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It’s Christmas cookie time!  My girlfriends and I are doing a cookie exchange; everyone bakes enough cookies for the group and then gets to take home a mismatch of everyone else’s magical creations.  I’m literally going to have enough cookies to bring my husband and entire family into the New Year – probably Valentine’s Day if they’d last that long.  I have a few cookie recipes up my sleeve, but I’ve also reached out to fellow co-workers, friends and scoured a few blogs  for new recipe ideas.  Here is my little recipe book of Christmas/holiday cookies for you to enjoy.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays!  Share your recipes, too!

Fresh from my Bitchin’ Kitchen 

Aunt Diane’s Faux Reeses Peanut Butter Fudge: 

Do all of these steps in order for perfect PB fudge

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • 16 oz. bag of powdered confectioner’s sugar (or 3 ½ cups)
  1. In a medium saucepan,  melt the two sticks of butter over low-medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Add peanut butter to saucepan and stir until melted (using a wooden spoon or spatula).
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and slowly add the entire bag of powdered sugar until all sugar is incorporated; your mixture will thicken.
  4. Pour fudge into an ungreased 8×8 (or larger pan for thinner pieces) and refrigerate for an hour (*see optional chocolate topping).
  5. Once the fudge is hardened, cut into small squares and serve.

*Optional: For a truly authentic Reese Cup flavor, melt 1 cup of milk-chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle or spread over the fudge before refrigerating.

Suggestion for improving the recipe/method from a co-worker:

“The only thing I would do differently – wait to cut until they warm up a bit from the fridge (since left in more than an hour). And, at Andy’s suggestion, add 2 cups of chocolate on top instead of one.”

Grandma Minnesota’s Snowballs:

Grandma Minnesota's Snowball recipe

Grandma Minnesota’s Snowball recipe

1 cup of soft butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar to coat snowballs

(Optional: 2 cups finely chopped pecans)

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees; Mix butter, granulated sugar, vanilla; add flour and salt; chill; roll into one inch balls; and bake for 10-12 min. Roll cooked snowballs in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until well coated. Enjoy!

Shared Recipes from Friends

Peppermint-Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Martha Stewart Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies - photo by Johnny Miller

Martha Stewart Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies – photo by Johnny Miller

This might just be the ultimate Christmas cookie. It has a great peppermint flavor, chunks of chocolate, and a super-sweet glaze, plus it’s topped with the iconic red-and-white peppermint candies. What more could you want? Compliments of Martha Stewart – CLICK HERE

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 12 round peppermint candies, crushed, for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract on medium-high until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in egg, then flour mixture on low. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place, 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely.
  3. Stir together confectioners’ sugar and enough cream to make a spreadable glaze (if you like a strong mint flavor, stir in up to 1/4 teaspoon extract). Spread a thin layer of glaze on top of each cookie and sprinkle with candies. Let dry completely on racks.

Cook’s Note: Store in airtight containers, up to 3 days.

Lemon-Pistachio Wreaths

Lemon-Pistachio WreathsfAnother Martha Stewart Specialty, Scalloped rings topped with pistachios add a little color and zest to ordinary shortbread cookies. Click here for recipe. Yield: Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 5 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a generous 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths. Reroll scraps, and cut out. Cut out centers of wreaths using a 7/8-inch round cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake until just golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.
  3. Stir together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Dip surface of each cookie in icing, and sprinkle with pistachios. Let set on wire racks.

Note: “I made these cookies a few years ago and they were a big hit. I think I used orange rind in the cookies and orange extract in the frosting. I did not add the pistachios (only because I did not have the time). They were refreshing and a big hit. Good luck at the cookie exchange! What fun!”

Blogger’s Delight

Maple Bacon Oatmeal Cookie      Maple Bacon Cookie - The Nest v2

I found this divine recipe on a blog called “The Nest.”  Who doesn’t LOVE bacon!?  Now you can have it in a cookie!

POSTED IN: Food and Drink

Before you start:

These cookies spread.  Be sure to leave plenty of space.  We placed two rows of four on our standard baking sheets.

Use REAL maple syrup.  The taste of it and the other brown, sugary liquid stuff do not compare.

You can bake two sheets at once.  At the halfway point, just be sure to rotate tray from top to bottom and from front to back.

The cookies must cool on the paper because they are still quite soft in the middle when hot.  After the sugar cools and does its magic you will find them simple to peel from the paper.

The ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup bacon drippings
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 8 strips bacon

The method:

  1. Cut bacon in half lengthwise.  Cut strips into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Cook bacon and strain over a small bowl to reserve drippings.  Place drippings in the freezer to cool slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
  6. Place butter in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat on medium high to make smooth for about 30 seconds.  Add cooled bacon drippings.  Beat for 30 seconds more.
  7. Add both sugars.  Beat on high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  8. Add eggs one at a time mixing until fully incorporated after each.
  9. Add syrup and mix until fully incorporated.
  10. With your mixer on lowest speed, add dry ingredients gradually mixing only until just incorporated.
  11. Add oats and bacon pieces and mix just until combined.
  12. Using a medium scoop, place dough on parchment lined sheets at least 2 inches apart.
  13. Bake until lightly browned on the edges but still soft in the middle (about 18-20 min.)  Rotate trays at about 9 minutes.
  14. Cool cookies completely on parchment paper.  When cooled, peel cookies from paper and store in an airtight container.

Please share your recipes for delicious Christmas/Holiday cookies here for our readers.

Mele kalikimaka!

XO Terrah

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Apple season is here! On farms across the Midwest to your neighborhood markets, apples are bursting on the scene, making their final appearance before winter. The orchard on our family farm near Oxford, Ohio is a colorful bouquet of deep ruby red honeycrisp apples, neon green Granny Smiths, Ginger Golds and beautiful multi-colored Paulia Red apples. It is a beautiful thought to know that my grandfather planted the orchard using tiny seeds of his favorite fruits. Today, years after he has left the earth, we are still reaping the “fruits” of his labor.

Mixed apples from the orchard

It only took me about 15 minutes to pick a basket of apples. This batch yielded about 5-7 baggies of applesauce.

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With the diverse apple, there are endless recipes to be made; warm cobblers and pies to cinnamony sauces, chunky chutneys, and more. Harvest season has always marked a special moment in my family’s life. A time when the Italian women come together in grandma’s kitchen with aprons, bushels of (insert fruit/vegetable name here), canning products and stories from the past – to spend a day picking, peeling, boiling, mashing, grinding, flavoring and canning home-grown flavors that would last through the winter.

My grandma’s applesauce recipe, which I call Sunset Acres Applesauce (my mother’s version is Sunflower Applesauce), is incredibly simple and it makes a great gift for friends, family and other loved ones.  *A special thank you to my mamma bear, Jayne, for making a huge batch of applesauce with me and passing on the family recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • Bushel of mixed orchard apples: If you are making enough sauce to harvest for the winter (or give to friends) buy a bushel of apples (preferably Red Delicious, honeycrisp, Fuji) – mix them up and get them from an orchard or real farmer’s market :). A bushel is about 40 lbs. of apples. According to http://www.pickyourown.org, you’ll get about 12 to 16 quarts of applesauce per bushel of apples.  Count on 12 or 13 quarts per bushel. More on apple measurements below.

-OR-

  • 2 lbs. of mixed orchard apples: for smaller portions, use about 2 lbs. of apples. Again, use Red Delicious, honeycrisp, Fuji small tart apples. Mix them up and get them from an orchard or real farmer’s market 🙂
  • 1 large pot (at least 8-quart size or larger) for boiling water
  • Large spoons and ladles (wooden preferred)
  • Sieve – they look like this:Image(Macy’s sells Martha Stewart sieves)
  • Plastic baggies for freezing (*Optional: Jars – *a longer more tedious method not covered in this post. For jarring methods, click herehttp://www.pickyourown.org/applesauce.htm)

Ingredients: (told you it was simple)

  • Apples (mixed orchard apples)
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • cloves

Step 1: Wash and slice apples into manageable chunks, keeping skins on (the skin will be separated in the sieve. Remove the core and seeds.

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Step 1: wash apples

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Image Slice apples, removing the core and seeds

 

Step 2: Boil water in large wide pot at a simmering boil. Turn the heat down and place apple slices in hot water for 20-25 minutes or until the apple skin appears to be separating from the apple flesh. The color of the apples will turn from a crisp/ripe apple to a brackish/brown color when ready – they should be soft and mushy if you stick them with a fork.

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Step 3: Add the boiled apples to sieve and churn, placing a ceramic dish beneath the sieve to catch the sauce.

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Sieve the boiled apples

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stir the handle of the sieve to separate the flesh from the skin with a bowl beneath to catch the sauce.

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Step 4: Flavor the apples. First, place the ceramic pan with the sauce over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, mix in your ingredients (metal adds bad taste when you mix with acidic apples).

