Chicken and Dumpling Soup
I don't know about you, but I'm freezing today. The wind is blowing and the snow is drifting. It's gray with snow flurries. Definitely a day to stay in and make a pot of hot soup. I just finished making a huge pot of one of my favorite soups. Chicken and Dumplings. I love a good brothy soup. This is my craving today.
I'm just reminding you of a few soups you may want to stir up for the family to warm them up, if you happen to be knee deep in snow.
Definitely a family favorite. Takes a little time, but so worth it.
Chicken Tortilla Soup with Black Bean Salsa
Great to use with left over chicken or turkey.
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
This is one hearty soup and so easy to make. Pretty much open cans and dump, which is something I rarely do. (I try to stay away from so much processed foods).
Thanks to Random.org I have three winners of a box of my Christmas chocolates.
They are Shelby Hawkes, Stanford Sainsbury and Nguyen.
I will ship out their candy just as soon as they send me an e-mail with their address.
I just want to thank you for sharing your family traditions. I have decided that I would like to be adopted into your families. Your traditions just made me want to add more to my list. If I knew where you lived, I would just show up on your front porch. Especially to help make those tamales. You are all amazing. I just wish I could send all of you some of my candy. Thank you so much for reading my blog. I hope I can continue to post recipes that will keep you coming back.
Have a fabulous and Merry Christmas!
I have just been involved in the most fun cookie swap. There were 575 participants from 8 difference countries. It was an effort to raise money for Cookies for Kids Cancer. OXO matched all funds raised. What a fabulous cause. I was matched up with three food blogger to whom I sent a dozen cookies. In return a dozen cookies were sent to me from three other food bloggers in various parts of the U.S.
I received fabulous cookies from the following:
Susan Bronson from A Less Processed Life sent Rosemary/Lemon Shortbread
Rosalyna Thorn from This Moma Can Cook sent Cranberry Oatmeal
Michelle Hilton from From Calculus To Cupcakes sent German Springerle
I snarfed them down so fast that I forgot to take pictures of the beauties. Be sure to check out their food blogs to find their recipes and pictures.
I was lucky enough to send cookies out to the following food bloggers:
I decided to send two holiday favorite cookies that I make each year. One is a Scotch Shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate.
The other is called Berlinerkranser. It is a Norwegian cookie. My best friends mother used to bake the most memorable Norwegian cookies each Christmas. She was so amazing. She would store them in tins placed in a cool furnace room in their basement. We found her hiding place one year and had a delightful tasting while hiding in the furnace room. We were naughty, but most of my childhood memories were with my friend Kathy. Oh the stories I could tell you. We were into mischief most of the time. Fun, delightful mischief. Good times...good times....
I chose these particular recipes to ship because they travel well and can be well packaged and their flavors both seem to ripen with age. I hope you enjoy baking them. They are ,as my grand daughter would, say "easy peasy lemon squeezy".
You will need:
1 pound unsalted butter (you should really use the cultured butter, so should I)
1 cup confectioners sugar
4 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the whopping pound of butter.
Hopefully you will spread the joy of the butter so the full pound doesn't end up on your hips.
Beat the butter just a bit to loosen it up and make it all creamy.
Add the flour.
And cornstarch. Not necessarily in that order. It's a pretty forgiving recipe.
Beat the batter up until a smooth dough forms.
The dough should be very pliable. Better than play dough.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.
Roll the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness.
It doesn't have to be an exact measurement or a perfect rectangle.
I use a pizza cutter and the quilters ruler that my grandmother gave to me to make quilts with...whoops.
You can pretty much cut the shortbread into what ever shapes you want. I have cutting them into 1' x 1 1/2' rectangles.
Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet or an ungreased baking sheet.
Prick the cookies with a fork.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool.
I like to place my shortbread in tins layered with waxed paper. They will store for at least 3 weeks in a cool place. They can be frozen as well for over a month.
I like to give my shortbread just a little dip in a bath of dark chocolate.
You all know how much I love nuts.
After the little dip in melted chocolate I like to give them another little dip in chopped almonds. You can use whatever nuts tickle your fancy.
Just thought of something. How cute would crushed candy canes be on the tips? So festive.
For the Norwegian Berlinerkranser you will need:
3/4 cup unsalted butter (look what I'm using...my cultured butter, yum)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
grated orange zest from one orange
Give the butter a few turns with the paddle to lighten it up and then add the sugar.
Beat until creamy and then add the egg and beat well.
Add the orange zest
and the flour.
That was easy.
