Friday, October 30, 2009

Rolled Sugar Cookies and Buttery Decorator Icing

I think it's nice for every baker to have a simple iced sugar cookie in her arsenal. This recipe originally called for 1 cup of butter, but I've found that by substituting 1/2 a cup of butter for shortening, I get cookie dough that is a bit more pliable than the original. Thus, I have fewer cookies that may break during the rolling and handling process.


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk


In a large bowl, combine cup sugar, butter, shortening, milk, vanilla, and egg; blend well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mix well. Cover in plastic and refrigerate one hour for easier handling, or cool in the freezer for ten to fifteen minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll out 1/3 of dough at a time to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut dough with a floured cookie cutter and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 5 to 9 minutes or until edges are goldened. Quickly remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool before decorating.

While cooling, prepare the icing in a large bowl. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt; mix well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in enough milk at high speed until light and fluffy and of desire spreading consistency. Food coloring can be added to the icing for additional decorating detail.
Frost cookies and enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Creole Barbecue Shrimp

I wish I could take credit for this delightfully delicious dish; however, it was 100% Zach (my husband). When you see some of the ingredients, butter, cream, shrimp . . . more butter, you'll say, "yeah . . . how could that not taste good?" Be sure to have plenty of french bread to sop up all the exquisite buttery broth. (note: This dish is not actually barbecued, but for some reason, in this part of the country, they call a dish like this barbecue shrimp.)

Creole Barbecued Shrimp
2 lbs head on shrimp, heads and shells removed and set aside
1 ¼ small onion, finely chopped
1 large head garlic, ¾ chopped, ¼ diced
2 sticks butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ pint heavy whipping cream
½ 750 ml bottle of chardonnay
1 quartered lemon
(note: use spice amounts at own discretion, these are just approximations)
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons thyme
1 ½ tablespoons paprika
1 ½ teaspoons ground mustard
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 ½ tablespoons pepper
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

In a large sauce pan on medium heat, sauté 1 small onion and ¾ head of garlic in 1 stick of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once tender, add quartered lemon, heads and tails of shrimp, ½ bottle of chardonnay, ½ pint cream, ½ stick butter, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 teaspoon chili powder. Cover and simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Strain contents of pan in to a large bowl. Set broth to the side and discard head, shell, lemons, etc.
In the same large sauce pan, melt ½ stick butter and sauté ¼ chopped onion and ¼ diced head of garlic. Add shrimp and remaining seasoning, ½ teaspoon cayenne, ½ teaspoon thyme, etc. Then, return broth to the pan and cook 1 or 2 minutes, just until the shrimp turn pink, don’t overcook the crustaceans!
Serve in a bowl with French bread and garnish with chives and parsley.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

When I was in high school, every year Spanish club would sell white chocolate daisies filled with raspberry. It became an instant favorite of mine, and these two flavors are only better with cheesecake. Something that's really great about this particular cheesecake is the way the white chocolate simply enhances the flavor of the cheesecake. If you didn't tell someone that it contained white chocolate, he or she may not even realize it's there. The taster would just be stuck wondering why this cheesecake is so delicious and different from other cheesecakes.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

8 ounces fine-quality white chocolate
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 whole large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

raspberry sauce
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon vest

2 oz. shaved semi-sweet chocolate

For the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch spring form pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides.

Preheat oven to 350

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, and remove from heat. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, then beat in sugar. Add whole eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, beating well at low speed and scraping down bowl after each addition. Beat in flour and vanilla until just combined, then slowly add melted white chocolate, beating until filling is well combined.

Bake in middle of oven until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still wobbly when pan is gently shaken, 45 to 55 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of cake to loosen, then cool completely in pan on a rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.)

Once the cake has cooled or has been chilled for serving, add the raspberry sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the raspberries are broken down. Remove from heat and allow a few minutes to cool. Cake can be served at room temperature or chilled. Pour raspberry sauce over cake slices and top with shaved semi-sweet chocolate before serving.

(note: cake can be made and chilled three days before serving)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Salmon and Potatoes with Agrodolce Sauce

This dish is simple and fairly quick, but it has a very gourmet feel.

4 6oz salmon fillets with skin
1 large red onion cut into 8 wedges
5 or 6 small red potatoes, quartered
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
About 3 tablespoons of olive oil


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add potatoes seasoned with 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes before adding onion. Continue to cook until onions are crisp-tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in vinegar, sugar, and a little salt, cook until sauce is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Sprinkle salmon with remaining salt, pepper, and rosemary, then cook, skin side up for about 12 minutes. Turn fish over and cook until just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

In the picture, I have the onions and potatoes served on top of the fish. But for a prettier presentation, spoon potatoes and onions with sauce onto plates and top with salmon. Don't forget to remove the skin before serving!

Suggestion: Start cooking salmon after you've begun cooking the potatoes.

Cocoa Leche Bars

They're not brownies, they're not cake, but they're somewhere in between. These bars have a chocolaty milky flavor, and it doesn't get better than pairing chocolate and milk. Chocolate and milk were simply meant to be together. I've always wondered why God didn't make a cow that produced chocolate milk . . . I guess he left us a few things to figure out for ourselves so we could feel creative, like Him. Anyway! Here's the recipe:

1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
5 fl oz can evaporated milk
1/3 cup dark cocoa (I prefer using dark chocolate cocoa in this icing, but using regular unsweetened cocoa works as well.)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 375.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, shortening, cocoa eggs, vanilla, and salt. Blend ingredients until smooth. Then, alternate adding flour ¼ a cup at a time and evaporated milk; blend well.
Once mixed, pour into a greased 13x9 inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix 1/3 cup cocoa and melted butter. Then, alternate adding powdered sugar and milk while mixing.
Once bars are finished baking, allow about 10 minutes to cool before frosting. The frosting will melt over the bars and firm once they cool. The bars can be served warm or at room temperature (I prefer warm, while the frosting is still gooey).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Italian Meatloaf

Meatloaf is such a delightful meal because it's delicious and easy. You take ground meat and add a bunch of great flavors, stick it in the oven, and "BAM!" you've got a tasty dinner.

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning or fresh herbs, like rosemary, basil, and oregano, if you have them.
1 egg


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using hands, mix the ingredients well. Then, form into a loaf and place in a large baking pan.

Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

White & Semi Sweet Chocolate-Butterscotch Cookies

This cookie has a delightful dough, reminiscent of butterscotch. The combinations of white and semi sweet chocolate compliments the dough flavor very well.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine butter, shortening, and sugar. Beat at a medium speed, until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix all ingredients well; then, stir in chopped chocolates.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough at a time about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies. Enjoy!