Thursday, December 25, 2008


The Christmas Eve Dinner Tradition in my family
is homemade manicotti from scratch including the shell.
Before the holidays my husband and I had several
practice runs of manicotti, all of which, I think turned out
good but yet I still was not totally satisfied.
As I was preparing the grocery list for the "big" shop
before the holidays I decided on a little twist for the
manicotti that I just knew would make it GREAT!
For the Meat Manicotti I used chicken, feta sausage
and sundried tomatoes as the base instead of the normal
meatball mixture.
For the cheese I used a three cheese mixuture: parmesean,
ricotta and mozarella but the secret ingredient was goat
In my opinion, this batch of manicotti was the best one!
The cheese ones were so creamy and delicious and the
meat was a little spicy and full of great flavors.
Dinner was great but laughing around the table with my family
was even better!!!
Making Manicotti
The Shell - made one at a time.
The mixture is placed toward the end and then you roll.

A full pan - yum!

The table was set awaiting the family's arrival.

My sister came up with a great idea. Instead of using
the regular place holders we put an object near each
seat representing that person. In the photo above
you can see the small pair of binoculars for my husband
who loves birdwatching. I loved it because it added such
a personal touch to the table.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
to you and your family!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gingerbread Man Cookies

Run, run, as fast as you can,
You can't catch me,
I'm the gingerbread man
I'm the gingerbread man
and I'm out of the pan!
Gingerbread Man Cookies


3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
** I did not have molasses so I substituted honey**
Sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
Cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Mix in eggs and molasses.
Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed.
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic.
Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes
If at any point the dough becomes sticky add a little flour to the rolling pin.
Heat oven to 350°.
Place a dough on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper.
Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick.
Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes.

Transfer to ungreased baking sheets.
Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Let sit a few minutes and then
to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Decorate as desired.

I think they turned out great!
I used a lemon frosting to
balance the gingerbread flavor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish.
It is rich, creamy and full of flavor.
I don't make it often because it seems like so much work.
Recently, I was inspired by the many
different types of risotto on a menu
at a local restuarant.
I decided to give it a try.

Mushroom Risotto

2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
4 1/2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 cup water
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the mushrooms,
1 cup of the stock and the water. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Let soak for 30 minutes to soften. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid and discarding any sediment that falls to the bottom of the pan. Chop the mushrooms and set aside. In a saucepan over high heat, combine the mushroom soaking liquid and enough stock to total 5 cups. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and keep the liquid hot. Set an electric pressure cooker to brown according to the manufacturers instructions and melt 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) of the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until each grain is well coated with butter and nearly translucent with a white dot in the center, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Add the stock mixture, cover and cook on high for about 10- 12 minutes.
This is not the finished product - forgive me but we forgot to take the photo
before sitting down and eating the risotto.
And let me tell you - it was very good!

Spritz Cookies - Cookie Press

When you were little do you remember eating cookies
that were these shapes: flowers, tree, stars?
Both my husband and I can recall these cookies.
Our moms made them around the holidays.
I don't remeber them being full of flavor but they
always manage to disappear.
I saw a cookie press at Linens and Things
the other day - on sale- and I had to buy it.
I spent a little time online looking up recipes for cookie
press cookies. Most people use the " Spritz" cookie
recipe. I am open to other recipes but I imagine
that the recipes for this little machine can't be too
complicated because the dough has to be able to press
through the different shapes.

For this first time using the press I made little flowers.
I put a butterscotch or chocolate chip in the center of each cookie.
Ahhh, Just like I remember.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spiced Chicken Thighs

I received a sample of Cuisine at Home the other day.
As I glanced through the magazine this recipe sounded very
interesting to me especially the combination of spices.

It takes some time to make the dish because of all
the steps but I think it is very good.

Spiced Chicken Thighs in Chicken Broth
by Cuisine at Home

Combine and Saute
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt
4 chicken thighs

Add and Saute
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cinnamon stick

Deglaze with
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon tomato paste

Add and simmer
1 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup canned chick-peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olive, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon honey
1 lemon cut into wedges
1 bay leaf
sauteed chicken thigh

1. Combine spices and salt in a dish, then rub over chicken thighs; let stand about 5 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium; add chicken, skin side down, and saute until browned on both sides, 10 minutes total. Remove chicken.
3. Add onion and saute 3 minutes.
4. Stir in ginger, garlic, pepper flakes and cinnamon stick; cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
5. Deglaze with wine and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Simmer until liquid evaporates.
6. Add tomatoes, broth, chickpeas, olives, honey, lemon and bay leaf; stir to combine.
7. Arrange reserved chicken on top cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced, 20-25 minutes.
8. Finish with parsley and salt just before serving.

Very Good!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Everything Cookie

Guess what time it is?
Cookie Time

The countdown until the Christmas Holidays has begun
and so has the great cookie baking!
For my first cookie of the season we have -

The Everything Cookie.

There are many different variations to this cookie
so don't be afraid to use what you have in the pantry.

1 cup granola
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped nut of your choice
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, toss in granola, raisins, rolled oats, chocolate chips,
peanut butter chips and walnuts; set aside.

In a small bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder,
salt and whisk together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the granulated
and dark brown sugar. Add a few pieces of butter at
a time and beat until smooth and creamy.
Add vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at time.
Mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Add the granola, raisins and chips and mix well together by hand.
Working with a generous 2 tablespoons of dough each time,
roll the dough into 2-inch balls.

Place the balls onto baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
Bake until the cookie edges turn golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 -3 minutes .Remove and let cool.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

MMM, Good!