Quick And Easy Snacks For The Big Game

Did your team make it to the Super Bowl? Are you a football fan and hosting a big gathering? Or are you just going to watch the game for the commercials and halftime show? Either way, you should have some quick and easy snacks to nibble on. I mean besides potato chips and pretzels.

Oldies but goodies.

One of my favorites is this chili dip. It only requires 3 ingredients. I don’t recall where I got this recipe. I think it was a coworker. I’d really like to give credit to whoever shared this with me because I’ve used it a million times and it is always a favorite at gatherings. But it has also been showcased on the Philadelphia Cream Cheese box in the past. Maybe they got it there.

Chili Dip

This quick and easy dip is so simple, you may want to keep extra ingredients on hand to make more, because it is sure to run out. 

Course Dip
Keyword Chili
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 5 oz can chili
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Add cream cheese to the bottom of a microwave safe dish. I use an 8X8 glass baking dish. Spread the cream cheese to cover the bottom of the dish. Microwave for 30 seconds to soften the cream cheese, if necessary.

    Chili Dip cream cheese layer
  2. Carefully spread the contents of the can of chili over the cream cheese. 

    Chili Dip chili layer
  3. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the chili. 

    Chili Dip cheddar cheese layer
  4. Cook in the microwave approximately 3-5 minutes depending on your microwave. It is done when the cheese is melted and the chili is bubbling around the edges. Use caution: The dish will be very hot. Let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

    Chili Dip

Do Knot Leave Your Pretzels Out Of The Fun

This creamy herb dip is good for dipping your chips or pretzels and also have a good texture to spread on crackers. If you need a suggestion on herbs to add, I’ve included my herb medley following the dip recipe.

Jack Of All Herbs Medley And Cream Cheese Dip

This recipe will work as a dip for your favorite chips or pretzels or as a spread for crackers.

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Herb Medley
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonaisse
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Refrigerate for at least one hour. For best results, make one day ahead to give the flavors optimal mingling time.

    Cream cheese and herb dip

Jack Of All Herbs Medley

This medley is a re-creation of a blend I can no longer find to purchase. It’s slightly different but is still a nice addition to many dishes.

All of the ingredients used in this recipe are dried; although you could use fresh herbs. Just keep in mind that one teaspoon of dried herbs equal 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder is the equivalent of 1 medium clove of garlic. 2 teaspoons of onion powder is approximately 1/2 a medium onion. 

Course Herbs
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chives
  • 4 tsp parsley
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp orange peel
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and store in an air tight container or jar.

Anyone Up For Some Salsa Dancing In The End Zone?

Salsa is always a reliable snack choice at football parties. This one gets better after a few days, but can be enjoyed the same day too.

Original Salsa

A fresh salsa with a touch of sweetness and a slight kick

Course Snack
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cucumber seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers (medium size) seeded and minced
  • 2-3 medium cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • sugar as need optional
  • cilantro optional

Instructions

  1. Set a strainer in a small bowl. Cut the stem end off of each tomato and cut in half. Squeeze the tomato over the strainer to catch the seeds. Reserve the juice to the side. If you have the handy chop wizard kitchen gadget, you can use it to dice the remainder of the tomato and other veggies to get a nice, uniform size. Otherwise dice the tomatoes as usual. Add the diced tomatoes to a large bowl that has a lid.

    Chop Wizard
  2. Peel the cucumbers, cut in quarters lengthwise then cut off and discard the sections of seeds. Dice the remainder of the cucumber then add to the tomatoes.

  3. Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard. Dice the remainder of the peppers then add to the tomato mixture. (NOTE: If you want to add a little heat to the salsa, leave some of the jalapeno seeds and membrane. If you want a milder salsa, be sure to remove all the seeds and the membrane.)

  4. Mince the garlic then add to the tomato mixture.

  5. Add the remaining ingredients (except the sugar) to the reserved tomato juice. Stir well until the dried seasonings are well dissolved.

  6. Pour the mixture over the tomato mixture and stir until all the vegetables are well coated. Cover the salsa and refrigerate. (Trust me, you want to cover this dish. Otherwise everything in your fridge will taste like salsa.)

    Salsa
  7. This salsa will taste even better the next day, so if you have time, I would suggest making it the day before you want to serve it. 

  8. Adding sugar to this recipe is sometimes needed depending on your taste. Sometimes, after the vegetables have had time to infuse with the sauce, it will become a little sweeter. I would recommend not adding the sugar until the next day. And if you do need to add the sugar, start with a 1/2 tsp at a time. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and well blended. Repeat if necessary.

  9. I listed cilantro as optional because I am not really a fan of it and I do not miss it in the salsa when I make it, but others feel that it is needed and have enjoyed it when I’ve made it with the cilantro. So, it is up to you. Use as needed.

You’ll Get Brownie Points With This Dessert

Of course, you should have dessert, too. After all the other fun football food, try out this sweet treat.

Coffee Brownie Bites with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting

A dessert with various flavors. If you’re just in the mood for a brownie without the other flavors, you can easily omit the coffee and the frosting and still have an excellent brownie.

Course Dessert
Keyword Brownie
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16
Author Lisa

Ingredients

For The Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

For The Frosting

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • chocolate chips or sprinkles

Instructions

For The Brownies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8X8 inch baking pan by thoroughly greasing the pan, addling a sheet of parchment paper, then greasing the parchment paper. (This allows for the easy removal of the brownies from the pan.)

  2. Prepare the coffee by adding the instant coffee to a small bowl. Add the warm water and mix until the coffee has dissolved.

  3. In the bottom portion of a double boiler, bring about 1 to 2 inches of water to a low simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium/low. In the top portion of the double boiler, add the butter and allow to melt.

  4. Gradually add the chocolate chips to the melted butter, a little at a time. Whisking constantly until the chocolate has completely melted and is fully incorporated with the butter.

    Coffee Brownie Cookie Dough melted chocolate
  5. Add the vanilla, salt and prepared coffee. Continue whisking until well blended.

  6. Add the sugar, a little at a time, until well blended. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

  7. Mix the flour and cocoa powder. (The cocoa powder is basically just to retain the rich, chocolate appearance of the batter, otherwise the flour lightens the batter. I prefer a rich, dark, brownies, so I use dark chocolate cocoa powder.)

  8. Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter, a little at a time. Mixing just until the flour is incorporated. The batter should have a thick texture.

  9. Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and spread evenly.

  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Starting at 30 minutes, test the center of the brownies with a toothpick. The toothpick should not be gooey, but if it is, let it bake for a few more minutes. If the toothpick test results in a moist toothpick with a few crumbs, they are ready.

    The brownies will finish baking as they are cooling down. This will yield a chewy brownie. Baking them too long, will result in a cakier brownie that may be a little hard. They’ll still taste good, but the texture won’t be quite right.

    Allow the brownies to cool completely before removing from the pan.

