Friday, October 26, 2018

How to Make the Perfect Cookie Cutter Cookie






The holidays are almost upon us!  First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then my favorite Christmas!  All these holidays have one food in common.  A food that is made and served all during the holiday season.  


Cookies!

Everyone loves cookies.  There are so many different types there is something for every taste.  One of the most favored of all cookies is the sugar cookie.  The best thing about them is they can be decorated.  Decorating cookies is a tradition in many households during the holidays.  Some decorate fancy, some decorate wild, whichever way you decorate, I can guarantee you will have fun!

When making cookies to decorate, the dough has to be fairly stiff, so the cookie cutter can trace a clean image.  If the edges are not straight and cleanly cut, when the cookies are baked they can lose their shape, and your cookie cat will come out of the oven looking like a toad!  The main problem with this is that many times a dough that is stiff enough to make great cookies will have a hard consistency  and taste like sawdust.  This is not what you want!


Through trial and error, I have come up with the perfect recipe for sugar cookies to be made with cookie cutters.  It is stiff enough to make nice, crisp edges, but also tastes delicious and you won't break your teeth eating them.


The Perfect Cookie Cutter Cookie Recipe


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (two sticks) cold butter, cubed
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (this is optional, but I love it!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Beat the sugar and butter until smooth
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium,  then add the flour, salt and vanilla 
  4. Lower the mixer spead and add the cornstarch
  5. Mix about 4 or 5 minutes until the dough forms a ball. If it doesn’t form well, you may need to hand knead it.
  6. You can roll the dough out on a floured counter, but I have found that if too much flour is added to the dough, the cookies are kind of dry, so I lay out parchment or wax paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray and use that to roll out the dough. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin,  spray it lightly with cooking spray too!
  7. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and get out your cutters!
  8. Press the cutters down fully, all the way around for clean edges.
  9. Spray the cookie sheets with cooking spray and lay out the cookies at least a 1/4 inch apart Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, keep an eye on them so they don't get over done and the edges turn brown.
  10. Remove cookies from the oven and carefully place on a cooling rack
  11. Don't decorate until the cookies are completely cool, but do not refrigerate.
Icing is very easy to make.  The icing I use has only three ingredients, four if flavoring is added.  I usually make my icing a bit thicker because it is easier to handle.

Cookie Icing

Ingredients:


Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. 
  2. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  3. Put the icing into separate bowls, add food colorings to each
  4. Dip cookies, paint them with a brush, or use an icing bag or condiment squirter.



One of my favorite cookies to decorate is a skeleton.  I found this cookie cutter and stamper on Amazon and I have had so much fun with it!  First you use it to cut out the shape, and then you can press the cutter into the dough and it stamps on a design to help you in decorating!




Don't you love these?



I hope you have fun this holiday season making and decorating cookies!

Have a great weekend,

Jade    :)
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Image Credits:
https://pixabay.com/en/cookies-skeletons-pastry-love-dead-2220291/
https://www.amazon.com/Fred-GINGERDEAD-Cookie-Cutter-Stamper/dp/B005LGUWUQ/
https://pixabay.com/en/spiderweb-cobweb-spider-s-web-152117/


Friday, October 12, 2018

Festive Crockpot Mexican Casserole





Who doesn't love crockpot meals?  Easy to make, and delicious to eat, I think you will find this is one of the best.  I really love Mexican food, but it usually takes a lot of effort to make and serve, so I decided to try making a crockpot Mexican casserole that I could toss together and just let it cook all afternoon, and be ready to serve at dinner.  This is what I came up with, and it was instantly loved by my husband, who loves Mexican as much as I do.  Give it a try!


