Mini Football Oreos Covered In Chocolate

Are you ready for some football – maybe all the great commercials at least!  Superbowl is not too far off; February 4th, and I wanted to share this new mini mold with you.

Back in 2012 I posted the larger version of these tasty cookies.

 

Then spinningleaf.com came out with this new “mini” version. It’s perfect and I have found that many people prefer the smaller cookies – you can always have two or three! You can see I used milk and dark chocolate – I have family who request different chocolates. Also, you can keep it really simple by not adding the white laces.

Linking to Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts Lily @ Little Sweet Baker and Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com

If you want to see the many, many Oreo cookies I have made just search “Oreos”. You’ll find gardening, holiday, and many odds and ends molds – both regular size and mini.

    

The picture below shows the difference in sizes. They are a two-bite (maybe one for some) chocolate delight. I couldn’t find a small snack package of the large Oreo cookies to show the difference better, but I think you get the idea.  I just didn’t want to buy a whole bag of them because then I would have to eat them! You know it is one of the very few store bought cookies that I love! I just kick them up a notch by covering them with more chocolate.

Meatballs With Pureed Onions and Two Cheeses

I love meatballs of all kinds and have a few different recipes on my blog including my favorite to serve over pasta with my marinara sauce. If you would like a spicy recipe to use as an appetizer check out David Lebovitz’s recipe.

I recently looked through Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s “My Perfect Pantry” cookbook and ran across his meatball version with pureed onions. With my love for onions I had to try his recipe, plus the ingredients include two cheeses! Geoffrey also uses a combination of veal and pork and no beef which I later found out was a mistake in terms of flavor.

I used his ingredients except I cut back the water amount when pureeing with the onions/garlic. The meat mixture would have been too sloppy otherwise and not hold together. You could also boil, roast or bake the onions instead of using raw ones like Geoffrey did.

Our recipes are similar but different at the same time. I did change the method of cooking. Geoffrey fries his meatballs and finishes them off in the oven or marinara sauce. I always bake mine – just don’t like the idea of messy, fried meatballs – besides it’s healthier! Then I finished cooking in my marinara sauce.

Comment: I made these meatballs awhile ago and before I had a chance to post this recipe I learned something new. I already was suspicious of the reason for the lack of flavor in the meatballs. After reading Kenji’s “Food Lab” I found out “beef provides robust flavor, pork provides a good amount of tender fat and veal provides plenty of gelatin to help retain moisture”. These meatballs did not have any beef and the veal definitely diluted the meaty flavor! Thank goodness for my delicious marinara sauce.

Forget the “meatloaf mixture” – buy beef and pork separately the next time you make your meatloaf. Don’t bother with the veal!

With this in mind it is better to use a combination of beef and pork and add gelatin in place of the veal. Kenji suggests adding 2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin hydrated in a bit of chicken stock and cooled until dissolved.

I have noted the changes in the recipe below…

Meatballs With Pureed Onions and Two Cheeses, Adapted

  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup water (I cut back to 1/2 cup – add only enough to get a good consistency)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground veal (substitute beef)
  • 2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin hydrated in a bit of chicken broth until dissolved (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated and more for serving
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
  • 1-1/2 cups unseasoned fresh bread crumbs (see Homemade Fresh Breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • additional seasonings such as basil or oregano (optional)
  • serve over a pasta of your choice (bucatini is my favorite)
  • 1 recipe marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Process the onion, garlic, and water in a food processor and puree until very smooth. Don’t add too much water, only enough to achieve a good consistency.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, veal, eggs, parmesan, romano, bread crumbs, parsley, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add only enough onion puree and with your hands, mix until just combined.

Form  into 24 meatballs. Normally I use a stainless steel scoop but because the mixture was soft I used my hands. Don’t overwork the mixture as the meatballs should be light and soft.

I read somewhere that you can microwave meatballs for 5 minutes to set the exterior and keep them from falling apart. Precooking also renders some of the fat.

You can fry the meatballs for more flavor but I chose to bake them.

