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Nov
12
2010

Foodie Friday – COOKIES!

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth.  My week was turned upside down when my sweetie came home a day (and two hours – but whose counting? ;) ) early from Tunisia.  He called Tuesday afternoon and said his flight home had been moved to Wednesday night  at 9:30.  Well Wednesday was a crazy busy day.  Busy enough that Ben and I didn’t make it to the Human Society.  But we did get an ortho appt, chemistry class, groceries, some outside work and a good bit of the inside work done.  I had just walked in from chemistry class when the phone rang and it was Jerry saying he thought he could catch the 6:45 out of Atlanta and he’d call right back.  I jumped in the shower and told the kids they would have to “root hog” for supper and waited to hear from him.  Yep…I was out the door by 5:45.  I pulled up to the airport and two minutes later he walked out!  Talk about timing!  So yesterday we just mostly hung out and watch TV, napped and ate a not heart healthy supper.  Like my friend whose husband works the same kinda schedule mine does “The first day they are home, they eat what they want.  It’s the law.” Ü

I had a few cookies to make for a friend and made extras for the fam.  Their favorite: Cream Wafers.  Well, as you know, I have been having H-E double hockey sticks with my tummy and have decided it’s gluten.  I know, I know.  NOT something else.  Yep.  I have an appointment with my allergist next Friday for some tests but from trial and error I am fairly certain it’s the culprit.  So after making these cookies I got to thinking, why not just try a 1/2 batch gluten free substituting rice flour for the all purpose flour?  So I did.  Honestly, not too shabby for my first attempt  at gluten free cookies from scratch.  I have tried some packaged things and was none to pleased. In fact decided doing without was much better.  I am ordering xanthan gum today to see if I can improve on this recipe. The texture of the cookie was a little grainy and much more delicate than the original which is already delicate enough.  I will keep you posted. But all in all a fine substitution until I can perfect the formula.  I will be trying other recipes. But for now…a fine, FINE substitute.  And NO tummy trouble after eating a couple – so goal accomplished! Rachel liked them too.  They are just gluten free but do have dairy, just so you know.  I very well might attempt a gluten free/dairy free version soon.  I know people that are looking for gluten free, many times need dairy free as well.

All I really changed was the flour content from all purpose to white rice flour and used pure cane sugar for the cookie coating before baking.  I used filling I had left from the regular batch to fill them.

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Okay now for all you I promised my Sugar Cookie Recipe to, I have two versions.  One is a little softer cookie from the addition of the brown sugar.  If you need a very sturdy crisp cookie use the first recipe.  If you like your cookies a little softer, the second should suit you.

NotQuiteJuneCleaver’s Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Whisk these three things together in a separate bowl.  Beat until light and fluffy:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar

One at a time add:

  • 2 large eggs

Beating well after each.  Then thoroughly mix in:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

With your  mixer running on slow, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined well.  Don’t over beat cookie dough…makes ‘em tough.

Divide your dough into 3rds or 4ths and wrap each in waxed paper, put them in a freezer bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  This dough can be frozen for later use.  Just thaw in the frig the day before you need it.

Preheat oven to 350.

On a lightly floured pasty cloth roll your dough 1/8 inch thick.  Cut it out as desired with floured cutters.   Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  If you want to add sprinkles or colored sugar, now is the time.  Otherwise bake them plain for decorating with icing.  Bake 8-10 minutes depending on the shape of your cookies.  Pointy cookies like stars will be too brown on the edges if you over bake so watch your time.  Slide your parchment off onto a flat surface to let them cool or remove  them to a wire rack. When they are completely cooled you can decorate them as you wish.  This makes about 3-4 dozen depending on the size cutters you use.

Susan’s Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional ~ cut the vanilla bean in half then slit one half lengthwise and scrape the insides out with the blade of your knife, add this scraping to the dough before adding the flour)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and then the flavorings (including the vanilla bean if you choose to use it). On low speed or by hand, mix in the flour combination. Divide the dough into thirds, wrapping each third in a piece of waxed paper. Place dough in freezer bag and refrigerate 2 hours or over night. This dough can be frozend for up to 3 months.

Preheat oven to 375.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out desired shapes and place 2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Decorating:

Royal Icing
I use Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing with one acception…I add 1 TBSP light Karo syrup. Makes it shiny and very smooth and she has some great tips for decorating cookies as you probably already know. So check out her website for technique.

We keep a wide variety of cookie decorations…sugars, pearls, dragees, jimmies…you name it we have it! A couple of great place to purchase these things is Fancy Flours and Country Kitchen. You can get a crazy wide variety of cookie cutters at Cookie Cutters Online.

Now have fun!

Xmas Cookies5cookiesforSam

Valentine1

Oct
01
2010

Welcome October! Let’s cook something to celebrate your arrival!

Good morning. This will be a short, sweet (very sweet) post this morning – it’s foodie Friday you know!  I am actually reposting a recipe because 1) and am terribly pressed for time 2) it’s worth sharing twice 3) I have yet to get my recipe section complete so you probably haven’t seen it!  I do have all these posts half written about food trends but I can’t seem to finish them. My friend Marie wrote a post about some folks inability to finish things…and boy did it hit a nerve!  In a good way, of course.

