Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TWD: Move along.....nothing to see here today.......

I'm sitting out this week's recipe. For one thing, I'm not sure I'm a big butterscotch pudding fan. However, I've been surprised by how much I've liked a recipe before, so that's not the real reason for the "bye."

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Christmas is just two days away! I know -- how did that happen?!? Since I work in a business that is busy this time of year I've spent a lot more time at work than home lately. Plus I'm not 100% done with my Christmas shopping, so tonight I'll be fighting my way into a few places to finish that up. I'm really looking forward to a few days off post-holiday. I mean REALLY!

After Dec. 25th I'll post about my contribution to the family's holiday dinner, along with my new favorite dish to make. And I'm excited about next week's TWD recipe -- I've never made a cheesecake before, so this should be a true adventure.

Here's wishing you all the very best this holiday season, whichever holiday you may celebrate!!

PS -- is it just me, or am I the only one who has eaten waaaaay too many sugary sweets this week or two? I've been semi-joking at work that if I keep at the rate I'm going, they will have to remove one of the plate glass windows to hoist me out of the building by year's end. I'm a little worried.......seriously!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies

Well, the Tuesdays with Dorie Cookiepolooza has come to an end. This week's selection comes from Heather over at Randomosity and the Girl. She picked this recipe because it's the time of year where there is lots of baking, and these are quick and easy. For me, this week's selection was a matter of survival! I am not kidding! (exaggerating, perhaps, but not kidding). Heather finds herself without the internet, I find myself without heat. I can't complain too much, what with half the country in the deep freeze. But a chilly house is a chilly house, so I needed to bake the cookies to stay warm. (Worry not, I don't have slum lords and I did pay the bill. Just a little glitch that will be fixed when the gas man comes out tomorrow. Perhaps I'll leave him some of these cookies like he's Santa!).

Some of the TWDers were won over by these cookies, others were not. Many found their cookies came out of the oven exactly the shape they went in. I really appreciate all the sharing that goes on at the site -- it has saved me more than once. Based on the shared experiences this time, I was extra careful not to over mix the dough so my cookies spread just a bit. I also made sure the cookies didn't have any burnt bottoms. And because I'm just a generous kind of gal, I taste tested each batch as it came out of the oven. I like to think of it as "quality control."

Because I did make the cookies small (I took the "rounded teaspoonful" directions literally) I got the 45 cookies as promised in the recipe (and no stomach ache after all the tasting). As for their taste, they grew on me. When reading the recipe it was pretty clear that there wasn't a lot of flavor outside of a small amount of ginger, the jam (I used apricot) and the vanilla. As Dorie said, it's a "side of the saucer" cookie, not the stand alone kind. I'll be curious what they taste like tomorrow, as a few bakers found they liked them better the next day. They'll go great with the morning tea I bet. These are the first cookies that were successful enough to go into the office for the co-workers. We'll see what they think of them (if a success they may see them again as their holiday gift!).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All Occassion Sugar Cookies

This week's post will be like this week's recipe - short and sweet! Ulrike over at Kuchenlatein picked these quick and versatile cookies. A great choice for the holiday season!

I like versatility, and this recipe says you can either roll the cookies out and use cutters for the shapes, or you can shape the dough into a "chubby sausage" and slice-and-bake them. When I divided my dough I did half one way and half the other, but like last week I do have some dough in the fridge (good news if I can't decide what to give someone for the holidays!)

Due to a very busy job, end of year work celebration and a birthday (yay!) I only finished the slice-and-bake variety. And I didn't frost them (see "I am busy" statement above). I baked them on Sunday, and by tonight they are a little crunchy, but still good. This would be a great recipe to have on hand if you were the type of person who had unexpected company since the dough can stay in the freezer for up to two months.

The important lesson I learned this week (or relearned, as the case may be) is that I need to work on my math skills. I thought last week's cookies were too thick. This week I finally wised up and got out the ruler. As it turns out, there was a really good reason I thought my cookies were too thick -- they were! By about 1/4 of an inch! Oh bother! I adjusted my slicing skills this week and the sugar cookies turned out great. I'll get the hang of measuring things eventually (I hope!).

