Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas: Come and Gone

Merry Christmas!! (even though it's a day late it still counts)

So I finished all of the cookies I had wanted to make this year. The last were my dad's favorite sesame cookies. The recipe is a family secret so my lips (and hands) are sealed!
They seem like a strange concept for a cookie, sesame seeds and sweet? but as my mom says, "They taste great with tea!" As my mom and I were trying to make them on Christmas, we ran out of sesame seeds, me being the foodie that I am, had some black sesame seeds in the pantry. I pulled out those bad boys, well my dad actually did cause my hands were all cookie-gooped, and rolled some of the cookies in them.
I only made small batches of all the cookies this year due to time restraints and we didn't even make one of our traditional Italian treats stroufili, or honey balls. I just did not have time for them this year. Sad. 

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I sure did. I was lazy and spent the day with my family watching movies, falling asleep during them, fun! 

Here are my latest "What's For Dinner?"

Wednesday, December 22nd- I was lazy and trying to finish shopping for presents so I made a salad (I know I really resort to salads a lot for dinner sorry) with mango, pecans, and the usual veggies I have on hand. 

Thursday, December 23rd
Third time with black bean noodles. This time steamed broccoli, black sesame seeds, and an Asian style sauce with soy sauce, honey, ginger powder, onion powder, red chili flakes, water, and cornstarch. 

Friday, December 24th Christmas Eve
I had a lot to do, so I made myself some frozen roasted veggies (when I made them on Monday, I froze some just for this scenario) with roasted cashews and parsley, then I was off to church.

Saturday, December 25th Christmas Day

Salad (I know I know) with black eyed peas, yellow and green peppers, jimaca, cucumbers,  avocado, black olives, spinach, and roasted red pepper dressing. It came out really good too. 

Sunday, December 26th Snow Day!!

Sauteed mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, black olives, fresh rosemary and oregano with sun dried tomato wraps and provolone cheese sangs. (I needed some fresh parsley but neither store I went food shopping at had any...tear)

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

C is for Cookie

And that's good enough for me =]

Saturday I had an unsuspected day off from work, so I took full advantage of it and baked my Christmas cookies. I made peanut butter blossoms

(you can get the recipe off of any Hershey Kisses bag at this time of the year),

chocolate cookies with red and green M&M's in them, and

neapolitan aka seven layer cookies. I still have to make my dad's favorite cookies- sesame cookies. Yes they sound a bit strange, but they are his favorite.

The 7 layer's should have a green, yellow, and red layer to them, but I ran out of red food coloring, so this year they is a blue (sea foam blue) layer instead. They are still going to taste the same because it is a base dough that has the different colors added to it.  To get 7 layers there are three layers of cake, 2 layers of jam, and 2 layers of chocolate. Yummy!

Italian 7 Layer cookies

8oz almond paste

1 cup butter, unsalted, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg white
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
red, yellow, and green food coloring
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup apricot preserves
6oz semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 13x9inch cake pans, line with parchment paper.
Beat almond paste to soften.

Add butter, sugar, egg yolks, and almond extract. Beat until light and fluffy (about 15 minutes).

On low speed, add in flour.

Beat egg white until soft peaks form.

Add egg whites to almond dough in batches, to lighten the batter.

Divide dough, about 1 1/2 cups, into 3 bowls and add a different color food coloring to each bowl.

Spread dough into the pans

and bake 9 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Cook on racks. remove cakes and cool completely.

Once cooled, top green layer with raspberry jam.

Top that with the yellow layer and add the apricot preserves on top of that, remove large chunks as spreading.

Top with red (my blue) layer and wrap in plastic wrap. Place on a cookie sheet and top with a cutting board. Place in fridge and I usually let them sit for a day with weights on top of them. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.

Coat the bottom of the cookies first with the chocolate. place in fridge and let it harden.

Then flip and coat the top with chocolate, you can also coat the sides of the cakes if you have enough chocolate. The chocolate layer should not be very thick, just and nice thin layer.

Cut into 1/2 inch wide by 1 inch cookies.

I also made vegan Gingerbread cookies,

I did mention I was in the previous entry. They came out better than I suspected. They are also really easy to make.

Gingerbread Cookies

5 cups whole wheat flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegan butter, softened (I used earthbalance sticks)
1 1/2 cups molasses
3/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
2 tablespoons vinegar

I made the dough and then chilled it for a day before baking. The day you are going to bake it, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour, spices, and baking soda.

Combine molasses, applesauce, and vinegar.

Add to butter, this was a little difficult, so I used my hands.

Then add to the flour mix. I divided the dough into 4 equal parts and wrapped in plastic wrap. I froze 2 parts and kept the rest to make my cookies with.
After chilled, flour a board and rolling pin, and roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

Use cookie cutters that are floured, and cut of fun shapes.

