Monday, December 31, 2007

Rosmary & Garlic Roasted Prime Rib- Happy NEW YEAR!

HOORAY FOR MEAT!! I know, not everyone loves it, but I sure do!! I have never made a prime rib before but we were talking about eating it a few days ago and we are trying not to go out to big fancy dinners right now (so I figured I'd just bring a big fancy dinner to us!)
As you may know, oven is a total jerk. We've had our disagreements and I was a little unsure of how I was going to roast a 7.5 lb prime rib and get it to come out perfectly medium-rare, I had visions of it being charcoal on the out side and raw inside, or just way overdone all together, but I figured I would never know, and never be able to figure out if I could beat the oven if I didn't give it a try. So off to the market I went. I did a bit of research on the net before I got going, but once I was at the store, just threw it to the wind and asked the butcher for "Enough Prime Rib for 4 people, trimmed so it is ready to cook" which is how I suggest handling big-meat purchases, leave it to the pros!

So, home I went with my big hunk of meat- and much to Leela's delight I unwrapped it so I could check it out. Much to her dismay- it stayed up on the counter.
I took out my roasting pan and lined it with foil BIG TIME. I am not a scrubber, so the less mess the better.

Then I mixed up a rub that sounded like it would make for a good roasted prime rib. Here is what I did...

Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Prime Rib
Serves 4 with 2 big slabs leftover :)
By Me, Beth G.
You NEED a meat thermometer for this recipe~

7.5 lb prime rib, trimmed, tied and with the rib bones!
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
4 cloves chopped/ crushed garlic
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup black pepper
2 T olive oil

Place Prime Rib fatty side up, rib bones down in a foil lined roasting pan. Combine rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper & olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Rub the mixture all over the exterior of the prime rib. Cover and refrigerate for 3-24 hours (I did 5 hours this time around).
When you are ready to roast, take the prime rib out of the fridge and un cover it.
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, and when oven is pre-heated, cook the roast at about 20 minutes per pound depending on desired done-ness.(I had to cover mine with foil so my oven didn't turn it into a briquette for the long stretch of cooking at 325. For us a prime rib should be medium rare, so that is how I prepared it. check HERE for a table of meat temperatures. When mine got to be about 125, I removed it from the oven and let it sit in the pan for 5-7 minutes, then removed it to a platter where it set for about 15 minutes before we cut it to serve.
Nate did the carving, using a very sharp Santoku knife. First he cut off the string, then made slices- we saved the bones so I can make some beef stew this weekend. It was delicious, serve with horseradish, of course.

Mashed-up Baked Potatoes w/ Rosemary Gravy

Our garbage disposal is not so primo, and as I have mentioned this apartment we live in has its share of plumbing problems. So, I try to do my part by not messing with any of it when ever possible, peeling potatoes for some reason really seems to upset the garbage disposal, so Nate prefers that I peel them into the garbage can- which hurts my back (I know, WAAHHH!) and they get all over Leela and the floor, because I have whack aim.

Here is a way to make delicious mashed potatoes with out using a peeler at all~

Sorry for the lame-o photo on this one, the wine had started kickin' in...

Mashed-up Baked Potatoes
By Me, Beth G
Serves 4-6 people

4 large russet potatoes
4 T unsalted butter
2-3 cloves chopped/crushed garlic
2 T sour cream
Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Scrub 4 large russet potatoes and pat dry, then poke each with a fork several times.
Place on a foil lined baking sheet & bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes or until soft all the way through.
Remove from baking sheet to a large plate to let cool for 10-15 minutes.
Cut horizontally along one of the sides with a sharp knife, basically just removing a layer of the potato skin so the inside is exposed. Use a spoon to scrape all the baked potato goodness out into a large bowl. Repeat for all potatoes and discard skins. Stir/mash in the butter until completely melted/incorporated. Stir in garlic, sour cream, salt & pepper.....Now transfer from bowl to oven safe dish with lid and either bake right away for 10-15 minutes at 350, or refrigerate until ready and bake at 350 for 20-35 minutes.

Rosemary Gravy
Good for 4-6 people having roast & potatoes
By Me, Beth G.

