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Chocolate Dipped Orange Meringues

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Light and airy citrus cookie with a hint of chocolate. These festive Hallowen cookies are naturally gluten free!

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It seems like people either love or hate meringues. If you’ve been one of my loyal blog followers then you may remember a post nearly a year ago about Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues. I shared a recipe I loved as a child and chronicled my attempts at recreating the recipe in a much higher humidity climate. Making meringues still feels a little bit daunting to me, but not enough to totally give up on them. I am one of those people that just loves meringue cookies!

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I had the idea for these chocolate orange Halloween meringues months and months ago. I finally gave in to making them in September. Steve convinced me into making a double batch, saying the cookies would be a “good snack”. I argued that they were full of sugar and a far cry from my usual healthy recipes. He said the cookies were mostly air, which is truthful, I suppose.

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We whipped up the double batch on a Saturday morning and let them sit in the oven all day (FYI I usually leave mergingues in the oven overnight, which is plenty of time for them to set. If you bake them during the day you need to leave them in the oven for 6 – 8 hours. They look done around the 4 hour mark, but the insides will still be gooey). The cookies were ready for a party in the evening. I had been a bit nervous that orange flavor and meringue might not be a good combination, but it met my expectations! Light and airy citrus flavored cookie with a hint of dark chocolate. When I put it that way, it sounds perfect and I wonder why I doubted the flavor in the first place!

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I’m not super into themed food, but yes, these are a nice gluten free Halloween dessert. It’s not the kind of gluten free cookie that has an unusual texture, unwelcome aftertaste, and you wouldn’t really want to serve to other people. These are real, edible, naturally gluten free, “normal person” cookies! You can easily switch these up from classy gluten free Halloween cookie to just regular classy cookie by skipping the food coloring, too. Pure white meringues with chocolate tips make a nice looking cookie tray any time of the year!

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Chocolate Dipped Orange Meringues

Beat the egg whites by hand using a beater or in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. I have successfully used both methods.
 
I piped my cookies onto the baking sheet using a pastry tool (that I got at target for $9 in an after Christmas sale last year), but you can also spoon them onto the baking sheet for free form cookies, if you don’t have a tool to pipe the meringue.
 
Ingredients
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites (separated from eggs or from the carton)
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 4 drops red food coloring
  • 4 drops yellow food coloring
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (semi sweet or milk chocolate would also work)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and cream of tartar at a medium low speed until stiff peaks form (warning: this takes a few minutes).
  3. Still beating at the same speed, add the sugar slowly mixing in just 1 tablespoon at a time (another warning: this takes a long while to do slowly. Don’t rush it or you may ruin the meringue).
  4. When all the sugar has been added, beat in the orange extract and food coloring.
  5. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Using a pastry bag/tube, pipe the meringue onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch between each cookie.
  6. Turn the oven off, and place the cookie sheets in the oven. Leave the cookies in the oven overnight, or for 8 hours.
  7. When the cookies are cooked and cooled, melt the chocolate. I use chocolate chips for this, and follow the melting directions on the bag. If your package doesn’t have directions try microwaving for 1 minute, stirring, and then doing additional time as needed in 15 second increments.
  8. Drip bottoms, tops, or both ends of each cookie into the melted chocolate. Place back on the baking sheet (still with wax paper on it). Put the cookie sheets in the freezer to let the chocolate harden.
  9. To keep chocolate firm store these cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays. Check it out at Gluten Free Homemaker, Gluten Free Easily, and Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures!

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Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues

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These irresistible mint chocolate chip cookies are light and fluffy. Their green color is perfect for Christmas, too!

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My Mom, sister, and I used to make these cookies every Christmas season. We would whip them up late one night, just before bed, since they sit in the oven overnight to bake. I was always so excited to wake up in the morning and try one of the freshly baked cookies! We made these meringues at other times of the year, too, and changed the color to match the holiday.

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After years of making these cookies – and as a child, at that – I was very frustrated when my first four (yes, four) attempts at making these cookies as an adult failed. Not only did I waste ingredients (I hate waste!) but I knew that I could make these cookies and that the recipe worked. All of our modifications were written right on the original copy of that recipe in my own 8 year old handwriting! Well, four attempts and no cookies later I gave up, figuring my failure was probably due to the humidity.

Fast forward a few weeks. I made a huge pot of Avgolemono Soup and had 5 leftover egg whites. Rather than waste the egg white I decided to give the meringues one more try. I took every humidity precaution possible and when I saw the meringue form perfectly I knew the cookies would be a success! I happily ate one for breakfast the next morning.

