Ring in the New Year with a French 75!



Even though it may sound like a dainty little drink, this potent marriage of gin and bubbly is name after a giant gun ~ the French 75mm gun  ~ used in the First World War.  Evidently the cocktail was rumored to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful field gun right in the gut.  


The Canon de 75 modèle 1897 the source of the name of the cocktail


Simply named 75 (Soixante Quinze in French), the original recipe differed slightly in that it was served over cracked ice in a tall glass, similar to a Tom Collins, with champagne replacing the soda. 

An early form of the French 75 was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris.  Years later in 1942, it was popularized in America at the Stork Club in New York City, and appeared in the cult classic movie “Casablanca” that same year.   It is referenced twice in the John Wayne films A Man Betrayed (1941) and Jet Pilot (1957.) 

Combine gin with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne, and cracked ice; shake and strain into a champagne flute, top with champagne, add a lemon twist for garnish, and…




Voila! 
A French 75! 






Ring in 2018 with this classy cocktail!




Cheers!

French 75

A potent marriage of dry gin and bubbly.

ingredients:

  • 1½ OUNCES London dry GIN
  • ¾ OUNCE LEMON JUICE
  • ½ OUNCE SIMPLE SYRUP
  • 3 OZ CHAMPAGNE

instructions:

  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain into a champagne flute.
  2. Top with 3 oz of champagne and serve with a lemon peel for garnish.





Have a safe
&
Happy New Year!





Have a Very Merry Christmas!







A silent night,

a star above

a blessed gift

of hope and love.

Here’s wishing

a very

Merry Christmas

to you and yours!





Eat, Drink & Be Merry,
Pam







Cream Cheese Cut-out Christmas Cookies



From the time Billy and Matt were little boys, this was the cookie they had to have every Christmas, not only for them to eat, but for Santa to enjoy with his glass of milk on Christmas Eve. 

I had no problem baking them; however, there was a catch:  they had to help with the decorating.  Cookie decorating is definitely not my thing.  I use cookie cutters rarely and forget piping bags, I have no patience for them at all.  



 I warned you, ☺ about my cookie decorating, 
but they make up for it in deliciousness!

Santa's, angels, snowmen, candy canes, reindeer, stars, Christmas trees and bells covered the table  ~ plenty of cookies to keep them busy decorating for a good while on a wintry afternoon.  I mixed icing with red and green food coloring, handed them each a knife and we decorated away.  Colored sugar was scattered everywhere, they did a great job, and what a fun mess we made! 

Sadly, those days are long gone, and now this is my go to cut-out cookie recipe.  These cookies are easy to make, although the dough needs to refrigerate for an hour.  Easy to make, delicious to eat, just not so pretty to look at now that I do all the decorating myself...

Cream cheese is the little secret ingredient here that makes these cut-out cookies easy to handle and adds a little tang to complement the sweetness.






I like them rolled out on the thin side and nice and crisp, with just a very slight touch of golden color on the bottom and sides when they come out of the oven.  If you roll them out thicker, they have a softer cookie texture. 

So ~ turn on your favorite Christmas tunes and bake and decorate to your hearts content!

The aroma is wonderful as they bake...

Cream Cheese Cut-out Cookies
Printable recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese
2¼ cups flour
1¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Icing:
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Milk
Food coloring, optional
Sprinkles

Method for the dough:
Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed.
Add half of flour, then sugar, egg, salt and extracts.
Beat on low speed until combined.
Beat in the remaining flour on low speed.
Divide dough in half, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to ¼” thick.
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Arrange on baking sheets.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.
Transfer to write rack and cool completely.

Method for the icing:
Beat together sugar, butter and cream cheese in small bowl.
Add extracts.
Stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing is of spreading consistency.
Add food coloring if desired.
Decorate cookies with icing and sprinkles.
Makes about 2 dozen




Enjoy!





Delicious Bars ~ Coconut Chews!


I love coconut—
the more,
the better!




A sweet coconut filling layered on a buttery shortbread crust, spread over all, a tangy orange-lemon frosting…

This is a simple bar to make for any coconut lover, and is one of the best treats for this time of year that I can think of.






