RSN's twelve days of Christmas

We all know the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and I thought a bit of it’s history would be interesting and I do hope you enjoy the recipes!
Kitchen Witch

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Religious symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas
(The 12 Days of Christmas)

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

RSN’S TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
On the first day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
a cake made from a pear tree

Fresh Pear Cake
A dense, moist, creamy-sweet pear cake - recipe tried and true - handed down.

cooking spray
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup grapeseed oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Bartlett pears
1 cup chopped pecans 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch fluted tube pan (such as a Bundt(R)) with cooking spray; dust lightly with flour.
Mix flour, baking soda, sea salt, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves together in a bowl.
Beat sugar and grapeseed oil together in a separate bowl until creamy; stir in eggs. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture; add pears. Blend batter with an electric mixer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Fold pecans into the batter and mix by hand until batter is well blended, about 2 more minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Loosen cake from pan by gently running the edge of a knife between cake and pan; let cool in pan for 20 minutes. Place a cake plate upside-down atop cake and flip pan to turn cake onto plate.

If you do not feel the cake release from the pan, cover with a damp cloth and let sit for 20 more minutes, then gently remove pan from cake.

On the second day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Pecan Turtles
Candy-shoppe goodness!

1 teaspoon plus 1 cup butter, divided
1 cup light corn syrup
2-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 pounds pecan halves, toasted
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 teaspoons shortening

Line baking sheets with waxed paper; lightly coat with cooking spray and set aside. Butter the sides of a heavy saucepan with 1 teaspoon butter. Cube remaining butter; place in pan. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Cook and stir until sugar is melted.
Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248° (firm-ball stage), about 16 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Gently stir in pecans. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 12 minutes.
In a microwave, melt chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over clusters. Chill until firm. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: about 6 dozen.
NOTE: Test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.

Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecake
Tired of the traditional pumpkin pie? Love the creamy goodness of cheesecake? Addicted to lucious carmel? Then this dessert sure to make those taste buds come alive!

2 8-ounce blocks cream cheese softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
t spn vanilla extract
1 pint sour cream
1 8 oz can pureed pumpkin

For the Crust
2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 stick melted no salt butter

For the Topping
1/2 lb pecan pieces
1 tsp cinnamon
1 lb chewy caramel candies (such as Werthers)
1/2 lb white chocolate

Preheat oven to 325
Mix cookie crumbs and butter until crumbs are evenly coated. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press the crumbs down into the base and approximately 1/3 of the way the sides. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Beat the cream cheese (with a hand of electric mixer) on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Add sugar until creamy. Add sour cream and vanilla and pumpkin until incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
Remove crust from refrigerator and pour in filling. Place pan in a large piece of tin foil and wrap tin foil approximately 1/2 way up the pan in order to keep water out. Place in a roasting pan and pour hot water approximately 1/2 way up the outside of the springform pan into the roasting dish to create a water bath. Carefully transfer to the over.
Bake cheesecake 40 – 45 minutes or until firm but still “jiggly” in the center. Let cool at room temperature.
While cheesecake cooks create the topping. In a microwave safe bowl combine pecans, caramels and cinnamon. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until caramels are warm enough to stir into a smooth mixture. Pour onto a butter baking sheet and spread into a 1 inch layer. Let cool at room temperature. you have now made your turtle mixture. Once firm break into chunks. (Use a rolling pin or kitchen mallet between two sheets of wax paper.)

Melt white chocolate and set aside.

Once the cheesecake has come to room temperature evenly top with turtle mixture. Drizzle white chocolate on top. Refrigerate to desired temperature. Serve and enjoy!

On the third day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Classic French Bread
Tried and true - and easy to make.

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup very warm water (120ºF to 130ºF)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon cold water
Poppy seed or sesame seed

In large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft).
On lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Grease large bowl with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. (Rising time is longer than times for traditional breads, which gives the typical French bread texture.) Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
Grease large cookie sheet with shortening or spray with cooking spray; sprinkle with cornmeal. Gently push fist into dough to deflate; divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into 15 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.
Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across tops of loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seed. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.

French-Style Country Bread
This recipe uses the sponge method (poor man’s sour dough starter) - no feedings. And it makes a superb crusty, hole-ridden French-style bread.
2 loaves

Starter
1 cup cool to lukewarm water (90°F to 100°F)
1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
1 1/4 cups Unbleached Bread Flour or Organic Bread Flour
1/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour

Dough
all of the starter (above)
1 cup lukewarm water (100°F to 115°F)
3/4 teaspoon active dry or 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 3/4 to 4 cups Unbleached Bread Flour or Organic Bread Flour
1 1/2 to 2 1/4 teaspoons salt, to taste

To make the starter: Stir all of the starter ingredients together to make a thick, pudding-like mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 2 hours. For best flavor, let the starter rest longer; overnight (up to 16 hours) is best. If you plan on making the dough in a bread machine, place the sponge ingredients in the bucket, and turn the machine on for just a few seconds to mix the ingredients together. Turn the machine off and close the cover, then let the starter rest as directed above.
To make the dough: Stir down the starter with a spoon and add the water, yeast, sugar, 3 1/4 cups of the flour, and the salt. The dough will be a loose, messy mass. Let it rest for 12 to 15 minutes, then stir it again; it should become more cohesive and a bit smoother. Dough handles better once it's had time for the flour to absorb the water while resting and relaxing. By using this method, you'll tend to add less flour, and have much bigger holes in your finished bread.
Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, to make a soft dough, 10 to 12 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or plastic container, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until almost doubled (depending on the weather, this could be 1 to 2 hours). If you're going out, or if you prefer, let the dough rise slowly in the fridge. If your dough has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature before shaping; it'll warm up and rise at the same time.
Deflate the dough gently, but don't knock out all the air; this will create those "holes" so important to French bread. For one large loaf, form the dough into a round ball; for two loaves, divide the dough in half and shape into two balls.
Place a semolina- or cornmeal-dusted piece of parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Gently place the ball(s) of dough on the baking sheet, seam-side down.
Cover the bread gently with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it's puffy and about 40% to 50% larger, anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 475°F.
Slash or cross-hatch the bread with a sharp knife or lame. Dust it with a little flour. Spritz water into the oven with a clean plant mister, and place the bread in the oven. Reduce the heat to 425°F and spritz with water every few minutes for the first 15 minutes of baking.
Bake the bread for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until it's a rich golden brown, and its interior temperature registers at least 190°F on a digital thermometer. The smaller loaves will bake more quickly, so keep your eye on them.
Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store bread, loosely wrapped in paper, for a couple of days at room temperature; wrap it in plastic and freeze for longer storage. 

French Baguettes

2 envelopes dry active yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons honey
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
Canola oil, for greasing bowl
Cornmeal, for dusting pan
3 to 4 ice cubes

Combine the honey, yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir to combine and let the mixture stand until the yeast is activated and begins to foam, 5 minutes.

Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl with a dough hook and slowly add in the yeast mixture. Gradually add 1 cup warm water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball that is not too wet (you may not need all of the water). If the dough is sticky, add a little bit more flour. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 6 minutes. You can do the thumbprint test: press in the dough with your thumb and it should bounce back when it’s ready.

Form the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a dishcloth, so it doesn’t dry out. Let rest in a warm environment until doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Shape into 2 baguettes by making a flat rectangle out of your dough, then folding the top and bottom towards the middle, like an envelope, and sealing the seam with your fingers. Keep repeating the folding and sealing, stretching the rectangle lengthwise as you go, until it’s about 12 to 14 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold and seal either end to round. Flip seam-side down and place on a sheet pan or baguette pan that has been dusted with cornmeal. Score the tops of the loaves, making deep diagonal slits 1/2-inch deep, cover with a dishcloth and let rise in a warm environment until they have doubled in size, 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and position your oven racks with one on the bottom and the other in the middle. Place an oven-safe (non-glass) bowl or pan on the bottom rack.

When your bread has doubled for the second time, remove the towel and quickly and simultaneously, slide the sheet tray with the baguettes onto the middle rack while carefully throwing the ice cubes into the bowl on the bottom rack. The ice will create a burst of steam that will give you a nice crispy crust. Quickly shut the oven door so no steam escapes. Bake the baguettes until golden brown, 15 minutes.

NOTE: If you have a glass window on your oven, place a towel over it when throwing the ice in, hot glass can shatter if ice touches it.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Cornish Hens
So easy to do and a delicious entrée for two. The basting ingredients result in a beautifully browned hen, sealing in the juices so that it is moist, tender and quite flavorful.

2 Cornish game hens (20 to 24 ounces each)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon browning sauce, optional

Place hens on a rack in a shallow baking pan. Combine the apple juice, soy sauce and browning sauce if desired; pour over hens.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180°, basting occasionally with pan juices. Yield: 2 servings.

Honey Spiced Cornish Game Hens
The glaze is flavored with balsamic vinegar, honey, red wine, allspice, sage, and chili powder. Cornish hens make a nice presentation on the table, but if cornish hens are not an option, try the glaze on whole chicken or chicken parts.

1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
4 Cornish game hens, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a roasting pan with non-stick foil (for easier clean-up).

In a small, heavy saucepan, bring olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine, honey, allspice, chili powder, onion powder, and sage to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Tie the legs of the Cornish hens together with twine.

You may also wish to tuck back the wingtips under the birds or trim them off completely. (They sometimes get a little blackened due to the sugars in the glaze.)

Brush the Cornish hens on both sides with the cooled glaze,
reserving the remainder for basting. Place the hens in the prepared pan, breastside-up. Sprinkle liberally wiith kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with reserved glaze. The hens are done when a placed between the thigh and breast reaches 165 F. Let game hens rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Braised Cornish Hens
Cornish game hens are filled with a potato, apple, and turnip stuffing and braised in a Calvados apple brandy pan sauce or you may substitute apple wine, sparkling apple cider, additional apple juice, or additional chicken broth for the alcohol.

2 cups chicken broth, divided use
14 ounces turnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (may substitute red or Yukon Gold potatoes)
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
12 ounces baking potatoes, baked until tender
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 (about 20 ounces each) Cornish hens
1 Tablespoon (about) browning sauce (such as Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup Calvados, Applejack, or brandy  
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
Additional chicken broth
Red and green apple wedges and watercress for garnish

Place 1-1/4 cups of the chicken broth, turnips, apples, onions, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, and rosemary in a heavy saucepan. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes until turnips are tender. Drain off liquid, reserving for later use, and return vegetables to the saucepan.

Cut baked potatoes in half. Scoop out the flesh, discard skin, and add to the turnips and apples in the saucepan along with 1 teaspoon butter, salt, and pepper.

Coarsely mash the vegetables, leaving some large lumps. Let cool to room temperature.

Rub the skin of the Cornish hens with the browning sauce. (This helps give that golden finish without adding flavor.) Stuff the hens with the vegetable mixture. Sew or skewer openings shut and tie legs together. Lightly salt the outside of the birds.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet or over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and butter, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Brown Cornish hens on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Place browned hens on a platter and keep warm.

Add Calvados to the skillet and boil, scraping up any browned bits, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth, apple juice, and reserved liquid from the vegetables. Boil briskly until reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Return Cornish hens, breast-side up, to the skillet and spoon liquid over the tops. Place in preheated oven, uncovered, and bake about 45 minutes until tender (165 F on a meat thermometer).

Baste with the pan juices every 10 minutes. If the liquid has evaporated, add additional chicken broth. When done, remove Cornish hens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Whisk in additional chicken broth to the pan drippings if too thick.

