Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clearance in the Freezer Section

Every year, as the calendar year comes to a close, I realize that with holiday food shopping and all, that I have oftentimes stuffed some otherwise fabulous fruits or vegetables (or soups, or spaghetti sauce) in the bottom drawers of the freezer. This year's treasures included lady peas, green beans from the next door neighbor's garden, two ears of really sweet white corn, and a bag full of the most delicious cherries. I bought those on sale this summer and while we ate a whole bunch of them fresh, I put a bag of them in the freezer. This week, we had the corn and the green beans. This morning, I cooked the cherries. They're really good spooned over some Greek yogurt for breakfast.

Warm Cherry Compote
By Tina Brickley Engberg

Oven: 400 degrees
Prep Time: 10 minutes (pitting cherries)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes


1 lb. cherries (these were frozen), pitted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. butter, cut up into small pieces

Spread the pitted cherries out in a medium sized baking pan (I used my small Pyrex). Dot with small pieces of butter, and sprinkle the teaspoons of almond extract and vanilla extract over the cherries.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve over Greek yogurt for breakfast, as a sweet side for a pork chop, or over ice cream.

Cherry Compote over Greek Yogurt

Cherries now pitted

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Firehouse Sweet Potatoes

Each Christmas Eve, our neighborhood women's group puts together a Christmas Eve feast for the fire station up the street. Each year for the last five or so, I've made sweet potatoes. I started out making the ones with the marshmallow festival on top, and have decided that these tubers taste better just a little more plain, and not quite so sweet. 

Firehouse Sweet Potatoes
By Tina Brickley Engberg

Makes: 1 large roasting pan (enough for a crowd)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Preparation Time: 5 minutes, then 20-30 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes, then 30 minutes (to reheat)


8 good sized sweet potatoes (enough for just over two quarts cooked)
1 lemon (to juice and zest)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut flakes
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple
Canola Spray for pan

Wash and prick sweet potatoes and put on a baking sheet (they'll drip a little as they cook). Bake in 350 oven for about 50 minutes. The thicker the sweet potato, the longer it will take to cook. Remove from oven and allow to cool (30 minute to an hour). When potatoes are cool enough to touch, remove the skins and discard or compost. Put potatoes in a big mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher to get rid of the biggest lumps. 

Using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, whip the potatoes until soft. Add cinnamon, the juice of one lemon, the zest from one lemon, the pineapple and coconut flakes. 

Prepare baking dish with Canola oil spray and spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Reheat before serving about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

Roasting sweet potatoes makes for easy skin removal

Mash with a potato masher to break up the big chunks

You might even find a willing helper in the kitchen, and yes, my microwave serves as my "fridge" for magnets.

Firehouse Sweet Potatoes ready to reheat and go to the feast

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Georgia Pecan Pie

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

This recipe for Georgia Pecan Pie is from my late Aunt Jerry. She lived in Winterville, GA, just outside of Athens, and had a number of pecan trees in her yard. Her husband, Bob, still brings grocery sacks of pecans into town. There really is nothing better. And, if your holiday festivities require a pie, don't get one from the store. This is easy-peasy and really delicious. My only word of warning about making pecan pie (and pies in general) is that you need to make it at a time when you have several hours for it to cool before serving. There is nothing worse than thinking a pie is ready, but finding it either like molten lava (pecan) or runny (fruit pies).

Aunt Jerry's Georgia Pecan Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup Georgia Pecan halves
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Cream butter to soften with hand mixer. Gradually add sugar and cream until fluffy. Add syrup and salt. Add eggs--one at a time, beating well after the addition of each egg. Stir in pecans using a spatula. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.

Now, Uncle Bob writes at the bottom, "Have a glass of wine (or two) while you wait." I'll let you decide on that or not.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Venetian Cookies: The Final Straw

Sometimes pride is at stake when I attempt recipes that I receive for dinner club. After all, everyone in the neighborhood who is in the group is going to see it, and probably eat it. It's clear I didn't go to the bakery and carry these home in a cardboard box. I haven't made this 1,000 times. This recipe had me over a barrel today. It wasn't pretty. Chocolate seizing, uneven layers, oy. But, I tried one of the edge pieces after I cut this up, and I've gotta say, it's divine. The apricot layers go so well with the almond in the cakey layers. We can ignore the chocolate on top. It is, shall we say, a labor of love. It is probably much the same for the family of the gal who wrote this recipe as it is for me to make 24 Stollen in a Christmas season.

