Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies1

In my last post, I talked about some of my favorite Christmas movies, but today I realized that I totally left out one of the absolute best. I’m talking about Love Actually, of course. Duh, Jess! (smacks forehead).

When it comes to love, I’m probably the most cynical, unromantic person you could ever meet. Still, I just love this movie. It made me smile. It made me want to cry. It made me love love (if that makes any sense). For those that don’t know, Love Actually is a romantic comedy that takes place in Britain just before Christmas and revolves around  the love lives of several different couples. Some crass humor and potty mouthing makes it not a movie you’d probably want to show the kiddies, but if you’re at the proper age, the movie overall is really good. The stellar cast alone makes it worth seeing: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chiwetel Ejiofor- c’mon, how many times are you gonna get THAT much talent together in one single movie?

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There’s a Buzzfeed quiz going on right now where you can see which Love Actually couple you match up with- that gave me an idea to do a short little blurb post about which of the couples/storylines of the movie are my favorite. If you haven’t seen the movie then this post may not make a lot of sense, but bear with me. There may be spoilers, but maybe they’ll just make you want to see it for yourself.

I think my favorite couple of the whole movie is David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). First, although there was an attraction between them from the moment that they first met, nothing about it felt rushed or unrealistic. It was gradual, natural and soso sweet. You can tell from their chemistry that they’re gonna be a couple who can always stay laughing- which is important. Between her exuberant smile (seriously, her face glows when she grins) and accidental slips of the tongue, and his wry sense of humor, they make for a perfectly adorable couple. Plus,  they had the best ‘first kiss’ of the movie- even if it was a TAD bit embarrassing lol

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Honestly, Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lucia Monez)’s relationship is a VERY close second to David and Natalie’s for me. Which is weird, considering my cynical view of romance and love. Two people who don’t even speak the same language fall in love over the course of a few weeks and after taking secretly taking Rosetta Stone courses in each other’s languages, decide to get married. Is this something I think is a good idea in real life? No, probably not. In real life, I’d probably give Jamie and Aurelia one year, tops before they call it quits.But this isn’t real life- it’s a movie. They have real, tangible chemistry. Maybe it IS possible to fall in love with someone you can’t even talk to in your own language-I doubt it, but it wouldn’t be the first time I would be wrong about something. And it’s Christmas. So, I’m just gonna say that it was a wonderful, romantic idea and that Jamie and Aurelia will be together forever.

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My third ranked Love Actually couple may be a bit of surprise; it’s Harry (Alan Rickman) and Karen (Emma Thompson). For those that have seen the movie, I know you may be scratching your heads, thinking, “Huh? But Jess, remember how their storyline ends?” I know. Just lemme explain. Harry and Karen were the only couple in the movie that had been together in a stable, long-lasting relationship at the start of the plot. Their ‘love actually’ isn’t a picture of what happens when love comes along, but more of a look at what happens when love is tested, when it begins to fade, or even when it’s completely betrayed. It’s not pretty. It hurts. Badly. I’m not sure if I’ll ever forgive Harry/Alan for that scene in the bedroom where Emma/Karen is crying by herself. It made my eyes water- and making me cry about anything is nigh to impossible. Their story is the most heart-wrenching part of the Love Actually…but it’s also the most realistic.

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Linzer sandwich cookies are a permanent piece of my childhood at Christmas. We made them every year-or rather, my mom did. I just stood next to her at the counter top, helped spread the jam on the bottom of the cookie and smushed them together. Then I ate them. Now, I get to do all of the above. The cookies themselves have a wonderful flavor from the toasted almonds.The texture is tender, but with a slight crumbly bite- almost like a teatime biscuit. The subtle nutty flavor of the cookie is complimented wonderfully by the sweetness of the jam sandwiched inside. It was a favorite for me back in the day, and it hasn’t lost any points since then, let me tell you.

It’s Day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas series we’ve been doing on the blog, but more importantly it’s also Fiesta Friday #47, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. So for those of you at the party, feel free to have some of these cookies, but also feel free to check out the list below of all the recipes from the Christmas series I’ve been putting up over the past week below 🙂

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Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

Day 6: St. Lucia Buns

Day 7: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 8: Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies


Recipe Courtesy of Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez via RealSimple.com 

Print

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. confectioners sugar
  • 1 12 -ounce jar raspberry jam

 Directions

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

2. In a food processor, process the almonds and ¼ cup of the brown sugar until the almonds are finely ground.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the almond mixture, then the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix).

