Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wishing you every joy in the New Year!!




Sending you wishes for a happy year filled
with health, prosperity, love and loads of fun!

Thank you for visiting.

Hope to see you throughout 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Cookie Truffles (Chocolate / Cream Cheese Treats, Unbaked)


Happy Holidays!
Hope it’s being one of your best!

Truffles are great for using bits that are left over from holiday baking or shopping.

Last year about this time I posted the recipe for Anna Sultana’s Truffles.
They are easy to make and open to all sorts of variations, depending on what's left over.
Cookie Truffles, just like the other truffles, don’t require baking.
So the kiddies can safely make them.

Think you have more than enough snacks in the house?
I’ve never seen anyone ever refuse a piece of chocolate.
Especially during the holidays.

Hints:

Have some leftover Oreo cookies?
Use a food processor to break the cookies, then add the cream cheese.
Vanilla Oreo cookies go well with white chocolate.

Truffles can also be made with gingersnap, peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies.

If you want larger balls, use two packages of cream cheese instead of one.


You can place in the centre of the balls any of the following:
Maraschino cherries
Candied cherries 
hazelnuts or other nuts


Instead of the semi-sweet chocolate you can use:
bitter-sweet chocolate
milk chocolate
white chocolate
dark chocolate 
You can also use an equal weight amount of chips in any of the above flavours.
Butterscotch chips are also good.


You can change the flavour by using any of the following:
orange extract
rum extract 
vanilla flavouring
Bailey's Irish Cream Liquor

You can coat the truffles with
chocolate sprinkles
crushed candy canes
crushed peppermint candies
red and / or green sugar sprinkles
christmas coloured sprinkles
chopped or crushed nuts
confectioners’ sugar 
plain cacao

These combinations go well together:
Kahlua and crushed almonds
Godiva chocolate liqueur with skor toffee and crushed pecans
white chocolate and raspberry extract 

You can coat with white chocolate and drizzle with milk chocolate.
Or coat with milk chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate. 


Plan to serve these after a fancy meal?
You could serve truffles with a dollop of whipped cream.
Leave the toothpicks in the truffles, and serve them as a party finger food.


Truffles freeze well, but if you’re planning on freezing, don’t dip them in either confectioners’ sugar or plain cacao before freezing.
If they’ve been coated with either, they would be a bit messy after they thawed out.


Have leftover melted chocolate?
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
Stir in some chopped nuts, then spread the chocolate over the baking sheet. 
Refrigerate until firm, then break into pieces. 
Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.


                        Cookie Truffles

Makes 42 truffles

Toppings

Prepare the chopped nuts, or any of the above suggestions.
Set aside.

Truffles

Place in a large bowl
350 grams cookies crumbs, finely crushed
1 250 gram package cream cheese, regular or light, cubed
Add flavouring, if you wish.
Mix until well blended.
Refrigerate the batter for one hour before shaping into balls.
Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls. 
Put them in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.

Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. 

Scoop about 2 teaspoons worth of mixture and shape into a ball. 
Place the ball onto the wax paper. 
Repeat with remaining mixture and place the balls on the baking sheet.
Refrigerate 2 hours. 

Coating

Place in a medium pot that has been placed in a larger pot holding water
450 grams package semi-sweet chocolate (or one of the options)
1 tablespoon shortening
Melt over medium heat, stirring regularly.
Let cool slightly.

Use a toothpick to dip the truffles into the chocolate, then use another toothpick to push the ball into the toppings. 
Roll the truffles in the topping, then return the truffles to the baking sheet.
Cover any bare spots with the toppings while the chocolate is still soft.
Refrigerate 2 hours or until chocolate is firm.

The truffles can be stored in the freezer.
Take them out about 45 minutes before serving. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wishing you all the blessings of the season...



Wishing you a Christmas filled 
with all you hold dear
and a New Year filled 
with all the best!


Thank you for visiting!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Gingersnap Cookies 


The holidays are in full swing.
Folks dropping by for a cup of coffee or tea.
And what’s better with a cup of either coffee or tea than a few cookies?

Gingersnap cookies are a rich dark brown.
They would look pretty on a platter with 


Hints: 

I put the 1/2 Cup of sugar for the coating in an 8 inch square pan so I could make about 10 balls, put them in the pan, and coat them together before transferring them to the cookie sheet.
It seemed more efficient and less messy this way.

