More ‘leftovers’

As Weeders may note, I’ve been in the process of using up freezer and pantry items this past week.  This in preparation for–well, I don’t know persactly, but a girl needs her space.  And so does her food supply…..

To that end, a friend delivered two gallons of freshly picked blueberries the other day and they are in the process of being frozen, slowly, one cookie sheet at a time and then double packaged in zip-locks for the oncoming winter.  Of course, we’ll be eating some of them, but two gallons is, well, a gazillion blueberries for two people to consume all at once.  The extra freezer space has already come in handy.

The Royal Red is not interested in blueberries.  Kong, on the other hand, stuffed with a Greenie and peanut butter can keep her entertained for hours.

Which is why I have a moment to actually write this post, you see.  There is method to my madness.  Then again, sometimes I just feel nerdy wordy.

So, here we go–another leftovers meal:

Black beans and rice

I am NOT, I repeat NOT, a fan of either rice or beans as a generalization.  Nope, not my kind of meat and potatoes meal at all.  However, once in a while it is necessary to have some variety in one’s menu and this was one of those “one-ces”.

“Why?” Jabber suddenly appeared at the mention of food–of any sort–….

Because I said so, Jabber.  Go away.

So, there I was, 5 p.m. and no dinner ready.  And no idea what to fix.  VOILA! thought I….sometimes I do think “Voila!” but not too often–anyway, I had some packages of andouille sausage in the freezer and they really should be used up.

Hmmm, beans and rice usually go well with andouille sausage!  So, I did what any normal person would do (not saying I’m exactly ‘normal’ here, but you know…) anyway, sure enough, I had both black beans and rice.  As well as a can of corn!  Yea!  And, as a bonus, the black bean can had a recipe on it, so I read through it.

I can do that, I thought, and began….I mean, this isn’t rocket science and frankly, one doesn’t need a recipe for this!  And, of course, I didn’t do it exactly as the recipe dictated.  I had to make up my own…..

Chop up 1 cup of onion and 1/2 cup green pepper more or less and put in a pan with olive oil–heat them up and cook about 5 minutes–medium to low heat.  Stir around now and again.

Throw in some garlic–I have some in the jar already minced–maybe a tablespoon or so.  Your kitchen is going to smell delicious!  Now, add about 1 teaspoon of Oregano.

Add the black beans.  Stir.

Now is the time to add maybe 3/4 cups of water or chicken broth or vegetable broth–whatever you have. Now add chopped andouille sausage (I cut into 1 inch chunks) and sauté all of this for a while.

Set all this aside while you cook up about 2 to 3 cups of white rice.  (Or, if you’re smart, you had this rice going while you were chopping and sautéing. I was not, sadly, that smart.)

I put the rice in a large bowl along with a can of corn

and the already cooked vegetables and sausage.   Taste it.  Decide if you want more salt or seasoning.  Maybe throw in a can of Rotel for a bit more  spice (I wish that I had).  Add whatever you’d like for a bit more zip or zing if you think it’s warranted.  Oh.  Yes.  I forgot to say I added about 1 pound of rotisserie chicken to the mix–just decided that was a good use for it.

Frankly, I wish I’d added the Rotel, too, but I didn’t.  Ours was a bit dry and a bit of zip would have been an added plus.  Before baking, I could have added a bit more chicken stock as well.

Okay, now bake what you’re going to have for supper–maybe 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until it’s good and hot.  Make up some  corn muffins and bake those to go with the black beans and rice.  Add a salad.  There is supper.

You will have a HUGE batch on your hands.  Call your friends, there is going to be plenty of food.

Wrap up what you’re not going to eat in foil, then place in plastic freezer bags and….well so much for saving the freezer space, eh?, freeze for another night’s supper.  Or, you know, you could add a container of this to soup base–and you’d have a delicious and filling soup.

(The Royal Red is STILL chewing her Kong toy!  Yea!)