5. Divide the dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

6. Heat oven to 350° F. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 2- to 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Using a ¾- to 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary.

7. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

8. Sprinkle the confectioners’ sugar on the cookies with the holes. Spread 1 teaspoon jam on the remaining cookies and top with the sugared cookies. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts

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Welcome to the 2nd Annual 12 Days of Christmas Series on Cooking is My Sport! Baking goodies is one of my all-time favorite ways to get into the Christmas spirit, so I thought that I would share some of that spirit with you guys in case anybody out there needed some inspiration for baking ideas, or a way to get that ‘Scrooge’ out of you- because no one can resist food.

It’s funny the way that you can hold onto Christmas memories like no other kind of memories. I’ve certainly found that to be the case for me; whether the memories are pleasant, unpleasant or just flat out embarrassing, when it comes to Christmas I can retain an awful lot. When I sat down to write this post, there was one Christmas memory that kept surfacing in my mind over and over again.

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I was five. It was Christmas time and our church was holding the annual Christmas pageant that all of the kids participated in. It was kind of a big deal- or at least it seemed that way to five year old me. The Preschoolers and Kindergarten kids had one ‘big number’ in the pageant. It was a song called “C’mon and Ring Those Bells”. As such, all of us would be holding little bells to shake while we sang along with our teacher. We’d been practicing it for several weeks and by the time that the day of the show came along, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, I could actually sing on key, I knew how to shake my bell to the actual rhythm and beat of the song (which was a lot more than I could say for the boy that stood next to me). This performance was gonna be a lock….or so I thought.

The Big Day of the Christmas pageant finally came around. Now listen guys; it would be one thing if we had just been performing in front of maybe a hundred people- but we weren’t. My church wasn’t all that small. Quite the opposite, actually.  The auditorium could seat a few thousand, and on that night it happened to be full. Take a five year old and suddenly put her in front of a few thousand people and what do you suppose it gonna happen? She’s gonna start getting a little stage fright. Even as nervous as I was, I was still determined that I was gonna own this song. Like, totally own it. I have a very clear recollection of not wanting to embarrass my mom and my grandparents who were in the audience watching. So butterflies or no butterflies in my stomach, the show was going to go on.

My mom had dolled me and Jas up in our brand new, stiff, uncomfortable (and in retrospect extremely ugly) Christmas dresses and Black Mary Jane shoes. I had a shiny gold bell on a green cord. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up in the very front row. Everything started off just fine. I had a momentary rush of anxiety just before going on the bright, decorated stage, but it was gone after a few seconds. The house lights were down so I couldn’t see the audience, but I was still determined to make my family proud of me. When the music started and we began singing, I was ready; SO ready. I began shaking my bell-holding hand up and down furiously.  We were about a quarter of a way through the song- when suddenly, without any warning…the unthinkable happened.

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I.dropped.my.bell.

Guys. There are no words to describe the panic…the horror…the trauma, of what my poor little 5 year old self felt at that moment. I felt absolutely certain that everybody; my mom, my grandparents, the pastor, EVERYBODY in the audience had noticed my mistake. I had ruined the enormous, beautiful Christmas pageant. Skip that, I felt like I had ruined Christmas. If I close my eyes right now, I can STILL see that darn bell on the green cord sitting on the ground by my feet. It seemed like it was staring at me for the rest of the song, taunting me for completely blowing my huge stage debut.

“But Jess,” You all are probably thinking, “Why didn’t you just pick the bell up?”

Guys, you don’t get it. I was in the front row. In front of two thousand people. I couldn’t break the formation of the children’s choir line by bending down. If I bent down, everyone really would notice that I had done something wrong. All the other kids would simultaneously stop singing and laugh at me Peanuts-Gang-Style. I’d get in trouble afterward. My teacher would never let me be in another pageant again. My family would be disgraced.

(These were actual thoughts I had in that moment; I’m so not kidding.)

