Sausage-Cheese Spirals

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

October: National Sausage Month

Islander is SO not a morning person! When she and Highlander have overnight guests, she warns them not to expect anything fancy for their first meal the next day. But Highlander gets up early and makes coffee and sets the table with fruit and juice. The night before, if Islander baked a breakfast casserole (French toast), bacon-cheddar-scallion scones or sausage-cheese spirals, then he just reheats them in the oven so everyone can have a hot meal (otherwise, cold pastries or cereals will have to suffice).

Sausage-cheese spirals may be one of our breakfast menu items but they also make a good afternoon snack during National Sausage Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cooking Light Quick Baking magazine)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage (we used Jimmy Dean brand pork sausage)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 can (11 ounces) refrigerated French bread dough
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

In a skillet, crumble the sausage and cook until brown. Drain off any fat and let cool. Season with chopped sage and salt. Shred the Gruyere cheese.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

On a clean, floured surface, unroll the French bread dough. Flatten with a rolling pin, cutting the dough and pressing the seams together if necessary, until it is a 13×8-inch rectangle. Leaving half an inch on all sides, brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle the sausage mixture.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

Top with shredded Gruyere cheese. Carefully roll the long side and pinch the seams to seal well. With a sharp knife, slice into spirals and discard the ends of the dough. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet generously misted with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving tray. Serve hot.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

Notes

  • Cooking Light named this recipe “Savory Sausage Breakfast Rolls” but they look more like spirals instead of bread-buns.
  • While this recipe was good, puff pastry would have been tastier than the French bread dough.
  • Make these sausage-cheese spirals during National Hot Breakfast Month in February and National Breakfast Month in September.

Coffee and Nut Cookies

 Coffee and Nut Cookies

September 29: National Coffee Day

We have visited coffee plantations and estates while in Kona (Big Island of Hawaii), Kualapuu (Molokai), Kalaheo (Kauai) and Waialua (Oahu, Islander’s home island). We even got to sample some of the peaberries (bitter yet aromatic) grown on the property of some of the Hawaiian coffee companies. We buy their products and take them back to the mainland so Highlander can enjoy a cuppa joe (or, in Hawaiian, kope), and Islander can bake coffee-flavored desserts, such as coffee and nut cookies.

Hawaiian Coffee - HI Cookery

Inspired by Kauai Kookie’s Kona coffee macadamia nut shortbread cookies, Islander used Hawaiian ingredients in a simple coffee cookie recipe to give it a tropical twist. Coffee lovers will definitely appreciate these flavorful treats. So celebrate National Coffee Day and bake a batch of coffee and nut cookies with a little aloha!

Recipe

(Adapted from Ferra Coffee

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar (we used C&H brand), granulated white
  • 2 tablespoons roasted ground coffee (we used Hawaiian Kona coffee)
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (we used Hawaiian Vanilla Company brand) 
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (we used Mauna Loa macadamia nut pieces)

Directions

In a large bowl, cream the shortening with the sugar. Mix in the ground coffee. Beat in the egg. Add the flour.

Coffee and Nut Cookies

Mix in the vanilla and nuts. Blend well until cookie dough forms. Use a small scoop to drop the dough at least two inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to a crisp on wire racks. Yield: Approximately 1 ½ dozen coffee cookies. 

Coffee and Nut Cookies

Notes

  • These cookies spread while baking and are soft when they come out of the oven. When cool, the edges become crisp while the center is somewhat chewy.
  • Search our blog for recipes containing coffee as an ingredient. Also peruse for more posts on other cookie recipes.

Carlota de Limón

Carlota de limon

September 16: Mexican Independence Day

Although Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) is a popular holiday associated with Mexico, el Dieciséis de Septiembre (16th of September) is seen as more important. Whereas May 5 commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over Napoleon’s French troops/invaders in 1862, September 16 marks Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810. Either date is cause for celebration, especially in South Texas where we have many Mexican friends and neighbors. From them we have learned a little bit about their Hispanic heritage as well as some of the foods they prepare for special events.

Carlota de limón (also called postre de limón) is one of the quick and easy recipes they have shared with us. It is like a trifle that consists of alternating layers of cookies and a creamy lime filling. This makes for a delicious dessert for Dieciséis de Septiembre and during other Mexican holidays.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup lime juice (from approximately 6-7 fresh squeezed limes)
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 rolls/packages of Maria Mexican cookies
  • sliced limes (optional garnish)

Directions

Juice the limes. Place the juice with the evaporated and condensed milks in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Carlota de limon

In a large glass casserole dish, layer the cookies. Pour 1/3 of the lime-milk mixture over the cookies and spread to cover them. Arrange more cookies on top. Pour another layer of the lime-milk mixture over it and spread to cover them. Arrange the last layer of cookies and finish spreading the lime-milk mixture over it.

