Vanilla-Red Pinwheels

Hey, everyone. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you’ll know that this is the time of year where I start the 12 Days of Christmas–an annual series of twelve baking recipes I post during the month of December that remind me of the holidays. Growing up, my mom and my grandmother baked a LOT of delicious things at Christmastime.

Apart from loving to eat it, I also just loved the overall atmosphere that all of their baking created in the house. Now that I’m an adult, I guess this series is my way of recreating that atmosphere for myself, and for the people who I love. I look forward to it every year, and I hope y’all enjoy it too. (Also, if you’re interested in viewing the series from past years, you can search the 12 Days of Christmas tag to find past recipes for the past few years.)

I knew even in the early days of planning this years series that I was going to make these. They’d been on my radar for a while for two reasons: first, I just can’t resist a butter cookie. Second, pinwheel cookies are so pretty, they’re nearly hypnotizing. I remember the first time I saw one. I just stared at it, becoming more and more determined with every passing minute that I was going to figure out how it was made asap and make a batch for myself.

I know that pinwheels look like they’re super elaborate, but the actual construction of them isn’t that difficult. Honestly, the ‘trickiest’ part is making sure the dough is at the right temperature for when it’s time to combine & roll the two different colored doughs together. Too cold and it will crack when you try to roll it. Too warm and it won’t hold the pinwheel design of the two colors. Don’t worry, though: because this is a basic butter cookie dough, it is very forgiving. If you think the dough is too cold, simply leave it out for a few extra minutes before you try to roll. It you think it’s too warm, leave it in the fridge for a little bit longer. You’re going to find that happy medium, I promise.

A lot of pinwheel recipes are either a vanilla-chocolate mix of doughs. Some are a single vanilla dough where one half has just been dyed with food coloring. For mine, I went with a vanilla dough and a red one that I flavored with a Red Velvet Emulsion from LorAnn oils. I also flipped the order of layering in my second log so that there is a vanilla wrapped cookie dough AND a Red Velvet flavored one. Also, don’t you dare throw away the scraps from when you trim the doughs! Those pretty tie-dye patterned cookies you see below are made solely from my scraps. I gently kneaded them together with my hands into a log, then wrapped it up with the others. When you cut it, you can see that the colors marble together and hold their design even after baking. Nothing wasted.

These cookies are excellent; like a classic butter cookie, they’re slightly crisp with a crumb that melts in your mouth. The two flavors work beautifully together. And (of course), they make one heck of an impression when presented on a plate. Not too shabby a start for the 12 Days of Christmas, eh?

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Vanilla-Red Pinwheels

Recipe Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion (you can also use a strawberry or raspberry flavoring. A combination of 1 of these flavorings with Red food coloring will also work)

Directions

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour with the salt and baking powder. Stir together with a fork, then set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, stirring just until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in batches, stirring just until combined.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a plate. Divide it in half. Set one aside, and place the other back into the bowl. Add the the 1 teaspoon of Red Velvet emulsion and stir until it’s uniform in color. Remove the Red Dough from the Bowl.

Divide the Vanilla Dough into 2 portions. Divide the Red Dough into 2 portions. You should now have four balls of dough. Roughly shape each one into a rectangle, then wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for about 30 minutes, or until firm.

Remove one of the vanilla doughs from the fridge. Sprinkle a clean surface (like a pastry mat or a piece of wax or parchment paper you’ve taped to your counter) with powdered sugar. Lay a piece of parchment paper down, place the dough on top of the paper, then place a second piece of parchment on top of that. Roll out the dough until it’s about 6 x 12 in size. As your roll, occasionally move it around/flip it, just to make sure it doesn’t stick. When it’s the right size, (keeping it sandwiched between the parchment paper)transfer the rolled out dough to a baking sheet.

Repeat this process with the other doughs. Place the baking sheet with the doughs in the freezer for 15 minutes. It should be firm, but not stiff–too stiff and it won’t roll properly.

Remove one of the vanilla doughs and one of the red doughs. Peel away the top parchment paper from them both. Flip the red dough on top of the vanilla dough so that they are sandwiched together. Peel the bottom paper from the raspberry dough. Trim the edges so that the 2 doughs line up. Carefully and tightly roll from the long end into a log, peeling away the bottom layer of parchment as you go.

Repeat this sandwiching and rolling process, but this time put the red dough layer on the bottom so that when you roll the dough, the red dough is on the outside.

(There is an excellent step by step pictured process of this, located here.)

Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Don’t throw away the scraps from the trimmings! I gently kneaded them together with my hands and formed a tie-dye patterned log that I also refrigerated with the pinwheel cookies.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to slice the cookies into slices 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Place them about 1 inch apart on the sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they begin to just turn golden brown on the bottom & at the edges. Allow to set up for 60 seconds on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

I’ll be linking this post up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #252, co-hosted this week by Alex @ Turks Who Eat and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

Braised Beef and Basil Chimichurri

I would like to send out prayers, thoughts, and good vibes to everyone out here on the West coast that’s being affected by all of these terrible wildfires. We’re not exactly close to where the actual fires are occurring, but the smoke has been traveling down to where we are, and the air quality has suffered terribly from it.