For the top of the cookies you will need:
1 beaten egg
sanding sugar OR pearl sugar OR both
Take one tablespoon of the cookie dough.
Roll it between your hands to create a...um..worm?
shape the long worm into a circle or a wreath.
I have seen a Berlinerkranser shaped like this before.
I'm sticking to the way Laila made them.
Brush each cookie with the beaten egg.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Ya, I'm pretty sure I just like the regular sanding sugar, or regular granulated sugar best.
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
They will be barely golden around the edges.
I store Berlinerkranser the same way I store shortbread. Layered in tins.
There you have it. Two simple, yet fabulous holiday cookies that are perfect to share.
It's not too late to enter my hand dipped chocolates giveaway I have over 10,000 page views daily yet only a little handful have entered. Your chances are pretty good.
Merry Christmas and Happy Baking.
1 1b. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
4 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl cream butter. Gradually add sugar creaming well. Add lour and cornstarch (which have been sifted together) a little at a time, creaming until dry ingredients have been blended. Gather mixture into ball; knead on a lightly floured board to 5 – 10 minutes. With a rolling pin, roll out about ½-inch thick. Cut into 1 ½ x 1-inch squares; prick top with fork tines; bake on ungreased cookies sheet for 25-30 minutes or until barely showing signs of browning. Tops of cookies do not brown much nor do shapes of cookies change. Remove cookies to rack; allow to cool. Sire in foil-lined, tightly covered tin. Shortbread may be eaten at once, but ripens and mellows with age. Keeps indefinitely.
Makes about 5- 6 dozen.
Chocolate Dipped Shortbread:
8 ounces semi-sweet Chocolate, melted
Chopped nuts ( assorted, such as sliced almonds, pistachio, macadamia, etc.)
After cookies have completely cooled dip one end of the cookie in melted chocolate and roll in chopped nuts. Place on a sheet of waxed paper until chocolate hardens.Print this recipe
Print this recipe
Print this recipe
Berliner Wreath - Norwegian Christmas cookie
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest from one orange
2 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar or pearl sugar
Mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Add orange zest and flour. Mix to form a stiff dough. Take 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a rope then form into a circle creating a wreath shape. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be light and barely starting to brown on the edges. Cool completely. Makes 30 cookies
The Christmas chocolate dipping is finally complete.
Hold on...I need to stretch...oh my back...oh my feet....
I'm in need of a massage.
I am now revealing my secret for my gingerbread truffles. Time consuming? Yes, but so worth it.
This is my secret. Truffle shells. I purchase my truffle shells through Hauser Chocolates in Rhode Island. Yes, I have them shipped to Utah. I make sure the temperatures have cooled down before I order. I don't want them melting during shipping. I order pecans from Georgia (they are amazing). Belgium Callebaut chocolate, Tahitian Vanilla bean, etc.
I purchase the milk chocolate 26 mm shells. They cost $18 for 126 shells. I first ordered the dark chocolate shells because I'm a dark chocolate lover, but I thought it was just too much dark flavor going on. The center is filled with a dark chocolate ganache and they are dipped in dark chocolate. That's why I opted for the milk.
The shells are packaged very well and rarely do I have a broken shell.
For the Gingerbread ganache you will need:
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
15 whole allspice berries
15 whole cloves
2 tablespoons milk-flavored (light) molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
AND 16 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate.
Place the cream in a medium size sauce pan.
Add the molasses,
and fresh ginger.
Bring the cream mixture to a very slow simmer. Cover. Remove from the heat and let stand 30 minutes.
Reheat the cream to a low simmer again. They pour through a strainer over the chopped chocolate.
(yes, I know, the handle broke off my strainer. Santa...hint, hint)
Strain out the solids and throw them out.
Let the mixture stand for at least 5 minutes. Don't rush this. Just allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate.
Beginning in the center, stir.
Slowly moving out toward the edges of the bowl.
You ganache is complete.
Stick your finger in a take a taste. Don't use a spoon or you'll eat the entire bowl. It's that good.
This is important:
Allow the ganache to cool completely. Do I need to repeat myself?
If you don't cool completely the warm ganache will melt the truffle shells. No bueno.
I know from experience.
You will notice that these cute little shells have a good size hole in the top.
You will need a pastry bag fitted with a tip that has a good size hole. Not too small or it will take you forever to fill the shells. Not too big or you will have ganache oozing out everywhere.
I would suggest purchasing disposable pastry bags. Dang! I was out.
Note to self: stalk up of disposable pastry bags.
Slowly fill the little shells with the ganache.
