Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas - Hidden Charges in Dining Out

In an earlier posting I talked about being charged $8.00 for my husband and myself to taste wine at Three Foxes Winery in Northern Fauquier County, VA.

We only wanted a drop of the wines so we could make our selections. We wound up buying 4 bottles for a total cost of about $95.00 - including the $8.00 tasting charge even though we drank less than 1/4 of a glass - each.

In the posting I lamented that the Virginia farm wine industry was actually becoming wine bars hidden behind farm tax laws and warned you to ask about tasting charges before you rack up a bill.

Today's posting is not about wine but rather coffee, added charges and tipping specifically at the Olive Garden in Manassas. Dining out used to be relaxing. Now it's as confusing as a sudko puzzel.

The Olive Garden - Manasses

Recently, on December 17 to be exact, my husband and I had a very nice lunch at a favorite restaurant of ours, The Olive Garden.

Lunch was delicious. We had a huge appetizer of crispy calamari, chicken fingers and toasted ravioli. For entrees, I had the Tour of Italy (a little bit of everything).

I asked to substitute something else for the Fettuccino Alfredo that was part of my entree. What I had in mind was broccoli or a vegetable but the waitress said I could substitute ravioli or spagetti & meat balls.

I selected the ravioli. The way she recited the substitutions, I thought those were my only choices. She never mentioned that it would be additional. I should have asked but her manner never suggested that it wasn't.

My husband had his favorite, spaghetti and meat balls. We skipped dessert although we were tempted.

Here's what the problems were:

1. My substitutuion cost $1.95 extra which was not a lot of money but had I known I had to pay extra, I would have ordered what I really wanted - a vegetable and not the ravioli.


2. A cup of coffee cost $2.15. That's way too much money for coffee that was mediocre at best and only passable as fresh.

They served me a cup and later on the waitress asked if I wanted it warmed up (I had drunk about 1/4 of it). "Sure," I said.

The waitress brought me a small thermal pot (which might have contained another cup or a little more) and left it on the table.

Then the bill came. Had I known that coffee was $2.15 a cup, I would have sent it back and asked them to make me a fresh pot or take it off the bill. I'm sure the menu said it was $2.15 but when a waitress asks if you want coffee, the usual response is either yes or no - not may I see the menu again to check on the price.

3. On our bill was a note that an optional 18% gratuity would be added for parties of 8 or more. That's a lot of money and I don't remember seeing that on the menu anywhere. We were only 2 people so it didn't apply to us but if you're a group, you won't know that until you get the check.

Here's the Point

So here's the point of today's posting. As you make merry this holiday season or in the new year, get a clear picture in advance of what people are charging you.

The rules of dining out (and drinking out) that we all understood are gone. It's every consumer for him or herself.

Spend what you want just don't let the food industry pick your pockets with hidden charges.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas - Healthy Holiday Punches

How about some healthy holiday punches that really pack a punch!


Pomegranate and Champagne Punch
Anti-oxidants in the punch bowl? Why not!

Makes about 16 (1/2 cup) servings

1 handful fresh mint (about 1 cup) left on tender stems (remove stems if woody)
1(32 oz.) bottle pomegranate juice (chilled)
1 (750 ml) bottle Asti Spumanti or extra dry champagne (chilled)

Wash and dry mint. Lightly crush mint between the palms of your hands and put into the punch bowl. At serving time, pour juice and wine over mint. Serve chilled.

Karla's tip: Brut champagne makes a tart punch but it can be used if preferred.


Chilled Almond Tea
A non alcoholic punch is most welcome at any holiday gathering and this one is yummy!

Makes about 24 (1/2 cup) servings

8 tea bags (plain, regular tea)
12 cups water (divided)
1/2 cup sugar
2 lemons (juiced- about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons almond extract

Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add tea bags. Cover. Steep 10 minutes. Remove teas bags and squeeze. Stir in sugar till dissolved. Chill.
At serving time, put lemon juice, extract and remaining 8 cups (cold) water into a large pitcher or punch bowl. Stir in cooled tea mixture. Serve chilled.

Hot Swedish Spiced Wine
Make ahead, if desired. Reheat for serving.

Makes about 8 (1/2 cup) servings

Peel of 1 thick skinned orange (without white pith)
1(750 ml) bottle medium sweet red Virginia wine (like Beaujolais, merlot, or table wine)
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
3 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup whole blanched almonds

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and heat to steaming. Remove from heat and steep (covered) 5 minutes to blend flavors. Serve hot. Ladle into a chafing dish or slow cooker to keep warm, if desired.

Karla's tip: A vegetable peeler works well to remove peel from the orange. Try to keep the peel in 1 continuous spiral. It looks extra nice floating in the wine. Reserve the orange pulp for another use.


Steaming Cider and White Wine Punch
Can be made a day in advance and reheated at serving time.

Makes about 16 (1/2 cup) servings

1 1/2 cups dried apples (pieces, halves or rings)
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 (750ml) bottle medium sweet, white Virginia wine
4 cups apple cider (1 quart)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
4 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and heat, covered, until steaming. Do not boil. Cook 5 minutes to blend flavors. Serve hot. Ladle into a chafing dish or slow cooker to keep warm, if desired.

Karla's tip: Brown sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste may be used instead of granulated sugar. If you prefer, sugar may be omitted entirely.


Paula Luddy's Christmas Wassail
This festive libation is specialty of Paula Luddy, wife of the president of the Brandy Station Foundation, who makes it for their annual Christmas party.

The foundation is dedicated to the restoration of the Graffiti House, a Civil War era hospital at Brandy Station near Culpeper, Virginia.

Makes about 24 (6 oz.) portions

2 oranges
2 lemons
Whole cloves (about 2 tablespoons)
3 liters red Virginia wine (your favorite kind)
1 1/2 liters ginger ale (about 1 1/2 quarts)
3/4 cup sugar
8 small cinnamon sticks
Nutmeg to taste

Stud oranges and lemons with whole cloves. Slice into wedges. Stir remaining ingredients together in a slow cooker. Add studded citrus wedges. Add studded citrus wedges and put on lid. Set cooker on high. Cook one hour then reduce temperature to low and simmer "forever", Paula says, which will keep the wassail warm for serving right from the slow cooker.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tips for Crispy Chanuka Latkas

It's early morning here at Cheesecake Farms.

It's drizzling that drizzle they've been predicting all week but so far it's a warm, gentle drizzle - not the freezing rain they've been predicting.

Yesterday, we worked like mad to plant the last of our fall perrennials so they'd be tucked into their winter homes before the big freeze came.

To my memory, it's never been this warm in Virginia so we dragged our feet about getting everything planted earlier.

We tilled most of the vegetable garden, too, for it's winter sleep.

Holiday parties are everywhere this year and going to them has been great fun.

Yesterday, Tony and I attended a Chanuka party at Mark and Laura Mensch's. They always have great parties with crowds of interesting people. They know EVERYBODY!

The conversation was lively - from "What's Europe's role in the 21st century?" to "Invasive, red wiggler worms are changing the pH of Viginia's soil!" to "How can I get Christine Fox (an upscale local store) to sell my hand crafted silk felted scarfs?"