Here goes.

Venetian Cookies

From Good Housekeeping

GH Recipe Developer Gina Miraglia helps her mom, Marie, make these rich almond-flavored bars every year in their Queens, NY, kitchen. Mother and daughter pack the cookies in Christmas tins along with other Italian goodies for lucky relatives and friends. We were thrilled when the Miraglias agreed to share this prized recipe with us. Tip: For best flavor, make the cookies up to 3 days before serving and store them covered in the refrigerator.

Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Oven Temp: 350 degrees


4 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

1 can(s) (7 to 8 ounces) almond paste

1 1/4 cup(s) (2 1/2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

20 drops red food coloring

20 drops green food coloring

1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves, strained (see note below)

4 1-ounce squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pans;* line pans
with waxed paper, allowing waxed paper to extend over ends of pans. Grease and flour
waxed paper.

2. In small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks
form; set aside.

3. In large bowl, with same beaters, and with mixer at medium speed, beat almond paste and
remaining 1/2 cup sugar until well blended (there will be some small lumps of almond paste
remaining). Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in margarine or butter until blended. Beat in
egg yolks and almond extract until blended. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and salt just
until combined.

4. With rubber spatula, fold egg-white mixture into almond mixture, one-third at a time, until

5. Remove one-third of batter (about 1 1/2 rounded cups) from large bowl to small bowl.
Remove half of remaining batter from large bowl to another small bowl. (You should have
equal amounts of batter in each bowl.) Stir red food coloring into 1 bowl of batter until evenly
blended. Repeat with green food coloring and another bowl of batter.

6. Spread white (uncolored) batter in 1 jelly-roll pan. With metal spatula (offset, if possible),
spread batter as evenly as possible (layer will be about 1/8 inch thick). Repeat with red batter
and another pan. Repeat with green batter and remaining pan.

7. Bake layers 10 to 13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking time, until layers are
just set. It is important to undercook this batter slightly to ensure moist cookie layers. (If you
don't have enough oven space for 3 pans, you can bake 2 layers at once, then bake the last
layer separately.)

8. Let layers cool slightly in pans on wire racks, about 5 minutes. Invert layers onto racks, leaving
waxed paper attached; cool completely.

9. When all 3 layers are cooled, remove waxed paper from green layer. Place green layer on
serving tray or platter; spread with half of apricot preserves. Place white layer on top of green
layer, waxed-paper side up; remove waxed paper. Spread with remaining apricot preserves.
Place red layer on top of white layer; remove waxed paper.

10. With serrated knife, trim edges (about 1/4 inch from each side). Spread melted chocolate on
top of red layer (not on sides); refrigerate until chocolate is firm, at least 1 hour. If you like,
after chocolate has set, cover and refrigerate stacked layers up to 3 days before cutting and

11. To serve, cut stacked layers lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 12 small
rectangles. Store cookies in tightly covered container, with waxed paper between layers, in

Tips & Techniques

*If you have only 1 jelly-roll pan, you can still make this recipe. Just bake layers 1 at a time, and be sure
to let pan cool completely before reusing.

*To strain preserves (and you WILL want to do so), heat the preserves up in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for about 90 seconds. Strain through a sieve, and rub the preserves with the back of a spoon. I saved the fruit pieces and put them in an already open jar of peach preserves in the fridge. Waste not, want not.

Venetian Cookies

Almond paste

Folding egg whites into almond paste and butter mixture

Folded batter

Batter three ways: white, pink and green. Preppy cookies. 

Good thing I have three jelly roll pans

Heat the preserves and then strain them. 

Spread preserves over cookie layer

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What's The Story Morning Glory?

Every time I make this recipe for Morning Glory muffins, the song from Oasis pops into my head. I'm glad I like the song.

This recipe is going to suggest to you that we eat a lot of muffins. We do. I make them and freeze them. When I pack snacks for school, the boys will often have one of these. They're loaded with veggies and fruit, and are delicious pretty much any time of the day.

