Buried Cherry Cookies

I successfully made cookies for the first time last week. Every other attempt failed miserably, to the point where I’d given up. Cookies are supposed to be easy, but apparently not for me. I’d been invited to an event where cookies were expected, so I gave it a go.

Cover of Cookies For Kids

I found this recipe in an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook called Cookies for Kids. It has photos of kids aged 5 to 10 years old making cookies in it. I figured this would be hard for me to screw up.

I doubled the recipe from the book though. I think it worked out better because there was more stuff for the mixer to work with and so it all got mixed better. Directions below are how I did it, not a copy from the book.

Equipment

Stuff I need to make sure I have cleaned and available.

  • large mixing bowl
  • medium mixing bowl
  • small saucepan
  • hand mixer
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • parchment paper
  • storage bins for finished cookies
  • bowl for drained cherries
  • cup to hold cherry juice

Ingredients

  • butter, 2 sticks, room temperature
  • sugar, 2 cups
  • eggs, 2
  • vanilla extract, 3 teaspoons
  • all purpose flour, 3 cups
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup
  • baking soda, ½ teaspoon
  • baking powder, ½ teaspoon
  • salt, ½ teaspoon
  • maraschino cherries, 2 jars (this was overkill, but I used more than 1 jar worth)
  • semisweet chocolate chips, 12 ounce package
  • sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup

Instructions

  1. Add butter and sugar to a mixing bowl
  2. Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy and thoroughly mixed
  3. Add eggs and vanilla
  4. Beat well
  5. In another mixing bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  6. Add part of flour mixture to butter mixture
  7. Beat until well mixed
  8. Repeat last two steps until all of the flour is combined with the butter
  9. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls, placing each on parchment paper on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart (made enough to fill about 2½ sheets)
  10. Press thumb into the middle of each cookie, squashing them down
  11. Drain cherries, reserving the juice in a cup
  12. Put a cherry in the indentation in each cookie
  13. Combine chocolate chips and condensed milk in a saucepan
  14. Melt over low heat, stirring occasionally
  15. Stir in enough cherry juice to make the chocolate spoonable
  16. Spoon a dollop of chocolate over each cookie, enough to cover the cherry
  17. Bake at 350° til edges of the cookies are firm (was about 13 minutes for me, book said 10)
  18. Transfer cookies to a cool surface to cool

Gallery of photos at most steps taken below. Forgot to take photos of the finished cookies, which were tasty, by the way.

“Tuscan” Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I have no idea if this recipe for Tuscan Mac ‘N’ Cheese has anything at all to do with Tuscany. It’s the name the Big Book of Casseroles gave the recipe. However, it is now my favorite Mac and Cheese. It was that good.

  • 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces crusty bread
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • dash of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1½ cups almond milk
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

The original recipe called for half the sausage, but I forgot how much I needed when I went sausage. It also used real milk, which causes me issues.

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions
  2. Brown sausage
  3. Cut cream cheese into pieces and soften
  4. Shred mozzarella
  5. Cut bread into chunks smaller than 1 inch
  6. Chop olives
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine sausage, pasta, cream cheese, bread, olives, and mozzarella
  8. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan
  9. Stir in flour, sage, salt, thyme, and pepper
  10. Add almond milk
  11. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly
  12. Pour over pasta mixture and stir
  13. Transfer to an ungreased casserole dish
  14. Bake covered at 350° for 35 minutes
  15. Slice tomato
  16. Top macaroni with tomato slices and parmesan
  17. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes
  18. Cool enough to eat

As noted, this was the best mac and cheese I’ve ever made. I love kalamata olives, which is kinda the key ingredient here. But mozzarella instead of cheddar, tomatoes on top, etc., it all makes for excellent comfort food.