For The Frosting

  1. Cream together the butter and the brown sugar in large bowl of a mixer.

  2. Blend in the vanilla.

  3. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time.

  4. Occasionally check the texture of the frosting. If the frosting gets a little too thick add a teaspoon or two of milk.

  5. Once the brownies have cooled, cut into squares and add frosting as desired.

    Coffee Brownie Bites with Cookie Dough Frosting
  6. Top with chocolate chips or sprinkles.

What’s on the menu at your place? Let me know in the comments below. Have fun and be safe. If you’re indulging in adult beverages, please be responsible.

Super Bowl Ring

It’s finally Super Bowl time! I grew up in New Jersey and have always been a die hard Giants fan. I still am. But now that I live in Maine, I cheer for the Patriots when the Giants aren’t in it. I wasn’t very popular at a few Super Bowl parties being in New England territory now. But, I always redeemed myself by bringing food.

My team didn’t make it this year though. Actually, they didn’t even make the playoffs. But, I’m still looking forward to celebrating the big game. This year I’m making this cheesesteak sandwich Super Bowl Ring along with some of my other favorite football fare.

I’m not gonna cry my eyes out over it!

One of the things I like most about this sandwich is the caramelized onions. I don’t care much for raw onions on a sandwich, so I don’t mind the time it takes for these onions to cook. It takes about 30 minutes for them to develop a rich, sweet flavor that works well with the meat, cheese, garlic and other veggies.

Also, you can never go wrong with two cheeses. I used American and provolone. Three cheeses might be better yet and I contemplated using mozzarella, too. But, I wanted to be able to hold this sandwich without too much cheese oozing out of it. Ordinarily oozing cheese would be a plus, but in this case I used a little self-restraint.

My rules for football food are really very simple. It has to be comfort food and relatively easy to make. You also have to be able to dip it, scoop it, or hold it with one hand. You need to have a free hand for your beer or other beverage, right?

Super Bowl Ring cheesesteak section
Super Bowl Ring cheesesteak section

This cheesesteak sandwich ring is very easy to make. I’ve included step- by-step instructions with pictures, too.

Super Bowl Ring Cheesesteak Sandwich

This easy cheesesteak sandwich is made with premade crescent roll dough, store bought steak sandwich slices, caramelized onions, tomatoes and two cheeses. Provide pickles, peppers, lettuce or other toppings as a garnish along with ketchup or other preferred condiment for a variation of the traditional cheesesteak hoagie.

Course Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword cheesesteak
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 16 frozen steak sandwich slices
  • 1 8 oz package prepared crescent rolls
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch oregano optional
  • lettuce garnish
  • pickles garnish
  • ketchup optional
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp water
  • pinch sea salt for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F

    Prepare the seasoning mixture by combining the salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. 

    Dice a large tomato then sprinkle a pinch of the seasoning mixture and a pinch of oregano, if desired.

  2. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, melt butter and add extra virgin olive oil.

    Super Bowl Ring oil and butter for carmelized onions
  3. Slice the onions then add to the butter and oil then stir until they are well coated. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally so they start to brown all over for approximately 30 minutes. Add a pinch of the seasoning mixture, if desired.

    Super Bowl Ring onions
  4. Cook the sandwich steaks according to package instructions. Sprinkle a pinch of the seasoning mixture if desired. When the steak slices are fully cooked, move them to a paper towel to absorb the grease.  Allow to cool before assembling the sandwich. (If you place the hot slices on the cold dough, the dough will get gooey and won’t cook correctly.)

    Super Bowl Ring fry the steaks
  5. Line a round baking pan or pizza pan with parchment.

    Super Bowl Ring line pan with parchment
  6. Determine the size of the hole in the center by placing the bowl or small plate you will use to serve additional toppings or sauces.

    Super Bowl Ring sizing of the ring
  7. Lay out the crescent roll triangles in a circle around the plate with the pointy tip of the triangle point outwards. Slightly overlap the wider edges of the dough and press the dough to seal the pieces together.

    Super Bowl Ring place dough in a circle
  8. Lay a cooled, cooked slice of sandwich steak lengthwise over each triangle shaped piece of dough.  

    Super Bowl Ring 1st layer of sandwich steak
  9. Add a slice of provolone to each section.

    Super Bowl Ring provolone layer
  10. Add approximate 1 tbsp of diced tomato to each section.

    Super Bowl Ring diced tomato layer
  11. Add caramelized onions to each section.

    Super Bowl Ring caramelized onion layer
  12. Add another sandwich steak slice.

    Super Bowl Ring 2nd layer of sandwich steak
  13. Top each section with a slice of American cheese.

    Super Bowl Ring American cheese layer
  14. Fold the pointy end of the dough over each section and tuck the tip under the wider end of the dough. 

    Super Bowl Ring wrap the dough
  15. Add 1 tsp of water to an egg and beat until well blended. Using a pastry brush, coat the dough on the top and sides of the ring sandwich. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. 

    Super Bowl Ring brush dough with egg wash
  16. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is melty. 

  17. While the sandwich is baking, line a serving tray with parchment paper. Lay lettuce leaves around the outer edge of the tray. 

    Super Bowl Ring line lettuce leaves around edge of tray
  18. When the sandwich is done baking, allow to cool for a few minutes then carefully transfer the sandwich to the serving tray. (If you can’t pick up the whole sandwich intact, transfer individual sections and arrange them in a circle on the tray.) Add  bowl of pickles and ketchup in the center hole and garnish the lettuce with the remaining tomatoes, if any. 

    Super Bowl Ring transfer ring to tray

This is sure to be the first thing people go for on the buffet table. Depending on how hungry your crowd is, you may want to make two. What are your favorite football foods? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the game. I hope your team wins!

Swedish Meatballs

This Swedish Meatballs recipe is the same one used by my Swedish grandmother and then by my Swedish mother. Although I was not born in Sweden, I have been privy to the secret family recipe since I was a young child. My mormor (Swedish grandmother) made these delicious meatballs throughout the year. But they were always extra special when she made them for Christmas Eve.

Swedish Meatballs along with a huge smorgasbord on Christmas Eve were a tradition in my house for as long as I can remember. This was the first year we didn’t keep that tradition. My brother was in town before Christmas because my mother passed away. We had our Swedish Meatballs while he was here instead. We’ll resume our traditions next year.

This recipe is sure to boost your Meat-a-ball-ism

My grandfather used to make me laugh when we were having Swedish meatballs as a kid. He would say “we’re having Svedish Meat-a-balls and your brother is going to grow another 6 inches”. My brother is very tall and he could eat more than his fair share of meatballs. My grandfather attributed the meatballs to boosting his metabolism and making him grow. Of course, we know that is not how it works, but it was funny when we were kids. To this day, when I say Swedish meatballs and metabolism, I say it in my head the way he said it. Try saying it with a Swedish accent…Svedish meat-a-balls. Meat-a-ball-ism.

Gravy with cream ??