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Attack of the Machines, A Leftover Food Idea, and other trivial pursuits

No, no, not the game Trivial Pursuit–just my life, the past week or two which has been focused on trivial pursuits more or less.  Except, of course, trivial things can fast become major…..it’s part of the on-going war on the home front, you see…..

It went like this:

TV guy fixed the TV connection (refer to previous post), causing the electricity to stop running to outlets, the vacuum system and the lights under the house; Electrician fixed the electricity issue, causing the computer to not work (Mouse no longer ‘recognized’ by computer); IT computer guy fixed the computer, but the ‘Mouse’ had, evidently overnight, talked to the coffee pot and it would not make coffee.  I fixed the coffee pot (called the company for advice), and then the toilet started leaking.  The Plumber came and fixed the toilet.  We are still waiting for the Appliance Repairman to come back to install parts in the refrigerator water/ice dispenser system which started all this mess to begin with.

We are on ‘red’ alert…..

Meanwhile, Poppy decided to eat the top of a safety razor I’d stupidly thrown into the bathroom trash.  She is not allowed in the bathroom, but we made a mistake and left a door open one day in the midst of a repairman being here to repair something (take your choice from the above list!)   A week of anxiety, watching her (and anything she excreted!) and it never appeared.  I have looked everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere, Weeders!  This was two weeks ago, so evidently it’s done her no harm or she’s hidden it somewhere in the house–a secret place of her own?  She’s had no ill-effects from said razor, so perhaps??  I don’t know.  She has also ingested portions of fringe off of rugs, eaten a hole in said rugs (two of them, small holes, but holes none-the-less), the stuffing out of an old chair I was taking apart to reupholster (this was months ago), dishwasher machine soap tablet (only a part of it, I found the remains this morning), pens, reading glasses (two so far), and assorted paper napkins with which she absconds and runs madly away from us, chewing as fast as she can and swallowing.  We can not turn our backs in the kitchen–she grabs and runs with knives, spoons, forks, plastic bags, and the occasional food particle she can reach.  It’s quite a circus…..

So far, she’s survived despite her own best efforts.  The vet asked, quizzically, “Doesn’t this dog have any chew toys?”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Bones, several (the safe kind), a “Kong” which is stuffed with a chewy treat and peanut butter once a day and keeps her busy for an hour or two, she is taken to school twice a week to play (run down her energy level), she is walked two or three times a day, she takes a ride in the car every single day to go somewhere or another to entertain her, she has company several times a week–smaller people with which to play and chase–a swimming pool of her own outside which gets filled and emptied every time she uses it, a fenced-in backyard (where she won’t stay alone).  I spend time ‘training’ her, which she enjoys for the ‘treats’ rewards, not to mention the attention.  Her food and water bowls are never empty.  If they are, she tells us by banging the blinds next to them in the kitchen and we run to refill them.

Poppy with a dog ‘cookie’ from the pet store. Of course she went!

Does this sound like a dog who is ignored?  No, I don’t think so either.

She’s just, well, very very curious……..about everything evidently!  Chew toys?  Good grief!  WE are the toys!

Yes, well, this is why we love her. Can’t help ourselves.

All is quiet on the western front at the moment.  (Even the Poodlette, thank you very much.)  So, of course, I decided to cook something for supper.  I’d briefly seen an article about zucchini.  I had two zucchini in the fridge along with some leftover sauce, cheese

leftover sauce and cheese. Put the sauce in the pan with the hamburger and rinse out with water, pouring the water into the pan as well. Let it simmer until thickened.

and a pound of uncooked hamburger, so this is what I made for supper last night:

Cook ground beef with some chopped onion and peppers (the top off a pepper I was going to stuff)

I seasoned the hamburger with a bit of homemade taco seasoning mix (you can use packaged mix if you prefer):

Then add the leftover spaghetti sauce (as shown above).  Simmer until the sauce reduces and is somewhat thickened.

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, remove seeds (with a spoon) and placed a teaspoon or two of cheese in the bottom.  (I also used a squash and a large pepper).

