Snow Gentlemen and

Snowflake Cookies

snowflakecookies

December 4: National Cookie Day

‘Tis the season to be baking! As Christmas and the winter season approach, we made some snowflake cookies with bonus snow gentlemen (no top hat, just a cute little bowtie). The dough is flavored with festive crushed candy canes to give the cookies some crunch, color and coolness from the peppermints. Snowflake cookies and snow gentlemen would be picture perfect at holiday parties and be a scrumptious snack, especially on National Cookie Day and throughout the winter season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Sweetopia)

For the cookie dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup crushed candy cane/peppermint candies

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until a sticky dough is formed. Fold in the crushed candy cane, being careful not to overmix of the dough will turn pink. Roll out dough out into a ball and divide in half. Flatten each ball into a circle between two pieces of waxed paper.

Use a rolling pin to roll to a thickness of ¼ inch. Stack the rolled dough on top of each other and refrigerate until firm (about an hour). Take out one of the flattened dough from the refrigerator. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet two-inches apart.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove hardened bits of candy from the edges and finish decorating.

For the snowflake fondant decorations

  • Powdered sugar or cornstarch (for dusting the work surface)
  • White fondant
  • Water
  • Luster dust (pearl and silver)

Directions

Dust a clean work surface with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent the fondant from sticking. Knead some white fondant until pliable. Roll out very thin (about 1/32 inch), being careful not to tear the fondant. It needs to be very thin so that the snowflake cookie stamp leaves a good impression. Dust a little powdered sugar or cornstarch on the cookie cutter to prevent the fondant designs from sticking. Cut out shapes and release with plunger. Keep covered in a plastic zipper top bag to prevent from drying out.

Brush water on a snowflake cookie. Press a matching fondant piece on top. Repeat with all other cookies. Dry brush some luster dust over the fondant. Store unstacked or between sheets of waxed/parchment paper or napkins.

For the snow gentlemen cookies

  • Powdered sugar or cornstarch (for dusting the work surface)
  • Fondant (white, black or dark chocolate, blue and orange)
  • Water

Directions

Dust a clean work surface with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent the fondant from sticking. Knead some white fondant until pliable. Roll out very thin (about 1/16 inch). Cut out snowperson shapes and keep covered in a plastic zipper top bag to prevent from drying out. Brush water on a snowperson cookie. Press the fondant piece on top, gently stretching to fit the edges as necessary. Repeat with all other cookies.

Knead some black or dark chocolate fondant until pliable. Roll out very thin (about 1/16 inch). Use round tip #7 or #8 to punch out holes for the eyes and buttons. Dot a little water with a thin brush on the white fondant and position the eyes with a toothpick.

Dust the bowtie/ribbon mold with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent the fondant from sticking. Knead some blue fondant until pliable. Press into the bowtie/ribbon mold. Flatten the back or trim away the excess. Unmold. Add a little water with a thin brush on the white fondant to position the bowtie. Finish adding the buttons in the same manner as the eyes.

Knead some orange fondant until pliable. Roll into a small ball. Shape into a cone/carrot and flatten the bottom. Attach to the white fondant with a little water. Store unstacked until ready to serve on a platter.

Notes

  • Highlander had gifted Islander with the mini snowflake cookie cutter plungers as a Christmas stocking stuffer last year. There were four snowflake designs (and other seasonal shapes) at Michael’s craft stores for $1 each.
  • Search our blog for other cookie recipes for holiday cookie swaps/exchanges and seasonal parties.

Meringue Ghosts

October 31: Halloween

Get into the Halloween spirit and make meringue ghosts! The meringues are easy to make and these delightful desserts are light and airy just like the ghosts. They are cute like Casper and are a festive and family-friendly food for Halloween.

If there are any leftovers, we mix the meringue ghosts with fruit (kiwi and strawberry) and whipped cream into pavlova parfaits. These simply sweet snacks can make a Halloween buffet look boo-tiful!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ – ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring, clear
  • Black tube icing

Directions

In a mixer bowl, place the egg whites and beat until frothy. Mix in the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar then vanilla while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a ½-inch wide round tip. Fill the bag with the meringue. Pipe ghosts on the prepared pan by building up then loosening pressure on the bag and pulling away the tip from the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F for an hour. Turn off the oven, do not open and leave at least six hours (best if overnight) to dry.