And why am I so pressed for time?  Because Jerry and I both have dr appts early today in Shreveport and we have to get on the road in a little while.  Yes, yes, I should have could have and would have done this post last night but again with the busyness!

Enjoy this recipe.  I will see you gals tomorrow! Drawing for the socks tomorrow!!!

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Don’t forget to get your name in!

pumpkincake

Pumpkin Maple Pecan Bundt Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 can (15 ounces) solid pack pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
.
Maple-Pecan Glaze ( doubled this recipe ’cause I like glaze ;) )
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons pecan pieces (finely chopped pecans), optional
Preparation:

Heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt cake pan.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices; set aside. In mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Slowly beat in dry ingredients. Continue beating on medium speed until smooth and well blended. Spoon into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in center.

Cool for 15 minutes in the pan on a rack; invert onto a serving plate to cool completely. Glaze with the Maple Pecan Glaze or dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Maple Glaze:
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, and cream; bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and sift the confectioners’ sugar into the hot mixture. Whisk until smooth. Let cool for about 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the finely chopped pecans, if using. Drizzle over the cooled cake.
Aug
24
2010

I am not going to let Facebook ruin my blogging!

Seriously.  I find I update my facebook page and feel like I would be repeating myself here! Not so.  Plenty of people have not gone the facebook route.  Many times I wish I hadn’t! So I am going to make it right!  Starting today!  I am going to catch y’all up on what has happened in my life since I last posted and reinstate some things that kept me writing and hopefully you reading!

WOW, where to start? Go ahead and get that cup of coffee or tea and a biscuit and have a seat, this may take a while!  And I will try not to confuse you and keep my timeline straight.

It honestly isn’t like I have been holed up not living life.  Au contraire, mes amis! This Summer of 2010 has been crazy busy!  Gardening, mowing, kids, grandkids, short adventures, long adventures.  I will admit the cooking bug has been squashed in this horrible endless heat.  We have had so many days over 100 and even a couple with the heat index into the 100-teens.  I don’t know all the statistics but July broke records for heat and drought in my area.  I will never believe anyone who says “But it was a dry heat so it wasn’t so bad.” BULL!  Hot is hot.

Last time I posted was my birthday.  And it was a very very good birthday indeed.  Big OLD 51.  Not a milestone but something about starting on the second half of a century is kinda mind blowing.  I got this great wagon from Jerry.

wagon2

Isn’t she a beauty?  We have already put her to much use hauling pears from our one, insane pear tree.  These pears are inedible unless you are a raccoon or a possum.  And I forget how many Jerry said he hauled the last day he picked them up but it was a ridiculous amount.  They are gone and now the mama raccoon and her four little bandits are eating our cats’ food like crazy!  When Jerry gets home, if they are still around we are going to trap and relocate them before someone (namely Mo, Julius or Siobhan) gets hurt or killed.

Okay, so August moves along ~ rapidly it seems!  Jerry headed back to Tunisia the Monday after my birthday.  Here are a few pictures of the highlights of August. On the gardening subject, I have started some tomatoes I hope will be winter/greenhouse tomatoes.  This is a new thing for me.  I will see how it goes.  This is an early picture.  They are still alive, and have 6 little leaves, so that is a good sign, right?

tomatoes

Oh and I have new overalls!  I bought these for myself – sort of a birthday present – sort of I fell in love with them and needed them!

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And the color is coffee!  Perfect!  And of course I needed new rubber boots and have been needing them for forever.  The ones I have are so dang heavy I can’t walk very far in them without getting leg cramps!

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Cute huh?

Okay, let’s see.  OH both girls, Hannah and Rachel started college yesterday.  That is sort of getting my cart before my horse in the timeline but it is pertinent to the next bit of what is going on and what will be going on.  So yes, they are both Northwestern State University Demons as of yesterday.  Hannah is in Accounting.  Rachel in Fine Arts.  I am sure as time goes on, they will provide me with tales to tell!

With Rachel starting college, she is dropping the baking biz all together.  That was a given.  Baking does not fit in her very busy schedule.  So I did this order all by myself last week.

Karen2

NOT FUN by myself!  Yes, that’s 16 boxes you count!  Petit fours, decorated cookies, mini Bakewells, cream wafers, chocolate chips…but it all turned out lovely and the customer was very very happy.

Karensorder

The person I made all this for is a friend from way back and she called yesterday to say it was all a hit.  So happy to hear that!  And I have a little baking order today and one for this weekend for family and I will try to get postings made of those.  But I learned a lot doing this big (to me) order by myself.  One thing, I want/need help for something that big.  Two, it’s not that much fun working in the kitchen by myself on something so important.  Three, I miss making soap.

