Make-Ahead Cookie Mixes

Cookies in jars

So as our week winds down, how about a sweet note? Everyone loves cookies, and I don’t care that Sesame Street has converted Cookie Monster into a “cookies in moderation” monster. To me, they are still awesome, and deserve their own day on “Make-Ahead Week”. Just like the soups and dressings from previous dressings, these make excellent gifts, and will be accepted with a bigger smile than salad dressing. Make sure if you are gifting these to layer the ingredients as “prettily” as possible, by alternating colours and textures so that it is attractive to both the eye and the stomach! You can print some cute labels and tags on your home printer, and there you go, next thing you know, you have a little cottage industry in your house making cookies-in-a-jar gifts! I wish you much success and in the words of Cookie Monster “Me want cookie!” “Me eat cookie!” “Om nom nom nom”


Applesauce Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup chopped nuts

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup butter or shortening
1 egg
½ cup applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and applesauce and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Drop teaspoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 – 12 minutes at 350°F.


Black & White Chip Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
2 ⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
⅓ cup quick oats
⅔ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons M&M’s
⅓ cup rice krispies
¼ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 egg
½ cup butter or shortening

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.


Butterscotch Chip Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 ⅛ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup rice krispies or corn flakes
¾ cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chopped pecans

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup of butter or shortening
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup of softened butter or shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.


Chunky Chocolate Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup jumbo chocolate chip morsels
1 ¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 11-13 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling. Makes 3 dozen cookies.


Cocoa Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups packed confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup cocoa
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 350°F for 9-11 minutes until edges are browned. Makes 3 dozen cookies.


Honey Spice Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutions)
¾ cup honey
1 large egg

Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and honey, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Cover the dough and chill overnight. Next day, preheat the oven to 350°F. Shape the dough into 1”balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly with a cup dipped in sugar. Bake at 350°F for 5-8 minutes.


Molasses Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoonMo cloves
⅛ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
sugar, for decoration (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Shape the dough into 1”balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly, and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake at 375°F for 9-11 minutes.


Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
¾ cup chopped salted peanuts
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup peanut butter chips
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
½ cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and peanut butter, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes.


Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 small package raspberry gelatin dessert mix (aka Jewish Jello)
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
1 ¾ cups flour mixed
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 12-14 minutes or until the tops are very lightly browned. Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.


White Chocolate Cherry Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup vanilla sugar
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup chopped nuts
¾ cup white chocolate chips
½ teaspoon dried lemon peel

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into 1” size balls and place 2″ apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes.

A Collection of Iced Teas

Iced Teas

One of the classic summer drinks that we tend to go for is Iced Tea. Simple, easy, delicious and refreshing, it’s amazing how it just seems to hit the spot. One of the problems though that I seem to find though when I brew it is that it sometimes takes on a bitter taste from the tea itself. I found a tip online years ago that alleviates this problem. Simply add a pinch of baking soda to the hot water when brewing the tea. It magically counterbalances this acidity/bitterness from the tannins in the tea, and leaves you with a smooth taste.

The collection of teas below are all of a sweet variety, but you can leave out the sugar in any of them if you prefer unsweetened tea. Another tip, if you plan on keeping tea in the fridge for several days, don’t leave citrus (lemons, limes, etc.) in it with the rind/peel on. The natural oils in the peel of the fruit will leech into the tea and give a bitter taste. It is best to add fresh citrus to your glass, or to the pitcher, and then remove it before storing it for the next day.


Smooth Sweet Tea

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
2 cups boiling water
6 tea bags
¾ cup white sugar
6 cups cool water
ice and lemon for serving

Directions:
Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a 64-ounce, heat-proof pitcher. Pour in the boiling water and add the tea bags. Cover, and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and discard them. Stir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Pour in the cool water, then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice with a wedge of lemon.


Sweet Lime Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
1 gallon boiling water
6 black tea bags (such as orange pekoe)
1 ½ cups white sugar
4 limes, juiced
lime slices for serving

Directions:
Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a heat-proof gallon sized pitcher, then add the water and tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 45 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags. Stir in the sugar and lime juice until the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold before serving. Serve over ice with slices of lime.


South Asian Iced Tea

This is a bit of different kind of ice tea, in that it’s a sweet milky tea. Trust me though, once you try it, it will quickly become a favourite!

