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Cookie Recipes Smack Down!


Hi to anyone out there that might stumble upon this. It’s been a while. I think I explained in my last post that I’ve been crazy busy with work and long commutes, etc. But I’m between contracts yet again and the holidays are upon us. My 6 year old wanted to make gingerbread cookies a couple of weeks ago, and last night I made spritz cookies as gifts for her teachers and before and after care teachers as well. I ended up comparing two recipes each for both styles of cookies and thought I’d share the results with you.

Everyone goes on and on about The Joy of Cooking and how it’s one of the best cookbooks EVER, so it was the first place I turned to for a gingerbread cookie recipe. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectations. The dough was dry and crumbly and would not come together. I compared it with a Betty Crocker recipe and it had only 1/4 vs 1/2 cup of butter plus it did not call for allspice. I melted the extra 1/4 cup of butter and added it to my dough to help it come together. It was still a bit too hard for my liking and a struggle to roll out. Once baked the texture was fine, but a little bland. I think it was missing the allspice that was included in the Betty Crocker recipe. On that note you can find that recipe here:

And on to the spritz cookies – I forgot to take the chicken out of the fridge so we had supper late, and started making the cookies late. Luckily, spritz cookies are super fast to make! No chilling the dough or struggling with rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes, you just put the dough in the canister and squeeze the trigger and the shape pops out! My daughter is strong enough now to squeeze it out herself, which was fun for both of us. The model press I have is a Wilton Preferred Press and some of the shapes worked better than others. I’m not sure if it was the machine or the dough but the snowmen wouldn’t really come together very well and the pumpkins just wouldn’t work. The tree, heart, and one of the flower shapes worked pretty well. The first recipe I used was from Betty Crocker as I had luck with the Big Red Book the last time. The cookies tasted good but not great – I could taste the flour a little. So the next morning I made some more on my own using the Cook’s Illustrated recipe and it was pretty much the same in texture but the flavour was delicious! Buttery, tender, and sweet with a pleasant vanilla flavour. Love it!

Spritz Cookies

Ready in 1 hr. Makes 72 11/2 inch cookies

⦁ 1 large egg yolk
⦁ 1 tablespoon heavy cream
⦁ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⦁ 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (2 sticks)
⦁ 2⁄3 cup ⦁ sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
⦁ 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
⦁ 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 375°F In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla with a fork until combined; set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer running at medium speed, add the yolk-cream mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually beat in the flour until combined. Scrape down the bowl and give a final stir with the rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain.
3. If using a cookie press to form the cookies, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fill the press; if using a pastry bag (see TECHNIQUE below). Press or pipe cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet until just warm, 10 to 15 minutes; using a metal spatula, transfer them to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
4. FOR LEMON SPRITZ COOKIES: Follow the recipe for Spritz Cookies, adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the yolk-cream mixture in step 1 and adding 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest to the butter along with the sugar and salt in step 2.
5. FOR ALMOND SPRITZ COOKIES: Grind ½ cup sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons of the flour called for in Spritz Cookies in a food processor until powdery and evenly fine, about 1 minute; combine the almond mixture with the remaining flour. Follow the recipe for Spritz Cookies, substituting 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for the vanilla.
6. TECHNIQUE: Filling a Pastry Bag: (1) Make a C shape with one hand and hold the piping bag. Fold the bag over that hand about halfway down, insert the tip, and scrape the dough into the bag. (2) When the bag is about half full, pull up the sides, push down the dough, and twist tightly while again pushing down on the dough to squeeze out any air. (3) Grab the bag at the base of the twist. Using the other hand as a guide, hold the top at a 90-degree angle about 1/2-inch above the baking sheet and squeeze to form the shape.


Quick Update

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here, but I got a bit of a jolt this morning when I checked my comments. Apparently, I had forgotten to include a source for one of the recipes I’ve reviewed. I think it’s quite apparent that I try recipes from various sources and let you know how well they turned out for me. There are a few excepts, where I’ve made my own like my recipe for homemade Wunderbars for example, or I’ll tweak a recipe and make it my own. I just wanted to make it clear so that no one thinks I’m trying to pass most of these recipes off as my own.