Morning Glory Muffins
Makes 24 medium sized muffins
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 20-23 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded apple (Rome works well)
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Shred carrots, zucchini and apple and stir into flour mixture, along with raisins, coconut and pineapple. In a smaller bowl, mix salt, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, eggs and egg whites and stir to mix. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just moist. Scoop or spoon into lined muffin pans. Bake 20-23 minutes.

You can't beat these for healthy muffins

Peel your carrots. The peel can make your muffins bitter. 

I shred in the food processor one thing after another.

Mix your liquid ingredients separately so they incorporate well. I do the salt here so it dissolves. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stollen (Another Family's Tradition)

My friend Rob saw me this afternoon and asked, "When's Stollen Saturday?" If someone were to have overheard that, it most certainly would have made little to no sense. Stollen? (Or Sch-toh-lehn if we say it in its gutteral German pronunciation--think "Hogan's Heroes".) Fruitcake, less the doorstop-like characteristics. Worth having with a cup of coffee.

So, Stollen Saturday this year is going to be a Stollen Friday, because I will be driving to Dayton, OH, my father's childhood home, for my Uncle Bob's funeral, on what would otherwise be Stollen Saturday.

I come by this recipe, not by family, but by a friend. My friend Julie Petersen. She now lives out in Colorado. I wish she were still here. The Christmas I was pregnant with my first son, she brought me a stollen for Christmas. I took it with me on a trip to Florida and ate it in secret, like it was the last food on earth and I'd best not share it. Granted, I was pregnant, but it's that good. My grandparents, both of German descent, had stollen from the local German bakery at their Christmas celebrations in Boca. It was good, but this is even better. I'm not a fan of marzipan. This has almonds, but not almond paste.

Stollen nestled all snug in the oven.

This is the step where you add the flour to the scalded milk. Let this cool a while before adding the yeast.  
Flour mix goes in with the butter and sugar and then you keep adding flour, and more flour

Stollen Dough on a rise

Roll out and brush with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and fold into thirds. This rises for one more hour before baking.  

Grandma Severance's Stollen 
with gratitude to Julie Lewis Petersen

3 oz. compressed yeast (5 cakes or envelopes)
1 quart whole milk
1 lb. butter, softened to room temperature (plus an extra stick for finishing)
16 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange rind (dried)
3/4 lb. currants and raisins
1/2 lb. sliced almonds
1/2 lb. glazed cherries
1/2 lb. glazed lemon or orange
1 lb. mixed glazed fruit (NOT Olde English, which has a particular flavor)

Icing: Powdered Sugar/Milk/Vanilla (optional)

Mix two cups flour with glazed fruit, dried fruit and nuts (except the glazed cherries) in a bowl or a plastic bag (I do this the night before and have it ready to go in the morning). 

Scald the milk (almost to a boil with a slight film on the surface) in a medium sized saucepan. 

Add six cups of flour to hot milk and mix; when cool enough, add yeast (If you can tolerate sticking your finger in the mix, it will be fine, if not, it's too hot and you'll kill the yeast). 

Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer (I use an old KitchenAid stand mixer) with wire whisk attachment or paddle attachment. 

Add eggs, lemon/orange rind and salt (ideally you're on the 2nd speed of the mixer). 

Put dough hook attachment on mixer. 

Add flour/yeast/milk dough to mixer. Mix until dough forms a ball. 

Transfer to large bowl and add fruit/flour mixture and knead in the bowl until elastic and not sticky (add the last two cups of flour, as needed). 

Add cherries, knead some more. 

Turn and cover with a little butter. Cover with a cotton towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk (4-6 hours). 

Once the first rise is done, cut the dough in the bowl (don't punch it down) into 12 pieces. 

Roll dough on floured counter top into a circle that's between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. 

Brush dough with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, fold over 1/3 of dough from each side to create a loaf and brush the top with butter. Place each finished loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Once you've done this for all twelve loaves, allow to rise one hour (SECOND RISE) on the baking sheets with a cotton towel over it. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown. 

Cool and decorate with a confectioner's sugar/milk/vanilla frosting if desired. 

