Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Years Baking

Louis gave me one of my favorite gifts right before Christmas - the cookie cutters for these awesome Ninja Bread Men Cookies. I had so much fun making them and giving them to people. It was a simple way to put a smile on people's faces. Watch out...they are "cut out for action"...hehe. This was on the package and it makes me giggle every time.

Ninja Bread Men
adapted from ``Gingerbread Stars`` from Company`s Coming Most Loved Festive Baking 2008

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cloves
1 large egg
1/2 C fancy molasses
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 1/2 C flour ( you can use all purpose or whole wheat here and most people will not be able to tell the difference)

1. Cream the butter and brown sugar. 
2. Add the next 7 ingredients and mix well. 
3. Add the egg, molasses, and vinegar and mix until smooth. It will look curdled. 
4. Add half of the flour and mix until incorporated, then add the second amount of flour and mix. 
5. Separate the dough into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or over night. 
6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness. Use cutters of your choice and arrange cookies about 2 cm apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
7. Bake in 375F oven for 8 minutes or until edges are slightly darker. 
8. Cool cookies completely on racks before decorating. I used royal icing for the Ninja Bread Men. 

The Ninja Bread Army:

Shortbread done two ways: Salted Caramel Shortbread and Chocolate Toffee Shortbread
adapted from "Salted Caramel Shortbread" in Food Network Magazine Vol 6:10 Dec 2013, "Basic Shortbread Cookie Dough" and "Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cups" in Canadian Living December 2013. 

I made 1 full recipe of shortbread, and split it between 2x9" square pans, and then made 1/2 of a recipe of the salted caramel and 1/2 recipe of the chocolate toffee

For Shortbread:
1/2 C unsalted butter
1/2 C salted butter
3/4 C icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C all purpose flour

For chocolate toffee:
3/4 C semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C toffee bits

1. Butter one 9x13" pan or two 9" square pans and line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F.  
2. Using paddle attachment, beat butters icing sugar and vanilla  until light a fluffy. 
3. Stir in flour until just combined. 
4. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan(s)
5. For salted caramel, leave shortbread as is. For the chocolate toffee, sprinkle toffee bits and chocolate chips evenly over short bread. 
6. Bake in oven until golden brown, about 30-35 min. 
7. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool slightly. Remove shortbread from dish using parchment paper to lift. Cut shortbread into squares, triangles, or rectangles. 

For salted caramel:
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/2 C brown sugar
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 Tbsp 18% cream
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
salt for sprinkling

1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, espresso powder, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat while stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes. 
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and vinegar. 
3. Let cool 5 minutes before drizzling over cut shortbread. Sprinkle with salt.  

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
adapted from " Chocolate Sugar Cookies" in Food network Magazine Volume 6:10 December 2013

1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 C granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 recipe royal icing and festive sprinkles

1. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixture until light and fluffy.
2. Mix in egg and vanilla.  
3. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. 
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture until just incorporated. 
5. Divide dough into 2 balls and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. 
6. Roll out dough between 2 pieces of floured parchment paper, and use festive cookie cutters to shape cookies. Place cookies 4-5 cm apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
7. Bake 350F for about 12 minutes, switching the top and bottom pans half way through. 
8. Cool completely before decorating as desired. 

Gluten Free Candy Cane Biscotti
adapted from this recipe by Allyson Kramer

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C sorghum flour
3/4 C brown rice flour
1/2 C potato starch
1/4 C tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 C crushed candy canes

1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl, then add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. 
3. Combine all remaining ingredients ( except candy canes) in a separate bowl and whisk well to combine. 
4. Gradually incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture. Mixture should be firm. 
5. Fold in the crushed candy canes. You can leave a small amount for sprinkling on the cooked biscotti if desired.  
6. Shape the mixture into 2 logs and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten each one so that you have a 10 cm by 30 cm flattened log. 
7. bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool until you can handle comfortably. Cut each log diagonally into cookie, and place them cut side down back on the parchment lined sheets. 
8. Return to the oven. and bake for 12 minutes. Flip and then bake for 12 more minutes. 
9. Remove from oven and garnish with additional crushed candy canes or melted chocolate if desired. 
10. Dip in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for best results. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Christmas Baking

I've spent almost all of my free time in the kitchen the past couple of weeks making lots of yummy Christmas treats. As you can probably guess, that makes me a very happy girl. I've been doling out the the goodies to friends, family, and co-workers which is what I love to do this time of year. I really haven't made anything that I'd call healthy. I've been trying to eat really healthy meals to make up for it, but haven't been all that successful to be honest. Ah well, I guess we all fall off the wagon at some point. 

I'm splitting my Christmas baking into two posts, so stay tuned for post number 2 tomorrow. I've decided to omit the nutritional information for these goodies. Just enjoy them and have a very Merry Christmas!

Gluten Free Spritz Cookies ( Cookie Press Cookies)
adapted from this recipe from Land O Lakes

2/3 C sugar
1 C unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 C Bob's Redmill Gluten Free flour

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Combine sugar, butter, egg, and salt and beat until creamy
3. Add flour and beat until mixed. 
4. Fit cookie press with template, and fill it with cookie dough. 
5. Press dough onto ungreased cookie sheet about 5cm apart. 
6. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired. 
7. Bake until edges are lightly browned ( 7-9 minutes)

- Invest in a decent cookie press. I bought a cheap one, and it kept falling apart while I was trying to press the cookies which was frustrating.
- bake on the top shelf. The bottoms brown quickly if in the bottom of the oven. 

