Baking up some Love – Valentine Cookie Box

Valentine Cookie BoxWhat the world needs now, more than ever, is love and kindness.  Bake some love for that special person in your life.   Or better yet, bake it, decorate it and surprise someone who would least expect it and make them smile.  A little kindness goes a long way.

I made these with my favorite sugar cookie recipe and filled them with M&Ms.  They could be filled with any candy or even a note.  I baked 5 large heart-shaped cookies.  When the cookies cool slightly, take a smaller heart cookie cuter and cut out from 3 of the cookies – these will be used for your box.  To assemble, I decorated one heart with royal icing for the bottom of the box.  Immediately place your cut out cookie on top, pipe a small line of icing around the cookie and continue until all 3 cookies are stacked.  The last cookie will be your lid.  Let your imagination run wild and decorate however you like.  Most of all … have fun!

Recipe Source food.com

Kittencal’s Buttery Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. For cookies; in a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  4. Set oven to 400°F.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only)
  6. On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough into about 1/4-inch thickness.
  7. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.
  8. Place cookies 2-inches apart on cookie sheet.
  9. Bake 4-6 minutes.

(I do not use the icing recipe that come with this cookie recipe.  Most times I use Wilton’s Royal Icing recipe)

Sugar Cookie Box

 

Cutie Pies – Mini Peanut Butter Pies

Peanut Butter Pies - Mini Me

They are cute aren’t they?  Not only are they cute but they are the bomb … satisfying your craving for chocolate and peanut butter all in one luscious bite.  Go ahead, get out your baking supplies and ingredients … you won’t be disappointed.  ENJOY!

Cutie Pies –  PEANUT BUTTER PIES WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Ingredients:

Chocolate Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
4 tablespoons Crisco
Yolk from 2 large eggs
6 – 8 tablespoons iced coffee (Ice water will work as well.)

Peanut Butter Filling:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 package (8 ounce) Cool Whip, thawed

Chocolate Drizzle

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Crisco
Chopped peanuts (optional)

Let’s begin with the crust.

In a food processor (you can also do this by hand if needed), combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt on low until blended. Add the butter and Crisco and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add the egg yolks and iced coffee and process with slow pulses until the dough forms a ball. Start with about 5 tablespoons of iced coffee and add more until the mixture comes together.

Press the dough into two flatten discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Then cut out the dough using a flour shaped cookie cutter. My cookie cutter is 3-inches in diameter petal tip to petal tip. Once your first set of flowers are cut, you can ball up the dough and roll it out again. Repeat until you have used as much of the dough as possible.

Gently press the flowers into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 -15 minutes.

Allow the mini pie shells to cool completely in the pan before removing. This will ensure they keep their shape.

While they are cooling, mix up the peanut butter pie filling. Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Then add the powdered sugar, beating again until smooth. Add in the Cool Whip and beat the mixture one final time until smooth.

Add this filling into a piping bag or large plastic bag. Pipe into your cooled chocolate pie shells.

For the drizzle, melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwavable bowl (or in a double broiler). Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then transfer to a plastic bag. Snip off a tiny portion of one corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate onto the filled pie shells. Top with chopped peanut for a garnish.

 Source:  www.inspiredbycharm.com

Peanut Butter Pie Mini Me

Undercover – The Greatest Food Deception of all Time – Chicken Pad Thai with Spaghetti Squash

Chicken Pad Thai with Spaghetti SquashDo you ever have to go “under cover” when cooking dinner for your family?

I have had to go under cover often times.  My husband says he doesn’t like certain vegetables or ingredients and as long as he doesn’t see or know the ingredients 99% of the time he loves it!  This undercover recipe incorporates two foods that he claims to dislike:  spaghetti squash and cabbage!  I make Pad Thai quite often, usually with shrimp, rice noodles and lettuce.  He liked this dish and I had to stop myself from laughing when he tasted it and said rice noodles and lettuce.  And he actually thought I was trying to pass off the chicken as pork which I have done before with success!  Too funny!!

This recipe is a winner and iI can’t wait to make it again; this time with shrimp.

Go under cover and make this … you’ll love it!  ENJOY!

