11 November


Election 2016 Cookies

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November 8: Election Day 2016

After several months of crazy campaigning, Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency. But Hillary Clinton’s cookie recipe won by a landslide—for the third time since Family Circle magazine began its election bake-off in 1992.

A few months before Election Day, the magazine prints the favorite cookie recipes shared by spouses of the candidates (back then, Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, ran for president). Then the readers vote on which cookie they prefer best. The winning recipe supposedly is a predictor of who becomes the next president.

Since its inaugural year, Family Circle’s track record was accurate. But in 2008, Cindy McCain’s cookie recipe won over Michelle Obama’s (but Barack Obama won the presidency). In 2012, Michelle’s new cookie recipe won over that of Ann Romney, and Barack went on to serve his second term. This year, Bill Clinton re-used his wife’s cookie recipe, which won over Melania Trump’s. But Donald was voted as president.

We baked both the Clinton family cookie recipe and Melania’s cookie recipe for Islander’s brother’s student ministry again this year (our third time during a presidential election). It was a fun food activity for everyone, regardless of age, nationality, race, party affiliation, etc. Despite differences of opinions, this cookie election has brought everyone together. God bless America!

Recipes

(Adapted from Family Circle)

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For the Clinton Family’s Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick-cooking oats)
  • 1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream the vegetable shortening with the brown and white sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs.

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Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour mixture and the rolled oats, alternating ingredients during the mix-in. Stir in the chocolate chips.

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Scoop a tablespoon onto greased baking sheets 2-3 inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: Approximately 4-5 dozen cookies.

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For Melania Trump’s Star-Shaped Sugar Cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (we used European-style butter because of Melania Trump’s Slovenian heritage)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk.

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Mix in the sour cream. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until cookie dough is formed. Roll into a large ball. Then divide dough into two balls.

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Flatten into a disk between two sheets of lightly-floured waxed paper. Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line baking sheets with waxed paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Peel away the waxed paper. Use a 2 ½ – inch star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes, re-rolling the dough scraps as necessary. Place star cookies about 1-2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Refrigerate the whole sheet for another 10 minutes or until the dough firms up again so when the cookies bake, the shape is retained.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: Approximately 3 dozen cookies.

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Notes

 

Chimichangas San Carlos

Chimichangas San Carlos

November 4: Feast Day of St. Charles Borromeo

Happy birthday to Brother Brian H. who was born on the Feast Day of St. Charles Borromeo (also his patron saint). Brian was one of the less finicky ones to cook for at a Catholic community house whenever the priests, brothers and lay people celebrated their birthdays or saint days (Brian used to live in community with Islander’s brother and others in their congregation).

With rotating “celebrations of life”, we would need to remember who wanted to eat what at the house, which can get confusing! For instance, Father Bill B. does not like coconut but loves anything chocolate; Nicholas M. does not like chocolate but insists on a strawberry-and-cream cake or confetti cake; Father Tim likes rocky road; “sistah” Lisa V. also does not like chocolate but prefers lemon and guava flavors; Justin Q. likes all sweets but does not like fish (which he admits is problematic during Lent); and Brother Dennis likes tres leches but not pasta. But Brian goes along with whatever food we gift him with (he usually combines his cake with Nicholas because their birthdays are within days of each other).

But here is a recipe we tried in honor of Brian and his patron saint—Chimichangas San Carlos. This Tex-Mex dish is deliciously appropriate, since Brian ministers in the area. It is a tortilla filled with a meat mixture, then folded and fried. Similar to a burrito, Chimichangas San Carlos remind us of wrapping a gift for him but it is edible. Try this festive food for birthdays and on the Feast Day of St. Charles Borromeo.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf)

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef, lean
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6-8 large flour tortillas
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

Directions

Chop the onions and tomatoes. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat a little vegetable oil and sauté the onions, tomatoes and minced garlic. Add the ground beef and cook until brown.

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Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Mix well. Drain any liquid. Set the filling aside to cool.

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When ready to assemble, slice the avocado and set aside. Place some of the meat mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle with a handful of cheese. Top with a few slices of avocado.

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Fold like a square envelope, beginning with the sides. Secure the tortilla flap with a toothpick.

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Place side down on a baking sheet. Continue to fold the rest of the chimichangas. Heat a deep fryer with oil. Carefully lower the chimichangas into the oil and fry until brown. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Take out the toothpick. Serve hot with shredded lettuce and condiments (hot sauce, sour cream or salsa).

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Notes

  • Warm the tortillas according to the package directions so they are more pliable and won’t tear as easily.
  • Search our blog for other Mexican or Tex-Mex recipes.

Parkin Cake

Parkin Cake

November 5: Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night

Remember, remember, the 5th of November

The Gunpowder Treason and plot;

I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason

Should ever be forgot.