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Here are some tricks I learned about successfully making a meringue:

  1. Use room temperature egg whites. I let the egg whites sit out on the kitchen counter for about 12 hours before using them, which was more than enough time for them to get to room temperature.
  2. Chill the mixing bowl and beaters. Put the mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator at least half an hour before you start baking.
  3. Use a low speed and be patient! Don’t try to rush the meringue by jacking up the beater speed too high or by dumping in a bunch of sugar at once. Just go slowly.
  4. When beating the egg whites you want stiff peaks to form. Egg whites will first get foamy, and then softer peaks will form. You will know you have achieved stiff peaks when the meringue stands up straight when the beaters are lifter out of the bowl (only test this when the beaters are turned off). If the tips of the meringue fall to the side you are still at the softer peaks – be patient and keep beating until you see stiff peaks!

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When you are familiar with what meringue looks like making these cookies is a breeze! These are great to bake with kids or a friend – anyone you can share the beating with (you arm will get tired if you do it on your own). The overnight baking is a fun feature of these cookies, too. You’ll love waking up in the morning to freshly baked mint cookies!

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Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • 8 drops green food coloring
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and cream of tartar at a medium low speed until stiff peaks form.
  3. Still beating at the same speed, add the sugar slowly mixing in just 1 tablespoon at a time.
  4. When all the sugar has been added, beat in the mint extract and green food coloring.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Drop tablespoons of the meringue onto the baking sheets, about and inch or two apart.
  7. Turn the oven off, and place the cookie sheets in the oven. Leave the cookies in the oven overnight.
  8. Store cookies in a dry place.

Family Favorite Mashed Potatoes

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This is no ordinary mashed potatoes recipe! With just a few additional ingredients the usual mashed potatoes become even creamier and tastier!

I absolutely LOVE mashed potatoes. Not much tastes better to me than some creamy potatoes and warm, smooth gravy. For my health’s sake, though, I usually make mashed cauliflower in the place of mashed potatoes. It seems like a weird substitution, but it really ends up filling in almost perfectly for potatoes! Sometimes, though, especially on holidays, I don’t mind letting myself have real mashed potatoes.

This is the recipe for mashed potatoes my family has been having on Thanksgiving for years. It is far from healthy but so, so delicious. The extra creaminess comes from cream cheese and sour cream. If you, like me, generally refuse to cook with anything that has the word “cream” in it, then don’t worry, I have a healthier option. Just sub in an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt for the cream cheese and/or sour cream. So, there’s really no excuse not to give this recipe a try!

Family Favorite Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4 -6, but easily doubles!)
  • 2 lb. russet potatoes
  • 2 oz cream cheese (may replace with plain greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 c sour cream (may replace with plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika (optional, for garnish)
  • 1/2 Tbs butter, divided into small chunks (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Peel and dice the potatoes. Put the diced potatoes in a large pan and fill with water until the potatoes are all covered. Boil for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender when poked with a fork.
  3. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher or immersion blender. Stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, and salt.
  4. Put the potato mixture in a medium sized baking dish (I used a round dish, 2 qt dish). If desired, top with the small chunks of butter and sprinkle with paprika.
  5. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until heated through (Note: The goal of this step is just to reheat the potatoes. If you are using this as part of a holiday meal and have other things in the oven at different temperatures, just stick the potatoes in at any temperature for a few minutes. Just keep an eye on them and make sure the top doesn’t burn).

GF Sausage Stuffing

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Last Thanksgiving my Dad found a box of GF stuffing mix at the grocery store. It was the first Thanksgiving without my grandparents, who had been in charge of making the stuffing in the past. We weren’t sure how exactly to make stuffing (and I wasn’t totally crazy about Grandma & Grandpa’s stuffing. It was so dense and had no taste.), so we just followed the recipe on the box.

Stuffing usually tastes bland to me, and I slather it in gravy to make it more palatable. This stuffing, though, was anything but tasteless. It was bold, a bit spicy, and didn’t need any help from the gravy to get some flavor. Everyone else tried some of the GF stuffing and apparently it was significantly better than their regular stuffing.

The secret to this delicious stuffing? Sausage!

 

I did some research on how to actually make stuffing and then worked on recreating the recipe. The box from the stuffing mix is long gone so I  just did my best from memory. The results have been very tasty, and I’ve enjoyed the stuffing with and without gravy. I have used a spicy sausage, but I’m sure this would be delicious with a mild, or even sweet-ish sausage. Pick whatever sausage variety you enjoy the most!

