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.

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

Let me know what you think in the comments below and be sure to not miss a single recipe by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Chocolate Cupcakes with whipped cream filling

cupcakes2
cupcakes2

I chose to make these chocolate cupcakes today for several reasons. First, these cupcakes are one of my favorites as well as a favorite among my friends and family that have had them. So, I’m counting on them being a hit for some other special people, too. Second, I recently purchased some new Russian piping tips that I have been dying to try, so this is the perfect opportunity to see if they measure up to the hype.

Russian piping tips
Russian piping tips

As some of my readers may have noticed, I’ve been on hiatus for a few months. Well, my mother had been sick, so sharing my recipes had to be put on the back burner temporarily. She is getting better every day, but she had to spend time in a local nursing and rehabilitation facility. She made some friends while there and she took a liking to some of the staff as well. I wanted to show my appreciation with a small token of what I do best. CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES.

cupcakes
cupcakes

I also had a friend’s birthday recently. She doesn’t ask for much, but she has been hankering something chocolatey. So, these chocolate cupcakes should do the trick.

They’ve got lots of butter and eggs, so they’re rich and moist. As an added bonus, I like to add a little fresh, whipped cream, peanut butter or jelly to center of these chocolate cakes, so you get a little surprise in each bite. There’s no limit to the possible types of frosting to finish them off either.

If you need some tips on making the perfect texture of cake, I provide a lot of information in my article Italian Cream Cake and Tips For A Better Batter.

Icing, glaze, ganache, frosting, or fondant?

So, what’s the difference between them all? It depends on who you ask. You’ll probably get a different answer from from different parts of the country and different parts of the world as well. But, I’m going to tell you what I call them so we can be on the same page for the purpose of these recipes.

Generally, though, frosting is thick and fluffy. The mixture is made from a base of dairy products, such as butter and/or cream cheese, and powdered sugar. It’s fluffy enough to stand on its own in various shapes made by piping, yet thick enough to spread with a spatula.

Icing generally has a thinner, glossier texture and is made with a powdered sugar base and water or milk and often times food coloring will be added. This mixture hardens somewhat when it dries, so it is perfect for decorating cookies.

A glaze also has a thinner, glossier texture and is made with a powdered sugar base, but generally uses a fruit juice for added flavor. This mixture can be easily poured over your scones, donuts or other pastries and cakes.

Chocolate ganache is the best of both of the worlds of frosting and icing. It’s thick enough to be a substantial addition to your cake, much like that of frosting. But it’s also thin and glossy, like an icing, that can just be poured over your desserts.

Fondant is a thick paste made of sugar, water and egg whites or meringue powder which, when dried, it can be rolled out into a sheet then laid out and formed around the cake.

Fun fact

Powdered sugar is also known as confectioner’s sugar, icing sugar or 10X sugar. The 10 in 10X represents the number of times the granulated sugar has been processed to make it into the fine powdery substance that easily dissolves. Powdered sugar is also a preferred sugar used by candy makers…or confectioners.

Cream filled Chocolate Cupcakes

A rich, moist, dark chocolate cake with a creamy filling.

Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling and decorating 4 hours
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 42 cupcakes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsifted unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules + 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine cocoa with boiling water, mixing together with a wire whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool completely (about 2 hours).

  2. In a small bowl, mix the instant coffee granules with the warm water until thoroughly dissolved. Add to the cooled cocoa mixture.

  3. Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt and baking soda.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners. (I would recommend baking no more than 24 cupcakes at a time, otherwise you may need to adjust your baking time and temperature. This recipe would require baking the batter in two batches.)

    You can also make this recipe into a 3-layer cake using three, 9 inch cake pans.

  5. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, at the setting for creaming, cream the butter and the sugar for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

    Cake batter adding flour
  6. Add the vanilla then the eggs, one at a time, just until you can no longer see the ingredient you just added. Overmixing will flatten your fluffy butter mixture.

    Gradually adding the cocoa
  7. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture (in fourths), alternately with the cocoa mixture (in thirds) beginning and ending with the flour mixture, just until you can no longer see the ingredient you just added. Overmixing will flatten your fluffy butter mixture and will alter the structure of your cake.

