Sunday, July 31, 2011

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken and Home Sweet Home

I'm back!  On the travel docket this week was rural Pennsylvania (such a weird place for a large corporate office, but whatever), and Atlanta.  Atlanta was especially enjoyable since I finally got to meet my adorable niece, Blair.  She's quite the cutie and such a good baby...I could just squeeze her!  But I won't - you never know what will come out of a baby if you squeeze too tight.

I had such a great time hanging with my siblings and siblings-in-law and I'm a huge fan of Atlanta because they have the best restaurants!  Some of the things I enjoyed were arugula and watermelon salad with goat cheese, braised pork cavatelli with roasted tomato sauce, prosecco sorbet, watermelon wheat beer, cheddar beer soup, and a delicious homemade veggie fritatta with chai pistachio muffins made by my sister-in-law Melissa.  Pure bliss.  Good thing there was also a really, really long walk (with lots of hills!).   

I'm awfully glad to be home, though.  I love to travel and consider myself lucky to be able to do so much of it, but its exhausting and I am looking forward to a quiet couple of weeks at home.  Plus, I missed my puppy so much it hurts...that darn mongrel is the cutest pup in the world and I can't stand being away from her.  Oh, and my husband.  I also missed THAT mongrel.  And he's pretty cute too!

This chicken recipe is the last I have in my archives, so I need to step it up and spend more time in my kitchen and less time in restaurants with my credit card. 

This was my first time cooking a whole chicken and I was a little nervous because, well, its a whole chicken.  And there are giblets in there and a neck and skin and bones, and....other gross things.  I was proud that I remembered to take the giblets out before I cooked the chicken...because, well, you just never know with me.  And it turned out wonderfully.  However, I was annoyed because the timer thingy never popped up and I wasn't sure when it was done.  So I googled "how do I know when my whole roast chicken is done" and I got a million different conflicting answers.  Do I check the leg or the thigh?  Or the breast?  Do I look for 150 degrees or 170?  How the heck do you know when the juice is clear when its running out of a yellow-orange-ish colored bird?  Does crispy indicate a bird that is done, or just that the skin is crispy?  It was all very confusing and I was worried about eating dry chicken or an unfortunate case of food poisoning, but it seems I took the old bird out at just the right time because it was delicious!  I'll never buy a grocery store rotisserie chicken again.  Actually....that is a lie.  I will totally buy those rotisserie chickens when I don't feel like taking the time to roast a whole bird, but a girl can pretend, right?

Anyway, I was really pleased with how this turned out and we had tons of leftovers.  I was SO excited about all the possibilities that the leftovers held....salads, quesadillas, enchiladas, wraps...the world was my oyster.  Unfortunately, I hit the road for like a week after packing up the leftovers and ended up throwing most of it away when I got home.  I HATE that.  Must plan better next time.


Herb Roasted Whole Chicken
Source: Inspired by Tyler Florence

1 whole chicken, giblets removed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons, halved
1 small onion, quartered
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons each, fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon grill seasoning

Preheat over to 375.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place halved lemons, quartered onion, and rosemary sprig in cavity of chicken.

Combine butter, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice and grill seasoning in a bowl.  Rub mixture under skin of the chicken, as well as all over the surface.  Place in roasting pan.

Roast for 1 hour at 375 and then turn oven up to 425 to ensure crispy skin.  Roast for another 20 minutes or until thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees.

Let rest and carve.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mini Filet Mignons and Adulthood FAIL

Have you ever, on occasion, wondered how you manage to function effectively as an adult and (allegedly) a semi-productive member of society?  Ever wondered how you get through day to day life without completely screwing everything up and failing at all of your adult responsibilities?  Hmmmm, so its just me, eh?

I'm 31 years old.  On August 13th, I'll be 31 and a half.  And sometimes I still feel the above sentiment.  I'm like, hold UP!  I'm a grown up with major responsibilities and control over life-altering decisions and adult money and to-do lists that can't be ignored.  When did that happen!??! 

I can tend to be a little bit ridiculously scatterbrained.  I forget to do things like mail stuff that needs to be mailed, changing my address at the DMV, turning off the oven when I'm done cooking, getting my oil changed (ask my Dad about THAT story), and getting milk at the grocery store.  You know, basic day to day things that are part of being a grown up.  I've still managed to stumble through my life with this handicap, although I DO tend to do better in my professional life (thank goodness!).  This is due to meticulous planning and list-making, and is NOT an indication that my personality flaw is diminishing in any way.

