Wednesday, December 27, 2006


8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 9 Tbsps. (divided)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk (for egg wash)

Cream the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board (or counter top) and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts in a small bowl.

On a well-floured board (or counter top), roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons pureed apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges - cut the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or Silpat). Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to wire rack and let cool.

Note: Make the whole recipe and freeze them unbaked. Defrost completely before baking. Also delicious with raspberry jam instead of apricot preserves.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (if using a cookie press)
4 cups flour (if rolling)
Candied cherries, cut into tiny pieces

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream butter and margarine together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer.

Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Add flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix until well-incorporated.

Fill cookie presswith dough and press out to desired shape on cookie sheets. Decorate with cut-up candied cherries.

Bake until golden, approximately 10-12 minutes.

Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.

Store in airtight container. These keep very well in refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat.

Yield: 12-13 dozen!

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Monday, December 11, 2006


1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
2 and 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar

2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine 2 Tbsp. sugar and 2 tsps. cinnamon in small bowl; set aside.

Cream margarine and shortening in a large mixing bowl, gradually adding sugar until well blended.

Add eggs and continue beating until incorporated.
Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; mix well.

Using your hands, shape dough into balls, approximately 2 inches in diameter.
Place on plate or tray until ready to dip in cinnamon sugar mix.
Roll balls in cinnamon sugar and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove immediately to wire rack to cool.

Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on size.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rod's Buttermilk Pancakes

In spite of the recipe name, somewhere along the way I became the pancake chef in our family. I'm sure it's because I wanted Rod to enjoy the hot pancakes rather than me being a control freak. Really. :)

1 and 1/4 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix all dry ingredients.

Combine egg, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients until just moistened. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes.

Cook on hot griddle.

These are sooooo good! You'll never use Bisquick again!

Yield: 2 dozen


I spread about 1 Tbsp. of butter on the hot griddle, right before pouring the pancake batter on. It helps give the pancakes a crispy edge. I do this for each new batch of pancakes.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tortellini Rosa

2 Tbsp. butter
4 green onions, chopped
1 8-oz package mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. cheese tortellini
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large frying pan, saute mushrooms and green onions in melted butter until just tender.

Add tomato paste, stirring until smooth and completely incorporated.

Add heavy cream and stir until well-blended. Turn burner down to low.

Cook tortellini in large pot of boiling water until just done (according to package). Drain and return to pot.

Pour sauce over cooked pasta and toss very gently until tortellini is completely coated. Add cooked bacon and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Note: This is an excellent side dish to serve with Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops, Oven-barbecued Ribs, or Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary.

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Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 Tablespoons olive oil

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate (or shallow bowl) to blend. Place bread crumbs in another pie plate or bowl. Place the Parmesan cheese in another.

Trim any excess fat from the pork chops. Sprinkle generously with salt & pepper.

Dip the chops in the Parmesan, patting to adhere.

Dip the chops in the eggs, turning to coat.

Dip the chops in the bread crumbs, coating completely, patting to adhere.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if neccessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees (about 6 minutes per side). Add more oil, if necessary. Transfer chops to oven until ready to serve.

Note: Be sure to keep the heat at a moderate level otherwise the bread crumbs will start to burn before the inside of the pork chop is finished cooking.

Recipe adapted from Giada's Family Dinners cookbook

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