Carlota de limon

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight to allow the cookies to soften, the lime-milk mixture to solidify and the flavors to develop. Before serving, garnish with limes (optional). Cut into 24 squares.

Carlota de limon

Notes

  • Some recipes add a cup of softened whipped cream cheese to make the filling fluffier and thicker.
  • Pipe a pretty border with whipped cream to decorate the edges (optional).
  • Happy Hispanic Heritage Month to all our friends from Latin America!

A+ Apple Cookies

Apple Cookies

August: Back-to-School Season

Get an A+ for your efforts in making adorable apple cookies for a back-to-school snack. We baked and decorated apple cookies for a college crowd and they were a hit (of course, most students will eat anything that’s free)! The sugar cookie dough we use yields around four-dozen two-inch shaped apple cutouts so there are a lot to share for a class en masse. These apple cookies are crisp, cute and colorful and are a festive food to serve at back-to-school events and even during National Apple Week (second week of August).

Recipe

(Adapted from Kitchen Lane)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (all purpose white)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • red and green fondant
  • powdered sugar for dusting the surface
  • clear piping gel or water
  • chocolate brown frosting (for the apple stems)
  • white frosting (for “A+” lettering)

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture into the other ingredients and blend well to form a dough.

Apple Cookies

Divide dough in thirds and roll into a ball. Then flatten each ball into a disc and place between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼-inch thick (we used ¼-inch thick acrylic sticks as guides). Stack them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30-45 minutes). They may also be frozen for 15-20 minutes.

Apple Cookies

Take one stack of flattened dough out of the refrigerator or freezer. Peel away both front and back to loosen, leaving the dough on one sheet of the waxed or parchment paper. Cut out the apple shapes. Place on a foil-lined greased cookie pan about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the cookie pan. Re-roll scraps of dough and cut more shapes, refrigerating if the dough gets too soft. The dough needs to be cold and firm in order to retain its shape while baking. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the sides are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven when done and let sit on the pan for about five minutes. Transfer each cookie on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.

Apple Cookies

Using the same apple-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes on red fondant (roll out to 1/8-inch thickness on a clean surface that has been dusted with a bit of powdered sugar to prevent from sticking). Slice off the stem piece. Brush piping gel or water on the red fondant.

Apple Cookies

Position the red fondant on top of the apple cookie and smooth out the edges with warm fingers. Repeat for all cookies. Pipe chocolate brown frosting for the stem. Pipe “A+” on top of the apple cookies. Set aside to dry.

Apple Cookies

Make small leaves from the green fondant (we used a leaf-shaped plunger-cutter). Attach to the apple cookie with piping gel or water. Set aside to make sure all icing is dry before stacking. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve to starving students.

Apple Cookies

Notes

  • Personalize the apple cookies by piping students’ and teachers’ names or writing the name of the school on them.
  • We used fondant more than royal icing on these apple cookies because it was quicker to cut out shapes for mass production (besides, we have not mastered the “flooding” technique—yet).
  • Search our blog for other back-to-school snack recipes.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes with

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

August (Second Week): National Apple Week

It’s back to school time for students and teachers! We remember when the new academic year began after Labor Day in September, and now it’s earlier in August! Bake a back-to-school treat—apple nut and spice cupcakes–during National Apple Week, which coincides with preparations for going back to the classroom.

Apples are symbolic of education, perhaps because they were the fabled forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

Students stereotypically give an apple to their teachers as an appreciation gift. But (if allowed) why not give the whole class apple nut and spice cupcakes as a sweet start to a successful school year?

