A cooking and baking journal

Redoing Stew

1/24/10: Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Fluffy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Meal details: For the main course I made a bright colored stew using round steak and butternut squash. And for a side, I made a special type of mashed potatoes using heavy cream and roasted garlic.

Defining moments: The first thing that pops into my mind is the cut of meat. My Papa, an old hand at choosing cuts of meat, chose a round steak for the stew. The steak was pretty darn big and it is probably the largest piece of meat I ever wielded. But I wielded it, and that is a good thing. Another significant part of this meal for me was the use of sun-dried tomatoes. I never used nor tasted them before. It's always very interesting to try out something new.

Recipe sources: The beef and butternut stew is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, the host of Everyday Italian and Giada at Home, both which air on the Food Network Channel. The mashed potato recipe is a George Duran creation. George Duran is the host of Ham on the Street (a show that comes on Food Network sometimes, but I believe it has been canceled), and now is the new host of the Ultimate Cake Challenge on TLC. I chose these two recipes because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the I Blame My Mother blog. Learn more about this challenge here.

What I learned: I learned that my Papa has had bad results with stew beef before so I needed a different cut of meat. When he was at the store he chose a round steak which is a lean cut of meat that comes from the thigh of the cow. Since it is lean it needs to be stewed or cooked in some sort of liquid (braising will work here) for a long time to make the meat more tender. So as you can see this cut works will with this technique!
I didn't want to cut the whole piece of meat when it was raw (mainly because we don't have a large cutting board specifically for meat), so I roasted it for about 25 minutes in a 375F oven. I was then able to cut it into 1"cubes with no fuss or mess.
About the mashed potatoes. I learned from Annemarie that beating the potatoes with an electric beater for a few minutes really makes them fluffy, especially with this particular recipe since it has heavy whipping cream.

Any modifications? Yes, I made some to the stew recipe. I used round steak instead of stew beef and I cut them into 1"cubes instead of 2"(easier to chew). I also prepared the meat in a different way and I used one acorn squash instead of butternut.

How it tasted? I am very happy to say that the stew was enjoyed! Stew doesn't have a great reputation around here. The stew had a muted orange color--much different from your typical dark and gloomy broth--and the beef was tender and flavorful. The addition of squash, wine, and tomatoes was the key to making this stew great. The squash was soft and it soaked up all the goodness of the broth and the tomatoes were like little pockets of flavor.

The mashed potatoes was also very good. I kept on the skins so they weren't totally smooth (we like it that way), but the cream really made it fluffy. I roasted the garlic in the oven and added it to the potatoes but I didn't detect much garlic flavor. Roasted garlic is mellow so I'm guessing I needed to use more; maybe 3 heads for 2 times the recipe?

How about a 2nd time? Yes, I would do both recipes again.

Apples Matter -- Canning Homemade Applesauce

1/22/10: Canning Applesauce

During the week, Annemarie made some applesauce meatloaf (applesauce makes the BEST meatloaf, don't you know) and I discovered that we were out of our homemade canned applesauce. Uh oh! So on Friday I was ready to stockpile.

I chose to use a combination of our Jonathan and Northern Spy varieties. We kept them in the cooler since Fall and they are still very crisp and easy to peel! Yay! I also decided to make a few pints of apple butter because, well. . . I just love that stuff. :)

Some Notes for Rebekah: I used the baking and electric beater method for the apples. The oven temperature hovered around 350F and it took about three and a half hours to bake. No problem with that because I didn't have to keep a close eye on them! I used two of the steamer trays (a large and small) and I kept on refilling them as time went on. I used the hot water bath to can and they need 20 minutes in the bath. I filled them up leaving 1/2" headspace. I made about 9 and 1/2 quarts of sauce and about 4 pints of apple butter. All of them sealed. I used the apple butter recipe (one recipe only) found on simplyrecipe.com and I omitted the cloves and lemon and used only 1 cup of sugar.

I tried the apple sauce and I can honestly say that the Jonathan and Northern Spy work wonderfully together. There is never a need to add a teaspoon of sugar when these two come along!

My sister Catherine sent me these pics via email and left a note along with them. It read, "Sweat and tears were put into each and every one of these jars." :) Aw, that's sweet. Usually you will find those two evident during the canning process but because it is January I was glad to have a warm, sauna-like kitchen this time!

