Peppermint Kisses…

Well, after a nice long week off, I’m very well-rested and ready to get back to blogging! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family! We sure did! However, I’m feeling QUITE guilty about my pie-intake over the past few days…I’m not proud to admit I’ve pretty much single-handedly polished off two whole pies without help. SO, no more pie for me for awhile….I’ll just switch to cookies! ;)

I’m thrilled to say, I think I’ve just found my new favorite Christmas cookie! These are soft and chewy with the tiniest bit of crunch, and they have a delicate kiss of peppermint flavor- thus their name. They’re absolutely delicious and perfect for the holidays! But what makes these so special?? Why, the use of candy cane flour, of course! Never heard of candy cane flour? That’s because I made it up! ;) When I was finished crushing my peppermints for the topping, I sifted out the dust (it’s a flour/powdered sugar consistency, which is why I deemed it ‘candy cane flour’) and stirred it into my flour/baking powder/salt mixture. It adds a delicate, subtle peppermint flavor without being overpowering- sometimes at Christmas, lots of “pepperminty” things tend to be a little too “pepperminty” for my taste. This was perfect. I even stirred a little of my leftover ‘candy cane flour’ in my coffee this morning! Delicious!

Peppermint Kisses
-basically just an embellished adaptation of Dorie Greenspan’s “Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies”

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup candy cane flour**
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

crushed peppermints, for garnish (about 1/2 cup)
6 ounces (3 squares) white chocolate flavored almond bark or candy coating

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and candy cane flour together.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably one fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy, and malleable.

Drop the dough onto the baking sheets by rounded spoonfuls.
Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheets at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Cool completely.

Heat the almond bark in the microwave in 30-second intervals until melted and creamy. Drizzle over the cooled cookies (I used a ziploc bag with the tip snipped off, but you could also just drizzle with a spoon), then sprinkle with the crushed peppermints.
Makes about 40 cookies.

**Like I noted above, “candy cane flour” is just finely crushed candy canes- you can make it with your food processor or just use a hammer (or rolling pin) and a ziploc bag (which is what I did). Try it in your coffee,  stir it into cookie dough, sprinkle over cakes or even dip the rim of your martini glasses in it for a festive cocktail! So fun! :)

Thanks to Jana, Jeff, Carol and Albert for suggesting the name of these cookies! ;)

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Tate’s Bake Shop Winner…

Thank you all for entering my Tate’s Bake Shop giveaway! It was so nice reading all of your comments about being thankful- incredibly uplifting! And one very lucky reader will receive a delicious package of 3 kinds of awesome, crunchy cookies along with a Tate’s cookbook- just in time for the holidays!! This is one awesome giveaway! Here we go…..

The winner is:

Congratulations, Hayley! I’ll be emailing you shortly with the good news! :) Hope you enjoy these goodies as much as I have!

**And for the rest of you – don’t forget, you can receive 15% off any purchase at Tate’s website with the coupon code: ‘cookie’ through Dec. 15!! Yay! Go now!! I HIGHLY recommend the white chocolate macadamia nut!! SO good! Thanks to you all for entering- check back, because I’m going to be hosting more fun giveaways soon! Woo!

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Giving Thanks…

There are so many things (SO many!) to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. Sometimes it even overwhelms me a little bit just to think how very blessed I am. From the little things like having a wonderful boss and getting along SO well with every single one of my co-workers, being able to have Mondays and Fridays off so I have lots of time for baking and being in my kitchen, having such a great relationship with so many other amazing food bloggers, and the beautiful color of the trees and leaves; to the big things like having the most amazing, supportive, understanding and giving husband- that is something that should never ever be taken for granted, being able to talk to my mom every day on the phone and see my parents often, my sister and her sweet family and all the rest of my wonderful family, a sweet, funny and affectionate little dog who has brought so much joy to our lives, a house that’s always warm and inviting, and secure jobs for Joel and me…to name a very few.

But most importantly, the thing I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving season….the life of my great-grandmother, Leila Hazlett (Baba). I just wrote about her 100th birthday last month- it was a time of joy and celebration, and Baba got to see her entire family and be near them. We all got to spend the afternoon with her laughing, crying, sharing stories and simply being together. I think it was what Baba had been waiting for for a long time. I thank God for that afternoon….it was the last time I got to see Baba. She passed away this weekend. Which brings me to reason I’m so very thankful- Baba is in a place where she doesn’t need a wheelchair; she can run, jump and sing with a heavenly choir, she has no pain, she can taste good food again and walk down streets of gold. After over 20 years of being a widow, she can finally run into her husband’s arms and sit and talk with him every single day…for eternity. But most importantly- Baba is with our Lord. She’s finally in Heaven. Praise God! PRAISE GOD!

