Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Christmas has come and gone but I still have one more cookie to share with you.  These cookies have a multitude of names; Russian Tea Cakes, White Cookies but most commonly Mexican Wedding Cookies.  Although this may not be a seasonal cookie to many of you, it is to me.  I know Christmas is here when I walk into my parent's house and see a big container of these beautifully delicious white powdered sugar cookies.  Once I have my first one of the year I know the Christmas season is here.

These cookies are simple, elegent and festive.  They are a shortbread type of cookie that isn't overly sweet, but they have a nice buttery flavor.  Once these cookies are removed from the oven they are given a dose of super, extra sweetness by being tossed and covered in powdered sugar.  The addition of powdered sugar not only adds a delicious amount of sweetness but it reminds me of a fresh blanket of powdery snow.  Now if that doesn't get you in the mood for Christmas I don't know what will.
These make a terrific addition to any dessert table as well as a cookie or sweet gift basket.  If you do make them for a cookie swap or basket be sure to make a few extras because you'll catch yourself testing one or two...or maybe even three or four!  But who's counting???

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December Daring Baker's

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

Russian Rye Bread


Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves and excess rye starter to keep for further baking.

Rye Starter - Day 1:
Ingredients

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup hot water
Total scant ½ cup

Directions:

In a plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.

Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!

Set somewhere warm.  It should be a very sloppy, runny dough, which will bubble and grow as it ferments.

Rye Starter - Day 2:


Ingredients

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1/2 cup starter from Day 1
Total scant 1 cup 

Directions:

Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.

Rye Starter - Day 3:

Ingredients

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1 cupstarter from Day 2
Total 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons

Directions:

Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place. If you notice it has a grey liquid on top, just stir this back in and continue as normal.

Rye Starter - Day 4:

Ingredients

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons starter from Day 3
Total about 1¾ cups

Directions:

Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

Rye Starter, ready for baking.


Russian Rye Bread - Step 1: Production Sourdough

Ingredients

1/4 cup less 2 teaspoons rye leaven (starter)
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons whole (dark) rye flour
1 1/4 cups water
Total 2½ cup 

Directions:

Mix everything into a sloppy dough. Cover and set aside for 12-24 hours, until bubbling. Set aside the remaining starter for further loaves – see the Notes section for tips!

Russian Rye Bread - Step 2: Final Dough

Ingredients

2 cups production sourdough (this should leave some (½ cup) to become your next loaf of bread!)
2 1/3 cups rye flour (light or whole)
1 teaspoon sea salt or ½ teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total 5 cups plus 3 tablespoons

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. With wet hands, scoop the dough up and put it in a well-greased loaf tin.

Put the tin inside a large plastic bag, blow it up, and seal it. This should make a good little dome for your bread to proof inside. Set aside somewhere room temperature to warm.

The dough should be ready to bake with in anywhere between 2-8 hours, depending on how warm it is. I proof mine by a sunny window in about 4 hours. If the dough was halfway up the tin when you started, it will be ready when it reaches the top (i.e. almost doubles in size).

Preheat the oven to very hot 470°F. For a large loaf, bake for 50-60 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F gas mark 6 after about 10-15 minutes. If baking in small loaf tins, bake for 35-45 minutes, reducing the temperature after 10 minutes. If you are unsure about whether it is done, give it a few minutes longer – it is a very wet dough, so the extra time won’t hurt.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack, and rest the loaf for a day before eating it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and best of new year's.  We are truly blessed and we count our blessings every single day.  We have had a blast with our little man over the past year, I can't believe he's 2 now!  We are looking forward to more fun, adventures and memories in 2012.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for us this next year. 
Here's to lots of yummy food, many memories, and tons of quality time with family and friends. 

May God bless you and your family.  And remeber, JESUS is the reason we have this wonderful season. 

Merry Christmas and happy new year,

Spencer, Lynsey and Tucker

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps are one of my favorite cookies.  I have always been a fan of them.  As a little girl, I remember standing by the oven waiting on my Grandma to pull out a fresh batch and it was all I could do to restrain myself to let them cool enough for me to touch.  There was just nothing better than having a gingersnap fresh from the oven, while they were still warm and having a large glass of cold milk to accompany it.  It's still the same for me today, I can't wait to have one...or two or three...fresh from the oven.  There's just nothing like it. 

For me, it seems like the Christmas season hasn't officially begun until I've had gingersnaps, chocolate crinkle cookies, and a few other delicious treats.  To me, these cookies scream Christmas and winter.  The flavors fit perfectly with this time of year.  I love the combination of sweet paired with the warm spices in this cookie.  There's just something so comforting about these cookies.  The would make the perfect gift for any sweet lover in your life and Santa would enjoy a plate of these with a tall glass of milk on Saturday night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fleur De Sel Caramels


I am a huge fan of caramel.  Caramel apples.  Caramel candy.  Caramel syrup.  If it involves caramel you can count me in!  There is just something irresistable about the rich, chewy, butteriness of chewy caramel candy.  Pair that with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and you've got the perfect combination of sweet and salty.  These caramels not only have fleur de sel in them but they are garnished with some as well, which adds a touch of sparkle to this treat. 