Ingredients:


  • 1 pound lean hamburger
  • 1 3 1/2 ounce can green chiles
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1 15 ounce can whole kernel corn
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 14 ounce tomatoes
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups 3 cheese Mexican blend  or cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups water


Directions:


Fry the hamburger until it is no longer pink (do not overcook!)
Pour uncooked rice and water into the crockpot
Add hamburger in an even layer
Add black beans, corn, chilies, garlic, pepper and onion and stir to mix.
Crush bouillon cube and sprinkle over mixture
Add 1 cup cheese spread evenly
Pour in tomato sauce
In a small bowl, mix the black pepper, chili powder, paprika, salt, and cumin till well blended
Sprinkle spices over the mixture in the crockpot
Turn the crockpot on high and let cook for 4 and 1/2 hours
Remove lid and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and re-cover
Cook for another 1/2 hour or till melted into the casserole


I serve this with tortilla chips, sour cream and non alcoholic sangria.  It never fails to please! If you have never made non alcohholic sangria, below is the recipe.  I make it because my husband is diabetic and cannot drink, but it is also great for households with kids.  Enjoy!


Non Alcoholic Sangria Recipe


Ingredients:


  • 1 apple, peeled and cut in slices
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 lime sliced with the rind on
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 orange, sectioned
  • a handful of rinsed Maraschino cherries (or pitted fresh)
  • 3/4 cup cranberry-grape juice frozen concentrate, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3 cups seltzer water


Directions: 


Place apple slices, cherries and lemon juice to the pitcher and stir.
Add the orange sections, and juice, the lime slices and the cranberry-grape frozen concentrate and the sugar.
Refrigerate for two hours and then add the seltzer water and stir to combine
Serve immediately

This makes a great dinner on any night, and it is guaranteed to please.  You don't even have to worry about a hangover!

Have a great weekend.


Jade    :)   

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I love serving Sangria in a clear pitcher and clear glasses, it is so pretty!  This is my favorite Sangria serving set:





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Image Credit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/13470115@N08/5152902373/sizes/l

Monday, October 1, 2018

Unbaked Cake - A Strange Old Recipe






I inherited a box of cookbooks from my mom when she passed away.  Some of these books are really old.  I mean REALLY old.  So old they call it "fat" instead of oil and "sour milk" instead of buttermilk.  My favorite one of all of them was a church cookbook that was run off on a ditto machine.  (yes a ditto machine, if you don't know what that is, Google it)  It is so old that the covers are gone, so there is no date or name of where it came from.  But I will tell you one thing......the recipes in it are delicious and they are made with the real things.......flour, sugar, eggs, etc.  You will not find any chemical additive junk in these old timers.


Let me share one of my favorites:  The Unbaked Cake


Ingredients:


  •     1/2 pound crushed graham crackers
  •     1 pound bag of small marshmallows each cut into at least 4 pieces
  •     1/2 pound raisins (half gold, half dark)
  •     1 cup pecans very finely chopped (can use walnuts)
  •     1/4 cup of strawberry preserves
  •     15  Maraschino cherries
  •     1/2 cup of cream
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1 tablespoon grated orange peeling



Instructions:


Mix everything in a large bowl, other than the cream.
When thoroughly mixed, add the cream and stir to make a dough consistency
Press into an oiled pan (I use cooking spray) and frost with white boiled frosting (recipe below)
Chill for 24 hours before serving.  Keeps for about a week.


White Boiled Frosting


Ingredients:


    2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup white syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla


Directions:


Heat until the liquids spins a thread when dropped from a spoon.
Beat two egg whites, stiff, add vanilla and sugar
Pour in the hot syrup and beat until the right consistency for spreading and is cool


This is really a funky cake, but I really love it.  It kind of reminds me of fruit cake, but it tastes much better.  Sometimes I skip the frosting completely and just put a dolop of whipped cream on it or nothing at all.  Give it a try, I bet you will love it!


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Image Credit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/llstalteri/5521134064/sizes/m/


Friday, September 21, 2018

Old Fashioned Caramel Frosting







This recipe has been in our family for a long time. It is really delicious on chocolate cake or vanilla cupcakes. It is the perfect topping for fall bake goods.



Ingredients:


  • 1 and 1/2 cup white sugar (i use coconut palm sugar)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon real butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla



Directions:  


  1. Heat sugar and milk to a soft boil.
  2. Add butter and remove from heat.
  3. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Add vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until creamy.