Ingredients:
9 cups water
8 tea bags black tea (such as orange pekoe)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar
½ cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
½ cup half-and-half, divided

Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a kettle and pour over tea bags in a heat-proof pitcher. Steep the tea for about 5 minutes and then remove the bags from the pitcher. Stir in the sugar in until it has dissolved. Cool the tea to room temperature. To serve, fill a glass with ice, then pour in the cool tea until almost full. Then add 1 tablespoon condensed milk and float 1 tablespoon of half-and-half atop the iced tea.


Hawaiian Plantation Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 quart barely boiling hot water
4 orange pekoe tea bags
1 quart ice cold water
1 (16 ounce) can pineapple juice
½ cup simple syrup (optional)*
1 fresh pineapple – peeled, cored, and cut into spears

Directions:
Pour the hot water into a large pitcher, and add the tea bags. Steep the tea for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and pour in the ice water and the pineapple juice. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 ½ hours. Pour the tea over ice, garnish with pineapple spears, and serve.

* To make simple syrup heat ½ cup of water with ½ cup sugar over low-medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.


Peach Orange Iced Tea

This fruity tea is a nice twist on traditional ice tea. If you don’t have peaches or clementine, you can use a nectarine or mandarin.

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
1 large fresh peach, sliced
1 clementine, peeled and segmented
1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
8 cups boiling water
4 Earl Grey tea bags
ice and peach slices for serving

Directions:
In a large heat-proof pitcher, and the sliced peach, clementine and sugar. Muddle the fruit and sugar to break it down. Add the baking soda, boiling water and tea bags and stir. Refrigerate the tea until cool, about an hour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fruit and tea bags. Serve over ice with a few slices of peach.

Hawaiian Poke

Tuna & Avocado Poke

So has anyone else noticed that it got pretty hot out? Like really quickly too? Whatever happened to Spring? It seems that here in Toronto we get, usually, a pretty wicked Winter, a week of Spring, and then watch out, ’cause here comes Summer! And with that, comes the heat and the dreaded humidity. Some days it feels more like you’re swimming outside rather than walking. So, having said all of that, how about some recipes that you don’t have to “cook”? No heat required? That’s right, we’re doing a raw week!

Today’s recipe is for Poke, a traditional Hawaiian dish that combines the freshest of fish, usually either tuna or octopus, with some asian flavours such as soy, sesame and onion. The trick to this dish is not to make it too much in advance. You want to combine the flavours just before eating, only about 15-30 minutes before everyone comes to the table. This way you don’t loose the fresh, delicate taste of the fish. My suggestion? Try serving this as a starter one Shabbos instead of gefilte fish! It will be a hit!

Ingredients:

½ pound sushi-grade salmon
½ pound sushi-grade ahi tuna
1 large avocado, cubed
4 green onions/scallion, thinly sliced*
½ jalapeno chili, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
½ tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
cooked white rice, to serve

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions/scallions.

Directions:

Check over your fish for any small bones or pieces of skin left on. Using a very sharp knife, slice the fish into ½” cubes. Set your fish aside for now. To toast your sesame seeds, heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds, and cook until toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Make sure to stir often to prevent burning.

In a medium bowl, mix together the green onions/scallions, jalapeno, toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, lime juice and ginger. Save a little onion and sesame seeds to top your finished poke. Add the fish and avocado to the bowl with the marinade, and toss to coat.

Fill a large bowl with ice, and then place the bowl with the poke in it into the larger ice filled bowl to keep the poke nice and fresh until you are ready to serve it. Taste the poke, and adjust the seasoning as needed, with salt and pepper to your own taste.

Serve the poke on top of some cooked white rice with thinly sliced green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

So just in case you weren’t already sold on the whole rhubarb idea yet, did you know how good it was for you? Did you know it can just about do everything for you but your taxes? Here is just a short list of the great wonders that rhubarb has going for it, y’know, besides just tasting awesome!

