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Archive for November, 2011

M&M Cookies

November 30th, 2011 Comments off

Tonight’s cookie batch was, for me, very traditional M&M Cookies. I have always loved these cookies, but when the company introduced the M&M Mini, all their recipes switched over to using them. The problem is… M&Ms are made with milk chocolate and M&M Minis are made with dark chocolate. I like eating the minis out of hand, but didn’t enjoy them nearly as much in the cookies, so I have reverted back to the old-school style. Recipe is included below.

M&M Cookies - 2

M&M Cookies - 3 M&M Cookies - 1

While I made dinner and mixed up the cookies I started a Google+ Hangout video conference. It was fun to invite a few people into my kitchen while I do this annual baking. I plan on having a few more hangouts as I work through the rest of the recipes.


Red’s Ultimate M&M’S Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 12-ounce package M&MS MINIS Milk Chocolate Candies (I use the original M&Ms in my version)

3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and

salt; blend into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in M&MS MINIS Milk Chocolate Candies and nuts, if desired. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto

ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie

sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.

Categories: Cooking, DIY, Food, Fun, Make Tags:

Recipe: Peanut Butter fudge

November 28th, 2011 Comments off

Recipecard

I love peanuts and peanut butter, so it only makes sense I would love to use them in my holiday cookies and candies. It’s even better when the recipe is as easy as this one, originally from Alton Brown’s Good Eats program.

Microwave Peanut Butter Fudge

Cooking Time: 0
Servings: 64
Preparation Time: 4 minutes

1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 pound powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high.
Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes.
Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.
Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with waxed paper.
Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool.
Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

RECIPE BACKSTORY

From Alton Brown’s Good Eats. This is about as simple as it gets when it comes to fudge.

MEDIA

Author: Alton Brown

Website Credit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/peanut-butter-fudge-recipe/index.html

Categories: Cooking, DIY, Food, Make, Recipe Tags:

Pandoro for Christmas/Pandoro per Natale

November 27th, 2011 Comments off

A few years ago I found a reliable source for these Pandoro cakes here in Los Angeles. Claro’s Italian Markets, with 6 stores in the LA area (Locations) always has a great selection. Since we usually spend our Thanksgiving at my sister’s in the Palm Springs area, it has become a mini-tradition to pick up the Pandoro, and other treats, at Claro’s on our way home.

Pandoro for Christmas/Pandoro de Natale

This year I am going to do my traditional Limoncello cream filled version, but I bought another Pandoro just to have plain. We were served it both ways during our Christmas trip to Sicily, so I figured I would give my guests the option.

For more of my recipes, download the FREE cookbook “Sharing Christmas with Friends” directly from Bakespace.com or via the FREE Cookbook Cafe iPad app.

 

Pandoro cake

PANDORO CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE WITH LIMONCELLO WHIPPED CREAM

Cooking Time: 0
Servings: 10-12
Preparation Time: 30

INGREDIENTS

1 Pandoro Cake – found in local Italian markets in the US and Italy
1 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup Limoncello – I use my own homemade version
Colored sprinkles (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Prepare just a few hours before your party or the cake can get a little soggy
Slice Pandoro cale horizontal into 5-6 slices
Set slices aside in order from bottom to top
Starting with the bottom slice, place on decorative plate or platter
Set aside 1/4 cup of Limoncello
Whip the shipping cream along with remaining 1/4 cup of limoncello
Using pastry brush, “paint” cut part of this layer with reserved limoncello until just damp
Spread top with whipped cream mixture
Top with 2nd layer of Pandoro cake, offsetting the points to resemble branches of a a Christmas Tree.
(It is ok if some of the whip cream drips out between the layers as it give it the effect of snow on the Christmas tree.
Repeat “painting” with Limoncello and Limoncello whipped cream for addition layers, alternating the points.
Top the tree with the last of the limoncello whipped cream
If desired, lightly shake colored sprinkles over all to complete Christmas tree effect.

Categories: Cooking, Food, Recipe, Special Tags:

Cookie Party Prep begins and Baker’s Chocolate One Bowl Microwave Fudge recipe

November 26th, 2011 Comments off

Every year (for the last 18) we have held our Christmas Cookie Party for friend and family. I put together over 100 dozen cookies and candies and over 20 quarts of my Top Secret Christmas Chili for this day-long Open House. For the next week or so I will be featuring the recipes I use to make all my cookies.

Do you have a favorite cookie or candy at the holidays? Can you share a recipe here via the comments? I would love to see them!

For more of my recipes, download the FREE cookbook “Sharing Christmas with Friends” directly from Bakespace.com or via the FREE Cookbook Cafe iPad app.

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Baker’s Chocolate One Bowl Microwave Fudge

Cooking Time: 0

Servings: 16

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi- Sweet Baking Chocolate
  • 1 can (14oz.) sweetened Condensed milk
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 cup Chopped PLANTERS pecan or walnut halves or toasted Bakers Angel Flake Coconut (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Microwave chocolate and milk in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after each minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Add vanilla and pecans; mix well. Spread into foil- lined 8 inch square pan.

Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
Cut into 1 inch squares.

RECIPE BACKSTORY

Found on the inside of every Baker’s Chocolate Semi-sweet box. I make this as part of my Christmas Cookies every year.

Author: Baker’s Chocolate

 

Categories: Food, Recipe Tags:

What I’m Reading…Spiders and Starfish, Ignore Everybody, As We Speak

November 25th, 2011 Comments off
Categories: Books Tags:

This season — Shop less…enjoy it more!