3-4 T meat drippings from roast
3 T flour
3 T butter
1 15 oz can of Beef Broth
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Lawry's Season Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 fresh sprig of rosemary

In a medium sauce pot combine the butter and flour on very low heat- slowly stirring constantly until butter is melted, both are well combined, smooth and thick. Very slowly stir in broth keeping the mixture smooth. Add the sprig of rosemary and the drippings from the roast. Keep stirring and add in the seasonings to taste. Continue cooking and stirring about 5-7 minutes, gravy will thicken, add a bit of water if necessary... before serving remove sprig of rosemary and transfer gravy to boat or dish.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bacon & Eggs Salad

After the tartar, I wanted to make sure we had some good veggies (other than the mashed potatoes) with our big meaty dinner, so I made a spinach salad with bacon & eggs.
Since I was already hitting the Japanese market for the tuna & sake, I grabbed a package of quail eggs for the salad because they are so cute and delicious!!

I had no clue what kind of dressing I was going to make and literally while I was mixing the tartar, Andrea of Pairings with Andrea on the Food Network (also on Fine Living I believe), whipped up a dressing that I had all the ingredients for!!

Bacon & Eggs Salad with Andrea's Sesame Honey Dressing
Salad by ME, Beth G.
Dressing inspired by Andrea Robinson original recipe HERE

1 bag of cut baby spinach, washed and patted or spun dry
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
10-12 quail eggs, hard boiled & cut in half

3 T Mayo
3 T Balsamic vinegar
3 tsp honey
2 T sesame oil
pinch of pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.
In each serving bowl, place a hand full of spinach top with 4 egg halves, a pinch/ sprinkle of bacon & drizzle with dressing.

To make OVEN BACON: My favorite!!
Line a baking sheet (with edges) with foil, place bacon on foil & bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes or until desired done-ness is reached, move bacon to paper towel covered plate to cool- let grease cool and harden, then wrap up foil and throw away!!

To Hard-boil the Quail eggs:
In a small sauce pan, place the eggs in about 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. boil about 3 minutes then turn off burner, cover and let sit 5-7 minutes. Let cool a bit before peeling and halving.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tuna Tartar

With Christmas behind us and the apartment actually clean, I thought it would be a perfect time to have a little dinner-party and invite some friends over to try some of my new recipes.

I decided to make prime rib as our main course because I have never made it before and with the cold weather it sounded yummy. Since the main dish was such a hefty one, I thought it would be good to start with something a bit lighter.
I headed over to Nijiya Market, which is walking distance from our old casa, and just a short drive from our current casa here in Culver City...Mitsuwa is another good market for sushi fish and other delicious treats in our area. If you are not near a fabulous Japanese market, roll over to Whole Foods, Gelson's, Bristol Farms or another local spot that has SUSHI GRADE FISH. That is the only type of fish that should be used for this recipe. Also,make sure your kitchen and hands are clean, and I keep a little bowl of rice vinegar mixed with water and a clean kitchen towel on hand to wipe things down (knife, etc.) and keep it clean while working with the raw fish.

Tuna Tartar
By: ME, Beth G
Serves 4-8 (8 mini, 4 "regular"- like a normal can of tuna size, 6 perfect-size- like the lil can of tuna with the pull tap) :)

About 1 lb SUSHI GRADE tuna, chopped to bits
1 large ripe avocado
1-2 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp prepared wasabi
2-3 tsp chili sauce (siracha is recommended, but the store was out of it, so I used the Lee Kum Garlic Chili sauce)
Kosher salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2-3 green onions finely chopped
sliced pickled ginger and sesame seeds to garnish

Place the chopped tuna in a medium bowl. Cut the avocado in half, put one half away for future use- cube the other half and toss in with the tuna in the bowl. Stir in lemon juice, wasabi, chili sauce, a pinch of salt, soy sauce & green onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Remove marinated mix from the fridge. Cube up remaining half of avocado. Mold tartar into little circles using a cookie cutter, cleaned tuna can, or (as I did) the top of a disposable cup with the bottom cut off. Top with avocado, a little ginger and sesame seeds.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Candy's Marshmallow Caramel Krispy Pops