  • add 1/2 cup of water at a time to the applesauce mixture until the sauce reaches a consistency you enjoy (less water for thicker sauce. More water for runnier sauce)
  • add a clove to taste (remove before bagging)
  • add 1/2 cup of sugar.  if you like your applesauce sweeter, add another 1/4 cup more at a time until it reaches a sweetness you enjoy
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon (more/less or none).

Step 5: Remove applesauce from heat and begin to ladel into the plastic freezer baggies.  I use about 5-7 scoops/ladels per baggie.  The applesauce only lasts a week once removed from a freezer, so use portion sizes according to your needs.

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Step 6: Toss the baggies into the freezer and when you are ready to enjoy them, simply defrost and eat within a week.

You can serve your applesauce warm with any meal or pour over ice cream as a topping.  Either way your family and friends will enjoy this homemade delicious treat. Salute!

More on apple measurements:
How Many Apples in a Pound and How Many Apples in a Bushel? 

(Source:http://www.pepinheights.com/apple-info/weights-measures.php)

1 pound equals:

  • 3 medium apples
  • 2 cups sliced

3 pounds equals:

  • 8-9 medium apples
  • one 9 inch pie

1 peck equals:

  • 10-12 pounds
  • 32 medium apples
  • 3-4~ 9 inch pies
  • 7-9 quarts frozen
  • 4 quarts canned

1 bushel equals:

  • 42-48 pounds
  • 126 medium apples
  • 15~ 9 inch pies
  • 30-36 pints frozen
  • 16-20 quarts canned

Types of Apples:

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By: Terrah Kocher

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Our Supper Club hosts for the month of April, newlyweds Katie and Jason Willis,  called on the expertise of Richard Goering from Cork’n Bottle to be our Sommelier for the evening, featuring six different French Country wines.  Our job – bring a complimentary pairing dish and enjoy. I’m truly beaming for this theme.  Here is the lineup and pairing recommendations from dear friend, Kathy Merchant, DWS

Jason & Katie Willis

FRENCH WHITE WINES:

Gruet Sauvage – sparkling, crisp acidity on the palate with a light yet long finish

Pairings: Sparkling: any thing with egg and cheese, for example mini quiches that could also have mushrooms. Gruyere cheese is best.

Muscadet Dorices – bright acidity and citrus notes-classic seafood match

Pairings: Muscadet: definitely seafood and lemon; oysters best, shrimp is fine. Keep it simple.

St. Gayan Sablet–  a beautiful example of white wine from the southern Rhone. Frosty acidity and sweet notes

Pairings: It almost requires something spicy like Asian food.   Explanation – White Rhone:  perfumed and floral, this one could be tricky. Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne are the grapes, maybe some Bourbolanc or Grenache Blanc.

FRENCH RED WINES:

La Pierre Raisins Gaulet – bright cherry and refreshing acidity, made from Gamay

Brunier Pigeoulet – racy blend of grencahe and syrah from the southern Rhone

St. Gayan Rasteau – rich, fruit forward red from the village of Rasteau, famous for its red wines

Pairings: Kathy recommends a spring vegetable ratatouille. These wines are both earthy (gamay and syrah) and spicy (vanilla and brown baking spices, etc.). The combination in the glass is wonderful and the wine can support tomatoes. I love the recipe in the Tra Vigne cookbook.

La Tra Vigne Cookbook

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I’ve never made glaze from scratch, or ribs for that matter, so I’m excited to try this new recipe that came from Tasting Table’s Sous Chef Series presented by Williams Sonoma.  It will certainly be a step toward diversifying my culinary portfolio.  If you create this recipe, let me know how it turns out or if you have a secret glaze of your own to share.
Some great wines to pair with barbecue ribs include: Riesling or Zinfandel.  This week at the Cincinnati Wine Festival, I sampled some incredible Zinfandel from Terra d’ Oro Vineyards.  The Amador County Zinfandel and 2007, and Terra d’ Oro Home Vineyard Zinfandel.
Kevin Hart, sommelier at Boca Restaurant, recommends Marietta Old Vine red Lot #53 from Geyserville, Sonoma.
Lot 53 is the latest release of Old Vine Red, our trademark blend that was first released almost 30 years ago in the early days of Marietta. Due to Dad’s remarkable ability to maintain such high levels of both consistency and quality, the demand for Old Vine Red has steadily grown since Lot 1. Lot 53 carries on the tradition in stride with loads of rich and deep berry and plum and peppery spice as well as hints of mild spicy and toasty oak, dusty earth, and a light gamey quality that add to the complexity. The color is deep ruby and purple, and the mouthfeel is forward, dense, and pleasantly rustic and ripe in a Zin-like style.

