Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apricot Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

So I promised in previous posts to give more cookie recipes, and I have eaten my share of cookies this week but have not had time to post them.  Christmas was wonderful and we got to spend some great time and food with our family over the past week.  We celebrated 4 holidays in the last week that included 1st birthday apple cake, Mom's birthday Lemon Meringue pie, and Christmas pumpkin pie, not to mention all of the dinners and breakfasts that we shared each day.

Before the holidays were in full swing I went to a cookie swap that was wonderful!  I took Apricot Cream Cheese Thumbprints that were super yummy.  I will definitely add them to my "usuals" list....

Apricot Cream Cheese Thumbprints adapted from "Tried and True Cookies"

Makes 7 dozen
Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Total time: 2h. 30 min (for chilling time)

1 1/2 c softened butter
1 1/2 c sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in lemon juice and zest.  Add flour and baking powder and stir mixture until just combined.  Cover and chill until firm, about an hour.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, place them 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet, or silpat.  Use your finger or thumb to make an indentation in the middle of each ball and fill with apricot preserves.

Bake 15 minutes or until edges are golden.  Allow to cool for a couple minutes before moving them to wire racks.

I halved this recipe to make 3.5 dozen, then wished I had just made them all and put some in the freezer for later.... they are WORTH IT!


Coming up: apple cake

Lemon Meringue pie

and maybe a few more treats...

I wish you enough!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cookies: Gingerbread Men

It's that time of year when baking smells so yummy and it's nice to hang out in a toasty kitchen, especially if you can bake with your favorite people.  I am making a bunch of cookies this year, AND going to my FIRST cookie swap.

So here is my first cookie post and there are bound to be more...stay tuned and enjoy them warm from the oven!  When I think of christmas cookies the first one that comes to mind is gingerbread, so here it is, first...

Soft Gingerbread Men and Women (and bats)

from Tried and True Cookies with a few changes

Makes: 3 dozen
Prep: 25 minutes  (+3 hours when letting the dough cool in the fridge)
Cooking: 10 minutes/batch

3/4 c Molasses
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c water
1/8 c butter, softened
3 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

Directions: In a large bowl mix together the molasses, brown sugar, water and butter until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, allspice, ginger, cloves and cinnamon and stir until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed.  Cover dough and chill for at least 3 hours.  You can make this the day ahead if needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place cookies 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheets or Silpat.

Bake 8-10 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

What's better than warm cookies and good friends?

I wish you enough!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Irish Soda Bread by Colleen

This is the first guest post on Marisa Makes and I am super excited to try this recipe myself.  As I blog today I have gingerbread man cookies in the oven and am snacking on homemade yogurt, more on those later.  

Thank you Colleen for sharing such a personal memorable recipe with us!

"It is Christmas baking time.  My favorite thing to made around the holiday's is my Gram's (Mary Leavitt) Irish Soda Bread recipe.  I don't remember making it with her, she died when I was 8, but I love spending the day baking it and thinking about her.  She was a woman born before her time.  I am told she read my uncles' college class books, the entire dictionary and wrote a lovely poem for me on the day I was born.

As you probably know,  Soda Bread was created as a way to make bread without yeast.  Traditionally it uses flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk.  The milk contains lactic acid and raises the bread when combined with the baking soda.

I usually make a few short cuts: 
I melt the butter slightly instead of cutting it into the flour mixture.  
Instead of buttermilk, I use regular milk and add a bit of vinegar to it.
I also make two loaves from one recipe, especially since I was planning on giving them away as presents or hostess gifts.  (I only bake it for about 40 minutes)"

"This is the original recipe as my mom put in my recipe book."

Irish Soda Bread
From the kitchen of Mary Leavitt
Preparation time: 30min

4 c of sifted flour
1tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
1/4 c butter
1 c raisins
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda

Place dry ingredients in large bowl:
4 c of sifted flour
1tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
cut in 1/4 c butter
add 1 c raisins

In another bowl:
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda

Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients to dry and mix.
Turn out onto floured board and knead gently just to mix, and not excessively (usually a bit sticky)
Place on cookie sheet or 8 in round casserole dish

Put a cross on the top of the bread using a sharp knife (good luck and blessings)

Bake at 375 degrees for 50 min.  Cover with foil and bake 10 more minutes.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out.

"This is a great brunch addition, serve cold or warmed with butter and honey.  Yum!"

