Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Christmas cookies

So my mom's side of the family doesn't have Christmas until January. No, my parents aren't divorced. There are just too many people to see in too short of a time at Christmas, with my mom's extended family living 4 hours away from Cape...
This year for Christmas, I crocheted bookmarks for all the ladies and made cookies for all the guys, in addition to the gifts that I gave to "special" people like the adorable 18-month old Montgomery twins, Grandparents, Parents and my brother.

Here are two of the recipes that I made for the first time this year. When I get around to it, I'll post the other recipes I used this year (including Oatmeal Rasin, Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter. There's obviously a reason why all us Ettling women are short and stout; it's not because we're lazy, we just know how to cook!)

Shortbread cookies with Toffee bits and chocolate chips (From Farmgirl Fare, really the only blog I read, about a woman who packs up her California life and moves to a farm in the middle-of-nowhere Missouri to garden and raise sheep. Um- definitely sounds like something I would do! If you want to see a picture of her cookies: http://foodiefarmgirl.blogspot.com/2009/09/really-easy-cookie-recipe-baby.html)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup English toffee bits, such as Heath

Heat the oven to 350°.

With a hand held electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla, and then add the flour and salt. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the chocolate chips and toffee bits. I had to add about 2 Tbsp of water to get the batter to stick together. It's possible the butter was too cold, as it had only been sitting at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

With a small scoop, drop cookies onto a baking sheet. (I received a baking mat from Aunt Lisa for my wedding and it is a definite MUST for shortbread cookies- prevents the bottoms from browning too much. Actually it's a definite MUST for all cookies if you like soft cookies. The baking mat is made of silicone and lays inside the cookie sheet, as it is not stable enough to lay directly on the oven shelves.)

Bake about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Good luck on not eating them all before packaging them.... Makes about 2 dozen.

The second cookies I made tonight were Chocolate Crinkles, which I've been told are Grandpa Ettling's favorite cookies. I guess we'll find out on Sunday! This recipe I got off of Betty Crocker's website (http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes.aspx/chocolate-crinkles/941e22b3-9a48-4fb1-bdb0-27479e76d484)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. In large bowl, mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar and vanilla. (I used a double boiler to melt the chocolate, which was a glass bowl sitting on top of a pan of boiling water. However, it could also be melted in the microwave.) Stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours.
2. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray. (If you use a silicone baking mat, you don't need to use cooking spray.)
3. With a small scoop, drop the dough (a few pieces at a time) into a bowl of powdered sugar. Roll around until coated lightly. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes about 4 dozen.

These are pretty fricking delicious. Imagine a brownie rolled in powdered sugar. MMMM

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tried a new recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. I've been eyeing the recipe for awhile in Giada de Laurentiis's "Giada's Family Dinners" book, but I was waiting on fresh pork and fresh beef. (We just purchased 1/3 of a cow and 1/2 a hog).

Giada's Italian Wedding Soup Recipe:

1 small onion minced
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 egg
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c dried bread crumbs
8 oz ground beef
8 oz ground pork

10 c chicken broth
1 lb escarole chopped
2 eggs
2/3 c parmesan cheese

To make the meatballs:
Mix together the onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix in the ground meats. Shape into 1" meatballs and set aside. Depending on the size of meatballs you want, an ice cream scoop, or a cookie scoop are helpful.

To make the soup:
Bring the broth to a boil. Add the meatballs and escarole and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix together the 2 eggs and cheese and slowly add to the broth, stirring to make thin strands of egg. Cook for an additional minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

My changes:
1. Apparently Dillon's doesn't believe in escarole. So instead I used about 1 c fresh spinach chopped. A little different flavor, but still a green.
2. I didn't have 10 c of chicken broth on hand. I had 4 c of chicken broth, and 4 c of turkey broth (that I froze at Thanksgiving), and added 2 c of water. (Yes there are four different animals in this dish)
3. I used a pound each of pork and beef because that's the size of the meat packages from the butcher.
4. I added about 4 oz (dried) of Ditalini pasta- which is like 1/4" long pieces of penne, but smaller diameter. I put this in the same time as the meatballs and let them cook in the broth.
5. She's not joking about pouring in the cheese/egg mixture SLOWLY. If you pour too fast, you end up with parmesan-scrambled egg on top of your soup. Yes, speaking from experience. But yes, it still tastes fine.
6. Giada says it's 8 servings, but I like soup, so there's more like 6 servings. Delicious lunches and dinners for the next few days!
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