Linzer Cookies with Browned Butter Filling

By:  Julie

Time:  25 min plus chilling and assembly time.  Plan an afternoon of cookie making.

Serves:  3 dozen

This recipe comes from a Christmas edition of Taste Of Home Magazine. It’s basically shortbread with browned butter filling and some delicious preserves of your choice.  Luckily, Corinne has left me with a jar of Strawberry-Lavender Caramel, which was the perfect compliment to the rich butter flavor.  Maybe if we hint enough she will post it on here.  Forget the hinting, “Corinne, we need you to post your Strawberry Lavender Caramel!”

I have made these at Christmas for two years running and they are my most requested treat along with cheesecake and lemon bars… coming soon to a blog near you.

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You Will Need:

For The Cookie

A Linzer cookie cutter or your favourite cookie cutter with a small round biscuit cutter to remove the center.

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour

For The Filling

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup of your favourite preserve

Make The Cookie Dough

I make these in my mixed but they can easily be done by hand.

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla until smooth.  Add the flour, a little at a time, until incorporated.  Divide the dough in half and place each half in plastic wrap.  Smooth into a disc shape and place in the fridge for 2 hours.  This step is important.  You need the gluten to rest to make tender cookies and also you need cold dough to prevent the cookings from loosing their shape during baking.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment.  That way you can prep one while the others are baking.

Lightly flour the counter and roll out the dough until it is an 1/8th of an inch thick.  You want to try to make both halves of the dough the same thickness, otherwise your tops may not be the same size as your bottoms during baking.  Thinner dough will cook faster and shrink more.

Cut equal numbers of tops and bottoms from both halves of dough so that you have matched sets.  I used a linzer cookie cutter which cuts the tops out for me, but any floured cutter will work.  I found this at The Bulk Barn for about $6.  A worth while investment.  They are now starting to rust a bit but still work fine.

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I cut 12 cookies and place 1-2 inches apart on the first cookie sheet and throw them in the oven.  If the cookies have warmed up while you were cutting, be sure to place them in the freezer for 10 min before baking or they may loose their shape.  Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, depending on how thick you rolled them.  When they are baking they will puff up slightly.  When you see the puff dough start to relax in the oven they are done. The top will be pale while the edges are slightly golden.  They are much better when not over-baked.

While the first tray is baking, prep the second tray.  Keeping any excess dough in the freezer while you are working.  Place them in the oven when ready.

When the first batch is baked, allow to sit for a few minutes and then move to a cooking rack.  Throw the tray in the freezer to cool it down while you roll the next batch.

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Repeat until all cookies are baked and cooling.

Prepare The Icing

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat until browned.  This takes about 10 min.  Watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Black butter is NOT as delicious as browned butter.  Remove from heat and gradually add the icing sugar until combined.  You are looking for a spreadable consistency so if needed, add some water until you can spread it easily with a knife.  It will stiffen as it cools so you need to work quickly.

Spread on the bottoms of all the cookies and top with a dollop of the preserves. Place the tops on and press down gently.  You want the preserves to fill the hole in the top of the cookie but not leak out the sides or overflow out of the top.  Let them sit out on the cooling rack for about an hour until the icing stiffens and then place in an air-tight container.  These freeze really well (I have been known to eat them right out of the freezer… they are delicious).  They will also keep well on the counter for a week or so.

 

 

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Party Appetizer Round Up!

by Corinne

Christmas isn’t the end of parties and appetizers, so here’s the round up of the last few weeks if you’re looking for something for a New Year’s party! There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for vegetarian, gluten free, fast and easy, freezer friendly or indulgent deliciousness.

Marinated Feta Dip

Smokey Caramelized Onion Dip

Three Cheese Spinach Dip

Mini Lasagnes

Pears with Prosciutto and Cheese

Caprese Bites

Pesto Tortellini bites

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Crispy Wontons with Pork Filling

Antipasto Kabobs with Oregano Marinade

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

By Corinne

These little apps are a hit wherever I’ve brought them. I looked into them because I thought there was another name for them – and there is, sort of. Traditionally roumaki has chicken liver wrapped in there with the water chestnut. No thank-you, I’m good. That being said, there is one problem with these, it’s FAR to easy to eat a lot of them!