Laura made tons of Latkas (potato pancakes) that were crispy and light - as delicious as I've ever tasted.

I hung around her kitchen begging for some tips and here's what Laura had to share:

1. Use Yukon gold or russet potatoes for latkas.

2. Prepare the onions and potatoes by washing, peeling and cutting them into chunks but keep them submerged in cool water to keep them from turning brown.

3. Shred the onions and potatoes just before you're ready to fry them - not before.

4. By hand, squeeze out all the extra water.

5. Use peanut oil for frying or (if you're alergic to peanuts) canola oil.

6. Serve hot with home made apple sauce and sour cream.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas - Last Minute Gifts from the Kitchen

Where did this week go?

We're expecting dreadful weather this weekend here in Fauquier County, Virginia, so it's a great time to whip up some last minute gifts from the kitchen.

Cookies are always a welcomed gift but here's some other ideas to inspire you.


Butter Toffee Popcorn
Better make 2 batches because you're sure to eat one!

Makes about 5 cups popcorn
Pan size not important but a 10 1/2 X 15 X 1 inch jelly roll pan works well

6 cups plain popped corn (1/4 -1/3 cup un-popped corn)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 stick butter (margarine not recommended)
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Pop corn according to package directions. Spread on a large pan to cool. Using your hand, loosely pick up popped corn letting any un-popped kernels fall through your fingers and back onto pan. Put only well popped kernels into a bowl. Set aside. Discard un-popped or partially popped kernels.

Position oven rack so corn will bake in center. Preheat to 200 degrees. (Yes, 200 very low degrees.) Coat pan with cooking spray.

Put remaining ingredients (except baking soda) into a small, heavy pot. Heat over medium until butter melts. Stir mixture to combine. Cover pot. Cook 1 minute. Remove cover. When mixture starts to bubble around edges, lower heat and cook 4 minutes more. Do not over cook.

Working quickly, remove pot from heat, stir in baking soda and pour over popped corn. Toss quickly to coat. Spread in a single layer on prepared pan. Bake 1 hour, stirring mixture every 15 minutes. Do not over bake.

Remove from oven. Stir one last time. Let cool completely in pan (at least an hour) before packaging as gifts.


White Wine Mustard Sauce
Easy, quick and yummy!

Makes about 2 cups sauce
No cooking required!

1 1/2 cups brown hot dog mustard (like Guldens Spicy Brown)
1/3 - 1/2 cup sweet or medium sweet, white wine (like Vidal or a Vidal blend)

Whisk together, adding white wine to desired consistency. Pour into decorative jars or crocks and refrigerate.

At gift giving time, add a tag that says:
White Wine Mustard Sauce
For turkey, roasts, grilled meats, seafood and pretzels.
Keep refrigerated.

Karla's tip: Make several days ahead and refrigerate to let flavors mellow.


Lovely Lavender Tea
A warming treat for bone chilling days.

1 cup loose black tea
1/4 cup dried lavendar flowers (no stems)
1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers (no stems)
1/4 cup dried jasmine flowers (no stems)

Toss everything together and pack into a fancy bag, pretty container or 1/2 pint canning jar. Wrap festively. Add a tag or label that says:

Use 1 teaspoon tea (or to taste) per 6-8 ozs. boil water. Steep 3-5 minutes. Strain. Serve with honey, if desired.


Karla's tip: Buy "loose" black tea in the grocery store.

Loose tea is tea that's not in tea bags. If there isn't any loose tea in the regular tea section, try the imported foods or gourmet section. If all else fails, get tea bag tea and open up enough bags to measure 1 cup.

Black tea is regular tea - not green tea or herbal tea.

Karla's tip 2: Edible dried flowers are available in most health food stores in case you don't have any saved from last summer's herb garden.

If not available, get lavender, chamomile and/or jasmine tea that's 100% lavendar, chamomile and/or jasmine.

Do not use flowers from the florist. They are usually sprayed with insecticides.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas - Hors d'oeuvres

Christmas is inching up on us day by day.

For the past 20 plus years, I've worked like crazy through Christmas all the way to New Years Eve getting Cheesecake Truffles (tm) dipped and hors d'oeuvre cheesecakes made for holiday parties every where from New York to Florida plus a cheesecake or two to far off California.

It was a tremendious labor of love all those years but now that I've retired from commercial baking, I vowed to party the entire month of December.

So this year, I still have holiday parties scheduled all month long but now I'm attending them not preparing food for them. I'm having a ball!

Let's start the festivities with an hor doeuvre recipe and a few holiday tips.

Social Graces

Here in the metro Washington, DC area we have people from all over the country (not to mention all over the world!) who all have different customs.

More and more, when one receives an invitation to a party, you hear people respond with "Great ! What can I bring?"

While it's a very lovely mid-western custom to bring a dish when invited somewhere, here in the south, it's annoying.

We pride ourselves in gracious southern hospitality and have gone to great lengths to plan the perfect party.

If you bring a dish, albeit splendid, our lovely southern manners obligate us to graciously thank you and put it out for the guests even though you've spoiled our so carefully made plans. It may seem trivial to non southerners but to us it's a big thing!

Here in the south, when your receive an invitation, simply say "thank you" then indicate whether or not you can attend. Never ask, "What can I bring?"

This is entirely different from a pot luck or covered dish supper which the host or hostess will tell you about up front when extending the invitation.

If you've asked "What can I bring?" and the host or hostess says "Oh nothing, just come and be a guest", in southern speak that means DON'T bring a dish but STILL DO bring a gift.

Good manners here in the south dictate that you MUST bring the host or hostess a modest, tasteful gift in appreciation for invitation.

A bottle of wine. Some nice flowers. A box of candy. A loaf of tea bread, plate of holiday cookies, a jar of fancy jam. An extravagant bar of hand made soap. If you've made it or it's from your garden, so much the better. Price is not the concern for the gift. Good taste, here in the south, is always what's important.

And when you invite a southerner, they won't ask if they can bring a dish. They'll know that it's their time to be the guest and your time to let your good taste in hospitality shine.

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Here's a couple of easy hors d'oeuvres to start you out!

Merry Cherry Tomatoes
Prepare up to 4 hours in advance but not longer or the coating will get gummy.

Makes about 2 dozen hors d'oeuvres

1 pint fresh cherry or grape tomatoes (see cook's tip below)
1 (.5-.7) oz. package dry ranch salad dressing mix (or 3 tablespoons your favorite spice blend -with or without salt)

Wash tomatoes under tepid running water and drain but do not dry. Put salad dressing mix (or spice blend) into a plastic bag. Toss damp tomatoes in spice to coat. Put into serving dish. Serve with tooth picks along side.

Karla's tip: When selecting tomatoes for this recipe, the smaller, the better. Get a size that can easily be put into the mouth whole - without having to bite it in half to eat.


Jolly Old Guacamole
Don't throw away that left over spice blend from the Merry Cherry Tomatoes! Use it to spice up this festive twist on guacamole.

