Monday, November 24, 2014

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Chips

Oatmeal Cookies
Recently, as I was strolling through Target, filling my cart with items I hadn't planned on purchasing, a display of these Nestle Pumpkin Spice chips caught my wandering eye. Into the cart they went with the rest of my impulse buys, and the rest is history. 

Tip: These make really yummy ice cream sandwiches. Freeze the cookies so they're easier to work with. Place one cookie top-side-down on work surface; cover with a scoop of vanilla, cinnamon, or pumpkin ice cream; and sandwich with another cookie, pressing gently to spread ice cream to edge of cookies. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to serve. 

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Chips
Yield: About 3 dozen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice-flavored morsels
Pumpkin Spice Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in small bowl. Cream butter and sugars; add in vanilla extract, orange zest, and eggs, one at a time. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture in three additions. Stir in oats and morsels. Divide dough into thirds. Place each third on a piece of waxed paper and form into a log. Wrap and chill or freeze for at least an hour.
3. To bake: cut dough logs into 1/2" slices and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2" between cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to racks to cool completely.
4. Store at room temp in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Freeze for longer storage.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Best Burger Buns

homemade burger buns
There are lots of burger bun recipes out there. What makes this one the "best"? Not only are these buns beautiful and tasty, but they're wonderfully unfussy: all the ingredients go in one bowl. They freeze well, make lovely sandwich rolls, and are largely foolproof. And that, to me, shoots them right up the chart to "best" status. I hope you'll try them; I bet you'll like them as much as I do.

Best Burger Buns
Soft, buttery burger buns with a beautiful crumb.

Yield: 9 buns
  • 6 to 8 ounces warm water
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 31/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 11/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Sesame seeds or poppy seeds to garnish

    homemade burger buns
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a spatula to combine ingredients so that all dry ingredients are moistened. Start with 6 ounces of water and add additional water as needed, to 8 ounces.
  2. With dough hook attachment, knead dough on medium speed for three to four minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and clings to the bottom only of the mixing bowl.
  3. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, until doubled.
  4. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured surface and divide into 9 even pieces (approx. 3.25 ounces each). Form each piece into a round and flatten to a disk about 3" in diameter. Line a baking sheet with parchment and arrange the 9 buns on the baking sheet. Cover buns with a tea towel and let rise for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Gently brush buns with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if desired. 
  6. Bake buns at 375 degrees F for 13 to 15 minutes, or until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Remove buns from pan and let cool on rack. Enjoy warm or cold.
homemade burger buns
Recipe Note:
If you don't have a stand mixer, you can knead this by hand or even bread machine.
homemade burger buns

Pumpkin Spice Sugar-Roasted Almonds

sugared almonds

I really like homemade gifts, both for giving and for receiving. In this age of biggerbetterfastermore, if someone takes the time to actually make something for me, I'm genuinely touched. Those are the gifts--homemade orange-cranberry bread, knitted potholders--I tend to remember and treasure most.

homemade giftsIf you need a gift for a teacher, hostess, colleague, neighbor, or anyone else who fits into this category, these sugar-roasted almonds are perfect. Not only are they super easy to make, but they're classy and a little bit different.

You can make a double batch, baking 2 pans at a time, which will give you nearly 3 quarts of nuts to give away. I like to put them in small mason jars with plaid flannel or something equally crafty-looking tied around the lid with a piece of twine and a tag. (See Pinterest for two billion fantastic ideas on how to package your homemade gifts.)

These are also great in a gift basket. Put the almonds in a small resealable plastic bag (I get mine at Michael's) and tuck them alongside your cookies, jams, quick breads, and whatnot. They travel well and don't melt, which makes them a great candidate to include in a gift package that will be mailed.

Of course, you don't have to make these only for the holidays, or for giving away. Sometimes I make them just to put in a bowl on the coffee table because I love my family and friends. Try this recipe with pecans or a combination of pecans, walnuts, and almonds and use the nuts to garnish cheesecakes, parfaits, and ice cream.