It’s a terrible situation–one that I hope will pass soon, and that the rebuilding efforts for all of those affected can proceed as best as they can.

How do you guys like to eat your steak?

I’ll go first, and be honest: my go to is a medium tri-tip with A1 on the side. Even if the steak is fantastic enough to eat completely on its own, I still like that primo steak sauce. I’ve only had one steak, ever (at an Emeril Lagasse restaurant) where the steak was delicious enough to where I turned down the A1 completely. Y’all can judge me if you want, but that’s just the way I like it.

I mention my general steak preferences because with this recipe, I kinda stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried something that I had never even eaten before, let alone cooked for myself. I braise beef all the time, but chimmichurri was uncharted territory. I knew that it was green and that it was eaten with food like tacos. But I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like, or if I would even like it myself.

Having now made it, I can now report back to all of you that I now know several things about making & eating chimmichurri, namely that I DO like it, very much. I’ve seen several variations with various herbs used here and there, but I decided to keep things simple for my first time. I use a base of fresh basil and oregano–two herbs that I think play really well against each other. I also put in a very generous amount of garlic, because I love it and because I can. But what REALLY brings all the flavors of the chimmichurri together is the balsamic vinegar that gets added at the very end–the acidity cuts through the sharpness of that garlic and makes the freshness of the herbs that much more fresher.

I kept the seasoning on the braised beef really traditional, on purpose. I’m glad that I did that. It’s a perfectly delicious pot of meat all on its own by the time it’s done, but once you add the basil chimmichurri to the savory beef, the beef moves away from being something you’d typically associate with stick to your ribs food for the autumn, and kinda reminded me of something I’d like to eat in the summertime on a porch deck. So I guess it’s kind of a best of both worlds thing.

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Braised Beef & Basil Chimichurri

Recipe Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs of beef sirloin, (you can also use top blade steak, chuck roast or tri tip that you cut into large chunks)
  • A few dashes of low sodium soy sauce
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of your favorite steak seasoning; I used The Gourmet Collection’s Pepper Steak Spice Blend. You can find it at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup oil (olive, vegetable or canola will all work), plus more for searing
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth (the meat is going to release more liquid in the oven, this is just to make sure it’s submerged enough to braise)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Onion powder, Garlic Powder

For Chimichurri Sauce

  • 8 oz fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 oz fresh oregano, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup (olive, vegetable or canola will all work)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic, mustard, brown sugar, pepper, oregano leaves, smoked paprika and oil. Stir together until it forms a paste. Set aside

Rub the meat with the steak seasoning on both sides, then place it inside 2 resealable gallon size bags. Evenly divide and pour the seasoning paste over the meat. Reseal the bags, then turn/toss the bags around, massaging the paste into the meat so that it’s evenly seasoned. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, bring it to a high heat, just before it smokes. Sear the meat on both sides until browned (in batches if need be), then remove to a plate.

Saute the onions in the leftover drippings for about 5 minutes until they’re softened/translucent. Add the bay leaf and chicken broth and stir, allowing it to come up to a simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning (I added plenty of onion powder, garlic powder and pepper).

Place the meat back in the pot, (or you can remove it to a 13 x 9 baking dish) cover tightly with either a lid or foil, then place in the oven. Allow to braise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is tender and can be pulled easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, make the chimichurri sauce: place the basil, oregano and garlic together in a food processor or a blender. Pulse a few times, then blend on high until they’re finely minced/combined. Remove to a medium bowl, then slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking together with a whisk or fork. Add salt & pepper, then 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Taste it and if desired, add the second tablespoon. Serve on top of the braised beef.

I’m very pleased to be co-hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday # 250 along with Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com. Please join us!

Breakfast Slab Pie

I seriously cannot believe that we are making our way through November already. 2018 is almost over. We’ve already started getting ingredients for Thanksgiving, which I’m always excited for, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s going to be happening in a matter of weeks. From there, things REALLY get busy round here, what with the 12 Days of Christmas baking series–I started making my list of this year’s recipes earlier today and I’m already excited to get started on that, so stay tuned.

We still have brinner at least once a week in our house, but it’s been a while since I posted a new recipe for breakfast on the blog. I wanted to change that and so this past week, I decided to go ahead and make something new for our brinner.

Slab pie is one of those things that I really enjoy baking–more so than a lot of other things that I like. It makes a whole lot of pie for a crowd, with a comparatively low amount of labor. Up until now, I’ve only made sweet fruit dessert slab pies and although they’ve been fabulous I have been curious about what it would look like if I took it to the savory side.

The method for making the pie crust is my normal method of grating frozen butter into the dry ingredients. It might seem ‘extra’ to go to the effort of buying a box grater if you don’t already have one, but I will say it again and again until I’m blue in the face: frozen butter & a box grater will change your pie crust making life. It will also transform the way you make biscuits and scones. If you don’t know, now you know.