Makes about 1 cup

1 ripe avocado (about 3/4 cup mashed pulp)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely minced onion (regular, red or Vidalia)
1 tablespoon dry salad dressing mix (or your favorite spice blend)
Salt and pepper to taste

Chunky mash avocado (an old fashioned, hand-held potato masher works well). Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill before serving.

Karla's tip: Serve this in the bowl of a chip and dip platter. Put the Merry Cherry Tomatoes where the chips go. The red and green color combination makes a festive presentation. Serve crackers, party rye or chips along side.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas - A Big Batch of Cookie Recipes!!

Well, I hope you have been baking up a storm with all those cookie recipes I've been posting.

How about a few last cookie recipes before we start with holiday hors d'oeuvres!


Double Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies
Like a chocolate chip cookie only fudgier and chocolatey-er. I can't think of anything more yummy than sitting down with a plateful of these and an icy glass of milk!

Makes 2 dozen (2 1/2 inch) cookies
Uses parchment lined cookie sheets

12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (divided)
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour (white)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup walnuts (halves and pieces)

Put 6 oz. chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Put butter on top. Microwave until butter and chocolate are melted. Stir together well. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder. Stir into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining chocolate chips and walnuts. Dough will look like a batter rather than a cookie dough. Refrigerate dough about 1/2 hour (longer is OK) or until it firms up enough to shape into balls.

When dough is chilled and you're ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. (Greasing cookie sheets, using pan spray or non stick pans not recommended.)

Divide dough evenly into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place balls about an inch apart on parchment lined pans. Bake cookie 10-14 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. When done, cookies should look shiny and set but the centers will be soft and fudgey.

Remove cookie from oven. Cool on pan 1 minute then slide entire sheet of parchment paper (with cookies on it) onto cooling rack. Let cookies cool completely ( at least 1 hour) before attempting to remove from parchment.

Karla's cookie tip: There are only 3 tablespoons of flour in this recipe which may look strange but it's right.


Honey Rum Chocolate Balls
An adult, make ahead cookie that's a must on every southern table. Don't waste these on the kiddies!

Makes 2 1/2 dozen (1 inch) cookies
No baking required but cookies need to mellow about 2 weeks

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons honey
2 3/4 cups vanilla cookies (crushed into fine crumbs)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
1 cup walnuts (chopped)
1/2 cup dark rum (approximately)

Put chocolate and honey into a microwave safe bowl. Heat until just melted - about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients adding enough rum to make a mixture that you can form into 1 inch balls.

Roll balls in powdered sugar or dip into additional melted chocolate. Refrigerate or freeze at least 2 weeks before serving to let the flavors mellow. At serving time, roll powdered sugar coated balls in additional sugar.

Karla's cookie tip: If the mixture is a little too soft to form into balls because you've added a bit too much rum, simply add additional cookie crumbs to thicken it.



Yummy Raisin Bars
So wonderful you won't be able to stop munching.
Make filling first so it can cool a bit while you make the crust and crumbs. There are no eggs in this recipe.

Makes one (8 X 8 X 2 inch) pan

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups raisins

Stir sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium sauce pan.. Whisk in water and lemon juice. Stir in raisins. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick - about 3 minutes. Cool at room temperature while preparing crust and crumbs.


Crust and Crumbs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick butter (1/2 cup, melted - margarine not recommended)
1 1/4 cups old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked - instant or quick cooking not recommended)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (coarsely chopped or use 1/4 cup sunflower seeds)

Mix everything but nuts (or sunflower seeds) together using a heavy duty mixer until it looks like uniform crumbs. (Mixture will not come together. It stays like crumbs and does not make a dough.) Stir in nuts or seeds by hand.

Spread 1/2 the mixture into the bottom of ungreased pan. Using fingers, evenly press crumbs down firmly. (Mixture looks like it won't work, but it does!)

Dollop raisin filling over top and carefully (so you don't disturb the bottom crumbs) spread to cover. Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over entire top and using fingers and or palm of hand, press down firmly.

Bake 25-35 minutes or until top crumbs are lightly browned and firm to a medium touch. Do not over bake.

Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes in pan then press a knife into cookies to cut into squares and loosen edges. Leave cookies in pan until completely cooled - about 1 hour. Cut through cookies again before removing from pan.

Karla's cookie tip: To cut neatly, press the knife into cookies and lift knife to reposition. Do not drag knife though cookies.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas - Gingerbread Cookie Recipes

Today's recipes are all for gingerbread men because I love each of these recipes for there own unique-ness.

We make all three here at Cheesecake Farms. You just can never have too many gingerbread men !

These recipes use the same basic technique that was used for yesterday's butter cut outs.

Easy, Bread Flour Gingerbread Men
This recipe uses high gluten bread flour instead of the usual all purpose flour which means the cookies are sturdier and will never loose an arm or a leg when you take them off the pan!

Makes 20 (5 X 3 X 1/4 inch) cookies

1 stick butter (softened - margarine not recommended)
3/4 cup sugar
3-3/4 cups white bread flour (not all purpose)
3/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk, kiefer or thin, plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon regular, plain salt)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground, dried ginger
Decorations: 1 recipe white chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Cream butter and sugar together. Stir in molasses and buttermilk (or kiefer or yogurt). Mix all dry ingredients together then stir into molasses mixture. Can be rolled out right away or refrigerate dough up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking parchment.

Divide dough into 3 parts. Roll out 1 part of dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 7-8 minutes in preheated oven or until bottoms are nicely browned.

Cool 1 minute on pan then slide parchment sheet (with cookies still on it) onto cooling rack.
(When using a greased pan, remove cookies after 1 minute with a spatula.)

When cookies are completely cooled (at least 1 hour - longer is OK) decorate with white chocolate icing (recipe below).

Lebkuchen
An old Germany honey cookie that makes wonderful gingerbread men - even though the recipe doesn't call for any ginger.

Makes about 15 (5 X 3 X 1/4 inch) cookies

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vegetable shortening or natural shortening
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 -3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular, plain salt)
Decorations: 1 recipe white chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat in egg and lemon rind. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together then stir into butter mixture. Can be rolled out right away or refrigerate dough up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking parchment.

Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll out 1 part of dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 7-8 minutes in preheated oven or until cookies are firm to the touch.

Cool 1 minute on pan then slide parchment sheet (with cookies still on it) onto cooling rack. (When using a greased pan, remove cookies after 1 minute with a spatula.)

When cookies are completely cooled (at least 1 hour - longer is OK) decorate with white chocolate icing (recipe below).


Karla's Spicy Gingerbread Men
The black pepper in this recipe may seem odd but it makes the cookies wonderfully spicy. Roll these cookies thinner than the other two recipes.

Makes about 3 dozen (5 X 3 X 1/8 inch) cookies

4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon regular grind black pepper
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons water
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
Decorations: 1 recipe white chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Stir all dry ingredients together. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add molasses, water and egg. Stir in dry ingredient mixture.

Dough can be rolled out right away or refrigerate dough up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking parchment.

Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll out 1 part of dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 7-10 minutes in preheated oven or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. Cool 1 minute on pan then slide parchment sheet (with cookies still on it) onto cooling rack. (When using a greased pan, remove cookies after 1 minute with a spatula.)