So I endured the remainder of the song while simply holding my hand and shaking it back and forth as if the bell were still really there; hoping, praying, begging Jesus to please let me not get into too much trouble when this entire ordeal was over. When the Christmas pageant was over, I took my twin sister Jas (who had been standing right next to me) aside and asked her if she thought something terrible would happen because I dropped me bell. You know what she said?

“Jess, what are you talking about?”

Apparently, she hadn’t noticed a thing.

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Yesterday, I posted a recipe for Cranberry Clementine Sauce as a prequel to the First Day of Christmas in our series. When I wanted to use up some excess sauce, I got the idea in my head to use it in a recipe for homemade toaster tarts. Because let’s face it: most Pop Tarts taste awesome, but the contents of the ingredient list on the side of the box are…not so awesome. With these, you know exactly what’s in them: sweet and tart cranberry/clementine filling in buttery flaky pastry.  I added a simple icing to them to make the tarts look as festive and Christmas-y as possible, but honestly they do taste good enough to eat plain.

I’ve got quite a few, so I’ll also be taking them to this week’s Fiesta Friday #46, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Margy @La Petite Casserole and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. C’mon over guys, I’ve got plenty of tarts to spare.

Also, be sure to stay tuned: The 12 Days of Christmas on Cooking is My Sport will be continuing tomorrow with another great recipe 😉

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Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Wilson Sonoma

Print: Page 1 and Page 2

Ingredients

For Tarts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup cranberry clementine filling (recipe follows)

Filling

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. of milk
  • 1-2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • Sprinkles (optional)

 Directions

1. For tart filling: In a small saucepan combine fresh cranberries, clementines, orange and cranberry juices, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the dried cranberries and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Set aside, cool completely.

2. For tart dough: combine the flour, confectioners sugar, salt in a bowl. Add the butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add milk and egg yolk and mix together, just until dough comes together. (You may need to add a bit more milk here. I did, adding just enough until it held together in a ball.) Wrap dough ball into two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, divide dough in half and form each into a rough rectangle. Roll 1 rectangle until it measures about 16×9 in. Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 small rectangles, each about 3×4 in.

4. Lay half the rectangles on the work surface and lightly brush with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the filling into the center of each, spreading it over the dough but leaving a 1/2 inch border.

5. Top with a plain dough rectangle, crimping the edges together with a fork– try not to let any filling ooze out.

6. Preheat oven to 375°. Place 6 tarts on each baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Lightly prick the tops with a fork to create steam vents– be careful you don’t prick through both layers so the tarts don’t leak while baking!

7. Position 2 racks evenly in the oven and bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

8. To decorate, combine all ingredients (except for spinkles) together in a small bowl, adding additional milk if glaze is too thick to spread. Spread or drizzle glaze over tarts, topping with sprinkles is desired. Allow to set up and harden, about 15-3o minutes.

Apple Crumb Crostata

Apple Crostata1

Guys, I have a question:

Why are we generally taught that taking short cuts is a ‘bad thing’?

Think about it. From the time that we’re little kids we’ve been ingrained to believe that if you cut corners, go the easier route and make the work simpler, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Take the fairy tale, “The Tortoise and the Hare”: The fast, energetic hare challenges the tortoise to a race, confident that because he can move faster, he’ll always win and be better than the tortoise. When the race begins, the hare does indeed begin out in the lead while the tortoise maintains a steady pace. Eventually the hare gets so far ahead that he figures he can just kick back, relax and take a nap and still have enough time to beat the tortoise. While he’s sleeping against a tree, the tortoise passes him by at his slow and steady pace. By the time the hare wakes up from his nap, he discovers that the tortoise has in fact managed to beat him.

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Thus, the moral of the story: “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.”

Yeah, um…I kinda think that’s…not true.

In fact, if fables and fairy tales are supposed to be teaching kids valuable morals and lessons and whatnot…The Tortoise and the Hare is actually a load of a crap. Maybe the world was a lot more sunny, bright and idealistic at the time that it was written (though I doubt it). Maybe the ‘good guys’ won more often than the bad guys (again, more doubtful). However, these days I’ve observed that the people who are  ‘faster’and better at winning the ‘races’ of life are the ones who come out on top. It sucks, and a lot of time it’s not even fair, but it’s the way of the world.