If you want puffy gingersnaps, use 3/4 Cup shortening instead of 3/4 Cup oil. 
If you’re using shortening, first cream the shortening, then gradually beat in the sugar.

These cookies do freeze well.


                        Gingersnap Cookies 

Makes about 36 cookies 
have on hand 3 cookie sheets

Place in an 8 inch square pan
1/2 Cup sugar

Sift together into a medium bowl
2 Cups flour
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Return to sifter and resift into the bowl.

Place in a large mixer bowl 
3/4 Cup oil
1 Cup sugar
Beat well.
Blend in 
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
Add 1/4 of the flour mixture and beat in well.
Repeat three times, blending the flour mixture in well each time.

Place the oven rack in the centre of the oven.        
Preheat oven to 350º F

Take a spoonful of the dough and roll the dough (in your hands) into a ball about 1 1/4 inch in diameter.  
Place the ball in the pan of sugar.
Repeat about nine more times.
Roll the balls around until they are coated with sugar.
Place the coated balls, about 2 inches apart, on a cookie sheet.
They will flatten and spread as they bake.
Repeat with the remaining dough until it is all used.

Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the pans and place them on wire racks.
Let them cool completely.

Store them in an airtight container.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Baked Cinnamon Bread Brunch and The Christmas Full Moon

Remember the Christmas morning in the 1983 movie A Christmas Story?
Yeah, the movie where Ralphie's Old Man wins a major award, the leg lamp.

Remember how tired the parents were on Christmas morning?
Can you imagine if the Mom also had to make breakfast that morning?
Yeah, not a happy thought.

Christmas morning is a perfect time to have a brunch dish ready to go into the oven.
There are a few brunch dishes that can be prepared a day in advance, giving you a chance to relax and open presents with the family.
Here are two I’ve posted over the years:

Frittata is an Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche.
And it’s nice for a dessert or a brunch, too.

Today I’m posting a recipe for a third brunch dish: Baked Cinnamon Bread Brunch.

And, never forget the safety mantra of Mom, teacher and Santa…
You'll shoot your eye out.


Hint:

Use day old bread because the stale bread will soak up more egg mixture.

Want to use up a regular loaf of bread, or some leftover Christmas bread?
No problem.
If you’re using a regular bread and would the casserole to be a bit sweeter, add a teaspoon or two of vanilla.
Some raisins would be nice, too.

The casserole can be refrigerated for 12 to 24 hours.

Don’t have pecans?
Walnuts or chocolate chips or whatever your crowd likes would work, too.

If you don’t feel like making the topping you can sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the bread pudding. 


Would you like a fruit topping to serve on the side?
This is easy and uses what you have:

Melt in a nonstick skillet over medium heat
2 Tablespoons butter
Add
1/4 Cup dark brown sugar
1 Cup apple or pear slices
Stir the slices until they are softened and the sugar has melted.
Place the fruit in a bowl and serve with the warm casserole.

If you make the topping in the summer you can use berries or sliced peaches.
The fruit topping is also good on waffles, pancakes, or leftover turkey or ham.


                        Baked Cinnamon Bread Brunch

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan

Have on hand
8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
   (3/4 Cup will be used in the casserole; the remainder will be used in the topping)

Cut each slice of a
1 pound sliced cinnamon raisin bread loaf
diagonally in half twice to make 4 small triangles.
Stand each triangle, with points up, in the prepared baking pan. 

Place in a large bowl
3/4 Cup cream cheese
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar 
Beat at low speed until blended. 
Stir in
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla 
Add, one at a time, mixing well after each addition
6 large eggs 
Stir in
2 1/2 Cups milk
Pour the mixture over the bread in the baking pan. 
Refrigerate. 

When you’re ready to serve, heat oven to 350º F
Bake, uncovered, 40 to 50 minutes. 
The top should be golden brown and a knife inserted in the centre will come out clean. 


While the casserole is baking prepare the topping

Place in a small bowl
the remaining cream cheese
2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
Beat until well blended and smooth.

Sprinkle over the casserole
3 Tablespoons chopped pecans 
Drizzle the cream cheese topping over the casserole.