By no stretch of the imagination am I an expert in Swedish cuisine. However, my Swedish family members never used cream or sour cream in their recipes. I’m not sure if there are regions in Sweden that adds it or not, but my Mormor once told me that she thought someone added the cream to the gravy to Americanize it. She didn’t add cream, my mother didn’t and neither do I.

These meatballs can easily be made the same day for a quick dinner. Just boil the meatballs in the broth while your potatoes are cooking and they’ll be done at the same time. But, the seasonings come out stronger if you make them ahead of time. I like to make them ahead, simmer them in a pot for 4 or 5 hours, then refrigerate or freeze them until I need them. Then transfer them to a crockpot the day I’m serving them and allow them to cook on low for 4 or 5 more hours. The final product will produce a rich broth that is delicious as is, or you can make it into a wonderful gravy, too. Serve them over egg noodles or next to boiled or mashed potatoes with your favorite vegetable and call it dinner, or serve them as an appetizer at your next gathering.

It’s a family tradition.

This is my family’s traditional Swedish Meatball recipe. Don’t let the tablespoon of salt scare you off. You’re going to need quite a bit of salt to flavor three pounds of meat and approximately 7-8 cups of gravy. My mormor never added enough salt and my mother never added enough salt. I’ve been trying to get enough salt in the recipe because it is so much better when cooked into the dish rather than adding it afterwards.

Also, you probably won’t find mustard or ketchup in any other Swedish meatball recipe, but there is a reason for this, so stay with me for another minute. My mother and grandmother immigrated to the United States long before the invention of the internet, so they did not have a translation resource for food stuffs. At the time they didn’t know the translation for muskot and krydpeppar. Which are nutmeg and allspice, respectively. But, they did know those ingredients would be found in brown mustard and ketchup, so they used those instead. At some point, those translations were discovered and reincorporated into this recipe. We’ve enjoyed them for many years. I hope you do, too.

Swedish Meatballs

A traditional Swedish Meatball recipe passed down through generations of Swedish family traditions. These hearty meatballs are paired well over egg noodles or next to boiled or mashed potatoes. They even make a great appetizer. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine Swedish
Keyword Swedish Meatballs
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 100 meatballs
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 4 slices white bread diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup onion finely diced
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

For the gravy

  • 1 cup flour or cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

For the meatballs

  1. Dice the slices of bread into small pieces. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the breadcrumbs. Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs and allow the bread to absorb the milk.

    Swedish meatballs breadcrumbs with seasoning
  2. In a small pan over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions  and saute until the onions are translucent. Add a pinch of the salt and pepper.

    Swedish meatballs diced onion
  3. Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs and allow the bread to absorb the milk then add the sautéed onions.

    Swedish meatballs breadcrumbs with added onions
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the rest of the salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, garlic powder, brown mustard and ketchup. Stir until well blended. Add the egg mixture to the bread and onions. Add the ground beef. Then, with your hands, thoroughly mix together all the ingredients until well blended.  

    Swedish meatballs egg mixture with seasoning
  5. Using a small spoon, small ince cream scoop, or melon baller, scoop out approximately a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture. Roll the meat mixture between your hands to form a meatball. The meatball should be rolled until it is fairly firm, otherwise they will fall apart during cooking. Repeat until you’ve formed all the meatballs.

    Swedish meatballs prior to cooking
  6. In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt a pat of butter to coat the bottom of the pan then add 10-12 meatballs. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan and leave enough space between the meatballs. Otherwise, the meatballs will be steamed rather than fried. 

    Swedish meatballs fry the meatballs
  7. Fry the meatballs for a couple of minutes on each side. Just until they are browned. Then shake the pan so the meatballs roll around the pan acquiring a slight sear all around to lock in the juices. 

    Swedish meatballs pan frying
  8. Transfer the meatballs to a large pot. Pour approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to deglaze the frying pan. Using a scratch-proof utensil (if you’re using a non-stick pan), scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan.

    Swedish meatballs deglaze the pan
  9. Pour the liquid from the pan over the meatballs in the pot. Don’t worry if the liquid is still somewhat clear. Deglazing the pan will get all the flavor from the pan and the broth will darken and become more flavorful the longer you cook the meatballs in the broth. 

    Swedish meatballs poor liquid over meatballs
  10. Repeat buttering the pan, frying the meatballs, deglazing the pan and adding the broth to the pot with the meatballs until all the meatballs have been fried.

    Swedish meatballs ready to serve or make gravy if desired
  11. If the broth from deglazing the pans doesn’t produce enough liquid to cover the meatballs, add some more water to cover them. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. They are ready at this point, but the longer they simmer, the better they will be. I usually try to let them simmer for at least 4 hours.

For the gravy

  1. Drain the liquid from the meatballs into a smaller pot. Set the meatballs aside.

    Swedish meatballs drain liquid into a pot
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and water. Gradually add the flour and water mixture. The gravy will thicken as it stands.

    Swedish meatballs bring liquid to a boil
  3. Pour the gravy over meatballs and serve.

    Swedish meatballs

Do you have food traditions that were almost lost due to a translation issue? Tell me about it in the comments and don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Also, if you like this recipe, please consider sharing it with your friends.

Finnish Pins

Today I’m making my dad’s favorite cookie, Finnish Pins. This buttery cookie dough is similar to shortbread, but has an almond flavor and is topped with chopped almonds and pearl sugar.

If you’ve never had pearl sugar before, I strongly recommend you give it a try. It’s quite popular in Scandanavian baking and will add another level of texture to your everyday baked goods. I like pearl sugar because it doesn’t dissolve quickly when exposed to heat or moisture. You get a sweet, crunchy texture when you top these cookies with pearl sugar.

If you don’t live near Ikea or other specialty food stores, you may have to look online. Your local supermarket probably doesn’t carry this sugar. The star of the Finnish Pins is the pearl sugar, so plan ahead for this one. You can use festive sprinkles in a pinch, but you won’t get the same result.

This dough is rolled out into a log shape, cut into pieces then coated with a beaten egg. The egg coating serves a dual purpose. First, it helps the pearl sugar and chopped almonds stick to the cookie. Second, it makes your cookies perfectly golden brown during the baking process.

Butter Late Than Never

My mom and mormor used margarine in this recipe and they turned out just fine, but I prefer butter. If I’m going to splurge on baked goods, I want it to be better than just fine. Besides, you just don’t get the same texture from margarine as you do butter.

The butter needs to be fairly soft to be able to work the dough. But the butter also needs to be cold to obtain the maximum amount of crumbliness during baking. So, once you have all of your Finnish Pins dough rolled out and your pieces formed and topped, stick the tray of cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before baking.

This recipe makes about 200 cookies, so it takes a while to make them. I like to roll out all the dough, form the shapes, then freeze the dough pieces in batches of 50. This way you can just bake a tray of cookies whenever you want them without having to do all the work each time.