In my recipe research, I also learned that putting sausage in stuffing is actually kind of a normal thing. I feel a little bit embarrassed – here I thought I had this brilliant stuffing discovery and then I found out it actually wasn’t a big discovery at all. Opps! Now, I’m just hoping that by sharing this recipe I can introduce a few other people to the world of stuffing that is good enough that you actually want to eat it.

Gluten Free Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients
  • 12 oz gluten free bread
  • 1/2 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2c chicken stock (this makes a soft stuffing. Reduce the amount of liquid to make a crispier stuffing)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Dice the bread into small cubes and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the cubes are totally crisp, like the consistency a crouton would be. The time will vary depending on what type of bread you are using. It should take somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes.
  3. While the bread is in the oven, brown the sausage in a frying pan over medium high heat, breaking it up as it cooks.
  4. When the sausage has cooked, move it to a large mixing bowl. Add the diced onion and celery right into the pan the sausage was in. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook the vegetables until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the sausage in it, along with cooked bread cubes. Stir in the egg and the thyme and mix until the egg is distributed throughout the mixture.
  6. Turn the oven temperature up to 400° F. Put the stuffing into a greased baking dish (I used a 3 qt dish) and pour the chicken stock into the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 5 – 10 minutes, until the top is crisp.

Mini Halloween “Oreo” Truffles

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My sister was visiting last week! We some big plans (going to an aquarium) and some not so big plans (eating snacks). We had a night full of popcorn experiments, and then the next day we wanted to make something special for Halloween. We brainstormed for a while and then decided on these Oreo truffles in Halloween shapes. We realized that our cookie decorating skills aren’t the best, but we had fun (and isn’t that what matters?)! Plus, these cookies do not need to be baked, so even though we cut out and decorated each tiny cookie the time commitment was not huge, and there weren’t a bunch of cookie sheets that needed to be washed! Recipes that don’t result in a million dirty dishes are usually my favorites!

Have you had Oreo truffles before? They are a Christmas tradition for my family. My Dad and I used to make them on Christmas Eve and bring them to our family festivities. My family has always had the job of providing all the different cookie varieties. There was a year when my Dad and I decided to switch it up and replace the Oreo truffles with something else. Well, no one liked that! A few family members said that they wait all year for those cookies!

Making Oreo truffles is so simple. Mix Oreos, or GF oreos in the case of this recipe, with cream cheese in a food processor. To make regular truffles you roll the mixture into balls and then coat them with melted chocolate. Instead of making balls, we rolled the dough out to cut out Halloween shapes.

I rolled the dough out on wax paper, for easy clean up and less sticking. Since I don’t have any Halloween cookie cutters we improvised with a bottle cap and a dough cutter.

Making spiders is simple; you just cut out a circle with a bottle cap. We made the legs by piping on melting chocolate. The ghosts we a bit more complicated. First, I cut out a half circle using the bottle cap.

Next, use the pastry cutter, or a pizza cutter, to extend the cut straight down.

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If you want, you can leave the ghost in this shape or use the pastry/pizza cutter to cut a few diagonal lines.

One all of the cookie shapes were cut we just “frosted” and decorated  them with melted chocolate and white chocolate. Hopefully our finished cookies resemble ghosts and spiders. I have not spent a lot of time frosting and decorating so this project was a stretch for me! I’m sure many of you out there have great decorating skills and could use this same idea to create some really amazing looking cookies. Looks aside, these cookies taste decadent, and since they a mini you don’t have to feel badly if you eat a few!

Mini Halloween Oreo Truffles

 
Ingredients
  • 1 package (10.5 oz) gluten free oreo cookies (I used Glutino brand)
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 4 oz white melting chocolate
  • 4 oz chocolate chips
Baking Directions
  1. Combine oreos and cream cheese in a food processor. Mix for a few minutes, until fully combined. The mixture will look brown.
  2. Roll or pat out the dough to about a 1/8″ thick.
  3. Cut out cookie shapes from the dough (see post above for how to make ghost and spider shapes using a bottle cap).
  4. Put the dough in the freezer to firm up, 5-10 minutes will be enough.
  5. Melt both chocolate varieties according to package directions.
  6. Top the ghost cookies with the white chocolate and spiders with regular melted chocolate. Use the opposite colors for eyes and mouths.
  7. Using a ziplock bag or a pastry bag, pipe melted chocolate off of each spider body to create legs.
  8. Once all decorating is done return cookies to the freezer again. Store in the freezer until you are ready to serve.
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