Monday, December 03, 2007

A Little "Q & A" and Some Yummy Recipes

Today, I'm going to answer a gazillion questions that I've been asked, but haven't gotten around to. The topics are: Caesar Salad Dressing, Christmas Cookie Ornaments; and Cookie Recipes. If you've asked a burning question that I've missed, leave me a comment and I'll get to it right away! Sorry this post is long, so if you want to get right to the cookie recipes, go to the bottom.

Recently, I participated in Works for me Wednesday and posted about "Safe Eggs," and I included my recipe for homemade Caesar Salad Dressing. The following questions/comments were posted, and I thought I'd address each of them:

Stacey from Just Me and my Guys commented:

"I can't eat the Caesar salad because I can't seem to get past the fact that they have anchovies in them! Got any ideas for that??"

Why, yes Stacey ... I have a couple ideas. Try using anchovy paste. I promise it doesn't have a strong fish flavor at all, and it's not as salty and oily. They sell it in a tube, and I usually find it around the Italian imported foods. If you're worried about the strong fish flavor, then reduce the amount by half, and finger-taste-test it (dip your finger in it) after you process it to see how it tastes. If you're really, REALLY worried about it, then try the recipe without the anchovy paste, just be sure to add salt. Hope that helps.

Amanda (no blog address) commented:

Why not use whole anchovies if you're going for a true Caesar? They really don't taste "fishy," if that's your concern. But I applaud you for using anchovy paste! Bravo!

Thank you for the applause, but it's not necessary. Actually, I chose not to use the whole anchovy for several reasons: I find them to be very, VERY salty (stiff, in fact, from so much salt); I find them to be very greasy when packed in oil; I do find them to be very strong in flavor. I find that if I use anchovy paste, my 2 year old is more likely to eat it, my husband doesn't balk at the fishy taste, and I'm satisfied with the important "body of flavor" that anchovy paste really does add to the dressing. It's one of those "flavor layering" things, I guess.

And finally, "K" (no blog address) commented:

"If I use these eggs can I go back to eating raw cookie dough again?"

(she's referring to using pasteurized eggs)

Well, "K" ... I just don't see why not! If they are safe for a raw-egg dressing, then in my book, they are safe for cookie dough! Woot! Dig in, girl!

Last week, I participated in Momrn2's Christmas Traditions carnival (check it out -- there are a couple new participants that have been added). I posted several new and older traditions that my family enjoys. And guess what??? I got a few questions from that post, too.

Momrn2 from My Quiet Corner said:

"...I think you need to post instructions and recipes on how to make your cookie ornaments. If you already have I missed it somehow!

What a fantastic idea!"

Well, I purchased extra large, gargantuan, beautiful cookie cutters from coppergifts.com -- made a large-batch sugar cookie dough from a recipe they sent with my beautiful cookie cutters (recipe follows). I didn't change a thing, either. I just followed their recipe. I decorated the cookies using items coppergifts.com sells -- they have everything you need, and they also show samples of decorated cookies when you hover your mouse over the actual cookie cutter. I used things like the White Cookie Icing in a bottle (similar to an Elmer's glue bottle) by Wilton. It dried ROCK HARD (no offense, Wilton), and worked beautifully. I also used various sanding sugars, edible glitters, Luster Dust, and other decorating items from coppergifts.com -- I whole-heartedly recommend visiting their site!! (Actual cookie recipes courtesy of Copper Gifts at bottom of this post)

Carey from Sunny Days at the Beach commented:

"...got a question about your homemade ornaments...from dough...how long do they last? Do they last for years? Can you share the applesauce recipe?"

Well, actually -- I packed all the cookies I made last year (because, frankly ... it was a LOT of work that I didn't want to throw away) in gallon-sized zip lock bags. I pulled them out to peek at them over the weekend, and with the exception of a few beheaded gingerbread people and snowmen, they look beautiful! I'm considering spraying them with Krylon's Acrylic Crystal Clear sealer in Matte to seal in their beauty.

As for the homemade applesauce recipe, I think there was a misunderstanding. I meant to say homemade ornaments with an applesauce and cinnamon recipe. Or maybe I should have said, "homemade cinnamon and applesauce ornaments." Either way, you can find many recipes on line (I linked the one I'll be using above). As for a homemade Applesauce recipe, well -- I don't have one, but Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers has an excellent recipe. I'm sure she'll share it with you!

Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie was also looking for large-batch cookie recipes, so as promised above, here are a few tried and true large batch recipes:

Big Batch Sugar Cookies
Use this basic dough to make any of your favorite shapes.

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (less if making thick cookies)
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix well. Chill in large pancake shapes wrapped in parchment or wax
paper for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees before baking cookies. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat mats to prevent cookies from spreading. On surface dusted with powdered sugar, roll dough to approx. 1/8" thick. Use copper cookie cutters dipped in powdered sugar to cut dough into shapes. Bake on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe can
make up to 5 dozen - 4-6" cookies.

Big Batch Royal Icing Recipe
Royal icing is the best for decorated cookies because it sets up so nicely. Cookies can then be used in bouquets or placed in pretty gift bags. Some royal icing doesn't taste good, but by adding flavorings you can make it taste delicious!

3 pounds powdered sugar
4 heaping Tbsp meringue powder
water
3/4 tsp clear vanilla
3/4 tsp butter flavoring
1/2 tsp almond flavoring

Put 2 lbs of powdered sugar in your mixer bowl. Add the meringue powder. Thoroughly mix the two. Add approximately 1/2 c. warm water or just enough that the frosting is fairly thin. Add the flavorings in the amounts shown or adjust them to your own taste. Add the last pound of powdered sugar and enough water to make the frosting the consistency you want. Divide and color. This icing hardens quickly so keep your containers covered until you are ready to use. For "flow" consistency add warm water a little at a time.

Good "flow" consistency is about the thickness of chocolate syrup.

Outline cookie, flow on icing and allow icing to dry hard before you add the finishing touches.

Chocolate Cutouts
This recipe is great for detailed cookie cutters because the cookies retain the size of the cookie cutter even after baking.

1 & 3/4 cups butter (no substitutions)
2 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon water
4 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa

Cream together: 1-3/4 cups butter, 2 large eggs, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 teaspoon water.

Gradually: 4-1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup cocoa. Divide dough into 3 balls, wrap in wax paper and chill. When ready to bake cookies, let dough soften slightly, roll out on floured board to 1/4" thick and cut-out with floured copper cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased baking sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, and then remove. Cool completely and decorate.

Gingerbread Cookies
Copper Gifts made this recipe when they were on the TV show called, Unwrapped on the food network. They used their Large, Giant and HUGE copper cookie cutters.

1 & 1/2 cups dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix molasses, brown sugar, water and shortening. Stir in remaining ingredients. Form dough into 1 or 2 pancake shapes, wrap, and store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Roll dough out to 1/4 inch and cut with cookie cutters. Decorate with candy, raisins and icing. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on how well done you like your gingerbread cookies).

If making the HUGE cookies (15") from coppergifts.com: roll dough according to size of cookie cutter. If you are making the HUGE size, use all the dough and roll almost 1/2 inch thick, they recommend rolling dough out between two sheets of Parchment paper. Lightly grease the cutting side of the cookie cutter, remove top piece of parchment paper and cut out HUGE cookie. Remove excess dough from the outer edges of big cookie, then carefully slide cookie and bottom sheet of parchment paper onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how well done you like your gingerbread cookies.

Have fun, and ENJOY!!!

8 comments:

Stacey said...

Thank you so much for answering my question! I really appreciate that GiBee. I have to say that I don't eat anything that swims or lives in the ocean so the thought of "fishy" anything creeps me out :o) So I'm willing to try it without the paste but with extra salt like you suggested! Great tips!

Thanks again... have a great day!!

Org Junkie said...

Thanks again for the recipes! I'm not so creative with the decorating but thank goodness my kids will be happy to help with that part :)

Heather Smith said...

The real question is how did you keep Hunter from eating your ornaments?

Anonymous said...

Check out Chef Central www.chefcenral.com for those who love to cook or eat!

Great post for some Christmas receipes!

Anonymous said...

Sorry it's www.chefcentral.com

Overwhelmed! said...

Very cool! I've been looking for some BIG gingerbread man cookie cutters. Now I know where to go to purchase them. I'll have to take pics when I get around to doing my Christmas cookie baking. :)

Tammy and Parker said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share these great ideas with us!

My kids would love to make some fancy sugar cookies. That would be an excellent family night activity!

momrn2 said...

Thanks for answering the questions with these tips and recipes!! :-)