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Welcome to my kitchen…

I have always loved to cook and bake and you can often find me in the kitchen creating something. There is something calming and fun about preparing and creating food! (At least that is my opinion) This site is dedicated to everyone who enjoys accessing/channeling their culinary creative side. Do you have a recipe you’d like to submit or that I should try?

Please, do drop me a line. Click Here to Send Mail Now.

Thank you for stopping by.

Happy Reading and Cooking!

Tara

Mincemeat Pie

Every time I ask my Dad what kind of dessert he would like me to make for holidays or special occasions, without fail mincemeat pies always comes up. He says it reminds him of childhood and yester-years. I haven’t tasted it before and it didn’t sound too appealing when I asked about it or checked out recipes on the net.

This morning I decided today was the day to tackle it. I pulled out all the ingredients I had on hand and was determined to make a version of it that he could try.

I found a recipe from the Joy of Cooking, Homemade Mincemeat that I adapted for my personal tastes and what was in my pantry.

I baked up the lil mini pies, let them cool and drove it over for him around dinner time to taste test it. I got the thumbs up!

If you are going to make this, I would take a look at the original recipe to see what all goes into a traditional mincemeat pie if you want a more authentic filing. I wanted less spices so they weren’t overpowering. Additionally, I did not have all the dried fruits or figs and some other stuff so I adjusted the recipe for what I had on hand. I also did a few other little tweaks like take some of the currants and raisins and threw them into the food processor to make the base for a little thicker filling.

The entire process took about half a day, mainly due to prep/measuring out the ingredients and letting the mincemeat filling cool and get those flavors melding in the booze. Just kidding, the juice, dried yummies and spices needed to meld up a bit but the booze helps, sorta. It’s mostly to preserve it.

I let the mix sit in the fridge for about 6-7 hours but would have preferred to have let it sit overnight for more flavor. The whole mincemeat process (cooking and soaking) on this go took about 8-9 hours.

I used store brought pie crust for ease and time saver but next time will use the dough recipe below.

The recipe post below is broken down into the make ahead items which are Mincemeat prep, then pastry dough prep followed by the assembling and baking.

Yes, it takes time to make this little baby but it was worth it to see my Dad smile about it. I will say that because I adjusted the spices and ingredients a little, I would definitely eat and make this again.

Homemade Mincemeat Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 large apples peeled, cored and diced plus 1/4 c grated  (I diced it finely about the size of a currant) (Honeycrisp, Pippin, Jonagold, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious work)
  • 1 1/2 cup dark raisins
  • 2 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup crystalized ginger
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (dark or light) rum plus 2-4 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions:
  1. Place 3/4 cup of currants and 1/2 cup of raisins into the food processor. Pulse a few times (8 or so) to chop up the dried fruit a bit (This step is optional).
  2. Place all the ingredients in a Dutch oven pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mincemeat, stirring often, for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid is almost evaporated.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in 2-4 tablespoons of rum or brandy.
  5. Let the mincemeat cool completely, then transfer to a covered container and place in the refrigerator for 6-7 hours but best overnight before use.
  6. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Homemade Pie Pastry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch chunks
  •  3 – 4 tablespoons ice-cold water

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 15 seconds). Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of ice water over the pastry and process just until the pastry holds together when pinched. Add a little more water, if necessary.
  2. Turn the dough on to your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the pastry in half, flatten each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes, or until firm.
  3. After the pastry has chilled, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F and get ready a 24 mini muffin tin.
  4. Take one of the disks of pastry and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out each round of pastry until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter that’s slightly bigger than the muffin cups, cut the pastry into 24 rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).)
  5. Gently place the rounds into the muffin cups and top with a heaping teaspoon of mincemeat. Gather up any leftover scraps of pastry and re roll.
  6. Cut out 24 stars or other shapes using a small cookie cutter, and gently place the stars on top of the mincemeat. If desired, brush the tops of the stars with a little cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  7. Bake for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the pastry has lightly browned.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  9. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Mincemeat pie

Nutella Tea Cookie

This year for my holiday cookie baking projects I decided to try out a few new recipes to add to my collection of cookies.

I have always wanted to make those powdered little tea cookies but I never think of it when I am ready to bake. This year though it was on my list and hence these were born. I wanted it to be a buttery cookie like shortbread but with that yummy Nutella flavor.

The cookie dough is not really sweet by itself. However, rolling the baked cookie in powdered sugar makes it perfect.  It is easy to make Nutella buttery goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 – 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup Nutella spread

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.
  3. Using your stand mixer and paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on high-speed until light and fluffy for approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the vanilla.  Gradually add the flour until incorporated. Add in Nutella.
  5. Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out dough on to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes on sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, approximately 30 minutes.
  8. Place 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Working in batches, roll the cookies in the sugar until coated.
  9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Chewy Peanut and Almond butter cookies

These cookies came about because I had some almond butter I wanted to use up and was running low on peanut butter.

I love the flavor of the cookies and the texture just chewy goodness. This was one of my new recipes for this year’s holiday baking line-up and it will definitely be making its rounds through-out the year.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 -1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Sugar sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together butter and peanut butter and almond butter until well combined.
  3. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix just until blended.
  5. With a cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough and place on a silpat lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the sugar sprinkles if desired.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake.
  7. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Another new to me cookie recipe. Yay!

First, I have to admit I am not an oatmeal raisin cookie fan at all. I love oatmeal and raisins for breakfast but never liked them in a cookie, until this recipe.

In previous versions of this recipe they would come out hard and crunchy which is why I did not enjoy them. However, with this recipe I think I have found a winner to add to the holiday cookie list.

It’s super soft and chewy (this has been the theme this year for most of the cookies) and is like having the oatmeal and raisins for breakfast.

My Mom will be happy. Raisin cookies are one of her top requested cookies. I will definitely be making these more!

Soft & Chewy Oatmeal, Cranberry, Currant and Raisin Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 -1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins, currants and cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and molasses and mix until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and stir together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add in the oats, raisins, cranberries, currant mixture. Dough will be thick but sticky.
  3. Chill the dough for 60 minutes in the refrigerator.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. With a cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough  and place approximately 2 inches apart on the silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes until very lightly browned on the sides.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They will look undone but will firm up more as they cool.
  7. Store in an air tight container.

 

Ginger Shortbread

This is by far my favorite new cookie recipe…ever! Winner of Tara’s favorite cookie to date award!

I was unsure if I would like the crystalized ginger but it is so amazing in this cookie. This cookie is quite simple but also elegant in a way when cut into shapes. I roll them thin and under bake them by a minute for a light and chewy cookie. However even the overdone (browned) cookies are still soooo good! I think I am going to have to make another batch soon, they are that good!

In this batch I sprinkled a few of the stars with white sugar sprinkles but they definitely do not need them as they are pretty as they are.

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite authors Ina Garten. You can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, left at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup minced crystallized ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In your stand mixer, mix the butter and 1 cup of sugar on medium-low speed, just until they are combined.
  3. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. In another medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
  4. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the dough starts to come together. Add the ginger, then scoop out dough on to a surface generously dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough to your desired thickness and cut with shaped cookie cutter.
  6. Place the cookies on a silpat lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges start to brown.
  8. Cool and serve. Store in an air tight container.
Ginger Shortbread

Happy Halloween!

happy halloween

Whatever you do, hope it’s a fun and safe day/evening!

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