Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Baking 101

We all know the best part of the holiday season is all the baking that occurs. In my house, my Mom and I have always bonded over a big ball of cookie dough and box full of different colored sprinkles. I'm happy to say that this year is no different. Since the day after Thanksgiving, we sat for over an hour at Barnes and Noble flipping through countless magazines planning our baking menu for Christmas 2010. Here is the tentative list...keep in mind that working a full-time job in the medical field is not very conducive to how many things we have our list. Ouff, different story for a different day.

THE list:
-Peanut Butter kisses
-Sugar cookies with candy cane kisses
-Melomakarona (Greek tradition)
-Kourambiethes (Greek version of a sugar cookie)
-Various biscotti
-Gingerbread cookies
-Various Christmas loaves

Let's see what I can actually/realistically accomplish in the next 6 days. It's gonna be tough! Here goes my first recipe:
Candy Cane Sugar Blossoms
1. Preheat your oven to 350 & gather all your ingredients
2. In a mixing bowl, mix together butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and egg.

Mix until you get this smooth, creamy mixture!! So delish.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. Mix in to cookie dough alternatively with milk until you achieve this beautiful ball of joy.
5. Using a tiny ice scream scooper or teaspoon, scoop out even balls of dough and place them on a baking pan lined with a cookie sheet.
6. Take each individual ball and roll in whatever festive sprinkles you want!! This part is completely optional but it makes the cookies look really FUN. Caution- the dough is really sticky so you may want to spray PAM in your hands or flour them lightly.

Place your cookies in the pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes. Mine took exactly 9.5 minutes. DO NOT flatten the cookies before placing them in the oven. While your cookies are baking, unwrap your pepperminty kisses if you haven't already.
These are SOOO good. I may have eaten a handful while the cookies were baking...I don't remember exactly. I think it's called post-massive sugar consumption amnesia or something like that.

Once you remove the cookies from the oven, immediately press a KISS in the center of each cookie. Allow them to cool completely before you move them (or eat them). Your friends and loved ones will absolutely adore this variation to the traditional Blossom cookie.

Make these ASAP!!! I'm hoping that I can manage to make some more this week. Only 5 more days until Christmas. The baking pressure is on!!! Have a wonderful Monday everyone.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tis the Season...

Tis the season for a warm, hearty, belly-warming BOLOGNESE. I mean seriously, what's better after a hard day at work than a gigantic bowl of pasta with extra cheese & meat sauce?! Alright...I started off by heating up Laconiko olive oil.

Then, add in your choice of meat and cook until the pink color has left & the meat is slightly browned. I used ground beef but i'm sure ground turkey would've been just as delicious.
Stir in the oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.
And add 1 cup of wine. YUM!! This is when the entire kitchen starts smelling like winter.
Stir in wine and add in tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, S&P until combined.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow this lovely little sauce to simmer for 10-12 minutes. In the meantime, bring plenty of water to a boil. I like to add in a drizzle of olive oil & a pinch of salt before putting in my pasta of choice.

Cook the pasta until you reach the desired texture. Now...back to the simmering sauce...
We aren't done yet. Now, add in your freshly grated nutmeg, fresh or dried basil (whatever you have), and some egg nog. I know, I know...the original recipe calls for heavy cream but let me tell you- EGG NOG is where it's at!!! It added such a uniquely satisfying but subtle flavor to the sauce. Try it. You'll love it!

While you let this bubble away, grate some Parmeggiano. The saltyness of this cheese is oh-so-amazing in the savory bolognese.
Combine the pasta with your bolognese in a very large serving bowl.

Serve this meal warm. Place a good amount of pasta in your individual bowl and top with plenty of Parm...a little glass of wine doesn't hurt either!

I'm so excited for you to try this recipe. You will LOVE it!!!! Look below for your grocery list.

- Olive Oil
-1 lb ground beef (or meat of choice)
-4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp dry oregano
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like spicy)
-1 1/4 cups dry red wine
-1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
-2 Tbsp tomato paste
-1 box dry pasta of your choice ( I used elbows )
-1/4 to 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
-1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil or a few shakes of dry basil
-1/4 cup heavy cream (I used EGG NOG!)
-1/2 cup freshly grated PARM...ok, ok, I had more of 3/4 cups!

This recipe TRULY takes like 30-40 minutes total cooking time. PERFECT for a busy weeknight after you had a long day at work. Try it, love it, and leave me a message letting me know if you liked it or any variations that worked for you.

Kali Oreksi!! xoxo, C.