Monday, December 31, 2012

Thumbprint cookies, Take 2

The thumbprint cookies went over great. Well, only maybe a dozen were consumed at my staff party but the rest were consumed by yours truly and the husband. Though Mr A could eat them too and I did offer him at most, one a day, he didn't really want them. He'd take a bite, then leave the rest. What??!! He actually asked for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies though.

Should I be proud or offended or flattered?

Anyways, I've been thinking about my mom. She always asks for some baked goods this time of year and I'm happy to oblige. When I was a kid, she made these butter cookies with bits of jam in the middle. She had this cookie press which extruded cookies in shapes of stars, flowers, trees, etc. In some ways, these cream cheese thumbprint cookies remind me of my mom's butter cookies. Her cookies had a hint of almond extract in them, so instead of the standard vanilla, I also chose to go with almond flavoring as well.

Now let's talk toppings... I was considering using the grapefruit marmalade that I got in my September FFP box, but was worried about the liquor component... I think my mom is actually allergic, whereas I simply lack the proper enzyme reaction for alcohol breakdown. My mom breaks out into a rash when she's consumed alcohol. This includes stuff like NyQuil. Luckily, we had some orange marmalade in the fridge, so I went with that.

I also bought these caramel Hershey's Kisses. I love the peanut butter blossom cookies but with Mr A's peanut allergies, I dare not make those, but I thought I could still use kisses with this thumbprint dough. And it worked very nicely! I suspected it would not be a good idea to put the kisses on for the entire back time. Fortunately, I just did one, which melted messily like an erupted volcano. I put the rest of the chocolates on after taking the cookies out of the oven but even then, that was too hot. Some of them melted down too much from the carry over heat. They just didn't look right, but all I did was swirled the chocolate a bit and back to pretty and can't wait to eat you status!

Recipe for thumbprint cookies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Egg Free Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

There's no school today, due to "police activity" at the neighboring high school.  Pretty crazy.  But I'm taking the day as a mental health day for me and I'm going to spend time with my family.  I caught up with some laundry, met the hubby at work for lunch, and am just enjoying my kids.  And did I mention baking cookies?

I've been eying thumbprint cookies for a while now.  I have a holiday party tomorrow and I wanna bring cookies, so this is what I'm bringing!  These cookies just look so cute and well, they're just plain delicious too. I've Googled lots of recipes and I was pretty sure I wanted an egg free recipe for Mr A and you can't go wrong with cream cheese.  Saucy Spirit's version hit the mark.  No egg, no nuts, easy peasy.
Now a few other tips that made this possibly the fastest cookie making experience ever...  Use a scoop.  I love my little scoop.  I have no idea what the measurement is, but it's exactly a mini muffin and makes perfect little cookies.  Second, instead of using your thumb to make the indentation, use a wine cork.  I just read this recently on one of the food blogs I read.  If I ever figure out which one it is, I will reference back, I promise!  There are a bunch of these corks lying around my house because the husband just leaves them random places.  Finally!  I good use for them.  Just roll dough into little balls, then press the cork end in, make a corner turn, and remove.  Perfecto!

Now let's talk jam.  You can use any jam you'd like.  I happened to have a lovely jar of homemade strawberry jam that my mom made.  We're not big jam eaters here...  Well, let me rephrase, I think Mr A would eat a whole lot more jam if we let him.  But we don't have jam all that often.  This homemade jam has been in my fridge since summer, I think, unopened, so still totally good.  What better use than cookies?!

Last few comment about the cookies.  The dough can be a little crumbly, so when you make the indentation, will dough occasionally separates slightly.  Make sure to reconnect the dough so that the well for the jam doesn't flow out.  Baking on a silicon mat or on parchment paper is great for clean up, especially if some of the jam overflows.

Egg Free Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

adapted from Saucy Spirits

1/2 c butter
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c cream cheese
1/4 t almond or vanilla extract (optional)
2 c flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter, sugar and cream cheese. Add in almond or vanilla extract if desired.
  3. Mix in flour, stir until completely blended together.
  4. Use a little scoop, then roll into 1-1.5 inch balls on a silicone mat or parchment paper. Press your thumb (or use a wine cork) down in the middle of each ball to flatten it and leave a little pocket for the jelly.
  5. Fill each cookie with the jelly of your choice and place in oven for 16-18 minutes, or until cookie is lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crockpot Corned Beef

Over the summer, I had lunch with my husband at a little pub / bar near his work.  They specialize in pastrami.  My husband had a reuben sandwich.  I had a cobb salad with pastrami and we shared "goofy fries".  Oh man!  I think about these fries all the time.  Fresh cut french fries, tossed with garlic, covered in a ooey-gooey fresh cheese sauce (not velveeta or the movie theater kind), and topped with chopped pastrami.  Ahhhh...  My mouth is watering as I remember the yummy goodness.

I think about going back all the time, but alas, have not made it.  But fear not!  I have made attempts at recreating the goofy fries masterpiece.

Part 1: Corned Beef (not quite pastrami, but will do)
This morning, I tossed a corned beef brisket into my crockpot on low with about 3 cups of water.  When I got home, I turned it off and scraped some of the fat off.  When I took it out about an hour later, it shredded as I was cutting it.  Yum.

Part 2: Cheese Sauce - inspired by Pinch of Yum
For the cheese sauce, over medium-low heat, heat 3 T milk and 1 oz cream cheese. Whisk until smooth (add another splash of milk if needed) and add 1/8 t garlic powder, and 1/8 t salt until smooth. When smooth, add 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese. Whisk until smooth, adding more milk to thin out the sauce to your desired consistency.

Part 3: Fries - I like to use Trader Joe's Handsome Cut French Fries.  12-14 minutes in the toaster oven at 425 and you're good to go!

  1. Toss cooked fries with some salt and garlic powder if desired.
  2. Top with cheese sauce.
  3. Add chopped corned beef on top.

Sorry!  No pics at the moment because I could not be bothered to take pictures because these wanna be goofy fries were that good, no great, no fantastic.  :)  Will update later (hopefully).