Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pepper Fries with Ranch Dip

This was inspired by a Rachel Ray episode I saw on the Food Network. She served fried jalapenos with mole chile and homemade ranch dip. For my version, I used sweet bell peppers and to make the mole chili simple; I took canned cheese chili and added brown sugar, ketchup and chocolate baking coco powder - letting it simmer.  It was so delicious with the pepper fries and ranch dip. A meal to definitely make again!

  Pepper Fries
  • 6 Bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, green)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the seeds from all of the peppers and cut into 1/2-inch lengthwise strips.

Set up a breading station: 1 pan of 1 cup of flour, 1 pan of eggs beaten with milk, 2 tablespoons of flour and mustard, and 1 pan of bread crumbs seasoned with cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Coat the peppers in the flour, then in the egg mixture and then in the bread crumbs. Arrange the chili fries on a nonstick baking sheet and roast for 18 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter.

Ranch Dipper
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped, then mashed into paste with salt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix together in bowl and serve. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Figgy Pudding

 "Oh bring us some figgy pudding, oh bring us some figgy pudding, oh bring us some figgy pudding and bring it right now!"

Every time I hear that song, I always wonder what the heck is Figgy Pudding? I tried to make it last year but it was impossible to find figs at any of the grocery stores. This year however was much different. I started seeing them everywhere in October. I bought them whenever I saw them - Walmart, Smiths, the dollar store. What an abundance of figs!

We were so excited to make this since it dates back to the 16th century in England. Such an old desert that is in a popular Christmas song must be worth trying - right? Indeed it was. If you like bread pudding, carmel dumplings or gingerbread cake with butter sauce - you will love this! You must serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Figgy Pudding
  • 2 cups chopped dried figs
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces or 7 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 75 grams (2 1/2-ounces) dark chocolate, grated
  • Butter, for coating ramekins
  • Ice cream or whipped cream, for garnish
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 14 tablespoons butter
  • Fresh  or dried figs, quartered, for garnish (I used raisins)
  • Vanilla ice cream, optional
  • Whipped heavy cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the dried figs and water to a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then add to a blender and puree.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat well. Fold in the flour, the pureed date mixture and the chocolate. Put the mixture into 4 buttered, 1-cup individual ramekins, filling halfway or slightly under. Put in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Prepare the sauce by stirring the sugar, cream and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until incorporated.

Remove the ramekins from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. May be served in the ramekin or unmolded onto a small serving plate. With paring knife cut a cross in the top of the puddings for the sauce.

Pour the sauce into the cross in the center of each pudding, then pour more sauce over the puddings and it allow to soak in slightly. Top with fresh figs and vanilla ice cream or heavily whipped cream. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Plum Tart

At family reunions I always hear about the famous plum tart that my great grandma from Germany used to always make. I have always wanted to make it so I could try plum tart. When I think of plums I think of sugar plum fairies and "visions of sugar plums danced in their heads" so for me, this sounded like a Christmas recipe.

It was so delicious that I can't believe I have never had it before. My German husband told me that these tarts are such a common thing in Germany but I think plum is one he hasn't had too often. If you like cherry pie, then you'll love this!

Plum Tart
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 8 red plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch spring form or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, to form a circular flower pattern.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm with ice cream. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pita Pizzas

I came up with this super easy and tasty way to make pizzas! They are the perfect size for individual pizzas and take up an entire dinner plate. You can personalize each one for each family member. Set up a topping bar and allow your guests or kids to create their own pizzas.Pita bread has an air pocket in the center so you get the perfect crust. My husband is German and loves his crust thin just like in Italy. This is a quick and easy way to get the crust close to the authentic thin crust pizza he is used to. It's crazy good!

Just buy white or wheat pita bread (one pack comes with 6 pieces). The ones I buy are baked fresh here in Utah and only a couple bucks. Arrange them on cookie sheets and top with your favorite toppings and cheeses. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

My mom used to make these when I was a little girl. I loved watching her roll them out and twist them. She would flavor hers with almond extract but I think peppermint is more fitting for a candy cane. These are so cute to serve with hot chocolate or to stir in a cold glass of milk. I made mine a bit larger for fun but if you chill the dough before you bake it they will not be so wide.  When I made these last night my kids were so excited and gobbled them up!

Candy Cane Twist Cookies
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract 
  • 3-4 drops red food coloring
  • 1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, cream sugar, powdered sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add oil, vanilla, almond extract and eggs.; mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until well blended. Divide cookie dough in half and in separate bowls. In one bowl add the peppermint extract and red food coloring. Mix well until dough is colored. Cover both bowls with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (I placed mine in the freezer for an hour instead). You need very cold dough for the cookies to hold shape in the oven.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.Take a finger full of white dough and red dough and on a floured surface, roll them each into snakes about 9 inches in length. Place each snake side by side and pressing ends, slowly twist the dough together as if you were twisting crepe paper until entire cane is twisted. (If your dough is too sticky add a little more flour to each finger full, if it's too dry and breaking add a tiny bit of shortening). Place on a cookie sheet and bend the top so it forms a candy cane shape. Wet your finger and pat down any cracked areas so your candy canes are smooth. Place cookies in freezer for 5 minutes before placing in the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool.

Place on cookie sheets and then place cookies in freezer for 5 minutes before placing in the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool. Enjoy!

3D Cookie Christmas Tree

When I was a little girl my mom used to make this Christmas tree tower. I don't remember it but my older sister does. My mom said that she and her mother used to teach classes how to make these. I had never seen one in person but after my older sister described it over the phone, it sounded pretty simple. The one that my mom used to make had a thin candle as the dowel that held the tree together. She would light the candle and use it as a centerpiece.