Place meatballs on a rack (spray first with cooking spray to prevent sticking) on a large baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes prior to baking. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the meatballs are almost cooked through. Either cook longer in the oven or simmer in a marinara sauce for an additional 30 minutes.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Angie and Fiesta Friday #207 and the two co-hosts (yes – me again)  Lily @ Little Sweet Baker and Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com

   

Bang-bang Chicken Salad from Sichuan Province

How about starting the New Year with a chicken salad that has a “bang” to it. This chicken is a well-known Sichuan dish and the name means “chicken beaten with a wooden stick”. A theory is if you beat the poached chicken it will expose the fibers in the breast meat so they can absorb the delicious dressing. This recipe suggests smashing the chicken with a wooden spoon and then tearing the chicken meat to shreds. No – I did not beat or smash the chicken but I did tear the meat to shreds with my fingers and worked in some of the dressing – that made sense! I have, however, smacked a cucumber.

This is the best chicken salad you could ever want – there is no mayonnaise, celery or apples. There are layers of flavor beginning with the poached chicken breasts in a garlic/ginger broth and then shredded and tossed with a flavorful sauce made with homemade chili oil, rice vinegar, toasted Sichuan peppercorns and tahini. Sliced English cucumbers give a crispy texture and color and the peanuts provide something crunchy. Just a delightful layering of flavors; salty, sweet, sour, hot and numbing (if you use the Sichuan peppercorns).

This recipe is adapted from Sichuan Chicken Salad by Dawn Yanagihara found in Christopher Kimball’s new magazine “Milk Street” which is his third magazine. Some of you are familiar with America’s Test Kitchen, Cooks Illustrated and Cook’s Country.  I have bought some of the cookbooks and subscribed to the magazines in the past but I really like the new format and recipes in this new publication. It is not so “technical” or scientific and is a lot easier to read and understand.

As Christopher states “At Milk Street we introduce a fresh new approach to cooking – the new home cooking. Together, we explore a lively way to cook that’s both simpler and smarter, yet familiar. The new style of cooking is more about layers of flavor, contrast, and combining ingredients in new ways.” This Sichuan Chicken Salad does have all of those qualities.

A new magazine to try for a year…

Tahini and I are not familiar with each other so I spent a little time looking at 6 or more versions at one of my local groceries. Apparently, I bought an unpopular variety even though it was organic and pricey but I did my research after-the-fact! So, I got a little curious about this ingredient and realized the brand could make or break your recipe.

I found an interesting article on Saveur and read that there are two kinds of tahini; light and dark. I am certainly not an expert on tahini – I just like to share my experiences while cooking and the information I find along the way.

Light Tahini is best used in preparations where their pure flavor can shine through and won’t be overpowered by stronger ingredients. “They’re great whisked into classics like hummus, baba ganoush, and halva, as the main component of a sauce for seasoning roasted vegetables, fresh cold salads (like tabbouleh or chopped cucumber, tomato, or bell pepper based dishes), for topping falafel, or for drizzling on grilled or baked fish”. Soom  appears to be one of the best examples of a light tahini and sources all their sesame from Humera in Ethiopa.

Dark Tahini often has a heartier, coarser texture, a more pronounced bitterness, and more robust flavor. “Use them in baked goods or chocolate confections, brownies, chocolate truffles or hot chocolate, or mixing it into chocolate chip or shortbread cookie dough – or for drizzling on grilled meats, roasted potatoes, or atop spicy dishes”. Al Arz is the recommended tahini by professional chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi.

Apparently, tahini is one of the latest culinary crazes, according to Zingerman’s Bakehouse. I recently received an email that one of their new classes is “Baking with Tahini”. They source their tahini from Turkey but do not list the brand. All the recipes are desserts so I am assuming a “dark tahini” will be used. Should I sign up for the class as there is one offered every month for the next four months?

