Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
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Archive for December, 2012
Posted: December 27th, 2012

Thanks to everyone who wrote in for the drawing of “Cook Yourself Sexy, by Candice Kumai. The winner is Teresa Chatman. The tome is in the mail.

If you are not Teresa Chatman, you can enter the drawing for "Sweet Christmas: Homemade Peppermints, Sugar Cake, Chocolate-Almond Toffee, Eggnog Fudge, and Other Sweet Treats and Decorations" by Sharon Bowers. The book contains hundreds of sweets and other holiday baking projects, such as ornaments and garlands.
It’s bound to become a treasured holiday companion for anyone who likes spilling flour and sugar all over the kitchen. Some of the recipes are simple, others elaborate. Not all of them are reserved for Christmas, though, such as Grandma’s Chocolate Crinkles, which would be just as welcome at the end of Valentine’s Day.
Yes, I just said “Valentine’s Day.” That’s only about six weeks away.

To enter, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Please include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK you want.

For those of you who can’t quite let go of the season:
GRANDMA’S CHOCOLATE CRINKLES
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and oil with the sugars and vanilla until smooth. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt directly into the bowl and stir to blend. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and then in confectioners’ sugar, coating them liberally.
3. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie, and bake for 8 or 9 minutes, until the cookies spread and crackle. Don’t overbake them. Even if the cookies don’t see quite set in the center, take them out and let them cool. This unusual oil-based dough will get too crispy if you overbake, but will set up deliciously chewy once you let the cookies cool completely on a rack.
4. Store the cookies in airtight containers, in layers separated by wax paper, for up to 1 week.
– “Sweet Christmas,” by Sharon Bowers

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 21st, 2012

Kitchen Daily offers an extensive slideshow on how to make the perfect holiday ham. See link at the bottom of this post.

Here’s an embarrassing chunk of truth: Until this morning, I had no idea what to do with a ham.
Seriously. I know they’re cured and safe to eat cold, since that’s how my aunt serves it every Christmas Eve. Her party is more of an open house, with guests stopping by and eating whenever they want.
She sets a spiral sliced bone-in ham on a buffet table, along with bread, cheese and sandwich fixings, and we make up our own plates at will.
But I’ve had holiday ham served hot (and often totally dried out) in other places, and wasn’t keen on the concept.
To me, there’s nothing good to be said about dried-out meat. I hate chewing it, tasting it, swallowing it and even looking at it.
My husband can eat a dried out pork chop in about three bites, but I need significant amounts of gravy, pan sauce or even ketchup to get it down.
I wasn’t about to buy a ham just to dry it out, so I never have.
Well, this morning, I was wondering about this for the billionth time, and realized I was flanked by two people who are well-versed in the preparing and serving large amounts of meat.
Kevin Cuneo and Marnie Mead agreed that hot ham tastes better, and that it can take a good chunk of time to get it that way, especially if you have a bone in the middle.
Marnie said it would be a good idea, actually, to put it in a Crock-Pot while I’m at work.
Enter, Christmas Eve. I’ve been pouring over recipes for rolled, stuffed pork loin roast for that night, because my little family will be on our own for dinner this year. The pork loin seemed special enough for the occasion, and still doable after I got home from work that day.
But after Kevin and Marnie’s advice, I thought the ham might be easier, and just as good.
Marnie said she loves her ham with a thick glaze and crust on the outside, which sounds perfect to me, in case I do succeed in drying the darned thing out after all.
She shared a couple of ideas for that glaze, both of which look lovely:

From Ina Garten
BAKED VIRGINIA HAM
1 (14 to 16-pound) fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham on the bone
6 garlic cloves
8 1/2 ounces orange marmalade
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 orange, zested
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan.
Mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the marmalade, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. Pour the glaze over the ham and bake for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Serves: 35

From Martha Stewart
HAM WITH APRICOT GLAZE
7 pounds (about half of a bone-in) cured smoked ham, (butt end), room temperature
2 cups apricot jam
1/4 cup mustard powder (Marnie said she’d use whole gain mustard.)
Butter for aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil; place roasting rack in pan.
With a sharp knife, trim fat, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick layer. Lightly score fat in a diamond pattern (do not cut into meat). Place ham, fat side up, on rack; roast 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine jam and mustard (they can be mixed and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead). Transfer 1/2 cup mixture to a small bowl to glaze ham. Set aside saucepan with remaining mixture.
After 1 hour, brush ham with glaze. Repeat every 15 minutes until brown and shiny, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part, avoiding bone, registers 130 degrees, about 1 hour more (if glaze starts to burn, tent ham with buttered foil). Discard unused glaze. Remove ham from oven; cover loosely with buttered foil to keep warm. Temperature will then rise another 5 to 10 degrees.
Bring jam mixture in saucepan to a boil. Carve ham, reserving bone and 2 cups of meat for Split Pea Soup
– Martha Stewart