Today, I wake up excited about a busy Monday.  I've got my to-do list all ready to go (and color-coded with my rainbow pens!), schedule planned, notes for conference calls on my desk, the works.  I'm like, I AM AWESOME AT LIFE!  After my work is (mostly) done, I look up recipes for the best roasted whole chicken on the face of the earth!  I've got a bottle of wine breathing, the dog is nice and calm, chewing a bone and behaving for once.  Again, awesome at life.  Then my husband comes home and our conversation goes a little like this:

Hubs: "Did you drive anywhere today, Ann?" 
Me (a little defensively): "No!  I didn't have time because I had back to back conference calls and like 3 Powerpoint presentations to finalize!  Why, was I supposed to go somewhere??". 
Hubs: "No...I'm only asking because your car isn't out front."
Me: "What?!!?  Stop kidding, that's not even funny and why wouldn't my car be out front??"
Hubs: " didn't see the signs saying 'No Parking on Monday - Street Cleaning, Towing Enforced'??"
Me: "That was TODAY??"
Hubs: "Ugh, call the city and find out where your car is and how much it'll cost to pick it up from the towing company.  Idiot (he didn't really say that, but I KNOW he was thinking it!!!)"

Here's the sad part.  I HAD seen the signs for the last week, and I even made a note on my iPhone to move my car on Monday so I didn't get towed for street cleaning.  But I never use my iPhone for my to-do list (because I prefer using my rainbow pens in my awesome moleskin notebook), so that was a stupid move.  My car got towed from outside of my house while I was at home all day long with all of the blinds open and a dog that barks at everything under the sun.  How did this happen?  Why can't I remember things like this?  Its like taking $95 and flushing it down a toilet sponsored by the "irresponsible adults club".  Gah!

Anyway, I kind of need my car because I have to drive to Philly tomorrow.  So I get to wake up extra early to go give someone a bunch of money to give me my car back that was towed away right under my nose.  Sigh, sigh, sigh.  Guess I'll have to continue working on this "being a responsible adult" thing and start hanging my to-do lists around my neck.

Anywho, the recipe of the evening is a pretty simple one, and I'm actually sure its not a recipe at all.  I bought pre-packaged filet mignons (gasp!) and served them with roasted green beans and cauliflower mashed potatoes.  I've posted the cauliflower mashed taters before, but I used different accent ingredients, so I guess I'll post what I did there.  Broiling filets with salt and pepper on them isn't really note-worthy, but if you're wondering, broil them on high for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until the internal temp reaches 135 degrees.

Garlicky Goat Cheese Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Source: Me!

1 head orange cauliflower (or white will work, but orange is prettier)
1 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons Garlic and Herb Boursin cheese
2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Cut cauliflower into florets and boil in salted water until fork tender.

Transfer cooked cauliflower to food processor.  Add goat cheese, Boursin, sour cream, chicken stock, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.  Puree until smooth.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bad Blogger

I haven't been a very good blogger lately.  And that's because instead, I've been a very good employee and frequent flyer.  Seems its hard to do both sometimes!

I've been traveling for the last week - Boston and Tampa - and I'm finally home.  But now its Friday and we all know I don't cook on Fridays (and instead insist upon going somewhere "fancy").  I actually don't cook on Saturdays, either, so it seems Sunday is the next chance for my husband to enjoy a delicious meal that he doesn't have to pay for.  I'm visiting the Farmer's Market tomorrow (this time WITH cash and re-usable bags) to find some amazing ingredients for a nice Sunday dinner.

And then I'm on the road again next week.  Philly on Wednesday and then Atlanta Thursday - Saturday.  And I finally get to meet my baby niece after my meetings in Atlanta are done!  So excited to meet the little lady...I hear she looks and acts kind of like me (she is my brother's daughter).  Nothing scarier than that, I'll tell you what.

I'm going to do my best to cook Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday nights, so I have something to blog about finally!  In the meantime, it appears that I have some fish tacos that I haven't shared yet, so here you go!

Fish Tacos, Ann Style

There isn't really a recipe for this, per se.  I just sort of made things up as I went along, but hopefully I can re-create this in my brain right now!

2 large filets of Mahi Mahi
Fish spice rub - equal parts blackening seasoning, garlic powder, ground cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt/pepper mix
Corn tortillas
Sliced avocado
Cilantro for garnish
Shredded red cabbage for garnish
Sauteed onions and peppers
Cilantro-lime sour cream (mix sour cream with chopped cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper)

Rub spice mix on fish and pan fry until done.

Meanwhile, sautee the onions and peppers in a pan until soft.  Chop cilantro and avocados for garnish, set aside.  Mix sour cream ingredients and set aside.