Bang-bang Chicken Salad from Sichuan Province, Adapted

  • 2 (10-12 oz. bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts)
  • 6 scallions, white parts chopped, green parts thinly sliced on a bias, reserved separately
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger; cut into 4 pieces and smashed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (optional – I usually add any “optional” ingredients)
  • 2 tbsp. chili oil (start with 1 tbsp.; taste and add more if desired)
  • 2 tbsp. tahini (read info above)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns (optional) – toasted and finely ground (add to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise on a bias
  • 1/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

In a large saucepan place the chicken skin side down and add the ginger, garlic, scallion whites, and 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Add the water and sherry to fully submerge the chicken. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn off the heat and let sit until the chicken registers 160°F 15 to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes my chicken breasts registered 140°F so I boiled them a few minutes more. Uncover the pan and let the chicken cool in the liquid for 30 to 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the chili oil, tahini, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, 1 tsp. salt, Sichuan peppercorns, if using and cayenne.

Remove the chicken and discard the skin and bones and transfer to a large bowl. Add 2 tbsp. of the chili oil mixture, then use your fingers to shred the chicken while working it into the dressing.  Add the cucumber and 3/4 each of the peanuts and scallion greens. Toss with the remaining dressing until evenly coated.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and scallions.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking my salad to Angie @ Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts Diann @ Goats and Greens and Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life

Sauce ingredients…

Hasselback Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano

These potatoes are creamy with a crispy edge and were a  perfect side for my holiday ham dinner. For some time I have been wanting to make “hasselback” potatoes or a fancy way to make baked potatoes. Hasselback potatoes were first created in 1953 by Leif Elisson  who was a trainee chef in Stockholm and are a  popular way to serve potatoes.

The potatoes are cut through 2/3 way into thin slices and they were first served with butter, breadcrumbs and almonds added in between and on top of the potatoes. The potatoes have changed through the years as different twists/ingredients are added to these special potatoes; like cheese and heavy cream!

I first saw a gratin form of these potatoes while I was co-hosting Fiesta Friday,  and Jasmine’s post was one of the recipes:  http://therichmondavenue.com/cheesy-hasselback-potatoes/. Then right before Christmas I received an email from NY Times Cooking which included these very cheesy potatoes. I came to find out that the author is Kenji Lopez-Alt, managing culinary director of the food website Serious Eats.

I have used his website for recipes but did not know about Kenji or the book he published “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” back in 2015 (an updated version is in the works). He is no stranger to the scientific community of foodies having worked in the Cook’s Illustrated Test Kitchen and then moved on to a more challenging job at Serious Eats.

I found many of the Test Kitchen recipes were a little too “far out” and hard to understand. Kenji is more down to earth, very entertaining and I learn something new on each page – and yes, there are almost 1,000 pages of information and absolutely fantastic recipes including these potatoes. What better reading material during one of the coldest and snowiest winters.

This gratin is one of the recipes in his cookbook and I won’t go into why these potatoes are so good and how Kenji created the recipe. All I can say is he woke up in the middle of the night with an idea, tried to get his wife to join him and made the first batch of these delicious potatoes – a funny story! You will have to look on the internet or buy this 1,000 page cookbook/reference to get more details. Better yet, make this recipe as you will not be disappointed.

Kenji admits to being a nerd and says he is proud of it. I love his witty and easily accessible writing. He focuses on the science behind many American dishes and that often conventional methods don’t work that well and newer and simpler techniques can achieve far better results. You’ll find sections on “Science of Breakfast”, “Science of Vegetables”, “Science of Roasts”; there’s even a section on sous vide! Lots of color photos is always a must for me in any cookbook!

These potatoes are different from scalloped potatoes as they are placed on their edges in order to get crispy, browned edges. The potatoes remain soft and creamy but with a lovely crispy edge.

There is a lot of prep work slicing the potatoes and some use a mandolin to get thin and even slices. You could even use just a sharp knife. I found this neat gadget for cutting one hasselback potato at a time and no danger of nicking a finger. The gadget is indented with 2 spikes to hold a potato while you slice it. I do have a mandolin but prefer not to use it – sharp instruments and me do not get along even with a protective guide.