About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

December 20 - Natures’ annual holiday light show, the Ursid meteor showers peak, producing 5-10 meteors per hour. Visible from the north all night.

December 21 - The Winter Solstice, 11:48 p.m. 
The Sun reaches its farthest point south of the celestial equator so it’s the shortest day of the year from sunrise to sunset. 
The good news is that the days will start getting longer from here!

December 25 - A Christmas Full Moon! December’s Full Cold Moon will be astronomically full at 6:11 a.m. It appears full for three days.
Check out this short video on how this Moon got its name: December's Full Cold Moon

December 29 - Look to the east in the late evening to locate the bright waning Moon, and right above it, the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, and one of the brightest stars in the night sky, with a bluish tint.  Part of the constellation Leo includes up a backwards question mark and Regulus provides the dot at the bottom. 
Try to locate Jupiter low in the horizon after midnight.


Oh, about that Christmas Full Moon
The full moon hasn’t fallen on Christmas Day since 1977.
It won’t be back for another 19 years.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Cinnamon Bread


A little over a year ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Apple Cinnamon Bread.


The cakes are festive enough to serve with any meal for a holiday gathering of family or friends.
But sometimes a meal calls for something a bit lighter and simpler.
And, during the holiday rush, a simpler recipe may be all we have the time to bake.

Holiday breads can do double duty.
They’re not too elaborate, so they can be served to finish a heavy meal.
And they’re not too sweet, so they can be served along with a lighter meal.
They are also nice to serve with a cup of tea or coffee when friends drop by.


Hints:

This recipe works just as well if you’d rather use nutmeg or allspice instead of the cinnamon. Or you can use an equal amount of Apple Pie Spice Blend.

Instead of the cup of butter you can use
!/2 Cup margarine
3 ounces oil

Don’t have 2 Cups buttermilk?
You can combine
2 Tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice with enough milk to make 2 Cups.
Stir and let sit 5 minutes.


                        Cinnamon Bread (2 Loaves)
                        

For the Cinnamon Topping
In a small bowl mix together 
2/3 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon 
Set aside.

For the Bread

Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans

In a medium bowl combine
4 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat at medium speed
1 Cup butter 
2 Cups sugar 
Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add, one at a time
2 large eggs
Scraping the bowl, beat until just blended.

Add alternately to the batter (3 dry, 2 liquid additions)
the flour mixture
2 Cups buttermilk
Mix until just blended.

Preheat oven to 350º F

Spread one quarter of the batter in each of the two prepared loaf pans.
Sprinkle one quarter of the cinnamon topping over the batter in each pan. 
Spread the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon topping.
Using a knife, swirl the batter.
Top with the remaining sugar cinnamon mixture.
Bake for 45 - 50 minutes.
A toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaves should come out clean.
Place the pans on a wire rack.
Let them cool for 20 minutes.
Remove the bread from the pans and place the loaves on the rack.
Let the loaves cool completely.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Snickerdoodle Cookies / Snickerdoodle Muffins

About a year ago I shared the recipes for Anna Sultana's Monkey Bread Muffins / Monkey Bread Coffee Cake in one post.
A two-fer, so to speak.

Well, Christmas is coming.
And, in the spirit of the season, I’m posting another two-fer. 
Snickerdoodle cookies and muffins.


A snickerdoodle is a cookie with a cracked surface.
They can be either soft or crisp.
Snickerdoodles are similar to sugar cookies. 
Sugar cookies are rolled in white sugar while snickerdoodles are rolled in a sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Now you know.

Snickerdoodles , according to The Joy of Cooking, comes from the German word Schneckennudel (snail noodles), a kind of pastry.
Or it could just be a funny name people liked saying.

Whatever… it’s an easy, delicious cookie.
And muffin!


Hints: 

About the cookies….
I combined the sugar and cinnamon for the coating in an 8 inch square pan so I could make about 10 balls, put them in the pan, and coat them together before transferring them to the cookie pan.
It seemed more efficient and less messy this way.

If you want puffy snickerdoodles, use 1/2 Cup shortening instead of 1/2 Cup oil. 

For crisper cookies, bake at 425º F for 7 - 9 minutes.

