Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Chicken Chick

One of the blogs I like following is The Chicken Chick. Take a visit, especially if you fancy all thing chickens and eggs! It's worth the visit and so are the blog hops!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Apple Dumplings and Peanut Brittle for Christmas

Apples are always plentiful this time of year, and this is a favorite way to eat them. Apples differ in variety in that some are better suited to eating fresh, others for cooking and baking, cider, and others for preserving. My #1 favorite apple for pies and dumplings is a Macintosh. Excellent flavor, and it cooks/bakes up tender without being mushy or too crunchy. Winesaps come in for a close second.

If you are interested in learning about apples and the best for each purpose, there is a whole science behind it.

                                                                           Apple Dumplings


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold water
8 medium tart apples, peeled and cored
8 teaspoons butter
9 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar, divided


1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide into eight portions. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll each portion of dough between two lightly floured sheets of waxed paper into a 7-in. square. Place an apple on each square. Place 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar in the center of each apple.

Gently bring up corners of pastry to each center; pinch edges to seal. If desired, cut out apple leaves and stems from dough scraps; attach to dumplings with water. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar.

In a large saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Bring just to a boil, stirring until blended. Pour over apples.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown, basting occasionally with sauce. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream a la mode, my favorite!

Another holiday favorite is peanut brittle and this is so easy, you'll wonder why you didn't make it before. All done in the microwave.

                                                                      Peanut Brittle


1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup salted peanuts
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda


Butter a cookie sheet. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a 2 quart glass bowl and microwave on high 4 minutes. Stir in peanuts and microwave on high 3 1/2 minutes more, then stir in butter and vanilla and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin. Cool completely and break into pieces and serve.


This week is the Festival of Lights. While I don't have much time to devote to it this year while working, we still observe and celebrate. For those that would like to know more about this special week and why it is important,


My silver tree of life menorah had an untimely accident so this piece above acted in its place this year. I always want lamb for this celebration, as I do Passover. So, Hanukkah dinner this year was Montreal seasoned lamb shank chops with mint jelly, latkes, red beets, spinach with a pinch of vinegar and salt, cinnamon applesauce, and a bottle of Bully Hill's Sweet Walter Red wine. Red velvet cheesecake served as dessert. If you look back through the archives, you will find numerous Hanukkah recipes I've posted for this time of year. Sadly, I didn't have time to make my apple cake or kugel this year.

 Tomorrow I will make matzo ball soup, which I think should just be a staple for the season, period. Nothing spells comfort food like matzo ball soup!

                                                             Matzo Ball Soup!


Chicken Soup:

1 (5 or 6 pound) hen
2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced in big chunks
1 onion, quartered
3 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Matzoh Balls:

4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons chicken fat (from the above soup)
1 cup matzoh meal
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup hot water
12 cups salted water


Wash the chicken with water and place in pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off bubbling foam as it forms. Add celery, carrots, onion, herbs, salt and pepper and simmer, half-covered at lower heat, for at least 45 minutes, until the chicken seems done. The chicken will come away easily from the bone. Pour soup through strainer to get a clear broth. Let cool. When broth has completely cooled, skim off the fat and save for the matzoh balls.

In a mixing bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons chicken fat. Stir in the matzoh meal and salt. Add 1/4 hot water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Form the matzoh dough into balls the size of walnuts. Bring the salted water to a boil. Add the matzoh balls, cover, and cook for 20 minutes (don't even peek!). Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove matzoh balls from hot water with a slotted spoon and add to the simmering chicken broth just a few minutes before serving.

Note: If you are concerned if the oils or other ingredients in these recipes are suitable for Passover, seek non-dairy substitutes or ingredients that are certified kosher for Passover.

Catching up for the Holidays!

I've been AWOL again. Work/life balance isn't the best at this time of year but I still love and enjoy it.  As some of you know, I love to decorate for the holidays, although I didn't have time to go all out this year. So here is a small tour. This is one of the nicest trees I've had in a long time, a nice concolor fir tree. The smell is amazing! While no fancy tablescapes this year, at least it feels like home.

 My poor Nativity set is hiding underneath the coffee table due to rambunctious dogs!

 The angel topper is special to me this year as I found her for $3 at a flea market shop and she is just the very angel I have been searching for for years. I wanted an angel but thought most looked so cheesy. But this one is perfect for me!

 Many thanks to my best friend for gifting me with this lovely Morgan horse garden stake. I love it so much, I worked it into my porch decorating!
 I decorate my dining room chandelier every year as well, it's too good of an opportunity to miss!