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I know what I was taught growing up and it wasn’t the moral of “The Tortoise and the Hare”,  even though I admittedly had the book. I learned pretty quick that you needed to try and be the fastest, the best and the most skilled. If you can cut corners and take short cuts to achieve the win, take ’em. The other ‘hares’ around you probably aren’t gonna fall asleep, so don’t count on that to give you the win. Start strong and fast, end strong and fast. That’s the only way you’ll win.

I’m kinda cynical about certain aspects of life, in case you guys couldn’t tell.

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I have a point. I’m getting to it now. I CAN in fact make a post about general life philosophy and bridge it to food.

I believe in taking short cuts when it comes to cooking if need be. Yes, even in baking. It can be done. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.

Let me tell you a story of my own: I had six Honeycrisp apples sitting in my refrigerator with nothing to do. I wanted to make an apple pie out of them, but I was worried that what I had may not have been enough to make a full pie. Plus, I didn’t feel like making two crusts for a top and bottom layer pie. So I decided to take a short cut. When it comes to pie, the ”short cut” is the crostata.

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One big crust gets rolled out, the apples get diced and laid inside, then the edges of the crust are folded up in a rough crimp. The whole thing gets baked off and voila: you got a crostata (the thing you make when you don’t have time or inclination to make a pie).

And doesn’t it look so yummy?

See? I toldya. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.

This baby is going to this week’s Fiesta Friday #45, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar. See you guys there!

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Apple Crumb Crostata

Recipe Courtesy of Claudia Felming via NY Times

Print {Pg 1} {Pg 2}

Ingredients

FOR CRUST

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water, more as needed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Raw sugar, for garnish

FOR FILLING

  • 6 to 8 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled and cut into 16 slices each (about 6 cups total)
  • 1/4cup brown sugar
  • 1tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

FOR CRUMBLE

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

 

Directions

1. Make the crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add butter, pulsing, until mixture resembles small peas. Add ice water and continue to pulse until mixture comes together in moist clumps; if mixture is too dry add a bit more water a tablespoon at a time. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or freeze for up to a month.

2. Make the filling: In a large bowl toss together sliced apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, zest and vanilla. Set aside.

3. Make the crumble: In a medium bowl, mix together granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle in melted butter and, using a fork, stir until mixture is crumbly and all the flour is incorporated; the crumbs should be smaller than 1 inch.

4. Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle. Transfer to baking sheet and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove baking sheet from refrigerator and let soften for 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange filling evenly in the center of the dough, leaving a 4-inch border all around; reserve the juices.

6. Brush exposed dough border with beaten egg and fold edge in up over fruit, making pleats every 2 inches. Pour remaining juices over exposed fruit, brush the folded outer edge with beaten egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cover exposed fruit with about 1 cup crumble.

7. Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.

 

Pot Roast-Style Meatballs

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Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving Everyone!

Did you all have a great holiday with their families? Cook a lot? Eat too much? Watch lots of TV?

Was anyone brave enough to venture out this morning for Black Friday- I hope not. Honestly I just don’t think it’s worth the effort anymore. The Internet and online shopping has (I think) done a good job of making it so that there doesn’t necessarily have to be such a rush or panic for good deals. Granted, there are some things that you have to go and stand in line to get, but c’mon, honestly: are they REALLY worth it?

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Alright, alright. I confess: I have participated in Black Friday a handful of times before. But it was mostly during the 90’s, when online shopping was just getting started and stores were only making their deals available in-house. It does give you a weird kind of adrenaline rush, but not a particularly enjoyable one. Me, I’m a worrier: so naturally, the build up to Black Friday for someone like me would be the fear that I’m getting up early in the morning, risking my safety and raising my stress level for something I’m not even 100% guaranteed to get. What if I can’t run fast enough when they open the doors? What if I’m next to some psycho crazy woman who elbows me in the face as we’re reaching for the same thing? What if someone literally tries to take it out of my cart or hands even if I do get it?

Not that any of that has actually happened to me before (in fact, on the few occasions I did go out for Black Friday, I got what I wanted), but I say all of that just to emphasize that my personality is just not suited for all that craziness. I don’t like conflict, chaos or mean people…and that’s basically what Black Friday is ALL about. So I just stay out of it now.

