Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 grain bread

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and is ready to hit the New Year running - some of us literally, but not me...yet...but I do need to get that 5 pounds off those cookies seem to have left on my scale.

I want to start this post by saying I love whole grain bread - for the most part. I love the flavor, I love the texture. There are so many varieties out there that I just love. However, I can't get the rest of my family to touch the stuff...

So, I got creative. After watching the America's Test Kitchen episode where they made bread, I thought I would try some of their tips and tricks. I wanted to try their recipe, but forgot and deleted the episode from my DVR.

I promptly forgot about my musings and inspiration until I was in the grocery store one day, and spotted some 10 grain hot cereal sitting next to the rye flour I was looking for...aahhh, yes, I remember now!

This bread is a bit different than what you may be used to for home made grain breads for a few reasons. Well, the first is obvious - I dropped mine on it's head when I was taking it out of the pan, so yours shouldn't look so, well, deformed...

I decided to use the 10 grain hot cereal based on that episode I saw. It's really a great idea! Since I don't make 10 grain bread all that often, buying one 10 grain cereal was a lot easier than buying each different grain individually.

The last difference is a bit more subtle. In an effort for this bread to be better received by my family, I designed this recipe so although it was at least part whole grain, it had extra vital wheat gluten added for texture and lift. AND, I added some vegetable oil so the bread would be softer. So, while some of you that prefer a heartier bread and texture may not like this, I was happy with the soft and fluffy version of my bread.

And, finally, before I talk a bit about how I made this bread, this is one of the things I made with it, and I recommend it! This is my new favorite grilled cheese - tillamook cheddar, gruyere, tomato, and jalapeno jelly. What a perfect combination. Grilled cheese is also great with onion jam - just saying!

10 grain bread
Makes 2 loaves

2/3 c. 10 grain hot cereal mix, mixed with 1 cup very hot water, let cool 15 minutes.
1/2 c. tepid water (just slightly above room temperature)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour (you may need more here)
1/3 c. vital wheat gluten
1/3 c. brown sugar or honey
2 T. or 2 packages instant yeast
1 t. salt

Oats or sunflower seeds, optional

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over your 1/4 c. water. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and mix together. Wait to see if the yeast becomes bubbly. If it doesn't, discard and start again.

Once your yeast has bubbled, add to a large mixing bowl of a standing mixer the oil, whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, sugar or honey, cooled grain cereal mixture, and salt. Mix until just combined. Let rest 15 minutes.

Once mixture has rested, add 1 cup unbleached flour, and process with a dough hook. Add enough remaining flour to form a solid dough. Knead dough with a dough hook for approximately 5 minutes, or with your hands 10 minutes, adding flour a few tablespoons at a time. Your end result will be a non-sticky, cohesive dough. If you are using a dough hook, the dough should not stick to the bowl or your hands.

Place in a large oiled bowl, and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1-2 hours. Gently punch down and divide in 1/2. Shape loaves into the size of your loaf pan. I like to gently press my dough out into a rectangle, then roll it up and seal the edges. If desired, roll dough in oats or sunflower seeds.

Let rise again until double in size. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the bread has cooked completely (this is about 200 on an instant read thermometer). Take out of oven and let cool 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Cookie Explosion #9 - The Grand Finale!


This is my final Christmas post for this year. So, I thought I would show you what my Christmas Box looked like this year with all the yummy goodies inside. I made so many cookies. Each person I gave a box to got about 15 different cookies, gingerbread loaf, marshmallows, and my own brand of chex mix. I hope you all enjoyed eating as much as I enjoyed making it!

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Christmas to be over already. The shopping is done, the bank account is empty, and most of the cookies have long been eaten. Time to move on to the budget tightening and pantry clearing January and February...First up, homemade marshmallows! I love making these. I don't know why. Maybe it's because there are so many different flavors I want to try. Maybe it's because I am just fascinated I can take a few very simple ingredients, mix them what seems like forever in my stand mixer, dump in a pan, and voila! Marshmallows!