To serve, remove strings and skewers. Cut each Cornish hen in half lengthwise and place on a platter. Garnish with apple slices and watercress and pass the pan juices in a .

Yield: 6 servings

Orange Marmalade Cornish Hens
Orange-glazed Cornish hens are elegant, but unbelievably easy. Stuff with your favorite rice, bread, fruit, or cornbread stuffing, if you wish. The simple glaze also works well with whole roasted chicken.

4 Cornish game hens, thawed in the refrigerator if previously frozen
1 Tablespoon gravy enhancer (such as Gravy Master or Bovril), optional
1 medium navel orange, quartered, or stuffing of your choice (optional)
1/4 cup orange marmalade (low-sugar varieties are fine)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

If you are using a stuffing, prepare it ahead of time. It should be cooled before stuffing the birds.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. A foil-lined baking pan makes for easier clean-up.

Massage the Gravy Master over the skin of the Cornish hens. (It enhances color, but adds no calories or flavor.) Trim off wing tips or tuck them behind the back.

Melt orange marmalade, butter, and Worcestershire sauce in a micro-safe bowl in the microwave for about one minute.

Stir until combined. You do not want it boiling hot. (Can be done stove-top, but do not overcook, only until melted to combine.)

If you are using a stuffing, stuff the Cornish hens and place in baking pan. Alternatively, place a wedge of orange into each cavity. Place breast-side up in the prepared pan. Baste half the glaze onto the skins of the Cornish hens.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and baste with remaining glaze. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Test with an instant-read thermometer in center of stuffing or between thigh and breast not touching bone. It should read 180 degrees F. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Golden Cakes
A vintage recipe from the 1923 era. Frost with boiled frosting, using whites of eggs in frosting. Decorate with maraschino cherries.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 egg yolks
1 egg white
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 15 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and egg white. Beat the egg mixture into the butter and sugar.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Stir flour into egg mixture alternately with milk. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.

Boiled Frosting
2 cups of sugar
whites of 2 eggs

The sugar boiled with water till it threads from spoon. Beat the whites very stiff. Pour the thick hot syrup gradually into the whites, beating continually until light and thick. Flavor to suit taste.
For chocolate frosting add one third cake of Bakers chocolate cut or shaved fine, while the frosting is warm enough to melt it.
For tutti-fruitti filling add mixed chopped nuts, raisins, figs, dates or crystalized fruits to two thirds of the frosting, reserving the balance for icing the top of cake.
For coconut cake, spread the layers with frosting and sprinkle thickly with grated cocoanut.
Marshmallows may be steamed, mixed with nuts, and served through the frosting too.

Golden Vanilla Cake
A moist and tender yellow cake is an American classic. It can be paired with any of the frostings you love: chocolate, vanilla, coconut, caramel. This cake is made using the “paste method;” soft butter and room-temperature liquids are beaten into the dry ingredients, then the eggs are added one by one. It’s a no-fuss way of making a delicious cake every time.

2 cups sugar, Baker's Special Sugar preferred
3 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (but don't flour) the bottom only of your choice of pan(s): one 9" x 13" pan, two 9" round cake pans, three 8" round pans, or the wells of two muffin tins (24 muffin cups). You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
Combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
Repeat this procedure with the second egg. Continue adding the eggs, scraping after each addition, until all 4 are added.
After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 30 more seconds.
Transfer the batter to the pans of your choice. For layers, divide the batter among the pans. Smooth out the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a tablespoon. For cupcakes, scoop by heaping 1/4-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes for a 9" x 13" pan; 30-35 minutes for 9" layers; 24-27 minutes for 8" layers, or 23 to 25 minutes for cupcakes.
The cake is done when it's golden brown around the edges and just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. 

NOTE: The butter in this recipe needs to be very soft. You can soften butter by placing the sticks, still in their wrappers, in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 10 minutes. If you can leave a dent in the butter with a gentle touch, it’s ready to use.
To warm the milk before adding it, heat it in the microwave for 1 minute. Add the vanilla after the milk is warm, then add all of the liquid to the recipe at once.

Golden Chocolate Cake
This moist cake is a favorite since it’s chock-full of fun ingredients like chocolate candy bars, pecans and coconut.

1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
3 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each), chopped
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flaked coconut
Confectioners' sugar, optional

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Stir in candy bars, chocolate chips, nuts and coconut.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Chill before slicing. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 12 servings. 

Golden Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

    3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    2 cups sugar
    4 large eggs at room temperature
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 cups sour cream
    Chocolate sour cream frosting
    Garnish: brown sugar buttercream

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (9- by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms of each with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.
    Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture and mix at low speed until just blended. Add sour cream, mixing until just combined, then add remaining flour mixture, mixing at low speed until batter is smooth.
    Divide batter between pans, smoothing tops. Bake in middle of oven until cake is springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove paper, and cool completely.
    Trim tops of cooled cake layers with a long serrated knife if necessary to make flat and level. Halve each layer horizontally with serrated knife to make a total of 4 layers.
    Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Layer remaining cake layers using 3/4 cup frosting between each layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. 

NOTE: 

•Cake layers can be made 1 day ahead of assembling and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
•Cake can be assembled 1 day ahead and chilled in a cake keeper or loosely covered with plastic wrap (use toothpicks to hold wrap away from frosting). Bring to room temperature before serving.
•This batter can be baked in a 13- by 9- by 2-inch pan 50 to 55 minutes; or in 30 (1/2-cup) muffin cups about 25 minutes.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
1 1/4 pounds fine-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
10 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

    Melt chocolates in a double boiler or a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from heat, then whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (frosting will become thick enough to spread). You must work quickly and spread the frosting before it becomes too thick. (If icing does become stiff, reheat over simmering water, then cool and try again.) 

Makes about 4 cups

Brown Sugar Buttercream
3 large egg whites at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
Special equipment: a candy thermometer

    Combine egg whites and salt in a large bowl.
    Stir together brown sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, washing down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. When sugar syrup reaches boil, start beating whites with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until frothy, then add lemon juice and beat at medium speed until whites just hold soft peaks. (Do not beat again until sugar syrup is ready.)
    Meanwhile, put candy thermometer into sugar syrup and continue boiling until syrup reaches 238–242°F. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a heatproof 1-cup glass measure. Slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down side of bowl into egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Beat meringue, scraping down bowl with a rubber spatula, until meringue is cool to the touch, about 6 minutes. (It’s important that meringue is properly cooled before proceeding.)
    With mixer at medium speed, gradually add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. (If meringue is too warm and buttercream looks soupy after some of butter is added, briefly chill bottom of bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water for a few seconds before continuing to beat in remaining butter.) Continue beating until buttercream is smooth. (Mixture may look curdled before all of butter is added, but will come back together before beating is finished.) Add vanilla and beat 1 minute more. 

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

NOTE:
• Buttercream can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered, or frozen 1 month. Bring to room temperature (do not use a microwave) and beat with electric mixer before using.

Golden Pound Cake
Moist, refreshing and lemon-flavored, this sunshiny Bundt cake just couldn’t be much quicker to put together! Substitute orange cake mix and a can of orange Crush soda for a flavorful variation.

1 package lemon cake mix (regular size)
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 can (12 ounces) Mountain Dew
Confectioners' sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil and soda; beat on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium 2 minutes.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Frittata Muffins

6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
3/4 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp. chopped red onion

HEAT oven to 350°F. BEAT eggs, milk, salt and pepper in medium bowl until well-blended. ADD cheese, zucchini, bell pepper and onion; mix well. SPOON evenly into 12 greased muffin cups, about 1/4 cup each.

BAKE in 350°F oven until just set, 20 to 22 minutes. COOL on wire rack 5 minutes. REMOVE from cups; serve warm.

Yields: 6 servings/12 muffin frittatas

NOTE: These flavorful muffin frittatas can be made ahead; just reheat in the microwave for a quick breakfast, snack or appetizer.
Quick breakfast solutions: Bake muffin frittatas the night before and refrigerate. Quickly re-warm in the microwave in the morning.

Basic Cheese Quiche
Perfect for a light lunch or dinner. Try adding chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil or oregano.

1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (2 to 4 oz.)
1 Basic Egg & Lemon Juice piecrust (9-inch), baked
1/2 to 1 cup filling (see below)
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves OR other herb; tsp. salt

HEAT oven to 375°F. SPREAD cheese evenly in bottom of piecrust. TOP with filling in an even layer.
BEAT eggs, milk, salt and thyme in medium bowl until blended. Carefully POUR over filling in piecrust.
BAKE in center of 375°F oven until center is almost set but jiggles slightly when dish is gently shaken and knife inserted near center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. LET STAND 5 minutes. CUT into wedges.

Yields: 6 Servings

NOTES:
If using frozen piecrust choose the deep-dish size. Always bake your pie shell first to avoid a soggy crust.
For a non-traditional “crust”, mix cooked rice, orzo, spinach or hash browns with a beaten egg and press it into a greased quiche dish or pie plate.
Individual egg and cheese quiche can be baked in pastry tart shells, muffin tins or hollowed out vegetables.
Make fillings from your favorite foods or from leftovers. Use a combination of cheese, meat, seafood or poultry and vegetables.
Filling ingredients should be cooked, not raw. Pieces should be cut fairly small and drained well.
Some classic filling combinations are Cheddar cheese and ham or sautéed onion, bacon and Swiss Gruyere cheese.
For a richer custard, substitute half-and-half for the milk.
Need a party appetizer? Bake quiche in a square or rectangular pan; cut into small squares or triangles. Or bake in mini muffin cups.

Basic Egg and Lemon Juice Pie Crust
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold
1 egg yolk
3 to 4 Tbsp. ice water, divided
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

MIX flour and salt in large bowl. CUT IN shortening with pastry blender until pieces are the size of small peas. MIX egg yolk, 3 Tbsp. ice water and the lemon juice in small bowl. ADD to flour mixture, 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring lightly and tossing with fork until moistened and dough just holds together. ADD remaining ice water, if needed. GATHER dough and shape into 1-inch thick disk. REFRIGERATE, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour or overnight.

ROLL OUT dough on lightly floured surface, rolling from center to edge, to form a 12-inch circle. FOLD into quarters; ease and unfold into 9-inch pie plate. PRESS pastry gently against bottom and sides of pie plate, easing out any air. TRIM edge leaving 1/2-inch overhang. FOLD overhang under; flute edge. REFRIGERATE, covered, at least 30 minutes.

FOR BAKED PIECRUST: LINE piecrust with parchment paper; fill with pie weights. Bake in 425° F oven until pastry is set, 8 to 10 minutes. REMOVE parchment paper and weights. BAKE until edge is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes longer. COOL completely on wire rack.

FOR NUTTY PIECRUST: ADD 1/4 cup ground pecans (or almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts) with the flour in step 1. Proceed as directed above.

FOR SIX (4-INCH) MINI PIECRUSTS: Double the recipe. Divide dough into six 1-inch disks. REFRIGERATE, wrapped in plastic wrap, 1 hour or overnight. ROLL OUT each dough disk on lightly floured surface, rolling from center to edge, to form a 6-inch circle. EASE into 4-inch pie plate. PRESS pastry gently against bottom and sides of pie plate, easing out any air. TRIM edge leaving 1/2-inch overhang. FOLD overhang under; flute edge. REPEAT with remaining dough. REFRIGERATE, covered, at least 30 minutes. FOR BAKED CRUSTS, follow directions and timing above.

