Sunday, December 9, 2012

Norwegian Pepper Cookies a.k.a. Pepperkakers

When we asked our foreign exchange student, Maren, which cookie she would miss this year, she said, "Pepperkakers," so naturally, I wanted to make some, even though the word "pepper" kind of threw me off--Who would want to eat cookies that tasted like pepper?! Well, it turns out that pepperkakers are delicious, a lot like gingerbread cookies, and not really peppery.

I found this recipe via MORTEN RAND-HENDRIKSEN and Pinterest.

My first impression about baking these cookies was, "I don't know; people are saying they are a bit difficult to make--sticky, flour issues, etc." but I had absolutely no problem making them as shows on Mr. Hendriksen's site, though I did have to do a couple of conversions (Thank you, Google.).



 4 and 1/3 sticks of butter
2.5 cups of sugar
1 and 1/4 cups molasses
1 1/4 cups whipping cream

8 cups flour (I used unbleached, all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsps ginger
1 1/2 tsps ground cloves
1 1/2 tsps ground pepper
3 tsps baking powder
5 teaspoons cinnamon

First, start the butter to melting in a 2-quart saucepan on the stove.
While it's heating, mix the spices into the top half of the flour 
(just to be sure they are distributed fairly)

When the butter is melted, add the sugar and molasses, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
(This took about five minutes on low-medium heat.)

Remove it from the heat and add the cream.

At this point, I poured the contents of the pot into my mixer and began to add the flour gradually, mixing all the while. I used exactly 8 cups of flour; you may need to add more if the dough seems very wet. In the end, it has a beautiful caramelly color. This is what mine looked like after the flour had been added.

The recipe I followed said the dough would be quite difficult to stir by hand, but I had no issues whatsoever with my mixer.  Turn it into a bowl, cover with a sprinkle of flour and a towel,

and place in the fridge overnight "to rest."

When I took the dough out the next day, I found it to be quite firm but easy enough to work,
and it warmed up quickly when I kneaded it a little to roll out with a floured rolling pin. The recipe I read went on about how sticky the dough was and warned that I'd have to roll the cookies directly on the parchment paper. However, I found it no trouble at all to simply roll it out on our plastic laminate counter sprinkled with a little flour. Occasionally, I had to lift the cookies off with a metal spatula, but it really was minor.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about ten minutes for a metal pan. (They took 4-5 minutes longer on my stone pans.)

Maren said she likes her pepperkakers thick, not thin, so I rolled plenty of both.

I prefer the thin, gingersnap quality of the thin cookies, but the thicker ones had a nice, slightly-chewy texture, and they were good, too.

Frost, if you desire, but I think these cookies are every bit as good plain. Enjoy!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Crock Pot Ham and Potato Soup

I found the recipe for this deliciously-simple soup the day after Thanksgiving. 
We had served ham, as well as turkey, and I had ham to use, so it seemed perfect. 
I had all of the ingredients on hand, too!

2 cups diced ham
1 cup diced onion
1 large carrot, diced (I chopped up some baby carrots.)
7 cups diced potatoes
5 cups chicken broth (or boullion cubes for making it)
 1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

First, chop the veggies.


Keep the potatoes in water to prevent them from turning brown as you dice.

Put the potatoes, ham, onions and carrots in the crock pot.

Pour chicken broth in 
(or dissolve five teaspoons of chicken bouillon cubes in hot water and pour over vegetables).

Cover the pot and cook for three hours on high or seven hours on low.

If you like your soup a little bit thicker, pull 2-3 cups of the cooked potato out
after the three hours.


and mash it, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Then mix it back into the crock pot, 
along with the milk and sour cream.

Cook 15 more minutes. 
Serve with bread and a salad.
Serves about six.

Mr.4444 is gone tonight, but all three kids loved it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

This recipe puts a delicious spin on traditional lasagna, using ground turkey, as well as tortillas in place of pasta. I found it on Pinterest, and Mr.4444 has declared it a "definite keeper."
I followed the directions given by Sugar & Spice by Celeste, here.
To read this recipe without photos, click here.

