Half Moon Cookies Will Make You Howl in Delight

Half Moon Cookies Will Make You Howl in Delight

I love sharing my family recipes. I would hate to see so many delicious treats end with me someday rather than delighting new generations for years to come. I recently sent my gram’s recipe for Half Moon Cookies to Jeanie and Lulu’s Kitchen, a food blog that features recipes passed down to Leigh from both of her grandmothers.

p1080743

I hope you’ll visit Leigh’s blog and peruse through her family treasures. And if you are looking for a new cookie recipe that is cakey, moist, chocolaty, and scrumptious, be sure and bake up a batch of Half Moon Cookies (also called Black and White Cookies.) They are perfect in October as a Halloween treat!

Let me know how you like them!

Here is another wonderful cookie recipe if chocolate is not your thing but you love cinnamon rolls!

Include a Hedgehog at Tea!

Include a Hedgehog at Tea!

mygrandmasrecipebookThank you Morgan for this delightful recipe! If you’ve never visited mygrandmasrecipebook.com, you are in for a treat – or two! Morgan chronicles some great old-fashioned recipes including this one she sent exclusively for my blog!

Chocolate Hedgehog Slices

This is a very nice, traditional Australian recipe from the 70’s and 80’s that is often served for afternoon tea or parties.  I remember my grandmother and mother both making this for children’s birthday parties or just a special treat.

Ingredients
400 grams (14oz) plain sweet biscuits/cookies (shortbread or plain graham crackers would work)
250 grams (9oz) unsalted butter
1 cup caster or granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons shredded coconut
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecan nuts


Putting the biscuits/cookies in a zip-loc plastic bag, crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or other heavy tool until they are small pieces.


Melt the butter in a large bowl.  Add the cocoa powder and stir until mixed.


Add the other ingredients and the biscuits, and then stir to combine.

7 in the tray

Line a lamington tin (13” x 9” slice tin) with baking or greaseproof paper and spread the mixture into a thick layer.

8 finished slice

Refrigerate for 1 hour; before the slice is set too firmly, cut into squares.

Keep refrigerated until served.

Notes:
It is possible to substitute walnuts or almonds for the pecans.

This is an unbaked recipe using eggs, so it is not advised for young children or pregnant women. Please practice good egg safety.

Note from Brad: This no-bake dessert really hits the spot when you need a chocolate fix.  And since it uses cocoa powder and nuts, it’s a bit healthier than other sweets! Give it a try and let me know what you think! Better yet, make it at home and tag me (@GourmandBrad) and Morgan (@grandmasbook) on a photo of your concoction in Twitter.

“New” Cuisine is Not Always Better

I love retro foods, so when I stumbled across Mary’s delightful website Old Fashioned Recipes, chock full of oldies, but goodies, I hit the jackpot! She provides recipes for award-winning chocolate cake, creamy scalloped potatoes, chicken pot pie, and much more!

Mary was kind enough to include one of my favorite family recipes for my grandmother’s banana cake. It’s nice to know gram’s cake recipe found an audience among people who love simple, yet delicious home cooking.

If you’d like the recipe to Banana Cake with Penuche Frosting or to browse similar fare like your Gramma used to make, then be sure to visit her site!

Top 10 Summer Beverages

IMG_3285

Even though June 21 did not officially kick off summer, at my house, it’s summer once the fresh mint is ready to cut and stuff in a glass! My mint is ready for harvesting and my automatic ice maker is churning out cubes on a regular basis come 5 o’clock. If you are entertaining guests this summer on the back deck, I hope one or two of these drinks will add a pleasant kick to your menu!

Rather than working my way from least favorite to most favorite, I thought I would start out with the ones I like the most at the top of my list! Enjoy.

1. Pimms
First produced back in 1823, Pimms was first introduced to me several years ago by a colleague from London. Thank you Kathryn, wherever you are now! It has a sweet, slightly spicy aroma. I serve it exactly as directed on the back of the bottle.

1/4 cup Pimms
3/4 cups fizzy lemonade
1 sprig fresh mint
2-3 slices fresh cucumber
1 sliced strawberry
1 slice fresh orange
1 tall glass and fresh ice

2. Bobby Flay’s Red Sangria
I’ve tried a number of sangria recipes over the years and I always come back to this one from Chef Bobby Flay. I keep the key ingredients in my pantry at all times. It is a beverage my dinner guests ask for now. I switch up the fruits a bit depending upon what I have handy, but the base remains the same. Give it a try the next time you cook out!

3. Chef Roblé’s Cucumber Lemonade
This one is alcohol-free and may sound a little wonky. But trust me. You will want to add this drink to your summertime rotation. For some reason the cucumber adds this subtle refreshing flavor to homemade lemonade that is unbelievable. Buy yourself a citrus squeezer and give this recipe a try!

4. Citrus Slush
This was a popular drink back in the ’70s. Hard to believe it is still around, but it is one of my summer party favorites. It packs a hidden punch since it tastes like a fizzy fruit drink, so watch out if you are sipping these poolside! You will be the hit of the day if you take this as your dish to pass at the next neighborhood cookout, I promise!

