Something Special

Welcome to…

cookie exchange 2012.

It is a virtual exhcange. All we really exchange are the recipes. But it is fun to see what all the others are making for their Christmas Cookie Trays.

This year I made some of my standbys and added in a couple of new cookies. I am trying very hard NOT to eat all of them. Just a few of each.

There are a couple of cookies I make every year:


These are the Graham Cracker Pralines which I made for Di’s First Exchange. They became so popular with friends and family I now have to make them every year.

And the Spritz cookies are always fun.


My new ones this year included…


Brown Sugar Toffee Rounds

    1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)
    1/2 cup shortening
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons milk
    1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 7 1/2-ounce package (1% cups) almond toffee pieces

BEAT butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat
till combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk, and almond extract till combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in almond toffee pieces and remaining flour with a wooden spoon. SHAPE dough into two l Ovmch-long rolls. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper; chill in refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours or till firm enough to slice. CUT rolls into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 oven about 9 minutes or till edges are firm. Transfer to wire racks and cool. Makes about 36.

We really liked these. The little toffee pieces add a little crunch to the soft, moist cookies. The recipe came from BHG Christmas Cookies (2000).



Cranberry Cookies

    3/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
    3 tablespoons skim milk
    1 1/2 cups sifted flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup coarsely chopped cranberries, drained
    1/2 cup shredded coconut

Cream sugar, butter and coconut flavoring until fluffy. Add milk, mixing well. Sift
together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to sugar mixture. Fold cranberries into batter. Divide dough in half. Roll each half coconut. Chill 8 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice cookie logs thin. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 12 to 15 minutes.
Makes 4 1/2 dozen.

The sour cranberries worked really well with the sweet cookie. The only problem was that they were difficult to slice. Don’t slice them too thin or they will crumble. (Home Cooking Cookies, Brownies & Bars Fall 2005)

This is really the only time of the year I make cookies. They are entirely too easy to grab and go. Several times!!!

Di will have a round-up of all the cookies on her site – Di’s Kitchen Notebook real soon.

Well, here we are on the last day of Phyl’s Ice Cream Week. I hope you have been visiting the other participants for all their delicious new ice creams. I know I have. Their recipes would be the ONLY reason I would want Summer to continue. ONLY reason!!

The last day of Ice Cream Week is designated as Original so I tried to find something different. Hope you like it!!

Tea and Biscuit Ice Cream
{adapted from The Cooking Channel and Baking and Boys}

    2 cups heavy cream
    3/4 cup granulated sugar {I used 1/2 Splenda and 1/2 sugar}
    2/3 cup half and half
    1/3 cup 2% milk
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    pinch of salt
    5 Earl Grey tea bags {I used loose Cream Earl Grey – about 3 Tbl.}
    Cookie butter, such as Speculoos or Biscoff

Combine 1 cup of the cream, the sugar and salt in a medium saucepot and warm over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tea bags and remaining milk, 1/2 and 1/2, and cream. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tea changes the mixture to a light tan color. Depending on how strong you like your tea, you may want to soak the bags in the mixture overnight in the refrigerator. {If you use loose tea, strain the mixture before churning.}Pour the hot cream and tea mixture into a medium sized bowl and set it in the ice bath. Add the vanilla and stir to combine everything. Stir the mixture every few minutes and let sit in the ice bath until cold. Chill the mixture thoroughly before churning.

Transfer into a freezer-safe container. Microwave your desired amount of cookie butter until it is warm and pourable, about 20 seconds, and then swirl into the ice cream using a spatula. Freeze before serving.

I have looked everywhere here in Podunk, USA, but there is NOT a jar of Cookie Butter To. Be. Found. And I really wanted to make this ice cream, so I researched and discovered you can actually make your own. So I did!

