Ginger snaps and waffles: part one, the cookies

This week’s Betty Crocker’s Cookbook makes are Crisp Ginger Cookies (page 276) and Crisp Waffles (page 196).

I was reading about how to reduce the sugar in cookies and got inspired by this to make ginger snaps. Hubby likes the crisp ones and I like the chewy ones. These are crisp. The recipe says one can roll them out 1/8-inch thick or paper-thin. I rolled them into a log and cut them into 1/8-inch-ish rounds. The majority of the sugar in these is the molasses and I did not reduce that at all. And the original recipe calls for shortening so I use butter instead.

  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground allspice

Mix the molasses, butter, and brown sugar. I whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add this to the butter mixture. Beat until combined. This makes a smaller amount of cookie dough than I expected. The recipe said it would make 1 1/2 dozen 1/8-inch thick cookies or 3 dozen paper-thin. Once the dough is mixed, put in refrigerator for 4 hours. I left mine in the fridge for almost 24 hours.

Instructions say to roll out and cut in 3 inch rounds. As I was preparing to do this, I found the the dough was just as easy to shape into a log. I figured this would be just as good, so that is what I did. I carefully sliced the dough and put it on parchment paper and baked these in 375 degree F oven for 8 minutes. I was not sure if that was enough time, they looked soft, so I left them in the oven for one more minute. I slid them off the parchment onto the cooling rack. As they cooled they became crisp.

Yummy with a cup of hot cocoa!

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Millionaire’s Shortbread and Citrus Salad

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For this weekend’s dessert bake I made Millionaire’s Shortbread from the Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I had never really heard of these. They are apparently a rich British cookie.

I selected this recipe because I actually had all the ingredients called for exactly. This is a rare thing for Cook’s recipes and my pantry. I also followed the recipe verbatim. This is very unusual for me. When cutting the bars I did get cracked chocolate so I am not sure what happened there.

This recipe is from the November & December 2016 magazine. I tried to get the link but one has to subscribe to get this recipe. I have the magazine and it is on page 14-15. It’s a possibility that I can subscribe on-line because I have a subscription to the magazine but I have no clue as to how. Oh well! That being said, I don’t know if I should actually share the recipe? It’s not really mine to share!

A tray of these will go with Hubby to work to share with his co-workers, and I will take a plate as well to share with mine. The rest we will keep to nibble on for a bit of sweet during our week.

Speaking of Cook’s Illustrated, I did make their Citrus Salad with Arugula, Golden Raisins and Walnuts. The link is here, Citrus Salad. This was labor intensive to prepare the 2 grapefruits and 3 oranges. One had to peel, take all the pith off, remove seeds and slice. I used regular raisins because that is what I had on hand. It looks really nice.

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I used green onions in the dressing instead of scallions. I dressed the fruit and then spooned it on the greens. I thought then that I could have a nice citrus fruit salad to serve with cottage cheese for lunch or breakfast on the following day. But noooo…

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • several green onions, white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
  • a pinch of salt

The dressing was very nice. The salad was refreshing the evening I served it.But the next day the fruit tasted odd. Not good. Odd, as in maybe it went bad, odd? Next time I will keep all three parts separate and mix together only when ready to serve and only what will be eaten at that particular meal. I will make the dressing alone and use that for salads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie baking time…Molasses Sugar Cookies

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One weekend morning I got out stuff to bake cookies. There are chocolate chips, dried cherries, oats and much more. What cookies to bake? Without much thought I pick three recipes. Here’s the first.

This is on a half sheet of paper I put in my recipe notebook to try. It is from some person, somewhere, in some HR department, in some company, that submitted it most likely for one of those promotional cookbook fundraisers. But it seems like the cookbook never materialized.

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg

Melt the butter. Let cool. Add the sugar, molasses, and egg, beating well.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together. Add to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix until combined (I just read a kitchen hint that said not to over-mix cookie dough or the cookies will end up tough).