Freezes well. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dermabond and Banana Bread

We could have stuck with Plan A and come home from a long weekend in Asheville by way of my parents' house in north Georgia. But, it was raining, and we came all the way home. Just in time for the boys to get into a tug-of-war with a piece of long foam in the dining room. Just in time for me to be on the phone asking if a friend's son could come over in the morning for a playdate. Just in time for Boy #1 to come in and say, "hey Mom, brother's head is bleeding." Score. So, I'm thankful for the after hours pediatric group near our house, and thankful for the Dermabond they applied to the gash in Boy #2's scalp in an appointment that lasted all of ten minutes. Good thing, because it was raining so hard the road appeared to move on the way home.

Which leads to banana bread. We came home with most of the bananas we left town with. They just weren't pretty, which makes them a hard sell in a hotel room, where I couldn't really gussy them up.

I have great difficulty finding pretty bananas. I was told years ago by the produce manager of my grocery that the bananas come in on refrigerated trucks. Guess what turns bananas that unappealing gray shade? Yup, cold temperatures. So, for years now, banana bread's been the savior of all those unappealing bananas. I could get into Banana's Foster here and there, but that's a whole other thing.

This is a great recipe for a simple banana bread.

Sour Cream Banana Bread
Adapted from Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed (if they're huge bananas, use two)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream, mashed bananas, and vanilla, and mix well. In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Stir in nuts. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, (turning the loaf 180 degrees about halfway through) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf.

Really good banana bread from not so pretty bananas.

Where have all the good bananas gone? 

Raw sugar doesn't lend itself to "light and fluffy," but it's a start.

Use the lip on the baking powder container to level off your teaspoon.  It's your friend. 

My "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" music box is in the kitchen. I don't know why. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ann's Cranberry Bread

I would imagine that most people with young children get asked to do things at the last minute, things like a spur-of-the-moment bake sale. Well, our Cub Scout Pack threw just that at us earlier this week. I think I'd be more enthusiastic if it weren't for the fact that I have a suitcase packed, ready to go, and this would have been the last thing I'd have thought I needed to do. But, I did it anyway, and I did, mainly because this recipe for Cranberry Bread is perfect for Thanksgiving. It's almost as easy to make as a mix, and tastes SO much better!

My late Aunt Ann was a feisty woman: Irish, golfer, mother to four of my wonderful cousins. We were sad to see her leave this earth too early. She left behind a legacy that includes this great recipe.

Ann's Cranberry Bread
Makes one loaf

1 cup white, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp. melted shortening (see note below)
1 egg

1 tsp. grated orange peel (available in the spice department)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup halved fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar and stir. Stir in orange juice, melted shortening, water and egg. (To melt the shortening, I microwave 1/2 cup of water in a 1 cup liquid measuring cup to a rolling boil, and pour it out to 1/4 cup. I scoop out the shortening into the boiling water and stir to dissolve.)

Once you've got your batter done, add the orange peel, cranberries, and if you like, pecan pieces.

Pour batter into a greased bread loaf and bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes (check it at 60). I turn my breads in the oven at the half-way point, to make sure that they brown evenly. Turn out onto a cooling rack. Freezes well.

Fresh cranberries: I buy them and freeze them to have on hand.

What it took to get the recipe done with four boys running around the house like banshees.

Unto each recipe some flour must fall. 

I chose to juice the oranges myself so we'd have orange slices for our car ride this week.

Melting shortening in boiling water

I'd love to show you the loaf cut open, but these are heading to a bake sale.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting Kids Into the Kitchen

Making Corn Muffins for next week's Pack Meeting/Hobo Dinner

Making icing for the cookies

Icing the oatmeal cookies

Pigs in Blankets, Crudite with White Bean Hummus and Oatmeal Cookies

Dinner's Ready!

Den 1 recently met to earn an achievement on cooking. We turned four separate activities into one fun meeting where we knocked out four goals, in just under an hour, and ate dinner together. It was great fun, no one chopped off their fingers, and we figured out that a pig in a blanket made with a cheese stick works great for our vegetarian den member.

No recipe here, but an invitation for you to pick a recipe, set up a few ingredients, and invite the kids to join you in prepping the meal. It may take a little while longer than if it were you alone, but it's worth it. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Buttermilk Ice Cream

We make a lot of the ice cream we eat. There are some kinds we really like that we seek out at the store, but I've generally come to the conclusion that I like to know what's in the ice cream. Several years ago, I asked Secret Santa for the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It freezes for 24 hours, and then you put in the dasher, a converter, and go. It could not be easier to use. We do have a very old electric ice cream maker from my late father in law, but what it makes is dependent on how chopped up the ice is (and whether or not you realize that the salty ice water you pour out is going to kill your father's vinca plants on the side of the porch---oops.) 

