A Family Recipe for the #FBCookieSwap

I follow and read about 35 food blogs. I love finding new recipes or new variations on old recipes and I love pinning them for future use. Last year, one of my favorite bloggers from Love and Olive Oil started something called the “Food Blogger Cookie Swap” with The Little Kitchen. I didn’t read about it early enough to participate but, I saw a lot of my favorite bloggers participating and saw tons of pictures of delicious cookies on Twitter. So, when I saw the notification for signups this year, I knew I had to participate.

When I signed up, I wasn’t really sure I would be accepted. I’m far from a blogger let alone a food blogger and their are requirements to make sure that the participants are active. Even though I wasn’t sure I met the qualifications, I decide to make my donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and wait. If anything, I was able to donate to another great cause. To my (kind of) surprise, I was accepted and received three matches who would receive my cookies. They were Sarah from The Life Albumn, Jocelyn from Inside the BruCrew Life and Kimberly from Rhubarb and Honey. Each would receive one dozen of the same cookie. It had to be a recipe new to our blog.

The biggest problem I had was deciding on what to make. I am not a recipe developer. I’m more of a recipe tweaker. I like to find recipes and then adjust them a little bit to my taste but, that doesn’t even really qualify as “adapted” most times. However, there is one recipe that my mom and my aunt make for Christmas that I knew would be a hit – Sour Cream Horns. So, I asked mom for the recipe and instead of just giving it to me, she actually made some with me. That might not seem like a big deal but, this is a cookie that I’ve been eating for 25 years and have no idea how to make so, it was kind of a big deal.

Of course, the cookies turned out great and they fit perfectly in little treat boxes I had picked up at Michael’s. It was recommended to ship our cookies Priority Mail through USPS and that most boxes would fit in the medium flat rate. Since my boxes were much smaller than the flat rate box, I decided to wrap them in brown paper and ship Priority Mail but, not flat rate. It was also recommended that we add tracking to our packages. I really meant to do that but, in a rush at the post office, that didn’t happen. So, I was left to wait to hear from my matches that they received their packages.

Priority Boxes

 

Let me tell you something that I learned…Priority Mail is a joke. When I clicked through on the little screen it said 2-3 days. Apparently that means 5 days. Thankfully, all my cookies arrived safely at their destinations and seemed to be enjoyed by all. I also received three packages of delicious, homemade cookies from three other bloggers; most of which were gone within a couple days.

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Overall, my first #FBCookieSwap was a great experience. I had fun making my cookies, connecting with other bloggers and trying some new cookies. If I were to do it again next year, I would remember to track my packages. Not knowing was kind of stressful. If you think you might want to participate next year, I highly recommend signing up to receive the #FBCookieSwap notifications here. It was a fun experience and one that I would recommend. Now for the recipe…

Sour Cream Horns

 

Sour Cream Horns

1lb of Butter

Two Eggs, Separated

1 1/3 cups of Sour Cream

4 cups of All Purpose Flour, Separated

1 1/2 cups Sugar

1 1/2 cups Finely Chopped Walnuts

4 teaspoons Cinnamon

Mix together the butter, egg yolks and sour cream. Add in 3 cups of flour.

Put 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour on a board. Turn out the dough on to the board and kneed 15 times, folding the dough in between kneeding. Incorporated enough flour to create a moist but firm dough.

Roll the dough into a log and cut into 8 equal pieces. Flatten the pieces into small discs, rap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

In a bowl or zip top bag, mix together sugar, walnuts and cinnamon.

On a well floured surface, roll one disc of dough out to 12-16 inch round. Distribute approximately 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar mixture evenly over dough and cut into 12-16 equal wedges.

Roll each wedge from the outside to the inside making it just tight enough to keep in the filling. Place each horn on a baking sheet brush completely with beaten egg white. The horns will rise but not spread so they can be placed fairly close together on the sheet.

Bake about 18 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

 

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Portobello Fries

On Father’s Day I had Jerry pick up two portobello caps that I had planned on marinating and grilling along with our shrimp and burgers. They would have been awesome if I hadn’t had forgot them at home.

Left with the caps and a plan down the drain I looked for something to do with them. Then it hit me – Portobello Fries! I had pinned a recipe for them a while ago but, never had the stuff to make them when I wanted to.

The “fries” are definitely not the most attractive food but, they were delicious. I varied the spices a little bit since I don’t like too much heat (red pepper flakes) and I didn’t have any cheese. I added some thyme and onion powder and increased the garlic powder. I cut mine a little thicker than they did in the original recipe so, they took longer to cook but, it was worth it. Instead of the basil aioli I made my favorite go-to “sauce” that I use for everything from a burger topping to dipping chips. It’s super complicated…ready?

Special Sauce

Sour Cream

Prepared Horseradish

Take as much sour cream as you want and add in as much prepared horseradish that you want. Stir together. Taste test and adjust as necessary.

See…totally complicated.

I’ll definitely be making these again but, I won’t be taking a picture of them because it just doesn’t do them justice.

{ASOP} Mug Brownies

I’m a Pinterest addict. I love pinning recipes and craft ideas, most of which I will never make. However, I decided to add a new category to the blog – ASOP or As Seen on Pinterest, for when I do actually make something I’ve pinned. Today’s ASOP is mug brownies.

Last night, I wanted something sweet but, didn’t have the desire or supplies to really bake anything. Instead I was perusing Pinterest when I stumbled on a recipe for mug brownies. The first time I heard of making anything in a mug in the microwave was on Michael Simon’s show where he made a “chocolate cake” in a mug. At the time, I was skeptical and when I came across mug brownies I was still skeptical. It’s hard to resist the temptation of a sweet treat in a minute and forty seconds though so, I gave it a try.