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So, this is Pot Roast weather. You have to make pot roast during the winter. It’s pure comfort food that sticks to your ribs and just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Problem  is, depending on the size of the meat, it can be a little time consuming. I encountered this problem a little while ago when I wanted some pot roast, but #1, didn’t have enough time to make it, and #2, didn’t really want to pay full price on a piece of good beef that wasn’t on sale at the grocery store. What was on sale though, was the ground turkey, which gave me the idea of trying to replicate the flavors typically found in pot roast, in a meatball. It worked out very well with my Pizza Meatballs, so I didn’t see why it would be so bad to try it out here.

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This may not be true pot roast, but I am still really happy with how it turned out. The flavors still REALLY do come out in the meatballs, and because they’re ground turkey, you can feel a little bit better about having them versus red meat (if you care about watching your red meat intake anyway). If you read the recipe, you will see that I did cut some corners and used one of those Liptons packets to make my gravy. If you’re a purist who believes in only flour-roux based gravy, then that’s fine. Make it that way. I was just in a hurry and needed some gravy for my pot roast meatballs, and this does the job in a pinch. All in all, this is dish turned out really good. It’s not pot roast, but it definitely still has that comforting, stick to your ribs quality that’s really good for this time of year.

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I was very glad that Angie@TheNoviceGardener asked me back to co-host this weeks Fiesta Friday #44 with my good friend Prudy@ButterBasilandBreadcrumbs. It’s a real treat, and I hope all of you can join us, as we always have a lot of fun. If you’re interested in swinging by to contribute, or even just to see what the rest of us are bringing to the party this week, then just click the icon link below. Hope to see you there!

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Pot Roast-Style Meatballs

Recipe by Jess

Print

Ingredients

For Meatballs

  • 3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 lb. Turkey sausage
  • 1 packet (.87 oz) of onion (or brown) gravy mix (Like Liptons)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (and 1/2 cup more, if needed)
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Gravy

  • 1 packet of Brown gravy mix (Like Liptons)
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place a wire rack over a half sheet pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside

2. Combine all ingredients for meatballs together in a large bowl. If mixture feels too wet to shape, then add remaining half cup of breadcrumbs.

3. Shape meat into golf-ball sized meatballs and place onto wire rack. Bake in oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until meatballs reach an inner temperature of 165° F.

4. Follow package instructions for gravy, adding additional flour to thicken, if desired. Drizzle on top of the meatballs and serve with white rice or egg noodles.

Chewy Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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So, I know I haven’t posted anything since last week. That’s pretty lame, especially since I try to put out 2 posts within a seven day period. I had two smokin hot posts with smokin hot recipes ready to share with you all on Tuesday and on Friday.

But it didn’t happen.

Don’t be mad at me. It wasn’t my fault. I’m as ticked off about it as you. The truth is, I didn’t post because I literally didn’t have access to a steady internet connection for 5 days.

You guys want to hear a good story? Cause I’ve got one.

We’ve had the same cable and internet provider for about 5 years. We’ll call them “C”. We never really liked C. Nobody really likes C. Their customer service is sloppy, unprofessional and all around crap. The equipment they stuck us with is almost always out of date and malfunctioning.   But the price has always been right (i.e. affordable), so we put up with C’s crap and went with their service anyway.

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Until Monday- when suddenly out of the blue, our cable and internet was completely cut out. After resetting routers, cable boxes, unplugging and re-plugging all the plugs, we finally braved the terror’s that s C’s customer service line and called to try and find out what is wrong. What we received for our efforts was an automated voice message system informing us that they were aware of an outage of cable & internet in our entire apartment building, they had technicians working on it and power should be restored at 2:00 pm.

2:00 pm came. No restoration. We called and got the same message- except this time, they said the power would be restored at 5:00 pm.

5:00 pm comes. No restoration. We called. Got the same message- but now, it wouldn’t be until 9:00 pm.

9:00 pm rolls around. Do I really need to continue here or can you guess what they said next?

Eventually, technician from C shows up later the following day,does some poking around and determines that the cord that connects C cable and internet to not just us, but our entire apartment building has been cut.

Seriously. Someone cut the cord. My first thought was: Who DOES that?! My second one was: When do I get my Internet back?

