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hoppin’ tomorrow

HOPPIN’ JOHN 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup small dried black-eyed peas {I will soak the peas overnight}
  • 5 to 6 cups water
  • 1 dried hot pepper (optional)
  • 1 smoked ham hock (I will be using the left-over Christmas ham)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice {will probably omit the rice – which means it won’t really hop!}

Preparation

Wash and sort the peas. Place them in a saucepan, add the water, and discard any peas that float. Gently boil the peas with the pepper, ham hock, and onion, uncovered, until tender but not mushy — about 1 1/2 hours — or until 2 cups of liquid remain. Add the rice to the pot, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, never lifting the lid.

Remove from the heat and allow to steam, still covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover, fluff with a fork, and serve immediately.

 

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Our favorite pound cake

 

OUR FAVORITE POUND CAKE

 

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

active time: 20 min

total time: 3 1/2 hr (includes cooling)

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 7 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Special equipment: a 10-inch tube pan (4 1/2 inches deep; not with a removable bottom) or a 10-inch bundt pan (3 1/4 inches deep; 3-qt capacity)

Preparation

Put oven rack in middle position, but do not preheat oven.

Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together sifted flour (3 cups) and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl (the flour will have been sifted 3 times total).

Beat together butter (2 sticks) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or 6 to 8 minutes with a handheld mixer. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.

Spoon batter into pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.

Cooks’ note: Cake keeps, covered well with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, at room temperature 5 days.

 

Christmas Eve Breakfast

STUFFED FRENCH TOAST

For the French Toast

1 loaf firm Italian-style bread {I sometimes use French bread – which was what I used this morning}

12 smoked bacon strips, cooked {today I used center cut bacon – for that was what was I had in the refrigerator!}

6 slices Cheddar cheese, each about 2 inches square, at room temperature {I LOVE cheese and thus used a full slice, folded in half}

3 eggs

6 tablespoons milk

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons butter or margarine

PREPARING THE BREAD

1.       Slice off 1 end from the loaf of bread.  To form bread pockets, use a serrated bread knife to cut a slit ½ inch from the end and three-quarters of the way through the loaf; then slice all the way through the loaf, ½ inch from the slit, making a 1-inch pocketed slice.

2.       Continue cutting pockets and slices into the loaf, making a total of 6 pocketed slices.

MAKING THE FRENCH TOAST

1.       Wrap 2 bacon slices around 1 slice of Cheddar, making sure the cheese is completely covered; insert into the pocket of 1 bread slice.  Repeat with remaining bacon, cheese and bread pockets.

2.       In a shallow bowl, lightly beat eggs and milk; add nutmeg and salt.

3.       On a griddle or large frying pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Working with 3 sandwiches at a time, dip each sandwich into the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides.  Let excess egg mixture drip back into the bowl.

4.       Place 3 egg-coated sandwiches on the griddle; cook over medium heat until lightly golden on the bottoms, about 2 minutes.  Using a spatula, turn each sandwich over, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes longer.  Add the remaining butter to the pan; repeat with the remaining egg-coated sandwiches.

KITCHEN TIPS

  • Day-old bread works best for this recipe.  If you must use fresh bread, refrigerate the loaf before slicing.  Then let the sliced bread stand at room temperature for a few minutes before cooking.
  • If you are using an electric griddle for the French toast (a convenient kitchen tool with a temperature control function), it should be heated to 350 degrees F – 375 degrees F.
  • Fruit is a good accompaniment to the French Toast (although the toast alone is satisfying and filling)

Maple Cupcakes

MAKE THE MAPLE CUPCAKES

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.  [This time, I made mini-cupcakes.]

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until ribbon like.  Turn the mixer to low and stream in the maple syrup.  Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is nearly uniform in color, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg yolks and egg, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.  Stream in the milk.  Stop the mixer; add the rest of the flour, then turn the mixer on until just combined.  Scrape down the sides and bottoms of the bowl and fold in the walnuts.

Fill the prepared cupcake pan about three-quarters full.  Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Note:  These cupcakes take longer to bake than traditional cupcakes due to the maple syrup.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for 15 minutes in the cupcake pan, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE MAPLE FROSTING

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until it is completely smooth.  Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add the sugar and the maple syrup and beat until smooth.  Be careful not to overbeat the frosting or it will lose structure.  (At this point, if you want to, you can tightly cover the frosting and refrigerate it for a day.  Let it soften at room temperature before using.)

