What is Shortbread?

Quite popular around Christmas time and the Scottish New Year, shortbread emerges in many different forms, including festive iced cookies and drier accompaniments to your cup of coffee. Shortbread is a rich pastry usually made with four simple ingredients: butter, eggs, sugar and flour. After baking, the biscuit becomes tender-crisp treat with a crumbly texture. To avoid browning, shortbread is baked at a low temperature. When it comes out of the oven, it is nearly white or a light golden brown color.

Basic Vanilla Shortbread

Ingredients needed to make a basic shortbread include ¾  (1 ½ cups or 3 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (that has a paddle attachment), mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, and then add the ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix the dough on low speed until it starts to come together. Once mixed, dump the dough onto a surface dusted with flour. Use your hands to bring everything together. Divide the dough into four pieces. Flatten slightly. Wrap each piece in plastic and put into the refrigerator to chill.

This recipe will make about 48 small shortbreads.

What to Do with Shortbread Dough…

Some people will roll the shortbread dough and cut out shapes to bake as cookies. Others use the dough to make a range of sweet creations. There are plenty of variations you may consider when making a simple shortbread recipe. You can:

•    Cut into the shape of diamonds and dip an end in chocolate
•    Make thumbprint cookies topped with fruit preserves
•    Tea cookies dusted with confectioners (or powdered) sugar
•    Brushed with a lemon glaze and decorated with sprinkles

Peanut Butter Treats

Peanuts are a very versatile sweet treat that is naturally sugar free. Some spreads include Nature’s Promise, Skippy, and even Smuckers.

Then, you have the original, the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich(PB&J.) You even have peanut butter sauces to pour over your ice cream sundaes and it’s simply great with fruit like bananas and apples. There are even peanut butter cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE RECIPE

To make this recipe you need a peanut butter spread and it can be any type you want, whether smooth or crunchy.

Then you need eggs, vanilla extract, and a sweetener such as sugar, honey, or agave syrup (this is very low on the glycemic index.) Of course, this is your choice.

Photo courtesy of Flyingdream
Take one cup of peanut butter and mix in two eggs. Then, add in one tsp of vanilla extract and half a cup of sugar cane. Or if you prefer to use honey or agave, only use a quarter of a cup. Make sure that you mix every ingredient evenly. If necessary, you may add a splash of milk to moisten the mixture as you stir.

Then, you have to use your hands to shape the cookies. Take a scoop of the peanut butter dough approximately the size of two quarters. Roll it into a ball and slightly flatten it on a cookie sheet. Continue to repeat this process until, you have a total of eighteen cookies.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for ten to twelve minutes. Then, you have sweet, crunchy cookies that are great for a “good old fashion dunkin.”

PEANUT BUTTER ALTERNATIVES

Of course, if you are allergic to peanuts you can revise this recipe. There are alternative spreads that can be used like cashew, almond, soy, and sunflower seed. ENJOY!

Breadless Pudding Recipe

Any civilization that enjoys bread has some sort of bread pudding. If you have bread, it stands to reason there will be left over bread. Until very recent times, nothing was wasted, and as most families kept chickens and either goats or cows for milk, there was also surplus milk, cream and eggs to be used up.

Today, with the reliance upon supermarkets, and the ability to freeze bread until it is needed, along with the ready availability of milk and eggs in almost any quantity, we do not have as much left over bread, milk and eggs. That does not mean we can no longer enjoy bread pudding.

But if you don’t have any left over bread, there is no reason to go out and buy bread to make a dessert. If you look in the back of the cupboard, you will probably find a collection of cookies, dessert cakes, and maybe even breakfast breads that seemed like a good idea at the time, but that the kids wouldn’t eat. The food was too expensive or you just thought it too wasteful to chuck it, but no one will eat it. So what do you do?

Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

1. one pound of assorted cheap cookies, donuts, quick breads. Any one of them, or an assortment to make a pound
2. One quart (4 cups) milk

Directions:

1. Break the cookies, breads, whatever you are using into pieces and fill up casserole dish.
2. Pour the milk over the top.
3. Use a spoon and lift the cookies a bit to allow the milk to soak in and to settle around the spaces.
4. Place the casserole in the over and set for 350° F for about 30 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and allow the pudding to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

If you like, you can make a sauce to spoon over the top. A traditional sauce for bread pudding is rum or bourbon sauce. Since you will probably be serving this to your kids, maybe that is not such a good idea.

