Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#Christmas Week butter cookie recipe + book #giveaway from author @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:


Sometimes it's fun to try new recipes.  Last week, I found a great looking, multifaceted recipe in my Ralph's Supermarket flyer that I thought would be perfect and easy for kids to make. It's a basic butter cookie that you can dress up in lots of ways. The recipe showed how to make cinnamon pecan pinwheels, chocolate peppermint cookies, apricot button cookies, all using the same butter cookie recipe.

Well, I had my grandsons over the other day, and one of them is really into cooking. He has a burn on his arm to prove it - he showed me. It's minor. Got too close to the stove at home. We were VERY careful to keep him away from hot stuff this time around.

He chose to make the cinnamon pinwheels!

Now, talk about a mess! Oh my. Kids just can't seem to keep the flour from going everywhere, but that's another story. I'm a good floor cleaner-upper (once they are out of the kitchen and settled at the art table).

The recipe uses regular flour, but you know me. I need to make things gluten-free. This made it difficult. Gluten-free flour dough just doesn't "roll" the same as regular flour dough. Sigh. It breaks. The "stretch and give" of gluten is vital. I've proven this multiple times when making my quiche or pie shells. But the wonder of baking is that things "melt" together and ultimately taste great, so if you can  get over cookies not being "beautiful," then you are ready to start celebrating.

Sugar cookie found in Ralph’s Supermarket Flyer

Basic Butter Cookie Dough

1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour (*gluten-free flour substitution is equal)

In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth (but not fluffy).  Beat in egg. Add flour (*or GF flour) and mix until incorporated. 

[forgot to take this picture; it's basic]

Chill dough for 1 hour. (I only refrigerated ½ hour. I think that was fine. And I had eager little boys.)

On floured parchment (*or GF floured parchment, if making GF cookies), set half the dough. Press down and flour the top. Cover with another piece of parchment and roll out into rectangle about 10 x 8. Then trim edges straight.  Repeat with second half of dough. Slide rectangles (on parchment paper) onto a baking sheet.

OOPS.  I misread this last direction when doing it, and it was difficult to move the dough – I did it, but it was messy. So pay attention. Keep it on the parchment paper.

Refrigerate another 20 minutes.  (*GF version refrigerate about 10 minutes; otherwise it can get “firm”).

For cinnamon pinwheels:

Meanwhile mix 3 tablespoons softened butter, ¾ cup brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl until well combined. Crumble half of the mixture of each of the rectangles and pat to distribute. (Ralph’s recipe also included ¼ cup chopped pecans; we elected not to use nuts.)

With long side facing you, using the parchment paper, roll rectangles into logs.  Chill until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut logs crosswise into ¼” slices. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until barely browned, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets or wire racks.  Makes 3-4 dozen.

**My pinwheels spread a lot and then turned out sort of rectangular. I think this was because the gluten-free version was a little firm and didn’t roll into a nice round “log.” C’est la vie!

No matter what, consider setting cookies on two baking sheets.

Note: I used the trimmed edges for regular sugar cookies. I rolled the dough together, set out walnut-sized rounds. Pressed them down, and one of my darling helpers covered them with sprinkles. COVERED THEM.  LOL!!  Delicious!



Savor the mystery!
Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas from all of us at Mystery Lovers Kitchen!

What are your favorite all-time Christmas decorations?  

What foods are you enjoying this Christmas?

DARYL AKA AVERY: Personally I love my tree. That's the most important thing when it comes to decorations. All the rest matters, but I really love the tree. The lights. The scent. The memories that hang upon it. I also love my collection of David Frye Christmas "sculptures."  They're so playful.

And for dessert? I love a yule log (see my gluten-free yule log recipe here) and I love, love, love something cheesy - like a good cheese platter or a cheesecake.

* * * 

LUCY BURDETTE: My favorite Christmas decoration is the stocking my aunt knit for me when I was probably 4. Not sure you can tell, but Santa's beard is fuzzy:). (My childhood nickname was Bobbie. The other one I made for John when we were first married--not nearly as nice!)

As for what to serve, I'm throwing my hands up! We're having a big crowd and no one wants to spend a day in Key West cooking, so I'm making stuffed shells (red and green!), salad and good bread and lots of cookies.

Merry Christmas everyone!

