Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and wish you all a very happy New Year! We spent the holidays with Michael's family in Prescott Valley, AZ and it was the first time in 12 years together I'd had a chance to meet all his brothers and sisters! We had a marvelous time and ended the holiday with a trip to the Grand Canyon.

I'm looking forward to a couple weeks off from cooking and then I'll be back with some new recipes including some experiments with selections from Julia Child's classic cookbook that I received as a Christmas present from Michael.

In the meantime, enjoy some photos from our Grand Canyon trip!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spice Drop Cookies

This afternoon I decided to crack open Charleston Receipts and see what I could find for cookies that didn't require granulated sugar or powdered sugar. I'd run out of both and wanted to do a bit more baking before Michael got home with my resupply.

As luck would have it, I ran across a recipe for "Sugarless Drop Cookies" that looked pretty interesting. Although I don't like using light corn syrup in my baking (except for candies and some icings as a binder), I decided to try out this one that used light corn syrup and honey as the sweeteners. I played around with the recipe just a bit and since I had some pecan pieces left from other projects, decided to add them too.

The result was pretty good. This turned out almost like a mock ginger snap. It has a little bite to it thanks to the spices and isn't overly sweet. I've adjusted the baking temperature a bit because, as an older recipe, the temp was pretty high for a cookie. The first batch were crisper than I really liked so dropping the temp kept them crisp but also a bit chewy in the centers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Butterscotch Blondie Cookies

The holiday baking continues with a nice recipe for a Butterscotch Blondie Cookie. This is, for the most part, a sugar cookie with butterscotch chips. Still, they're surprisingly different with the butterscotch taste. They're also pretty simple to make and this recipe makes a generous 50 cookies or so.

I found that rolling them in sugar before baking gives them a nice "Christmasy" look. This is a great cookie for those holiday gift baskets, trays, and tins since the are tasty, easy, and inexpensive to make. I'm one of those people who abhors the cliche of the Christmas tree sugar cookie and while I love gingerbread, I prefer a real soft gingerbread to the cardboard that passes for gingerbread men and women this time of year. So, something that is quick and easy but also a little different fits my requirements when I'm baking in volume for presents.


My apologies for the construction on the blog at the moment. It seems that December is the month from Hell for all things computer. I've been using a template designed by someone in exchange for links to their site. Unfortunately, they did not keep up their end of the bargain and allowed their hosting of background images and other elements to expire. So, I'm having to redo the theme for this blog. as if I don't have enough to do.

Pecan Clusters

The things you see when your laptop dies and you get bored and watch TV instead of reading newsfeeds or wasting time on Facebook. In this case it was a recipe by Paula Deen for Pecan Clusters.

Yes, I was getting my "back home" fix and watching Paula's show on Christmas Cookies and she whipped up a batch of this quick but delicious chocolate candy with pecans. In some ways it's similar to divinity but without the use of egg white and beating forever. It's also chocolate which is always a plus.

You can make this in less than 20 minutes total and have it chilling and setting up in the fridge, perfect for holiday trays or tins. In fact, this was the first candy in the rebirth of Mama's Christmas gift tins tradition. I actually got enough out of this recipe for two tins of candy with about half a dozen left over to enjoy! The recipe says it makes about 6 dozen but, of course, I make them a bigger than most of these recipe people because - I like to know I'm eating something!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: Martha’s Noel Nut Balls

IMG_3904 Really? Noel Nut Balls? Martha, we’ve got to do better on names. Unfortunately, the title of this recipe puts me in mind of Alec Baldwin’s classic SNL sketch “Pete Scweddy’s Balls.”
Anyway, I ran across this while bored and watching Martha Stewart via cable On-Demand service. I was intrigued because the recipe seemed quite similar to Mama’s own Russian Tea Cakes as well as one of my favorite store-bought Christmas Cookies, “Cashew Nougats” by Archway.  Actually, comparing my Mama’s recipe and Martha’s recipe they are nearly identical except for the use of the bourbon and honey. 
This evening I undertook what I believe is my first Martha Stewart recipe. To be honest, I think most of her stuff is, well, over the top. I did have fun reading the comments on the site, though. Martha has quite the following and not all of them are quite up to speed on those cooking skills. One woman was complaining that she thought because these had bourbon that they were bourbon balls. She was upset they turned out to be a cookie! Of course, a cursory glance at the ingredients is going to tell you these are going to be a cookie texture!
The results were quite good. I was pleased and sure enough the texture was pretty close to my favorite “Cashew Nougat” cookies although just a touch more dense. However, that was not a detraction.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mardi Gras Cake

I had originally planned to post this for Mardi Gras, but thanks to a local storytelling group, I was asked to tell this story for their "Kitchen Confidential" series tonight.

So, rather than wait, I'll go ahead and let you hear it too. Just in case you weren't around Hotel Congress in Tucson tonight. Bon chance, cher!

In 1988 I found myself on a trip to New Orleans with Mama. I was lucky to be the star student in my nursing program at Piedmont Technical College in South Carolina and was chosen to attend a medical seminar down there.

My brother, who was a travel agent had arranged a rental car for us to make the trip because Mama still drove a 1977 Mercury station wagon barely up to driving to the mailbox much less Louisiana. He'd also arranged for us to stay at a 5 star hotel in the French Quarter. This was no small affair because we spent most of our childhood staying in motels, if we were lucky and almost never chain ones. Many times our family vacation would consist of driving to Myrtle Beach about 4 in the morning, changing into swimsuits in the back of the car with the windows blocked by blankets and coming home when it got dark. In fact, before this trip a hotel with inside hallways was a very rare event in Mama's life.

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