You will have about 1/4-1/2 cup of the filling left over. That's a good thing because it makes the most amazing hot chocolate. To die for hot chocolate. It will keep for about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator and freezes well.
Gently tap the shells so the filling settles and fills the shell completely.
Cover with plastic wrap and let set in a cool place, NOT the refrigerator, for 24 hours.
I allow all chocolate centers to sit for 24 hours before dipping. It just makes life easier.
I thought I would be smart and reuse the plastic cover that comes with the shells. You will notice in some of the following photos, that it's a bad idea because it sticks to the ganache and then they become extremely difficult to remove.
What was I thinking. I knew that. Ugh! Menopause!
This is my warming pan that will melt a 10 lb block of chocolate. Because I have about 50 million chocolates to dip today, I am melting 10+ pounds.
I'm trying to think about how much chocolate you will need to melt to just dip the truffles. Hmmmm at least 3 pounds. That's a safe amount.
What the heck, just buy a 10 pound block. You know you'll use it eventually. I always do.
Now it's time for tempering 101.
Once you have melted chocolate you MUST, MUST temper it. If you don't you will have those nasty white streaks in your chocolate and it will crumble and will not have the "snap" that you want when you take a bit.
Whether you are dipping truffles, strawberries, pretzels, whatever. You must temper melted chocolate.
Chocolate is very temperamental. It needs love and care. It needs to be handled perfectly.
Here is a very good link for tempering and here for more technical instructions.
My explanation: Melt the chocolate over warm NOT EVEN simmering water. It feels quite warm to the touch. Once the chocolate is melted I pour out about 1 cup onto a marble slab. This is when I get messy. I Begin to stir it with my hands until the chocolate is very cool to the touch. If I were to smear some of the chocolate onto a piece of waxed paper, it should set up quickly. It should maintain it's sheen and snap.
Did I mention that I have my kitchen COLD. I turn off the heat and open windows and doors and freeze for about 12 hours.
I would like to you pause for just a moment, notice the filled truffle shells in the back ground. Can you see the broken shells? Ugh. This is because I put the plastic cover back on instead of using plastic wrap. I was really hoping to hide this from you. Dang camera captured the boo boo.
Keep stirring that chocolate.
The chocolate will be give to thicken a bit as it cools.
Can I just tell you how hard this is to do while taking pictures.
I work with my right hand and keep my left have clean.
Drop the truffle into the tempered chocolate.
Cover with chocolate. I like to keep the hole of the truffle shell on the bottom. This will give me a great flat bottom for the finished truffle.
Pick it up in your fingers.
Tap off any excess chocolate. At this point the flat part of the truffle shell is pointed up.
Just turn the truffle over so the flat part sits on the waxed paper.
Whoops I forgot that part. Have several baking sheets lined with waxed paper ready to go before you start the dipping process.
I like to top the truffles with a piece of candied ginger.
This way I can tell which truffle is which and why my son's call these truffles "Nipples of Venus".
I store my candy in tins. My husbands grandmother just happen to have tins from large reels of film from the olden days. They work perfectly, because I don't like to stack the truffles. You now have 126 Gingerbread Truffles to give to your friends and family.
This is a one pound box of chocolates ready to be wrapped and delivered.
Don't you just love this waxed paper lining I have. Williams-Sonoma used to carry this every year. I just loved it. Last year they stopped. What the heck? I want it back. I've already complained. Didn't work.
Here is a past photo of the assorted chocolates that I dip. This year they have been made with my homemade cultured butter. Let me tell you the English Toffee is amazing. I am pretty much dipped out for a season and I am glad I can put it behind me and enjoy the holiday season.
Please take a moment of read my last years post Christmas Chocolates if you are interested in the history behind my chocolate dipping. Each chocolate dipped with love in remembrance of my wonderful Grandmother, who will always hold a deep place in my heart.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe that Christmas should be celebrated to it's fullest for this reason. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem to Mary. His arms are stretched out to us always with the great invitation to "come unto Him". I will rejoice His birth this holiday season as I give a little homemade gift to those I love.
My gift to you: The True Meaning of Christmas
As promised, I would like to send a few boxes of chocolates out to you dedicated followers or to anyone who just happens to stumble upon this post. On December 14th I will let the magic of Random.com select three winners of a box of my home dipped chocolates.
Just fill out the entry form below. I will let Random.org select a winner on Friday, Dec. 14th. Then I will ship out three boxes of chocolates, to anywhere (that's possible) and hopefully you will received them by Christmas.