December 22, 2010

Spinach, Pear and Parmesan Salad

This is a great salad to serve during the holidays.

8 cups fresh baby spinach
2 Bosc pears, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
2 oz. Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine spinach, pears, and cheese. For dressing whisk together vinegar, mustard, 1 tsp. each sugar and salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in oil. Drizzle on salad and pass remaining. Makes 8 servings.  

November 25, 2010

Raspberry Chiffon Pie

I made two raspberry chiffon pies today to bring to Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom's house.  She requested one, but my brother is flying in from Seattle and it's one of his favorites (and my all-time favorite), so I thought it was safer to make two :)

It's a bit tedious to make, with several steps, but it's so worth it.  I don't remember where my version of the recipe originated.  I looked online just now and was surprised at how many versions exist. 

Raspberry Chiffon Pie

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes for pie crust

Ingredients (makes 1 pie)
  • one pie crust (I recommend my grandma's pie crust recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups raspberries (12oz package, if using frozen)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (scant)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Bake pie crust unfilled for 8-10 minutes at 475 degrees. Then cool on wire rack.
  • If using frozen berries, defrost berries in the microwave or overnight in the fridge.
  • In a large bowl, add raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice, then mash with a potato masher. Let berry mixture stand 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan stir together 1/4 cup sugar, water and the gelatin over medium heat. Stir occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes, until sugar and gelatin dissolve. Cool for 10 minutes.
  • Stir cooled gelatin mixture into the raspberry mixture. Then chill to the consistency of corn syrup, stirring occasionally. Remove from refrigerator.
  • Immediately begin beating the egg whites, with a whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating till stiff peaks forms. Then fold stiff-beaten egg whites into raspberry mixture.
  • Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form and then fold into raspberry mixture.
  • Chill till mixture mounds when spooned. Pile mixture into baked pastry shell. Chill pie 8 hours or until firm.
Recipe Notes
  • I've made this pie many times now and have found it's not critical to follow the directions exactly...soft peaks, stiff peaks, it always tastes the same no matter how carefully prepared - delicious!
  • This recipe uses raw egg whites - use caution in consuming raw eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness.
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November 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

This is one of my favorites but until today I had never made them.  Peanut Butter Blossoms are probably the more traditional peanut butter Christmas cookie but I don't like chocolate, so I prefer Reese's peanut butter cups over Hershey kisses, where peanut butter masks the chocolate taste :)

The recipe made exactly 40 cookies, as it said it would, however the deceptive people at Reese's did not include 40 peanut butter cups in the bag I purchased (despite the nutrition label stating the bag contained 40).  So I got to try a few cookies sans peanut butter cup and they were really, really good.  In fact, I think I prefer the plain peanut butter cookie.  However, that's probably only because I don't like chocolate.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2.Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.

3.Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well.

4.Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.

5.Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

After the pan cooled a bit (about 2 minutes), I put the pan in the freezer to solidfy the chocolate.

After 10 minutes in the freezer, the cookies can easily be removed from the pan.  I used a paring knife to lift each cookie.

November 14, 2010


Thumbprints are definitely a family favorite.  I've never had them with jelly as the original recipe calls for, only with frosting which my family dyed red and green each Christmas season.  I've had several this evening, and they are delicious straight from the freezer :)

The recipe is on page 124 of my 1998 version of the "Betty Crocker New Cookbook."  However, I also found the online version below of the same recipe.  I made a double batch, and wish I had quadrupled it because it would have easily fit in my standard-size stand mixer.

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts

1.Heat oven to 350ºF.

2.Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolk in medium bowl. Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together.

3.Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white. Roll in nuts. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb deeply in center of each.

4.Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Fill thumbprints with frosting.


After making gingersnaps yesterday, I've decided they're much easier and just as delicious as gingerbread men.  So this will be on my holiday baking list going forward in lieu of gingerbread men...until I have kids, then I may revert back :)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Additional sugar

1.In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

2.Roll into 1-in. balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks.