Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bacon Peanut Butter Dog Treats


So I thought I would end 2011 with some treats for dogs. I think it is only fair that pets get a treat this time of year too!
I don't have a pet at this time but over the years have had many, many, many pets.
Cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, a rat, a chicken (Yes, a real chicken, her name was Lucy), gerbils, dogs, and....hmmm... I think that is about it.
Sue's daughter, Kenzie, has a puppy now so I thought I would make some healthy, homemade puppy treats for her puppy, Riggs.
Riggs is a boxer - rottweiler mix, I believe, and when he is fully grown will be a big, big dog.
I figure if I get in good with him now by making him treats he will be less likely to want to rip my face off when he is big. (Yeah, I'm a little nervous around big dogs.) 


Bacon Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Ingredients
4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/8 cup bacon grease
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup water

Directions
Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, flax, wheat germ, baking powder. Stir in crumbled bacon.
Put peanut butter in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave just until warm, about 20 - 30 seconds.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Add in peanut butter, bacon grease, and water. Whisk together until combined.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until combined. Knead lighlty in the bowl with your hands.
Lightly flour your worksurface. Roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters or with the rim of a drinking glass.
Place on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Shut off oven and let treats stay in oven for at least 2 more hours, or overnight.
These will stay fresh in the fridge (in airtight container) for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months. 

According to Kenzie, Riggs loves these. Yay!
If you make them for your puppy let us know how your pet likes them. :)
Happy New Year to you and your families.

I will leave you with a funny New year's quote from Dave Barry -

"If you throw a New Year's Party, the worst thing that you can do would be to throw the kind of party where your guests wake up today, and call you to say they had a nice time. Now you'll be expected to throw another party next year.
"What you should do is throw the kind of party where your guest wake up several days from now and call their lawyers to find out if they've been indicted for anything. You want your guests to be so anxious to avoid a recurrence of your party that they immediately start planning parties of their own, a year in advance, just to prevent you from having another one."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Butter Pecan Ice Cream


How's that for a close up photo? Does it have you wanting to lick your screen?
It should..... it's soooooo delicious.
Like....crazy delicious....
Supercalifragilisticexpiala-delicious
I wouldn't lie about something like that. You have to make this.
Well, you don't "have" to...but you really should.
I know what you are thinking - Ice cream in December??
Yes.
Ice cream in December.
Do it. You won't regret it.

Ooooh...look at all that butter-pecan-y goodness!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Ingredients
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half & half
1 tsp Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps (optional)

Directions
In a small skillet, melt butter. Add pecans. Over medium/low heat stir and heat pecans until browned but not burned. (Don't rush this step by turning up the heat!) Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Stirring constantly, simmer gently for 2 minutes. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 2 - 3 minutes.
Beating constantly, immediately pour hot brown sugar syrup in a very thin stream into beaten egg yolks. (Let it slowly and steadily run down the side of the bowl as you pour it in. If you do it too quickly then you will curdle your egg yolks!
Continue beating until cool and thick; about 5 - 8 minutes.
Slowly pour in the vanilla, whipping cream, half & half, and Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps (if using). Beat on low about 1 minute. Stir in cooled pecans.
Pour into ice cream canister. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Before the freezing begins!

Note - I put the pecans in a bowl and set them in the fridge to completely cool before adding to the cream mixture. You want everything to be cool before freezing it. If you need to - put the mixture in the fridge for a few hours so it is completely cool. If it is warm when you freeze it then you can get weird ice crystals forming in your ice cream.

I have to say my favorite thing about this ice cream is the difference between the sweetness of the ice cream and the saltiness of the buttered pecans. It is a really nice contrast in flavor and in texture.
You don't have to add the schnapps if you don't want to - I think the tiny bit of alcohol helps to prevent the ice cream from freezing really hard.
If it is too hard to scoop then just let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes and it should be good to go.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Green Punch


Merry Christmas!
Sue here....I thought I would give Jo a little break and post a quick recipe today (Boxing Day).
Jo is busy all day today watching the mega monster movie marathon on the space channel.
Yeah, that's right, I said the mega monsters movie marathon.
She needs an intervention.... she is addicted to really bad B movies.
Anyway, I thought I would post the recipe for Green Punch that I made for Christmas dinner.
It is a Trisha Yearwood recipe - yes, the singer Trisha Yearwood.
I found it on her website. It is a really pretty green color, perfect for Christmas time. 
I have posted the recipe here as I found it on her site, BUT, that being said, I would probably make a few changes for next time. (I put my changes at the bottom of this blog, if you are interested!)