If you choose to freeze the dough, save the egg coating and topping for when you’re ready to bake the cookies. The pearl sugar is a sturdy sugar, but will hold up better if you wait to do the topping until the cookies are ready to go in the oven. Also, be sure to wrap the cookie pieces in parchment or wax paper before sealing in a freezer storage bag.

Finnish Pins

A buttery cookie topped with pearl sugar and almond.

Course Cookies
Keyword butter
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 200
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

For The Cookie Dough

  • 4 cups flour divided
  • 2 cups butter room temparature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp almond extract

For The Topping

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup pearl sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds

Instructions

For The Cookie Dough

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F

  2. Beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until well blended. Gradually add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is thick and somewhat tacky. (Reserve at least 1/2 cup flour for sprinkling on your work surface. The tackiness will be gone after rolling out the dough in the flour)

    Finnish Pins dough
  3. Lightly sprinkle a few pinches of flour over your work surface. 

    Finnish Pins floured work surface
  4. Using about 1/4 cup of the dough, form a ball. 

    Finnish Pins roll piece of dough into a ball
  5. Roll the ball of dough into a log shape. Carefully spread the length of the log as you go along until the log is roughly 12 inches long. 

    Finnish Pins roll dough into a log
  6. Cut the long log into pieces approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches long. 

    Finnish Pins cut log into pieces
  7. Place each piece on a baking sheet lined with parchment. These cookies do not spread out to much, so you can fit a lot of cookies on one sheet.  

    Finnish Pins place small logs on baking tray

For The Topping

  1. Chop the almonds into very small pieces. I used almond slices because they are easier to make a finer chop.

    Finnish Pins chopped almonds
  2. Mix the chopped almonds and pearl sugar. 

    Finnish Pins pearl sugar and almonds
  3. Beat the egg. Using a pastry brush, dab the tops of each cookie with a coating of the egg. 

    Finnish Pins brush dough with egg
  4. Sprinkle the pearl sugar and almond mixture over the cookies. (If your dough is warm and very soft, refrigerate the dough for 15-20 minutes, You’ll get a crumbly, dense texture. 

    Finnish Pins sprinkle topping
  5. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

    Finnish Pins

Do you have a favorite ingredient that is not easy to find so you have to plan ahead for? Tell me about it in the comments below. Also, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by clicking on the link provided.

Cardamom Buns

I grew up in a household with a Swedish mother and Swedish grandmother. These Cardamom Buns were a treat they frequently served with coffee or tea. They’re not the gooey type of buns with frosting found in those franchises at the mall. Although, there is a time and place for those as well, today we’re making Cardamom Buns or what my family always called “Mormor’s Buns”.

Cardamom Buns and saffron bread
Cardamom Buns amd saffron bread 2

Keeping It In The Family

Mormor is Swedish for my mother’s mother. I like the Swedish names for grandparents.. There are different names for each of the grandparents. In the US your mother’s mother and your father’s mother are both called grandmother which doesn’t distinguish whether it’s maternal or paternal. So, you have to clarify when needed. My mother’s father in Swedish is Morfar. If my father was Swedish, his parents would be Farmor (grandmother) and Farfar (grandfather)

I have a few regrets since the passing of my mormor many years ago and the recent passing of my mother. I wish I learned more of their native language and I wish I made sure I had all of our favorite recipes preserved. After my mormor’s passing, my mother and I spent a couple years trying to figure out her recipes. Some of the recipes were just a matter of converting metric to US measurements. Some, however, were a bit more complicated.

These Aren’t Your Grandmother’s Synonym Buns…or rolls or pastry or danish.

My mormor had a favorite handmade teacup that she used for measuring. She also sipped her tea or other beverages out of it when she wasn’t baking. It held just the right amount of flour or sugar or whatever other ingredient she needed. But, it did not measure out equal to a standard US measuring cup. And, as far as we know, it wasn’t a standard metric measurement either. So, when her recipe called for a cup of flour or whatnot, it was a guessing game as to whether it was her tea”cup” or a standard cup.

We finally figured out most of the recipes. A few still need some tweaking. And some my mom knew how to make, but didn’t have a written recipe. I didn’t learn from my mistake after mormor’s passing and just assumed that my mother had the remaining recipes in her recipe book. I quickly realized that many of the things my mom made were from memory and didn’t rely on a recipe. Even though I watched my mom and my mormor make these buns often enough, I didn’t have it memorized. After several attempts, I think I finally got them right though. I hope you enjoy them.

Just A Small Piece of Advice In The New Year

Food plays a big role in many families and their traditions. So, while you try out this recipe, spend time with your family, make sure you have your treasured recipes clearly written down so that you can help keep your traditions alive. You’ll get to spend some fun quality time with those you love now while making sure you’ll be able to share memories with other loved ones later.

Cardamom Buns

A delicious cardomom and cinnamon pastry topped with pearl sugar and chopped almonds. Serves perfectly with coffee or tea. For breakfast or just a treat.

Course Pastry
Cuisine Swedish
Keyword cardamom
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Inactive time 1 hour
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 32
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

For The Dough

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups butter melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 oz packets of yeast

For The Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp cardamom
  • 3 medium apples peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins

For The Topping

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pearl sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds optional

Instructions

For The Dough

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the 3 sticks of butter.

    Cardamom Buns melted butter
  2. When the butter is completely melted, add the milk then remove from the heat. Use care to not allow the temperature of the liquid to get too hot. 

    Cardamom Buns melted butter with milk
  3. Add the sugar and cardamom to the butter and milk mixture. Stir until well-blended.

    Cardamom Buns butter and milk well blended
  4. Add the packets of yeast to a large mixing bowl. Test the temperature of the milk and butter mixture to ensure the temperature is not over 130F. Liquid that is too hot can kill the yeast. Ideal temperature of the liquid should be between 120-130F. (If the temperature is too warm, allow it to cool a bit prior to adding it to the yeast.)  Pour the warm liquid over the yeast.

    Cardamom Buns add butter and milk to yeast
  5. Add the salt, then gradually add the flour, about 1/2 cup at a time until you’ve added about 4 1/2 – 5 cups. The dough will still be considerably sticky, but should have some elasticity. That is okay. We’ll incorporate the rest of the flour when we’re kneading it later. 

  6. Leave the dough in the bowl and set in a warm location to rise for approximately 30 minutes or until is has almost doubled in size.

  7. Adding a towel to cover the bowl will help prevent the dough from drying out. 

  8. While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the filling and topping as described in the directions at the end of the recipe..

  9. Once the dough has risen, generously flour your work surface.

  10. Turn your dough out of the bowl onto your floured work surface. Kneading the dough, incorporate the remaining flour. (Note: you may not need all of the remaining flour. Just add enough flour until it is no longer sticky.) Divide the dough into two equal sections.

  11. Roll out one section of dough into a rectangle leaving the dough approximately 1/3″ thick. (Roughly a rectangle approximately 13 inches by 20 inches.)