When cookies are completely cooled (at least 1 hour - longer is OK) decorate with white chocolate icing (recipe below).


White Chocolate Icing
Makes enough for a simple decoration of eyes, mouth and buttons. Make 1 batch of icing at a time - making additional batches as you need them. You can't rehear white chocolate repeatedly.

1 cup white chocolate confectionary coating discs or baking chips (approximately)
1 tablespoon white or natural vegetable shortening (butter, margarine or oil not recommended)
Pastry bag with a small writing tip


Put the white chocolate into a heat safe container (I like to use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup). Put the shortening on top. Microwave till shortening has melted but chocolate is almost melted - about 1 minute.

Remove from microwave and stir till completely smooth. Pour into prepared pastry bag. Pipe each gingerbread man with 2 round eyes, 1 round mouth and 3 round buttons on chest. Refrigerate decorated cookies about 5 minutes to set chocolate.

No pastry bag?
Put melted and smooth stirred white chocolate into a new plastic picnic squirt bottle for ketchup or mustard. (White chocolate will pick up flavors from a previously used bottle even though the bottle is clean.)

The tiny hole in the nozzel is just the right size for decorating. If chocolate gets hard between decorating batches, put chocolate filled container into very warm water till chocolate melts again. (Like warming a baby bottle.) Do not microwave these bottles. They'll melt.

More recipes tommorrow!

Today's baking tip:
Make cookie baking effortless by preparing the dough one day and baking the next. Works for most recipes!

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas - Cookie Recipes !!

Let's start baking!

Butter Cut Outs
A nice, buttery tasting cookie that's so easy to make you don't even need to soften the butter!

Makes about 4 dozen (2 1/2 inch) cookies
Special equipment: Food processor, parchment (baking) paper, cookie cutters

No food processor? See note below.

1 cup sugar
2 sticks cold butter (margarine not recommended)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra to roll out dough)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Put sugar, then butter into the food processor. Pulse briefly - about 30 seconds - until butter is in smallish pieces and starts to be creamed into the sugar.

Add flour and baking powder. Pulse again until butter is creamed and flour starts to mix in - about 30 seconds more.

Add remaining ingredients and process until a nice smooth dough is formed - about 30 seconds. Dough will be soft.

Remove from processor and refrigerate at least an hour - up to 24 hours is OK.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat to 375 degrees.
Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop half the dough onto a floured surface (use about 2 tablespoons flour). Work the dough lightly with your hands to soften. Pat into a 4 inch circle and place onto floured surface. Spread 2 more tablespoons of flour evenly on top of the dough circle. Lightly roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch.

Cut out shapes. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Brush off excess flour with a dry pastry brush. Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and slide entire parchment sheet (with cookies on it) off onto a cooling rack.

Remove cookies from parchment when completely cooled - about 1/2 hour.

Baker's tips:
1. The baking time varies according to the thickness of the dough, the shape of the cookie and the oven. Always bake a test cookie to determine the right baking time for your cookies.

2. If your dough seems too soft, knead in a little extra flour, a tablespoon at a time. Most roll out cookie dough recipes take into account that you will be adding additional flour as you roll out the dough.

3. Never re-roll scraps until all the dough has been rolled out then gather all the scraps together and re-roll. Don't re-roll the re-rolled scrapes until all the re-rolled scraps have been rolled out then gather all the re-rolled scraps together and re-re-roll out a third time continuing the same as nedded until all the dough is used up. This keeps all the cookies uniform in the amount of flour they contain.

4. Cookies can be baked on an ungreased cookie sheet but then you have to wash the cookie sheet (and dry it very well) before baking another batch. Once you start baking on parchment you'll wonder what took you so long!

No food processor?

Soften the butter by leaving it at room temperature for about 3/4 an hour.

(I know you'll be tempted to microwave it but the butter must NOT melt or your cookies will be tough. To microwave refrigerator temperature butter, cut it into chunks and heat only about 20 seconds then let it sit at room temperature about 10 minutes before using. Butter should be mashable with a spoon.)

Cream softened butter by hand (using a wooden or metal spoon) or with a heavy duty electric mixer. Cream in sugar. Add egg and whip till fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate dough 1 hour (or up to 24). Continue as above.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas - Cookie Baking Tips

Ready to bake?

Let's get started with some basic cookie recipe tips to help you make the best cookies ever!

Choosing Your Cookie Cutters

1. Choose a sharp edge, metal cutter

When choosing cookie cutters, make sure they have a cutting edge that is metal. This will give you a clean cut.

Plastic cookie cutters are a waste of money. They don't really cut through the dough (they sort of squash their way through the dough) so the cookies are often mis-shapen or do not separate neatly.

Stainless steel cutters are the best because they don't rust but they're impossible to find except through bakery supply houses and they are rather expensive.

Most metal cookie cutters are tin plated. They'll last a couple of seasons if you wash and dry them very carefully but they'll eventually rust out making them unsafe to use for food. It's disappointing because it's always your favorite cookie cutter that rusts out first!

The cutting edge of a metal cutter should be a little on the sharp side, although it's not sharp like a knife - just sharp enough to make a clean cut.

Copper cookie cutters are a nice, good looking alternative to the tin or stainless steel cutters. They're pretty so you can display them on your kitchen walls when they're not in use. They cost much more than the tin cutters but not nearly as much as stainless steel.

2. Simple designs work best

It's easy to be tempted by elaborate cookie cutters which often have many small components to the design but simple cutters work best.

When your cookie cutter has a large, simple overall design, the dough will easily release from the cutter. If the spaces are small (like ears on a horse or dog cutter for example) the dough often sticks in those areas yielding mis-shapen cookies.

Add design touches with frosting and other decorations rather than trying to get intricate detail from the dough.

3. Dip your cutter in flour

As you cut out your cookies, dip the cutting edge of your cutter in flour each time you cut the dough and occassionally rub the cutting ege clean with your finger to remove an minute traces of stickiness.

Never dip your cutter in sugar or powdered sugar. Both will make the dough stick to the cutter.
Tomorrow - Great recipes for cut outs!


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas - Let's Get Baking!

Thanksgiving is over and we're on our way to Christmas!

Cookie baking is the A#1 item on everybody's to-do list.

Buttery, home made cookies just say "Merry Christmas!"

To make your holiday baking more a labor of love and less just plain labor, set up a baking station.

A baking station is a pro tip that takes the drudgery out of baking and saves your energy for where it really counts - making cookies!

Here at Cheesecake Farms, we keep our baking station up all year long because we bake a lot but even seasonal or occassion bakers benefit from this simple professionally inspired idea.

Here's how it goes: Get yourself a small, sturdy rolling cart or rolling table and stack it with all your usual cookie (or in our case general) baking supplies. The rolling part is important because you'll roll your ingredients to where you want to work rather than hand carring them, one item at a time.

Typical, non perishable ingredients are: flour, sugar, chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, flavorings and whatever you use often. Find a place on the cart or table for speciality equipment, too, like a rolling pin, parchment paper and cookie cutters.

