Cookies, Dessert

Dessert anyone? How about four of them?

Easter dinner at our house revolved around the desserts.  Two things came into play- my Mom was coming for dinner and she loves anything lemon and I had given up sweets for Lent so I wanted something chocolate.  My hubby also likes choices.  One or two desserts are not enough for him and    we also had extra company just for dessert so we needed the selection.  As soon as I pinned my chocolate recipe, my niece sent a text asking when her Uncle was going to make it.  She immediately got the dessert invite!  So we grew from 8 people for dinner to 12 for dessert. 
The Lemon cookies and the cheesecake bars were made on 
Friday  by me.  The chocolate and the coconut desserts were started on Saturday night and finished up before dinner on Sunday. None of our dessert selections disappointed us and with plenty of leftovers we will be savoring Easter for days.
Cheesecake Lemon Bars from 

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

  No Bake Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake 

Coconut Cream Pie 

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Lemon cookies – Can’t wait to make again!

Oh, I can’t wait for hubby to make these again.  I think they have become my favorite cookie he has ever made.  A couple of weeks ago I met my 2 sisters at my mother’s house to clean out some closets, cabinets, and prep for her new carpets and floors.While it was a necessary job to get done with little time, and finding stuff you have no idea why she kept them,  it turned out to be a good morning bonding with the “Gray girls”.  I left our house before 9 to make Pilates class, then I drove directly out to mom’s house.   My sisters had started, and I quickly jumped in.    4 hours later , I packed up the cleaning supplies and headed home to find these lovely lemon cookies waiting for me on the counter, alongwithdinner plans and yes, the wine was included . 

They were soft,sweet and just melted in your mouth.  I used restraint when eating these cookies because I was trying to be good and lose a little of the holiday weight gain and I wanted to make them last.  So I thought that by the following Wednesday there would be at least a couple left to take out to my mom, who loves anything lemon.  When I opened the pantry and grabbed the cookie dish, it was empty. Who leaves an empty cookie dish in the pantry?  

I think it’s time to fill it back up again….don’t you


Lemon Krinkle Cookie

Ingredients
1  15.25 oz package lemon cake mix ( for moist cake)
2 eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup lemon infused olive oil
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl stir together cake mix, eggs, flour, oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, lemon extract, and vanilla until combined. (Dough will be soft.)
  2. Place granulated sugar in one bowl and powdered sugar in another bowl. For each cookie, drop 1 tablespoon of the dough into the granulated sugar; toss to coat with sugar (dough will have a soft ball shape). Toss dough in the powdered sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes.Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

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Christmas time is the best time!

Christmas is a very special time of year in our house.  First and foremost is the celebration of the birth of  the baby Jesus.   The music and the readings at Mass at this time of year are beautiful.   I love Christmas Day  when the trumpet joins in with the choir.  Such a blessed and joyous time of the year!
 
 
It also the time to gather with friends and family. We have plans for dinners with our peeps, cocktails with friend’s, post Christmas party with family to keep the spirit of the holiday the whole season through.   Our first gathering of the season was my niece’s  2nd annual cookie exchange last night. While it was a small gathering with two of my niece’s,  my daughter, my two sisters,  one of my sister in laws, my neighbor “Giada from across the street”, my great niece, great nephew and a friend of my niece (the host), all cookie types were well represented.
I remembered that last year there were an over abundance of butter balls so I dug back deep in the recipe file for some classic  pecan tassies.  This was a recipe I received when I had a Pampered Chef party and purchased the mini muffin tin.  I learned a very important lesson preparing for this exchange –  don’t try to save time and double the batches.  If you need more than the recipe calls for take the time and make separate batches.
 
We found these great boxes at a local kitchen store and packed each one with 8 cookies.  My recipe only makes 24 cookies so the 3 batches gave me 9 sets, 6 for exchanges and the rest for eating! 
 
It was a great party and the cookies are going fast.  The boys got into them as soon as they got home. 
 
 

Pecan Tassies

Ingredients

 
 
Tart Shells
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
Filling
2 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1   egg
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pecan halves, finely chopped
 Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. For tart shells, beat butter and cream cheese in bowl until well blended. Add flour; mix until a soft dough forms.

