Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day

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Sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day is such a treat. I’m usually not a big fan of actually making them (but always a fan of eating them) because of the work involved.  This year, however, I was motivated and found the process fun…walk down memory lane. The cookie recipe came from my sister, Carolyn.  She made these when her kids were younger and I loved them.

Valentines Day Cutout Sugar Cookies

 

My kids and I started a tradition last year of gathering around Valentine’s Day for a group dinner and, this year, the cookies will be our dessert.  I loved cutting out the smaller hearts for the little ones.  We need to enjoy it because who knows when I’ll be motivated once again!

SUGAR COOKIES

3 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shortening (butter, Crisco, etc.)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Cut in shortening.
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs.  Add sugar, milk and vanilla.  Beat well.
  • Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and mix well.
  • Chill dough for at least one hour (I chilled overnight).
  • Roll out 1/2 dough on floured surface and return remaining dough to refrigerator until ready to roll out.  (I found the dough a bit sticky so used quite a bit of flour while rolling out).  Cut into desired shapes.
  • Optional:  At this point you can sprinkle with decorative colored sugar if you don’t want to ice the cookies. I did this for half of the recipe.
  • Bake cookies on ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes or until a light brown on the edges.

CREAMY ICING:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 tablespoons cream (or half and half)
drop or two of red food coloring (to reach the desired color of pink or red)

  • Blend ingredients together to make an icing with a thin consistency.  This will be enough icing for the entire cookie recipe.  I made half of the icing recipe and iced half of the batch.

 

Cherry Kolaches, our Christmas Day Tradition

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The gifts are wrapped, the house is decorated, and the baking is done. This year I thought I’d take a break from making Kolaches for Christmas Day until I mentioned this to my family. WHAT? BREAKING FROM TRADITION? So, I will not break the tradition and made them today.  The truth is I love them as much as my daughters and their families.

This year I used my Mother’s Foundation sweet dough which she used for cinnamon rolls and Kolaches. My KitchenAid mixer makes easy work of making bread instead of taxing my arthritic wrists. The past several batches of bread I’ve made from standard flour have been too dense, so I decided to try King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour. I loved the result with a very light sweet dough that melts in your mouth.

The cherry filling started with a bucket of frozen sour cherries I purchased at the Farmer’s Market last summer. img_8562

There is nothing better than the taste of those cherries. Truly, I could eat a bowl of the cherry filling and forget the bread dough!

I also make a dozen chocolate kolaches which started as a request by one of son-in-laws, now a family favorite as well.  I simply put chocolate chips (or this year a dove milk chocolate square) in the middle of the dough ball and then pinch it closed.  Let it rise to double in size then bake. When you remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

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Another tradition for our Christmas Day celebration is the Nordic Kringla.  Turns out Kringla is a big hit with my 3 year old grandson and 1 year old granddaughter.  My 6 week old grandson has yet to weigh in…but next year…

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year!

CHERRY KOLACHES, our Christmas Day Tradition

Mom’s Foundation Sweet Dough

2 cakes (Packages) yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour (I used 6 cups King Arthur Bread Flour)
3 eggs, beaten

  • Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Set aside to soften and rise.
  • Scald milk.  Add shortening, sugar and salt; cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour to make a batter.  Add the yeast mixture and beaten eggs, and beat well.
  • Add remaining flour or enough to make a soft dough. Knead lightly and place in greased bowl. Cover and let set in warm place, free from draft.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  • When light, punch dough down and shape in balls about the size of a walnut and place on a greased cookie sheet. Let rise.
  • When risen, push the centers of balls down and fill with cherry filling (or filling of your choice).  Let rise again.
  • Bake at preheated 400 degree oven (375 degrees for convectional oven) for about 7 minutes or until golden brown.

Cherry Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup juice from cherries
3 cups pitted tart red cherries (water pack)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Combine 3/4 cup sugar with cornstarch.  Stir in cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture thickens and bubbles; cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining sugar, cherries, butter, and food coloring and cook until thickened. (Mixture will be very thick.)  Let stand while preparing bread dough for Kolaches.

Reference:

KOLACHE … Bohemian Heritage and Christmas Tradition

Pumpkin Zucchini Bundt Cake

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Pumpkin Zucchini Bundt Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup Raisins (I skipped the raisins since the family doesn’t like)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a Bundt or 9 inch loaf pan.
    In a bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and combine.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla until
    light and fluffy. Stir in the shredded zucchini. Then transfer this batter to the flour mixture and stir until everything is combined. Fold in the raisins.
  • Pour into the baking pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in
    the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to completely cool.
    ** Please note, cook time for Bundt pan will be around 60 minutes and for the 9 inch loaf pan, around 1 hr 10 minutes. Always check after 1 hr for doneness as all ovens are different.