These are FANTASTIC! My friend Candy at work (the favorite-girl who shared THIS RECIPE for pepperoncini crock pot beef with me, came into work a week or so ago with these yummy, addictive marshmallow goodies.
This recipe is as simple as they come and can be jazzed up in about a million ways- add crushed peanuts, decorate with some drizzled chocolate, add some crushed graham cracker...the possibilities are endless!
This was another desert at our Holiday Party this year and I must say, a HUGE hit! There was not a single on left for me to eat for breakfast on Sunday~

This made about 60-70 Mellow Pops
Source: Candy at work

1 Bag of large s'mores-size marshmallows
1 Bag of individually wrapped caramel squares
(or get really badass and make your own caramel)
1/2 a box of rice krispy cereal
75 toothpicks

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper
Slowly melt the caramel squares in a medium sauce pot over low heat- keep an eye on the heat, I turned it on and off of low heat a few times to keep the caramel melted but not hot, burning or bubbling.
Pour the rice krispy cereal into a large bowl.
Stick a toothpick in a marshmallow- cover marshmallow in caramel (use a spoon to drizzle over the top, and help get the drippies off the bottom.) Submerge the caramel covered mellow into the krispy cereal, covering all the caramel with krispies.
Place on the wax paper covered baking sheet- repeat until you run out of one or more of the ingredients... Let "set" for at least one hour, out on the counter is fine (as long as your dog can't get up there and take out your whole dessert operation- we have a weenie, so that is no threat here) they don't need to go in the fridge, I let them set for about 6 hours because I made them the morning of our party- they were so goooood! THANK YOU CANDY!! I'll be using this recipe and making these treats for many years to come!!

Holiday Oreo Truffles

This was a fun twist on a delicious classic. Nate and I both agree we like the original Oreo Truffles best CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE, but I wanted to make these a bit pep-o-minty for our holiday party. I thought about just adding some peppermint extract to the mix, but then I took a trip to Trader Joes for our weekly groceries. They have their own version of the Oreo cookie- the "Joe Joe's" which can most definitely be used to make Oreo Truffles instead of Oreo Oreo's. Well, good ole TJ's had their HOLIDAY PEPPERMINT JOE'JOES right there by the register in a candy-striped box and I was so excited! This helped keep it super simple and I really just followed the original recipe- but I am pretty sure if you added 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract to original oreos it would yield about the same result.

When made this way (rolling smaller balls) this makes about 60-70 truffles

1 1lb bag of Peppermint Joe Joe's Cookies
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 8oz package of Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Wax paper, food processor, large stockpot & small sauce pot

Crush the cookies in the food processor or blender.
In a large bowl combine soften cream cheese and cookie crumbs & refrigerate the mix for 45 minutes to make the ball rolling easier. To melt the chocolate fill the large pot with water (bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer) and put the chocolate in a small pot, hold the small pot over the large simmering water pot so that about a 1/2 inch to an inch of the bottom of the small pot is in the boiling water- melting the chocolate. Roll Oreo mix into 1/2 inch balls Dip in melted chocolate & place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.I sprinkled red deco sugar on all of them (1/2 of them I melted some white chocolate and drizzled it over the top, then added the sugar). Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Spicy Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs

Much like my photo-less, but delicious latkes, I nearly forgot to snap a pic of these before they all were eaten up! (that's why they're so dark, it got late and I lost the sun :P)
We love making meat balls when we make manicotti or ravioli, but I have never made lil' cocktail meatballs and have always wanted to. SO, I went looking for a recipe it seemed the most common was the grape jelly method, I also found one with onion soup mix & meat for the balls that sounded interesting, but in the theme of the party and keeping it all about the holidays, I did some googling and found that cranberry sauce or preserves could be used instead of the grape jelly :) I had a particular chili paste/sauce I wanted to use and after reading a zillion recipes I pieced this one together and they were totally fabulous!!