Tuscan Mac and Cheese
Tuscan Mac and Cheese

Raspberry Lime Pie with Tequila-Raspberry Sauce

This is another of the pies I made for Pie Night and it was quite the hit. This one had no alcohol in the pie itself, and just a couple tablespoons in the sauce for it. The recipe was adapted from a recipe I found at the Driscoll’s berries web page.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces worth of gluten free shortbread cookies
  • 4 ounces worth of gluten free graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package (¼ ounce packet) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
  • sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 4 or 5 limes
  • 4 six ounce packages raspberries
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons tequila

The gluten-free shortbread cookies had a lot of moisture in them, and didn’t work out quite like the original recipe called for. My first attempt at the crust from this turned into a cake. In my second attempt, I substituted gluten free graham crackers for some of the shortbread cookies, and that worked out much better.

The original recipe also called for sweetened cream of coconut. I was unable to find this product. Instead, I used unsweetened cream of coconut. Then I looked up online how much sugar was in the sweetened version of the product, subtracted how much was in the unsweetened version, and added the difference. However, I didn’t write down the amount. I think it was 3 tablespoons but I could be way off.

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Chop the ginger
  3. Process shortbread cookies, graham crackers and ginger in a food processor
  4. Melt the butter
  5. Add butter to the cookie mixture
  6. Process until thoroughly mixed
  7. Press into a pie plate
  8. Bake for 10 minutes
  9. Allow to cool

Filling

  1. Mix gelatin and ¼ cup water in a glass mixing bowl
  2. Simmer a pot of water on the stove
  3. Once gelatin has bloomed, place the mixing bowl over the pot of water until the gelatin has dissolved
  4. grate about 1 teaspoon worth of lime zest
  5. squeeze enough limes to get ¼ cup of lime juice
  6. Combine cream of coconut, sugar, yogurt, lime zest and lime juice in a large bowl
  7. Stir until smooth
  8. Mix dissolved gelatin thoroughly in
  9. Mix in one package of raspberries
  10. Pour into the pie crust
  11. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set

Sauce and whipped cream

  1. Process remaining raspberries in food processor until they are so much pulp
  2. Strain raspberry pulp into a bowl (i.e., remove all the seeds)
  3. Combine heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl
  4. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form
  5. Mix half the raspberry puree into the whipped cream
  6. Spread whipped cream over top of the pie
  7. Combine remaining raspberry stuff with honey and tequila

Serve pie with raspberry-tequila drizzle.

Shepherd’s Pie

This is the recipe for the Shepherd’s Pie I made for Pie Night. I love me a good shepherd’s pie, but I don’t think I’ve actually ever made it before. I liked this so much I made it again today. It is from Rachel Ray.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1½ lbs. ground lamb
  • Allspice
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 onion
  • all purpose flour
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup dark beer
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cream
  • paprika

Prep

  1. Peel and cube potatoes
  2. Peel and chop onion
  3. Peel and chop parsnip
  4. Separate yolk from egg white (discard egg white)

Instructions

  1. Add potatoes to a large pot, cover with water
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat
  3. Cook until tender
  4. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat
  5. Brown ground lamb
  6. Season with salt, pepper and allspice
  7. Add carrot, parsnip and onion
  8. Cook about 5 minutes
  9. Dust with flour
  10. Cook about a minute
  11. Add broth, beer, and Worcestershire sauce
  12. Cook until thickened
  13. Transfer to casserole dish
  14. Remove potatoes from heat and drain
  15. Return them to the pan and allow to cool bit
  16. Add a few dollops of sour cream, egg yolk, and cream
  17. Mash until smooth
  18. Spoon over meat
  19. Season with paprika
  20. Broil until the potatoes are evenly browned
Shepherds Pie

Caramel-Bottomed Guinness Chocolate Pie

This pie turned out quite well. Everyone at Pie Night loved it. The caramel was a bit boozier than I thought it would be, but I coulda been doing it wrong. Recipe comes from Dennis Wilkinson. As is normal, I’ve modified it slightly.

Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1½ ounces cold water
  • 1½ ounces vodka

Pretty standard crust, except there’s a bit more liquid than I normally would use for one crust.