Slightly adapted from Lovefoodies.com 

Apple Roll Ups

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My Mother was such a great cook and many of my cherished recipes came from her kitchen.  Apple Roll Ups is one of those recipes.  They are fantastic served warm but equally good left-over.  If you truly want to indulge, you can pour a bit of cream on the top of your Apple Roll.

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APPLE ROLL UPS

SYRUP:
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar

  • Boil for 3 minutes.  Cool.
  • Pour into ungreased 9×13 inch pan.

DOUGH:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt and shortening and blend well. Add 1/2 up milk and 1 egg. Mix well.
  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle shape about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

FILLING:
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups finely diced apple (I used Granny Smith)

  • Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over rolled out dough. Add chopped apple.

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  • Roll up carefully and cut into 12 in slices.
  • Place in 9×13 inch pan on top of cooled syrup.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate

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Fresh, sweet pears have always been a favorite of mine. Rarely have I baked with pears but this recipe sounded too delicious to resist.  It has a wonderful texture and so very moist!
Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate

Yogurt Cake with Pear and Dark Chocolate 

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup plain yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large pear, ripe but still firm, cored and cut into small pieces (leave the skin on)
1/2 cup bittersweet (dark) chocolate chunks.

  • Preheat your oven to 350F and grease an 8 inch loaf pan with butter (I found the recipe made too much for one loaf pan–I made an 8 inch loaf and a small loaf pan).
  • In a small bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt). In medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Then, stir in the dry ingredients, a bit at a time, until well blended. Finally, use a rubber scraper to fold the oil into the batter until it is fully incorporated.
  • Pour about one-third of the batter into the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle 2/3s of the pear pieces and the chocolate chunks all over the batter. Then, scrape the rest of the batter on top of this and gently spread it smooth. Sprinkle the rest of the pear and chocolate over the top of the loaf and gently press all the pieces down into the batter to partially submerge them.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean – 55-60 minutes or so. Then, take the cake out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan, and then put it upright on a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The cake will keep for several days (refrigerate if it’s more than 2 days), and slices are delicious lightly toasted before eating. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
Slightly adapted from FiveandSpice.com

 

 

Lemon Yellow Summer Squash Bread

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When yellow squash and zucchini are plentiful and you’ve made very possible recipe you can think of, I go to the web and try to find something different to make.  This bread was a phenomenal find. I’ve always been fond of lemon cake and this bread is addictive. No, you can’t have just one slice, I guarantee it!

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LEMON YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH BREAD

There is no reason you couldn’t substitute zucchini in this recipe; would be pretty with the green zucchini and yellow lemon zest!  I did not make the Sweet Roasted Lemon Garnish).
Serves: 2 loaves
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups grated summer squash
For the Glaze:
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
For the Sweet Roasted Lemon Garnish (edible and optional!):
  • 1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour 2 regular loaf pans or 4 mini pans.
  3. Mix butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and once all are incorporated beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add squash and stir just to blend.
  7. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes for small loaf pans or 1 hour for regular size loaf pans.
  8. Allow the pan to cool; remove the bread and place top down on a serving plate (makes for a nice presentation for the glaze and lemons).
Make the Roasted Lemons:
  1. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Gently toss lemon slices with sugar, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are no longer wet and only slightly colored, 15–20 minutes. Let cool.
Make the Glaze:
  1. Combine the melted butter and powdered sugar and stir until smooth; add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to combine.
  2. Add water or milk if necessary to get the right consistency.
  3. Pour the glaze over the top; covering it completely and letting excess dribble down the sides.
  4. Arranged sweet, roasted lemons on top.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from CreativeCulinary.com

Apricot Crumble Cake

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Fresh Apricots are tangy yet sweet and not something I purchase on a regular basis. Last year our CSA delivered a large bag of apricots week after week. This recipe was a delicious way to use the fresh apricots and have a chewy, moist dessert or breakfast treat.

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FRESH APRICOT BARS

2 lbs ripe Apricots
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) or orange juice
1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup old fashioned oats

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
  • Combine the apricots and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the apricots are soft (will vary tremendously depending on the ripeness of the apricots-very ripe apricots will only take minute or two). Stir in the orange liqueur.
  • Puree the apricots in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into a bowl and set in freezer to chill while you make the crust.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pinch in the butter pieces into the flour mixture (or cut them into the flour with a pastry cutter), until it resembles coarse sand. Pinch in the oats until well combined.
  • Press 2/3rds of the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the apricot puree over the crust bottom. Sprinkle the remaining crust over the top of the apricot puree.

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  • Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown.