Spicy Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs
Serves 15-30 (made about 60-70 mini-meat balls)

about 2 lb ground beef (I got a pkg that was 3.25 lb and used about 2/3)
Pinch of salt & black pepper
1/4 c minced sweet onion
2 eggs
1 c seasoned bread crumbs
1 clove minced garlic
2 cans cranberry sauce (I used the jellied, but the other (chunky) is fine too- just up the brown sugar to 3 T)
3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (about the juice of one large lemon- roll before cutting in half and juicing)
2 1/2 T Packed brown sugar
1 tsp of lemon zest

Pre-heat oven to 325
Mix the meat, salt, pepper, eggs, bread crumbs, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Prep a cookie sheet by covering with foil and spraying with non-stick spray. Roll meat into small meatballs (smaller than walnut sized, about 1 T each). Lay balls on cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes per side (turn over once during cooking).
In a large bowl combine garlic chili sauce, cranberry, lemon juice & zest, & brown sugar and mix with electric hand mixer until well combined.
I was making these a night ahead of a party- so I put the browned balls (once cooled) in the crock part of the crock pot- covered with press n' seal then the lid- and put the sauce in a Pyrex and refrigerated over night. For the party- I heated them in the crock on LOW for 4 hours, stirring every once in a while. I think if you made them whole thing all at once (no refrigerating) I think 3 hours on low would do the trick!

Cocktail Latkes, photoless but delicious...

I can NOT believe I forgot to snap a picture of my yummy cocktail latkes!! OYE! Oh well, it happens, I got a bit too wrapped up in prepping for the par-tay. I have always LOVED potato latkes, one of my favorite foods of the holiday season, but have never attempted to make them on my own. I found THIS RECIPE on ALL RECIPES and did a little doctoring after reading the feedback from others that had tried it.

Click the link above for the original recipe and suggestions. Below is the modified version that I made for our Holiday Party 2007.

6 C of cleaned, peeled, shredded potatoes (using grater on food processor)
1/2 C shredded sweet white onion (using grater on food processor
2 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 C T of Matzo Meal
4 eggs
1 roll of paper towel
Oil for frying

Clean peel and shred the potatoes- line a plate with 6-7 pieces of paper towel and pour potatoes onto plate- take another 6-7 paper towels and press down on potatoes squeezing out liquid, change to fresh paper towels and do this about 3 times- then layer about 10 paper towels on a cookie sheet and spread potatoes out across the sheet, let them sit out for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Take potatoes and wrap them up in a cheesecloth & SQUEEEEEEZE out as much of the remaining liquid as possible.
In a large bowl combine VERY WELL DRAINED potaoes, onion, egg, bread crumbs, salt & pepper and Matzo Meal. Stir until all ingredients are well combined.
Because I was making these for 20-30 people at a cocktail party I wanted to make them itsy bitsy (like silver dollar sized) vs. traditional normal-sized latkes. Heat enough oil in a large skillet to create a layer about 1/4 an inch on the bottom of the pan. Slowly heat the oil on low temperature for about 10 minutes (If you have a deep fryer, just bust them out in that thing!) When the oil is hot add the potato mix in 1 T sized lumps- pressing them flat down to 1/2-1/3 inch thickness. Cook each side about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown- flipping once- move to a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and layers of paper towel.
I made these a day ahead and put them in the fridge overnight- then reheated them at 325for about 5-7 minutes. Serve with a little dab of applesauce and sour cream on each one!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Goat Cheese Tartlettes with Caramelized Onion & Fig

These came out exactly how I pictured them! I got to purchase a mini-muffin tin, finally, which I was very excited about! I couldn't find a recipe for these that made sense to me so I made this one up...

Goat Cheese Tartlettes with Caramelized Onion & Fig
Source: ME
Makes about 72 tartlettes

If Phyllo dough is frozen, thaw one pkg according to the direction on the box

1 Box (2 pkgs of Phyllo dough, thawed, you won't use ALL of it which is kind of a bummer- so this is a good app to make if you are making another phyllo app- you use a teeny bit more than half...
2 11 oz packages of herbed goat cheese at room temp
1 8 oz package of cream cheese softened at room temp
2 eggs
1/2 of a sweet yellow onion
1 T brown sugar
1 jar of fig preserves

Caramelize the onions. In a large skillet heat 1/4 c of olive oil on med-high heat for about 2-3 minutes, add onions and reduce heat to med-low. Stir onions periodically, cooking about 15 minutes, then add the brown sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until onions are a golden, amber color.
Pre-heat oven to 325.
In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, combine the cheeses and eggs. Cut the phyllo dough into 2 inch x 2 inch squares that are 3-4 sheets thick each (or 2.5 inch x 2.5 inch, your preference- just want to fill the cup).
Spray the mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and and add a phyllo square to each cup. Fill each cup with the cheese mix- top with about a 1/4 tsp of fig preserves and add a few pieces of the caramelized onion on top. Cook for about 10 minutes or until edges of phyllo are golden brown. Serve warm, these are delicious with wine!