For the recipe you need star cookie cutters of different sizes but I just free handed it with a pairing knife on my cookie dough. I cut out several different sizes and then stacked them from largest to smallest. You'll want to also make quarter sized mini cookies to place in between each cookie to keep them from sticking and and ruining the pretty frosting. You can use a soda lid as your cookie cutter.

Any sugar cookie recipe will work but unlike normal sugar cookies you don't want these to be soft or they will crumble and your tree will fall apart. Avoid recipes with softeners such as cream, sour cream or cream cheese. I baked mine an extra few minutes and left them out a few hours so they were harder (but not too hard, still a little soft).

You will also want to take something small like a marker lid and poke a hole in the center of each of  your cookies so that you can stack them on a dowel. A great dowel to use is a chopstick. A prettier dowel would of course be a very thin candle that is the same width from top to bottom.

Sixlets make perfect little candy ornaments or on the baking isle where the cake decorating section is you can find candy colored balls. I was fortunate to have a bag of mini gummy stars in my pantry so I I used a yellow one as the star on top of the tree. Use this cute tree as your dinner centerpiece and for desert the kids will have fun removing these and dipping them in milk or hot chocolate.

There is plenty of dough so I recommend also making my candy cane twists with the extra dough. Check out that recipe here: http://cookwithlindsey.blogspot.com/2013/12/candy-cane-twist-cookies.html

3D Cookie Christmas Tree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Butter Cream Frosting
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used raspberry extract instead)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or whipping cream
  • 2-3 drops of green food coloring

  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 drops green food coloring 
  • candy for ornaments

In a large bowl, cream sugar, powdered sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add oil, vanilla, almond extract and eggs.; mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until well blended. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (I placed mine in the freezer for an hour instead). You need very cold dough for the stars to hold shape in the oven.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out cookie dough on a floured surface. Begin cutting different sizes of stars. You can make stencils on the computer and cut out on card stock. Then use the card stock stencils and place them on your dough. Use a small pairing knife to cut around the stars. Lift the cut stars and place them on a cookie sheet. 8-12 stars should be enough. I made a few extra just in case some of them broke. Using a soda lid or any lid smaller than a milk cap, cut out about 8-12 circles. Place on cookie sheets and then place cookies in freezer for 5 minutes before placing in the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool.

For frosting, in a medium bowl mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency. Add food coloring and mix well.

For topping, in a small bowl mix coconut and food coloring. Stir with spoon pressing down for about 10 minutes until coconut is green. (It takes a while for the coconut to mix with the food coloring. Do not add more food coloring thinking you don't have enough. 2 drops is plenty it just takes time. )

After cookies have cooled take a small marker lid and carefully pierce holes in the center of stars and round cookies. Frost cookies with green frosting while still on cookie sheets. Sprinkle coconut over tops and begin stacking cookies from largest stars to smallest stars on a pretty platter. Place a round cookie in between each star. Use a chopstick or thin candle as your dowel to place cookies on through center of holes. The dowel will keep your tree from tipping over. Decorate with candy ornaments and light candle for ambiance. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Avocado Pasta

This is so delicious, creamy and light - and healthy! I could seriously eat the entire batch it's that good!

Avocado Pasta
  • 1 pound pasta (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium avocados, halved, peeled, and seeded
  • 1 packed cup basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted 

Boil the pasta according to directions on package. Drain, put pack in pot and add olive oil. Toss and set aside.

Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the avocados and place in a food processor. Add the basil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss together. Add the cheese and almonds and toss together until coated. Top with parsley and serve. 

Inspired by this recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/linguine-with-avocado-and-arugula-pesto-recipe/index.html

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lindsey's Stollen

This is a traditional Christmas bread in Germany and I decided I was going to surprise my husband with a homemade loaf to make his day! I really made this recipe my own and it turned out fabulous! The entire family gobbled it up in a day. It turns out that my mom's grandma who was from Germany used to make this all the time and my mom and her mom used to teach classes on how to make this bread way back in the day. I had no idea!

This is so yummy! The first time I ever tried stollen I wasn't a big fan. I thought it was dry and bland. There are different versions of it with different fillings and when I added my own fillings the flavor was perfect and it was so delicious! In my version there are bursts of citrus, cinnamon, and nuttiness. I never did like fruit cake or anything with candied fruit in it - but this my friends is not the same! My husband likes it cold but I like it warm right out of the oven. Either way you can't go wrong eating it!

Lindsey's Stollen
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 1/4 cups flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 tangerine, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • 1 tsp grated tangerine peel
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup of chopped nuts (I used hazel nuts, almonds and walnuts) 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  For dough, heat milk, water and and butter in small saucepan until warm and blended (do not boil).

In a large bowl whisk 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and yeast together. Add warm milk mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Add egg and 1 cup flour, beat another 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour until batter is stiff.Transfer to greased bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile for the filling, heat bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 3 cups of sugar, tangerine slices and lemon slices. Allow to boil for 30 minutes or until peels are tender and chewy like candy. In a separate bowl, add dried cranberries, raisins, figs, grated tangerine and lemon peel zest, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. When peels are finished boiling removed from liquid syrup. Remove any seeds. Chop the peels on a cutting board and add to mixture in bowl. Pour about 2 Tbsp of the citrus syrup into the fruit mixture and stir.

Remove risen dough and place on floured surface. Kneed fruit mixture into dough. Roll into a long sub shape and curve ends (like a crescent moon). Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover with plastic and allow to rise for another 1 1/2 hours in a warm place.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and brush melted butter over the top. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve!