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Molasses Cookies

This is a favorite of mine. The recipe comes from the 1982 St. John’s Lutheran ALCW Cookbook of Donnelly, Minnesota. My poor copy of that cookbook is tattered and the cover is missing because I’ve used it so often. The funny part about this recipe is that it’s called Ginger Balls in the cookbook and I made them for years before it dawned on me that there is no ginger in it. I think it may be a typo, that there really is supposed to be ginger in it, but why mess with perfection? They are so, so good without it.

¾ cup shortening

1 cup sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

Sugar to roll the dough balls in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream shortening and 1 cup sugar together. Stir in molasses and egg. Mix in dry ingredients.

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Form into 1” balls and roll in sugar.

Place dough balls, well-spaced, on greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. [My parchment paper was used to make Berlinerkranzer just before making these.]

Place dough balls, well-spaced, on greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. [My parchment paper was used to make Berlinerkranzer just before making these, that’s why the sheets look used. I was on a Christmas cookie baking roll.]

Bake 10 minutes. The dough spreads and puffs.

Bake 10 minutes. The dough spreads and puffs.

Then it collapses into flat rounds and the sugar forms a nice crackly crust.

Then it collapses into flat rounds and the sugar forms a nice crackly crust.

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Mincemeat CookiesThis cookie is certainly not decorative, but the taste is fabulous. My mother made these when I was a kid. I love the spicy apple goodness that pops in your mouth. They make your kitchen smell wonderfully homey and festive, as well. You will need a 9 oz. package of Borden None Such Condensed Mincemeat.

Borden None Such Condensed Mincemeat

This is how it looks inside the box.

This is how it looks inside the box.

Someone will ask me, so here are the ingredients in this block of wonder: raisins, brown sugar, dried apples, dextrose, water, salt, beef, corn starch, dried citrus peel, apple juice concentrate, spices, and distilled vinegar. I do not know if you can substitute.

Someone will ask me, so here are the ingredients in this block of wonder: raisins, brown sugar, dried apples, dextrose, water, salt, beef, corn starch, dried citrus peel, apple juice concentrate, spices, and distilled vinegar. I do not know if you can substitute.

The cookie recipe comes off the package.

The cookie recipe comes off the package.

Prize Cookies

1 cup shortening

1-1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 9-oz. package None Such Condensed Mincemeat, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together dry ingredients; gradually add to shortening mixture. Mix well.

Stir in crumbled mincemeat.

Stir in crumbled mincemeat.

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Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets (I used parchment paper). Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets (I used parchment paper). Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool. Frost if desired. Makes about 6 dozen.

Cool. Frost if desired. Makes about 6 dozen.

Spritz

This recipe is based upon one found in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (Golden Press, 1972).

You’ll need a cookie press. I’m struggling with my new one since I only use it once per year. I still don’t have the hang of it. I don’t use parchment paper for this cookie. A trick that I learned for making Spritz is to chill the baking sheets before pressing the cookie dough onto them. I’m in Alaska so I just set a cookie sheet outside, then bring it inside to the kitchen counter as I’m ready to press. Once a sheet of cookies is finished baking, I set the baking sheet back outside. Another tip that seems to be working well is to rest the press on the cold cookie sheet for a couple beats after pressing. It gives the dough time to adhere to the baking sheet.

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

2-1/4 cups flour

½ tsp. salt

1 egg

1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

Colored sugar sprinkles

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar. Blend in remaining ingredients.

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Fill cookie press with dough; form desired shapes on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with colored sugar.

Fill cookie press with dough; form desired shapes on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with colored sugar.

Bake 6 to 9 minutes or until set but not brown. Makes about 5 dozen.

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Berlinerkranzer

I’ve made this cookie for years, but still have no idea how to pronounce it. I’m surprised that it’s a Norwegian cookie, instead of a German cookie, but there you go. It’s the most complicated Christmas cookie that I make, but it always makes me feel good when they’re finished because they’re so beautiful. The recipe comes from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (Golden Press, 1972). This year I halved the recipe and that is the way I’m going to tell it to you. It will make 3 or 4 dozen.

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. butter, softened

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. shortening

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. grated orange peel

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 egg white

2 Tbsp. sugar

Red candied cherries

Green candied cherries or citron

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, orange peel, and eggs. Blend in flour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, orange peel, and eggs. Blend in flour.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into ropes, each 6” long and ¼” in diameter.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into ropes, each 6” long and ¼” in diameter.

Form each rope into circle, bringing one end over and through in a single knot.

Form each rope into circle, bringing one end over and through in a single knot.

Let ½” extend at each end.

Let ½” extend at each end.

Place on ungreased baking sheet (I use parchment paper).

Place on ungreased baking sheet (I use parchment paper).

Beat egg white until foamy; add 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, while beating. Brush tops of cookies with sweetened egg white.

Beat egg white until foamy; add 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, while beating. Brush tops of cookies with sweetened egg white.