Green Punch

Ingredients
2 .13oz packets unsweetened lemon-lime  Kool-Aid
2 C sugar
1 46oz can pineapple juice
12oz frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
32oz (1qt) ginger ale
ice

DirectionsPut 2 quarts of water in a 1gallon container. Add the drink mix and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pineapple juice and lemonade concentrate and stir well.
Just before serving, add the ginger ale and ice.

Note - The size of the containers I bought were a little different - I think Canadian packaging is different from the US, but were close enough that they worked out okay.

The changes I would make for next time:
1. Use way less sugar. Maybe only a cup.
2. Use less pineapple juice. Maybe 3/4 or 1/2 of what it calls for.
3. Put way more ice in it. It tastes best when it is really cold.

And, just a note, definitely add the ginger ale just before serving. The longer it sits the flatter it gets and the sweeter it seems to get. We just added more ice and that seemed to fix the problem.

Hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas! Jo and I look forward to sharing more recipes with you in the New Year. Please feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions or questions you may have.
We would love to know what you would like to see more of in future blogs.
:)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cranberry Eggnog Cornmeal Scones


I don’t know about your house, but at our house we never finish a carton of eggnog. Probably because I am the only one that likes it and I can only drink about 2 glasses of it before I’m feeling like I’ve drinking melted butter.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste, but the creaminess is a little too much.
Anyway, every year we have to find recipes to use up the extra eggnog. I have a great eggnog cookie recipe….somewhere…..that I swear I will eventually track down again. It had a really yummy frosting and everything….
*SIGH*
I miss that recipe.
For now though, this scone recipe is delicious and we make it every year. If you find it is a little dry then simply add a bit more eggnog at a time until it comes together for you.
P.S. - you can easily double this recipe and it works fine.

Cranberry Eggnog Cornmeal Scones
Ingredients
 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, chilled
3/4 cup craisins (sweetened, dried cranberries)
2/3 cup eggnog
Extra sugar for sprinkling on top
.
Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl until blended. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives until coarse crumbs form. Mix in the craisins. Use a fork to stir in the eggnog and make a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; dip hands in flour and knead the dough about 10 times. Pat the dough out into a disk about 1/2 inch thick.


You can either cut it using a sharp edged cookie cutter, or simply score into 8 wedges and place on baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until risen and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
 I’m thinking an eggnog cheesecake might be next on the list to try. Or at the very least, an eggnog cheesecake cookie square. Maybe one of these Christmases I will get brave enough to try and make homemade eggnog. First I have to find someone who will share it with me.
In the meantime, these scones make excellent use of leftover eggnog and are fantastic for Christmas breakfast or brunch.
P.S. - Yes, there is a little teeny, tiny bit of texture in there from the cornmeal. It is NOT grainy, but you can tell it is in there.
I only mention it because I had someone complain that "you can tell there is cornmeal in there".
Well....yes....that's why it is in there.

Be sure to visit Anyonita Nibbles and My Sweet Mission and Carole's Chatter for some fantastic links!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cheeseburger Soup


Nothing hits the spot quite like a bowl of hearty soup on a cold day. Sue and Kenzie and Rob eat a lot of soup because Rob looooooooves soup.
Me, I am generally not a soup girl.
It's not that I don't like soup, I do, it's just that soup doesn't usually leave me feeling full.
This one is certainly an exception to that though. It is full of meat and cheese and potatoes and vegetables and aaaaall that good stuff.

You can't see it but there is a cheeseburger hiding in there!


Cheeseburger Soup

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup carrot, shredded
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried parsley
4 - 6 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, diced
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup Velveeta (or other processed cheese), cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

Directions
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook beef until no longer pink. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and parsley. Cook and stir until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, cook and stir for about 1 - 2 minutes - until bubbly. Add to soup, bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Add cheese, milk, salt & pepper - cook and stir until cheese melts.
Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream.

