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Cream Cheese Christmas Cookies

Cream cheese, in my oh so humble opinion, should be given it’s very own food group. I use it in more dishes, from chicken and potatoes to cookies and cakes, it’s tremendously versatile. And unsurpassed in keeping baked goods light and moist.

These cookies are all I can think of today. I made about eight dozen of these last Christmas, and I don’t think they lasted through Christmas Eve. Chickie calls them cheesecake cookies, and is adamant this is the only way to eat cheesecake. Smooth, silky, melt in your mouth deliciousness. I can’t blame her.

 

CREAM CHEESE COOKIES

What you will need:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 block cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1 small egg yolk (use only half a yolk if your eggs are large or extra large)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

 

Preheat oven to 325. Very lightly grease cookie sheets.

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together in on low speed until light and fluffy. Beat vanilla and egg yolk in on medium speed. Stir in flour until well mixed, but do not overbeat as the dough can get a little tough. And no one wants tough cookies.

I use a cookie press to make these, and while it’s not necessary, it gives me the best result, and makes the prettiest cookies. If you have one, dig it out and use it. If you don’t have one, you can still make the cookies, just drop teaspoon measures onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, keeping a close eye so the cookies don’t get too dark. The cookies should still be quite pale when they’re done.

To make these cookies even more special, try making a little indent in the center of the cookie and filling with jam, preserves, chocolate chips, halved cherries, or whatever floats your boat, really. I love blueberry jam with them, and green or red cherry halves look very festive.

Have fun, and enjoy!

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Orange Cranberry Bread

This is one of those recipes from childhood that always make me happy this time of year. And since it freezes so well, it actually makes me deliriously happy this time of year.  I love Christmas baking you can do so far in advance. Trust me,  it makes it easier when I’m up to my elbows in cookie dough a couple of days before Christmas. I know, I know, there are plenty of cookies that can be frozen, too, but there’s just something about the smell of cookies in the house that just says Christmas to me.

 

ORANGE CRANBERRY BREAD

What you will need:

2 cups sifted flour

1 cup sugar

1.5 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

Zest of one medium orange

3/4 cup orange juice

1 cup walnuts or almonds

2 cups cranberries

 

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together. In medium bowl, mix melted butter, beaten egg, orange juice and orange zest together.  Gradually add liquid ingredients to dry, making sure to incorporate all ingredients well. Add nuts and cranberries, mix through evenly.

Spoon batter into prepared pans and bake for 60 – 70 minutes.

Almond Snowballs

This is a recipe I tried for the first time this week, but also one I have already transferred over to my “keeper” file. It’s not my recipe, but rather one from last months issue of Chatelaine.  These are delicious, flaky, melt in your mouth shortbread type cookies. The ground almonds make them a little more decadent, and perhaps a little more holiday-ish. I used dark chocolate in the centers, and they were yummy. Next time, though, I am going to use some chocolate covered cherries I have. Can’t wait!

 

ALMOND SNOWBALLS

What you will need:

 

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup ground almonds

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sifted icing sugar, divided

2 tsp vanilla

chocolate chunks, for centers

 

 

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and ground almonds.

Using a large bowl, beat butter and 1/2 cup icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in vanilla.

Using a wooden spoon, or electric mixer on low, gradually beat flour mixture together with butter mixture.

Scoop dough in tablespoon measures, flattening each ball of dough to a flatter disc shape. To add chocolate center, press a couple of chocolate chips or 1 chocolate chunk into center. Roll edges around chocolate, forming a one inch ball. Repeat until all dough is used.

Place cookies at least 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes, then remove cookies to rack for a five minute cool down. Place remaining 1/2 cup sifted icing sugar in bowl and gently roll each cookie ball in sugar until evenly coated. Let cool completely on wire rack.

This recipe claims to make 42 cookies, but using an exact 1 TBSP measure, I got 24 cookies. Your results may vary.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Or should that be Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies? With a load of chocolate chips like this, I’m not sure you’ll even know there’s oatmeal in there. And, trust me, if you don’t mention the oatmeal, most people will never know it’s there, either. This is one of those recipes that I don’t make in front of my manly man. Poor guy has no idea at all how much good-for-you food he actually eats!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

What you will need:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In small bowl combine sifted flour,baking soda and salt. Set aside. (I almost always use kosher or sea salt in this recipe, although it is just as yummy with regular table salt. I just find the kosher really helps to make the chocolate richer. But that may be just me!)
Cream butter, brown sugar and sugar. Add egg, water, and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Add oats, chocolate chips and nuts and mix with spoon.

With teaspoon, drop on to greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Christmas Tree Cookies

This was a recipe that originally came from a magazine in the early 1980’s, but please don’t ask which one. We have made this recipe many times over the years, and it’s one that the kiddies have always liked giving a hand with.

CHRISTMAS TREE COOKIES

What you will need:

1 1/4 cups Crisco shortening

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1 3/4 cups ground almonds

2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 tsp almond extract

1/4 cup water

1 cup raspberry or strawberry jam

Icing sugar, for dusting cookies

Decorations of your choice – sprinkles, fancy sugars, icing, etc.

Cream Crisco and sugar togther well. Add flour, ground almonds, cinnamon and almond extract and mix well. Gradually add your water until a firm ball forms. Wrap this up well and refrigerate at least an hour to make it easier to roll out.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness, on a lightly floured counter. Cut out all the dough with tree shaped cookie cutters. Place on baking sheets and bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks.

Spread half the cookies with a thin layer of jam and top with remaining cookies. Dust all lightly with icing sugar and decorate as you wish. We use icing and pipe little decorations and garlands on the trees. I have also used green and red colored sugars and they look lovely like that, too.

Enjoy!

Here come the Rum Balls!

Nothing says Christmas to me more than rum soaked cream cheese! Just joking, but really, who can resist? Creamy, rich, and only mildly alcoholic.  These are ideal to serve for any occasion, and impress most folks. Or maybe that’s just the rum talking. Either way, they are so worth the little effort they take. And if you really want to impress your friends, co-workers or neighbours, make up a batch of these, fancy them up in some pretty foil cups and you have yourself a present that will be remembered.

Red & Green Christmas Rum Balls

Red & Green Christmas Rum Balls

CHOCOLATE RUM BALLS

What you will need:

 1 block cream cheese, softened

1 cup ground almonds

1 1/2  cup icing sugar

1 tsp powdered instant coffee

1/4 cup dark rum

5  squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

COATINGS:  chocolate sprinkles, shredded or toasted coconut, icing sugar, crushed almonds, cocoa powder, fancy colored sugars, or whatever your little heart desires.

Blend cream cheese, ground almonds, coffee, icing sugar and rum together with melted chocolate. Chill in fridge for twenty minutes or so, or until slightly firm. Shape into 1 inch balls.

Choose what you would like to coat the rum balls in, and place coatings on plates in front of you. Roll rumballs around in coatings fairly firmly, making sure you get nice full coverage on each rumball.

Light Christmas Fruit Cake

This is another recipe I have used for a light Christmas fruit cake. This is not a recipe I have used forever, but have made it several times with perfect results every time.

Light Christmas Fruit Cake

 What you need:

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powwder

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup butter

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

8 tbsp milk

1 1/4  tsp vanilla

1/2 cup raisins, or walnuts

1/2 cup mixed dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together, then mix eggs in thoroughly. Stir in raisins(or nuts) and mixed fruit. Stir in remaining ingredients and incorporate fully.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 60 – 75 minutes.