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
INGREDIENTS:
1 small spaghetti squash, halved and
seeded
Sauce:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12 ounce) package broccoli coleslaw
mix
1 zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cubed cooked chicken breasts
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place spaghetti squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet.
2. Bake in the preheated oven until squash is tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Shred squash meat using a fork and discard the peel.
3. Combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chile-garlic sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and black pepper together in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Whisk water and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth; add to broth mixture and continue boiling until sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce.
4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; saute broccoli slaw, zucchini, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and shredded spaghetti squash until tender, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and sauce to squash mixture; cook and stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Source:  Allrecipes.com

hicken Pad Thai with Spaghetti Squash-2

Pecan Pie and a Tribute for My Dad

Classic Pecan Pie – so easy to make and one of my favorite pies.  Pecan Pie was also a favorite of my Dad’s!  My Dad passed away December 23, 2014; following the recipe is a tribute I wrote that was read at his service.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.  Once cooled, share with someone you you love!

A Tribute for My Dad

From the day I was born I was “Daddy’s Little Girl”. I think a Father and Daughter have a very special bond. I was also his favorite daughter … of course, I was his only daughter! The admiration and love went both ways. I thought the world of my Daddy and as a young girl I couldn’t wait for him to come home from work. As soon as I saw him coming up the driveway I would yell “Daddy’s home” and go running to see him.

My Dad loved to garden and even after working a long day he would go out to work in the garden after dinner. Being a typical girly girl, I didn’t like to get my hands dirty, but that didn’t stop me from following him everywhere he went and helping him to plant seeds in the garden. He used to pay me a penny for every potato bug that I picked off the plants; I amassed quite a few pennies and saved the potato crop!

When I was young he worked for a Dairy making home deliveries. I think what he enjoyed most about his job was that he was able to get out and talk with people. He enjoyed that so much and always had a kind word and a friendly smile for anyone he crossed paths with. What a treat it was when I got to ride in the truck with him to deliver milk! I got to sit up front with him on top of the cooler. When it was my birthday he would open the back of truck and I’d get to pick out any flavor of ice cream I wanted.

Every Sunday afternoon was “game day”. It was designated family time and we would play board games together. Sometimes we would play badminton or he would throw the softball for me to hit. No matter how busy he was he always made time for me, for his family.

Laughter and love filled our home. I remember how he and my mother used to tease each other and laugh around the kitchen table. God filled our home as well and I remember going to church Sundays and seeing him preaching and singing … oh how he loved to sing! I loved standing next to him hearing him singing the hymns.

When talking about my parents I always told people how lucky I was to have such great parents and what a great man my Dad was. I would tell them that he was a minister and how much I admired him. He lived the life he preached, he lived his faith. And what a great example and testimony to God that was!

Throughout my life my Dad always encouraged me, supported me and uplifted me. He was my strongest supporter and showed confidence in me when I didn’t have it for myself and helped to me to be a self-confident young woman. He lived his life as God wanted him to and was a shining example of everything God wants us to be. He was kind, loving, accepting without being judgmental, understanding, loyal, trustworthy, forgiving, sensitive, a good listener, giving, a great sense of humor, patient, steadfast and true. True to himself, his family and first most true to God. I am so proud to have called him Daddy.

Perhaps without knowing it my Dad passed many things down to me. I inherited his love of walking the beach and picking up shells, I inherited his love of gardening and flowers, and his love of antique dishes, glassware and old bottles.

The last word I remember my Dad saying was when he was in Nursing care. I brought him a flower cookie on a stick that I had decorated. He had always encouraged my artistic and creative endeavors and I hoped he would appreciate this or at least enjoy a homemade cookie. He wasn’t speaking much those days and when he did often times you couldn’t hear him or it didn’t make sense. But when I gave him that cookie he looked at it and said clearly “pretty”. Even at that stage he could appreciate what I made. I don’t know how aware he was during the past year but I always held his hand and made sure I told him I loved him.

I am so fortunate and blessed to have had such a truly amazing father – the best Daddy God could have ever given me. I am glad that my Dad is in heaven with God now and at peace. Selfishly, I miss him like crazy and I just wish I could hold his hand again and talk to him. When I was going through a particularly hard time my Dad said to me “the sun will shine brightly again another day”. He was right .. it did. And so today I remember those words and I know the sun will shine brightly again and I remind myself that now my Dad is in heaven singing with the Angels praising God.

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp Ceviche

 

I found this to be a deliciously different way to serve shrimp.  Do you find that you are always making the same recipes and eating food the served the same way?  When you go out to eat do you always order the same dish or change it up a bit and try something new?  I’m all about trying new recipes – it’s always good to change things up instead of remaining status quo.  And what could be the worst thing to happen?  You don’t like it …oh well at least you tried!  ENJOY!

