NORWEGIAN BUTTER COOKIES

3/4 lb. butter (3 sticks) softened, room temperature

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs lightly beaten

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup powdered sugar, stifted

A cookie press or pastry bag with a large star tip

Preheat oven to 375º F

I a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter, then slowly beat in sugar. Add lightly beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt; gradually add to sugar mixture. Blend well, add vanilla.

Fill cookie press or pastry bag one quarter of dough at a time. Pipe cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool 10 minutes while on cookie sheet. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Over waxed paper, lightly dust with powdered sugar. Store cookies in airtight container.

Makes approximately 48 cookies.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESECAKE

IngredientsChocChipCheesecake_n_lg

2 spray(s) cooking spray

10 item(s) cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie(s)

8 1/2 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese

8 oz low fat cream cheese, tub-style

1 cup(s) sugar

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup(s) fat-free cottage cheese

2 tsp almond extract, or less to taste

6 large egg white(s)

3/4 cup(s) mini chocolate chips, divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  • Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Crush cookies; sprinkle evenly over bottom of pan.
  • Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat together cream cheeses on lowest speed until well-blended.
  • In a small bowl, combine sugar and flour; add to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.
  • In a food processor or blender, purée cottage cheese until smooth. Add cottage cheese and almond extract to cream cheese mixture; beat until smooth. Add egg whites; beat until well-blended. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake until cheesecake puffs and center is almost set, about 60 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen; release pan sides. Cover and chill overnight. Cut into 12 slices and serve. Yields 1 slice per serving.

Weight Watchers recipe

INDIVIDUAL SOUTHWESTERN BEEF POT PIES

Pastry

2 (3/4-ounce) slices American cheese

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup butter softened

6 to 7 tablespoons cold water

Filling

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 pound top round steak, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup beef broth

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 (11-ounce) can corn, drained

1/2 cup salsa

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Topping

Sour cream, if desired

Shredded Cheddar cheese; if desired

Heat oven to 350°F.  Cut cheese slices into thin strips.

Combine American cheese, 1 cup flour, cornmeal and sugar in medium bowl; stir to mix. Stir in 1/3 cup butter with fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water just until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic food wrap; refrigerate.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 10-inch skillet until sizzling; add steak pieces. Cook over medium-high heat until browned (2 to 4 minutes). Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons flour; stir to coat steak pieces. Add broth, continue cooking until steak pieces are no longer pink and sauce thickens and comes to a boil (3 to 5 minutes). Stir in chopped cheese and all remaining filling ingredients. Continue cooking until heated through (3 to 4 minutes).

Divide pastry dough into 6 equal parts. Pat each piece of dough on floured surface into 4-inch circle. Place about 2/3 cup filling into each of 6 (12-ounce) custard cups or ovenproof bakeware. Place dough circles over filled dishes. Cut several slits in top of crust with sharp knife. Place pies onto ungreased baking sheet; loosely cover with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover; continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is light golden brown. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.

BACON PEANUT BRITTLE

Makes about 5 cups

Note: Collect everything before you start, because things move quickly.

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups roasted peanuts

2 slices bacon, cooked until very crisp, drained and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup and butter to a boil over high heat, stirring often, until the mixture turns golden brown, 10-15 minutes (300 degrees on a candy thermometer).

2. Immediately take pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, peanuts and bacon.

3. Sprinkle with baking soda, and stir the foaming mixture until evenly combined. Spread mixture evenly on a baking sheet. Cool completely before chopping or breaking into pieces. Brittle keeps up to 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not refrigerate it.

ELVIS (THE FAT YEARS) SUNDAE

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas, sliced

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup Bacon Peanut Brittle, chopped (see recipe)

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, combine bananas, brown sugar and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bananas are completely mushy, about 10 minutes. Don’t let mixture burn. Puree the mixture in a blender.

2. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set a bowl in the ice bath. Get a sieve ready.

3. Using the same saucepan, combine cream, milk and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until hot but not boiling.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together the banana puree, egg yolks and granulated sugar until well blended. Slowly pour in half the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer back to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom, until the liquid begins to steam and you can feel the spatula scrape against the bottom, 2-3 minutes.

5. Remove the custard from the heat, and immediately pour it through a sieve into the clean bowl you set up for the ice bath. Let cool.

6. Transfer to an ice cream maker and spin according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in the brittle, then transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze up to 1 week. Or, serve the ice cream over banana slices, and top it with shards of brittle for Elvis sundaes.

Makes 1 quart

LIMONCELLO

Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as an after-dinner digestivo. Along the Amalfi Coast, it is usually served in small ceramic glasses themselves often chilled, the Amalfi coast being a center of both ceramics and limoncello production. This tradition has been carried into other parts of Italy.

Ingredients

  • 18 lemons (Meyer or Eureka; see Notes), washed and dried
  • One 4-in. rosemary sprig, washed and dried
  • 2 bottles (750 ml. each) 100-proof vodka, such as Stolichnaya or Smirnoff
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

Preparation

  1. Peel lemons with a sharp vegetable peeler, taking only the zest (top layer) and avoiding any white pith. Put rosemary in a 1-gal. glass or ceramic container with a tight seal. Add zest to jar.
  2. Pour 750 ml. vodka over rosemary and zest; seal container. Let sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days.
  3. In a saucepan, bring 5 cups water to a boil and add sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Let sugar syrup cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  4. Pour syrup and remaining 750 ml. vodka over lemon-vodka mixture, stir, and seal container. Let sit in a cool, dark place for another 40 days.
  5.  Pour limoncello through cheesecloth into a large spouted pitcher and divide among gift bottles.
  6. Note: Nutritional analysis is per ounce.
Note:Either Meyer or Eureka lemons work in this recipe (the fragrant Meyer is especially good, though). To speed up the process, shorten the infusing time in steps 2 and 4 to 1 week each, and you’ll have a fine although less intense liqueur. Limoncello keeps indefinitely in the freezer.

FRENCH BREAKFAST MUFFINS

1/3 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg (preferably room temperature)
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk

Topping (option: cut topping in half*)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium-large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir until combined, but still a bit lumpy. Don’t overmix. Scoop batter into muffin tins that have sprayed with cooking spray. Using a large ice cream scoop, I got 8 medium-large muffins out of this batter; I think you could get 10-12 muffins by distributing the batter a little less generously. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they just start to turn a bit golden at the edges.

For the topping, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place melted butter in another small bowl. Dip the warm muffins in melted butter (you can dip just the top, but it’s even tastier to dip the whole muffin!), then dip/roll the muffin in cinnamon sugar.