100 Good Sugar Cookies

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My grandma always made these cookies, and they were my sister’s favorite. I remembered them the other day, but neither my sister nor my aunts had the recipe. I googled what I could remember (crisp sugar cookie with rice crispies) and came up with this recipe that must be it. My sister thinks they were called “100 Good Sugar Cookies” (not surprisingly, that name yielded zero results), so that’s what we’ll call them from now on.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (my grandma might have used margarine)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup rice crispies cereal

 Directions:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients and stir in rice crispies last.
  4. Roll into balls (about tablespoon size).
  5. Roll lightly in sugar and place on uncreased cookie sheets. Squish slightly with your palm.
  6. Bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes, or until cookies are golden around the edges.

 

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Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

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The blogger-chef notes here that no one wants to be standing over a hot bowl of potatoes while guests are circling the holiday dinner table. There’s always umpteen other things a host needs to be doing rather than making mashed potatoes at the last minute. Thus this slightly unconventional recipe, which, I should add, gave us the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made, hands-down. It’s a winner, so I’m posting it here. Note: the recipe is not hard at all. It’s lengthy because the method is unusual for most of us.

INGREDIENTS

3-1/2 pounds Russet potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Chives, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450°F and adjust an oven rack to the middle position.

Place potatoes directly on the oven rack (alternatively, you can place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet). Bake until very soft, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. (Err on the side of overcooking rather than undercooking them.)

Remove the potatoes from the oven. While they are still hot, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Using an oven mitt or a folded kitchen towel to hold the hot potatoes, scoop out all of the flesh from each potato half into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (*see notes on using a potato ricer, food mill or hand-held electric mixer). The flesh near the skin gets a little tough, so be sure to leave it behind. Break the cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using a fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula. Beat on low speed until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and 6 tablespoons of the butter to a simmer.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the hot cream and butter mixture. It will take a few minutes to mix it all in; keep folding until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Stir in the salt, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap (the bowl should be large enough that the potatoes don’t touch the plastic wrap). Refrigerate for up to 2 days. (DO NOT FREEZE)

To reheat, use the tip of a knife to poke about 10 holes in the plastic wrap knife, and microwave at medium-high (75 percent) power until the potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring halfway through the reheating time. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a serving dish, top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and sprinkle with the chives. Serve hot.

Note: For perfectly smooth potatoes, pass the potato flesh through a potato ricer or food mill before adding them to the mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand-held electric mixer but the potatoes won’t be quite as smooth. If you don’t have an electric mixer, pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer and then whip by hand with a wooden spoon.

Cranberry Christmas Cake

cranberry christmas cake

Definitely a recipe to hang on to, this cranberry cake is a winner. Subtle, tart, buttery and sweet, it has a crust on top that makes it a textural delight. Perfect to pair with a cup of coffee at the end of a holiday, or even during a brunch. Delicious.

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 oz fresh cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step. This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.

Spread in a buttered 9×13 pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.) Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1″x2″, so that they could be easily eaten at a party. Enjoy!

Apple Bread

applebread

This recipe from Genius Kitchen is just what you need for a cozy fall (or winter—it’s snowing here!) day. It’ll warm up your house, your heart, and your belly. Yum. I’ve tweaked the recipe some, so refer back to Genius Kitchen’s page for the original. This yields two loaves, as all good quick bread recipes should.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups diced apples (large dice is nice), no skins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon flour

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt and baking powder together.

Beat eggs and add sugar and oil. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Stir in apples.

Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Lime-Garlic-Coconut Soup

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This is a variation on “Boiled Water” in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It was super easy and a great start. I have a couple of ideas for upping the game in the future. Of course, this wasn’t as quite as good as Issara’s Tom Ka soup, but it gave enough of the idea that if I don’t compare side by side, this was a pretty good stand-in until next time I have the real deal.

