2019 Holiday Cookie Round Up

Here they are. This year’s batch of cookie exchange cookies. From left to right, matcha donut, cotton candy spritz cookies, coconut shortbread with coquito glaze, orange and lavender icebox cookies and Mexican drinking chocolate icebox cookies.

Well its cookie season back at the casa. So here’s the round up of this year’s cookie exchange recipes. I tried to keep things relatively simple this year and opted not to do heavily decorated and iced cookies. Instead I’ve got a couple of simple Spritz cookie recipes and come icebox cookies. The appeal with both of these is that I could make the dough ahead and freeze it to be baked off later. The icebox cookies can be baked right out of the freezer. The spritz dough needs to thaw overnight in the fridge then come to room temperature before it can be used. Fair warning, my spritz dough requires a cookie press, its too stiff to pipe.

Basic Spritz Cookie Dough

  • 2 ¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the salt to the flour and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Fill the chamber of your cookie press and attach your die to the end, and press the dough onto buttered and chilled baking sheet. Leaving about a 1″ space between cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges.

Cotton Candy Spritz Cookie Dough

  • 2 ¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cotton candy flavoring
  • 2 TBS blue spirulina powder (2-3 drops of blue food coloring)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Combine the blue spirulina* powder to the sugar, then combine the sugar with the butter and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). The butter sugar mixture will be a vibrant blue color at this point. Mix in the egg until combined, then add the cotton candy flavoring and vanilla extract. Add the salt to the flour and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Fill the chamber of your cookie press and attach your die to the end, and press the dough onto a buttered and chilled baking sheet. Leaving about a 1″ space between cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges.

*note; Blue Spirulina is an all natural blue green algae that’s commonly used for smoothies, the blue version is less briny tasting than green spirulina and is a vibrant blue color. Unlike butterfly pea powder, it does not change colors.

Orange and Lavender Ice Box Cookies with a light sprinkling of sanding sugar.

Orange Lavender Ice Box Cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened and at room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • ¼ dried mandarine orange slices (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried lavender blossoms (crushed)
  • white sanding sugar

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg, vanilla extract and orange extract until combined. Mix the salt, orange zest, lavender blossoms and dried orange slices into the flour. This will keep them from clumping up.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Divide dough in half, and form into logs or rectangles and wrap with wax paper or parchment. Place into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Dough can be stored for up to 2 months. To bake, slice off ¼” thick slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 12-14 minutes or until just golden brown along the edges

Mexican Drinking Chocolate Ice Box Cookies are perfect for dipping into piping hot well…Mexican Drinking Chocolate of course.

Mexican Drinking Chocolate Icebox Cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBS cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs (divided)
  • 1 TBS ground coffee
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened and at room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼-½ tsp coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)

In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon, ground coffee and half the cocoa nips and grind into a fine powder and mix into the flour along with the 2 TBS of cocoa powder and whisk together to make sure all the spices and cocoa are well combined into the flour.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the salt to the flour/cocoa spice mixture and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together then add the rest of the cocoa nibs and mix until all the flour and cocoa nibs have been incorporated. Divide dough in half, and form into logs or rectangles and wrap with wax paper or parchment. Place into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Dough can be stored for up to 2 months. To bake, slice off ¼” thick slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 12-14 minutes or until just golden brown along the edges

Coconut Shortbread with Coquito Glaze

Coquito is a sweet coconut milk and rum drink generously seasoned with clove, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. It’s ubiquitous during the Holidays in Puerto Rico and is frequently referred to as Puerto Rican Egg Nog. If you don’t happen to be on a Boriquen’s coquito gifting list, you can find my recipe here. Since I’m making a Mexican Drinking Chocolate inspired cookie it’s only fitting that I make one inspired by coquito.

Cookie Recipe

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp rum extract

¼ tsp coconut extract

½ tsp salt

1 ¾ flour

1 cup softened room temperature butter

¼ tsp each ground cinnamon, ground clove, ground nutmeg and ground allspice (divided)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy and a pale yellow. Add in extract and spices and blend until well incorporated. Mix the shredded coconut and flour together and gradually add into the creamed sugar and butter. Blend until dough forms into a ball. Pour dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper. Form into a log or rectangle and freeze until ready to bake. To bake, cut into ½ inch wide slices and space out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with the Coquito Glaze to serve

Coquito Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp rum extract

2 tsp coconut milk

2 tsp corn syrup

½ tsp coquito spice mix

 

Green Tea Donuts dusted with powdered sugar and matcha powder and drizzled with a matcha glaze.

