Monday, December 19, 2011

Walnut Butter Cut-outs

This cookie recipe goes back to my childhood.  Where my Mom got the recipe I don't know, but I can remember decorating them as a little kid back when we lived in the UP of Michigan.

They are buttery and nutty at the same time due to the finely ground walnuts.  The walnut flavors intensify during the baking making them even tastier.

A couple of caveats with this one.  First the walnuts really do need to be finely ground or you will have difficulty getting clean cuts with the cookie cutters. Secondly, don't try to skip the chilling process...if you do you will have too loose a dough and it won't roll out will just stick to everything in a gloppy mess.  Learned that one the hard way.

A few drops of food coloring can be added after you have the butter and sugar creamed together.  Its a fun way to have green trees and wreaths or red hearts etc.,.

Walnut Butter Cut-outs 

  • 1 C Butter 
  • 1 t vanilla 
  • 3/4 c sugar 
  • 1/4 t salt 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 1/4 C flour 
  • 2 t baking powder 
  • 1 c fine ground walnuts 

 Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. When fluffy beat in egg.
 Sift together flour and baking powder. Work into butter mixture in small batches. 
 Fold in ground walnuts.
 Divide dough and pat into rounds. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. 
 On floured board roll to about 1/8 inch thickness. 
 Cut with cutters and decorate. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400F until cookies edges just start to brown, about 8 minutes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

I'm sure if you do a google search for banana bread or banana nut bread you'll get a bajillion hits.  Now this one will be among the bajillion.  Its my version of the classic and quite tasty as I use butter instead of oil for the lipid in the batter.  That buttery flavor plays well with the bananas and vanilla.

Banana Nut Bread
Yield 2 - 9x5 inch loaves  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup butter at room temp
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups mashed overripe bananas
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter,salt and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Carefully fold in dry ingredients into the wet in small batches.  
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the crown of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep in the moisture.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Power restored...finally and a little EQ Kit raiding

By now most everyone has seen the news where the L.A. area was bludgeoned to within an inch of our life with one of the worst wind storms in recent memory.  My little corner of L.A. took the brunt of the wind storm and has something like 86,000 homes without power as I write this.

Day 1 of the power outage we didn't know how long power would be out so we resorted to canned goods and the EQ kit (earthquake) ready to eat meals that were coming up on their expiration date.

Among the items we dug into was the "Heater Meals" and it was our first time using them.  The principal behind it is pretty easy.  One simply takes out the heater package, adds water that is included in the packaging to activate the chemical reaction that creates the heat.  Once that is done you quickly fold the top over and place the heater on top of the food package.  10 minutes later it is done and you have a meal ready to eat.

Well sort of, in spite of all the steam your food is just warm.  The food is fine for an emergency but it is lacking seasoning.  The included "saltless seasoning pack" is mostly pepper which is to say the food is still a little bland even with it being used.

I doubt I will buy them again as they are a bit pricey even if found on sale.

As a side bar at the end of Day 1 when it was apparent it was going to be a few days without power we opted to open up the fridge and start cleaning it out. The neighborhood then proceeded to round up candles, cook up our perishables, break out the wine and have a giant "potluck by candlelight" party.  Hah, can't keep a good neighborhood down long.

By Saturday power was restored and I had a nice and clean fridge already for restocking.