Yields: 1 piecrust (9-inch)

Pastry Cream - Vanilla Custard Filling

3 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla

BEAT egg yolks in medium bowl or glass measure; gradually STIR IN milk until blended.
MIX sugar, cornstarch and salt in large heavy saucepan. GRADUALLY stir in a small amount of milk mixture, making a smooth paste. Gradually stir in remaining milk mixture until blended.
COOK over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 20 to 25 minutes. BOIL and stir 1 minute. REMOVE from heat immediately.
COOL quickly: Set pan in larger pan of ice water. STIR occasionally and gently for a few minutes to hasten cooling. STIR IN vanilla. PRESS piece of plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to prevent a “skin” from forming. REFRIGERATE until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

Yields: 3-1/2 cups, enough to fill 12 large cream puffs or éclairs
NOTE:
Experiment with other flavors, such as instant coffee granules, rum or a liqueur. For pastry cream with a light almond flavor, add 3/4 tsp. almond extract along with the vanilla.
Plan ahead: It takes at least 35 minutes to make a vanilla custard filling. Make pastry cream well in advance, so it can chill thoroughly and thicken up. A hot or warm filling will make pastries soggy.
Secrets of success: Low heat, a heavy saucepan, constant stirring and patience are the keys to making the perfect vanilla pastry cream filling. It takes at least 20 to 25 minutes for the pastry cream to thicken. If you increase the cooking temperature to try to speed the process along, the mixture is likely to curdle. Stirring constantly, making sure to cover the entire bottom and the corners of the pan, prevents scorching and ensures that the mixture heats evenly.
Check for bubbles: It’s hard to see the first signs of boiling when stirring constantly. When you begin to feel a heavier drag on the spoon, start lifting the spoon up occasionally to check if any large bubbles are bursting at the top of the mixture. Keep cooking and stirring until large bubbles appear. Then boil and stir for 1 minute.
Cool quickly: The ice water bath is another aid to prevent curdling. It cools the pastry cream and stops the cooking quickly. Have it ready in advance. At this point it is important to stir only occasionally, not constantly. Too much stirring will break down the structure of the thickened pastry cream and result in a thin consistency.

Vegetable Shakshuka with Pesto
Poached eggs in a rich tomato and vegetable sauce with pesto. Serve for brunch or light dinner.

4 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 pieces
1 medium beefsteak tomato, cored and cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup water, or more if needed
1 yellow pattypan squash, 1 medium summer squash, or 1/2 golden zucchini
4 large eggs
3/4 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
Handful of fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
Baguette or thick slices of bread, to serve

1 Blend the tomatoes: Blend the plum and beefsteak tomatoes in a blender or food processor until they are saucy (you should have about 3 cups).
2 Cook the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until they stop sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3 Prepare the squash or pattypan: Trim top and bottom from the quash and cut into quarters. If using a yellow squash or zucchini, remove the column of seeds from the center (the pattypan has fewer seeds, so it’s OK to leave them in). Very thinly slice the vegetables.
4 Add the squash to the tomato sauce. Stir well and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add more water, if needed.
5 Cook the eggs: Break each egg into its own individual cup. Use the back of a spoon to make 4 indentations in the tomato mixture, then carefully pour one egg to each indentation, being careful not to break the yolk. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until the whites are set (the yolks will still be runny).
6 Serve: Garnish the dish with dabs of pesto and fresh basil leaves. Serve straight from the pan to individual dishes.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Seven dumplin’s a-swimming,
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Dumpling Soup
This is a very hearty soup, if served as supper, it is a complete meal.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour    
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup water, or as needed
6 medium potatoes - peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 ounces sliced bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Crack the egg into a measuring cup, and add enough water to equal 1 cup. Whisk with a fork. Gradually stir the egg-water and oil into the flour mixture with the fork until a soft dough is formed. Use your hands to mix the dough until is smooth and no longer sticky, adding more flour or water as needed. Cover the bowl, and set aside until the potatoes are ready.
Place potatoes in a large pot with the salt and water, and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and onion; cook and stir until onions are golden and bacon is cooked. Set aside.
When the potatoes are cooked, pinch off small pieces of the dough, and drop them into the boiling potato water. Turning the dough in your hand will help keep it from sticking to your fingers. Once all of the dumplings have been added, you can stir in the bacon and onions. Ladle some of the water from the soup into the skillet, and swish it around to clean out all of the tasty bits and juices. Pour back into the soup. Turn off the soup, and let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Shanghai Soup Dumpling But so good!
WOW! But so good!

    10 cups plus 3 tablespoons (or more) water
    2 3/4 to 3 pounds chicken wings, backs, and necks
    2 1/2 ounces Chinese-style cured smoked ham or Smithfield ham, cut into 4 slices
    3/4 cup coarsely chopped green onions (white parts only)
    2 (1-inch-diameter 1/2-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
    1 whole dried shiitake mushroom
    1 large garlic clove, flattened
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
    1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (from 2 envelopes)
Sauce
    1 cup black vinegar
    6 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 tablespoons very thin matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger
Filling
    1 pound ground pork
    1/4 pound peeled deveined uncooked shrimp, finely chopped
    1/3 cup finely chopped green onions (white parts only)
    3 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
    1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
    1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Dumplings
    75 (about) 3-inch square or round dumpling wrappers (from two 14-ounce packages)
    1 large head of Napa cabbage, leaves separated

NOTE:
Look for the ingredients and supplies featured here at an Asian market or online at adrianascaravan.com: Chinese-style cured smoked ham (or use Smithfield ham), dried shiitake mushrooms, Shaoxing (also spelled Shao Hsing) wine, black vinegar, dumpling wrappers (don’t use wonton wrappers; they are too thin), and bamboo steamer sets.
Make the soup
Combine 10 cups water and all remaining soup ingredients except gelatin in large pot. Bring to boil, spooning off any foam that rises to surface. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until chicken pieces are very soft and beginning to fall apart, adding more water by cupfuls if necessary to keep chicken submerged, about 2 hours 30 minutes.
Strain and chill
Strain soup; discard solids. Return broth to same pot. Boil until reduced to 2 cups, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 3 tablespoons water into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens. Add to hot broth; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Transfer to 13x9x2-inch glass dish. Cover; refrigerate aspic overnight.
Make the sauce
Mix 1 cup black vinegar, 6 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons fresh ginger strips in small bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Make the filling
Combine all filling ingredients in large bowl and mix with fork just until blended. Cut aspic into 1/3-inch cubes. Add aspic to pork mixture; stir gently with wooden spoon just until incorporated. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Assemble the dumplings
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 dumpling wrapper on work surface. Spoon 1 very generous teaspoon filling onto center of wrapper, including at least 2 or 3 aspic cubes.
Pleat the wrapper
Lightly brush edges of dumpling wrapper with water. Bring 1 corner of wrapper up around filling, then pleat remaining edges of wrapper at regular intervals all around filling until filling is enclosed and wrapper forms bundle-like shape with small opening at top.
Twist the top
Gather top edges of wrapper together and twist at top to enclose filling. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. DO AHEAD Can be refrigerated, covered, for 1 day, or frozen in single layer in covered containers for 2 weeks.
Prepare the steamer
Line each layer of bamboo steamer basket with cabbage leaves; place over wok filled with enough water to reach just below bottom of bamboo steamer basket. (Or line metal steamer rack with cabbage leaves and set over water in large pot.) Place dumplings atop cabbage, spacing apart.
Steam the dumplings
Bring water to boil. Cover; steam until cooked through, adding more water to wok if evaporating too quickly, about 12 minutes for fresh dumplings and 15 minutes for frozen. Serve dumplings immediately, passing sauce alongside for dipping.

Chicken ‘n’ Dumpling Soup
Tried and true - another handed down for generations.

1 broiler/fryer chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut up
2-1/4 quarts cold water
5 chicken bouillon cubes
6 whole peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped peeled potatoes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

DUMPLINGS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 to 1 cup milk
Snipped fresh parsley, optional

Place the chicken, water, bouillon, peppercorns and cloves in a stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil; skim foam. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 45-60 minutes or until chicken is tender. Strain broth; return to stockpot.
Remove chicken and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones; discard bones and skin and cut chicken into chunks. Cool broth and skim off fat.
Return chicken to stockpot with soups, vegetables and seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Uncover; increase heat to a gentle boil. Discard bay leaf.
For dumplings, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in egg, butter and enough milk to make a moist stiff batter. Drop by teaspoonfuls into soup. Cover and cook without lifting the lid for 18-20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Yield: 12 servings (3 quarts). 

Pork Soup Dumplings
Makes about 48 Servings

Soup
½ pound pork skin, cut in half
1 pound pork bones
1 pig’s foot
3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
Kosher salt

Filling
1¼ pounds ground pork shoulder (Boston butt; 20% fat)
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
1¼ teaspoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
1¼ teaspoons sugar
1¼ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
¾ teaspoon finely grated ginger
¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Dipping Sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, julienned
⅓ cup black vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Assembly
1 head Napa cabbage
Nonstick cooking oil spray

Special Equipment: A 1"-diameter wooden dowel, a bench scraper, a ruler (optional); a bamboo steamer

Soup
Place pork skin in a small stockpot or large saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; drain and rinse with cold water. Slice skin lengthwise into 1"-wide strips, trimming any fat, then slice strips crosswise into about ¼"-wide pieces. Return skin to same stockpot and add bones, foot, scallions, ginger, wine, and 8 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, skim surface of any foam, and reduce heat. Simmer, skimming often, until liquid is almost opaque and reduced to 2 cups, 60−75 minutes.
Strain liquid into a 13x9" baking dish; discard solids. Season with salt and chill until set, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. If making ahead, cover soup with plastic wrap once jelled.
Filling
Mix ground pork, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, salt, wine, sugar, oil, ginger, and pepper with chopsticks in a medium bowl, stirring in one direction until it all comes together and a light film forms on the sides of bowl, about 20 seconds.
Cut a fine crosshatch pattern in jelled soup to create very small pieces (about ⅛" squares). Scrape into bowl with filling and mix to combine. Cover and chill until ready to use.
Dough
Place 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in 1 cup very hot tap water, mixing constantly with chopsticks or a fork, until dough starts to hold together in shaggy pieces. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes (this allows flour to hydrate).
Add oil and mix until dough comes together and forms a shaggy ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking, until dough is very soft, smooth, supple, and just a little bit tacky, about 10 minutes. Dust dough lightly with flour and wrap in plastic. Let rest 1 hour.
Dipping Sauce
Mix scallions, ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
Assembly
Place several large cabbage leaves in steamer, leaving about a 1" border around the sides for steam to travel through. Lightly coat cabbage with nonstick spray (a dumpling that sticks is a dumpling that tears) and set steamer next to work station.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping other pieces covered with plastic wrap, roll out dough with your palms to make 12"-long ropes.
Cut each rope into twelve 1"-pieces with bench scraper. Using a ruler as a guide means all your pieces will be the same size, resulting in uniform dumplings. You’ll look like a pro!
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time and keeping other pieces covered in plastic wrap (it’s important to keep the dough covered while you work because it dries out very easily), press your thumb into cut side of dough to flatten.
Dust very lightly with flour and use dowel to roll out into thin rounds, about 4" in diameter—work from the center moving outward, applying slightly more pressure as you reach the edges to make them a little thinner. Cover with plastic.
Lay a wrapper across the upper part of your palm and bottom half of the fingers of your nondominant hand. Spoon 1 Tbsp. filling into wrapper, making sure to get some pieces of jelled soup.
Lightly spread out filling with the back of the spoon, leaving at least a ½" border. Spoon a couple more pieces of jelled soup into center of filling. Slightly cup your palm around dumpling and gently grasp edge of wrapper between your thumb and index finger. Position your other thumb and index finger ½" away in the same fashion.
Using fingertips on one hand, gently pull and stretch wrapper outward before bringing it in to meet opposite fingers. Carefully fold stretched area in on itself, creating a pleat. Pinch to seal.
Rotating dumpling as you work, repeat process to create a series of 18 pleats, leaving a small hole in the center. You’ll probably get only 10 or 12 pleats the first few times you do this; as your skill increases, so will your folds.
Cradle dumpling in your palm, gently rotating it and working filling upward so dumpling is shaped like a fig. This step elongates the dumpling, eliminating air between wrapper and filling.
Pinch edges together and gently twist to seal. Place dumpling in prepared steamer and cover with plastic wrap.
Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Work relatively quickly to keep edges of wrappers from drying out while you work.
Remove plastic wrap. Place steamer over a large skillet of rapidly boiling water, making sure water doesn’t touch steamer, and cover. Steam dumplings 8 minutes (10 if frozen). Serve directly from steamer with reserved dipping sauce alongside.
Do Ahead: Make and freeze dumplings 1 month ahead. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets that have been coated with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap lightly coated with nonstick spray and freeze solid. Transfer to resealable plastic freezer bags. Steam directly from freezer.