I chose to do some experimenting with flavors this year. The reason I love the recipe I chose is because it's a rather small recipe, so you can make 2-3 smaller batches and vary the flavor. Last year, I made vanilla bean and peppermint. As an added touch, I crushed candy canes on top of the peppermint. They were great. I do have a caution for you though. If you use peppermint extract, it does get stronger with the age of the marshmallows, so be a little careful.

This year, I chose 4 very different flavors - well, actually 3 flavors and an experiment. First up was a request from my mom - Almond. They were really good just adding some almond extract. If you wanted to go all out, you could easily add some chopped toasted almonds to the powdered sugar you roll the marshmallows in.

The second one was my idea, and it was my favorite - root beer! Who doesn't love root beer marshmallows! They were so good - and tasted just like root beer! I loved them. They were perfect, and the root beer extract made them taste a little less sweet. To get the root beer taste, you do have to add a bit of Root Beer concentrate, but it was completely worth it (I added 1 Tablespoon).

The third I enjoyed just as much - Pandan! Everyone knows how much I love Pandan now that I know where to get the essence. For those of you that don't know what Pandan is, it's the screwpine leaf. Caleb first told me what Pandan is, apparently it's very common in Singapore, and a popular flavor for desserts. It's hard to describe the taste, but it is a very similar taste to coconut. And, yes, it is very green. I didn't add food coloring.

The fourth was as much an experiment than anything. While it turned out OK, it does need quite a bit of tweaking. I wanted kind of a brown sugar marshmallow, so I substituted brown sugar for white sugar, and added some cardamom. The result? They were very tasty, but they were also a different texture - wetter, and a bit stickier, if that makes any sense. Requires more testing once the holidays have passed, that's for sure.

I bought some cute little Christmas Bags to put the marshmallows in for the boxes. I thought that was such a cute idea.

I wanted to share this recipe as well. It's for home made cracker jack. I'm going to post the recipe I used from Brown Eyed Baker, since I didn't change it one bit, except to add more peanuts!

This stuff is great! Completely worth the effort. I have an air-pop machine, so I used popcorn from that, and I loved it! It's a great addition to any holiday cookie bag.



I also want to include a Peanut Brittle Recipe. I found this one on Epicurious.com, and it was so similar to one I used already, I tried it out. It's great! The only change I made to this recipe is I didn't chop the peanuts - I like them whole!

The last thing I'm not including a recipe of that I put in my Christmas Boxes is Chex Mix. I love the regular flavored chex mix, and use that recipe often. To jazz it up, I put it in a blue bag, and add both chocolate and cheese flavored goldfish. I also add mixed nuts instead of plain peanuts. My family prefers it that way. And, I know that Amanda loves the goldfish!

Finally, I'm including my semi-famous Peanut Butter Fudge recipe! Whenever I mention Christmas baking to my family, I can rely on at least 3 of them saying "PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE!" I think next year, instead of making Brian a box cake and canned frosting like he requested, he's getting the fudge...lol...

Yes, it is popular. I must warn you though, this is very sweet. I don't know how Brian can eat so much of it, but I can barely manage eating a 1 1/2" cube of the stuff. He can finish off a huge pan in a day...can't keep his hands out of it.




Wow, it's been an exhausting holiday season, and it's still 1 week until Christmas! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Peanut Butter Fudge
Source: Mom, heavily adapted

1/3 c. corn syrup
4 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 c. cream
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 8 oz jar marshmallow creme
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup, cream, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 243 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Stir in remaining ingredients (peanut butter, marshmallow cream, butter, and vanilla), and pour into the prepared pan. Let cool completely before cutting.

Homemade marshmallows
Adapted from: Alton Brown, Ina Garten, and Joy of Baking

1/3 c. water
1 envelope gelatin
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. light corn syrup
pinch salt
1 t. to 2 t. flavoring of your choice

Lots of powdered sugar!

