Friday, October 29, 2010

Eggnog Snickerdoodles- Week 5 of the 12 Weeks of Chrismas Cookies

Week 5 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

Two of my favorites, okay well I have a lot of favorites but eggnog...oh yeah, it's at the top of the favorites list.  Then of my "go to" cookies, there aren't many people that don't like snickerdoodles.  When I saw this recipe I just had to give it a try and I am not disappointed at all.  They are scrumptious!!  They are so good that I only allowed 6 to be eaten, the rest are hiding in the freezer for the holidays.  (Yes, all 6 were gone immediately)  Give them a try, their crispy outside and chewy inside are hard to resist.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs (or Ener G egg replacer)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. rum extract (I used 1/2 tsp.)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs (or egg replacer) and extract. 

 Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

In a shallow bowl, combine the nutmeg and remaining sugar.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls; roll in sugar mixture.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. (I always spray my cookie sheets)

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes (I baked mine at 375 degrees for 10 minutes and they were great, your choice) or until lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

Click below for more cookies!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls... how I love thee.

I am going on record here and now... I will never, ever purchase one of those pop open cans of cinnamon rolls again in my life.  I had never attempted to make homemade cinnamon rolls before (we just aren't much for breakfast around here) and come to think of it I don't think I had ever eaten a homemade cinnamon roll before.  All I can say is that these are seriously life changing.  I have already made a few batches, given some as gifts and others are in the freezer patiently awaiting their turn to grace my Sunday breakfast table.  This recipe makes a very large batch.  I used disposable pie plates and 8x12 baking pans.  One batch will fill either 6 pie plates or 1 8x12 baking pan and 2 pie plates.

*Note: I did make a few changes to the original recipe after baking my first batch, just to make things easier. For the original recipe look here.

Printable Version

Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 quart whole milk
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
9 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. salt

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
2 cups sugar

Maple Icing:
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter, melted
1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
dash of salt
1 tbsp. maple flavoring or extract

For the dough, heat the milk, canola oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat; do not allow mixture to boil.  (I scalded the mixture) Set aside and cool to lukewarm. (This will take almost an hour) 

Sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk mixture and let sit for about 1 minute. 

Add 8 cups of flour.  Stir just until combined, cover with a clean dishtowel and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

Remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaing 1 cup of flour.  Stir thoroughly to combine.

Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refridgerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.

To assemble the rolls, remove half of the dough from the pan.  On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30x10 inches.

Lots of butter!


and sugar

To make the filling, spread 1 cup of the room temperature butter over the surface of the dough.  Use a rubber spatula to spread the butter evenly.  Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter.

Now beginning at the side farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you.  

When you reach the end, pinch the seam together.  Then cut the rolls in approximately 1 1/2 inch slices.  One log will make 20 to 25 rolls.

Take a little of the remaining butter off the spatula and rub in the bottom of your pan or spray with a little cooking spray.

Place the rolls in the pan and set aside to rest/rise for 20 minutes.  While you wait, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and assemble and cut your other rolls.

Bake rolls for 13 to 17 minutes until golden brown.

While rolls are baking make the Maple Icing!

In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar (I suggest you sift this to remove lumps, I know from experience), milk, butter, coffee, and salt.  Then add in the maple flavoring.  Whisk until very smooth. When rolls are still warm out of the oven pour the icing over every square inch of them.

Storage: I simply bake and ice the rolls, let them cool completely, wrap with foil, and freeze.  When you are ready for them just take them out to thaw then reheat in a 250 degree oven for 15-30 minutes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pie Crust- Stocking the Freezer

Like I've said before, now is the time to stock the freezer for the holiday season.  One of those items I like to stock up on is pie crusts.  I make several and stick them in the freezer, not only are they ready for me when I need them but they get better by gettin' their freeze on.  I made this recipe three times therefore, I now have nine pie crusts just waiting for my pie baking frenzing the week of Thanksgiving.  This pie crust can also be used for savory dishes.  This recipe is from my new favorite cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Pie Crust
makes 3 pie crusts

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 egg
5 tbsp. cold water
1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. 

Add in the shortening and gradually work the shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles.  Lightly beat the egg with a fork, then add it to the mixture. 

Next, add in the cold water and vinegar.  Stir the mixture together until it's just combined, then divide dough into thirds.  Place each portion in a resealable freezer bag (do not seal) and use a rolling pin to slightly flatten the dough into a disk shape.  Seal the bag, label, and toss it in the freezer.

When you're ready to use a pie crust, remove one from the freezer and allow it to sit on the counter to thaw slightly, about 20 minutes.  Remove from bag and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Place pie crust into your pie plate and use as you wish!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cinnamon-Nut Spice Cookies- Week 4 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies

Week 4 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies!!