Spiced Cookie Butter aka Speculoos Butter{adapted from and Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan and Chow}

{Special equipment: You’ll need both a food processor and a spice grinder for this recipe.}

    15 (4-3/4-by-2-1/2-inch) whole graham crackers (about 8 ounces)
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp ground ginger
    3/4 cup vegetable oil

    Break the graham crackers into rough 2-inch pieces and place them in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
    Add the powdered sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Process until finely ground, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and reserve the food processor (no need to wash it).
    Working in batches, grind the cracker mixture in a spice grinder until very fine. Return the powder to the food processor.
    With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
    Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid and store at room temperature for up to 1 month. If the mixture separates, stir to recombine before serving.

    Make sure you make plenty of the Spiced Cookie Butter.

    No one will hold it against you if you eat it out of the container with a large spoon!!!!

    As much as I enjoy a good cuppa is it any wonder I made TEA ice cream?

    Wonder if I could make Tea and SCONE Ice Cream? Hhmmm!! I’ll look into that!

    But meanwhile, check out Phyl’s Stout Ice Cream

Have you ever made Baklava? It is a syrupy, sweet mix of honey, spices, nuts, and phylo dough. Layers and layers of it!! It takes a while to make but it is always worth the effort – or so I’ve heard as I have never stepped up the the plate to make it. I want to! In the mean time try out this ice cream for Nuts Day for Phyl’s Ice Cream Week

I had first run across the idea when looking for a way to poach figs. When I found this page I started thinking about Baklava Ice Cream. As I researched I found lots of recipes so using one as a foundation I made it how I wanted it.

Baklava Ice Cream {adapted from Desert Candy}

    2 cups milk
    2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half (or 1 heaping tsp cinnamon)
    3 whole cloves (or 1/3 tsp ground cloves)
    1 cup heavy cream
    2 egg yolks
    2/3 cup sugar
    2/3 cup (2 oz) almonds, medium chop
    2/3 cup (2oz) pistachios, medium chop
    2/3 cup (2 oz) walnuts, medium chop
    2 tbl brown sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 cup honey
    3-4 sheets Phylo dough

Bring milk, sugar, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let steep, covered, 30 minutes.
Strain the milk and discard the cloves cinnamon sticks.
Whisk egg yolks and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Return milk to a simmer, then add half of the milk to yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.
Add yolk mixture in a slow stream back to milk in saucepan, whisking, then cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and immediately stir in cream, then pour custard through fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Quick-chill custard by setting bowl into a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, about 15 minutes. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Freeze custard in ice cream maker until almost firm. At the last minute of churning, add the NUT MIXTURE {recipe below} into ice cream.
Chill in a container until firm.

Place the walnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a bowl and toss together, drizzle in 2 tbl of melted butter and toss to coat. Working quickly, brush each sheet of fillo with some of the remaining melted butter and stack the fillo sheets on top of one another, fold the stack in half long-ways and brush again with melted butter. Cut the fillo sheets into small strips, match-stick size. Toss the fillo strips with the walnut mixture and spread on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the mixture until the walnuts are toasted and the fillo pieces are crisp but not burned, about 10-15 minutes. Put the nut mixture in a bowl. Set aside.

While the recipe I was adapting from added the honey to the nut/phylo mixture I did not add the honey to the mix because I wanted the honey to be a stronger flavor. I drizzled the honey over the top before serving.

Check out:


Halfway through Phyl’s Ice Cream Week and that means today’s theme is Sorbet.

Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with fruit (typically juice or purée), wine, and/or liqueur. Mine is made with pineapple, and lots of coconut – cream and milk. What better mixture than pineapple and coconut? Tropical and refreshing!! Perfect for summer. While I don’t often take a drink when I do I prefer sweet drinks and this is my favorite so when I saw this recipe I knew I had found my selection for Sorbet Day

All it needed was a tiny umbrella on the side of the bowl!!

Piña Colada Sorbet
{adapted from Fearless Homemaker}

2 15 1/4 ounce cans pineapple chunks and juice {I wish I could have found a GOOD fresh Pineapple!}
1/4 cup Splenda
1 cup light coconut milk
2/3 cup cream of coconut

Place pineapple, juice, and Splenda in a blender and process until smooth.
Combine pureed pineapple mixture, coconut milk, and cream of coconut in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once frozen, spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

And Amy was right – IT.IS.ADDICTIVE!!!!! Every once in a while you run across a piece of pineapple. and in between the distinct taste of coconut. “SIGH” Maybe next time I will add some toasted coconut!!