Easy Chicken and Chive-Dumpling Soup
This quick, brothy chicken-and-cabbage soup is topped with chive dumplings for a tasty answer to “What’s for dinner?”

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
2 medium celery stalks, small dice
6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fresh chives, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk (1%, 2% or whole)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 large head savoy cabbage, large dice (about 6 cups)

1Heat oil in a large, shallow pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, celery, and garlic and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth and chicken and bring to a boil.
2Meanwhile, whisk together flour, chives, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl to break up any lumps. Stir in milk and butter until dough just comes together (it will be very thick). When chicken is cooked through (it will be firm and opaque), add carrots and cabbage and reduce heat to medium low. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.
3Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough at a time into soup and repeat until all dough has been used. Cover and cook until dumplings are fluffy and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Smoky Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Chickpea Dumplings {Vegan; Grain-Free; Gluten-Free}

Soup:
1¾ lbs (800 g) cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 6 cups)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon salt, divided
2 medium-large onions, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon hot paprika (more or less to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
6 cups (1.4 liters) low-sodium vegetable stock
4¾ oz (135 g) tomato paste
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy or tamari sauce

Dumplings:
1½ cups (180 g) besan (chickpea flour, also known as gram flour)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
½ cup (120 ml) water (or slightly more or less as needed)
Minced fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the cauliflower with 3 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower in an even layer on a large baking sheet and roast until tender and browned in spots, about 20 to 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat; add the onion and carrot and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, the bay leaves, spices (smoked paprika through black pepper), vegetable stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down a bit to keep it at a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower to the soup during the last 2 minutes of simmer time. Taste the soup and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
While the soup simmers, make the dumpling batter. Whisk together the besan, salt, baking powder, scallion, and parsley in a medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the water a little at a time until it comes together into a thick dough (about the consistency of cookie dough).
Use a 1 tablespoon measure to drop the batter into the simmering soup. Lightly spoon a little broth over the dumplings, then cover the pot and cook until a toothpick inserted into a dumpling comes out clean, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle the minced fresh parsley on top if desired, and serve.

NOTES:
Non-Vegan: If keeping this soup vegan isn’t a concern, feel free to use regular Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.
Reheating: Not to worry if some of the dumplings disintegrate into the soup as they’re cooking – this is normal. Just a heads-up if you try to reheat the leftovers, try not to stir the soup too much because the dumplings will disintegrate even more. (Of course the soup still tastes fine this way…it just isn’t as pretty.)
Time-Saver: Instead of making the dumplings, add 1 or 2 cans of chickpeas (rinsed and drained) to the soup instead.

Tomato Basil Soup with Ricotta Dumplings
Homey, comforting goodness.

4 cloves garlic
½ cup basil leaves, chopped, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
28-ounces crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
2 eggs
1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour (or a split of all purpose and wheat)

Mince 4 cloves garlic. Chop ½ cup basil leaves.
In a large pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and one pinch red pepper flakes; sauté about 1 minute, until just starting to brown. Add canned tomatoes and their liquid, 3 cups vegetable broth, chopped basil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 7 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, 1 ⅓ cup flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper. Stir until a dough forms. Roll the dumplings into small balls (about 48). After the soup has simmered, place the dumplings in the soup and cook until solid, 5 to 10 minutes.
Thinly slice (chiffonade) a few extra basil leaves, and grate some Parmesan cheese. Serve the soup warm garnished with basil and Parmesan.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Eight maids a-milking for these,
Seven dumplin’s a-swimming,
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

How To Make Homemade Fresh Mozzarella
Makes about 1 pound of mozzarella

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1/4 rennet tablet or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (Not Junket rennet, see note below)
1 gallon milk, whole or 2%, not ultra-pasteurized*
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Equipment
5 quart or larger non-reactive pot
Measuring cups and spoons
Thermometer
8" knife, off-set spatula, or similar slim instrument for cutting the curds
Slotted spoon
Microwavable bowl
Rubber Gloves

  1. Prepare the Citric Acid and Rennet: Measure out 1 cup of water. Stir in the citric acid until dissolved. Measure out 1/4 cup of water in a separate bowl. Stir in the rennet until dissolved.

  2. Warm the Milk: Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium-high heat and warm to 90°F, stirring gently.

  3. Add the Rennet: Remove the pot from heat and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30. Stop stirring, cover the pot, and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

  4. Cut the Curds: After five minutes, the milk should have set, and it should look and feel like soft silken tofu. If it is still liquidy, re-cover the pot and let it sit for another five minutes. Once the milk has set, cut it into uniform curds: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several parallel cuts horizontally, creating a grid-like pattern. Make sure your knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pan.

  5. Cook the Curds: Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat and warm the curds to 105°F. Stir slowly as the curds warm, but try not to break them up too much. The curds will eventually clump together and separate more completely from the yellow whey.

  6. Remove the Curds from Heat and Stir: Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.

  7. Separate the Curds from the Whey: Ladle the curds into a microwave-safe bowl with the slotted spoon.

  8. Microwave the Curds: (No microwave? See the Notes section below for directions on making mozzarella without a microwave.) Microwave the curds for one minute. Drain off the whey. Put on your rubber gloves and fold the curds over on themselves a few times. At this point, the curds will still be very loose and cottage-cheese-like.

  9. Microwave the Curds to 135°F: Microwave the curds for another 30 seconds and check their internal temperature. If the temperature has reached 135°F, continue with stretching the curds. If not, continue microwaving in 30-second bursts until they reach temperature. The curds need to reach this temperature in order to stretch properly.

  10. Stretch and Shape the Mozzarella: Sprinkle the salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate. Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball, two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella.

  11. Using and Storing Your Mozzarella: The mozzarella can be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place the mozzarella in a small container. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of cool whey and pour this over the mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate.

Additional Notes:
• Making Mozzarella Without the Microwave: Instead of microwaving the curds to make mozzarella, warm a large pot of water to just below boiling (about 190°F). Pour the curds into a strainer and nestle the strainer into the pot so the curds are submerged in the hot water. Let the curds sit for about five minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, fold the curds under the water and check their internal temperature. If it has not reached 135°F, let the curds sit for another few minutes until it does. Once the curds have reached 135°, lift them from the water and stretch as directed.

• Milk for Mozzarella: Almost any milk can be used for making mozzarella: whole, 2%, skim, cow, goat, raw, organic, or pasteurized. Pasteurized milk is fine to use, but make sure that it is not ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized. The proteins in UHT milk have lost their ability to set into curds.

• Melting Homemade Mozzarella: I’ve found that homemade mozzarella doesn’t always melt as completely as store-bought mozzarella, especially if I’ve overworked the cheese and it has become very stiff. If you’re planning to make pizza or something else where melting is desired, use a whole-fat milk and make extra-sure not to overwork the cheese. It can also help to grate the cheese rather than slice it.

• Using Junket Rennet: Junket rennet is less concentrated than other kinds of rennet and isn’t ideal for making cheese. If this is all you have access to, try using 1-2 whole tablets to achieve a curd.

• Using Leftover Whey: Making mozzarella leaves you with almost 3 1/2 quarts of whey! You can use this whey in place of water in bread recipes and other baked goods, mix it into smoothies, or add it to soups.

How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Makes 2 cups

1/2 gallon whole milk, not UHT pasteurized (see Recipe Notes)
1/3 cup lemon juice (from 1 1/2 to 2 lemons), 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar, or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (available from cheese-making suppliers)
1 teaspoon salt, optional

Equipment
4-quart pot
Instant read thermometer or candy thermometer
Measuring spoons
Cheese cloth
Strainer
Mixing bowl
Slotted spoon

Warm the milk to 200°F: Pour the milk into a 4-quart pot and set it over medium heat. Let it warm gradually to 200°F, monitoring the temperature with an instant read thermometer. The milk will get foamy and start to steam; remove it from heat if it starts to boil.
Add the lemon juice and salt: Remove the milk from heat. Pour in the lemon juice or vinegar (or citric acid) and the salt. Stir gently to combine.
Let the milk sit for 10 minutes: Let the pot of milk sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. After this time, the milk should have separated into clumps of milky white curds and thin, watery, yellow-colored whey — dip your slotted spoon into the mix to check. If you still see a lot of un-separated milk, add another tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and wait a few more minutes.
Strain the curds: Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheese cloth. Scoop the big curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the strainer. Pour the remaining curds and the whey through the strainer. (Removing the big curds first helps keep them from splashing and making a mess as you pour.)
Drain the curds for 10 to 60 minutes: Let the ricotta drain for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you prefer your ricotta. If the ricotta becomes too dry, you can also stir some of the whey back in before using or storing it.
Use or store the ricotta: Fresh ricotta can be used right away or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

Recipe Notes
Whole vs. 2% vs. Non-Fat Milk: While whole milk is our favorite for making ricotta, 2% milk can also be used, though the ricotta is slightly less rich and creamy. Avoid using skim and nonfat milks; these don’t separate as easily into curds and whey.
Pasteurized Milk: Pasteurized milk is fine to use for making ricotta, but avoid UHT (Ultra High Temperature) pasteurized milk as this process changes the protein structure of the milk, preventing it from separating.
Making Fresh Ricotta Salata: If you’d like to make a fresh farmer’s cheese (ricotta salata) from this ricotta, wrap it in cheese cloth and press it beneath a weighted plate in the refrigerator overnight.
Using the Leftover Whey: The leftover whey can be used in place of water in any baking recipe, whizzed into smoothies, or drunk on its own over ice.

How To Make Paneer Cheese in 30 Minutes
Paneer is a type of fresh cheese, meaning you can make it and eat it right away — no aging or culturing required. It’s also one of the easiest cheeses to make at home. All you need is milk, lemon juice or vinegar, and a bit of salt to season.