When fish is done, cut into chunks and serve on warm flour tortillas with cilantro, avocados, sauteed onions and peppers, cabbage, and sour cream.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Want My Baby Back

Baby back baby back baby back baby back.....Chilllliiiiii's baby back riiiiiibs.

When I was younger I used to LOVE me some Chili's.  Every time it was my birthday and I got to pick the restaurant, I would insist on going there, much to my parents' chagrin (although my Mom liked the baby back ribs there, and don't let her try to convince you otherwise!).  When I got to high school, we would go there and sit in the bar area and eat Chicken Crispers by the truckful.  Because only the cool kids sit in the bar area and are able to metabolize 2500 calories worth of fried chicken and french fries (with a side of cinnamon apples!).  This was all before I became a restaurant snob, clearly.

I loved Chili's so much during my adolescence, I decided to work there as soon as I was old enough to serve booze.  I thought I was hot stuff in my hunter green polo and chili pepper apron over my flare jeans.  Hot stuff indeed.

I'm firmly planted in the "everyone should wait tables at some point in their lives" camp.  Because, I have a feeling that all of the jackholes I encountered while waiting tables at Chili's had never done so themselves.  And that perhaps they would have learned some empathy if they themselves had donned a hunter green Chili's polo and flare jeans.  I ran into all kinds of customer "gems". 

Like, the one night I had to serve all-you-can-eat fajitas to the University of Virginia football team.  You'd think that would be fun for me, being an 18 year-old girl in cute flare jeans, but not when a serving is the size of my pinky finger.  Because Chili's didn't have a BUFFET for all-you-can eat fajita night...oh no, that would make too much sense!  Instead, if you could eat more fajitas than you were served, you had to order more from your waitress who then had to run along and fetch them for you.  And when there are 10 of you (weighing appx. 300 pounds each) and only one of your waitress (in her awesome hunter green polo), that gets unfairly tiring pretty quickly.  And you know what else?  College kids are notoriously bad tippers.  Especially since they weren't drinking anything besides water.  I was at LEAST hoping for drunk college boys who wanted to impress their friends with how well they tipped.  Alas, I guess those boys stayed home that night.

Or, the time that this old grumpy guy gobbled up his meal like he hadn't eaten in weeks (although he looked pretty well-fed to me!) and then proceeded to point at his empty plate, and declare the meal "terrible".  And then he proceeded to tell me that I should be fired on the spot.  Uhhh, right....because OF COURSE as your waitress, I also cooked your meal.  If he knew anything about Chili's, he would know that the cooks wore black T-shirts and not hunter green polos!  Duh!

I could go on and on about the joys of being a Chili's waitress, but my wine glass needs a refill so I need to get on with this blog post.

I never personally ordered baby back ribs at Chili's, but I do quite like them although I've never attempted to make them myself.  So when I saw ribs on sale at Sam's Club, I decided that I was going to give it a go.  I must say, they were quite delicious!  I used Emeril's dry rub and then adapted his BBQ sauce recipe to my personal tastes.  Since we had like 3 whole racks (downside of buying meat at a wholesale club), I made them to share at a BBQ last weekend.  Everyone loved them!  Everyone also loved the bottle of Patron that another party guest brought to share, but that's a story for another day.


Grilled Baby Back Ribs
Source: Adapted from Emeril

3 racks baby back pork ribs, about 4 pounds, each cut in half
6 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows or favorite rib rub

BBQ Sauce
4 cups ketchup
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup pure cane syrup, or molasses
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Creole or other spicy whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon or other hot pepper sauce  
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs (if needed).  Rub the ribs on both sides with Essence (recipe follows). Place in a large sealable bag or on a large sheet of aluminum foil placed in a large roasting pan. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the ribs from the bag and bring to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with heavy aluminum foil, lay the ribs on top, and tightly cover with foil. Roast for 2 hours.

Preheat the grill.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Taste, and adjust as necessary.

Remove the ribs from the oven and uncover. Transfer to the hot grill, cover, and cook over indirect heat for 30 minutes, brushing the ribs with the sauce.  Baste and turn every 5-10 minutes until done.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1 teaspoon blackening season
1 tablespoon cumin

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Herb Grilled Rack of Lamb

I'm probably the only food blogger in the world who doesn't regularly attend Farmer's Markets.  I've always wanted to, but sometimes Farmer's Markets require getting up really early on a Saturday, and I don't like to do that.  Not even for food.  This past Friday night, I made sure to pack it in early after having a few drinks with friends so I could wake up early and go to the market.  But first....did you know they make CAKE FLAVORED VODKA???  How cool is that!?!?  Holy heck, is it delicious!  I'm usually a wine girl (not sure if you picked up on that subtle hint), but this new concoction might make me a cocktail girl after all.  You can mix cake flavored vodka with ginger ale and it tastes like cream soda.  Or you can mix it with Sprite and a splash of OJ and it would taste like a creamsicle.  The possibilities are endless!  But I digress.