Pumpkin Spice Sugar-Roasted Almonds

Yield: About 11/2 quarts
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cups raw almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed half sheet baking pan by spreading with 1 tablespoon butter. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and cold water until frothy. Whisk in vanilla extract. 
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together sugars, salt, and spices. 
  4. Place almonds in a large mixing bowl. Pour egg-white mixture over and toss with a spatula to coat. Sprinkle sugar mixture over egg-washed almonds; fold gently with spatula until the almonds are coated in sugar mixture.
  5. Pour sugared almonds out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring and turning with a spatula every 15 minutes. 
  6. Let cool completely on pan. Store in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Note:
  • I like the nice buttery flavor you get by greasing the pan with butter. If you prefer, you can swap pan spray for the butter.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pumpkin Fizz Cocktail

pumpkin cocktail
Watching the Macy's Day Parade with friends and family this Thanksgiving? I love to do this as a brunch gathering before the main event. Serve make-ahead coffee cake and quick breads, breakfast bakes and stratas, baked egg dishes...whatever you can make in advance and heat the morning of, freeing you to get started on your dinner preparations. This is a great way to accommodate out-of-town guests.

This Pumpkin Fizz Cocktail is a spicy, autumnal twist on the traditional mimosa, and is the perfect complement to brunch foods. To make it a mocktail, use sparkling cider.

Pumpkin Fizz

Yield: 1 cocktail

Unexpected effervescence in the form of Prosecco pairs surprisingly well with pumpkin in this fizzy, lightly sweet cocktail. Try this one at brunch on Thanksgiving Day.

1 ounce simple syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin puree
Pinch pumpkin pie spice
Dash pure vanilla extract
4 ounces Prosecco or brut champagne

1. Stir syrup, pumpkin puree, spice, and vanilla in the bottom of a tall glass or champagne flute.
2. Top off with Prosecco and serve immediately.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lima Bean Spread with Herbs and Garlic

hors d'oeuvres, bean dip
Here's another winner for your holiday hors d'oeuvres selection. Rich, savory, and flavorful, this gorgeous emerald-green spread is also good for you, packing protein and fiber. You'll want to make some to enjoy for everyday snacking.

You can prepare this in advance and it goes from fridge to table, which means you get to cross one more thing off your day-of dinner prep list. If you'd like, you can drizzle the top with extra-virgin olive oil and garnish with fresh herbs. A keeper.

Lima Bean Spread with Herbs and Garlic

Yield: About 1 pound
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon stock or water
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 pound frozen Fordhook lima beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled or 1 teaspoon fresh, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, sweat the onions and the garlic in 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon stock until soft. Do not allow to brown.
  2. Add 1 cup stock and lima beans to pot. Increase heat and bring to a boil. When the beans reach the boiling point, decrease heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until beans are very tender. If using dried rosemary, add 5 minutes before the end of simmering time.
  3. When beans are cooked, add salt, pepper, parsley, and olive oil. Stir and remove from heat. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and process until fairly smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.
  4. Chill and serve with crackers, flat bread, or crostini and cut veggies.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Brussels Sprouts Chiffonade with Browned Butter and Pecans

Without further delay, I'm posting the recipe for my Brussels sprouts dish, which I know some of you have been patiently waiting for (thank you). In the interest of speeding things up and getting this posted before Thanksgiving, which is when some of you wish to serve these, I'm posting the recipe before the pictures ~ stay tuned, the pictures will follow . . . later.

{Update: Pictures! I made these today for Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house. They were pretty well received ~ the prevailing comments had a single theme: "I had no idea those were Brussels sprouts."}

These Brussels sprouts are good not just because they're Brussels sprouts (well, I think Brussels sprouts are just delightful), but because they're actually delicious! First off, they smell good when cooking, and that's saying something for a Brussels sprout. Second, these cook so quickly that they don't have time to develop the characteristic bitterness that can result from a protracted boil. Third, no stem end = less bitter, and you'll use the stem end here as your handle while slicing, then toss it (into the compost heap). And finally, they take no oven space, so you can whip these up at the last minute for your holiday table. To prep them in advance, slice them earlier in the day and keep them in a tightly sealed plastic container, or a resealable plastic bag, in the fridge.

Now, go make some Brussels sprouts haters turn over a new leaf!

