Category Archives: Appetizers

Happy Thanksgiving: Cinnamon Bark Sticks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! God has given me myriads of things to be thankful for; and there’s so many that I can’t even think of!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to cook some extra-special things, so in these next couple posts I’ll be sharing some of those things that we enjoyed baking!

Cinnamon Bark Sticks

8 large egg whites

2 cups sugar, plus 1/4 cup

2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

1 tsp. cinnamon extract

10 T. butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup heavy cream

Brown gel food coloring

2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick silicon baking mat. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk together the egg whites and 2 cups of sugar until foamy. Add the flour and salt and mix to incorporate. Add the cinnamon extract, butter and cream, then beat again until completely smooth. In small amounts, add the brown food coloring a drop at a time until desired color is reached, stirring thoroughly between additions. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon. Scoop a teaspoon of batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a small offset spatula spread the batter thinly and evenly into a rectangle about 2-by-5 inches. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you should be able to fit 2 to 4 cookies on at a time. Sprinkle each rectangle lightly with the cinnamon-sugar. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until the surface looks dry. The edges should not be browned. Working quickly and as soon as the baking sheet comes out of the oven, one at a time use a spatula to flip each rectangle over. Tightly roll both long sides of each rectangle toward the center, similar to forming a scroll. Set aside to cool and repeat in batches with remaining dough. Yield: 36 sticks

I have to confess, these were quite a job. And of course we didn’t quite follow the recipe. We didn’t have any cinnamon extract, so we used a combination of cinnamon oil and plain ol’ ground cinnamon. You can tell from the photo that we didn’t roll them all up like scrolls. You had to roll fast, or else they would harden and start breaking. We also found that too much cinnamon-sugar makes them harder to roll, as it crystallizes and makes the sticks crusty.

However, they are delicious. Delicate, crispy, pleasant cinnamon flavor. We will enjoy these this Thanksgiving.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

~rachel~

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Herb and Herb Recipes: Thyme

Thyme. It’s such a cute little bush. But it smells amazing and tastes even better.

I know this thyme looks like a holly bush. It isn’t, really. That’s a result of close-up and a little editing.

One of my favorite things to do with thyme is add it to steamed green beans plus a little butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon juice. It’s also great with roasted vegetables or in any Italian food.

How do you like to use thyme? I mean, really, you’ve used it some, haven’t you?

Creamy Thyme Spread

Roasted Asparagus with Thyme

Thyme Grilled Vegetables

Gnocchi with Thyme Butter

Note: we HAVE made the Gnocchi with Thyme Butter. Really yum. Actually, just the gnocchi by itself is really good. Don’t make too much gnocchi, though. Too many carbs is just too many carbs.

Thyme, I love you.

~Rachel~

Herbs and Herb Recipes: Basil

In case you have never met my herbs, let me introduce you now.

And while I’m introducing my herbs, I’ll offer some herb recipes. Now, I haven’t made any of these, so no guarantees. Some of them look good, though!

I’ll start with my favorite – basil. Yes, he’s my favorite herb of all my herb garden children. He’s gorgeous, he smells divine and tastes great. What more could I want?

Basil is best with tomatoes. I especially like it with homemade lasagna, spaghetti and spaghetti meatballs. Wow. It’s also good with sauteed vegetables.

And if you make pesto, it’s good with noodles, mixed with mayo for a sandwich, or just plain on a cracker.

Basil Noodles

Pesto

Artichoke Basil Pasta Sauce

Lemon Basil Cupcakes

That’s all for now. I’ll post more soon!

What do you like to do with basil?

~Rachel~

Fresh Guacamole

Guacamole is a wonderful thing. We make it often, but I happened to take pictures this time. =)

Guacamole is good pretty much however you make it, but using fresh ingredients makes it even better. I know that makes me sound like a food snob, but I’m not trying to be.

A food processor makes it really easy. =) Just dump in a couple avocados, a little hunk of fresh onion, 1-2 minced garlic cloves, salsa, sour cream, and a squirt or two of lemon or lime juice. By the way, fresh lemon or lime juice is way better! =) Oh, and the dark green you see in there. That’s spinach – pureed from frozen. It’s totally optional, but you can’t tell if there’s  a little in there. Mix it up.

Now add your favorite spices – like salt, pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes, cummin, oregano, and cilantro. (Hey, fresh cilantro would be really good!) You can replace the fresh onion and garlic with powder, but like I said, I think fresh is better. Taste-test as you go along (non-optional!). Mix it up well and then scrape into a bowl.

Serve it as soon as you can…I mean, while it’s still fresh. =) And be sure to eat it all since it doesn’t keep well.

Wow…imagine guacamole with fresh-off-the-tree avocados, fresh chilies, fresh tomatoes. I don’t know if the fresh avocados can happen here, but let me know how it is if you try it!

Bye for now.

~Rachel~

P.S. What do you add to your guacamole?

The Cheese Roll

John makes the best cheese rolls! Really! Here’s his recipe and a picture to make you want to make it. =)

cheese-ball

John’s Cheese Roll

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped fine

2-3 T. parsley, chopped

1/4 cup black olives, chopped

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. soy sauce or Tamari

1/2 tsp. salt

2 slices fried bacon, crumbled

Garlic, optional

Combine all ingredients. If mixture is too soft to roll into a ball, chill awhile. Roll the ball in chopped walnuts. Serve with crackers. Yield: 1 cheese roll

Roasted Vegetable Salsa

A couple of months ago I tried some roasted salsa and LOVED it, so I tried to make my own. It didn’t turn out much like the original, but it was still really yummy! I used tomatoes and peppers from our garden.

I lost the “recipe” that I made up, but here’s what I can remember.

4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped (we had cherry tomatoes, so I mostly quartered them)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, sliced (Sweet peppers would be good too)

1 (4-oz.) can diced green chilies

2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and finely diced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin (or more…I love cumin)

1 tsp. onion powder

2 T. vinegar

¼ tsp. pepper

Garlic, to taste

Dried oregano, optional

Dried cilantro, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables in a greased sheet pan and roast, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and/or some of the juices have cooked away. (Really, I’m not sure how long it took…quite a while, though.) When the vegetables are cooked, transfer them to a food processor/blender and process until desired consistency.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

I’m not usually a big salsa person, but I REALLY liked this one. If you have some time, it’s definitely worth the effort!