Archive for November, 2009

Hi everyone, it’s Faith from Thought 4 Food!  This month Brandy and I are very excited for Christmas!  I’m sure everyone has tons of fantastic holiday recipes…whether your recipes are for cookies, candy, appetizers, side dishes, casseroles, main dishes, or beverages, you can share anything that says Christmas to you.  Remember, you can submit as many recipes as you want, and there will be a fantastic prize, which will be announced later this month!

Here’s the timeline that Brandy and I planned for Christmas: 

11/29:  Faith posts announcement and holiday recipe

12/6:  Brandy posts holiday recipe

12/13:  Brandy posts holiday recipe

12/19:  Faith posts holiday recipe and opens up MckLinky for submissions

12/20:  MckLinky closes and submissions are due at 9PM EST

12/21:  Recipe round-up posted along with winner

Brandy and I will be making holiday recipes throughout month, so be sure to check out our other blogs for more holiday inspiration!

Onto my great grandmother’s Anise Drop Cookies!  Recently, my mom and I were talking about Jingles, the anise-flavored Christmas cookies that Salerno used to make.  (You know, those delicious buttery-tasting, anise-flavored, crisp, almost biscuit-like cookies are still made by Salerno, but they’re now known as Santa’s Favorites…but of course, they’ll always be Jingles to us!  Keebler now makes the actual Jingles, but they don’t compare to Salerno’s version as far as the spicy anise flavor goes.)  During Christmastime, these cookies accompany every tea time I enjoy with my mom and my sister, since these cookies are absolutely perfect alongside a festive cup of peppermint, eggnog (sounds strange I know, but it’s soooo good!), or vanilla tea. 

I was telling my mom that I wanted to make homemade anise-flavored cookies, but I was in need of a good recipe.  My mom pulled out her family cookbook, dusted it off, and shared her grandmother’s recipe for Anise Drop Cookies.  (I was immediately intrigued since I love heirloom recipes!)  My mom said that her grandmother (whose name was Genevieve, but everyone called her Nannie) always made these cookies around Christmas. 

After making these cookies, I have to say they look exactly like a gorgeous French Macaron, but their flavor reminds me a great deal of Pfeffernüsse cookies.  Pfeffernüsse means “pepper nuts” in German, and it seems like there are an infinite number of variations on this recipe!  True to its name, many Pfeffernüsse recipes include pepper (either black or white) and ground nuts (such as almonds or walnuts).  Many variations of this recipe call for dusting the still-warm cookies with powdered sugar.  Some recipes use cinnamon and cloves instead of anise to flavor the cookies. 

The variations don’t end with the ingredients though; the methods can also differ greatly.  Some recipes call for rolling the dough into balls; other recipes require forming the dough into a log and chilling; still other recipes require that the dough be left out on baking sheets to harden overnight (which is similar to my great-grandmother’s recipe).  (For more information on Pfeffernüsse, see here.) 

Knowing how many Pfeffernüsse recipe variations there are, it’s possible that this recipe is another variation under a different name.  Or maybe, even though these cookies call for all-purpose flour rather than almond flour, they could be considered similar to anise-flavored Macarons?  Make them and tell me what you think!  😉

These cookies rise nicely after baking and come out with a perfect “foot,” just like Macarons.  They have a hard, crunchy top and a chewy, soft interior.  Their anise-lemon flavor pairs perfectly with tea.

Anise Drop Cookies

(Yield:  12 cookies)

1 egg

½ c sugar

2 drops anise oil

½ c flour

1 tsp anise seed

¾ tsp lemon zest

Pinch salt

Butter, to liberally grease the baking sheet

Cream together the egg, sugar, and anise oil until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, anise seed, lemon zest, and salt.  Beat the dry ingredients into the wet (the dough will be thin, almost like cake batter).  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, 1-inch apart.  Let stand 12 hours or overnight (dough will harden).  Bake at 300F for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are puffed and look like mushroom caps, and the bottoms are lightly golden.

Whole Anise Seeds

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First Faith and I would like to thank everyone who participated in this months event.  There were so many awesome submissions.  Here is a round-up of all the delicious entries 🙂

Cranberry Crumb Pie by Fuzzykoala’s Caketastic Adventures

Taste of New England Harvest Bundt Cake by Fuzzykoala’s Caketastic Adventures

Sweet Potato Casserole by Fuzzykoala’s Caketastic Adventures

Thanksgiving Meatloaf Muffins by Muffin Fixation

Pumpkin-Cranberry Mini Loaves

Pumpkin Mousse by Moveable Feasts

Apple Crisp with Cranberry Sauce by Sweet and Savory Says it All

Pumpkin Crumb Cake by Chaya’s Comfy Cook Blog

Killer Cranberry Sauce by Recipe Rhapsody

Pecan Pie by Thought 4 Food

Congratulations to Dorothy of Fuzzykoala’s Caketastic Adventures! We picked your Taste of New England Harvest Bundt Cake as the winner for this holiday event.  Faith and I felt it wrapped all the flavors of Thanksgiving and Fall into one delicious looking cake.  Dorothy will receive a copy of Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining book. Please email us your address and we will have this shipped immediately.

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Thanksgiving Round-Up!!!

