Snowflakes

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There’s nothing like a filled cookie! These little crunchy fruity and robust cookies will make your friends and family very happy. The dough is flavored with a hint of lemon, filled with raspberry and strawberry jam, glazed with a lemon glaze and the sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are one of the best cookies ever.

Snowflakes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees ~ bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cream together:
1 cup of sugar
1 c. Butter softened (2 sticks)
Add:
3 tbsp milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg
Mix and add:
3 c. Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix and place in a ziploc bag and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Lemon Glaze
2 c. Powdered sugar
1/3 c. Fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

Filling:
Your favorite fruit jam.

When ready, roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.
Cut out 24 circles and half of them cut out a smaller circle in the middle. You will have 12 bottoms without a hole and 12 tops with a hole.

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Any remaining dough repeat until you have used up all of the dough. You should get 24 double layer cookies from this batch. Bake them on an ungreased cookie sheet. They will be light in color but after they cool they will be crisp.
They will need to cool completely. Brush with glaze only the top of the cookies with the hole in the center. Let them dry. Add a teaspoon of your favorite jam to the bottom cookie and spread. Place the tops on the bottom. The jam will be like glue holding them together. When ready to serve sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

 

Pumpkin sugar cookies are so yummy. They have a crisp exterior from the sugar, and a soft interior. The maple glaze makes them sweet and comforting.

 

 

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees ~ bake for 8-12 minutes

1 c. Packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. Sugar
2 sticks butter
1/4 c. Shortening
Cream the above ingredients together with electric mixer.
Add:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 can of pumpkin purée mixed with 1 tbsp of cornstarch
Beat until creamy
Add:
3 c. Flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix and roll into 1 inch balls.
In a separate bowl add 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Drop each cookie ball into sugar and slightly flatten. Place on ungreased cookie sheet
Bake for 10 minutes or so until puffed and crisp on edges. Cool completely. Frost with maple glaze.

Maple Glaze
1 c. Powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. maple extract
1 tbsp milk
1/2 stick soft butter
Mix well and adjust the consistency to your liking if necessary with more powdered sugar.

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Glazed Lemon Cookies

These cookies are very bright in flavor. Probably the zest is one of the things that sends them over the top. The second thing that gives them a wow factor is straight lemon juice in the glaze. They are super delicious. If you decide to make them you may want to double the batch. I got 28 cookies. I like to double my recipes and place in my fridge a ziplock bag with dough so I can make them anytime I want. It’s very convenient especially around the holidays! Enjoy!

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees ~ bake for 12-15 minutes

2 c. Flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. Unsalted butter room temp
1 c. Sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Lemon Glaze
2 c. Confectionery sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Mix together.

Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy
Add: egg, vanilla and lemon juice
Add: flour, baking soda, salt, and zest.
Scoop with a small ice cream scoop, about a one inch ball.
Flatten slightly and space them 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Cool cookies completely. Frost with lemon glaze.

Homemade Pasta

imageFor years I have been trying to find a pasta recipe that I like. My issue has always been the texture of the dough. I love homemade pasta because it tends to be soft and tender. Every time I have ever made it the recipe has always called for semolina flour, which creates a stiff and rubbery texture. I finally found a great recipe. This comes from a lovely Italian lady named Lidia.

I was just fooling around one day when I tried the recipe. I had no intentions of even making pasta. The husband was outside working and in like 5 minutes this ball of dough was resting on the counter. It rested for 1 hour and then I cut it into 4 pieces and rolled one quarter out by hand. I cut it into wide noodles called pappardelle. I have always remembered my grandmother making pasta. She used to roll it out with a machine. The way she checked the thinness of her pasta was to lay it on a piece of newspaper. If you could see words behind the pasta it was thin enough. Really technical stuff here.

So, I make the pasta(5 minutes), I rest the pasta(1 hour), I boil the pasta(1-2 minutes) and then I taste it. It is so tender and soft and flavorful. It seriously was the best pasta I have ever tasted. After the hubby came in for lunch and I presented him with a plate of pasta, embellished with fresh slices of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and copious amounts of freshly sliced parmesan cheese, I got the word. He states that he has never had a dish of pasta that good in his life. He then makes a joke about waiting 28 years of marriage to finally get a good dish of pasta from his Italian wife. Haha, I’m not offended!

I begin thinking about all the ways I want to make this pasta. Next stop was Canneloni, I also stuck with Lidia and used her recipe for the filling. This time I rolled the pasta out into a long rectangle. Added a scoop of filling in a line, rolled it, cut it and placed it into a pan prepared with tomato sauce. The possibilities are really endless.

Fresh Pasta

2 cups of Organic Unbleached Flour, plus more for working the dough
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 whole large eggs
3 TBSP water

In a food processor (or by hand), add 2 cups of flour and pulse to aerate. In a measuring cup add the eggs, olive oil, and water and beat with a fork just to incorporate. With the food processor running, pour slowly through the feed tube the mixed wet ingredients.

pasta mixing

 

Just as soon as a ball is formed stop mixing and remove the dough onto a floured cutting board. Knead for about a minute with flour into a smooth ball of dough.

 

pasta dough rest

 

Place into a ziploc bag and let sit on the counter for an hour. When the hour is up, have a pot of water boiling with 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp. olive oil in the water. Cut the ball of dough into 4 pieces.

pasta rolled out

 

 

Roll out one quarter of the dough with flour. As you roll the dough thinner and thinner, continue dusting with flour so it doesn’t stick to the table or rolling pin.

 

 

 

cut pasta

When you achieve the desired thickness, cut it into whatever size pasta strips you want. Keep it dusted with flour until you boil it, when ready to drop it into the boiling water, shake off excess flour. Boil for 1-2 minutes  and remove the pasta from the water. Have the sauce of your choice ready to add to your fresh pasta.

 

Enjoy this fabulous pasta!

pasta with alfredo sauce

 

Argentinian Steak Chimichurri

Skirt steak with homemade Argentinian Chimichurri sauce

Skirt steak with homemade Argentinian Chimichurri sauce

I don’t know about you but, we have parsley, lots and lots of parsley. When I look at excessive amounts of parsley I think of Chimichurri sauce. I cannot even put into words how amazing this steak is, YOU HAVE TO MAKE THIS. We had some skirt steak and some flank steak in our freezer, but you can use other cuts if you want to. However, if you are willing to purchase these cuts of beef to make this, you will not be sorry. They get marinated, grilled whole and then sliced across the grain, then drizzled with Chimichurri sauce. They are super tender and perfect for fajitas or soft tacos. Tonight I served this with an Organic Bamboo infused Gluten free rice. Just a word or two about this rice…I first bought it in Portland, Maine at a specialty shop. The first time we made it we were hooked. I knew I wasn’t going to be in Portland anytime soon, so I went on line and purchased 6 bags, here is the link …Lotus Foods Jade Pearl Bamboo Rice. Or if you have Amazon prime, get it there with free shipping. It’s Organic, Non GMO, and Gluten Free and it tastes amazing.

The Chimichurri sauce is super flavorful and although you may be apt to leave out some of the crushed red pepper, thinking it may be too hot, Don’t do it. Believe me, the sauce is not hot. I think that the vinegar changes something because it’s barely hot. This marinade and sauce is just bursting with flavor.

Marinade:
In a Large Ziploc Bag place the following ingredients with thawed or fresh steak…
Juice of 2 fresh Limes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic minced
1/2 TBSP Himalayan sea salt or Sea salt
up to 2 lbs Steak
knead the marinade into the steak and refrigerate
marinate the steak in the fridge for no less than 3 hours and no more than 8 hours

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
6 tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
8 large garlic cloves, minced (5 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons oregano leaves
4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in cuisinart or blender and pulse until still a bit chunky, not to a puree but close.
let sit for 20 minutes to develop all the flavors. Stir well before drizzling on steak.
chimichurri
Grill Steak on a very hot grill, to your liking. When steak is done grilling, let sit and rest for 10 minutes, slice on the bias against the grain of the meat and drizzle generously with sauce. Serve with your favorite side. Enjoy!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage 6This is one of my all time favorites! I really can’t think of one person in the family that didn’t love my moms stuffed cabbage. I always ate mine the way my father ate his, cut in half, smashed with a fork and then drowned in tomato broth. They take a little bit of work, but they are worth it.