In an 8x8 square pan, sprinkle approximately 1/4 c. powdered sugar, coating entire bottom very well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1/2 of the water and the gelatin. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and remaining water. Place on medium high heat and let mixture come to a boil without stirring. Heat until mixture reaches 240 on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Turn your mixer on low, and slowly pour hot syrup over the gelatin. The best way to do this is to pour the hot mixture as close to the side of the bowl as possible so it won't touch the beaters, yet you won't spill it outside the mixing bowl. Once you have added all the hot mixture, turn the mixer on high until the mixture has tripled in volume and cooled, approximately 10 minutes. Add flavorings and salt, and combine, about 1minute more.

Scrape mixture into the prepared pan, being very careful - it's incredibly sticky. Spread it even with a damp spatula. Dust the top with more powdered sugar, and let set at least overnight.

To cut the marshmallows, the best way I can find is to take it out of the pan (carefully), dust a pizza cutter with powdered sugar, and cut your marshmallows into squares. Dust the cut edges with more powdered sugar, so they don't stick together.

Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cookie Explosion #8 - Swirls of goodness


Don't those look good? I think they do - and here's a little secret - they were great! The red swirls are flavored with Cinnamon Red Hot candy! Isn't that pretty cool? I had my doubts about the recipe, but they were really good.




The chocolate cookies are flavored with both vanilla and chocolate, and they have peppermint chocolate fudge filling. Don't be intimated by the fudge filling, it's really not difficult at all. I had visions of it being terrible, since for some reason, I can't seem to make chocolate fudge at all...


I would like to reference where I got these, but I can't find the sources. I found them written on a card in an old file cabinet of mine, with notes. I remember making them before, but really can't remember where I got the recipe (I'm sorry ;;).

Hope you all out there are having a great December!

Peppermint Fudge Cookies

For the cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 t. peppermint extract (not peppermint oil)
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder.

Divide dough in 1/2. In 1/2 of the dough, add the unsweetened chocolate and the peppermint extract, and mix until well combined. Set aside.

For the plain dough, roll out on a floured board in a large rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Rectangle should be about 9x13. Set aside. Roll out chocolate dough the same size as the plain dough. Place the chocolate dough on top of the plain dough, and roll up. Refrigerate roll 2 hours until firm, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To bake cookies, preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpad. Slice cookies into 1/4" slices and place on baking sheet 1" apart. Bake 8-10 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown. Cool on wire rack

For the frosting:

1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. shortening
1 cup sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 t. peppermint extract

In a small pan, mix all ingredients but extract. Let chocolate and shortening melt over low heat. Once it is melted, raise heat to medium and heat to a rolling boil for 1 minute without stirring.

Remove from heat and add peppermint. Let cool without stirring about 30minutes. Beat until frosting is thick. Spread between cookies for a sandwich cookie.

Cinnamon Pinwheels
Adapted from Betty Crocker

2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. cinnamon red hot candies
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
1 egg

In a food processor, process candies until finely ground. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in egg. Add salt and flour and combine until mixed.

Divide dough in 1/2. Mix the ground candies into 1/2 and set aside. For the plain 1/2, roll out on a lightly floured board into a 15x10 rectangle. Do the same with the cinnamon dough. Place the cinnamon dough on top of the plain dough. Roll up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. At this point, the dough can be frozen for up to 3months.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment or a silicone pad. Slice cookies 1/4" thin and place on cookie sheet. Bake 14-16 minutes until they start to turn golden around the edges. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I ate a what?!? December Daring Cooks Challenge - Poaching Perfection

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

I first must say I apologize for the picture. I have been playing around with my camera for various reasons, and didn't have the right settings for this. And, as usual, I was in a hurry to take the picture so I could eat my food before it got cold. And, I knew cold eggs would never get in my mouth...

