Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Mrs. F.E. Smith’s Peanut Butter Cookies

by Danica Waters

 

I have sadly forgotten who Mrs. F.E. Smith was, as well as what relation she had to my family; whatever relation it happened to be happened a long, long time ago.  What I can tell you is that this recipe has been passed down through my family for at least three generations, and it came from this particular someone named Mrs. F.E. Smith.

 

During one of the last visits I had with my Nana, we got to “talking shop” (which, in this case, means recipes) and ended up going through her antique, foot-long metal recipe file.

 

(Yes, it was a metal box that was approximately twelve inches long.  And it was full.)

 

While she pulled out various recipes she thought I’d enjoy, I recognized this recipe from my mother’s own recipe box.  My Nana waved her hand and told me matter-of-factly in her sweet Southern drawl to “not even bother with any other peanut butter cookie recipe, because this one was the best there was.”

 

This recipe produces a perfect peanut butter cookie.  Not too sweet, just salty enough, and equally delicious with a glass of cold milk as with a cup of hot cocoa…

 

Enjoy!

 

Mrs. F.E. Smith’s Peanut Butter Cookies

 

½ C white sugar

½ C brown sugar

½ C butter

½ C chunky peanut butter

1 egg slightly beaten

1-1/4 C flour

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

 

In large bowl, combine sugars, butter, and peanut butter.  Add egg and mix thoroughly.  Sift together dry ingredients and combine with the peanut butter mixture.

 

Mold dough into a long, even roll and wrap in waxed paper.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm.

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

 

Slice to approximately 3/8 of an inch thickness, and place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.  Using the tines of a fork, create a grid-shaped decoration, if desired.

 

Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Posted November 18th, 2011.

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Nifty Napkin Folds: Basic Buffet Roll

by Danica Waters

With Holiday buffets lurking around the corner, today’s lesson in nifty napkin folding is the incredibly simple, sturdy, straightforward Basic Buffet Roll.

Enjoy!

 

Nifty Napkin Folds:  Basic Buffet Roll

 

Step 1:

Lay napkin face down in front of you.

 

Step 2:

Fold one corner down to meet the opposite corner, forming a triangle.  Position the triangle so that the open corners face away from you.

Step 3:

Place your utensils along the bottom and in the center of the long side of the triangle.

Step 4:

Fold one end in to cover the utensils.

Step 5:

Fold the opposite corner in to completely cover utensils.

Step 6:

Roll tightly from bottom up.

Voila!  You’re done!

 

While this fold holds just fine on its own, you can tie a bit of decorative ribbon, raffia, or other decorative on each roll to dress it up a bit.

Posted October 24th, 2011.

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Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

by Danica Waters

 

Having grown up under the influence of heavy-duty Southern Sensibilities and then steeped in the sweet civility of British living once or twice, I must admit that I have come to truly appreciate the merits of a good pound cake.  While most folks shudder at the thought of what a pound cake can do to a diet, I personally feel better if I’ve got three or four of them tucked away in my freezer for gift giving and emergencies.  And tea.

My Nana was famous for handing out pound cakes to visitors.  It was just what she did.  The mailman came with packages during the summer and received pound cake and lemonade to go.  Mothers would come to pick up their kids after a play date, and they, too, received some version of a delectable pound cake.   A cake walk or a bake sale at the school?  Yep.  Pound cake.  She always spoke to the fact that a good pound cake went with everything, was admired by everyone,  remained virtually indestructible during transport, and always showed up looking good at a party.  While that sounds more like a great travel garment than something you’d eat, go figure; I now find myself collecting great pound cake recipes, baking them in wee tiny pans and putting them away for gift giving, emergencies, and yes, afternoon tea.

This is a lighter version of a pound cake I found on Martha Stewart’s website.  It could easily be made with any type of jam, but is completely smashing with a  fresh blackberry swirl.  As a footnote, I chose to leave my blackberries crushed but not pureed, and the result was fantastic.  Super easy to make ahead and freeze, this is a great way to get a head-start on the holiday season.

Enjoy!

