Category Archives: recipe

Recipe Review – Spice Cookies

Advent Spice Cookies

I love baking and making sweet treats, so much, in fact, that I restrict myself to birthdays and special occasions to keep from eating too many sweets!

Tis the season to make treats and goodies for friends and family. I wanted to try a new cookie recipe and pulled this out of an old favorite church cookbook that I’ve had for about 17 years.

They’re chewy with a bit of crunch, a bit like a gingerbread cookie, but with a bite of cloves. Very yummy!

Spice Cookies

  • 3/4 cup soft shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, dried and ground
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mix shortening, sugar, egg and molasses (I used my stand mixer). Sift together all remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture. Chill dough. Shape dough into balls (I used a disher/cookie scoop). Roll balls in granulated sugar, placing 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I make all my cookies on mine!).

Bake 375° for 10 – 12 minutes. Cookies should be set but not hard. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a cooling rack or clean dish towel. Recipe makes 3-5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of each cookie.

Advent Spice Cookies

Cookie dough, mixed and ready to chill.

Advent Spice Cookies

My handyVollrath disher.

Advent Spice Cookies

Dough balls, rolled in granulated sugar and ready to bake on my silicone baking mat.

Advent Spice Cookies

Fresh out of the oven…yum!

Advent Spice Cookies

Enjoy!

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Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

It’s the last day to enter to win!

In honor of the Blog Hop Partyget 20% off  your entire purchase of PDF instant download patterns from my Shopwith coupon code BLOGHOP! Offer good through December 17, 2011.

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Orange Cranberry Sauce Goodness

Cranberry Sauce

Years ago, I discovered an oranged cranberry sauce recipe. We enjoyed it, but it made enough to feed an army. It was also a little too cinnamony, with not quite enough orange flavor.

I’ve tweaked this for years, and have made this version for the last few years. I think I finally have it right!

Orange Cranberry Sauce Goodness

  • 1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries (12 – 16 oz, depending on the brand)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 1 small cinnamon stick (3 – 4 inches long)
  • 1 small, seedless orange
  • orange juice
Rinse cranberries (if frozen, no need to thaw). Add to a medium saucepan. Zest orange onto cranberries. Peel orange and add sections. Add sugar. Stir, then add enough orange juice to just cover.
Turn on heat, bring to a boil and then simmer for one hour or until the cranberries have broken down and start to thicken.
Turn off heat and allow to cool enough to add to a  bowl or container and then refrigerate, uncovered, preferably overnight. The sauce will gel in the fridge.

Cranberry Sauce

My sauce, still cooling before being removed to the fridge. Once it’s cold, you can cover the container.

Serve cold.

It’s also fantastic on leftover turkey sandwiches! Yum!

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The Christmas Pudding Adventure

Christmas Pudding

I made a Christmas Pudding…for real! The ever awesome Cat Magraith shared a family recipe with me and I’ve saved it up to try. We were too busy getting ready for a trip for me to be able to make this for Christmas, but I did make it for New Year’s. Yum!

Christmas Pudding

Now, I need to know…does it look right?! I have no idea… I’m a girl from Texas, we have pie and candy for Christmas, not pudding.

I will admit, I had to do some internet searching to figure out what boiling the pudding meant. I ended up cooking the pudding in a Pyrex bowl, sealed with parchment paper and aluminum foil, cooked in a double boiler using my dutch oven on the stove top. It was a very improvised rig, but it worked! I got the basic set up idea from this video, though it is not the same recipe.

So…white plates. I’ve had them tucked away for years and years. So, why, do you ask, are they out now?

Well, my sister’s friend’s house burned to the ground a few days after Christmas, so I’m using white plates.

Here’s how that happened… my sister called to see if I had any handmade dishcloths on hand that I could donate to the collection they’re putting together to help her friend get started again. She knows that I tend to have a little stash of them. When she explained the situation;  house burned to the ground, two kids, the pet dog didn’t make it out of the fire, of course I couldn’t just give dishcloths! SO, with the help of my friend Marge, I rounded up two Linus blankets to give the kids, bought some towels and washcloths, Elena donated some stuffed animals and we threw in a few other happy things.

I really want new dishes, and have been thinking about it for a while (just ask bff Jewells, I talked about it a silly amount over Christmas – yes my life is that exciting). We’d been using our not-Fiestaware dishes for about 7 or 8 years, and I’m ready for a change.

hardhatcat's chickpea curry recipe
Here’s an example photo, trying another of Cat’s recipes.

I loved those dishes, but they’re a little past their prime (though very, very usable!) and because I really enjoyed those dishes, so I briefly debated giving away the white ones, but then I thought…their house just burned down, seriously, why should I give them plain white dishes? These people need happy. So I gave them my colorful dishes. And now, we’re using white plates. I don’t mind really, because their need was certainly greater than mine…and I’ll save the white plates for when one of my kids needs them, which with a kid in high school, seems all too close.

