Category Archives: Family

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches: Test Kitchen Tuesday

This weekend I am hosting a bridal shower for a friend’s daughter, who is really more like family. Do you know what it’s like having neighbors or friends that have been through thick and thin with you and you consider their kids, your kids? Well, that is what makes this bridal shower so special.  I love cooking, but cooking for a gathering of friends rates at the top of my favorite things list.

These Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches at FineCooking.com will be a tasty addition to the list of light lunch ideas—and a great excuse to buy a new pan.  To accommodate all of our guests, I will adjust this recipe for a gluten-free and lactose-free menu, I like that I can make them in advance.  Who doesn’t need more recipes for make-ahead hors d’oeuvresI hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, etc.
3.  Subscribe to comments if you want an update to see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially please with your creation, send a photo to savoringtoday@comcast.net, or include a link to your site.

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches

Source: by Kate Hays, Fine Cooking
Yield: 4 dozen
3/4     lb.  bacon — cut into medium dice
3       cups  medium-diced leeks — washed and drained
(about 3 leeks, white and light green parts only)
1 1/4   cups  half-and-half
1        cup  grated extra-sharp Cheddar (4 oz.)
2        large  eggs
2        large  egg yolks
2        tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1        teaspoons  kosher salt
1/2      teaspoons  freshly ground black pepper
1/4      teaspoons  ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
2        1.1 lb.  packages frozen puff pastry sheets — thawed according to package directions (preferably Pepperidge Farm brand)
Flour as needed for rolling out the dough

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 to 2 Tbs. of fat in the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

While the leeks cool, combine the half-and-half, Cheddar, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add the cooled leeks and the bacon and stir to combine.

Assemble the mini quiches: Lightly spray four mini muffin tins (or two if your tins have two dozen cups) with cooking spray.

Working with one sheet of puff pastry dough at a time, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 10- by 18-inch rectangle. Stamp out 3-inch circles of dough with a cookie cutter and gently press the rounds into the mini muffin tins, making sure that each round is centered and that the dough extends up to the top of the tin. Fill each with about 1 Tbs. of filling-you can fill right to the top of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling until all the filling is used. You may not need all the dough; save leftovers for another use. You can bake the quiches immediately or freeze and bake them later (see Make-Ahead Tip, below).

To bake: Heat the oven to 400°F and position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Bake the quiches, switching the position of the tins halfway through baking, until the filling is puffed and the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Make Ahead Tips: Unbaked quiches can be frozen for up to a month. Freeze the quiches in the muffin tins for about 2 hours, or until set. Remove them from the tins and transfer them to an airtight container, setting parchment or plastic wrap between layers, or seal them in a plastic bag. To bake, transfer the quiches back to the tins and bake immediately, without thawing. Baking time for frozen quiches will be about 30 to 35 minutes.

NOTES: You’ll need four mini muffin tins for this recipe (or two if your tins have 24 cups). If you don’t have enough muffin tins, you can assemble the quiches in batches, storing the remaining egg mixture and dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Buttermilk Pancakes [Gluten-Free]

Our daughter decided to avoid gluten and sugar for a month to support a friend doing the same thing. Within the first week, she noticed she didn’t feel fatigued as she had, yet dreading the idea this may be a new way of life for her.  Flipping through the latest issue of Fine Cooking, a beautiful photo of Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancakes caught my attention and since I want to support her desire to live healthier, I was set to try them.  Folks, they are delicious. Really.

Pancakes are my husband’s favorite breakfast food. His response, once he got past the “Mmm” was, “Those are the best pancakes I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever.”  When our daughter’s friend tried them she asked, “How is this possible?” Evidently, other bread-type gluten-free products she had eaten for the past two weeks were like bricks.  With some minor tweaks to the oils and sugar, we found a new standard for Buttermilk Pancakes—light, fluffy, flavorful Buttermilk Pancakes the whole family will enjoy. I put gluten-free in brackets to title this post because while it is good information, it is not the only reason to make this recipe.

Buttermilk Pancakes [Gluten-Free]

Yields 12 pancakes
1         cup  brown rice flour
1/3      cup almond meal
1         tablespoons  cornstarch
2         teaspoons  baking powder
1/2      teaspoon  sea salt
1         cup  low-fat buttermilk
2         large  eggs
1         tablespoon  butter — softened
1         tablespoons  honey or 1/2 tsp. Stevia
2         teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
coconut oil
Pure maple syrup

Heat the oven to 200°F.