Matcha Donuts

¼ cup melted butter

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg lightly beaten

¾ teaspoon baking powder

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon matcha powder

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup coconut milk

Topping

1 cup powdered sugar

1 TBS matcha powder

 

 

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix melted butter, sugar, nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract until combined. Add the beaten egg, and blend until combined. Add the baking powder, baking soda and matcha powder to the flour and lightly whisk to blend. Alternate adding flour mixture and coconut milk and blend between each addition until all the flour and milk is gone. Blend until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The dough will be sticky. Spray donut pans with cooking spray. Spray a large zip top bag or a disposable pastry bag with cooking spray and then fill with the donut dough. Cut of the tip and pipe the dough into the donut pan and cut off with clean kitchen scissors. Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Place the powdered sugar and matcha powder into a clean large zip top bag. Toss cooled donuts in the matcha powdered sugar mixture to coat. Yield 1 Dozen Donuts

Update…

I was inspired by my recent trip to New Mexico to make a Green Chili Stew and of course, I had to make sopaipillas.

As is prone to happening with home renovation projects , our window replacement is going on much longer than we had anticipated. We probably should have learned this lesson with the kitchen remodel 2 years ago but we didn’t. This time around it wasn’t pesky knob and tube wiring hidden away that’s the source of delay.

Our hope was that the project would be completed while we were in New Mexico, but alas it was not. As we stand now, all the windows have been replaced, but the screens did not arrive. Which may seem a pretty simple thing to slap some screens on some windows but not so. All the screens are custom fitted to each window and a finish carpenter has to hand finish all the mill work. Once that’s done the painter needs to come through and stain/paint each window and screen frame.  After that then the crank and lock hardware needs to be installed. Then at some point, stucco repair has to be done. This is the fun of living in a nearly 100 year old Spanish Revival and the price one pays (financially, emotionally and physically) to try to restore it to its previous glory.

On the good side, they don’t work on the weekends so we get a bit of a reprieve from folks other than us being in and out of our house all day. We’ve been ordering a lot of take out because it’s a huge pain to tarp and un tarp everything or do dust abatement to be able to use the kitchen. Which ultimately is why there has not been any new posts, because not a lot of cooking has been getting done.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the kitchen will be 100% complete by the end of this week.

Pardon the repost……

 

We’re going on a  bit of a hiatus for the next few weeks while we’re having some work done on the house. If everything works out with the renovations we should be back to posting mid-October. This week I’m reposting my quick and easy recipe for a Fig Galette, You can check out the original post here.

Mission Fig Galette

We’re fortunate to share a garden with our neighbors. We have herbs, tomatoes, artichokes, lemons and a couple of fig trees. The first crop of figs provided the filling for a nice galette.  Galettes are easy desserts, think of them as a pie or tart, but you don’t need a pie plate or a tart pan. You can also use store bought pie crust or use your favorite crust recipe.

Filling

3-4 Ripe figs cut into quarters

1 9″ pie crust*

½ cup orange marmalade

1 TBS milk or cream

sanding sugar

pinch of salt

Roll out pie dough (or store bought crust) to approximately 9″ in diameter and ⅛” thick. Spread 2TBS of marmalade over the crust leaving a 1″ border all around. Place in the middle of the pie crust in a spoke like pattern and brush with the remainder of the marmalade. You should have a about a 2″ border all the way around. Fold the crust over onto the figs.

Brush the crust with milk and dust with sugar. Bake at 350F for 25″ or until the crust is golden brown.

*Pie Crust

    2 ½ cups sifted all purpose flour
    ½ cup sugar
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 cup iced water
    1 ¾ sticks chilled and cubed butter
    the zest of 1 lemon
    ¼ cup chilled and cubed vegetable shorting vegetable shortening

Combine the flour, salt, butter, sugar, lemon zest and shortening in a food processor with the chopping attachment. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine sand. Slowly add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse keep adding water until the dough starts to form pea sized balls. Test the dough by trying to form a ball, if the ball holds together, pour the mixture out on to the work services and knead together into a disk. Wrap the disk in wax paper and a zip top bag and store in the fridge for about an hour to chill. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out into whatever shape you like. The dough recipe should be enough to make 8 3″ hand pies.

 

 

And still more figs……

Fig ice pops

We’re still buried under a pile of figs here at the ol’ homestead and I’ll admit I’m a little (a lot) tired of them. That being said, this weeks recipe is super simple and takes maybe 5 minutes to put together and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Which is exactly what my tired brain and body need after a super exhausting week at work. So I’ll get right too it.