Spoon some cheese sauce in bottom of vegetables, add hamburger mixture and top with more cheese sauce if you have some left.  If not, leave plain or add a different type of cheese for a topping.  (Any kind of cheese will work with this recipe–remember, I’m using up leftovers.)

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes–check to see if the zucchini are done to your liking, the filling is already cooked.

To go with the zucchini ‘boats’, I made some Tater tots on the waffle iron  (just spray with a bit of oil, place the Tater tots on the griddle and cook until done).

Leftover Tater Tots cooked on a waffle iron

This is an easy method to cook them and quick, but I can’t say that they turned out very pretty.  The Tater tots were not completely thawed when I placed them in the waffle iron.  They might have formed a waffle shape if they had been.  Tasted good, though.

They cooked up fine, but presentation left something to be desired.

A salad completed the meal……

 

Zucchini Boats with ‘hash browns’

This was filling and tasty.  We have some leftovers for another night as well.

Gazpacho!

Vanna’s husband, The Engineer,

Above, the Engineer

is also….a farmer!  The other day, Vanna brought homegrown tomatoes and potatoes to share from the garden which The Engineer has carefully tended for several months.  The first thing I wanted to do was go home with them and make Gazpacho, that tasty cold ‘soup’  which I had not made for many years, but love.

So, I looked it up on the internets and decided to make this recipe which Alton Brown had posted:

Gazpacho

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gazpacho-recipe.html

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
SHOW:
Good Eats
EPISODE:
American Slicer

Yield:4 servings
Level:Easy

Ingredients–get everything set out before you begin.  Chop and measure everything, too.
1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (see below)

These 3 made 1 1/2 pounds of tomato–the one on the right is from the store (not nearly as good!) but I had it to use.

Tomato juice

I had this, so I used it.

1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

English cucumber–less seeds. To scrape out the seeds, just use a spoon. It took about 1/2 one of these cucumbers to make 1 cup.  I used the whole thing.

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper–I used about 1/2 of one red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

     I had saved some leftover jalapeño (frozen, from a can), so I used about a tablespoon.

1 medium garlic clove, minced–I had some in the refrigerator already minced, used about 1 teaspoon

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt**  (go easy on the salt!  I thought it was a tiny bit too salty–and I had added only about 1/4 teaspoon of salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade–note I used purple basil (from the garden)
Directions (and I’ve inserted my own photos, but if you go to the website, you can watch Alton make this recipe on a video).
Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.

                

Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes.   Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath

  I do this in the sink–scoop up the tomatoes out of the hot water with a slotted spoon.

and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry.

Peel (the skins will slip off starting where you made the “x” on the bottom of each tomato), core and seed the tomatoes.

The seeds and core are in the strainer, the rest of the tomatoes are in the bowl.

When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through (use the back of a spoon) as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.

I only had to add about 1/4 cup of tomato juice to make a cup.

Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed.

Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil (which you have grown and harvested from the herb garden in your backyard, right?  Right!)

ENJOY!

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2007

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gazpacho-recipe.html?oc=linkbackGaz

******************

And for supper last night, we had this salad–fresh and delicious!

  Caprese salad–sliced homegrown tomatoes with mozzarella and homemade pesto.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Thank you to Vanna and the Engineer!

Checkerboard cake

Grandson wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for his 13th birthday–I wanted to make a checkerboard cake for him, with both chocolate and vanilla cake and chocolate icing.  He was pleased telling me, “Good job, Grandma!”  Well, high praise that!

Sosew sent me a picture of a tri-colored checkered cake a while back…so it’s all her fault!  The cake isn’t difficult, but takes some time and willingness to work with it to get it to turn out well.  Both cakes are 3 layers high, but the three colored cake requires 3 layers, each a different color.  The two-colored checked cake requires 4 layers!  And you could make it 4 layers tall if you wished.

