Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December FotM recipe round-up: Our 2013 Holiday Sweets

To make up for the lack of posts this month, here's a round-up of recipes for the cookies and sweets that we made (with LOTS of help from my mom and kids) this holiday season...

What kinds of recipes did you make this holiday season?

December FotM Recipe - Figgy Cookies

In honor of my love of Figgy Pudding but the desire to make it easier to eat I combined oatmeal cookies with Figgy Pudding....and voila!....Figgy Cookies!!!

We also cut a corner in the Christmas present department by quadrupling the dry mix portion of the recipe, portioning out (we put half the dry ingredient amounts from the recipe below in each jar) and giving some out as gifts....with instructions of course (listed below recipe).

Figgy Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/16 teaspoon clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup figs
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup rasins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. In large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, remove from sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
4. PREP 15 mins
5. COOK 10 mins
6. READY IN 1 hr

Brandy Icing

  • 1/2 cup brandy, simmered for about 15 minutes to cook off most of the alcohol
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1. Stir together ingredients until smooth.
2. Dunk cookies, top side down into glaze (or drizzle over the cookies if you'd like them a little less sweet).

Jar Cookies

Add the following to your jar mix...

(there is 2 ⅓ cups of mix in each jar)

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Note: Don't forget to include a tag with baking instructions on the jar!

These things are so delicious that Kassy didn't even think about taking
a picture of them until she was half done eating the last one!  Oops!

Friday, December 27, 2013

December FotM recipe: Hot Cocoa Cookies

I first made these cookies about two years ago when we first moved into our current home.  I fell in love before I even tasted them.  They taste like a warm hug.  Chewy chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne.  Delicious.

Then I had a brilliant idea:  curry instead of cayenne.  Holy crap.  YUM.

This Christmas, since Nikki and I both gave them as gifts along with some homemade hot cocoa mix (recipe coming soon), we left out the cayenne and cinnamon and used a combination of granulated sugar, red sanding sugar and white sparkle sugar (a.k.a. sprinkles).  We ended up with a nice, generic, sugar coated chocolate cookie, which is exactly what we were going for.

We also turned the basic recipe into a jar mix, which would make a great gift as well…  just include a small bag of the sugar/whateveryouwanttorollthedoughballsin in the top of the jar, along with some baking instructions.

Hot Cocoa Cookies 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. 

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder (if using). 

Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Place, about 3 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. 

Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week, or freeze for up to three months)

To make jar mix: mix all ingredients except eggs and butter, place half of the mixture into a quart-sized mason jar.

To make cookies from jar mix: cream together one egg and one stick of butter.  Stir in dry mix until dough looks consistent.  Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

December's food of the month: Cookies!!!

Happy National Cookie Day! (Well, yesterday now...)

The holidays are upon us and with them come the arrival of lots of treats (and stretchy-waisted pants, gotta love leggings and yoga pants!)…  more specifically, COOKIES!  In the coming weeks, we’ll share some of our favorite recipes along with a few that are new to us.  


Many cookie doughs can be made ahead of time then refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to use them.  The general rules are as follows:
  • Chunky cookies (anything with chips, fruit or nuts), drop cookies, or cookies that you roll into balls before baking should be portioned as if to bake, then frozen.  Once frozen, the dough balls should be placed in an air-tight bag or container for storage.  Bake them all, or just one or two at a time.
  • Slice-and-bake cookies (like shortbread) can be pressed into a log, then wrapped in parchment or waxed paper and stored in freezer bags.  Allow these to thaw in the fridge for a few hours prior to baking or give them at least a few minutes to warm up so they don’t crumble when you start slicing them.
  • cookie dough can be frozen in discs (like you would do for a pie crust).  Again, allow to thaw for a few hours in the fridge if possible, or for a few minutes on the counter top.
  • Most cookies will take a minute or two longer to bake after being frozen.
  • Most cookie dough can be frozen for up to three months.
(reference: thekitchn.com)

When storing the cookies after baking
  • Be sure to allow them to cool completely, then layer them between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.  
  • Cookies will stay crisp and fresh longer in metal tins rather than plastic storage containers.  
  • If you plan to give them as a gift in a cardboard box, be sure to line it with parchment or waxed paper.  
  • Keep crisp and soft cookies in separate containers (the crispness of cookies can be restored by heating in a 300° oven for about ten minutes).  
(reference: marthastewart.com)


There are hundreds of thousands of cookie recipes available around the world.  Pinterest is a good place to start your search for a cookie recipe that will suit your tastes.  MarthaStewart.com has TONS of recipes along with a plethora of cookie related knowledge that will get you through just about any holiday cookie crisis.

What’s your favorite cookie recipe?  Let us know and leave a comment!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November FotM: Cranberry Sauce - Four Ways

With ease, you can make Cranberry Sauce with a twist.  Below we will take you through the very easy process of making your own cranberry sauce.  After it is complete, simply add a few additional ingredients for an accent to any type of meal.

Here we will cover what we added to create the following types of Cranberry Sauce...

  • Original
  • Orange
  • Pecan
  • Pepper

recipe is from MarthaStewart.com

yield about 
2 1/4 cups

3/4 cup sugar
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup water

Bring all ingredients to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Transfer sauce to medium bowl.  Cool, cover, and refrigerate cranberry sauce. 

