baked lobster

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there is nothing like summer lobster.  and, how easy it is to prepare at home.  i usually purchase lobster tails and simply bake them on foil in the oven until the lobster flesh is firm and pink. with a bit of margarine, and seasonings to taste–the rest is just perfection.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the lobster tails on a sheet pan covered with foil, add a bit of margarine on top and bake for 15 minutes or less until the internal temperature of the lobster meat is at least 145 degrees.

i simply go by look and feel–very similar to cooking shrimp.  serve with corn, red potatoes, cole slaw or pasta salad.  a perfect summer meal.

lavender sugar cookies

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it really feels like spring now.  we have had lots of rain in midland, and i can see crocus blooming in my yard — the grass is greening, and my garden club had a meeting yesterday.

our club’s speaker was from the mt. hope herb farm.  as one of the hostesses for the meeting, i brought a couple of recipes that included herbal flavors and tastes.

i have changed this recipe a bit from the original given to me by Donna Frawley.  the first time i made the recipe, it seemed to have too much of a lavender flavor.  so, i have decreased the amount of culinary lavender, and it was perfect.

the dough is very sturdy, rolls out well and bakes perfectly.  it does not crumble and would probably work with other types of herbs.  i would experiment on the amount added, as too much would over power the cookies.

to make these cookies:
mix 1/2 cup butter, with 1/4 cup Crisco  along with 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  cream together well.  i used room temperature butter and Crisco.

next, blend in 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons lavender.  cover and chill the dough for one hour.

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  roll dough out to 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface.  cut into desired shapes and place on a non greased cookie sheet pan.  bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  the recipe makes less than three dozen cookies.

i rotated the cookies half way through the baking time.

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march madness thumbprint cookies

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for your march madness parties, here is a cute recipe for basketball thumbprint cookies.  i changed the color of the icing to orange, and used black icing for decorating the basketballs.

these cookies are cute and festive and the recipe comes from Kroger grocery magazine — of all places.  i would have to say that these cookies are quite tasty and the recipe made 21 one-inch cookies.

to make the thumbprints:   heat the oven to 350 degrees.  mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup shortening, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and one egg yolk with a mixer.  when creamed, add 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon salt until the dough holds together.

shape into one inch cookie balls with a cookie scoop.  place one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  press thumb into center of each cookie ball.  bake 12 minutes or until light brown. remove from the cookie sheet and allow to cool completely.

meanwhile make cookie icing recipe. i have several listed on this blog.  add red and yellow food coloring until the orange color is achieved.  with a pastry bag or small spoon, fill the thumbprints in the cookies.

i waited several hours before decorating with the black basketball stripes to allow the orange color to firm up and harden.  the black icing takes quite a bit of black food color.  i used much more color to achieve black than would have been expected.

serve at your next march madness basketball party with other game day favorites.

 

nigella’s pecan tart

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from my childhood, i remember bowls of nuts around the house during thanksgiving and christmas with old-fashioned metal hand nut crackers.  i really haven’t thought much about that custom for years, but this year, i decided to make a pecan tart for christmas day.  i found a recipe in nigella lawson’s christmas cookbook, which i had not yet tried.  this recipe turned out to be a delicious mixture, and this tart does not resemble a pecan pie at all.  if you can eat this tart while it is still warm, with a scoop of vanilla whipped cream, i promise it to be the best you have ever tasted.  typically, i don’t like pie, and pecan pies seem to have a gummy layer that just has never interested me.  if you have had similar experiences with pie, give this tart a try.

nigella calls this recipe, pecan plus pie and provides a simple pastry crust that just presses into the tin.  no rolling is necessary with this tart crust.  this tart will serve 12 people or less over a period of several days. the tart holds up. no runny filling and no soggy crust with this recipe.

to make the tart:

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  in a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 1/4 cup whole milk to form a rough damp dough.

using a 10 inch round and 2 inch deep tart pan (i used a square pan instead) press the dough into the tin over the base and the sides of the pan.  place the crust in the freezer while preparing the other ingredients.

melt 1/2 maple or light corn syrup with 1 stick butter, and 1 cup of packed light brown sugar over a low heat in a saucepan.  add i teaspoon vanilla extract, and let this mixture stand for at least 10 minutes to cool.  this mixture needs to be cool before the eggs are incorporated.

when cooled, remove the tart crust from the freezer and arrange 3/4 pound of whole pecans or mixed nuts if preferred.  whisk 3 eggs into the cooled filling, until the consistency is similar to caramel.  this step required an electric mixer to achieve the correct consistency.  next, pour this mixture over the nuts in the tin.

bake in a 350 degree oven for at least 40 minutes, or until the filling is set and the pastry is golden.  i baked my tart for 50 minutes and it was perfect.  this tart could be made up to two days in advance and it would still be perfect.  

i won’t say this is a calorie free recipe, nor is it healthy.  but, it was delicious and a treat to have just once a year.

my family loved this pecan pie tart.  i think i will make it for thanksgiving next year.

