Thursday, November 17, 2016

French Macarons

Have you ever been intimidated by a recipe or a technique???

I have. I don't know why, but French Macarons have always been a mystery to me.

But after spending a large part of my day tackling these things, I realize they're not such a big deal after all. They're actually pretty easy - just a little time consuming. And, of course, I did a very basic version.

Granted, my first attempt quickly found its way to the garbage can. So, after wiping my tears and heading back to the internet, I combined 3 different recipes and baking techniques and came up with something half-way decent.

I just went with a plain, no-color version this time, but oh my gosh, the possibilities and flavor combinations are absolutely endless! I will be doing these many more times and you should, too. Don't let a recipe intimidate you. Just jump in and see for yourself! The results are delicious!

French Macarons

3 egg whites (room temperature, if possible)
¼ c. granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract (or almond)
1 c. almond flour
1 2/3 c. powdered sugar

Line 2 flat baking sheets with silicone baking mats and set aside.

Beat egg whites in large bowl of stand mixer until foamy. Beat in granulated sugar and extract. Continue to beat until fluffy and you achieve soft peaks (about 6 to 8 minutes).

In medium bowl, sift powdered sugar with almond flour.

Remove bowl from mixer and quickly fold in powdered sugar and flour mixture. Fold by hand until well incorporated.

Preheat oven to 325°

Scoop macaron batter into piping bag fitted with open round tip. Carefully pipe batter into 1 ½ inch round discs about 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

Gently tap bottom of pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Allow pans to sit for about 20 minutes. 

Place 1 pan in upper part of preheated oven and place the other pan in the lower portion. Immediately reduce heat to 300° Bake for 8 minutes.

After the first 8 minutes, open the oven. Switch the upper level pan with the lower level pan and bake for another 9 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20-30 minutes. Carefully “peel” macarons from the baking sheet(s) and place on a wire rack.

Fill as desired. (I used a store-bought can frosting, but you could also use seedless jam or other filling).

(Note: to change the color of your macarons, add a few drops of gel food coloring to the beaten egg white mixture just before folding in powdered sugar and almond flour).


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Joyful Kitchen Holiday issue is HERE!!!

You'll find simple, delicious, must-try recipes in the brand new issue of
  Joyful Kitchen Magazine, just in time for the holidays!

Available in digital download OR in print! 

Give the gift of great recipes this Christmas. Order today!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Grilled Pineapple Cookie Pie

I saw something on TV the other day about grilled fruit and immediately my wheels started turning. I wanted to create something festive for the holidays using grilled fruit in a dessert. I ran to the store looking for plums, but I think their season has come and gone. So, I scouted around the produce department. Found pineapple and there was my AHA! Moment! Grilled pineapple it is!

Grilled Pineapple Cookie Pie

16.5 oz. tube of prepared sugar cookie dough
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced 1 inch thick (need 7 to 8 slices)
1 c. orange juice
1 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
10 oz. bag of dark melting chocolate
1 c. prepared cream cheese frosting
(10 to 12) Maraschino cherries, stems removed
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using your hands, press cookie dough evenly and slightly up the sides of springform pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Place pineapple slices in shallow baking dish. Set aside.

Combine orange juice with honey, cinnamon and cloves in sauce pan over low heat. Whisk until honey is dissolved and allow to simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture over pineapple slices.

Meanwhile, spray grill pan with cooking spray and heat on stove top.

Use tongs to place pineapple slices on hot grill pan. Grill on each side about 2-3 minutes until nice grill marks are achieved. Remove pineapple slices to a plate.

Melt chocolate in microwave. Stir until smooth. (TIP: I used a 2-cup measuring cup for the chocolate because you will want the depth rather than width of a normal bowl when dipping the pineapple).

Using tongs, dip each pineapple slice half-way into the chocolate. Carefully place on sheet of wax paper to cool and set. Do the same with remaining slices. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread cream cheese frosting over cooled cookie.

Carefully arrange chocolate-dipped pineapple slices overlapping as shown.

Decorate with Maraschino cherries and garnish with sprig of mint (optional)

Unlatch springform pan and carefully transfer to serving plate.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thumb-Press Cookies

Sometimes...you just gotta bake cookies. On good days, not-so-good days, rainy days or "I just want to get away from the internet for awhile" days. Cookies are always a good option.