Time: 5 min to prep marinade, 2-24 hours marinate, 15 minutes prep, 25 minutes bake.

Oven: 400F

You will need:

  • 1 540mL (19 oz)can whole water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1/2 cup sodium reduced soy sauce *GF as long as GF soy sauce is used
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 chili pepper minced or 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • toothpicks

Combine soy sauce, garlic, chili, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to also accommodate the water chestnuts. Whisk to combine. Add drained, rinsed water chestnuts to marinade. Allow to marinate overnight, or at least 2 hours.

Cut bacon in half and lay on a plate. Partially cook – about 5 min in my microwave. This saves you time in the oven and ensures you end up with crispy bacon. Drain any fat that has come off of bacon.

Wrap half of a piece of bacon around each water chestnut and secure with a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet and back at 400F for 20-25 minutes until bacon is crispy.

 

 

Antipasto Kabobs with Oregano Marinade

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By Corinne

The nice thing about these is you can easily alter them according to your own tastes or those of your guests. Celiac or gluten free guests? Make some without tortellini! Olives make you gag? Leave them out! Like to spice things up? Make them with hot genoa! Is any pepper too hot? Consider leaving out the pepperoncinis 🙂

The bocconcini is delightful if you have time to let it marinate overnight – if not, it will still be better for having spent at least 20 minutes in the dressing.

You will need some combination of the following:

  • 10-20 cherry tomatoes, halved if using mini san marzano cherry tomatoes
  • about 20 olives
  • about 20 slices thinly sliced genoa sausage
  • mini bocconcini cheese-1 pkg about 20-22 pieces
  • about 7 pepperoncini peppers
  • canned, drained artichoke hearts- not pictured but a nice addition if you have them
  • cooked tortellini* I wouldn’t use tortellini if I was also making pesto tortellini skewers with sundried tomatoes **not gluten free if using tortellini
  • cubes of another cheese if desired- such as asiago

Marinade for bocconcini and/or tortellini:

  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano (yes, a tablespoon, not a teaspoon)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cook about 20-25 tortellini according to package directions if using. Do not over cook. Drain and let cool slightly.

Drain and pat dry bocconcini.

Whisk together marinade ingredients and divide marinade between bocconcini and tortellini if using. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight.

I like to prep all of my ingredients for any sort of food that requires assembly like this one into little prep bowls. Half cherry tomatoes if using ones that are particularly large or if using my favourite mini san marzanos.

Using kitchen shears, snip off stem end of pepperoncini and then halve or quarter depending on size.

Once all ingredients are ready, start to assemble your skewers. It doesn’t matter what order you put them on in, however you do it they will end up looking pretty. When you get to the slices of genoa, if you fold each slice in half, and then in half again you get a nice effect.

Again, the beauty of these is that they can be totally personalized according to taste.

Crispy Wontons with Pork Filling

By Corinne

While these are by no means quick, they are not difficult to make. Once they are complete and frozen you can pull them out of the freezer and reheat them with virtually zero effort and little time invested. They are one of my favorite things to have ready to go in the freezer, and I’m always sad when my supply of them is finally out. They make a great appetizer, or a fun side when you’re having something like stir fry for supper.

This is one of those things I find takes long enough that using the food processor to reduce chopping time is totally worth it. Can you super finely mince the garlic, lemon grass and ginger by hand? You can… but if you have a food processor this is a great use for it!

Time: goes faster with a friend, feels like forever by yourself – probably 30 minutes for the prep + cooking of the filling and minimum another 40 minutes folding and frying by yourself.

Reheat: place a single layer on a preheated 350F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until heated through, flipping once halfway through. Serve with a sweet chili sauce.

Makes: definitely makes 50- though today I only got 47 because ummm… there may have been some taste testing of the filling between myself and my helper!

You will need:

  • 1 pkg of wonton wraps (50)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass
  • one onion – about 1 cup chopped
  • 3.5″ piece of ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups finely shredded cabbage- nappa if you can get it, if not regular green cabbage will work
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can of water chestnuts
  • 1 chili pepper minced

In a food processor, mince the onion. Add the minced onion and ground pork to a large pan. Cook over medium heat until pork is fully cooked and onions are softened.