 

Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

(Martha Stewart)

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. (Or, for a more rustic texture, simply crush blackberries and combine with sugar.)  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.

 

Posted October 11th, 2011.

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Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

by Danica Waters / nature photos courtesy of www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

 

I first discovered this recipe about ten years ago, in the back of an issue of Taste of Home magazine.  It was October, the aspen were ablaze in the Colorado high country and I was excitedly planning an annual autumn picnic for a large group of friends and family.  Although our family made frequent pilgrimages to the mountains throughout the year, our October excursion was special in a spiritual sort of way.

 

In the lush valleys of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, October heralds the return of the giant elk as they descend from higher elevations to mate and prepare for the onset of winter.  It is a humbling, transfixing ritual to observe, as old as time and as beautifully executed as a waltz in a king’s court.

 

On this particular October excursion, we arrived with enough time to spend the day hiking, and, of course, daring each other to dip our toes in the ice-cold burbling streams.   Finally, as the late afternoon chill set in, we returned to the small parking lot on the far side of the meadows. Wet, shivering children got tucked into clean, dry socks and loads of blankets; hearty picnic dinner offerings were devoured and steaming cups of hot cocoa were passed around as we, and the many other nature-lovers around us, waited for the elk to appear.

 

Venus twinkled over Long’s Peak, shining like a  diamond in the deepening periwinkle sky; then, as if by magic, the soft sounds of laughter and conversation suddenly gave way to reverent silence with the first sighting of a bull elk. He appeared from the shadowy depths of the forest and walked slowly and deliberately into the meadow, completely aware of and unfazed by our presence; we were mere courtiers in the presence of a King.

 

He assumed his position center stage in the tall grasses and stood magnificently still, waiting.  Then, on an impulse, he thrust his head back and let out a haunting, lonely cry that reverberated all the way through the valley.  The ensuing silence was nothing short of deafening; it was as though every molecule of every being in the entire valley had been suspended in time.

 

Ever-so-slowly, from the forest shadows appeared the does.  With almost-choreographed precision, they made their way, one by one, in front of the group of onlookers and then past the King, only to disappear back into the trees on the opposite side of the meadow.  After the last doe had made her appearance, the King turned and followed them, swallowed by the shadows of nightfall.

 

The whole experience was like a dream; we had to sit a minute to digest what we’d just seen.  Kids being kids, they decided this was the perfect opportunity to remind me that we hadn’t yet served dessert.  I absentmindedly broke out these little cupcakes, and suddenly realized I was experiencing another kind of dream, because that same sudden, magical hush fell over everyone in our group as they took their first bite.  Even the kids were quiet.  No joke.

 

Need some magic?  Try these.   Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes are the best cupcakes in the WORLD.  They have no frosting.  Instead, they have chunks of chocolate and walnuts baked into a peek-a-boo cream cheese center. Not too sweet, modestly decadent, easily transportable, and visually stunning; this is the perfect cupcake to make for every occasion.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

Taste of Home August/September 1994

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 C sugar

¼ C baking cocoa

½ tsp salt

2 eggs lightly beaten

¾ C water

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Filling:

 

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 C sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/8 tsp salt

1 C semisweet chocolate chips

1 C chopped walnuts

 

In large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla; mix well.  Pour into 18 greased or paper lined muffin cups.  For filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in another mixing bowl.  Add egg and salt; mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoonfuls into center of each cupcake.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 1-1/2 dozen.

 

Posted October 7th, 2011.

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Crisp Chicken Tenderloins With Curry and Lemon

by Danica Waters

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. Amen.

And where there is a whole lot of necessity, there you shall find a whole lot of inventing goin’ on.  Let’s just say I happen to be on a roll these days;  indeed, I am one inventin’ so-and-so.  Happily, much like the FML day I concocted the Queen’s Rings, it seems to be working in my favor.  Happy for all the wonderful folks who follow my blog, I like to share.

You know THOSE nights when you realize too late that the grill is out of gas, everyone is starrrrrrrrrvinnnng, and dinner just needs to be UBER-delicious because even the dog appears to be out-of-sorts?  Yep. It was one of those.  (We are all down with nasty colds this morning, so that explains it.)