Aiding and abetting my ice cream making habit is the availability of really neat, inexpensive cardboard ice cream quart containers. This company, Sweet Bliss Containers, sells online and is based in a nearby suburb.  They too received an ice cream maker and wanted containers for the freezer. Trust me, I've stabbed so many of the plastic containers trying to get the ice cream out. It won't budge. These work best. 

The ice cream Bible, as far as I'm concerned, is Ben and Jerry's "Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book," published in 1987. I got my copy, in fact, in 1987, as a non-ice-cream-maker-owning college student. My friend Suzanne and I drove 50 miles one day to go to the only store in Metro Atlanta that, at the time, sold the first Ben & Jerry's ice cream and buy pints of Heath Bar Crunch. My friend Karen is a Ben & Jerry's shareholder, just so that she gets invited to the annual shareholder's meeting in Vermont, which, at that time before its corporate takeover, involved all the ice cream you could consume. 

This recipe is a play on the pumpkin ice cream recipe found in the book. Ben and Jerry break ice cream making into two steps. Use the cream base of your choice as the stepping stone for the recipe. 

The only thing I have to add (beside the fact that making your own ice cream is insanely easy to do) is that you absolutely, positively want to chill your "batter" before you freeze it. Some recipes will say it; others assume you know that. Especially with the freezer style maker, if the batter's not cold, it will take the charge out of the coolant, making it a challenge to freeze. I've done it. Don't follow my lead on that one. 

Pumpkin Buttermilk Ice Cream

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: Two or more hours
Freezing Time: 20 minutes, but varies by freezer type
Curing Time in Freezer: 2-12 hours
Yield: Almost two quarts

Ice cream base: 

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup buttermilk

Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). Whisk in the sugar, a little bit at a time, and continue whisking. You do this to suspend the sugar crystals in the eggs. It's what gives the ice cream a light texture. When it's completely blended, pour in the cream and buttermilk, and whisk to blend. 

Pumpkin Batter:

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 tsp. ground nutmeg (if you want to grate your own fresh, knock yourself out and watch your knuckles)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Put your pumpkin filling in a smaller bowl and mix. Add to it, one cup of your cream base, and stir until blended. Return the pumpkin filling to the remaining cream base and stir. Chill the batter, covered, in the fridge, for two hours or until you're ready to freeze it. 

Freeze according to the directions on your ice cream maker. 

This is where you mix a cup of the cream mix into the pumpkin mix. 

This is the coolest attachment I have for my stand mixer. I have yet to use the grain mill. 

Ice cream is one of the things that the boys will help make. 

A little reward for the work. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Double Ginger Cookies

I recently entered and won a holiday cookie contest held by the Sandy Springs (GA) Hospitality and Tourism group (the video is also posted here). We entered cookie recipes in September, and recently shot a video at the Young Chef's Academy showing how we make our winning cookies. The other winner, Bernie's cookies are a New Orleans favorite: Lace Cookies.

Mine, well, they're Double Ginger Cookies and they're delicious too. I got this recipe from someone at church. I went to the funeral of a friend's father and had a cookie at the reception. I went into the kitchen and asked the first person I saw, Elizabeth Robertson, who had made those particular cookies. She did. And she was willing to share. We've been making these every year since. They are pretty and they freeze with ease.

Double Ginger Cookies

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 15-18 minutes

Makes about Four Dozen Cookies

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 large egg, lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg white (for wash)
¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger (Trader Joe's carries it, as does Whole Foods)
½ cup coarse sugar crystals

Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment

Sift the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt together onto a sheet
of waxed paper.

In a large bowl, stir the oil, brown sugar, and molasses together with a wooden spoon
until well blended. Add the whole egg and beat until blended. Stir in the flour mixture
and finely chopped crystallized ginger.

Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl. Spread the sugar crystals in a shallow bowl.

With dampened hands, shape the dough into one inch balls. If the batter is too loose, add a little more flour. It should be easy to roll in between the palms of your hands. Brush each ball lightly with
egg white and roll in the sugar to coat lightly. Place the cookies about one inch apart on
the pans.