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  • Allow to cool, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
Recipe Adapted from: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

 

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

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Fresh fruit salad in winter is a real treat and this recipe is delicious, combining several fruits including apples, kiwi, blackberries, pomegranate, bananas and Mandarin oranges. The dressing is fresh and tasty delivering a nice side to compliment any meal.
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Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Salad

  • 8 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented (I used Cuties)
  • 4 apples, diced
  • 4 ripe kiwis peeled and diced
  • 4 bananas, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1 large)
  • 1-2 cups blackberries (I added to the recipe)

Combine all salad ingredients. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from CookingClassy.com

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

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Two of my favorite flavors…raspberry and lemon…together they are heaven. When we were planning older daughter Megan’s baby shower we made these cupcakes.  The cupcakes (which you cannot see) were divine and the icing tasted wonderful, although it didn’t look as wonderful as I would have liked. The icing had a lumpy look to it but not in taste or texture.

The theme of the shower surrounded children’s books so we purchased edible children’s book toppers on Etsy. Adorable!

I’ll make the cupcakes again but I’ll play with the icing to get it just right!

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Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 24 regular cupcakes

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two large lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

For the Frosting:
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh raspberries (or frozen, thawed) (use 2 cups for 1.5x recipe of frosting)
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons milk, if needed

To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Position the rack to the center of the oven.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites until well blended.

Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the zest has moistened all the sugar.  Use the paddle attachment to beat the butter in at medium speed for 3 minutes, until very light.  Add in the extracts and then one third of the flour mixture, while continuing to beat on medium speed.  Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry ingredients.  Beat in the rest of the milk and eggs until fully incorporated, then mix in the remaining of the dry ingredients.  Beat at medium speed for a full 2 minutes to aerate.  Evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake pans.

Bake for 18-22 minutes (for regular cupcakes) or 10-12 minutes (for miniature cupcakes).  The cupcakes are done when they pass the toothpick test and are springy to the touch.   Cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the frosting:
Puree the raspberries in a blender and then push through a fine mesh strainer to discard the seeds; set aside. Cream together the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment.  Beat in the vanilla and most of the raspberry puree, until fully combined.

Stir in the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until reaching desired consistency.  Use more or less sugar as needed, and add more raspberry puree to taste.  If the frosting is too thick, beat in milk one tablespoon at a time.

Source:  My Baking Addiction, originally from Dorie Greenspan and Seeded at the Table 

Runza

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I know Runzas are a staple to my Nebraska and Kansas friends but not something we grew up with in Iowa.  A few years ago I was watching the television show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where they visit Lauer-Krauts  in Brighton, Colorado.  A friend and I made the trek to Brighton to try one of their krautburgers and they were delicious, but frankly, too far a drive when you have a craving.

This recipe was close to what we experienced and I decided to give it a try.  It was very good and I would love to try making them with either a mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut or simply with sauerkraut.  Growing up in Iowa, Mom’s homemade sauerkraut was amazing and I now love all things kraut!

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RUNZA

Makes 10 Runzas

Dough:

1/4 oz packet of dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups bread flour
12 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons salt

Filling:

1 pound lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoons salted butter
1 Vidalia onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 head cabbage, chopped

  • To make the dough, combine 3/4 cup of very warm water, a pinch of sugar, and the yeast in a bowl. Let it sit until it blooms. If you’ve never done this before, pop yourself some popcorn and sit back and enjoy the show. You’ll know what I mean when the “blooming” begins. Okay, maybe it’s not that cool…
  • Add 3 of your eggs and whisk with your yeast mixture.  Add 2 cups of your flour to the liquid and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the butter, the sugar, the remaining flour and salt and mix well.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.  Place the dough ball in a buttered bowl and let sit for one hour at room temperature.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least an hour.
  • Remove the dough and divide into 10 equal portions. Roll into separate balls and let sit covered while you make the filling.
  • Speaking of the filling, get your ground beef sizzlin’ on a skillet.  Season as desired with salt and pepper.  Cook until lightly browned, then remove the beef from the skillet with a spoon and place it in a bowl, leaving most of the grease behind.  Add your butter to the skillet and begin sizzlin’ your onion.  Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes or so.  Add your garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Add this whole mixture to the bowl with the beef.
  • Next, using the moisture still in your skillet, get the pan nice and hot.  Add your cabbage and stir constantly until the cabbage is lightly browned and translucent-ish.  It may seem like a lot of cabbage at first, but it shrinks down substantially.  Add the cabbage to the beef mixture.
  • Flatten your balls of dough with a rolling pin.  Each dough saucer should be about 8 inches in diameter.  Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in the center of each dough-saucer and pull the edges together and pinch to enclose the filling in the dough.  To avoid a thickened dough-seal, I actually cut off the excess dough with cooking shears.  If you don’t do something like this, you’ll find a doughy center as you take your first chomp.
  • Preheat the oven to 375° while the runzas sit and rise for a bit.  Brush some of the egg (your remaining egg of the 4 you originally had) on the top of each runza to give it a nice browning while in the oven.  Cook the runzas on a greased baking sheet for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe from Highheelsandgrills.com