We made an appointment with C for Wednesday to come and fix the cord and restore the cable and Internet. Not only did no one should up, but when I called to complain they informed me that someone had gone ahead and canceled the entire appointment and the soonest they could come out now was Friday. I thought that this was more than enough to get me heated, but oh no. There was more to come. C calls us the next morning and says that they will now be unable to come at all to fix the cable and internet. Why?

Because they’ve been completely banned from our apartment complex by the landlord.

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Not kidding guys. C is no longer allowed to service anyone living in our building, or even so much as step foot on the premises of our apartment complex. This was a decision made without the notification or knowledge of ANY of the tenants, mind you. We just had to find out the hard way. When we called him to find out why such a drastic action was taken we were told that it was because in spite of the expensive renovations that our building has underwent over the past year, C had refused to update their wiring system from outside, to inside like they were asked to by our landlord.

So he banned them completely. Two words: Cat. Fight.

But apart from all that, this also meant that not only would we be without cable or internet for yet ANOTHER day, we now had to research and shop around for an entirely new service provider, then hope, pray and wish that they could make it out sometime soon to get us set up. A few hours go by, and we settle on another provider. Let’s just call them “A”. A had a package that was very similar to what we had with C. Not only that, but they said they would be able to come out on Friday to get us set up. How’s that for service?

Friday comes. The A technician shows up- on time (which is more than anyone could ever say for C), and starts to get to work. You’d THINK this would be relatively simple fix. But no.  Not at all. Care to guess why?

Someone also cut the  existing “A” cord that’s supposed to provide cable and internet to the building. Still not kidding.

At this point, I told my older sister that this whole thing was a lost cause. The Gods were against our cause. They just didn’t want us to have cable and internet anymore. She told me to cheer up and have a little faith.

Well God Bless those A technicians. They arrived at our place around 11:00 a.m. Friday morning, and didn’t leave until 7:30 pm….when we FINALLY got our internet and cable back.

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After an ordeal like that, I need some kind of compensation- y’know, for the  pain, suffering and whatnot that 5 days without internet does to someone. And what better than recompense than chocolate chip cookies?

Do me a favor: hold out your hand, palm facing up. Measure the distance between the edge of your palm to about the middle knuckle of your thumb. That’s a pretty big space, right?

Well, that’s about how big these cookies are.

And they’re not just any chocolate chip cookies, guys. That won’t work here. I’m talking about the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve EVER made or had, and that’s not an exaggeration. They really are.  Apart from being ginormous, they’re also incredibly soft and chewy on the inside with just a hint of crunch at the rims. Which is how homemade chocolate chip cookies ought to be- anything else is an impostor. If you want crunchy chocolate chip cookies then go out and buy some Chips Ahoy.

This recipe says you can bake the cookies from 10-14 minutes, but listen: don’t go over 11. Just don’t do it. I took mine out at 10 minutes and thirty seconds. Yes, I most certainly did wait in front of the oven with my phone timer to count the seconds. That’s what it takes for perfect chocolate chip cookies.

Once they’ve cooled, store them in an air-tight container with a slice of bread- that will make sure they stay soft for days on end. Microwave for about 20 seconds on a napkin- they’ll practically melt in your mouth.

That’s it guys. I’ve got nothing else, besides heading over to the Fiesta Friday #42 super late to share these cookies, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook.

How was YOUR week? As eventful as mine? I doubt it, but I’m willing to be surprised.

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Chewy Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Land O Lakes.com

Print

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoo nsalt
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) package (2 cups)real semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

 

Directions

1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl; set aside.

2. Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in another bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

3. Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

4. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks.

5. Refrigerate dough for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

6. Heat oven to 375°F.

7. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Thai Marinated Chicken Skewers

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So I know I’ve mentioned before in my Shepherd’s Pie post that I would never, ever, ever EVER think about going to Culinary School or setting out to be some kind of professional chef in a restaurant. This is definitely still the case. I haven’t changed my mind. It’s not gonna happen.

Having said that, I am willing to say that I wouldn’t completely rule out having some kind of career role that has to do with food. In fact, I think I can visualize the perfect culinary career for me.

If there are any people reading this that work in the food industry and are looking to hire someone to do these duties, feel free to look over my conditions and shout me a holler if it sounds like a good fit.

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My ideal work space is a high rise studio loft in NYC with tall windows and high ceilings- this’ll give me plenty of ventilation and natural light.