  • Aids in weight loss – high in flavour, but low in calories, rhubarb is a great alternative with only 21 calories in 100 grams!
  • Stimulates bone growth and repair – the vitamin K promotes osteotrophic activity.
  • Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease  – that’s the vitamin K again, which prevents the oxidation of brain cells and stimulates cognitive activity.
  • Stimulates production of red blood cells – the trace amounts of copper and iron found in rhubarb are enough to stimulate the production of new cells.
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases – the impressive amount of antioxidants in rhubarb help ensure that free radicals don’t cause heart disease.
  • Prevents cancer and macular degeneration – beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are polyphenolics found in rhubarb which delay and ward off cancers and degeneration.
  • Stengthens digestive system and relives constipation – high in fibre, rhubarb has been traditionally used as a cure for constipation.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
zest from 1 orange
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
8 cups chopped rhubarb (8 large stalks/16 small stalks)
½ cup flour
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup salted butter or margarine
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats

Directions:

Move an oven rack to the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the white sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, salt, eggs, orange zest, and ginger until well combined. Add the rhubarb, and mix to coat. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Thoroughly combine ½ cup flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon by pulsing in a food processor or blender. Stir in the oatmeal by hand, and then crumble the whole mixture over the rhubarb. Gently pat the topping down to make a crust.

Bake on the centre rack of the preheated oven until the topping is lightly golden, the rhubarb has fallen apart, and the juices are very thick and bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Check frequently after 30 minutes to see if bubbles are thick.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Sweet Pickle Relish

Ahhhh relish… some people love it, and some hate it! And if you’re from Chicago it must be neon green! Well today’s recipe is for a classic version of the hot dog/hamburger relish, but without any high fructose corn syrup added, like you often see with commercial brands. For me, it’s not bad on the aforementioned BBQ treats, but I LOVE it in tartar sauce (simply add mayo!) or added to salmon or tuna salad.

For those of you who want a more unique vegetable relish, I suggest heading back to my recipe for Chow Chow (click here for the recipe), which is a variety of pickled vegetables cut up into a relish favoured in the South. No matter which relish you choose, as always, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 medium sized cucumbers – finely diced
1 medium sized green bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium sized red bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium/large onion – finely diced
1 tablespoon pickling salt*
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed (not celery salt)
½ teaspoon mustard seed
⅛ teaspoon turmeric

* You have to use a pickling salt or kosher salt, not table salt, as the iodine with affect the pickle relish while it sits.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the diced cucumbers, peppers and onions, and sprinkle with the pickling salt. Toss to coat, and then let stand covered at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Once you have “pickled” the vegetables, pour the vegetables into a strainer and rinse well with cold water and set to drain.

While the vegetable mix has been rinsed and is draining, go ahead and get the seasoning mix a boiling. Combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed and turmeric in a large pot on high heat. Once boiling, add the vegetable mix, and return to boil.

Let the relish cook on medium heat uncovered to let some of the liquid evaporate. It will be done once the vegetables have cooked through, but have not become mushy, and most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow the relish to cool, and then transfer to a covered dish or jar with a lid, and refrigerate. This will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge.

Homemade Ketchup – And 5 Ways to Take It For a Spin!

Ketchup

So how can you have a week on condiments and not touch on ketchup? It is quintessential! Here in Canada we’re just nuts about the thick, slightly sweet treat, boasting the second highest per capita consumption of ketchup in the world, second only to Finland, (Finland?!). With that said, I really don’t know anyone that makes their own, when buying a bottle is just so convenient. However, that being said, how could I not offer up a recipe? Don’t worry though, for those of you who are not going to actually make their own (I count myself amongst you), I’ve added 5 bonus recipes below on ways to spice up your homemade or purchased ketchup! Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups

2 (796ml) cans crushed tomatoes
½ cup water, divided
⅔ cup white sugar
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
⅛ teaspoon celery salt
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole clove

Directions:

Pour the crushed tomatoes into a slow cooker. Swirl ¼ cup water in each emptied cans and pour it into the slow cooker. Add the sugar, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, celery salt, mustard powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and whole clove. Whisk everything together to combine. Cook on high, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half and becomes very thick, about 10 to 12 hours, stirring every hour or so.

Once the ketchup has reduced, you can smooth the texture of the ketchup by using an immersion blender on it for about 20 seconds (optional). Ladle the ketchup into a fine strainer and press mixture with the back of a ladle to strain out any skins and seeds. Transfer the strained ketchup to a bowl. Cool completely before tasting to adjust salt, black pepper, or cayenne pepper.