Using Small Scoop, shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls of dough into ungreased cups of Mini-Muffin Pan. Dip Mini-Tart Shaper in flour; press into dough with even pressure until dough rises slightly above rim of pan.

For filling, place butter in Small Batter Bowl; microwave on HIGH 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Finely chop pecans using Food Chopper; add to batter bowl and mix well.

Using Small Scoop, fill each tart shell with level scoop of filling (do not overfill). Bake 17-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven; cool in pan 3 minutes. Remove from pan to Stackable Cooling Rack; cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Yield: 24 servings of 1 tart
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German Christmas Traditions revisited

German Lepkuchen

 
 
 

 

My mom grew up in the depression, the youngest of 5 children.  She tells stories of working around the house helping my Grandmother, of sleeping on cots on the porch at their camp, ice skating down the Street at the pond and going off flying with her older brother nights after dinner.  She tells of playing a game of Monopoly that would go on for days, of war ration coupons and hand me down clothes.  The family had deep German roots and a hard work ethic.  My grandfather ran a local furniture store with his sisters which was not the most prosperous with a family of five children at home to feed and cloth and you split the earnings with your siblings.  I never got to meet my grandfather because he passed away two years before I was born, but I do have a few memories of my grandmother. 

I loved going to her house and playing with the milk box outside her side door, or playing underneath the evergreen in the front yard.   A few years ago my mom gave me her recipe box with my grandmothers recipes.  With our interest in cooking she thought we would enjoy looking at some of the old basic recipes and some of the great German cookies and Christmas treats from her past.  I have found that there is little detail and measures like “a pinch” or “dash”.  Grandma passed away soon after my 6th birthday, but her memories live on.

The one recipe my mom has talked about for years is her mother’s Lepkuchen.  She remembers sitting on the floor with a big wooden bowl between her legs, stirring, and stirring the heavy batter.  When I decided to make these cookies for my mom’s 87th birthday, I enlisted my son for the stirring.  This is a very heavy batter and makes a ton of cookies.  When you do make them you hold off on the frosting until you are almost ready to serve them.  Of the two recipes I found one said “will hold for 2 to 3 months un-frosted” and the other said “indefinitely”.

Lepkuchen

1/2 pint of molasses
1/2 pint of white corn syrup
1lb. Dark brown sugar
1 lb almonds in shell}     3 cups chopped meats (nuts)
1/2 lb Brazil nuts }
1/4 lb citron, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brandy
1tablespoon of baking soda, mix in flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
6 to 7 cups of flour – bake sample cookie to see if more flour is needed.  Should not be too porous.

Let dough chill.  Take out in small amounts, roll and cut into rectangles or squares.

Dough is very sticky if it warms up.  Bake at 350°, about 9 minutes.  Very hard when cool, store in large container.  Frost with confectionary frosting when needed.  The frosting will soften the cookies overnight.  The unfrosted cookies will keep up to 3 months.

Ok, so you read this and said what goes where?  That is what I thought, but figured wet ingredients together and then dry ingredients , mix together. 

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Care package delivered

This past weekend it was “family weekend” at our daughter’s school.  In anticipation of this trip I whipped up a few of her favorite treats.  I also did some shopping, gathered supplies and packed up some remaining clothes that she wanted.  It was our first real experience as parents of a college freshman and I think we did ok.
As soon as I finished work on Friday I quickly got home to help pack up the car and get on the road.  Hubby and our son we’re putting the finishing touches on their packing.  
Our departure was about 15 minutes later than planned.  I was excited to see her since it had been 3 weeks from our last visit.  Each time has gotten a little longer between visits.  We had a two hour and 15 minute ride to her dorm, but that turned into a three and one half hour trip with two separate construction zones and nothing going on.  
We finally arrived and showered her with gifts and treats.  On every happy girl and one beautiful weekend.  
So along with her favorite cookies I made my Rosemary Hummus and our favorite snack food- Spaghetti Pretzels.  This recipe was discovered a few years back while on a local wine trip with our foodie friends.  They served them with a local red wine and as we were leaving the winery I quickly memorized the recipe.  
              