  12. Spread a few tablespoons of the room temperature butter over the surface of the dough then sprinkle half of the cardamom mixture over the butter.

  13. Next, sprinkle half of the raisins.

  14. Then, half of the apples (after draining off the liquid).

  15. Roll the sheet of dough into a log shape. Cut the log into 16 equal sections. Place each piece on a greased baking pan or pan line with parchment paper. I like to use paper or foil baking cups. 

  16. Set aside and cover in a warm location to rise again for approximately 15-20 minutes. Repeat the process with the other section of dough.

  17. Preheat oven to 425 F.

  18. Once the buns have risen again, brush the tops of each bun with the egg then sprinkle the pearl sugar and almond mixture. 

  19. Bake at 425 F for 8-10 minutes or until brown.

For The Filling

  1. Peel, core then dice the apples.

  2. Set the apples aside in a bowl. Cover the apples with water and a splash of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. 

  3. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom.

For The Topping

  1. Beat one egg.

  2. Chop the almonds, if desired.

  3. Mix the almonds with the pearl sugar.

Do you have any recipes that were lost with a loved one? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Also, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram so you don’t miss other great recipes.

Beef Stew Comfort Food For A Gloomy Day

Happy New Year. Welcome to 2019. The first day of a new year. A time for a fresh start. Beef Stew is on the menu today. Some of my readers have noticed that I haven’t been posting much lately. As you may recall, my mother was quite ill over the summer. I’m sad to report that she passed away just before Christmas. So, I thought I’d like to honor her memory and share some of my favorite dishes that she made. I awoke to snow, rain and wind this morning. It’s an overall gloomy, humdrum of a day, so it’s a perfect day for one of my favorite comfort foods.

Mother like Daughter…not exactly

My mother made the most excellent beef stew and her gravy was always perfect. It was never lumpy and always had the ideal consistency. I’ve never quite mastered gravy. It’s usually too thick or more likely, too thin because I’m afraid of the gravy becoming too thick, so I undercompensate with the flour or corn starch.

One thing I never quite understood was why she cooked all the components of the stew separately and then mixed them together. It always seemed like a lot of extra work and a lot more pots and pans to wash. Since I’ve been attempting to duplicate her stew, I’ve tried various methods. I’m not a fan of cooking in the crock pot, but in the case of stew, it does seem rather obvious that would be the easiest process.

Trials and errors…many errors

I’ve attempted to just throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, but after 8 hours the potatoes and carrots weren’t fully cooked. Plus, I didn’t like the texture of the beef…it was still quite tough. And the gravy was way too thin.

On the second attempt, I seared the beef before adding the meat to the crock pot and upped the slow cooking time to 12 hours. To my dismay, the carrots and potatoes still were undercooked. However, the meat was much more tender and we’re on our way to a win on the gravy.

Well, I was determined, and on my third try, I started it the night before and let the crock pot go for 16 hours. Finally, it turned out pretty good, but I came to realization that it is really quite ridiculous to cook anything for 16 hours. 16 hours…No wonder my mom didn’t like using the crock pot. I eventually chalked it up to the crock pot not working at its peak performance and thought I would buy a new one before I experimented again.

Some Christmas Wishes Do Come True

I have a very generous friend who always gives the best gifts. She is thoughtful and apparently remembers everything you tell her. One day I mentioned in passing about my 16 hour beef stew and we had a little laugh over it. Well, wouldn’t you know, she got me a crock pot for Christmas. It really made my day and my next experiment of beef stew only took 5 hours in the crock pot.

I may be starting to warm up to the idea of experimenting with other recipes in the crock pot. Stay tuned.

Beef Stew

This comfort food has onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, stew beef and gravy. Chop the vegetables to your desired size. The smaller the chop of celery and onions, the more likely they’ll cook away. If you like a heartier stew, leave the pieces large. Either way, they’ll add a wonderful flavor to your stew.

Course Dinner
Keyword Stew
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 medium onion chopped to desired size
  • 1 cup celery chopped to desired size
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 5 large potatoes chopped to bite size pieces
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  1. Season the stew beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

    Beef Stew seasoned beef
  2. Chop the onion to desired size and layer on the bottom of the crock pot. (The order of the vegetables doesn’t really matter, but the vegetables should be at the bottom and the meat should be on top.) 

    Beef Stew onions
  3. Chop the celery to desired size and layer over the onions.

    Beef Stew celery
  4. Add the baby carrots.

    Beef Stew carrots
  5. Chop the potatoes to bite size pieces and add a layer to cover the carrots. You may need more than 5 potatoes depending on size.

    Beef Stew potatoes
  6. In a skillet, over high heat, melt the better and add the olive oil.

    Beef Stew prepared pan with oil and butter
  7. Add small amounts of the stew beef to the hot skillet, turn the pieces to sear each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan with the beef otherwise you’ll steam the beef instead of sear it. Searing the beef will lock in the juices and help the meat become tender during the slow cooking process.

    Beef Stew searing beef
  8. Remove the seared beef from the pan and set aside.

    Beef Stew seared beef
  9. Add a cup of the beef broth to the skillet to deglaze the juices and random pieces of beef from the pan. Pour the juices and broth over the vegetables in the crock pot.

    Beef Stew deglaze pan and add to crock pot
  10. Add one cup of flour to the seared stew beef.

    Beef Stew added flour to beef
  11. Stir the beef until each piece is well-coated with flour. The flour will thicken the broth while it cooks. 

    Beef Stew beef coated with flour
  12. Add the flour-coated beef to the crock pot. 

    Beef Stew beef coated with flour added to crock pot
  13. Add the remaining beef broth to the crock pot.

    Beef Stew added beef broth
  14. Be sure to cover all the ingredients in the crock pot. Add the Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Resist the urge to stir the pot. It’s best to keep the vegetables at the bottom of the crock pot where it will be the hottest.

    Beef Stew added beef broth to cover all ingredients
  15. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours . Turn off approximately 1 hour prior to serving. The stew will remain hot, but the gravy will continue to thicken. Stir prior to serving. (Cooking times may vary depending on manufacturer make and model.) 

    Beef Stew cook on high

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget or appliance that you got for Christmas? Tell me in the comments below and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by clicking on the links provided.

Svenska Pepparkakor Swedish Spice Cookies

Today I’ll be sharing Svenska Pepparkakor, which are Swedish spice cookies. My Mormor (Swedish for grandmother on my mother’s side) used to make a full batch of these delightful cookies at Christmastime. The recipe I’m sharing with you is only a quarter of her recipe, but rest assured, if you roll out the dough thin enough, you’ll still get about 300 cookies from this recipe. With all the other cookies I make, I don’t usually need more than that for my holiday sharing, but this recipe can be easily doubled, or more, if you like.