This might also be useful to us holiday hams: How to make the perfect holiday ham, from www.kitchendaily.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 19th, 2012

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Holiday Slow Cooker,” by Jonnie Downing. The winner is Julie Miniger. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Jonnie Downing, you are welcome to enter the drawing for "Cook Yourself Sexy: Easy Delicious Recipes for the Hottest, Most Confident You".
Believe it or not, we’re only 12 days away from restarting that annual resolution to eat a healthier diet. Kumai’s recipes look fresh and inviting — and surprisingly healthy.
To enter the drawing, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK you want. I don’t save or share this information.

Here’s a crowd-pleaser you can put on the holiday buffet even before the ball falls.

SWEET AND SALTY HONEY-GLAZED ALMONDS
Sweet Spice Mix
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt

Almonds
3 cups raw almonds
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw
1 tablespoon water

1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Sweet Spice Mix.
2. Line a full baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
3. Place the almonds in a medium nonstick saute pan and roast over low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Turn the heat off.
4. In a microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the honey, sugar and water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, see Note.
Use caution: The bowl or cup will be extremely hot when you remove it.
5. Carefully pour the honey mixture over the almonds in the pan over low heat and toss with a rubber spatula to coat.
6. Sprinkle in the Sweet Spice Mix and toss to coat evenly.
7. Spread the almonds in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Allow the nuts to cool and set for approximately 10 minutes.
– “Cook Yourself Sexy
Per serving: 240 calories, 18 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 10 grams sugars, 117 milligrams sodium, 15 grams carbohydrate
Note: Microwave times may vary. Test your recipe between 1 minutes and 45 seconds and 2 minutes.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 17th, 2012

Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken Bake from Better Homes & Gardens will warm your heart, as well as your belly.

I hope you didn’t bury your big casserole dish at the bottom of the cupboard during that spate of that beautiful April-like weather we had over the weekend.
It looks like we’re pretty much done with the 50-degree weather for the foreseeable future: 40s and raining this week until what might be a snowy weekend.
This calls for a reliable warmer-upper, such as Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken Bake.
This baked yumminess seems like it’d be good enough to have a celebration of its own.
It’ll feed 8, and might be a nice one to break out if you’re having friends for dinner. Or if you’re just really, really hungry.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 14th, 2012

It's hard to beat hot cocoa -- made with coffee -- dressed with peppermint Schnapps.

For years, I’ve filled Christmas baskets with yummies for family people. One year, I made hot cocoa mix and gave it away. I wound up with a jar left over and put it in the cupboard. For years.
Just never thought about it, really. It seemed like something for a special occasion, but for whatever reason, the occasion failed to present itself.
Last year about this time, my brother and I found ourselves together, shockingly, at a liquor store. I saw a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps. He was feeling expansive and bought it for me “for Christmas.”
Finally, about two weeks ago, the special occasion arose: I unpacked a set of four glass footed mugs with holly etching and gold rims.
Then I felt thirsty.
Then I reached for the cocoa, and the Schnapps fell out of the cupboard and hit me in the head. No, not really, but that would have been funny.
We wound up with two mugs of what has become an instant Hutchison tradition: In the mug, scoop in 1/3 cup cocoa mix, measure 1 ounce of Schnapps, fill with coffee, and squirt with fat-free Redi Whip. Then squirt some Redi Whip into your mouth (Hey, it’s fat free!) put the cap on and return it to the refrigerator.
I’m going to try it again tonight, as a matter of fact, just to confirm my initial findings, which are that it was awesome.
But I might kick it up a notch with this:

WHITE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA MIX
2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup marshmallows (I might leave those out. The powders dry them out and they get too chewy.)
16 peppermint sticks

Combine all the ingredients except the peppermint sticks in a large, tightly lidded glass jar.
– “Sweet Christmas,” by Sharon Bowers

Use however you want: I mean, if you aren’t sure who on your list would fully appreciate its potential, you might as well just keep it.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 13th, 2012

Betty Crocker hits another one out of the park with Caramelized Apple-Blue Cheese Spread.