The Best Bread on Earth Returns

1/17/10: Day off

This week I took Sunday off because I made my brother's birthday meal the day before. I made him St. Joseph's Day Bread alongside meatballs in homemade tomato sauce just like I did a few weeks ago. It appears that he really liked it! My cheeks are turning red. :)

I have all my recipes and ingredients set for this coming Sunday so wait till next week for a full post!

Thinking Outside the Box -- Macaroni and Cheese with a Secret Ingredient


1/10/10: Macaroni and Four Cheeses with Classic Lyonnaise Potatoes

Meal details: For the main course I made a baked macaroni and cheese casserole that contains a surprising secret ingredient. And for a side I made a baked potato dish that has butter and lots of onions.

Defining moments: I've done casseroles before, so nothing was new for me this week.

Recipe sources: Both recipes came from the Food Network website. The mac 'n cheese recipe is a recipe created by Ellie Krieger, the host of Healthy Appetite and the potato dish was created by Emeril Lagasse, the host of Emeril Live and the Essence of Emeril. I specifically chose these two recipes because I am a member of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Blame My Mother blog. I've been a bit behind in the challenge for awhile, especially now since I've been testing some recipes from my new cookbook, but I'm still chugging along!

What I learned: OK, now to tell you the secret ingredient in the mac 'n cheese. Hope you're sitting down! Ready? The ingredient is. . . Butternut squash. You weren't ready for that, were you? If you're hovering the mouse cursor over the "back" button, hold on! Just scroll down to the "How it tasted?" section of the post; you might be surprised.
Besides learning how to pick out a recipe that scared the pants off my sister, I didn't gather any new techniques or tips from these two recipes. They both are very straightforward recipes and do not require a whole lot of ingredients, so that is probably the reason for it! But I think it is extremely good that I try some easy recipes every so often; if I don't I would go out of my mind. It is like what Ina Garten said on her show, Barefoot Contessa a couple of weeks ago: "I love to cook, but I don't like to spend the whole day cooking." I'm like her.

Any modifications? Yes, I made some changes to the mac 'n cheese recipe. I omitted the ricotta cheese (because some people on the website said that the ricotta made a grainy texture), I just used sharp cheddar cheese, and I used Ritz cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs (because didn't have plain bread crumbs in the house).
Another modification I made, and this time to both recipes, was the oven time. I left both dishes in the oven for an hour--a whole lot longer than what the recipes say. We like our casseroles and potatoes to be a bit crispy on the edges.

How it tasted? What was more surprising than using our frozen butternut squash in the recipe was that every single member of my family (eight in all) liked the macaroni and cheese! Even some who don't care much for squash in the first place! A lot of them, including me, couldn't really detect the squash flavor. The squash, however, did add something to the dish and that was: texture. It made for a really creamy casserole.
The Lyonnaise Potatoes were alright. I think I should have cooked the onions for a longer time so they would have been sweeter. I don't think it is the best way to prepare potatoes.

How about a 2nd time? I would pull out Ellie's recipe again but I think Emeril's potato recipe will be in my recipe binder for awhile.

My First Cookbook Review : Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day


Cookbook Review:
Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

If you have been reading my blog for awhile you will notice that I like to try out new recipes and I seem to do one (or two) every Sunday afternoon. Trying out new recipes is the essential part of learning how to cook. I mean, if you have several favorite recipes and you repeat them week after week (even if they are some fancy dishes like Bolognese or Coq Au Vin) you will not be moving forward in your culinary skills. New recipes = new skills learned!

As you can well imagine, when a fresh-off-the-press cookbook filled with new recipes fell into my hands I was very excited. It's called: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francios. I tried out a few recipes so far and I've decided to give some information about the book here as well as my honest opinion. Hope you have fun reading!

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

Details:Author Bios:

Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., is a physician with twenty years of experience in health care as a practitioner, consultant, and faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His interest in baking and preventive health sparked a quest to adapt the techniques of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for healthier ingredients.

Zoë François, is passionate about food that is real, healthy, and always delicious. She is a pastry chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to teaching baking and pastry courses nationally, she consults to the food industry and is the creator of the recipe blog www.zoebakes.com. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two sons.