In a large bowl, whisk the brown rice flour, almond meal, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, butter, honey, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.

Coat a large nonstick griddle or skillet with coconut oil and heat over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, ladle 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake onto the griddle or skillet, leaving a few inches of space between each to allow for spreading. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the pancakes until the other side is golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Apply more coconut oil between each batch as needed. Serve the pancakes with butter and pure maple syrup.

Note: I could not find brown rice flour at Whole Foods, but did find it at King Soopers health food section. Almond meal was available at both stores.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop

Christmas Traditions: Christmas Stollen

For as long as I can remember, my mom made what she called Stollen every year at Christmas. Traditionalists would not recognize our family’s rendition of Stollen, which is similar to fruitcake. Ours would be described best as a tender sweet roll pastry cradling fresh or canned fruit, with nuts and a sweet glaze topping.

I can still remember the aroma of the yeast bread as a child and the large roasting pan we used to mix the dough in by hand. Cherry, blueberry, almond, apple, peach, and apricot flavors would make it hard to choose just one, so we would fill our plates with slivers of them all.  Of course, each of us had a different favorite and Mom faithfully indulged us. She learned to make this delightful pastry from her sister, Louise, who was a tremendous cook.

My sister Debbie and her daughter Angie

My sister, Debbie, and I have carried on the tradition with our own families, teaching our children to make it as well.  It is part of our family’s Christmas breakfast every year and we often give it as a gift to friends.

Although we use the same dough recipe and similar fillings, Debbie shapes her dough in the unique way our mother did—similar to a boat holding the fruit center with a lattice top. 

Making this Stollen recipe as gifts, she has made dozens of them at a time (usually by request), so this method made it easier to create more varieties with custom sizes.

Years ago, mine deviated in shape to resemble a Swedish Tea Ring or what some call a Christmas wreath. I liked the presentation and I can divide the dough to make smaller rings for gifts, about the size of a dinner plate.  Our family and friends settled on just a few favorite flavors—Blueberry, Cherry, and Blueberry-Cream Cheese (recipe below)—so this method has worked well for us. I have also experimented with different flour mixes to incorporate whole wheat here and there, or layered butter into the dough like a croissant to give it a richer texture from time to time.

Mom, who started it all!

It is heartwarming to know my mom, extended family, and close friends are enjoying this delicious Christmas breakfast just as we are.  Although separated by distance, we relish each bite of this family tradition, as though for just a moment, we are together again.

Mom with grandkids making Stollen

Blueberry Cream Cheese Stollen

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Christmas Stollen

1/2    Recipe Sweet Roll Dough (see below)
1        can  Wilderness More Fruit Blueberry Pie Filling
1/2    cup  sliced almonds, toasted

GLAZE:
1       cup  powdered sugar
1       tablespoon  milk
1/4   teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

CHEESE FILLING:
1       package cream cheese (8 Oz), softened at room temperature
1/4   cup  sugar
3       tablespoons  all-purpose flour
1       egg yolk
1/2   teaspoon  grated lemon peel
1       tablespoon  lemon juice

BLUEBERRY FILLING:  Put pie filling in a colander with fairly large holes.  Shake colander from side to side to remove as much filling so that mainly the fruit remains.  Lightly chop berries to make a very chunky paste.

CHEESE FILLING: Beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour, egg yolk, lemon peel, and lemon juice.

Roll 1/2 Sweet Roll Dough into rectangle, 15×9 inches, on a lightly floured surface.  Spread cream cheese filling over dough with spatula.  Spread blueberry paste over cream cheese leaving 1 inch clear at edge of dough.  Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side.  Pinch edge of dough to seal well.  Gently stretch roll to make even.

Shape into a ring on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down (if not using parchment paper, butter baking sheet).  Pinch ends together to seal ring.  With scissors, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals.  Gently separate the sections just a little.  Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 375° (if using sliced almonds, this is a good time to toast them while waiting for pastry to rise). Optional egg wash: Just before baking, whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of cream together (milk or water can also be used). Using a pastry brush, gently brush the stollen with the egg wash to give the finished pastry a shiny, golden appearance.

Bake stollen until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes of baking; if ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil while it finishes baking.

Remove from baking sheet onto wire rack to cool.  Once cooled, glaze and sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds while glaze is still wet, if desired.

GLAZE:  Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 almond extract until glaze is smooth.  Place in a Ziploc® bag and press down toward a bottom corner.  Snip the corner when you are ready to glaze and simply squeeze desired amount of glaze onto ring.

