Monthly Archives: December 2015

Holiday Sweets

snickerdoodle 001Snickerdoodles

No matter which holiday you celebrate in December, I am certain there is a place for sweet food. This year, I am making some of my favorites again, and the recipes are already on this blog. I am going to call your attention to some of the many sweet eats that we have already.

Sweet eats come in many forms, although I suspect that many of us think first of cookies and candy. But, there are also dessert breads. And if you are having a party, perhaps a pie or cake will show at your table. If I don’t suggest enough ideas, then I would invite you to click on the “Index of Articles” at the top of the page and see if you can find something that will fill the bill.

Morning BunsMorning Buns

Before I get to the candy and cookies, let me call your attention to a couple bread items. Of course, in the breads there are the standard breakfast fair like Cinnamon Rolls (I actually have two recipes for these) or Cinnamon Bread. I will be making Morning Buns, myself. And then there are dessert breads such as Banana Tea Bread and my favorite- Steamed Bread Pudding!

If you are looking for something real different as a dessert, look at the Paska recipe. It is a winter treat, with candied fruit and all, but not a dense fruit cake.

Chocolate Bark with PeanutsChocolate Bark with Peanuts

In the area of candy, Fudge is always good start. If you want something very simple, I would suggest making a Chocolate Bark with nuts. I will be making Rum Balls because son-in-law James is looking forward to them. To fill out the candy possibilities, there is English Toffee, and Truffles; they both go over very well and make good gifts if you need to take one to someone that is hosting a party.

Cookies are another area where you can go simple, or do something special. Perhaps the easiest cookie I make is the Snickerdoodle; it is the first baking I ever did, and it is still one of my favorite cookies. Daughter Jenn has asked for Karo Lace cookies, and I will make those for her. I will also make a batch of Bon Bon cookies to test making them with almond flour instead of chopping the almonds.

kookie brittleKookie Brittle

Daughter Mindy likes to do her own baking, and she specializes in pan cookies. I will be visiting her and she has promised to make Lemon Squares and Kookie Brittle. Last year, I got the recipe for Slutty Brownies from her when I visited. She also mentioned Magic Cookies, she remembers those as the second kind that Marlys and the girls made each year, because the girls could do most of the work and participate in the cookie making.

Pub CookieGelato di Superior Pub Cookie

You will notice I haven’t mentioned the old standby of chocolate chip cookies. There are many recipes for those, although I only go with the Original Toll House cookie. However, if you would really like to blow someone’ mind with a giant cookie, there are a couple I can suggest. One is the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie, and the other is the original recipe for the Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie; your recipient will be chewing on one of those cookies for some time!

cutoutsCutout Cookies

And I nearly forgot the cutout cookies; again, these are something you can make with the kids letting them decorate the cookies after they have cooled. I have found the best recipe for making the cutout cookies is Ethel’s Sugar Cookies although the Kammerjunkere cookies also make good cutouts. For the decorating where you want icing, I would go with Royal Icing as it hardens nicely. If you are new to using Icing to decorate your cutout cookies, look at the article I wrote after taking the Cookie Decorating Class. About half way down the article you will find me talking about piping dams with the Royal Icing, and then flooding the area with thinned Royal Icing. I also talk about adding texture using sugars and candy pieces. I think if you make the Royal Icing, your young adult can learn to use it to decorate the cookies.

So, Have a sweet holiday, and we will find something new next year.

Errol

Swiss Vegetable Medley

Swiss Medley 002

While considering various vegetable side dishes for our Thanksgiving pot luck, I pulled out the recipe for this dish – Swiss Vegetable Medley. It is an interesting recipe in that it is simple, but very tasty. It reminds me very much of the “Semi Home Made” style recipe in that all the work seems to be measuring, and there is no processing other than cooking.

I have updated the recipe slightly since inflation has again changed the packaging sizes of some of the ingredients. But it is still the same good side dish. And if you have problems serving broccoli or cauliflower to your troops, those are almost completely hidden in this dish.

Swiss Vegetable Medley

Ingredients

  • 14 oz package frozen broccoli-carrot-cauliflower combo
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) grated swiss cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 oz French fried onions, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thaw and drain the frozen vegetable combo.
  2. Mix together the soup, 1/2 cup (2 ox.) swiss cheese, sour cream, pepper and 1/2 (1.5 oz.) of the French fried onions. Ad the thawed and drained vegetables.
  3. Put into a 1.5 quart sprayed casserole and bake, covered for 30 minutes.
  4. Top with the leftover onions and cheese and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, uncovered.


Swiss Medley 003

I was pleasantly surprised to find the frozen vegetable combo still available at my store; so many of the old combos have disappeared from the market. I even found the swiss cheese already grated, and the French’s onion rings are now in a 6 oz package. Everything came together when I shopped.

I tried making the casserole in a 1 quart dish, but it was just too full; thus I am suggesting a larger casserole dish.

Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad

Mac Salad 004

This year, for our Thanksgiving pot luck, I made two dishes. The first was a repeat of the Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows. I made a couple changes to the recipe to try to fix the problems I noted last year. I added a note to the recipe to say what I did, and so would direct you there if you are interested. (It should be Yams and Marshmallows).

Then, while I was considering different vegetable side dishes, it occurred to me that the meat was to be Kalua Pork; our theme was Hawaiian! So I decided that with the pork we should have sticky rice and macaroni salad. After trying to understand what sticky rice was, I decided to do the salad, and that is the recipe I am giving you here.

This salad has a slightly acidic taste from the vinegar rinse. The sauce keeps the macaroni loose; it doesn’t clump up badly. And it has plenty of vegetables.

Mac Salad 001

Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups mayonnaise, divided
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced thin (5-7 scallions)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups minced celery

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the macaroni and cook until soft; about 10 minutes. Drain, and immediately return the macaroni to the cooking pot and toss with the vinegar. Let cool ten minutes.
  2. In a very large bowl, whisk together half the mayonnaise (1 cup) 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the brown sugar, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the cooled macaroni with the mixed sauce and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Whisk together the remaining mayonnaise (1 cup), milk (1/2 cup).
  5. Once the macaroni and sauce has cooled, fold in the scallions, carrots and celery. Pour the whisked mayo / milk over the salad; toss to coat. Taste and add more salt or pepper as needed.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator until cold.


First, when I say to make the sauce in a very large bowl, I mean more than a 4 quart bowl. I started with my 4 quart mixer bowl and it was full when I added the cooked macaroni. I luckily have a 10 quart bowl and so I switched to that to finish the salad. If the macaroni and sauce fill a 4 quart bowl, you still have to add over a quart of vegetables and thicker sauce.

I decided to let the food processor grate my carrots; I don’t like to use the hand grater and spoil my fingers. Anyway, as I got ready, I chopped the carrots so that I could place them in a 1 cup and a 1/2 cup dry measuring cups; they stuck out the top. But the interesting thing is, (and I have found this to be true with other ingredients that need chopping, etc) is that the processed / grated carrots take up almost the same amount of space as the chopped carrots. And because I had the food processor out, I decided to “mince” the celery using the same grater blade and technique of chopping the stalks to fill the cups. It works! The scallions I did do by hand.

I looked at more traditional macaroni salads, and they all seem similar with just a different cast of vegetables. Some use roasted peppers, or ripe olives. Most seem to use scallions. But not many seem to use carrots or celery, things that might be in your vegetable crisper and not need a special trip to the grocery store. I hope you try this version of a macaroni salad and enjoy.