Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just in Time for Christmas: Jennifer's Orange Salad

Knitting friend Jennifer Ashworth made this delicious Orange Salad for the WiNKS Christmas Party and Beedle's Open House last Saturday. Fresh and clean tasting, it's a perfect foil for heavier fare. What a great dish for Christmas dinner!

•4 ripe medium oranges, peeled
•1 small red onion, sliced very thin
•2 tablespoons sherry vinegar [Jennifer used pear vinegar]
•6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil [Jennifer thinks that's a bit too much - see what you think]
•1/2 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
•Sea salt and black pepper to taste [don't be shy]
•3 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, then drained
•15 to 20 black olives, pitted
•2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts [toasted in the oven in a baking dish]
•2 tablespoons blanched almonds [optional]
•Fresh parsley and mint, chopped


1. Remove pith from oranges and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange on a serving platter and scatter very thinly sliced red onion on top. [Jennifer built her triple recipe in - you guessed it - triple layers.]
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Spoon over the onion and oranges.
3. Sprinkle with raisins, olives, chopped walnuts, and almonds. Garnish with parsley and mint.

Chill a couple of hours - serve with a flourish
The tripled recipe will serve a large group, 10-12

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Simple Chicken Supper: Clara's Chicken

My knitting group had a lovely, lovely holiday-themed gathering last night at the beautiful home of Beedle Hinely (of biscotti fame!). As my contribution to the goodies, I made my favorite chicken dish that's super easy. If you have a houseful of guests or family,or need something to take to a potluck,  this recipe can be doubled or tripled without any problem ... or time!
It's delectable, super-simple, and has the taste of something you've slaved over all day to make. My kind of recipe!

this recipe was given to me by my mother's late lifelong best friend and partner in decades of crime, Clara Albrecht. She was a treasure!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices Swiss cheese

Place boneless breasts in a well buttered 7 X 11 baking pan/casserole and top with the Swiss cheese slices.

1 cup sour cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup sherry wine
1 can cream of chicken soup

Whisk together the sour cream, wine and soup and pour over the breasts.

1 1/2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing crumbs
6 tblsp. butter, melted

Blend crumbs and butter well and sprinkle densely over the soup mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

That's it. Honest. This takes all of 10 minutes to prepare! You have plenty of time to whip up an impressive dessert, or make an elaborate salad and veggie dish.

Doubled, make in a 9 X 13 pan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Holiday Classic: The Best Biscotti!

Love a dry cookie for dipping in coffee or enjoying with tea? My friend Beedle bakes up this biscotti recipe each holiday season, and with good reason: It's not too sweet, but still satisfying, with overtones of caramel complimented by a buttery rich toasty pecan flavor. This is destined to become one of our favorites, too, I predict.

Beedle’s Pecan Biscotti

Carmelize Pecans:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¾ cup chopped pecans

In a heavy skillet, melt butter over low heat and stir in dark brown sugar, cooking very slowly for a couple of minutes. Add pecans, stir, and turn up heat slightly, shaking and stirring pecans in skillet often, allowing butter and sugar to coat nuts completely and to caramelize. Remove from heat, and spread nuts on a sheet of foil or parchment paper to cool.

For Biscotti Dough:

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz.) butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, blend well, then add eggs one at a time, mixing between additions.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture, mixing until just blended. Gently stir in carmelized pecans.

Divide dough in half. Grease and flour a baking sheet, and pat out two logs, 1 1/2 inches wide,  ½ inch high and 14 inches long at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes, then slice logs at a 45 degree angle into 3/8” slices. Lay slices flat on the baking sheet, and return to the oven for 10 minutes, turning them over once, to dry slightly. Remove from oven and cool on racks completely, at least an hour. Store in airtight containers.

Makes 3 ½ to 4 dozen biscotti 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Classics: Pizzelles, Butterballs, Peanut Butter Blossoms

Now that it's December, officially holiday season, it's time to post some of the other requisite Christmas cookies we make each year, as requested by my eldest daughter, Julia. My sister-in-law, Debbie, makes the BEST pizzelles, and we use her recipe as our standard. We also never fail to make my mom's Butterball recipe, sometimes as balls and sometimes as crescents. And who doesn't love the peanut butter cookie with the  chocolate kisses in them?


6 eggs
1 cup Wesson vegetable oil or Mazola corn oil
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1 tblsp. anise seed
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla

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

Beat the oil and sugar together, and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients gradually, then anise seed and vanilla. Bake in preheated pizzelle iron until pale golden or until steaming dies down ( matter of 30 seconds =/-). Makes 4 dozen. 


not one Christmas in my lifetime has passed without these!

1 cup butter (2 sticks, or 8 oz.), room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. water, room temp
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
powdered sugar for coating cookies (about 2 cups)

Cream the butter and sugar, add water and vanilla nad beat well. Add flour and blend well. Add pecans, mix until just incorporated. Shape into small balls or roll into small logs with tapered ends and bend into crescents, and bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 325 degrees for 20 about 20 minutes. Bottoms should be pale golden. Cool slightly, then roll in powdered sugar until well coated, and place on racks to cool completely. 
Makes 4 dozen crescents or 5 dozen balls.


from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion book

1/2 cup (1 stick, or 4 oz.) unsalted butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar, plus additional for coating dough
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tblsp. milk (2% or whole, not nonfat!)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
7 ounces (48) chocolate kisses, unwrapped 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter together until well blended. Add the sugars, and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk, baking soda, salt and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the flour on low speed, mixing well to incorporate. 
Shape the dough into 1" balls and roll them in granulated sugar. Place the balls on the baking sheets.  
Bake for 10 mins. or until a very pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and IMMEDIATELY press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Work quickly! Cool slightly, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Makes 48 cookies.