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor
  2. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon pieces
  3. Add the butter to the flour mixture
  4. Pulse the food processor until all the chunks of butter are less than pea size
  5. Transfer the flour mixture to a bowl
  6. Combine the water and vodka into a cup
  7. Add the liquid to the flour, alternately adding some and mixing it with a pastry cutter or fork
  8. Work the dough until the liquid is pretty thoroughly combined and the flour forms a ball
  9. Mush the dough into a disc
  10. Wrap it in sandwich paper
  11. Chill for a half hour to an hour in the fridge
  12. Roll into a crust
  13. Place the crust in a 9 inch pie plate (deep dish works better, but I didn’t do that)
  14. Crimp the edges
  15. Weight with foil and pie weights
  16. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and bake for 10 more
  17. Remove from oven and allow to cool

Caramel

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier (original recipe calls for 1 ounce, but I don’t have a 1 ounce measure)
  • 1 orange
  1. Grate all the zest from the orange
  2. Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan
  3. Cover and bring to a boil
  4. Remove the cover and continue boiling until sugar starts turning brown
  5. Swirls the pan on the burner periodically until the sugar is reddish brown (it really does turn a reddish brown)
  6. Add the cream and Grand Marnier
  7. Stir until dissolved
  8. Continue boiling until it’s pretty thick (original recipe says thread stage which I have no clue how to judge)
  9. Add the orange zest
  10. Pour it into the pie shell
  11. Cool

The caramel was boozier than I expected. Perhaps sticking to the original amount mighta made it more acceptable to me, as I don’t drink or eat anything with more than a trace of alcohol left in it. I kinda expected it to have cooked off considering how long it was boiling.

Filling

  • 4½ semisweet bakers chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (14½ ounces) Guinness stout
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  1. Combine the water and gelatin in a small saucepan
  2. Separate the egg yolks and discard the egg white
  3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, corn starch, sugar, and salt
  5. Whisk in the cream
  6. Whisk in the egg yolks
  7. Whisk in the Guinness
  8. Whisk in the chocolate
  9. Cook and stir the mixture over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat a spoon
  10. Heat the gelatin until it dissolves
  11. Whisk in the gelatin
  12. Remove from heat and strain the chocolate through a strainer into a bowl
  13. Whisk in the butter
  14. Pour into the pie shell (the one with the caramel, not a new one)
  15. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until set

At this point, I had some leftover chocolate, though not a lot. I really should have used a deep dish pie plate. C’est la vie.

Serve with whipped cream.

Click through to the original recipe to see a lovely photo. I didn’t get a good photo of my edition of the pie.

Low Salt Broth

I promised to write more. What can I put here? I know! My efforts to find low-salt foods in Seattle.

Huh. And coincidentally today starts World Salt Awareness Week. I had no idea that was the case. I found that out because I wanted to include the official American Heart Association recommended daily limit on salt, so I was Googling®. Anyway, the U.S.D.A. recommends less than 2300 mg of sodium per day if you are healthy and less than 1500 mg of sodium if you have a heart condition. The A.H.A. says that’s too high, and recommends less than 1500 mg per day for everyone.

Finding low-salt foods is hard. Take today for instance. I want to make a hoppin’ john recipe tomorrow. The recipe calls for beef broth. I do most of my food shopping at regular grocery stores because they are cheaper. Today, Fred Meyer in Ballard was convenient. Five feet of one aisle devoted to chicken and beef broth, and not one low-salt alternative. Swanson beef broth has 800 mg of sodium per cup! There’s a less sodium version of it that has 400 mg per cup. But even at that level, I’d go over 1500 mg in well less than a day. Swanson has an unsalted beef stock that has only 130 mg of sodium, but you won’t find it at Fred Meyer, despite the jingle.

So I headed by Whole Foods on my way home, because I know they carry low-sodium broths. Huge difference! There are all sorts of options there. They didn’t have a low-sodium house brand (365 Everyday Value) for beef broth, though they do for chicken. But I could pick from at least three different brands (that I can remember now that I am home) of low-salt beef broths: Kitchen Basics, Imagine Foods, and Pacific Foods. There might have been others as well. The Imagine and Pacific brands of beef broth have 140 mg per cup. That’s 1/3 of anything that Fred Meyer offers, and it’s a bigger store. Kitchen Basics is a bit more at 180 mg.

From this I have to assume that Fred Meyer wants to kill people with heart conditions! Or at least the Ballard location does. I know it seems like a poor selling strategy, but so far all the evidence points that way.

