Monday, November 29, 2010

Inside the Cookie Box-Lime Meltaways

It seemed that Martha Stewart had a slight obsession with Lime Meltaways a while back...and no wonder, they are so good!
Lime Meltaways
makes about 5 dozen

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
Grated zest of 2 limes, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 T. cornstarch
¼ t. coarse salt

1. Put butter and 1/3 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the lime zest, lime juice and the vanilla, and mix until fluffy.

2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.

3. Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12 inch sheet of parchment. Roll dough into a log on parchment to 1¼ inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove parchment from logs; cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag.  Cool cookies completely and toss in the sugar once again.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 weeks.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Inside the Cookie Box-Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

This recipe is a marriage between two spritz cookie recipes.  My friend posted a link on facebook for cream cheese spritz cookies, my husbands favorite Christmas cookie.  Struck by curiosity, I combined my grandmother's recipe and the cream cheese recipe resulting in a tender and subtle flavored cookie.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
yield:  7-8 dozen

8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. almond extract
2 ¼ c. all-purpose flour, sifted
Food coloring, sparkling sugars or other decorations for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream butter & cream cheese in mixing bowl, add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.

2. Beat in egg and add almond extract and food coloring (if using). Blend in flour gradually.

3. Fill cookie press and press cookies onto parchment

4. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

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Part of the Inside The Cookie Box Holiday Edition 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inside the Cookie Box-Brown Sugar Shortbread

Brown Sugar Shortbread
yield: 1-2 dozen 
1 c. butter, room temperature
½ c. dark brown sugar
2 c. flour
2-3 T. sparkling sugar

1. Cream butter and sugar together and add flour, a little at a time until incorporated.
2. Chill for 30 minutes
3. Roll dough out to a ¼ inch thickness
4. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters; sprinkle with sugar.
5. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes

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Part of the Inside The Cookie Box Holiday Edition

Friday, November 12, 2010

Apple Cider & Rosemary Ice Pops

First Snowfall
I had such a wonderful vision for this blog post.  Vision, as in an 'ah-ha' photog moment.  My 2 year old son, wearing the cutest Gap-like clothing, would be in our somewhat still green backyard holding a golden ice pop and I would snap the perfect autumnal shot wrapped in adorable toddler wonder. 

Boy was I wrong...needless to say I don't have the shot.  It could be because my model wouldn't hold the pop, or because he ran and hid behind the truck, or maybe it was because I relied on a two year old to cooperate period.  Oh well, I'll just share one of my favorite fall time photos instead.

Apple Cider & Rosemary Ice Pops
Makes 6

2 cups apple juice
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 whole clove
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in saucepan. Bring mixture to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until mixture is reduced, about 20 minutes.
2. Strain into 2 cup measuring cup; add vinegar and vanilla; cool to room temperature.
3. Pour into six 1/3 cup ice pop molds. Insert pop covers and sticks; freeze overnight.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Sweet Exchange-Inside the Cookie Box

This is an announcement for my six week holiday cookie event starting Monday, November, 15.  Tune in every Monday for the next few weeks for a new holiday cookie recipe.  And best's just a picture and recipe!!! You don't have to read (scroll down and skip) my pointless drivel. :)

Last year I had an amazing idea.  Carrying on the tradition of homemade & baked holiday treats, I decided to make cookie boxes for friends and family.  I usually have a gift theme every year, gingerbread & lemon, homemade marshmallows and hot chocolate mix, caramel & butterscotch, but never had I gifted cookies.  Let me tell was the most time consuming experience out of all of my holiday treats...ever!  There had to be an easier way...and there is, host a cookie swap!

The Invite
Invite guests three to four weeks in advance. Have each person bring along copies of their recipe as well as some supplies for gift-wrapping, such as ribbons, tags and boxes.  A good number of people to invite would probably be around 6 to 8.

The Cookies
Ask each guest to make a dozen cookies for every person in attendance, plus an extra dozen for sampling. If the number seems too daunting, don't fret, ask them to bring a half dozen per person in attendance.  Just make sure everyone will go home with an assortment of several dozen cookies to give as gifts.

The Swap
On the day of the party, brew some coffee and tea, and clear a few tables for a sampling station, swapping and packaging stations. Provide several platters and cake stands and have each guest put out a plate of cookies for tasting along with their provided recipes. Once it is time to trade, have each person walk around the table to pick up their share for packaging.

The Gift Wrap Station
Ask guests to bring wrapping materials. Set everything out on a large worktable and have guests make their cookie boxes. Supplies needed: tags or labels, ribbons, twine, cardboard boxes, tissue paper, baking papers, cellophane, scissors, paper plates.

Give it a try! It might lead to the beginnings of a sweet tradition. Happy Holidays!

Inside The Cookie Box Line Up
Brown Sugar Shortbread
Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
Lime Meltaways
Great Grandma's Sugar Cookies
Spice Cookies

Of course I'm not going to leave you without a recipe...I'm going to link you to my very first (and probably most overlooked) posted recipe.  Amazing Butterscotch Cookies.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Wednesday Tradition, Toasted Oatmeal with Sauteed Apples

Months ago my husband began training to run a marathon for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training.  Working in the mornings and training during the evenings meant he would be gone all day on Wednesdays.  Because of his absence I decided to make a non-dinner tradition of "Toasted Oatmeal Wednesdays."

Its quick, delicious and nutritious (depending on your add ins) and it is one of my son's favorites.  A big win-win for Wednesdays!  I make the standard toasted oatmeal and with each week introduce new toppings.  My favorite is the sauteed apples (recipe below), Lil' Buddy's is almonds and cranberries (not too shabby either!)
If you'd like to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society please click here.  In addition to raising money to find a cure, the LLS also:
  • Provides financial support for treatment and medication
  • Provides group and online support for the patients and family members
  • Will arrange for transportation to and from medical and other treatment facilities
Toasted Oatmeal
makes 2 cups
1 T. unsalted butter
½ cup Irish, Scottish, or any steel-cut oatmeal, or 2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Pinch of salt

1. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the oatmeal, and toast, stirring the oats until the oatmeal is fragrant and slightly golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Add 4 cups water and salt, and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until most of the water has evaporated and the oatmeal is tender (30 minutes for the steel-cut oatmeal and 10 minutes for the old fashioned rolled oats). Serve hot w/ the topping of your choice.

Sauteed Apples
serves 4
2 apples (or pears), peeled and cored
Juice of one lemon
1 T. unsalted butter
2 T. sugar

1. Cut each apple into 8 wedges. Toss the apples and lemon juice in a medium bowl, and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apples and 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle with sugar
3. Simmer until water has evaporated and apples are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Serve Warm.