December 2013

easy-homemade-amazing-funfetti-cake

I’ve spoken before about my fondness for Sally’s Baking Addiction, and this cake couldn’t be a better example. I will make this forever, for the rest of my life, every day.  Actually probably not every day because those sprinkles are very expensive.

Luckily, when we were in NYC last weekend, we got to see John’s cousin AND celebrate her birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! And a birthday without cake is no celebration at all.  So my sister and I spent one baby-holding afternoon baking this cake on the side, and I have never been so pleased with a recipe. It’s very easy, doesn’t require layering, doesn’t have 5 million ingredients, and it’s flavorful and moist beyond belief.   Thanks Vee for turning a year older that day so we could all eat Funfetti cake on your behalf.  You can find the recipe here.

 

frozen-krantz-guest-post-by-randi_5322

**Gretchen’s note: I have to lead
off by saying that this coffee cake holds a very special place in my
heart and my mouth. We have had it every year for Christmas morning, and
I crave it and think about it and talk about it weeks in advance.
Thanks, mom, for making Christmas so delicious.**

Gretchen asked me to Guest Blog our
family’s traditional Christmas morning coffee cake.  I am delighted
because I have been making Frozen Krantz every holiday since I was married and
enjoying it ever since I was a little girl. It is a Norwegian recipe that my
Grandma used to make for her family in Norway.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we
do.  Every year I make one for our family and give one or two to friends.
It has become part of their tradition as well.Frozen Krantz

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, scalded (I still heat it the old way on the stove, but feel free to use the microwave. Heat to quite warm to the touch – it will be used to proof the yeast)
  • 3 egg yolks (save the egg whites for filling)

Filling:

  • 3 egg whites, beaten stiff
  • Add: 3/4 cup white sugar, 1 cup ground nuts, 1-2 tsp cinnamon

Blend the flour, salt and butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Heat milk to quit warm, but not boiling. Remove from heat and add sugar and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.  Beat egg yolks and add to flour mixture, then add in milk mixture. Beat slowly with electric mixer.

Pat dough into large round and put into greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. You’re done for the night! If you are paying attention you will note the glass of wine – time to put on some Christmas music or read a little Dickens. You deserve to relax after the rush of the season! See how easy that was?
Next day take out the dough to rest on the counter. Meanwhile, mix up the filling using the saved egg whites.
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces – you can make 3 small or 2 large coffee cakes. On a silicone mat or pastry cloth roll dough into large, thin circle. Spread the filling over the entire surface.  You’ll be amazed at how easily this rolls out – you’re almost a baking genius!
Start at one side and roll into large sausage shape then form a crescent.  Place on greased cookie sheet and allow to rise for about an hour.
Bake at 325 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Watch closely the last few minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and drizzle with thin powdered sugar glaze and decorate.
Look how pretty that is and it tastes amazing! Your family will love you even more than they do now and any friends lucky enough to have this added to their holiday table will be thrilled.

Chicken Salsa Verde Casserole

chicken-salsa-verde-casserole

I just got back from  THE BEST weekend in NYC
visiting my sister and their new little baby Callan. Callan Jacob Carroll.  He’s just the cutest thing in the world and just starting to get fat enough where you want to eat his cheeks and
fingers and toes and thighs. But don’t worry this blog post
is not about that. It’s about the casserole we made in between all of
the precious baby holding: a chicken casserole with tons of salsa verde,
cheese, and a pinch of sour cream. It was inspired by my
sister-in-law’s recipe who made it for us once using a green
chile stew mix, but since I figured green chile stew mix is probably a
regional product, I made my own sauce. It’s a fast, easy,
healthy, and perfect make-ahead casserole. And the sad part is, we both
(my sister and I), made the casserole again
for our families in our respective homes on Sunday night. I guess it’s not that sad.

 

Recipe

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Taco seasoning (or sprinkling of cumin, S&P, chili powder)
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup corn flour
  • 3.5 cups salsa verde
  • ¼ cup light sour cream (on Sunday I used closer to ½ cup)
  • 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (on Sunday I used closer to 4 cups)
  • 12 corn tortillas
Start by cooking the chicken breasts (or you can
use store bought rotisserie to save time).  I boiled them with taco
seasoning so they were easy to shred and very flavorful.  Place the
chicken in a large pot, sprinkle with plenty of
taco seasoning, pour in enough water to cover the chicken, then bring
to a boil and cook for 20 minutes (once boiling). Drain, let cool, then shred. Preheat
the oven to 400.
Bring the chicken broth to a low boil. In a
separate cup, whisk together the corn flour and ¼ cup water; mix it into
the chicken broth and allow to thicken. Stir in the salsa and cook for a
few more minutes. Remove from heat, then mix in
the sour cream.
Spray a large casserole dish (9×13) with nonstick
spray; pour enough sauce in to cover the bottom (about 1/2 cup).  One by one, dip each
of the corn tortillas into the sauce, shake off the excess, then place
in the pan – overlapping so there is 6 in the
first layer and fully covers the bottom of the dish.  Next, sprinkle with half of the shredded chicken, half of
the remaining sauce, and half of the cheese. Then repeat the layers one
more time (tortillas, chicken, sauce, cheese, tortillas, chicken,
sauce, cheese) – make sure to end with the cheese!

 

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. I broiled mine for a minute or so at
the end to brown the cheese.  You can also refrigerate until you’re ready to
bake and serve. Yum – leftovers tonight!!

 

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

candy-cane-kiss-cookies

I love it that Sally has a baking addiction.  Really, it benefits all of us. Her recipes are so fun, cute, different, and she makes them look really good in her pictures. When I saw her Candy Cane Kiss Cookies, I wanted to make/eat them immediately. I love sugar cookies that you don’t have to roll out – they’re softer, way less time consuming, and usually more delicious.  Perfect Christmas-y spin on the traditional peanut butter kiss cookies. And the chocolate variation? May be my favorite cookie of the season.

**Note: we DID have to refrigerate the vanilla variation to create puffier cookies.

Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies

gingerbread-reindeer-cookies

I obviously did not come up with this idea myself, because THEY ARE SO CUTE. So cute you almost don’t want to eat them, but then you do because the gingerbread is perfectly soft and spicy.  My sister got the idea from here (I commissioned her to do some serious Christmas cookie research, though it’s an unpaid position), and then my genius baking partner Annie suggested we substitute the peanut butter cookie for gingerbread. I knew I was friends with her for a reason. These cookies were a very fun and delicious start to our favorite annual Christmas baking marathon (actually we typically bake/chat for longer than a marathon – the wine gives us stamina).  If anyone wants to hire us next year we’ll do it.

I don’t like crispy gingerbread, so I got a recipe off of Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, but then I added an egg, vanilla, and another tablespoon of milk.  The dough wasn’t quite coming together so it needed a pinch more liquid. They are very chewy and soft; no crispiness here.

Recipe

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Read more at http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2010/12/thick-and-chewy-gingerbread-cookies/#LVwFCzYIHWQvTzpF.99

  •  3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Chocolate covered pretzels (about 50)
  • Brown mini M&Ms (about 50)
  • Red M&Ms (about 25)

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients together, then incorporate into the dough. Pour in the molasses and milk. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour or so (or put in freezer for 20 min).  Preheat the oven to 350.  Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then flatten and form into a reindeer head. Sorry, I didn’t know any better than you do how to form a reindeer head. But I imagined it to look like an upside down triangle with rounded edges.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then bake for 9-11 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet. While the cookies are baking, separate out some brown mini M&Ms and red regular sized M&Ms. Get your chocolate covered pretzels ready.  Take the cookies out, then place two pretzels on each reindeer for ears, two mini M&Ms for eyes, and one red M&M for the nose.  Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

These cookies are basically a Christmas party in your mouth.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Read more at http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2010/12/thick-and-chewy-gingerbread-cookies/#LVwFCzYIHWQvTzpF.99

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Read more at http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2010/12/thick-and-chewy-gingerbread-cookies/#LVwFCzYIHWQvTzpF.99

Thanksgiving 2013

This is an eating post, not a cooking post.  We went to see John’s family for Thanksgiving, and I contributed nothing to the amazing meal we had other than my mouth.  And I was very generous with that.

I love it that our national day of Thanks revolves around eating.  Thank YOU, Mr. Lincoln, for creating a blogger and foodie’s paradise (he officially set the holiday in 1863, though President Washington was the first president to call a ‘day of thanks’ in 1789). 

My mother-in-law is a wonderful cook, and we had all of the traditional favorites.  

Roasted turkey (with two little helpers):

Stuffing with Italian Sausage:

Mashed potatoes + gravy (red potatoes with skin on):

Roasted sweet potatoes (cut in half, seasoned with S&P and paprika, roasted skin side up with plenty of butter on the baking dish):

BRUSSEL SPROUTS (picture missing because I was scarfing them down) – roasted and topped with a sweet-maply dressing and almonds – Sooo delicious.

Buttery rolls with orange zest:

And of course dessert – Pumpkin cheesecake with gingerbread cookie crust, pecan pie, and assorted chocolates:

And great company:

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and continue to enjoy the holiday season!!