Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Shortbread cookies

22 12 2011

This one of my favorite cookie recipes I like to make at Christmas. I got the recipe out Fine Cooking’s Cookie magazine. They are so delicous and you can use any shape you want.

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 lb (1 cup) of cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

10 oz (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour

2 tbsp. finely ground espresso beans

10 oz (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour

For the dipping chocolate:

9 oz of semi sweet chocolate

1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), combine the butter, sugar and salt on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth. 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and ground espresso and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don’t over mix. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking. Cut out shapes, press scraps together and roll out again. If the dough becomes sticky refrigerate briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment lined cookie sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 min. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Position trays on upper and lower thirds of oven. Bake cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top. This can take 30 min to 1 hour. Rotate the pans halfway through baking to make sure they bake evenly. If the cookies are done before 30 minutes reduce temp to 275 degrees, if they take longer than an hour increase temp to 325 degrees.

Dip the baked cooled cookies.

Lay out a sheet of parchment or waxed paper on a work surface. Put the chocolate and shortening in a small heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate stirring until its smooth. Do not get any water in the chocolate or it will seize. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate. Set the cookies on the prchment and let the chocolate set up at room temperature, about two hours.


My first gingerbread house

19 12 2011

I’ve been trying to find the time to post for Christmas but the holidays have bee n crazy.  I made my first gingerbread house from scratch this year.  I have only made one before in my life and it was when I was much younger and I did it with my grandma.  She died a number of years ago and I always think of her this time of year.  So I decided to take a some of my memories and keep them well.  Baking with her is what we did she.  There wasn`t anything that she couldn`t do.  Seriously she was a amazing……I wish I had photos to show all of you.  Taking this on this year I thought I was ready to show my nieces all my major skills.  That didn`t work out so well, thought I would finish two houses in one night….not possible.  Gingerbread takes time….for sure.  I hard time with making and rolling out the dough.  I doubled the batch and it didn`t turn out as smooth as I hoped apparently my mixer does not have enough horse power to handle that much dough.  My friend told my it made it more rustic….I guess it did….she is the sweetest.  So here it is… gingerbread house.

I went to my absolute most favorite store when it  comes to this stuff…. Scoop n Save.  I  bought the chocolat rocks for the path and rock candy for the chimney.  I also grabbed the snazzy plastic reindeer and trees.

Ok…I know they are bit kitschy but I love them and how great would these trees and deer be in a snow globe DIY.  They deer was 50 cents and the trees were 35 cents. CHEAP.

I cut out the window openings then crushed up some Kerr clear hard candies for the windows. Baked at 350 degrees till the melted.  I love how they just look like frosted windows.

He looks so serious, eh.  Candy is serious business.  Mike (my husband) asked informed me that mushroom do not grow in the winter time.  I told him that coconut covered mushrooms grow in magical gingerbread forest where plastic reindeer live……duh.

Next year I am not playing around.  I am going to work on piping skills and my nieces are going to have some serious memories that they will be able to pass on….and my sons.  Their future wives will be so impressed!

Maylasian night

7 08 2011

Every time I go with Mike to Banana Leaf for dinner I come home obsessed with Malaysian food.  I searched and searched for comparable recipes to my fave restaraunt and this is my family friendly version menu I like to cook (except for the mojitos….obviously not for the kiddies) This meal is also great if you have a gluten intolerance or friends that do.  Just make sure you use a gluten-free soy sauce and this meal is perfectly safe for anyone who needs to avoid.  I’ve got my sisters and their families coming over for dinner tonight so it’s the perfect reason to cook one of my favorite meals!

I am cooking my tried and true Pork Tenderloin recipe.  It is easy, fast and delicous….and super inexpensive.  I buy the pork tenderloin from Costco and I get enough to feed an army (or my family) for about $20.  I found the recipe on the Fine Cooking website.  I love this site, they have very reliable recipes and I have alway been happy with anything I’ve used off of there. I usually serve this with steamed coconut rice (do not use a rice cooker when cooking this rice) except for tonight, it will be Thai jasmine rice because coconuts gross my brother-in-law Ryan out (weird, I know).  The other two recipes are my own versions of items I love on their menu, except for the lemongrass dressing.  I found that one on google somewhere.  They are for their papaya and pineapple green salad and the infamous lychee mojito (heaven).

Here are the recipes, I always marinate the pork for the minimum amount of time and it is always perfect, nothing worse than starting a recipe and finding out it needs to sit for eight hours before its ready (pizza night).

Grilled Asian Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a natural variety
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, minced (2-1/2 tsp.)
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 small pork tenderloins (about 2 lb. total)
Vegetable oil for the grill

In a large bowl, whisk the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, and coriander to make a smooth sauce.

Trim the pork of excess fat and silverskin. Butterfly the tenderloins by splitting each one lengthwise almost but not quite all the way through, so the halves remain attached.

Open each tenderloin like a book, cover with plastic wrap, and pound to an even 1/2-inch thickness with a meat mallet or the bottom of a small skillet. Put the pork tenderloins in the bowl with the marinade and turn to coat. Let marinate for 10 to 20 minutes (or up to several hours in the refrigerator).

While the pork marinates, heat a gas grill with all burners on high. Clean and oil the grate. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, letting excess marinade drip back into the bowl (don’t discard the marinade). Grill the tenderloins, covered, turning once, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes total (cut into one to check). Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and add 2 Tbs. water; bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it with 1 or 2 tsp. water. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce on the side.

Papaya & Pineapple Green Salad with Crushed Peanut

Ok, so this is not the most precise recipe but it is a delicous combination.  Add more or less of what you love/don’t love.

4 cup of green lettuce mix (I buy the organic pre washed spring mix)

1 cup chopped red pepper (1 inch pieces)

1/2 a papaya cubed

1 cup of fresh pineapple cut (1 inch pieces)

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

1/4 cilantro

1/4 cup toasted coconut

1/4 crushed peanuts ( i toast these too)

Lemongrass Dressing


  •                         10 leaves fresh mint, chopped
  •                         1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, inner portion thinly sliced
  •                         1 cup rice vinegar
  •                         2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  •                         2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  •                         1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  •                         3/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until sugar dissolves.

Lychee Mojito

This recipe is for two mojitos.  Lychees can be a bit tricky to find.  I buy them in can and can find them at most I.G.A s in their canned fruit aisle or at Superstore in their canned asian fruit section.

8-10 mint leaves

6 lychees

1/2 lime (just squeeze out the juice)

4 ounces of Soho* (more or less depending on yourself I honestly use six, I thought I was measuring out three for the longest time then I discovered my shot glass is actually two ounces…..whoops)

* Soho is a lychee flavoured liqueur found at the liquor store

1-2 ounces of Bacardi Rum (or whatever you white rum you have)

3 cups of ice ( I use the crushed setting on my ice dispenser and fill my blender to just over half so its extra slushy)

1/2 cup of club soda (i just pour a bit in so it seems less boozy…..makes me feel better)

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until it looks like the picture ->

I found those glasses at Superstore which are so awesome for all my blended slushy type drinks.  No luck on the super long bendy straws yet.

Hope you enjoy!

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