Saturday, December 19, 2009

Easy Christmas Treat

You can cover anything in white chocolate and it seems Christmas-y: pretzels, peppermint, cereal, dried fruit. Here's something easy and delicious to package up for the neighbors or add to a Christmas tray. It's very simple to do, but takes a little bit of time because they are so small (about the size of a quarter each). They taste like white chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups.

White Chocolate Covered Ritz Bits

1 box peanut butter Ritz Bits
1 package Almond bark or CandiQuik (you can use white chocolate, but you may need to add a little oil)

Melt white chocolate in microwave according to package instructions. Using two forks, dip the Ritz Bits into the white chocolate one at a time. After one is covered, lift up with the fork and gently tap off the excess over the bowl.

Carefully put the candy on waxed paper and add sprinkles before it hardens.

Danish Sugar Cookies

Okay, these pictures are mostly of the boys, but those are Christmas cookies they're decorating! We got together with some friends and made and decorated cookies last week. I've been using this recipe for a long time, but I haven't posted it, so here it is.

The cookies are soft with slightly crisp edges, which is the way I like them. If you like a crunchier cookie, roll out the dough thinner and bake them a bit longer. This recipe works well with cookie cutters, but they do spread a little bit. They taste great, though! The addition of sour cream and nutmeg makes them just a little different. They come from a Scandanavian cookbook that someone gave our family (our grandmother was Norwegian). The original recipe uses all shortening, but the Danes probably used lard.

Oh, and my friend's husband declared these sugar cookies "freakin' awesome!" which makes me happy. :-)

Danish Sugar Cookies
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups of flour, plus more to roll out

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat eggs together lightly and add to butter mixture; mix together. Add sour cream and mix. Sift dry ingredients and add gradually. Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters adn bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes, or until golden and lightly browned on edges.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Butterfinger Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

I was looking for something different and found this little delight. It's excellent, and quite easy to make. The layers come out of the pan beautifully (but make sure to grease and flour thoroughly), and the frosting is easy to work with. It is very sweet, so I added more peanut butter to the frosting and next time I would add more salt for a counterpoint. The recipe below comes from The Candy Bar Cookbook, but I am including it here with my changes.

Butterfinger Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake:
6 (2.1 ounce) butterfinger candy bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
To prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F Grease and flour two 9" cake pans. In the food processor, coarsely chop the candy bars; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the mashed bananas and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately to the egg mixture (in two to three additions each) and incorporate thoroughly. Fold in two-thirds of the chopped Butterfingers and divide the batter between the cake pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Invert onto a rack and cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar and peanut butter and mix until smooth.

To frost the cake, place one layer on a serving plate. Spread 1/4 of the frosting over the top. Place the second layer on top. Spread the remaining frosting over top and sides of the cake. Garnish with remaining crushed Butterfingers.

Makes 12 servings.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Cookies 2009

Peppermint Meltaways
Yummy No-Bake Bars
To-Die-For Cranberry Coconut Bars
Mocha Truffles
Meyer Lemon Cookies

More recipes coming soon!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Potato Croquettes

When I have leftover mashed potatoes, I often make gnocchi. But I wanted something to go with steak, so a couple of weeks ago I made potato croquettes from Thanksgiving mashed potato leftovers. They were fantastic: I'll make extra potatoes in the future just so I can make these again! I started with a Paula Deen recipe and tweaked it a little to make it not so rich. Everyone in the family loved them, though of course Ben ate them with ketchup!

Potato Croquettes


2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped green onion or other kind of onion - can use more.
2 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
Sifted dried bread crumbs (I used panko)
Peanut oil or vegetable oil, enough to coat frying pan

Add milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, beaten egg yolks and flour to mashed potatoes. Chill and then shape into a flat pancake, about 3/4 inch thick. Dip in the beaten egg, then roll through bread crumbs. Fry each croquette in oil, turning to brown on both sides.

Cook in small batches, making sure croquettes do not touch. Add more oil if needed.