Yes. You read that right. Caramelized. Apple. Blue Cheese. Spread. It sounds so good, I might eat the paper it’s printed on.
This lusciousness hails from a Betty Crocker newsletter I recently signed up for.
The edition that showed up today offered 17 mini sweets (including peppermint fudge, peppermint mouse in chocolate cups), 17 cheesy appetizers (including this one) 10 “festive drinks” and 50 new ways to make Chex Mix.
Most of the recipes come with tips and they’re not too complicated. They call for simple ingredients and, of course, some shortcuts you can make using Betty Crocker mixes.
I admit the recipes aren’t all that diet friendly, but every time a new edition arrives in my inbox, I find at least one that I can’t pass up.
Which brings me to this spread, perfect for a take along to holiday gatherings.
Hint: Leave half of it at home to enjoy on your own.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 12th, 2012

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking.” The winner is Rosalie Tellers. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Rosalie Tellers, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “Holiday Slow Cooker: Delicious Recipes for a Year of Hassle-Free Celebrations,” by Jonnie Downing. The title pretty much says it all. It’s a slim volume, but it’s packed with great ideas.
To enter, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and BOOK YOU WANT. I don’t save or use this information for anything else.

For those of you just here for the food:

PORK LOIN WITH WINE SAUCE
1 (2-pound) pork tenderloin
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the pork tenderloin, soup packet, water, wine and soy sauce in the slow cooker, in that order.
2. Roll the tenderloin around to coat it in the other ingredients. Spread the minced garlic over the top and add a few grinds of pepper.
3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 155 and 160 degrees. Remove and let it sit, covered for 15 minutes before slicing.
– “Holiday Slow Cooker”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 11th, 2012

Kabocha squash, photo by www.tainongseeds.com, offers a rich nutty flavor. Cook the whole thing and save the other half to puree and stir into sauces or soup.

Just when I thought I was done with gourds, I stumble over Chicken and Rice with Kabocha Squash in Everyday Food magazine, a homey comfort food that’s somehow familiar and fresh at the same time.
Kabocha squash is a deep green squat squash that looks a little like a wrinkly watermelon.
Two things: 1) You can just as easily use any winter squash, including acorn and butternut.
2) Lots of neat-o-looking winter squash are piled in produce sections right now. Consider this an excuse to check them out. It’s hard to go wrong.
My feeling on chicken thighs was shaped by something the great Julia Child said shortly after I discovered her genius: Everyone is enamored of the boneless, skinless chicken breast because it’s so low in fat, but that’s really the least interesting part of the chicken. Compared to the breast, the thighs thunder with flavor, and are much less likely to dry out.
This recipe passes my most important test for blog-worthiness: It looks good enough to try tonight.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 7th, 2012

Enter your cookie recipe to win fame and fortune by Sunday night. Vote next week! I made these from Epicurious.com for a church potluck last weekend, and they disappeared in minutes.

We’re looking for your favorite cookie recipe to win a chance at a $250 gift card to Frankie & May Fresh Grocer, 1101 Peninsula Drive. Enter your recipes by Sunday night and readers will vote for their favorites Tuesday through Dec. 16.
The top three vote-getters will be made by bakers at Frankie and May, and GoErie.com food writers Jennie Geisler, Andrew Kochirka and Marnie Mead will taste them Dec. 19.
Runners up will each get $50 gift cards.
Enter your recipes here.

Just here for the food? How about Double-Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies? from Epicurious.com. I tried them, added a few whole chips into the dough. Incredible.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 6th, 2012

Brown Ale Caramel Corn. It would be best just to get it over with.

Don’t blame me. Blame my e-mail. Blame Betty Crocker. Blame the season.
All I know is that it’s not my fault that shortly after falling for a beautiful picture of an 18 Layer Red Velvet Cake, to the point that I printed it out and shared it with Marnie, I fell down a rabbit hole and bumped my head against Brown Ale Caramel Corn.
Now it’ll be weeks before I get it out of said head.
Actually, based on past experience, it’s best if I just take this recipe home and make it as soon as possible to see if I can get it out of my system.
That’s a solid rationalization to start with.
Here are a few more:
Popcorn is a whole grain. Peanuts have protein, even beer is good for you in moderation. It only calls for 1/2 a cup. That’s the very definition of moderation …
So, here’s my story: I was walking around, minding my own business, a cake caught my eye and I fell into a hole, hit my head and woke up with an overwhelming desire to make beer-sweetened popcorn.
It could have happened to anyone. Seriously. Why are you laughing?

Posted in: Uncategorized

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