About the muffins….
You can half fill the muffin cups, add chopped walnuts or pecans, and then top with the remaining batter.

Or you can add a sprinkle of the sugar cinnamon mixture to the half-filled cups before adding the remaining batter.


                        Snickerdoodle Cookies

Makes 36 cookies          
Grease 3 cookie sheets 


For Cinnamon Sugar Coating

In a pan combine
1/3 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Set aside.


For Cookies

Combine in a medium bowl
2 3/4 Cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a large mixer bowl 
1/2 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup oil
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 large eggs 
Beat until light and fluffy.
Stir in flour mixture.

Place the oven rack in the centre of the oven.        
Preheat oven to 400º F

Take a spoonful of the dough and form a ball about 1 1/4 inch in diameter.  
Place the ball in the pan of the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Repeat about nine more times.
Roll the balls around until they are coated with cinnamon sugar.
Place the coated balls, about 2 inches apart, on a greased cookie sheet.
Repeat with the remaining dough until it is all used.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are brown on top.
Remove the cookies from the pans and place them on wire racks.
Let them cool completely.



                        Snickerdoodle Muffins

Grease well a 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.

Combine in a shallow bowl
3/4 Cup sugar 
3 Tablespoons cinnamon 
Set aside.

Combine in a medium bowl
2 1/4 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoons nutmeg
Set aside.

Place in a large mixer bowl 
1 Cup butter
1 Cup sugar
Beat until light and fluffy.
Stir in
2 teaspoons vanilla
Add, one at a time, and mix in well
2 large eggs

Add alternately to the batter (3 dry, 2 liquid additions)
the flour mixture
1 1/4 Cups sour cream
Scrape the bowl and combine the batter well, but don’t over beat.

Scoop out enough batter for one muffin.
Drop it into the shallow bowl of cinnamon sugar. 
Roll the batter ball around in the mixture until it is covered in cinnamon sugar. 
Place the batter ball in a muffin tin cup. 
Repeat with the remaining batter.

Preheat the oven to 350º F

Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar on top of the muffins.
Bake for 20 - 22 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Serve warm.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Anna Sultana’s ‘Josie’s Apple Cake’ and the Geminid Meteor Showers


The stores have been having sales on apples.
Huge bags of almost every variety.
Why not pick up a bag or two?

Even if the gang doesn’t want an apple a day - and why should’t they?  Haven’t they heard “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” - apples are great baked in desserts.


Ma had a real quickie apple cake.
Her pal Josie gave her the recipe.
So Ma called it ‘Josie’s Apple Cake’.
And we enjoyed it every time Ma made it.


Hints:

Ma used macintoshes because they were usually on sale.
This also works well with Gala or Fuji or Honey Crisp apples.
Or whatever your grocer has on sale this week.
Never met an apple I didn’t like!

When you add the apple slices to the mixer bowl, give the mixture a store every so often to coat the slices.
This will help keep them from turning brown.

                    Apple Cake

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan or two 9″ round pans

In a small bowl combine
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

In another bowl combine
2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
        
Place the rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat oven to 350°F         

In large mixer bowl place
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 Cup oil

Peel, core, and slice
6 medium apples
Add the apple slices to the large mixer bowl (see hints).
Add the flour / baking powder mixture.  
With a fork, mix well until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients.
Turn the batter into the prepared pan or pans, spreading evenly.
Top with the cinnamon / sugar mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 55 minutes.
A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. 
Cool cake in pan before serving. 


Want more apple recipes?
Try these:








Apple Cobbler & Apple Crisp (also Rhubarb and Peach Variations)




Have leftover Ritz crackers after a holiday gathering?
They can be used to make a Mock Apple Pie.
Really.
Waste not, want not!


About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

December 8 – Earliest sunset of 2015 at 4º0 N. latitude.

December 11 to 13 – Get ready for the annual Geminid Meteor Showers! 
They are visible all weekend and they’ll peak on December 13.  They’re considered the best meteor showers of the year. 
The radiant — that spot in the sky where the meteors will appear to emanate — lies just below and to the right of the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini (hence the name, “Geminids”).  Best viewing after midnight until dawn.

December 11 – New Moon at  5:29 a.m. It is completely invisible to the naked eye.
No loss. Enjoy the meteor shower!