  

Hasselback Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano, Adapted

  • 3-4 oz. Gruyere, grated (you can use another Swiss cheese but it won’t be as good as Gruyere)
  • 2-3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • fresh thyme leaves (to taste) or chives, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (be generous)
  • 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes (you won’t need them all), peeled and sliced (even though I like to leave the peel on it was suggested that you get a cleaner crunch from peeled potatoes)
  • softened butter to grease your 2 quart casserole dish

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl; remove 1/3 of the cheeses and set it aside. Add the cream, garlic and thyme leaves to taste to 2/3 of the cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I used my hasselback potato slicer to cut all the potatoes.  After cutting each potato with a chef’s knife I removed each potato and finished cutting the slices through.  I next added the slices to the cheese mixture and coated both sides well. Then I followed the same procedure with the rest of the potatoes.

Grease a 2 quart casserole with butter. Pick up a handful of potato slices while organizing them into a neat stack. Lay them in the casserole with their edges aligned vertically. I was able to get three rows in my dish. You want the potatoes packed. Don’t worry about getting the slices lined up perfectly as to size  as the potatoes will turn out fine once they have cooked.

Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly oven the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the dish. You will probably have a little left over.

Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cheese and bake for a final 30 minutes or until the potatoes are a deep golden brown and crisp along the edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Comment: I like cheese and garlic so I usually add extra with a casserole like this.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts this week Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Petra @ Food Eat Love

Pudding Shots Two Ways with Cream Liqueurs

HAPPY NEW YEAR and the best to everyone in 2018!

Pudding shots are an easy, do-ahead dessert and perfect for a brunch table on New Year’s Day. A little creamy, chocolatey and enhanced with a liqueur is a nice addition to help celebrate the New Year. I have provided two recipes and made the first one with the original Baileys.

Once in awhile you have to bring out the Jello  and Cool Whip products!

Pudding Shots With Cream Liqueurs

White Russian:

  • 1 (4 oz.) pkg. instant chocolate pudding
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup Baileys (original)
  • 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed
  • milk chocolate flakes to garnish
  • chocolate decorations to garnish (I forgot to use my “champagne bottle” sugar decorations)
  • gold shimmer sugar to garnish

Mix the pudding and milk for a minute with an electric mixer; add the alcohol and continue to mix. Then fold in the Cool Whip. Put the pudding mix into plastic serving cups with lids. You can buy these in different sizes depending on the number of guests. Or put into glasses if you are only serving a few. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. This recipe made about (10) 1/2 cup servings.

Rum Cream Pudding Shots:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup RumChata (rum cream liqueur)
  • 1 (4 oz.) pkg. instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed

Mix the milk and pudding mix together in a bowl for a minute using an electric mixer. Gently stir the topping into pudding mixture. Spoon into serving cups and freeze until chilled and set, at least 3 hours.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking my first recipe in 2018 to Fiesta Friday #204 and the only co-host Sandhya @ Indfused.com.

Crepes with Ricotta, Mascarpone, Honey, Walnuts and Rosewater

These cheese filled crepes with a touch of rosewater are the perfect dessert following an evening dinner.  Drizzled with a light, honey syrup, then followed with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a few rose petals was an impressive finish.

I first saw this recipe in Food and Wine (2014) and then recently bought Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s new book “Sweet” (2017). Another filling was used but they updated the crepe batter saying that usually the first  crepe or two often don’t turn out and you could use more batter so they increased the recipe. I did that as well…

This is a great cookbook if you are a Ottolenghi fan and I am not familiar with Helen Goh but will enjoy the recipes they made together.

Funny, the Food & Wine recipe showed these tight slender tubes – no way can this be achieved using 3 tbsp. batter and 3 tbsp. of filling per crepe. The crepes need to be thinner and have less filling – maybe the next time I make them. They do look pretty good just the way they are! The recipe in their new cookbook folded the crepes with a different filling into fourths. Anyways, make the shape that works for you and add the desired filling to achieve a delicious dessert.

Crepes with Ricotta, Mascarpone, Honey, Walnuts and Rosewater, Adapted

Filling:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. ricotta cheese (whole milk or hand-dipped)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted (I do this in a skillet on low for a few minutes until I can smell a good nutty aroma)
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. rosewater (see comment)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

In a medium bowl combine the two cheeses, walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon and allspice. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar, rosewater and egg.