November 22nd, 2011 Comments off

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I hadn’t put it in so many word before, but “Shop less…enjoy it more!” is certainly the way we have been operating lately. Without feeling that we are denying ourselves anything (Heck, we spent 3 weeks in Sicily this summer) we have found ourselves buying less and less. Perhaps we are lucky in that we don’t feel a compelling need for the huge flat screen TV or the $50k luxury car, so we don’t pine after them like some might. We spend our time looking for good fun, good friends and generally, a good time. This can mean having friends over for dinner, holding our annual Cookie Party or hosting a Live reading of A Christmas Carol, as we have done for the past 6 years.

Flipping through the Black Friday flyers and other advertisements is interesting these days. They don’t call out to me as much as they once did. If anything, I am looking for the “loss leader” sales items I can snag at a discount — hard drives, software, flash drives, etc. I flip by the big flashy items without a second thought. Maybe we have finally figured out the difference between what we NEED and what we want. We also think much more deeply about how a particular items will work in our home, home much we will actually use it and if there are simpler or cheaper alternatives.

Even more, I find that our friends are “Shopping less…enjoying more!” too. There is no grand conspiracy among us to consume less, but perhaps we are simply growing older. Once your basic needs are met, how much do you really need to consume? I will never be some flashy neighbor “Jones” that all my neighbors feel they have to keep up with. Even more, I don’t try to keep up with the Jones’ in my neighborhood either. Life is too short to constantly be comparing yourself to others. Heck, you will probably feel you don’t measure up anyway, so why even try. (The fact is, we always underestimate our own wealth, happiness and success, so it isn’t a fair comparison anyway.)

So, what are you NOT going to buy this year? What special items will you buy? Will you really use them often? Will they bring a special enjoyment? If so, go for it. It is ok to buy something you will deeply enjoy. If not, wait for a while and see if that purchase surfaces on your “To Buy” list again. It might and you can reevaluate it at that time.

As my own example, I bought, of all things, an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer this year. For me, though, this fits right in with our recent dedication to “make it your” ethic in the kitchen. Instead of going out and buying a huge tub of ice cream, I make one pint of whatever flavor I want right here at home. It limits how much I can consume  (which is always a good thing for me (LAUGH) ), it matches my personal preferences about food and it is dramatically cheaper than the store-bought brands. Instead of a half-gallon of air-filled processed ingredients, I get ice cream that is a deeply rich, made of simple ingredients and as fresh as it can be. You don’t want more than a scoop or so of this ice cream as it is amazingly rich and filling.

So, there is one item I wanted and will continue to use for years to come. Not a bad deal, I think.

I wish you the best holiday season possible. Fill it with friends, family, happiness and joy — and yes, a few cool things you really want. You don’t have to stop buying, just “shop less and enjoy it more!

 

Categories: Opinion, Writing Tags:

Event: Are song structures flexible or set in stone with John Braheny at Songsalive

November 15th, 2011 Comments off

LOS ANGELES SONGSALIVE! SONGWRITER’S WORKSHOP

GUEST SPEAKER – JOHN BRAHENY
Author of The Craft and Business of Songwriting

TOPIC:  Are Song Structures Flexible, or Set In Stone?

WHEN: THIRD SUNDAY OF THE MONTH
NEXT: Sunday, November 20, 2011
TIME: Starts 12:00 am SHARP. Ends at 3 pm. Please be on time.
WHERE: THE FINNISH CENTER10701 Magnolia Blvd.North Hollywood, CA 

COST: Free for Songsalive! Pro Members. Non-members pay a donation of $10.

John Braheny is a top consultant for songwriters and writer/artists. He was one of 5 nominees for “Best Music/Performer/Artist Development Executive” in the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) “Best In The Biz” list for 2011.

The author of The Craft and Business of Songwriting, which has sold over 80,000 copies (now in its 3rd edition), he co-founded and ran the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase  – a non-profit organization that for 25 years provided a weekly showcase and early exposure for writers including Diane Warren, Warren Zevon, Wendy Waldman, Stevie Nicks and thousands  more. He’s a consultant and screener for Taxi, the worlds leading indie A&R company and has interviewed more than 600 songwriters and industry pros. A unique perspective!  More info at www.johnbraheny.com.

TOPIC: “Are Song Structures Flexible, or Set in Stone?”

What’s the value of song structures? Are they really rules? Are they the same in every style?  Can you break the rules if you’re an artist? Can you stretch them in live performance? Though an understanding of song structures can make or break the commercial potential of a song, if you learned there were only 3 or 4 structures that are acceptable, you may have more creative latitude than you think!

Categories: Books, California, Event, LA, Los Angeles, Music, News Tags:

Need help with your technology gift decisions? Let’s Talk!

November 14th, 2011 Comments off

Tablets and laptops and iPhones, oh my!

Yes, it is that time of year again when visions of iPods dance in your  head and you are trying to figure what technology gifts to get your friends, family and co-workers. Do you need advice on this year’s technology gifts? Let me help you make your way through the dense thicket of tech possibilities.

Ask your questions as:

Let’s make this technology holiday the best that it can be!

You can find technology gift recommendations in The WelchWrite Bookstore and more! I will be adding new items each day.

Categories: News, Question, Special, Technology Tags:

I Like This – November 12, 2011

November 12th, 2011 Comments off
Categories: Shared Items Tags:

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November 12th, 2011 Comments off
Categories: News Tags:
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