She used to make a huge batch so she could share them with her neighbors, Bingo buddies, friends, and, of course, family. These cookies are best made a week or so in advance of when you’ll need them. The spices will have more time to mingle and you’ll find a much stronger flavor than when they are fresh out of the oven. She would allow my brother and I to sneak a sample while she was baking them, but then they were put away until just before Christmas. Keep these Swedish Spice Cookies stored in an airtight container and they’ll stay perfectly fresh and delicious for a couple months. They’ll probably be long gone before they get stale anyway, but, if you find that you have too many to eat, wrap them up in freezer bags then store them in the freezer for up to a few months more.

The dough for these cookies is very easy to make, the only tricky part is rolling out the dough thin enough. To be made correctly, it needs to be almost paper thin so that the cookies get crispy. Be sure to sprinkle enough flour on your work surface so that your dough won’t stick and you’ll need to be mindful of the thickness of your rolled out dough so that your cookies bake consistently and you get an even crispness of each cookie. Roll the dough too thick and the cookies will turn out soft instead.

These cookies can be decorated with your favorite cookie icing, but they have so much flavor it’s not really needed. Besides the icing will soften the cookie. So instead, try sprinkling some pearl sugar on them to give them an added layer of crunch and decoration.

Svenska Pepparkakor (Swedish Spice Cookies)

A delightful thin, crispy spice cookie. A nice difference from gingerbread.

Course Cookies
Cuisine Swedish
Keyword Spice
Servings 300 cookies
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dark Karo syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 tbsp butter
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp orange peel
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, boil syrup, sugar, cream, butter and spices until thoroughly blended. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

    Pepparkakor mixture
  2. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda and flour. (Do not sift the flour.)

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  4. Gradually add the flour to the syrup mixture. 

    Pepparkakor add flour
  5. Continue adding the flour and stirring until well blended. When the mixture becomes to hard to stir, you’ll need to continue adding the flour by kneading it into the dough until it is fully incorporated.

    Pepparkakor add flour 2
  6. You may not need all of the flour, and depending on the climate, you may need extra. Just add the flour until the dough is firm and no longer sticky. Keep in mind that while you are rolling out the dough, your dough will acquire more flour that is picked up from your work surface. With your hands, shape the dough into a smooth ball until it has a glossy shine. 

    Pepparkakor dough
  7. Let the dough rest while you prepare the cookie sheets. Make sure cookie sheets are clean and free of crumbs. I use parchment paper so that I don’t get crumbs on the next batch of cookies. 

  8. Lightly flour your work surface. 

    Pepparkakor floured surface
  9. Using a knife, cut about 1/8 of a slice from the ball of dough.
    Pepparkakor dough divided
  10. Form the slice into a smaller ball of dough and flatten on your work surface.

    Pepparkakor dough ready to roll out
  11. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until very thin. It should almost be see through. Notice the picture, you can almost see the work surface through the dough. 

    Pepparkakor dough rolled out
  12. Using your desired cookie cutters, cut the shapes in the dough. 

    Pepparkakor shapes
  13. Remove the shapes with a thin, metal spatula and place on the cookie sheet. Save the scraps to add back into the next section of dough you cut out. 

    Pepparkakor shapes 2
  14. These cookies do not spread much, so you don’t need to leave a lot of space between them. 

    Pepparkakor shapes ready for oven
  15. Bake for 4 minutes. (These cookies burn very quickly. If you have rolled them out as thin as possible, they could be ready in as little as 3 minutes. If they aren’t very thin, it could take as long as 8 minutes.) Once they start getting a toasty color around the edges, remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before removing them from the sheet. You may notice the cookies seem a little soft. They’ll continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet. While they’re cooling down, they’ll start to get crispier. 

  16. Continue until you’ve used up all the dough. 

  17. Store in an air tight container or cookie tin.

    Pepparkakor

For more great Christmas recipes, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. 

What are your favorite holiday treats? Let me know in the comments below. 

Double-Sided Caucus Sugar Cookies

Halloween fun time is over for another year. Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, so in meantime we can celebrate Election Day. As we do our civic duty to shape the country, the state or local government, I’ll show you how to make these fun-shaped Caucus Sugar Cookies for your election night results viewing parties. Does everyone do that with their friends? Or is it just me?

These fun-shaped sugar cookies are double the fun, because they are double sided. One side has your favorite political party. The other side has your state or the United States. Fun, right? Is it still just me? Well, these cookies get my vote, I hope they’ll get your vote, too. 

They’re made by layering pieces of dough. The bottom layer will be of plain dough, with a shape cut out. Then you insert the same shape that has been cut out from another piece of dough of the desired color. Then repeat with the top layer. Then lightly press around the surface of the cookie to make sure the pieces stick together. Be careful not to press too hard, so you don’t alter the shapes.

TIPS FOR A MORE PERFECT UNION

These cookies take patience and involves quite a bit of inactive time. This particular sugar cookie dough rolls out easier at room temperature, but it is best to work cutting out the shapes and layering the dough while it is very cold. Likewise, baking the cookies while very cold gives the cookies a perfect flaky, yet chewy texture with slightly crisp edges. So, once you’ve assembled the cookies, they’ll need to go back into the fridge. 30 minutes to one hour between steps should do the trick.

It’s more efficient to roll out the dough into a square to optimize the amount of shapes you can cut out of each piece of dough. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time making the dough into a square. So, a little trick I use is to make a lightly indented cross in the dough with the rolling pin. Then starting diagonally, from the center, roll out towards the corner. Then repeat for all four corners. Apply light pressure, spread the dough further with each roll of the pin. 

mark the dough with a cross
mark the dough with a cross

I like to roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper. This trick keeps the dough and food coloring from sticking to your work surface and rolling pin. It’s also easier to stack and store your various dough colors until you’re ready for them. Especially if you’re limited on work and storage space, as I am.

Once you’ve cut out the shapes, you’ll have quite a bit of scraps. Just gather up the scraps of like colors, knead the dough, roll it back out, cut more shapes then make more cookies. Just make sure you flip the cookie cutter or dough so the shapes are facing the right way on each side of the cookie. Then, when you’re down to the last of your dough, just cut out the shapes and bake them 

This process works well for any shaped cookies you want to do. Just be sure to measure out your pieces of dough big enough to fit your largest cookie cutter. Since you’ll be layering the pieces, you’ll want all the pieces the same size. Otherwise you get an imperfect pattern on your cookie.

When layering the pieces of dough, be sure to match up the shape rather than the full pieces of dough. You’ll trim the excess dough and neaten up the edges once they’re lined up, so you need not worry about the pieces being even. Be careful when trimming the edges paying close attention to the bottom shape. If the state is on the bottom, you don’t want to inadvertently secede part of the state to the scrap pile. 

sugar cookie assembly line up the shapes
sugar cookie assembly line up the shapes
sugar cookie assembly flip side of cookie
sugar cookie assembly flip side of cookie

As you can see, the donkey cookie cutter is about twice the size of the others, so there will be some very large cookies in the batch. Maybe the lucky individual who gets this big cookie can share half of the cookie with someone who doesn’t have a cookie.