 

 

Recipe:
1 Jumbo Cabbage, core removed, (do not cut cabbage in half-leave whole)
4 lbs ground beef
5 eggs
1 TBSP Salt
1/2 TBSP black pepper
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1/2 TBSP granulated garlic
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
1 handful of fresh parsley chopped
1/2 tsp Oregano
2 cups of Instant cooked rice ( I like to use Annie Chuns sprouted brown rice that is fully cooked, just needs to be heated in the microwave)

60-80 ounces of tomato juice, warmed
(I like to use Pomi strained tomatoes, as they are GMO and BPA free)
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
mix together and set aside

Stuffed cabbage 1Steaming the Cabbage
Bring a large pot half-full of water to a boil. Place the cored Cabbage in the water. As the outer leaves begin to steam they will pull away from the cabbage, remove them as they do and place on a plate. Continue to cook and remove layer by layer, cutting away when necessary from the whole head. If there are any very thick stalky parts of the cabbage, thin them out by cutting with a knife the thickest parts so they will not be tough when eating. When you have removed the best leaves of the cabbage and feel there are no more big enough to stuff, turn off the water and reserve the small head for another meal.

Stuffed Cabbage 2Filling:
In a large mixing bowl or a table top mixer with paddle attachment, mix up the ground beef, salt, black pepper, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, and cooked rice.

Prepare a large enough work surface to roll up the cabbage with the beef mixture. Lay the piece of cabbage on the work surface, fill with a generous amount of filling, roll and tuck the sides in as you roll up the cabbage. Place in a large covered pot so they cannot open up open side down. Layer until all the cabbage and beef is used up.Stuffed cabbage 3

Stuffed Cabbage 4Pour the tomato juice mixture into the pot and completely submerge all of the cabbage rolls. Cover and bring to a bubbling simmer between low and medium heat. Leave covered for approximately 1 hour. Be sure that the temperature is not too hot so they do not stick and burn on bottom. Stir in a circle (like spinning the cabbages clockwise around the inside of the pot) occasionally to keep them from sticking to bottom.
Any tomato juice leftover can be added as the cabbage cooks and the juices begin to evaporate, add as needed. After and hour of cooking, check a cabbage roll for doneness, if the cabbage is really tender and the center is done, turn them off. If they need a little longer, cook as necessary. Plan on a two hour window of cooking time. They will stay piping hot in the pan for a long time, at least an hour, after they are cooked.

Cauliflower-Broccoli Au Gratin

broccoli and cheese casserole

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole topped and baked

Here’s a perfect side dish that makes you forget you are not having some form of starch. It’s rich and creamy and so delicious. There definitely will not be any leftovers!!!

Prepare a pot of water with 2″ of water and bring to a boil.

add broccoli florets…
1 medium head of broccoli cut into florets
steam for 4 or 5 minutes or just until tender, remove and cool
add cauliflower florets…
1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
steam for 5-7 minutes or just until tender, remove and cool.

Set aside broccoli and cauliflower while you prepare the cheese sauce.

Cheese Sauce:

In a 5 qt sauce pot on medium high heat
melt 4 Tbsp butter
add 4 tbsp of flour
stir together
add: 3 cups of warmed milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
simmer on low stirring constantly for about 8 minutes
lower heat to low
add 10-12 slices of american cheese (do not use cheddar)
stir until fully incorporated into a smooth creamy sauce. Sauce should be a pourable thick consistency. If your sauce gets too thick just add a little milk, if not thick enough add more cheese.

broccol and cheese casserole

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, place all of the cooled broccoli and cauliflower, pour the cheese sauce over…

Topping:
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
mix completely and sprinkle evenly over top of veggies.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes
let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
broccoli and cheese casserole 2

Bread Pudding

bread pudding 2I love to make bread pudding. We always have left over bread and rolls and turning them into dessert is just satisfying. There are so many variations on bread pudding. Basically, anything you have leftover can be turned into a bread pudding, be it savory or sweet. I once went to Canada with my husband on a romantic getaway. We stayed at this really nice hotel and they served a mushroom bread pudding. I have never forgotten how good it was. They also made a layered potato gratin that was the best I ever had, but that’s another post. This time around, on request from my dog’s grandpa-Bob, I made a regular bread pudding with craisins and a salted caramel sauce with fresh whipped cream. I made two pans, one for Bob and one for our dinner too.

Recipe:

preheat oven to 350 degrees, one pan approx 1 hr. If divided into two pans about 50 min. It’s done when it is puffed in center  and browned on edges and firm to touch. You can always slide a knife into the center to see if it is eggy still. Every oven is different so keep an eye on it.

Batter:
6 eggs
4 c. 1/2 and 1/2
1 c. Milk
1 c. Heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. Sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

bread pudding batter

 

 

 

 

 

 

mix well and add:
3/4 pound of bread cut into 1″ cubes (stale bread is fine)
1 heaping cup craisins

bread pudding soaking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add bread and craisins to egg batter and let soak for 1/2 hour.

bread pudding cooked

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divide evenly into two buttered 9×9 pans or 1-13×9 buttered pan. Bake until golden brown and puffed in center and firm to touch approx 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Spoon into a pretty glass or dish, top with caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream.