Caramels may not be the most fancy or snazzy candy for the holiday season, but in my opinion you just can't beat a really good caramel.  It doesn't get much better than making your own candy, I honestly think I'm getting addicted!  It's so gratifying to make your own caramel.  This process starts with a few simple ingredients, that are probably staples in every pantry, and then ends with a delicious, chewy candy. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa


The past few weeks have been incredibly busy.  Not only am I preparing for Christmas, but I had the privilage of making a wedding cake for a co-workers daughter, and I have also been preparing for Tucker's 2nd birthday (there will a post about that soon!).  If you're wondering, the wedding cake turned out wonderful.  The bride wanted a simple cake; white cake with buttercream, and wanted a very simple desing.  The end result was simple, elegant and beautiful.  I will post pictures soon.  So needless to say the past few weeks have been complete chaos, but an absolute blast.  Since I've been so wrapped up in wedding cakes and birthday planning, my blog has suffered a little bit.  So for all of you still out there, waiting on the next delicious dish to be posted, I appreciate your patience.  I am back and I think this recipe is the perfect recipe to start back with!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Photo Card

Family Snowfall Holiday
Turn family photos into holiday cards at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet Potato Soup

Thanksgiving has come and gone along with all of that delicious food.  I know I enjoyed every bite and I hope you did too.  Now Christmas is just days away!  Can you believe it?  Don't worry, I'm not even going to ask you about how much shopping you've done.  I do have to brag on myself though; I started my shopping earlier than I ever have before and I'm 99.9% done!  I can't believe it!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, do you still have some leftover ingredients sitting around that never got used for the big meal?  I just happened to have a few large sweet potatoes leftover that were just itching to be used up.  Since they didn't make their appearance on Thanksgiving day I thought I would use them for this soup I saw on Amy's blog, sing for your supper.  As soon as I saw this recipe it started calling my name.  I love all things sweet potato and this soup sounded like it would be right up my alley.  She got the inspiration for this soup from a traditional Thanksgiving side, sweet potato casserole.  That comparrison along was enough to make me want to give it a try, but if that's not enough for your then take a peek at this list of ingredients.  Go ahead.  Now, tell me if this soup doesn't sound good? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sauteed Andouille with greens and polenta

When I came across this recipe on Elly's blog I was instantly drawn in and after reading her post I knew this was a recipe that I had to try for myself.  Not only did the beautiful picture of the colorful meal draw me in but the list of ingredients, themselves, won me over as well.  When Elly initially made this dish she made a few adaptations for various reasons, but mainly because she didn't have some of the ingredients on hand.  I made this recipe using Elly's modifications, since I had everything in her version already in my pantry.

To me, this recipe seems like it's a true, cozy and comforting meal.  There is just something about the earthy greens, vibrant red peppers, sausage and polenta encompasses all the flavors of fall and winter.  This meal is one that is full of many different flavors and textures and when combined it's the perfect mix of crunchy, chewy, creamy, salty and cheesy. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan


I'm a little late getting the meal plan posted for this week, but there's been a lot going on.  We had Thanksgiving with my family this weekend so the meal plan will be utilizing a lot of the leftovers we had from our Thanksgiving meal.  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Meal plan for December 4-10, 2011

Roasted chicken sandwiches with cranberry relish, smoked cheddar and horseradish, and french fries
Thanksgiving leftovers
Glazed ham, corn casserole, green beans and rolls
Chili and jalapeno cornbread
Leftovers
Thanksgiving leftovers
Homemade pizza-toppings TBD

Monday, December 5, 2011

Smokey Bean Soup with Ham and Bacon

I mentioned previously that a fellow blogger unexpectedly lost her father on Thanksgiving morning.  In the blogging world you make connections with people from all over the place and develop relationships with others who have the same passion and interest as you.  I don't personally know Annie or her family, but my heart goes out to her and her family during this time of grief and struggle.

On Thanksgiving morning she suffered a tragic loss.  A loss that was sudden.  A loss that was unexpected.  She suffered one of the worst kind of losses.  She lost her father.  Her father that was only 59 years old.  A loss of anyone at any time is a tragedy, but a loss that comes so unexpectedly is the worst.  Although I don't know Annie personally, when I learned of the loss of her father I wanted to do something for her.  We don't live in the same town or state, we are actually miles and miles apart but that doesn't mean I can't do something for her to let her know I'm thinking of her.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chicken Club Sandwiches

Lately I have been craving a chicken club sandwich something fierce.  I don't know where this craving has come from but it's here.  I have searched high and low for a chicken club that sounds like it would quench my craving but I have yet to find something that sounds like it would hit the spot.  So what's a foodie to do when they can't find the perfect sandwich to end their cravings?  Make one that will, of course!   So I did exactly that.

This sandwich, although nothing fancy, is probably one of the. best. sandwiches. Period!  The ingrdients were simple, and even better they are things that you probably already have around the house.  The chicken had the perfect amount of flavor, the sweet and tanginess of the honey mustard is a perfect combination.  Not only did the chicken have the perfect flavor it was incredibly moist, as well.  The sweetness of the Hawaiin buns added that much more to the taste of this sandwich.  Dress with a little mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and salty bacon and you've got the perfect sandwich.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Buttermilk Pie

It's National Pie Day!  Yes, pie has it's own special day.  How fun is that?  I used this special day as inspiration to try a pie that I've heard a lot about but that I've never tried myself.  Buttermilk pie.  Have you heard of it?  I'm sure most of you have, and I'm sure a lot of you have even had one. 

If you are still unsure about this pie, here is a bit more information.  This is a pie that has been around for generations, and it's a traditional southern style dessert.  This is nothing fancy; just eggs, butter, sugar, buttermilk and a few more ingredients comprise this pie.  It's a simple, custard based pie that is made with buttermilk (just as the name indicates).  This is a pie that can be baked in a pie shell, but can be baked in just a pie dish as well (this is ideal for my mom since she just uses the crust as a utensil to hold the filling).  This would even be fun to put in mini pie dishes or ramikins for easy, individual serving portions.
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