Friday, December 28, 2007

Peanut Brittle.

We had a few last little gifts to finish in addition to our other hand made goodies. I saw a recipe for microwave peanut brittle on the Full Circle blog so we had to try it. It is a great recipe, easy to make, easy to clean up, and tastes amazing.

We made the brittle, let it cool, broke into pieces, and put it in small goodie bags. YUM.
For the recipe, visit here.

Ingredient tip:
Those of you who have read the Omnivore's Dilemma will know what I mean when I say we like to avoid regular corn syrup. If you are avoiding genetically engineered ingredients or GMO corn products, then try Organic Light Corn Syrup - it is made from GMO-free organic corn and is produced without chemicals or additives.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ginger spice cake.

We baked a cake yesterday - a spice cake. The smell is amazing and it is so very moist. The crystallized ginger really adds a great texture and flavor-mmm.

1 c vegetable oil
1 c cane sugar
1 c unsulphured molasses
3-4 Tbsp minced crystallized ginger
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
3 c whole wheat white flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or mix of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp finely ground sea salt

1 c water
1 Tbsp baking soda

Butter a 9 x 13 cake pan (I used a large star pan). Preheat the oven to 325º.

In a big bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, molasses, and crystallized ginger. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth and creamy.

In a second bowl, mix the flour, spices and salt together. Stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture until combined.

In a small pan on the stove, boil the water. Remove it from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Stir the hot water into the batter until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake in the middle rack of the oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean - about 45 minutes. Let the cake cool before serving with something yummy like organic egg nog ice cream or sprinkle with a cinnamon/sugar mix.

Ingredient tip:
Use Celtic Sea Salt instead of processed salt - it adds minerals and trace elements that are just not in regular salt. I like Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt. Be sure to buy the more rocky salt - it retains more moisture (and more nutrients) and you can simply grind a little at a time with a mortar and pestle as you need it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

and...more cookies.

Yes, more cookies. It is that time of year, and today we had a few families from our playgroup over. SO we baked more cookies and made yummy key lime tartlets. These cookies are nice-not too much sugar yet they are soft and creamy. My photo is not the best since I forgot to take a picture until after everyone left tonight so the lighting is...well...but they are yummy!

1 c. butter
3 oz. organic cream cheese
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel (be sure to use an organic lemon when using peel!)
2 c flour (I used a thick ground organic whole wheat white)

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl or kitchen aid. Stir in the sugar and then the lemon peel. Slowly add the flour. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up.

Preheat 375º

Roll dough into 1" balls (about 1 Tbsp). Dip them into a little bit of cane sugar. Then place on cookie sheet. Stamp the cookies down with a potato masher/meat mallet/fork to pattern.

Bake 7-9 minutes until the cookies are set but before they get brown. Cool on a rack. Makes about 4 dozen.

Ingredient Tip: Use organic butter which is from pasture/grass fed cows. This butter is much more nutrient rich and has many things our bodies need!

Monday, December 10, 2007

sunny butter cookies.

These little cookies are just right for Winter Solstice. The orange yolks and golden butter make the cookies a rich color - nice and sunny. We used sun and moon cookie cutters.

3 c leveled all-purpose flour
1 c confectioners' sugar
1 c (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Egg wash, (optional): 1 large egg white, beaten with 2 tsp water
Decorating sugar (decorating, cane, turbinado or demerara all would work)


Put the flour, sugar, butter, and salt in the food processor and process until mixture is the texture of coarse meal.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and vanilla together. Then, with motor running, add it to the mixture in the food processor. Process just until a dough forms.

Preheat oven to 350º.

For rolled cookies: Divide dough in half; form into two 1/2-inch-thick disks. Wrap in plastic; chill until it is firm, at least 1 hour.
  • When chilled - On a piece of floured waxed paper, roll out a disk and using floured cutters cut dough into your shapes and transfer to baking sheets. Re-chill rolled-out dough if difficult to work with. To decorate the cookies - brush with egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar crystals.

For sliced cookies: Divide dough in half; form into two logs. Wrap in plastic; chill until it is firm, at least 1 hour.
  • When chilled, remove dough from wrapper. Brush on egg wash, and roll dough in sugar crystals. Using a sharp knife, cut slices from the roll every 1/4-1/2". Place rounds on cookie sheet-brush the wash on the top of the cookie for a glaze, if desired.
(We made 2 disks and 1 roll with our batch)

Bake until edges are firm (not brown), 15 to 18 minutes. Cool 1 to 2 minutes on the baking sheets, and then cool completely on wire racks.