Makes about 10 ounces or 2 cups of cheese cubes

1/2 gallon whole milk, not UHT pasteurized
1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

Equipment
4-quart saucepan
Slotted spoon
Strainer or colander
Mixing bowl
Cheesecloth, nut bag, or other cloths for straining
Dinner plates
Weights, like a 32-ounce can of tomatoes

Heat the milk: Pour the milk into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring the milk to a bare simmer — just below the boil at around 200°F. Stir the milk occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the milk doesn't scald. When ready, the milk will look foamy and steamy.
Add the lemon juice: Remove the milk from heat and stir in the lemon juice. The milk should begin to curdle immediately, but it's ok if it doesn't.
Let the milk stand for 10 minutes: Cover the milk and let stand for 10 minutes to give the acid time to completely separate the curds and whey. At the end of 10 minutes, the curds should be completely separated and the liquid should look yellow and watery. If the milk hasn't separated, try adding another tablespoon of acid. If it still won't separate, check your milk and be sure you are using non-UHT milk; this kind of milk won't separate.
Strain the curds: Set a strainer or colander over a mixing bowl and line it with cheesecloth, a nut bag, or other straining cloth. Carefully scoop or pour the curds into the strainer, letting the whey collect in the bowl beneath.
Squeeze the curds: Gather the cheesecloth in your hand and gently squeeze to remove the excess whey.
Salt the curds: Open the cheesecloth and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the curds. Stir gently and taste. Add more salt if desired.
Press the curds: Transfer the curds (still in the cheesecloth) to a large dinner plate. Shape them into a rough square and then fold the cheesecloth tightly around the curds to form a neat rectangular package. Set a second plate on top of the package and weigh it down. Press for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Use or refrigerate the paneer: Once pressed, your paneer is finished and ready to use. You can use it immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. Refrigerated paneer will be firmer and less likely to crumble than fresh paneer.

Recipe Notes
Whole vs. 2% vs. Non-Fat Milk: While whole milk is our favorite for making ricotta, 2% milk can also be used, though the ricotta is slightly less rich and creamy. Avoid using skim and nonfat milks; these don’t separate as easily into curds and whey.
Pasteurized Milk: Pasteurized milk is fine to use for making ricotta, but avoid UHT (Ultra High Temperature) pasteurized milk as this process changes the protein structure of the milk, preventing it from separating.
Using the Leftover Whey: The leftover whey can be used in place of water in any baking recipe, whizzed into smoothies, or drunk on its own over ice.

How To Make Yogurt at Home
All you need to make homemade yogurt is a half gallon of milk and about a half cup of yogurt. Whole or 2% milk will make the thickest, creamiest yogurt, but you can also use skim milk if you like. For the yogurt, either Greek or regular yogurt is fine, but avoid any flavorings; stick to plain, unflavored yogurts.
Makes about 2 quarts yogurt

1/2 gallon milk — whole or 2% are best, but skim can also be used
1/2 cup commercial yogurt containing active cultures

Equipment

3 quart or larger Dutch oven or heavy saucepan with a lid
Spatula
Instant-read or candy thermometer (one that can clip to the side of the pan)
Small measuring cup or small bowl
Whisk

Heat the milk. Pour the milk into the Dutch oven and set over medium to medium-high heat. Warm the milk to right below boiling, about 200°F. Stir the milk gently as it heats to make sure the bottom doesn't scorch and the milk doesn't boil over. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, this heating step is necessary to change the protein structure in the milk so it sets as a solid instead of separating.
Cool the milk. Let the milk cool until it is just warm to the touch, 112°F to 115°F. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. (Though if one does form, you can either stir it back in or pull it out for a snack!) You can help this step go faster by placing the Dutch oven in an ice water bath and gently stirring the milk.
Thin the yogurt with milk. Scoop out about a cup of warm milk with a measuring cup and add the yogurt. Whisk until smooth and the yogurt is dissolved in the milk.
Whisk the thinned yogurt into the milk. Pour the thinned yogurt into the warm milk while whisking gently. This inoculates the milk with the yogurt culture.
Transfer the pot to the (turned-off) oven. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and place the whole pot in a turned-off oven — turn on the oven light or wrap the pot in towels to keep the milk warm as it sets (ideally around 110°F, though some variance is fine). You can also make the yogurt in a dehydrator left at 110°F or using a yogurt maker.
Wait for the yogurt to set. Let the yogurt set for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight — the exact time will depend on the cultures used, the temperature of the yogurt, and your yogurt preferences. The longer yogurt sits, the thicker and more tart it becomes. If this is your first time making yogurt, start checking it after 4 hours and stop when it reaches a flavor and consistency you like. Avoid jostling or stirring the yogurt until it has fully set.
Cool the yogurt. Once the yogurt has set to your liking, remove it from the oven. If you see any watery whey on the surface of the yogurt, you can either drain this off or whisk it back into the yogurt before transferring to containers. Whisking also gives the yogurt a more consistent creamy texture. Transfer the to storage containers, cover, and refrigerate. Homemade yogurt will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Your next batch of homemade yogurt. Once you start making your own yogurt, you can use some of each batch to culture your next batch. Just save 1/2 cup to use for this purpose. If after a few batches, you notice some odd flavors in your yogurt or that it's not culturing quite as quickly, that means that either some outside bacteria has taken up residence in your yogurt or that this strain is becoming weak. As long as this batch still tastes good to you, it will be safe to eat, but go back to using some store-bought commercial yogurt in your next batch.

Recipe Notes
• Cost Breakdown: If you eat about a quart of yogurt a week, which is costing roughly $2.60 a week. A half gallon of milk makes a little less than two quarts of yogurt, which has been just enough to last us two weeks. Buy a local brand of milk that costs $3.70 per half gallon ($1.85 per quart), and end up saving about 75-cents per week on yogurt. Nice.

• Holding the Temperature: If your milk drops below 110° while it’s incubating, that’s fine. It will take a little longer to set and might end up a little looser, but the bacteria in the yogurt culture will keep the milk from spoiling. By the way, even after 8 hours in the oven (overnight), our yogurt made in the Dutch oven still usually registers about 100° when I take it out of the oven!

• Homemade Greek Yogurt: You can make Greek-style yogurt by straining your homemade yogurt until it is as thick as you like. Read more about it here: How to Make Thick & Creamy Greek-Style Yogurt

How To Make Sweet Milk Liqueur
Milk liqueur: a Portuguese recipe made from equal parts vodka (or grappa), milk, and sugar.

Ideas for Using:
• Split into several small bottles for presents - Wouldn’t these make a cute Valentine’s day gift?
• Drink it neat - We really like sipping a finger of this liqueur as is before bedtime. An adult version of a warm glass of milk, you might say!
• Mixed into cocktails - The sweet flavors of this liqueur go very well with bourbon and rum.

Makes about 1 quart of liqueur

2 cups vodka
2 cups whole or 2% milk (non-UHT pasteurized for best results*)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 (or more) of lemon or other citrus, juice and rind**

Mix everything together in a clean glass container with a tight-sealing lid. Shake vigorously and store in a cool, dark place for 10 days. Give the container a few shakes every day.

After 10 days, the liqueur is ready. Strain through a double-layer of cheese cloth or a coffee filter to catch the milk solids and clarify the liqueur. More rounds of straining will result in a cleaner, clearer liqueur.

Transfer to a clean container and store for up to several months.

Variations:
• Chocolate Milk Liqueur - David Leite’s original recipe in The New Portuguese Table calls for two ounces of dark chocolate and half a lemon. We imagine this would add even more malty undertones to the liqueur.
• Orange Milk Liqueur - Try adding one or two whole chopped oranges and one whole chopped lemon. This gives the liqueur a wonderful citrus blossom perfume and flavor.
• Chai Milk Liqueur - Infuse the milk and vodka with a classic chai blend of cinnamon, fennel seed, cardamom, coriander, cloves, and fresh ginger. You could even add a scoop of black tea!
• Brown Sugar Milk Liqueur - We’re extremely curious how the darker flavor of brown sugar might change the flavor of the liqueur!
• Fresh Fruit Milk Liqueur - Strawberry milk liqueur, anyone? Raspberries and cream? Oh, we can’t wait for summer.

  • The milk liqueur may not coagulate as readily when using UHT pasteurized milk. If using, increase the amount of citrus.
    ** A small amount of citrus will help the milk to coagulate. Adding more citrus will give a more pronounced citrusy flavor.

CONTINUED -

How To Make Milk Kefir
Kefir is tangy, about as thick (and creamy!) as a smoothie, and full of those good-for-you probiotics we hear so much about. Think of milk kefir as drinkable, pourable yogurt.

Makes 1 cup

1 cup milk, preferably whole fat (see Recipe Notes)
1 teaspoon active kefir grains (See Recipe Notes)

Equipment
1 pint-sized glass jar
Cheesecloth, paper towel, or clean napkin
Rubberband
Small strainer (preferably plastic, but metal is ok)
Storage container with lid

Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kefir and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kefir and weaken the grains over time.

Combine the milk and the grains in a jar: Pour the milk into a clean glass jar (not metal) and stir in the kefir grains. The milk can be cold or room temperature, either is fine.
Cover the jar: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a paper towel, or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw a lid onto the jar as the build up of carbon dioxide from the fermenting grains can cause pressure to build in the jar, and in extreme cases, cause the jar to burst.
Ferment for 12 to 48 hours: Store the jar at room temperature (ideally around 70°F) away from direct sunlight. Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it's ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures; the milk will ferment faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cool temperatures. If your milk hasn't fermented after 48 hours, strain out the grains and try again in a fresh batch (this sometimes happens when using new kefir grains, when refreshing dried kefir grains, or when using grains that have been refrigerated).
Strain out the kefir grains: Place a small strainer over the container you'll use to store the kefir. Strain the kefir into the container, catching the grains in the strainer.
Transfer the grains to fresh milk: Stir the grains into a fresh batch of milk and allow to ferment again. This way, you can make a fresh batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours. To take a break from making kefir, place the grains in fresh milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

NOTES:
Activating Dried Kefir Grains: If you bought your kefir grains in a dried form, rehydrate them by soaking them in fresh milk at room temperature. Change the milk every 24 hours until the grains begin to culture the milk and make kefir. It may take 3 to 7 days for the kefir grains to become fully active.
What Milk to Use: Kefir works best with whole-fat cow, goat, sheep, or other animal milk. You can use low-fat milks, but refresh the grains in whole fat milk if they stop fermenting the kefir properly. Raw and pasteurized milks can be used, but avoid ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milks.
Making More or Less Kefir: You’ll need about a teaspoon of grains to ferment 1 to 2 cups of milk. You can also ferment less milk than this, but fermentation will go more quickly. Your grains will start to multiply over time, allowing you to ferment more milk if you like. Maintain a ratio of about a teaspoon of grains to 1 cup of milk.
Taking a Break from Making Kefir: To take a break from making kefir, transfer the grains into a fresh container of milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a month.
What to Do if Your Kefir Separates: Sometimes kefir will separate into a solid layer and milky layer if left too long. This is fine! Shake the jar or whisk the kefir to recombine and carry on. If this happens regularly, start checking your kefir sooner.

Make Your Own Strawberry Milk
Creamy, smooth and straight from the diner of my dreams, a glass of chilled, pink, and homemade strawberry milk will make your after-school snack gee whiz terrific!

serves 2

1 cup strawberries, chopped (I used organic frozen with great results)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup whole milk

In a small pot, heat strawberries, sugar and water until boiling (it’s a bit like making jam). Let boil for about 10 minutes; mixture will reduce and thicken slightly. Using a fine sieve or mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a small bowl. You can save the cooked strawberries to add to yogurt or put on pancakes. Set the strawberry syrup aside.

Chill two small glasses in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup milk to each glass. Swirl in 3 tablespoons of the strawberry syrup into each glass of milk (more or less, depending on desired sweetness). You will have a little strawberry syrup left over, perfect for pancakes or adding to soda water.

How to Make Simple Farm-Style Cheese
This simple farm cheese can come together quickly. It tastes mild and sweet, and doesn’t require rennet, making an excellent cheese for beginners.