Note - I mentioned 4 - 6 cups of chicken broth because it depends on how thick you want your soup to be. I start with about 4 and then add more as I go. I usually add the full 6, sometimes even more, depending on how crazy I go with the amount of the other ingredients. I sometimes add more shredded carrots and potatoes, etc... depending on what I have on hand.
That's one of the great things about soup making - you can usually add or subtract ingredients to your preference!

Let us know if you give this recipe a try and tell us what you think. Maybe it will be one of your favorites too.  :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes


We all know that pancakes are perfection for breakfast, right? But, did you know that they are also pretty nifty for dinner? It's true.
Breakfast for dinner is almost better than breakfast for breakfast.
Almost.
I think I found the best recipe for pancakes - whether you are having them for breakfast OR for dinner. The buttermilk flavor is very mild but still noticeable.
Plus, they are the puffiest pancakes EVER. Really.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
 
Directions
Whisk together dry ingredients (first 5) in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (next 4).
Stir together in a large bowl until just combined. Set aside.
Let sit for at least 10 - 15 minutes before using.
Heat a non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. (Even if I use a non-stick pan I still lightly spray it with cooking spray)
Spoon 1/4 sized scoops onto hot pan. Cook until bubbles start to break on surface. Flip over and cook other side until done. The second side only takes about a minute.
Serve immediately.
 
I make pancakes from Bisquick from time to time and I have to say those are okay too.
But, if you want really, really, REALLY fantastic, fluffy, and tasty pancakes then I hope you give this recipe a try.
They were so puffy. The photo doesn't really do them justice.
One of the first differences I noticed between a mix pancake recipe and this scratch pancake recipe is the batter. I have a 4 cup measuring cup/bowl that I make my batter in because then I can just pour out the batter. Well, with a mix the batter fits in the bowl and I have room to stick my whisk in there and give it a stir if I want to.
With this recipe.....
I originally had a tiny bit of room but then - once the buttermilk reacted with the baking soda and powder - *poof* the batter grew, and grew, and grew.
And grew.
Up over the lip of the bowl and down onto the counter. I was not prepared for that.
Just a warning for you.
Use a BIG bowl.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sour Cream Raisin Pie


This is one of our dad's favorite pies. I think his first choice is Lemon Meringue, but this is definitely second on the list.
I used to think "Eeeew....raisin pie....eeeeew" but have come to realize the error of my ways.
This is soooo creamy and rich and delicious and as close to perfection in a pie as I have ever tasted.
Pretty bold statement, I know.
I think this may be my favorite pie.
Yup, there, I said it.
The Grape Cream Pie I made back in the summer was my favorite for a while there, only because I forgot about the deliciousness of this pie.
It is a spicy pie, if that is the right description.... it has cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg. A friend tried a piece and she said it kind of reminded her of mince meat pie.
I can see the connection. But, that being said, I strongly dislike mincemeat.
I don't want to say "hate" because I tasted these mincemeat squares once that were not too bad. But, mincemeat pie, no, no, no thank you, no.




Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Ingredients

1 cooked 9 inch, deep dish pie shell (or see *notes below)

Filling
2 cups raisins
2 cups sugar
2 cups sour cream
pinch salt
2 heaping Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs

Topping
2 cups whipping cream
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch cinnamon


Directions

Mix all filling ingredients together in a heavy saucepan. Cook, over medium heat, until thickened and smooth. (It doesn't necessarily have to come to a boil). Stir constantly. (I find this usually takes between 10 - 15 minutes depending on the temperature of the burner)
Remove from heat and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.


Pour into cookied pie shell. Let completely cool.
In a medium sized bowl, beat together topping ingredients until whipping cream forms fairly stiff peaks. Spoon over raisin mixture in pie shell. If you want to, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on top for decoration.


Store in refrigerator.

*Note - you can make an 8 inch pie and about 12 tarts or 2 small 8 inch pies or 1 HUGE 9 inch deep dish pie.
Yeah, I made the huge one.
Don't judge me.