Makes enough to frost a three layer cake, between layers and the exterior
I usually sprinkle the top with nuts or mini chocolate chips. A cake with this frosting is especially good served with butter pecan ice cream. 


If you want the cake to be caramel as well, I found this recipe in my Mom's cookbook, but I have to confess, I have never made it.  I prefer this caramel frosting on chocolate cake!


Caramel Cake


Ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter (two sticks)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs 
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


Directions:


  1. Put butter out until it is room temperature
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and set aside
  4. With an electric mixer beat butter on low for a couple minutes until fluffy  
  5. Add brown sugar and beat slowly then add white sugar and beat for about 5 minutes
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat till combined
  7. Add half the flour and then the buttermilk and then the rest of the flour
  8. Add vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated
  9. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Do NOT overbake!
  10. Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
  11. Frost with the delicious caramel frosting!




I hope you enjoy this tasty delight for fall.



Jade    :)


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Image Credit:  
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ebarney/5298585575/sizes/l

Friday, September 14, 2018

Spicy Potato Corn Soup







Spicy Potato Corn Soup is one of my favorite foods for fall. Not only is it beautiful and colorful, but it is hearty and you can make a meal of it. Just serve it with cornbread or crackers and some celery and carrot sticks and you're done. All the colors of fall on your table, and it's delicious too! It can also be made vegan, if that is your preference.



Ingredients:



  • 4 cups of cubed potatoes (peeled or unpeeled, your choice)
  • 1 15 ounce can of creamed corn
  • 1 15 ounce can of whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 cup of diced green chilies (canned or fresh) minced
  • 2 cups of water or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk (soy milk for vegan)
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped small
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup green or red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (optional, but I LOVE this stuff!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of black pepper



Directions:



Peel and dice the potatoes and place them in a pot with the water or stock.
Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
In a skillet, saute the onion, garlic and peppers until soft.
Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and cumin and stir to mix.
Take half the potatoes and put them in a bowl with the creamed corn and mash (or use a food processor).
Add the onion mixture to the mashed potatoes and corn mixture with the cup of milk and stir to mix.
Add drained whole kernel corn and drained chillies to the remaining unmashed potatoes and stir gently
Add the mashed mixture to the unmashed mixture and stir. Add more milk if you prefer the soup to be thinner.
Simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently so it does not burn.


If you prefer less spice, you can omit the chilies.  Sometimes I add more vegetables to this soup.  It is great with sliced carrots and celery.  Just about any vegetable that you like can be added.  My husband is a big meat eater, and he likes to put meat in this soup.  It's really good with smoky ham, bacon or shredded chicken.  Any type of meat you like can be added and I bet it would be delicious, this soup is just that versatile!

This soup is wonderful comfort food for lunch or dinner on a crisp fall day.  I hope you enjoy it!


Jade    :)


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Image Credit:  
https://www.flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun/4884744029








Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Thai Chicken Soup






Do you like spicy food?  Then you should cook up a pot of this Thai soup.  It has a deliciously unusual flavor with a spicy bite!


If you want more spice and heat, leave the seeds and ribs in when you cut up your jalapeno peppers.  Much of the heat of a hot pepper is in the seeds, so leaving them in or removing them is an excellent way of controlling just how hot you want a dish.  If it isn't hot enough for you even with the seeds in, then you can use habanero peppers, but take my advice and be careful; habanero peppers are dangerously hot, so wear gloves when slicing and seeding them.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
1 cup carrots, chopped fine
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced and seeded
1/3 cup green bell pepper, julienned
1 pound chicken, cubed
4 cups chicken broth
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced long ways
1 lime, juiced and half the peel zested
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:


Lightly salt and pepper the chicken cubes and set aside
Saute green onions, garlic, cilantro and ginger in olive oil until soft
Mix in carrots, peppers and mushrooms and saute all for 3 minutes
Pour in chicken broth, add soy sauce, and then slowly add coconut milk
Bring to a boil then then lower heat to medium
Add chicken cubes and cook on medium heat about 15 or 20 minutes until cooked through
Toss in peas, lime zest and juice and heat on medium for 5 minutes
Serve hot immediately with wheat crackers, pita chips, or torn bread pieces

If you want to make this soup into more of a dinner entree, simply serve it over noodles or rice.  It is a delicious addition to your  recipes to make regularly, because once you make it, you will want to make it again and again! 


