Friday, December 30, 2011

Spiced Caramelized Graham Crackers

I had leftover graham crackers from making gingerbread (graham cracker) houses with my little ones and decided to give this recipe a whirl.  The spices add warmth to the buttery caramel that makes these graham crackers extra yummy and addicting.

Spiced Caramelized Graham Crackers

12-14 full sheets of honey graham crackers
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sliced almonds, for sprinkling (about 1 generous cup)

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-by-17 inch rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.  Arrange the graham crackers snugly in the pan, covering as much of it as possible (break a few crackers to fill in any gaps).

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg.  Melt over medium high heat, stirring often.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the caramel evenly over the crackers.  Use and offset spatula to quickly smooth the caramel over the surface.  Sprinkle generously with the almonds.  Bake until bubbly, 8-10 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack before breaking into pieces.

*My sister Stephanie and I think that they would be yummy to use for ice cream sandwiches.

Recipe from Piece of Cake blog

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart

Oh my goodness, this tart is amazing!  The smells of caramelized onions, thyme, and garlic that filled my home were mouthwatering.  Oh and let's not forget about the bacon, little pieces of salty, crisp goodness.  So delicious!  After all the amazing sights and smells that I was experiencing, I could hardly wait to eat a slice of this lovely little tart and boy oh boy, it did not disappoint!  I beg you to make this and make it soon!

Pie Crust

Makes enough for 1 double-crusted pie or 2 single, 10-inch crusts

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Pulse a few times to blend.  Sprinkle the butter pieces over the dry ingredients.  Pulse until the butter is the size of large peas.

Add 6 tablespoons of the water and pulse until the dough just begins to form a ball (you may need to add up to 2 tablespoons more of the ice water).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball.  Divide the dough in half, and gently pat each half into a disc.  Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

After you roll out the crust and place it in the desired pan, let it chill for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator before baking to prevent shrinking.

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart

1 10-inch pie crust
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven set over medium heat, melt the butter.  Toss in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized-this can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, depending on your stove.  Have a glass of water standing by; add a tablespoon or so of water as needed to keep everything moist and prevent burning.  When the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper.  Scrape the onions onto a plate to cool.  Wipe out the skillet and place back on the heat.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towel and let drain and cool.

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees.  Set the tart pan on a large baking sheet.  Bake the crust just until it begins to look dry all over, about 10 minutes.  If it bubbles up a bit in spots, just press down the bubbles with a spatula.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg yolk and parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold in half the onions and half the bacon.  Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the par baked crust.  Spread the remaining onions over the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the top.

Bake until the crust is golden on the edges and the ricotta filling is firm, 30-35 minutes.  Let the tart cool in the pan before slicing.  Garnish with a few more fresh thyme leaves.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

*I think it would be fun to do mini versions of this tart using individual size tart pans.

Recipe is from Piece of Cake blog by Shauna Sever

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Market Street Clam Chowder

While I was growing up, my family would stay the night in Salt Lake the night before Christmas Eve.  Every year we would go to Market Street Grill for dinner.  I remember the restaurant being noisy and busy with holiday parties.  There was always a wait, but Market Street was a tradition and so we would wait.  The sourdough bread with cold butter, the onion rings and the clam chowder always tasted so good and definitely are the most memorable.  My dad loves their onion rings!  My little family has been there a few times, but instead of going to Market Street each year, we like to have a quite (okay, maybe not so quite with three kidlets) dinner at home with a big pot of Market Street clam chowder, crusty bread and beer battered onion rings (if I am feeling up too it) during the holiday season. 

Market Street Clam Chowder

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
4 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green pepper
3/4 cup chopped clams
3/4 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
3/4 tablespoon dried thyme
6 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco
3/4 cup sherry
4 cups water
3/4 cup clam juice
1 quart plus 2 cups half & half

Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof dish and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  In large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half & half.  Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked.  Add butter-flour mixture to chowder and stir until thick.  Remove chowder from heat.  Stir in half & half until blended.  Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally.

*I use canned clams that are minced from the grocery store and I know that sounds gross, but they work great.  My sister Stephanie leaves the clams out of the soup, but still uses the clam juice.  Either way, it is delicious!

*I've changed the recipe just a bit because my family likes more potatoes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

German Pancakes

German Pancakes are a favorite breakfast in my house.  My two boys, who share the same birthday, always choose them for their birthday breakfast.  Lucky for me, they have the same favorite!  For me, German pancakes with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice remind of breakfast on Christmas morning.  Growing up, German pancakes were a Christmas breakfast tradition.

German Pancakes

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place 1/2 cup butter in a 9x13 pan and place in oven until butter is melted and bubbly.  In a blender combine eggs, milk, and flour.  Pour the batter into the hot pan over the melted butter.  Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies

These cookies remind me of the Christmas season and are my favorite holiday cookie.  I love this chocolate cookie enough to make all year long, but for some reason I always wait until after Thanksgiving to start making them.  I like to make the dough and keep it in my fridge, this way it's ready to bake whenever I need a chocolate treat.  Throughout the month of December my little family and I enjoy many nights filled with warm chocolate cookies and hot chocolate to keep us nice and toasty while it is freezing cold outside.  Beware, these cookies are very easy to eat and I have been known to eat more then I should on many occasions!

Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for dipping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine.  Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour and cocoa mixture; beat to combine.  Form dough into a flattened disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch-diameter balls.  Roll each ball in sugar.  Place on prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.  Bake until set, 10-12 minutes.

*I always make my balls of dough smaller then 1 1/2-inch-diameter.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies Magazine

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gingerbread Boy Cookies

I love this time of year!  There is something magical about Christmas that makes me feel all tight inside.  I love that with this season comes traditions, traditions that I have grown up with and the new ones that I have started with my own little family.  Gingerbread boys are a tradition that started when I was small by my Grandma Pinegar and is now one that I do with my little ones.  Every year at the beginning of December my Grandma Pinegar would have all of the grandkids come to her house to make gingerbread boy chains.  In the "Big Room" there would be stacks of gingerbread boys, plastic wrap, curling ribbon, piping bags of icing and small bowls of red hots and chocolate chips.  With a little (or a lot of) help, all of the grandkids would make their own gingerbread boy chains to take home.  It was our own little advent calendar and every day we would get to eat a little gingerbread boy until Christmas day finally arrived.  The extra gingerbread boys were decorated with icing, chocolate chips, red hots and then eaten.  I am grateful for Christmas memories and traditions that make this time of year so wonderful and for a Grandma who loved us enough to make soooo many gingerbread boys!

Gingerbread Boy Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and spices, stirring with a whisk.  Place butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy.  Add egg, and beat until well blended.  Beat in vanilla and molasses.  Reduce speed to low.  Add the flour mixture to butter mixture; beat just until combined.

Shape dough into a 4-inch round and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill for 1 hour.  Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out cookies with a gingerbread boy cookie cutter, rerolling scraps as necessary.  Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 9 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire rack.

*I like my gingerbread boys crispy and so I rolled them a bit thinner than a 1/4-inch.

Recipe adapted slightly from Cooking Light Magazine