Chill the batter for 1-2 hours or overnight. Roll into balls. Be sure these are even in size. The size will determine the baking time as well, smaller is shorter. Roll each ball in sugar and place on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. press flat with a flat bottomed glass. Not too flat. 1/4 inch is suggested. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 F.

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I baked these for 8 minutes. They are crisp but bendable out of the oven. These will go nicely with hot cocoa or a tall glass of milk. One could even make them into sandwich cookies with a good buttercream…or ice cream!

I thought I might roll this dough up into logs and slice them for baking for ease but that would mean they would not be rolled in the sugar. So after baking one pan of cookies I rolled the remaining dough in a log and put it in the freezer. I could have formed a bunch of dough balls and froze them but I was in the middle of making dinner. I think I will roll the log in colored sugar and slice for baking the next batch.

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These cookies I found in my Mom’s recipe notebook. I do not remember them but my sister does. I wonder if my niece does?

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I wanted to make cut out cookies for granddaughter to decorate for Easter. I had been looking at this recipe and thought I would give it a go. It’s a pretty straight forward cookie recipe. The way my mother typed it out assumes the cook knows how to make cookies.So I cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients. Divide the dough about in half and add the cocoa to one half. Now comes the fun part!

I have sent Hubby down to the basement to find the bags of cookie cutters. I rummage around and find the Easter cookie cutters amidst the dinosaurs, the nativity scene (oh yeah, just wait til next Christmas!), regular Christmas shapes, cats. big feet, etc.

easter weekend 007I put the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for 15-30 minutes so it will be chilled enough to roll out well. I roll out each of the doughs and cut out four of each shape that I want. Now you put the shapes on top of each other. Now I have used quite a bit of flour to roll out and cut the shapes. How are these supposed to stick together? I text my sister to see if she has any advice. But since she doesn’t answer right away I go ahead and put the cookies in to bake.

My sister finally texted (this is a 21st century word) back saying Mom just stacked them and baked them.”Perhaps a little egg white wash?” But I’m thinking Mom didn’t use egg wash! She may have but I did not know about it.

The cookies just bake up together:

These get packed up and taken to Daughter’s house for the Easter weekend. I pack the three packs of food dye and the container of powdered sugar as well. And let’s not forget the kitchen paint brush. Now comes the fun part!

And then the best part:

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Eating cookies with Grandpop!

 

Pecan Tarts: possibly utter failure!

In the past I have made a Pecan Pie Bar found in a magazine ad recipe. They are very well received when I make them. They have more of a traditional pecan pie topping made with corn syrup. This recipe for Pecan Tarts I have found among my mother’s recipe cards. It appealed to me because it does not use corn syrup in the filling. These are the cute little pecan pie-looking cookies. They are also known as Pecan Tassies and there are all kinds of recipes all over the internet. The newspaper clipping that my mom saved adds a note at the end: “By all means spray the tins with Pam for easy removal.”

A year or so ago I purchased a set of mini muffin tins to replace the ones I had that were beginning to rust. These cost me all of a $1 at a tag sale, (Garage Sale for those of us from the Midwest.) This will be the first time use of these pans.

This is a cream cheese short-crust filled with a pecan butterscotch/caramel filling. A short crust is made without a leavening agent. For the crust:

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 6 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups flour

Blend butter and cream cheese and add in flour. Work with hands to bring together as a dough, then chill. The recipe clipping does not say how long to chill so I will put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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I think I have come up with a nifty way to shape these into the muffin tins: the small end of my mortar, or is it the pestle. Be right back while I “google” it. ….(a few seconds passing)… It’s the pestle!

I also decide to divide the dough into exactly 36 pieces. The recipe said it made 3-4 dozen.