Recipe

(Adapted from Duncan Hines)

For the apple nut and spice cupcakes

  • 1 box spice cake mix (we used Duncan Hines brand)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can (20 ounces) apple pie filling (we used Lucky Leaf brand “lite”)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spice cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil. Blend until thick and moistened. Drain and chop the apples in the canned pie filling.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Add the chopped apple pie filling and walnuts to the batter. Mix well. Scoop into muffin tins lined with red cupcake papers. Bake in a preheated oven a 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks before frosting and decorating. Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

For the cinnamon cream cheese frosting

(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1+ tablespoons water, milk or cinnamon schnapps
  • red food coloring
  • red sanding sugar
  • thin pretzel sticks (for the apple stem)
  • green tube frosting (for the apple leaf)

Directions

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the ground cinnamon and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until smooth. Thin with liquid, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired spreadable consistency.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Tint with red food coloring and blend well. Frost the tops of the cooled apple nut and spice cupcakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in red sanding sugar.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Break pieces of the pretzel sticks and insert in the center of the cupcakes to make the apple stem. Use a small leaf tip and squeeze out green frosting from the tube to make the apple leaf. Return to the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Notes

  • The U.S. Apple Association founded National Apple Week in 1904 but expanded the celebration into National Apple Months—September, October and November!
  • Search our blog for more apple recipes.

Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Crème Brulee

Lilikoi Creme Brûlée

July 27: National Crème Brulee Day

Our favorite dessert at Kona Grill is its passion fruit crème brulee. The mainland-based chain restaurant tries to add a tropical taste to its menu. Islander loves lilikoi (Hawaiian word for passion fruit) and indulges once in awhile in the custard with a crust of crackly burnt sugar on top.

Now that she has learned how to make lilikoi crème brulee in her own kitchen, she makes these for fellow Hawaii expatriates. The passion fruit flavor reminds them of home. For a tropical twist to traditional crème brulee, infuse some passion fruit flavor and see why locals love the lilikoi in this delicious dessert.

Make lilikoi crème brulee for a summer social or luau and especially for National Crème Brulee Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from NBC Connecticut)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla paste
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, divided use
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ – 1/3 cup passion fruit puree/pulp/juice

Directions

In a microwavable cup or small bowl, stir the cream with the vanilla paste. Heat until hot (about 1-2 minutes). Let cool for about 10 minutes to infuse the flavoring. Boil a quart of water and set aside. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with ¼ cup sugar and salt. Gradually add the cream mixture and continue whisking.

Lilikoi Creme Brûlée

Add the passion fruit liquid. Strain this mixture, if necessary. Put the mixture into custard cups or ramekins. Pour the boiled water halfway up the sides of the custard cups or ramekins to make a water bath. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick (it should wiggle gently).

Lilikoi Creme Brûlée

Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the ramekins to a wire rack. Cool for about 30 minutes then cover and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, sprinkle a thin layer of the remaining sugar on top. Carefully use a crème brulee torch in a back and forth or circular motion to caramelize the sugar to a crisp. Serve immediately while the custard is still cold and the sugar top hardens.

Lilikoi Creme Brûlée

Notes

  • Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) to Phyllis S. for ribbon lei for the final food photo above. Mahalo also to Olga W. for gifting Islander with the crème brulee blow torch.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing lilikoi (passion fruit) as an ingredient.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

July 12: National Pecan Pie Day 

Our neighbors across the street, Glenn and Ana Maria B., happen to be an intercultural couple like us. He is a Native American and she is Mexican-Japanese. We try to go on double dates to pow-wows, cultural festivals or restaurants around South Texas whenever we can.

Ana Maria gave a recipe for Caramel Pecan Delight Pie to Islander, knowing that she likes to make desserts. This recipe yields two pies—so we can keep one and share the other with our friendly neighbors. Islander used low-fat or fat-free ingredients for a guilt-free indulgence!

For a twist on the traditional pecan pie, make Caramel Pecan Delight Pie. This dessert is doubly delightful and delicious on National Pecan Pie Day.

Recipe

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (we used fat-free)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (we used fat-free)
  • 1 container (16 ounces) Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts (we used reduced fat)
  • 1 jar caramel ice cream topping or dulce de leche sauce

Directions

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Chop the pecans and add them to the skillet, along with the coconut, and brown them in the butter. Set aside to cool completely.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

In a large bowl, cream the cheese with the condensed milk. Fold in the Cool Whip until well blended. Divide between the two pie crusts and spread the tops until smooth.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

Top both pies with the cooled pecan-coconut mixture. Drizzle the tops with caramel sauce. Cover and freeze until firm (about 3-4 hours). Slice the frozen pies and plate them. Top with extra Cool Whip, if desired, and serve immediately.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

Notes

  • While this pie seems really sweet, the pecans balance out the caramel.
  • Try the traditional pecan pie recipe from our previous post.
  • Search our blog for more pie and pecan recipes.
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