Holiday Sweater Party

It's that time of year, the Holidays are upon us and it's a perfect time to celebrate everything! I love throwing a cocktail party at this time of year because everyone is in such a festive mood. Our theme this year was to celebrate classic Holiday Sweaters, or as it always will be, anything that is EXTREME and super festive works too (we had a sexy elf which is always nice!)

Our Menu was....

The items I made...
Goat Cheese Tartlettes with Caramalized Onions & Fig
Spicy Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs
Cocktail-sized Potato Latkes
Peppermint Oreo Truffels
Caramel Rice Krispy Treat Pops

Cheese plate with herbed goat cheese, Tillamook Sharp cheddar, Garlic Jack cheese & fresh mozzerella (Nate's favorite)
Garlic Stuffed green olives, 3 olive tapenade, dry almonds
Veggie plate with some dip :)

On the Beverage front;
Nate made his World Famous Black Out Cider*

and we did the usual bar-stuff; beer (Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale), Crown, Skyy, Jack Daniles, there was Patrone (thanks Brian) and some Bombay, mostly being mixed with club soda and limes. I did a Martini party one year but those glasses are so spilly & messy, we stick with cider parties now...


Saturday, December 22, 2007


This might get a record for my longest post ever, so bear with me here- it will also be FULLA photos, documenting this momentous occasion.
Where do I even start?!? This post marks SO MANY FIRSTS! First of all it is my FIRST CHALLENGE AS A DARING BAKER! If you don't know about The Daring Bakers, visit the DARING BAKERS BLOGROLL HERE to learn all about and see all the blogs in this FABULOUS GROUP!!
In addition to this being my FIRST challenge as a Daring Baker,(and let me just say, CHALLENGE was the right word.) it is also the first time that I have ROLLED anything! I have never made a pumpkin roll, jelly roll or until now...a YULE LOG also known as a Buche de Noel. On top of all of these firsts there are a few more bonus firsts- I had never made Butter cream Frosting, nor had I ever made marzipan!

I was really excited to see the December challenge was a Buche de Noel because I would get the opportunity to try SO many things I have never done before! I want to thank Lis of La Mia Cucina & Ivonne of Creampuffs in Veince

I started with the buttercream~ It needed to be ready when the cake came out of the oven and just in case my first attempt didn't work out I decided to do that first. One of the best thing I hope to hone in completing these monthly challenges is becoming a more PATIENT person in the kitchen. I did well at heating my egg/sugar whisking project, but didn't let it cool quite enough before adding the butter and the end result was very liquid-y. So I jumped online and found the good advice to use an ice bath (big bowl of ice, set frosting-filled mixer bowl on top of the ice.) I whisked it for about 5 minutes and then it started to separate and look not right- so I pulled it off the ice and whisked it really fast and somehow I got lucky and frosting magically appeared!! The texture was pretty good and I was VERY excited about that!!

Next came the Genoise cake, I opted to go chocolate on that because I love chocolate cake and thought it would be yummy with the espresso buttercream...this time I was MUCH more patient with the whole egg heating process, and the cake mix mixed up very beautifully!!

I spread the batter out on the jelly roll pan...and, here I will have to digress for a moment to 'splain a bit about my oven. It is CRAZY, I've had the gas company look at it, the dial never matches the ACTUAL internal temp and it has a tendency no matter how low the heat is to get SUPER hot and burn the crap out of what ever I am cooking in a VERY short time- so I've got to keep an eye on it... Here is where I went a bit astray with this lil'recipe. I kept testing it with toothpicks, watching the temp and touching it for spring-y-ness, I pulled it out at about 7-8 minutes and it was ALMOST done, in retrospect I would not have put it back in for 1-2 more minutes, I would have just LET IT COOL and I think it would have rocked. What I did instead was put it back in for 1-2 minutes and I think it got a bit dry (ie-cracky when rolling!).... Anyhow, here comes that reminder to LEARN PATIENCE again; The next time I make this I will wait for the cake to COOL ALL THE WAY before flipping it onto fresh was sill a weeeee bit warm when I went for it and the cake stuck to the new layer of parchment which made it a TRICKY (and dry/cracky) mutha to roll!!

