Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles

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My first time to host Bunco and I decided to go with a Mexican themed menu including Chile Pie, peach and tomato salsa with chips, Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles, salad and watermelon.  I grew up eating traditional snickerdoodles and this is a great new twist on that recipe.  If you’re a chocolate lover, you will enjoy this cookie!

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2¼ cups all purpose flour

Cinnamon Sugar Coating

¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a large mixing bow, beat the butter and sugars together until nice and fluffy.
  • Beat in cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cayenne pepper until well blended.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
  • Stir in unsweetened cocoa and flour just until combined.
  • Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and use the palm of your hands to form into a ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your palm.
  • Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  • Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
 
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Cherry Bars

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Cherry desserts are one of my favorites and I had to try this Cherry Bars recipe from my late Aunt Joyce’s recipe box.  While I don’t recall ever having these, they are wonderful. The combination of almond and cherry…yum!

Leafing through old, handwritten recipe cards is such a treasure…a lost tradition in today’s world.

CHERRY BARS

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, beat after addition of each egg
3 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 can cherry pie filling

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease 10×15″ pan.
  • Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.
  • Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Slowly add flour mixture to batter.  Then add vanilla and almond extract.
  • Spread 1/2 of batter into pan.  Spool filling on top and spread to cover. Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls over the top.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes.  Watch it to just golden brown.
  • Drizzle with glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 4 or more tsp. milk, a few drops of almond extract.  Add milk until the drizzle consistency is reached.

Big Country Breakfast Bread Pudding

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Breakfast casseroles are always a treat and easy peasy when you make it the night before.  This casserole has a wonderful cream cheese surprise in many bites.  Why have I never thought of that?

Serve this dish with a wonderful fruit bowl, a cup of hot coffee (or tea), and wonderful conversation.

BIG COUNTRY BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING

1 loaf Brioche bread, cubed (I used French Bread)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
1 /2 cup milk
9 eggs
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
2 c. + 1 c. shredded sharp white cheddar (or any shredded cheese of your liking)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
10 oz. browned breakfast sausage (optional)
5 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or 1 tsp. McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning)

  • Spray a 9×13″ extra deep baking dish and place 1/2 to 2/3 of the bread cubes in the dish.
  • Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl, add cream, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth.  Reserve 1 to 1.5 cups of mixture and pour remaining over the bread cubes.
  • Spread green chiles on top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 cups of shredded cheese.  Lightly press the bread down to aid in absorption of the egg mixture.  Top with cream cheese, sausage and bacon, if desired.
  • Top with remaining bread and pour reserved egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bake on middle rack for 45-55 minutes or until the center is firm. Cover the bread pudding with foil about halfway through the cooking time and remove for the last 5 minutes or so.
  • Serves 12.

Recipe adapted from foodforayear.com

 

 

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

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Our book club met at my home for our March review of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. I must admit I did not care for the book and did not finish it.  Others had the same difficulty finding it complex and hard to follow, especially in the beginning. However, for those that finished the book, they thoroughly enjoyed it finding the Chinese Cultural Revolution to be similar to world experiences today.

Our potluck cuisine was Asian and my Asian recipe file is devoid of recipes.  I found this wonderful Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken recipe online and will definitely make it again and again.  Very flavorful and wonderful with rice and stir fry vegetables.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cashews

  • Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken and shake to coat with cornstarch.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker. (Frankly, next time I make it I will skip this step)
  • Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews in small bowl; pour over chicken. (Optional: If you like the cashews to be softer, you can add them during the cooking process.  If you like more crunch, add them right before serving.)
  • Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Service over rice. Optional: Garnish with chopped scallions.
  • Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe slightly adapated from therecipecritic.com

Chocolate Cake…Vegan and Absolutely Delicious

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Who doesn’t like chocolate cake?  I wanted to make a chocolate cake for a gathering of friends, two of which are Vegan.  We all love to share salads, fruits, pastas, but dessert is always a bit tricky.

This cake was moist, delicious and almost healthy!  I would make it again and again whether my guests were Vegan or not. Even one of my Grand Dogs thought it was worthy of his attention!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

 

CHOCOLATE CAKE…VEGAN AND ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS

Cake: 

  • 3/4 cup plain flour/GF flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3C unrefined cane sugar/brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Frosting: 

    This makes a small amount of frosting as the cake doesn’t need much, but for a full batch

    • 1 1/2 tbsp lite Nuttelex or other dairy free butter/margarine alternative
    • 1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F.
    • Grease and line a small cake tin (or cupcake tins)
    • In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    • In a separate medium mixing bowl combine applesauce, sugar and vanilla and pour into dry ingredients.
    • Mix until just combined and pour into cake tin.
    • Bake for 20-35 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted removes clean. If making cupcakes, cook for ~10-15 minutes or until cooked through.
    • For the frosting, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a mixer, adding in the cocoa and vanilla and mixing until combined. If needed, add a couple of drops of milk/non dairy milk until your desired consistency is reached

    Recipe from Southerininlaw.com

    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.

    IMG_7551

    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.

    IMG_7537

    • 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