Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Bread


For the past three years, my big holiday celebration has been a dinner for Boxing Day.  An English holiday, it falls on the 26th of December, the day after all of the American festivities have come to an end, leaving people generally available, and only too happy to sit down, put their feet up, and enjoy a good meal.  Children bring the toys that they received from Santa, and play happily while the adults visit in a convivial atmosphere.  

It’s a general rule in our family that any party held three times becomes a tradition, so I suspect I’ll be having this dinner for as long as I remain in an upright position, and that’s fine with me.  It’s also fine (and a bit flattering), that a young member of the family chose Boxing Day as a holiday to discuss in his first grade classroom, illustrating his talk (literally) with a picture that he had drawn himself.  Don’t ever think children aren’t watching and emulating what we do!

It’s expected that the meal will be roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans, so I always fix these dishes so as not to disappoint.  Sautéed corn with bacon and scallions made a repeat appearance this year, but I mixed things up a bit by making my own bread and rolls.  Both recipes were new, and both a huge success. 

The first recipe I’m going to tell you about is this one for Holiday Bread that was featured on the Taste of Home website.  I imagine that it’s called Holiday Bread because it makes the entire house smell like Thanksgiving.  I don’t care for the rather oddly shaped loaves that bread machines tend to yield, so I used the dough setting, and then formed a loaf when the dough process had completed, put it into a standard loaf pan, brushed it with an egg wash and sprinkled the top with Kosher salt.  It rose beautifully and made one tasty bread.  I didn’t have quite enough poultry seasoning, but it was still delicious. I have already decided that this is going to be the bread I use the next time I make dressing to accompany a roast chicken or turkey. I can only imagine how wonderful it will be when used to make turkey or chicken sandwiches.

Holiday Bread
Adapted from a recipe by

1-1/4 cups warm water
1 egg
3 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3-1/2 cups bread flour
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

In the pan of your bread machine, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select the dough setting, and allow the process to complete.  

When it has finished, remove the dough to a lightly floured cutting board.  Deflate, and knead 5 times.  Preheat with oven to 350°F.  Meanwhile, form dough into a loaf and place in a greased, standard-sized loaf pan.  Bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top Recipes of 2012

With the New Year rapidly approaching, it’s time to look back on 2012 and see just what your favorite recipes were.  Here are the top ten for the year, in descending order.  You can click on the name of each to revisit them.
Happy New Year, see you in 2013!

A fun project for me, and I imagine fun for you and any kids that you may be entertaining.  The cookie stamp works on any type of heavier dough sugar cookie, and made a nice impression on ginger cookies as well.

Absolutely the BEST brownies I have ever tasted.  This is my new go to recipe.

A truly delicious, easy-to-make, bakery-quality cake.

A flavorful and delicious way to welcome fall.

One of the most versatile recipes I’ve made.  The variety will please ever eater in your family.

I dream about these sometimes, they are that good.  Delicious and easy makes these almost the perfect cookie.

So much fun to make, incredibly easy to mold, I’ll be adding more of these wooden cookie molds to my collection after the first of the year.

My son was quite chuffed to know that one of the recipes he contributed to my blog this year made the top ten.  These are delicious, refreshing, easy to make, and absolutely beautiful.

A spicy way to welcome even the frostiest morning, these are the most flavorful scones I think I’ve ever tasted.  Serve them with maple butter.

A fun experiment, and so much cheaper than buying it.  Candied ginger is a great item to have on hand.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Taco Meatloaf

After all of the rich foods that the holiday brings, isn’t it about time for a plate of comfort food?  I always find myself craving meatloaf come year’s end, so this recipe sounded most appealing while paging through my new digital subscription to Taste of Home magazine.  Mr. O-P who is not the fan of meatloaf that I am, really enjoyed this one, and ate two generous slices.  Think of a taco without the shell, and you'll get the idea. It's lightly spicy, enormously flavorful, with the perfect touch of sweetness on the top. My guess is that the kids will love this one.

The original recipe called for the loaf to be baked in a crockpot, but a round loaf just seemed wrong to me, so I cut their recipe in half, and pressed it into a half-size loaf pan (3.5w x 7.5l x 2.5h), filling it completely, and baked it for 1 hour at 350°F.  Perfect!

Taco Meatloaf
Adapted from a recipe in Taste of Home

1 cup crushed tortilla chips
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup salsa (I used Paul Newman’s original)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons sliced ripe olives
1/2 envelope taco seasoning
1 pound ground chuck
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Place meat mixture in the loaf pan of your choice, and bake at 350°F for 1 hour until juices run clear.  Remove pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5-7 minutes before turning loaf out onto a cutting board and slicing into ½”-thick slices.  Serve with a side of guacamole.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Frosted Lemon Slices


I have recently become quite enamored with Fiori di Sicilia, the citrus and vanilla extract used when making panettone.  Equally tasty when making biscotti, the aroma is positively intoxicating.  Today’s quick and easy holiday cookie makes use of this flavoring along with lemon oil, giving these cookies a clean, refreshing flavor that will wake up your winter weary taste buds.

Frosted Lemon Slices

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (3/8 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (substitute vanilla, if necessary)
½ teaspoon lemon oil
2 drops yellow food coloring
2 egg yolks


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 drop yellow food coloring

Beat butter, sugar, zest, Fiori di Sicilia (or vanilla), lemon oil, and food coloring in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating to blend after each addition.  Add flour and kosher salt and beat just to blend.  Roll log into a12 long cylinder about 1-3/4 – 2 in diameter. 

Wrap in plastic and chill for 1-2 hours until sliceable.
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.  Slice log into ¼” rounds and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool.  Combine glaze ingredients, and drizzle over cooled cookies.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cinnamon Christmas Logs

 Christmas sneaks up on me every year and, as I was saying to myself just the other day (Yes, I do  talk to myself;  I appreciate the intelligent conversation.), if I plan on serving sundaes with mint sauce along with my seasonal cookie tray for Boxing Day  dessert, then it would probably wise to actually make some cookies.

I try new recipes every year so as to keep things fresh, and this year every new recipe is also a quick and easy one too.  These Cinnamon Christmas Logs have a lovely, melt-in-your-mouth texture, and are lightly cinnamon-y so as not to be overwhelming.

More cookies coming!  Lemon lovers would be wise to come back tomorrow.

Cinnamon Christmas Logs

1 cup butter, room temperature
5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Dash of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300°F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes.   Add salt, flour, and extracts, and beat just until blended.  Divide dough into thirds and roll each into
logs about ¾ inches in diameter.  Cut each into 2 length logs, and place onto a parchment, or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Using the tines of a fork (I used a pickle fork), lightly score the top of each to resemble the bark on logs.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. While cookies are baking, combine confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon.  Cool slightly, and then dust with sugar and cinnamon mixture. 

Makes 45 cookies.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Cocoa

The wind is howling – boy is it! – temperatures have dropped, and snow is in the forecast.  In other words, it’s the perfect morning to hunker down, settle in, light the fire, and treat myself to a warming cup of Gingerbread Cocoa.  It’s easy to put together, and its spicy, gingery goodness is a great start to the impending busy day.

Gingerbread Cocoa

1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Hershey’s Special Dark unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
½ gallon whole milk (for extra richness use Half ‘n Half; for a lighter version use 2%)
Mini marshmallows, for garnish

In a large saucepan, whisk together the first four ingredients until well blended.  Gradually whisk in milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 15-20 minutes or until warmed thoroughly.  Serve in mugs topped with mini marshmallows.

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