 Thank You Colleen!

I wish you enough!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


One of our favorite at-home date nights is a movie and homemade sushi.  We haven't done it in months at least.  In fact I can't remember the last time, so we brought it back with style the other day.

Sushi and "The Informant"

I took some photos of the process and it really isn't that hard.  But I do notice we get better and better as we roll.  Time wise, it took us one-hour to prep the ingredients and roll the rolls.

To start cut your ingredients into long thin pieces and take out the sauces you want to flavor the rolls with.  We made these with avocado, bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, tofu, shrimp, smoked salmon, and cream cheese.

 Start with the seaweed rough side up.

Cover with sticky rice and flip over.

 Place ingredients and sauces or spices on edge closest to you.

Get a good grip on ingredients to hold in place and begin rolling.

Roll close edge over until it touches the seaweed on the opposite side of ingredients.

Complete the roll.

Top with avocado, Old Bay, sesame seeds, or other spices.

 Tofu, Cucumber Roll with Spicy Citrus Sauce

Smoked Salmon, Chives, and Cream Cheese, topped with Avocado

I would recommend watching "The Informant."  It has to be your type of movie to enjoy it so check out the reviews first.  

I wish you enough!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Center Piece

Since I am using a white paper table cloth for Thanksgiving, I decided to spice it up with a cute centerpiece.  I got this idea from LoCoFlo's blog the other day and was excited to try it.

First I bought a mini sugar pumpkin

Cut off the top and removed the seeds

Cut a can to fit height-wise and placed it in the pumpkin

Then added flowers that I unfortunately didn't buy from LoCoFlo and while they are pretty they aren't super nice.  But we'll have a great dinner and they will brighten up the table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you enough!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Plans for food

This weekend was nice.  We had a great visit with family and spent some beautiful time outside at the farm and Hammerman State Park.

** My plan for food this week includes:
*Warm Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Sage

We got some fennel in our CSA bag this week so I made a leek, fennel, potato soup to go along with the quinoa salad.  It was super easy.  I just cut up the leeks, fennel, and 2 potatoes I had on hand, sautéed them in butter and then boiled them in veggie broth until the potatoes were soft.  Then I blended it up with a wand blender and added sage, thyme, salt and pepper.

*Orzo Salad: haven't made it up yet but will post the recipe when I do.  It will include feta for sure...
*Curried Rice dish
*Pad Thai (yes, again!)

**Also plan on knitting a mystery cloth in a monthly knit-a-long.  It had been a long time since I've knitted so I hope this gets me back into it.  Have finished 2.5/4 days so far...

**And I am going to hem 4 pairs of pants.  Well I've measured them and am ready....

I'll keep you posted!  So, it's friday and you can see my additions in purple. I didn't even get half of my list completed but there is still time for more food this week.  Last night I felt lazy so we had leftovers and a veggie saute.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kale Chips

I am a lover of greens in general so this recipe just makes things better.  If you don't like greens you really should try these.  Kale Chips are super easy to make and so yummy.  Try it, you'll like it!

Wash and dry a bunch of Kale.  Break the leaves off the stems and tear them into palm sized pieces.

 Place in a bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbs. Olive oil, mix well to coat and spread out on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt or any other flavors you like.  As always I use a silpat to speed up cleaning and cut down on sticking.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

**UPDATE: I used a cooling rack to make these last night instead of a baking sheet and they were done much quicker and better.  If you try it make sure your rack is oven safe.***

Depending on your oven and how juicy your Kale is 20 minutes might be too short.  The kale is done when it is a chip.... but better.

I used these to top my Leek Potato Soup last night.


I wish you enough!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Apple Sauce

I bought a 3lb bag of beautiful organic red delicious apples.  They were red and organic but the delicious part was lost due to the mushy texture.  So, when life hands me mushy apples I make apple sauce!  This apple sauce turned out especially pretty because of the dark red skins.

Chop your apples into quarters and place in large pot with 1/2 c water and cover.

Simmer until apples are tender, then put them through a food mill.  If you don't have a food mill you could peel and de-seed them before cooking.

Also, today I bought new running shoes and printed the 8K training program by Hal Higdon.  I am now sporting some Saucony Kinvara's.

I wish you enough.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Time for Exercise

For a while now I have felt "out of shape" and have made great mental effort to get there.   It's time to make more than mental effort.  As a physical therapist I am reminded daily of the reasons why we, humans, should continue moving.