Synopsis: Just like their first book, Hertzberg and Francois show their revolutionary way to bake bread. This new method is considerably faster and requires a lot less steps than you would think. Their new method requires no kneading, the dough can last in the refrigerator for up to fourteen days, no yeast proofing, no need to worry about allowing the dough to rest in a draft-free location, no need to monitor the doubling or tripling of dough volume, no need to punch dough down, etc. It is this removal of traditional steps that has given the books its title: five minutes a day.
Baking bread easily and fast is only part of this book's mission. The other goal is to make healthy breads. It contains recipes that include various seeds, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc. that are either incorporated into the dough or are sprinkled on top. The consumption of the selected ingredients (such as whole wheat flour) contain more vitamins, fiber, and minerals than your typical refined flour breads. And the book also includes recipes for gluten-free breads and pastries.

The Recipes: I tried three recipes so far. The "Master Recipe"(a recipe you use as the base for many different types of bread found in the book), Roasted Garlic Bread, and Four-Leaf Clover Broccoli and Cheddar Buns. Before I looked at the recipes I thought, "How can I really make bread in five minutes a day like the title says?" It is possible, it only takes a person five minutes of handling the dough to make a loaf. Really. The dough, however, needs resting and baking time and for most of the recipes this means three hours of waiting. But that is just idle time; you could do two loads of laundry, answer some emails, and make lunch in that amount of time. And it doesn't have to be three hours, you can make it the night before or even thirteen days beforehand!
The recipes (100 in all) found in this book are traditional and exotic. There is a very diverse lot of recipes here! And they include all sorts of interesting ingredients such as spelt flour (a type of wheat flour), barley, graham, mesquite, quinoa, emmer, pumpkin seeds, millet, and buckwheat.

Opinion of Recipes: The two most important parts of a cookbook is how the recipe is presented and the finished product. The three recipes I've tested so far have made beautiful, crusty bread that I am very proud of. My family of eight liked each loaf that came from the oven! The recipe directions were done in step-by-step format and were easy to follow. I especially liked that the authors repeated instructions again for each recipe. By instructions, I mean for example how to roll the dough in your hands to form a "boule" or ball. It is a good idea to repeat techniques periodically because I don't like flipping through a book to find this certain step when I'm right in the middle of baking! :)

Photos: There are a few full-paged, colored photos in the middle of the book and a few recipes have black and white photos to show the steps to making the bread. I'm a sucker for recipes with photos and if I had it my way, I would have a photo for each bread in this book! But I have to be realistic here. The photos that are included are of good quality but I do wish the black and white demonstration photos were larger.

What I disliked about this book: Too small of demonstration photos.

What I really loved about this book: The helpful website that comes along with the book series, the sprinkle of humor and great storytelling I found, both volume and weight measurements, and the large amount of information they give on the ingredients being used, easy substitutions that can be made, equipment, and tips for those "what happened?" moments.

Sneak Peek: Guess what, I got a recipe from the book to present to you all, courtesy of the publisher. So try it out and see how you like it! And oh yeah, be looking for another cookbook review in the very near future!

Pumpkin Pie Brioche
by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François,
Authors of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

"In the autumn I bake pies using freshly roasted sugar pumpkins. My kids love the flavors and I love that pumpkin is full of vitamins. It struck me that the same amazing flavors could be used in a sweet and spiced brioche. The pumpkin makes wonderfully moist dough and the bread is so fragrant and tender. It is great with butter and cinnamon-sugar or cream cheese icing."--Zoë

Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved. Use any leftover dough to make muffins, crescent rolls, or pinwheels.

3 cups white whole wheat flour
4½ cups unbleached all- purpose flour
1½ tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 tablespoon kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1¼ cups lukewarm water
4 large eggs
½ cup honey
¾ cup neutral-flavored oil, or unsalted butter, melted, or zero trans fat, zero hydrogenated oil margarine, melted
One large pie (or "sugar") pumpkin to yield 1¾ cups pumpkin puree, or use one 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) for brushing on the top crust

Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

1. If making your own fresh pumpkin puree:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Split the pumpkin in half, starting at the stem, and place it cut side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet or one lined with a silicone mat. Bake for about 45 minutes. The pumpkin should be very soft all the way through when poked with a knife. Cool slightly before scooping out the seeds.

2. Scoop out the roasted flesh of the pumpkin and puree it in the food processor. Set aside 1¾ cups for the dough and use any leftover in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe.

3. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten, and spices in a 5- quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

4. Combine the liquid ingredients with the pumpkin puree and mix them with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine.

5. The dough will be loose, but it will firm up when chilled. Don't try to use it without chilling for at least 2 hours. You may notice lumps in the dough, but they will disappear in your finished products.

6. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

7. Refrigerate the dough in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond that, the dough stores well in the freezer for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Freeze it in 2-pound portions. When using frozen dough, thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before use, then allow the usual rest/rise times.

8. On baking day, grease a brioche pan or an 8½× 4½-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece of dough. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball. Place the ball in the prepared pan and allow to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour 45 minutes.

9. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven. If you're not using a stone in the oven, a 5-minute preheat is adequate.

10. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the loaf's top with egg wash, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.

11. Bake near the center of the oven for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Brioche will not form a hard, crackling crust. The loaf is done when it is medium brown and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in resting and baking time.

12. Remove the brioche from the pan (see page 50) and allow it to cool on a rack before slicing or eating.

The above is an excerpt from the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François, authors of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients


This blog is a personal blog created and edited by me, Rebekah. I was given a free copy of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by FSBAssociates.com, after they asked me if I was interested in posting a review on my blog. I replied with, "Yes, I'm interested," but I vowed to myself that I would not post if I didn't find the book favorable. I was in no way forced to review and the above review contains my honest opinion.

Strawberries in January


1/09/10 : Frozen Strawberries

For my birthday supper, Annemarie baked a pound cake and served our frozen strawberries, our canned peaches, and whipped topping with it. I froze three quarts of strawberries for the first time last year in June so that is how they made it to my plate. So how did they taste? They were fantastic! They had very strong strawberry flavor and their texture held up considerably well. I thought they would turn out to be mushy, so I was very happy to find that they went through the freezing process with flying colors.

I used two methods to freeze them, the sugar pack method and the syrup pack method. We only tried the sugar packed so far so I will have to update this post later once we try out the ones packed with syrup.

For those who are interested in freezing strawberries, here is the recipe I used:

Freezing Strawberries - Sugar Pack Method
(Recipe Found in Ball Blue Book of Preserving, copyright 2005)

Select fully-ripe, firm strawberries with a deep-red color. Discard immature and defective fruit. Wash strawberries; drain. Remove caps. Slice berries lengthwise in halves or thirds. Mix 1 part sugar to 6 parts strawberries. Allow to stand until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Gently stir. Pack strawberries and syrup into can-or-freeze jars or plastic boxes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

Freezing Strawberries - Syrup Pack Method

Prepare a heavy syrup by combing 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Wash strawberries, remove caps, and slice strawberries or leave them whole. Pack strawberries into can-or-freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes. Ladle syrup over berries, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

Linguine Roman Style and Broccoli and Cheddar Buns--Buon Appetito!


1/03/10: Linguine Roman Style and Four-Leaf Clover Broccoli and Cheddar Buns

Meal details: For the main course I made a simple pasta dish that uses ricotta and cheese for the sauce. And I paired the pasta with a whole wheat bun that has broccoli puree added to the dough and sharp cheddar baked on top.

Defining moments: Making a vegetable puree was entirely new to me! I haven't used our blender a whole lot yet so anything done in that machine is a real eye opener to me. :)

Recipe sources: The pasta dish came from a new cookbook that just came out. It is called Ciao Italia, Five Ingredient Favorites and it is written by Mary Ann Esposito, the host of Ciao Italia. The broccoli buns came from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, another newly published book, written by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.
Note to Rebekah: I did one recipe and had enough dough for 26 buns.

What I learned: I began to realize that even though a recipe (like the broccoli buns here), may sound tedious and require a good amount of steps, I shouldn't be intimidated. When I first looked at the bun recipe I thought they would take a long time to do, especially with all that dough dividing and shaping. But the authors of the book knew from the start that their recipes need to be quick for their readers, and so they made certain that their breads take on simple shapes. These buns are just made up of four small pieces of dough put together by pressing in the center. Really easy to put together and I have to say, they were adorable!
The pasta dish was very easy to do. So easy that I can remember exactly what to do next time, I usually need to go back to a recipe again and again. So I'm thinking that I will start feeling like one of those chefs that can whip up a dish without one glance at a recipe card. A dream come true!

Any modifications? Yes, I made one modification and that was to the pasta recipe. Instead of using pecorino cheese, I used parmesan. Why? Couldn't find the former in the grocery store.