Bake 4 round cakes (two layers of each chocolate and white).  I used what I had on hand:

Before I mixed up the batter, I sprayed and lined the cake pans with wax paper like this:

(Cut round pieces to fit the bottom and strips for around the inside edges.  I always cut slits in the top and bottom pieces of the edge pieces so they will fit snugly around the pan.  In addition, I use oven-safe baking strips designed to fit around cake pans–made from an oven-safe material which one wets and then wraps around the outside of the cake pan.  This keeps the cakes level as they bake.)

Bake your cakes and cool, remove from the pan after cooling a couple of minutes, remove the wax paper, and let cool completely.  Then wrap and freeze the layers separately.

Whip up your frosting–mine is homemade chocolate:  6 Tablespoons butter (softened, whip it first), add 2 2/3 cups of powdered sugar (does not have to be sifted), 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix well.

When frozen (will take an hour or so), remove two layers–one chocolate and one white.  I happened to have this insert, originally designed to allow one to bake a three-different colored or flavored cake together.  But I used it to cut the layers into three circles:

If you do not have one of these cutters improvise!  Freeze the cake layers, then find two bowls/glasses/whatever might work–to get the three circles about even (lay them out on top of your cake pan first).  Lay one bowl/glass upside down on top of your cake and carefully cut around it, remove the bowl/glass and make sure you have cut the circle all the way through the cake.

Cut the white cake layer the same way.  Separate the different circles.  Around the inner portion of the outside chocolate circle, place frosting.  I briefly put the separated sections of the cake back in the freezer.  Cake is much easier to handle and frost when it is frozen.

Insert the next circle and it will adhere to the frosted portion.  Now, frost the inside of that circle:

after frosting, insert the center.

Frost the top of this layer and add the next layer in reverse order.

    

Do the reverse for the next layer and then repeat this layer for the top/third layer of this cake.

You will have one layer left….a chocolate outer and inner circle and a white centered circle.  Eat it yourself!  Or you can make this a 4 layer cake, but you will likely need to insert some wooden dowels to hold it together if you do.

Frost the entire cake (you might need another batch of frosting).

Spring Taste Treat–Vidalia Onions

Friend Jeff (Leader’s husband) was selling Vidalia onions to raise money for Shriner’s Children’s hospitals benefit.  They were the REAL DEAL! and came in 10 pound bags.  I bought a bag–actually I thought they were a bargain ($10 per 10 pound bag).

This is a large amount of onions for only two people and a ravenous dog who is not supposed to eat onions! (poisonous to dogs).  I gave some away; I stored a few for a few days in the refrigerator like this:

  wrap in paper towels and store in vegetable bin–but only for a few days!

And I decided to cook some up.

These are a taste treat of late spring–sweet onions flavored in various ways, sautéed and served on top of steaks, on a salad, with burgers or brats or hot dogs–delicious!

To caramelize/sauté:

Peel about 8 onions (these were small), slice and place in a pan with a bit of olive oil and, since I had some basil butter, a bit of that as well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often.

  Be sure to save the peelings for your compost bin!

About half-way through, I added about 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and a sprinkling of Thyme (dried)–the Thyme smelled awesome, giving off its aroma in the kitchen as it heated up in the pan with the onions!

  

  

I cooked over medium heat, stirring often–some people actually want some burned particles in their caramelized onions, but I prefer them just well cooked.  Here they are, all cooked down and done!

If you want some other flavorings in your caramelized onions, try adding chicken stock, different herbs, or even a bit of beer.

Roasting Onions:

I still had quite a few onions, so decided to roast some in the oven like this:

Peel, cut a small hole in the top of the onions, place in some butter (I used basil butter again), drizzle a bit of olive oil and top with some brown sugar.  Pour in about 1/2 bottle of beer!–Jeff’s suggestion!

(or not.  Or use chicken stock/chicken stock cube or just plain water.  But if you use beer, only use half the bottle.  Drink the rest, but not if it is 8 a.m.  Or maybe even if it IS 8 a.m.  After all, it’s Memorial Day.)

Roast at about 425 for maybe 60 to 90 minutes.  (check with a knife for doneness)

Check for doneness and add more beer/liquid if the pan goes dry.  When they are done, you may serve immediately or reheat later.  Store in refrigerator, covered with aluminum foil.  (Or you may wish to cool and then cover with plastic wrap before you add the aluminum foil so the whole refrigerator doesn’t smell like onions.)