Press bits of red candied cherries on center of knot for holly berries; add little leaves of green candied cherries or citron.

Press bits of red candied cherries on center of knot for holly berries; add little leaves of green candied cherries or citron.

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Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.

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Hummus & Pita

The hummus recipe is based upon one found here.

Hummus Recipe

1 16 oz can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup liquid from can of garbanzo beans

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons tahini

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Drain garbanzo beans and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from garbanzos. Blend for a few minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

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Place in serving bowl, and create a well in the middle. Pour a small amount of olive oil into the well.
Serve with pita bread.

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The pita bread recipe is based upon one found at Under The High Chair.

Pita Bread Recipe

1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour. With the dough hook, beat well to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Let it knead for about 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky. The dough will rise AFTER you’ve formed the flat loaves. Go straight to forming now.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them puff. Note: Do not roll out on parchment paper or let them rest on parchment paper in an effort not to use too much flour. They stick! Flour is the way to go. Flour them.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffy. By the time you are finished forming the last one, you may be quite close to starting to bake the first one. Get your oven going. It takes time.

Preheat oven AND baking sheet to 425F. Let the baking sheet sit inside the hot oven for about ten minutes after the preheating is finished. That baking sheet needs to be HOT! A high-quality (thicker) baking sheet will retain heat longer, but will take longer to heat at the beginning. I could totally be making that up, but I believe it.

With a large spatula, flip a well-floured round of dough upside down on the dry baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until it’s puffed and light golden. I baked mine one at a time letting the baking sheet heat thoroughly between batches. I think two at a time would work, too.

If you have children or adult science buffs in the room, be prepared! Watching pita bread puff in the oven is really, really cool! A crowd could gather if you have a window in your oven door. Just sayin’. Learn to shout, “Step away from the oven now so I can remove the pita before it burns.”

I’m not telling you how to save your leftovers because these are so amazingly delicious that you will not have any leftovers.

Slice in half cross-wise and stuff with yummy sandwich ingredients or pile gyro ingredients on the top or slice into pie-shaped sections to serve as an appetizer with hummus. It’s all good!

Green Tomato Pie

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I found this recipe at allrecipes.com when I was trying to get through my glut of green tomatoes. I used the largest green tomatoes I picked. I latticed the top crust because I thought it would be prettier. It was.

Ingredients

Pastry for a double-crust 9″ pie

3 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. lemon zest

6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1-1/3 cups sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

3 cups sliced green tomatoes

3 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix together flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar. Stir in green tomato slices.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix together flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Stir in green tomato slices until they are well coated with sugar mix.

Set one crust into 9" pie pan. Stir in tomato-sugar filling. Dot with butter. Cut second crust into strips and weave into lattice top. Seal edges as best you can.

Set one pastry into 9″ pie pan. Pour tomato-sugar filling into the crust. Dot with butter. Cut second pastry into strips and weave into lattice top. Seal edges as best you can.

Bake on lowest rack at 450 degrees F for ten minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Allow pie to cool before serving.

Bake on lowest rack at 450 degrees F for ten minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Allow pie to cool before serving.

I read somewhere that you can tell when your pie filling is finished baking when the bubbles burst slowly. That little tidbit has served me in good stead. I don’t often end up with soupy or under-cooked pie.

Green Tomato PicklesAt the end of the most sunny summer on record, we had a glut of green tomatoes. These pickles are very mild, not too tangy and not too sweet. The recipe comes out of the book Preserving by Oded Schwartz (Dorling Kindersley, 1996), one of the most beautiful and useful books ever published. I had everything on-hand except the chiles.

2# green tomatoes

2-3 fresh or dried red chiles (I did not use)

a few sprigs fresh dill

2-3 bay leaves

1-1/2 Tbsp. mustard seed

1 Tbsp. peppercorns

4-5 cloves

4 cups cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

4 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. salt

Lightly prick each tomato in several places with a wooden toothpick. Arrange in pint jars (I used four pint jars) with chiles, dill, bay leaves, and spices. In a saucepan, mix vinegar, water, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand until warm. Pour warm vinegar mixture into the jars. Top with cold vinegar if you don’t have enough mixture to cover the tomatoes. Seal* and refrigerate. Tomatoes will be ready in a month, but improve after 2-3 months. Should last a year as long as it’s refrigerated.

*One thing that wasn’t clear in the recipe was how to “seal” the jars. Since they were to be refrigerated and because the brine is mostly vinegar, all I did was screw canning lids on tightly. So, I didn’t “seal” them by my definition, merely closed the lids. I think it will be just fine.

Those aren't grapes, they're green tomato pickles, along with smoked salmon, bleu cheese, and Italian dry salame. What a great snack!

Those aren’t grapes, they’re green tomato pickles, along with smoked salmon, bleu cheese, and Italian dry salami. What a great snack!

Moroccan Lemon Chicken

This recipe I discovered in 2010 at recipezaar.com by English Rose. It is so flavorful!