They're simple, easy to make, chewy, nice and sweet, and loaded with coconut.

If you have a yen for coconut, you can’t go wrong making these!



Coconut Chews

Ingredients:

¾ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup shortening (half butter, softened)*
1½ cups flour
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup flaked coconut

Method:

Heat oven to 350°.
Mix powdered sugar and shortening.
Stir in 1½ cups flour.
Press in ungreased oblong 13” x 9” pan.
Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Mix remaining ingredients.
Spread over baked layer.
Bake 20 minutes, cool.
Frost with Orange-Lemon Frosting, recipe below.
Cut into bars, about 3” x 1”.
Makes 32 cookies

*Use 6 tablespoons shortening, and 6 tablespoons of butter.  
That's 12 tablespoons total to equal 3/4 cup.


Orange-Lemon Frosting

1½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix all ingredients until smooth and spread over cooled bars.
Printable recipe

Enjoy!






Hallelujah! It's National Cookie Day and Christmas Cookie Season: Brown Butter Thumbprints!



I am of Dutch heritage and 
thank them for more than 
windmills and tulips! 





The English word "cookie" is derived from the Dutch word "koekie" meaning little cake

Dutch bakers used to test oven temperatures on small amounts of batter so that they wound not waste the entire cake mix if the temperature wasn't right.  It wasn't long before they discovered that these tiny pieces of cooked batter were actually quite tasty.

Modern Christmas cookies can trace their history to recipes from Medieval Europe biscuits ~ when many of the ingredients we use now, such as ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, almonds and dried fruit were introduced into the west.  

By the 16th century, Christmas biscuits were popular across Europe.  Not until the 17th century, when the Dutch brought them here, did we see the early examples of Christmas cookies in the United States.  Gingerbread cookies were among the popular early American cookies.

I for one, am thrilled this practice carried on, as cookies are my favorite sweet treat!


Cookie Monster busy baking his cookies!

In 1976, Sesame Street included National Cookie Day on its calendar for the first time on November 26.  The Cookie Monster also proclaimed his own National Cookie Day in the 1980 book The Sesame Street Dictionary.
 
Then in 1987, Matt Nader of the Blue Chip Cookie Company out of San Francisco created Cookie Day, celebrating it on today, December 4th.

There is a cookie out there for everyone, and here’s a perfect buttery cookie to add to your Christmas cookie repertoire!

I’ve made thumbprint cookies for many years, and was intrigued when I came across this recipe in the Chicago Tribune for Brown Butter Thumbprints.  




I love that the usual thumbprints are kicked up a notch by using browned butter.  Browning butter adds a new dimension to an already good kitchen staple.  It’s an easy way to change-up a recipe. And the aroma as they’re baking, is magnificent.




Browned butter gives the cookie a nutty caramel flavor that is a perfect complement to blackberry jam.  Choose the jam of your liking, we like blackberry, apricot or is fine also.  




A little cardamom goes a long way; I added one-half teaspoon to the mix; however, if cardamom is new to you, go easy with it, and use a little less for a background note.  It has a distinctive, spicy flavor, maybe a little citrusy, I think it’s great in baked goods and learned about baking with it many years ago from my Swedish MIL.

Allow for additional time when making these, as the butter will have to freeze for a short time.  Then, later, the cookies will have to be refrigerated for a while before baking. 

Give this one a go, bet you'll really like it!



Yield: About 30 cookies

Brown Butter Thumbprints

Here's a perfect buttery cookie to add to your Christmas cookie repertoire!

ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup superfine sugar*
Gold sanding sugar, optional
1 large egg
⅓ to ⅔ cup seedless jam
Frosting, optional

instructions:

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
Cook, swirling the pan, until brown flecks appear and the butter smells nutty, about 7 minutes.
Pour into a heatproof bowl.
Freeze, stirring occasionally, until the butter is spreadable, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
Beat the browned butter and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the egg until combined.
Reduce the mixer speed until the dough comes together.
Roll dough into 1” balls, then roll in the remaining ¼ cup sugar, or gold sanding sugar.
Arrange about 1½” apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Using the tip of your thumb, make a small indentation in the center of each cookie, without going through bottom of dough; pinching together any large cracks.
Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
While refrigerating:
Preheat oven to 375°.
Fill each indentation with ½ to 1 teaspoons jam.
Bake until cookies are set and lightly browned on the bottom, about 25 minutes.
Let cool completely on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to wire racks.
Decorate with frosting, if desired.  Add a drop of red or green food coloring to white frosting, if you like variety.

notes:

*I sift regular sugar
I rolled the balls in gold sanding sugar. 
Allow 35-40 minutes freezing time for butter.
Allow 20-30 minutes refrigerator time for dough.
Baking time about 25 minutes.







Enjoy!




Woo hoo! Oyster Dressing Time is Near!



This recipe appears here every Thanksgiving, 
because 
it's delicious!




If you love oysters, this is the way to go:  oysters, oyster liquor, Club Crackers, BUTTER, half and half, and salt and pepper.  Needs no more, no less. 

This is always a hit at Thanksgiving and disappears as quick as a flash!




As I’ve said before, when Mom made this every Thanksgiving and Christmas, we called it oyster dressing.  Technically, it’s probably scalloped oysters…

Anyway, sadly, it doesn’t make a pretty picture, but it’s the perfect side on the Thanksgiving table, “oyster dressing!”



Mom's Oyster Dressing

Thanksgiving dinner is not complete until this dish is on the table! Use butter, use half and half!
prep time: 15 MINScook time: 45 MINStotal time: 60 mins

ingredients:


  • 2 pints, shucked oysters, reserving liquor
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 sleeves Club Crackers*
  • 3/4 to 1 cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

instructions


  1. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish liberally.
  2. Crumble cracks into chunks.
  3. Spread half of the crackers in the baking dish.
  4. Top with one pint of oysters.
  5. Slice butter and dot with 1/2 stick.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Repeat layers.
  8. Pour reserved oyster liquor over top.
  9. Pour half and half over all,  just to top of layers, do not cover completely.
  10. Bake in 375° oven till bubbly and top is brown, about 30-45 minutes.
  11. *Use less crackers for a crisper dish.





Enjoy!






Baked Salmon with Robust Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce




Salmon fishing in Oregon

Kind of funny, Bubba (the seafood lover) reminds me now and then of how, when he and Matt were growing up, I used to never like fish or any seafood except for tuna and salmon, the 2 he didn't like at all back then and still doesn't.  And of course those were the only ones I served back then, pleasing Matt.

These days, I like fish and some seafood, serving it most weeks here, with Bill tolerating salmon.
 
That's when I pep up salmon for Bill and I at dinner time, turning to this piquant sauce uniting blue cheese, cucumber and dill for the salmon.  It's a perfect combo!

There's nothing bland about this little sauce which you can whip up in no time.  In my book, piquant blue cheese always puts pizzazz in a dish!





As salmon is readily available, versatile and simply delicious, the quick prep time of this recipe and its short list of ingredients, makes it an even better dish ~ perfect for a weeknight meal or company too!

Cook this for your dinner tonight:  salmon, with a zesty sauce; a little green salad, and broccoli, maybe a glass of bubbly, and Voila!  You have yourself a great tasty dinner!




By the way, the sauce makes a great salad dressing for a wedge of iceberg lettuce.  

It will make you wonder why you ever ate kale salad, for sure!


Yield: 2-3 servings

Baked Salmon with Creamy Blue Cheese, Cucumber and Dill Sauce

This piquant sauce will jazz up your salmon deliciously!

INGREDIENTS:

For the salmon:
  • 1-1/2 pounds slab of salmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
For the blue cheese, cucumber and dill sauce:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (light, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (light, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup English cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Dash of salt

INSTRUCTIONS:


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Place salmon on baking sheet, skin side down and brush with oil, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness, and until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile:
  5. Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Makes 1-1/2 cups





Enjoy!






You know,

nobody can ever

cook as good as

your Mama.

~ Paula Deen


You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook
You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook

DINNER PARTY

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