Remove from the oven when cooled and loosen the meringues from the parchment paper. Use a black tube icing with a small round tip to pipe in the ghost’s facial features (eyes and mouth). Store in tightly covered container until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Make more meringues! Try the recipes for skeleton bones, kiwi pavlova and kisses.
  • We have tried using black edible marker pens but they do not leave a very strong ghost facial expression. We have also tried using black gel icing but they tend to be runny.
  • Search our blog for more Halloween recipes under the Theme Menus tab.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Rice Krispies Treats

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

We had a pumpkin-themed potluck at our culinary book club meeting this month. We brought pumpkin hummus (previous post) but had leftover canned pumpkin puree, so we added it with pumpkin pie spice to rice cereal treats and shaped them into petite pumpkins. These cute confections stood out at the pumpkin potluck and they quickly became a favorite because some club members were nostalgic about their childhood foods. The mixture could be pressed into a pan and cut into squares, but the pumpkin shapes made these more festive for our fall gathering. Pumpkin pie spice rice krispies treats are perfect for National Pumpkin Day and throughout the autumn season.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree (see Notes to prevent soggy cereal)
  • 1 bag (10 ounces) marshmallows (use minis instead of jumbo for easier melting)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 cups rice cereal
  • Orange food coloring (we used Wilton brand orange gel paste food color)
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Green fondant
  • Powdered sugar
  • Green tube frosting

Directions

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the marshmallows and pumpkin puree.

Add the pumpkin pie spice. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. When cool, stir the rice cereal into the pumpkin-marshmallow mixture until well coated. If desired, add orange food coloring to enhance the color. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. Butter your hands well and shape the cereal mixture into rounds. Place onto waxed paper.

Break pretzel sticks in half. Insert into the cereal rounds. On a clean surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar, roll out a little bit of green fondant to 1/16-inch thick. Cut out fondant leaves.

Place fondant leaves on the rice cereal pumpkins (brush a small amount of water on the back of the leaves to make them stick to the treats). Use a small round tip to pipe tendrils from a tube of green frosting. Store in a tightly sealed container until ready to serve.

Notes

  • To prevent cereal treats from being “rice soggy” and make them stay as “rice krispies”, measure out the pumpkin puree and blot out excess moisture by pressing onto paper towels. Then add the puree into the marshmallows. Be sure to cool to room temperature to firm up the marshmallows a little bit more before mixing in the cereal.
  • Instead of rolling and cutting out fondant leaves, try piping them onto the treats by using green tube frosting using a leaf tip.
  • Search our blog for more pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Hummus

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

We posted a recipe for traditional hummus back on May 13 (National Hummus Day). As fall is in full swing, we added the ubiquitous seasonal squash to this hummus recipe. It is deliciously creamy and healthy and has that hue to match all the other glorious autumnal colors. We sprinkled toasted pumpkin seeds to reinforce the additional flavor and give this dish some contrasting texture. Served as a side dip with vegetables or pita bread/chips, this pumpkin hummus is perfect for National Pumpkin Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (from the can; save the rest for other recipes—see Notes)
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced (or 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • pumpkin seeds, toasted and shelled

Directions

Drain the chickpeas/garbanzo beans in a colander and rinse them. Measure out 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Place in a food processor with tahini.

Add the olive oil. Squeeze the lemon juice and sesame oil into the mixture. Add ground cumin.

Add minced garlic and salt to taste. Cover and pulse the ingredients in the food processor until creamy. Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with a sprinkle of toasted and shelled pumpkin seeds. Serve with cut vegetables, pita bread or pita chips.

Notes

  • With the remaining pumpkin puree from the can, try these other pumpkin recipes: pumpkin pie spice rice cereal treats and pumpkin latte smoothie.
  • We have a small food processor, so we had to divide the ingredients in half and pulse them in sections before mixing everything together in one bowl.
  • Happy fall, y’all! It still feels like summer in South Texas. But we used to live in New Jersey and Illinois where we enjoyed the change of seasons, especially when the leaves turned to vibrant colors before they fell off the trees.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Chip Cookies

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Aaahhh—fall is in full swing and pumpkin epitomizes the season’s flavors. Because the weather (at least here in South Texas) is more pleasant, there are several fall festivals and outdoor social gatherings—and opportunities for us to share the bounty of the harvest with others. For autumnal potlucks, we like to bring something sweet and seasonal, such as pumpkin butterscotch chip cookies. These soft snacks are simple to make and the recipe yields a lot to feed a crowd.