The good news is it DID roll- kept together with the buttercream & hazelnuts I added to the interior layer of frosting.

So into the fridge it went to chill out for about an hour, I put my frostin in there too to chill out so it didn't get melty...Time passed and I pulled the log and frosting out of the fridge, right away I knew the buttercream was jacked up! It started to separate, becoming curdled and liquidy and pretty freaking gross looking.
I was super bummed, but decided to re-attempt the next day and frost my lil'log.

Then all hades truly broke loose, the next night I came home from work with more butter ready to have a re-match with the frosting, and my sink was filled with black sludge. I could not believe it. As indicated above by the reference to my fabulous oven, the building management here is not striving to impress anyone by any means. My hubby and I bailed the sludge with a bucket until 1am, all day Tuesday we waited for the plumber they promised that never showed and at 6pm Tuesday night when our kitchen completely flooded, we called our own plumber and decided The Man can shove it, we'll deduct the $400 from rent and they'll just have to deal with it- of course there is more fun to it than that, BUT the good news is by Wednesday (and not a moment too soon) it was time for my re-match with the espresso butter-cream. With some fabulous advice from Ivonne, I used MUCH more patience and whipped the hot egg whites and sugar for over 7 minutes with the electric mixer and this time the consistency was beautiful ALL THE WAY! I had thawed my log and when the buttercream was ready I frosted it up. I used a fork to "bark" it and sprinkled it with some cinnamon and powdered sugar to give it a snowy look.

Then it was on to the Marzipan. This went pretty smooth from the get-go, even though I dumped the WHOLE 2 CUPS of powdered sugar into the mixer with the almond paste. I kneaded well, and made up some mushrooms!

I feel so fabulous that I have completed my FIRST DARING BAKERS CHALLENGE (as well as my first roll, first buttercream (and second butter cream), first marzipan and first YULE LOG, I think I will make the Yule Log an annual tradition from now on to commemorate this fabulous challenge and my favorite holiday!!


Chocolate Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. (about 7-8 minutes) Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

I also chopped 1 cup of hazelnuts in my food processor and spread those over the buttercream in the center of the cake

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Assembling the Yule Log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using). I sprinkled the hazelnuts here

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peanut Butter Blossoms

I know these are a pretty popular recipe, and although my version is a little "less homemade" than the usual, these are my favorite cookie to make every year because people flip out over them. I've made these "the hard" way following a few other recipes- but the end result is just not the same, so I stick with this recipe, my mom passed it along to me from a friend of hers so I am not 100% on the original source. I loved making these with my mom & my sister when I was growing up and will always, ALWAYS make these for the Holidays, because they are so simple and delicious!!

Peanut Butter Blossoms
3/4 C smooth peanut butter
2 C Bisquick baking mix
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
A bag o' Hershey kisses

FIRST: unwrap all the Kisses, pre-heat the oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with foil (spray with non-stick spray).

I recommend using a stand mixer for these cookies, it is much easier, use the paddle attachment~ In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or in a large bow using a hand mixer) combine the Bisquick, peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.
Pour about 1/3 of a cup of sugar on a plate (I like sprinkling in some colored sugar too). Roll the dough into walnut (or slightly smaller) sized balls and roll in sugar.
Line up on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 6-8 minutes. Do not over bake or they will be dry. The minute you pull them out of the oven, while on the cookie sheet, squish a KISS into each ball. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 3-5 minutes before moving to wire wracks to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cream Cheese Lemon Thumb Print Cookies

I love making these for several; the light lemony cookie and color fruit preserves look awesome plated up with the other peanut-buttery, chocolaty, gingerbready cookies...two; I LOVE CHEESECAKE and these are kind of like a little cheesecake cookie!...three; they are really fun to make (the dough freezes beautifully too!)
This year (and most years) I filled them with Raspberry and Apricot preserves, but they could be filled with any fruit preserve...when shopping for groceries for our holiday party I saw fig and cranberry preserves and would love to try either of those with these cookies (maybe next year!)...

