Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino – Surf and Turf in a bowl

Easy and Hearty Stew

Let’s start with a cooking lesson from a real French culinary expert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5t3Iuoln2WQ 

Cooking with Sabrina - How to Crack and Egg

Cooking with Sabrina – How to Crack and Egg

We’ve been watching a lot of Audrey Hepburn classics lately. She is such a lady. In one of her first films Sabrina (1954), Audrey Hepburn plays the love-sick daughter of a chauffeur. Unnocticed and heartbroken by the wealthy David Larrabee (William Holden), Sabrina is sent to Paris to attend cooking school. She is not the most skilled student in class. Her broken heart is a distraction to cracking eggs correctly and baking beautiful souffles. She writes to her father that she thought stews and soups were hard, but the sauces proved even more difficult. She almost flunked her sauce exam.

Sabrina Fairchild - A sophisticated lady with a cooking degree from Paris

 

We both have been Sabrina while cooking. Maybe not heartbroken, but distracted by our own thoughts which leads to burnt sauces and over-whipped batters. A disaster!

This Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino can withstand the mindless mistakes of the distracted chef. Even broken-hearted Sabrina would have bedazzled her scrutinizing teacher with this stew.

We prepared this stew for our annual holiday dinner with long time family friends, the Conroys. It is the perfect meal for entertaining because everything can be done ahead of time that way you can make sure to enjoy sipping champagne and chatting with your friends…and they won’t seem like distractions. We prepared the stew 2 hours before our friends arrived and then reheated it on the stove an hour before serving. It was hearty and satisfying, and required no French culinary instruction. Any Sabrina can make it!

Happy double dipping!

 

Recipe Adapted from Weeknights with Giada

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 large or 4 small shallots, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage turkey links, casings removed
  • 2 cups dry white wine (we used chardonnay)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped thyme leaves

Method

  1. In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, shallots, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened (about 4 minutes).
  2. Add the sausage and break into ½ inch pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the wine and scrape the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil and thyme. Simmer uncovered, until the shrimp is pink and cooked through (about 4 minutes).
  5. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with fresh French bread to double dip and enjoy!

Orange Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Merry Christmas Eve to all! We wanted to share one last treat with you before the big dance tomorrow, Christmas day! This year we are going over to our uncle’s house to celebrate Christmas with family and of course…food. We were asked to bring a dessert to share and saw this to-die-for orange gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting on Joy the Baker and knew our little cousins (and big uncles) would eat this right up. As we were digging through the cupboard for the 8×8 baking pan we came across the perfect cake pan. Yes, what you see featured above is a cake pan in the shape of a Christmas tree! Cake in the shape of a Christmas tree is infinitely better than cake in a regular shaped pan. Ok, you can’t really taste a difference so don’t fret, you won’t have a blue Christmas if you must resort to using a normal cake pan. We decorated the tree with pomegranates and green sprinkles and topped it with a yellow star. This gingerbread cake tastes and looks like Christmas. So, if you’re searching for one more treat to bake this orange gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting is the winner.

Recipe

Orange Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – adapted from joythebaker.com

makes 9 generous pieces in an 8×8-inch square pan

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsulphered molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup warm water

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese frosting, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (plus half of a scraped vanilla bean if you’d like)
  • pomegranate seeds for garnish

Method

  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8-inch square (or 9-inch round) baking pan.  Line with parchment paper and grease and flour the parchment paper.  The parchment paper isn’t entirely necessary, it just makes the cake easier to remove from the pan.  Set pan aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs until thick and pale.  Stir in molasses, honey, and orange zest.
  4. Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the wet ingredients.  Stir together until entirely incorporated.  Add the warm water and gently stir until entirely incorporated and the mixture is silky smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  If you find that the mixture fills the pan more than three-quarters of the way full, you might consider using a larger pan (a 9 or 10-inch pan may serve your better).
  6. Bake cake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. While the cake bakes, make the cream cheese frosting.In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese (yea… just the cream cheese) on medium speed.  The cream cheese should be as soft and smooth as possible.  Stop the mixer.  Add the softened butter.  Scraped down the sides of the bowl and beat the two together over medium speed until smooth and incorporated.  Add one cup of powdered sugar.  Blend until incorporated.  Add vanilla extract (and bean, if using) and remaining cup of powdered sugar.  Beat on medium high speed until frosting is smooth and silky.
  8. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting the cake.  Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving.
  9. Serve as a Christmas treat and enjoy!

*This cake can be stored, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.  

 

The Great Christmas Cookie Rescue of 2012 – Tasty, Merry and Quick Cookie Recipes

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We have anxiously been awaiting the delivery of Cook Ise’s famous Christmas cookies. Cook Ise is the fabulous cook at the Church camp we attended for 8 years growing up. Besides making a mean mac’n cheese in the summer, Ise bakes heavenly cookies that we drool over each December. Our favorites include Russian teacakes and classic gingerbread men. But the best are her chocolate gingerbread Loon cookies. Yes, you read that right. Cookies in the shape of our state bird, the loon. So Minnesotan. So great.