It's easy to keep track of supplies when you use a baking station because everything is right at hand - not hidden in the back of the pantry.

When you want to bake, simply roll your cart to your mixer and get to work. The drudgery of collecting all your baking supplies is gone!

Work from the cart, replacing items as you use or measure them. Your counter stays uncluttered leaving you more work space. You'll be more productive, too.

When you're done baking for the day, just roll the cart out of the way.

Once you set up a baking station, you'll wonder how you ever got any baking done without one.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes for a festive holiday season.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas - What's Happening to Virginia Wineries?

It is with great saddness that I write this post.

As you all know, I am a big fan and proponent of Virginia wines, especially those that come from our region. By and large they are a wonderful celebration of our rich Virginia bounty (and Fauquier County, too) and a link to our cultural heritage.

Having said that, I must now share the unpleasant experience my husband and I had at one of the newer wineries this past Thanksgiving weekend. If this is a trend in our wine industry, it's a very sad day indeed for Virginia.

We went to Sky Meadow State Park for their holiday festival which was lovely. We bought gorgeous, fresh pine, hand made wreaths to hang at the farm.

We stopped at winery down the road to buy wine for the holidays. We had never been to Three Foxes Winery before. It's a beautiful place and was packed with people.

We made our way to the tasting bar and a cheerful person poured us samples of their various
wines. We cautioned her each time that we only wanted a drop to taste the wine - not a full pour. We bought four bottles. (Their's are not cheap wines, folks. The wines we picked were $22-24 dollar a bottle.) We charged the wines to our American Express card and went on our way.

When we got home, (and this is the part I am so angry about) we looked at the bill and noticed that we were charged $8.00 for wine tasting in addition to the cost of the bottles of wine.

$8.00!!!!

Between us, we barely had half a glass of wine when you added up all the tastes.

They had a sign, which I saw, that wine tasting was $4.00 per person but it's been the custom in Virginia wineries (up till now at least) that tasting fees are waived when you make a purchase. (Actually wineries call the fees "refunded" rather than waived.)

I can well understand the need to charge people who only come for free wine and never make a purchase but when you make a purchase - a substantial purchase in our case - this charge for tasting is down right offensive!

If their tasting fee had been a dollar or two, I might not be so mad but four dollars - each!

I emailed Three Foxes asking for a refund of the fee, suggesting it must have been mistake in billing. I was courteous and nice. It's been three days and they haven't responded. Now I'm mad!

I'll give them a couple of more days, then I'll take the wine back and get a refund - not of my $8.00, I'm sure, but I don't want to serve their wine any more.

So beware this holiday season when you are making a trek out into our beautiful Virginia country side for wine. Ask about tasting fees at every winery you stop.

We're becoming, I'm afraid, a jungle of wineries out there looking to pick your pocket at every turn.

Our wineries, instead of offering you a sample to demonstrate pride in their harvest, are becoming wine bars with state tax protection as "farms."

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes and tempting tips for easy holiday entertaining.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Maple, Brown Sugar and Roasted Sweet Potato Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust

One last marvelous recipe especially for small families or small gatherings to make your Thanksgiving so easy!

Small Gathering -
Maple, Brown Sugar and Roasted Sweet Potato Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust

Regular sized pies too large?
This little pie makes 4 servings.
Just right for two with a little left over for a midnight snack!

Makes 1 (7 inch) pie

No Roll Whole Wheat Crust
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white, all purpose flour
3 tablespoons solid, white vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cold water (approximately)

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor till uniform in crumbs. Add water and process till it comes together in a ball - about 30 seconds. Pat evenly in a 7 inch pie pan forming a fluted rim. Refrigerate while making filling.

Cook's tip: Crusts high in whole wheat flour can not be rolled out like an all white flour crust.

Filling
1 cup roasted, mashed sweet potato - about 1 (4 inch long X 2 inch in diameter) sweet potato
2 eggs (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup whole or 2 % milk (other types not recommended)

Position oven rack so pie will bake in lower third. Preheat to 350 degrees.
Puree filling ingredients together using a hand held blender or in the food processor. Pour into chilled crust.
Bake in preheated oven about 50 - 60 minutes or till set and crust is lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting so filling sets.

Cook's tip: To roast a sweet potato, pierce skin and cook in the microwave or oven until soft. Cool, peel and mash before measuring.

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Check back after Thanksgiving as we count down to Christmas with cookie and hors d'oeuvre recipes for the holidays!

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Virginia Apple, Sausage and Fresh Sage Corn Bread Stuffing (meat or vegetarian)

There are two distinct camps on stuffing.

There's the bread stuffing contingency and the corn bread stuffing contingency.

Where do you stand on stuffing?

Actually, here at Cheesecake Farms, we love both so it's impossible to choose!

Some years we do one or the other. Some years we do one in the bird and the other in a casserole. Either way, stuffing is probably the best part of the bird.

Here's this year's recipe for our corn bread stuffing complete with fresh sage snipped from the November garden!


Virginia Apple, Sausage and Fresh Sage Corn Bread Stuffing
(with meat or vegetarian)

A nicely flavored, soft stuffing made without eggs. If you don't want to stuff your turkey, bake the stuffing in a deep, buttered, covered casserole at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes for till hot and crusty around the edge. In a hurry? Microwave, covered, until steaming - about 15 minutes.

1 pound mild Italian sausage, country sausage or vegetarian sausage
2/3 cup hazelnuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds (coarsely chopped)
3 tart apples (like Granny Smith - cored, peeled and cut into random 1/2 inch chunks - about 4 cups)
6 cups whole wheat or white bread cubes (with or without crusts) cut from firm, day old bread
2 cups day old sweetened or unsweetened corn bread or corn muffins (coarsely crumbled)
3 onions (chopped - about 2 cups)
3 stalk celery (chopped - about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons fresh garden sage (chopped or 1 tablespoon crumbled, dried sage)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
2/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries (or combination - optional)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Cook sausage over low heat or as package directs. Remove from fat. Cool.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat and discard or save for another use. Add nuts or seeds to fat and cook about 2 minutes or till lightly toasted. Add apples. Toss to coat. Pour into a very large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Williamsburg Peanut Soup

Here's a yummy first course.

If you've never had peanut soup, you're in for a surprise.

Peanuts are a staple crop here in Virginia and are used in many more ways than just as a sandwich filling.

Once you've had peanut soup, you'll be addicted!

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Turkey Tips / Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipes

We got so involved testing Christmas cookie recipes yesterday that I forgot to blog!

Hoping you'll forgive me, I am putting up TWO Thanksgiving postings here today to make up for yesterday's omission.

The cookies, by the way, were oh, so yummy. You'll get a big batch of easy cookie recipes (that come out looking like you fussed all day) after Thanksgiving.

So here we go!

First - Let's Talk Turkey !!


Let's Talk Turkey
Pro tips for tender, flavorful birds


Ask a hundred cooks how to prepare a great Thanksgiving turkey and you'll get a hundred different answers.

Here's a condensed version of the tips we got when we asked professional chefs for their secrets to a tender bird.

