December 30, 2007


It took three of us to save this one- it looks much better now (see below). A few minor mistakes can add up to a lot of frustration when baking. It's chemistry. We aren't sure what went wrong- we think it was a combination of leaving the cake in the cake pans for a couple of hours instead of on a cooling rack and the consistency of the frosting. We made the cake per the recipe and then struggled a bit with the frosting. One thing led to another and it wasn't the most spreadable frosting I have ever used, but we each took some time to work with it and help it to at least cover the cake. All's well that ends well, but I think we'll stick to Publix birthday cakes for awhile...and the eggs.

It's My Party!

Okay, this picture might be a couple of years old. I think this was my seventh birthday. Check out the 1970's decor and party clothes. I got some very nice bath powder!

Here we are celebrating my ninth birthday at Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Love the hats! My mother and TLMM are working on my cake as we speak- Silver White Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Icing. It's from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which was a gift from Jack & Marilyn. I'll be back shortly with photos and a recipe...and the eggs.

December 26, 2007

Merry Peanut Butter Cookies!

This year, Santa's favorite cookies were just plain old peanut butter cookies.

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. Cream shortening, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and egg. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Shape into 3/4" balls and place on greased baking sheets. Dip a fork in flour to make criss-cross design on top of cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

These cookies are delicious because they are not extra sweet- and the texture is perfect. Not too hard and not too soft.

I have some real treats headed your way soon. My mom is here visiting and brought some family recipes, namely Aunt Ruthie's Black-Bottom Cupcakes. You won't believe them, they are rich, but, somehow you find a way to eat several (they're miniatures)! Inside is cream cheese, cocoa, chocolate bits ...and the eggs.

December 22, 2007

Marilyn Moon's Ginger Cookies!!

Nothing makes the house smell quite as nice as baking ginger cookies, especially at this time of year!

Marilyn Moon's Ginger Cookies:

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt shortening and let cool. Mix sugar, molasses and egg. Beat well. Add cooled shortening. Sift together flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, salt. Add to sugar mixure. Mix well. Chill dough. Make 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar and place 2" apart on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Bring Beth some.

That's the recipe- word for word! I doubled it and had plenty for a crowd. You will really start to smell the spices when you sift them in with the flour.

The smell of the cloves triggered a vivid memory for me. As a child, we would celebrate Havdahlah (a tiny short service marking the end of the Jewish Sabbath) on the beach in Padre Island, Texas. As part of that service, a spice box is passed around, and everyone smells it and thinks about the week to come. Now, all these years later, I realize that my father put cloves in the spice box. Until today, I always thought that the havdahlah spices were magical, mystical in some way. Not that there's anything wrong with cloves!

The other funny thing about that memory is that I remembered it as I was making Christmas cookies, but that's a story for either another blog or for my psychoanalyst...and the eggs.

December 19, 2007

Pork Product Presents from Padow's Hams & Deli!!

I hope this is the beginning of a trend! More food sursees! Our friend, Diane, brought us a Christmas breakfast package from Padow's Hams & Deli (13 locations in the Richmond, Virginia vicinity). Check out this spread! On our breakfast menu is Padow's buttermilk biscuits, Smithfield dry sugar cured bacon, Luter's Genuine Smithfield thinly sliced ham, Williamsburg brand fully cooked gourmet boneless country ham slices, honey mustard sauce, peanuts and the most fascinating of them all...

...Deviled Smithfield Ham with Peanuts, something I have never tried before. I have loved ham since the first time I tasted it at 11 years old, as detailed in my first post ever (here). Is there really anything like that slightly salty, rich, melt-in-your-mouth taste of ham?? Fortunately, I lived in Virginia during my college years, and had the luxury of having good ham readily available. I was also fortunate enough to have my Mama Copes, who was like a mother to me and who made ham for me more than once, along with many other southern specialities that were completely new to me...but that is a story for another post.

Not that you would ever know it, but the Padow's package is not just for me, it's for all of us. We will all enjoy it on Christmas morning. Thank you, Diane and Bobby, I hope our Christmas dinner is good- the breakfast will be a tough act to follow...and the eggs.

December 18, 2007

Holiday Sursees from Suzanne!!