5. Margaritas
A summer list of adult beverages would not be complete without the Margarita! The nice thing about the Bon Appétit article I linked to above is that they break down the ingredients with a bit more detail.

6. Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris

My neighbor always made this version growing up. Of course I was of legal age the first time I ever tried them!

1 box frozen strawberries (or 1/2 bag)
1 small can frozen limeade
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup strawberry liquor
2 cups ice

Blend well. If you do not like seeds in your drinks, use a high quality blender like a Vitamix.

7. Mojito
If you find yourself grilling up some fajitas or roasting a cuban-spiced pork roast, pull out a few more sprigs of mint and mix up a pitcher of Cuban Mojitos. This refreshing summer beverage was originally “consumed for medical purposes!” Who am I to argue with the healing properties of a refreshing summer concoction?!?

8. Mimosa
You cannot go wrong with a good, old-fashioned and simple-to-make mimosa! Mix orange juice and champagne for a refreshing summer drink any time of the day. I like one part OJ to 3 parts bubbly, but feel free to use your own favorite ratio. Some people shy away from using good champagne for this cocktail, but I disagree. While I would not recommend diluting a Dom Perignon with anything, I never go for the bargain bin sparkling wine either.

9. Gin and Tonic
Like the mimosa above, the key to a decent gin & tonic is use of a decent gin. I recommend you give Fords Gin or Anchor Old Tom a try. Using a rocks glass, stir about 2 ounces gin with a splash of tonic, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over ice. Substitute the tonic with Sprite or 7-Up and you’ve got yourself a Lime Rickey.

10. Trappistes Rochefort Beer
Brewed by the Trappist Monks inside the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy, Belgium, these guys know how to make awesome beer. After all, they’ve been brewing it since 1595 so they’ve had a lot of practice! If you like a full bodied and delicious beer, give this one a try. Choose between the 6, 8, or 10, depending upon the percentage of alcohol you prefer. I’d say give the 8 a try if you can find it. It’s my favorite!

It turns out, it’s not easy narrowing this list of my favorite summer drinks down to just 10. I hope you’ll help me out here folks by adding links to your faves in the comments section!

Chicken Pot Pie – The Perfect One Pot Meal

Chicken Pot Pie – The Perfect One Pot Meal

Many of my friends abhor cooking. I think one of the reasons is that home cooking makes such a big mess in the kitchen. Perhaps another reason is that they know I’ll take pity on them and invite them to eat at my house! lol Whatever the reason, it’s nice to have a few dependable one pot meals up your sleeve to cut down on the mess. Chicken pot pie is also among my favorite comfort foods. I’ve ordered it off menus and restaurants try to jazz it up. But honestly, nothing tastes better than the traditional version. Oh, and kids like it too!

If your traditional version differs from mine, I hope you’ll leave a comment with a link to your own chicken pot pie!

IMG_2934

Precook your chicken in the veggie remnants to add flavor before you use it in your pot pie.

IMG_2935

Thyme, dijon mustard, and black pepper are the only seasonings you need! Well, you may need salt if your stock is homemade.

IMG_2936

Chop up your veggies. Pictured is some chicken stock I made in advance. I always warm my stock before adding it to a roux to speed up the cooking process.

 

Saute your vegetables in butter for 4-5 minutes then sprinkle in your flour, stir, and cook 2-3 minutes more.

IMG_2938

Slowly add your chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened. Then remove from heat and add the chicken, peas, thyme, pepper, dijon, and salt (if needed).

IMG_2939

Roll out your dough and lay it over your chicken mixture. Cut small slices to vent. You may brush with an egg wash if desired.

 

Bake in a 250 degree oven for 30-4o minutes until crust is golden. Set, then serve.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 or so cups chicken stock (Hint: Make your own. As you will read below, you can even do it while you chop!) (Or use boxed stock, homemade from another day, or even some white wine and water!)
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt to taste – this will depend on whether you use your own chicken stock or boxed.
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken (Hint: I used boneless skinless breast because I was in a hurry. Use whatever you like. Even a grocery store rotisserie chicken would work!)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Prepared pie crust, thawed (Hint: I have not yet mastered making my own pie crust, but you could use homemade, or even a sheet of puff pastry.)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Precook your chicken before you cut it. I boiled mine on the stove top and added my vegetable peelings and some extra celery, carrot, onion, and peppercorns as well. This flavors the chicken before you use it and provides the stock you will need!
  • When cooked through, remove from stock and let cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Chop your veggies. (Not the peas!)
  • Melt butter in an oven-proof skillet.
  • Add your chopped vegetables and saute for 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over sauteed vegetables and stir for 2-3 minutes longer. Slowly add chicken broth and bring to a boil over low heat. Stir until thickened.
  • Remove from heat and fold in remaining ingredients (except for pie crust). (Hint: If you have fresh parsley on hand or other fresh herbs, this is the time to add it.)
  • Roll out one sheet of pie dough so that it fits over the contents in your skillet. Cover top of chicken mixture. Cut a few slices to vent the dough.
  • (Optional) Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown. This takes about 30-40 minutes.
  • Let set a few minutes before serving.