I’m gonna need a Kenmore fully furnished kitchen with the latest appliances- and I mean the WORKS; two to three double wall ovens with advanced temperature control, one convection oven, both a flat top and standard grill, two French door refrigerators, a chest freezer, 3 Kenmore Elite dishwashers (because I hate washing dishes), 2 standing mixers, 2 food processors, a hand blender, 2 slow cookers, one deep fryer, and one panini press.

I need the pantry that comes on Master Chef or Iron Chef America- just to make sure I’ve got the ‘essentials’.

While they’re at it, Kenmore could also go ahead and furnish the cookware and dishes too- (just call it for promotional purposes).

And counter space. Lots and lots of counter space. If you could see what I’m working with in our apartment right now, you would definitely understand the desperation behind that request.

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I know, I know. All of that sounds really demanding. But it really wouldn’t go to waste, I swear. See, in my dream culinary job, I would go into work in this space every single day putting every single one of these tools to good use in simply recipe writing, testing and perfecting.

You’re scared of baking, and you need someone to bake a cake for your kid’s birthday? Tell me what they like, and I’ll make it for you.

You want someone to give a review of a cookbook? Send it over to me and I will make every single recipe and give my rating.

Are you a really bad cook and engaged to marry someone who’s used to good homemade eating? We’ll go over some of their favorite foods and I’ll teach you how to make them so that you guys don’t have to starve or order take out after you say ‘I do’.

I could also envision a community service aspect of that job where I would link up with the local homeless shelters or churches and organize a weekly night  where I can serve all the food I spent my ‘workday’ making to a number of people down on their luck who are in need of a good home cooked meal.

So yeah, that’s my dream job: a life where all I do is is cook simple, comfort food all day long, then give the food away to other people. And get paid to do it. That would be the life.

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Hey, it’s another chicken kabobs recipe. And I STILL chose not to make it on the grill like I was ‘supposed’ to. How about them apples.

As yummy as the Sambal Chicken Skewers I made a little while ago were, my family said that they thought these tasted even better. I think it’s the spices in the marinade that does it: I’m just a huge fan of curry powder and all of it’s subtle sweetness with just enough bite to pack a punch. In fact, I love it so much that I don’t even care that I have to scrub and scrub my counter tops super hard to get those dark yellow stains out when I accidentally spill some. And that’s saying something.

Don’t skip on making this peanut sauce. It’s just too good to miss out on. Plus, what else are you going to use to drizzle over the chicken and rice you’re going to eat this with? Nothing, that’s what. You can’t make Thai chicken without a peanut sauce. That’s just not the way the world works.

Whoa, I just remembered it was Fiesta Friday #41. Good thing I’ve got something to bring and share with all of you, huh? Thanks to Angie@TheNoviceGardener for hosting, and especially to Nancy @Feasting With Friends and  Loretta @Safari of the Mind for co-hosting. See you at the party!

 

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Thai Marinated Chicken Skewers


Recipe Adapted from Cooking Channel

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1- inch cubes
  • 24 wooden skewers, soaked overnight in water

For the Marinade

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Peanut Coconut Sauce

  • One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste

Directions

1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a separate bowl.

2. Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage the meat with your hands for 1 minute to coat the cubes well.

3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on 2 half sheet pans and place a baking rack on top of each. Spray racks with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Thread 4-5 pieces of chicken one each skewer, and arrange on top of baking racks. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until chicken reaches inner temperature of  165 degrees.

6. While chicken is baking, prepare peanut sauce: Combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, and red curry paste in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. When chicken is done, brush finished sauce over chicken cubes, and serve.

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

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Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen!!!

What’s everyone’s plans for tonight? Anyone going out with kids for trick or treating? Got a Halloween party you’re going to? What are you dressing up as?

I’ve always liked dressing up for Halloween and although I haven’t gotten to do it very often, I still have some ‘Wish-List’ costumes that I’d love to be able to do someday.

1) A 20’s flapper is definitely something I’d like to be- with the bobbed hair, flashy dress and pearls to go with it.

2) I’d LOVE to dress up in a fancy Venetian Masquerade ballgown and mask, with an elegant hairdo.

3) I’d love to be Harley Quinn, as long as I could have a guy go with me as the Joker.