Sauce:

What about some lemon sauce? To make a nice warm lemon sauce, you will need:
1. ½ cup fresh lemon juice
2. ½ cup water
3. ½ cup sugar (you can add more to taste)
4. one egg yolk

Directions:

1. Using a wire whisk, whip the water and egg yolk together. Whisk in the lemon juice and sugar.

2. In a small pot, put a few inches of water and bring to a low boil. Place the bowl with the lemon-egg mixture over, not in the water, and whisk it constantly until the sauce begins to thicken.

3. Be careful not to allow the egg to cook. Otherwise you will wind up with scrambled lemon juice. Not good.

Tips:

  • You can vary the sauce by using orange instead of lemon juice, or half lime and half lemon juice.
  • If you want some extra lemon flavor, put a little lemon zest over the top of the pudding one you spoon the sauce over the top.
  • Best of all, you can serve this with a scoop of ice cream, and a squirt of chocolate syrup in the event lemon isn’t your thing.

Easter Nest Cookies Recipe

Easter is coming fast! Are you ready? Here is a quick dessert recipe that is both delicious and easy to make!

If you do make this recipe, please take a picture and share it with us! We’d love to see your creations! :) You can even add your pictures to our Facebook or Flickr pages. Have fun and Happy Easter!

INGREDIENTS

– 1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury® Ready To Bake!® sugar cookies
– 1 container (12 oz) fluffy white frosting
– 1 cup flaked coconut
– Food color
– Jelly beans

Easter Nest Cookies. Photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Bake cookies as directed on package. Cool completely.

2.Frost cookies. Add coconut to a 1-quart resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add 2 to 3 drops favorite food color, shaking bag to blend color. It may be necessary to add 1 to 2 teaspoons water to help disperse the color evenly or additional food color until desired color is reached. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon coconut on each cookie.

3.Top with jelly beans or candy coated chocolate peanut candy.

Gluten Free Desserts

So, you are on a gluten free diet? No worries! Not all desserts are made from wheat. There is actually a wide variety of gluten free options. Some companies include Larabars, Amy’s® Kitchen, and Enjoy Life®.

RAW FRUIT BARS

Larabars aren’t only gluten free, but sugar free, too. Now you might ask, how can that be a dessert? Well, in Italy, fruit and ricotta cheese is a traditional dessert. A Larabar is a blend of raw fruit, nuts and spices. There is a variety to choose from starting with ginger, coconut, cherry, lemon, key lime, to name a few.  Each bar has a shelf life of 12 months and contains one or more of the following nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans. This is one of those great “on the go” type of desserts or snack bars.

photo courtesy of Enjoy Life (R)

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Then, the next option you have is a chocolate cake by Amy’s® Kitchen. It’s gluten free, non dairy, and a vegan friendly dessert. It’s made with organic cocoa powder and brown rice flour. You can eat this cake cold or warmed up with a cup of coffee. It is rich, smooth, and has a light texture that simply melts in your mouth. You can find this to be a little slice of heaven in Whole Foods Market or any health food store.

COOKIES AND MILK

Enjoy Life® has quite a collection of delicious cake like cookies. They are all very soft and chewy. Some of the most popular ones include chocolate chip cookies, no-oats “oatmeal”® cookies, double chocolate brownie cookies, and gingerbread spice cookies. They are great for an old fashion milk dunking!

ALWAYS HAVE A SWEET TOOTH

When you try any of the above listed desserts, you will feel like a kid back in the candy store all over again!

How to Make Your Own Baking Mix

You see about four or five different brands of baking mix in the stores. More if you count the pancake and waffle mixes. They are all pretty much the same: flour, leavening, shortening. Imagine if you could have this on hand all the time, and never have to think about going to the store to buy it? Imagine, too, if you could have it for about a quarter of the cost!

You will need one very large bowl to do this, and clean hands. No other tools are required other than some jars or bags for storage.

5 pounds of all purpose flour
– 2/3 cup baking powder
– 2 cups powdered (dry) milk
– 2 tbsp salt
– 2 pounds shortening. DO NOT USE BUTTER OR MARGERINE. Butter flavored shortening would work though.