As human beings we are best when we move, move, move: better health, happier moods, increased energy, better diets, less pain.  

The last long race I ran was the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC, several years ago.....
So my next goal is the Celtic Solstice 5 Mile race in December.  Who else is doing this race?  Any tips?

I enjoy training with Hal Higdon's guides so I am following this one for now.

I want to hear stories of how you keep motivated to run outside in the winter!  Please leave comments.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie

***UPDATE 11/06: this pie is good but nothing like the tasty amazing flan like version I made this week.  Stay tuned for the new recipe. ***

This weekend has been gorgeous and we have spent many hours already out on the deck.  Today we are headed to a fall fest to check out the pumpkins and scarecrows.  We have this great place in our neighborhood that does outdoor movies and a bunch of holiday and art "stuff" all year.

Yesterday I looked at my growing pile of sweet potatoes and remembered that a friend from work gave me a recipe for sweet potato pie the other day.  The recipe looks great but I didn't have some of the ingredients so I did a google search and made this recipe instead.

I actually made my own crust this time too and it didn't turn out too shabby.

1 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter (or your favorite substitute), cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3 T very cold water

I put the dry ingredients in my food processor with the dough blade and pulsed a few times.  Added the butter and pulsed it until is was like coarse cornmeal, then added the water slowly and ran the processor until the dough came together.  I rolled it out to about 12 inches and placed it in my pie dish.  The pie dough waited in the fridge until I was ready with the filling.

For dinner, Pad Thai then....

We had the pie after coming home from watching the Charm City All-Stars roller derby team put a hurt on the Carolina roller girls.  When we left we were winning by 100 points...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Chili with Pumpkin Puree

...Squash, Squash, and more Squash continued....

I love this orange fleshed food and am excited to try so many new recipes this fall.  Just today a friend gave me a recipe for sweet potato (substitute squash) pound cake that I will try when I have somewhere to take it, so I don't eat it all.  Anything that starts with butter and ends in pound cake has got to be good :)

So to make the pumpkin chili....

For the chili:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped   (farm grown)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 cup squash, pumpkin puree
8 oz salsa, your favorite...or not favorite so you throw it in the chili instead
8 oz black beans, cooked
8 oz garbanzo beans, cooked
1 Tbs cumin
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

For the puree:
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, or cooked squash
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs soy milk, or half and half, or other creamy liquid of your choosing

Heat a pot and add oil, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.  Cook 5-7 minutes then add all spices and pumpkin puree, stir 1 minute.  Add salsa, beans, and water to your desired thickness.  Cook 10 minutes for flavors to marry a bit.

Make the puree:  place the ingredients in small blender and puree.

Place a dollop of pumpkin chili puree on your chili and sit down and relax with a nice hot bowl of yumminess.

Thanks to (Never Home)Maker for a great idea.

I wish you enough!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Squash, Squash and more Squash

After picking a few squash at the farm and roasting 7 of them I had to think of ideas for meals to use it up.  I froze a bunch for baby food and then made two yummy dinners with the rest.  **I was just thinking that I always say that my food is yummy....  the thing is that I do make things that I don't think are yummy, but they aren't posted here; or I have revamped them first.... so are two yummy things I made.

Squash and Pepper Soup with Tofu

2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 onion, chopped
4 bell peppers, cut into bite size chunks
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 c. roasted squash
1 c. veggie broth
1/2 c. half and half  (or soy milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/8 tsp allspice, ground
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground
freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil.  Saute onions and peppers 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and squash stirring 1 minute or until you can smell the garlic.  Add broth, spices, and heat for several minutes.  Remove from heat.  Using a wand blender I blended my soup at this point until pureed.  (You could do this in a blender)  Stir in half and half.  Enjoy!  If you want the soup thinner just add more broth, to make it thicker add more squash.

We ate ours with sauteed tofu and homemade bread.

Stay tuned for the next squash recipe: Pumpkin Chili with pumpkin puree inspired by (Never Home)Maker.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Farm Fresh Food

This week at the farm:

the sunflowers are blooming and it is a race to get them before the deer!

the squash are ripening for winter!

the figs are still green and may not ripen before winter, but I will have at least two more trees next year!

and the beans are almost ready to be harvested...

Happy Fall!

I wish you enough!