So, this Thanksgiving, I am so very, very thankful that our Baba is finally right where she’s wanted to be for a very long time, looking down on us. Happy Thanksgiving, Baba. I love you so much and will always and forever remember what you have given me.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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Goodies For Me AND For You!!

See these sweet, crispy, yummy looking cookies?? These aren’t any regular cookies- they’re Tate’s Bake Shop cookies! Maybe you’ve heard of Tate’s (they’re only the best bakery in Southampton!) and maybe you haven’t- but I can assure you, they have an amazing reputation (many claim that Kathleen’s chocolate chip cookies are the best out there!). They’ve been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and many more. So when I received an email from Elizabeth, asking if I’d be interested in trying out some of their cookies and reviewing the Tate’s cookbook, I didn’t hesitate before emailing back, “YES!”! In no time, I had a gorgeous package of 3 kinds of delicious cookies and a Tate’s Bake Shop cookbook signed by Kathleen herself! Sweet!

As soon as I got my package, it took me about .8 seconds to rip into it and sample those chocolate chip cookies right away (in fact, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t munching on what’s left of them right now….mmm), and let me tell you- these are delicious! Probably the best crispy cookie I’ve ever had! I’ve already blown through the cookbook and found some amazing sounding recipes I absolutely can’t wait to try! The ones that really jumped out at me were the Hummingbird Cake, Apricot Pie, and Nutella Shortbread Sandwich Cookies to name a few (I mean really, don’t those sound amazing?!), and I can tell you Kathleen’s Pumpkin Pie will most definitely be on my Thanksgiving table this year!

But you know the best part about all this??? I have a sweet package for YOU!! That’s right, Tate’s wants to send you the exact package of goodies they sent me- 3 kinds of homemade, delicious cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and white chocolate macadamia nut!) and a shiny new Tate’s Bake Shop cookbook (with a foreward by Ina Garten!)! Aren’t you excited??!!

All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment answering this question: What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving season? (**Earn an extra entry by becoming a fan of Tate’s Facebook fan page- just leave me a separate comment telling me you’ve done so)

You’ll have until midnight Friday, November 26th to enter, then I’ll pick one winner randomly and announce on Saturday. And if you aren’t the lucky winner, don’t worry- all Sing For Your Supper readers will receive %15 off any tatesbakeshop.com purchase now through December 15, 2010 using the coupon code: cookie. I highly recommend the chocolate chip cookies. ;)

Good luck to you all! This is an amazing package and I’m thrilled to add Kathleen King’s brilliant cookbook to my shelf!

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Gingerbread Truffles…

Cake/cookie truffles (or ‘cake balls‘, as they’re more commonly referred to– I’m not a big fan of serving ‘cake balls‘) make some of the best party food. I’m very fond of serving finger foods at parties- it makes mingling so much easier.  And goodies like this are always SO popular! I’ve made cake/cookie truffles many times- just using different ingredients, like different flavors of homemade cookies, different cakes, and now spicy gingerbread. This time around, I started with my great-grandmother’s recipe for gingerbread and mixed in some cream cheese- SO good! I always prefer using the almond bark coating (instead of white chocolate), just because it drys so quickly and creates a great crunchy outer shell. A quick sprinkling of nutmeg and you’ve got a beautiful, totally delicious two-bite treat! Perfect for holiday parties!

Gingerbread Truffles
-gingerbread recipe from my great-grandmother

For the Gingerbread:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup boiling water

Mix together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molassess, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, soda and salt, then add to wet mixture. Stir to combine, then add the boiling water and mix. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until springy. Let cool completely.

You will also need:
1 package almond bark or white candy coating
1 8-oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature
nutmeg, for garnish

When cake is completely cooled, crumble into the bowl of a stand mixer (you could also use a hand mixer for this; even your hands!) and add in the cream cheese. Mix until the cake and cream cheese is totally combined. Roll out into walnut-sized balls and place on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Chill for 1 hour.
Melt the almond bark in the microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring in between, until it is completely smooth. Dip the balls in one at a time (I use a toothpick for this) and coat with the almond bark. Set on a sheet of wax paper and sprinkle with nutmeg. Allow to harden completely. At this point you can serve immediately or freeze for later use.

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My Best Thanksgiving Desserts…

As you can see (this picture was taken two Thanksgivings ago, at my house), desserts are a BIG deal at Thanksgiving in my family. Big. My mom usually makes about six (or more!) different pies. Yes, six. Two pumpkin, two pecan and most importantly, two buttermilk. Not that the other dishes aren’t important…it’s just the pies I tend to start craving a month before Thanksgiving. So, I thought it might be fun to give you a list of my best, most favorite Thanksgiving-inspired desserts. Some of you out there may still be looking for good ideas for your own Thanksgiving tables and I’d love to help out! These recipes are all extremely quick and easy and use ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! Here we go!