Remove the very fibrous outer layer of lemon grass, and cut off the root end. You want to trim the top part off so you are only using about the bottom 4 inches or so of the stalk. Roughly chop and add to food processor. Remove skin from a piece of fresh ginger, roughly chop and add to food processor. Add three cloves of garlic to processor with lemongrass and ginger and process all until very finely minced. Mince chili pepper and add to pan – if your chili pepper is dried like mine was, this is as easy to do with the knife as with the food processor. If using a fresh one, toss it in the food processor with the garlic, lemongrass and ginger.

Add this mixture to the pork and onion in the pan, add 2 tsp of Chinese five spice and stir to combine.

Drain water chestnuts and process in food processor – you want to leave these a bit chunky for texture. Add water chestnuts to pan.

Finely chop 4 cups of cabbage and add to pan with other ingredients. Stir  and add 3 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Cover pan and cook until water is absorbed and cabbage is wilted and reduced – about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool at least slightly before using the filling.

Get ready to do some wrapping. Get a small bowl of water, a cutting board, a fork,  and a plate or cookie sheet ready for the ones you prep before cooking.

Because you’re making quite a few of these, I like to do them assembly line style. I get out six wrappers, place a scant 1 tbsp filling in the center. Then dip your finger in the water and rub two edges of the wrap so it’s wet. Then fold over so it’s a little triangle, and use the fork to crimp the edges. I find if you just use your finger to press they have a tendency to fall apart.

When you have a bunch of them ready,you can heat some canola oil over medium heat in a large pan – about maybe half an inch to an inch in the pan. To test the heat of your oil,  use the end of a wooden spoon-  dip it in and it should start to bubble a bit, or try dipping the edge of one of your won tons in- it should start to bubble. Not like furiously or alarmingly- if it seems like you’ve perhaps gotten your oil too hot, feel free to remove from the heat for a moment or two. No need for any sort of boiling oil disaster. Though really this is much easier than I’m making it seem.

Add 4-6 won tons to the pan. As they bubble and brown at the edges, flip them over. When they are slightly golden on each side remove from oil to drain on paper towel. I am usually making them to be reheated in the oven, so I don’t worry about getting them too golden as they get more colour when you reheat them.

Freeze on cookie sheets in a single layer. One of the blessings of -20C winters here is I can use my BBQ to freeze things. It’s amazing. Really. I mean, there has to be some perk of -20C, right?

Roast Chicken and Stuffing For Two… And A Half.

By: Julie

Time:  2 hrs – 30 min prep and the rest is wait time.

On Sunday night I made the best roast chicken that I’ve ever had.  It was juicy and flavorful and amazing.

I love to cook big meals and I love to entertain.  However, sometimes I like to spoil Tyler without all the fuss so we can enjoy it together, just the two of us.  Just the two of us and busy toddler that thinks the knobs on the gas stove is a game that no one will let her play.

I wanted to make a meal that didn’t take a lot of time, but still tasted like a Sunday Dinner should.  once you prep this meal you have a whole block of time in the middle to either make fun sides, or build a Lego castle while singing the alphabet song for the eighteenth time.   Also, a whole, fresh chicken was only $6 dollars.  It’s difficult to find two boneless-skinless chicken breasts for that.  We each had a breast for supper and saved the legs and the thighs for lunch for tomorrow (plus extra for the tiny human).

The stuffing is a faster version of my holiday stuffing. It doesn’t have any sausage and I’ve left out a few other things to make it a little easier and less time intensive.  My holiday stuffing I usually prep the night before but this one can be whipped up in minutes.

You Will Need:

For The Chicken

  • 1 stalk of celery – broken into 3 pieces
  • half an onion, peeled
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper
  • olive oil
  • 3-4lb chicken

My dad once told me that to have the perfect juicy turkey, stuff the cavity with onion and celery instead of using stuffing or leaving it empty.  I am happy to tell you that this is correct.  I do this every time and it works just as well with chicken.  I never cook my stuffing in my bird, the bread absorbs moisture and flavour out of the chicken.  I want that juice to stay in the bird.

Preheat the oven to 400F and mix the spices together in a bowl.

