Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Cinnamon, cinnamon, don't forget the cinnamon!"

Yesterday, Mom made a delicious pork roast surrounded by roasted white potatoes and sweet potatoes, and the perfect sweet side dish to accompany it was Betty Crocker's applesauce. 

Applesauce (from 176 of the BCC): Mom usually makes her own applesauce from scratch, but decided to give Betty's recipe a try, and we all loved it. It called for 1/8 tsp of nutmeg, which Mom had never used in applesauce before, as well as cinnamon, brown sugar, water and of course apples.

The smells of warm cinnamon and nutmeg fill the house and always bring so much comfort and joy at this time of year. I hope you are enjoying all these wonderful aromas of the season in your house today, too - only one more week until Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"...with candy canes and silver lanes a-glow!"

Oh yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Spoon Drop Inn! This week Mom made a new festive recipe that I absolutely love - candy cane coffee cake. But silly me, I thought that it was a coffee cake with candy canes in it or on it, but it is actually made to look like a candy cane...

Candy Cane Coffee Cakes (from p. 81 of the BCC): One thing that makes this coffee cake unique is that you heat two cups of sour cream and stir it in with the yeast, warm water, butter, sugar, salt, eggs and flour. Chemically, I don't know what that does to change the consistency, but the bread turned out so nice and soft and fluffy! 

Then you add flour until the dough is easy to handle. Knead, cover, and let rise for an hour, then punch it down and divide the dough in three parts. The recipes says it "makes three cakes - one for the brunch table and two for gift giving" - how charming is that?! Oh, that hospitable Betty...

This is where the fun really begins: you roll out each piece into 15"x6" rectangles, and make 2" cuts at 1/2" intervals on the long sides of the rectangles... so it looks like it's tasseled, like your favorite ugly Christmas sweater. 

You make a mixture of chopped maraschino cherries and dried apricots and spread it down the middle of the tasseled dough rectangles. And THEN... you crisscross the tassels over the filling. Stretch the dough out to 22" and carefully curve one end to form it in the shape of a candy cane.

Bake until they are golden brown, and while they are still warm, brush them with butter and drizzle them with a thin icing made with two cups of confectioners' sugar and two tablespoons of milk.

And now you have beautiful, sweet coffee cake to serve for your Christmas brunch - and of course, two more to give to those you love. I enjoyed a piece yesterday with a cup of Twinnings' Christmas tea - perfect for making the season bright!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Today is Dad's birthday! In honor of our favorite "Man of the Hour" (who absolutely LOVES apple pie), we will now highlight the final chapter of our Apple Pie Chronicles. 

Dutch Apple Pie (variation on page 321 of the BCC): Mom made a two-crust pie pastry, with extra large slits in the top. Then fill the pie with the standard ingredients of sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and apples, and bake. The reason you add the slits in the top is for the 1/2 cup of whipping cream you pour on top just 5 minutes before the pie is fully cooked. Stick the pie back in for 5 more minutes, and then serve it warm to Pete - or your own favorite guy. :)

The whipping cream really makes a difference! The creamy texture/consistency is what distinguishes a Dutch apple pie from the others. So now that our "Tour d' Apple Pie" is complete, which variation is your favorite? Please share your thoughts! And stay tuned for some exciting Christmas treats, coming soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Svedish meetballz!

This week Mom made Swedish meatballs, and served them over wide egg noodles. She and Dad and I recently watched a Muppets movie, so of course we made plenty of references and did our best impersonations of this classy guy: 

I think the thing that makes Swedish meatballs... well, Swedish... is the sauce. Your typical Italian meatballs are made with red tomato sauce, and Swedish meatballs are made with a white sauce.

Swedish Meatballs (from p. 261 of the BCC): The meatballs are a mix of beef, pork, onion, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce (a very fun word to say when imitating the Swedish chef!), egg, and milk. The sauce is a simple mix of flour, paprika, salt and pepper, cooked over low heat and stirred until "smooth and bubbly," then slowly stir in sour cream. After you brown the meatballs, add them to the sauce.

I don't know if that's the way the Swedes cook them, and I'm pretty sure the Swedish chef would have involved rubber chickens and talking broccoli, but this is the recipe according to the BCC, and it was a delicious success... and if it's good enough for Betty, it's good enough for us!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bringing You Great Peanut Butter and Chocolate Drops of Joy!

Yesterday was the big TCF Annual Christmas party at our church. It was tons of fun - an Ugly Sweater Contest (Congrats, Carol!), a 12 Days of Christmas group sing (Fiiiiiiive Gooooooooldeeeeeeeen Riiiiiiiiings!), John's stand-up comedy, the children's nativity show, and of course food - lots and lots of delicious holiday food! Mom's contribution to the feast was Peanut Butter cookies - a BCC original with a special Chandler-family touch... 

Peanut Butter Cookies (from p. 145 of the BCC): Simple ingredients and easy to make, PB cookies have butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, flour, an egg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix it all together and then cover and chill. Now these are called "molded cookies" because you shape the dough into 1" balls and then flatten the balls into 2" circles with a fork, with a cool criss-cross pattern. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. 

Our "special touch" is that as soon as the cookies come out of the oven, before you take them off the cookie sheet, you gently press a Hershey kiss into the middle. I personally think they are best eaten warm, while the chocolate is all melty and gooey... but they just add that special something to make them festive! 

Here's a couple pictures from the Christmas party. If any of our readers made some favorite Christmas recipes for the party, we'd love for you to share them with us! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chops 'n' Stuff

We have sufficiently recovered from our exquisite Thanksgiving feasting, and we hope you have too. Last week, Mom spent some time every day decorating the house and making it a Christmas wonderland, with lights, bells, snowmen, wreaths, garlands, and ribbons. She and Dad picked out a tree on Thursday, and now that it is lit up and properly adorned, the holiday has officially begun at the Spoon Drop Inn. So hang on to your hats, because now we're going to be posting delicious and inspiring recipes nearly every day until Christmas!

I am sitting here, stuffed and satisfied from just eating a most delicious dinner. It's something Mom has never made before, but she said it was pretty easy to put together.

Corn-Stuffed Pork Chops (from p. 247 of the BCC): Mom picked up three 1" thick pork chops for this recipe. She made a stuffing with corn, bread crumbs, onion, salt, and sage (oh that classic stuffing spice!). She cut pockets into the middle of the pork chops and stuffed them to overflow. Then browned the chops for 15 minutes and then covered and slowly simmered them so all that flavor could reach its full potential.

and simmered!
We all loved these pork chops - so tender and full of flavor. Stay tuned for more delightful dishes of this season!