Many of the TWDers already have sugar cookie recipes that they are very fond of, but I'm not committed to any one recipe. I'd definately give this one another try, and I'm looking forward to rolling out the shapes and see how those cookies turn out. And I think frosting is fun, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

TWD: Linzer Sables

This week "TWD" stands for "Thursdays with Dorie" - I was a little off on my calculation below. Oh well -- I'll get back on track by next week (hey, maybe I should start baking those cookies now!)

This week's recipe comes from Dennis at Living the Life. Linzer Sables are versatile little cookies that can be made as a single cookie, or as a sandwich. The filling can be either jam or chocolate. I like both fillings, and I really like the "peek-a-boo" nature of the sandwich option, so I decided to make the sandwiches with both fillings.

Cookies are something I have some experience with, certainly much more experience than just about anything else I've blogged about so far. It was the first thing we learned in my beginning baking class. One of the keys, I learned, is in the blending of the sugar and butter. Up to that point I had not blended long enough. But once I learned to let the KitchenAid go for 5 minutes or so, my cookies have turned out much better. Plus I love the pattern it makes in the bowl.

The trait I have yet to master, however, is not getting impatient in all other things. I often stop a process early for fear of going to far, when in fact the end result doesn't turn out as well because I didn't let the process go on long enough. This may be the case with my dough, which seemed a little grainy and didn't seem to come together enough.

I rolled out enough to make 9 sandwiches, and probably have enough to make 2-3 more in the freezer from the scraps of the first round. I sure wish I had a cute little cutter like the one in Dorie's book, but used my regular round cutters instead. I picked the smallest one for the center cut, but it may be too big. Almost all of those cookies broke when making the center cut. Drat!

The cookies were in the oven a wee bit too long (so much for my impatience when I get distracted), but the powdered sugar hides that fairly well. I really like the crunchy texture and the nutty flavor from the almonds (the recipe let you choose the type of nut to use - the other choices were either hazelnuts or walnuts). I thought I would like the chocolate sandwich better, but I actually like the jam option best (I used strawberry preserves as that is what I had on hand). Something about the sweet fruit contrasting with the nutty cookie just spoke to me.

These cookies sure look cute, and are very tasty. I would definately try them again, but would roll them out thiner. Several TWDer thought 1/4 inch was too thick for the sandwich version, and I agree. For a single cookie that's okay, but for a sandwich -- too much.

Oh, and next time I would try not to get either impatient or distracted! (ha!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


First off, I humbly say that this week I will be participating in "Wednesdays with Dorie." I know -- I know! -- it's not Wednesdays with Dorie, but for me, this week, it is the best I can do. Blame it on the holiday weekend. Blame it on school last night. Blame it on a 12 hour work day today. i will endeavor to do my best to get back on track next week, but for this week, you'll see Linzer Sables on Wednesday.

That said -- I have very exciting news. News I have waited TWO years to get. Many a week I have hoped, many a week my hopes were dashed - until last week.

Yes, it's true.......

The Argentinian shrimp are back at Trader Joe's!

It all started for me several years ago when I worked at my local TJ's. I was introduced to this shrimp by the "more experienced" crew members. They lured me in with this shrimp wrapped in bacon ("oh, just take one" they said), and other nefarious ways of preparing it. I was hooked. Then, without warning, the shrimp were gone. Something about over fishing or no supply. I was crushed. Then two years later, after I was no longer employed but still shopped there, they were back. I was overjoyed, but low on cash. "I'll only get one" I said, "and I will get another bag the next time I'm here." Oh yes, you guessed it, when I returned, the shrimp had once again disappeared.

Every week I would stroll by the place they once resided, and every week I would be disappointed. They were gone for another two years (TWO YEARS!) until last week. Having learned from my mistakes, and having earned two years of rasises while waiting, I did not hesitate when I saw them and I bought two bags. I sleep a little sounder knowing they are in my freezer. Just waiting for me.

If your local Trader Joe's sells these little delights RUN to the freezer section and buy a bag for $8.99. I don't know if all TJ's sell them, I can only speak for the San Diego County stores. If you find them though, you won't be disappointed.