Spaghetti Pretzels

20oz. Bag of pretzels 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package of Spaghetti Suace mix ( McCormicks)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons red wine

Mix all ingredients together  and pour over pretzels in a roasting pan and bake on a low oven (250 degrees) for 1/2 hour.
This recipe was first blogged in October 2013 for our college visit trip to UConn.  I really think the extra flour in these cookies makes them taste better than the standard Toll House Cookies.  

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies – 1970’s recipe

Ingredients

2/3 cup  shortening
2/3 cup butter, softened
cup  granulated sugar
cup  brown sugar, packed
eggs
teaspoons  vanilla
3 1/2  cups  flour
teaspoon  baking soda
teaspoon  salt
cup  chopped nuts
2 (6 ounce) packages  semisweet chocolate pieces

Directions:

Heat oven to 375° degrees.


Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients. 

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto un-greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

NOTE: If using self-rising flour, omit soda and salt.
SPECIAL NOTE:  Too keep them soft, place a piece of bread in the container.  It works!
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Ready for Memorial Day!

Who can count on the weather these days.  Memorial Day is just around the corner and it will be full tilt picnic time!  If you can’t count on Mother Nature, then make these S’more bars as a backup plan for this years picnic season.   These will  taste great sitting around our fire pit on a brisk spring evening.  Looking forward to  settling in with a warm cup of coffee a Brownie or two.

Inside-Out S’mores Brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
9 honey graham cracker squares
1 cup tiny marshmallows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 11x7x1 1/2-inch baking pan with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan. Set pan aside.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour.
Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Top with graham crackers (divide as needed to evenly top the batter). Sprinkle marshmallows on the graham crackers, but do not let them touch the sides of the pan. Carefully spread the remaining batter on the marshmallows and graham crackers, covering them completely.
Bake brownies for 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
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Well Hello Dolly! And Let’s Say GOODBYE WINTER!

Chocolate and Coconut Hello Dolly Bars

Will this winter ever end?  Yesterday it was 53 degrees and sunny when I left work. Look at the weather now.  I have had enough of this white stuff to last me for the next 5 years.  There was no school today and the roads got so bad that hubby and I came home from work early.  It is a great thing to have the capability to work while we are at home and keep on top of emails and projects we are working on.  For Hubby it was a day to work on some necessary administrative stuff.   For me I got a chance to clean out my emails and follow up on a few areas that I haven’t had the time to.  
During this snow day I also whipped up a batch of Hello Dolly’s chocolate and coconut bars. Pretty simple to make and pretty tasty too.  I had pinned this one a while back to my “Let them eat cake and cookies” board on Pinterest.  I found them on a board called Inspired by Charm when I first joined.  Lucky for me all of the ingredients were on hand.  For the graham cracker crumbs I used 2 sleeves of Honey Grahams and crushed them in my food processor.  

 


3 cups finely ground graham crackers (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed mik
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Optional:  1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (melted) for drizzling at the end

Let’s get baking:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly splash a 10-by-15″ rimmed baking sheet evenly with water, then line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter until combined. Press evenly onto bottom and up sides of prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until firm (about 10 minutes). Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and cool for about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle cooled crust evenly with pecans and chocolate. Pour condensed milk over the top, spreading to cover completely (Do not let it drip over the edges.). Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake until coconut is toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Place on wire rack and let cool completely.

If desired, drizzle with melted chocolate. Allow to cool and harden.

Trim edges, if needed, and cut into equal-size bars.

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Cleaning out the Pantry – Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies!

Sunday afternoon hubby was itching to make a dessert for dinner that night.  He had thought about and oatmeal cranberry bar that we have made before.  I believe it was from cooking light about 5 years ago that he first made these.  They are very tasty and not too fattening.  Perfect way to have something sweet and stay on track for looking good in those shorts and sundresses this summer.

When we stopped at the grocery store he picked up a few of the ingredients that he could remember from the recipe – an orange for orange zest and a quart of whole milk.  No substitutions’ in our house when it comes to dairy ingredients.  He asked me if we had the dried cranberries at home, which I assured him that we did.  Some in the pantry and some down in the basement on the reserve shelves we have for frequently needed items.  Even before we left the store he said “are you sure?” Yes, I am positive. 