Drop by The Chicken Chick for some great links!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tortilla Casserole


With everyone running around this time of year trying to get a million things accomplished, making dinner can sometimes become a big chore.
This dinner idea only takes about 45 minutes to an hour from start to finish. Plus, it is not un-healthy; filled with black beans, corn, and lean ground beef. (Use the whole wheat or “Smart” tortillas to make it that much more healthy for you.)
Granted, it’s not the most attractive looking meal but it still tastes really good.
I place it just above a beef and bean burrito for appeal.
Let’s face it, not everything can look fancy schmancy.
Serve a wedge of this (It serves 5) with a nice big salad and *poof* you have dinner in under an hour.

Tortilla Casserole
 Ingredients
4 8 inch tortillas
1 lb lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic
½ cup onion, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
1 pkg 35 gr Kraft Taco Seasoning mix (about 1/3 cup taco seasoning)
1 Tbsp Oh! So Garlic (optional)
1 cup water
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1 cup of Tostitos Salsa Con Queso (Spicy cheese sauce)
Sour cream, if desired
Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium frying pan, cook ground beef over medium/high heat until no longer pink. Add garlic, onion, and salt & pepper. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in black beans and corn.
Sprinkle with taco seasoning and stir to combine.


Add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium and simmer until most of the water is absorbed. About 5 – 7 more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir ½ cup of the Salsa Con Queso sauce into your meat mixture until well combined.
Place 1 tortilla in the bottom of an 8 inch pie plate. Spoon ¼ of your meat mixture over the tortilla. Top with another tortilla. Repeat layers 3 times.
(It should go tortilla, meat, tortilla, meat, tortilla, meat, tortilla, meat)
Spoon the remaining 1/2 cup of Salsa Con Queso over the top of the casserole.
Bake in 350 oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, until heated through and cheese sauce is melted.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.
 Note – for the Salsa Con Queso you can also substitute pretty much any spicy cheese sauce. I believe Kraft Cheez Whiz has a Jalapeno or Tex Mex Cheez Whiz.
You could also probably use plain cheese whiz and just stir in some finely chopped jalapenos before adding it. You definitely want to add something a little bit spicy to it to give it some kick.
Me…I’m afraid of too much spice. I enjoy just a teeny tiny bit.
If you prefer to live on the edge – then by all means spice this up as much as you want to.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cherry Pie Cheesecake Tart


Have you ever created a recipe out of things that you had leftover that actually turned out to be a great recipe?
That's how this recipe was born.
I had a brick of cream cheese that was only missing a tablespoon so I wanted to use it up and I also had a can of cherry pie filling with 2 spoonfuls out of it that I wanted to use up. I also had about 2 cups of streusel that was leftover from a banana crumb recipe to use up. AAAAAAAAAAnd, I also had 1/3 of a recipe of pie dough to use up.  
Turns out putting those 4 things into a recipe was pretty ingenious of me.
Why yes, I am feeling pretty proud of myself, thank you for asking.



Cherry Pie Cheesecake Tart

Ingredients

1/3 recipe pie crust 

Streusel
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled


1 can Cherry Pie Filling (about 2 cups)

Filling
1 8 oz brick cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.
Roll out pie dough and line 2 (approx) 9 inch tart pans, pressing dough up sides of pans. Prick dough with a fork to prevent air bubbles.
Bake in 400 oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn oven down to 350.
Combine streusel ingredients in a bowl. You want to cut in butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Mix cherry pie filling with 3/4 cup of the streusel mixture. Spread cherry mixture evenly over pie crust.
In another bowl, blend together cream cheese filling ingredients until smooth. Spread over cherry mixture.
Sprinkle with remaining crumbs.
Place in 350 oven and bake approx 45 - 55 minutes, or until golden brown.


Let cool on wire racks. Remove from tart pans, slice and serve. You can serve this warm but the flavors are much stronger if you serve it cold (or at least room temp).

You can't really see it in the first photo but there is a little ribbon of white on top of the red that looks really pretty. I thought the pie dough on the bottom added an interesting twist instead of just a graham cracker crust or something similar.
So, not the fanciest recipe on the planet but it could be in the running for one of the tastiest. I mean, come on: cream cheese, streusel, cherry pie filling, pie crust.....what's NOT to love about that.