Freezing onions:

Oh my yes, I freeze them all the time!  Cut up the onion, chop and place in plastic bag.  Double bag these or your freezer will smell like onions.  Excellent for sauces, casseroles, egg omelets, any dish you use regular onions in except you likely would not like them served raw (they have been frozen and when thawed are a bit mushy).

Enjoy these onions!  They are a simple and delicious side for a variety of meals.

What did you ask?

Oh!  You want to know how to make basil butter?  Could not be simpler!

Remove two sticks of butter from refrigerator and place in a bowl to soften–I do this generally the night before.  Now, pick some basil from your herb garden.  I have both purple and green basil, so I used both.  Wash and pat dry, pull off the leaves (discard stems into your compost bin).  

Chop up the herbs finely.  Mash the herbs into the softened butter with a fork.

Place in a dish and cover; place in refrigerator.  It is best if you allow it to sit for a day or two so the flavors are able to ‘marry’ together.

Have a pleasant and reflective Memorial Day.  Remember those who have served, who have given so much for the rest of us and the many who are still serving home and abroad.

Ridiculously Involved Cookies!

“Blame it on Girlfriend!  It was her idea!” Jabber pronounced.  “An’ then you have to go get in the act and make the same ones, din’ you?”

Yes.

Did.

Girlfriend volunteered, in a weak moment, to make these gorgeous cookies she found online.

Of course she did.

So, from there evolved the saga.

First, which recipe to use?

Oh dear, oh dear!

She asked Jabber what Jabber had for a sugar cookie recipe and Jabber obliged with one.  Which Girlfriend used.

But Jabber, ultimately, did and didn’t.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

Girlfriend was going to her nephew’s shower–he’s getting married in June!  And, as it turns out, Jabber’s granddaughter is getting married in June, too.

But not to each other.

No.

They each have their own pairing and Girlfriend’s nephew lives in Buffalo.  As in New York.  Jabber’s granddaughter lives in Tennessee.  As in “THE South.”  So, no, they are not marrying each other.

At any rate, Jabber’s house was the site for granddaughter’s shower (see previous post).  And Jabber said, “Well!  Now that Girlfriend has made these cookies, surely I can make them too.”  Jabber HAD wondered about the time involved which Girlfriend did not complain about–but Jabber knew it seemed a very involved process.

Jabber learned.

It was.

So even before showing you the pictures or giving you the recipe and the link to the original site, let me warn you–BE PREPARED FOR THIS TO TAKE A LONG TIME!  And several sessions.

There.

Warning duly made.

Here are pictures of some of the cookies:

  

          

  

“So, how many did ja make?” Jabber asked.

TOO Many!  But never mind.  I got them done, they were stored in the freezer and some were served and some packaged up for party favors.  That was Girlfriend’s idea, too.  (I steal a lot of ideas from my friends–what are friends for anyway?)

So here you go–two recipes to choose from.  Take your choice.  Or do like I did, make both.  You will get about 7 to 8 cookies (these are large cookies) from each batch–so be forewarned!  If you need 50, you’re going to make a lot of batches of either recipe (or both).

Recipe from Jabber:

Zest from one lemon.  Then juice from the same lemon.  Put them in separate bowls.  (Or it doesn’t have to be the SAME lemon, but it does seem more efficacious if it is.  However, if you feel so inclined to zest one lemon and squeeze another, have it.  Just realize you’ll have to use up that zested lemon for something, and soon.)

A zested lemon. Not yet squeezed.

Okay, now I’m squeezing it–one half at a time. With my handy, dandy Orange X. Does a great job.

Have 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature (I set this out the night before).

