Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cider Plumped Raisins & Craisins

Yesterday was a blustery day blowing swirls of the light snow and the tree branches!  With our snow covered streets it was a Norman Rockwell winter picturesque morning.  Perhaps his paintings and illustrations quickly come to mind, because Stockbridge, MA is a little over an hour's drive west from our home on the MA Turnpike.  It is a fav road trip to visit this very familiar museum filled with his works. 

While the snow was blowing outside, we were very comfortable indoors.  The computers, the cell phones and the iPad were in constant use.  The question of the morning:  Would the Metro-North travel resume to NYC, anytime soon?

Breakfast was quick and yummy!  Whenever our freezer's supply of muffins is gone, (and it was gone) there are always Craisin Raisin Twists.  :)  Previously, I have posted about my fam's happiness of biting into a Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Twist that is filled with Plumped Raisins/Craisins.  Usually, I soak the dried fruit in Apple Juice for added flavor.  However, last week there was no apple juice to be found in my home.  However, we live in New England and cider is a staple in our fridge!  Cider it was! 

Yummy, I learned that Apple Cider gives Craisins & Raisins a nice tangy flavor.  In a 1 cup container (with a lid) fill 1/2 full with Craisins and/or Raisins.  Pour Cider to cover dried fruit and place lid on top and into the fridge.  I use a 1 Cup Ziploc.  Store in fridge for 2 days and the plumped fruit will be ready to use.  This stores well about 2 weeks in the fridge. 

As of yesterday morning we are liking the tang of Craisins & Raisins that have been swimming in Apple Cider.  The Flaky Cinnamon Twists were baked following the package directions (and until lightly browned) and adding 6-7 plumped Craisins/Raisins in the middle of the dough before twisting.

A quick and yummy breakfast included Cheesy Scrambled Eggs, half a Grapefruit & Coffee.     

We did enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This coming weekend enjoy the company of your family and friends!  It is a special time of year that allows  us to take a step back and appreciate the wonderful things that we all have.  

Peace to all and Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Ah, Sour Cream Sugar Cookies!  The Nutmeg makes them taste so yummy!  Can you tell they are my favs?  I really like baking these and also eating these.  They are the best Sugar Cookie I've ever tasted.  For that reason I bake them every year for special occasions.  My cookie cutters are ready! 

These delicious light cookies are made in two steps.  Day 1 make the dough.  Wrap and refrigerate.  On Day 2 the colored sprinkles are taken out of the cabinets along with the rolling pin and the cookie cutters.  Then, the fun begins!  Nibbling on a warm cookie that is cooling on the rack is the best.  These cookies are great AND they freeze very well.  Tomorrow the dough will be prepped.    

Printable recipe card.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Oven:  375°F
Bake:  10-11 Minutes
Yield:  About 5 dozen cookies depending on the size

1 Cup unsalted Butter, softened
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Sour Cream, can be Fat Free
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Day 1-
  1. In large bowl with electric mixer beat Butter and Sugar until light & fluffy.
  2. Add Egg, beat.
  3. Add in Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt & Nutmeg.
  4. While beating on Low, slowly add Flour, 1 Cup at a time.
  5. Add in Vanilla & Sour Cream, still beating on Low.  Then beat on Medium until well combined.  Dough will be stiff.
  6. Remove dough from bowl and place on sheet of plastic wrap, fold.  
  7. Place wrapped dough on sheet of aluminum foil and wrap well.
  8. Refrigerate overnight.
Day 2-
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unwrap dough and cut into four parts.
  3. On well floured surface, roll dough to 1/4" thickness.  Use cookie cutters.
  4. Place cookies on cookie pan/sheet 1" apart.  (Maybe 12 cookies per sheet.)
  5. Sprinkle with colored sugars.
  6. Bake 10 - 11 Minutes in 375°F oven.  Bottom of cookies will be a light golden brown.
  7. Remove with spatula to wire racks.
  8. When cool, store in airtight container.  Cookies can also be placed in freezer.
I always sample a cookie or two.  It's all part of "quality control".  Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are just the best!

It's also a tradition in my kitchen that any leftover Sour Cream Sugar Cookie dough is used to make "Initial Cookies" for my fam.  Ropes are made from the leftover dough.  Then, the first letter of each family member's first name is shaped and placed on a cookie sheet.  Each letter is about 2"- 3" in height.  The last sheet of cookies are always the decorated initials for each family member.  :)   


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Roasted Yams & Carrots

With the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays, tasty, nutritious, easy to prepare foods are necessary.  Orange colored Yams or Sweet Potatoes and Carrots can be roasted together very easily.  One evening this past week I had both of these veggies to use.  This was a two for one roasting event to be enjoyed along with Haddock Plan B!  Now that we are wearing our winter coats, Haddock Plan B has become Plan A!  No more grilling outdoors until warmer weather... 