Directions:

1. Mix together the dry ingredients.

2. Add the shortening, and begin to mix and squeeze with your hands until it is well mixed and the shortening pieces are no larger than peas. Do not over mix though, or it will turn into a giant wad.

3. Store in airtight jars or bags until needed. So long as it is kept at room temperature or below, it will pretty much keep forever. However, if you do not have air conditioning, it may be advisable to keep it in the refrigerator in summer.

This mix is good for almost everything! Here are some quick and easy recipes:

Biscuits

Ingredients

– 2 cups of your own baking mix (see above)
– 2/3 of a cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice
– 2 cups of Master Mix.

Directions: Knead lightly and cut out. Bake at 400°F / 205°C for about 20 minutes.

Cookies

For chocolate chip, use the following ingredients:

– 2 cups baking mix
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 1 egg.

Directions:

1. Mix it up together and drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° / 176°C for 10 to 15 minutes.

The same standard goes for any other cookies. For sugar cookies, use granulated sugar. You can add half a cup of peanut butter, or use one cup Master Mix and one cup rolled oats for oatmeal cookies. Have fun with it.

Because this mix already contains milk, there is no need to add extra. You can make waffles, pancakes or dumplings by adding water and an egg.

Southern recipe for fruit dumplings

It is sort of like a cobbler, but made on top of the stove. This is a great dessert to make when Blackberries come in.

Ingredients:

– One quart of blackberries or strawberries; you can use fresh or canned fruit, depending on what you have at hand.
– 1 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 cups Master Mix
– 2/3 cup water
– 1 egg

Directions:

1. Put the berries and 1 cup of sugar in a large pot with a tight fitting lid place; alternatively, you can substitute a large can of sliced peaches in syrup for the berries and sugar.

2. Let set for about half an hour, or until the berries begin to make juice.

3. Turn the heat on low and allow them to cook. If there is insufficient juice to fully cover the fruit, add a little water. Once you are certain that they won’t burn, increase the heat no higher than medium and let it come barely to a boil.

4. Meanwhile, mix together:

– 2 cups Master Mix
– 2/3 cup water
– ½ cup sugar
– 1 egg

5. Once the fruit is boiling, drop the dumpling batter by spoonfuls over the top.

6. When all the dough is in the pot, put on the lid. Reduce the heat to medium low. Set the timer for 20 minutes and walk away.

7. After 20 minutes have elapsed, remove from the heat. Remove the lid and sprinkle a little sugar over the tops of the dumplings and put the lid back on.

8. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream. Yum!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you think about perfect dessert combinations, fewer things go together as perfectly as chocolate and peanut butter. The sweet, richness of the chocolate pairs perfectly with the smooth, savoriness of the creamy peanut butter. It is a dessert pair made in heaven and since its discovery as the perfect flavor combination, dessert recipes have never been the same.

This recipe is so wonderful because it is subtle enough to be mistaken for regular chocolate chip cookies, but has just a hint of peanut butter that makes you wonder how a chocolate chip cookie could be any more delicious. Use crunchy peanut butter to add more texture to this treat or use the creamy variety to make this cookie soft and chewy. This peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe is the perfect addition to your recipe collection as it perfectly embodies the perfect taste combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Make them and see for yourself! Serve warm from the oven with a glass of milk or bring them to your next gathering. These cookies are sure to please.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips

Directions

1. Combine butter, peanut butter, and sugar.

2. Add the egg until well combined.

3. Blend the dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add to the creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips.

4. Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 12 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

With fall officially in session, a dessert chock full of the season’s finest ingredient is in order. What could be more fall than pumpkin? Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient because it can be savory or sweet, decadent or light. Pumpkins are native to North America and have been a staple in North and South American diets for centuries. Because of their various uses and mild flavor, pumpkins are the perfect ingredient to add a little pizazz to your seasonal desserts.

While most desserts that call for pumpkin conjure up images of custards or pies, these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are unexpected and delicious. With just the right amount of cinnamon to make them spicy and enough chocolate to make them rich, pumpkin is the perfect accompaniment to make these cookies extraordinary. These cookies are just one of the ways to incorporate pumpkin into your fall baking repertoire and are sure to please. Try them warm from the oven served with a steaming mug of cider and welcome the official start of the season. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, milk and egg.

2. In a separate bowl, mix, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture.

4. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir well.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.