    Mix just until the ingredient is added
  8. Fill cupcake cups approximately 3/4 to the top of the liner and bake for 13-15 minutes. There should be a few moist crumbs on a toothpick when inserted to the middle of the cupcake. The cakes will finish baking while they are cooling down. Allow the cakes to cool for about 1 hour before proceeding to the next step.

    (If you prefer the layer cake, divide the batter evenly between 3 cake pans, bake 25-30 minutes or until a few moist crumbs remain on a toothpick when inserted into the middle of the cake.)

    whipped cream2

For the filling

  1. Whip the heavy cream, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar on high speed of electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

    Filling tip
  2. Once the cupcakes are cooled, using a decorating bag fitted with a filling tip, fill the bag with the whipped cream. Insert the tip into the cake and gently squeeze until the cupcake is filled with the cream.

    (If making the layered cake, simply spread the whipped cream between layers.

    Glass stand
  3. If you have trouble filling your decorating bag, try wrapping the opening of the bag over the rim of a tall glass. This will keep the bag open while you are scraping your bowl and filling the bag. You can also rest your bag in the glass when not in use to avoid a messy work area.

  4. Decorate with your favorite frosting or check out my favorite recipes below.

    filled cupcakes

No matter how you choose to top these delicious miniature cakes, any one of the following recipes will be sure to please the crowd. I’m partial to either buttercream, ganache or cream cheese frostings for cake and not really a fan of fondants because I prefer a fluffy, whipped texture as opposed to the sheet of sweetness. I’ve only used store bought fondant before, but I have a few recipes I want to try. Who knows? I may change my mind and give fondant another chance. Look for my recipes for icings and glazes in the near future. I think you’ll enjoy the pastries that go along with them too. 

Buttercream Frosting

Course Frosting
Keyword Frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup crisco I use butter flavored crisco
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk if needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. (The butter should be at room temperature. If they are too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.)

  2. Add the vanilla.

  3. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  4. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar. If your frosting becomes to thick, gradually add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

    buttercream divided

Cream Cheese Frosting

Course Frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk if needed

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. (The butter should be at room temperature. If they are too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.)

  2. Add the vanilla.

  3. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue beating until frosting is smooth and creamy.

  4. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar. If your frosting becomes to thick, gradually add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

    cream cheese frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting

Course Frosting
Keyword Peanut butter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup crisco
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. (The butter should be at room temperature. If they are too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.)

  2. Add the peanut butter.

  3. Add the vanilla.

  4. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  5. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar. If your frosting becomes to thick, gradually add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If the frosting is to thin, gradually add additional confectioner’s sugar.

    cupcakes

Chocolate Ganache

Course Frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules

Instructions

  1. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate.

  2. Add instant coffee granules. Stirring until smooth.

  3. Gradually add the heavy cream and continue stirring until well incorporated and mixture is smooth and creamy.

  4. Decorate by dipping the tops of the cupcakes into the mixture or pouring the mixture over the cakes. The mixture will harden as it sits. 

    cupcakes

Chocolate Frosting


Course Frosting
Keyword chocolate
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine the chocolate pieces, cream and butter.

  2. Stir until all chocolate pieces have melted and mixture is smooth.

  3. Remove from the heat.

  4. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar whisking until sugar is fully incoorporated and mixture is smooth. It may be necessary to to place the pan in a bowl of ice to help with the cooling down process. 

  5. Decorate as desired. 

    cream filled chocolate cake

Classic Potato Salad – A Summertime Standard

With summertime BBQ season upon us, what is the best side dish to bring to the party? Potato salad, of course. There are so many variations of potato salad out there, but I prefer the classic American, creamy, potato salad. My grandmother made this recipe, then my mother made this recipe, so naturally, I make this recipe, too. I do not have children to take over the recipe, so I hope someone else finds it and makes it a tradition in their family, too.

In my opinion, the star of the show is the dressing. The dressing is where the flavor is packed. Adding different toppings, such as bacon crumbles or hard-boiled eggs are delightful, too. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about what type of potato to use in your salad. Pick the wrong potato and they could end up getting smooshed during mixing when you add your dressing. Then you’re left with mashed potatoes with mayonnaise.

TUBER OR NOT TUBER?