These little darlings take me right back to my grandmother's kitchen. I remember so many times, especially during the holidays, she'd clear everything off the kitchen table and we'd make a big, beautiful mess. I remember swirls of flour, sprinkles of sugar, rolling pins, the old flour sifter and lots of laughs.

But when we baked cookies, we didn't just make one kind. Nope, we had about 3-4 different kinds of cookies going at once. We shuffled cookie sheets in and out of the oven and I'd very carefully remove them to wire racks to cool...eating a couple along the way. Oohhh, she was so patient with me.

This is the time of year I find myself re-visiting so many sweet memories from holidays past. Grandma's flour sifter, her rolling pin and her cast-iron skillet are among the many treasures that now live in MY kitchen and I still feel her love and gentleness every time I use them.

The recipe for these old-fashioned favorites is simple and uncomplicated, but it's the tradition and fond memories that make it so special.
Thumb-Press Cookies
1 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Filling (suggestions):
Seedless Jam
Chocolate frosting
Chopped nuts (for outer edges)
Colorful sprinkles (for outer edges)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In large bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.

Add flour a little at a time. Mix on medium until fully combined and dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl.

Use a cookie dough scoop to form balls. Place them on silicone-lined baking sheets.

Use your thumb (or spoon) to gently press the centers of each. If filling with jam, carefully spoon seedless jam into the centers of each cookie. (For the chocolate-filled version, I baked them first, allowed them to cool completely, then piped in chocolate frosting).

Bake for 12-15 minutes (just enough to set up. Don't overbake).


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Zucchini Sausage Bites

Hello! My name is Debbie and I'm addicted to these new zucchini sausage bites! I'm definitely breaking out this recipe for Thanksgiving and maybe once or twice before then. Gainey Vineyard's delicious Shallots, Scallions & Leeks Seasoning tips the scales on the flavor meter. These are absolutely delicious and are the perfect hors d' oeuvres for family gatherings this holiday season. 

Zucchini Sausage Bites

1 lb. bulk pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
2 Zucchini, shredded (using cheese grater, about 2 cups)
1 ½ c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
¾ c. Italian Bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard Shallots, Scallions & Leeks Seasoning
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray mini-muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat breaking up large chunks as it browns. Drain and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

In large bowl combine shredded zucchini, grated cheese, bread crumbs and Gainey Vineyard seasoning. Add cooked sausage.

Stir in beaten eggs.

Add bread crumbs and stir well to fully incorporate all ingredients.

Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop out zucchini mixture into mini-muffin tin.

Place in preheated oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Yield about 32 mini muffins.

>>>This is a great hors d’oeuvre for holiday gatherings!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Beef with Noodles and Vegetables

So, THIS is one of those things I had to stop eating so I would have enough for the photo! I put this recipe together using Gainey Vineyard's Pear Balsamic Vinegar and it completely transforms this basic sauce from good to WOW! No kidding. As per dear husband's request, I WILL be making (and devouring this one again....and again....and again). Definitely a winner.

Beef with Noodles and Vegetables

1 ½ - 2 lb. flank steak, sliced in 1-inch strips
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 Tbsp. cold water
1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
½ c. low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 ½ Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 ½ Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard Pear Balsamic Vinegar
1 med. carrot, sliced thinly
1 med. zucchini, sliced thinly
1 c. broccoli florets
Sesame seeds (optional)
10 oz. pkg of Chinese noodles

Place beef strips in a large bowl.

In smaller bowl, stir together corn starch and garlic powder in water until dissolved. Pour over beef strips. Turn meat over to coat each piece with corn starch mixture.

Heat sesame and canola oils in skillet over medium heat. Add meat to the hot skillet and cook until each strip is browned using tongs to turn.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine soy sauce, ground ginger, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Use a whisk to fully incorporate ingredients. Set aside.

Pour about 4-5 cups water in medium-large pot. Heat to boiling and cook noodles according to package instructions.

Place sliced carrots, zucchini and broccoli in small plastic bowl. Add about a cup of water to bowl. Partially cover and microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes.

Once all meat is browned, remove each piece to a plate and drain remaining juices from the pan.

Return the meat to the skillet and pour soy sauce mixture over the top. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until beef is tender.

To serve: place a good amount of drained noodles in serving bowl. Spoon steamed vegetables over noodles. Add several strips of beef over vegetables and spoon desired amount of sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.