I finally made it to the South of the James Farmer's Market on Saturday and I am hooked!  It was so cool!  I was clearly a Farmer's Market rookie, though.  I was certainly over-dressed, and I also failed to bring 2 crucial things: 1) cash, and 2) re-usable grocery bags.  Rookie, I tell ya.  The cash situation was rectified by my husband, who always carries cash.  And who also mocked me relentlessly when I mentioned that I assumed they would take credit cards at the Farmer's Market.  "Ann, they are FARMERS, I don't think they are going to bring their credit card machines to their tents".  Turns out he was right.  Good thing he had $60 on him or I would have been really sad.  And the bag situation was rectified because I brought my brand new Kate Spade bag with me, and it has a lot of extra room in there (I know most people don't bring their designer purses to Farmer's Markets, but it was new and I love it.  Plus, purses count as re-usable bags, right?  Right!).  So we were all set, and my rookie mistakes didn't stop me from spending all of my husband's $60 on delicious things.  We got red pepper/parmesan bread, some soy wax candles, the biggest, juciest blackberries in the world, a bunch of sweet corn, fresh pasta, and some limeade.  Somehow that cost $60.....

Anywho, I'm totally going to the Farmer's Market every Saturday.  They also have jewelry and pottery there.  And sourdough donuts!  And next time I'll probably dress down a little more and remember my cloth grocery bags and leave Kate at home.  You know, just so I look less like a rookie.

As per usual, this Farmer's Market rambling has nothing to do with the food I'm about to post.  I didn't get this rack of lamb at the Farmer's Market, but its next on my list to blog about, so there you have it.  I loooooooove lamb so so much but its intimidating to cook because if you do it wrong, you've just wasted a very expensive piece of meat and that is just sad.  Luckily, this lamb turned out perfectly and we had it with some couscous and a bottle of wine from a local vineyard.  Then we put the rest of the wine in solo cups and had a "walking happy hour" with the puppy.  If you've never done this, you should start.


Herb Grilled Rack of Lamb
Source: Adapted from Grilling Guru

1 rack of lamb
1-2 tablespoons each - fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano, chopped finely together 
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rub coarse salt and black pepper into all the surfaces of the meat.  Next, put the herbs and garlic in a small bowl and add enough olive oil to make a paste. Rub this garlic/herb mixture thickly over all the exposed surfaces of meat on the rack of lamb. Place it in a shallow dish or bowl and cover.  Marinate about 2 to 4 hours.

Allow the meat to come up to room temperature prior to cooking.

Sear each side on high for 2 minutes and then turn grill down to medium. 

Cover with your grill lid and let cook on indirect heat for 10-12 minutes, or until done to your desired doneness. It should be a bit pink in the middle still when finished.

Remove from the grill and let rest in a warm place under foil for at least 10 minutes. Then slice into either individual ribs or double servings, two ribs per piece.

Whole Wheat Couscous with Truffle Oil, Golden Raisins, and Walnuts
Source: A Cooking with Wine Original

1 cup whole wheat couscous, prepared according to package instructions
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
few drizzles white truffle oil

Prepare couscous according to package instructions.  Add walnuts, raisins, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and truffle oil.  Mix together and serve immediately.

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Mini Heirloom Tomatoes and Lemon Vinaigrette
Source: loosely adapted from Addicted to Recipes

2 romaine hearts
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp Olive Oil

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, worcestershire and mustard. Stir in cheese and set aside.

Preheat grill over medium - high heat. Cut romaine length wise leaving the core so each half remains together. Spray with olive oil spray or Pam. Grill until grill marks form and lettuce wilts. About 6 minutes turning twice. Remove and drizzle with vinaigrette dressing and top with tomatoes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lakehouse Recipes and Travel Woes

So its been awhile since I've updated....first we were out of town at the family lakehouse for the 4th of July and then I was in Tampa for work.  I have a lot to say about both of those.

I'll start with business travel.  The kind that requires flying on airplanes.  Now, a few months ago, I wrote a post of "rules" that people should follow if they don't want to infuriate me should they happen to encounter me in an airport or on a plane.  Well, it appears I forgot one....silly me!  I'll recap here in case you're interested.