* * *

SHEILA CONNOLLY: I have a lot of ornaments that have survived countless moves, kids' sticky fingers, dogs and cats, but some of my favorites my grandmother bought in New York City, at a florist shop on Park Avenue called Irene Hayes (now Irene Hayes Wadley & Smythe LeMoult, founded in 1865 and yes, they're still in business, serving high-end customers!). The ornaments are opulent and still gorgeous, at more than a half-century old. Each year I bring them out reverently (as does my sister, since we shared the collection) and give them a place of honor on our tree.  Four generations!

Food? When I was growing up, for some reason that no one ever explained to me our traditional dessert was chocolate steamed pudding, which I presented on Mystery Lovers Kitchen all the way back in 2011. It has a wonderful flavor but it's still light, after a big Christmas dinner!

* * * 

PEG COCHRAN:  I have a lot of "favorite" ornaments! My late husband and I collected ornaments on our trips--from China, Bermuda, Portugal, Hong Kong, England, St. Thomas, etc.  I also have handmade ornaments from my late mother-in-law--a stuffed heart for each girl with "Baby's First Christmas" on the front and their birth date on the back.  One of my all-time favorites is actually one I bought myself--it's hand-crafted in copper by a local artist from Cape Cod and is a weather vane with a mermaid on top. It symbolizes all the wonderful vacations I've had there--one of my favorite places on earth.  Another favorite is a pair of Steuben crystal pine cones that were given to me to give to my girls by their godfather.  Steuben, and that great store on Fifth Avenue, are no longer sadly.  I will give these to my girls for their trees as soon as I can bear to part with them!

For dessert, we love Maida Hatter's Palm Beach Brownies!  Chocolate and peppermint--the perfect mix for Christmas.

* * *

Favorite ornament? That's tough. I think I love them all! If I have to pick ones that I particularly cherish, they would be the Christmas items my mother embroidered. My favorite is the Santa advent calendar that hangs on the wall. It's always the first decoration that goes up. A piece of chocolate is tied to each of the dates. Not surprisingly, they have all been consumed in the photo!

Tablecloths and runners are up there with my favorites, too. I am blessed to still have my mom with me, but I cherish these beautiful items she made for me.

We'll be eating our traditional roast goose with German potato dumplings for dinner. It's a once a year treat for us. And it wouldn't be Christmas without our yule log!

 May your Christmas celebration be joyous, full of good food, good friends, and good times!

* * *

VICTORIA ABBOTT aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

We love Christmas and decorating.  Things are a bit different every year.  We always want to incorporate MJ's Mum's silver tray (a wedding gift. We're trying it with candles and roses. 

The big hit this year was chocolate gingerbread cake!  We can't keep it in the house. It's a variation of our chocolate gingerbread loaf from MLK. But on December 26th we'll show you our two no-bake two-ingredient desserts that make life easy.

Because it's a such a dark time of year, we are thrilled with our amaryllis. Last year, they bloomed at the end of January.  This time we're lucky to have that Christmas color. 

We always have bit of fun with pine cones and old ornaments too. 

 No snow, so we're enjoying the greenery outside.

And of course, it's all about the dogs!

Much love to you and yours from the Maffini family!  
Eat, drink and enjoy!  XO  MJ and Victoria

* * *

LESLIE BUDEWITZAh, Elfie. He's been my favorite as long as I recall, on a tree full of favorites, and now Mr. Right adores him, too. My mother---who is 90 and no longer puts up a tree---gave me custody of him a few years ago. He's always been shy---no matter how carefully we put him on the tree, he would face backwards. Now that we hang him with a hook rather than using his string loop, we're a little more successful in getting Elfie to face out---but getting a decent picture was a challenge!

This is my first Christmas on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, and with a December release, I've been sharing recipes from the new book rather than family holiday favorites. But on Christmas morning, we'll be eating Omelet Muffins and Christmas Muffins, cranberry pumpkin, though they're already baked and waiting for us!

All the best to you and yours this festive season,
from Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! 

* * *

CLEO COYLE: Because my husband and I dearly love each other—and love telling stories together—we look for little mementos that reflect the themes of every book we write. Lately those mementos have been Christmas miniatures that end up under our little tree. Two of our favorites include the ones pictured…

This little Food Truck reminded us of the “Muffin Muse” Coffee Truck that our amateur sleuth bought for her  shop in our 11th Coffeehouse Mystery (2012): A Brew to a Kill, possibly the first cozy to feature a food truck war! (Notice the little sign advertising Mocha Cupcakes—adorable.)

