Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brussels Sprout Salad with Cheddar, Pecans & Apple

I saw this recipe in the latest edition of Cook's Country, one of my most favorite cooking magazines. I looked at the relatively short list of ingredients and directions and thought this would be a great weeknight side dish. Just a word of caution- prepping all those brussels sprouts takes some time! Plan accordingly. And this also made a HUGE batch, so unless you're feeding a crowd, only make half. But it was really good. Sam loved it. Jack wouldn't have any part of it, and that's fine. I set him aside some nuts, cheese and apples.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Cheddar, Pecans & Apple


3 tablespoons lemon juice  
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard  
1 small shallot, minced 
1 garlic clove, minced  
Salt and pepper 
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  
2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and sliced very thin 
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)  
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (no need to peel)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil until incorporated. Toss shredded brussels sprouts with vinaigrette, and let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Fold in cheddar, apple, and pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Martha Stewart's Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I made these delicious chocolate sugar cookies for a little Halloween fun at a recent play date. The kids enjoyed frosting, decorating and eating the chocolate bats, and I'll definitely be making these again come Christmas and Valentine's Day. Since I'm supposed to be staying off my feet right now, I split up the process over a few days. This really works best for this type of cookie anyway since the dough absolutely must chill to retain it's shape. Mix the dough up one day...roll, shape and bake the next. They'll keep for a few days stored in an airtight container. There was no way I was getting into royal icing and piping tips so I mixed up a simple tinted buttercream for the kids to spread on them instead. And, of course, there were sprinkles.

A big thanks to my good friend, Lauren Williams, for inspiring this project with her very thoughtful "house arrest" care package- filled with fancy cooking magazines for me and a set of bat cookie cutters for Jack. Thanks twin!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

*Note: Before you begin, be sure to clear out some space in your freezer to fit at least one tray of cookies. The cookies will need to be well chilled prior to baking in order to retain their shape.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark blend)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 


1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl.

2. With a mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar using the paddle attachment. Continue to mix until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour or overnight.

3. Cut the dough in half, stashing one half in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch think. I always roll out cookie dough between a sheet of parchment paper placed right on the counter and a piece of plastic wrap placed on top. This makes it easy to transfer the whole thing to the refrigerator should it become too warm, and alleviates the need to keep adding unnecessary amounts of flour to prevent sticking. I do the same with pie crust, but that's another post. You want to keep the dough as cold as possible, so work quickly. Stamp out your chosen cut-outs and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Chill in the freezer at least 15 minutes. If at any time during the process, the dough becomes too soft to work with, chill for 10 minutes and then proceed. Repeat with the remaining dough. Any scraps can be chilled, rolled and rerolled with delicious results. 

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cookies in the oven, right from the freezer, and bake until crisp, about 8-10 minutes depending on their size/shape. Cool completely on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 

happy kiddos
Recipe source: cookies- Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook, frosting- this recipe (halved and tinted orange) from the Novice Chef blog