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Now for the filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

I mix this all together with my KitchenAid. Did I tell you the story of this Mixer? It is one I will always cherish. It was a time when I was going through my divorce, being a single parent with middle school aged children, working per diem, and just trying to adjust. Suddenly there appeared a large box delivered to my door. This was the KitchenAid Mixer. Just there. It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day. It came from my brother-in-law and sister. When I called her she said it was her husband’s idea as he thought I could use something nice. Bless him! So whenever I think of one of the most thoughtful things that someone has done for me, this is the event that comes to mind.

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The recipe clipping said to sprinkle the pecans in the tart shells, add some filling, then sprinkle more pecans on top.  I just put all the pecans in the mixture.

Bake this for 15 minutes at 350, reduce heat to 250 and bake another 10 minutes.

Ugly, ugly, ugly!

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I clearly filled them too full. I use a soup spoon to lift them out of the tins after running a knife around the edges. They are underbaked. The Great British Baking Show judges would be very disappointed and I would not get to be Star Baker! (Possibly the soggy bottom!)

I continue with the third pan after scrubbing it and spraying the entire top with cooking spray. I try not to fill these as full. Meanwhile I rack my brain to figure out how to save the first two pans. I decide to put them back in the oven to continue baking for 5 minutes. This may be salvation.

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the bottoms are now baked

Second batch looks a little prettier, or less ugly, whichever your perspective. I also put them back in the oven for five more minutes on a baking sheet. Here they are, for better or for worse. They taste like pecan pies.

So this was an experience for sure. If using this recipe again I will divide it into 48 pieces, use a teaspoon to fill the tart shells, and leave them in the oven at 350 for the full 25 minutes, if not 30.

I like pecan pie. Maybe my next effort will be a cranberry-pecan pie, or the buttermilk pecan pie. That is a good one as it has the crunch of the pecans with the creaminess of a custard.

Happy Baking to all, and be sure to have fun in the kitchen!

 

This is childhood!

Greetings! I have been thinking about cookies. When I started thinking about cookies there were 10 weekends before Christmas. I think “one batch of cookies per weekend”. That would be plenty of cookies and a nice variety, actually a large variety, but not quite a dozen different types. I begin a list of cookie recipes: “daddy holiday oatmeal”, cappuccino flats, gingerbread?, spritz?, hmmmmm?

I go through my handy dandy KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook and see what might be in there. I do this because I have too many cookbooks and this concentrates my mind in one place. The problem is I don’t find a great deal in there that interests me. In fact there were maybe three.

cookies1 011So I made a half recipe of the molasses cookies. These did not turn out how I expected them to. I was thinking along the lines of a sugar covered crinkle cookie but these were cake-like. Would be good to make a filling and make a sandwich cookie. So I eat a few and freeze the rest. The dough was soft and batter-like which surprised me. I had bought a Christmas cookie pan/sheet, not quite sure. I thought this pan might be useful for this cookie batter. So here they are. Interesting little muffin type cookie cakes. These actually tasted better the next day. So we ate a few and froze the rest.

Now I have this one set of cookies in two shapes in the freezer. And I found some more cookie dough rolled in a log. I think this may be “daddy oatmeal holiday cookie” but I am not sure. I have a lot of potential for cookies now. For dessert I had also just made a pumpkin custard which looks more like a pumpkin mousse. (That will be another story.)

You may be wondering at this point how is the title of this blog essay relevant. Hold your horses; I’m getting there!

At work I make a brash statement that I will bake something for the group. Chocolate is the preference. Thinking that hubby will be working late this gives me opportunity to bake something instead of fixing supper. All day I am trying to think of something besides chocolate cake to make. And I do have recipe for a very nice double chocolate cookie but I used the last of my molasses the other day. No-Bake Cookies come to mind. They are chocolate. I have the ingredients. Now I have to find the proper recipe. This cookie is known by several names. Some people call them haystacks, boiled cookies, and such. There are different recipes that change the amounts of the ingredients.

pumpkin custard and no bake cookies 013My sister recalls the combination of ingredients that Mom used. She published it in one of those recipe collection booklets that organizations assemble for fund raisers. I also have Mom’s original typed version.