Comment: Add 1 tsp. of the rosewater to begin with and taste; add more if desired. I found that 1-1/2 tsp. gave just enough of a floral flavor. Rosewaters differ in their potency so just be careful. If I would have added the 2 tsp. in the recipe the rosewater would have been overpowering.

You can make the filling 3 days before assembling and baking.

Crepes (From Sweet Cookbook):

  • 1-1/3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. Limoncello, optional (I added)

Sift together the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs and add the milk, butter and 1 tsp. Limoncello if using. Whisk until you achieve a smooth dough. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Using a paper towel with a little oil on it wipe the bottom of a non-stick 7-inch skillet. Add just under 3 tbsp. of the batter into the skillet while swirling the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Cook until set, about 45 seconds, and flip the crepe and cook a few seconds more. Repeat to make a total of 12 crepes.

In the Food and Wine recipe the author’s crepes were tightly rolled and thin. I do not see how they could do that as there was too much filling in each crepe. I might cut back on the filling (2 tbsp. versus 3 tbsp.) as well as make the crepes thinner.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 12 x 8-inch baking dish with 1 tbsp. melted butter. Spoon 3 tbsp. of the filling into the center of each crepe, fold in the sides and roll up like an egg roll. Place in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat this procedure with the rest of the crepes. Place snugly next to each other. Brush with 1 tbsp. of melted butter and bake for 25 minutes or until the crepes are light golden brown.

Honey Syrup:

  • 1/4 tsp. rosewater
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • confectioners’ sugar to dust
  • rose petals to garnish

Combine the first three  ingredients and warm slightly in a small saucepan. Drizzle this mixture over the crepes, then lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar and sprinkle with rose petals.

You can make the whole dish up to the point at which it’s ready to go in the oven. You can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours, covered.

Serve at room temperature.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday #204 and the only co-host Sandhya @ Indfused.com.

 

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies for the Rim of Your Coffee Cup

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! One last seasonal recipe for my blog and yes it is gingerbread but chocolate flavored.

I have wanted to try a chocolate gingerbread cookie for some time and just recently decided to give it a go. Ree Drummond was a judge on one of the Food Channel shows “Christmas Cookie Challenge” awhile ago and she commented to a contestant that she never tasted a chocolate gingerbread cookie but how good her cookies were.  That was enough for me!  I looked at the recipe I had from  Fancy Flours but never made and decided to look a little further.

I did come up with one that appealed to me more from Food and Wine (Matt Lewis). The addition of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate “softened” the gingerbread flavor. The cookies still had that wonderful, spicy taste typical of gingerbread cookies. I did cut back on the ginger from 3 tsp. to 2 tsp.

I liked this recipe a lot; a chocolate gingerbread cookie and a cup of hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows was breakfast this morning!

Here are my favorite cookie cutters for over the rim of your coffee cup cookies; gingerbread men, snowmen, stars, hearts, tree and shamrock. These cookies can be made year round and not just for the holidays.

This would make a perfect gift: cookie (maybe the cookie cutter too); a cute mug; hot chocolate, coffee or tea and any accessories you might like to include.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies for the Rim of Your Coffee Cup, Adapted

  • 3-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger (I only used 2 tsp. not 3 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground  cloves
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the  softened butter with the shortening at medium speed until smooth, just about 30 seconds. Next, add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy for about 2 minutes.

Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Add the molasses and then the melted bittersweet chocolate. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating between additions. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and shape each into a disk. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper – my baking sheet did not need any preparation. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 disk 1/4-inch thick.  Cut the dough into shapes and place on the prepared baking sheets. Continue with the next 2 discs

Bake the cookies for about 4 minutes, rotate the pans halfway and bake another 3 minutes or until the tops are dry. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Some of the cookies did not hang straight so I trimmed them just a little with a sharp knife.

If you would like to add a “baked on icing” before baking see the recipe below. Or you can decorate the cookies after they have cooled with one of the icing recipes below or you could make a royal icing.

Baked On Icing:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar

Combine ingredients and decorate your cookies prior to baking.