Hey everyone! So the time has come for our very first Thanksgiving round-up. How fun is this! I cannot wait to see what everyone has come up with. The MckLinky is up and running and will be open until 9pm tomorrow (November 22nd) EST.  On Monday Faith and I will announce the winner and the prize will be shipped directly to the winner from Amazon.  Do you want to know what the winner gets?

Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining

To get things started off I’m going to enter my cranberry bread.  I can’t wait to see what everyone made…yum 🙂

Powered by MckLinky

Click here to enter your link and view the entire list of entered links…

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Autumn Potato-Pumpkin Gratin

Autumn Potato-Pumpkin Gratin…you can check out the full recipe at Thought 4 Food!  🙂


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Happy Thanksgiving


Hi everyone it’s Brandy from Nutmeg Nanny. Today I have a delicious treat for you….

There is something so comforting about making a dessert that fills your house with the smell of sweetness.  This is exactly what you will get if you make this.  It mixes pears with the most delicious vanilla brown butter and is then topped with a crispy sweet oat and nut topping.  If you have not cooked with brown butter before I suggest you start.  I do not mean that in an authoritative way I mean it in a “oh my gosh you will love it, it’s the best stuff on earth” kind of way 🙂 I honestly do not know what else to even say about this wonderful dessert. I mean really.  It’s pears, it’s vanilla and it’s brown butter.  Make sure to make this immediately…you will thank me 🙂  Enjoy!!!

Also don’t forget to start thinking about your Thanksgiving themed recipes.  Next Saturday, November 21st, I will put up the MckLinky and ask for your submissions.  Also remember there is a great prize for the winner of this months holiday event 🙂  Wanna know what that prize is? Well you are going to have to wait until next week… 🙂


Pear Crisp with Vanilla Brown Butter:

For topping
3/4 C. all-purpose flour
3/4 C. old fashioned oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 lb firm-ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears – peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons pear brandy or eau-de-vie

Equipment: 6 (8-ounce) gratin dishes or shallow ramekins

Make topping: Pulse together flour, almonds, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse just until blended. Coarsely crumble in a shallow baking pan and chill at least 1 hour.

Make filling and bake crisps: Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan, then add pod and butter and cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes.

While butter browns, stir together sugars, flour, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add pears and brandy and toss to combine.

Discard vanilla pod, then toss butter with pear mixture. Spoon filling into gratin dishes and sprinkle with topping, mounding it slightly in centers. Put in a shallow baking pan and bake 30 minutes, then rotate baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature on a rack.

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Maple Sugar Ragamuffins

Happy Thanksgiving
Head on over to Nutmeg Nanny to see a delicious recipe that incorporates maple sugar and biscuits…..yum!


Maple Sugar Ragamuffins

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Happy Thanksgiving

I love winter squash.  I actually love summer squash too, but I won’t get to talk about that for about 6 more months…so, back to winter squash.  I love everything about it!  I love roasting the seeds…they’re nutty and crunchy and delicious on their own or as a garnish for infinite dishes (more on roasting seeds in another post!).  I love the way squash can be used (and is equally delicious) in sweet or savory dishes.  I love squash’s lovely rich autumn color…which of course is because of the carotenes, which leads me to the next thing I love about squash – its health benefits!  


Squash is a wonderful source of a multitude of vitamins, and it’s full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which help to prevent several types of cancer (including lung and colon), help to prevent the progression of atherosclerosis, protect against diabetic heart disease, and help to reduce the severity of conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.  (For more information on the health benefits of squash, see here.) 

With all of these reasons to love squash, I think my favorite reason to eat it is because of how delicious it is.  Served with salad greens, this recipe makes the perfect meal (especially brunch with its maple, sausage, and eggs).  And I think this dish would also make a lovely side dish to a Thanksgiving supper!


Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple-Sausage and Egg Filling

(Yield:  4 servings)

1 small (about 1 ½ pounds) acorn squash, halved and seeded

4 tsp olive oil, divided

½ small white onion

¼ lb ground turkey

1 TB pure maple syrup

¼ tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed

¼ tsp sage

Pinch nutmeg

1 egg plus 1 egg white, beaten

2 TB milk

Salt and pepper

1 oz sharp white Cheddar, shredded

Chives (optional, for garnish)

Salad greens (optional, for serving)

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette (see below; optional, for serving with salad greens)

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (4 servings):

4 tsp organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp pure maple syrup

3 TB olive oil

Pinch salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette:  Whisk together all ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Put the squash (cut side up) in a small casserole dish.  Brush the inside of each squash with 1 tsp oil, then sprinkle in a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 45-60 minutes, until the squash is starting to get tender (but isn’t fork-tender yet). 

In a small pan, heat the remaining 2 tsp oil over medium heat; add the onion and sauté 5 minutes, then add the turkey and cook until browned.  Transfer the turkey mixture to a bowl and add the maple syrup, fennel seeds, sage, and nutmeg.  Allow the turkey mixture to cool completely, then add the eggs, milk, and a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Turn the oven down to 350F.  Divide the turkey/egg mixture between the two squash halves (it should fill each one about ¾ of the way).  Cook for about 30-45 minutes, or until the filling is set and the squash is fork-tender. 

Preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the cheese on top, then broil until the cheese melts (keep your eye on this because it happens fast).  Sprinkle with chives and serve alongside salad greens dressed with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette. 


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