Thursday, December 30, 2010


One of my favorite types of cookies to make during the holiday season is Snickerdoodles. These simple cinnamon sugar cookies have a funny name but are very tasty! This year, I made a batch for my graduation party and everyone seemed to like them. The recipe is from and makes either 2 dozen large cookies or 4 dozen smaller cookies.

1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C vegetable shortening (no trans fat!)
2 eggs
2 3/4 C flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Beat 1 1/2 C sugar with butter and vegetable shortening until fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time and beat to combine.
4. In a separate bowl combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
5. Add dry ingredients slowly and mix to combine.
6. Roll into 1 1/4 inch (large cookies) or 3/4 inch (small cookies) balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Press down slightly to flatten.
7. Bake 8-10 minutes until set and remove to wire rack to cool.
8. Enjoy! The also freeze well if there are any left!

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Stuffing

This year it was my job to make stuffing for our 22-person Thanksgiving. I knew immediately to go to my cousin, Marcy for the recipe. Not only is Marcy a great cook, I always remember her stuffing as being very tasty! With her directions and suggestions I succeeded in making from-scratch stuffing that was delicious and enough to feed our large family! Although it was definitely a lot more work than using a mix or pre-made bread cubes, it was definitely worth the effort!

Thanksgiving Stuffing (for a crowd)
Three loaves high quality bread (I used Italian, Cibatta and hearty wheat for a nice mix)
6 tbsp butter
3 medium onions, chopped
2 bunches celery, chopped
1 package parsley, leaves only, chopped
1 package fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp dried sage
32 oz chicken stock (I used Nature's Promise Organic Stock)
Salt and pepper

1. Cut the bread into small cubes and toast in a single layer on cookie sheets at 300 degrees for 15 minutes, tossing twice until dry.
2. Cool cubes and transfer 3/4 of cubes to a large bowl or stock pot. Save 1/4 just in case you make the stuffing too moist or freeze for later use.
3. Melt butter in a large saute pan and saute celery and onion for a few minutes.
4. Add chopped parsley, sage, dried sage, salt and pepper and continue to saute until veggies are golden.
5. Add veggies to bread cubes and toss to combine.
6. Add chicken stock until bread cubes are moistened, but not soggy (3-4 cups).
7. Press into buttered casserole dish (I used my 9x13 lasagna pan since it has high sides).
8. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 covered and then an additional 15 minutes uncovered. (Since I was going somewhere I pre-baked for 30 min at my house, 30 min at 350 plus 15 uncovered).
9. Serve. Feeds a lot!

Difficulty: Hard (not really hard, just a lot of work)
Debbie's Rating: 10
Family Rating: Great!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Creamy Pasta with Lemon Pepper Chicken

I found this recipe for creamy pasta with lemon pepper chicken in the tear out "30 minute meal" section of my cook's country magazine. I thought it would be a good weeknight meal, so I decided to try it out. The creamy sauce was very similar to the ricotta pasta I already make, so nothing too exciting there, but the chicken was excellent! I really liked the lemon pepper sauce. I would make this again, maybe even doubling the sauce and using it to coat the pasta instead of the cream sauce. Or the chicken would be great over a salad as well!

Creamy Pasta with Lemon Pepper Chicken
2-3 thin sliced chicken breasts (I got tired of pounding chicken, so I buy thin sliced now for skillet preparations)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of one lemon
8 oz spaghetti or other long noodle
1/2 C parmesan
1/2 C ricotta
Dried parsley

1. Bring water to boil for pasta.
2. In the meantime, season chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and cook chicken about 4 minutes per sized until cooked through. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. After resting for 5 minutes, slice crosswise.
4. Add an additional tbsp oil to skillet and return to medium heat. Cook garlic and several grinds of black pepper until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add lemon juice and simmer until reduced to about 1 tablespoon.
6. Add chicken strips back to pan and off heat, toss to coat. Cover to keep warm until pasta is ready.
7. Boil pasta according to package directions. In meantime, combine ricotta, parmesan, parsley and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add about 1/2 C pasta water to thin to sauce consistency.
8. Toss sauce with pasta and serve with chicken on top.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10 for the chicken, 8 for the pasta/ sauce
Hirsh's Rating:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball

For Thanksgiving this year, I offered to bring a cheese ball for an appetizer. I had seen the recipe in my Cook's Country magazine, so I thought it would be a perfect time to try it out. While most people think of cheese balls as something that you buy at the store, it was super easy to make! Everyone enjoyed it, so I would definitely recommend making it any time you are going to have a large crowd!

Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball
2 C shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I used light)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 C toasted sliced almonds

1. Combine all ingredients except almonds in the food processor and process until smooth.
2. Place mixture in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap. Grab 4 corners and twist, forming cheese ball into a sphere.
3. Refrigerate until firm about 3 hours (or you can make the day before).
4. Once firm, unwrap and roll in almonds (Note, to toast almonds, toss in empty skillet over medium heat until golden and aromatic)
5. Serve with crackers!

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 10. I might use a little less Worcestershire sauce next time as the flavor was strong.
Goldberg Family Rating: Everybody loved it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

As Fall is the season for everything pumpkin, I thought I would share this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. This year I made them for Apple Butter, an annual event with the Barnes family devoted to making a giant cauldron of apple butter, being outside and enjoying great company and great food. Since it makes a lot, I saved some and put them out as part of my defense spread as well. They were a hit at both events. The pumpkin makes them a little different than traditional chocolate chip cookies and really soft. Thanks to my mom for the recipe!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks (1 C) butter, room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 C quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C pumpkin
1 1/2 C semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy.
2. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.
3. Combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
4. Stir dry ingredients into butter/ sugar mixture alternately with pumpkin.
5. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour up to overnight.
7. Drop by tablespoons on a cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes at 350 degrees (a cookie scoop is very useful for this-- just like an ice cream scoop, but smaller).

8. Cool for one minute and then remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on wire rack.
Makes 4-5 dozen. Freezes well.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10