Do you know what a sursee is?? It's a surprise present. A sursee can be any size or value, the fact that it's a surprise is what makes it fun. Talk about fun- edible gifts are like no other!! Thank you, Suzanne, for these extremely different chocolates. I have never tried any haute chocolat, or even heard of Vosges- I can barely wait to taste them. Can you readers make out the flavors? Here is a close up shot of two of the flavor combos.

As much as I want to sample them, I'm waiting for Christmas when I'll have a house full of people. What a great conversation piece- and we can all taste them together. Thank you very much for thinking about us, I'll let you know what everyone says. I think the chipolte one will be my favorite- I have always wanted to try chocolate with chilies...thank you again...and the eggs.

December 17, 2007

Tassies, Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cut-out Cookies!

If you like pecan pie, you will loooove tassies. They are like little bites of heaven, and not as hard to make as they look! To see the recipe from my December 14th post, click here. My advice is to double the recipe- I did, and it made almost 3 dozen. Mix the filling separately:

Mix up the dough and push a small bit into mini-cupcake tins. The dough shouldn't be too thick, but should come up the sides of the tins like this:

Put some crushed pecans into the bottom of each shell.

Pour filling into each shell. Top with some more crushed pecans. That's it. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (mine took only 20). They pop out easily when you coax with a round knife.

On to the cut-outs. I mixed the dough the day before and let it chill in the fridge for 24 hours, but it only has to chill for an hour.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (or substitute almond)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and extract. Mix flour, baking powder and salt and add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time.

Roll dough to desired thickness. We had some cookie cutters which needed thicker dough to show the detail; we did those last. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 6-7 minutes at 400 degrees. Done.

Don't they look naked?? Dress 'em up any way you want. Along with the little decorating icings I bought that you squeeze, I used a frosting recipe from The Joy of Cooking- 4 cups confectioner's sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Add more water or sugar until you get your desired consistency. I used about 1 1/4 more tablespoons of water because I wanted more of a glaze than a frosting. Divide into small cups and add a few drops of food coloring to each. Leave some white, too.

TLMM's Santa is so cute!! When they're all decorated, you and your friends and children will be covered in sprinkles and icing- but that's half the fun!

For the last recipe of the day, I decided what I wanted and then invented the recipe myself.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 1/2 sticks butter softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups white chocolate chips

If you have unsweetned cocoa powder, substitute 3/4 a cup of that for the squares of baking chocolate, and add 1/2 a stick of butter.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa (if using cocoa powder), baking soda and salt, stir into creamed mixture. If using baking chocolate, melt squares in microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds until they're melted. Mix into the creamed mixture. Fold in white chocolate chips. I found these white chocolate chips at Target, and they inspired the whole recipe.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring onto a cooling rack.

These are rich and chocolatey- which is exactly what I was looking for. Your favorite chocolate lover will thank you for them!

It was a successful day of baking. Everything went into tins and into the freezer, and will only need to sit out for a couple of hours to defrost. There are still so many holiday sweets I want to make, but this was a good start. I am taking a short break from the kitchen to enjoy my company, but am planning to make ginger cookies and gingerbread men during the week.

If any of you have any traditional holiday dessert favorites in your family, I would love to hear about them. My own mother makes fantastic sand tarts, aka Italian Wedding Cookies and mini cheesecake brownies to die for! Maybe I can talk her into doing some baking while she's here- what do you think, ma? ...and the eggs.

December 15, 2007

Peanut Blossoms and Spritz Cookies!

It makes me just as happy today!! But also makes me miss my sister (hi Jilly).

Marilyn and I got to work early, making a double batch of peanut blossoms and a lot of spritz cookies. We made the peanut butter cookies according to the recipe, so I'll post that here:

A silver top is a Hershey's Kiss (in Philly the old timers called them Wilbur Buds) and when we put them back in the oven, we left them in for 3 minutes. They were done perfectly.

They were just as good as they look!! We filled tins with them and moved on to the spritz cookies.

1 cup soft butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
2 1/2 cups sifted flour (not self-rising)

We divided the dough into two halves and put food coloring in each half, so we had red and green.

We filled the cookie gun with dough and shot!

They're cute and easy to decorate. We used the tree pattern, the wreath pattern and a couple of flower patterns.