ASSEMBLE THE CUPCAKES

There are many ways to frost a cupcake.  If you have a pastry bag, simply fit with the largest tip, fill the bag with frosting, and pipe enough to cover the cupcake in a big mound.  If you do not have a pastry bag, use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop the frosting and dispense it onto the top of the cupcake.  You can also use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes.  Top with whole toasted walnuts.

Refrigerate any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Bring cupcakes to room temperature before serving.

Note:  I used pecans (for pecans were what I had!) rather than walnuts.

 

 




Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Ingredients

1 box Ziti, cooked according to package directions
2 links hot Italian sausage, cooked and sliced (I was unable to find hot Italian sausage this time – just used all mild)
2 links mild Italian sausage, cooked and sliced
1 container (15 oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese (I didn’t use the part-skim — went all the way with regular ricotta cheese – shame on me!)
Small can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Small can of tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
Cooking spray (olive oil is best)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking oil.

In a medium bowl beat an egg. Add ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, garlic powder, salt, mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Return drain Ziti to cooled pot and add the sausage and diced tomatoes;  mix thoroughly.  {I put the diced tomatoes in the cheese, parsley, spices mixture.}

Spoon half the Ziti and sausage mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the Ziti.

Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella cheese over the ricotta cheese.

Spoon the rest of the Ziti over the mozzarella cheese.

Drizzle the reserved cup of tomato sauce over the top of the Ziti.

Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese over the top of the casserole.

Very lightly spray cooking spray on the mozzarella cheese.   This will aid in smoothly melting the cheese.

Bake uncovered for approximately 35 minutes until it is heated through and cheese has melted.

If cheese or Ziti start to get too dark, cover loosely with foil. Spray the bottom side of the foil with a little cooking spray to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.

TIP: Reynolds Wrap has a new non-stick foil  called “Release”  that is excellent.  Nothing sticks to it and it is perfect for things like this.

NOTE: I only had a cup of tomato sauce on hand; it would be best to have a cup of tomato sauce (at least a cup – perhaps a little more) along with the diced tomatoes in the sausage, Ziti, and tomato mixture.

oh yes!

This is definitely a KEEPER!

I should have doubled this recipe – for we DO like these cookies.

The recipe made about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

FILLED PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1 1/2 cups quick oats

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup honey roasted peanut putter

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

For the filling:

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 cup smooth peanut butter

Preheat an oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter, both sugars, egg, peanut butter, and vanilla. Pour oat mixture into peanut butter mixture, stirring until just mixed. Place rounded teaspoonfuls of batter on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 2″ between each one. Using your finger, pat dough down so they form small flattened circles. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool completely on cookie sheet.

While the cookies are baking, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and peanut butter until light and airy, about 5 minutes.

On a work surface, place half of the cookies upside down. Whisk the filling to lighten it. Dollop 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each upside down cookie.  Place second cookie on top of filling and press together until filling just comes to the edges.  [I just spread some filling on a cookie –  then placed a second cookie on top and lightly pressed the cookies together.]

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Gingersnaps

GINGERSNAPS

Yield : 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 18 tablespoons (9 ounces) butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cup raw sugar (sometimes called demerara, coarse, or crystal sugar) or granulated sugar, for dusting

Directions

Cream the butter and incorporate the eggs.  Place the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the light brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes fluffy and lighter in color, 6 to 8 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until they are fully incorporated and the batter looks smooth and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients and molasses.

In a dry bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry mixture, all at once, to the butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold together for a few turns. With the mixer on slow speed, mix the dough until thoroughly combined, 1 minute.

Add the molasses and mix until incorporated. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.

Bake the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350°F ½ hour before baking the cookies. Spray cookie sheets with oil and line with aluminum foil, parchment, or silicone pads, or use nonstick pans.

Place the raw sugar in a small bowl. Pinch off 1½-inch pieces of batter and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar to coat. Arrange the cookies on the prepared sheet 2 inches apart and press your thumb in the center of each cookie to flatten it a bit. Bake until the cookies spread, crack a bit, and take on a dark golden brown color, 10 to 15 minutes. For even browning, rotate your cookie sheets from front to back and between each of the baking racks at least once while the cookies are baking.

Notes

Storage: These cookies will keep, sealed in a container, for 3 days.