1 gallon milk, not ultrapasteurized
½ cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons very fine sea salt

Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth or a single layer of butter muslin.
Pour the milk into a large, heavy-bottomed kettle, and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir it frequently to keep the milk from scorching. When it comes to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to low, and stir in the vinegar. The milk should immediately separate into curds and whey. If it does not separate, add a bit more vinegar one tablespoon at a time until you see the milk solids coagulate into curds swimming within the thin greenish blue whey.
Pour the curds and whey into the lined colander. Rinse them gently with cool water, and sprinkle the curds with salt. Tie up the cheesecloth, and press it a bit with your hands to remove excess whey. Let the cheesecloth hang for 1 to 2 hours, then open it up and chop it coarsely. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

NOTES:
You may set the lined colander over a bucket or crock to catch they whey rather than discarding it; however, keep in mind that it is not a cultured food, and if you are accustomed to using whey as a starter culture for fermented vegetables, it will not work as it doesn’t contain live active bacteria. It can, however, be reserved for feeding pigs and chickens, or for soaking grains and flour.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Nine ladies dancing OVER CHOCOLATE,
Eight maids a-milking for these,
Seven dumplin’s a-swimming,
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Every creamy bite melts in your mouth. And it is so easy to prepare.

CRUST:
1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 27 wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
FILLING:
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
TOPPING:
1-1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream and miniature chocolate kisses, optional

1. In a small bowl, combine wafer crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1-1/2 in up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 325°.
2. For filling, place chocolate chips in a small bowl. In a small heavy saucepan, heat cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cocoa and beat well. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Stir in vanilla and reserved chocolate mixture just until blended. Pour over crust. Return pan to baking sheet.
3. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. For topping, place chocolate chips in a bowl. In a small heavy saucepan, heat cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Spread over filling. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Remove sides of pan. Just before serving, garnish with whipped cream and miniature chocolate kisses if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings. 

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake
Pre-war cake recipe (before 1940), once again tried and true and handed down.

2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves
1/2 cup milk
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, mashed and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
Confectioners' sugar, optional

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and spices; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Beat in sweet potatoes and vanilla until blended. Stir in pecans and raisins.
2. Transfer to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 12-16 servings. 

Hot Fudge Ice Cream Bar Dessert
So easy, so rich, so delicious!

1 (16 ounce) can chocolate syrup
3/4 cup peanut butter
19 ice cream sandwiches

1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup salted peanuts

Pour the chocolate syrup into a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until hot, about 2 minutes on high, stopping every 30 seconds. Do not allow to boil. Stir peanut butter into hot chocolate until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish with a layer of ice cream sandwiches. Spread half the whipped topping over the sandwiches. Spoon half the chocolate mixture over that. Top with half the peanuts. Repeat layers. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. Cut into squares to serve.

Too Much Chocolate Cake
This cake won First Prize at the county fair last year. It is very chocolaty.

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar.

Black Magic Cake
A super spooky dark chocolate cake.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch pan.
In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.

Chocolate Truffle Pie with Amaretto Cream
Start with refrigerated pie crusts to make prep for this pie a breeze. Slivered almonds mixed into the batter give each sweet bite a crunch.

1/2 (14.1-oz.) pkg. refrigerated piecrusts
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (6 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 ounces (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted slivered almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie pan; fold edges under, and crimp. Line piecrust with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill to rim with pie weights or dried beans. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil, and bake until bottom is lightly browned, 10 to 12 more minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack while preparing filling.

  2. Microwave semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) until melted and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals. Cool 15 minutes.

  3. Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and almond extract; stir in flour and toasted almonds. Spread mixture evenly in pastry shell.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until set, 30 to 35 minutes, covering edges last 10 minutes to prevent over browning, if needed. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Chill 1 hour. Serve with Amaretto Cream. Store leftover pie, covered, in refrigerator.

Chocolate-Pecan Mousse Tart
You can make and freeze crust ahead of time; thaw in your refrigerator overnight before preparing the filling.

CRUST
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
Vegetable cooking spray
MOUSSE
1 (12-oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

  1. Prepare Crust: Preheat oven to 400°. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour and salt, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Add finely chopped pecans, and beat just until blended. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.

  2. Place dough disk on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 13- x 9-inch rectangle. Gently place dough in a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 12- x 8-inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough into pan and up sides; trim off excess dough along edges.

  3. Bake at 400° for 14 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove pan to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

  4. Meanwhile, prepare Mousse: Microwave chocolate morsels and 1/2 cup cream in a medium-size microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in bourbon and vanilla; let stand 5 minutes.

  5. Beat remaining 2 cups cream at medium-high speed with an electric mixer 2 to 3 minutes or until medium peaks form; fold cream into chocolate mixture. Spread in cooled tart shell. Top with coarsely chopped pecans. Chill 4 to 24 hours.

Chocolate Italian Cream Cake
This wonderful cake is a chocolate version of the classic Italian Cream Cake.

5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnish: pecan halves

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Beat butter and shortening until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut, chopped pecans, and vanilla. Fold in egg whites. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cakepans.

Bake at 325° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove cake layers to wire racks, and cool completely.

Spread Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Combine powdered sugar and cocoa; gradually add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with powdered sugar mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans.

Triple Chocolate-Cookie Trifle Pie With Raspberry Glaze
Store-bought cookies make preparing this new recipe spin on the beloved trifle a snap. Cover with a delicious, fresh raspberry glaze. A real showstopper!

3 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 1/2 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bars, chopped
1 (4-oz.) white chocolate baking bar, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12.5-oz.) package assorted cookies
2 tablespoons mocha liqueur (optional)
2 (6-oz.) containers fresh raspberries
Raspberry Glaze
Preparation

  1. Microwave 1/2 cup cream at HIGH 30 seconds to 1 minute or until hot (do not boil). Place bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate, and stir until smooth. Repeat procedure with 1/4 cup cream and white chocolate. (If chocolate does not melt completely after stirring, microwave at HIGH for 10-second intervals just until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.) Stir 1/2 tsp. vanilla into each chocolate mixture until well blended. Cool 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, let 2 1/2 cups cream stand at room temperature 20 minutes.

  3. Beat 1 1/2 cups cream at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. Gently fold one-fourth of whipped cream into cool bittersweet chocolate mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining whipped cream.

  4. Beat remaining 1 cup cream at medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Gently fold one-fourth of whipped cream into cool white chocolate mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining whipped cream.

  5. Crush 6 to 7 cookies to equal 1/2 cup crumbs. Sprinkle on bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan. Spread half of bittersweet chocolate mixture over crushed cookies in pan. Arrange cookies around sides of pan (about 19 cookies). Spread white chocolate mixture over bittersweet chocolate mixture.

  6. Crush remaining cookies, and sprinkle over white chocolate mixture in springform pan. Drizzle with liqueur, if desired. Spread remaining bittersweet chocolate mixture over crushed cookies. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

  7. Remove sides from pan. Mound raspberries in center of trifle; brush with Raspberry Glaze. Serve immediately.

Raspberry Glaze: Combine 3 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam and 2 tsp. water in a small glass bowl. Microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or until smooth.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping over a hot grill,
Nine ladies dancing OVER CHOCOLATE,
Eight maids a-milking for these,
Seven dumplin’s a-swimming,
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Barbecue Chicken with Mustard Glaze

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
8 (6-ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
Cooking spray

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Combine ketchup and next 3 ingredients (through mustard) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

  2. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub spice mixture evenly over chicken thighs. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 12 minutes. Turn chicken over. Brush with half of ketchup mixture; cook 12 minutes. Turn chicken over. Brush with remaining ketchup mixture; cook 2 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°.

Grilled summer squash: Cut 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush with 2 teaspoons olive oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until tender.

Spatchcock Piri-Piri Chicken
Butterfly a whole chicken by removing the backbone to keep it juicy during grilling, and flavour with a chilli pepper marinade

1 chicken
Chicken

(about 1½ kg/3lb 5oz)
4 red chilli, chopped (deseeded if you don't like it too spicy)
3 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp sweet paprika
Paprika

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Parsley

2 tbsp olive oil
olive oil

lemon wedges and Tabasco sauce (optional), to serve

To spatchcock the chicken, flip it over so the backbone is facing you. Using a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors or poultry scissors, cut down either side of the backbone, then discard. Turn the chicken over and push down firmly on the breastbone to flatten out the bird. Make a few slashes in each leg joint. 
Put the chillies and garlic in a food processor with a good pinch of salt, or use a pestle and mortar. Blend to a paste, then add the paprika, vinegar, parsley and olive oil. Mix well, then smear over the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hr or overnight if possible. Can be frozen at this stage.
Fire up the barbecue. When the flames have died down, place the chicken on the centre of the barbecue, skin-side down, and cook for 15-20 mins until nicely charred. Flip the chicken over and continue cooking for another 5-15 mins until cooked through. Check that the juices run clear, as the heat of every barbecue will vary. To cook in the oven, heat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook for 35-40 mins on a baking tray. To char the skin, grill for a further 5-10 mins. Serve with lemon wedges, and Tabasco if you like it hot.

Sticky Chicken Drumsticks
Delicious chicken drumsticks with a sticky soy glaze that can be cooked on the grill or the barbie - weather permitting

8 chicken drumsticks
2 tbsp soy sauce
Soy sauce

1 tbsp honey
Honey

1 tbsp olive oil
olive oil

1 tsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Make 3 slashes on each of the drumsticks. Mix together the soy, honey, oil, tomato purée and mustard. Pour this mixture over the chicken and coat thoroughly. Leave to marinate for 30 mins at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. 

Prepare on the grill or heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
Tip the chicken into a shallow roasting tray and cook for 35 mins, turning occasionally, until the chicken is tender and glistening with the marinade.

Sizzling Spare Ribs with BBQ Sauce

4 lbs. pork spare ribs
1 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped (green stems and all)
1 Scotch bonnet chilli, seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic clove, roughly chopped
6 tbsp Appleton rum
6 tbsp demerara sugar
6 tbsp dark soy sauce
6 tbsp clear honey
6 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground allspice

 Tip the ribs into a big bowl (not a metal one) and throw in the spring onions, chilli and garlic. Now spoon all the remaining ingredients over the ribs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Get your hands in the bowl and turn the ribs over and over again until they’re coated in the sauce. (You can keep the ribs uncooked – tightly covered – in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for several months.)

Cook the ribs over a moderate barbecue for 20-30 minutes depending on their size, turning them over frequently and brushing with sauce each time. The turning and brushing is important, so that all four sides of each rib get encrusted with the sauce, which builds up like a lacquer. If you have any leftover sauce at the end, heat it up in a pan and pour it over the ribs just before serving.

Grilled Pork Chops with Spicy Balsamic Grilled Peaches

2 thick cut, bone-in pork chops
2 cups apple cider
2 cups water
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
2 sprigs rosemary
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Olive oil
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the Grilled Peach Salsa
2 peaches, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
½ cup slivered red onion
3 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons Vietnamese chili garlic sauce
Kosher salt
fresh basil leaves

Rinse the pork chops, pat dry and place in a freezer bag.
Bring the apple cider, water, ½ cup sugar and ⅓ cup kosher salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar and salt dissolves. Remove from heat and add a few ice cubes to cool the brine. Allow to cool completely then add to the freezer bags with the pork chops along with the rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves and black peppercorns. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours up to overnight.
Remove the pork chops from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel and lightly brush with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Preheat one side of the grill to high and one side to low. Brown the chops for about 5 minutes or until nice grill marks develop and then turn to the other side and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the chops over and move them to the low-heat part of the grill. Cook for another 10-12 minutes or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees in the thickest part of the chop. Transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes and chops reach 160 degrees.
While pork chops are cooking on the low temperature side of the grill, lightly coat the peach halves on the fleshy side of the fruit with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the sugar.
Grill the peaches flesh side down on the high temperature side of the grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into slices. Mix the red onions with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, chili garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of kosher salt. Add the sliced peaches to the red onions and gently mix.
Top the pork chops with the peaches and onion mix and garnish with torn basil leaves.