Chinese barbecue ribs

Make This Recipe From Sara Johannes
WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

The third installment of our Sous Chef Series visits Asia by way of Los Angeles, where Sara Johannes runs the kitchen at WP24, Wolfgang Puck’s glamorous modern-Chinese restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles. There, her spice-rich baby back ribs–which are seasoned with a combo of classic Chinese flavors (ginger, garlic and soy sauce) and the sweet, saucy appeal of American barbecue–are a menu staple. Her hoisin-spiked sauce has the makings of an essential; keep this one on hand for grilling season. Register for a free demo of this recipe at your local Williams-Sonoma store. Click here!

Chinese barbecue ribs

WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients

For the ribs
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • One 6-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs, about 4 pounds total (racks cut in half if using a Dutch oven)
For the glaze
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1½ teaspoons sambal oelek chile paste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, carrot, onion and celery and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and nestle the ribs in the braising liquid.

2. Cover the Dutch oven (or cover the roasting pan tightly with foil) and bake until the meaty part of the ribs are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 90 minutes.

3. While the ribs cook, prepare the glaze: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, hoisin, corn syrup, ketchup, five-spice powder and chile paste; increase the heat the high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.

4. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on the baking sheet. Remove the ribs from the braising liquid and place them, meaty side up, on the rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Brush a thick coating of glaze on the top of the ribs. Bake for 45 minutes, brushing the ribs with additional glaze every 15 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into one- or two-rib portions and serve immediately.

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My girlfriend, super-mom and super-woman, Elizabeth Barber, made delicious homemade burrito bowls and was nice enough to share the recipe with CorkStories! She made up most of the recipe as she went along (like a true chef),  and says it’s amazingly good. Note from the chef: “I didn’t have chipotle seasoning, which obviously means it wasn’t as spicy as the real Chipotle, but we hardly noticed. The recipe is for my typical order: rice, chicken, black beans, mild tomato salsa, lettuce, and a little cheese. Hope you enjoy!”

Wine recommendations for this dish from A Bottle or Two’s David Pustinger, are: *click the links to place your order on A Bottle or Two’s website.

  • Laxas Albarino – a Spanish white wine. Its grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks, thus creating a light, citrusy wine that pairs nicely with lime flavors in this dish.
  • Abad Dom Bueno Mencia – $17 Presentation of butterscotch, seasoned spices, black cherry and tobacco. A dry Mencia with a full body. You may notice tastes of cinnamon, black mulberry and blackberry preserves. We suggest having this wine with risotto, port wine and glace reductions or pot roasted half racks. *notes from A Bottle or Two
  • Louro do Bolo GodelloAnother Spanish white grape, round and aromatic with flavors of lees, pineapple and lemon in the nose, as well as a bit of smokiness and oak spice.
  • Gazela RosePortuguese wine, $7 (winediva.ca describes this wine as having “a prickle of vivace bubble on the tongue…aromas of juicy cherry, red berries, vanilla and hints of peach pit…juicy, lively acidity to balance the sweetness. The bright peachy/berry flavours return on the palate with a zesty finish.”  Sounds yummy!

You can read more about A Bottle or Two’s online wine services in my column, “Vine + Table” featured in Cincy Chic

From Snooth.com

Chianti Wines
The Sommelier Says: These light red wines are bright and earthy, making them excellent choices for pairing with this recipe

Viognier Wines from California

The Sommelier Says: These medium bodied white wines are aromatic and fruity, which allows them to work well with this dish

Arneis Wines
The Sommelier Says: These white wines are aromatic and dry, allowing them to work well with this meal
Read more: http://www.snooth.com/wine-pairings/better-bean-burrito/#ixzz1F6eLfAth

HOMEMADE BURRITO BOWL RECIPE (by Elizabeth Barber – blog)
Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 box white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
3-5 dashes of lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Cook rice according to package directions using chicken stock instead of water. Add butter, lime juice, and cilantro before serving.

Seasoned Black Beans
1 can black beans
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 clove chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Combine ingredients and simmer on low 30 minutes to one hour, stirring frequently.

Grilled Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Add olive oil to grill pan and cook chicken on high until no longer pink and slightly charred.

Homemade Salsa (Recipe courtesy of Ashley Barden)
4 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 lime; squeezed
3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 onion; chopped
1 small green pepper; chopped
Sugar to taste
Blend ingredients in food processor. Pulse about 15 times.

Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
Chopped Romaine Lettuce

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