg whites into batter. Cover loosely and let rest one hour at room temperature.
Heat aebelskiver pan on medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small dish. Brush the inside of each indentation of the pan with butter.  Pour batter into each indentation, about 2/3 full.  Cook until golden brown underneath, 3-4 minutes.  Using a wooden skewer, turn aebleskiver over and continue to cook until golden and cooked through, 3-4 minutes.
Remove æbleskiver from pan, and repeat with remaining batter.  Serve æbleskiver with cinnamon and sugar (or other toppings) or use to make small sandwiches for a fun luncheon or fancy tea with the kids!

Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

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Yesterday we had baked chicken fajitas and there was a couple of cups of chicken leftover. So naturally I thought of whipping up some Wild Rice and Chicken Soup! Besides it is the coldest day in years so thick, bubbly soup and Snuggies were called for!

This is a recipe I came across when I moved to Minnesota and was looking for “native” foods. Up here wild rice is king and I am now a royal subject. We have been tinkering with the recipe ever since.  I rarely use the celery. The king of my castle hates it.

Let me know if you like it.

Ingredients:
1 small onion (or half of a large one)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cans evaporated milk (or 3 cups half and half)
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup parsley

Instructions:
Saute onions in butter. Add flour to make a thick roux. Slowly add broth and milk with a whisk.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Add rice, salt, chicken, vegetables, and parsley. Simmer 5–10 minutes. If soup is too thick, thing with broth. Serves 8.

Toasted Pine Nut Hummus

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pine nut hummusWe came to hummus late in our family life but we have finally embraced it. Joel and I especially look forward to slathering it on pieces of toasted pita. Yum. And it has around 70 calories and 1.5 grams of fiber for 2 tablespoons. So it is good for you!

On a retreat a couple of years ago, I decided to make Greek food for the meal I was responsible for. I had some great recipes, but wanted an appropriate appetizer. So I tried my hand at homemade hummus. It is so easy and incredibly good. And I found that I can flavor it any way I want—garlic, lemon, red pepper, lime and jalapeno. I’ve played around with recipes and am still experimenting. I discovered that if I have no tahini I can substitute Greek yogurt. The flavor is a little different but just as creamy and yummy.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. It was originally posted by thelemonbowl.com. You can go there and get nutritional info if you are interested. I’ve changed it a little to fit my family. I made some today and shared the photo on Facebook. A few people asked for the recipe. So here it is. Enjoy!

Ingredients
  • 15 oz can chick peas – drained and rinsed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ c Greek yogurt or tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp lemon flavored olive oil (divided)*
  • 2 tbsp parsley – finely minced
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts – toasted (be careful toasting, they burn easily)
Instructions

Place the first six ingredients and 2 tbsp of the oil in a food processor and puree until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more garlic, lemon, or salt as desired. Drizzle remaining oil on top and top with toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley. Can be stored in air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

*If you don’t have lemon flavored olive oil, use extra virgin olive oil and save a good squeeze of lemon to add to the top of the hummus.

Pistachio Cardamom Cookies

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These are some of the best cookies I’ve ever had. They will be made in mass quantities for Christmas. But I have to admit that it is not my recipe. I found it on Baked by Joanna. Since I didn’t have time to cook much this week and definitely didn’t have time for photos, I thought it was time to share one of my favorites from another blog. They are delightfully light, divine shortbread-like cookies. Try them. You’ll fall in love.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups pistachios (or almonds)

Directions
Coarsely chop 3/4 cup of the pistachios and bake in the oven for approximately 5 minutes until the nuts are fragrant. Remove the pistachios from the oven and transfer to a bowl to cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cardamom together. Set aside.

Combine the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the sugar, vanilla and orange zest and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the flour mixture until just combined. Remove the bowl and fold in the cooled pistachios.

Using plastic wrap, form your cookie dough into an 8-inch log. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.

When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Finely chop the remaining 3/4 cup of pistachios. Unwrap the cookie dough and roll in the chopped pistachios making sure to coat the entire log. Using a knife, slice the cookies into approximately 1/4″ thick rounds. Place the sliced cookies on a parchment covered baking sheet about half an inch apart.

Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheet for a minute or two. Then, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

UPDATE
I dip the cookies in white chocolate for added yumminess. Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips (I microwave them in a small bowl in 15 minute intervals, stirring well until melted. Or use a double boiler.) Dip one edge of the cookie into the chocolate until 1/3 to 1/2 of the cookie is covered. Place on waxed paper until chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Italian Cream Cake Recipe

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This is one of the yummiest cakes I have ever tasted. I found this recipe online several years ago and we have changed it to fit our family. It is a great holiday recipe, but it is also the perfect dessert for a family get together, take to a life group, or deliver as a thank-you gift.

Ingredients for cake
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup shortening
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups flaked coconut
1.5 cups chopped pecans

Frosting Recipe
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup toasted coconut

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease three 9 inch, round cake pans (or use two pans and cut the finished cakes in half for four layers). Combine soda and buttermilk.
2. Cream sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup oil and shortening. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix buttermilk mixture alternately with flour into creamed mixture. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites. Stir in 1 cup pecans and coconut.
4. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
5. Make the Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat together cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar.
6. Frost cake between layers, sides, and top.
7. Press chopped pecans into frosting on sides of cake. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top.