Isn't the color amazing? Using local eggs with the super intense orange yolks and the most creamy yellow local butter just made these cookies POP. And they are so good-they melt in your mouth.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

candied orange peel.

Looking for yummy gifts to make for the holidays? This candied orange peel is a nice gift for Christmas or as a Solstice treat. The intense orange flavor is amazing!

Candied Orange Peel
From Carole Bloom’s Truffles, Candies, & Confections
Yield: 5-6 cups

6 to 8 large, thick-skinned organic oranges
6 cups organic cane sugar
1/4 cup orange flavored liquor or OJ

1. Slice the ends off the oranges and discard. Cut the oranges into quarters, then cut off all but 1/2 inch of the pulp, which keeps the peel from becoming bitter as it cooks. Cut the quarters into thin slices.

2. Place the orange slices in a 6-quart saucepan and cover with cold water. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain off the water and repeat this process with fresh cold water two more times.

3. After the third boil, drain the orange slices, rinse them in cold water, and remove any pulp that is still attached. In the saucepan, combine the orange slices, 3 cups of the sugar, and the orange liqueur, and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly. Continue to cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently. Most of the sugar will be absorbed by the peel as it cooks. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately begin the next step.

4. Place the remaining 3 cups sugar on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll spoonfuls of the orange slices in the sugar, separating the slices to coat them completely. Transfer the slices onto another sheet of waxed paper and let them air-dry (20-30 minutes).

5. In a tightly covered container, the peel will keep for 2 to 3 months in the refrigerator. *

*Dipped in tempered bittersweet chocolate, it will keep (in an air-tight container, wrapped tightly in foil) for 1 month in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.

I used a semi-sweet fair trade organic chocolate chip -- the rich dark chocolate over the sweet candied peel is GREAT!

Ingredients Tip:
Since this recipe uses the peel, be sure to use organic oranges. I used organic cane sugar as it is less processed -- it has a richer flavor than the white sugar!

Tips to use the whole orange:

• The yummy middles that are sliced off (step 1) are of course good to just eat as you slice, or add to a salad.
• The sugar liquid left in the pot after you remove the peels (step 3) can be boiled down a little longer, and used as a syrup over your waffles (amazing orange flavor!).
• And, any sugar that is left after dredging the cooked peels in it is infused with a nice orange flavor (step 4). Save it and use it to sweeten your tea. I had a LOT left over.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Spice Shortbread.

We have been "testing" some cookie recipes for the holiday gifts coming soon. This of course is just an excuse to make cookies - the boys love to measure, pour and bake, and of course eat. Today we made our first batch of shortbread-it is delicious!

Spice Shortbread

1 c unsalted softened butter
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c light brown sugar
1 1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheet.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars together until light. Mix in the vanilla. In a small bowl mix together the flour, spices, and salt. Slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well mixed.

Flour your surface, and gently press or roll (flour that rolling pin!) into a sheet. Use buttered cookie cutters (or a scone cutter) to cut out shapes (this is a soft shortbread-so don't use too elaborate of a design) and place on the cookie sheet about 1" apart.

Bake for 17-22 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let cool completely.

Chocolate Edges
Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and dip the cooled shortbread into the chocolate to edge. Let dry.

Orange Glaze
Mix 3 Tbsp powdered sugar with OJ or squeeze a fresh orange into the bowl...stir and adjust sugar/juice mix until you get a nice glaze which is neither runny or gloopy. Drizzle over your cookies, or dip the shortbread into the glaze. Let dry.

Ingredients Tip:
Buy fair trade organic chocolate for your baking. It is better for both humans and the environment.

With Fair Trade certified chocolate:
• Forced and abusive child labor are prohibited
• Farming families earn a price that is adequate to meet their basic human needs
• Environmentally sustainable production methods are required

Monday, December 3, 2007

in from the cold.

After shoveling ice and snow outside in the cold, a warm hearty lunch is very welcome. Who says eggs have to be for breakfast, anyway? And with local eggs, milk, leeks, and cheese it is even better...not to mention the local fingerling sweet potatoes caramelized in a Dijon brown sugar glaze...

Sweet Potatoes
1-2 pounds fingerling sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thickly
1 Tbsp Dijon
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter

I first boiled the sliced potatoes in the skillet until I could poke them with a knife (not mushy). Toss out the water, and return the skillet to the heat (med hi) with a drizzle of olive oil to keep them from sticking. While they are sizzling, warm the mustard, brown sugar and butter up together--whisking until mixed. Drizzle over the potatoes in the skillet, and let it bubble for a minute (stir/turn) before removing from heat. SOOOO good.

The boys love the colors on our local eggs.