Frosted Holiday Sugar Cookies

Sugar Snowflake Cookies copy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I’ve updated this blog. I know, I know – for shame! But hey, let’s not dwell on how lazy (or in this case, pregnant) I’ve been and just get right back to the baking, eh?

With the holiday season in full swing, and my due date only 7 weeks away, I’ve got cookies on my mind almost constantly. Craving cookies. Baking cookies. Eating cookies. Eating more cookies. Eating all.the.cookies.

And with these little beauties in the kitchen, who can blame me? These cut-out sugar cookies are the softest and most delicious I’ve ever made (or eaten), and best of all, they’re a snap to throw together for even a novice baker. While I spent a great deal of time, energy and effort on frosting and decorating these snowflakes – and admittedly made a pretty big mess in my dining room in the process, oops! – the frosting is actually easy for even the littlest of cookie decorators to mix and use. This is the perfect cookie recipe for a baking day with your kiddos any time of year!

Credit for these cookies, and for the delectable icing they’re smothered in, goes to Sally’s Baking Addiction and allrecipes.com, respectively. I’ve made this recipe on multiple occasions and have had great results each and every time!

 

FROSTED HOLIDAY SUGAR COOKIES

Yields: 18-20 cookies

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large fresh egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

To make cookies:

  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter (which should be slightly softened but not melted) until creamy and smooth – approximately 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combined, about 2 minutes, continuing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, add one tablespoon of flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. (Note: Chilling is mandatory! If chilling for more than a couple of hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.)
  4. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
  5. Bake for 8-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. The secret to the soft, tender centers in these cookies is underbaking; remove from the oven as soon as they look “set” and are very lightly colored around the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  6. After the cookies have cooled, frost using the instructions below. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

To make frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food coloring to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush, and apply sprinkles or edible ornamentation as desired. Allow to set before eating or storing.

 

Advertisements

Habanero Turkey Chili with Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

 

Habanero Turkey Chili

It’s been a long, lonnnng time since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m happy to be back with new recipes (the result of lots of summer cooking and baking!) this week. Hopefully this post kick starts my lazy blogging bum into gear, and I’ll be back with more recipes in the weeks and months to come!

This spicy homemade chili has been a family favorite for years. Adapted from the recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili on AllRecipes.com, it’s also been my go-to meal for the happy occasions this summer that we’ve welcomed family and friends to our home in southern Germany. Despite the rather intimidating number of ingredients listed, this chili couldn’t be easier to prepare for a large group of weary, jet-lagged world travelers desperately in need of a protein boost. And if the protein doesn’t wake them up, the flavor surely will – this chili is spicy with a capital S. I personally like to take my spice level to the brink of hospitalization, but feel free to tinker with the amount of chili powder added if pepper-induced sobbing just isn’t your jam. (I recommend 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup for those with less heat tolerance.)

And finally, let’s talk about cornbread. I LOVE cornbread. I’ve tried every conceivable type of cornbread known to man or woman, and this recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. It has the rare combination of perfect flavor (not too sweet, not too bland) and perfect consistency (not too cake-like, not too dry). I can’t imagine a better accompaniment to this spicy chili. Enjoy!

 

HABANERO TURKEY CHILI WITH HONEY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD

Yield | 12 servings

For the chili:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans chili beans in sauce
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 habanero peppers, seeded + minced
  • 4 cubes beef (or chicken) bouillon
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to serve

For the cornbread:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt

 

To make the chili:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground turkey and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2.  Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, habanero peppers, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder and remaining ingredients (through sugar). Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (or refrigerate and serve the next day).

To make the cornbread:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter and honey in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Hungarian Gulyás (Goulash)

Hungarian Goulash

Oh baby, it’s cold outside!

2016 is off to a very chilly start in southern Germany – the perfect excuse to snuggle up in front of the fireplace, to wear cozy slippers all weekend long AND to dig deep in my recipe box for new and delicious soups and stews. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for traditional Hungarian gulyás since the beginning of the month, when my husband and I shared fond memories of a brilliant culinary holiday in Budapest for New Year’s Day 2012. The experience had been a first for both of us – his first goulash ever, and my first that wasn’t made with the loving hands of my adorable Polish grandmother. My husband polished off three bowls in one sitting on our first night in Pest, then continued to enjoy it everywhere we went in Hungary’s capital for the rest of our holiday. I hadn’t made it since, but this past weekend – snowy and well below freezing – seemed like the perfect opportunity to walk down a delectable memory lane.

Gulyás (goulash) – a soup or stew made of meat or vegetables, seasoned with paprika and a variety of other spices – is the type of recipe that exists on a very wide taste spectrum. In other words, I’ve never run across a goulash that contains the exact same ingredients in the exact same quantity as another. While sweet, high quality Hungarian paprika is essential, and other additions – onion, garlic, caraway seeds, and bell peppers – are fairly standard, the contents can otherwise be tailored to an individual palate. I tossed in some of my husband’s favorites – tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beef cheeks and red bell peppers – but encourage you to use the flavors and textures you enjoy. Serve with csipetke (small, pinched egg noodles, also known as spätzle in Germany) or a thick, crusty loaf of bread on your next chilly winter’s day – you won’t regret it!

 

HUNGARIAN GULYAS (GOULASH)

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

Inspiration | The Daring Gourmet

  • 3 tbsp pork lard
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup high quality, sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1½ pounds beef (see note), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2 fresh carrots, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)

 

  1. Melt the lard in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until slightly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the paprika. Add the beef and garlic, return to the heat, and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, beef broth, bay leaf, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 40 minutes (see note). Add salt to taste.
  3. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, csipetke or thick, crusty bread.

Note: If you’re using a tougher cut of beef, cook the beef first, without the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, for 30-45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 40 minutes, until the beef is tender.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup FINAL.jpg

HAPPY NEW YEAR, lovely blog readers!!

We’re kicking off 2016 with chilly temps, gray skies and lots of rain showers here in southern Germany – as a native of the Pacific Northwest, this is just my kind of weather! For my cranky, sun-loving hubby, however, this is a less-than-desirable time of year. And like any good (read: wise and patient) wife confronted with her husband’s grumbling, I nod sympathetically, murmur words of understanding and encouragement, and placate. With soup.

When he requested this Broccoli Cheddar Soup last week, it took me all of 30 minutes to get dressed, throw on some makeup, and drive to the local grocery store for ingredients. Not only because I’ll do anything to turn his frown upside down, but because this soup is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Like better than Panera-style amazing (see Averie Cooks for the original recipe). It’s creamy, rich, and cheesy cheesy CHEESY. The secret to this soup is in fact super high quality, extra sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese. While pre-shredded, bagged cheese has its place in the world, that place is not in this soup; the better the cheese, the better the flavor!

 

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 tbsp + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half (regular or fat-free)
  • 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional), and to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder (optional), and to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional), and to taste
  • 8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese, plus extra to serve

 

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and turning lightly golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes (until flour is fully incorporated and thickened), whisking constantly.
  4. Slowly add the vegetable stock and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms (this is normal).
  5. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside. Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. Stir to combine.
  6. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  7. After simmering for 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately.

[Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.]