There I said it.  I have been saying it to myself for 6 months. And to Jerry for almost that long.  Just blurting it out every now and again in the middle of a discussion that has nothing to do with soapmaking.  Then I would follow up with “I don’t mean that do I?”  I know how much he hated how the soap took over our house before.  Here is just a small example.  Look at all the soap stuff! My poor kitchen!

kitchenwitch

He even built me a shoppe.

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And still there were oils in every corner, soap curing all over the place.  Stacks of wrapped. Girls wrapping soap.

girlswrappingsoap

Boxes waiting to be mailed.  UPS delivered something nearly every day. And this was a picture of my porch ONE DAY the week before Christmas 2007:

mailingboxesxmas07

The post office sent a separate truck to my house. They were so excited!  So was I – as far as I know not ONE mistake in that day’s shipping!  Business was so good and then along came MaryJanesFarm!  WOW.  Amazing.

And then my mom got sick. And everything changed.  Everything.  Soap was WAY down on my list of things that mattered.

When I sold the internet part of my business and forwarded my wholesale customers information about the new owners, I agreed not to go back into the internet soap business and compete with the people I sold that part to.  However, I just learned last week that they are no longer making soap to sell.  And have closed their internet shop.  I found this out when an old customer of mine emailed me to say the site was down, she had been ordering from them since I closed, and I sent out an inquiry to try and help her get what she needed.  I got a response that said “I am still making soap, just not selling it at present.We have closed down the web site and do not now for the time being have an internet presence.”

WOW! Really?  So what does this mean?  Will they never?  Could I make and sell again without breaking my word?  I am still mulling all that over.  I never want to do wholesale again.  About all it did was keep a little money in the kitty for ingredients and work me half to death!  I don’t want to put up a website again.  For one thing I don’t want to maintain one.  That alone is a lot of work.  But I don’t think my making soap for customers who have asked for it since I quit, doing an catalog in pdf form and talking about it here and on facebook violates that.  Especially since they are no longer doing business.  It was almost like that was the door I was waiting to open.  I have not sold soap locally in over three years.  And that was always part of the agreement.  I could make and sell all I wanted to locally.  I don’t want it to get overwhelming again.   Some months I mailed 2000 bars of soap not counting the local wholesale and local retail.  It was too TOO much for just me. I always, ALWAYS, wanted to have my hands on every bar that left here. I never expected it to grow into something I needed to hire someone besides the girls to help with. And as girls grew up and got jobs outside home, they didn’t have time.  And now they are both in college.  And I don’t think Ben has one bit of interest in soap. Other than for his personal use ;)

So yeah…I’m a nut. That’s not news to anyone.  I have felt so happy since I decided to give the soap pot another stir.  I just have to keep it real.  Keep it manageable and do nothing to violate my agreement.  An agreement that may or may not exist any more.

Enough of that.  Here is what’s coming up.  Interviews this Autumn that you will NOT believe.  Seriously. I get butterflies just thinking about it.  Oh please, please, please don’t fall thru!  Opportunities of a lifetime!  To pick these brains!  And then share my pickins with you happy people!

So let’s see.  Soap? covered.  Interviews? said all I can at this time.  Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Now…more stuff. I am going to reinstate and reorganize some “Days of The Week with NotQuiteJuneCleaver”:

  • Magpie Mondays ~news from here, chit chat, talkie, talkie, interviews{squeeeeeeee!!!!!}
  • Treehuggin’ Tuesday ~ pretty self explanatory – I’m a treehugger and I am going to talk about it on Tuesdays! Green products, etc
  • Wednesday’s Woman ~ I will introduce you to a blog I follow and the woman who writes it-maybe even a short little something from her
  • Thoughtful Thursday ~ What ever is worth thinking about. Words of wisdom from all sorts of people who have inspired me & made me think.
  • Foodie Friday ~ Recipes and menus, food photography, trends, you know – food news ;)
  • Simply Saturday ~ things that simply find themselves bound to Saturday – movies, books, gardening, housework
  • So…It’s Sunday ~ recapping my week, announcing what’s coming up the next week, soap news – stuff, know what I mean?

This does not mean I will post everyday but I will at least have an outline!

AND I would like to do a  Photo Contest every so often.  Working on the details of that. Will announce that pretty soon.

So…whew.  Told you it would take a while. Okay, that’s what I have in mind.  Actually I have quite a lot in mind.  But the things I am most excited about are stirring up some soap and the interviews.  Whoa, baby! So excited!

By the way peeps, I LOVE comments.  So leave me some, mmK?  I know you visit.  I have a stat counter!  But you never comment.  I don’t mean NEVER never…but I do love comments.  Nice ones that is ;) Okay, neither do I.  I visit the same wonderful blogs everyday but seems someone always beats me to the punch.  I think awwww someone already said that.  Well I have a new rule! I am not reading comments before I post mine.  If I repeat something well so be it!  I am saying my piece anyway!

Now for your Treehugging Tuesday Tidbit: Recycling Soup Cans – so cool! Click on the pictures to read all about it!

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See you happy folks tomorrow.  It will be Wednesday’s Woman so stop by!

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