Thursday, December 29, 2022

Best Recipes of 2022


I always look forward to this post at the end of the calendar year, but I also sort of dread it. I love looking back at all the recipes I tried this year, but it's SO HARD to narrow it down to eight! 

However, you know that if I went to all this trouble, these eight are really, really fantastic. There's no recipe that makes it to the blog that I wouldn't make again and again, but these eight are the real stand outs. They each have a significant WOW factor and are ones that I couldn't not include in my list of favorites. 

I hope you'll add a few of these to your "Make in 2023" list. (2023, what on earth???) And when you make these, please let me know what you think!

Here they are, linked to the original post, in no specific order.

Sourdough Waffles

Turtle Thumbprints

Red Curry Ramen with Pork

Bailey's Brownies

Korean Beef Sloppy Joes

Mini Meringues with Lemon Curd

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Bread

Monday, December 19, 2022

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

It's Christmas week! There's still time to make some goodies, and if you live in the Upper Midwest, you may find yourself housebound this week due to the frigid temps coming in. Brrr!!!! Perfect for turning on the oven and doing some baking.

Back to cookies. These little shortbread cookies are SO easy. And so good. 

Just 6 ingredients come together (and quickly) and then you refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight. Then they're read to slice and bake!

They aren't too sweet, so they are a nice contrast to other cookies that may be in your arsenal... and they're so pretty with the orange and red. 

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas!

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one orange or tangerine 
1 heaping cup fresh cranberries
2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla 

Finely chop the cranberries and set aside. In a food processor, cream the butter, sugar, and zest together until well combined. Add the flour and extract, and pulse about 10 times, then run the machine briefly, just until the dough comes together into a lump or lumps. Add the cranberries and pulse just until they are distributed, but don't over process - you don't want pink dough! (or maybe you do, but you do want cranberry chunks - not sauce!) If you don't have a food processor, you can still do the above with a mixer. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and bring together with your hands until it is no longer crumbly. Form the dough into a 10-12 inch log. The longer your log the smaller your cookies will be. Wrap the log in plastic, using the plastic to smooth out the dough and help form your log. Twist the ends tight to seal.

Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or overnight. 

Slice the dough into 1/3 inch slices and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or slightly longer if you like your cookies crisper. They will be pale on top and just turning golden on the bottom. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheets and then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Eggnog Brownies

I think my love of bars is well known around here. While cookies are fun, I really prefer bars, mostly for the simplicity of making them. One pan, done. Not endless scooping out and baking on different trays. Boy I sound like scrooge. There's nothing wrong with cookies, but I like making bars, and it's nice to have something different on a tray to give away or serve. 

As a bonus, with these delicious "brownies," you can have an excuse to finally use the nutmeg pods you have in the cupboard! I got a kick out of grating those pods for a fun garnish on the eggnog brownies, but if you don't have any, you can simply sprinkle with some nutmeg.

I do love nutmeg, and I love baking with it, so these eggnog brownies were perfection in my book. A fudgy base with an eggnog laced icing - they are so good. 

Eggnog Brownies

3/4 cup butter
8 oz. white chocolate
1/2 cup eggnog
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. rum extract
2 1/4 cups flour

2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. eggnog
grated nutmeg for garnish

In a glass bowl, microwave the white chocolate, butter, and eggnog about 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Mix in the sugar, eggs, salt, and rum extract. Stir in the flour just until incorporated then spread evenly into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with fudgy crumbs. Do not overbake. Let cool completely.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and eggnog until smooth. You want a thick, glue like consistency. Add more eggnog if too thick. Spread over cooled brownies, and sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on top, or grate from nutmeg pods. Store in the refrigerator.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Turtle Thumbprints

Oh boy. If you need an impressive treat for your cookie plate this month, look no further than these Turtle Thumbprints -- a chocolate cookie dough, studded with pecans and then filled with a caramel center. Yum!

Thumbprint cookies always have a slightly higher "putz factor" (technical term) than regular drop cookies but they are worth it. (And way less putz than cut out cookies in my opinion. Don't bother searching for cut out cookies on this blog, ahem.) 

You'll dip chocolate balls in egg white, then in chopped pecans 

and then place them on a baking sheet before making the indents with the back of a teaspoon.

After baking you'll fill those indents with caramel,

and then marvel at their beauty

before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

These are complete stunners, not only to look at but also to eat. Anyone who loves chocolate, pecans and/or caramel, will go crazy over these cookies! In fact, you probably want to double this recipe - the recipe as written will make about 12-16 cookies but they will go fast!

Turtle Thumbprints

1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
14 soft caramels
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl. 

