November 2, 2009

One Down Three to Go

I finally have the last of my cards complete and in the mail. Now I just have to finish up the swap I hosted. The last cards should be here today and I can get them mailed out. I can't even fully express how happy I am to be free of that obligation. Even with having to finish up the cards I was able to cook everything on my list (all recipes are below).

Friday Moo and I made White Velvet Sugar Cookies with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. We took them over to KLB's for a girls night with her and JB (KLB's sister). I was also supposed to take some of the pumpkin chocolate chip bread from the bakery; however, that wasn't going to work out so instead of just not taking some, I made Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Drizzle. Why those? Because the bundt cakes took 14 minutes to cook and the bread would have baked for 50 or so.

Over at KLB's we ate Nutty Chicken Cubes, Brown & Serve Rolls, Muddy Buddies that KLB made, the desserts we made and we watched Sweeny Todd and The Strangers. We all had a fun night.

On Saturday I made Pumpkin Bread Bowls, Clam Chowder, Crispy Rice Candy Corn Treats, and a Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball. I needed a break from making cards so I made everything. PE helped with the cooking of the Clam Chowder. Nana joined us at A1's house for dinner. A1 made Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Soup and an Artichoke Something or Other appetizer (she doesn't follow recipes or I would share). Everything was delicious.

As for the title of the post . . . one holiday (Halloween) down and three (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) to go. Oh, how I hate these three months.

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White Velvet Sugar Cookies
from My Kitchen Cafe
Print Recipe

2 cups butter, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
4 3/4 cups flour

Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar, egg yolks and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour. The dough will be VERY soft; don't worry, it gets firmer after chilling. Cover and chill two hours or until firm. Roll out on floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Cut into shapes; place on greased baking sheets (or use parchment paper). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set (but not browned). Cool 5 minutes. Place on wire racks to cool. Frost as desired.

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Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
from My Kitchen Cafe
Print Recipe

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form (it helps to use a chilled bowl and chilled beaters - and make sure the peaks are stiff not soft). Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and mix carefully (so as not to deflate cream) but well. Frost to your heart's delight! (Be careful if adding coloring - the liquid food coloring found in the baking aisle can quickly thin your icing so you may need to add a bit more powdered sugar to compensate. I prefer to use Wilton's gel coloring but either will work.)

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Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Drizzle
from Stephanie's Kitchen
Print Recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips

For the drizzle:
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
dash of cinnamon

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Set aside. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add vanilla and pumpkin. Mix just until combined and creamy. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Grease the pan of your choice and fill the cups half way. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or baked through and when cooled, transfer to a wire rack. Using a mixer, whip the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk. Add a dash of cinnamon. Whip until smooth, than drizzle over the bundt cakes.

++I made six mini bundt cakes and six cupcakes.
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Muddy Buddies
from Chex® box
Print Recipe

9 cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag or large bowl with lid. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag or cover bowl with lid; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

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Pumpkin Bread Bowls
from Everyday Food Storage
Print Recipe

2 Tbsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups warm water
4 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
6 1/2 cups whole wheat or white flour
yellow, red, and green food coloring

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Add the salt, oil, and flour and combine.
2. Knead the dough on a floured tabletop, adding more flour if needed, until it is smooth and elastic but not sticky or soft.
3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turn it over once, then cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise just until it has doubled in bulk (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).
4. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into four portions, and remove a small piece of dough from each portion for the stems.
5. Shape each pumpkin by grasping the dough from the bottom, stretching it upward, and gathering it on the top. Repeat this process until you have a uniform ball. Then firmly pinch together the gathered dough in the center and turn over the ball. Now gently squeeze the middle of the pumpkin to make it stand as tall as possible.
6. Place the pumpkin on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. Grease one end of a toothpick and insert it into the dough stem so that it protrudes an inch from the top. Stick the other end into the pumpkin top. Then cover each pumpkin with plastic wrap and let it rise to twice its size.
7. Uncover the risen dough. Holding the stem, slowly twist the toothpick to loosen it but don’t remove it.
8. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of water with 30 drops of yellow and 6 drops of red food coloring. Transfer a half teaspoon of the mixture to a small saucer and stir in a drop of green food coloring.
Use a small pastry brush to paint the stem green (the brush should not be too wet). Gently apply a coat of orange to the globe using a larger brush and long, soft strokes. Let the paint dry for about 2 minutes.
With a sharp knife, lightly score the dough to create the pumpkin’s vertical grooves (adults only).
9. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the bread until it sounds hollow when you tap the crust, about 35 to 40 minutes.
10. Set the pumpkin on a cooling rack and twist the toothpick to remove it. If the crust seems soft, cool the bread completely, then bake it for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Before serving, slice off the top of the pumpkin and pull out the bread from the inside, leaving the bowl about 1” thick on the sides and bottom. Fill with soup.

++The bread bowls can be made the day before.
++I used my stand mixer to knead for 10 minutes and skipped the first rise in step #3.

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Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
from Mommy's Kitchen
Print Recipe

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter not margarine
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
graham crackers, chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafers or animal crackers.

Beat softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add sugars until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Place mixture in a plastic container. Refrigerate for 1 -2 hours form into a ball and roll ball in pecans (optional) you can also roll the cheese ball into graham cracker crumbs or more mini chocolate chips.

++I colored the cheese ball orange to be a little festive.

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Crispy Rice Candy Corn Treats
Print Recipe

4 Tbsp butter
1 (10 oz) bag marshmallows
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups crispy rice cereal (preferred brand: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies)
1 cup rough chopped candy corns

Spray a 13x9 glass baking dish and rubber spatula with non stick spray. In a medium sized sauce pan over low heat, add butter to melt. Once melted add marshmallows, salt, and vanilla. Stir continuously until the marshmallows have reached a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and fold in the cereal and candy corns until completely coated. Add the mixture to the greased baking dish and smooth out evenly. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

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Clam Chowder
adapted from Favorite Family Recipes
Print Recipe

2 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup leeks, diced*
3⁄4 cup clams, steamed or sautéed (see below)
3⁄4 Tbsp FRESH ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 Tbsp salt (use KOSHER salt, not table salt)
3⁄4 Tbsp whole thyme
6 bay leaves
1 tsp Tabasco
3⁄4 cup sherry or chicken broth
2 cups water
3⁄4 cup clam juice
3⁄4 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
2 quarts half and half

Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof container. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half and half. Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Stir butter-flour mixture into chowder and stir until thick. Mixture will be slightly less thick than cookie dough. Remove chowder from heat. Stir in half and half until blended. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Steamed Clams:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 – 3 lbs clams (rinse them off really good, then put them in a bowl with salt water in the fridge for a while)

Bring first three ingredients to a boil. Add clams, cover with a lid, then steam until all the clam shells open up (about 5-10 minutes). Do not over cook. Remove from heat, drain... and that's it!

Sautéed Clams:
1/2 - 1 cup butter
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup clams, chopped

Saute until cooked.

*If you have never used leeks before click here to view how to clean and cut them.

++We used canned clams this time and it was tasty. Nothing beats fresh clams though.
++I didn't have any half and half so I used 1 qt of milk and 1 qt of whipping cream (I use this substitution a lot).

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