Archive for November, 2011

Can you tell I’m preparing for a Christmas Cookie Exchange?!!  This shortbread recipe has become another regular Christmas time favourite in our house.  It’s a little bit of a process having to constantly refrigerate these cookies (as per the original recipe) and admittedly I don’t do it as much as the recipes calls for because seriously who has all day to make cookies?!  And so I did it my way and they turn out just fine!  The orange & nutmeg lends a delicious flavour to these cookies.

Adapted from Canadian Living

Orange Nutmeg Shortbread Stars

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp finely grated orange rind (I typically use a whole orange)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 300F (150C)

In large bowl beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Stir in cornstarch, orange rind, nutmeg and salt until blended. Add flour one-third at a time, stirring to make smooth dough.

Between waxed or parchment paper roll out dough on a cookie sheet or cutting board to 1/2 inch thickness. Refrigerate as is for approx. 30 minutes.

Using floured star cookie cutter (1 1/2 inch), cut out shapes, rerolling scraps and cutting out cookies as you go. Place about 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Put one baking sheet on top and one on the bottom thirds of oven baking for 6 minutes then switch and rotate pans. Bake for another 6 minutes. Switch & rotate pans again. Here is where you start baking 1-2 minutes at a time watching for the bottoms to brown slightly. In my oven my stars take approx. 13-15 minutes.

Let cookies cool in pans for about 5 minutes then transfer to racks. Using a sprinkler/shaker/colander shake/sprinkle the icing sugar all over the cookies while they are sitting on the rack and while they are still warm. I find this helps the icing sugar adhere to and stay on the cookie.

Lastly try not to eat them all at once ;).  Makes approximately 3 dozen.

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I started making this recipe a couple years ago when my Mother-In-Law came for Christmas.  We loved having her here and wish she could come during the holidays more often.  It’s a lovely variation of a shortbread cookie and comes via the cook book Anna and Michael Olson Cook at Home.

Cherry Walnut Shortbread Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups candied red & green cherries, halved/quartered
3/4 cup walnut pieces

In bowl beat butter with icing sugar until fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla beating to combine. Next dump in your flour & salt stirring until everyone is happy. Finally add in your cherries & walnuts. Divide your dough into thirds and shape each section into a 10 inch long log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm – at least 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 325F (160C)

With a sharp knife cut logs into 1/8 inch thick rounds. This is really thin and mine end up between 1/8 & 1/4 inch thick…it still works fine. Place on prepared baking sheets (covered with parchment paper), approx. 1 inch apart. Bake in top and bottom thirds of oven, rotating and switching pans halfway through just until edges begin to colour. Watch them carefully – every oven is different!

Bake 8-10 minutes. Let cool in pan a few minutes and transfer to cooling rack. These cookies freeze very well. Layer with wax or parchment paper in airtight container for up to one month.

Makes approximately 11 dozen cookies.

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Jamie Oliver Christmas 2011

I remember watching Jamie Oliver when he was the Naked Chef.   To me he looked too young to be an accomplished Chef but I was still intrigued and little did I know how good he was.  Over the years I have followed him and all his new endeavours.  I love his style of cooking and honestly can not get enough of him.

He has created a Christmas 2011 website full of all kinds of fun stuff and lots of recipes!

Be sure to check it out for some great ideas!

Jamie Oliver Christmas 2011

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OK I stumbled across this recipe a couple years ago and make it faithfully every year at Christmas gatherings. In fact I crave it! The first time I made it was for a family dinner party. I’m pretty sure between the 4-6 family members here (adults) we inhaled the entire dish (excluding all my samples…I ate those myself) not to mention all the other yummy appy’s I had prepared! Supper that night was a struggle because we were too full. This dish is so yummy you’ll be wanting more the next day. I am making it again soon!

Adapted from The Best of Bridge Series

Cheddar Chutney Tarts (to die for)

8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, (old/sharp)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/3 cup mango chutney
4 green onions, minced finely
dash Worcestershire sauce
14oz pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed

In a large bowl mix together cream cheese until smooth. Add cheddar, garlic and curry. Mix well. Chop larger pieces of the chutney and add to the cheese mixture along with remaining chutney, onions and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until combined.

On a lightly floured surface, roll half the pastry at a time into a 12″ square. Cut into 2″ squares. Press into small muffin tins and prick dough with a fork. Spoon 1 tsp filling into each tin. Bake in center of oven for about 10 minutes or until pastry is golden.

You can make the filling ahead. Seal into a container and refrigerate for a couple days. You can freeze cooked pastries in an airtight container. Just reheat in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes and serve hot!

Oh My Word. Enjoy it!

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Smoked Gouda Spread

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas fast approaching it’s time to start thinking Party’s! And with Party’s comes great food! I am hosting my first ever Christmas Cookie Exchange Party later this week and I am excited for several reasons; exchanging fabulous cookies/baking, I get to make some tantalizing appetizers, drink some wine (like I need a reason) and spend time with other mom’s/friends. It’s gearing up to be a fabulous evening and I am starting to make a hit list of favourite appetizers. Here is one.

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Smoked Gouda Spread

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp parsley, fresh chopped
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
Chopped smoked almonds (optional)

Beat together cream cheese, gouda cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, mustard and pepper until well blended. Mixture will not be completely smooth. Cover and refrigerate a minimum 4 hours to allow flavours to develop. Does not freeze. Garnish with smoked almonds and serve with crackers. Makes approx. 2 cups.

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Here is another delightful vegetarian meal. Good at lunch, brunch or dinner. You can always omit cilantro if you do not like it and replace with parsley.

Adapted from The Best of Bridge Series

Mexican Vegetarian Casserole

1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 x 4oz cans diced green chilies, drained
3-4 tbsp cilantro, fresh chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2″ strips
14 oz can refried beans
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups monterey jack cheese, grated
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Sliced olives (green or kalamata)
Green Onions, sliced
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray a 9×13″ baking dish.

Heat oil in pan over medium heat and saute onion until soft. In a medium bowl combine onion, eggs, ricotta cheese, chilies, cilantro (if using), cumin, salt and pepper.

In this order layer half the tortilla strips, ricotta mixture, refried beans, chopped tomatoes and cheeses. Repeat layers one more time finishing with cheese on top.

Bake uncovered, until bubbly, approximately 30-40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Add your favourite toppings and enjoy!

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Carrots Au Gratin

This is a great side dish to a holiday meal. It also works well as a Sunday Supper Side.  It’s been in my recipe collection a very long time and it’s still a favourite go to!

This serves 4 so double it or a crowd!

Carrots Au Gratin

1/2 – 3/4 cup Corn flakes (crunch them in a ziplock)
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/2-3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2.5 cups sliced carrots
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat Oven to 370F

Here we go
Combine crushed corn flakes and all the melted butter in a small bowl. Set aside. In a pot over medium-high heat bring water to a boil.  Add in your onions, carrots, salt and pepper.  Turn down to a low simmer and parboil ingredients until tender.

In another pot melt 1 tbsp of butter over med-high heat.  Add your flour stirring for 1 – 2 minutes. Slowly pour in your milk until all combined. Let mixture thicken. Then add your cheese a spoonful at a time stirring to mix well. Once all cheese has been added, pour your sauce into your carrot mixture and stir to combine.

Almost there
Pour in your cheese sauce/carrot mixture into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Top with crushed corn flake/butter mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

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