Ingredients:

  • 6-10 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper,
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • cilantro to garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper, coconut milk, water, and lime zest in a saucepan or stockpot. Bring to a boil, cover partially, and turn the heat to very low. Let the liquid bubble gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the lime juice, and strain the soup into bowls. Garnish with cilantro.

**Notes: Bittman recommends ladling this soup over plain white rice, which I didn’t do but sounds good too. I did add some halved grape tomatoes (just raw at the end). I wonder if they would be good cooked in while the soup boils–and mushrooms too? Next time I will add a stalk of lemongrass in with the garlic and see how that goes. I also wonder if a bit of fish sauce would make the flavor more complex (I see fish sauce as an ingredient in many Thai soups).

Instant Pot How-tos

Last year for Christmas, Jason bought me an Instant Pot, and I have been using it regularly, but every single time I have to look up how to do x in an Instant Pot. So here are some of the things I regularly make all handy dandy here on NMB. Making these basics in the Instant Pot doesn’t necessarily save time overall (the Instant Pot always takes a while to come up to pressure), but it does make a big difference in hands-on/watched pot time.

Hard-Cooked Eggs

  • 1 cup water
  • any number of eggs (I like to do 12 at a time)
  1. add the water to the inner pot
  2. place the steam rack in the pot and carefully add eggs
  3. set Instant Pot to pressure cook setting for 6 minutes
  4. let pressure release naturally for 6 minutes and then release manually if it’s not quite done
  5. transfer eggs to an ice-water bath for 6 minutes

Mashed Potatoes

  • 6-8 potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds or fourths
  • water to cover the potatoes by 1/2 inch
  1. add potatoes to the inner pot and cover with water
  2. set Instant Pot to the steam setting for 12 minutes
  3. let pressure release naturally or manually
  4. drain and mash as you would had you boiled the potatoes on the stove

Beans

  • 1 pound dried beans (black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas)
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, peeled and left intact
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups water
  1. rinse beans and pick out any stones, etc.
  2. add beans and other ingredients to the inner pot, ending with the water
  3. set Instant Pot to the pressure cook setting for 30 minutes (40 minutes for chickpeas)
  4. let pressure release naturally for 30 minutes before releasing manually
  5. remove the aromatics and drain if desired (or depending on how you’re using them, you may want to store or serve the beans with some of the liquid

Rice

*true confession, I’ve not yet had good success with rice in the Instant Pot, but your mileage may vary

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • (Make as much rice as you like using these proportions)
  1. Rinse rice under cold running water until the water runs clear
  2. add oil, rinsed rice (still damp), water, and salt to the inner pot
  3. set Instant Pot to the rice setting (it will automatically gauge time by weight)
  4. allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing remaining pressure
  5. fluff rice with a fork and serve

 

 

Sloppy Joes

When the link to the recipe that you’ve been using for the last five years no longer works but then you find you actually had hastily written down ingredients and minimal instructions to said recipe, it’s time to put it on NMB. These sloppy joes are not very sweet, which is why I (and we) like them so much. If I’m going the gluten-free route, the meat is tasty over a roasted sweet potato instead of on a bun.

*Funny side note, my grandma always called sloppy joes “taverns.” When I asked her why, she said because “tavern” is another name for “bar,” and there is where you find loose meat. I can’t say if my sweet grandma ever actually got the implication; I know I certainly didn’t as a kid. This was the same grandma who once said that Hooters looked like “a cute place to eat.” 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (more doesn’t hurt)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup tomato puree (I usually just blend up a can of diced tomatoes–you could even leave them diced if you don’t mind the texture)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or chili paste (again, more doesn’t hurt)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in medium skillet and sauté onion (and salt) until soft (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add garlic and chili powder and cook another 30 seconds.
  3. Add meat and brown.
  4. When meat is browned, add the rest of the ingredients and cook 8-10 minutes to let flavors combine.
  5. Serve on buns (or sweet potatoes)–add cheese if you like.