Gingerbread Cookies

I was visiting Matthew’s house at Christmastime, when we decided to rustle up a batch of Gingerbread Cookies, for eating and for sharing.  I found this recipe online at the King Arthur Flour website, and they all turned out so well I wanted to put it up here (I own the King Arthur cookbook).  We made a few modifications for ease in preparation, which I’ve incorporated into the recipe below.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In a large mixing bowl, place the brown sugar, molasses, salt, and spices.  Melt the butter in a microwave, and add to the sugar/molasses mixture.  Beat in the egg.

Whisk the baking powder, soda and flour together, then to the molasses mixture about a quarter at a time.

Place the dough in a gallon-sized quart bag, shape it into a flat disk, zip closed, and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer. The dough may be sticky and hard to roll if not thoroughly chilled, so make sure it’s cold before continuing.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get out several baking sheets; line with parchment parchment paper.

Once the dough has chilled, take one-half of the dough out of the refrigerator.  I always use a floured pastry cloth and a stockinette on the rolling pin, but if you don’t have this, work on a well-floured surface, and roll the dough 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick; the thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be.

Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible to minimize waste.  Roll scraps into a ball, and re-roll and cut out again.

Transfer the cookies to prepared cookie sheets. Bake the cookies just until they’re slightly brown around the edges 8 to 10 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cook’s Note: We doubled this with no troubles at all, but worked with only 1/4 of the dough at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated.

Cheezy (Funeral) Potatoes, my version

Everybody has this recipe and has made it for millenia, but I made my first batch of these this year, and wanted to put the recipe on this blog for future reference.  I joke that instead of crushed cornflakes on top, we should put crushed statins, but then maybe you have to be of a certain age to get the reference.  Let’s just say, I’ll try not to make these unless I’m going to share them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute ¾ cup diced onion in 3 Tablespoons of real butter, until the onion is transluscent.
Add 2 cloves garlic, minced, and then cook for another minute or two, but don’t let the vegetables brown.

In a large bowl, place:
1 (30 ounce) bag of frozen, shredded has brown potatoes — if frozen (mine were), poke at it with a sturdy spoon to break it up a little
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup–fish out the big pieces of chicken meat
1 cup LITE sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Add onion mixture to the above and stir well until mixed.  Keep stirring, keep stirring.

Melt 3 Tablespoons real butter, and add to 1½ cup crushed cornflake crumbs, about one-half of a small box.  Stir to mix.

Place potato mixture into a 9 x 13″ pan, pressing firmly into place.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheddar cheese over the surface, then spread the conflake crumbs over the top of that.

Bake for 90 minutes or until cooked throughout and bubbly.

Here’s a couple of photos of what was going on:

Mixing up the potato ingredients

Layers of topping: cheese, then cornflakes

Quince with Cipollini Onions and Bacon

quince recipe

Another New York Times recipe, this is also interesting and delicious.  It all started when I had a quince and apple pie at our quilter’s night (thank you, Simone) and then the New York Times did a fabulous feature on all these recipes from all over the United States, where I found this one.  I think it’s a stellar side dish for Thanksgiving.  Because there are two of us, I halved it, so that’s what you see in the photos.

quince quince recipe1 quince recipe2

1 pound cipollini onions
***Note: If you can’t find the cipollini onions, substitute golden pearl onions.***
2 ½ to 3 pounds quinces (about 5), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 tablespoons pure syrup [Grade A, medium amber]
½ pound thick-cut bacon
4 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Leaves from 5 sprigs fresh thyme


cipolini  Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, add the onions, turn off the heat and let sit 5   minutes. Drain and allow to cool.  {NOTE: The packaging from the onions said to cut off one end, and then kind of “squirt” out the inner onion out of its skin.  I did this.}

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss quinces with half the maple syrup and spread in a single layer in a large baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, until tender.