Yes. A potato is a tuber, specifically a stem tuber. A stem tuber is basically an enlarged structure of the plant where it stores its nutrients it will need for winter and for regrowth. In order to pick out the right kind for your dish, you’ll need to know a few things. Essentially, there are three categories of potatoes based on their texture. Starchy, All-Purpose, and Waxy. Potato salads need potatoes that will hold their shape after cooking. So, understanding what happens during the cooking process will help when making your selection.

Starchy potatoes, such as Russets are good for baking, mashing or French fries. The highly dense starch cells swell and separate from one another when cooked which give these potato items a fluffy texture.

Waxy potatoes, such as Red Bliss, have the least starch, so there is less cell separation and are best for boiling, stews, and salads. There is less breakdown, so these potatoes will hold their shape very well.

All-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, have a moderate amount of starch and are ideal for au gratins, roasting or steaming. As the name implies, they can also be used for any purpose, but just note that your results may vary slightly.

Potato Salad

The creamy, classic American potato salad. 

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Potato Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds Red Bliss potatoes
  • 2 tbsp salt for potato water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda or sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste for dressing
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonaisse
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery

Instructions

  1. Scrub potato skins then cut into bite-size cubes.

    Potato Salad
  2. Place in a large pot, cover with cold water, add 2 tbsp of salt to the water. Cover the pot with a lid. 

  3. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Remove lid, lower temperature to medium/high heat and continue a slow boil for 8-12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. 

  4. Drain the liquid from the potatoes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. (Spreading them out over a cookie sheet will speed up the cooling process.)

  5. In a large bowl, add the vinegar, Splenda, salt, pepper, milk, and sour cream.

  6. Add the mayonaisse, a little at a time until the dressing reaches the desired thickness. 

    Potato Salad Dressing
  7. Add the celery and onions.

  8. Once the potatoes have cooled completely, add them to the dressing and lightly toss the dressing to coat the potatoes. 

    Potato Salad 3

Recipe Notes

I use Splenda instead of sugar because I have diabetics in my family and try not to use sugar where it doesn't make a difference to the outcome of the dish. It also dissolves a lot quicker than sugar. But, sugar absolutely works too.  

What is your favorite summertime side dish? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring – Father’s Day Brunch

Omelets are my all-time favorite breakfasts. I have many variations that houseguests frequently request. And, in my house, breakfast for dinner is a common occurrence. Omelets were the first dish I learned to make on my own as a kid. I’ve added many different ingredients for some unusual combinations over the years. My favorite is the Philly Cheesesteak Omelet. A close second favorite is the Italian Hoagie Omelet. Coming in third is the Meatball Parm Omelet. They’re all exactly what they sound like, too. The awesome sandwich fixings stuffed inside an omelet instead of bread. I know, some of that sounds really weird, but trust me, they’re amazing.

When I was younger, I had thoughts of opening a breakfast restaurant. I was going to serve breakfast all day long, especially eggs, more specifically, these unconventional omelets. At the time, I lived on the cape of New Jersey. I was going to call the restaurant “The Great Eggs Cape”. If you say that quick enough, it sounds like The Great Escape. Well, I thought it was a clever idea at the time. That restaurant idea never panned out, but my experiments live on. I live in Maine now, so that name wouldn’t work, but if I ever have the inclination to open a restaurant here, it would be called Comfort Café.

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been considering something different for breakfast. I’ve been thinking about a frittata and incorporating the toast into it somehow. But, I recently saw an edition of Taste of Home that had a dish using crescent rolls. I’ve made party food using these crescent rolls and shaped them into a ring before and they were pretty good, so I decided to give breakfast a shot. It’s not exactly what I originally envisioned, but most of my recipes transform from the initial thought anyway.

My dad likes ham and cheese in his omelets, but never complained when I added peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Well, he might tell you I use too much garlic, so I’ll try to behave when adding the garlic this time. Since this dish has the ingredients of a Denver Omelet, I chose to go with that in the name, even though it’s not in the shape of an omelet. I did a test run of this recipe when visiting our family best friends (my Godparents) in Massachusetts this past weekend. It was a hit. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring

This dish has all the ingredients of a Denver omelet, but the eggs are scrambled and shaped into a ring over a base of Crescent rolls. Thick slices of ham layered over the dough hold in the egg filling. 

