“They had made two pies–one with satiny pumpkin filling, one with plump pecans–and Maggie showed Holly how to crimp a pie crust. They cut the extra scraps of dough into shapes, sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, and baked them on cookie sheets. ‘My mother calls those scrap cookies,’ Maggie said.”~Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
4 oz dough trimmed from prepared pie crust
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Knead pie crust trimmings into a ball and roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into decorative shapes and transfer to prepared baking tray. Freeze for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Remove cookies from freezer and dust generously with cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Bake cookies until golden and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.
“Twenty-four reindeer burned to a crisp and it was all her fault! Hannah Swensen pulled the smoking cookie sheets from her oven and dumped the contents in the kitchen wastebasket. She should have known she’d never hear her stove timer over Ernie Kusak’s deafening Christmas music” ~Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
1 cup softened, salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot strong coffee
2/3 cup dark molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, mix the softened butter with the granulated sugar.
- Add the half-cup of hot strong coffee and then stir in the dark molasses.
- Mix in the baking soda, salt, ground ginger, ground cloves, and cinnamon. Stir well.
- Add the flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition. Give a final stir and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Divide the dough into four parts for ease of rolling. Roll out the first part of the dough on a floured board, to 1/4 inch thick.
- Dip the cookie cutters in flour and cut out cookies.
- Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving at least an inch and a half between cookies.
- If you are decorating with colored sugar or sprinkles, put them on before baking and press it down just a bit with your fingers. Wait until they are baked and completely cool if you are going to frost.
- Bake 1/4 inch thick cookies at 375 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.
“Afterward, we’d retire to the basement and drink milk and eat Christmas cookies in the shape of angels…The cookies were still warm and doughy, the milk so cold it hurt my teeth” ~Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley
Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- Cream butter. Add sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill.
- Roll 1/8 inch thick on well floured canvas. Cut with plain or fancy cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets.
- Sprinkle with sugar. Decorate before baking or frost and decorate when cool.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Makes about 5 dozen depending on size.
“The Christmas cookie club is always on the first Monday of December. Mark it on your calendar. Twelve of us gather with thirteen dozen cookies wrapped in packages. Homemade, of course.” ~The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
Buttery Pecan Rounds
Pecan halves for top (untoasted)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
- Toast pecan halves at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, rotating every 3 minutes. Cool, then break or chop into small pieces.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Sift the flour and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Mix in the yolk.
- On low, mix in the flour until combined. Mix in the chopped pecans with an electric mixer. Chill for 1 hour.
- Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, drop the batter onto parchment paper lined sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Press a pecan half on top.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Cool completely. Makes 3 dozen.
“Court bouillon, made with carrot, shallot, leek, garlic, celeriac, herbs, water and Muscadet, was the heart and soul of Breton cuisine. Langoustines blossomed in it, and crabs drowned in bliss; skinned duck or vegetables simmered in it to perfection. The stock grew strong with each use and would keep for three days. It formed the base for sauces, and a shot glass of sieved court bouillon could turn a mediocre fish stew into a regular feast.” ~The Little French Bistro by Nina George
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour, browned
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups fish stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
3 lemon slices
1 lb fish (flounder, snapper, and/or shrimp)
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 cups cooked rice
- Cut fish into 3 inch chunks and sprinkle with creole seasoning. Set in fridge.
- Cook veggies in butter until tender.
- Add roux (either use 4 tablespoons flour browned in a pan or oven or make with 4 tablespoons flour browned in 3 tablespoons butter).
- Add bay leaves
- Add stock, tomatoes, other liquid ingredients and salt and pepper. Note: chicken stock or clam juice (or both) can be used if you have no fish stock.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add fish, seasonings, and parsley and simmer gently for 15 more minutes.
- Serve with rice in bowl.
“No time to roast a twenty-pound turkey, obviously, but Luca sautes up some lovely cuts of turkey breast and I preside over a whirlwind group effort to make a Thanksgiving stuffing, as best as I can remember the recipe, made from the crumbs of some high-end Italian bread, with necessary cultural substitutions (dates instead of apricots; fennel instead of celery).” ~Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Italian Sausage Stuffing
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
3 cups low-sodium turkey or chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
16 cups 1/2-inch stale country white bread cubes (1 1/2 pounds)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 6 minutes.
- Add the celery and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage. Add the broth, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the parsley, bread cubes and sausage-broth mixture and stir until combined. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into small cubes and scatter evenly over the stuffing.
- Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until golden, 20 to 30 more minutes.
“She had finally conceived of a recipe for Daniel’s birthday. A venison stew with crushed juniper berries. She smiled. It had everything he loved: rich, meaty flavor, bright, tangy vegetables, and a puckering, fragrant sauce that would make him drool.” ~How to Cook a Tart by Nina Killham
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds venison stew meat
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups water
7 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold water
bottled browning sauce, optional
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Brown meat. Add onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper, and water. Simmer, covered, 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.
- Add potatoes and carrots. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 30-45 minutes.
- Mix flour and cold water; stir into stew. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add browning sauce if desired. Remove bay leaf.
“Later, they eat the blue cheese mashed potatoes out of the pot while standing in front of the stove. Patrick gnaws on a veal chop while Jennifer attacks the spinach salad.” ~Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand
Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds Yukon golden potatoes, washed and quartered
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
- Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and cook until fork tender. Drain well. Add back to the pot that they were cooked in.
- Heat butter and cream until hot. Add the crumbled blue cheese and stir together. Add sauce to potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
“Vickie was the first to grab a plate and was just about to add a dollop of chicken korma when Harrison sailed in, grabbed a plate and shoved her aside. ‘Her ladyship specially requested chicken korma,’ she said, scooping up spoonful after spoonful of the stuff until it was all gone, then topped it with a small mountain of jasmine rice.” ~British Manor Murder by Leslie Meier
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 white onions, peeled and cut into quarters
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large tomatoes, diced small
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
1/2 cup ground raw almonds
1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 a small red chili, de-seeded and minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar (packed
- Drizzle the chicken with the oil and sprinkle on the garam masala, curry powder, salt and pepper. Massage into the meat and cover, leaving to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: place the onions, garlic, and 1 cup of water in the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth.
- Measure out the spices (curry powder through cumin) into a small bowl.
- In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pureed onion mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to darken in color.
- Add the tomatoes, ginger, ground almonds, coconut milk, yogurt, red chili, pre-measured spices, and brown sugar. Stir well.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer 30 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan; simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Served with steamed basmati rice and/or naan.
“And they left him behind in a wind that very faintly smelled of licorice and cotton candy.” ~Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Cotton Candy Puppy Chow
4 cups vanilla chex cereal
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup Betty Crocker cotton candy cookie mix
3/4 cup pink candy melts
3/4 cup blue candy melts
- Measure out the chex cereal placing half in a mixing bowl. Measure out half of the cookie mix and half the powdered sugar and place into a resealable container or a resealable large plastic bag.
- Measure out the candy melts (one color) and melt in the microwave. Set the microwave to 50% and microwave 30 second increments stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Continue until completely melted. Pour melted candy melts over the cereal and stir until the cereal is completely covered.
- Scoop the cereal into the container with the powdered sugar and cookie mix. Make sure it’s closed tightly and give a few good shakes to coat the cereal fully.
- Pour out onto a sheet of wax paper to allow to cool and dry.
- Repeat these steps with the other color of candy melts.
- Store in an air tight container.