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Baking Day

toffee close up

Today was the beginning of holiday baking. I’ve been wanting to make candy and treats since the first day of December, but it just has not happened.

2010 found me not only going back to work part-time after being a stay-at-home mom for almost fifteen years, but it’s also the year that I turned Sewhooked from humble blog and website into my own pattern publishing business. It’s been a crazy, exciting and very busy year!

The new (and exciting!) demands on my time have kept me out of the kitchen. With Linus over for the year and my kids out of school, I decided today was going to be The Day.

I broke out my favorite old cookbooks and hand-scribbled recipes and started cooking. These are today’s accomplishments.

english toffee

Toffee, adapted from a recipe found in and old church cookbook.

Chocolatey Butter Toffee

  • 1 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c pecans

Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet, sprinkle pecans on the paper.

Cook butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan until it reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour over pecans. Spread the mixture with a non-stick spatula. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of hot toffee. All to sit for several minutes and then spread with the spatula. Move cookie sheet into the refrigerator for 1 hour to set chocolate. Remove, break into pieces and store in an air-tight container at room temp.

drying mints

Holiday Mints, from a company cookbook found at a thrift store. This is a new-to-me recipe.

No-bake Holiday Mints

  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs room-temp butter
  • 3 1/2 Tbs evaporated milk or 1/2 & 1/2
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • a few drops of food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl (I have upright mixer – it worked a treat!); knead mixture in bowl until smooth. Shape mints in candy molds placed on a baking sheet. Cover with a towel and allow to air dry.* Remove from molds and store in an airtight container.

*note – there is no time listed for how long these take to dry. I’m going to try overnight and I’ll get back to you!

ETA – These tasted like toothpaste…I even tried dipping them in chocolate to save the batch, but then it tasted like chocolate-covered toothpaste! If I did this again, I would omit the almond extract.

cracked ginger cookies 2

Cracked Ginger Cookies from Reader’s Digest Cookies – 1001 Mouthwatering Recipes from Around The World, another new-to-me recipe!

peanut brittle

Jennifer’s Best Peanut Brittle – Yes, I did name this after myself. Follow the link and you’ll see why!

fudge

Fantasy Fudge, right off the back of Kraft’s Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme. I’ve been making fudge my entire adult life and this always, always gives me the best results!

Am I done for the holidays, you ask? Not by a long shot! I still have bon-bons and cookies for Santa to make!

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Muffins and Memories

Blueberry Muffin

I took a year of Home Ec in high school. Not because I wanted to, believe it or not, but because I couldn’t cook, and my dad told me I couldn’t move out until I learned how to feed myself. He doesn’t remember saying it, but I definitely remember begrudgingly giving up a precious academic hour to learn how to cut up a chicken and make pie crusts.

Twenty years after the fact (yes, twenty years, I really am that old!), I’m really grateful for the lessons I learned in Home Ec from Mrs. Anna Polster. This is, more or less, the muffin recipe she gave us when I took her class. I’ve been using it ever since.

And?  I can still make pie crust and and cut up a chicken.  Thanks, Mrs. Polster!

Blueberry Muffins

Muffins

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease muffin tins or use cupcake papers .

Beat egg slightly, add oil and milk.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, including sugar.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add milk mixture.  Stir just enough to incorporate ingredients.  Fill muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges.

Makes 6-9 muffins.  Can be doubled.

Variations:

  • before baking, sprinkle tops with 1 TBS cinnamon that has been combined with 1/2 cup sugar
  • add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to flour before adding liquid ingredients
  • substitute 1/2 cup oatmeal or whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup flour
  • add 1 cup berries (fresh, frozen, or canned)

Jen’s additions:

  • I usually prep my pans with veggie oil.
  • for banana muffins, substitute 1/2 cup oatmeal for 1/2 cup flour and add 2 ripe, mashed bananas

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Peanut Butter

Homemade PB

Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I am a peanut butter junkie.

If I was alone on a desert island and could only bring one food?

Stressed-out comfort food?

Favorite thing to eat with chocolate?

I think you get the idea!

I like all-natural, no sugar or stuff-added peanut butter and I’ve tried all variety of brands, organic, and not.  The one thing that I can’t get over is how expensive plain ole peanut butter can be.  I can really go through the stuff and it just never lasts long enough!

In a recent out-of-peanut-butter-crisis, I decided to try and make my own.  The slightly astonishing thing is that I had no directions and I didn’t try to find a recipe.  And it worked!  It worked so well, I’ve already eaten it all and made another batch.  Nom!