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword Omelet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 11 Extra Large Eggs 1 reserved for egg wash
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium/large tomato diced
  • 1 pkg Crescent Rolls 8 count
  • 8 slices of deli ham
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds optional
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced onion optional
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic optional
  • 1/4 tsp poppy seeds optional
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt optional
  • pinch oregano optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Veggies
  2. Dice pepper and onion. Sauté in a large skillet over medium/high heat until tender. Add the garlic during the last minute of sautéing. Reduce heat to medium/low heat. Add the butter and allow to melt before adding the eggs.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Veggies cooked
  3. Dice the tomato. (Add a little salt and oregano - optional)

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Tomatoes
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until fully incorporated. Eggs are fully whisked when no signs of yolk or egg whites can be seen in the mixture. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Eggs
  5. Add the whisked eggs into the skillet with the peppers and onions. Gently scramble the eggs mixing them with the peppers and onions. When the scrambled eggs are just about set (they'll still be a little wet, but not runny), add the diced tomatoes, stir until they are mixed in then remove the skillet from the heat.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Scrambled Eggs
  6. On a large baking sheet or pizza pan, lay out the crescent roll triangles in a circle with the pointy tip of the triangle pointing outwards. Overlap the wider edges and press the dough to seal the pieces together.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Crescent Rolls
  7. Lay the ham slices lengthwise over each triangle piece of dough. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Ham
  8. Sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese around the center hole.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Cheese
  9. Spoon the scrambled egg mixture over the shredded cheese. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Egg Layer
  10. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over the scrambled egg mixture.

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Cheese 2
  11. Fold the pointy tips of each crescent roll over the filling and tuck under the ring. The filling may show through some of the openings. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring fold over
  12. Beat the remaining egg and add a teaspoon of water for the egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush each crescent roll with the egg wash and sprinkle with the optional salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion and dried garlic. 

    Denver Omelet Breakfast Ring Toppings

What do you make on Father’s Day? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

 

M&M Cookies A Memorial Day Favorite

If You’ve Had One, You’ve Had Them All?

Homemade cookies are one of my favorite things to make. I know, I say that about everything, but here’s the thing, homemade cookies are not only delicious, they are also easy and quick to make, how can you not love them? Pretty much every drop cookie out there has been derived from the basic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. But, does that mean that if you’ve had one, you’ve had them all? No, it doesn’t. There are so many variations available, how do you know which one to pick? I’ll share my M&M Cookies recipe today and then we’ll discuss what makes them soft and chewy, light and cakey or crisp and crunchy. We’ll also look at some mishaps in the kitchen and explain how to prevent cookie disasters.

But First, Some History

In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day, I thought it would be fitting to discuss the role U.S. soldiers played in the popularity of chocolate chip cookies.

The chocolate chip cookie, the official state cookie of Massachusetts, was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She was the owner and chef at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts.

The original, Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie, rose to popularity during WWII. American soldiers stationed overseas would receive care packages, which included these cookies, from family in Massachusetts. The soldiers would share the cookies with soldiers from other parts of the U.S. and soon, those soldiers were writing home asking for them. That led to many letters being sent to the Toll House Inn requesting the recipe causing the cookie craze to take off.

Ruth sold the rights to use the recipe to Andrew Nestle for $1.00 in return for a lifetime supply of  Nestle’s chocolate. I think Ruth got the short end of the stick in that deal. But, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

M&M Cookies

This recipe is based on the Toll House Cookie Recipe. A couple simple modifications of increasing the amount of brown sugar and swapping out the chocolate chips for M&Ms make these a fun substitution for the original cookie.

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Cookies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 48
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mini baking M&Ms

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

    M&M Cookies ingredients
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat until creamy. 

    M&M Cookies dough
  4. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat until each one is well blended. 

  5. Gradually add the flour, a little at a time. Mix until well blended. 

    M&M Cookies dough 2
  6. Stir in the M&Ms.

    M&M Cookies M&Ms
  7. Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (I just use a teaspoon. For more uniform shapes, you can use a melon baller or small ice cream scoop.)

    M&M Cookies spoonful
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes. (I usually check them at 7 minutes...if they are starting to brown at the edges, I removed them from the oven and allow them to remain on the hot cookie sheet for a few minutes. They'll continue to "bake" while cooling down.) Move to a wire rack or a sheet of parchment paper to continue cooling. 

