Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

– johanna | March 22nd, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Every year for the past four years my son has requested a clone trooper/Star Wars cake for his birthday. This year began no differently. However, as the date of his birth approached I had a strange request for a birthday cake. He no longer wanted a Star Wars cake. Instead he wanted sugar cookies. Yes, plain old white sugar cookies with white frosting.

Sour cream sugar cookies are fluffy and cake like, a little more special occasion-ish. He has already requested another cookie cake next year. I used the other half of dough to make heart shaped Valentine’s Day cookies for my son’s preschool. I mixed a little raspberry jam into the frosting for coloring. It was really sweet so I think next time I will use fresh strawberries without the added sugar.

Source: Adapted from Recipe Secrets
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups plain greek yogurt or sour cream

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.

Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough will be sticky. Divide dough in half. Flatten into discs, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface roll dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Cut the dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters or a knife. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until cookies set and cooked through. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

Cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in powdered sugar and the pinch of salt; beating until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, beating at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy.

Store in an air-tight container.

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Bean Sprout Soup

– johanna | March 15th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Kongnamulguk is one of my favorite Korean soups. It is said to be very beneficial for colds and hangovers. It was really hard to find the bean sprouts at the local supermarket. At first they did not sell them. Then once they started carrying them (and jars of Kimchi) they were always out. Guess a lot of people like bean sprouts. One day I was grocery shopping and happened to see they were in stock. I grabbed a couple of bags and revamped my menu for Wednesday (Asian night) to include bean sprout soup. Yum!

It took many attempts to finally get it right. I started with the broth from a wonton soup recipe as a base, but something was always missing. I do not like using soy sauce (too many ingredients to be called all-natural). My friend from the Philippines suggested using fish sauce, anchovies, or extra salt. Fish sauce is super powerful. A little goes a long way. Just do not smell the stuff and you will be fine. The mushrooms were essential in giving the soup a rich flavor. Bean sprout soup is satisfying for both breakfast or dinner. Serve with a small cup of rice (optional).

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cups soybean sprouts, washed
6 cups water or broth
1/2 medium onion, sliced
5 to 7 mushrooms, sliced
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scallion or bunch of chives (optional garnish)

In a medium-sized pot, saute garlic in soy sauce and sesame oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add water and bean sprouts, onion, mushrooms, and salt; bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce to low heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add green onions and immediately take off heat.

Variations: These variations can all be used simultaneously.
– 1/2 cup kelp (remove before serving). Add with water.
– 7 large dried anchovies (intestines removed) or use dried kelp. Add with water.
– For spicy soup add 1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder (kochukaru) 5 minutes before turning off heat OR use 1/2 tablespoon dried hot pepper flakes- add with water.
– Roasted sesame seeds, ground in a grinder. Sprinkle to garnish just before serving.
– Boiled egg, sliced. Place on top just before serving.

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Chinese Eggrolls

– johanna | March 8th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer

It has never crossed my mind to make homemade eggrolls. I guess for me eggrolls are part of the experience of eating at a Chinese restaurant. When I saw this recipe just in time for Superbowl, well it seemed like a good time for a little adventure.

Jaden from the Steamy Kitchen stresses only using frozen eggroll wrappers and NOT the kind in the produce section of the grocery store. Which is exactly the kind I picked up because I failed to read the recipe completely. They were still delicious. They were not a lighter crispy eggroll, more like the bumpy doughy kind; but still delicious. I used half of the filling to make the eggrolls and the other half of the filling to make wontons for wonton soup. You can even use some of the unused wrappers to make fried cream cheese wontons.

Source: Steamy Kitchen

50 Spring/Egg Roll Wrappers (about 2 packages), defrosted unopened at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator overnight
1 tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch
¼ cup of cool water
Oil, for frying

1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice flour or corn starch
freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
½ head of cabbage (about 11 ounces)
3 carrots, shredded
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried black mushrooms soaked overnight), stems discarded
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Filling: combine the ground pork, tablespoon soy sauce, teaspoon flour, and season with pepper. Marinate at least 10 minutes.

In the meantime, shred the cabbage and the carrots using your food processor or grater. Slice the mushrooms into very thin strips (or you could use your food processer and pulse a few times to get a fine dice.

Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the pork and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low, push the meat to one side of the pan. Add the garlic, cabbage, carrots, ginger and the mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute, until the vegetables are softened. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper. Continue to stir-fry for another minute. Scoop out the filling to a baking sheet and spread out to cool. Prop up one end of the baking sheet so that it tilts and will allow all the liquid to drain to one end. Let cool for 15 minutes. Discard all of the accumulated juices. Use paper towels to blot the filling to rid of extra oil or juice.

IMPORTANT: Only use 1 heaping tablespoon of filling for each egg roll. These are slender egg rolls, the width of the egg roll should only be 1.25″ diameter.

Keep the rolled egg rolls in neat, single layer and covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying. If you want to stack the egg rolls, make sure you have layer of parchment paper in between the layers to prevent sticking. Keep wrappers also covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Refrigerate up to 4 hours until ready to fry or freeze.

To fry the egg rolls, fill a wok or pot with 2 inches of high-heat cooking oil. Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C) or until a cube of bread will fry to golden brown within 10 seconds. Gently slide in or lower the egg rolls, frying 4 to 6 at a time, turning occasionally until golden brown about 1½ minutes. Place on wire rack to drain and cool.

NOTE: To fry frozen egg rolls, do not defrost the egg rolls – just add them to the oil frozen, frying 4 to 6 at a time. Add an additional 1½ minutes to the frying time since they are frozen.

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Lemon Ginger and Honey Hot Toddy

– johanna | March 1st, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Beverage

When I first feel the tickle of post nasal drip itching the back of my throat I massage a combo of peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and lemon essential oils on my neck and chest. Then I make myself a mug of hot toddy. Nursing a cup of lemon and ginger tea sweetened with a touch of honey is both comforting and soothing on those first few days of a cold when all I want is to snuggle in my warm blanket.

Traditionally a hot toddy is made using a shot of whiskey, (brandy, or rum) in a base of warm water (tea, or apple cider) and then flavored with lemon and honey. You can also add all sorts of spices such as cinnamon or anise.
The amounts of each ingredient are really a matter of taste. I like more lemon and ginger than honey. My kids like it sweeter. The following recipe is for a non-alcoholic version.

Makes 2 servings
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey

Bring water and sliced ginger (and any other spices) to a boil. Press the ginger slices to extract liquid. Stir in lemon juice and honey. Adjust to taste. Strain tea into two mugs.

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