Treacle treat—give us something good to eat! Extend the Halloween and fall festivities with a Guy Fawkes mask and partake in eating a treacle treat at a bonfire. Treacle is British molasses and is an ingredient in bonfire toffee and Parkin cake—the traditional foods eaten on this night, which culminates in a spectacular fireworks show in many cities around the United Kingdom.

The movie, “V for Vendetta”, popularized sales of the Guy Fawkes mask, costumes and film memorabilia. We watched the movie to see actress Natalie Portman shave her head! And yes, the finale included fireworks. While the movie is forgettable for us, the Parkin cake is a memorable seasonal sweet.

So remember on the 5th of November, on Bonfire Night, bake a Parkin cake!

Recipe

(Adapted from Jane Lyons on HonestCooking.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons treacle (molasses)
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup (or corn syrup)
  • 6 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, ground ginger and salt.

Parkin Cake

Grate the ginger piece. Peel and dice the apple. Add these to the flour mixture.

Parkin Cake

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, treacle and golden syrup. Mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until moist.

Parkin Cake

Stir in the milk. Pour into a parchment paper-lined 8×8-inch baking pan (make sure that there is a little overhang to make it easier to lift the cake out of the pan). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes, testing the cake for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and let stand for about five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice into 16 squares.

Parkin Cake

Notes

  • Although Guy Fawkes Night had negative religious overtones in its early history, tolerance and multiculturalism in the United Kingdom have made this holiday focus more on fireworks and a fun fall evening. Learn more about the evolution of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations from political to commercial on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night.
  • Parkin cake tastes better as it “ages”. So bake this ahead of Bonfire Night, store the cooled cake in an airtight container to let the flavors develop and enjoy up to a week later.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing treacle (molasses).

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

November 11: Remembrance Day/ Jour du Souvenir (Canada)

Canada, Highlander’s birthplace, and other Commonwealth countries observe Remembrance Day/ Jour du Souvenir on November 11, the same day the U.S.A. honors its war veterans and military personnel. Remembrance Day is their version of America’s Memorial Day. The Remembrance Day symbol is a poppy flower, as mentioned in John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Field”. The lieutenant colonel from Canada was moved to write it for a friend’s funeral during World War I.

For a Remembrance Day prayer gathering, we were inspired to use the iconic flower for a delicious dessert—lemon poppy seed cupcakes topped with fondant poppies. It was an appropriate tasty treat to remember the brave ones who sacrificed their lives to protect their countries. God bless their souls!

Recipe

For the fondant poppy flowers

  • Powdered sugar (for dusting the work surface)
  • Red fondant
  • Black tube frosting
  • Poppy seeds

Directions

On a surface that has been dusted with powdered sugar, roll out red fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out poppies using a 5-petal flower cutter. Use the impression/veining tool and press to give texture on each petal. Place the cut fondant poppy on a foam pad and lightly press down the center with the ball tool.

Lemon Poppy See Cupcakes

Place fondant poppies on flower formers and let dry for about 3 hours or overnight. Dot the centers of each poppy with black icing. Sprinkle poppy seeds on the middle, brushing away the excess from the center. Set aside to dry.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

For the cupcakes and frosting

Directions

Prepare the batter for the lemon buttermilk poppy seed cake. Scoop into red cupcake papers. Bake and cool completely on a wire rack.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Make the lemon buttercream icing (do not tint it yellow). Frost the cupcakes (we used Wilton tip 1M to make the swirls).

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Position a fondant poppy seed flower on the top center. Serve at room temperature.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Notes

  • Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served and are serving in the military, including Islander’s Daddy (retired U.S. Navy chief). Thank you!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie

November 27: National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

During our Thanksgiving dinners, we always present our guests with a pair of pie options: classic (pumpkin, apple, pecan and/or sweet potato) and creative (haupia, crack, buko, etc). To the latter list, we add Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie. Chocoholics appreciate this alternate flavor to the more popular pies.

Because there is so much to cook for Thanksgiving, we prepare our pies ahead of time. If we are behind schedule, we admit to taking shortcuts, such as using ready-made pie crusts and Cool Whip (Islander uses this sometimes because it is dairy-free).

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie is similar to other pudding-filled pies so this may be comforting to those who are accustomed to traditional treats. Make this delicious dessert ahead of Thanksgiving and especially for National Bavarian Cream Pie Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Jell-O via Dying For Chocolate)

Ingredients

  • 1 small box (4 ounces) chocolate pudding mix
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (we used Knox brand)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups milk (we used lactose-free)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 2 cups non-dairy whipped topping mix (Cool Whip or prepared Dream Whip)
  • 1 9-inch ready-made pie crust (we used Nabisco Oreo brand)

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the chocolate pudding mix, sugar, gelatin and a pinch of salt.