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But this year our order got lost in the mail. Oh no! A Christmas cookie nightmare! On top of this, we did not realize that our loons and gingerbread men were lost until today when we called Cook Ise, hoping to hear that they had just made a short stop to see Santa on the journey to our front door. But alas, there was no such Christmas miracle. The Grinch stole our order.

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There was a moment of panic in our household. No gingerbread men? No loons? What were we dippers to do?

We strapped on our aprons and preheated the oven. Got out our spatulas and blasted Christmas music. One day before Christmas guests arrived…it was game time.

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Four hours later the cookie containers were filled to the brim with…

Maple walnut spice cookies

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Classic gingerbread cookies (men, stars, and trees!) And unlike many gingerbread recipes, this recipe did not require the dough to be refrigerated for hours. A quick fix that was perfect for the cookie rescue mission.

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 To finish, we whipped up dark chocolate walnut biscotti. Perfect for dipping in coffee or into a hot toddy.

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Christmas 2012 is saved.

Merry Christmas! Happy double dipping!

Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies– adapted from eatliverun.com

makes about 4 dozen large man-shaped cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, molasses, ground cloves, white pepper, cinnamon and ginger in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil on the stove for about three minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Take pot off the stove and add the baking soda (this is the exciting part!!!). Stir well.
  4. Add the butter, adding only a few chunks at a time and stirring well so each addition melts before the next. Add the egg and stir.
  5. Finally, add the flour and salt. The dough will be very soft and still warm, but roll out on a floured covered surface. Cut with cookie cutters or use a large glass to make regular shaped cookies.
  6. Bake for twelve minutes.
  7. Enjoy with family and friends!

Maple Walnut Spice Cookies – adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir well with a whisk.
  3. Place brown sugar and ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add maple syrup and egg; beat until well blended.
  4. Beating at low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
  5. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on non-stick baking sheet. Using thumb, press down middle of cookie and place a few toasted walnuts in indent.
  6. Bake for 14 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from baking sheet and let cool for 10 mintues.
  8. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Walnut Biscotti – adapted from Martha Stewart

makes about 24 biscotti

  • Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for work surface
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a baking sheet with oil; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Add to flour mixture; stir just until combined.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, with floured hands, pat dough into a loaf about 1 inch thick, 2 1/2 inches wide (and about 7 inches long); transfer to baking sheet. Bake until risen and firm, 20 to 25 minutes; cool completely on sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  4. Place loaf on a cutting board, and using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices; place slices in a single layer on sheet. Bake, turning once, until dried and slightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes; cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.
  5. Enjoy with coffee or hot apple cider!

Loaded Holiday Apple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Oh the weather outside is frightful! (15 inches of snow!) But the cookies are so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go, bake the cookies, eat the cookies, let it snow! (and eat the cookies some more) 

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15 inches of snow means it’s time to turn on the oven and bake up some holiday cheer! We sang along with Bing Crosby and made these delightful loaded holiday apple oatmeal raisin cookies with toasted walnuts and sweetened with maple syrup. That is holiday cheer in the form of a cookie.  

 

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Norwegian Babushka agrees. She devoured a few…or was that us?

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So as you are warm and cozy inside your home and avoiding shoveling your driveway, (because really, what is the point of shoveling if you have an amazing neighbor who will do it for you if you wait just long enough?) make some cookies for yourself…and to share with your kind neighbor.

Happy snow. Happy double dipping!

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Recipe

Makes 13 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ rolled oats
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup apple sauce (or 1 medium apple)*
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup maple syrup

*We made our own apple sauce. See below for method.

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Peel and chop apple, and sprinkle with cinnamon. In a medium sauce pan over low heat, simmer apple slices until soft. Place in food processor (or blender) and process until smooth, leaving some chunks.
  3. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  4. In a medium bowl combine wet ingredients.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together.
  6. Using a spoon (or your hands), form dough into 13 round balls and place on baking sheet.
  7. Bake in oven for 14-15 minutes.
  8. Serve with holiday spirit and enjoy!

Deck the Halls

 

It’s the Holiday Season and we’ve been busy decking the halls this weekend!

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We got our Christmas tree yesterday, a tall frasier fIr that actually fit through the door this year!

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We played Christmas music as we decorated and recalled the stories behind each ornament that we hung…the hand painted ornaments that we received each year from Grandma Patty, the yellow lab ornament we got for our puppy Kipper, the Lands’ End snowflake ornament we received in the mail in 1997 for being great customers (oh yeah, we rocked the Lands’ End style in the ’90s), and the giant, shiny, jewel-studded camel head ornament E got as a gift from her Secret Santa in high school (such a classy ornament).

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Now that our halls are decked we are ready to dip into holiday treats! Expect more to come!

Happy decking the halls! Happy double dipping!