Bake the cookies until the tops are set and crackled, 15-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool
in the pans on wire racks for five minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool
completely. The cookies will firm as they cool.

This recipe makes about four dozen cookies. It is easily doubled. The cookies store well
if kept between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container. They also freeze well.

Sandy Springs Cookie Bake-Off

Friday, October 28, 2011

Savory Pumpkin Pancakes (Kids Will EAT Them!)

Perhaps I should say this louder, "KIDS WILL EAT THESE!" Even kids not from my family (but wait a minute, maybe those are the kids I should be feeding and not my own.) We had friends over yesterday so that my friend Tracy could host a trunk show for her jewelry line. I said I would be testing out recipes on willing participants and I did. I've been toying with this recipe; I typically make pumpkin pancakes as a sweet pancake. I like pancakes as sides too. Eating Well Magazine has a wonderful recipe for Corn and Basil Fritters/Pancakes/Johnnycakes. When corn is in season and the basil is in bloom, that's a winning combination.

Well, I've ripped out my basil plants and the corn's now all the frozen kind (not that there's anything wrong with that, but fresh is best). I still have sage in the garden, and pumpkin is plentiful in the stores, both fresh and canned.

This makes for a simple vegetarian meal (Tracy thought it'd be great with a salad), or as a side for fish or chicken.

Savory Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes around 12 small pancakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Stir well and allow to rest while you prepare your frying pan. Grease pan with remaining 1 Tbsp. of canola oil (I'd do this by batch, so 1 tsp. or so at a time) and heat over medium low heat. Allow the oil to get hot enough to sizzle if you take a drop of water to it. Spoon a small amount of batter (I get four pancakes on a pan at a time) onto the pan and cook until the edges are dry and the batter bubbles towards the center (2 minutes or so). Flip and cook another two minutes or so. The pancakes will rise a bit. Serve with Grade B Maple syrup, plain, or with a little bit of butter on top.

Batter up!

Cooking. Better than the first batch. 

Cahir liked them. And he's not my child, so that counts!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pear Salad

It dawned on me that pear season is coming to an end fairly soon. Better to get them while they're still in the market and don't cost a fortune. Boy #2 has soccer practice at 5:30, so that means quick dinner on our return. This is easy to make ahead or make in steps. I did the rice early on and just now put it all together. It will be great with the piece of fish I'm planning to cook. (And came home to find the fish still frozen solid. Hot dogs instead.)

Pear Salad
Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: About 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes (rice)
Adapted from

3 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1 large firm pear (I used D'Anjou because the others felt like baseballs), cored and diced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup ready-made vinaigrette (I use because it's a really
versatile product)
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
salt to taste
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss to coat. Top with dried cranberries.

Ingredients go together in a snap

The finished product. Note the Cub Scout Requirement growing in the background. Pumpkins.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweet Potatoes with Granny Smith Apples

I went to the store today to purchase the usual staple items for the week (bananas, lettuce, carrots), and remembered at the last minute that I wanted to make Sweet Potatoes with Granny Smith Apples to go with last night's baked chicken breast. This is a very simple recipe, and one certainly worth repeating. I found it a number of years ago in our local paper, in an article where the paper tracks down a recipe from a local restaurant for a reader. In this instance, the restaurant is the OK Cafe. They mint money there, and have for 25 years now. This restaurant defies current economics. It's the place to see and be seen. I think my appendix ruptured there while having breakfast with a friend, but that's probably another story another time.

My husband ate after we did this evening and declared the sweet potatoes, "Excellent."

Sweet Potatoes with Granny Smith Apples
Adapted from, Atlanta
Four servings

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
This is a great make-ahead recipe to put in the fridge early in the day, and bake closer to mealtime. Just cover it with foil or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

1 pound sweet potatoes (3 medium), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thick chunks
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, brown sugar, ground ginger, olive oil, cider, rosemary and bay leaf. Add the sweet potatoes and apples to the baking dish and cover with the liquid ingredients. Stir to coat (and stir gently every 15-20 minutes while cooking) and bake for 45-50 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Sweet Potatoes and Granny Smith apples make an appealing combination

Before baking

After baking

This is what passes for dinner some nights. I was playing around with the Angry Bird and had one left over