Monday, December 11, 2017

Chocolate Cherry Jelly Roll #BakingBloggers

This is month 2 of Baking Bloggers, a new group hosted by my friend Sue of Palatable Pastime.  We kicked off the group last month with the theme of pies.  I shared a Concord Grape Pie.  It was a great event and we had a lot of fun not too mention a ton of great pie recipes, both sweet and savory.

Each month, Sue posts a poll and we vote for the theme we would like for the following month.  This month the winner was Filled Cakes.  I was excited.  I had planned to do a Buche de Noel.

Then life got in the way and there was no way that I was going to find time to spend learning how to make a new cake.  I guess the Buche de Noel will have to wait until next year. 

I decided to make my life a little easier and make a simple jelly roll.  Our son, Anthony, loves making jellies and jams.  I love that he makes jellies and jams too because that means I always have a great selection in my pantry.

I used his Strawberry Margarita jam to make a Bundt cake.  His Raspberry/Mango jam made a great glaze for a ham steak.

I went into the pantry to see what flavors I had left and spotted a jar of Chocolate Cherry jam.  SCORE!!

I used the same sponge cake recipe that I use for my Strawberry Roll during the summer months, omitting the almond flavoring and doubling up on the vanilla.  Instead of folding strawberries into whipped cream, I added the jam to the cream before whipping.  It is to DIE FOR!!

It is like fluffy Cella Cherries wrapped up in tender, light cake.  I had to force myself not to eat this cream with a spoon.  

I managed to save some so I could add an extra dollop to each plate as I served this to my guests.  Yes, those are actual chunks of cherries in that cream.  No, I don't have the recipe for this am but I will see if he will share it.  In the meanwhile you can use your favorite flavor jam in this recipe.

Should you happen to have a jar of hot fudge sauce in your refrigerator, you can drizzle some onto the plate before adding your cake and an extra dollop of cream.

Chocolate Cherry Jelly Roll

4 eggs, separated
1 c. sugar, divided
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla
Powdered sugar
1/2 c. chocolate cherry jam (or your favorite jam)
1 c. heavy cream

Spray a cookie sheet with sides with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper.

Beat egg whites on high speed until frothy.  Gradually add 1/2 c. of the sugar beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks with remaining 1/2 c. of sugar until thick and lemon colored.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt over egg yolk mixture and mix at low speed until just combined.

Gently fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites just until blended.  Spread onto the parchment lined pan.  Bake at 375* for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

While cake is baking, place a clean linen towel on the counter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  When cake is baked, remove from oven, turn onto the linen towel and remove the parchment paper.

Place the towel over the edge of the cake lengthwise and begin rolling the cake and the towel together until it becomes one long roll.  Let cool completely.

Whip together the jam and heavy cream until light and fluffy.  Unroll the cooled cake.  Spread the whipped cream mixture over the cake.  You will not use all of the whipped cream.  Roll the cake back into a roll and place, seam side down, onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.  

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Slice and add an extra dollop of whipped cream  to each serving. Print Recipe

More Filled Cake Recipes

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Getting Ready for Game Night and the Weekly Menu

Hard to believe it is already the 10th of December.  This is a tough day for me. This is the day that my brother, Dan, decided that life was too hard and he left us.  I pray that he found the peace for which he was searching and that he is celebrating this holiday season with Mom, Pops. his longtime partner, Diane, who passed away this past July, and his son, Dan Jr.

Dan and Diane during happier times.

I find the best way to deal with grief is to remember that my life continues and that there are still so many people in my life with whom I am blessed.

Yesterday, I attended a cookie exchange at my sister in law, Rebecca's house.  She not only fed us but she sent home leftovers for me to give to Frank.  It was a nice start to the Christmas season.

Tonight we are having friends over for dinner and a game night.  It should be a fun, relaxing evening and I'm looking forward to it.

The rest of the week is going to be spent getting ready for our Santa party next Saturdeay, shopping for Christmas gifts, and getting ready for the Christmas distribution at the Food Pantry.

I am sharing the Weekly Menu and I will be posting new recipes and photos each day this week.  Hope to see you when you take a break from your Christmas preparations.