Stop by Hungry Little Girl and Adorned From Above for some great links!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Overnight Pineapple French Toast


This was one of those recipes that was either going to be really good or really weird.
Turns out - it was good. Very tasty.
Our mother came across it in a book she was reading.
"Lakeside Cottage" by Susan Wiggs.
It is a summer romance novel, apparently. This is what the synopsis says, anyway.
I haven't actually read it.
What is a recipe doing in a novel? I have no idea. There was a few recipes in this one though. This was originally titled Porch Swing French Toast. Again, I have no idea why it's called that....I didn't read the book.
I did make the recipe though, with a few alterations.
The original called for orange juice and zest and made a huge 9 X 13 pan. I cut out the orange juice and zest (because, ewwww!) and halved the recipe to an 8 X 8 pan as there was just 3 of us to eat it.

Overnight Pineapple French Toast
(adapted from Porch Swing French Toast from "Lakeside Cottage")

Ingredients
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 a loaf of French bread (about 6 one inch slices)
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
sprinkle of cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Topping
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Melt the 1 Tbsp butter and drizzle in 8 X 8 pan.
Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and place in pan.
Combine all ingredients, except topping ingredients, and pour over bread cubes.
Combine topping ingredients, except nuts, and spoon/spread topping evenly over bread. Sprinkle with nuts.

(Before going in the fridge for the night)

Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat oven to 350. Bake at 350 for 45 - 60 minutes, or until golden.


Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to set up before cutting. I figure the 8 X 8 pan serves 4.

Note - I didn't use the whole 1/2 French bread loaf and I should have. I think a bit more bread would have made it a little less soggy. Don't get me wrong - it still tasted delicious, the texture was just a little soggy for me. So, my advice, use the whole 1/2 loaf of bread.
Even if it looks like too much - it's not.

There you have it. A great overnight breakfast casserole for Christmas or anytime of year. I love the addition of the pineapple.
Who knew novels were great cookbooks?
I guess I should start reading more. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Whipped Shortbread Cookies


Christmas is fast approaching and it just wouldn't be Christmas without shortbread cookies. Whipped shortbread cookies to be precise.
This recipe has been in the family for a billion years.
Don't believe me?
Check out the original handwritten recipe - on half of a ripped envelope - from who-only-knows what year.
I like the "1/2 sifted corn starch" ingredient....I have to ask every year: 1/2 what? 1/2 Tbsp? 1/2 cup? 1/2 a tub? (It's 1/2 cup, by the way)


Yup, only 4 ingredients to create a very traditional Christmas cookie that is really, really tasty.
And, it has to be butter - not margarine.
BUTTER.
Margarine will make your cookies taste and look nasty. Trust me.
Our mom says that the more crumbly and melty it is the "shorter" it is. The goal is to have a cookie that melts on your tongue. (P.S. - These do!)
Sue doesn't like them. Surprised? I'm not. She's an anti-cookie freak.
She says that "it's like putting chalk in your mouth" because the cookies are so "short".
I know..I know..... she's weird.  
I don't believe we are twins sometimes....
I don't believe we are even related at all sometimes...



Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients
3 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 lb (2 cups) butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
Maraschino cherries for decorating (or M&M candies)


Directions
Preheat oven to 300. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and icing sugar until creamy.
While beating on low, gradually blend in sifted corn starch.
Gradually add in flour a little at a time.
(FYI - If you add the flour too quickly your mixer will create a little flour cloud that will cover everything in your kitchen. So....add it very slowly.....)
Continue to whip ingredients until well combined.
Now - if you do NOT have a stand mixer and you have to do this with a hand mixer be prepared to be there for a while. We have almost burned out several hand mixers making this recipe. A hand mixer will definitely work BUT a stand mixer is a million times better.
Place spoonfuls of cookie dough about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. If you want to make them a little more festive you can put an 1/8th of a Maraschino cherry in the center of them OR a red or green M&M, OR - what my mom used to do when we were kids - a little piece of a red or green jujube.
Bake at 300 for 35 - 45 minutes.
If you are impatient you can bake your cookies at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes - but they brown very quickly this way and you will need to keep a close eye on them.
They are done when edges and bottoms are just lightly golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

*Note - if you use the M&M candies to decorate your cookie the chocolate does kind of overpower the mild taste of the cookie. I love chocolate so I don't mind. If you are looking for a more traditional decoration then stick with either the Maraschino cherries or jujubes.