(The only thing every chef agreed on is that the turkey must be moist and flavorful!)
Choose one tip or try several.

1. Brining
Soaking a raw (fresh or thawed) unstuffed turkey in salted cold water before cooking was the most popular tip this year.

Use one cup of Kosher or plain (not iodized) salt per gallon of tap water needed to completely cover the turkey. Soak two hours. Drain, rinse well and stuff or not as you prefer and roast at 350 degrees till done.

2. Bag Roasting
Lots of chefs swear by the turkey roasting bag. The turkey comes out moist and the oven stays clean of splatters.

For the home cook, turkey roasting bags are readily available in every grocery store this time of year. Follow package directions. The pros say to put some celery and onions in the bag under the turkey to elevate the bird off the bottom of the pan. They say this keeps the bottom of the bag from sticking to the bottom of the cooked bird.

3. Upside Down Roasting
Another tip is to cook the turkey breast side down in a V shaped roasting rack. The idea behind this trick is that the juices will run into the breast meat keeping it moist. Be sure to coat the rack with cooking spray before positioning the turkey.

4. Turkey Frying
Sounds unbelievable but some pros swear by this technique because it's such a fast, flavorful cooking method. A whole, unstuffed turkey is deep fried in peanut oil using a special outdoor cooker.

There are some draw backs like the turkey can not be stuffed, the wings get too dry to eat and there are no pan juices to make gravy but none the less the outdoor turkey frying is developing a following.

Cook's tip: Frying a turkey is messy and potentially dangerous. Children and pets must be kept far away. You must watch the turkey the entire cooking time in case of fire or mishaps. Hot oil (and you'll have a lot of it) takes several hours to cool down and then must be discarded.

5. Charcoal Grilling
Don't put away your charcoal grill yet. Several chefs told us they grill their turkeys and people LOVE them.
Here's how: Salt and pepper your unstuffed turkey. Wrap in foil and place in a heavy pan. Place pan over coals heated to medium and cover grill. Roast about 5 hours for a 30 pound turkey. During the last hour, pull back the foil to let the turkey brown.

Cook's tip: Do not stuff your turkey when charcoal grilling.

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Easy Home Made Cranberry Sauces to Tempt and Tease

Skip that canned cranberry sauce for an easy, home made one. Almost faster than opening the can and once you make your own, you'll never go back.

Now's the time to buy extra bags of fresh cranberries and tuck them into the freezer for cranberry treats till cranberry season rolls around again next Thanksgiving.

No Cook Fresh Cranberry - Orange Relish
For best results, prepare this the same day you're planning to serve it.

Makes 3 cups

1 (12-16 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 large, thick skinned orange (like a navel orange)
1/4 cup - 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Wash cranberries. Drain. Remove stems and shriveled berries. Wash orange, scrubbing skin well. Cut orange into random chunks. Remove and discard any seeds and white center core. Leave skin on fruit. Using the food processor, pulse cranberries and orange pieces together until finely chopped. Do not puree. Remove mixture to a bowl and stir in sugar to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

Apricot, Cranberry and Pecan Chutney
A glistening compote and perfect accent to turkey. Prepare up to 1 week in advance and keep refrigerated.

Makes 4 cups

1 (12-16 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup apricot brandy (or 1/4 cup additional water)
1 (7-9 oz.) package dried apricots
1/2 cup pecans halves

Wash cranberries. Drain. Remove stems and shriveled berries. If apricots are small, leave whole. If they are large, cut them in half.

Put sugar, water and apricot brandy (or additional water) into a medium pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Remove cover. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries and apricots. Cook till cranberries pop and apricots soften - about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked fruit and put into a heat safe container. Continue cooking syrup until it reduces by half - about 10 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over cooked fruit. Stir to coat. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour) then stir in pecans. Refrigerate until serving.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Traditional Southern Hunt Country Menu

Hi!

We're counting down to turkey day!

How about a menu today for a real old fashioned, hunt country Thanksgiving dinner that's steeped in southern style ? It's very easy to make but looks extravagant and lavish.

There's still time for me to get many of these recipes on this blog before Thanksgiving but if you're in a hurry, you can order our online magazine called Karla's Cooking Made Easy and get them asap.

Our on line magazine has other interesting things in it, too, like information about Green Friday - Virginia's answer to Black Friday when everyone packs the shopping malls. There's a big batch of yummy cookie recipes to jump start you on holiday baking and more.

In the mean time, here's an absolutely scrumptious menu for Thanksgiving!

* Recipes appear are on this blog
** As of this post, these recipes haven't made it to the blog yet but there's still time before Thanksgiving so check back. If you're in a hurry, they appear in the Thanksgiving Issue of Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine available at http://www.shopcheesecakefarms.com/


Traditional Southern Hunt Country Thanksgiving Menu

Hors d'oeuvres
Hot Orange Cider (for the children)**
Hot Orange Cider Toddies (for the adults)**
Angels on Horseback**

Dinner
Williamsburg Peanut Soup**
Baked Virginia Ham
Roast Turkey with Apple, Sausage and Fresh Sage Corn Bread Stuffing**
Vegetarian Holiday Roast*
Brown Sugar Crusted Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Green Bean, Mushroom and Onion Ring Casserole
Brussels Sprouts with Orange Chestnut Butter
Toasted Pecan Wild Rice
Home Made Cranberry Sauce*
Pickled Watermelon Rind*
Spiced Peaches*
Salad of Mixed Greens with Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Pumpkin Bread with Creamery Butter*
Local Harvest Virginia Red Wine

Dessert
Trio of Sweets (see pie article for recipes)
Pumpkin and Gingersnap Ice Cream Pie*
Unsugared Apple Pie**
Old Fashioned Pear Pie**
French Roast or Chicory Coffee
Holiday Spiced Tea
Cordials, Brandy, Port

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Picked Watermelon Rind and Quick Spiced Peaches

Pickled watermelon rind and spiced peaches are must haves when entertaining southern style. If you didn't do any canning last summer, and can't beg a jar from someone who did, you'll have to make do with store bought.

Pickled watermelon rind can usually be found in the grocery stores if you look really hard. There's always a jar or two hidden on a top shelf in the pickle section. Most stores do not carry spiced peaches but you can quick fix commercially canned ones with almost home canned taste.

You relocated northerners are probably wondering why pickled watermelon rind and spiced peaches are so hard to come by when they're so important to southern hospitality. It's because even non cooks can a few jars during the summer. It's a southern thing.


Quick Spiced Peaches - Southern Style
Tie the spices in cheesecloth if you're a purist but I like to see them floating around. Use cider vinegar for a home canned look.

Makes 1 quart
Uses a 1 quart canning jar with lid but processing (canning) is not required

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 (29 oz.) can peach halves in heavy syrup (undrained)
2 tablespoons mulling spice
1 cinnamon stick

Stir vinegar and sugar together in a medium, non aluminum sauce pan. Cover. Heat on low till sugar is dissolved - about 1 minute.

Remove cover. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to gentle boil (uncovered). Boil 1 minute.

