Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boozy Bars, Corn Muffins, Scones, Coq Au Vin and Pudding Pie!

Irish Cream-Coffee Bars (I like "Boozy Bars" better! lol)
from Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookies book
  • 1 pouch (1 lb. 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tb Irish cream liquer (I used the mint chocolate variety - YUM!)
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules or crystals
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom and sides of a 8-in square pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, place cookie mix and pecans. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork (I use a food processor...pulse about 10 times) until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. With fork, stir in egg. Press 1/2 of the cookie mixture in the bottom of the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Reserve remaining cookie mixture.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir milk, 2 Tb liquer and the coffee granules until well blended. Pour mixture evenly over warm crust. Sprinkle reserved cookie mixture over top. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate 1 hour to cool completely. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into bars (5 rows by 5 rows). Store bars covered at room temperature.
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tb packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tb Irish cream liquer
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Just before serving, make whipped cream. This step is easier and faster if the bowl and beaters are chilled first. Beat whipping cream, brown sugar, liquer and the vanilla with the electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Top each bar with dollop of whipped cream; sprinkle with cinnamon.

Mine were not that pretty. (Reading the reviews, neither were most people's!) And I didn't refrigerate before eating. I gave them about 20-30 minutes to cool down and then made the cream and ate them. I think the liquer in the cream was a little much. It would've been fine with regular cream. But the bars themselves, may not have looked that pretty - but they were FABULOUS! One of the best desserts I've ever made. Yumm.

Jalepeno-Cheesy Corn Muffins (makes 8 muffins, 24 "bites" or an 8x8 pan bread)
from ME! This is my first original recipe with no inspiration from anywhere but me! :)
  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 small jalepeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup mexican cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (I used a can for the stew and just took some from there)
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tb. cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  •  1/3 cup milk
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Saute corn kernels and jalepeno until kernels are bright and glossy and jalepeno begins to roast, about 2-3 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the muffin mix, cheese, corn meal and cayenne pepper. In a small bowl, whisk egg and honey together. Slowly whisk in the milk. Pour milk mixture onto dry mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in corn and jalepeno. Mix will be lumpy. Let sit 3-4 minutes to set.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin tins (or 8x8 pan) with shortening or butter (I prefer not to use liners for these). Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full, mini muffin cups to the brim. Fill unused cups about 1/2 full with water. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes and clean and they've reached your desired browness. (For muffins: 15-20 minutes, for "bites": 9-11 minutes, for bread: "18-22 minutes.)
CUTE! These were adorable!! But now that I've tried all three forms...I have to say that my favorite is the bread version. Both muffin types are good but the bread just keeps so moist
Cheese Scones
from Weight Watcher's New Complete Cookbook
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tb. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tb. milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. (I used my new professional baking mat! Woohoo!) In a large bowl, combine the AP flour, WW flour, baking powder, mustard and salt.  With a pastry blender, cut inthe butter until the mixture is crumbly (used a food processor - about 8-10 pulses).

Add 3/4 cup cheese and stir with a fork. Add the milk and stir with a fork until the dry ingredients are just moistened.

Gather the mixture into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll lightly into a 7-8 inch circle.

Cut out circles with a round cookie cutter, dipped in flour between each cut (I made mine small so I used about an inch and a half round). Lightly reroll and cut until all dough is used.

Place the circles on the baking sheet; sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Transfer the scones to a rack to cool, about 2-3 minutes. Serve warm or completely cooled.

To continue in my cooking craze, I had half a bottle of wine in the fridge that was too far gone to drink with but still fine for cooking purposes. So...I made Coq Au Vin! This isn't the 8-hour Alton Brown version, by any means! But it's an easier version for weeknights and having been to a French restaurant and tasted the real thing, it's pretty dang close!
Weeknight Coq Au Vin (serves 2)
adapted from Cooking Light
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 8 oz chicken (it asked for leg quarters but I used breasts since that's what I had)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp peppe
  • 1 tb. dried parsley
  • 3/4 sliced mushrooms (specifies cremini but I live in Athens, so white and portabello are about the only choices...)
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine (I used 1 cup of Zinfandel because we like more sauce)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (used 1/2 cup for more sauce)
  • 1/2 Tb. brandy (had no brandy - used 1/2 tb apple juice with a splash of vanilla)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 2 minutes, turning to brown all sides.

Be sure to chop all your veggies and prep your ingredients since they all go in at the same time.

Stir in parsley, mushrooms, carrots and shallots.