Roasted Yams/Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Preheat oven to 425°F. 
Line a large cookie pan (with edges) with foil and spray with PAM
Roasting Time:  30 - 35 Minutes

The Yams were prepared first, because I coated them only with Olive Oil (for sauteing & baking). 

After washing the two Yams, they were cut into 3/4" slices.
Place in a Gallon Sized Ziploc Freezer Bag containing 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil.  
Place Yam slices on the outer edges of the large cookie pan.

Tongs work well to place the coated veggies on the baking pan. :)  No sticky fingers.

Wash a 1 lb. bag of Baby Carrots in cold water.
Add 1/4 teaspoon Oregano, 1/4 teaspoon Basil, 1/4 teaspoon Garlic & 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper  to the Ziploc Bag.
Mix together. 
Place Carrots into Ziploc Bag and coat with the Olive Oil & Herbs. 
Place the Carrots in the center of the cookie pan. 

Roast 30 - 35 Minutes at 425°F.
Prick with a fork to determine tenderness. 

Not only did my home have a wonderful aroma of herbs, but the heat coming from my oven was very welcome on a cold December day!  :)  Dinner was delicious! 


Sunday, December 5, 2010

CranOrange Coffee Cake

This cute little Santa ornament hung on my family's Christmas Tree when I was a youngster.  Fortunately, there were Santas remaining in the set, so my sons each have one to hang on their trees, also.  :)  The holidays are approaching and it's time to get some Fam Fav goodies baked and into the freezer! 

About 12 years ago, a week before Christmas, I remember asking my older son if he could give me some input as to what our Christmas dessert might be.  I was clueless as what in the world I should bake.  His response, "Remember the CranOrange Coffee Cake you used to bake?"  O.K., I remembered, but I didn't realize that we hadn't enjoyed eating this appetizing Bundt cake in a very long time.  For that reason, I now bake it to enjoy at Christmas.  Yes, my daughter-in-law now has this recipe, too!  :)

CranOrange Coffee Cake is scrumptious, moisty and colorful.  The original recipe called for Ocean Spray CranOrange Relish.  However, for the past two years I have been unable to purchase this ingredient, so I've found a good substitutionAbout 8 ounces from a can of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Orange Extract.  Combine together and use.  The cake is baked in a Bundt or Tube Pan.  After baking & cooling, wrap in foil and freeze until the day before serving.

(Yes, it can be enjoyed after baking, cooling and icing, but over the years I've learned that it has a better flavor if we are patient and do not devour it within the day.  This cake is a wonderful fam fav in the freezer ready to eat.)

After removing from freezer, unwrap the cake and place on a special dish.  Drizzle the Almond Glaze on top.  A small scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream served on the side is a tempting addition.  Yummy! 

CranOrange Coffee Cake

Oven:  350°F
Time:  Bake 55 Minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.

1 Stick (8 Tablespoons) Unsalted Margarine/Butter, softened
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites (or 2 Whole Eggs)
2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
*  *  *
8 ounces Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce Plus 
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Orange Extract
OR 1 container CranOrange Relish    

  1. Spray 9" or 10" Bundt Pan or Tube Pan with PAM & flour. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Using mixer, Cream Margarine/Butter with Sugar.
  4. Add 1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites (or 2 Whole Eggs) and blend well.
  5. Add dry ingredients alternating with Sour Cream.  End with the dry ingredients.
  6. Add Almond Extract.
  7. Combine 8 ounces Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Orange Extract in separate bowl , if needed.
  8. Place 1/2 of batter in Bundt Pan, spread evenly.
  9. Top with 1/2 of Sauce, spread.
  10. Carefully add remaining batter, spread.
  11. Follow with remaining Sauce, spread.
  12. Bake at 350°F for 55 Minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Cool on wire rack for 5 Minutes.
  14. Remove cake from pan and cool.
  15. After cooling, wrap in foil and freeze until needed.
The day before or many hours before CranOrange Coffee Cake will be enjoyed, remove from freezer and place on a cake dish.  Make Topping and Drizzle over top:

Blend 3/4 Cup Confectioner's Sugar, 2 Tablespoons Water and 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract until smooth.  

This week I will bake two CranOrange Coffee Cakes and they will be waiting in my freezer.  :) 

Do you have a family favorite that your family enjoys during the holidays?