Grilled London Broil
No more dried out, chewy meat with this recipe for perfectly cooked and flavored grilled London Broil.

1 (1½ to 2-pound) London Broil (should be about 1½ inches thick)
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1½ teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

Using a sharp knife, cut a ½-inch crosshatch pattern, ¼-inch deep, on both sides of steak.
Place in a 1 gallon ziptop bag.
Place remaining ingredients, EXCEPT black pepper and paprika, in a blender.
Process for 30 seconds and pour into ziptop bag with steak. Turn to coat steak and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
Turn all burners on a gas grill to high. Cover and let heat for 15 minutes.
Mix together black pepper and paprika.
Remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Season with pepper/paprika mixture.
Place London Broil on grill. Grill for 1 minute and then flip over. Continue to flip every minute until temperature reaches 125 degrees for medium rare or 130 degrees for medium. Total cooking time should be 5 to 9 minutes.
Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Grilled Potato Salad With Black Garlic Vinaigrette And Dill Cream

24 oz = 1 ½ lbs baby potatoes
4 cloves black garlic
4 T oil
¼ tsp salt
pepper
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T chives
2-3 T fresh dill, cilantro, Italian parsley or tarragon.
Dill Cream:
1 Cup sour cream
2 T fresh dill
2 T  lemon juice
1 T finely chopped onion or shallot
salt, pepper, sugar

Preheat grill to med high heat.
Blanch potatoes in salted boiling water, until just tender, about 10-15 minutes, depending on size.
Mash black garlic with a fork with salt and 1 T oil, until it become a chunky paste. Add the remaining oil, vinegar, and pepper.
Strain the tender potatoes, and toss with 1 T of the vinaigrette, just enough to lightly coat. Grill the potatoes until nicely charred.
Toss with the rest of the vinaigrette, and fresh herbs.
Serve with dilled sour cream-
To make dill sour cream: whisk one cup sour cream with a little lemon zest, squeeze of ½ a lemon, 2-3 T fresh dill, 1 T chopped shallot, salt and pepper to taste, and pinch of sugar.

Campfire Grilled S’more Calzone
MAKES 10 (3 1/2 INCH) S’MORES

Dough
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups white whole wheat or whole pastry flour (may also use all-purpose flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
The S’more
1 batch of the above dough or 1 pound store bought pizza or pastry dough
2-4 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
10 homemade or store bought marshmallows
finely crushed graham crackers and powdered sugar, for dusting
vanilla ice cream, for serving

Dough
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast and honey. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in the 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, salt and olive oil, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky. Using your hands, on a floured surface, form the dough into a ball and work the additional 1/2 cup flour into the dough if needed. All of the mixing and kneading can also be done in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Next, rub the same bowl with olive oil, then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

!The S’more’s
Divide the dough in 10 equal size balls. Then either roll the dough out into a 6 inch circle or divide the balls into two and roll into 2 (3 1/2 inch) circles. Working on one side of the dough or with one dough round, add two pieces of chocolate. Flatten one marshmallow and place it on top of the chocolate. If desired add another two pieces of chocolate. Now either take the top half of the dough and fold it over the filling or add the top round of dough. Crimp the edges of the dough to seal. At this point, the s’mores can be placed on a floured cookies sheet, covered and stored in the fridge overnight or until ready to cook.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat or the oven to 375 degrees F.
Brush the top and bottom of each s’more with melted butter. If baking the s’mores, line a cookie sheet with parchment and place the buttered s’mores on the baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
To grill, add the buttered s’mores to the grill and grill for 2-3 minutes per side.
Serve the s’mores warm, dusted with graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar or even served with ice cream.

Hanger Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Grilled tender hanger steak smothered in vibrant tangy cilantro mint chimichurri recipe.

For the Hanger Steak:
2 pounds hanger steak (2-3 pieces)
Salt and Pepper

For the Chimichurri Sauce:
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
1 bunch fresh mint, stems removed
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the grill to high heat. Sprinkle the hanger steaks with salt and pepper on all sides.
Grill the steaks for 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare, just over 3 minutes per side for medium. Remove the steak from the heat and cover with foil to rest. (Never cut into to a steak before it's had time to rest 5-10 minutes to redistribute all the juices.)
Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the chimichurri recipe in the food processor. Puree until mostly smooth.
Slice the hanger steak into 1/2 inch pieces and serve warm with chimichurri sauce drizzled over the top with side of Bush's Texas Ranchero Grillin' Beans.

Grilled Salmon Fillet with Cucumber Dill Sauce

1 pound fresh wild Salmon
olive oil
kosher salt
coarsely ground black pepper

Prepare your grill and bring to high heat.
Rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Run your fingers along the meaty surface to check for any bones and remove any of them with needle nose pliers or fish tweezers.
Lighty coat the meaty side with olive oil then sprinkle generously with kosher salt and lots of freshly ground coarse black pepper. You don’t want to be skimpy here.
Place the fish fillet on a hot grill, meat side down, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until you can easily slide your spatula under the fish without it falling apart. Don’t disturb the fish once its on the grill until you’re ready to flip it. Flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness. Section into preferred serving sizes with or without the skin and serve with fresh cut lemon and cucumber dill sauce.

Cucumber Dill Sauce
The addition of blue cheese dressing gives this cucumber dill sauce a tart tang that’s perfectly paired with a sturdy fish.
makes 1½ cups

½ cup sour cream
½ cup olive oil mayonnaise
½ english cucumber, about ½ cup, diced
¼ cup blue cheese dressing
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Eleven pipers piping everything,
Ten lords a-leaping over a hot grill,
Nine ladies dancing OVER CHOCOLATE,
Eight maids a-milking for these,
Seven dumplin’s a-swimming,
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Homemade Piping Gel
So easy!

1/3 cup sugar( I have used a 1/4 measure and halved)
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water.

Mix sugar and corn flour in a small saucepan, gradually add juice then water. Stir over high heat until mixture boils then thickens. Color as desired using liquid or powder
Dont take your eye off the ball whilst making it or it goes lumpy you have to stir it all the time. It keeps for weeks in the fridge
Its worthwhile making the gel at home. If it thickens, add a couple of drops of water and adjust the consistency. Add the water with a medicine dropper to avoid making the gel too watery. Color and decorate as u please!!

Perfect Piping Buttercream
Perfect Piping Buttercream is the absolute best recipe for frosting cakes and cookies with a great consistency just right for piping your beautiful designs. This luscious buttercream frosting is light and airy with added flavor from vanilla and almond extract.

1 c. shortening (butter flavored)
1 c. butter
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
7½ c. powdered sugar
⅓ c. heavy whipping cream
gel or paste icing dyes

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla, almond extract and cream and mix until smooth.
Add the powdered sugar 1-2 cups at a time, mixing well between each addition. Beat the frosting for an additional 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Using a toothpick, add the tiniest amount of dye at a time to the bowl of frosting to control your color. These dyes will color the frosting quickly, so there is no need to add too much.

Piping Gel

4 envelopes (2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
4 tablespoons cold water
4 cups light Karo syrup, or light corn syrup

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small saucepan and let set for about 5 minutes. Heat on low until the gelatin has become clear/dissolved – “DO NOT BOIL”. Add the syrup and heat thoroughly. Cool and store, refrigerated, for up to 3 months. 

Quick & Easy Piping Gel (Icing)
Makes 1/2 cup

1⁄4 cup white corn syrup
1⁄4 cup cold water
3 -4 teaspoons cornstarch (or more if needed for desired consistency)
1⁄2 teaspoon white vanilla
food coloring paste

In microwaveable bowl, mix cold water and cornstarch together.
Add corn syrup and white vanilla, and stir until combined.
Microwave on high for 1min 30sec - 2 min until mixture boils and turns clear.
Remove from microwave and let cool (whisk occasionally while cooling).
Add food dye (gel) to make desired color.
Put in piping bag and use to decorate cakes, cookies, etc.

Pipeable Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature-- or just a little bit chilled
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, use electric mixer to combine cream cheese and butter; beat just until creamy. IF YOU BEAT THE CREAM CHEESE TOO LONG, THE MIXTURE WILL BE TOO SOFT FOR PIPING.
Mix in the vanilla, then gradually add the powdered sugar- 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until the frosting ingredients are completely combined- do not over-mix. Check the consistency at this point. If it seems too soft, go ahead and add a little more sifted powdered sugar. If it seems too thick, mix in a teaspoon or so of milk. Use the frosting to frost your cake or cupcakes immediately- either by spreading or filling a piping bag, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use (should be used to frost the same day).
I can't stress enough... if you over-mix, the frosting will be too soft for piping.  Adding more powdered sugar will just make it softer.

Pommes Duchesse French Piped Potatoes
These elegant potatoes are brushed with an egg wash before baking for color and crunch.

2 1⁄2 lb. russet potatoes (about 4)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg mixed with 1 tsp. heavy cream, lightly beaten
1⁄8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400°. Using a fork, prick potatoes all over; place on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, 1 1⁄2 hours; let cool, then peel and pass through a food mill or ricer.
Mix potatoes, butter, yolks, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a bowl; transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 3⁄4" star tip. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and working in a tight circular motion, pipe twelve 2 1⁄2" cones about 2" high. Brush with egg mixture; bake until golden brown, 40–45 minutes.

Marshmallow Icing for Piping
This ridiculously easy recipe produces a thick, glossy icing, easily flavored to taste with instructions here for chocolate and coffee icing, as well as vanilla. It’s perfect for piping atop cupcakes or filling a layer cake, as it holds its shape indefinitely. And unlike classic buttercream, it won’t wilt or melt in the heat.

2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
1 bag (10 to 10 1/2 ounces) marshmallows; mini-marshmallows are easiest to use*
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional

Place the cream, marshmallows, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a large, deep saucepan.
Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the marshmallows melt completely.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla, if you’re using it.
Pour the icing into the bowl of your stand mixer or another mixing bowl, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; this will take several hours, or up to overnight.
Remove the thickened icing from the refrigerator. Scrape it from the sides of the bowl into the center. Beat it at high speed, using your stand mixer or an electric hand mixer; it’s impossible to beat thoroughly enough by hand, so please use a machine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure you’re incorporating all of the chilled icing.
Beat until the icing is smooth and glossy; this will probably take less than a minute. The icing may stay quite thick; or it may thin out and become almost sauce-like. If the icing thins, set it aside to rest at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes; it’ll stiffen as it sits, bringing it to spreadable consistency.
Spread or pipe the icing atop cupcakes, or use it to fill a round layer cake, or ice a 9" x 13" sheet cake.
Yield: 3 to 4 cups icing, enough to ice 24 cupcakes, one 8" or 9" round layer cake, one 9" x 13" cake, or a typical recipe of whoopie pies (about 12 to 18 pies, depending on size).
This basic white icing can be flavored to taste. To make chocolate icing, add 1/2 cup Dutch-process or natural cocoa powder to the marshmallows and cream before heating. For coffee icing, add 2 teaspoons espresso powder to the marshmallows and cream before heating; once the marshmallows are melted, increase the flavor, if desired, by adding additional espresso powder to taste.
If you let the icing chill completely in the fridge, it’ll be stiff and harder to beat. But just keep beating, it’ll gradually soften as it warms up.
For pure white icing, omit the vanilla. But if you’re OK with off-white icing, the vanilla adds rich flavor.
We’ve found using name-brand marshmallows (rather than store brand) produces the most reliable result.

