Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coconut Joys

Here is a simple recipe for delicious coconut joys that can be used anytime of the year. We usually make an abundance of them for Christmas, but we have also been known to crank them out for other occasions and instead of the milk chocolate filling, we used colored candy melts to go with the theme.

Coconut Joys
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 cups coconut
6 oz. milk chocolate chips, melted

Melt butter in saucepan. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and coconut. Mix well. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls, make a dent in the center with thumb and place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Fill centers with melted chocolate. Chill until firm. Store in refrigerator.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Even with all the Christmas baking happening around here, I was in the mood to make some bread. I have become more experimental and comfortable working with yeast, so I thought I would give focaccia a try.
For years I have had a copy of Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking collecting dust on my shelf. My husband used a potato buttermilk roll recipe out of it a while back and had great success, so it was my turn!
The dough went together quickly and kneaded in the Kitchen for 6 minutes. After that, it was just a lot of waiting and making the topping. It was worth the wait. The bread turned out to be full of flavor and just the right texture. I think it would be delicious to use for BLT's, or as the book suggests, croutons for a Caesar salad.

Basic Focaccia
makes 1 large flatbread

2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1 3/4 c. warm water (105-110 degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
5 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. coarse sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, 1/2 c. of olive oil, the flour, and the the fine sea salt. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook, and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes. Add up to 1/2 c. flour while kneading to prevent the dough from sticking. Remove dough from the bowl.
Form the dough into a ball, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours. For a more flavorful bread, make the dough up to this point, punch it down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Let the dough come to room temp before shaping.
Pour the remaining 1/4 c. of oil evenly in half-sheet pan. Turn the dough out into the pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan. If it is too elastic to spread without springing back, let it rest for five minutes. Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Dimple the dough by pressing your fingertips all the way into it at 1-inch intervals over the entire surface. Sprinkle it with the coarse salt, if desired.
Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool in pan. Cut it into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Store tightly wrapped in aluminum foil at room temp for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Reheat at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

I caramelized a sweet onion in butter and sugar and then added some finely chopped rosemary and garlic and sauteed for a couple minutes. Spread the mixture over the dough before dimpling and sprinkle with salt.

*Note: I only kneaded for 6 minutes, and did not need to add additional flour to prevent dough from sticking. Also, next time I make this, I may move it up one rack as the bottom of the dough seemed to get a little done for my liking.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


In the next few days I will be sharing some of the Christmas cookies my sister and I made earlier in the week. Today is the family favorite and people pleaser, Buckeyes. Maybe it is because we have had them every year for as long as I can remember, or maybe it is the wicked combination of chocolate and peanut butter, but whatever the reason, I highly recommend whipping up a batch of these and sharing them if you don't devour them yourself first!

modified from Gifts from the Kitchen
(an old school Better Homes and Gardens book)

2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter or margarine
4 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
3 c. Rice Krispies
2 c. chocolate chips

Melt peanut butter and butter. Mix sugar and cereal. Pour butter mix over sugar mix and blend with hands. Form into balls and chill until firm. Melt chocolate in double boiler; dip balls in chocolate and place on waxed paper lined baking sheet. Chill till firm.

Note: The last few batches I have made I reduced the powdered sugar by approximately 1/2-1 cup. This makes the mixture much easier to handle and roll. Also, if you don't have a Wilton chocolate melting pot, seriously consider saving your JoAnn coupon and investing! It makes the job so much easier.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just wishing you and yours a lovely Christmas! We baked and decorated these cookies yesterday and enjoyed them for Christmas Eve and again today. Thanks to Ashlee for the recipe and the good ol' internet for a modified royal icing. After all the iced sugar cookies I have cranked out in my day, these are by far the best tasting and now I have my go-to recipe for shiny royal icing that tastes delicious and won't break your teeth!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Stuffed Mushrooms

This week we have Michelle of Welcome to the Club to thank for our Barefoot recipe. She very wisely chose a great appetizer that I am certain will be making an appearance on many a holiday table. Ina's Stuffed Mushrooms proved to be a simple recipe, but we had a difficult time finding the mascarpone here in the north country, but we made a substitute out of cream cheese, heavy cream, and butter. The next time we throw this together, we will certainly look for larger mushrooms to ensure that not a bit of the delicious filling goes to waste!

Stuffed Mushrooms
courtesy of Ina Garten

16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.