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While looking for these I flip through the large index file box that holds a lot of Mom’s recipe clippings. It occurs to me that I could just bake through the cookie section of this. It’s an idea. Would I do it? A lot of these call for shortenings like Spry and Crisco. I would have to substitute butter. Hmmmmm?

I gather the ingredients for the No-Bake Cookies. Basically it is 1/2 cup of everything except the vanilla, sugar, and oatmeal.

pumpkin custard and no bake cookies 015Mix 2 Cups sugar, 1/2 Cup butter, 1/2 Cup Cocoa, and 1/2 Cup milk in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, boil one minute, stirring constantly.

pumpkin custard and no bake cookies 026Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients: 1/2 Cup peanut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 Cups oats. Drop on waxed or parchment paper. And like my Mom’s typewritten instructions “cool and eat”.

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While I am stirring in the remaining ingredients the aroma is chocolatey and peanutey and smells just like my childhood. I did not expect such a vivid olfactory memory. But there it was, and I savored it. Thank you Mom!

PS: I just noticed how my Mom’s calls for 2 teas peanut butter and my sister writes it for 1/2 Cup. What’s this about? Very interesting.

A mind at rest. Hah!

So I caught hubby’s cold and after one night of no sleep due to scratchy throat; the second night I slept very well and woke up rested. Still have a cold but not bad enough to stay home from work. I actually have some energy that morning. I get out chicken, cut up potatoes, carrots, onion and celery and throw this in the crockpot along with a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence (just because it was on the counter) and some apple cider (because I had been thinking about cooking chicken with cider). I will add green beans when I come home from work and that’s dinner.

About the middle of the afternoon my cold hits me full force. I sound like I have a cold. You can hear me breathe. I am sniffling into my tissues, drinking hot tea, and thinking I will take a nap when I get home. I’ll curl up on the sofa and read my library book. It is due back at the library next week. Dinner is already made in the crock pot.

So I get home from work and change into comfy clothes. I prepare my book and my box o’ tissues. And here’s what I going through my mind:

The bed sheets need changing. I wonder if I should do a load of laundry? Cat box needs cleaning. Did the cats eat their food this morning? Where is Squeaky? Foodimentary says its National Boston Cream Pie day: do I have anything to make cream filling with? Should I? A friend posted that she doesn’t like Boston Cream Pie. What should I make of that? I need to embroider something over the stain on the front of this favorite sweatshirt. The hairs on my chin need to be tweezed (you older women will relate; you young women will go “hunh?”). I should look at my pattern book to make clothes for granddaughter. How come there’s no mail today? And then I have a sneezing fit! Wash the hands yet one more time.

So here’s what the body does: Cleans the cat box. Wash hands. Pulls the sheets off the bed. Sorts laundry into two baskets and puts one load in the washer. Wash hands. When I got out the chicken this morning I found cookie dough in the freezer. I take the cookie dough and wonder why I made this. It appears to be a plain sugar cookie. I put green beans in the crock pot. Wash hands. I remove two of the chicken leg quarters from the crock pot and remove meat from bone and put it in a freezer bag so I can make chicken soup sometime in the future. Wash hands. I read some blogs while preheating the oven to bake cookies. I wash the few containers from my lunch so hubby doesn’t find dishes in the sink when he comes home. I slice the cookie dough. I find some chocolate chips and think about making a glaze for the cookies to fancy them up. And then I do.

cookies 001 cookies 002I did not make a glaze. What I did was put a few chocolate chips on the hot cookies as they came out of the oven, I covered the pan briefly with another cookie sheet, and then I spread the melted chocolate chips on the cookie, and voila!

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I really should eat that messy one there in front. Hmmmm?

Meanwhile hubby calls saying he is on his way home from work and not to worry about dinner. Little does he know it‘s all taken care of.