Pour in wine, chicken broth and brandy. Add tomato paste and garlic. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Now would be the time to decide and prepare what you are going to serve it over. The most common are egg noodles and mashed potatoes. After the chicken is done, remove with a slotted spoon and tent with foil to keep warm. Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until reducedto approx 1 1/2 cups (about 3-4 minutes). Return chicken to pan and reheat if necessary.


A pudding pie is so easy that I normally wouldn't share the "recipe" but this one had a crust that was to die for and such a simple ingredient to add!

Graham Cracker Crust
from Weight Watcher's New Complete Cookbook
  • 32 low-fat honey graham crackers (8 full sheets)
  • 2 Tb. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (surprise! and it fits PERFECTLY!)
  • 2 1/2 Tb unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tb water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, place the graham crackers and pulse into crumbs, about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the sugar and nutmeg, mix well. (My food processor has seen alot of action lately! lol)

Add the butter and water and mix until the crumbs are moist and hold together when pressed. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

Bake until golden, 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack 20 minutes before filling. To make filling: prepare chocolate pudding according to the instructions on the side of the box for pie filling, not regular pudding!

Pour the pudding mixture into the pan. Mixture will be thin. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

After setting, top with cool whip and garnish with shaved chocolate.

If you handn't noticed (how could you not!), I'm in looove with my new Weight Watcher's cookbook. I paid full price and it was worth every penny. It has healthier recipes for anything you could ever want to make! And they're gooood! That's what I love about WW recipes...they focus on being healthy overall rather than under 300 calories. Who can live like that?? Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend it...and it's on sale on Amazon! I paid $29.95 for it so this is a steal!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pecan-Boysenberry Linzer Cookies

Christmas goodies nestled, snug in their tins. :) 

Pecan-Boysenberry Linzer Cookies
from Aida Mollenkamp's recipe (dying to try the Chocolate-Hazelnut ones but that's another day!)
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tb. orange zest, from 1 large orange (her recipe says 2 Tb but I thought that was a bit much - this amount was perrrfect!)
  • 1/2 cup seedless boysenberry jam (her's calls for blackberry but I just love boysenberry jam!)
Add the nuts to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade, and pulse until finely ground (it should be powdery and not a paste) about 15 pulses. Set aside. **Mine was a little wetter than what I would call powdery but it still worked fine - just don't get all the way to the paste stage.**

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until evenly combined and set aside.

Put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and mix with a mixer (paddle attachment if stand mixer) on medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down sides of bowl and add egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated. (I always add yolks one at a time and mix until you can longer see the color.) Mix in the orang zest, ground pecan powder into the flour mixture until just incorporated. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Pat each into a thin disk, enclose in plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. (Mine were in there for 4 hours and this worked well.)

Choose your cookie cutters to use. I used a big star and a little star that could fit inside. My holes are much bigger than most but I didn't mind. They make linzer cookie cutters that come with a 2 inch round and a 3/4 inch round. Whatever you want/have will probably work. Just make sure the top isn't too thin (even mine was pushing it) or it'll break while makin the sandwiches or even while preparing the dough.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until pliable enough to roll. Roll out half of the dough on a piece of lightly floured parchment or wax paper to 1/4 inch thickness. Use the large cookie cutter and cut out shapes of dough. Using the smaller cookie cutter, cut out the center of half of the shapes. Transfer the shapes to the freezer to set up for 5 minutes before continuing. Gather the dough scraps and chill.

Here's a tip I learned from the one and only Alton Brown. If transfering a round, take a small spatula (the pancake turner kind), flour it, slide it under the dough and move it. If transfering a cut-out round, leave the cut-out middle there while transfering, take it out while the dough is on the spatula and then drop the cut-out round. MUCH easier.

She says to transfer the chilled dough to parchment lined baking sheets to bake...but I was lazy and left them on the same tray to bake. *gasp* I actually think it prevented the cookies from burning so I would do it this way again. But it depends on what you want to do.

Bake 2 sheets of cookies at a time until the undersides are golden, switching sheets halfway through, about 12-15 minutes total. (I think I did one at a time with no switching but I'm not sure.) Cool 5 minutes on sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat until all dough is used.

The first batch or two was pretty sloppy looking. But as I did it, I got much better and by the end, they looked perfect! To assemble cookies, wait until ALL cookies are COMPLETELY cooled. If you don't they will break. Spread about 1/2 tsp jam on the bottom side of each solid cookie and then top with a cut-out cookie. Mine had more jam than that but I think that's because they're bigger so just use your judgement on that.

GORGEOUS. Simple, impressive cookies. They tasted great too! Some of the best dough I've ever tasted!

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