Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookies

My mom gave me this recipe years ago for our family cookbook.  I had never made it before and since she has a ton of recipes, it's been a while since she's made these so I thought that I would give them a go.  The one that I tested was pretty good.  I think that I'm going to have to add these to the rotation.

Note: It's official.  These are being added to my rotation of Christmas cookies.  John had some last night and loved them!  Always a good thing.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 drops of red or green food coloring (optional)
  • 1 (10 oz.) package of mint-flavored semi-sweet chocolate
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and vegetable oil.  Mix well.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.  If using food coloring, add now.  Gradually add in the flour mixture.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Shape into balls by rounded teaspoonfuls and roll in the remaining sugar.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes.
Makes about 5 1/2 dozen cookies.

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe online a couple of years ago and love it!

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

~ A quick note here.  At Christmas time, I use peppermint coffee (fine ground) instead of expresso powder.

  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  •  1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant expresso coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds)
  2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.
  4. Using a 1 ounce scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2 inch circle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.
 Yields 2 dozen cookies.

Christmas Baking

I love this time of year!  Today was the start of my Christmas baking.  I looked through my recipes and have been pulling out some old favorites as well as some new ones to try this year.  Some of these recipes are ones that I have gotten from family members over the years and others I've found or received from friends.

This year, I am planning on making the following recipes:
  • Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookies
  • Peanut Blossoms
  • Brownies (from a box so no recipe there)
  • Candy Cane Cookies
Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake Followup

This cheesecake was delicious! 

I will admit that I did have some problems with it.  Or should I say that I had problems with my oven?  This took 60 minutes to cook instead of 40, but it was still delicious.  I will be getting the Williams-Sonoma Pumpkin butter next year and making this again.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

I got this recipe from my technique class at Williams-Sonoma last week and have to share it.  I'm not a big fan of pumpkin cheesecake, but this was fantastic! It is so good that my mom asked me to make it for Thanksgiving this year.

They made it using their Pecan Pumpkin Butter.  I've written out the recipe as I received it and included the alternate filling instructions at the end of this recipe.  Enjoy!!

Gingersnap Crust:
  • 1/4 lb. gingersnaps (about 20 small cookies)
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar

Filling (original recipe):
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Here are the instructions for the original recipe that they gave us at class.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the crust, in a food processor, combine the gingersnaps and pecans and process until crumbly.  Add the brown sugar and melted butter and pulse for a few seconds to blend.  Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan.  Use your fingers to pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly all the way up the sides of the pan.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To make the filling, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Using a rubber spatula, occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Gradually add the brown sugar mixture, beating until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Using the spatula, scrape the batter into the chilled crust and smooth to top.

Bake the cheesecake until set or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 - 40 minutes.  transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the topping, set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the rest.  In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Add all of the pecans, sprinkle with the granulated sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the nuts are toasted and caramel coated.  Transfer the nut mixture to a plate and let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.  Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cheesecake and arrange the halves evenly around the perimeter.  Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Thanksgiving Entertaining, by Lou Seibert Pappas (Simon & Schuster, 2005).

**Alternative Filling for Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 jar Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter (only available at Williams-Sonoma)
For the alternative filling recipe, in a small bowl, mix the brown sugar with the pecan pumpkin butter.  Follow the rest of the recipe as written above.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked Zucchini Sticks

Over the summer, I was trying to get my daughter to try new vegetables and introduced her to zucchini using this recipe.  I cannot remember where I found this recipe.  I would love to find the recipe that is used at Tambellini's Restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh.  Their baked zucchini strips are awesome!

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks or strips
  • 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
Heat the over to 350.

Mix the bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a bowl or ziplock bag.  Dip zucchini first into flour and then into the beaten eggs.  Roll the zucchini in the bread crumbs until well covered.  Place on a non-stick baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes until the zucchini is tender and the coating is crisp.

Serve with marinara sauce.