Fig and Brown Sugar Ice Pops

  • 5-10 ripe figs, cut into 1/4 ” wide sliced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 can coconut milk

Soak ice pop sticks in water and set aside. Add a couple of slices of fig to each ice pop mold and set mold aside. Place all the remaining ingredients into a blender and and blend for about 30 seconds until all the ingredients are well combined. Pour mixture into ice pop molds insert soaked sticks, seal molds and place in freezer for at least 6 hours to set. Enjoy.

See, I told you it was easy and quick.

We be jammin’ or Figapalooza Part II

Well we’re continuing with last week’s figgy theme and making fig jam. As I’ve previously mentioned, we have a crazy number of black jack figs thanks to 2 very healthy trees out back. It’s a constant battle to try to get to all the figs before they start falling off the tree and then become an all you can eat buffet for various critters. This week’s effort to stave off the figpocalypse is jam. Now I can’t be bothered with all the boiling and vacuum sealing of jars, so I prefer to make freezer jams. They last up to 10 days in the fridge and 6 months in the freeze. So they’re an easy and convenient type of jam to make in small batches.

Super Easy Fig Freezer Jam

  • 1 lbs fresh figs roughly chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup water

Toss all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend for 15-30 seconds. Pour mixture into a heavy bottomed sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and let boil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and portion into clean canning jars. Loosely cover with the lids and let cool to room temperature. Place in the fridge and use within 10 days.

Yep, it’s that’s easy.

 

Figapalooza 2019 Part I

Yep, that’s right Figapalooza 2019 is in full swing at the ol’ homestead this week. Our upstairs neighbor is on her 4th batch of fig jam. I’ve made fig ice pops, fig flatbread, fig scampi, fig n’ grits and fig tarts. So this week I’ll share with you my recipe for Fig & Pistachio Honey Tart. The secret to bringing out the pistachio here is to use it as the base for the crust. Blind baking the crust helps roast the pistachios a little to bring that nuttiness more forward. There’s just a slight orange hint from orange zest and a little orange extract to help brighten things up.

Pistachio Crust

  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into cubes

Place 1/4 cup all purpose flour and the pistachios into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the pistachios are ground into a fine meal. Add the powder sugar, salt and the remainder of the flour and pulse 10 times to mix. Gradually add in the chilled butter, and pulse until dough is a sand like consistency. Mix the egg, vanilla extract and milk in a small bowl and slowly add to the flour and butter mixture until dough just comes together.

Form dough into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. After the dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4″ thick and lay into a tart pan and press the dough into the corners.

Dock the shell with a fork in several places. Line the shell with aluminum foil and fill with rice or dried beans. Blind bake the shell at 400F for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil with the rice/beans and bake the shell for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Filling

  • 8 oz marscarpone
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 1/3 cup honey

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Fill the cooled tart shell with the cheese and yogurt filling.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill until the cheese mixture sets about 2-4 hours.

To serve, top with sliced firgs, chopped pistachios and a drizzle of hone.

 

 

 

Superfood Smoothie Buddha Bowl Thingies

Orange and White fruits accent this blue spirulina and nice cream smoothie bowl

 

Some of you may be aware that I am allergic to melons and strawberries. They’re easy enough to avoid but it means that getting a smoothie bowl at someplace like Jamba Juice or Nekter is out of the question. So I make them at home. This week I’ll share 3 smoothie bowl recipes so you can make your own at home.

A really good blender or food processor is a must for these recipes. I try to keep a good supply of mangos, dragonfruit, berries and bananas up in the freezer. As well as steel cut oats and coconut milk in the pantry and Greek style yogurt in the fridge, I frequently use these to make overnight oatmeal so they’re super handy to have on hand and perfect for smoothie bowls. Things like chia seeds, nuts, puffed rice and shredded coconut are also nice to keep around to add texture and extra fiber to the smoothie bowls. There are also any number of protein powders and supplements out there that you can also add if you choose. I’ve used blue spirulina, butterfly pea powder, matcha powder, and pea protein powder, but they aren’t necessary and I use them more for color than for their nutritional properties.

Butteryfly Pea Powder blueberries and Blackberries give this smoothie bowl is purple color

Butterfly Pea Oat Bowl

1/2 cup steel cut oats

1/2 frozen banana chopped

1 tsp butterfly pea powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

Toss everything into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

 

PInk pitaya, dried cherries and raspberries give this bowl its pinkish hue.

Very Berry Dairy Free Smoothie Bowl

1/2 cup coconut milk

4 or 5 coconut milk ice cubes

1/2 cup steel cut oats

3 TBS freeze dried cherries

1/4 cup frozen raspberries

1/2 cup frozen pink pitaya/dragonfruit

1 frozen banana chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the coconut milk into the blender, slowly add in the coconut milk to get the blender going. Bend until smooth.