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christmas gnomes

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after the christmas holiday, i take some time to review everything i prepared and evaluate what worked and what was just average.  this christmas cookie was one of the first to leave my christmas cookie plate.  my daughter even asked if i had more stored in my cookie tin.

this gnome recipe has been with me for years and does not have an origin noted on the paper.  it does give a history of the cookie, with its roots coming from sweden.  during christmas season, every home in sweden has at least one gnome for the children. the most likely place that the gnome lives is under the porch. this gnome is said to look after the children and know when they are good or bad.  mothers from sweden warn their children that the gnome is watching them.

some families tell their children that the gnomes live in the barn and protect the animals from fire and illness.  since the families are thankful for the work of the gnomes all year, they fill a bowl of porridge and place it on the porch at christmas eve.  the bowl is empty on christmas morning and the children find presents left from them.  the gnomes tend to hide the gifts around the home and the children search for them in the morning.  i really think this is a sweet story and i enjoyed making these gingerbread gnomes this year.  i am certain i must have purchased the gnome cookie cutter with this information sheet during the 1980’s when my children were young.  i do remember making these cookies many years ago, but have not baked them for at least 15 years.  so, this year was a nice way to reintroduce them to my cookie plate.  it will be interesting to see if i get a request next year for the gnomes to return.

to make the cookies:  

cream 1 cup crisco baking sticks with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  add 1 egg, 1 cup molasses, and 2 tablespoons white vinegar.  mix with an electric mixer until well blended.

next, mix 5 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon cloves in a bowl.  gradually add to the wet ingredients in mixer.

i chilled the dough in a bowl for one hour and then rolled the dough with a splash of flour on the board.  this is a very good dough.  it is firm and cuts nicely with the gnome cutter.  i placed the cookies on light colored baking sheets, decorated the hats with red colored sugar. then, i baked the gnomes in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10 to 11 minutes, turning and rotating the cookie pans half way between baking.

these cookies look very charming arranged in a basket or a bowl during the season.  i promise young children will like them and enjoy the story of the christmas gnomes.

 

 

moving my blog to wordpress.com

with the new year, comes a new format for my blog. i began this blog in april 2010, and look forward to a fresh start for 2013.

i have been searching for a new template, format, and blog style for a couple of weeks now, and have so many new posts to compose, from holiday cooking to searching for new gardening ideas and inspiration.

on the about page, find many widgets to help you share recipes and ideas, as well as blog archives, a wonderful new search function, and even a categories list for specific blog entries. i hope this blog will be a great adventure for you.

please continue to follow me and let me know what you think about my new platform on wordpress.com. i am on twitter, facebook, pinterest, and linkedin, ready to answer your questions and comments.

here is my new blog address: angelfoodgarden.wordpress.com

chocolate thumbprint cookies

there is always time for a bit of nostalgia when choosing to make a dessert.  i remember many years of chocolate thumbprint cookies purchased for my family from a small bakery in Charleston. their cookies were always so buttery and delicious.

so, i decided to try these on my own with a recipe from Martha’s cookie book.  well, her recipe is splendid.  i followed the directions exactly and even baked the cookies for the exact amount of time suggested in the recipe.

these cookies are delicious and the recipe makes about 4 1/2 dozen to share with your friends.

to start:  preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 sticks of unsalted butter, with 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

next, mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour, beginning on low speed and then increasing.  form balls, using about 2 teaspoons of dough for each.  place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes.  remove them from the oven, and with a very small spoon or your thumb, make an imprint in the center of each cookie.

rotate the pans and return to the oven to bake for another 7-9 minutes more.  remove from the oven and check the thumbprints.  if they need more shaping, do that now.
cool the cookies.

to make the filling:  combine 6 ounces of semisweet chopped chocolate with 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 2 teaspoons of corn syrup.  heat in a double boiler until melted and smooth.  allow to cool a bit until the mixture thickens.  next, fill the cookies with the chocolate and set aside to firm up.

cookies can be stored in single layers at room temperature for at least 3-5 days.