I don't know what's happened to me. I used to love eggs. But, when I look back, I love them in things, or mixed with things. Breakfast is my favorite meal to eat at a restaurant because of all the scrummy choices of food...but at home when I think of breakfast, my stomach starts churning...

I think that's why I have never in my life had eggs bennedict. I was nervous. I was squeamish. Every time I thought I was ready to make these, my stomach did the ole flip.

Then I decided to put on my big girl panties and just do this. I have always wanted to make hollaindaise. I have always wanted to learn to poach an egg. Now was the perfect opportunity to do both.

To help me get over my fear, I made Alton's english muffins to go with my eggs bennedict. As you can see from the pic, those are awesome! I will make those again. As you can also tell from the picture, I squirmed out of the ham and/or bacon on my "breakfast" - which I chose to eat for dinner.

The result? I can see why this dish is so popular. I enjoyed the hollandaise sauce. I could appreciate the egg. While I did poach the egg to my version of perfection - a little solid yolk, solid white, and a little runnieness to the yolk, next time I'm going to cook that yolk until it's solid. And, next time, I'm going to add the ham/bacon!

Thank you again Jenn and Jill! Once again, Daring Cooks challenged me into doing something that has always been on my list of things to do. A special thanks to Audax for their insightful posts that helped me learn along the way.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Cookie Explosion #7 - A Huge Cookie Making Party


You know what's really fun? Especially if you have kids or nieces/nephews to share with? Making cookies for them to decorate. If the holidays can get you down, like I'm feeling right now, this is a good way to make them fun again. After all, even if things aren't going your way, it's hard to be upset or sad when you are decorating cookies.


My niece is going through the terrible teenagers...she's handling it quite well and has some grace about her that I have never had, and which I'm jealous of...I'm grateful for her grace - especially when her aunt shows up at her door with boxes of cookie dough and hands her a rolling pin...

We did have a ton of fun though. And, when we were done, there were cookies over every surface of the entire house. Even her Mom helped us decorate!


First up - gingerbread men! Well, Men and women! For some reason, Fawn was obsessed with making sure all the gingerbread men and women were properly clothed. After I made a bikini for one, we had to make a matching boyfriend for her...The muscle shirt was Fawn's touch. Aren't they a cute couple?


The snowmen weren't so lucky in the clothing department. They only got buttons and hats. I don't know if we were just tired, or were going for a minimalist look. We did some mini snowmen and mini-angels and sandwiched them together with some icing. All of our angels had flame wings.


We used a variety of things to decorate with, including colored frosting, edible markers, licorish, mini m&m's, and various candies. It's fun to go to a bulk store or a candy store before your party and look for cute edible things to decorate with.

We also made some cookie press cookies - cream cheese wreaths and almond trees. Those brought back a lot of memories!

If you have kids around, or want to turn your all grown up friends into kids again, have a cookie decorating party! You won't regret it



Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Cookie Explosion #6 - Fig Swirls


I must admit, figs are something that have grown on me as I get older. I think it has to do with not having fresh figs ever until I lived in California. Once I tasted them - I was hooked. They are fantastic. The true beauty, however, is they are perfect on their own.

Now that I don't live in California anymore, it's difficult, not to mention expensive, to get fresh figs. When I do see them, I do buy them, though. And, although I just love fresh figs (especially the black ones), I'm not so sold on dried ones. Sure, they have their uses (like dark chocolate fig oatmeal cookies, which is one of my favorites), but in general, I'm not much of a dried fruit fan.


These cookies changed my mind. They look gorgeous, and taste like a better, more grown up version of Fig Newtons. The pastry is light and flakey, and the filling is full of flavor. The orange juice and honey perfectly compliment the figs. And, don't they look just pretty for the holidays?

A quick not e on these cookies - they don't last, and don't freeze well. Sure, the dough freezes, so you could freeze the dough early, and then assemble and bake when you are ready, but the filled cookies don't freeze very well in my opinion, and the completed cookies lose a lot of texture when frozen.