Peel and trim the onions. Quarter large ones; cut small ones in half. Fry bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat until browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add onions to the pan and sauté on medium until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Cut bacon strips in 3/4-inch pieces. Add to pan with onions. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining maple syrup and the vinegar. Fold in quince. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Add parsley and thyme. Gently fold ingredients together. Cook a few minutes, then serve warm.

Cranberry Sauce with Grape Juice, Vanilla and Spices

cranberry sauceI wanted to try a new version of cranberry sauce this year, and found this one on the New York Times website.  Since I don’t drink alcohol, I tried it with grape juice and it was still really delicious.  See Cook’s Notes at end regarding the amount of sweeteners.

Time needed: 20 minutes, plus cooling  Yield: 2 1/2 cups

10 whole allspice berries (I took that to mean “whole allspice”; see note below)
10 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
———-Combine allspice, cloves and peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground. Or, just use powdered spices, substituting 1/2 tsp. of each for the whole spices——

3 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 cup Welch’s purple grape juice
3/4 to  1 cup light brown sugar**
3/4 to 1 cup clover or wildflower honey**
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
4 strips orange zest, about 1 inch by 3 inches, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 (6-inch) sprigs rosemary
1 small cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, grape juice, brown sugar, honey, orange juice, orange zest, rosemary, cinnamon stick and ground spices.  With the tip of a paring knife, split vanilla pod lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to scrape seeds from pod. Add seeds and pod to pot.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, until cranberries have burst and liquid thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard zest, rosemary sprig, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool.

**Important: TASTE the sauce.  Start with the lesser amount of sugar and honey and add as needed.  Early in the season my oranges are more tart so I need to use the full complement of sweeteners.  Later, when the oranges are more sweet, I can use the lesser amount of honey and/or brown sugar.  This sauce should be tart, balanced by sweet.

Updated November 2016

Change-Your-Life Turkey

Turkey all doneOr at least that’s what Bon Appetit Magazine calls it: “The Turkey That Will Change Your Life.”  I’m never having it another way.  Yep, I’ve found THE recipe, and here it is:

Spatchcocked Turkey with Anise and Orange, from Bon Appetit, November 2014

To start, watch this video:

Most butchers will remove the backbone for you. Lots of guests? Roast two 12–14-pounders; spatchcocking anything larger will be harder and takes longer.


Servings: 8–10

5 teaspoons aniseed
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup finely grated orange zest, plus 4 wide strips orange zest
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, sprig reserved
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, sprigs reserved
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 12–14-lb. turkey (neck, giblets, and backbone removed and reserved)
2 medium onions, quartered
4 large carrots, peeled, halved
4 celery stalks
3 heads garlic, halved
½ cup olive oil

Toast aniseed in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool; finely grind in a spice mill or a mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, chop with a knife, or do what I do: put it in a small resealable bag and pound it with a food mallet.)

Finely chop salt, grated zest, sugar, chopped rosemary, thyme leaves, pepper, and 4 tsp. aniseed in a food processor.

Place turkey, skin side down, on a cutting board. Use a knife to score down long oblong bone in the center of breast. Turn skin side up and press down on breastbone to flatten. You should hear a crack and feel the bones give way. Rub all over with salt mixture; place turkey, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and chill, uncovered, 6–18 hours. (Note: Of course, I forgot to do this, so I put it in the refrigerator that morning, then roasted it about 4 hours later, and it was still amazing.)

Turkey into ovenPreheat oven to 450°. Arrange onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme and rosemary sprigs in a roasting pan. Rinse turkey, pat dry, and place, skin side up, on top of vegetables; let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil, orange zest strips, and remaining aniseed in a small saucepan until oil is sizzling, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.

Turkey on boardBrush turkey with oil, add ½ cup water to pan, and roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to roast, brushing with oil every 20 minutes, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, about 1 hour longer. Transfer to a platter; tent with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

Here’s their version of how to cut it up:


from here

Chocolate-dipped Valentine Cookie

Chocolate-dipped Valentine Cookies

I had planned to make biscotti for the church ladies this week, then remembered that they all sort of nibbled around the corners of that cookie, not wanting to make it sound crunchy, even though outside of their happy mouths no one can hear the crunching, so thought I’d try and find a Valentine Cookie that was quieter.  I found this while searching and proceeded to make them up as directed.  Except I tripled them–Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!  Just make them in a single batch and you and your mixer will be much happier.

