Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gingerbread Men

My friend and neighbor Kati Cox hosts a cookie exchange every Christmas. She makes the best gingerbread men that stay soft and moist. Yum!

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses (Grandma's brand)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground ginger (yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Easy royal icing or your favorite icing recipe (Kati used white chocolate to decorate hers)

1.   In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that's ok.

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough into thirds and place each third onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Please see photo and description above in my post. Chill discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. I always chill mine overnight.

3.  Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

4.  Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Don't be afraid to continually flour the work surface as needed- this dough can be sticky. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining discs of dough.

5.  Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches, bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches, bake for about 11 minutes. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time.

6.  Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.

7.  Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked and decorated (or not decorated) cookies freeze well - up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough discs (just the dough prepared through step 2) freeze well - up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 3.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Apple Crumb Pie

Suzie makes the best apple crumb pie ever! I'm still trying to make mine turn out like hers - don't know if that will ever happen.

-Suzie Irwin

Basic Pie crust:

1 cup flour
1/3 cup lard/butter mixture (half lard, half butter) Crisco works too but lard will make it flakier
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp ice water

Whisk together salt and flour. Using a pastry blender (or 2 knives) cut in cold butter/lard, making small lumps. Add water one tbsp at a time. Mix with fork. Don't make you dough too wet. If you add too much water it will not be flaky. Pour out onto lightly floured surface. Mold into a disk with your hands, handling as little as possible. Roll out until it is large enough to fit into a 9' pie plate. Once in the plate, prick the crust with a fork.

Apple Crumb Pie:

Pie Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp.cinnamon
5-7 apples (I use Gala) peeled and sliced

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter (softened)

Mix apples, sugar and cinnamon and pour into unbaked pie crust. Cut several small slivers of butter and place throughout the apples (about 1- 2 tbsp). To make the crumb topping, cream together the butter, flour and sugar, use your hands to make it crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Bake at 400˚ for 30 minutes then cover the crust with foil and bake for 10 more minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown.

Pancake Bites

I'm convinced that everything tastes better in mini form, including these cute pancake bites. Use whatever you'd like in these pancakes; bacon, sausage, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc!

Preheat oven to 350. Place Demarle mini muffin tray on perforated baking sheet. Divide desired fillings (bacon, sausage, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc) evenly into wells of 20 count tray. Place a scoop of you favorite pancake batter (1/2 this recipe) on top and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Coconut Macaroons

These are really easy and perfect if you love coconut!

2/3 cup flour
5 ½ cups shredded sweetened coconut
½ tsp. salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
4 ounces white or semi-sweet baking chocolate or a combination of both (or almond bark)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Stir flour, coconut, and salt. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and both extracts. Stir until combined.

Drop 2 tablespoon balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. These do not spread so you can crowd them close together. Wet your hands slightly and push down any sticking up or out single pieces of coconut as these might burn.

Bake for about 11 minutes, until the bottoms are golden and the tops start to turn the tiniest bit golden. Cool completely before eating or dipping.

To dip: melt chocolate according to package directions. I like to melt my chocolate on 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s melted and smooth. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil or Crisco if needed to get it to melt smoother. Dip the bottoms or tops of each macaroon in chocolate. Let dry. Tip: don’t refrigerate or you’ll get the condensation marks!

Hash Brown Cups

These hash brown cups make a great weekend breakfast. Customize them to fit your taste!

20 oz. bag refrigerated shredded hash browns
4 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil (2 Tbsp. if using a Demarle tray)
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
pinch ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Use a Demarle Straight-sided muffin tray (no spray), or Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Spray generously to keep the cheese from sticking.
2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until combined.
3. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the hash brown mix into each muffin tin. Press the hash browns down into the tin and up the sides. Let it come up over the top a little bit, as they will shrink down once baked.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.


6 large eggs
3 Tbsp. heavy cream or half and half
pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper
cooked and crumbled bacon or sausage
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or melting cheese of your choice)

1. Scramble the eggs together with the cream and salt and pepper in a large measuring cup with a spout.

2. Divide the bacon or sausage evenly among the muffin wells, then top with the cheese.

3. Then pour the egg mixture evenly, filling each about ¾ of the way full.

4. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the egg is no longer runny in the middle.