I got out my favorite Rainforest Cafe mug and added my dry ingredients:

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

I mixed those up in the mug and then added:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp water

and stirred it up until it was all combined in the mug. I also mixed in about a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips.

Then I popped the mug in the microwave and set it for 1:40 and let it go. While the mug brownie was cooking, I whipped up some fresh whipped cream.

When the timer on the microwave went off, I grabbed the mug with a pot holder ( it’s definitely hot) and stuck a butter knife in the middle to make sure it was done. Despite my suspicions, the butter knife came out clean. I let it cool a little (but not enough that my whipped cream didn’t melt a little) and grabbed a fork.

The result? It definitely tastes like a brownie but, it’s not a brownie. It’s very moist with a little bit of a chewy brownie texture but, it’s obviously missing the characteristic exterior of a classic brownie. It works for a quick, chocolaty and sweet snack if you just need something in that category but, if you’re craving brownies, it probably wouldn’t help. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate so, I ate about half and let Jerry finish the rest. I would make it again though, if I was looking for something quick and sweet.

Hot Fudge Sauce

I love making gifts for Christmas. I don’t get to make nearly as many as I would like to but, I do what I can. One of the things I had decided to make this year was hot fudge sauce. It’s my absolute favorite topping for ice cream. It’s not hard to make and it makes an awesome gift because it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like hot fudge. Searching the internet for recipes I found that many of them included corn syrup which I didn’t want. Then I found one on one of my favorite websites, Big Girls Small Kitchen, that was exactly what I wanted.

I’ve now used their recipe so many times, I’ve been able to tweak it a bit to fit my needs but, it still remains the same base. You can find their original recipe here. Over the course of my testing I’ve changed it so that it fills 3 pint jars (and is easily cut in half or thirds). I also converted all the measurements over to weight because that’s the only way to keep it truly consistent over time. Finally, I use both unsweetened and milk chocolate at the end and I add a double shot of espresso instead of espresso powder.

For this batch, I cut my recipe in half. I was only making one jar to give away and wanted some for the house but, not a full jar. I start by weighing out all my ingredients and having everything ready to go. Making hot fudge sauce goes pretty fast and you need to be ready with your ingredients.

The butter and cream are combined over medium-low heat until the butter is melted and it just starts to boil. Then the sugars are added to the mixture and stirred until they combine with the cream until the sugar dissolves and is no longer gritty.

Then you slowly whisk in the cocoa powder until it is smooth and thick. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Then let it sit for a couple minutes and whisk again.

After you whisk the second time, take a taste. You may want to add a little more milk chocolate or vanilla depending on your taste. Let it cool a bit and when it’s warm but, not hot, pour it into your pint jars. Then let it completely cool on the counter before putting the lid on and storing in the refrigerator. It’s important to let it cool completely or else it will crystallize in the fridge.

Mason jars make great vessels for gifts because they’re cute on their own or you can add ribbon or cloth or whatever you want. I like to tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar and attach a card with the hot fudge sauce recipe so the receiver can make their own when it’s all gone.

Shrimp and Grits

I love quintessential southern food. Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy and pecan pie are just a few of my favorites. One of the things I love most and that I enjoy making for myself is grits.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find “real” grits in upstate New York. I consider real grits to be hominy grits which are usually made of white corn. It’s also very hard to find non-instant or quick cooking grits in these parts. They just don’t have the same texture. Then, one lucky day a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits/Polenta. I had been told that they existed but, had not been able to find them at the grocery store. Clearly, it’s not exactly what I wanted. Real grits cannot be confused with polenta however, they are a big step above the quick cooking in a strange cardboard cylinder ones that you usually find. So, I took them home to make my shrimp and grits.

There are a few other key ingredients that you’ll need besides grits. One, of course, would be shrimp. I was able to find some shrimp in the seafood case of my local Hannaford and it was on sale. You’ll also need bacon which I suggest purchasing from the meat case at your grocery store, too. It was a lot less expensive and way better than buying the packaged goods. The rest of the ingredients are simple and many of them you many have in your refrigerator or pantry already.

Ingredients:

2 cups of water

2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of grits

4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

8 oz of cheese, shredded

1 pound of shrimp, peeled and devained

6 slices of bacon, chopped

2 shallots, minced

2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on your preference)

1/4 of a fresh lemon

Pinch of oregano

Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

Start by peeling and devaining your shrimp if it hasn’t already been done by the store. Toss them in a colander and give them a good rinse and then pat them dry with a paper towel.

Mix your milk and water together in a medium size pot and then set it over medium heat until it starts to boil. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and then pour in your grits. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, whisking and stirring frequently. Once the grits are cooked, stir in your butter and cheese.

Fry your bacon in a large skillet until it reaches your desired level of crispness. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain. Add the shrimp to the reserved bacon grease and cook until the shrimp just turn pink. Remove the shrimp and add it to your bacon that is draining. Add your shallots and garlic to the pan and saute until slightly transparent. Add the bacon and shrimp back to the skillet with your oregano, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and saute for 1 – 2 minutes watching the shrimp closely so it doesn’t over cook. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

To plate your shrimp and grits, pour a laddle of grits into a wide bowl and use a small spoon to hollow out a circle in the middle of the grits. Spoon the shrimp mixture into the hollowed out area and Voila! You have shrimp and grits.

Side note/Tip: Your grits should be “flowing” – not watery but, not thick either. If they seem to seize up a bit (like mine are in the picture), you can stir in a little more milk prior to serving. This may mean you want to add a bit more salt and pepper, too. It’s also great tip for reheating them as leftovers. Sometimes I think they’re even better the next day.