Cinnamon-Nut Spice Cookies

These taste exactly like the German Pecan Cookies my step mother makes!  The recipe she has reads like... a splash of this...enough flour... it's a very, very old recipe so I'm happy to find something that tastes just as wonderful.  The bonus: these freeze well start stocking up for Christmas time!!

Cinnamon-Nut Spice Cookies
makes about 48 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the butter for 30 seconds.  Add the 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, salt, and allspice; beat until fluffy.

Add egg; beat until combined.  Gradually add flour, beating until well mixed.  Stir in walnuts or pecans.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I always spray my cookie sheets with spray).  In a small bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Sprinkle dough mounds with sugar mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are firm.  Let stand on cookie sheet for 1 minute.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. 

**Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight storage container; cover.  Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.**

Click below to see more Christmas Cookies!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Double Vanilla Biscotti

I have been looking for recipes to use my vanilla beans and found this recipe in the 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies that I am participating in.

First of all, I had never tried to make Biscotti before.  Sure I've had a sample here and there but whoa mama...these take the cake..or should I say cookie.  They exceeded my expectations completely.  Give them a go...they are Divine!

Click here to get this fabulous recipe for Double Vanilla Biscotti. 

Sourdough Gingerbread: The Sourdough Project

The Sourdough Project:

I started a new adventure a few days ago... a sourdough starter. 
It was quite easy to start and was ready to use on the second day which I thought was fast.  My hopes are to use the starter in a lot of holiday baking this season. 

My very first sourdough recipe to make was Sourdough Gingerbread.  If you are like me you never new that gingerbread could be made with sourdough.(Confession: I had never even made regular gingerbread)  It sounded somewhat strange but I went for it anyway and it was delicious!  I gave the majority of it to some of my in laws (who are gingerbread conniseurs) and they raved over it!  Success on my first sourdough project experience!

Sourdough Gingerbread

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
EnerG egg replacer equivilant to 1 egg (or just use 1 egg)
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup active sourdough starter

Cream brown sugar and shortening and beat. Then add molasses and egg replacer or egg, beating continuously.

Sift dry ingredients together and blend into hot water. Beat this mixture into creamed mixture. Add the sourdough starter slowly, mixing carefully to maintain a bubbly batter. Bake in pan at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until done.
*I used an 8x8 square cake pan*


2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp.) yeast
2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)

In a glass bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast.  Then slowly add the water while stirring.

A lot of people make this confusing... I'm going to keep it simple.

The Basics:  After making the starter, cover it with a dish towel and leave it on your kitchen counter.  It does best in temperatures of 70-80 degrees... 100 degrees will kill the yeast apprently. 

You will stir the starter once a day... the starter will be ready anywhere from day 2 to day 5. (Mine was ready on day 2)  You will know this when it bubbles up and smells slightly sour.  At this time your starter is officially ready to use in baking.

From here on out you will do the following....
If you would like to keep it on the kitchen counter:  Every day you will stir the starter and remove 1 cup of the mixture (use it, give it away, or throw it away). Then replace it with 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour.

If you would like to keep in the refrigerator:  You will do the same as above but every other week instead of everyday.  This is a better option for those that only want to bake every once in a while. 

*If the starter is in the fridge, bring it to room temperature before using.  And I've read that if your water contains chlorine or you have a water softener you should use bottled water... not sure on this.. I have well water.

More recipes to come from the Sourdough Project!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Noel Nut Balls- Week 3 of the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies- Week 3

Every holiday season a few people on my gift list receive Christmas gift baskets. Each year I try to change the goodies up a bit but this cookie is always included.  Not only do I happen to love them but they are extremely easy to make, they make a very large batch(depending on the size of the cookie), and a big pile of them on a dessert platter is stunning for a holiday party.  During the holidays I will usually double the batch just because I find myself eating one everytime I walk through the kitchen. 

 Week 3- Noel Nut Balls

Noel Nut Balls

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp.-1 tbsp. bourbon (your choice)
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream together butter and honey until fluffy. 
Add bourbon.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, pecans, powdered sugar, and salt. 

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat to combine. 

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Roll the dough into small balls (I use a small cookie scoop).  Bake approximately 12 to 13 minutes.  Cool completely and roll in powdered sugar.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have always wanted to try recipes using vanilla beans, but the fact is they are so expensive I couldn't see experimenting with them.  I found on eBay that I can order a pound of vanilla beans for a total of around $30! I was super excited and placed my order immediately!  My first recipe to try:

Homemade Vanilla Extract

This is a process so I will be posting updated photos every week.