In other news, I haven’t been doing as much  cooking as usual. I’ve had some bad luck in the last couple of months. First my dishwasher died, then my oven element died and I can’t fix it on my own so I need to call a repair guy. I would also have to take my old element to Sears to see if they have a replacement, and its not fun doing that on the bus.

I bought a little toaster oven in the meantime, and it works surprisingly well. I’ve roasted chicken, pork chops, and even prime rib in there and it’s all turned out really well! I’ve baked muffins, cupcakes, and blondies with good results. I can’t get a full sized casserole dish in there, and I can’t fit my cast iron skillet in there to broil something, which is frustrating. Come Christmas I will definitely need the oven fixed in order to roast a Turkey! This weekend I have to bit the bullet and run around to get all that done. Oh did I mention my basement sprung a leak so the contractor is coming by on Saturday to fix that. And it’s nearly Christmas. It’s a good thing I’m not shelling out the dough to go back to Labrador for Christmas or I’d be in a bind. Wish me luck!


The oven:

Deceptively Delicious Chicken Cannelloni

Steve gets off work earlier than me and he came over the other night be help with garbage, then he challenged himself to make this dish from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious. He was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t read the direction for cauliflower puree closely enough. He didn’t steam the veg first and ended up having a difficult time pureeing it in the blender. In his defense, its not well laid out in the book. You have to go back and forth between pages for directions on how to steam, and then directions on how to purée, which is a little cumbersome if you haven’t made purées before. Anyway, when I got home I tried microwaving the puree but gave up because I couldn’t really tell if it was doing anything. We went on with the recipe as directed and it turned out pretty well I think. In the first couple of bites I could taste the cauliflower but got used to it. It may have been because it wasn’t cooked first, I’m not sure. Other than that, it’s a pretty basic dish but once Miss M. finally starts eating foods that are mixed together, I will give it a try again. (Sorry about posting such a mess of a dish but we nearly forgot to take a pic.)


Chicken Cannelloni

8 whole wheat lasagna sheets ( 4×4 or 3×6 inches)

cooking spray

1 lb chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

3/4 cup cauliflower puree

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups jarred tomato sauce

1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Ahead of time: cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and steam for about 10 minutes. Whir in a blender or food processor for about a minute or two, with a teaspoon or two of water, until smooth.

Boil and salt the water for the lasagna sheets. Cook, drain and then place the lasagna in a bowl of cool water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, ricotta, cauliflower puree, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt until the chicken is well coated.

Place 1 lasagna sheet on the cutting board. On the edge closest to you, spread out 1/4 cup of the filling so that it covers 1/3 of the sheet. With your fingertips, roll the lasagna into a tube (lift the edge of the pasta with the filling and roll). Transfer seam-side down to the baking sheet. Pour the sauce around the cannelloni but not on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes.

Baked French Toast with Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

My friend Marcel got a promotion at work so I invited him over for brunch on the holiday Monday. He’s a little more health conscious then me, but still loves anything sweet and cinnamon-y. I searched through a ridiculous number of cool, books and decided about creating a hybrid recipe using  the ingredients from this Cooking Light recipe but baking the toast in the oven instead. Bad news – I forgot to spray the cookie sheet. Good news – it was still darn good! The real star was the apple sauce. Although it’s springtime, the apple and cinnamon combined with the real maple syrup screamed autumn. I am going to make this a go to recipe come September/October, but its great any time of the year.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and bake for about 7-8 minutes until the egg mixture has set.

I forgot to take a pic of course, so please enjoy this photo from Cooking Light – probably my favourite cooking publication 🙂


Maple French Toast


3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
12 (1-ounce) slices day-old white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce (recipe below)


1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Working with 4 bread slices at a time, place bread slices into milk mixture, quickly turning to coat both sides. Remove bread slices from milk mixture. Add bread slices to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove toast from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray, remaining 8 bread slices, and remaining milk mixture. Sprinkle powdered sugar evenly over toast.

Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

I used prepared applesauce instead of making it from apples, about 2 cups, and simmered for 20 minutes


1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
8 cups chopped peeled apple (about 8 medium apples)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Combine syrup and 1/2 cup water in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Add apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg; cover and cook over medium-low heat 25 minutes or until tender. Mash apples with a potato masher. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Serve warm or chilled.