Icing – came with the recipe:

  • 1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Combine the ingredients and decorate the cooled cookies as desired. Allow the icing to dry thoroughly.

My icing recipe:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. milk
  • 1-2 tsp. Karo syrup

Adjust ingredients to get the desired consistency.

Makes 36 2-inch cookies

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Angie and  Fiesta Friday. We are all co-hosts this week!

Did you know you can test if an egg is still fresh by placing it in a glass of water. If it sinks – use it; if it floats – throw it out and get another egg!

I used my baked on icing recipe for this batch of cookies.

 

Chocolate Covered Oreo Gingerbread Men

I just received this cute Christmas Gingerbread Men  mold (along with the tree and poinsettia) in time to make some for the holidays. Two day priority mail took 9 days – such is the post office this time of year! I have quite a collection of mini and regular sized molds that I have posted in past years. Not just for the holidays throughout the year but I also have gardening molds, paw print, smiley face and many others. Just search Mini Molds, Oreos, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day and so on.

I get all of these molds from spinningleaf.com – this company makes them. Awhile ago I did email them asking if they could create a gingerbread man and sure enough they finally did. Not sure if it was because of my email but I like to think I played some small part.

I am the “gingerbread queen” as I love everything gingerbread from baking cookies to making chocolate covered Oreo molds like this. For 20 years we decorated gingerbread houses; I made the houses, provided the candy (the kids brought their own roof materials) and then each family decorated their own special house. One year I made six! My first gingerbread house goes back to when I was 17 – yes that is me with the long hair.  Little did I know that this would become a tradition in my family after I married and grandchildren filled our lives (nieces and nephews too).

I have a 2 foot kitchen tree full of miniature ornaments and my main tree is all gingerbread boys and girls, gingerbread houses, candy and much more. The ornaments range from handmade gingerbread cookies that I dried  to a Steuben gingerbread man. I have quite an extensive and valuable collection of ornaments that I have been collecting for over 35 years.

Now to the molds which require 2 mini Oreo cookies.

  1. Melt each color of candy wafers as you need them in the microwave at 30 second intervals
  2. Paint the designs/face on the Gingerbread Men – allow to harden
  3. Spoon a thin layer of chocolate covering the entire mold and allow to harden in the refrigerator
  4. Place a cookie in the head and another one in the body
  5. Cover with chocolate and tap the mold to get rid of any bubbles – I also remove bubbles with a toothpick
  6. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm – do not be in a hurry
  7. Pop out of the molds and enjoy!
  8. These do keep for a few days and are a great treat to make ahead of time

 Comments:

  • This mold makes four gingerbread men; I bought two as it does take time for the chocolate to harden
  • Do not microwave too long – I pull each bowl out before all of the wafers are completely melted and then stir until they are melted
  • Be sure the design is dry and hard before adding another layer, otherwise the colors can run together – small details dry quickly; larger ones take longer

Linking my cute and tasty chocolate treats to Fiesta Friday #203. We are all co-hosts this week so be sure and stop by to say hello.

  

 

Sichuan Shrimp

Shrimp, stir-fries and spicy food sounds good, doesn’t it? After I received an email referring to this dish I didn’t care for the recipe so I looked through my Asian cookbooks. Surprisingly I did not find what I was looking for so I turned to the internet instead.

This is what I came up with from The Woks of Life. I changed a few ingredients; soy sauce for Hoisin, added more ginger, green onions and chili oil and also used peanut oil to stir-fry. I really liked the idea of the veggies being finely diced instead of cut into pieces. A little work but certainly worth the effort! This is definitely one of my best “shrimp stir-fries”.

Szechuan versus Sichuan? Have you ever wondered about the different spelling?

Szechuan comes from earlier romanizations and is the Chinese spelling. It has since been replaced by the pinyin system spelling of Sichuan or the English spelling.  They both  mean four rivers in a region of China. Another example is Beijing used to be Peking – the Chinese words never changed, just the English spellings. I know – a little confusing but I will use Sichuan (or at least try to) in future recipes.

Sichuan Shrimp, adapted

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp. chili oil with sediment (I used 3 tsp.) or chili bean sauce (see chili oil for homemade recipe)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Shaxoing wine
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • cornstarch slurry; 2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water (optional)
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped (add one scallion to the dish and save the other two for garnish)
  • rice or noodles – Pad Thai noodles are great to use

For any stir fry I always get the ingredients ready and place in small bowls. I do all the chopping ahead of time and put the ingredients together with each step. I also line them up in the order of when they are added.

Mix the prepared shrimp with 1 tsp. vegetable oil and 1/2 tsp. of cornstarch and  set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. peanut oil in your wok and add the minced ginger on low heat. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Next add the chili bean sauce or chili oil with sediment, garlic, and the red onions; stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add the ketchup and soy sauce and turn the heat to medium. Cook for about 1 minute but do not let burn.

Add the Shaoxing wine, water chestnuts, carrots, and red bell peppers. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil; turn the heat down and simmer.

Add the rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, sugar and white pepper and simmer for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat up slightly, add the shrimp and toss.

When the sauce returns to a simmer add the slurry if desired. Stir in 1 chopped scallion and save the other two for garnish.

Serve with rice or noodles

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Angie and Fiesta Friday #202 and the two co-hosts (yes, I am one of them) Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Sausage, Cranberries and Apple Dressing With Fresh Herbs

Even though it is after Thanksgiving I had to share this “new favorite” dressing. This would make a great side not only with turkey but ham – think holiday dinners!  It is my fourth dressing/stuffing recipe and my second one with sausage.  Besides sausage this recipe has cranberries and apples in it and I also used sourdough bread which were great additions. I chose hot Italian sausage and it definitely added a “kick” to the dressing. Use a sweet or milder sausage if desired.

This is one of the best dressings I have made thanks to all the flavorful ingredients. Also, I accidentally overcooked some of the bread cubes as they looked more like croutons than dried bread but it was a great mistake as you can see in the pictures. The crispy texture was softened while baking – the color was nice too!

Next year I hope to make either a cornbread dressing or one shaped in a bundt pan. One recipe showed a Cranberry Sauce in the middle of the bundt pan dressing – great idea!

I have a Traditional (Mom’s), Sausage from KAF that can be done in the slow cooker, Cherry and Pecan (I think this came from Martha Stewart) and now this one.

This recipe appeared as an email from the Food Network and is a recipe by Ina Garten. I changed a few ingredients and the directions. You can find Ina’s original under “Sausage and Herb Stuffing”. Rarely do I change one of Ina’s recipes so much but I did with this dish.

Sausage, Cranberries and Apple Dressing With Fresh Herbs, Adapted

  • 16 cups sourdough bread, cubed
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and diced
  • I used a mixture of fresh sage, thyme and parsley (2-4 tbsp.) – use any seasonings you like – fresh herbs are much better than “poultry seasoning”
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp. kosher salt (if you use hot sausage there is already enough spices that you really don’t need to add any salt or pepper)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 lb. spicy or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I did use spicy and it did dominate the recipe)
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth/stock ( Ina’s recipe only had 1 cup; I added 2-3 additional cups)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (I added)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the racks on the upper and lower levels of your oven. Lightly spray two sheet pans (or better yet butter them). Cube the bread and place 8 cups on each baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, turn and switch the pans to different racks. Cook another 10 minutes. Mine actually started to look like croutons and were a nice golden brown. At first I thought I cooked them too long but they added a nice texture once the dressing was baked. Place the croutons in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, herb mixture of sage, thyme and parsley, salt and pepper (optional – use only with sweet or mild sausage). Saute for 10 minutes until the veggies are softened; add to the bread cubes and combine.

Remove the casings from the sausage, tear into pieces and break up with a fork. Cook until no longer pink; add to the bread cubes and veggie mixture.

Add the chicken stock, cranberries and egg adjusting the liquid as needed. Mix well and add to a lightly buttered 9×12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered. Add additional chicken broth if the dressing looks dry.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com

Linking to Fiesta Friday #201 and the two co-hosts this week Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

 

Doesn’t this look good? Let me tell you it was!