Before I start, I want to give props to our little puppy, Milo, who isn't allowed in past the refrigerator in the kitchen and without whose good behavior I would not have been able to make this delicious dinner! Thanks, Milo :)

Sauce Ingredients:

1 tbls garlic-flavored oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 onion, chopped (I used Vidalia.)
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (ignore the three cans in this photo!)
3 tablespoons of chopped green chilies (I used canned.)
1 tbls ketchup
 1 tsp Kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
fresh cilantro (much less than pictured)
(Celeste's version called for 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro "stalks", 
but I'd never heard of using the stalks instead of the leaves; 
I finely-chopped the leaves, instead. 

Filling Ingredients:

I used five ears of locally grown corn. 
Celeste's version called for about 1 1/2 cans of corn, or 3 1/4 cups. 
As you'll note later, I had too much corn!
1 large can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 cups of your favorite cheddar cheese (I used another 1/2 cup for the top.)
6-8 round tortillas (I used 6.)

Guacamole Ingredients:

At this point, I also want to grudgingly give props to my husband, 
who's always trying to tell me to do all of my prepping before I start cooking. 
I rarely follow his advice in this regard, and I wished I had this time, 
as I forgot to saute the onion with the turkey, red peppers, and chilies until they were already cooked. Maybe I've learned my lesson. (Maybe)

Since I did not have olive-flavored oil, I made my own, making sure to heat the oil to at least 200 degrees before sauteing the garlic in it. [Through a little research, I learned that you can actually die from the most obvious way of flavoring oil with garlic (throwing raw garlic into a bottle of oil).]

Here we go!

Cook the ground turkey, peppers, onions, and chilies 
(unless you use canned, like I did) in the olive oil.

 Then add the diced tomatoes, along with a can full of water and the ketchup.
I want to note that in my ingredient photo, I had three cans of tomatoes; 
I figured that error out before I started cooking, you only need one 28-oz can.
When everything is cooked through, add the salt, and cook a little longer (5 minutes).

Bring the heat up until it's hot and bubbly. Add the cilantro and let the sauce simmer on Low. 

Rather than pour the juice off later (as suggested by Celeste)
 I chose to simmer the sauce for about 45 minutes, with the cover off, cooking it down.

As the sauce is simmering, drain and rinse the beans.

Boil and cut the corn off the cob (Mr.4444 says the locally-grown sweetcorn was one of the best parts of this dish!) or just use canned corn.

Mix the beans, corn, and shredded cheese together and set aside until the sauce is ready.


Get ready for assembly!

Spoon some of the sauce into the bottom of your pan. 

Because I didn't have a round pan tall enough for this recipe, 
I used a square pan and cut my tortillas to fit the entire pan.
(I later noticed that Celeste may have used a 10" oven-proof skillet.)

Place two tortillas atop the sauce in the pan, patching the corners like so.

Spoon 1/3 of the sauce atop the tortillas.

Top that with a layer of the bean/corn/cheese mixture.

Top that with two more tortillas (and patches) and repeat with another layer of sauce and filling, saving a little of each for the top. Top that with two more tortillas and the rest of the sauce and filling. For some reason, I had a ton of filling left! (I look forward to having it for lunch tomorrow!)

Add some more cheese to the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 15 minutes before serving.
(This recipe was enough for five adults to have dinner and three to have delicious leftovers for lunch the next day.)

Serve with lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole made with your preferred amounts of the ingredients shown earlier.

Celeste's recipe has helpful details about freezing/preparing it a day ahead/leftovers/etc.  
The leftovers were wonderful, so I'm sure it freezes well, too.

We will definitely be making this again!

*I also want to point out that it's important to have a deep pan for this recipe. I didn't have the 10-inch wide, 2 1/4" tall pan called for, but I did have a square one, so I used that. 
*You could make this recipe for a crowd if you increased the sauce ingredients.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Party-Sized Greek Pasta Salad

Ever since I first made this recipe from Chris, at Mele Cotte (via Pinterest), I can't keep enough of it at the ready; Kyle comes home from work and looks for it in the fridge and is clearly disappointed when he comes up empty.  Since this is the fourth time I've made it in less than two weeks, I've decided to post the recipe here.