Pumpkin and Maple Gingerbread Bundt- incredibly moist and full of great flavors!

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake – pumpkin, fresh cranberries, apples and pecans…this cake literally has it all and it’s wonderful! Great at breakfast, too!

Thanksgiving Two-fer Pie – Dorie Greenspan’s brilliant idea of mixing pumpkin pie and pecan pie to create one gooey, delicious, crunchy, spice-filled pie! Amazing!

Cranberry-Orange Bread – I make this pretty much every Thanksgiving, usually for breakfast the morning of. It’s great with a cup of coffee!

(Low Fat and Low Sugar) No-Bake Turtle Pumpkin Pie – my Aunt Josie’s recipe. Keep it as is for a fantastic low-sugar dessert (seriously- you’d never know!)  or make it with non sugar-free pudding and caramel for an indulgent treat! Seriously, seriously GOOD!

Caramelized Onion-Cranberry Tart with Bacon and Gorgonzola – this one actually doesn’t count as a dessert, but I had to include it because it’s so GOOD! A perfect compliment to your Thanksgiving meal- it’s tart, crumbly, slightly sweet and full of so much amazing flavor! I LOVE this one!

Pumpkin Cranberry Walnut Bread – one of my favorite allrecipes.com recipes gets a teensy face-lift with cranberries and walnuts. Another great breakfast treat!

Buttermilk Pie – my great-grandmother’s famous recipe. No one has ever been able to resist it. It’s sweet, creamy, buttery and extremely rich. A Southern classic.

Vermont Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting – and finally, my favorite. This cake is not only impressive and gorgeous, it’s insanely delicious. I adore the combination of the dense pumpkin cake with the cool maple cream cheese frosting…an absolute dream! This has quickly become one of the all-time most popular recipes on Sing For Your Supper! It won’t disappoint!

So there you have it- my very best Thanksgiving desserts! I hope you’ll be able to find something you might like to add to your own Thanksgiving table this year! Happy Baking!

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Man Pleasin’ Buttermilk Pie…

Continuing with my Thanksgiving-inspired week, I’ll post every man’s favorite: buttermilk pie.  It really is man pleasin’. Really. Every male that has ever eaten this pie has gone ape for it. I don’t know if it’s the sugary-sweet filling or the creamy, buttery texture, but men seriously adore buttermilk pie. In fact, the primary reason I’m posting this right now is because my friend Michael recently sent me a text saying, “you need to make buttermilk pie!” Done and DONE, Mikey! It’s a holiday staple in our family, too. There has never been a holiday get-together that didn’t include this pie. In fact, every Thanksgiving and Christmas my mom is sure to make extra so that my dad will be able to have plenty of leftovers. This is one of Baba’s most famous and requested recipes and I’m so proud and happy to post it here for you. Make this part of your Thanksgiving dessert table- trust me.

Baba’s Buttermilk Pie
-old family recipe (really, really old!)
*makes 2  9-inch pies

2 9-inch pie crusts, unbaked
3 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
**a little lemon zest and a squeeze of juice is a nice addition, but my dad hates lemon in his buttermilk pies, so we’ve never really done it. I did this time and it really adds a nice, subtle tartness.

Mix sugar, flour and salt. Add eggs, butter, buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into two unbaked pie crusts and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees (check them at 50 minutes- if they’re too jiggly put them back in for a few more minutes. They shouldn’t jiggle very much at all when they’re done). If the tops are getting too brown, cover loosely with foil for the remainder of baking time. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Now, to those of you thinking, “what the heck?! Buttermilk?!” Don’t worry- there isn’t even the slightest hint of buttermilk taste. It’s just sweet, thick, and buttery. A delicious Southern tradition. Man, it’s so great to live in the South. ;)

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WOOO! It’s Thanksgiving food time! Now is the time everyone is planning menus, gathering delicious new recipes to try and calling their grandmas for the old tried and true recipes they just HAVE to have. So in honor of all that, I’ve decided to share a couple of excellent, easy Thanksgiving recipes with you this week. Starting with stuffing. Now, let’s get one thing straight- I am a Southerner. We don’t do ‘stuffing’; we do ‘dressing’. Made with cornbread. And we don’t put anything snooty in it, either. None of this Yankee-fied “chestnuts and sausage” business. Very straight-forward and very, very delicious. BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t experiment with some delicious ideas before Thanksgiving! I do realize that the majority of my reader enjoy what my family calls “Yankee Stuffing”, and I need to stretch my boundaries a little, SO I made you some Yankee stuffing. It’s pretty good, too….for Yankee stuffing. ;)

Sourdough Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Cranberries
-by me
(this only makes one 9 inch pan- you may want to double or triple it for a large crowd)

1 loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
1 small green apple, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 teaspoons dried, ground sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups chicken broth

In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in a little olive oil for about 15-20 minutes, or until soft and caramelized. Stir in the apples and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes (you don’t want the apples to get mushy- just fairly soft).
In a large bowl, combine the bread, onion/apple mixture, cranberries, sage and salt and pepper. Pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish then pour the chicken broth over the mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.