Bake 8-10 minutes depending on how you like your cookies-
 a little crispier 10 minutes, softer 8 minutes.

Cool and yum! Even my mom who does not like gingerbread liked them. I like them baked either way, so I made some crispy and some soft.

Sorry I have not been keeping up on my What's for dindin so here you are:

What's For Dinner?

Friday, December 17th
I was lazy and made a salad with tomatoes, peppers, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and toasted almonds, with gingerly lite dressing.

Saturday, December 18th
I went to dinner with my family to celebrate my dad's birthday. We went to Arirang. I had miso soup, garden salad with lemon-ginger dressing, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower with mustard sauce.

Sunday, December 19th

Spinach salad with tomatoes, yellow peppers, and roasted mushrooms and melted cheese with roasted red pepper dressing.

Monday, December 20th

Sweet potato platski's with cinnamon applesauce and toasted hazelnuts.

Tuesday, December 21st

Roasted veg/parsley salad. With butternut squash, sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, parsnips, and Idaho potatoes, with toasted cashews.

There you are! "C" is most definitely for cookies!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Yesterday I was making some of my healthier cookies that I absolutely adore. I tried a few new recipes out and lets just say they need a little tweaking but they did taste yummy, so far. I have been on a peanut butter kick recently and I still haven't gotten the perfect pb cookie made yet, but this new treat I made was easy and good. They are like a rice crispy treat but better, if you ever liked the peanut butter rice krispy treats you will like these. I also tried a blondie recipe from the "BabyCakes" cookbook (I have tried a few other recipes from the cookbook and they have turned out to be very good. It can be expensive to bake gluten-free/ vegan, but well worth it, I think. If you have never heard of BabyCakes, it is a gluten-free/ vegan bakery in the city. I made their cupcakes once [I put the picture on the blog under my profile pic] and they were good if you like coconut because they use a lot of coconut products like its oil and flour, but I do like coconut so I found them to be yummy.) But I tweaked the recipe a bit because I was trying to reinvent the traditional Italian 7 Layer Cookies, but I failed on that aspect, but the blondies did come out ok. I'm just going to put pictures of them up and then post the recipe once I make it better. The peanut butter treats I will post because they are good. They were also a play on a recipe my neighbor gave me for one of my favorite bars she would make called Crunchy Fudge Sandwiches. Her recipe had butterscotch morsels and pb with the cereal and a chocolate fudge filling, so yummy. So I did my take on those. I also made gingerbread dough, but I haven't baked it yet. So those cookies are still to come (if they are yummy). Saturday I plan on doing my families Christmas Cookies, so that is also yet to come.

Yup, so it is the time of year to be busy busy busy (thanks frosty the snowman) and I still have not finished all of my Christmas shopping yet and it is freaking me out. Hopefully tomorrow I will purchase those few last gifts. Between shopping and my cookies, I will be very busy! I love it! This is the best time of the year =]

Before we get to the treats, we must eat dinner...

What's For Dinner?
Wednesday, December 15th
I was very lazy and busy with baking and then I had a doctor's appointment, so I just made myself a salad with spinach, tomatoes, green-orange-yellow pepper, carrots, and cucumbers with the ginger dressing. No picture because it was just a salad, a very large salad I might add.

Thursday, December 16th
Roasted Vegetable Parsley Salad- roasted carrots, parsnips, potatoes, butternut squash, and cashews, which I also roasted. I love roasted cashews. Roasting them brings out a meatier taste in them. I buy raw nuts and roast them myself, no added oils or salt, just on a pan at 400 degrees, and watch very closely because they burn very very easily, I have burnt many batches (momma can attest to that!)

Treats time!! woohoo...

Peanut Butter Crispy Treats

6oz peanut butter chips
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (I used an easy spread version, because the separated versions usually do not turn out that great in recipes I have tried, but we will see with future testing)
1 10oz box brown rice crispy cereal
(you can also see in the background the jar of pb I used)
6oz grain-sweetened chocolate chips (I used a combo of chocolate chips and carob chips)

Melt the pb chips over a double-boiler. Add the pb to the melted chips and stir together until the pb also melts.
In a large bowl add the pb mix to the cereal.
Stir well to combine
Press into a 13x9in cake pan lined with plastic wrap and then freeze to let it harden.
While the cereal is hardening, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler.
Then, top the cereal with chocolate and spread it out.
Place in the fridge and let the chocolate harden. Once ready to eat, cut in to 1 inch squares and eat!

I told you it was easy!

And here are the blondies that I made, I added almond extract to the recipe and a little raspberry jam in the center. The back two pans have black cherry jam on them.

So that will be it for now!