If you are flying on a domestic flight in the middle of the day, it is absolutely unnecessary and downright obnoxious for you to put your seat back all the way.  You know why?  Because, well, its 2:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday.  This is wakey-wakey really can't sit up straight for an hour and a half?  Plus, you're often not even sleeping!  Must you eat your Quizno's in a reclined position?  Is that even comfortable for you, or do you put your seat back just because its physically possible?  Or are you trying to annoy the socks off the person behind you?  Because, you know....there isn't much leg room to begin with and flying isn't all that comfortable.  And you want to know what makes it even MORE uncomfortable?  Your seat back in my face and the crushing sensation I get in my kneecaps so you can read your Kindle laying down!!  And if you absolutely must recline, for whatever inexplicable reason, you could at least EASE the seat back gently to give me a little heads up.  Instead of, you know, throwing yourself backwards as hard as possible so my drink spills in my lap and my nose breaks from the force of your seat in my face. 

Just sayin'.

Anywho, I'm home safe and sound and my kneecaps and nose are healing nicely.  I haven't cooked in like a week and a half so I'm itching to get back to the kitchen tonight (with my fishbowl-sized glass of wine, of course).  In the meantime, I have some recipes from the lakehouse to share.  I actually didn't make most of this I'll need to give my mother in law Mona and brother in law's girlfriend Lauren some credit here.  But I figure these are great recipes to share, and I DID take the photos, after all.  Enjoy!

Summer Pasta Salad
Source: My mother in law, Mona!

1 pound trio corkscrew pasta cooked and drain
1/2 jar McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning
1 18 oz bottle Kraftzesty Italian salad dressing
1 cucumber diced
1 Bermuda onion diced
1 red and 1 green pepper chopped
1 1/2 cup sliced baby carrots
1 pint cherry tomatoes halved

Mix all ingredients and toss well

Refrigerate at one hour before serving mix 1/2 bottle of salad dressing, can make day before, then add remaining salad dressing and vegetables before serving.

Cherry Hand Pies (made by Lauren!)
Source: Lauren, originally from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, or about 12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, unthawed
2/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry (preferably Dufour), thawed in refrigerator
Flour (for dusting)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to an 18x15" rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into nine 6x5" rectangles. Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to blend. Combine fresh cherries and next 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherry juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil, stirring often.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Working with 1 pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash. Scoop 3 tablespoons cherry mixture onto one side; fold dough over filling so that short ends meet, forming a 5x3" packet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in top of pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely

English Muffin Breakfast Strata
Source: Adapted from The Meaning of Pie

1 (16-ounce) package ground pork sausage
1 (12-ounce) package English muffins, split and buttered
1 (10½-ounce) block sharp cheddar cheese
1 (8-ounce) block mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 large eggs
1½ cups sour cream
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained

Cook sausage in a skillet, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Cut muffin halves into quarters and arrange in an even layer in a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle half each of sausage, cheddar cheese and mozzarella evenly over muffins. Whisk together eggs, sour cream and chilies in a large bowl. Pour evenly over muffins. Top with remaining sausage and cheeses. Cover and chill eight hours. Pull out of refrigerator a half hour before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Fireworks Cookies (Made by Mona)
Source: Martha Stewart

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 teaspoon baking powder
Coarse salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decorating the Cookies:

Make the cookies: Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a large bowl.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, then vanilla. Refrigerate dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut out cookies using a 1 3/4-, 2 1/4-, 2 3/4-, or 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, rerolling scraps once. Transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes

Bake until edges just start to brown, 17 to 19 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Decorate the cookies: Pipe an outline of white icing around edge of 1 cookie, leaving a 1/4-inch border, then "flood" with more white icing to cover

Immediately pipe a red or blue dot in the center of cookie. Then pipe concentric rings of colors around the center dot (using the same color as the dot, or alternating colors).

Immediately drag a toothpick through the colors to create bursts, starting from the center dot and working toward the edge, then alternate dragging inward and outward as you work around the cookie. (Or drag around the cookie in 1 direction or curve the lines for a pinwheel effect.) Let dry. Repeat with remaining cookies and icings

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Short Hiatus

Hey all!  Hope everyone had a fabulous 4th of July weekend!  I sure did...we just returned from the lake house yesterday and now I'm off to Tampa for a couple of days for work.  Be back Thursday, and I'm hoping to get back to blogging then.  I have some cool new recipes to share from the weekend but I have to leave for the airport in 2 hours and I haven't packed yet, nor have I purchased the new suitcase I need to pack in.  So the new posts are going to have to wait a couple more days until I return.  Stay tuned!