Pork Wellington
Potato Gallette
Glazed Carrots
Bread Sticks
Chocolate Cherry Jelly Roll

Meatless Monday
Cheese Ravioli

Chicken Noodle Soup
Dinner Rolls

Out for Dinner

Hot and Sweet Pork Stir Fry
Steamed Rice

Salmon with Orzo and Arugula Pesto

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Spreading Christmas Cheer #WinePW

Giving the Gift of Wine

We are doing things a little differently this month here on Wine Pairing Weekend.  This month we are sharing wines that we believe would make perfect Christmas gifts.  We will talk about wines we love to receive, wines we love to give and perhaps we will share some of the recipes we like to serve with these wines.

Here are the topics the #winePW crew will be covering:

Giving the Gift of Wine: #winePW blog topics

Be sure to check out these great articles! We are also holding a live Twitter chat today at 11 am Eastern Time.  Just tune into the #winePW hashtag on Twitter at that time to join the conversation. You can check out past and future #winePW topics by visiting this page.

Our favorite wine, that we have been lucky enough to receive as gifts from others is Caymus Cabernet.

We often are the lucky recipients of this wine that we first enjoyed as we celebrated our first Wedding Anniversary, nearly 26 years ago.  Whenever we are given a bottle, we hoard it for a special occasion, like the one I share in this post.

Having a wine that you love but would not buy for yourself makes it much easier for those wishing to give you something special.  That is my advice also if you are giving the gift of wine.  Know what your recipient loves.  Should you be lucky enough to know a vineyard of which they are fond you can usually find wines in different price ranges that will make a great gift and still remain in your budget.

However, it is easier if you just know what varietal they like or if not the varietal at least the flavor profile.  Do they like red or white wines?  Dry or sweet? Heavy or light?  All of these things make it much easier to know what to give.

A Cab Franc is very food friendly and makes a very nice gift.  You could include a little card with information about the winery you chose and why you chose it.  This bottle, from Raats vineyard in South Africa, was dry, smooth and medium bodied.  You can read all about it here.

Should you have a red wine lover on your gift list, you cannot go wrong with a bottle from Bordeaux, France.  This bottle of Chateau Saumen is a blend with Merlot as the dominant grape.  It is smooth and a bit spicy.  It pairs wonderfully with beef, lamb or venison.  It was part of a gift package that we received from our daughter, Nicole.  You can read about the gift here.

Another food friendly wine that is perfect for taking as a hostess gift when you know the main course is going to be turkey or pork is a nice bottle of Pinot Noir.

We received this bottle from Edna Valley as a hostess gift and it paired very well with a dinner of Raspberry/Mango Glazed Ham Steaks.

The earthiness of the wine was perfect with the fruitiness of the dish.  

This particular bottle is medium bodied with hints of black pepper and oak.

Perhaps your recipient is more of a white wine type of person.  They may not care for heavy red meats that pair so well with heavy red wines.  Perhaps they prefer lighter meals made with chicken or fish. Someone who prefers salads to chocolate....yes, they are out there!

This wonderful Chablis from Cotes de Beaune is reasonably priced and paired perfectly with a chicken and mushroom vol au vent.

Chardonnay is my personal, favorite varietal when it comes to white wine.  This glass comes from Joel Gott winery.  It is crisp, bright and fruity.  It can be found for less than $15 at most stores.

If you, like me, prefer an oaky chardonnay then my top pick at a reasonable price is from Kendall Jackson.  It is aged in oak and a little heavier than most chardonnays.  It is in the same price range as the Gott.

Speaking of vintners.  Once you know and love a certain vintner, you are pretty much golden when it comes to gift giving.  I know that if I pick up a bottle of Bogle, Kendall Jackson or Rodney Strong it is going to make a nice gift and stay within my budget.

One of my newest wine loves is Rosé from France, especially this Whispering Angel.  It will cost a bit more but it is a wonderful wine and pairs beautifully with appetizers and cheeses.  I would be very happy to receive this as a hostess gift.  It is bone dry, crisp and delicious on it's own as well.  You can read more about it here.

What do you do if the person you are buying for likes a sweeter wine?  You can't go wrong with a bottle of White Zinfandel from Beringer.  You can buy more expensive bottles but my sources tell me that Beringer is the very best.  I personally don't care for a sweet wine but many of those I love, adore the Beringer white zin.  Moscato's are also a great choice for those friends who love a sweeter wine and might prefer a red.