4) One of the “Grease” Pink Ladies.

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5) Black Widow- because that cat suit Scarlett Johannson wore in “The Avengers”  was everything.

6) I’d love to be one of the fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood or the Queen of Hearts. (And no, I don’t mean one of those costumes that make you look like you should be standing on a street corner, if you know what I mean. I think that there are plenty of ways you can make a costume beautiful and tastefully done without it being too slutty.)

7) If I ever get a boyfriend, I am GOING to be Christine and make him dress up as the Phantom of the Opera. He will have absolutely no choice or say in the matter. It’s a prerequisite if he wants to date me.

Unfortunately, I’m not doing anything special in particular like dressing up or going to any parties. But I am staying in my kitchen- which is plenty ‘special’ enough for me.

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I’ve known for a while now that I was going to make this dish for Halloween. Cinnamon rolls have been on my Cooking Bucket  List for a while, and I had a can of pumpkin that was languishing in my pantry, without very much to do. That set the perfect stage for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

It was my first time making cinnamon rolls, and I think they turned out pretty good for a beginner like moi. I walked away with a few things to keep in mind for next time: roll the dough VERY tight so the sugar filling doesn’t leak out while the dough is going through their second rise, and don’t be afraid to place them pretty close together in the pan so that they can rise higher up rather than further out.

Aside from all that, the taste is really spot on for these. For one, they make your house smell like every yummy Autumn pastry imaginable while they’re baking. The pumpkin flavor admittedly isn’t very overpowering, but I’m actually okay with that as sometimes the taste of pumpkin can be a little abrasive. I know that crystallized ginger isn’t the cheapest spice to buy, but if you can afford it I gotta strongly recommend that you don’t leave it out. It gives spiciness to the filling that balances the sweetness of the sugar, while the dried cherries give it an acidic tang. I iced my rolls almost as soon as they came out of the oven so that the icing would melt into the crevices of the dough rather than just sit on top of it in thick globs. Tastes better that way. Also, these save very well in the refrigerator; when ready to eat another one just wrap it in paper towel, sprinkle with a few drops of water then microwave for about 15-20 seconds. It’ll still taste pretty fresh.

These rolls are going to this week’s Fiesta Friday #40, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Margy @La Petite Casserole and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. See you all there.

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Halloween is one of my absolute favorite times of year, but not for the reason that you may think.

It’s not that I don’t like dressing up in costumes. I do. It’s not that I don’t like candy. I definitely do. But the arrival of Halloween marks the arrival of something infinitely more thrilling and exciting for me than costumes or sweets (and if you know me, then you know that that’s really saying something).

I look forward to October 31st because it marks the final day before I officially begin my countdown to Christmas.

Me and my twin sister are obsessed with Christmas, and as such, we try to get in our Holiday spirit as soon as is reasonably possible. I know that other people wait until Thanksgiving, but that’s way too late for me. I like the extra month to start listening to my Christmas playlist on my mp3 player and Pandora radio stations, and start planning all the wonderful goodies that I’m going to make for the 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking Is My Sport.

Speaking of which, I am willing to take special requests for that ahead of time. I need 12 recipes for 12 Christmas goodies to post on the blog. Suggestions? Don’t be shy 😉

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Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

  • Servings: 9-12 rolls
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or squash
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup minced, crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup glazing or confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk, or enough to make a “drizzlable” glaze

Directions

1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, fairly smooth dough.

2) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until it’s almost doubled in bulk.

3) Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14″ x 22″ rectangle; the dough will be thin.

4) Mix the cinnamon and sugar. Spread a thin layer over the dough, leaving one short edge free of filling.

5) Sprinkle with crystallized ginger or dried fruit (or both), if desired.

6) Starting with the short end that’s covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.

7) Cut the log into nine 1 ½”-thick rolls.

8) Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9″ x 9″ pan that’s at least 2″ deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

9) Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and feel set.(Internal temp should be about 185-190 degrees F) Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack.

10) To make the glaze: Heat the butter and milk together till the butter melts. Whisk into the sugar.

11) Drizzle the rolls with the warm glaze. (For a thinner layer, spread with icing almost as soon as you take them out of the oven. For a thicker icing, let them cool for about 15 minutes, then spread with icing.)