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Gingerbread Linzer Cookies with Lemon Frosting

Gingerbread Linzer Cookies

Making Linzer cookies is a Christmas tradition around our house. But this year I wanted to do something different. My kids were the inspiration – my youngest begged me to make gingerbread cookies. I figured we could do a little bit of both. For every pan of gingerbread men we made another pan of Linzer cookies with the same dough. One dough, two very different cookies.

Here’s how to put the Linzer cookies together. I purchases my Linzer cookie cutter from King Arthur Flour but they’re available at kitchenware stores, too.

Linzer and gingerbread cookies

Recipe

*Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Cookies: 4 dozen sandwich cookies

 

Cookie dough ingredients

¾ cup butter

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup molasses

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 ½ tsp. ginger

¼ tsp. anise

1/4 tsp. almond extract

½ tsp. lemon zest

1 egg

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

3 12/ cups all-purpose flour

 

Lemon frosting ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon zest

2-3 cups powdered sugar

Sprinkle of salt

 

Directions

Cookies

  1. In the microwave, melt the butter together with the brown sugar then stir in the molasses, salt, and seasonings, including the lemon zest.
  2. Let the mixture cool and then beat in an egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining dry ingredients together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir the dough into a ball and wrap with aluminum foil. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to 1/8” thick and use a Linzer cookie cutter to make the cookie shapes. No Linzer cookie cutter? No problem. Use a biscuit cutter or even a cup to make the circular shapes.
  7. Bake each sheet of dough cookie shapes for 8-10 minutes or until just set (they’ll become crisper as they cool).

 

Icing

  1. In a large bowl, whip the butter until creamy. Add in the heavy cream and then the powdered sugar. Next, mix in the lemon juice and the zest along with the salt.
  2. Continue blending the frosting until it’s the right consistency – add more powdered sugar to make the frosting firmer or cream to make it smoother. Want it tangier? Add more zest or lemon juice.

 

Assembly

Easy! Use a kitchen knife to spread about 1 ½ tsp. frosting on one cookie and then sandwich it together with another cookie on top. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top if you’d like to make the cookie look even prettier.

 

Gingerbread Linzer Cookies Close up

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Easy Homemade Almond Joy Bars

Homemade Almond Joys picWarning: Almond Joy Bars are surprisingly easy to make. And they only have four ingredients. I know, you’ve already started singing the Almond Joy jingle in anticipation of making a batch at home.

Here’s what you need:

• Shredded coconut (sweetened, unsweetened, your choice)Homemade Almond Joy ingredients pic

• Sweetened, condensed milk

• Chocolate bark (I mix in half chocolate bark half dark chocolate chips)

• Almonds (or if you don’t feel like a nut, go sans almonds)

 

Directions:

  1. Get your hands dirty by mixing together 4 cups shredded coconut with about 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk. You want a consistency so that it’s easy to form the batter into a ball. Add more coconut or milk to get your consistency just right.
  2. Working with about 1 tablespoon of batter at a time form balls into Almond Joy bar shapes and place them on waxed paper fitted in a cookie sheet. With 4 cups I was able to make about 20-24 bars (my kids kept “testing” the coconut mixture to make sure it was right so I suspect we could have made a few more bars).
  3. Place the bar molds into the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate in a microwave-safe dish on half power for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the chocolate!
  5. One at a time roll the coconut bars into the melted chocolate then place back on the waxed paper. Top each bar with an almond. Note: I found that topping the dipped chocolate bar with an almond was a lot easier than putting it onto the coconut, then dipping (the coconut would crack or the almond would fall off into the chocolate–or both). If you want your Almond Joy bars to look more like the real thing then dip the bars into chocolate a second time.

Homemade Almond Joy with a bite pic

 

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25 Uses for sriracha sauce

Sriracha sauce: noun, verb (ex. we need to srirachasize this meal) An Asian born chili sauce that melds into other ingredients and gives food a spicy tickle that fades quickly, depending on how many hits of sriracha used. Not to be confused with Tabasco sauce, Cholula, Valentina, or other chili sauces.

I thought I’d offer my own definition of sriracha sauce since dictionary.com lists “no results” and this newly trendy chili sauce is worth adding to your kitchen spice arsenal. Regular readers understand I like a kick of heat in my food. But even if you’re a chili sauce novice, which believe me, I once was–I couldn’t even take mild Pace Picante Sauce–sriracha can be your entry into the world of hot sauce. Here’s the real secret behind sriracha’s success–when you mix it with other ingredients it doesn’t dominate the flavor. Use a dousing of Tabasco sauce in something and you can taste the vinegary heat. Mix in sriracha and you’ll feel the heat but won’t “taste” it.