When looking for a dessert wine you will find a lot of great choices; rieslings, ports, sauternés, muscadels....the choices are vast and you can spend as little or as much as you wish.  Dessert wines make a great gift because you don't really need to know the recipients wine palate.

Last but not least.....perhaps they should be first choice....are your sparkling wines.  Champagne must come from that region in France to bear the name and there are a lot of choices from that area, however a rose by any other name......

You can find a nice bottle of sparkling wine ranging from dry and crisp to pink and sweeter and they are always received with a tinge of excitement and pleasure.  They pair perfectly with about any kind of food from appetizers to desserts and they can be enjoyed simply by themselves as well.  

This post ended up much more long winded than I had imagined.  I could keep going on and on and on but I think you get the idea.  My rule of thumb when buying wine for others (or any gift for that matter) is to get them something that I would be thrilled to receive.

Almond Snickerdoodles #ChristmasCookies

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This is the final day of #ChristmasCookies.  This has been such a wonderful and fun week.  I want to give a big shout out to Ellen of Family Around the Table for all of her hard work that made this event such a success.  

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I also want to thank our sponsor Nielsen-Massey who are hosting a generous giveaway for our readers.  Today is the last day to enter.  You will find the entry form at the bottom of this post.

All opinions in this blog are my own.  I have received no monetary compensation for this post and while I did receive product for this event, said product was not used for these particular cookies being shared today.

The final cookie I am sharing with you today is the quintessential classic, the Snickerdoodle.  These particular Snickerdoodles have been adapted to include both almond flour and almond flavoring.  I did this for two reasons. 1. I love almonds and 2. The cookie exchange that I'm attending this afternoon has a category for "A" cookies, those cookies beginning with the letter A.

I loved the addition of almond to these cinnamon spiced, tender cookies.  I think that I will always be making my Snickerdoodles as Almond Snickerdoodles henceforth.  

The rules called for the "A" cookies to be plated separately on a plain paper plate with no markings so that they could be part of a blind taste test.

A selection of the remainder of the cookies made this week were then placed onto a tray to be used for the main exchange.  I am able to share my Double Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies, Frosted Egg Nog Cookies and Grandma Lily's Thumbprints.  I was unable to share my Peppermint Shortbreads because that deliciousness was gone in 2 days!!!!  They are being made again before Christmas, for sure!

Almond Snickerdoodles

2 sticks butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
2 3/4 c. flour
1 c. almond flour
1 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
Cinnamon Sugar for rolling (6 T. sugar + 3 T. cinnamon)

Combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl.  Set aside.

Beat butter in large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, until creamy.  Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, milk, vanilla and almond extract.  Reduce speed and gradually stir in the flour mixture.  Increase speed and mix well.

Roll the dough into 1" balls.  Then roll the balls in cinnamon sugar.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone mat.  Flatten the cookies slightly by pressing down with your fingers.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Cool on wire racks.  Print Recipe

The Final Christmas Cookies

Friday, December 8, 2017

Grandma Lily's Thumbprints #ChristmasCookies

My children's paternal grandmother, Lily, passed away, much too young, right before Christmas of 1981.  Amy was 7 and Chuck was 5.  It was a heart wrenching experience.  My first experience with  death of someone to whom I was very close. A death that my children and their cousin had to learn to cope with at their young ages.

Lil was not just a second mother to me but a very dear friend.  She was the best grandmother I had ever met. That's saying something because my grandmother and mother were  pretty darn amazing.

I strive to be half of the grandmother that she was to Jennifer, Amy and Chuck.  When those children were at her house, nothing else mattered.  She spent time with them; reading, talking, playing games, going for walks, taking them shopping.  They were never a bother and never a burden.  Her face lit up each time one of those kids walked into a room.

Each Christmas, Lil would make Thumbprint cookies.  They were my kid's dad's favorite cookie and I was soon making them each year as well.  My kid's grew up, their dad and I separated and we began a new chapter of our lives with Frank, Anthony and Nicole.  

I continued to make Thumbprints, Amy's favorite, and Brown Eyed Susans, Chuck's favorite but expanded my repertoire to include Frank's favorite, Mom Klik's Almond Cherry Snowballs and Sugar Cookies for Anthony and Nicki.

When Amy got her own place, she took over the making of the Thumbprints and still makes them each year for her Dad.  

