Getting Baked!

It’s December- that means baking season is upon us!

Yesterday we had breakfast for dinner. My wife whipped together cinnamon roll pancake batter and a cream cheese icing. I cooked them up in our snowflake shaped frying pan. A perfect look and taste to get us sweetened for our next few rounds of baking.

This morning, my wife and I just finished our Costco run. That means we have five dozen eggs, an abundance of sugar, flour, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and everything else we could possibly need to get started. Now to look at our list, check it twice and find out which cookies are tasty and nice! I cannot wait to fill our Christmas cookie jars and tins.

Are you baking for this holiday season? Any favorite recipes you am have? Please share them with me. I love to bake!

Deep Fried Pickles

I’m not a big fan of pickles. But yesterday I made a quick snack out of boredom and curiosity- I mean pickles. We only had baby dills, so the pickles turned out snack sized vs meal sized.

I started with hollowing out half a dozen pickles with a knife and potato peeler. The peeler worked great as it fit nicely as I spun it around. Once the pickles lost their innards, I squirted a few drops of sriracha sauce inside. Followed by some cream cheese. I wrapped these babies in ham then dipped them in a beer batter before they hit the deep fryer.

The final result was an amazing flavor of vinegar, hot sauce, the hint of ham and a mouthful of cream cheese all cooked nicely with a breaded coating. The downside is that I will have to make these again! Only next time with bigger pickles.

More Christmas Cookie Baking

My wife turned me on to a wonderful tradition- baking cookies for Christmas. I bake a variety of cookies throughout December. The problem is that the cookies I baked two weeks ago are all gone. Now it’s time to buckle down and bake more for the winter break.

When my wife and I first met, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on gifts for family and friends. So baking cookies, handmade candles, cards, and ornaments was a good way to show we cared. Crafting and baking was also a fantastic way to get some quality time.

Now, years later, I bake solo for the most part during this time of year. I’ve had the kids help periodically, but our weekends and evenings are filled up with activities. I bake during my days off with some Christmas tunes playing. I have a pleasurable time dancing around the kitchen.

I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. No, it’s not Wookiee Cookies, even though they are top notch! I want to share one of the most basic recipes ever that is from a cookbook from 1979. I received the book in 1980 or 1981 and I’ve made these Peanut Butter cookies ever since. Only once did they turn out awful. That was a mix of the peanut butter I used (don’t use crunchy!) and the fact that I thought making them bigger would make them tastier. I was about 10 years old at the time- bigger should’ve meant better, right?

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup regular sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • In large bowl mix shortening and peanut butter. Add both kids of sugar, stir until mixed. Then stir in eggs and vanilla. Mix throughly.
  • In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Then mix all ingredients together.
  • Form dough into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently flatten with a fork to create a “hashtag”.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.
  • An optional change I have made is adding a cup of Reese’s peanut butter chips into the mix. The chips don’t melt and really bring out more peanut butter flavor to them.

    Enjoy this recipe! I’m now onto making those Wookiee Cookies and moist ginger snaps. Maybe I’ll share those recipes at a later date.

    Barbecue Brisket Baby!

    Over the past few years, I have been perfecting my ability to make a smoked bbq brisket. I usually only end up making three or four of them a year. That way it keeps the family desiring more and doesn’t overdo the enjoyment of the meal. Last night was the largest one I have ever made.

    We do not have a smoker, so I have become resourceful in using our bbq. I put a smoker box on the side burners and place the brisket on the opposite side. I keep the temperature between 200° and 250° allowing the indirect heat to slowly cook the meat over the course of a few hours. Every hour or so, I add some more water soaked hickory wood chips. But before the meat goes on the grill- I have to prepare it.

    We have found the best cut of meat for the price is down at the Costco in the USA. Once I open the meat I give it a quick rinse and pat it down with paper towel. Sometimes I’ll trim some of the larger fatty bits if it’s over an inch thick. Then I salt the entire thing, followed by pouring some soy sauce and brushing bbq sauce all around it. Next I add a dry hickory seasoning on the entire brisket to create a crust once the meat is cooked.

    As the brisket smokes, my entire neighborhood smells heavenly for hours. (It’s amazing how olfactory senses can add to the enjoyment of a meal.) Last night I also made a different type of potato salad. I roasted some cubed potatoes tossed in olive oil and covered in garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. I baked the potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes turning them every 10 minutes so as not to burn the bottom.