I also noticed in the comments that many substituted out the peppermint extract for almond extract.  I think that would be a better choice, as I found the peppermint in full strength to impart an almost bitter taste to the cookie.

I also have an ancient sugar cookie recipe that mixes the ingredients a little differently: cut the butter/cream cheese into the flour, add the eggs/liquids, and go from there.  I am thinking that would have been a lot easier than the mess I made in the kitchen today.

1 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 cups all-purpose flour

1 (12-ounce) package (2 cups) real semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening


Combine all cookie ingredients except flour in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed until well mixed. Divide dough in half; wrap each half in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight until chilled.

Heat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cookies with 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to wire cooling rack; cool completely.

Melt chocolate and shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, 4-6 minutes or until melted. Dip half of each heart into chocolate. Place onto waxed paper-lined cookie sheets; refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Store refrigerated.

Orange-Cranberry Bread


This is another of my mother’s great recipes, a moist bread so fresh-tasting with cranberries and orange flavor that you’ll find your day just won’t start quite right during cranberry season if you haven’t had a slice of this for breakfast.  But it’s also good for snacks, and a fairly guilt-free snack at that: with only one egg and two pats of butter, it’s low-fat, but with flavor.


Although the recipe makes one loaf, why stop there?  All the photos below show me making up two loaves.


To make two, I first mix up the dry ingredients for one batch in the food processor…


…then transfer it to a bowl and start the second batch.


I cut up, then. . .


…pulse in the butter, then follow the recipe as written.

When you finish with one batch, scrape out the bowl well, then pour in the reserved dry ingredients and start again.  No need to wash up in between.

Cranberry Bread (makes 1 loaf)

Place in mixing bowl of food processor:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 scant tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbls. zested orange peel, from 1 large orange

Mix briefly, then add:
2 Tbls. real butter.


Pulse a few times to chop up butter, then add:
1 beaten egg, mixed with 3/4 cup orange juice.


Mix just to moisten.  Add:
1 and 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Pulse 2 or 3 times, stirring in between pulses with spatula, if necessary.


Spoon into greased, floured loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 60 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes in pan before removing.  Then it should pop right out.  Slice, wrap up for the freezer, or to share with a friend, and enjoy!


I used freshly squeezed orange juice. 


In front are the reject berries: soft, underripe, or nearly goners.

Mom’s Mint Surprise Cookies


I don’t know where my mother got this recipe, or if she invented it herself, but it’s a cookie I always associate with her and with holiday baking. When I baked up a batch and brought them as a gift to each child at her 75th birthday party, all of us children nodding a knowing smile.

As a child I loved them warm, right out of the oven, or set in the sun on cooler day to warm the mint chocolate surprise waiting inside the spiced cookie.  I liked nibbling the edges of the cookie, freeing me to separate the two halves like those sandwich cookies, and lick off the chocolatey goodness before finishing up the cookie.  However you choose to eat them, they are a winner.


You’ll need these: Trader Joe’s UFO’s Mint Chocolate Wafers.  Better get two bags because the wafers seem to disappear quickly.

UPDATE: I went in to Trader Joe’s yesterday (December 2013), and they no longer make, nor carry these.  I’m leaving this post up anyway, as it is a good childhood recipe, and maybe someone, somewhere, will make these again!

UPDATE, APRIL 2014: I found some Dark Chocolate Mint Wafers at Kitchen Krafts.  I’ll try them out and see if they work okay.

Barbara Sessions’ Mint Surprise Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3  1/2 to 4 cups white flour
2 tsp. each: salt, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
12 oz. bag Trader Joe’s UFO’s Mint Chocolate Wafers

Cream shortening, butter, sugars and honey.  Add eggs, beating well after addition.  Mix together whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup white flour and spices.  Blend and add to creamy mixture.  Add the rest of the flour, depening on the size of eggs you used. Chill.