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Maple-Walnut Shortbread…

Listen up, dear readers, because I’m going to tell you how to be the most popular guy at work: bring cookies. Often. Think about it- everybody’s face immediately lights up when you announce, “I brought cookies!”, then they ‘ooh and ahh’ and talk about how delicious they are. Yep, nothing brightens up your co-workers’ work days like a fresh, homemade cookie. Cookies like these! I found these in Martha Stewart’s ‘Cookies’ and was intrigued by the use of maple syrup (I’ve really been into maple flavored treats lately!). They’re so crisp and delicious- my coworkers really, really enjoyed them! The coarse sugar on the top really adds an extra special touch, I think. These would be great after dinner with coffee or a hot cup of tea. Very delicate and all-around tasty.

Maple-Walnut Shortbread
-slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts (about 2 1/4 ounces), finely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Into a medium bowl, sift flours and salt. Whisk in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and light, about one minute. Add the maple syrup and egg yolk; beat on medium speed until well combined. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Dough should be smooth and pliable. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out rounds using a two-inch cookie cutter; place one inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle the entire surface with coarse sugar.
Bake cookies, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to four days. Makes approximately 2 dozen.

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No-Bake Turtle Pumpkin Pie…

Let me start off by saying, this pie is delicious. Really, really delicious. Surprisingly delicious. After one taste, I sat there and finished off the entire slice before I was even finished photographing it! But before I go on any further, there’s something you should know about this pie. Here’s an email I recently received from a very, very sweet reader:

Amy,  I’m one of your faithful followers and would like to make a request of you.  We just recently found out that my dad is suffering from Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the blood) and one of the side effects is diabetes.  My dad loves his sweets and it’s been a little hard for him to make such a drastic adjustment to his diet. I would like to make him a tasty dessert that he would not believe was diabetic friendly.  So now my request; sometime in the future could you post a diabetic recipe that I could make for my dad?  I know that I can probably find literally thousands of recipes on the internet, but they wouldn’t have the thought and love put into them.  Plus, if you make it and post it I know it will be AWESOME! Thanks so much for all the care you put into your blog.  You are a very special person.  Thanks again, Sheila

After reading Sheila’s touching email, there was absolutely NO way I was going to disappoint her. I immediately set out to find the most delicious, satisfying, ‘never-know-it’s-sugar-free’ recipe. That’s right. This pie is diabetic-friendly. And I am proud to say….YOU’D NEVER KNOW IT. After getting Sheila’s email, I emailed my Aunt Josie and got her best sugar-free recipe. My cousin Travis has diabetes, so Aunt Josie is a rockstar when it comes to flavorful, sugar-free cooking/baking. This pie is her favorite and now I can see why! It’s super easy, takes literally no time to put together and the pumpkin and spices really shine! What a crowd-pleaser! And just in time for Thanksgiving! So Sheila, I really hope your dad enjoys this pie…I sure enjoyed making it for you!

No-Bake Turtle Pumpkin Pie
-my Aunt Josie’s recipe

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar free caramel ice cream topping, divided
1 graham cracker pie crust
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pecan pieces, divided
1 cup cold 1% milk
2 packages (4-serving size) vanilla sugar-free, fat-free instant pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tub (8 ounce) light whipped topping, thawed, divided

Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping into crust; sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans.
Beat milk, pudding mixes, pumpkin, and spices with whisk until blended. Gently fold in 1 1/2 cup whipped topping. Spread into crust.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Top with remaining whipped topping and 2 tablespoons pecans. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons caramel topping.

Nutritional analysis: (per one slice)
Calories – 165
Fiber – 2.7
Protein – 2
Total fat – 7
Carbohydrate – 23

**Josie notes that this pie is still a little high in carbs. So you might not want to go crazy and eat the whole thing yourself. ;)

Mmm, just look at all that caramel oozing out…..*drool* Sheila, I sincerely hope this recipe makes your dad happy! And thank you for challenging me to try something outside of my comfort zone. I’m proud to say this is my very first diabetic-friendly recipe on Sing For Your Supper; hopefully there will be many more to come! Happy baking!

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