How did it tasted? Both recipes were wonderful. The pasta's flavors were simple and very satisfying. And I love to know that not many dollars went into its creation. The buns were so very good! I was hoping to have the buns look like clovers more but the ridges weren't that pronounced when they came out of the oven. However! Because of the unique way you roll and shape these buns, you can easily tear off one "leaf" at a time when you're eating them. Easy eats!

How about a 2nd time? Yes, I would like to do these two recipes again.

Roasted Garlic Bread to the Rescue

1/01/10: Roasted Garlic Bread

On Friday we were going to have our homemade spaghetti lunch and we wanted some garlic bread to go along with it. Annemarie tried to make an herb bread in the bread machine but it was not cooperating at all that week! So I tried another recipe from The Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. I started working on the dough around 8 a.m. and I had the bread all set to enjoy at 11:40 a.m. Now, that is some quick bread making!

What was really interesting about this bread is the use of herb butter. I mixed some dried herbs into soft butter and inserted the butter into the slits I made. I did this when the bread was slightly warm so the butter started to melt and seep into every nook and cranny. Yummy!

My First Slice of Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

12/27/09: Chicken with Fresh Orange Cranberry Sauce and Whole Wheat Bread

Meal details: For the main course I browned some chicken breasts and made an orange, cranberry sauce to go with them. To round out the meal I made an artisan whole wheat bread.

Defining moments: First time making a whole wheat bread. And the first time I tasted orange and cranberry together.

Recipe sources: The sauce recipe came from the 1978 cookbook called The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two. My family and I are not close to being vegetarian, by the way! I found this recipe on the internet when I was searching for sauces that will pair well with chicken. You can find the recipe here.
The whole wheat bread recipe came from the newly published book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, written by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It is the "Master Recipe" found in the book.

What I learned: What quickly comes to mind is learning a whole new way to bake bread. The Healthy Bread in Five book showed me how to make bread dough that I don't have to knead and how to make a bread with a nice chewy crust and a soft crumb.

Any modifications? No, I followed both recipes exactly.

How it tasted? Both the chicken and the bread tasted good! Everyone liked the sweet--tart--savory combination of the sauce and the bread was outstanding.

How about a 2nd time? Yes, to both recipes.

A Cake for Christmas

12/25/09: Happy Birthday Jesus!

On Christmas Day I decorated a cake for Jesus' birthday. Annemarie baked the sheet cake (a chocolate one, by the way), and I decorated it using Traditional Buttercream and sprinkles. There was no red coloring in the house so I mixed maraschino cherry juice with the buttercream to make the poinsettia.

Project Cookie

12/17/09 to 12/20/09: Christmas Cookies Galore

During the four days (from the 17th to the 20th) my sister Catherine and I baked our way through our list of Christmas cookies. At first it seemed like mission impossible, but because we both have black belts in the world of cookie baking, we dropped, rolled, and powdered sugar our way to mission success. :) A high five to ya sis! Couldn't have done it without you!

The Fruits of Our Labor:

Here is all of the cookies we baked along with a description, recipe source, and picture of each:

Cookie Dough Truffles

Description: A soft dough made of brown sugar, condensed milk, flour, and more is chilled, rolled into balls, then dipped into chocolate coating. This is my favorite cookie!
Recipe source: Recipe has been passed down and I've forgotten where this came from. But here is the recipe anyway:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 1/2 lbs semisweet chocolate candy coating, chopped (also goes by the name of almond bark)
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour, milk and vanilla; mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Chill for 1 to 2 hours or until firm.
Melt candy coating in double boiler. Shape into 1 inch balls and dip into candy coating; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Notes for Rebekah: We did 1 and 1/2 times the recipe and it made 1 large tin.

Peanut Butter Squares

Description: A soft bar that has intense peanut butter and chocolate flavor.
Recipe source: Click here for the recipe.
Notes for Rebekah: Made one 13x9 pan. Filled one large tin.

Rocky Road Fudge

Description: A very easy and fast fudge to make that has a slightly chewy, yet soft texture.
Recipe Source: Came from Betty Crocker. Click here to view recipe.
Notes for Rebekah: Did one recipe. Used Baker's Semisweet Chocolate--very good choice.


