Glazed Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

December 7, 2012

These fancy double-glazed bars only look hard to make. They are sturdy enough to pack and ship.

Makes 26

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan

1¼ cups brown sugar, firmly packedDSCN9969 copy 3

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

½ cup dried cranberries


4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

½ cup dried cranberries, chopped


½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

For base: In a large bowl with electric mixer on high speed beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg and salt until combined. Stir in white chocolate and cranberries. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until light golden yet still slightly soft in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For frosting: In a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, lemon juice and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until blended and of spreading consistency. Spread the frosting evenly over cooled cake. Immediately scatter chopped cranberries on top of the frosting.

For drizzle: In a microwave or double boiler, melt white chocolate until smooth and of drizzling consistency. Drizzle over frosted bars.

TIP: Keep an eye on the bars at the end of their baking time, making sure not to overbake them. The center should still be soft.

From: Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook

Nancy’s Notes: Made December 2012, these were a big hit at the Aqua Arthritis class holiday potluck.

Peppermint Patties

December 7, 2012

These cookies are the perfect balance of peppermint and chocolate – they’re completely addictive. For an extra-special treat, chill them in the refrigerator and serve cold.

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup Butch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 teaspoon milk or light cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Cream 10 tablespoons of the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the granulated and brown sugars, beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt with the mixer on low speed, beating until combined. The mixture will seem dry at first, but will come together after a few minutes. Roll the dough into a 10×2-inch log; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Cut the dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet (they will not spread). Bake until just firm to the touch – 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool (these break if you let them cool on the sheets).

Cream the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, the confectioners’ sugar, peppermint extract and milk in a small bowl with the mixer on medium speed until blended. Sandwich the cooled cookies together with the filling. Place the chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium-high for 30 seconds (milk chocolate is sensitive to high heat); remove and stir. If not completely melted, repeat the microwaving. Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate and place on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper until the chocolate is firm.

Makes: 24 2-inch filled cookies

From: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen

Nancy’s Notes: Made December 2012, I thought the filling was too strong, would only use 1 teaspoon extract next time. Also, the melted milk chocolate chips seemed to thick for neat dipping, it either needed thinned with some milk or the chocolate needed to be hotter.

Raspberry Brownies

December 7, 2012

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups walnut pieces
7/8 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan

Melt butter and chocolate in microwave or on stovetop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and vanilla and mix until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour and beat until smooth. Stir in walnuts.

Pour half of batter into pan. Smooth the surface with a flat spatula. Freeze for 30 minutes. Refrigerate remaining batter.

Spread preserves in a thin, even layer on top of frozen batter. Pour the remaining batter over preserves and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into 1-inch squares, as these brownies are very rich.

Makes 24 brownies.

From: America’s Hometown Recipe Book edited by Barbara Greenman

Nancy’s Notes: Made December 2012, these were very chewy. Nice combination of flavors.

Lemon Tea Cookies

December 7, 2012

We call these tea cookies because they’re perfect for just that. Imagine serving these, along with some flavorful tea, or a special afternoon with your dearest friends. These dainty little cookies just melt in your mouth.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Lemon Frosting (recipe follows)

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a medium-size bowl. Cream the butter in a large owl with an electric mixer on medium speed; add the lemon juice and zest, beating until combined. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until well combined.

Divid dough in half. roll each half into a log approximately 1 1/2 by 8 inches. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Cut each dough log into 1/4-inch slices; arrange on baking sheets, spacing about 1-inch apart. bake until cookies are firm – 10 to 12 minutes. transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to a wire rack to cool. Spread Lemon Frosting over each cookie.

Lemon Frosting

Beat 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1/4-cup softened unsalted butter and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice in a medium-size bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Use immediately. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Makes: 48 1 1/2-inch cookies

From: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen

Nancy’s Notes: Made in December 2012, good flavor but were very tiny, not 1 1/2 inches. I sprinkled the frosting with gold sugar sparkles for a little color. I think I will keep  looking for a good lemon tea cookie recipe.

Toasted Parmesan Pita Chips

November 29, 2012

6 (6-inch) whole-wheat pitas

Cooking spray

1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut each pita in half horizontally; cut each pita half into 6 wedges to form 72 wedges. Divide the wedges evenly among two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat wedges with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheese and pepper evenly over wedges. Bake at 350° for 11 minutes or until crisp, rotating baking sheets after 5 minutes.

From: Cooking Light, November 2011

Nancy’s Notes: I made for Christmas 2011 and Thanksgiving 2012. I think I got a little carried away with the ground pepper in 2012.


November 29, 2012

Makes 20 to 25 small toasts

Use a leftover baguette to make these crostini; they will keep well in an airtight container for a week.

1/2 baguette, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Place bread slices on a large baking pan and brush slices with olive oil. Or, spray with olive oil. Bake until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Rub toasts with cut sides of garlic.

From: Gourmet, May 2005

Nancy’s Notes: Made for Thanksgiving 2012.

Whipped Cream

November 29, 2012

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream


Place a metal mixing bowl and metal metal into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.


Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.


From: Alton Brown, Food Network


Nancy’s Notes: I used this technique Thanksgiving 2012. I had always whipped the cream and then added the sugar at the end. The whipped cream held up better doing it this way. The leftover whipped cream was still stiff and useable a week later.