Phyl has a nice Slushy for adults!
Rebecca’s gone tropical with Mango.
Abby made a neat ice cream accessory
Di made a raspberry treat!!

I admit it! I cheated! There!! I said it and I don’t feel bad at all.

Tuesday of Ice Cream Week is Frozen Yogurt. And I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed for making what I wanted so I improvised. I seem to be doing that more and more all the time.

Have you ever wondered if you could make frozen yogurt by just pouring regular yogurt into an ice cream maker? I had. For quite a while.

And the answer is…..


I went on Bing and asked that question. I got various answers. Helpful, sorta. I figured all I had to lose was the price of a quart of yogurt so I just did it!! I used:

    1 quart Strawberry low fat yogurt
    3/4 cup Splenda {you can use the same amount of sugar}

and simply poured it into the ice cream maker. Viola!! Frozen Yogurt!! After about an hour in the freezer it was perfect. Not too hard, still creamy (despite what I had read!) and delicious.

This is dangerous information. All I have to do now is buy regular yogurt (think of all the flavors out there) and throw it into the ice cream maker.

Visit Phyl, and Rebecca, Abby,and Di for their ice creams.

CITRUS!! When I hear that word I think of bright sunny days, big glasses of OJ, Fresh Lemonade!! So when Di mentioned a CITRUS event I knew I had to participate with something summery and fresh.

    Simple Lemon Cake

I found this cake in MS’s Everyday Food (April 2011) and immediately knew this would be the cake for Di’s Event. It uses boiled lemons for a more intense lemon flavor.


    1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature, plus more for pan
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
    1/2 pound lemons (about 2), ends removed, cut crosswise into thin slices, and seeds removed
    Coarse salt
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
    Raspberries and whipped cream (optional), for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep).
In a medium saucepan, cover lemon slices with 3 cups water. Add pinch of salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high. Boil lemons, partially covered, until very tender, 15 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a food processor, along with lemon juice; process until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium, 2 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions buttermilk. Beat in vanilla, then fold in lemon mixture.
Transfer batter to pan and bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 20 minutes.
Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with raspberries and cream, if desired.

I initially served this with just powdered sugar (impromptu birthday party) but later added a simple lemon curd drizzle.

I cannot wait to make this one again. It was so lemony and sweet and tasty.

Then again I found a cake using mandarin orange, too. It will be hard to decide.

If you visit Di’s blog – Di’s Kitchen Notebook in a few days she will have a round-up of what I know will be a wonderful collection of Citrus-y goodness!!

I have been known to watch Sunny Anderson on the Food Network. She has some fun recipes. She is also this month’s Avatar Chef for several of us. Each month one of us chooses a chef/cook and we all choose a recipe to cook/blog and use the pic as our avatar on Twitter. Last month Nancy chose Delia Smith. January we had Donna Hay, Kayte’s choice. This month the choice was Peggy’s.

I wanted something Quick, easy and tasty and after looking through Sunny’s top 100 on FoodTV this one just jumped out and said, “PICK ME!”

And they were SOO good. Just the right amount of cheddar cheese, and bacon, with paprika, onion. I left off the onion because we were making them for breakfast.


    2 cups flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    Kosher salt
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 cup milk
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    8 strips bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
    1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
    1 egg

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, paprika, and onion powder. Mix to blend then make a well in the center of the bowl and add the milk, butter, bacon and cheese. Mix gently with a wooden spoon. The dough will be wet and sticky. Using a 1/4 cup measure or ice cream scoop, portion the batter onto a baking sheet, leaving an inch or so around each biscuit.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with a splash of water and then brush this mixture on the top of each biscuit. Bake in the oven until the biscuits are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.

These were delicious. I could make and devour them every week for breakfast. or with dinner or as a snack!!

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