Wednesday, December 21, 2011

| it ain't christmas without sugar cookies |

I love sugar cookies. I love them when they are chewy and flaky. I hate them when they are dry and crumbly. I don't like they overly sugary...more like a really good shortbread with some extra sweetness added in. But when they are just right? Man, I love them. Favorite kind of cookie - hands down.

I am a crappy baker. I have a hard time following recipes. Also, I hate any kind of baking that involves rolling the dough out (or dough at all, honestly). But my friend Lynn made these one night when we were at her house for dinner. They were SO good. And they seemed to be SO easy. So I gave them a try. 

Yep. They are heaven on a plate. I freeze some in hopes of not eating them all at once, but, really - who am I kidding? I just end up eating them frozen. Sigh. The dough is incredibly easy to work with. You probably already have all the ingredients. Just go make some.

German Sugar Cookies 
(note: I have no idea if they're really German, but if they are - thank you Germany)

Mix together: until smooth:
1 C butter
2/3 C sugar
½ C light corn syrup
1 t lemon juice
1 egg

Gradually beat in::
4 C flour
¼ t salt

Chill 1 hour. On floured surface roll out dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 “ thickness. Cut into shapes.
Bake 350 for 10-12 minutes on a greased cookie sheet. These freeze well.


*******
And...a little something-something for the top.

Powdered Sugar Icing 

From Christmas-Cookies.com
 
This flavorful, smooth, slightly translucent, shiny glaze is great for decorating sugar cookies or drizzling over other desserts.
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
2 tablespoons water 
1 tablespoon butter, softened 
1 tablespoon light corn syrup 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
food color, if desired

Combine powdered sugar, water, 1 tablespoon butter, corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in small mixer bowl; mix until powdered sugar is moistened. Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional water if necessary, to reach desired glazing consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.


Note: Originally found on the website of Better Homes and Gardens. We posted it here because it has disappeared from their website, and it's a great recipe.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

| mennonites can cook |

One of our Thanksgiving guests brought some AMAZING peanut bread and, when I asked her for the recipe, proceeded to gift me with the entire awesome cookbook from whence it came. So nice! The book is More-with-Less by Doria Janzen Longacre. It is "recipes and suggestions by Mannonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources."

After wading about five pages into the GINORMOUS section of recipes with lentils, I came across this one for Kusherie (Egyptian rice with lentils). It reminded me of a dish I've had at our local Turkish restaurant, so we gave it a try for dinner last night. Super delish. As I said to my husband, "Wow! Nice work, Egypt!" and he responded, "Yeah, thanks for being the cradle of civilization and all that."

So I give you the recipe and encourage you to buy the book. I'm looking forward to trying more recipes soon. And...as a bonus, the peanut bread recipe follows.

KUSHERIE

  1. RICE/LENTILS: Heat 2 T oil in a heavy saucepan or skillet. Add 1 1/4 cup lentils. Brown them over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Remove from heat and allow the oil to cool before adding 3 c boiling water or stock, plus 1 t salt and some pepper (note: if your stock is salty, you may want to omit that salt).
  3. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 c rice (I used jasmine) and 1 c of boiling water or stock. 
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer 25 minutes without stirring.
  5. SAUCE: In a saucepan, combine 3/4 c tomato paste, 3 c tomato juice/sauce/pureed tomatoes, 1 green pepper (diced), celery leaves (chopped), 1 T sugar, 1 t cumin, 1/4 t cayenne or crushed chilis. Boil sauce then reduce and simmer 20-30 minutes.
  6. BROWNED ONIONS: Saute 3 onions (sliced) and 4 cloves of garlic (minced) in about 2 T oil until brown.
  7. YOGURT: They suggested serving with yogurt. I used plain Greek yogurt and added some lemon juice to it because I had it on hand. I think parsley would also be nice.
  8. TO SERVE: Put the rice/lentils on a platter, then top with sauce and then the onions. Serve the yogurt on the side.
Note: I thought there was too much tomato sauce for the rice mixture. I think I'd reduce it by about 1/3 next time. Also, the recipe says it serves 6-8, but I'd say it's more like 4-6 for entrees.





THREE-GRAIN PEANUT BREAD
Preheat oven to 325.

Combine in a mixing bowl:
1 c white flour
1/2 c quick cook oats
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1/2 c dry milk powder
1/2 c sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t salt

Cut in 2/3 c creamy peanut butter. Blend and pour in 1 egg and 1 1/2 c milk. Mix well. Place in greased and floured 9x5'' loaf pan. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Note: this bread freezes well. It's also fantastic toasted with strawberry jam.