 

Sample of double sided sugar cookies

Double Sided Caucus Sugar Cookies

These cookies are easy to make, can be made ahead of time and frozen or baked fresh the same day. The layering of the dough gives you a cookie with a shape on each side. 

Course Dessert
Keyword Cookies
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Inactive time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 5 cups flour divided
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened to room temp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp almond extract or other desired flavor
  • food coloring desired colors
  • sprinkles for decorating if desired

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, add the extracts, then add the eggs on at a time.

  2. On low speed, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Keep on low speed until all the sugar is added so you don’t get a cloud of sugary powder all over your kitchen. Then increase the speed until the sugar is fully incorporated.

    sugar cookie dough
  3. Reduce to low speed and add the salt then gradually add the flour (for the same reason noted above) until the dough starts to form. You may not need all 5 cups of the flour. The dough should be firm enough to form into a ball without crumbling, yet shouldn’t be so sticky that it sticks to your hand. I prefer to hand mix the flour after adding about 3 cups of the flour so I can get a feel for the texture of the dough. Empty the bowl of dough onto a clean, dry, lightly floured work space. Gradually add more flour by kneading the dough, until the dough is a texture that can be formed (like Play Doh). Reserve remaining flour to sprinkle onto the dough as needed while rolling and assembling the cookies. (I usually have a little flour left over when done.)

    sugar cookie dough texture
  4. Form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into portions as determined by how many colors you’ll be using. For this project, you’ll need more plain dough than the colored dough.

    sugar cookie dough divided
  5. Form one section of dough into a ball and poke an indentation into the dough. Then add the food coloring. (I prefer the gel food coloring.) Adding just a little goes a long way. Be careful not to add too much. You can always add a little more if it’s not enough, but can’t remove it if it’s too much. 

    sugar cookie dough adding food coloring
  6. Knead the dough until the food coloring is well incorporated. Then place between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out into a thin layer (approximately 1/8 of an inch). The layer should be thinner than a usual cut out cookie dough since we’ll be layering the dough. Refrigerate the dough until needed. Since the dough is so thin, it is much easier to handle if it is very cold.

    green sugar cookie dough
  7. Repeat this process with each color of dough and the plain dough. Remember to refrigerate each section of dough for at least 30 minutes once it is rolled out.

    sugar cookie dough rolled thin
  8. IF YOU’RE MAKING A LOT OF THE SAME SHAPE COOKIE: When the dough is cold enough to handle without it being limp, remove the top layer of wax paper. Cut out your first desired shape. Leaving at least one inch between your shapes so you’ll have enough dough to cut out the square pieces later. Add the cut out shape to a “scrap” pile to roll out later. 

    sugar cookie dough with shapes cut out
  9. IF YOU’RE MAKING A VARIETY OF SHAPES: Cut your refrigerated dough into square or rectangle pieces large enough to fit your largest cookie cutter. Then cut the desired shape out of each piece. 

    sugar cookie dough squares 2
  10. Cut the same shape of the desired colored dough then insert the shape into the whole cut out of the plain dough. If the dough doesn’t fit exactly, you can easily press the dough into the shape or stretch it to fit. Hint: If you are making a lot of a particular cookie, you can layer the sheet of the plain dough (with the shapes already cut out) over a layer of the desired colored dough. 

  11. Repeat this process with your desired flip side of the cookie shapes. Cut your dough into squares around your filled in shapes. Remember to flip the dough so your shape is facing the right way after assembling the cookie.  (Note: In this picture, the top side of the cookie is the elephant and the bottom of the cookie is the State of Maine. So in order for the State of Maine to be facing the correct way after assembly, it needs to be facing backwards in this step.)

    sugar cookie assembly
  12. Line up the shape in piece of dough that will be the top of the cookie over the shape of the bottom piece of dough. Some of the plain dough may be hanging over, but that will get trimmed in the next step. It’s important that the shapes be lined up so that portions of the shapes don’t get trimmed off.

    sugar cookie assembly line up the shapes
  13. Trim the uneven edges of the cookie paying close attention to the bottom cookie so that you don’t accidently cut off part of the state. Lightly press the two pieces together so they stick together without applying too much pressure to change the shapes.

    sugar cookie trim the edges 2
  14. Trim the corners of the cookie if you want a more round-ish cookie. Or you can leave them square if you prefer. Don’t worry if the shape has a flaw in the dough, it will bake out. But if you find you have a hole in the shape, you can lightly pack a small piece of the same color dough to fix it. 

    sugar cookie assembly rounded edges 2
  15. If they are assembled and trimmed correctly, you’ll have a double-sided cookie with a different shape visible on each side. Gather up any scraps of the same color, roll it out then make more cookies. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. If you don’t have enough dough remaining to do the double sided cookies, just make single shape cut outs until you use up all the dough.

    sugar cookie assembly flip side of cookie
  16. Refrigerate the assembled cookies for at least 30 minutes. 

  17. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

  18. When laying out the assembled cookies in preparation for baking, decide ahead of time which cookie you want to look prettier. The bottom side will have baked markings, but your shape will hold during the process.

  19. Leave the assembled cookies in the fridge until they are ready to go in the oven.
  20. Bake 5-12 minutes. 5 minutes for a single cut out cookie. 5-10 for medium sized (3 or 4 inch) double sided cookies. 10-12 minutes for the large double sided cookies (5 inches or larger). It’s best to keep an eye on them starting at 5 minutes. When the edges are slightly golden brown but the center still looks a little soft, they are done. 

    baked sugar cookies 2

How do you spend Election Day? Do you think you’ll try these for cookies for Election Day or another occasion? Let me know in the comments below. For more fun recipes, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Caramel Apple Brownie Crisps

How do you like them apples?

Everywhere I look this time of year is pumpkin-spice-this and pumpkin-spice-that. Although I am a sucker for the delicious seasonal trend, I must admit that I am a bigger fan of everything apple. Apple pie, baked apples, apple crisp, caramel apples, apple stuffing and pork chops. These Caramel Apple Brownie Crisps, however, are a perfect pairing of chocolate, caramel and apples and will surely be a hit at any Autumnal event. 

I may have mentioned a time or two before that I love brownies and cookies. This recipe is like a combination cookie and brownie. It’s the best of both of the baked confections worlds. It’s crispy, yet soft and chewy, and depending on whether or not you like toppings, there are many possibilities. You can eat them without a topping, but with so many options, why would you? The crisps go great with a ganache, peanut butter frosting, icing, or glazes. 

This Treat Does the Trick Everytime

This caramel apple sauce topping, by the way, is excellent on cheesecake or vanilla ice cream, too. I love this caramel apple sauce so much, I could eat it by the spoonful. I won’t do that though. Because I’m a grown up and need to exercise a little self control. Besides, today, it’s going on the brownie crisps that I cut into fun Halloween shapes. ‘Tis the season and all, so what’s better for a Halloween gathering than Caramel Apple…Brownie Crisps?