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie

In a small bowl, beat the egg with the milk. Pour into the saucepan with the other ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the mixture comes to a full boil. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the saucepan and transfer to a large glass bowl, straining any egg debri or lumps if necessary. Cover the surface with waxed paper or plastic wrap so a film does not develop over the top of the pudding. Refrigerate until cold.

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie

Meanwhile, make the non-dairy whipped topping (or use Cool Whip). Beat the pudding mixture until it is creamy. Fold in the non-dairy whipped topping and blend well.

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie

Spread mixture into the pie crust. Refrigerate until firm (or freeze for an ice cream-like treat). Decorated with chocolate leaves or top with extra non-dairy whipped cream (optional).

Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie

Notes

  • The ready-made pie crust could be chocolate flavor or graham cracker (Keebler brand).
  • Sprinkle mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings on top of the Chocolate Bavarian Cream Pie for a pretty presentation. We added chocolate fall leaves on ours as an autumnal accent by using Wilton’s dessert accent candy mold.
  • Search our blog for other pie recipes.

Bittersweet Chocolate

Almond Liqueur Tart

Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Liqueur Tart

November 7: National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

Islander’s brother, Kahuna, discovered Highlander’s stash of dark chocolate-covered almonds in our house and could not resist eating them! He felt so guilty afterwards that he went to the grocery store to replace them before Highlander got home from work. Later, when Highlander wanted to snack on them, he noticed his candy did not taste quite right. They were milk chocolate instead of the darker flavor! As a “peace offering,” Kahuna bought another BIGGER bag of bittersweet chocolate almonds so they can both enjoy them together.

Amused by this incident between her husband and only sibling, Islander made a bittersweet chocolate almond tart when the candies were eaten up. Both Highlander and Kahuna liked it—but still prefer slices of this decadent dessert to be garnished with the dark chocolate-covered almonds.

Those who are nuts about dark chocolate and almonds ought to try the tart version. Bittersweet chocolate almond tart is a terrific treat for National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Raleys)

For the crust

  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar, granulated white
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 egg

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cocoa powder. Cut in pieces of cold butter with a pastry blender or fork. Stir in the egg until dough is well blended.

Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Liqueur Tart

Press into a 9-inch tart pan (with a removable bottom) on the bottom and sides. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Prick the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Make the filling.

Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Liqueur Tart

For the filling

  • 1 bag (10 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips (we used Ghirardelli brand)
  • 1 container (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 4-6 tablespoons amaretto (almond liqueur)
  • dark chocolate-covered almonds, slivered blanched almonds or whole roasted almonds (optional garnish)

Directions

In a bowl, microwave the bittersweet chocolate chips until melted. Stir until smooth. Cool for about 5 minutes. Fold in the mascarpone cheese. Stir in the amaretto.

Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Liqueur Tart

Smooth the filling into the crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour to set. Push the bottom up to release the tart from the whole pan. Slice and serve. Garnish with dark chocolate-covered almonds, slivered blanched almonds or whole roasted almonds.

Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Liqueur Tart

Notes

  • Slice the tart into small wedges as this is a rich dessert. Servings may also be topped with whipped cream or berries.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing chocolate and/or almonds.

Lemon Cream Pie

Lemon Cream Pie

November 29: National Lemon Cream Pie Day

Islander loves the lemon fresh taste in cakes. So naturally she likes them in pies, too. Although pumpkin, pecan, apple and sweet potato pies are popular during the current season, lemon cream pie is a nice alternative. The sweet-tart citrus flavor, smooth velvety texture and fluffy whipped cream topping bring to mind sunny and warm days. Make someone’s upcoming holidays happy with a pie and make lemon cream pie on National Lemon Cream Pie Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

For the lemon pie

  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pie crust (we used a graham cracker crust)

Directions

Juice the lemons and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Stir in the sour cream. Add the lemon juice.

Lemon Cream Pie

Mix in the salt and blend well. Pour into the pie crust. Place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. The middle of the filling will still jiggle slightly. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare the cream topping.

Lemon Cream Pie

For the whipped cream topping

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • lemon peel curls (optional garnish)

Directions

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of the lemon cream pie. Or fill a pastry bag with a decorating tip and pipe designs on top of the pie. Garnish with lemon peel curls (optional). Chill the pie for at least another hour before slicing and serving.

Lemon Cream Pie

Notes

  • If using a frozen pre-made pie shell, bake it in the oven according to the directions on the package until golden brown. Cool before filling.
  • Do not worry if the lemon filling cracks during baking. They will be covered in cream and still taste delicious.
  • The cream topping ingredients yield a generous amount. Feel free to half the recipe to cover/decorate the lemon cream pie.

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