Saturday, December 16, 2017

Make Ahead Sugar Cookies

The holidays are great, but can be hectic.  Shopping, parties, pot lucks, wrapping gifts, it can be overwhelming.  That's why I like to make things ahead of time, if at all possible.  I'm hosting two separate parties this year.  That's a lot of prep.  I'm managing it all by doing whatever I can early so that the day of the party runs smoother.  One example is a cookie platter.  I like to make a variety of cookies to set out but that can be a lot of work.  So, when I get a free day, I make some dough, divide it up and freeze it.  Then, all I have to do is place and bake. 



MAKE AHEAD SUGAR COOKIES

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream the softened butter and sugar together well (that just means use a mixer on medium to high speed to beat them together until no longer gritty).

Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.

Stir in the flour until fully incorporated but don't over mix or the cookies will be tough.

Roll pieces into small balls and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet (I like to use a small scoop so that the cookies are uniform in size).



Once the cookie sheet is full, place in the freezer for 45 minutes.  This lets the cookies freeze individually, so they won't clump together in the freezer bag.  (But don't leave them in the freezer unwrapped too long or they can get freezer burnt).

Next, place them into a labelled freezer bag and return to the freezer.  Now they are ready and waiting when you need them.



TO BAKE THEM:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet (I like to line the cookie sheet with parchment paper to ensure they don't stick). 

You can either make a crisscross pattern with a fork dipped in sugar or flatten the dough balls with a glass dipped in sugar.








You can add sprinkles or colored sugars before baking.





Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges.  Don't over bake them! 




Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are crispy on the bottom, fluffy on the inside, buttery and sweet, but not too sweet.  Everything a cookie should be!  Perfect with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee!




As you can see these are easy and convenient to make ahead.  Plus, they are yummy!  Simple sugar cookie goodness,  Make these ahead and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes

My Old School Italian Husband was reminiscing the other day about a dish his Mom used to make.  I was lucky enough to have her teach me many of her recipes but she hadn't mentioned this one.  It was Italian Sausage baked with onions, peppers and potatoes.  Now, my husband does not cook.  He had no idea how she made it.  He did his best to describe it to me and I gave it a shot.  Here's what I did:





ITALIAN SAUSAGE, PEPPERS AND POTAOES

1 lb Italian sausage
1 onion
1 bell pepper
5 medium sized potatoes
oil
salt/pepper
fresh Italian Parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and dry the potatoes.  Cut into medium sized chunks.  Place on a large baking sheet with sides.  Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Arrange in a single layer.  Bake for 30 minutes.



Meanwhile, cut the onion and bell pepper into medium sized chunks. 



Then cut each sausage link into 3 pieces.



After 30 minutes in the oven, remove the potatoes and stir them.

Add the sausage, onions and peppers.

Drizzle with a little more oil and season with a little more salt and pepper (not too much, the sausage is already salty).



Return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.


That's it.  It was so easy, I expected my husband to say it wasn't the same.  But he didn't.  He said it was great and tasted just like his Mom's.  He was happy, which made me happy.  My kiddos loved it, too.  Everyone happy with an easy to make supper?  This one's a keeper, for sure!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich

Hey Everybody, it's been a while.  I have been busy!  I'm dealing with some health issues and getting ready for the holidays.  Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday!  I love to cook, eat and visit with friends and family.  It's the perfect day!  But, secretly, what I love even more is the next day.  I don't go Black Friday shopping.  I don't even leave the house.  I sit around, listen to Christmas music, decorate the house and make a day after Thanksgiving sandwich.  It is a good day.  



The sandwich is quick and simple to make, as well as customizable.  Use the leftovers you enjoy.  Here's how I like to make mine:

Warm up a few leftovers.  I like to use turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce.

Butter 2 slices of bread.  Set aside.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Place one piece of bread, butter side down, in the hot skillet.

Layer on the ingredients:  Gravy, turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce.

Place the other piece of bread on top, butter side up.

Let the sandwich sit until the bottom is toasted and golden brown.  Then, flip the sandwich over using a spatula.

Smash it down slightly and let it toast on the other side.

Voila!  It's done!




Simple, but so delicious!  I hope you enjoy your day after Thanksgiving!


   

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Simple Chicken Stir Fry

If you're looking for an easy recipe that you can whip up in no time, this one's for you.  It's quick, simple, healthy and yummy.  







SIMPLE CHICKEN STIR FRY

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
12 oz thin spaghetti
salt/pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 TBS vegetable oil
3 TBS sesame oil, divided
1 TBS white wine vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1 pkg frozen stir fry vegetables
sesame seeds, optional
green onions, optional

Season the chicken strips with salt. pepper. onion powder and garlic powder.  Add vinegar and 1 TBS of the sesame oil.  Stir well and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.



Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti to al dente (that just means it still has a little bite to it, not mushy).

Heat a large skillet (or wok) over medium-high heat.  Add vegetable oil.  When hot, add chicken strips and brown them, stirring occasionally.  



When the chicken is done, remove from the skillet to a plate and set aside.

Add the frozen stir fry veggies to the hot skillet.  Stir and cook until thawed and hot.



Return the chicken to the skillet.


Add the soy sauce.


Add the remaining 2 TBS of sesame oil.  Stir well.


Add the cooked and drained spaghetti.


Using tongs or 2 forks, toss the spaghetti until completely incorporated.

Taste it to see if it needs more salt and/or pepper.  Season to taste and toss.


Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, if desired.


I like to serve this with frozen eggs rolls or wonton soup.  Here is a link to my easy wonton soup recipe if you're interested:  Chinese Food at Home

Easy, yummy and much better for you than take out!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cherry Almond Cream Cake

My Mama and Daddy were coming to visit and I wanted to make a cake that would go well with a cup of coffee.  We always drink coffee when we visit.  It's a Cajun must.  If you don't offer to make a pot of coffee when company comes, you're considered down-right rude.  Anyway, I searched the pantry and fridge and came up with this recipe.  It turned out great and went perfectly with that cup of coffee.




CHERRY ALMOND CREAM CAKE

1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter (or margarine)
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 can condensed milk
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can ready whipped cream (or cool whip)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom only of a 9x13 baking dish.

Blend cake mix, eggs, melted butter, milk and almond extract on low speed for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for 2 minutes.


Give it a final stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to make sure it is completely incorporated.


Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.



Bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


While the cake is still warm, poke holes all over it with a chop stick (or a straw or a large fork).


After you have poked holes all over the cake, pour the condensed milk evenly over the cake.



Spread the condensed milk to evenly cover the cake.


Let it sit and absorb the condensed milk for at least 30 minutes.



Spread the cherry pie filling over the cake.



Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.  You can make this a day ahead and let it chill overnight.

Once completely chilled, top with whipped cream (or cool whip).


Spread it to cover.



You can decorate the top with slivered almonds or more cherries or anything you like.  I just left it plain.


This was moist and sweet with a little tartness from the cherries.  Just plain yummy!




Store leftovers in the fridge.

You can customize this however you like.  Use apple pie filling instead of cherry and add cinnamon to the cake mix instead of almond extract.  Or use vanilla extract and strawberry pie filing.  Or lemon extract and blueberry pie filling.  I love a versatile recipe.  Enjoy it (with a cup of coffee, of course).