Store loosely wrapped in aluminum foil or in a storage container with the lid askew so the pastry remains moist, but not soggy.

Sweet Roll Dough

1          package active dry yeast
1/2      cup  warm water
1/2      cup  lukewarm milk, scalded then cooled
1/3      cup  sugar
1/2      cup  butter, softened but not melted
1           teaspoon  salt
1           whole  egg
3 3/4   cups  all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour.  Mix until smooth*. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough.  Shape, let rise and bake as directed.

Do-ahead Tip:  After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.  Refrigerating the dough will help develop the flavor of the dough, but is not necessary.

Note: Up to 1/2 of the all-purpose flour can be substituted with whole wheat flour for a wheat pastry.

Christmas Traditions: Christmas Eve

Submitted by: Kelly

As a young, unmarried adult, I was transported into the mysteries of God come to earth in a church illuminated by candlelight and filled with the worship of those around me.  The experience was so moving I often found myself worshiping silently, though passionately from my heart, yet words and song escaped me.  In the face of life’s struggles and joys, Christmas Eve was a moment in time when I knew beyond a doubt that God is with me.

For the past eighteen Christmas Eves, I have been delighted to share this experience with my growing family; first with my husband, and soon following our two children.  Never have I taken this evening for granted, but anticipate meeting God with glee that would be more expected from a 5-year-old on Christmas morning!

As our family has grown, so has this Christmas Eve tradition.  It didn’t take long to add light displays to our special evening.  After church, we cruise through the city neighborhoods delighting in every twinkle offered.  Towering trees of northern Colorado Springs to the magnificence of Wood Avenue’s historic homes…all lit up to proclaim that the Light of the World has come.

Once we’ve had our fill, or run the risk of an empty gas tank, we head home for the final piece of the evening—the reading of two beloved stories, Luke 2:1-20 and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.  These are stories my husband and I enjoy reading aloud to the family, but as our children have grown older they have also done some of the reading, which is a welcome addition!

We are tenderly aware that these Christmas Eve traditions will likely shift again as our teens become young adults and begin their own families and Christmas customs.  We desire to welcome those changes as they come.  In the mean time, however, we hold these times dear and those whom they encompass even closer in the hope that each one would know how much they are loved, especially by the One around whom this season is centered.

An Invitation from Savoring Today:

Our traditions serve as ballast, connecting generations in continuity. Savoring Today is celebrating family traditions that revolve around Christmas and would love to hear yours. Stories of favorite memories, recipes, quirky habits, scriptures, sacred moments—whatever makes Christmas uniquely memorable. Post as a comment, or submit your story to savoringtoday@comcast.net.

Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!” Tevye proclaims in the classic musical.

Remembering (via Overcoming Trauma)

Today is about savoring life …

Remembering For some, trauma isn’t the result of a single event, but instead a pattern of life without a single day to reflect or grieve.  For us, a window of just minutes encapsulates the traumatic and horrific shooting at our church. December 9th is certainly not the only day we deal with the events of that day—our lives were forever changed in those moments. But unlike other aspects of trauma recovery which force their way into life through loud noises, f … Read More

via Overcoming Trauma

Christmas Traditions: A Natural Tree

There is no shortage of opinion on Christmas trees—artificial, natural, its symbolism, appropriateness, environmental impact—even within families. Even though we have talked about purchasing a pre-lit artificial tree for years now, we always gravitate back to a natural, aromatically pleasing, pine tree. According to our kids—it’s tradition!  They want nothing to do with an artificial tree, suggesting it would not be Christmas at all. 

As a child, I can still remember scouring our 42 acres for the perfect specimen. Of course, like any kid, you want the biggest you can find.  The hunt, the pine scent, the satisfaction of finding just the right one all culminated in glee as the star rested at the top like a crown. You can’t really start dreaming of what you will find under the tree until the tree coronation is complete. I suppose choosing a real tree invites a level of suspense we wouldn’t otherwise enjoy.

Handmade Baby Jesus

Ribbons, bows, beads, and bobbles are all optional.  Ornaments, star or angel, white lights or color are all negotiable. The anticipation and fragrance are simply our traditional preference. Once again, we will gather ’round our evergreen, sing along with the music, reminisce over handmade ornaments, sip hot chocolate, and begin the celebration of the Christmas season.