We also prepared the dough for the roll-out sugar cookies, and refrigerated it overnight to use tomorrow. We're making tassies tomorrow, too. So many cookies, so little time...and the eggs.

December 14, 2007

Tassies, Cut-outs, Raisin filled and More!

This weekend will be a cookie baking frenzy! My mother-in-law, Marilyn, arrived yesterday, armed with cookie cutters (including a gingerbread man and the entire cast of Peanuts) and many recipes, including this one!!

Having mentioned Marilyn's tassie-making in a previous post, I received requests for her recipe. Here it is. We're all stocked up on every possible cookie ingredient I could think of, so we are all set. Check back for photos and results later this weekend...and the eggs.

December 13, 2007

Louisiana Pickled Shrimp

My friend and co-worker, Debbie, is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a bit of an LSU fan. Okay, she is completely and utterly obsessed with LSU sports (especially football at the moment), but that's another story. She compiled a cookbook a few years ago for Christmas gifts for her friends and was nice enough to share it with me when I asked for some recipes. The book, Recipes from Home, is full of dishes like Crawfish Etouffee, Jambalaya and more than one type of roux. It's a new type of cooking for me, so I picked an easy recipe to be my first.

What makes this shrimp perfect is that you can make it a day ahead of time and have it on hand for a festive appetizer or snack. After it's assembled and mixed, it has to sit for at least 24 hours to marinate, making preparation ideal for busy folks.

3 lbs. peeled and cooked shrimp
3 onions, sliced very thinly
8 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups canola oil
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
2 1/2 tablespoons capers (undrained)
Generous dash Tabasco Sauce (I used Texas Pete's)
1 clove garlic, chopped

Alternate layers of shrimp and onions in a shallow glass dish.

Combine remaining ingredients and pour over shrimp.

Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or longer.

Drain and serve ice cold in a bowl with toothpicks or on a plate with any type of crackers. I didn't drain everything off, and kept the onions and capers, although this shrimp would be good either way. It was light and very tasty- just the right combination of spices and oil. If you like spicy, add more hot sauce for a bigger kick- or just leave the hot sauce on the side and let your guests decide. We have decided to make various appetizers for Christmas Eve snacking, and this one is now on the list.

The next recipe I think I'll try before the year is up is jambalaya. I get hungry just reading it. Thank you, Debbie, for introducing me to these regional, spicy, unique recipes...and the eggs.

December 12, 2007

Happy Last Day!

The United Way chili fundraiser was a success! Five people made chili, and we ran out of several of them within the first half hour. Next year we'll have to get more colleagues involved in the cooking.

Happy last day of Chanukah, time to look forward to making Christmas cookies (yes, of course-- we celebrate everything!) and trying out some new recipes. The holidays are a great excuse to pull out all the stops. It's the most wonderful time of the year...and the eggs.

December 11, 2007

Homemade Corn Tortillas!

After using a few tablespoons of corn flour in the chili con carne, I was left with nearly a full bag. As luck would have it, there was a recipe for tortillas on the back of the bag.

It's easy enough- corn flour, salt and water. We decided to give it a whirl. Mix the aforementioned corn flour, salt and water according to the back of the bag (for 16 tortillas, we used 2 loosely packed cups of corn flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/4 cups water). Combine and if it is too dry, add a little more water (by the tablespoon). Finally you will have a nice ball of dough.

Divide that in to 16 smaller balls of dough for 16 tortillas.

You can use a rolling pin to get it super thin, but it is much easier with a tortilla press. I picked this one up at Bed, Bath and Beyond for under $20. Put one ball of dough on the plastic lined press. Cover the other dough balls with a dampened cloth to keep them moist.

And then, naturally, press!


Throw them on a hot flat griddle over medium high heat for 50 seconds each side. You can also lightly fry them by putting a few drops of vegetable oil in a pan and doing the same thing. The fried ones are tastier!

There you have it, homemade corn tortillas. You can even make your own corn tortilla chips by cutting them up and putting them in a deep fryer for a few minutes. We'll try this another time. Right now, we are interested in one thing and one thing only!

MMMmmmm. Very good with the chili con carne.

Happy 7th day- only one more to go...and the eggs.