Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Christmas (Cookie) Time

I'm a cheesy person in general. I crack the jokes that make me laugh out loud while others just roll their eyes. So you'll have to forgive me this month, but Christmas just brings the cheesiness out of me. I want to sing and dance and drink hot cocoa with a peppermint stick while looking at pretty Christmas trees.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Trees are popping up in windows all down my block. Christmas party invites are arriving. I'm thinking about what delicious treat I'll make to share with my coworkers this year. 

And I'm thinking about all my favorite Christmas cookie recipes I want to share with you. 

Twelve to be exact. 

Starting December 1st, check back each day for a new Christmas cookie recipe. We'll go through all my favorites below and a few more treats. 

I'm already hungry. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bars of Goodness

My students are bombarded by stories from my baking life. At least once a week, I tell them a story about a treat I made, a lesson I learned while baking, or a disaster I had in the kitchen (they particularly loved that one).

But I've never had a bigger reaction to my cooking than I did the day I brought these treats in for our Compliment Celebration. I don't think I've ever gotten more hugs (though it does mean my pictures are limited). And I was certainly glad I saved these treats for the last 10 minutes of the school day.

If you're looking at that picture and still thinking, "Katie, I'm not convinced," let me share with you some key quotes from my students that may persuade you.

  • This is the best dessert I have EVER had. EVER. In my ENTIRE life. 
  • Will you blog about the recipe? And send the link to my mom? 
  • If you make this for me every day, I'll faint! 

This dessert couldn't be easier, and while it goes a bit against my homemade baking philosophy, I really did love the one, small brownie bar bite I had. And after eating that small piece, I was even happier that I had given the rest away. These are addictive. They're overwhelming and overindulgent in the best possible ways. 

Imagine a soft chocolate chip cookie crust, topped with double-stuffed Oreos and finished off with a warm dark chocolate brownie.  

Best of all, they come together in a snap. It's much quicker than making chocolate chip cookies because you don't have to bake tray after tray of cookies. It's just as easy as making boxed brownies. And with brownies, chocolate chip cookies and Oreos, it's three times as good. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Butter-Glazed Radishes

I don't quite have the hang of this "cook long before the holidays so you can post a recipe in time for people to actually make it for said holiday" phenomenon. In theory, I love the idea, but I just never seem to plan ahead enough.

If you're looking for real Thanksgiving recipes that will contribute something substantial to your Thanksgiving dinner, you'll have to look elsewhere. Some of my recent favorites include Sixteenbean's Pumpkin Cheesecake, Ryan Bakes' Pecan Pie (admire the careful pecan placement!), Sassy Radish's Quinoa Salad with Brussels and Pumpkin, or these Cranberry Nut Rolls from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, just to name a few.

These butter-glazed radishes are my contribution to your Thanksgiving meal. It's certainly a side dish, and not a very filling one at that, but it's somewhat unusual and quite easy to make. They're a gorgeous rosy pink color when finished. The butter soaks through to the core of the radish, and it removes the harsh bite that some radishes have.

With all the browns on the typical Thanksgiving table--turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes--these bright-colored beauties will be a welcome addition.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

It's been a while. Since I posted, not since I cooked. I'm still cooking regularly, but the pressures of the beginning of the school year, graduate school and the deadlines of all the baking groups I had signed up for caught up with me. So, for the past month I haven't so much as commented on a food blog.

Tonight I'm attempting to get back into the swing of things, and I'm sharing with you a recipe I hinted at a few months ago but never got around to sharing.

Creamy, homemade ricotta cheese.

It was my first attempt at making cheese. The process disproved all of my assumptions. Making cheese is not expensive, and it doesn't require a lot of special equipment (other than cheese cloth, which couldn't be cheaper). It's the kind of recipe you can be happy with the first time you make it.

The process was simple. Boil some milk, cream and salt. Add lemon juice. Stir twice. Let sit undisturbed, and then drain to the desired consistency. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat.

I served the ricotta atop broiled crostini, and I added a layer of roasted tomato confit to top it all of. The combination was perfect (thank you Thomas for the inspiration). My ricotta was a little on the lemony side (I'd use a bit less next time), but the lemon taste paired perfectly with the tomato confit.