Cream Cheese Lemon Thumb Print Cookies
Makes: between 6 & 6 1/2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups/ 3 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 8oz pkg softened, room temp cream cheese
2 eggs
2 1/2 T lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
4 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Apricot and Raspberry preserves

Cream the sugar, butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs, and then fold in the lemon juice and lemon zest. In a large bowl sift the flour and baking powder together and slowly add to the cream cheese and lemon mixture until all is well combined. Cover & chill out in the fridge for at least an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 and roll the dough into walnut sized balls, place 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet covered in foil & sprayed with non-stick spray. Use your thumb to make a crater for the preserves in the center of each cookie- spoon in about 1/2-1 tsp of preserves to each cookie. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown, let them cool 3-5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gingerbread Cookies

I like my gingerbread cookies soft and these have been my go-to Holiday Gingerbread Cookie for years (both to give and to eat!) I love when people make little gingerbread men-cookies, but I realized this year that I don't have any cookie cutters! That is another reason this recipe is perfect for me, because it does not involve any rolling or cookie-cutting.

I've haven't made cookie cutter cookies since I lived at my parents house. My mom makes AWESOME cookie-cutter cookies with a fabulous "old-school-family sugar cookie recipe ;)" that I have never made on my own (due to the lack of cutters). Well, I am resolving to get some cookie cutters so next year there will be gingerbread people decorated with some icing and hopefully gingerbread wiener dogs if I can find a cookie cutter that looks like that! And, I will also add Mom's Holiday Cookie Cutter Sugar Cookies and home made colored frosting to this growing blog for Christmas 2008....

Anyhow, on to MY non-cookie-cutter-Holiday Gingerbread Cookies...these can be made a little more as a "Gingerbread all-year-round cookie" by using a bit less cinnamon, 2T less molasses and add 1 T of lemon zest- decorate with a lemon icing.

These are my contribution to Susan's EAT CHRISTMAS COOKIES BLOGGING EVENT that she is hosting over on her blog Food Blogga

Check out all the amazing entries by clicking HERE

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
(dough freezes well! 6-8 weeks)

3/4 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
1 large egg
1 T room temp water
1/2 Cup molasses
2 1/2 Cups flour
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
Extra sugar (like 1/4 cup for rolling)

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the softened butter and 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, add the molasses and water. In a large bowl combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Sift the flour mixture into the butter, sugar, molasses mixture (if using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment) to mix until well combined.
Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, then roll in the extra sugar. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and press each with the back of a big spoon to squish down a bit.
Bake 8-10 minutes and let cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing to cool completely on wire racks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti

I am an espresso gal- I have a freaking AWESOME lil'machine at my casa that helps me make my favorite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf mocha lattes at HOME every day! It's this NESPRESSOthat I could not live with out!! I do make the mocha-latte every day, but I do NOT get the pleasure of enjoying it with a delicious home made biscotti every morning~!! That's why I love making these as a special holiday treat! Not to mention (as I mention it) they are gorgeous and ship very nicely!!
This recipe is a basic biscotti recipe that can be doctored up in all kinds of ways! Instead of hazelnuts you can add ALMONDS (another fave of mine), dried cranberries, golden raisins, mini chocolate chips- WHATEVER you LOVE!!

Here is the recipe as pictured- but don't be afraid to mix in any of the above or anything that sounds delicious to you!

3/4 c softened butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped hazelnuts (I used the food processor for mine)

Pre-heat oven to 350 & line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat the eggs in one at a time and add vanilla & almond extracts. In a large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt- slowly sift & mix the flour mixture into the egg, butter, sugar mix. Fold in the hazelnuts using a large spoon or spatula.

Split dough in half and roll into two even logs- as pictured here...

Then flatten out the logs to about a 1/3 of an inch thickness...

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, then, when cool enough, slice into biscotti slices, I used my santoku knife and it was a breeze!

Bake again for 17-10 minutes on each side, flipping once

Melt some chocolate chips,( if desired) I used one small bag of nestle semi-sweet chips in a small saucepan (held over a large saucepan of simmering water) and drizzled some and dipped some so they all had good chocolaty goodness coverage!