    Afterwards I allowed the potatoes to cool in the fridge before adding some chopped up fried garlic sausage, a bit of mayonnaise and two mashed avocados. The meal turned out beautifully. We shared our dinner with a couple of friends and only ate about half the brisket. That means leftovers for lunches!

    I love making brisket.

    Meal Prep For Five

    Meal Prep isn’t a part of my lifestyle.

    However, I took a few hours yesterday to work on some dinner prep for the family. Our 12 year old son helped out last night and really enjoyed it. I don’t usually prepare foods in advance unless we are going on a road trip or camping. But I figured I’d give it a try.

    We bought 6 pounds of ground beef earlier in the week. So I divided it into meatloaf, seasoned fried beef for burritos and an amazing recipe for cabbage roll casserole. The meatloaf got eaten last night and the cabbage roll casserole is for tonight. The fried beef will be mixed with refried beans and rice for another family favorite. This was all made last night within an hour.

    Today I went shopping at the grocery store because they were having a “Caselot Sale“. Besides canned soups, tuna and toilet paper, I also stocked up on about 18 pounds of pork loin. We now have a couple dinners of schnitzel, pork kebobs, and thin sliced Japanese bbq style pork. I divided it into six different meals and tossed those into our big freezer. Labeled and packed away, I’m glad that I did it now instead of trying to thaw a large pork loin later on.

    Over the Christmas break, our dinners weren’t planned out. There was a lot of what we call “Fend For Yourself” nights. Where the kids would eat bowls of cereal, Mr. Noodles or toast and sometimes leftovers. It took this week for my wife and I to realize we need to get back to a routine of planning dinners and buying the appropriate groceries ahead of time. I have gone through the freezer in order to use some of our older meats first. All the pork I bought today will go to the back and get used in the upcoming weeks. Having a family of five with three teens is expensive when it comes to foods.

    Buying processed or prepackaged foods may be easier, but it is not the healthiest of options. The time it takes to prepare meals or divide up large quantities of meat is minimal. Plus it messes the kitchen up really bad only once.

    Here’s to healthy choices! And here’s the Cabbage Roll Casserole recipe if you want to try it:

    Cabbage Roll Casserole

    1.5 lbs Ground Beef

    2 medium onions

    1 clove minced garlic

    1 tsp salt

    1/4 tsp pepper

    1 – 14oz can of tomato sauce

    1 – 14oz can of water

    1/2 cup of uncooked long grain rice

    4 cups of shredded cabbage (1 head)

    Sour cream

    Directions:

    Brown beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Then stir in the rice. Cover and simmer for about 20 mins stirring occasionally.

    Place 1/2 of the shredded cabbage on a greased baking dish. Cover with 1/2 the beef and rice mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and bake in 350° oven for one hour.

    Serve with sour cream. Casserole may be refrigerated before baking.

    Serves 6.

    Enjoy!

    Pears

    I am not a big fan of pears. When I was younger, I used to find them sandy tasting. My preference is apples and I love baking apple pies. However, last year our apple tree fell over and subsequently is no more.

    Sad Joe.

    Near where the apple tree once was is a pear tree. It’s been there for a couple of decades, never really producing any fruit. That is until this year. I think a big part of of the bountiful crop was that our neighbors set up some bee hives last summer. Now our pear tree is producing juicy pears.

    Woah, that almost sounded appetizing.

    Sarcastic “Yay”.

    Anyhow, today I was in our backyard collecting some lovely leaves and I noticed the pear tree. So I walked up to it. When I touched one of the pears, it came off easily in my palm. I headed back to our home and grabbed a bucket and picked the tree clean.

    Now we have too many pears than I know what to do with. Off to Google I went looking for recipes. You know what I found?

    Pear Crisp.

    Lots of recipes for Pear Crisps.

    Seems like there isn’t much else to do with pears. So I made a Pear Crisp. But I am also going to try deep fried pears later tonight. I’m making a variation on Asian Pear Fritters. These sounded delicious.

    Anyways, hopefully my dislike of pears changes over the course of the next few days. We have more than enough of the fruit to make a half dozen more Pear Crisps.