Also measure out:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup superfine sugar (if you don’t have this, whirl some regular sugar around in your food processor–presto! you have superfine sugar)

1 large egg (again set this out about 1/2 hour before so it comes to room temperature)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

*******

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter until creamy–this means until it is very well whipped.  The recipe says 30 seconds, but it often will take a while longer.  Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy–1 to 2 minutes or more.  Beat in the egg, lemon zest and juice, and the vanilla and lemon extracts until well-blended.  Stir in the flour mixture until blended and soft dough forms.

Form the dough into a ball, and divide into 3 pieces.  Flatten each piece to a disk shape and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight until dough is firm enough to handle.

When you are ready to roll out and bake:

preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a very lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out one dough disk to 1/8 inch thick.

Keep remaining dough disks refrigerated.

“Wait!  That isn’t a disk!” Jabber exclaimed.

Well, right.  So I didn’t follow directions persactly, Jabber, you get the drift….

Using floured cookie cutters, cut out as many shapes as possible.

    

I do this on parchment paper and remove the excess dough around the cut outs so the shapes hold.   Or you can remove with a palette knife and transfer shapes to 2 large ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart.  I use parchment paper.  Lightly brush around the cutout cookies with a pastry brush to remove any excess flour or crumbs before baking.

Bake until cookies are just colored around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes.  I found that they needed 11 minutes and I turned them front to back about half-way through (at 6 minutes).

Check after you bake the first tray and make sure they are crisp, but not burned–you do not want to underbake these! If they get a bit brown on the edges, the frosting will cover this up.

Remove (parchment sheets) after 1 minute to wire racks to cool.  In about 5 minutes, remove cookies from parchment onto racks to cool completely.  Store in single layers with wax paper in between (or parchment paper) in tightly covered container until ready to frost.  You may also make ahead and freeze these.

You can use excess dough to roll out again, but I found it doesn’t work very well, so be sure to cut out as many cookies as possible with the first rolling.

*****************************

So, those were baked.  I decided to try the other recipe, too….I mean, I’m a Y-Knot, so why not?  Besides, I’ve got lots of time on my hands.  Gotta’ do somethin’!

Here is the other recipe:

1 cup salted butter (softened)  Note this says SALTED butter, the other recipe says unsalted.

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large whole egg

PLUS

1 egg yolk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted (measure and then sift)

Cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy with mixer

Add egg yolk, beat it some more, then add whole egg.  Mix in vanilla and almond extracts.

Add flour and beat on low until well-combined.  Dod not overheat.  The dough will be sticky!

Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least an hour–overnight is better.

Allow dough to come to room temperature for at least 10 minutes, then knead it until it gets back into a smooth texture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with flour.  For best results, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

Continue sprinkling flour when needed to prevent dough from sticking.  Use cutters to cut cookies into the shapes and then place on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.*

(I lightly floured parchment paper, cut out the cookies and removed excess dough.)

PLACE THE COOKIES ON THE BAKING SHEETS INTO THE FREEZER FOR EXACTLY 10 MINUTES to allow them to re-chill.  This will keep the shapes perfectly.  Then remove and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  (Again, I turned the sheets about half-way through baking.)  Watch these carefully.  Check after you bake the first tray and make sure they are crisp, but not burned–you do not want to underbake these!  If they get a bit brown on the edges, the frosting will cover this up.

This recipe is from http://rosebakes.com

When cooled, you may store in tightly sealed containers, separated with wax paper in layers, and/or freeze until ready to frost.

**************

Frosting:

This is a process!  First you will need Wilton’s meringue powder.  Measure 3 TABLESPOONS carefully and place in mixer bowl.  Add in 1 pound (4 cups) of sifted confectioner’s sugar.  Carefully stir the two together and then add about 5 1/2 Tablespoons of warm water.  Mix according to directions in the Wilton’s meringue powder recipe (blend first on low, then mix on medium for about 7 minutes).  If mixture is too stiff, add a tiny bit of warm water and mix again.  If too thin, you can add some more confectioner’s sugar a little at a time.  If I follow the directions (included in the Wilton’s meringue powder) EXACTLY, it turns out just fine.

Another note:  It is best to make this and frost on a low humidity day!  It will take a lot longer to dry if you do this on a rainy day.

