Friday, December 16, 2011

Memaw's Cheese Ball

Memaw's Cheese Ball
Courtesy of John's grandmother

2 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper
1 teaspoon chopped onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper
dash salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and roll into chopped pecan pieces (approximately 2 cups).

Chill for an hour or so in the refridgerator before serving, and serve with your favorite crackers.
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Strawberry Jello Salad

I've made this for my work Thanksgiving party, and then again for Thanksgiving Day too.

Strawberry Jello Salad
Courtesy of an old family recipe

1 large package strawberry jello (I use sugar free)
2 cups boiling water
1 package frozen strawberries
1/2 pint sour cream (I think that I use the whole pint)
2 riped bananas, mashed
1 big can crushed pineapple, drained well
1 cup chopped pecans
1 container of whipped cream

Dissolve jello in water. Add strawberries and stir until thawed. Add bananas and pineapple. Pour 1/2 of the mixture into a 13 x 9 inch pan. Let set up in refrigerator until firm. Place the bowl with the other 1/2 of the jello mixture in the refrigerator as well.

Mix the sour cream and the pecans together. Spread on first layer of jello. Pour the rest of the jello mixture on top of the sour cream layer. Refrigerate until firm.

Spread the whipped cream on the top. Serve and enjoy!
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel Cookies
Courtesy of: Our Italian Kitchen

2 cups flour, plus possibly a few more tbsp
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (cut in chunks)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp of food coloring of your choice
1/2 tsp of any desired extra extracts, optional
1 1/2 cup holiday sprinkles

I started by cutting each stick of butter in half, and then in half again... then into small cubes. I placed the butter in a small bowl and put it back in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it. In a stand mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars with paddle on medium until well blended. Add butter in, 2-4 cubes at a time, and continue mixing. Add in vanilla extract. At this point, your dough will form a ball on your paddle.

Remove all your dough and divide into two equal parts. Return one portion back in to the mixer and add the food coloring and any extra extracts. I used Wilton gel food coloring in leaf green and red and vanilla extract for my batches. You could add mint flavoring in with the red or green coloring. You could do these for other holidays as well with yellow coloring and lemon flavoring, orange coloring and orange flavoring - the possibilities are endless. Also, if you are using liquid food coloring, you will need to add a few tbsp of flour to keep the dough from becoming too wet. Mix until the color is spread out evenly.

I put the balls of dough back in the refrigerator before rolling out the dough. I wanted it to firm up slightly before the next step. Roll out each portions of your dough, between two sheets a wax paper until is reaches about 11 x 9 inches and is 1/4 inch thick. Slide both unto a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

When firm, remove the top sheets of wax paper from both. Then flip the colored dough onto the vanilla uncolored dough so they are stacked atop each other and even. You can use a slight brushing of water between the layers to help seal the dough together. Press the edges lightly with your fingertips to seal them together. Using a small pairing knife, trim the edges of the dough to make straight, even lines.

Be sure your dough is still cold, but flexible. Once it's ready, begin rolling the long side of dough into a swirl, jelly-roll style. Don't get nervous if the outer layer of uncolored dough tears a bit. It's no problem, just pinch and pat those tears back together, and just keep rolling. I wrapped the dough in wax paper and placed the dough back in the refrigerator overnight to firm up completely before cutting. Having the dough cold, helps with keeping the pinwheels in shape.

You can also wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. You will need to allow the dough to defrost in the refrigerator for a day or so before continuing on with the next few steps for baking.

Pour your sprinkles onto a cookie sheet. Now gently lift your dough log onto the sprinkles and roll away. Cover the log completely with your sprinkles.

Slice your dough into 1/4-1/8 inch slices and bake on parchment lined baking sheets. Allow for plenty of room in between the cookies - as they spread a bit. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move them to a cookie rack to finish cooling. We ended up doing 4 batches of these - 1/2 red and 1/2 green... and alternated which colors were on the outside - I LOVE how they turned out! Enjoy your whimsical Christmas cookies!

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Fudge-Filled Cookies

Fudge-Filled Cookies
Courtesy of: Taste of Home

1 cup butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chopped walnuts
Confectioners' sugar, optional

In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour and mix well.

Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Divide dough into fourths; cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and milk; stir until smooth. Stir in walnuts. Cool to room temperature.

Roll out each portion of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet into an 11-in. x 6-1/2-in. rectangle. Spread 3/4 cup chocolate filling down the center of each rectangle. Fold long sides to the center; press to seal all edges. Turn over so the seam sides are down.

Bake at 350° for 27-32 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Cut into 1/2-in. slices. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 3 dozen.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies
Courtesy of: Recipe Girl

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut up
1 Tbsp. red food coloring (I used gel food coloring and didn't measure it)
3 ounces white chocolate (or white Almond Bark), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. butter flavored shortening
festive sprinkles

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. I start by cutting the stick of butter in half, then cut the halves in half again - then just cut into small cubes. I then place the butter in a bowl and put it back in the refrigerator until I am ready to add it to the dough mixture.

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Cover and pulse until combined. Add butter and red food coloring. Process by pulsing until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Then continue to process until mixture begins to clump together.

Scoop dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until nearly smooth. Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured 1-1/2-inch round cutter, cut out dough. I used a regular biscuit cutter, but if I had it to do over again - I would use something with a more decorative edge. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press scraps together and roll again.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

In a microwave safe bowl, add in 1 package of the white chocolate and shortening - heat for 1 1/2 minutes in microwave. Stir. If the mixture isn't melted and smooth - you can microwave it an additional 30 seconds at a time until melted. Make sure to not over do it with the heat or you will ruin the chocolate. I often pull mine out and am able to melt it the rest of the way by just stirring it in the warm bowl for a minute or so.

Once your mixture is melted, dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with festive sprinkles, nonpareils or chopped pistachios. Let stand on waxed paper until set.

Yield: About 24 cookies.
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Pecan Balls

Pecan Balls
Courtesy of: My

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 oz.)

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and the vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and beat on low speed to mix, then on medium speed until well blended. Stir in pecans.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (we used a cookie scoop for uniform size and shape) and place about 1 inch apart on buttered or cooking parchment-lined 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 300° regular or convection oven until cookies are pale golden brown, about 25 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking. Let cookies stand on sheets until cool enough to handle.

Place remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a paper lunch bag or shallow bowl. Gently turn warm cookies, a few at a time, in powdered sugar to coat. Set cookies on racks to cool completely.

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Salty Turtles

Salty Turtles
Inspired by Pinterest

These are really not a true recipe - it's just layering ingredients. We were making a lot of these for John's employees & coworkers.

1 bag of square pretzels
2 bags of Rolos (Or you could use Hershey's Hugs)
1 bag of pecan halves

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap your Rolos or Hugs. Place the pretzels on a baking sheet, and put 1 candy on top of each pretzel. Bake for 5 minutes. The candy will not change shape in the baking process. Immediately upon pulling them from the oven, push a pecan down into the melted candy. You can then place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes or in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes - then they are ready to serve or package for gifts!
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