For some odd reason, when the mood is afoul, I seem to reach for turmeric and curry every single time.  (Probably because it works every single time.)  This time was no exception.  These crispy chicken tenderloins are not only visually stunning, with a rich golden color from the turmeric, they are just plain addictive with their crispy texture, the round, deep flavor of curry graced with the tang of freshly squeezed lemon and a hint of cilantro.

I am happy to report that the evening finished out with rave reviews of dinner, fresh blackberries over ice cream, and a healthy session of  “laugh-’til-you-almost-pee-your-pants”.  All’s well that ends well.  Thank you, Necessity.  You rock.

 

 

Crisp Chicken Tenderloins With Curry and Lemon

(Danica Waters)

 

8 chicken tenderloins, thawed

½ C flour

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste

Salt & pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh lemon slices

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Combine flour, turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.  Rinse chicken tenderloins and immediately dredge in flour mixture; set on separate plate to rest.

Bring large (12”) frying pan to temperature over medium high heat.  When ready, add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan and heat until oil is hot but not smoking.

 

Using cooking tongs, add coated chicken tenderloins to hot oil.  Fry until golden brown; turn and repeat on other side.  After turning, sprinkle remaining flour mixture over the tenderloins and turn once more to brown.

 

Remove tenderloins to serving platter; sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with lemon wedges.

 

Note:  These are fantastic served with Flash-Cooked Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipes forthcoming), or chop them up and serve them in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki.

 

Posted September 29th, 2011.

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Gigi’s Apple Cake

by Danica Waters

 

Several years ago, I found myself in the waiting room of a doctor’s office… waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting some more.  Thankfully, the waiting room was stocked with lots and lots of great magazines, most of which contained great recipes.

 

One of the magazines contained a wonderful, heartfelt story about a Jewish grandmother fondly referred to as “Gigi”, who would make an incredible apple cake just like clockwork as soon as the long summer days gave way to the shorter, chillier days of autumn.   It seems the recipe had been handed down through the family for generations; I was happy I had a pen and an old grocery list buried in my purse.

 

I don’t remember the name of the publication, nor can I recall the name of the author who shared such a beautiful living memory of her dearly departed grandmother.  I can tell you that this is the best apple cake I have ever made or tasted; it is truly an autumn heirloom your family will treasure for generations.

 

Enjoy!

 

Gigi’s Apple Cake

 

1 C canola oil, plus more for greasing

2-1/2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tsp baking powder

3 tsp ground cinnamon

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

2-1/4 C granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1/3 C orange juice

2 tsp orange zest

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

 

Preheat oven to 350?.  Grease and flour a 12c Bundt or tube pan.  In a medium bowl, combine the 2-1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon.  Ina large bowl, toss the apples with ¼ cup of sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and set aside.

 

In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the 1 cup of oil with the eggs, orange juice, vanilla, and the remaining 2 cups of sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.  Add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing until just combined.  Add the apples and stir to combine.  Transfer to the pan, leaving about an inch at the top, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1-1/2 hours.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before unmolding it onto a rack to cool completely.

Posted September 28th, 2011.

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The Ultimate Sour Cream Zucchini Bread

by Danica Waters (image courtesy of www.allrecipes.com)


Several years ago,  a coworker of mine introduced me to the best banana bread I have ever, ever tasted.  She said the secret ingredient was sour cream.  While my mom’s recipe for zucchini bread was already fantastic, I decided to try my hand at adding a bit of sour cream to the recipe.  The results were even more  fantastic.

Preparing for a school bake sale, I decided to make this sweetbread truly decadent,  so I added chocolate chips and dried cranberries and made mini-loaves.  I ended up having to make a second batch, as two of the mini loaves “mysteriously” disappeared when the kids came home from school.   The loaves sold out fast; they look beautiful studded with ruby-colored cranberries and chocolate chunks, and they taste even better!

Note:  if you’re making zucchini bread for a bake sale, be  sure to leave out the nuts from half of the recipe and label accordingly!  There’s lots of folks with allergies and aversions  to nuts out there…

Enjoy!