Have a great week!


Jade    :)

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If you like this recipe and want to try other Thai recipes, I recommend this book! 
It has some of the most delicious Thai recipes I ever tasted 
and they are very easy to make!


Simple Thai Food Cookbook



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Image Credit:  http://tinyurl.com/kstgrrf

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Easy Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce to Freeze or Can





Including My Personal Recipe for Buttons an Bows Pasta



Making tomato sauce is easy, the way I do it.  I have tried many different ways of making tomato sauce over the years, but I finally struck on a way that is both easy and quick.  It also makes really delicious sauce.  I freeze mine, but you could just as easily can it.  I used regular dried herbs because I feel they flavor stays stronger than fresh herbs, after being frozen or canned.

Ingredients:

  • 10 or 12 tomatoes, cored and cut in chunks (no need to peel or seed)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil


Directions:
Take the tomatoes and put them in the blender on puree
Take a large mixing bowl and put a strainer in it
Pour the pureed tomatoes into the strainer, stirring until nothing is left in the strainer but tomato skins and seeds
You may need to do this twice, depending on how large your blender is.
Toss the skin and seeds or give them to your chickens
Place the strained tomato sauce into a large sauce pan on medium heat
While your sauce is heating, stir in the rest of the ingredients
When thoroughly mixed, turn the heat to low and cover
If you want thinner tomato sauce, heat for 30 minutes.  If you want thicker, cook for 1 hour
I stir mine, every 15 minutes or so so make sure it is cooking evenly and not scorching
When it is the consistency that you want, remove from heat and let cool until it is room temperature or colder (do not put in refrigerator)
I use a pint mason jar to measure how much tomato sauce to put in my food saver bags, seal them and put them in the freezer

When I want to use it, I remove it from the freezer and cut the bag off and put it in my Ninja Cooker or you can use a slow cooker.  This is what I use to make all my pasta meals.  If you don’t have a slow cooker or Ninja, you will have to wait for it to thaw on it’s own.  I would not recommend thawing it in the microwave, but you can if you like.  There are so many things that you can make with tomato sauce, but I would like to share my favorite pasta recipe that I make in my Ninja.  It’s called Buttons and Bows.

Buttons and Bows Pasta

The cool thing about my Ninja Multicooker is that it can act as a stove top, oven or slow cooker.  That is how I can make this delicious meal all in the Ninja.  For more info on the Ninja, see the link below to check it out.


Ingredients:

  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup of fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup of diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/3 cup of green pepper
  • 1 pint tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves of diced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
Turn the Ninja on  the Stove top setting and brown the sausage in the tablespoon of olive oil
Leaving the sausage in, turn the Ninja to Oven and set it to 350 degrees
Pour in 4 cups of warm water and the uncooked pasta
Add the the rest of the ingredients except the spinach and cover.
Set the timer for 30 minutes
When the 30 minutes is up, dump in the spinach and stir to mix
Cook for another 5 minutes
Serve immediately

Could this recipe be easier?  A delicious one pot meal, one of many that I make in my Ninja.  The Ninja is a bit pricey, I am not going to say it isn’t.  What I am going to say is that it makes cooking so many things faster and easier.  It really is worth the price.  Take a look at the video below and you will see what I mean.





I cannot recommend the Ninja highly enough.  My sister was so impressed, she went out and bought one of her own.  She is the one that told me that she uses it to cook cakes and other desserts.  She bought a Ninja cook book and really was getting creative.  I had to buy the cook book too, and ever since then, there is no stopping me.  If you need any more convincing of the versatility of the stuff you can cook in your Ninja, just go to You Tube and search Ninja cooking system recipes.  You will be shocked at the number of videos there are.  Ninja cooking system has a ton of fans and users!

Jade    :)



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Ninja 3 in 1 Cooking System