One-Pan Chicken with Herbs + Garlic

Oh man, I have totally neglected this blog for the last couple of weeks! I’ve been so busy at work, and we haven’t been making a ton of new recipes. There are a couple that I haven’t posted yet including this one.

Here’s another recipe from the long weekend. Chicken thighs were on sale so I used a family pack of those instead of a whole chicken, used baby potatoes, and finally some dried herbs instead of fresh. OMG it was so good! The rendered chicken fat and the oil combined with the wine and broth to make a glorious sauce in the bottom of the pan, plus the chicken skin stayed super crispy and delicious! The potatoes soaked up all the flavors and were perfectly tender. This recipe is so simple that it’s perfect for any night of the week. This one is going into regular rotation once the weather cools down again. Very comforting.


One-Pan Chicken in White Wine with Herbs and Garlic

Feeds 4 people

  • 1 large free-range chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 700gm new potatoes, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine or juice
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup finely chopped herbs (rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage)
  • 3T olive oil
  •  salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • sliced lemon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C and place the chicken pieces and potatoes (and lemons if you are using) in a large deep sided roasting pan. Mix the wine or juice, stock, mustard, garlic and herbs and pour over the chicken. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast uncovered for an hour, or until cooked through.


Booo! High Cholesterol :(

My heath is really suffering since I started this new job. I’m gone for 10 hours a day, only get 1/2 hour for lunch so no midday walk, I get  home around 6pm and I’m just pooped. I don’t cook as much anymore and my daughter is so picky I have to make two meals pretty much every night so I end up eating her chicken fingers and hot dogs a few too many times than I care to admit. The doc tells me I need to get my act together and start eating better. I have until mid-September to bring my bad cholesterol down. Steve and I are going to try our best to start cooking from my favourite cookbook – “The New Way to Cook Light” from the publishers of Cooking Light magazine. It’s a James Beard winner to boot! The next two weekends I have to work during two summer festivals so I’ll be putting in 10 – 12 hour days and eating horribly I’m sure. But after that we’re getting on track. I think the first recipe we want to try is Chicken Shawarma. Stay tuned!


Weber’s Ideal Cheeseburgers

It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Ottawa last week, and one of the highlights of course was the food. Friday, Steve made simple BBQ chicken, Saturday we went out for dinner at The Heart and Crown pub. I had chicken and waffles for the first time with spicy maple syrup of all things but it wasn’t my favourite. Sunday I made an amazing one pan chicken recipe that I will share later, and last night Steve made burgers! Amazingly, I made only one sweet dish, which was Baked French Toast with Apple Maple Syrup. Very delicious as well. (I totally forgot to take a pic). I’ll start by sharing the burgers so that you can start dreaming about making your own. 🙂 If you mince the onion very small you might be able to get away to feeding it to picky eaters! Miss M. still won’t try eating a burger but she did love the chicken I made which is a total triumph!


Weber’s Ideal Cheeseburgers

1½ pounds ground chuck (80% lean), preferably ground to order by your butcher
2  tablespoons minced white or yellow onion
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2  tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4  hamburger buns, split
4  slices aged cheddar cheese, each about 2 ounces
4  leaves butter lettuce
16  dill pickle chips

1. Mix the patty ingredients, including 1 tablespoon ketchup, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and then gently form four patties of equal size, each about 1 inch thick. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, make a shallow indentation about 1 inch wide in the center of the patties to prevent them from forming a dome as they cook. Refrigerate the patties until ready to grill.

2. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400° to 500°F).

3. Lightly season the patties on both sides with salt and pepper. Butter the cut side of the buns. Grill the patties over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed, until cooked to medium doneness (160°F), 9 to 11 minutes, turning once. During the last 30 seconds to 1 minute of grilling time, place a slice of cheese on each patty to melt, and toast the buns, cut side down, over direct heat.

4. Build each burger on a bun with a lettuce leaf, a patty, pickles, and ketchup, if desired. Serve immediately

©2014 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Recipe from Weber’s Big Book of Burgers™ by Jamie Purviance.


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