Mushroom Pie

This is the recipe I used for the Mushroom Pie at Pie Night yesterday. I’ve made it once before, in about 2006 or 2007. In the original mushroom pie recipe on AllRecipes.com, the mushroom mixture is the stuffing for a puff pastry. The exact same stuff made great filling for a traditional pie.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms (I bought pre-sliced)
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 slices fakin’ bacon (or 4 of real bacon if not being fed to vegetarians)
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • about 4 ounces Swiss cheese
  • about 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • 2 crusts for double-crust pie
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Shred the cheese
  3. Peel and chop the onion
  4. Chop the fakin’ bacon into about half inch pieces
  5. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat
  6. Add the mushrooms, onion, and bacon
  7. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender
  8. Reduce heat to medium
  9. Add the cream and dill
  10. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes
  11. Remove from heat
  12. Stir in the cheese
  13. Pour mushroom mixture into a pie crust
  14. Cover with top pie crust and flute the edge to seal
  15. Score the crust so steam can vent
  16. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is done

Scandinavian Shrimp Pie

Here’s the recipe for the Shrimp Pie I made for Pie Night last night. It comes from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2006 . They took a reader submitted recipe and lightened it up. I kinda added some of the fat back. (As always, the recipe below is how I made it, not how it appears in the cookbook.)

Shrimp Pie

Crust

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flou
  • ¼ cup semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup ice water
  • ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Chill butter, then cut into small pieces
  3. Combine all-purpose flour, semolina flour, sugar, and salt in food processor
  4. Add butter and vegetable shortening
  5. Process until the mixture is a course meal
  6. Combine ice water and vinegar
  7. Add vinegar-water mixture to flour
  8. Mix with a fork until well combined
  9. Coat a deep dish pie plate with cooking spray
  10. Press mixture into pie plate and up the sides
  11. Bake for about 5 minutes
  12. Cool on a wire rack

Filling and Pie

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked, deveined shrimp
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ½ cup egg substitute
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 ounces Havarti cheese
  • fresh dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Chop shrimp into bite sized pieces
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat
  3. Add shrimp and cook until you’re sure it’s cooked
  4. Combine cream cheese and ¼ cup of egg substitute in a mixing bowl
  5. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended
  6. Add flour and beat one minute minute
  7. Add remaining egg substitute and milk and beat until mixed
  8. Stir in shrimp, Havarti cheese, dill and salt
  9. Pour mixture into crust
  10. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes (or until set)

Curried coconut chicken

I liked curry but have never tried actually cooking a curry dish. This was pretty easy and I had most of the ingredients. Next time I’ll probably make it with rice instead of noodles though. Basic recipe comes from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001.

  • 2½ cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ large onion
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • dash of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 boneless chicken breast half
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  1. Prepare noodles according to package directions, but without salt.
  2. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces
  3. Slice onion thinly
  4. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat
  5. Add onion and stir-fry for one minute
  6. Add basil leaves and stir fry for an additional two minutes
  7. Remove from pan
  8. Add remaining teaspoon of oil to pan and heat
  9. Add garlic and stir-fry for one minute
  10. Add curry, salt, and red pepper and stir-fry for 10 seconds
  11. Add chicken and stir fry for three minutes
  12. Add coconut milk
  13. Reduce heat to medium
  14. Cook until chicken is done (about 4 minutes for me)
  15. Add basil-onion mixture and toss well
  16. Serve over the noodles

The result:

Curried coconut chicken over noodles

French Leek Pie

The French Leek Pie I made for Pie Night was gone in 11 minutes. It was super easy to make. I used the French Leek Pie recipe at allrecipes.com, with some minor adaptations.

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 pinch salt (to taste)
  • 1 pinch pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (more or less)
  1. preheat oven to 375°
  2. grate the Gruyere
  3. chop the leeks
  4. melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat
  5. add leeks
  6. cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until soft
  7. reduce heat to low
  8. add salt and pepper
  9. stir in cream and shredded Gruyere cheese
  10. heat on low until mixture is warmed through
  11. pour mixture into the pie shell
  12. bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard is set and golden on top