Brussels Sprouts Chiffonade with Brown Butter and Toasted Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 to 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, wilted and blemished outer leaves removed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt or sea salt and coarse black pepper
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecan halves, broken

  1. Wash Brussels sprouts and spin or pat dry. Cut in half and place cut-side down on chopping board. Starting opposite the stem end, cut chiffonade-style into thin ribbons. Separate layers with your fingers and put in a bowl until you've finished cutting all the sprouts.

  2. When the sprouts are cut, heat a large saute pan or electric skillet to medium high and melt two tablespoons butter. Spread butter around the pan and allow to cook until it just starts to brown. (It should be golden, not brown-brown.)

  3. Spread shredded Brussels sprouts out over melted butter and let cook for a minute without stirring. When the edges begin to brown, turn with spatula. If the sprouts appear dry, drizzle with olive oil. Keep turning periodically, stirring so the Brussels sprouts don't burn, but don't stir-fry ~ they benefit from some extended contact with the pan.

  4. When sprouts appear limp and are tender, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Scatter toasted pecans over and stir in. Place sprouts in serving bowl and top with additional toasted pecans to garnish. Serve hot.

Printable view

Recipe Notes:

  • You can add other flavoring agents if you wish (garlic, fresh lemon juice, a splash of your favorite vinegar) but please try it first just like it is. Part of the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. You'll be surprised at how much flavor it has.
  • You can use both large and small Brussels sprouts in this recipe. Since you'll be shredding them, size doesn't matter.
  • You can scale this recipe to feed as many as you like. Just increase the amount of sprouts and pecans. You can use a bit more butter, but you won't need to use much more. The butter serves as a flavoring agent in this recipe; the oil serves as a cooking fat.
  • You can replace the oil with melted butter if you wish, but it's not necessary; you'll get plenty of flavor from the 2 tablespoons of browned butter.
  • If you're doubling the recipe or using a small pan, cook the sprouts in batches. Crowding the pan will cause the sprouts to steam rather than saute, and you won't get the flavorful caramelization you would otherwise.

This recipe originally appeared on this blog November 26, 2008. This version has been revised and updated.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ham and Cheese Stromboli Slices

Jarlsberg recipe
When friends and family gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, don't just dive into the main attraction. Why not kick off the festivities with a cocktail hour? Take some time to just enjoy each other's company, relax, mingle, get caught up. Offer wine, seasonal cocktails, a selection of craft beers, and apple cider, and pass appetite-whetting hors d'oeuvres like this one, a surefire crowd pleaser.

stromboli recipe

Jarlsberg cheese has always been one of my favorites. As far back as I can remember, those sweet, nutty, yellow-waxed wedges have appeared on cheese plates throughout holiday history in my family.

I was delighted when I received cheese samples from the lovely folks at Jarlsberg to incorporate into my holiday recipes. I am so excited to share some of my creations with you...starting with this delectable appetizer. I hope you enjoy it!

Ham and Cheese Stromboli Slices
Delicious, distinctive Jarlsberg cheese melts beautifully; here it's paired with savory Black Forest ham and a flavorful Dijon dipping sauce. This easy-to-make appetizer will be a hit.

Yield: 8 to 10 slices
  • 10 ounces pizza dough (homemade or storebought)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Thinly sliced Black Forest ham, about 4 ounces
  • Jarlsberg sandwich slices, about 6 ounces
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water
  • Sesame seeds to garnish
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling
Dijon Dipping Sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chopped capers
    Jarlsberg cheese
  1. On a floured surface, roll pizza dough out to a 10 x 14-inch rectangle.
  2. Stir together mayonnaise and Dijon mustard and brush over dough, leaving a half-inch margin around the edges. 
  3. Layer Black Forest ham slices over dough; follow with Jarlsberg cheese slices. 
  4. Roll up dough, jelly-roll-style, starting at a short end. Brush edge with egg wash and pinch to seal seam but do not seal the ends.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place stromboli in center of baking sheet on top of the cornmeal. Brush top of stromboli with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
    stromboli recipe
  6. Let stromboli stand at room temp while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. When oven is hot, bake stromboli at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a cutting board. Slice into 1-inch pieces with a serrated knife. Serve with Dijon Dipping Sauce, if desired.
  7. To make dipping sauce: Stir mayonnaise, mustard, and chopped capers together in a small bowl. Chill until ready to serve.



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