Wrap one Tablspoon dough around one chocolate mint wafer.


Bake 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on rack, if you can stand to wait.  They freeze well.


Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

This recipe is for plain old sugar cookies.  The kind that you roll out and cut with shapes, while your granddaughters (and you) try to sneak the dough.  I first made this recipe about 40 years ago while in high school, when we had to bake giant football-shaped cookies for the football players, a fund-raiser hosted by Girls for Gunn.  I was in leadership that year, so took over my mother’s kitchen making 8″ cookie footballs, decorating them with icing, cutting cardboard to fit and stretching plastic wrap over them to deliver on the morning of Homecoming. I have made it multiples of times since, first with my own children and now with my grandchildren.

You can make it ahead and store it in the refridgerator; it may need a few minutes to warm up a bit before you can roll and shape them.  These cookies are good with a shake of sugar over them just before putting them into the oven, or, if you leave them plain, decorated with frosting and sparkles/candycorn/M&Ms, or what have you.  These granddaughters were fascinated by the physics of placing candy corn on the uncooked cookies, then watching the corn melt into strange and unusual formations while in the oven.

Elizabeth Eastmond’s Sugar Cookies           

3 cups sifted (or stirred) flour
1 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soft butter (don’t use margarine)
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 Tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

400° F oven  Yield: approximately 72 cookies

Sift flour, sugar baking powder, salt into mixing bowl.  Using electric mixer (or pastry blender) cut in butter until particles are fine.  Add egg, cream and vanilla extract.  Blend thoroughly.  Gather dough into ball.  Chill, if desired, for easier handling.

Roll out on floured surface 1/2 at a time to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch.  (The thinner the cookie, the crispier.  The thicker the cookies, the softer they will be.)  Cut into desired shapes; place on ungreased cookie sheet. {If you don’t plan to frost them, sprinkle them with granulated sugar before baking.} Bake 400°F for 5-8 minutes or until golden.

Reindeer Christmas Cookies

My daughter informed me that these are all over Pinterest, but I found them by following a series of links to *this* page, where I swear this cook has photoshopped her cookies to look that good.  Or maybe she’s just a better baker than I am, or maybe it’s because I substituted a cube of butter for some of that shortening — thinking it would taste better — but forgot how soft it makes cookies.  So note to self: don’t swap out the shortening.  Now, prep your stuff.

I couldn’t find baby chocolate-dipped pretzels, so if you think I was going to dip them all, you don’t know me very well.  Spend your time where it counts, and improvise the rest.  So I cut all my sort-of-mini pretzels in half.  Antlers are kind of hoary looking, aren’t they?

I purchased minty white chocolate M&Ms for the nose.  They come in a package with red and white.  We ate all the white ones, while saving the red ones for this project.  I had also purchased mini M&Ms for the eyes.  We decided we liked brown and blue, and that the reindeer with the green eyes looked like Zombie Reindeer (so that would be for a different holiday).

Make up a double batch of the dough in the Christmas Kiss cookies. Roll them into 1-inch balls, but I have to admit that I used my cookie scooper, which I think is 1 and 1/2 inches. Place a couple of scoops of sugar in a large plastic baggie, drop in the balls of cookie dough, and shake lightly to coat them with sugar (so much easier than rolling them around in a dish).

Flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass, then pinch their “nose” slightly, to get that elongated shape.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the oven.  QUICKLY set in a matching pair of antlers, then do the nose, then the eyes last.  Or get someone to help you: my husband did all the antlers while I was throwing on noses and eyeballs.

Let cool on the cookie sheet.  When mostly cool, transfer to a rack.

NOTE: you can see I used parchment paper on this batch.  You can buy it in rolls from the grocery store or (now) from Costco.  If you don’t use parchment paper, the world won’t end.  However, you may want to transfer your cookies to the cooling rack when they are still sort of warm, instead waiting until they are really cool.