Fig Swirls
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine, December 2005

For the dough:

1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla

For filling:

1 c. packed soft dried mission figs (8 oz)
3/4 c. mild honey
2 T. orange juice
2 t. orange zest
1/2 t. cinnamon

To make the dough:

Mix butter, cream cheese, egg yolk, and vanilla until very well combined. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) and mix until it just comes together. You can do this in a food processor, but I used a fork and my hands. Divide dough in 1/2 and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 90 minutes

To make the filling:

Puree figs, honey, juice, zest, and cinnamon in a food processor until almost smooth.

Assembling the cookies:

Roll out one piece of the dough into a 10x8 rectangle. Since this dough is kind of sticky, it's easiest to roll out between 2 pieces of wax paper and make sure to keep the dough cold. Spread 1/2 the filling on your dough, leaving a small border so you don't spill, and roll up into a 10" log.

Repeat with remaining ingredients and refrigerate logs until very firm, at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days.

Baking the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375. Cut logs into 1/3 to 1/2" thick slices and arrange on parchment paper lined cookie sheets about 2" apart. Bake until pastry is golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Can be stored in airtight container up to 1 week.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas 2010 Cookie Explosion #5 - Chocolate Surprise Cookies

Are we tired of cookies yet? Well, I'm not, especially since I have quite a few more to share with you...

I saw a recipe for chocolate caramel cookies on foodgawker quite a while back, and all I could think was yummy! From that post, I printed a recipe from allrecipes.com for these.

Of course, while I was making them, I was thinking...hmm...wonder what else I can stuff them with.


So, of course, I had to forage in my freezer and kitchen for bits and bites to stuff in my chocolate cookies. I came up with a few good ideas, and one or two not so good ones.

The directions I read said to fill the cookies with chocolate coated caramel candies. I tried it, and it does work, but if you just have caramel, that works as well. This also gives you the awesome opportunity to add salted caramel to these. Other things that work? Coconut, almond paste (and these are yummy), mini peanut butter cups, and mini peppermint candies.

Things that don't work so well? frozen nutella (it turns to goo), halves of ferror rocher candies, truffles (more goo), and mini snickers bars (still more goo).

And, just in case you are wondering, I have almonds and peanuts on my work board because that's how I could tell the what I stuffed the cookies with! Had to have some sort of key.

Finally, I did want to talk a little about my experience with these cookies. Yes, they are very good. However, if you do use caramel, be sure to use parchment paper, and don't take them off the parchment until they are completely cool. I could not get them off the parchment paper while hot without making them look like folded origami. The caramel needed time to harden a bit from being in the oven, and they stick like mad to the cookie sheet without some sort of parchment/foil/etc.


Filled Chocolate Cookies
From Allrecipes.com

1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
Filling for 48 cookies - chocolate covered caramel candies, 48 mini peanut butter cups, 4 oz. almond paste, etc.

Beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in white sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and cocoa. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375. Divide dough into 4 parts. While working with one part, keep remaining dough in the refrigerator. Divide each part into 12 pieces. Quickly press each piece of dough around your filling. Roll into a ball. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet 2" apart. These cookies do spread, so be careful with placement.

Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool completely on parchment before removing.

NOTE: The allrecipes.com site suggests topping with chopped walnuts and sugar before baking, but I preferred the cookies without.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas 2010 Cookie Explosion #4 - Gingerbread Loaf

Yes, I know this isn't a cookie. But, it is my favorite holiday treat - gingerbread with cinnamon honey butter. Ever since I've tasted Starbucks Gingerbread, I have been looking for a great recipe.

Now, this really doesn't taste a lot like Starbuck's Gingerbread...but I still love it. It has a light texture, isn't too sweet, and has tons of spices in it. It's great for breakfast during the holidays.