Ingredient List

Olive Oil

1 very large onion, sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cardamom

8 chicken thighs

Chicken stock

2 lemons, divided

1 14-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained

Green olives, pitted and halved

Cilantro

Salt and pepper

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.

Stir in the turmeric and saute for 2 minutes longer, then add the paprika, cumin, coriander, and cardamom. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Stir in the turmeric and saute for 2 minutes longer, then add the paprika, cumin, coriander, and cardamom. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Heat more olive oil in the pot and brown the chicken pieces in two batches. The turmeric from the bottom of the pot should color the chicken. If not, sprinkle with a pinch more turmeric.

Heat more olive oil in the pot and brown the chicken pieces in two batches. The turmeric from the bottom of the pot should color the chicken. If not, sprinkle with a pinch more turmeric.

Return all chicken to the pan and cover with the onion-spice mixture. Stir in enough chicken broth to cover. Add the juice of one lemon to the chicken. Cut the other lemon into quarters and add them to the chicken and pepper.

Return all chicken to the pan and cover with the onion-spice mixture. Stir in enough chicken broth to cover. Add the juice of one lemon to the chicken. Cut the other lemon into quarters and add to the chicken.

Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to low simmer. Cover and cook 20 minutes.

Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to low simmer. Cover and cook 20 minutes.

Add the garbanzo beans and olives. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed and then simmer for another 40 minutes.

Add the garbanzo beans and olives. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed and then simmer for another 40 minutes.

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Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve over rice or couscous. Note: I found another form of Shirataki noodles! Yay! They are zero carb and made a nice layer beneath this rich stew.

 

Green Tomato Mock Mincemeat

This recipe is loosely based upon one found at allrecipes.com. I am going to tell it to you the way that I made it.

Ingredients

6 cups chopped green tomatoes

6 cups chopped tart green apples

3 cups brown sugar

1-1/2 cups dried cranberries (Craisins)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. butter

3 tsp. ground cinnamon

1-1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

3/4 tsp. ground cloves

This will make 2 quarts of filling. 1-1/2 quarts of filling are required to make one pie, so you’ll have a pint left over — just saying. You’ll need to make a plan ahead of time on how to do this. As you can see, I put my filling into 2 pint jars and 1 quart jar. My mother wanted a little bit of filling and so I gave her one pint and then I made a pie with the remainder. If you make pie, you’ll need pastry for a 9″ double crust pie. I’m not sure what my mother did with her filling, but I think it would be good in fried pies or filled cookies. Note: 2 pints = 1 quart.

Method

Stir all the ingredients together in a very large pan. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until thick and bubbly and reduced in volume a bit, at least 25 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. At this point I put lids on, let the jars cool, and put them into my refrigerator. I kept the filling refrigerated until I used it a couple weeks later.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare bottom crust in a 9" pie pan. Pour 1-1/2 quarts filling into pie crust. Cover with top crust, cut vents in, crimp the edges. Bake on lowest oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until golden and filling bubbles.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare bottom crust in a 9″ pie pan. Pour 1-1/2 quarts filling into pie crust. Cover with top crust, cut vents in, crimp the edges. Bake on lowest oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until golden and filling bubbles.

This filled my home with a wonderful aroma. I wish now that I had properly canned the filling to use this winter, but I was busy at the time and simply put lids on and popped them into the refrigerator. That meant it should be used sooner rather than later.

Note 9/30/2018 . . . A lot of people are looking at this recipe. I made this again yesterday and used the water-bath canning process for three pint jars. I processed for ten minutes. A lot of consideration was given to freezing it, but that’s something that would tend to get lost in my freezer, so I decided to can it instead. It looks and tastes amazing! Last night I was watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix and saw them baking Rum Nicky. I may stir a couple tablespoons of rum into the Mock Mincemeat before baking it into a small pie next time. Sounds so yummy.

GreenTomatoMockMincemeat

P1040743My husband grew cucumbers this summer and we do eat a lot of grilled lamb chops so I made this wonderful sauce frequently. It’s easy, but takes time for the cucumber to drain and the yogurt-garlic flavors to marry. Start by grating a 3″ piece of cucumber. Press out as much liquid as you can and let it sit in a strainer for several hours. I put my grated cucumber in a small strainer and set it in a small mixing bowl. I lightly cover it and put it into the refrigerator until I’m ready to finish the sauce.

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After grating the cucumber and setting it aside to drain, the next step is to stir together 3/4 cup of plain Greek-style yogurt, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1/2 tsp. of salt, and 1/2 Tbsp. of white wine vinegar (or white vinegar). If you do not have fresh dill, then add a sprinkle of dried dill weed and stir it in. If using fresh dill, wait until later to add it. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours.

At serving time, stir the drained cucumber and a sprig of chopped fresh dill into the sauce.

This tastes great mixed with feta or not. Serve as a dip for pita bread or a sauce for lamb. It’s all good.