Bake up a bountiful batch of pumpkin butterscotch chips cookies for fall festivities, football tailgating, lunchbox desserts, afterschool snacks and National Pumpkin Day celebrations.

Recipe

(Adapted from Delish)

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar (granulated white)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree (around half a can)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups butterscotch chips

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl/mixer, cream the butter with the white and brown sugars. Beat in the egg. Stir in the pumpkin puree.

Mix in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture to the dough (do not overmix). Fold in the butterscotch chips. Form the cookie dough into a large ball, place in another bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Use a 1-inch round scoop to drop onto greased baking pans (we lined ours with foil) about two inches apart. Press extra butterscotch chips on top of the rounds (optional). Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-14 minutes until puffed up and slightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest for five minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Yield: Approximately 4 ½ dozen soft cookies.

Notes

  • The original recipe called for chocolate chips but we liked butterscotch chips. Cinnamon chips are a good substitution as well.
  • Save the remaining half can of pumpkin puree for another recipe.
  • Search our blog for other pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Chips Muffins

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

We (and our fall festival friends) enjoyed the pumpkin butterscotch chips cookies recipe that we posted earlier on our blog, so we tried making them into muffins, too. These were devoured at a smaller autumn themed potluck as well. It must have been the intoxicating scent of butterscotch chips and the favorite fall flavor of pumpkin that tempted our friends to eat them all again. For those who love pumpkin, here is another recipe that they can make with this seasonal squash—pumpkin butterscotch chips muffins. They are a festive food during fall, especially on National Pumpkin Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Delish)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup butterscotch chips, divided use
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup sour cream

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour with sugar. Mix in the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Mix in the cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Stir in 1 cup of butterscotch chips until well coated. In another bowl, place 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree.

Beat the eggs into the pumpkin. Melt and cool the butter before pouring it into the pumpkin-egg mixture.

Add the vanilla and sour cream. Mix until creamy. Gradually fold in the dry ingredients until the batter is moist.

Scoop into cupcake papers and place in a muffin tin. Top with remaining butterscotch chips. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

Notes

  • Tossing the butterscotch chips into the flour mixture prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.
  • Search our blog for more pumpkin recipes.

Deep Fried Oreos and Twinkies

October 25: National Greasy Foods Day

“Grease” is definitely the word!!! How appropriate that the popular musical movie of the same name ended with a festive carnival scene (which had greasy foods on set).

We ourselves enjoy going to festivals, state fairs, fiestas and rodeos throughout the year. Besides the carnival rides, entertainment, vendor booths and free product samples, there is a lot of food, especially fried, greasy ones! The usual fair fare includes corn dogs, funnel cakes, French fries, onion rings, churrosand fried chicken/fish/shrimp/ribs and more. But chefs have gotten really creative with deep fried Oreos, Twinkies, cheesecake, hand pies (empanadas, pasties or turnovers), candy bars, ice cream and even butter!

We tried a few of these greasy grub out of curiosity but realize these are not for the health-conscious so we rarely eat them anymore at the festivals. But for the purpose of our blog, we deep fried a few Oreos and Twinkies in observance of National Greasy Foods Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 ½ cups pancake mix
  • Oreos and Twinkies (cold)
  • Frying oil
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

In a large bowl, beat the egg with milk and oil. Stir in the pancake mix until the batter is smooth and lump-free.

Dip the Oreos/Twinkies in the batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Deep fry in 375 degrees F oil. Avoid overcrowding. Flip the Oreos/Twinkies to the other side and fry for another few minutes. Remove from the oil when they are golden brown. Drain the grease out from the Oreos/Twinkies on paper towels.  Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Eat while still hot.

Notes

  • This recipe is the basic batter for most deep fried fare food. Try dipping small slices of frozen cheesecake and cold candy bars on sticks. Be careful when deep frying them to avoid oil splatters.
  • Some food vendors drizzle melted chocolate over the deep fried Oreos and Twinkies.
  • Thanks to Karen B. for the paper food trays that we used to serve and photograph our greasy grub above.