Cookies packed and ready for the holidays!

Cookies packed and ready for the holidays

Literally dusting off my cooking blog to share my recipe that I made, along with my sister Kate, in a “sizzle spot” demo at the World Food Championship in Celebration Florida last week.  And dust off I do mean it as I have not blogged at all in two years.  Well, that’s about to change.  Time to get back at it so please follow along and look forward to some simple good recipes and goodness only knows what else with the holidays coming.

The recipe is a take off on a Lufkin family tradition at the holidays.  My Mom always makes these cookies and all of my sisters have followed in her footsteps making them for their own friends and families.  I call my recipe “double duty” because if you add additional flour to the recipe, you can roll them out and make ginger bread people and other cut out cookies.  As you can see by the well worn card, this recipe is a true holiday classic.  I like them spicier than my Mom makes them.  If you compare the handwritten card below (which was a direct copy from her recipe) to my recipe below you will see that there is a lot more spice.

front side of beat up recipe card

front side of beat up recipe card

back side of card

back side of card

Try your best to read my recipe through the stained and tattered card but fear not, I’ll spell it all out below.  However, some interesting tip emerge from the grime such as they reason they are called “Double Duty” cookies.  If you add about 1/2 cup of flour to the recipe you can roll out the dough and make cut out cookies such as gingerbread men.  If you need to make a massive amount of cookies, say 350 for a donation to our local elementary school, you need to purchase 2 large tubs of shortening–one tub is simply not enough–and five double batches of this recipe make a generous 350, even with children around who might like to sneak a little bit of the dough.  Also, did you know that a cup of shortening weighs 6 7/8th oz?  I got sick and tired of measuring it out and making a giant mess so I decided to weigh it on my food scale and that’s how I do it now if I have to make more than one batch.  It’s also important to use fresh spices but to sift your dry ingredients in this recipe because the spices tend to clump, especially the nutmeg, in humid weather.  The picture of the cookies above is what they look like from the recipe below.

Double Duty Molasses Ginger Cookies

2 ¼ cup all purpose flour*

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

2 teaspoons ground ginger, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup butter flavored shortening

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sparkling or turbinado sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and spices and set aside.

In a large bowl cream shortening and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses until well blended. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat again until well combined. Divide dough in to two pieces and tightly wrap  in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

When read to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover four baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a shallow dish, such as a pie plate, place turbinado/sparkling sugar.

Remove one wrapped dough from the refrigerator, keeping second dough chilled until ready to use.  Roll dough into 1” balls and roll balls in turbindo or sparkling sugar mixture to coat. Press balls slightly into sugar if necessary.

Bake 12 cookies per sheet for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked and cookies are firm to the touch.

*add 1/2 cup for gingerbread men

My niece "Famous Chicka" posing with the first cut out of 350 cookies last year

My niece “Famous Chicka” posing with the first cut out of 350 cookies last year


Blueberry Bars Photo

Dessert Time!  If you know me personally, you know how much I love coconut so I was thrilled  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon. One of the selecting ingredients/flavors for paring was coconut so I knew right were I was headed.  Although blueberries are amazing to eat by themselves for dessert, their deliciousness is only heightened by coconut!

Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas and if you make these for a holiday gathering or really any time of year, please let me know what you think!  

Polka Dot Coconut Blueberry Bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup salted butter, cut in to cubes
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups toasted unsweetened coconut, divided
2-8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1-13.5 oz can coconut milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups frozen high bush blueberries, tossed with one tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9″ x 13″ inch baking dish with foil and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse flour, confectioners sugar, cubed butter, salt and 1 cup toasted coconut until small crumbs form.  Remove I cup flour/crust mixture from processor and set aside.  Press remaining mixture evenly in to prepared pan and bake 18 – 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned on the edges.  Mix remaining coconut with reserved flour/crust mixture.

Meanwhile, to the processor add cream cheese, coconut milk, cornstarch, egg yolks and extracts and salt and process until smooth.  When crust is ready, pour filling over crust.  Sprinkle blueberries over the filling and sprinkle coconut/crust mixture over the blueberries to cover.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set.  Remove to cooling rack to cool completely in the pan.  When cool, remove bars by lifting foil out of pan and cut to desired portions.  Enjoy!

blueberry coconut bars

Quick Brined Pork with Blueberry Rosemary Pans SauceHello friends!  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon.  I was “berry” excited to take up this challenge because I love blueberries all year round!  Not only are they delicious, but the nutritional content of blueberries is reason enough to eat them by themselves.  Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas!  This is an easy to make but pretty enough for your holiday table recipe and you will be asked for this recipe…trust me!  This sauce would also be amazing on chicken.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.