What are some of your favorite Christmas baking traditions?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Creamsicle Pudding


With all of the fairly heavy casseroles we have posted lately I thought we better blog about something a little lighter.
This Creamsicle Pudding is very light.
And fluffy.
And low calorie.
And delicious.
It is the perfect dessert to follow a heavy meal.
Plus...it is fairly inexpensive as it only contains 4 ingredients.
PLUS....it only takes 30 minutes to put together.
Plus plus plus...it looks soooo pretty.
Have I convinced you to try it yet?

(The container of Mandarins in the photo was the smallest I could find. I didn't use the whole container.)


 
Creamsicle Pudding

Ingredients
1 (10.2 gr) pkg of sugar free Orange Jell-O
1 small can Mandarin oranges, drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 (30 gr) pkg of Fat Free Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 1 litre container of Light Cool Whip (Or Fat Free Cool Whip)

Directions
Dissolve Orange Jell-O in 1 cup boiling water. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup 1/2 full with ice cubes and fill with cold water. Add to Jell-O. Stir until ice is melted and then set aside for 5 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup of Mandarin oranges. Save the other half cup for decorating the dessert.
With an electric mixer, blend in instant vanilla pudding, beating until well blended. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Fold in half the tub of Cool Whip.
Spoon into individual serving dishes or one large dish, top with remaining Cool Whip. Decorate with the remaining 1/2 cup mandarin slices.
Store, covered, in fridge until ready to serve.


I have made this several times as it is a perfect low calorie meal for those watching their calories. (This is an approximation using the nutritional info on the boxes - but only 64 calories per serving!! based on 12 servings.) It is also a great choice for a healthy alternative snack for kids during Halloween - you know, being all orangy and everything.
I am really curious to try this with different Jell-O and fruit.
For example: cranberry Jell-O with cranberries
or strawberry Jell-O with strawberries
or grape Jell-O with blueberries
or lime Jell-O with kiwi.
I was thinking for Christmas I could make a batch of either cranberry/strawberry and a batch of lime Jell-O with kiwi to get a pretty red and green theme going.

I can't think of another green Jell-O / fruit that might work. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lazy Pierogi Casserole


I figured since the Cabbage Roll Casserole went over so well I would share my Lazy Pierogi Casserole today. I was talking about it at work and it got me craving it.
It is another shortcut recipe that reminds me of the real thing but, of course, is not quite as good as the real thing.
I mean, really, nothing is as good as actual homemade pierogies.
NOTHING.
But, that being said, this is still pretty darn tasty. AND....it is another casserole you can make up ahead of time and refrigerate until time to cook it.
It is a little more fussy than the Cabbage Roll Casserole is to make but, I think you will agree, it is worth it.



Lazy Pierogi Casserole

Ingredients
15 lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
1 egg
1 Tbsp Oh! So Garlic (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large potatoes (enough to yield a generous 2 cups mashed)
2 cups aged cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
5 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp black pepper
sour cream, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.
Cook noodles as directed on package. (I use oven ready noodles - all you have to do is soak them in hot tap water for 5 minutes and they are good to go!)
Line the bottom of the 9 X 13 pan with noodles. (Pic below)


In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, egg, and Oh! So Garlic (optional). Spread over noodles. (Pic below)


Lay another layer of lasagna noodles on top of cottage cheese mixture. (Pic below)


Peel and cut potatoes into chunks. Boil in pot of water with the chopped garlic until tender. Drain and mash with 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese. (Pic below)


Cover with yet another layer of lasagna noodles. (Pic below)


Melt butter in frying pan. Over medium heat, saute onions and bacon together, stir in pepper. Stir and cook until onions are soft and bacon is cooked. Pour over noodles. (Pic below)


Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar. (Pic below)


Bake in 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Until cheese is melted and noodles are soft. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.


If desired, serve with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!