Description: A Czech pastry that is typically topped with cheese filling or fruit preserves.
Recipe Source: Came from allrecipes.com. See here for dough recipe and here for cheese filling.
Notes to Rebekah: Made 1 recipe. Was able to fill 1 large and 1 small tin. One cheese filling recipe makes the perfect amount of filling.

Cherry Surprise Balls

Description: A shortbread-like cookie that has a maraschino cherry inside. It is also dusted with powdered sugar for additional sweetness.
Recipe Source: Came from an old church newspaper. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup shortening, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) maraschino cherries without stems, drained and halved
  • Additional powdered sugar
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar; gradually add flour. Chill dough for one hour. Shape a tablespoon of dough around each cherry, forming a ball. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325F for 18-20 minutes or until the bottoms are browned. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Cool on wire racks. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen.

Notes for Rebekah: Took longer to bake than expected. Took about 28 minutes. Did 1-1/2 times the recipe and made enough for 2/3 of a large tin.

Holiday Snowball Cookies

Description: A shortbread-like cookie with mini chocolate chips and a sprinkling of powdered sugar to create that "snowball" appearance.
Recipe Source: Not sure where this came from. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (10 oz.) of mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 sprinkle of powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375F.
Beat butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour; stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle additional powdered sugar, if desired.

Notes for Rebekah: Will spread in oven if left at room temperature for too long. Made 1 1/2 times the recipe. Made about 1 large tin.

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies + M&M's!

Description: Made two types of oatmeal cookies -- one with raisins, the other with one of my favorite candies: M&M's. I got a whole bag of these for Christmas, Santa knows me well!
Recipe sources: This is the famous Quaker Oats recipe, you can always find this recipe on the back of the lid of a Quaker container. If you don't have it on hand, click here to view the recipe.
Notes for Rebekah: Did three times the recipe. Made enough for 1 large and 1 small tin.

Lemon Snowdrops

Description: A delightful light flavored cookie with lemony goodness.
Recipe source: Came from Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, copyright 1950. Here is the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • Powdered sugar
Mix together shortening, butter, egg, lemon juice, and water. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir into wet ingredients. Mix in grated lemon rind. Chill dough for 1 hour. Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls and bake at 400F for 12 to 15 minutes. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Notes for Rebekah: Did 1 1/2 times the recipe and filled one small tin.

Gingerbread Men

Description: Slightly spicy and crunchy. Not overly crunchy like some gingerbread recipes, though!
Recipe source: This recipe is kind of special because these cookies who pictured on the front page of Family Circle Magazine, November 2009. Click here to view the cookie recipe. See below for the royal icing recipe:

Royal Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered egg white (or meringue powder)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine powdered sugar, powdered egg whites and 3 tablespoons water. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute to blend, then increase speed to high and beat 5 minutes until thick and shiny. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, or a resealable plastic bag; snip small corner off bag. Pipe icing over cookies. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Notes for Rebekah: 1 recipe makes 1 large tin.

Rum Balls

Description: These cookies are soft and have a flavor punch! They should be stored at room temperature and shouldn't be eaten until they have aged for one week. The rum needs some time for itself, ya know!
Recipe source: Came from Cooks.com. See here for the recipe.
Notes to Rebekah: 1 recipe makes 1 small tin.

Glazed Butter Cookies

Description: My sister and I made rolled sugar cookies before years ago and we had a crumbly mess! So when we decided on a roll-out cookie for this year we said a little prayer before we tied on our aprons. Our angel cookie cutter must have sent our message because these turned out beautifully! They were not hard to roll out and they were tender and sweet. Very delicious!
Recipe source: Found this recipe on a blog but the author adapted it from Cook's Illustrated. See here for the recipe.
Notes for Rebekah: 2 1/2 times the recipe makes 1 large and 1 small tin. Added water to dough to make it roll out easier.

Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (aka O' Faithful)

Description: My sister and I tried many Chocolate Chip Cookies (CCC) in our time and it is funny to note that during the past 2 or 3 years, we've been returning to this recipe again and again. We consider it thee best chocolate chip and this is a great example of the old proverb, "If it ain't broke, don't fix."
You may notice that one of the cookies in the photo has chocolate stripes. My sister wanted to have some fun and stir in chocolate shavings rather than chips into the dough. The cookie turned out to be chocolatier (is that a word?) and delicious!
Recipe source: Back of any Nestle chip package. Also found here.
Notes for Rebekah: Made 2 times the recipe. Yield: 1 large tin.