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispies Squares

1 bag marshmallows
1/4 C butter
5 C Rice Krispies (gluten free if desired)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C white chocolate, melted
1 C dark or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
crushed candy canes, about 1/2 C

1. Melt marshmallows and butter
2. Stir in Rice Krispies and vanilla until mixed.
3. Grease 9x13 pan and your hands and press marshmallow mixture into pan and flatten with hands.
4. Drizzle white chocolate on squares, then drizzle dark chocolate on squares. Top with crushed candy canes. Let squares harden before cutting.

Hot chocolate on a Stick
adapted from this recipe by "The Dessert Spot"

8 oz good quality semi sweet chocolate
1/4 C cocoa
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/16 tsp salt
12 large marshmallows
12 lollipop sticks
14 candy sticks to be used as stirrers

1. Use a whisk to combine cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt together.
2. Melt the chocolate, then add the cocoa mixture and stir until combined. It doesn\t look like it will all mix in, but it will.
3. Once mixed, spoon into a small silicone ice cube mold.
4. Top each cube with a marshmallow, and add lollipop stick.
5. Allow to harden completely, then package as desired if giving as gifts.
6. To enjoy hot chocolate, heat one cup of milk of your choice until its steaming. Do not use water. Stir in the hot chocolate on a stick until completely dissolved. To add extra flavour and sweetness, stir with a candy stirrer.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Jam Thumbprints
adapted from this recipe by Elana

3/4 C peanut butter (just peanuts)
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 C gluten free Bob's Redmill flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C raspberry jam

1, Preheat oven to 350F
2. Cream peanut butter, sugar and egg until mixed and smooth.
3. Stir in flour and salt.
4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
5. Make balls with about 2 Tbsp of dough, then place on cookie sheet. Make a large thumbprint in the center of each cookie. You may need to form the shape of the cookies to make sure they don't fall apart at this point. Fill each thumbprint with raspberry jam.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.
7. Once completely cool, store in the fridge.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mom's Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

This was the first time I made and used royal icing, and I probably didn't let it set long enough before packing up the cookies, but now I know that when it says, leave it for 30 minutes, that you should actually leave it. I'll be making some more over the next few weeks, so there's time for improvement. My Mom's sugar recipe is my favorite. It's crispy, yet melt in your mouth and of course its that familiar taste of home. She always uses butter cream icing, which I love, but I felt like trying the royal icing for a change. It's definitely a little more difficult to work with. It starts to harden when its exposed to air so you really have to work quickly. If you're not going to use it right away, package it in a sealed Ziploc baggie with the air removed or in a bowl covered with a damp towel. You can do lots of fun things with color, but I decided to do mostly white this year, and I liked the results. I got the idea from the cover of a magazine. 

 Mom's Sugar Cookies

1 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
41/2C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 C icing sugar
1 C canola oil

1. Cream butter and sugar. 
2. Beat in eggs, one at a time until light a fluffy. 
3. Add oil, vanilla, and lemon extract. Beat until well mixed. 
4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture.
5. Wrap and chill dough for several hours or over night. 
6. Roll the dough and cut with cookie cutters. 
7. Bake at 325F for 8-10 minutes. 

Royal Icing

2 C icing sugar
2 Tbsp meringue powder
3-4 Tbsp water

1. Using the paddle attachment for your mixer, beat ll ingredients together at high speed until smooth and thick. 
2. If desired, add coloring. 
2. Immediately transfer to a resealable bag and either refrigerate or pipe onto the cookies. If using sprinkles and other decorations, quickly add them before the icing hardens.
3. Let cookies set for 30 minutes. 

Nutritional info per cookie for 96 cookies (without icing)  

cal 76.5
fat 4.4g
   sat fat 1.5g
carbs 8.7g
    fiber 0.2g
    sugar 4.1g
protein 0.7g

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers

Before the sugary goodness that will come over the next few weeks, I wanted to share a healthy recipe that you can make ahead and freeze. Just pop one out of the freezer, either fry or bake to reheat, and serve with a salad and you have an easy recipe for a busy evening which happens a lot this time of year.

Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers
adapted from this recipe by Sara Forte

3 small cloves of garlic
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 C pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 C cooked quinoa
2 Tbsp ground flax
1/3 C oat flour
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

 1. In food processor, combine garlic and green onions and pulse to chop
2. Add pumpkin, olive oil, and spices and run to just combine.
3. Add quinoa, flax, and flour, and pulse a couple of times
4. Add the beans, and pulse just to combine. The beans will be chunky, and the mixture should stick together.
5. Form 6 patties with your hands. At this point, you can freeze patties for future use. Just lay them on a piece of parchment paper on a pan, and stick in freezer for about 1 hour. Then you can remove them from the freezer, and place them in a labelled Ziploc bag for easy storage.
6. If using now, heat some oil in a frying pan, and cook patties until browned and slightly crispy on each side. Alternately, you can cook in an oven. Lightly spray with oil, and place on parchment lined pan. Cook at 350 for about 8 minutes per side. I would do this if I already had the oven on cooking sweet potato fries or something. You can cook patties from frozen either way. It will just take some extra time.

Sara recommends garnishing with avocado and cilantro. I would also add a little bit of Greek yogurt to that.

Nutritional info per burger (for 6 burgers)
cal 156
fat  6.8g
   sat fat 0.8g
carbs 19.7g
   fiber 5.2g
   sugar 1.2g
protein 4.6g