Cranberry Shrimp Ceviche Cups

Ingredients:

1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided

16 ounces  Medium Raw Shrimp, thawed

1 cup  Dried Cranberries

½ red onion, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh parsley

½ jalapeño, roughly chopped

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ teaspoon  Crushed Red Pepper or Ground Black Pepper

1 teaspoon  Oregano
Garnish:

13 ounces  Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips

2 limes, cut into wedges

Fresh cranberries (optional)

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately plunge cooked shrimp into an ice water bath. Peel shrimp and place in a flat dish.
  2. In a food processor, combine cranberries, red onion, parsley and jalapeño. Pulse until finely chopped. Add cranberry mixture to shrimp.
  3. Add lemon juice, lime juice, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, crushed red pepper and oregano. Stir to combine ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. To assemble: Spoon ceviche (about 4-5 shrimp each) into small clear cups or glasses. Garnish with tortilla chips, lime wedges and fresh cranberries.

 

 

Shrimp Ceviche

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice! Apple mini pies

Apple Hand Pie

Apple Hand Pies

What is sugar & spice and everything nice?  If you guessed mini apple pies you are right!  This is the first time I made apple hand pies. They couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  In my opinion anything with a fantastic homemade crust with cinnamon and apples is delicious.  Hands down … this is a winner.  ENJOY!

French Pastry Pie Crust (I love this pie crust – it comes together beautifully)

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
5 tablespoons water
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Mix well, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. In a small bowl, combine egg, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons of water. Whisk together, then add gradually to flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix until dough forms a ball. Add one more tablespoon of water if necessary.
3. Allow dough to rest in refrigerator 10 minutes before rolling out.

Source:  Allrecipes.com

Apple Filling:

2 cups small diced (peeled) Granny Smith apples or your favorite apple
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg lightly whisked with 1 Tablespoon water)
Crystal sanding sugar (optional)

Directions:

Make the filling:

In a small bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

Apple Hand Pie

Assemble the pies:

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out.

Using a 4-inch (or whatever size you want your pies to be) circular cookie cutter or cup, cut out as many circles as possible. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out circles until you run out of dough, ensuring you end up with an even number of circles.

Place six of the dough circles on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Spoon a small portion of the apple filling into the center of each circle, leaving enough of a border around the filling. Place a second dough circle atop each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together, sealing each pie.

Brush each pie with the egg wash, and using a sharp knife, cut two or three vents on the top of each pie. Sprinkle the pies with crystal sanding sugar (optional).

Bake the pies for about 17 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.

Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough circles.

Apple Hand Pie

 

Reuben Pizza

Tastes like a reuben sandwich

I love that pizza is so versatile and there is no end to the creativity of toppings.  This pizza tastes like a Reuben Sandwich. So easy … and oh so good!  ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS:
1 (1 pound) pizza dough
1/2 cup thousand island dressing
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
6 ounces deli sliced corned beef, cut into strips
1 cup sauerkraut – rinsed and drained
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a large pizza pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough out into a large circle about 14 inches across. Transfer to the prepared pizza pan and press up the sides.
2. Spread the salad dressing over the crust. Sprinkle with the Swiss cheese. Arrange corned beef over the cheese, Top with sauerkraut
4. Bake for approximately 24 minutes in the preheated oven, until cheese melts and toppings are heated and crust is golden brown.

Pizza Dough – This is the best pizza dough I have tried.  It is super easy, but you do need to remember to make it the day before as it sits in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water (ice cold)
1 tablespoon sugar
cornmeal (or semolina flour) for dusting

Directions:
1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
2. Add the oil, water and sugar and mix until it forms a sticky ball of dough.
3. Knead on a clean surface for 5-7 minutes adding flour if it is too wet or water if it is too dry.
4. Cut the dough into three pieces and form them into balls.
5. Place the dough balls on a pan, spray them with oil and cover them with plastic.
6. Place the dough in the fridge and let it rest over night or up to three days.
7. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form it into discs. Lightly flour the discs, spray them with oil, cover them with parchment paper and let them rest for 2 hours.
8. Flour (or oil) your hands and lay the dough across your knuckles. Lightly bounce the dough on your knuckles, turning it and stretching it until it reaches the size that you want.  Or … alternatively, roll out and shape into pizza pan.
9. Place the dough on a baking pan dusted with cornmeal.
10. Add your pizza toppings.
11. Bake in a preheated 450F oven until golden brown on top, about 20-22 minutes.

Source:  Closetcooking.com

Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese - tastes like a reuben sandwich