I chose to make a quick cinnamon honey butter to go on top of this, because I thought it would give it that added taste. I was right - it was tasty as well.

As you can see from my pictures, I was scared to mix this the first time I made it, and ended up with some little flour lumps. Don't be afraid to really mix this batter - it is very thin, and can take it - well, it can take more mixing than I did, but less than the absolute maximum...


Gingerbread Loaf
Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine
Makes 2 loaves

4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, syrup, and oil. Beat lightly, until well incorporated. Mix in flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, soda, ginger, and salt until well mixed. It's ok to make sure the batter is completely incorporated and no lumps remain.

Grease and flour 2 9x5 loaf pans and divide the batter between the two pans. Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool on wire rack.

Cinnamon Honey Butter

2 Tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients until well mixed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas 2010 Cookie Explosion #3 - Martha's Lime Meltaways


I'd like to say we are almost done with Christmas cookies, but the truth is we have only started. While I've finished baking - all those raw cookies I froze over 2 months time in 1 day! - I have a TON of pictures and recipes left...and I'm already thinking what I can do next year...lol...


I'm always looking for a great lime cookie, and these are truly awesome. While I wouldn't crumble them up and use them for a cheesecake base (which is my true reason for looking for good lemon and lime cookies), these are little gems on their own. After all, look at that texture! They really do melt in your mouth! And, they taste a lot like lime!

I must admit, I approach the Martha Stewart website with caution, since some of the recipes I have tried on there just weren't successful for me, and one was just wrong. However, I don't regret picking this recipe. I love the lime taste of these little beauties.

I do recommend you follow the directions for them, and roll them into small cookies. They should be 1-2 bites, since they tend to fall apart. And, if they are any bigger, the wonderful texture kind of suffers.



These cookies do need a bit of TLC to make sure you get the wonderful melt-away texture. It's really important you don't over work the dough, so you should treat the cookie dough sort of like a biscuit or pie dough. Once you have added the flour, mix the dough until it just comes together. Then roll it and leave it alone...I know, that's tough to do for some of us.

When they are in the oven, after 6 or so minutes, watch them carefully. You want to take them out of the oven when the edges are just starting to brown. Trust me, they don't taste very good when they are overcooked.

And finally, don't be like me and rush to coat them in powdered sugar. If the cookies are too hot, the powdered sugar will melt, and they will become sticky. It's quite easy to fix this - just let them cool and coat them again. But, they will look a little off, and not like the delicate little bites they are supposed to look like.

Finally, my tip for today. It involves citrus fruit - lemon, lime, and oranges, to name a few. Whenever I use a lemon or lime, I always zest it first. I have a ziploc bag of each zest in the freezer for when the rind may not look appealing and I need it, or when I need more zest than juice. That way, I use the whole fruit. I am going to start doing this with oranges this year as well. You know, to get my moneys worth from the fruit. In addition, if you see a deal on citrus, you can always freeze the juice to use in sauces and soups. It freezes very well.

Lime Meltaways
From Martha Stewart

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
zest of 2 limes (because I wanted this extra fine, I chopped it a bit after I finely grated it)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla (I used half this)
1 3/4 plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and 1/3 c. sugar until light and fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla, and beat until fluffy.

Add flour, cornstarch, and salt, and mix until just combined. Divide dough in 1/2, and roll between parchment paper to form 2 1" logs. Chill at least 1 hour, or can be frozen for up to 2 months.

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350. Slice dough into 1/8" thick rounds (mine were a bit thicker). Place on cookie sheet, spacing cookies 1" apart. They don't spread, so don't worry too much about spacing.

Bake cookies at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until barely golden brown. Let cookies cool 15-20 minutes. While cookies are cooling, place the remaining 2/3 c. powdered sugar in a bag. When cookies are cool, put cookies, a few at a time, into the bag and shake gently to coat with sugar. Baked cookies can be stored up to 2weeks in an airtight container.