    M&M Cookies cooling

Soft and Chewy, Light and Cakey or Crisp and Crunchy?

What’s your preference? I prefer soft and chewy with a slight crisp around the edges. That can be a hard combination to master. You can look at a 100 different recipes and they’ll all have different measurements, but finding the one that gives you the texture you want is easier than you think.

In the Toll House Cookies recipe, the main ingredients which dictate what texture your cookies develop into are butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. A typical cookie dough recipe will have 2 sticks of butter and equal parts of granulated sugar and brown sugar. You can customize your cookies with a few simple alterations.

Here are a few hints:

For instance, if you’re going for crisper cookies, you’ll want a recipe to have more butter and a larger amount of granulated sugar than brown sugar.

If you prefer a light and cakey cookie, your recipe will use less butter and significantly less sugar (but still using more granulated sugar than brown sugar).

For the soft and chewy variety, you’ll just need to adjust the sugars. More brown sugar will yield a softer, chewier cookie.

Cookie Catastrophes

Cookies spread too thin

When you’re making your dough, keep an eye on the texture of your dough. If the butter is too soft, your dough may be too warm and your cookies could spread too thin while baking. When you soften your butter, you should be able to press into the butter with the side of a knife and feel a little resistance. If you press down and your knife plunges to the bottom, the butter is too soft. You can return the butter to the refrigerator for a few minutes. Or, if you’ve already made the dough, place the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before spreading out the dough to bake.

Thin cookies can also be caused by not using enough flour. Try adding a little bit more flour a tablespoon at a time.

Cookies browning but are not overbaked

When you purchase your ingredients to make the cookies, keep in mind that using dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar can change the color of your cookie, so they may appear to be browning too quickly. If you choose to use corn syrup or molasses as your sweetener, you may notice that the cookies start browning before the cookie is baked through.

Also, it is possible that the oven is just running too hot. Reduce the temperature by 10 degrees. If you don’t notice a significant change, reduce the heat again.

Cookies are too cakey and very pale

The likely culprit of this blunder is too much flour. This can be tricky to fix, but adding a couple more tablespoons of butter just might save the dough.

OH NOOOOs

Have you ever gone shopping for all your ingredients then realize after you have returned home that you forgot something anyway?

Well, I do it all the time, so I have a list of adequate substitutions for just such an occasion. I wouldn’t recommend substituting every ingredient, but in a pinch, one will do. I mean, if you forgot everything, how bad could you want to make them anyway?

BUTTER substitutes cup for cup with margarine or shortening.

TABLE SALT can be replaced with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (you may also want to pulse it in the food processor a bit before adding it to your dough).

SUGAR can be swapped out for honey. 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar for 1 cup of honey plus 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. (Also, reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees to avoid burning.)

BROWN SUGAR Light or dark can be used in place of the other. If you don’t have either, you can make some by pulsing 1 cup granulated sugar and 4 tablespoons of molasses in a food processor.

EGGS can be replaced by using 2 eggs whites in place of 1 large egg. Or 1/4 cup of egg product per egg.

SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE can be substituted with any other type of chocolate, fruit, nuts, or chopped up candy bars of any variety. I’ve even used leftover cake pulsed in the food processor and mixed it with the cookie dough. I call them Cake Crumble Cookies. They are pretty good, too.

What’s your favorite cookie? Do you approve of using candy bar bits instead of chocolate chips? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Brownie Bites with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting

I bake a lot. Mostly cakes for friends’ and family birthdays or other special occasions, miscellaneous events and holidays. I’m a sucker for coffee, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. So, when I bake for myself, how am I supposed to decide between the three. Well, I found a way to incorporate all my favorite things with these Coffee Brownie Bites with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting.

Don’t Fear The Dough Though

No one openly admits to eating cookie dough with raw eggs and there seems to be a debate about raw flour nowadays, too. Although, I have sampled my cookie dough many times prior to baking (I have to make sure it tastes right, right?), I have never once died nor gotten sick from it. But, not to worry, this frosting doesn’t have any eggs or flour in it, so it is totally safe to eat.