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.

Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 1 hour.

Whisk egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. One at a time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets. Using a teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in center of each ball.

Bake at 350 until set, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons

It's Christmas cookie time! As the kids would say, "Let's GOOOOOO!" (I'm probably way out of date on that, do they say that anymore?)

This year, I have four recipes for Christmas treats, each of which are different and unique in their own way: orange and cranberry shortbread, turtle thumbprints, eggnog brownies, and these delightful macaroons.

These scrumptious little cookie/candies are so easy to put together. And they're gluten free. I always like to have at least one gluten free treat available when I'm serving cookies, or giving cookies away.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is unwrapping the caramels (can I get an Amen??) but maybe you have some little helpers that you can employ for that task. Hopefully so. Then these will be a snap, and you'll have a fun and tasty addition to the cookie tray this year. 

Or you can just toss them all in a bowl and grab one every time you walk past. (ahem) In any case, this is a great way to start the Christmas treat making season. (Since these don't get baked, I don't think I can technically say the "baking" season, ha!)

Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons

5 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
3 tsp. brown sugar
11 ounce bag wrapped caramels, unwrapped
5-6 cups sweetened shredded coconut (can also use unsweetened)
4 ounces chocolate almond bark
1-2 tsp. sea salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan melt butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, and caramels over medium heat. Keep stirring until smooth and sugar crystals are dissolved. 

Remove pot from the heat and stir in coconut until fully combined with caramel. If mixture seems too wet, add a bit more coconut.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of coconut mixture onto parchment paper and allow to cool and set up completely.

In a small bowl, melt chocolate bark. Dip bottoms of each macaroon and place on a sheet of wax paper or silicone baking mat. Drizzle remaining chocolate over tops of cookies. Sprinkle sea salt on top of cookies before chocolate dries.

Allow to cool completely and for chocolate to fully harden.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Butter Garlic Trout in Foil

I thought it might to time to take a break from all the delicious treats and post some real food - as in dinner fare. But don't you worry, I've got all the treats lined up for December and they are good ones...but it probably wouldn't hurt you to eat some fish in the meantime. 

This trout is super, super, super easy to make. It has just the right amount of dressing up to add flavor dimension without overpowering the fish. And since you cook it in foil, clean up is a breeze!

You likely have all the ingredients to make this fish, except maybe the fish. So go out and get some trout and get this on your menu. Simply top with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, butter, garlic and parsley. SO EASY!!!

Fold up that foil and bake. That's all there is to it! I like to broil it at the end for a couple minutes just to put a nice sheen on it (the picture above is just baked, the final pictures, like the one below, are after it is broiled). I especially liked how all the sauce in the foil could be poured over the veggies on the side. Yum!

Butter Garlic Trout in Foil

1 pound trout filet
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. parsley

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and place the trout filet in the center. Fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Season trout with salt and pepper and then squeeze juice from half a lemon over the fish until covered.

Melt butter in microwave safe bowl, stir in fresh minced garlic, and drizzle over the trout until evenly coated. Top with parsley.

Fold the sides of the foil over the trout, covering completely, and seal into a closed packet. Place directly on oven rack and bake at 375 until cooked through, about 15 minutes. 
Open the foil exposing the top of the trout and broil for the last 2-3 minutes to brown the top. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Muffins

Just look at these beauties! Pumpkin muffins (one of the best ideas ever) are topped with a cinnamon sugar, or as we could say, Snickerdoodle!, streusel. You will be hard pressed to find a better fall inspired breakfast or coffee snack.

This recipe combines a couple of my favorite things. Perhaps I have already given it away with the exclamation points but pumpkin! snickerdoodle! combined in a muffin! I love muffins because they are an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. 

This recipe is so easy to whip up - you just need two bowls, all the ingredients, a whisk and a spatula. And if you're fancy (or uncoordinated like me sometimes!) you could use a cookie scoop for measuring out the batter. But that's it! No fancy tools required, and hardly any time required. This recipe is fast and easy and OH SO DELICIOUS.

Get in that Thanksgiving spirit and make these muffins!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Muffins

1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4  cups flour 
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice 
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, cubed

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well-mixed. Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just combined and no dry streaks remain. Fill paper-lined muffin cups with the batter, about 2/3 full for each. (This recipe makes about 16 muffins.)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers, until the mixture is evenly combined and crumbly.

Divide streusel evenly over the muffin batter. Bake the muffins at 350 for 18-25 minutes until the tops spring back lightly to the touch. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool completely on a cooling rack. Store any leftovers in a covered container at room temperature.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
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