 

Frozen Bananas and coconut milk make up the base for this smoothie bowl.

Nice Cream Smoothie Bowl

4 frozen bananas chopped

1/4 tsp blue spirulina powder (optional)

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tsp honey or agave syrup.

Blend until its the texture of soft-serve ice cream and serve

 

Enjoy and as always let me know how you liked these recipes

National Pot de Creme Day

Vanilla Bean Pot de Creme garnished with fresh figs and cherries.

As it turns out, today is National Pot de Creme Day. I’m not sure who decides these sorts of things but who am I to argue. Pots de Creme are super easy custards that are a versatile dessert to have in your repertoire. I love their simplicity and that they don’t have a lot of ingredients. So here is my take on Pot de Creme.

Vanilla Bean Pot de Creme

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

Over medium low heat, bring the evaporated milk and heavy cream to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot, While the milk is heating up, whisk egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla paste together in a large bowl and set aside. Once the cream and evaporated has come to a boil, remove from heat. Slowly add the warm cream to the egg sugar mixture a ladleful at a time while continuously whisking to temper the egg mixture. Once all the cream has been added to the cream, set the mixture aside for 10 minutes. Skim and discard any foam from that settles on the top. Even distribute the mixture into 4 ramekins and bake in a water bath at 325F for 50 minutes or until set.  Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with fresh fruit and whipped cream or whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.

Vanilla Bean Pot de Creme with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Give this a try and let me know what you think

 

 

 

3 Easy Marinades for Meal Prepping Chicken

Some of you may be aware that I’m not a huge fan of chicken, but I acknowledge that chicken breast are super easy for cooking during the week and can usually satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. They’re versatile but can get pretty boring especially if you’ve meal prepped a bunch for the week.

So this week I’ll share with you 3 easy marinades to change up that boring chicken. Personally I prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts, but feel free to use which ever chicken cut you wish. You can marinade the chicken for as little as an hour or overnight. The chicken can be roasted in the oven, grilled or fried in a sauté pan.

Spicy Citrus Marinade

⅓ cup grapeseed oil or olive oil

½ cup orange juice

2-3 pineapple spears or rings or ½ cup pineapple juice

1 jalapeño or serrano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp coarse salt

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ achiote powder

1 TBS dried oregano

2 green onions

Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over chicken pieces and let marinade at least 1 hour up to overnight.

 

Spicy Southern Style

½ cup plain greek yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream

¼ cup of your favorite hot sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl and pour over the chicken. Marinade at least 1 hour or over night.

 

Mediterranean Marindade

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup plain greek style yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves finely minced or ½ tsp of garlic powder

½ tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried oregano

Whisk all the ingredients together and pour over chicken.

 

By Popular Demand

Piña Colada Ice Pops

A few months back I took an impromptu and wholly unscientific survey of roughly 80 or so people (mostly my co-workers) asking what their favorite flavor of Ice Pop/Paleta was. Coconut was the winner by an overwhelming margin. Second was Cherry Pineapple which according to my co-workers was a common treat from the ice cream man after school. What surprised me though was that Arroz Con Leche or Horchata was also very popular.

So by popular demand, this week I’ll share my recipe for Coconut, Pina Colada and Arroz Con Leche Ice Pops. To make this weeks recipes you will  need either re-useable ice pop molds or you can get single use zip top ice pop pouches from Amazon. Here is the link to the brand I use.

Coconut

2 15 ounce cans coconut milk

1 can Creme de Coco

½ cup shredded coconut

½ tsp coconut extract

¼ tsp each ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice and ground clove.

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, pour into molds and freeze for at least 8 hours.

Piña Colada Ice Pops

Pina Colada

1 15 ounce can coconut milk

1 Ripe Pineapple peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1 can Creme de Coco

½ tsp coconut extract

Combine all ingredients in the carafe of a blender, blend on high until smooth. Pour mixture into molds and freeze for at least 8 hours.

Arroz Con Leche Ice Pops

Arroz con Leche/Horchata

2 cups cooked rice*

1 15 ounce can coconut milk

pinch of salt

1 12 ounce can evaporated milk

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla paste

½ tsp each ground clove, ground allspice, ground nutmeg

Yep, you guessed it combine all the ingredients into the blender and blend until well combined but not completely smooth. You’ll want to retain some of the grains of rice for texture. Pour into molds and freeze

* I suggest using left over rice, but if you do decide to make a fresh batch of rice for this make sure its at least room temperature but ideally cold.

 

That’s it simple easy kid friendly. Enjoy