Don’t make the same mistake I made once though. I added the chocolate chips to the frosting then decided I wanted to use a cake decorating tool. Those chips don’t fit through the opening of the decorating tips. So, instead, I added spoonfuls of the frosting sandwiched between two brownies, topped with coffee frosting, nuts and a drizzle of chocolate ganache.

brownie cakes with cookie dough frosting
brownie cakes with cookie dough frosting

Brownies – Cakey or Fudgy? What’s Your Pleasure?

As I said before, I love brownies. I’m not a fan of brownies that are too cakey, but I’m also not a fan of brownies that are too fudgy either. If I want something chocolate cakey, I will make a chocolate cake. Likewise, if I want something chocolate fudgy, I will make chocolate fudge. (Yes. Don’t worry. I have great recipes for those, too. I’ll share them another time.) So, how do we compromise on the perfect balance of textures for a brownie? I like them chewy, if you do, too, this is the recipe for you. These are chewy with just the right amount of cakey and fudgy textures.

A Decadent Dessert, A Decade In The Making

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made brownies. But, my quest started about 10 years ago. Each time I made them I was told they are perfect and don’t need any changes. I wasn’t convinced though. There was always room for improvement. They were either too cakey or too fudgy.

There are so many factors that can make or break your brownie. For instance, did you know that the order in which you add the ingredients can make a difference in how they turn out? I’ve never strayed from my original ingredients, but I have experimented with the order in which they are added so many times, I think I finally got it just right.

Also, the baking time plays a huge role in the texture. Experiment with what texture you like, but be sure to check the doneness often. You can always bake it for a few more minutes, but you can’t undo it if you bake them too long.

A Few Tips For A Perfect Brownie

Use a double boiler to melt your butter and chocolate. If you don’t have an actual “double boiler”, just use a medium pot with a smaller pot or heat resistant bowl nestled inside the larger bowl. (As you can see in the picture below…the smaller pot has a handle on either side, so it just hangs in the larger pot perfectly.) Be mindful to use just an inch or two of water in the pot and do not allow your inner pot or bowl to touch the water. Even though the name “double boiler” suggests boiling the water, in this case you just want to simmer the water.

Coffee Brownie Cookie Dough melted chocolate
Coffee Brownie Cookie Dough melted chocolate

Be careful not to let the steam escaping from the bottom pot to form any droplets of water that can drip into your chocolate. Even the smallest amount of water added to chocolate can actually seize the chocolate and will turn it into a big lumpy glob. (It is possible to rescue the chocolate by gradually adding warm milk or cream, but it’s best to avoid a potential kitchen fiasco altogether.)

Since we’re using butter in this recipe, I would suggest melting the butter first then adding a little chocolate at time while constantly whisking until the chocolate has melted and is well incorporated. This should help avoid the possibility of seizing. Also, be sure to keep the temperature low. Too high of heat will brown the butter and scorch the chocolate. Neither will taste good in your brownies.

Once you’ve melted the butter and chocolate then added the sugar, it is important to allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes before adding the eggs. You don’t want the eggs to start cooking before you put the batter in the oven. We’re making brownies, not chocolate scrambled eggs after all.

Once your batter is baking, it can be tricky to tell when it is done. Oven temperatures vary, so it’s best to not go strictly by the timing. You’ll need to text the doneness with a toothpick.

Obviously, if you check the batter and it’s still a jiggly in the middle, they’re not done. If it appears set in the middle and when you insert a toothpick it is gooey, they’re still not done. They’re done when you insert a toothpick and there are a few moist crumbs sticking to the toothpick. The brownies will continue baking as it cools, so you don’t need to worry about it being undercooked.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you insert the toothpick and it comes out completely clean, they are overdone. They’ll still be good as long as they’re not burnt, but they’ll just have a different texture.

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.

 

Speaking of kitchen mishaps, I highly recommend the book “How To Break An Egg“. It’s from the editors, contributors and readers of “Fine Cooking Magazine”. It has 1,453 kitchen tips, food fixes, emergency substitutions and handy techniques. It is full of everything from how to carve a leg of lamb to measurement equivalents to caring for your pots. I use the emergency substitutions section the most, but the whole book is fantastic. It should be noted that I’m NOT being paid for this recommendation. But, I just truly have found this book to be the most used book in my kitchen.

What’s your biggest kitchen mishap? How did you remedy the situation? Tell me about it in the comments below.