 

The Ultimate Sour Cream- Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs, beaten

2 C sugar

1 C vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 C grated zucchini

3 C  flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 C dairy  sour cream

1  C chocolate chips

1 C dried cranberries

1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work well)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 9 x 3 x 5 loaf pans, mini loaf pans, or line muffin tins with paper liners, set aside.

In medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, soda, and baking powder; mix well using wire whisk and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Add grated zucchini and stir well.  Add dry ingredients a bit at a time, alternating with the sour cream; add desired nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared baking pans.  Larger loaf pans should take approximately 60-65 minutes to bake at 350 degrees F, while baking time for mini loaves and muffins should be scaled down.  Bread is done when a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Note:  Use up that zucchini!  This sweetbread freezes exceptionally well, and is great to share with neighbors, teachers, and friends!

Posted September 2nd, 2011.

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Zucchini: Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

by Danica Waters

After spending a happy, busy weekend experimenting with different variations of stuffed grilled zucchini (so far I’ve done it Italian-style, Asian-style, and with green chiles and Parmesan cheese – yum!), this variation nearly got me a standing ovation.  Folks were placing dibs on leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

The secret ingredient is the tequila in the marinade.  It gets ‘em every time; it deepens the flavors and mingles well with all things grilled.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

¼ C extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp chili powder

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp tequila

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

 

 

Filling:

1 – 15 oz can black beans

½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut to ¼” dice

2-3 diced green onions

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed from the cob

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tsp whole cumin seed

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

½ C shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1 fresh jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced

 

 

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in tequila mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a small sauté pan, sauté minced jalapeno with diced red pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft.  Add cumin seed, allow to cook for a minute to release the flavor of the cumin, and remove from the heat.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients with peppers and cumin and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheeses are thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Posted September 1st, 2011.

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Zucchini: Grilled and Stuffed Green Chile Parmesan

by Danica Waters

Based on a recipe for squash casserole handed down from my Nana, this version of stuffed grilled zucchini features a surprisingly delicious combination of flavors.  It makes a perfect side dish.

 

Enjoy!

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Green Chile Parmesan

 

4 medium zucchini

Olive oil and salt and pepper to marinate zucchini

 

½ C cooked jasmine rice

1 medium onion, diced.

1 small yellow crookneck squash, diced

¼ tsp fresh minced oregano

1 small can diced green chiles

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive Oil to bind mixture

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

Saute onion until soft and translucent; add yellow squash and oregano and cook until crisp tender.  Add green chiles, heavy cream, and jasmine rice; cook until mixture is heated through; remove from heat. Season to taste with Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Fill the cavity of each zucchini with rice mixture. Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheese is thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

 

Posted August 31st, 2011.

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Zucchini: Stuffed and Grilled Asian-Style

by Danica Waters

Smitten with the results of my first spontaneous attempt at grilling stuffed zucchini (see Zucchini; Grilled and Stuffed Italian Style), I excitedly devoted the rest of my weekend towards developing several variations on the theme.  You would think “la familia” would be picketing outside with large signs that read “SQUASH THE SQUASH” or “IT’S X-NAY THE ZUCCHINI DAY”, but surprisingly, that’s not what happened.  Because zucchini has a relatively neutral flavor, it acts as a nearly perfect culinary canvas for all sorts of world cuisine.

 

Today’s variation has an Asian flare; the flavors and textures on this little gem will set your taste buds on fire. (Or was it the chili sauce?) It’s my personal favorite; I think I could live on this variation, like, forever..

 

Enjoy!

 

Asian Grilled Stuffed Zucchini

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

2 Tbsp chili sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

 

Filling:

1/2 small can diced water chestnuts

½ C diced roasted and salted peanuts

¼ C chopped fresh cilantro

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

3-4 chopped green onions

Chinese Chicken Salad dressing or other Asian-style dressing ( I use Trader Joe’s Spicy Thai Peanut Dressing) to bind.

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in chili sauce mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

 

Posted August 30th, 2011.

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