Okay, one more...

When Marc and I saw this little piano bar for sale in the Christmas Village display of our local Michael's store, we looked at each other and lunged for the very last one.

Why is this tiny piano bar so important to us? If you’ve read our latest mystery, then you know...

In Dead to the Last Drop, our amateur sleuth befriends a young jazz pianist who frequents the relaxed "Jazz Space" on the second floor of her new Washington coffeehouse. The young woman turns out to be the President's daughter, and the story progresses from there. That's why this miniature will always remind us of writing the book together. 

Just little mementos but they mean the world to us.

As for Christmas dinner, we're having a cozy, little Prime Rib, American-style au jus, and 30-Minute Dinner Rolls, exactly like the meal Clare makes for acting federal agent, Mike Quinn, in Dead to the Last Drop. You can find the recipes in the back of the book or click here to see the illustrated Recipe Guide.
Prime rib from Dead to the Last Drop.
Click here for the Recipe Guide.

May you eat with joy to the world! 
Love  and peace always ~ Cleo and Marc


From all of us at...

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fudge and Fried Chicken as Christmas Traditions by Cleo Coyle

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal featured a story on a popular modern Christmas tradition in Japan--fried chicken. And not just any fried chicken. Apparently, Kentucky Fried Chicken is the place many go for their holiday meal. The tradition is so popular customers must make reservations months in advance. According to WSJ, Japan’s "Christmas-chicken tradition" dates back to the early 1970s when a non-Japanese customer came into a KFC store in Tokyo to buy fried chicken as a turkey substitute. 

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For Italian-Americans like my husband and I, the Feast of the Seven Fishes has been part of our Christmas celebration. And so are cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Many of the holiday treats in our childhood homes were laced with anisette or rum. While I enjoyed those flavors as a child, my husband and his brother were bigger fans of their mom's chocolate fudge. Her recipe was simply the one found on the Marshmallow Fluff jar with a few exceptions. Every year she would vary what was added. Some years there were walnuts or cashews, other years salted peanuts or pecans, and then there were maraschino cherries, raisins, or M&M candies.

Our parents are no longer with us, and the holiday is a little less bright because of it. Naturally, with December 25th approaching, Marc longed for a batch of his mom's chocolate fudge. And since I was scheduled to post a recipe here for Christmas week, I thought I'd combine the two while trying my hand at my mother-in-law's "add-in" tradition. My choice--macadamia nuts.

The results? Marc said the macadamia nuts tasted better than any of the varieties he'd eaten in past years. High praise indeed. 

So let's get that fudge going...

Marc's Mother's Chocolate Christmas Fudge*

*Recipe slightly adapted from a jar of Marshmallow Fluff made by Durkee-Mower, Inc.

Makes enough fudge to fill a 9x9 pan (for thicker fudge use 8x8)


4 tablespoons butter 
2 ½ cups white, granulated sugar
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk 
7.5-ounce jar of Marshmallow Fluff 
½ teaspoon table salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts (measure after chopping)

(1) First line a 9x9 or 8x8 pan with parchment or wax paper, allowing a little extra to hang over the sides for handles. (You will use the handles to lift the fudge block out of the pan for easy cutting.) Lightly butter the paper to prevent sticking.

(2) In a medium-sized saucepan (non-stick, if possible), over low heat, melt the butter. Then add the sugar, evaporated milk, Fluff, and salt. Stir over low heat until ingredients are well blended. 

(3) Increase the heat until the mixture is boiling. (Not simmering or burping but truly boiling.) Continue to boil while slowly stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes (do not cut this time short). Remove from heat and let cool for about about 2 minutes. (Why? If the mixture is still boiling when you add the vanilla, the intense heat will destroy the extract's full flavor.) Now add the vanilla and chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted and everything is blended. Fold in the nuts. 

(4) Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and let cool at room temperature, uncovered, for at least two hours before cutting. Store the fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for up to ten days. (That's in theory. Ours is always eaten long before then!)

Download our
Free Recipe PDF

To download our free PDF of this recipe that
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☕ ☕ ☕

Eat with joy to the world! 

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

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