An invitation from Savoring Today:

Our traditions serve as ballast, connecting generations in continuity. Savoring Today is celebrating family traditions that revolve around Christmas or Hanukkah would love to hear yours. Stories of favorite memories, recipes, quirky habits, scriptures, sacred moments—whatever makes the holiday uniquely memorable. Post as a comment, or submit your story to savoringtoday@comcast.net.
Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!” Tevye proclaims in the classic musical.

Christmas Traditions: Grandma’s Molasses Cookies

Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!” Tevye proclaims in the classic musical. Our traditions serve as ballast, connecting generations in continuity. Savoring Today is celebrating family traditions that revolve around Christmas or Hanukkah and would love to hear yours. Stories of favorite memories, recipes, quirky habits, scriptures, sacred moments—whatever makes the holiday uniquely memorable. Post as a comment, or submit your story to savoringtoday@comcast.net.

Christmas Traditions: Grandma’s Molasses Cookies

Shortly after I married my husband, we began blending traditions. One of his fond Christmas memories was receiving a coffee can full of his grandmother’s molasses cookies each year.  Based on stories I have heard from other women, I rest assured I am not the only wife who has faced the challenge of trying to recreate a favorite food from their husband’s childhood. Let me just say, it can be tough to match what he remembers. (Some women are convinced their mother-in-law leaves out something in the recipe so it is never just like what she made for him.) In my case, I am convinced it has more to do with the altitude of Colorado, but I keep trying.

I have carried on the tradition of Grandma’s Molasses Cookies for most of our 22 years together. One year, determined to match this special childhood memory for him, I bought a can of ground coffee just so the cookies could be wrapped in the can and placed under the tree.  I wondered if the residual aroma of the coffee somehow penetrated the cookies—the secret ingredient, if you will. “Close“, he said, but still not the same as Grandma’s. My husband sincerely appreciated my effort and it conveyed my love for him, which is what really mattered anyway.

Years ago, when Grandma Sarah wrote out the recipe card for me I was careful to save it and savor it. The significance of carrying-on this tradition didn’t sink-in until last year, just months before her 102nd birthday, she passed away.  As we mingled and traded stories after the funeral, a cousin began to reminisce about receiving her molasses cookies as a kid (evidently, it was a fond memory for all the grandchildren). Another lamented they had no idea if the recipe had ever been written down. In that moment, it felt like I held something golden, a precious generational memory.  They were relieved to know the recipe was not lost and it would be emailed to them upon our return home.

A few weeks later, the original recipe sheet arrived in the mail with a few other keepsakes from Sarah’s life. To say I felt honored to have it is an understatement. No one knows for sure if it is her own handwriting or her mothers. Looking at them side-by-side, I suspect it was the way her mother passed the recipe on to her, now ready to be passed on to a fourth generation.

Grandma’s Molasses Cookies are central theme to our holiday baking each year, stirring childhood memories not only for my husband, but for our kids as well.

Grandma’s Molasses Cookies

1 1/2   cups molasses  (Brer Rabbit brand – full bodied)
2          cups sugar
3          whole eggs
1          cup shortening
2          teaspoons cinnamon
2          teaspoons cloves
2          teaspoons ginger
2          teaspoons baking soda
2          teaspoons vinegar
3-4      cups flour
2          pounds white baking chocolate (*optional) — melted
pinch   salt

Dissolve baking soda in vinegar.  Sift (3 cups) flour with spices.

Mix molasses, sugar, eggs, shortening, and dissolved baking soda together.

Mix in flour “enough to make it like you want – I have better luck if dough is pretty stiff.”  (This was the hardest part to decipher, which is why I think she ended the recipe card with “good luck.” It ends up somewhere between 3-4 1/2 cups, that’s why I start with 3 cups.)

Roll out parts of the dough on a lightly floured board to 1/4″ thickness.  Cut with a cookie-cutter into 2″ rounds.  Bake at 375 – 8-10 minutes.

Optional, but delicious and festive: Once the cookies are cooled, melt white baking chocolate in a double boiler until smooth.  Spread melted white chocolate on top and let cool to set chocolate. We use Ghirardelli White Melting Chocolate sold at Sam’s Club during the holidays. The white chocolate looks like swirled snow on top of the cookie.

Grandma’s comments on the recipe card:
This is a double recipe.  I have better luck if dough is stiff.  This is my mother’s recipe.  She made good molasses cookies—Good Luck.” −Grandma Sarah

Yes, Grandma Sarah, your mother did make good molasses cookies; evidently, based on the fond memories of your grandchildren, you did too.  Love, Judy

Judy Purcell on Foodista