Scoop some of the frosting into a piping bag and use a small to medium plain tip on the end of it.   (Note that I just used whatever tip I had, and turns out it doesn’t really matter–you want to outline the cookies.)   Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel so it does not dry out.  Pipe around the edges of each cookie.

Set aside to let dry completely–this may take several hours.  I put my cookies on cookie sheets and left in the oven to dry.

“So they would dry quicker?” Jabber asked.

No.  So the Cookie Monster (aka The Spicy Royal Red also known as “Houdini”) would not make them disappear.  She does love cookies if she can get her mouth on one.  Do not ask how I know this.

Be sure to cover the rest of the frosting in the bowl with a damp cloth and also wrap the piping bag with a damp wash cloth.  Since it may be a few hours between sessions, I generally put the bag in a plastic bag and place both bowl and bag into the refrigerator.  This will work only for a short time!  (Be aware you may need to make another batch of frosting if it separates too much.)

Once the piping is completely dry, take a bit of the frosting and add some water–you want this to be a little tiny bit less thick than the original frosting.  Do NOT make it too thin or it will soak into the cookies and make them too soft!   

You are now going to ‘flood’ the cookies.

“What?  You just made them!  Why are you going to flood them?  Aren’t you going to eat them?” Jabber was frantic at the idea!

No, Jabber.  It’s just the correct term to fill in the frosting–flood it onto the cookies inside the piping.  This I learned from Girlfriend, too.

Spread this inside the piping.  I used the back of a teaspoon (metal) which worked well.

Let dry.  Again, I put them in the oven, overnight.

Make a new batch of frosting and using a clean bag and whatever piping end you wish, you may pipe designs on top of the now dry cookies.

Let dry again!

To Store:

Single layers in tightly sealed containers

OR

When completely dry, you may freeze, ONE LAYER AT A TIME, and then place frozen cookies in layers with wax paper separating each layer.  When you remove, be sure to lay the cookies out before they are defrosted or the piping might get crushed in the container.

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These were wedding dress cookies, but the same technique is used for Christmas or other holiday cookies.  They are fun to do, but it is very time consuming!

  

A note:  both recipes really are tasty!

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Many Thanks To Girlfriend who shared the cookie cutters and the ideas with me.  The cookies were a big hit at the bridal shower.

Recycling Memories and Recipes

“What are you recycling?” Jabber asked.

A recipe.  One that I had years and years and years and years—oh, alright, a long time ago.  Brought back memories….

Sosew sent it to us–it’s for the Raisin Bran Muffins she made for us on Saturday.  We all really enjoyed them.

Back in the day, when I was just a pup……

“YOU were a puppy?” Jabber asked again.  “What happened?  Does Houdini know about this?  Were YOU a Houdini too and that’s how you did it?”

Oh for heaven’s sake.  No!

Come on, get a grip here.  I was a young woman.  People don’t change from dogs to humans, you know, just because they get old er……puppies become dogs and young women don’t become old women, they just become ‘women of a certain age.’   As we all know.

“What age?” Jabber asked innocently.  “You have to know how old you are, don’t you?”

I’m ignoring that.

“But Houdini became a Houdini even though she’s a puppy….” Jabber tried to interject, reminding me of how she got out of the car straps and left the halter firmly attached to the seat belt….  

I cut Jabber off….

Stop it!  This is about a recipe.  An older recipe which I think the Weeders are going to like.  Quit with the Houdini stuff, Jabber!

Back in the day, when I was youn…ger……I often made this recipe for the family.  So, it was sort of a trip down memory lane to see it again, not to mention taste the muffins again!  Loved them then and love them now.  Try it!

Raisin Bran Muffins

5 cups Raisin Bran Cereal

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs beaten

1/2 cup oil

Mix buttermilk, eggs, oil and sugar together, add flour, salt and baking soda, stir in Raisin Bran.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Makes 12 large muffins.  Can be frozen.

Thanks to Sosew for the recipe–these are her muffins above!

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