Well, the time came to make the bars and what we were lacking was enough of the quick oats for the recipe.  We had rolled oats and we had quick oats, but not enough of each to make them.  I started pulling out bins from the pantry and came up with a open bag of white chocolate morsels. There was enough of them to make these delicious cookies. 
 . 

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

     

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
 1 teaspoon baking powder                
1/4 teaspoon salt                
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar   
2 large eggs             

1 1/2 cups white chocolate morsels
1 (6-ounce) package sweetened dried cranberries

Preparation

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; set aside. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in white chocolate morsels and cranberries.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonful’s onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 
 

 
 
 
So, this was our dessert last Sunday night.  And Monday night , Tuesday night, morning snack on Wednesday, a mid day snack on Thursday and then Hubby found the last two yesterday and finished them off. 
 
Hey, I think it is time he made some more cookies! The pantry is empty.
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Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

Time is running out….Christmas is days way and there is still so much to do.  I sat down yesterday and planned out my holiday menu.  Lasy night was dinner with our foodie friends and hubby took care of the dessert.  Today was going to be  brunch at a local inn and then we planned on going to a concert at the Cathedral.   Didn’t work out for me.  Woke up with a cold but the rest of the family went.  Monday is a half day of work for me, then the grocery store followed by Christmas with my side of the family.
I am the last of 5 kids, all of us are married.  My mom has 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren with 2 more on the way.  So counting all of us up including fiancée and boyfriend/girlfriends you are looking around 30 people for dinner.  Our contribution to this big feast will be a salad and I am planning on a cheese platter.  Might be the one I saw on pinterest that is shapped like a tree.  We traditionally celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, but as our family has grown it has become harder to get together because of other family obligations.
Christmas Eve will be celebrated at home with our backyard peeps!  The menu is in the works for that night.  Then Christmas day will be at hubby’s mothers house.  A smaller dinner is planned for hubby side of the family since he only has 1 sister.
So, on  Saturday before Christmas it was time to make some cookies of my very own.  Remember hubby made the cookies for the exchange last week.  My cookie selection were these easy spritz cookies.
1 cup butter, slightly softened
 3 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
Food coloring (optional)
Colored sugars
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Stir in sugar and vanilla.  Then add sifted flour slowly.  Once mixed add food coloring if desired.  
Fill cookie press with dough, select shape desired and put on to ungreased cookie sheet. Add decorations (sugars).  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, remove from oven and let rest 1 minute.  Move to cooling rack. 
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Cookie exchange- just in time for Santa!

One of my niece’s decided to host her first annual cookie exchange this past weekend.  Each family was to bring a plate or bag of 6 cookies  for each participant.   End result was coming home with 10 new cookie treats to try.  So baking wouldn’t be too bad since there were 11 families  represented, 66 cookies were needed.  Now the difficult part was finding the time to make them.  We had a ball game on Monday and also a meeting, and on Tuesday two ball games, one for each of our kids, to go to after work. We wouldn’t get home until almost 10 p.m.  On Wednesday  afternoon I left for a two day staff meeting out of town, not returning until late afternoon on Friday.  Now, the clincher was that the party was on Friday night!  No time for me to bake, so hubby to the rescue!  His only request was to make sure I had all the ingredients ready.

I picked a recipe from our holiday collection that hubby started to make about 15 years ago.  It was one of the recipes you find in the coupons section of the paper from Nestle’s.  Hubby had  them ready to go when I arrived home on Friday and had printed out the recipe for us to share.  So, now the big question is what to make next year?

Chocolate Chip Tea Cakes

Ingredients

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

BEAT butter and powdered sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour and nuts. Stir in 1 1/2 cups morsels. Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until set and light golden brown on bottom. Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

MICROWAVE remaining morsels in heavy-dutyplastic bag on HIGH (100%) power for 30 to 45 seconds; knead. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, kneading until smooth. Cut tiny corner from bag; squeeze to drizzle over cookies. Refrigerate cookies for about 5 minutes or until chocolate is set. Store at room temperature in airtight containers.

NOTE: For a spicier cookie, add 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon to flour before adding to butter-sugar mixture.