Make sure you comment below and leave a note about your favorite recipe for chicken pot pie! I look forward to trying some variations.

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers were regular fare on the dinner table growing up. They’re one of those meals you can make on a budget and don’t take much time. You can freeze them too which is always a bonus!

I was craving them over the weekend after scoring a big bag of red bell peppers for just $4.99. I’m pretty sure this was a pricing error since individual peppers were selling for $1.99 each and there were seven of those beauties in the bag. I’m wondering now why I only grabbed one bag!

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey (or beef)

2 cups rice (cooked – I used rice cooker)

5-6 bell peppers (cut off tops and clean out)

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup onion (diced)

1 egg, beaten

24 oz. can tomato sauce or puree

3 Tbs. brown sugar

3 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar

Directions

IMG_2893

Clean out bell peppers. (Save insides and tops for future chicken stock.)

IMG_2890

Cook rice and cool. Mix rice, ground turkey, onion, seasonings, water.

IMG_2891

Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Add 1/2-1 cup to meat and rice mixture and stir to incorporate.

IMG_2895

Fill each pepper. Place right side up in baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the top of each pepper.

IMG_2896

Bake covered at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. (I usually uncover for last 10-15 minutes.)

What dish do you remember from your youth? Would love to get your feedback along with a link to the recipe. Or, if you have a different version of stuffed peppers, please share it!

 

Bradley Nierenberg’s Top 10 Cooking Websites

Bradley Nierenberg’s Top 10 Cooking Websites

Unlike many cooking bloggers, most of my home cooking adventures are the result of delicious looking recipes I’ve found online. But there are an overwhelming number of websites for cooking, (39,700,000+ Google results to be exact), so how does one choose which ones to use?

This is one of those personal preference lists which I hope you will contribute to by leaving a few comments with your favorites. Here are mine:

10. http://www.foodnetwork.com/ I like watching the Food Network and frequently search the site for recipes I’ve seen made on the show. The website has very good search options, plenty of videos, great photos, and recipe reviews. In fact I featured a couple of Emeril’s recipes in my previous blog post on Creole cooking.

IMG_2740

9. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/ Believe it or not, the Williams-Sonoma site has a fantastic recipe collection. It’s a smart idea because I am always tempted to order another kitchen gadget while searching for recipes! I recently made their pomegranate salad and was not disappointed. And the Breakfast Skillet is a home run!

8. http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/ Looking for quick and easy? Look no further than Six Sisters Stuff. I first found them on Facebook and now drool over their photos and recipes.

7. http://ourbestbites.com/ I really like the recipes that come out of the kitchens of these Mormon Moms. I use their first cookbook regularly. It is nice the way they build upon recipes. For example, after you make their shredded pork, they offer a number of recipes that use it. Their caramelized green beans are truly amazing.

IMG_1033

6. http://www.finecooking.com/ I started using the Fine Cooking website and app after I received a gift subscription to the magazine. I must say, if this was a magazine list, it would be my top choice! Every recipe I’ve tried from this site is a keeper. If you are wondering how to cook your own chick peas and then how to use them up, go to Fine Cooking. I’ve made a pastry wrapped roast chicken, baked Alaska, and many other delicious meals because of this exceptional website.

5. http://www.tasteofhome.com/ When I’m looking for a recipe for something I ate as a kid, but don’t have it in my mish-mash handwritten collection of recipes, I go to Taste of Home. This site seems to have a great collection of recipes moms and grammas (dads and grandpas too) have been making for ages. Are you craving that baked oatmeal you loved in your childhood. Guess what? It’s in this website waiting for you!

4. http://joyofbaking.com/ This is really a website for baking, but belongs on my list because I use this site all the time. Stephanie Jaworski’s scone recipes are fantastic. I also like her quick breads. In fact, her zucchini bread with coconut is the best recipe out there. I like how Stephanie explains things as a preface to each recipe. There are also plenty of videos if you need visual help on a technique.

3. http://barefootcontessa.com/ I like to watch Ina Garten on the Food Network and then try the recipes she demonstrates. I have a couple of her cookbooks too. Ina’s recipes are always a hit for dinner parties. If you have not yet tried her coconut cake, you don’t know what you are missing! And yes, it calls for five sticks of butter!

IMG_2630

2. http://thepioneerwoman.com/ Ree Drummond is my go to gal for comfort food. You cannot beat her meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, or sweet rolls. It’s not health food, but when you want to sink your teeth into something really delicious, check out The Pioneer Woman.

DSC02337

1. http://www.epicurious.com/ It is the only cooking app I even use on my iPhone. It combines recipes from Bon Appetit, Self, and Gourmet magazines and features guest recipes from other chefs too. The photos, instructions, and reviews never let me down. I’ve used it for years.

Remember to add your favorites below!