I was thinking you could even plan this the night before and serve it as a breakfast casserole. I mean, pierogies are for breakfast sometimes....at least....I have them for breakfast sometimes....therefore pierogi casserole should be for breakfast too.
I know it's not exactly in the "healthy choices" column as far as ingredients and calories go....but, hey....sometimes you just have to indulge a little.
As far as I am concerned - anything with "pierogi" in the title is worth indulging in!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cabbage Roll Casserole


Let me start off by saying...I need a new camera. This photo does not really do this dish justice.
It is soooooooooo tasty. I actually prefer it to cabbage rolls because it is easier to eat!
The rest of the fam-damily still prefers actual cabbage rolls but they do like this as an easy alternative.
 I believe from start to on-the-table it took an hour and 30 minutes. You can cut that time down too, if you want to prepare it ahead of time. Simply get to the point where it is layered in the casserole dish and then refrigerate it. All you have to do after that is pop it in a 350 oven for an hour whenever you want to eat it.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 can (5.5 oz) tomato paste
1 can (10 oz) tomato soup
2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
4 - 6 cups shredded cabbage
sour cream, optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
Brown the beef with the onions. Add garlic, salt & pepper, tomato paste, tomato soup, and water. Bring to a boil and stir in rice. Simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat.
Place half of your shredded cabbage in a greased casserole dish, cover with half of the beef mixture. Repeat layers.
Cover and bake in a 350 oven for one hour. Serve with sour cream (optional).
*NOTE - May be made ahead and refrigerated before baking. Just let sit at room temp while preheating the oven.*

Mmmm...cabbage roll type goodness!

I say 4 - 6 cups of cabbage because I never really measure. I use half of a medium sized cabbage and shred it fairly fine. (I have also made it by just cutting the cabbage into strips with a knife, not shredding it, and it works well too)


Cabbage rolls and perogies are another Christmas staple at our house. Sue and I will soon be spending an entire day rolling cabbage rolls and making perogies in preparation for the traditional Christmas Eve Ukranian feast.
We have a lot of traditions at Christmas that revolve around food.
Hmmm.... in fact, for all of the different holidays we have food traditions. A lot of them...
We do love our food :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Butter Tarts and Mincemeat Tarts


At our house Christmas is synonymous with butter tarts and mincemeat tarts. It just wouldn't be Christmas without them.
The traditional Vanderwolf Christmas Treat List also includes: Butterhorns, Whipped Shortbread, and Chewy Gingersnaps.
I will do my best to post those recipes as well!
For now, I think you will agree, this Butter Tart recipe is super-de-duper, and the Mincemeat Tart recipe, while simple (okay, it's a jar of mincemeat from the store), is also delicious.



Butter Tarts

Ingredients
1/2 recipe Pie Crust 

Filling
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup currants (or raisins, in a pinch)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 450.
Roll pie dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a glass, or cookie cutter, cut out pastry to fit into mini muffin tins. (Or feel free to make regular size)
Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon into un-cooked tart shells. (DO NOT fill them more than 1/2 full!! They bubble up A LOT)



Bake at 450 for 2 - 3 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake until pastry is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and let cool in tins for about 5 minutes. Gently loosen from tins and let finish cooling on wire racks.

And....now for the Mincemeat Tarts :)



Mincemeat Tarts

Ingredients


1/2 recipe Pie Crust
1 jar of Mincemeat
1/3 cup vanilla sugar (or regular white sugar)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450.
Roll pie dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a glass, or cookie cutter, cut out pastry to fit into mini muffin tins. (Or feel free to make regular size)


Spoon mincemeat into each tart shell. (This you can fill quite full as it does not bubble up at all)
Sprinkle a little of the sugar over the mincemeat.
Cut small shapes out of your leftover dough and place them in the middle of each tart. OR, cut little strips and form an X on each tart.


Sprinkle with more sugar.
Bake at 450 for 2 - 3 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake until pastry is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and let cool in tins for about 5 minutes. Gently loosen from tins and let finish cooling on wire racks.


If you make these together then it works out that 1 recipe for Pie Dough will make 2 dozen mini butter tarts and 2 dozen mini mincemeat tarts with maybe 6 - 7 extras. The Butter Tart filling recipe above makes just enough to fill the 2 dozen mini butter tart shells plus 3 extra. You will have leftover mincemeat - depending on what size of jar you bought.

Although we used store bought mincemeat, I like to think sprinkling it with the vanilla sugar and making cute shapes to put on top makes it a little more homemade. The pie crust definitely makes it homemade :)
I'm not going to lie...I don't like mincemeat....the thought of making homemade mincemeat makes me a little queazy. I do have to eat at least one tiny mincemeat tart at Christmas though...it's tradition.
What are some of your Christmas treat traditions??