(amounts here are different from Chris's, as I wanted to make a large amount)

1 pound of pasta of your choosing
1 cup chopped red onion
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 can whole black olives
1 huge cucumber
6 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled 

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tsps stone ground mustard (dijon or your favorite)
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fine sea salt

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the veggies like so...

Yes, I'm aware that black olives can be purchased sliced, 
but I wanted them cut in thirds (chunkier than I feared the sliced kind might be).

When the pasta is cooked to your taste, drain it and rinse it with cold water. 
Set it aside while you make the dressing. 
Mix the dressing ingredients in a closed container like this one...

Pour over the pasta and mixed veggies.
(Use however much is your preference; you'll probably have plenty extra to use another time.)

Mix and top with oregano and freshly-ground pepper.

Chill for at least a few hours 
(tossing the salad periodically to redistribute the dressing until the pasta has absorbed it).


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

[By the way, the original title of this recipe is Creamy Green Chicken Enchiladas, but since they're not actually green, I figured I'd remove the word green before it scared someone off.]

I don't post recipes for dishes that we don't find delicious, but this one? It's fantastic. I first tasted these enchiladas at a Cinco de Mayo party at a neighbor's house. I'd never thought that much of enchiladas before, but these made me say, "Wow. I want to have these again!"  Fortunately, Caron was kind enough to share the recipe with me. (Thanks, Caron!)

Warning: They don't call these Creamy Chicken Enchiladas If you are lactose intolerant, be sure to refresh your stock of digestive enzyme tablets before eating this very-dairy dish!


8-oz pack cream cheese, softened
16-oz jar of green tomatillo salsa (or make your own--Caron's recipe is at the end)
(For you gringos like me who haven't a clue what green tomatillo salsa is, try "Salsa Verde".)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsps cumin (I like mine freshly-ground, hence the grinder in the photo.)
Big pinch of salt
Freshly-ground, black pepper (as much as you like)

5 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used all the meat from a rotisserie chicken.)
1 can cream-of-chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
3 cups Mexican cheese
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
*1 can black beans w jalapenos in lime juice (see note below)
15-20 small corn or flour tortillas (I bought a ten-pack and ended up using 12 (grabbing a few more from another tortillas stash that I have.)

Serve with taco sauce.

In a large pan, over medium heat, mix salsa, cream cheese, and spices (the first group of ingredients above.)

When smooth, remove from heat and add chicken, soup, sour cream, cilantro, and 1 cup of the cheese.

Mix well.

If it's too stiff, you can add milk, chicken stock, or more salsa so it's easier to spoon.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9 x 13 pan with oil.

Warm tortillas and add a couple of heaping tablespoonsfull of the chicken mixture across the bottom third of a tortilla (I was generous.)

and roll it up, placing it seam-down in the pan. I fit nine small tortillas in my 9 x 13 pan, and this is how much chicken mixture I had left!

Spread extra chicken mixture over the tops of the enchiladas in the pan.

Again, I was generous, and I still had this much left!

*If you're like me and at this point you realize that you never put the beans in, do what I did and add some to the mixture you have left.

I used that to put three more enchiladas in an oval, 2-quart dish that we have, using the single tortilla I had left, plus two more from my stock. A perfect lunch for Mr.4444 some day when he's home alone!

Top with the rest of the cheese.

Spray a piece of foil with oil (or use non-stick foil) and cover the dish. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Remember those beans I'd forgotten? I topped my serving with some beans and a little taco sauce. The red sauce really topped these off nicely, and they were absolutely delicious. This is definitely my new favorite recipe.

You can also make your own green salsa "very easily":
about 20 tomatillos, de-husked and washed
2 jalapenos
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
Mix the above with one tablespoon of olive oil and roast in 350-degree oven 30 minutes, until tomatillos are soft and onions have golden-brown edges. Allow to cool slightly and then blitz in food processor. (Caron is from England; don't you just love that "blitz" term?!) If you don't like it as hot you can remove seeds from the jalapenos first, or just use one.  You can also just add green chillies and make without the beans, but the extra fiber and protein are good for you! Caron is sure this recipe couldn't be lightened up quite easily, and the chicken soup could be replaced by chicken stock.