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That being said, stuff the celery, onion, and sprig of rosemary into the cavity of the chicken.  If you can, just tuck the legs through the fat at the bottom of the chicken.  Mine was ripped so I used a skewer and a raw potato to keep the legs of the bird together.  Drizzle the olive oil over the breast, rub it into the skin and legs.  Then add the spice rub and make sure to get it everywhere.

It will look something like this:

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Place the chicken in the oven in the center rack and roast for 20 min.  Then reduce to 325F and continue roasting for another 60-80 min, until the thickest part of the bird reaches 175F.  I check temp about every 20 min.  When the chicken reaches 150 I remove the foil so it browns nicely.  Once you take it out it needs to be covered to rest for at least 10 min to absorb the juice back into the meat.  Temp will rise another 5 degrees and the chicken actually continues to cook outside of the oven.

For The Stuffing

  • 3 slices of stale bread – I used bran, whole grain bread adds extra flavor to your stuffing.  Cubed into half inch pieces
  • 1 stalk of celery – diced
  • 1/2 medium onion – diced
  • 1 small apple – diced
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp of sage
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – plus more for bread cubes

Mix the herbs together and set aside.

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Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and throw it in the oven with your chicken for 10 min to toast them.  They should be lightly browned, but not hard.  Prep the rest of your ingredients while they are toasting.

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In an oven-friendly pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and the celery and saute until softened.  Add the apple, cranberries, and spices and stir to combine.  Add the white wine, the bread, and half of the broth.  Only add half the broth to start.  You want the bread to be wet, but not soggy.  Add the other half if necessary.  Set aside and cover with foil.  You want to put the whole pan in the oven when your chicken has about 20 min left.  It’s very forgiving so don’t worry too much.  You just want to make sure the apples have time to cook through.

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Remove the chicken from the oven when it reaches 170-175F.  Cover with foil and let rest for a min of 10 minutes.  I leave the digital thermometer in mine, stabbing it through the foil.   When the temp stops rising and starts to fall, I know it’s done cooking and has rested enough.

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Carve and enjoy.  I cut along the breast bone and then horizontally just above the wing to remove the whole breast, a trick my mom taught me.

I served this with some Cran-apple Marmalade I made and a nice green salad.  It was amazingly juicy, just how I pictured.

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Creamy Leek and Asparagus Soup

By:  Julie

Time:  40 min

Serves:  4-6

It’s not really the season for asparagus here in Ontario, it’s the season of snow and preserved goodies.  It’s about the time of year when my eyes are really starving for something green and beautiful.  That’s exactly what this is, a green and beautiful bowl of spring that you can enjoy, briefly forgetting that it is only December and there are still 4 solid months of winter to endure.

I was planning a leek and potato soup, needing some warm comfort food and having to use up some leeks that I had in the fridge, but then I walked by some lovely green asparagus that happened to be on sale.  On sale asparagus is rare in the middle of winter.  It’s imported from California, or Peru.  It’s not the tenderest shoots I’ve eaten, but since the soup will be pureed, this is not a problem.

You Will Need:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 large leek, sliced thin
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tsp mustard seed
  • a large bunch of asparagus, chopped in to 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • grated lemon zest
  • flat leaf parsley (if desired for garnish)
  • salt and pepper

I used a dutch oven to melt the butter on medium low.  Then I added the leek, garlic, and a few pinches of salt.  I put the lid on and left the leak to sweat for 10 min, stirring occasionally.  I then added about a tsp of salt and the mustard seed.

This smells heavenly.  Resist the urge to eat the leeks.

Add the asparagus, chicken broth, and wine plus 2 cups of water.  Stir and bring to a simmer and allow to cook, uncovered, until the asparagus is tender.  You don’t want to cook it too long or you will lose the lovely bright green colour.

Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 min.  You can puree this in batches in a blender but I used an immersion blender.  I don’t even own a blender so I make due with a food processor or the immersion blender.

Add salt, pepper, and the juice of the lemon to taste.  Serve with chopped parsley over top.  I also added a dollop of sour cream because it’s a really good excuse to eat it.  I served this with toasted turkey sandwiches on 12 grain bread and we really enjoyed it, but it would also make a spectacular appetizer at your next dinner party, warm or chilled.  It was a nice, light, fresh meal

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