Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3, 2014

Winter break is drawing to a close...I hope you all had a happy holiday season!  Here's to a fantastic New Year ahead for all of us!!!  We were busy with family and friends, and tested out very few new recipes and only two earned keeper status.  Of the few recipes we tried I made 2 different versions of English Muffins and I am almost satisfied and ready to give them keeper status.  Maybe next week!

One of the recipes we did find and was voted a keeper was inspired by my sister's cookie exchange party.  A cookie that we simply fell in love with was a caramel-filled sea-salt topped snickerdoodle.  DELICIOUS!!!  Although the ones we made didn't look like the ones I received as part of the cookie exchange, they were still fabulous so I have included the recipe here.  You know they must be good when even Ryan wants to eat them!

The other keeper recipe technically falls under the "tried and true" category, but I haven't made them in years and years.  It is a recipe that my grandmother used to make - crab toasts! I think the recipe is from the 1950's! These are an easy appetizer that I am sure your guests will gobble up.  Maybe make them for this weekend while you watch the football playoff games!

Can you believe it is January 2014?  The last year flew by in a flash (at least for me) and I imagine the same for the year ahead.  Lots of plans already on the calendar; it was a good thing we had 2 weeks to relax and decompress.  We better gear up for what lies ahead!   

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Crab Toasts
Caramel-Filled Sea-Salt Topped Snickerdoodles

Crab Toasts

* 1 stick butter, softened
* 1 jar (5 oz) Old English cheese spread
* 1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp seasoned salt (optional)
* 1 6z can good quality crab meat (not imitation)
* 6 English Muffins, split

1. Mix all the ingredients (except the English muffins!).
2. Spread the mixture on the raw English muffins. 
3. Place the English muffins on a cookie sheet and freeze until hard.
4. When the muffins are hard, cut each into 4 pieces.  Place all the pieces in a freezer bag until you are ready to make and serve them.
5. When ready to make the crab toasts, place the sections on a cookie sheet and toast under the broiler in the oven until the cheese is melted and the toasts are lightly golden brown.

This is an oldie but a goodie!  My grandmother used to make these!  For the seasoned salt, I used Lawry's because I had that on hand, but you could also use Old Bay or something similar.  When I mixed this together, I found that 8 split English muffins worked well for me, but I suppose I could have simply added a bit more mix to each muffin if I only had 6.  Also, instead of a freezer bag I placed the crab toasts after I cut them back in the plastic bag of the English Muffins.  If you are going to make these well ahead of when you are going to use them and anticipate they will be in the freezer for a long time then definitely use a freezer bag.

Caramel-Filled Sea-Salt Topped Snickerdoodles

* 2 1/2 cups AP flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 2 tsp cream of tartar
* 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp sea salt
* 1 cup unsalted butter
* 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
* 1 tbsp plain or vanilla yogurt
* caramel bits, or caramels unwrapped and cut into quarters
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* course sea salt for sprinkling on cookies

1. In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and sea salt. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter, whisking frequently.  The butter should begin to become frothy on top with brown specks starting to form on the bottom.  When you begin to see this and smell a nutty aroma, remove it from the heat and let it cool.
3. In a stand mixer combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Mix until blended and smooth.
4. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla and yogurt and mix until well combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.  Put the cookie dough in a container with a lid, or as a ball in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight.
5. When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl.
6. Take about 1-2 tbsp of dough and flatten slightly.  Place 4-5 caramel bits (or 1/4 of a caramel) in the center, and wrap with the dough. Roll the cookie in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a parchment- or silpat- lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the cookies with sea salt prior to cooking.
7. Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes.  The edges should be set but the centers still soft.  Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to allow the cookies to fully cool.

I sometimes forgot to sprinkle the sea salt on the cookies before baking, and in those cases I sprinkled them right when they came out of the oven.  Both methods worked well, so don't fret if you forget to add the finishing salt!