I hadn't made them in years but this season, my mind and heart have been heavy with the losses that always seem so much harder over the holidays.  In two day's I will be remembering my brother, Dan, who died on December 10th, way too soon. He was the same age that I am now.

December 13th is my mother's birthday, she died shortly after Christmas 2015 and my mother in law, Jane, died one month and one day later. This is our second Christmas without them.  The house is no longer filled with my Pop's laughter and my nephew, Danny, has been missed for many years now.

I was feeling pretty darn sorry for myself but then Tuesday came.  

Tuesday's I have my granddaughter.  So I made sure my face lit up when she entered the room and then I took time with her. She helped me make these cookies that hold such fond and happy memories.  I pray that, one day, these memories will help her to get through the rough spots that she will encounter in her life.

Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Lily Moore

1 c. butter
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 c. brown sugar
3 c. flour
4 T. milk
1 c. miniature chocolate chips
powdered sugar


3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 T. shortening
2 T. light corn syrup
1 T. water
1 t.vanilla

In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, salt and vanilla.  Mix in the brown sugar and gradually blend in the flour and milk.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  

Form into 1" balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Make an indentation in each ball with your thumb.  

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack placed over parchment paper and generously sift powdered sugar over them.  Let cool completely.

In a small pan, melt together the chocolate chips and shortening, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat and blend in the corn syrup, water and vanilla.  Place a dollop of this mixture in each indentation on the cookies.  Print Recipe

More Christmas Cookies

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies #ChristmasCookies

Wow, this week has just flown by. I can't believe it is already Day 4 of Christmas Cookie Week.  Today I am sharing everyone's favorite cookie, The Chocolate Chip.

How do you take a classic cookie and make it suitable for the holidays?  Well, if you're me, you add peppermint and food coloring, creating these Christmasy Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies.

This is simply a chocolate chip cookie in which I substituted peppermint extract for the vanilla extract.  My peppermint extract was provided by our sponsor for this event, Nielsen-Massey.  All opinions are my own.

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Nielsen-Massey is also providing one of our lucky readers with a prize package consisting of  2-oz each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water. You can enter to win this wonderful prize package in the rafflecopter that you find at the bottom of this post.

Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 t. green food coloring
1 t. peppermint extract
1 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, food coloring and peppermint extract.  Turn speed to low and stir in baking soda and salt.  With speed still on low, gradually add the flour until combined.  Increase the speed and mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, place the dough about 2" apart on baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats.  Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 10-12 minutes.  Print Recipe

More Christmas Cookies

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Frosted Eggnog Cookies #ChristmasCookies #FoodieExtravaganza

Welcome to Day 3 of Cookie Week.  I hope you have been enjoying the tons of cookie recipes being shared.  They all looks so mouth-wateringly delicious.  I can't wait to try some of them.  Thanks Ellen of Family Around the Table for hosting this amazing, week long event.

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Today is also the day set aside each month for Foodie Extravaganza.  Foodie Extravaganza meets on the first Wednesday of each month to celebrate a National Food Holiday chosen by the member who is hosting.  This month our host with the most is Nichole of Cookaholic Wife who chose Eggnog as our theme as December is National Egg Nog month.  Go figure. LOL

Knowing that I wanted to combine these two events and having already shared Gingerbread Eggnog Cups a few years ago, I went in search of a cookie recipe containing eggnog.  

I found this recipe at the Taste of Home website.  I made a couple of very slight adaptations.  First, I halved the recipe and secondly, I sprinkled on some red sugar to make them a little more festive.

Frosted Eggnog Cookies
slightly adapted from Taste of Home

1 stick butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. eggnog 
2 3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 c. butter, softened
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. eggnog
Red Sugar, if desired

In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggnog and beat until combined.  Turn the beaters to low speed and stir in the baking soda and nutmeg.  Gradually add the flour until combined.  Increase the speed and mix well.  

Divide the dough in half.  Shape each half into a 10" roll, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Unwrap the dough and cut it into 1/4" slices.  Place an inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove to wire rack and allow to cool completely.

In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle until fluffy.  Add the eggnog and powdered sugar, beat until smooth and creamy.  Frost each cookie with the icing and sprinkle with decorative sugar, if desired.  Print Recipe

More Christmas Cookies

More Eggnog Creations