Spoon peaches and spices into canning jar. Pour syrup over peaches filling jar to 1/4 inch from top. Wipe rim of jar with a cloth dipped into hot water. Cap. Cool 2 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate at least 2 days before serving. Longer is better. Do not store at room temperature.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Vegetarian Faux Turkey Holiday Roast

Here's a main dish roast that's holiday fare whether you're a vegetarian or not.

It makes a perfect main dish for Thanksgiving dinner or a thoughtful alternative entree when vegetarians and non vegetarian are sharing the same table.

This recipe is from Bridgette Mars, a practicing herbalist and nutritional consultant in Boulder, Colorado and was originally printed in The October/November 1993 issue of The Herb Companion Magazine.

We haven't tried this recipe yet but it sounds so yummy that we'll be including it on our holiday table at Cheesecake Farms.

Vegetarian Holiday Roast

1 1/2 cups lentils (3 cups cooked)
7/8 cup millet (3 cups cooked)
1 cup brown rice (3 cups cooked)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or 2 cups whole chestnuts
3 slices whole wheat toast, crumbled
1/2 cup almond butter
2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon dried celery seeds
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups chopped seitan (prepared wheat gluten - optional)

Cook lentils, millet and rice separately and reserve 2 cups of lentil liquor for making Mushroom Gravy (below).

If you are using whole chestnuts, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the nuts and cut a cross about 1/2 inch deep in the small, pointed ends. Place nuts on a cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes. Remove shells and cut the nuts into quarters.

Mix the cooked grains and lentils with nuts, bread crumbs and almond butter in a large bowl and set aside.

Saute onions briefly in olive oil, then add the garlic, sage, celery seed, rosemary, salt and seitan, if used.

Saute 2-4 minutes longer, stirring constantly, then add to the other ingredients, mix thoroughly (mooshing with fingers works best), and put into a large oiled baking dish.

Lightly coat the top of the roast with olive oil, then bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. Serve with Mushroom Gravy (below) and garnish with parsley.

Mushroom Gravy
Make 1 quart

20 medium-size mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 cups lentil liquor (from recipe above)
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Separate the mushroom caps from their stems, then quarter the caps and halve the stems. Saute the onion in olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute, then stir in the oregano and add the mushrooms.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms have softened and the bottom of the pan is covered with liquid. Set aside.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, then stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the lentil liquor and water, and continue stirring until the mixture thickens and barely begins to boil.

Add the mushroom mixture, salt, and pepper, and continue stirring until the gravy again begins to boil.

Remove from heat and serve.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Ported Cranberries

Skip that canned cranberry sauce for an easy, home made one. Almost faster than opening the can and once you make your own, you'll never go back.

Now's the time to buy extra bags of fresh cranberries and tuck them into the freezer for cranberry treats till cranberry season rolls around again next Thanksgiving.

Cranberry bread, cranberry scones, cranberry ginger bread, cran-apple pie, cranberry muffins and so many more yummy treats to enjoy all year long but fresh cranberries are only available this time of year so you have to think ahead.

No special tricks for freezing. Simply over-wrap the bags of cranberries (just as they come from the store) with another plastic bag and tuck into the freezer.

When ever you need cranberries for a recipe, just remove the portion you need (the berries don't stick together) rinse them under tepid running water, drain and stir into your recipe. No thawing needed.

Ported Cranberries
Prepare up to a week in advance to let the flavors mellow.

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Makes about 3 cups
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1 (12-16 oz.) bag fresh cranberries
2 cups port wine
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed to measure)

Wash cranberries under tepid running water. Drain. Remove any stems or shriveled berries.

In a large pot, bring wine and sugar to a boil, stirring occassionally to disolve sugar. (This boils over like a volcano making a HUGE mess so watch carefully.) Add cranberries. Cook on medium/low heat till they pop - about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove popped cranberries and put into a heat proof dish.

Continue cooking liquid until it reduces by half - about 10 minutes.

Pour reduced liquid over cooked cranberries. Stir. Cool to room temperature (about an hour) and refrigerate until serving time.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes: Karla's Make Ahead Pumpkin and Ginger Snap Ice Cream Pie

Pie are definately THE dessert for Thanksgiving. Here's one of our favorites. It's still a pumpkin pie but oh, so much better! (and did I mention it's a make ahead treat?)

Karla's Make Ahead Pumpkin and Ginger Snap Ice Cream Pie

Makes one (10 inch) deep dish pie
Must freeze overnight - longer is OK

Crust
2 cups crushed ginger snaps (purchased or home made)
6 tablespoons butter (melted - margarine not recommended)

Mix crust ingredients together (a fork or your fingers works well). Press into the bottom then the sides of an ungreased pie pan. Refrigerate while making filling.


Cook's tip: To make 2 cups crumbs, pulse about 8 oz. of purchased ginger snaps in the food processor until fine. No food processor? Put snaps into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or wine bottle. Crisp ginger snaps make better crumbs than chewy ginger snaps.


Filling
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (1.75 quart) container vanilla ice cream

Garnish: whipped cream plus additional nutmeg or cinnamon

In a medium sauce pan, combine pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Cover pot. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Remove cover. Continue cooking (stirring to prevent scorching) until mixture bubbles around edges and begins to plop - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a heat proof container. Refrigerate until cold - at least 1 hour but overnight is better.

Working quickly so ice cream doesn't melt, mix slightly softened ice cream into cold pumpkin (a plastic spatula works well.)

Pile ice cream mixture into prepared crust mounding it nicely. Cover lightly with a tent of plastic wrap. Freeze overnight before serving.

Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Cook's tip: If your pie pan is not deep dish, pour the extra filling into a plastic container, cover and freeze to enjoy as pumpkin ice cream another time.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Choosing a Turkey

Choosing a turkey these days is difficult.

At Thanksgiving, grocery stores always use turkeys as, what's referred to in the trade as, a loss - leader. This means the stores price the turkeys so low that they actually loose money.

It sounds stupid, I know, to loose money but stores are in such great competation at holiday times that they're willing to do anything just to get people into the store.

Once the customers are in the store they'll buy the rest of their holiday needs and rack up a huge bill which makes up for what the store lost on the turkey.

OK, so price is one of the factors in choosing a turkey. Loss leader turkeys are usually name brands so you can get a really good deal. Shop wisely for the rest of your dinner needs and you'll come out a winner.

But there are also speciality turkeys to consider.

Fresh (never been frozen) turkeys, free range (barn yard) turkeys and organic turkeys. Some speciality farms even offer heirloom varieties of game bred turkeys.

And then there are whole turkey breasts, vegetarian turkeys (sometimes called Tofukeys - pronounced toe -foo-keys) and that specialty from New Orleans - Turduckans
(pronounced tur-duck-ans which are turkeys stuffed with duck and sometimes ham, too). Some people serve smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving

At Cheesecake Farms, our favorite type of turkey is a natural, free range organic bird. They're firmer in texture and taste than our modern fork tender types. They taste more like the old fashioned game birds grandma used to make.

