Well, Hello There

Still check this blog, eh?

Cool. My plate has been a bit full lately, but here are some of the things that have been on it. Thanks for checking in :)

Holiday Sea Creatures

In case your endeavors with holiday cookie cutters go awkwardly wrong, I present an alternate suggestion:

Draw faces on them.

Magic! Lopsided Santas become Christmas Whales. Mis-shapen reindeer are transformed into Holiday Octopuses. Mangled gifts take on new life as Yuletide Jellyfish.

Oh, come on. They’re cute.

Is It That Time Of Year Already?

I’m going to call that a “yes.”

Oh Snap.

Gingersnap, of course!

My mother has thrown down the gauntlet, and challenged me to a gingerbread house contest. The deadline is New Year’s Eve, and I’m in the process of testing out gingerbread recipes, because mine has to win. Not every recipe is cut out for a career in architecture, so I’m finding other uses for the copious amounts of gingerbread dough in my fridge.

This particular recipe, the gingerbread from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything (which, side note, is becoming my new favorite resource, even though I totally used to say I wasn’t into cookbooks), makes perfect ginger snaps. I’ve been dipping them in my morning coffee.

The Recipe: Gingersnaps, adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe featured in How To Cook Everything

Yield: 4-5 dozen
Time: 40 minutes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp for sprinkling
1 cup mild molasses (or blackstrap for more savory gingersnaps)
1 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Do This
Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and ginger — which, by the way, smells really awesome.

Mix the baking soda with a couple of tablespoons of warm water, and add to the butter/sugar/molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, and blend well. Shape the dough into a big lump, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 350, and remove your dough from the fridge. While the oven is preheating, let the dough hang out and soften for a few minutes, then roll out to your desired cookie thickness. Gingersnaps are supposed to be fairly crisp, so I like to aim for about 1/4″ or thinner. Cut out desired shapes (I was boring this time and went with round, but you can use cookie cutters if you like) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar, just for fun. Bake for 8-10 minutes (until the edges of the cookies start to turn golden brown) and cool before tasting. The cooling step? Not optional. If you try to sneak a cookie before they’ve cooled off, you’ll discover that they’re so soft that they’ll break into little mushy, delicious bits.

Of note: I chose to do round cookies with this recipe because the dough didn’t want to play nice with the more intricately-shaped cookie cutters. It was alternately too hard (right out of the fridge) or too sticky (after 10 minutes) and I couldn’t get the dough to the consistency I was looking for. But, that’s the way the cookie crumbles! I’ve got plenty of gingerbread recipes to try out, so expect to see an abundance of festive treats.

On Top Of Spaghetti

Meatballs!

Spaghetti + meatballs = one of my favorite quick dinners. And homemade meatballs are a lot easier to make than you might expect — hint hint to a certain little sister of mine :)

The Recipe: Easy Meatballs

Yield: approximately one dozen meatballs
Time: 35 minutes

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Do This
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine all ingredients, and roll into meatballs. I usually get about a dozen with this recipe, but your yield may vary depending on the size of your meatballs.

Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes (or until the centers are no longer pink — this may take longer if your meatballs are on the larger side).

And…that’s it! Homemade meatballs! They’re friends with spaghetti. And garlic bread. And parmesan cheese, sometimes.

Wanna spice things up? Crushed red pepper makes a hot addition to this recipe.

Indoor S’Mores

Love s’mores but don’t have a fire handy? Want something a little more…portable?

Behold, the indoor s’more:

These are super easy — albeit a bit messy — to make. It helps to have another pair of hands; setting up an assembly line cuts down on the melty marshmallow you’ll have to clean up later.

The Recipe: Indoor S’Mores

Yield: approximately two dozen
Time: 90 minutes, including cooling

1 bag mini-marshmallows
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 graham cracker halves (as close to squares as you get)

Do This
Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Arrange the graham cracker halves on the sheet with about half an inch between each.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add in the mini-marshmallows, a handful at a time, and stir until melted. Mix in the vanilla, and remove from heat.

Carefully spoon marshmallow onto each graham cracker. If you can do this without it spilling over the sides, you’ll have a much easier time. Let the crackers set until the marshmallow has firmed up (this should take about 10-15 minutes).

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or the microwave).

Spoon a generous amount of chocolate over each graham cracker, and return to the baking sheet to set. If you’re short on time, slide the finished cookies into the fridge for a few minutes.

They’re not quite real s’mores, but they’re just as tasty, and perfect for bringing to a holiday party!

Just In Case You Were Wondering

Fakesgiving was a resounding success. Photos, recipes, and more will be posted soon (I have a final on Tuesday!)

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