Five-Spice Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup ketchup, the juice of 1 lime and 2 teaspoons of five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Curry Ketchup:
Cook ¼ cup minced onion in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon margarine until soft, about 3 minutes. To the onions, add 1 teaspoon each of curry powder and paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for another minute, then add 1 cup of ketchup and ½ a cup of water. Simmer the ketchup until thick, about 25 minutes.

Spicy Peanut Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ⅓ cup peanut butter, the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon harissa or other chili paste and ¼ teaspoon each of coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon and cayenne.

Bloody Mary Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, ¼ cup horseradish, 2 teaspoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon celery salt and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.*

Jerk Ketchup:
In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning, 1 tablespoon pineapple or peach preserves and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce with meat dishes.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo BarsFor the mint version of this dessert, add some mint extract and green food colouring to the middle layer. This recipe will make about 32 bars.

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs, beaten
3 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)

Middle Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream
¼ cup custard powder (if you can’t find this, use vanilla pudding mix)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract (for mint flavoured option)
2-3 drops green food colouring (for mint flavoured option)

Top Layer:
8 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

For the bottom layer:
In the top of a double boiler, combine 1cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs until they are well combined. While constantly mixing, add a small amount of the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture so that the eggs can come up to temperature. Slowly add the egg mixture to the main cocoa mixture, until both are combined. Make sure to whisk the entire time so that the eggs do not cook and curdle. The mixture will thicken up, after about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an un-greased 9×13 inch pan.

For the middle layer:
Cream together 1 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder (pudding mix), and if using, the mint extract and food colouring, until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.

For the top layer:
While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Return to the refrigerator to let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Eggplant Salad – Баклажан Салат

Russian Eggplant SaladIngredients:

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 4″ strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 tomato, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced thinly
¾ teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Place the eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, and onion into a large pot. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, and water. Pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Stained Glass Window Cookies

Stained Glass CookiesThese are cookies which have open spaces which are filled with crushed hard candy. When baked, the candy melts and gives the appearance of “stained glass”. You may find that you don’t need to break up the candy first, but if you do, you might find that it melts more evenly. This recipe will make about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup butter or margarine
1 ¼ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk/soy milk/almond milk
40 fruit flavoured hard candies

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and eggs. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture alternately with milk.

On a floured surface, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter (shape of your own preference), cut out the cookies. Then taking a smaller cookie cutter than your first, cut out the centres of your newly made cookies, so that you now have a “window” for your candy to fill.

Keeping the colours separate, place candy in plastic bags and crush with a meat mallet. Using a teaspoon, gently scoop some crushed candies inside the “window frames” that you have made. Don’t put too much candy in, as the “window” will be too thick and make eating difficult. You can mix up the colours of the candies in each window if you like for a tie-dyed effect.

Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until candy is just melted. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, until candy is hard. Carefully lift cookies off baking sheet with spatula.

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel CookiesI had an adoptive grandmother (my uncle’s wife’s mother) that used to make an AMAZING pinwheel cookie. Unfortunately, she has passed on, and this is not her recipe. I’m afraid I don’t have access to that bit of family lore. This recipe is close though! What she did differently, that I suggest is before layering the two doughs together, she lightly dusted the bottom layer of dough with a little cocoa powder and sugar. This adds a little hit of chocolate and sweetness to each bite. I also suggest slightly dampening the bottom of the top layer of dough before placing it on top of the bottom layer. This will help the two stick together better. This recipe will make about 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup and 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
⅔ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup and 3 tablespoons white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Re-sift again into another bowl.

Beat the butter with the brown and white sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until evenly blended. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two equal parts.

Melt the unsweetened baking chocolate in a pan over low heat or in the microwave. Cool slightly, and mix the chocolate into one half of the dough until well blended.

Roll out the brown dough to ¼ inch thickness. Roll out the white dough to ¼ inch thickness, and place on top of the brown dough. Beginning on one edge, roll the doughs to make a log so the two colours spiral inside each other. Wrap the log in waxed paper, then in a cotton towel, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Unwrap the dough log, and place on a clean, lightly floured surface. Slice the log into rounds ⅛ inch thick, and place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven until set, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent edges from browning. Remove from oven, and cool on racks.