 

Caramel sauce:
Use store bought caramel or make a homemade hard sauce if you want. I just add 1/4 c. bourbon to 1 cup of carmel sauce and it is really delicious.

Fresh whipped cream:
1 c. heavy cream ( be sure and buy a brand that does not get milk from cows treated with RBGH or RBST, antibiotics and hormones, I know Oakhurst is a great source, but there are others.
1/4 cup of confectioners sugar
1 tbsp bourbon
whip until stiff and place a dollop on top…Enjoy!

bread pudding 3

Cheesy Au-Gratin Potatoes

Au-Gratin fishedThis is a side dish that everyone loves! It might seem intimidating but I’m here to tell you, You Can Do It!
The hardest part is making a white sauce, and making a white sauce is really easy. Some people make the white sauce into a cheese sauce. I have made it this way before. However, I prefer to make it this way for a number of reasons. A white sauce also known as a Bechamel, a béchamel can be altered in many ways. One of my favs is adding lemon, capers and fresh dill for the topping on a broiled fish. Or the addition of Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard is a wonderful topping for chicken cutlets. So, if I have any leftover, it could be great for another meal this week. A béchamel is the base white sauce that is the starting point for many sauces. Wonderful additions to this sauce create great meals. The other thing to remember, is that there are no rules to this dish. It’s kind of like lasagna made with potatoes. You can add things between the layers that you love. One nice addition is caramelized onions. Another is Bacon or Jalapeños, or sautéed mushrooms. The cheese is also up to you, but I will say that I like to clean up my refrigerator on dishes like this. My go to cheeses are cheddar and american because they melt smoothly and creamy. I know american cheese isn’t really cheese but I love it. You are the boss on this dish, make it however you want to. This one is the traditional version for our Easter dinner.

Recipe:

White Sauce
Make a Roux:
au gratin-roux

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 TB butter melted in a 4 qt sauce pan on med heat
6 Tb. Flour
stir together and cook for a minute until bubbling.
add 4 cups of warmed milk ( almond milk works fine)
whisk until beginning to thicken
add 1 pinch of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg
cook over low heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
turn off heat and set aside.

Prep the rest of the dish….
6 medium sized Organic Potatoes sliced in 1/8th of an inch slices
12 oz or (1 1/2 cups) of shredded Cheddar cheese
9 slices of american cheese
salt and pepper
white sauce

13×9 inch pan
spray the bottom and sides with cooking spray
au-gratin-step 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

place a layer of potato slices
sprinkle with salt and pepper
au-gratin-step2

 

 

 

 

 

 

break 3 slices of american cheese in half and space them evenly over the potatoes
au-gratin-step 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese over the american cheese
drizzle about 1 cup of white sauce over cheeses
au-gratin step 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

repeat 2 more times.

bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Let set for 15 minutes.
Au-Gratin fished

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Lentil and Fennel Soup with Ham

Lentil & fennel SoupSoup is just a perfect meal! And when you add in some life giving Lentils it gets even better. Lentils are high in folate and high in fiber. Another addition to this healthy soup is Fennel Bulb, touted as one of the worlds healthiest foods. The combination of Fennel and Lentils is just plain delicious. We are told that we should be getting about 25-35 grams of fiber per day. That’s hard to do today. If you are not eating fresh vegetables and cooking your own meals daily then you are probably eating some processed foods. Processed food are pretty much devoid of any fiber and don’t get me started on what actually is in processed foods. However, this soup, although not the traditional soup made after a ham dinner, is awesome. Split pea soup is a great soup also, but if you are looking to change it up a bit, here it is.

Recipe:

3 qts water in a 6 qt pot
leftover hambone with excess ham removed.
Dice up any ham removed from bone and set aside until end. Any excess fat can simmer for two hours with hambone
Add
2 carrots diced 1/4 ”
2 stalks celery diced 1/4 ”
1 onion peeled and diced 1/4″
3 c. Dried lentils
1 fennel bulb, diced 1/4″
4 small bay leaves

Simmer for two hours, remove fat and bones.
Add diced ham, as much as you like.
Turn off heat
Season with…
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 stick butter
1 to 2 tsp Chicken base, as needed.
fresh chopped Parsley

Enjoy!