Basic Cranberry Sauce can be prepared up to 1 week ahead of time.  Keep refrigerated.   Note: Cranberry Sauce freezes well (Approximately 3 months).  Be sure to make extra to pull out later and you can even add these additional ingredients at this time to change things up.

Note: Try on ice cream...you will be pleasantly surprised.

Peel and segment one or two oranges and stir into cranberry sauce.

Roughly chop 1/2 cup of pecans and stir into cranberry sauce.

Stir 1/2 cup of pepper jelly into cranberry sauce, add a couple of pinches of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme if desired.  Note: If you have extra pepper jelly (we used jalapeno) spread it on top of cream cheese for a quick dip for crackers.

Mmmm turkey with cranberry sauce...

Be creative and comment below with your own variations.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November FotM recipe: Cranberry-Pineapple-Strawberry Jam

We learned a very important lesson while canning this jam:
Every time you break a jar...  an elf dies (explodes).


...uhh, we'll explain more after Christmas.

Would you just look at that color?

We used our basic jam recipe:
9 cups fruit (in this case about 1/2 cranberries, 1/4 pineapple and 1/4 strawberries)
6 cups sugar
4 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon (or lime) juice (we used a combination of both)

...so pretty!...

Combine all of the ingredients and cook until thick and jam begins to "sheet" and has thickened to your liking (test by dropping a small amount onto a cold plate and allowing it to cool for a few seconds) stirring frequently (ever few minute or it will burn on the bottom) and scraping foam as needed.  Ladle jam into sterilized canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Makes about 3 pints.

...we tripled the recipe and split it between us...

...don't forget to set some aside for yourself!

Oh...  and most importantly...  ENJOY!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November FotM recipe: Turkey burgers and sweet potato fries with cranberry ketchup

This was dinner on Friday.

It was amazing.

5 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cups chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Combine cranberries, onions, garlic and water in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently for 6 to 10 minutes, until cranberries pop and become soft.

Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, working in batches, and purée until smooth.

Return mixture to saucepan. Add brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, cloves, salt, black pepper, allspice and cayenne. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture is almost the consistency of commercial ketchup, about 30 minutes.
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

Ladle hot ketchup into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and re-measure headspace. If needed, add more ketchup to meet recommended headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Turkey burgers
1 lb ground turkey
⅓ cup onions, finely diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ heaping Tablespoon parsley
½ teaspoon oregano
1  teaspoon chili powder
⅛ tsp ground chipotle powder
½ teaspoon seasoning salt, plus more if desired
5-6 dashes black pepper
1 egg
1-2 slices wheat toast
½ -1 Tablespoon olive oil, for frying

Combine all ingredients. Shape into patties (or meatballs, yum!) and fry (or grill) until cooked through.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries
1 or 2 sweet potatoes
a drizzle of olive oil
salt (to taste)
pepper (optional)
(we used seasoned salt in place of S&P this time…  they were good!)

Preheat oven to 425° F

Wash, peel and slice potatoes into ½” thick sticks.  Gently toss in a little oil, salt and pepper (if using).  Evenly coat a baking sheet with olive oil and spread potatoes in a single, even layer.  Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender and crispy on the outside, turning halfway through baking.

Our kitchen setup while blogging.

Any questions or thoughts?  Let us know and leave a comment!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

November's food of the month: Cranberries

Now that we're well into autumn and through the first of the BIG holidays... and just about pumpkined out... it's time to move on to another flavor of the season: Cranberry! YUM.

With a complex, tart flavor cranberries are very versatile: delicious dried on their own, spread across a roast or starring in a dessert, it's no wonder that people love cranberries so much.

While the idea of growing your own cranberries sounds wonderful…  it isn’t very likely that you’d be able to.  Cranberries thrive in very specific conditions, needing acid peat soil, a growing season from April through November and lots of fresh water (really, they need marshland).  This is one case where we’re going to recommend that  you don’t attempt this without extensive research and go ahead and buy them when they’re at their peak…  which happens to be right about now.

If you are interested in learning to grow your own cranberries, this website is a good place to start your research:  How Cranberries Grow: "Cranberries 101" - An Introduction

Fresh cranberries can be stored in their original plastic bag, or in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to one year (do not thaw them before using, simply rinse and go ahead and use them as usual).

Cranberries can be preserved in a number of ways.  As we stated above, they can be frozen for quite a long time, but dehydrating or canning gives them an even longer shelf life.

Dried fruit can keep for up to five years if stored in an airtight container (vacuum sealing is even better) and kept at temperatures at or below 70° F, but will last indefinitely when stored in the freezer.  Check out these instructions for dried cranberries.

Canned cranberries can be kept safely for 1-2 years.  The domed lid on a canning jar, the color  and the smell of the contents are your most sure signs of freshness.  But, when in doubt, throw it out.  We will be sharing a cranberry canning recipe or two this month.

There are so many, many uses for cranberries and there are tons of cranberry recipes available online.  Throughout November, we’ll test a few and let you know what we think of them.  If there’s something you’d like us to try this month, let us know and we’ll do our best to try it out for you.

Any questions or thoughts?  Let us know and leave a comment!