I think one of the best things about this recipe is how versatile the filling can be. I’ve provided a recipe below of what I used for our slab pie, but with breakfast foods in general, the possibilities are endless. It’s no different here. If you don’t like sausage as a protein, use ham. Or mushrooms. Or chorizo. If you don’t like green bell peppers, use red or yellow. If you don’t like spinach, use potatoes. Do what you heart (or tastebuds) tell you to do.

Be careful when you pour the beaten eggs on top; make sure it’s mixed into the filling well so that it doesn’t spill over too much into the crust. Use your fingers to try and make sure the crust is pinched together tight at the corners of the pie especially. Also, bake the slab pie on the lower rack of the oven to make sure you get the golden brown, flakey crust results that you see in the pictures–the closer it is to the heat, the faster it will cook on the bottom.

Have a good weekend, guys!

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Breakfast Slab Pie

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Crust

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 tablespoons (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3/4 cup cold water, plus more if needed

For Filling

  • 2 lbs of roll breakfast sausage (pork or turkey, doesn’t matter), browned and drained
  • 8 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 12 eggs, (plus one for the egg wash)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

For Crust: In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the salt and pepper. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the cold butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork. Make a well in the center, then pour in the water. Stir together with a fork and spatula until it forms a craggy mass. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it two to three times, just until it comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 17 x 11 baking sheet and set aside.

Place the crumbled, browned sausage in a large bowl. In a large skillet, saute the onions, then the bell peppers until they are softened and translucent, about 7-10 minutes each. When finished, add to the bowl of sausage. Mix in the drained spinach. Stir together until evenly combined.

Divide the pie crust in two, making one portion slightly bigger than the other. On a floured surface, roll out the larger portion into a 17 x 11 rectangle. Use your rolling pin to help transfer it to the greased baking sheet, using your knuckles to press the crust into the corners; try to make sure there’s some overhang over the sides of the pan.

Spoon the sausage filling into the crust, smoothing over the top with a spatula. (You may have some leftover; place it in an egg scramble at a later use) Place in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, beat 12 the eggs together, then season generously with salt and pepper. Remove the filled pie from the refrigerator. Carefully pour the beaten egg mixture over the filling, using a fork to help it seep in evenly. Roll out the second piece of pie crust into a rectangle. Drape it over the filling, and crimp the edges to seal the pie.

Use a sharp knife to create 2 steam vents in the center (not too big though, or the eggs may leak out). Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with some water, then use a pastry brush to brush it over the top crust.

Bake the pie on the lower rack of the oven until the crust is golden and the filling is set, 55-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before slicing into squares serve.

Sharing at the Fiesta Friday #249, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

Chewy Ginger Cookie Bars

Y’all, do me a quick favor. Look to the right of your screen and locate the search bar.

Type in the word ‘ginger’. Hit the search button.

What do you see?

My guess would be that quite a few posts are going to pop up.

The reason for this is very simple: I love ginger. I have a very strong appreciation of it. I look for ways to throw it into dishes that may not have originally called for it. Whether you’re using it for a sweet or savory dish, both ground and fresh ginger are fantastic stuff to have around.

I’ve mentioned before that I make my own ginger syrup to help with my stomach issues. The only thing about making ginger syrup is that after you’ve made the syrup, you’re left with quite a bit of candied/crystallized ginger that’s been simmered in the sugar syrup.

Not that I’m complaining. Apart from being delicious to snack on it by itself, candied ginger is one of my favorite things to bake with. Today’s recipe features a double whammy of both ground and candied ginger.

Sometimes I want cookies, but also just don’t feel like making the dough, letting it rest & chill in the fridge, then rolling or scooping it out into individual portions. What I love about cookie bars is that they take the extra labor out of making actual cookies. There’s no chilling time required. You don’t have to portion the dough out individually. After the dough is made, it all gets pressed into one pan and baked off together. You can seriously make this in less than 10 minutes, and have it baked & finished in less than 1 hour. It couldn’t be easier.

This recipe started out from a basic sugar cookie bar that I altered. I swapped out some of the white sugar for brown sugar, then added molasses, ground ginger and candied ginger. Apart from the warm, spicy flavors of these bars, I  think that the texture is my favorite part.

They have a well balanced density, but it’s not so much that it’ll get stuck in your teeth. It’s like that perfect sweet spot that you get in the center of a drop cookie–except, here it’s in the whole thing. I ate mine still warm with whipped cream and caramel. To say that I enjoyed it would be an understatement.

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Chewy Ginger Cookie Bars

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil with cooking spray.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugars and molasses into the melted butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring briskly. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring just until combined. Fold in the minced crystallized ginger. Spread the dough into the baking dish with an oiled spatula.

Bake until the edges are set but the center is soft, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to sit in pan for about 10 minutes, then use the foil to lift out of the baking dish and transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into square bars.

Sharing at the Fiesta Friday #248, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Alex @ Turks Who Eat.