Caramel Apple Brownie Crisps

Caramel apple is a perfect flavor for the season. These brownie-like cookie crisps are excellent with the caramel apple sauce or can be enjoyed without the topping.

Course Dessert
Keyword Brownies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

For the Brownie Crisps

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 2 extra large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

For the Caramel Apple Sauce and Topping

  • 3 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced I use Ida Red
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vanilla Crown Royal optional
  • 3 tbsp butter divided
  • 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Seasonal sprinkles or candy toppings

Instructions

For the Brownie Crisps

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees then line two 11 1/2 X 15 1/2  X 1 with parchment paper.

    Brownie crisp ingredients2
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter then gradually add the chocolate chips. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the vanilla and allow to cool while you prepare the next steps.

    Melted chocolate
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.

    Flour and cocoa
  4. In a large bowl, separate the egg whites from two of the eggs and add two whole eggs. Beat until the egg yolks and whites are well incorporated then slowly add the sugar and beat until frothy. 

    Separated eggs
  5. Add the chocolate and vanilla mixture to the egg mixture. Then gradually add the flour mixture. Be careful not to overmix. Just stir until the flour is incorporated. 

    Eggs and sugar
  6. Divide the batter between two parchment-lined baking sheets then spread the batter out to the edges. 

    Brownie batter spread out
  7. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. The batter will be almost set, but still very soft. Cut the brownie into squares of desired size or use cookie cutters for fun shapes. Don’t separate the shapes. Cutting the shapes before the brownie is done baking will give each piece a crispy edge. Return to the oven to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes watching closely so not to burn them.

    Partially baked dough with shapes
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before separating the pieces. (If you’re using a cookie cutter, you will have miscellaneous pieces of various sizes and shapes…use them as a topping, save them for nibbling or pulse them into crumbs in a food processor and save for use in a pie crust another time.)

For the Caramel Apple Sauce Topping

  1. In a medium saucepan bring apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to a boil. 

  2. Add 1 tbsp. of the butter to the boiling mixture. Once the butter has melted, reduce heat, add the apples and Vanilla Crown Royal, if desired, then simmer until the apples are tender. (Approx. 10 minutes.)

    Apple caramel sauce
  3. Remove the apples from the liquid and reserve for another use.

  4. Return the liquid to a boil then add the remaining 2 tbsps. of butter and Vanilla Greek yogurt. Stir until well incorporated.

  5. In a small bowl, add the cornstarch and about a 1/2 cup of the boiling cider liquid. Whisk until smooth then gradually add the mixture to the cider and whisking constantly so not to burn the sauce. Whisk until thick and smooth. Set aside to allow to cool before topping the brownie crisps.

  6. Spread a small amount of the sauce onto the smooth side (bottom) of the crisps. Top with sprinkles, crisp crumbs or candies of your choice.

    Apple Caramel Brownie Crisps

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The Ultimate Comfort Food – Beginning With Mirepoix

Do you know what I like about mirepoix (pronounced meer pwa)? Besides the fact that it is fun to say, it’s the basic foundation of many soups, stews and sauces. It’s commonly made up of aromatics such as carrots, celery and onions. I’m adding garlic and green bell peppers to the trio because I find it packs a lot more flavor. It’s the beginning of many layers of flavor I’ll be using today in my hearty homemade tomato sauce which then goes on to the star of the show, American Chop Suey.

Sweat or sauté

The idea of mirepoix is to sweat the vegetables over a low heat for about an hour in a small amount of fat. I like to use a little butter and extra virgin olive oil for an additional layer of flavor. You don’t necessarily want to sauté the veggies because that method cooks the product too quickly and you will get a much different flavor result. Sweating is similar to sautéing, however, at a much lower temperature and for a longer period of time. Sweating softens the veggies, releases water from them without browning. This will draw out their natural sweetness and will be helpful later when we add the tomatoes. The reward for your patience in the slow cooking of the veggies is that the sweetness from the mirepoix will neutralize some of the acid from the tomatoes.

There are many different combinations to make a mirepoix. The possibilities are endless. Most often you will see a basic mirepoix is 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery. That is an excellent starting point. However, you may want to experiment with the ratios to find different flavors that suit your tastes. I find I like more carrots than onions and that is what I use in this recipe.

As I mentioned, mirepoix is found in many foods. I like to make a big batch of it so I can have it on hand for a quick soup or stew. Depending on the dish you’re making, you might even consider adding some bacon to the mixture for additional flavor. Likewise, ginger adds a lot of flavor and goes well if you use a mirepoix when making a stir fry. For other recipes, which I will share another time, I use different combinations.

The. Ultimate. Comfort. Food.

For now though, get ready for American Chop Suey, the ultimate comfort food. I’ve made this dish countless times for lunches or casual get togethers. People always seem surprised that this dish has mozzarella cheese in it. How could it not? I mean, all of the ingredients are just screaming to be covered in cheese. *Disclaimer* I am a cheese fanatic. If I could find a way to add cheese to my breakfast cereal that isn’t gross, I would totally do it. Stay tuned, you never know what challenges await.

American Chop Suey

A hearty pasta dish packed with a hearty tomato sauce, ground beef and mozzarella cheese.

Course Dinner
Keyword Pasta
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Author Lisa

Ingredients

Mirepoix

  • 2 cups carrots shredded or diced
  • 2 cups red and green bell peppers diced
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • pinch salt

Hearty Tomato Sauce

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste (optional - as needed)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef

American Chop Suey

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 3-4 cups mozzarella cheese shredded

Instructions

Mirepoix

  1. In a large skillet over low heat, drizzle olive oil  to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the butter until melted.

    Mirepoix ingredients
  2. Shred the carrots, dice the onions, celery and bell peppers, mince the garlic. Add to the skillet. Toss the ingredients until well coated. Add the pinch of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for approximately one hour. (Be sure to keep an eye on the vegetables, you shouldn't hear loud sizzling while it's cooking and your ingredients shouldn't turn brown. If this starts happening, reduce heat.) 

    Mirepoix simmering

Hearty tomato sauce

  1. While the vegetables are sweating, in a separate skillet, over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Add half of the broth, and all of the seasonings. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

    Ground beef for tomato sauce
  2. After the mirepoix has simmered for the hour, add the remaining broth to the mixture and bring to a low boil. 

    Mirepoix plus broth
  3. Combine the mirepoix mixture and the ground beef mixture. Then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Continue to simmer up to another hour. The sauce will thicken and get sweeter the longer it cooks. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, you can gradually add some of the tomato paste a little at a time until your sauce reaches your desired consistency.

    hearty tomato sauce
  4. Meanwhile, cook one pound of pasta according to the package directions.

    Elbow macaroni

American Chop Suey

  1. When the pasta is cooked to your desired tenderness, gradually add the sauce and mozzarella cheese to the pasta and mix thoroughly. 

    American chop suey assembly2