Quick Brined Pork Tenderloins With Blueberry Rosemary Pan Sauce

pork blueberry rosemary brine photo

First, make the brine:

2 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large sprig rosemary
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Pour hot mixture in to a non-reactive bowl.   Fill a large measuring cup or bowl with four cups of ice and top ice with cold water to total five cups.  Pour ice and water in to hot brine mixture and stir.  When ice is melted, add pork, cover and refrigerate for two-three hours.

pork rosemary blueberry brine pan seared

2-1 pound pork tenderloins, cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tawny port
1 cup apple cider
1 large rosemary sprig
2 cups frozen highbush blueberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil in the oven on the middle shelf.

Remove pork tenderloins from brine and pat dry.

Preheat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat with two tablespoons olive oil until oil is nearly smoking. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides and place in oven to cook fully, about 15-20 minutes.

When pork is cooked to at least 145 degrees (for medium) allow pork to rest for at least five to ten minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, reduce heat to medium low and deglaze hot pan with port and cider, holding the rosemary sprig with tongs and scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan while stirring.

blueberry pork sauce 11
Reduce heat to med low and add blueberries, stirring occasionally, and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

blueberry pork sauce 1

Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons butter to pan and stir until mixture is thickened and syrupy and butter is melted, stirring again with the rosemary sprig and allowing it to cook in the pan with the blueberries.  Some rosemary leaves will fall off of the sprig and in to the sauce–that’s ok.

blueberry pork sauce 1111Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

blueberry pork sauce dinner

Slice pork on the diagonal for a lovely presentation and drizzle sauce over sliced pork. Serve immediately.  I served roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic with the pork and it made for a wonderful meal.  This pork and blueberry sauce combo is also excellent over a spinach salad, topped with crumbled goat cheese…YUM!



I was recently contacted to participate in the “Legends of Europe” blogger Market Basket Challenge. The contest highlights Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and Montasio cheeses and Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele, which are five PDO (protected designation of origin) products from Europe. The campaign is designed to increase awareness of the products and  celebrates the legendary quality, tradition and taste of these five world–renowned PDO products.

I was randomly assigned Montasio cheese which I had absolutely no familiarity with at all, but I was intrigued….how I could, a lover of all things cheese, not have heard of this legendary cow’s milk creation?   I got on the phone immediately to see if I could purchase it locally (we have some pretty great specialty markets and cheese shops around here) but that was not to be. I found an online source (www.igourmet.com) and they had it to me within 36 hours, all ice packed and protected from the elements.

The cheese is a nutty, rich, sharp and very tasty hard cheese that is perfect alone, over pasta (I have tried it) and in my delicious little wine crackers, the recipe I will share with you.  I also created a fall chutney to bring a little bit of Autumn in New England to my cocktail snack and added to Prosciutto di Parma to add a rich, porky saltiness to the mix….the combination is so wonderful!  Because these crackers are so easy to make, you can prepare the dough up to a month in advance and freeze it and you can make the chutney up to five days in advance, wouldn’t this be the perfect appetizer to make ahead share for Thanksgiving or impress your friends and family at a holiday party?  I think so! 

Legends of Europe Montasio Cheese Crackers

Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers with Prosciutto di Parma
and Autumn Chutney

6 oz Montasio cheese, shredded
½ cup butter salted, softened
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
3/4 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine combine Montasio cheese, butter, flour, cornmeal, pepper and thyme.  Process until a ball of dough forms.  Turn dough out onto floured surface, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and knead in with hands.  Divide dough in half, roll into a 12” log and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Slice dough on the bias into ¼” crackers, yielding approximately 96 crackers in total. Place crackers on parchment and bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes, turning sheets at 5 minutes.

Slide parchment off cooling rack on to a flat surface and allow to cool completely.

For the Autumn Chutney:

1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup tart apples (such as Macintosh) peeled and diced
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium low heat until mixture is thick and syrupy and fresh cranberries have popped, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve with Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers

To assemble:

Place 1/2 teaspoon of Autumn Chutney atop Montasio crackers.  Add a thin slice of  Prosciutto di Parma and a curl of Montasio cheese and enjoy!

Crackers are also wonderful with fresh apples, pears, crispy bacon or all by themselves!

