Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cookie exchange, December 13, 2015!

I hosted my 2nd (next year, annual) cookie exchange and it was a great hit! I served various appetizers and this fall sangria.

 The cookie exchange winners...

An interesting fact is that none of the cookies have flour!  Under certain cookie nazi rule books, cookies without flour WOULD NOT be allowed at a cookie exchange.  


Christmas Tree Meringues

  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 1/4 TSP Cream of Tartar
  • Green Gel Food Coloring
  • Parchment Paper
  • Piping Bag
  • Large Star Tip
  • Sprinkles & Stars (I ordered Wilton gold stars online)
  1. Preheat oven to 150-170 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer place egg whites. Let the whites come to room temp.
  2. Beat egg whites until white and foamy. Mix in 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Set timer for 7 minutes. Slowly add in sugar a bit at a time taking the entire 7 minutes to do so.
  3. Add food coloring and mix well.
  4. Fill piping bag with meringue using a large star tip (I used Wilton #1M). 
  5. On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet pipe small mounds of meringue, moving in a tiny circle. 
  6. Add sprinkles and stars. If placing stars on the soft meringue is too difficult, you can also add them with a small dab of royal icing after baking.
  7. Now bake at a very low heat (about 150-170) for about two hours to two and a half hours until they are nice and crisp. I just checked on mine every so often to make sure they haven’t started to brown. Every oven is different. I have found in the past that a low temp for a much longer time is far better then a higher temp with a risk of browning.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stew and Muffins

It sometimes gets cold here.  When it does, I want to cook using my crock pot.  I made old fashioned beef stew using this very simple recipe.  I did not do any searing or cooking outside of the crock pot.  I followed the recipe other than leaving out the celery (my family does not believe in celery in stew) and I used 32 ounces of beef stock.  Start off with the amount of beef stock as called for in the recipe and then add more to get the amount of "soupyness" that you want to achieve.  I did need to thicken at the end using a corn starch slurry and add quite a bit of salt.  This was delicious, comforting and just like my parents would make and with the ease of a crock pot.

I had some fresh cranberries and oranges so I decided to whip up some muffins.  These were superb.  The muffin is almost like pound cake and it would make a great base for any combination of fruit and nuts.   I recommend cutting the cranberries in half but otherwise, this recipe is perfect.