Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Cookies and Squares

Now you may be saying - hold the phone! It's Christmas Eve's Eve. What's done is done! - But these treats are super easy and will bring you joy well into the New Year. The first is a Swedish Gingerbread cookie. I have a collection of 40 holiday cookie cutters. Yes, you read that right.... 40. But wait, it gets better, I don't have a rolling pin. I'm not much of a baker and I don't feel the need to buy a tool I'm only going to use once or twice a year. So what do I use to roll out these cookies?! Why an empty wine bottle, what else?! And it works perfectly.

Swedish Pepparkakor
Makes about 8 - 10 dozen


  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  1. Heat molasses in a small saucepan until boiling, let boil for one minute
  2. Add butter and sugar and stir until the butter is melted
  3. Let cool to room temperature then stir in egg
  4. While molasses mixture is cooling, sift together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Mix in molasses mixture to flour mix in bowl
  6. Cover and chill overnight
  7. Roll out a workable chunk of dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes
  8. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes.
These freeze beautiful! And with such a big batch you can give them as gifts to everyone you visit over the holidays or enjoy them all winter with your afternoon tea, as part of the bedtime milk and cookie routine or even as a nibble with your morning coffee.
This next recipe is an old family favorite. This is my Nana's recipe that she used to make for me. I made them this year in her honour. Miss you Nana!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Squares
Makes 16 cut from a square baking pan
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 peanut butter (the regular kind, not the healthy 'just nuts' stuff, I tried - it doesn't taste the same at all)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Icing sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Beat butter, peanut butter, eggs and brown sugar together until fluffy
  3. Add in the vanilla
  4. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt until well blended
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 -35 minutes. You may find the middle is a bit soft. I turn down the heat to 340 at 30 minutes and cook for another 8 - 10 minutes. Or you can put the pan on your burner where the heat from the oven escapes after you take it out of the oven.
  7. Once the pan has cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar.
(I need to pick up some icing sugar...)

I'm doing a prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings, potato parsnip mash and roasted root veggies for Christmas dinner. I'm also doing my lobster lasagna for a special meal over the holidays. Good eats will be had by all!

I wish you all the best of the season and a most wonderful New Year.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Veggie and Pasta al Forno

I made this recipe a while ago and was just eating the frozen leftovers. It's so daggon tasty (and I have the notes from when I made it) that I thought I'd share. It was based on leftover cooked pasta. I always make too much pasta so I freeze what I don't need and then I have it when I want to make a casserole!

This is a great recipe to make before the holidays and have ready to pull out of the freezer on a night you don't feel like cooking or when you have guests over (planned or drop ins!). I got 6 plus servings out of this but some were more lunch size than dinner size. Make double and you'll have a spare dinner ready to go when you need it most.

Veggie and Pasta al Forno
Serves 4 -6


  • 3 cups cooked medium pasta such as penne, fusilli, bowties or wagon wheels

  • 3 cups cooked and chopped veggies. I used broccoli, cauliflower and green onion

  • 4 cups shredded 3 cheese mix. I used swiss, cheddar and mozza (use light were possible!)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup light sour cream

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

  • cooking spray.


  1. Preheat oven to 350

  2. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, use one big dish or individual ones

  3. Mix together the pasta, veggies, cheese, salt, garlic powder and sour cream.

  4. Pour into casserole dish or dishes

  5. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and spray the crumbs with cooking spray

  6. Bake until bubbly, about 30 - 40 minutes.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday Veggie Leftovers

I've been meaning to share some leftover ideas for the veggies from your big holiday meals. There are always lots of ideas of what to do with the leftover meat but what about those veggies?! Well I have 2 ideas for you.

Risotto! Yup, I'm talking about it risotto again. Here's the basic recipe from my"Lets Talk Risotto" post. Leftover veggies, mashed or diced, are a natural to make into a risotto. Just heat them a bit in the microwave before adding them at the end of the cooking time. Make a big pot! Nothing is nicer when folks drop in then being able to offer them lunch or a snack of yummy risotto and it's a nice break from the deluge of turkey or ham sandwiches. I made one Thanksgiving weekend with the leftover can pumpkin I had opened to make pumpkin biscotti. You can use your leftover carrots, turnip, parsnip, squash, brussel sprouts, asparagus.... about the only thing I wouldn't use is potatoes and I already mentioned freezing your mashed potatoes for Shepard's pie later. Everything has a purpose!

Okay, what other use can you make out of those leftover veggies... SOUP! The mashed veggies can be made into a pureed soup while the diced, chunked or whole veggies can make a great broth soup with barley, pasta or rice or creamy soups. Leftover sweet potato, squash or pumpkin makes great pureed soups while leftover carrots, turnip and even potatoes go great in a hearty pea soup. Leftover green veggies like broccoli or asparagus make great creamy soups. (the underlined items are recipes here on this blog, not descriptions of the items!)

And most of these leftovers freeze beautifully! Just be mindful that pasta and barley in soup will continue to absorb liquid so you can end up with a gloppy soup. If you want to freeze those types of soups, freeze the pasta or barley separately.

Happy Holidays!