What a great da…

Food DemoWhat a great day at the Rockport Harvest Festival!

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Dates….love them…..sweet, chewy, nature’s candy really.  So when asked to come up with a recipe from Made In Nature Sun Dried Deglet Noor Dates I was so happy to take up the challenge!  Sweet…I was thinking sweet….date bread, date cookies, date candy…been there, done that but on the savory side, I had always wanted to create a no sugar added barbeque sauce so I though I would try my hand at it…..it was so delicious! 

The dates are so sweet that no additional sweetener was needed and the end result, after slathering on chicken thighs—amazing!  Here’s the recipe and some photos to go along with it, starting with the delicious end result, of course–Sweet Date Barbeque Sauce Chicken Thighs: 


Sweet Date Barbeque Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced sweet onion
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup AppleJack (or bourbon, if unavailable)
2 cups water, divided
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
24 Made in Nature Dates, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine olive oil, onions, granulated garlic and salt and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add Applejack, 3/4 water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes until dates are soft.  Remove from heat and add remaining water, apple cider vinegar and tomato paste and puree until smooth.  Bring sauce to a simmer again and enjoy!



Italy Meets the Southwest White Bean Chili

Here’s my entry in to the Del Monte Chili Cook off—a bit non-traditional but it really is delicious and healthy! If you like it, how about a nice vote please….recipe is at the link location: http://delmontechili.com/?p=recipe&id=678

…..click it and love it! Thanks

Power Up Grape and Pistachio Quinoa Snack Wraps

Check this out friends. Trying to eat better (in spite of the sweets I post) and this is a great snack or meal. Kids love the sweetness of the grapes and let’s face it, lettuce wraps are fun..it’s fun to play with your food!

This recipe is an entry in to the weekly Better Recipes contest and I would love an easy quick vote today or every day through Sunday–no registration–and my fellow competitors/recipe creators have some amazing ideas to share too–check them out.


The US High Bush Blueberry Council challenged me to make a blueberry recipe for Christmas.  Have been intrigued with the idea of making a Pavlova for a very long time because of my love for meringue cookies at Christmas time so I thought–how about adding some lovely blueberries and one of my favorite holiday treats, Meyer lemon to the mix–my wonderful friends from the West and South send me them in the mail–that means the world to me.  This is an impressive yet very very easy dessert that you can make ahead of time and assemble when you are ready to serve.  Although it takes some time, it is not active time so you can get a lot of other holiday “business” taken care of while it cooks and rests.


5 large eggs, at room temperature
1/8th teaspoon salt
1 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 oz chopped white chocolate
1 cups frozen High Bush blueberries
2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) zested & juiced
Sweetened whipped cream
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

Draw a 9” circle on a piece of parchment paper with a pencil (I used a small plate), turn the paper over and place on a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (save the yolks for making shortbread cookies for Santa!) and beat the whites and salt on high speed until the mixture is stiff and holds a firm peak.

With the mixer on high, slowly pour in the sugar and beat until whites are thick and glossy.

By hand, fold in vanilla extract, vinegar, cornstarch and white chocolate until mixture is well blended and streak free.

Spoon mixture on to the prepared baking sheet in a circle and form a peak in the center.

Mixture will be very thick, like marshmallow cream.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Turn off oven and allow pavlova to sit in the oven until oven is cool.

Meanwhile, combine blueberries, Meyer lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan.  Over low heat, simmer blueberries until they are bright red and syrupy, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add remaining two tablespoons sugar to mixture and continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Taste blueberry syrup and add a bit more sugar if necessary as tartness varies in both blueberries and Meyer lemons.  Set syrup aside to cool

When ready for dessert, gently carve the top few inches off of the top of the pavlova (a serrated steak knife works well).

Fill the center with the blueberry mixture, drizzling some over the edge of the pavlova.  Top blueberries with whipped cream and place cut out top over whipped cream and crown with a bit more berries.

Your friends and family will be so impressed!  This dessert is light and sweet yet satisfying and is a great way to incorporate nutrient rich blueberries in to the dead of Winter!

For more fabulous blueberry recipes, go to littlebluedynamos.com

Happy Holidays!

Image Here’s the fabulous Lily picking the giveaway winner……………and the lucky named drawn was Laura Unger!  Laura said that if she won the drawing, she would make cinnamon rolls and pizza…..I hope she is ready to fire up the oven!  Laura, check your inbox as I will contact you this afternoon…..and stay tuned for more giveaways….you never know who the next winner might be!

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