Italian Meringue Buttercream for Piping

300g (10oz) caster sugar
5 large egg whites
500g (1lb) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
Few drops of vanilla extract
Paste food colourings in pink, violet, yellow and orange
Sugar/jam/candy thermometer

Pour 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water into a saucepan and add 250g (8oz) caster sugar. Place the pan on the hob and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to the boil. Use a damp pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Boil the mixture rapidly, without stirring it, until it reaches 121°C. Have a large bowl of cold water ready for step 3.
When the syrup reaches over 100°C, whisk the egg whites until stiff, preferably using a table-top mixer. Gradually whisk in the remaining caster sugar.
As soon as the syrup reaches 121°C, remove the pan from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into the bowl of cold water, to prevent the syrup from getting any hotter. Only leave the pan in the water for a few seconds - if it's left too long, it will be too thick to pour.
With the food mixer on full speed, gradually pour in the syrup in a thin stream, taking care to pour it between the edge of the bowl and the whisk - if it's too close to the edge of the bowl, it will set there and won't get mixed in properly; if it's poured over the moving whisk, then it will splatter out of the bowl and make a mess. Continue whisking the mixture for about 8-10 mins until the bowl feels just lukewarm. If the syrup starts to become too thick to pour, return the pan to the hob very briefly, for the heat to thin is slightly.
Gradually whisk in the butter. Then add the salt and vanilla extract. The meringue will collapse a little, and the mixure may look like it's curdled, but keep whisking it until it forms a smooth fluffy buttercream. Use paste colour to colour the buttercream to the desired colour.

Churros
Golden brown and crispy on the outside, these little Mexican donuts are hard to resist. The best part was putting the dough into my frosting decorator with the star tip (this little tool really is a must have for this recipe in my opinion) and squeezing them out into the hot oil. That is - if you don’t have a piping bag.
Makes about 2 dozen, 4 inch churros

1 cup water
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup white flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, depending on taste

Preheat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a 10 to 12 inch frying pan to 375 degrees F. In a separate dish mix the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

In a 3 qt. sauce pan add the water, brown sugar, salt, and butter and heat to a good boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour. Stirring in the flour will take some muscle. Mix it in until well blended.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and vanilla together and then add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until well blended and all the egg is completely mixed in.

Fill your decorating tool with the churro recipe dough and attach the largest star tip you have.

Test your oil by placing a small amount of dough in it. The dough should bubble up right away or that means the oil is not hot enough and a soggy churro is on the way.

Once the oil is hot enough, squeeze some dough (with decorator) into the oil about 4 inches long. I used my finger to release the dough from the decorator. Careful not to burn yourself.

You should be able to cook 4 or 5 churros at a time. Cook them about 1 minute and turn them over with a slotted spoon. Cook an additional minute or two. You’re looking for that nice golden brown color.

Remove the churros with the slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-covered plate to absorb excess grease.

While still warm, roll each churro into the dish with the sugar and cinnamon until coated.

Easy Cheese Straws
With just 4 ingredients!

4 cups (1 pound) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Bring cheese and butter to room temperature; mix them together by hand. Add flour and cayenne; mix well. Use a cookie press with a star or zigzag end place to make strips on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and as crisp as desired. Yield: 10 dozen.

German Kartoffelkrapfen - German Piped Potatoes
You won’t be able to resist these potato croquettes and your whole family will be begging for more. What’s more this is such an easy potato recipe.

1 1/2 lb. floury potatoes (Russett)
salt
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1-2 dessert spoons butter
scant 1/2 c. flour
1 egg
freshly grated nutmeg
fat or oil for frying.

Cook the potatoes in enough boiling salted water, with the caraway seeds, until soft and tender. Scrape the skins while the potatoes are still hot and then mash or put through a potato ricer.

Add 1/3 c. water, the butter and a pinch of salt in a pan and heat until melted. Add the flour and cook over a medium heat for about 1 minute. Put the dough in a bowl, add the egg and stir. Add the riced potatoes and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and nutmeg. Put the potato mixture into a piping bag with a round nozzle or a star nozzle.

Add fat to a deep fat fryer or a deep frying pan and heat to around 360-375 degrees F. Lay out a sheet of baking paper and pipe out small croquettes. One by one, place the sheets with the piped potatoes carefully into the fat. Make sure you keep hold of the edges of the baking paper. After 10 seconds remove the baking paper. Fry the croquettes for about 2 minutes until golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
RSN sent to me
Twelve drummers eating drum sticks,
Eleven pipers piping everything,
Ten lords a-leaping over a hot grill,
Nine ladies dancing OVER CHOCOLATE,
Eight maids a-milking for these,
Seven dumplin’s a-swimming,
Six eggs a cookin’,
Five Golden Cakes -
Four Cornish Hen birds,
Three French breads,
Two turtle sweeties,
and a cake made from a pear tree

Honey Mustard Drumsticks

1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light cream
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 chicken drumsticks (about 2 pounds)

In a small bowl, combine the mustards, honey, and cream; mix until smooth.
In a medium-sized skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, turning frequently.
Reduce the heat to low and pour the mustard mixture over the chicken. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.
Arrange the chicken on a serving platter. Stir the sauce and pour over the chicken.

NOTE: Make sure you use 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard (not prepared mustard) along with the Dijon mustard.

Drumstick Crown Roast

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 (7-ounce) package crumbled herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 (8-ounce) package cubed herb-seasoned stuffing mix
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
14 chicken drumsticks (about 4 pounds)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.     
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery; saute 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender.     
Remove from heat and add stuffing mixes and chicken broth. Stir until all stuffing is moistened; set aside.     
In a small bowl, combine vegetable oil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; mix well then brush evenly over drumsticks.
 Spoon prepared stuffing mixture into a ball in center of prepared baking dish. Stand drumsticks thick-side down around stuffing, pressing them into the sides of the stuffing.
 Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until no pink remains in chicken and juices run clear.

Spicy Cornbread Chicken

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
8 chicken drumsticks
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
Place the buttermilk in a shallow bowl.
In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the drumsticks; mix well. Dip the drumsticks into the buttermilk and then into the cornmeal mix, completely coating the drumsticks.
Place in a single layer in a 9" x 13" baking dish that has been coated with nonstick vegetable spray. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until browned and the juices run clear.

Creamy Chicken and Rice

1 (6-ounce) package long-grain and wild rice mix
10 chicken drumsticks (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Remove seasoning mix packet from rice package; sprinkle chicken with 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoning mix.
 In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat oil; add chicken and cook 7 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally.     
In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine rice, remaining seasoning mix, water, cream of chicken soup, wine, salt, and pepper; top with chicken.     
Cover and cook on LOW setting 3-1/2 hours, or until rice is tender and chicken is no longer pink. Serve chicken over rice.

Hot ‘n’ Spicy Chicken Dinner

2 cups uncooked instant rice
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can Cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds chicken legs and thighs, skinned
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except chicken; pour mixture into a greased microwave-safe 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken over rice mixture, and cover loosely with wax paper.     
Microwave, covered, at HIGH 15 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over. Microwave, uncovered, at HIGH 14 minutes or until chicken is done.

All-American Oven-“Fried” Drumsticks

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
8 chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.     
Place flour in a shallow dish. In a second shallow dish, beat eggs with milk, just until mixed. In a plastic bag, mix together bread crumbs and seasonings.     
Dredge chicken in flour, one or two pieces at a time, coating evenly. Dip floured chicken pieces into egg mixture, then place in bread crumb mixture; close bag and shake to coat well.     
Place butter in a large baking dish and melt in oven. Arrange chicken in a single layer over melted butter, turning to coat both sides.     
Bake 25 minutes; turn chicken and bake an additional 25 minutes, or until golden brown and no pink remains.

Sweet Tea Fried Chicken

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 envelope onion soup mix (from a 2-ounce box)
1 soup can cold water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
Paprika for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.     
In a large bowl, mix together rice, soups, soup mix, water, garlic, parsley, and Worcestershire sauce.     
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Press chicken into mixture. Sprinkle with paprika, then cover tightly with aluminum foil.     
Bake 1-1/4 hours. Do NOT open cover (not even to peek!) during baking.

NOTES:
Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving for an impressive finishing touch.
This is great made ahead and rewarmed in the oven or microwave. For a different taste treat, why not try adding some carrot or celery chunks or using flavored rice? And remember, bottled garlic is a wonderful time-saver.

Grilled Buffalo Chicken with Cucumber Salad

 8 small chicken drumsticks (about 2 lbs. total)
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. wing sauce (we used Frank's RedHot)
1/4 c. lowfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 c.)
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 large seedless cucumber, sliced diagonally into half-moons
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat grill to medium. Season the chicken with 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper and grill, covered, turning occasionally, for 18 minutes. Uncover and continue grilling, basting with the wing sauce, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes more.
While the chicken is cooking, make the salad. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, vinegar, half the blue cheese, and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Add the celery and cucumber and toss to coat. Fold in the scallions and parsley. Serve with the chicken and sprinkle with the remaining blue cheese.

Chicken Osso Buco

 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
4 Chicken Legs
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
1 small bulb fennel, chopped, or 2 medium stalks celery
3 clove garlic
¾ c. dry white wine
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1⁄2 tsp dried rosemary
Kosher salt and pepper
1 c. orzo
½ c. flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 325ºF. In a large resealable plastic bag, place the flour and the chicken pieces and shake to coat. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, fennel and 2 tsp of the garlic to the saucepan and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits for 1 minute.
Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, rosemary, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and simmer for 4 minutes.
Return chicken to pan, cover and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to package directions. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest and the remaining garlic. Sprinkle chicken with parsley mixture and serve with cooked orzo.

Ginger Garlic Baked Chicken

1 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 heavy dashes white pepper
Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder, optional
Pinch of salt

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Add the ginger and garlic to the chicken and gently rub them on the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients to the chicken, stir to mix well so the chicken drumsticks are nicely coated with all the ingredients.
Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes or best for 2 hours in the fridge.
Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line the chicken on a tray lined with baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until the surface turn golden brown, slightly charred and inside is cooked through. Serve warm.
NOTE: If the ginger and garlic are burned on the surface of the chicken, scrape them off before serving. You may cover the chicken with aluminum foil to prevent the surface from getting too dark. You can do that in the middle of baking the chicken, once the chicken surface has turned dark but the inside is still not cooked.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Legs

12 chicken legs (drumsticks)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
3 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 slices of lemon for garnishing
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425F.
In a bowl, season (chicken legs) drumsticks with died oregano, dried thyme, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and garlic. Place in a container and add the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss everything very well.
Marinate overnight.
Place the chicken pieces in a large casserole dish (9x13).
Roast for 30 minutes until it begins to brown.
Flip pieces and bake a remaining 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
Garnish with lots of fresh parsley and slices of lemon

Garlic and Paprika Chicken

6 chicken drumsticks
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
Clean and dry the drumsticks and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a small skillet heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and the herbs. Cook for about 1 minute over medium heat, do not burn the garlic.
Pour this olive oil mixture over the drumsticks and make sure the drumsticks are coated thoroughly with the olive oil/paprika mixture.
Place the drumsticks in a 9x13 baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until chicken legs are cooked through.
Serve with your favourite side dish and/or salad.