Friday, January 16, 2009

Sugar Cookies

I've never successfully made sugar cookies until today. I am quite pleased with how these turned out. They are soft to bite and firm to hold and decorate. I didn't decorate them because I am out of icing sugar. I imagine I could alter their flavour nicely with lemon or orange zest too. The biggest challenge was rolling the dough out with my toddler. She kept making finger prints, or half cookie cutter cuts. It was quite fun. And she was pleased to discover that this dough tastes a lot better than her play dough. You're supposed to chill the dough in the fridge for an hour; I never did this because I didn't read the recipe fully until now.


1/2 lb butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy,a bout three minutes.
  3. Add egg and continue beating. Add vanilla, salt, flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until all mixed in and a nice ball of dough has formed.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges.
  6. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely before decorating with icing.

Inspiration: Kuhn Rikon Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best Cabbage Rolls Ever

This rarely happens to me: I tried a new recipe for something I've never attempted to make before and the results were fabulous. Simply fabulous.

These are like no cabbage rolls I have ever tasted. The sauce is deliciously sweet and sour. The difference is the unexpected ingredients: carrot, raisins, wine and lemon juice. Yum! I will never try another cabbage roll recipe.

The first time I made this recipe, I didn't use savoy cabbage. The recipe turned out OK, but on my second attempt, I discovered savoy cabbage is far easier to work with and fits in my Dutch oven better. It's the kind with the crinkly leaves. I use the same pot to soften the leaves as I do to cook the cabbage rolls, my Dutch oven.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it cooks in only one-and-a-half hours. I polled my family members about their recipes and it seems they cook them for two to three hours in the oven. This recipe also calls for eight gingersnaps and 2 chunks of sour salt in the sauce, but I didn't add any. I couldn't imagine having cookie bits in the sauce and I don't own any sour salt (pickling salt) so I substituted regular table salt. Also, I used red wine instead of white, because that's what I had open.


For the Rolls:
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup water
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head savoy cabbage
salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Juice of a large lemon
Salt to taste
1 cup vegetable juice, or water


  1. Bring a big pot of water to boil with 1 1/2 tbsp of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, rice, water, carrot, onion, and garlic. (I use my electric mixer.)
  3. Cut out the stem of the cabbage. Add the cabbage to boiling water, stem side down, and boil until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the cabbage under cold water to cool it off.
  4. Place an 1-inch thick chunk of the meat stuffing in the hollow of the leaf. Wrap it like a burrito. Wrap it loosely, as the rice will expand.
  5. Place each roll into the bottom of dutch oven, stacking them as needed.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and brown.
  7. Add the wine and simmer for five minutes on low heat.
  8. Add the tomatoes, water, raisins, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  9. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls in the Dutch oven. Add vegetable juice until the rolls are submerged in liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Shake the pan every 30 minutes to prevent sticking.
Inspiration: Joy of Cooking

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Braised Short Ribs

My almost two-year-old daughter can't get enough of these ribs. She gobbles up this beef so fast. My husband too. I've made this recipe twice now. The second time was near perfect. On New Year's Day. I made them in the Crockpot instead of the oven. The Crockpot was easier and made the meat fall apart tender. The only short-coming was that I didn't make enough.


3 pounds beef short ribs, boneless, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/4 cup shallots. chopped
3 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup BBQ sauce


  1. Combine all the ingredients, except BBQ sauce, in the crock pot. Make sure cooking liquid covers the beef. Cook on high for 4-6 hours until beef is tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Using tongs, transfer beef ribs to a roasting rack in a pan lined with tin foil. Baste ribs with BBQ sauce. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes to create a crusty exterior
Inspiration: Joy of Cooking

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cheese Ball

A definite must for New Year's celebration at our house. Cheese balls are really simple, but have lots of visual interest and taste. They are great to take along for a hostess gift too.

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 package (8 oz) light cream cheese
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

  1. Place all ingredients, except for pecans, inside mixing bowl. Mix until well blended.
  2. Place cheese mixture into the center of a piece of plastic wrap, or waxed paper. Form into a ball.
  3. Roll ball in the pecans. Chill in the refrigerator.
  4. Serve with assorted crackers or raw vegetables.

Inspiration: Cuisinart food processor recipe book

My Banana Bread Recipe

It's actually a Zucchini bread recipe that I've adapted for banana bread. I love zucchini bread but I never make it. I make banana bread to use up old bananas. This recipe makes two loaves. It's easy to cut in half. I think it's best to make two loaves and give one away.


2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups mashed ripe banana
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. 2. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  3. 3. With an electric mixer, beat together eggs, oil sugar, vanilla at medium speed until foamy.
  4. 4. Add banana. Beat until lumps dissipate.
  5. 5. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon. Gradually add to egg mixture.
  6. 6. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts.
  7. 7. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes two loaves.

Inspiration: Easy Everyday Cooking Recipe Card