It’s super easy –  16 oz of roasted, salted peanuts in the variety of your choice.  Toss that into your food processor (it’s a must, sorry if you don’t have one!),   Add about 1 tbs vegetable oil.  I used corn oil, but I’m sure peanut oil would be even more awesome.

Process for about three minutes or until smooth.  Move to a bowl and refrigerate.

Eat!  Really, that’s it!

Nomnomnom!

Next time, I think I’ll try roasting my own peanuts…

Like peanut butter?  Check out my video, Peanut Butter In Real Time!

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Recipe: Stenciled Brownies for My Sweetheart!



Brownies for My Sweetheart

I really don’t need a reason to tell my husband how much he means to me.  Even so, any excuse to make his day a little brighter is one I’ll take.  He loves brownies and homemade ones are extremely easy to make and much yummier (in my opinion!) than the store bought variety.  Baking brownies make the whole house smell like chocolate, which is an added bonus.

This year I thought I’d combine two of my favorite things, baking and stenciling, and make a Valentine’s treat fit for the sweetest of the sweet, my own True Love.

I think the original brownie recipe is my Mom’s but it’s in my handwriting in my recipe collection, and I’ve been making them this way as long as I can remember, so I’m not entirely sure.   Mom, let me know if it’s yours and I’ll give you credit!

Stenciled Chocolate Brownies

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp or slightly melted in the microwave (~40 seconds)  *note – for a moister, chewier brownie, you can use shortening instead*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 TBS baking cocoa
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • wax, parchment or clean wax paper, trimmed to fit inside a 9″x13″ baking pan
  • powdered sugar

You can make this recipe with or without a mixer.

Preheat oven to 350°F. With non-stick baking spray, coat the bottom only of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.


Cream together butter and sugar, adding eggs one at a time.


Sift together flour, baking powder and cocoa. Add to sugar mixture, stirring well.


Mix in nuts and vanilla. Stir by hand.


Spread into prepared pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.   If you like chewier brownies, stay closer to 20 minutes.  Allow to cool at least fifteen minutes before stenciling.

Stencil:


Fold prepared wax paper in random lines vertically along the length of the paper.


Cut hearts out of the paper along the lines.  The amount and size of your hearts is completely up to you.


Completed stencil.


Place stencil on top of brownies. Trim if necessary to make sure it fits snugly as possible.



Sift on powdered sugar.


Carefully remove stencil onto another sheet of wax paper and admire your Sweetheart Brownies!

If you’re handy with an Exact-O Knife and have the time, you can get much more creative with the stencil.  Share your fandom love, write birthday wishes, admissions of undying love or maybe even a marriage proposal!  This same technique will also work on an unfrosted cake.

Fun with powdered sugar
A simpler version, made with store bought brownie mix.
These were for a school party.  They were cooled completely, cut and then stenciled.

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Portabella Crust Pizza

portabella pizza

In an effort to feel healthier and happier, I started following the South Beach Diet.  It’s been about a month now, and I feel better than I have in a good long while.  The only thing I really missed was pizza on Friday nights with my family.  My family and I have homemade pizza every Friday, along with a movie marathon.  I experimented a bit with recipes I found online and just wasn’t satisfied.  This is my own personal South Beach-friendly pizza, using a portabella mushroom as the crust.   You need a fork to eat it, but other than that, it really hits the “need pizza” button!

Makes 2 servings.

Portabella Crust Pizza

  • 2 portabella mushroom caps cleaned with stems removed
  • olive oil
  • sugar-free pizza sauce (try Exquisite Pizza Sauce without the honey)
  • part-skim mozzarella or veggie cheese (like Veggie Shreds)
  • toppings of your choice (I like Canadian Bacon, low-fat feta is nice, too)

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a small amount of olive oil.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet or griddle (cast iron, if you’ve got it!) over medium-high heat.  Add just enough olive oil to lubricate the surface. Place mushroom caps bottoms down on cooking surface.  They’ll lose a lot of water as they cook, and that’s what you want.  Leave for about five minutes and then flip the caps.  When you can see moisture collecting inside the cap, flip it again, pressing with a spatula to flatten.  Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Time can vary depending on the size of the caps, you want the caps to be about 2/3 their original size and to have released quite a bit of moisture.

Remove the caps to the prepared baking sheet, bottoms up.  Add sauce, cheese and toppings.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

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Quilting Gallery’s Quilter’s Cookbook

Quilter's Cookbook

Yours truly has a recipe and quilt story in Quilting Gallery’s newly published The Quilter’s Cookbook! It’s available as a downloadable PDF, so you have access to the recipes immediately.  I’ve already got mine and it’s a lovely cookbook.

There’s even a list of recipes, so you can see if it’s something you’d like to have.