So break out the sriracha sauce! Here are 25 ways to get you started:

  1. Stir some into your next cheese dip.
  2. Add a few dollops into the ground meat for meatloaf.
  3. Spoon a little into your next marinade.
  4. Enliven DIY vinaigrette with a few drops.
  5. Don’t let ketchup go it alone, swirl in some sriracha.
  6. Make your marinara or spaghetti sauce zesty with a bit of sriracha.
  7. Boost the zing of homemade salsa.
  8. Sprinkle nachos with sriracha goodness.
  9. Add to Asian stir fries.
  10. Forget the Tabasco and use sriracha on your next BLT or shrimp po’ boy.
  11. Help creamy alfredo have a slight kick by mixing in just a drop or two.

    The sriracha burger

  12. Mix sriracha and mayo as a sauce on your next burger.
  13. Stir in a little sriracha into your next chocolate fondue. Just trust me on this one–chocolate loves sriracha, so do sweet fruits like pineapple and strawberries.
  14. Hello veggie dip! Stir sriracha into ranch dressing.
  15. Potato salad gets a spicy makeover when you add a little sriracha.
  16. Bull Dog sauce + sriracha for a yummy tonkatsu dip.
  17. Mix it into your soup. Please.
  18. Easy Asian dipping sauce for dumplings: soy sauce + sriracha + fresh squeezed lime juice
  19. Omelets are improved with sriracha. Oh yes!
  20. Easy weeknight dinner: sauteed shrimp with fresh lime, sriracha and chile salsa. Serve in toasted corn tortillas.
  21. Add on breakfast burritos.
  22. Boxed brownie mix + sriracha = a memorable dessert. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  23. Pico de Gallo begs for sriracha.
  24. Stir sriracha into any chip dip. Your family will thank you.
  25. Sriracha + barbecue sauce = bliss.

Even though we use sriracha. A lot. A little goes a long way so our 17-oz. bottle will last a good three months.

Your turn: How do you use sriracha at your house?

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Can the toothfairy help your kids eat better?

The other day my daughter desperately wanted her tooth to come out. She wiggled it. Pulled at it. She even went digging for dental floss to try the whole attach-it-to-the-door-and-slam technique. (Does that ever work? Really?)

I gave her a different idea: eat whole foods. Apples. Carrots. Pears. Biting away at fruits and vegetables, I explained, might bring that tooth out. Her face lit up and she went for the bowl of fruit I try to keep stocked on the kitchen table (admittedly, sometimes it becomes the depository for coupons, orphaned paper clips and the like, but I do try).

First bite of the Empire apple didn’t bring out her wiggly tooth. Neither did the second, third, and we both lost count. You can see what remained of her apple. And the tooth? It’s still in, but hey, my daughter now has a great excuse for taking big bites of fresh produce.

Your turn: Anyone else ever enlisted the fruit bowl to help your kids lose a tooth?

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Purple Amish wheat bread

My family and I had a chance to visit Amish country in Indiana recently. I was in carb heaven. But I had to share one of my discoveries–purple Amish bread. Regular MKES readers know I like food in color, from purple potatoes to purple cauliflower. But purple whole wheat?

In Middlebury we stopped at Rise ‘n Roll bakery, which I was told had the best donuts ever. They were.

As I circled the aisles munching samples as I went, I spied bread made with purple wheat. I asked the head baker about the bread and she explained that they’d had a nutritionist come in and make health improvements to their recipes. One of those changes–purple wheat. Apparently, she was told, the more colorful wheat had a higher anti-oxidant content than the regular variety. She also mentioned in the bakery they’d found that the purple wheat made for a softer bread and stayed fresh longer than other flours too. I was intrigued. Of course, I had to buy a loaf. I wish I’d bought more.

The purple wheat bread had this swirl of white wheat too along with plump raisins throughout–and almonds on top. My idea of a perfect loaf–hearty wheat, some pops of sweet and nuts–all in a surprising color.

Since I’ve been home I’ve tried to track down purple wheat so I can bake with it at home. So far, I haven’t been able to find anything close. Sure there’s purple corn flour, purple flowers, but no purple whole wheat flour. Anyone else ever baked or come across purple flour?

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$50 Bison Giveaway Winner Announced–20% Off Discount Code

MKES readers have been busy trying out new foods! Alligator and escargot seemed to be a common theme along with an occasional ostrich and some lentils thrown in.

Thanks for participating, the prize package winner was chosen at random, Jennifer M. will be receiving the sampler from High Plains Bison. I hope she’ll report in once she’s had a chance to try out a bison dog or two.

Don’t worry, even if you didn’t win, MKES readers can still receive a discount using this code, EATGOOD22. You’ll get 20% off your total order. Note that the discount won’t appear until you review your purchase on the billing page. This is the biggest discount that High Plains Bison offers.

And if you’re still itching to try out some new flavors stay tuned…next Tuesday I’ll be announcing another giveaway.

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