Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Holiday Goodies

Every year I bake cookies for The Wong Family + friends. This year was no exception. I usually spend hours perusing various sources (magazines, cookbooks, forums, blogs) for holiday worthy treats. If I were more organized, I would actually try some of these out ahead of time, but I'm not that organized. :) I trust most of the sources will yield deliciousness. If not, there is always the almond toffee I make yearly.

Here is what I made:

These were very popular on the internet. They are a sturdy shortbread cookie containing espresso powder that yields a "cookies and cream" appearance. The chunks of dark chocolate scattered into the dough give the cookie a good chocolate bite without the cookie tasting like a decidedly "chocolate cookie". They tasted great with coffee... or a latte.

Very easy to make. The idea of using a zip-loc bag to roll out the dough is brilliant. I couldn't get mine to look particular "pretty" but they still tasted great.

I've made rugelach in the past and always swear it is the LAST time. It is time-consuming, the dough is always hard to work with, and mine always seem to break and/or look ugly. But they taste divine! I have made Lora Bordy's Rugelach many times in the past but this year I decided to try Ina Garten's wondering if it would be any easier.

I'm not sure if it was the recipe (they actually look very similar when you compare the two) or if I just resigned myself knowing it would take a long time and therefore had more patience this year, but the process of making them was "not bad." I did lots of chilling though... I chilled the dough after it had been divided into 4 parts... then chilled it again after it had been rolled out into 9" circles... then chilled the cookies themselves before baking. It saved some frustration with the dough falling apart while I tried rolling them up.

Mine still never come out as picture-perfect or pretty as I've seen elsewhere, but they taste divine. :)

Nutella Nutters
(St. Petersburg Times)

When I saw this recipe, I knew I was making this one. Nutella + Peanut Butter cannot equal anything but awesomeness. These cookies also contain no flour which make them a naturally gluten-free cookie. They were easy to make with all ingredients I had on hand. These are rich, sweet, chocolate-y and chewy -- tasting of all things good: nutella and peanut butter!

(Gourmet, September 2009)

These were my surprise favorite of the bunch. I had read about this cookie on an online forum thread about unusual Christmas cookies. These shortbread cookies use savory spices to make them taste different. They smelled lovely while baking and had a really different complex flavor to them. I'm wondering if anyone will guess what it is, since I didn't label the cookies this year. Definitely my favorite of the bunch, but we'll see what everyone else thinks...

(Mrs. Fields cookbook)

I wanted another fruity cookie to add to the assortment and settled on these. I had made one in the past with a cream cheese dough that wasn't very easy to work with and decided to try this recipe from Mrs. Field's instead. There is no cream cheese in the dough and the resulting cookie tastes somewhere between a sugar and butter cookie.

I didn't follow the directions to use a melon baller for depositing the jam and instead used my fingers as I would in a normal jam thumprint. I used a mixed-berry jam which contained raspberries, cherries, and boysenberries. The cookies looked pretty and tasted as one would have expected -- fruity and sweet -- but I wasn't wowed by them.  Still would like to find a good jam thumbprint...


I have to admit I was a bit worried about these after I bought the anise extract. I wasn't quite sure what anise was and when I opened the bottle and took a whiff, I didn't think I liked it. The anise flavor is very subtle though. These are a slightly sweet, butter cookie with a very slight hint of anise and sesame seed flavor. They were easy to make and looked pretty when done. They're a nice addition to round out the sweetness of most holiday cookies.

Whew, that was one big baking extravaganza. No more cookies for a while...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crispy Salted Oat Cookies

I wanted to like these. Really, I did. I normally like the combination of salty-sweet... eggs that accidentally touch the pancake syrup... maple bacon... salted caramels... mmmm... but something about these were just a little off for me.

I figured it out about halfway into my second cookie. OH. I don't like crispy cookies! Doh. I prefer chewy and soft cookies. These are not it. They're not hard so I wouldn't classify them as "crunchy" but they are "crispy" - thin with a bit of hard chew to them.

I did like the flavor combination of salty-sweet, but still found that the cookies themselves lacked something. Spices? Add-ins? Not sure. The coworkers I gave them too enjoyed them and said they were good, but I am not sure whether they were trying to be nice.

Recipe found here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Molasses Cookies

The cool weather has brought me into the spirit of comfort, savoury foods.  Not really planning on making a meal with things that start with "M", I ended up with meatloaf and mashed potatoes with molasses cookies for dessert. 

Today, I started my holiday baking.  I try to bake 1-2 items each weekend, freeze them and then pull them out of the freezer when they're ready to give out.  I have 5 items on this year's bake list.  Hubby decided he wanted molasses cookies first.  (He's my taste tester.)  I used this recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.  It makes about 50 soft, chewy, molasses cookies that are both gluten free and vegan.  I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out just as she says "soft".  Hubby was surprised how well they turned out.  He thinks most of the gluten free things I bake taste grainy.  And when he finds out I took out or substituted butter or milk, he tells me its dry because there is no fat.  This time, he's not happy that I didn't leave enough for him to eat because they're going out to family and select few loved ones.  I guess this recipe is a keeper.

Next was dinner... Meatloaf... back to my comfort food... I looked at a few recipes and comments on All Recipes and ended up putting a whole bunch of stuff together to make a simple meatloaf

1.25 lbs of ground turkey
1 egg
1 onion, chopped
1 cup almond milk (there's that milk substitute)
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs (another substitute)
2 tbsp of Italian seasoning
splash of worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all that together in a big bowl.  Place in a lightly greased 9x5 pan.

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/3 cup ketchup

Mix well in a small bowl. Spread over meatloaf mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Viola! 
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