You will need:
A clean jar
1 cup vodka
3 vanilla beans

Place the jar in the kitchen sink and pour boiling water in to the jar.  Let it sit for a few minutes to sterilize the inside of the jar.  Carefully pour the hot water out. 

Using a knife, slice the vanilla beans length wise and if the jar is very short cut them in half as well.  Then place the beans in the jar.  Pour the vodka over the beans and screw the lid on tight.  I give the jar a little shake.  Place the jar in a cool, dark place (like the back of your pantry) for 8 weeks, giving the jar a shake once a week.  The longer it sits the darker the extract will get. 

* When you use about 20% of the extract, replace the vodka back to the original level.  As you use vanilla beans in other recipes place the used beans in the extract jar, removing old beans if the jar gets too crowded.  This way you'll never run out!

More photos to come!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Waffles & Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

It's time to re-stock my waffle and pancake freezer stash again.  Every few weeks I take a day and make a couple batches of each for a quick breakfast in the morning.  ( My dear son would never let me actually cook breakfast in the morning without having a complete meltdown from starvation...yeah, he's not even 2 yet)  This time I was inspired by our recent 3 days of temperatures not in the high 90's and decided to do something "fall-ish".  Enter Pumpkin Spice Waffles and Apple Cinnamon Pancakes.

Now, you will notice that both recipes are vegan...but I ask those who have never gone "there" to give it a try.  My son was diagnosed with an egg allergy a few months ago and since I've been baking and cooking without eggs and more often when it comes to desserts, completely vegan.  Most people can't even tell the difference or they think the vegan dessert is better. 

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons soy yogurt (you could use regular yogurt)
2 cups soymilk (or regular cow's milk, if you don't have soy)
15 oz pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned
1/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift together dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, wisk together wet ingredients until well emulsified. Pour wet into dry and combine.  Cook in a waffle iron.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

1 apple, any variety (I used Fuji), peeled, cored, and shredded
1 cup flour (I always use unbleached all purpose)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice OR ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup nondairy milk (I used soymik)
2 tablespoons melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
Canola oil spray

 Peel and core the apple, then shred it. Spray a skillet with a bit of oil and let the apple bits cook for for a bit over medium heat, stirring them occasionally. You want the apple bits to get hot and soft, but not brown - so keep an eye on them while you're working on the next step.

 While the apple bits are heating, mix together your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add in the milk, syrup, and melted butter, but don't over mix! It will turn your batter to glue, which makes for an oddly chewy pancake. Some lumps in your batter are okay.  I made each pancake with 1/4 cup of batter which made 8 pancakes.

*Just a note: if you're not into trying to bake vegan or you just don't have things like soymilk in the house... just use regular cows milk and margarine or butter.*

Friday, October 8, 2010

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies-Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies- Week 2

A few days ago as I searched the web for recipes to stash in countless folders and notebooks, I stumbled across this blog and the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies! 

(Angels Singing)

For those that I know might describe me as Christmas obsessed... I SAY I am blessed with a tad more holiday spirit that the average person.  So I start decorating for Christmas November 1st, in my defense I have a ton of decorations and to get my house Holly & Jolly by December I MUST start the month before. 

I can't help it really, it's my mothers fault. Christmas was always our favorite time of year.  As far back as I can remember there was always cookie baking and candy making going on in our house during the holiday season.  I recall my friends always being wowed that there was fudge, pralines, cookies, etc. all over the kitchen.  I never knew any different and it was just normal.  Now, as I have a family of my own I carry on tradition as best I can for them. 

So, as most people would say.. blah, 12 weeks until Christmas... I say...Hurry up Halloween... bust out the decorations and Christmas music...Hooray!! 12 weeks until Christmas!!!

I missed out on the first week of Christmas Cookies but I'm here now and ready to do some serious cookie baking!!! 

Week 2- Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

These cookies not only taste amazing, but they are also quick and easy to prepare, a major show stopper AND they freeze well for up to 3 months!  (Just in time for Christmas)

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp. red food coloring
2 oz. white baking chocolate with cocoa butter, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. shortening

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a food processor,* combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. 

 Cover and process until combined.  Add butter and food coloring. 

 Cover and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling.  Continue processing just  until mixture forms a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, gently knead dough until nearly smooth. 

Roll or pat dough until 1/4 inch thick.  Cut dough with a floured 1 1/2 inch scalloped round cookie cutter.  Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20 minutes or until center are set.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

For frosting drizzle: In a small saucepan, combine white chocolate and shortening.  Cook and stir over low heat until melted.  Drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate.  Let stand until chocolate sets.  Makes 36 cookies.

*If you do not have a food processor, simply combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork.

To Store: Place cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for 3 days or freeze for 3 months.

Week 2 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:
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