Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies and Spiced Pumpkin Dip

I made these for a cookie exchange I never made it to. The cookies are unusually soft for gingerbread cookies, and the dip will keep you double-dipping. Trust me, this is an amazing combo!!

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups flour
2 tsp. Ginger, Ground
1 tsp. Cinnamon, Ground
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tap salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl.
Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add molasses, egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to brown.

Spiced Pumpkin Dip

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 peeled orange
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 tbs brown sugar

Place all ingredients in blender in order listed. Blend until smooth. Viola! The most deliciously sweet dip!
(I also like to use this with sliced apples or as a spread on fruit quick breads)

Jamba Juice Smoothies

Banana Berry

3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup Kerns strawberry nectar
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 scoop raspberry sherbet
1 scoop vanilla frozen yogurt
1 cup ice


1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed OJ
2/3 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana
2 scoops vanilla frozen yogurt
1 cup ice

Cranberry Craze

1 1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
2 scoops raspberry sherbet
1 cup ice

Citrus Squeeze

1 cup fresh OJ
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2/3 cup frozen strawberries
2 cups orange sherbet
1 cup ice

Peach Pleasure

12 oz. Kerns peach nectar
1 cup frozen peaches
1/2 ripe banana
2 scoops orange sherbet
1 cup ice

Strawberries Wild

3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup Kerns strawberry nectar
2/3 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana
2 scoops vanilla frozen yogurt
1 cup ice

Tropical Tease “At Home” Smoothie
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup bananas
1 cup mangos
1 cup nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/2 cup ice

Pour the pineapple juice in the blender.
Add the bananas, mangos, frozen yogurt and ice cubes.
Blend until smooth with a thick consistency.
Makes about 3 cups.

Strawberries Wild “At Home” Smoothie
1 cup apple juice
1 cup strawberries, frozen
1/2 cup bananas, frozen
1 cup nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/2 cup ice

Pour the apple juice in the blender.
Add the strawberries, bananas, frozen yogurt and ice cubes.
Blend until smooth with a thick consistency.
Makes about 3 cups

Caribbean Passion “At Home” Smoothie
1 cup mango juice
1 cup strawberries, frozen
1/2 cup peaches, frozen
1 cup orange sherbet
1/2 cup ice

Pour the mango juice in the blender.
Add the strawberries, peaches, sherbet and ice cubes.
Blend until smooth with a thick consistency.
Makes about 3 cups.

Recipes excerpted from "Jamba Juice Power!" Copyright 2003 by Kirk Perron. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Avery Penguin Putnam.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies (cut-out cookies)

5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 cup butter, slightly soft
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses

  • Sift flour, soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and mix until combined.
  • Add molasses and mix until combined.
  • Gradually add in flour mixture and mix until combined and a dough forms.
  • Divide dough into four sections and shape each into a flattened disc.
  • Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Roll out each disc between two sheets of parchment paper using a rolling pin.
  • Flour the sides of the paper that will touch the dough to make it a little easier to release.
  • Cut out shapes and remove excess dough to reuse.
  • Leave cutouts on parchment paper and transfer to cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8-9 minutes. Cool on cooling rack before frosting.

Soft Ginger Snaps

3 1/2 sq. butter
2 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup molasses
5 cups flour
1 1/2 Tb. ginger
1 Tb cinnamon
1/2 Tb. cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. soda

* Cream butter, sugar and salt
* add eggs and molasses and mix until combined
* in another bowl, sift together all dry ingredients
* add dry to wet and mix until dough forms
* roll dough into 1 inch balls then roll in white sugar. press with the bottom of a glass to flatten slightly
* bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

Greek Grilled Leg of Lamb: Gyros


  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of visible fat
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into 20 slivers
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Essence, recipe follows
  • 16 pita breads
  • Tzatziki Sauce, recipe follows
  • Chopped tomatoes


With a sharp knife, make 20 slits across 1 side of the lamb and insert the garlic slivers. Place in a large non-reactive dish.

In a bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Pour over the lamb and rub evenly across the surface. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, refrigerated, for at least 2 and up to 6 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Season lightly on all sides with Essence. Brush a grill lightly with olive oil and preheat to medium heat.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and place on the grill. Cook, turning occasionally until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for medium-rare, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the grill and transfer to a platter. Tent with foil and let rest for 12 minutes before carving.

Thinly slice the lamb and place the meat in the center of the pita breads. Top with Tzatziki Sauce and chopped tomatoes, and serve.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Tzatziki Sauce:

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Greek Pita Bread



  1. Combine the yeast and sugar in a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of the warm water and let it stand for 10 minutes to proof and ferment it.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the remaining warm water.
  3. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the middle and put the dissolved yeast and salt water into it.
  4. With your hands, blend it into a dough.
  5. You may need a bit more or less water depending on your flour.
  6. Knead the dough in the bowl with your fists for 10-15 minutes or until it is smooth.
  7. Pour the oil over the dough and knead it again until the oil is absorbed.
  8. Cover the dough in the bowl with a towel and set it in a draft free area to rise to double it's bulk (1-2 hours), then punch it down and knead it again for a few minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  10. Cut pieces of dough, egg size or larger, depending on the size of the pita desired, shape them into balls with your hands and roll them out over a lightly floured board or pastry cloth to 1/4 inch thickness.
  11. Set 2 or 3 pites on a lightly oiled cookies sheet and bake them on the lower rack 2 to 3 minutes each side.
  12. Pitas should be white and soft.
  13. Wrap the baked pitas in a clean towel until they are cool, then store them in plastic bags to prevent them from drying out.
  14. When you are ready to use them, heat a bit of oil in a shallow skillet and fry them a minute or so on each side, or until golden brown.
  15. Use them immediately, because they get hard when they dry out.

Skewered Lamb Kebabs: Souvlaki Arnisio

In Greek: σουβλάκι αρνίσιο, pronounced soov-LAH-kee ahr-NEE-see-yoh

The key to tender lamb souvlaki is the marinade, so don't skimp on the timing. The longer they marinate, the better they will taste... and they will disappear as fast as you can make them!

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 8-10 pound leg of lamb, trimmed and boned, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • Marinade:
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of Greek oregano (dried)
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • sea salt
  • cracked peppercorns
  • Marinade Addition 1:
  • 1 cup of green peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 ounces of tomato puree (or 2 ounces of tomato paste + 2 ounces of water)
  • Marinade Addition 2:
  • 1/4 cup of port wine
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice


Day One: Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over meat and stir well to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day Two: Add the ingredients in marinade addition #1, stir well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Day Three: Add the ingredients in marinade addition #2, stir well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Day Four: Soak small wooden skewers (5-8 inches) in water for an hour or more. Thread the meat on the skewers, leaving a little space between pieces. They can be cooked under the broiler, on the barbecue, or even in a hot skillet on the stovetop. If using the broiler, place close to the heat, turn frequently until crispy brown on all sides (about 15 minutes).

Serve hot on the skewers with other mezethes, accompanied by lemon wedges and crusty bread.

Yield: approximately 25 skewers