Most grocery and specialty stores stock natural, free range organic turkeys and they're modestly priced at $1.50 - 3.50 per pound (in Fauquier County, Virginia). That's more than a loss leader bird but we like the taste and texture better plus the soup you'll be making with the bones (after Thanksgiving) we think is more flavorful.

We're not big on exotic, heirloom birds or specialty items with sky high price tags. We just like a good, honestly prepared turkey that won't break the bank.

Lots of grocery stores and restaurants will cook a turkey for you (or your whole meal for that matter) and all you have to do it heat it up.

Read that line again....."all you have to do is heat it up."

If you have to reheat it (I call that left overs), or cook any part of it, you might as well cook the meal yourself or eat out.

Cooking a real, honest to goodness Thanksgiving dinner is not hard or difficult. Roasting the turkey is easy and the most soul satisfying part.

Thanksgiving is the meal. It's the preparation. It's the homey smells tempting your taste buds and it's tummy filling warmth.

Thanksgiving is the time we share a table with loved ones and linger for hours. It's a time we get in touch with the real important things of life.

Thanksgiving is the time we stop and smell the ....well, turkey.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipe - Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (Are Organic, Free Range or Regular Eggs Best for Holiday Baking?)

With so many egg choices available in the grocery store, it's difficult to know which type of egg to buy.

Eggs come in many categories: organic, free range, cage free, natural, minimally processed, omega 3 enriched, low cholesterol and the regular (and cheapest) type.

A quality, fresh, nutrient rich egg (from any category of eggs) will have whites that are thick plus yolks that are plump and orange in color. The shells will be firm so you have to tap pretty hard to crack them. Once cracked, quality eggs should be fresh smelling - almost without fragrance.

The better quality the egg, the better the result you will have with your baking.

If you know someone who raises chickens, that's the best egg to get. Here in Fauquier County, Virginia, you'll see signs on road sides everywhere offering eggs. Local, farm fresh eggs are prized and there for purchased long before they've had a chance to break down with age.

Small producers almost never cage their birds or use antibiotics. It's just not profitable for them to take such extreme, factory chicken methods. Plus people who raise chickens often raise them for their own families then sell off the extras and they want to be sure their families have quality food. So, while they're not necessarily certified "organic", you can bet they probably are.

While I am a strong supporter of natural and organic foods, when it comes to eggs, I'm sorry to say that the grocery store speciality eggs I tested over a period of many months were all below average when it came to freshness and taste.

The whites were watery. The yolks were flat and yellow rather than orange. The shells were so thin I could bearly get the eggs out of the carton without breaking. (A thin shell means the chicken had a diet very low in calcium. The resulting egg would therefore also be low in calcium.)

I tested organic, free range, cage free, natural, minimally processed, omega 3 enriched and low cholesterol eggs all with similar results.

My guess is that the expensive price tags of speciality eggs kept them on the shelves longer than the regular eggs.

Time after time, the regular store brand eggs had thicker whites, plumper yolks and fresher smells with prices a fraction of the speciality eggs.

So what about antibiotics and the humane treatment of chickens?

This is frustrating question. Again, I recommend local, farm eggs but that isn't always possible.

Large egg producers are going to great length to assure consumers that eggs are humainely produced and free or within safe levels of anti-biotics.

An organization called The United Egg Producers has set up a very informative web site to answer all your questions: http://www.uepcertified.com/ about mass produced eggs.

As of this writing, I have not found a speciality egg that's worth the high price tag.

For holiday baking, regular eggs will be very competively priced and are often rock bottom cheap. Plus they sell so fast this time of year that you'll be assured of fresh eggs for baking.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Great the day it's made - better the next

Makes 1 (9 X 5) inch loaf

1/2 cup oil
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1-3/4 cups all purpose (white) flour
1-1/2 cups baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Position oven rack so loaf will bake in center. Preheat to 350 degrees. Grease pan or coat with baking spray.

In one bowl whisk together oil, sugar,eggs, pumpkin and milk. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir both bowls together.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 - 1 1/4 hours. Bread is done when a cake tester comes out clean and bread pulls away slightly from pan sides. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before attempting to remove from pan.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Slow Cooker Roasted Turkey Breast

Gobble, Gobble

It's time for that traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

Here in Virginia, the continuing controversary about serving turkey for Thanksgiving is hot and heavy with no end in site.

Purests point to the fact that ham is the historically correct entree for a southern Thanksgiving. Our fore fathers and fore mothers would not have served turkey. Turkey, they say, is northern fare.

Whether it is or whether it isn't, turkey is still wonderful eating at Thanksgiving.

At our house, we give a nod to our southern heritage by serving ham but we serve turkey, too. You just can not have too many good things to eat at Thanksgiving!


Slow Cooker Roasted Turkey Breast

Moist and juicy plus it frees your oven for other yummy things like pies! Perfect for small family feasts, too. Once you roast a turkey breast in the slow cooker, you'll never cook it another way!!

1 turkey breast (4-6 pounds)

Wash turkey well under tepid running water. Drain. Put into a slow cooker, cutting, if necessary to fit. Cover.

Set cooker on high and cook 4-5 hours or until a meat thermmeter reaches 170 degrees.

Remove from cooker and keep warm.

Use the broth as part of your stock when making your gravy.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Whole Wheat Pie Crust

If you're trying to include more whole grains in your daily diet, this crust is perfect for you.

Whole wheat by itself does not make a good pie crust so out of necessity this recipe contains some (white) all purpose flour. Even so, the crust difficult to roll out even if you're experienced with pies.

But the good news it that it makes a wonderful dough to just pat in the pan. The resulting crust looks every bit as good as a rolled out one and is just a flaky.

Whether you're a novice at pie baking or a pro, this super easy and super delicious recipe will make your holiday pie baking a snap.

The taste is a little more hearty than a white flour crust adding a richness to fall pies like pumpkin, sweet potato, apple and pecan.



Whole Wheat Pat in the Pan Pie Crust


Makes 1 (9 inch) single crust

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup solid white vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
2-3 tablespoons ice water


Put all ingredients (except ice water) into the food processor. Pulse together until crumbs are uniform looking - about 45 seconds.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water (not cubes) and process until dough comes together into a ball - about 30 seconds.

Remove dough from processor and press into pan, a little bit at a time.

Refrigerate or freeze crust until ready to fill.

Without thawing crust, follow your recipe's directions for filling and baking.

Baker's tip: When patting crust into the pan, press the dough evenly on the sides and bottom. Make the crust at the top rim of the pan (where you'll be fluting the edge) thicker than the rest so you'll have ample dough to make a pretty edge.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - My Best Pie Crust

For most holidays we love to experiment with recipes, menus and traditions.

Thanksgiving is the exception.

At Thanksgiving, traditional foods are what we crave.

Maybe the traditional foods give us a sense of stability.

Maybe it's a sense of permanence - something we can count on that never changes.

Or maybe we just love the food so dog - gone much!
(It's the one day in America when everyone eats green bean and mushroom soup casserole!)

Pie is the number one dessert served on Thanksgiving Day.

Pumpkin pie is the national favorite but sweet potato and pecan are not far behind.

Great pies begin with great crust.

Every baker has a trick or two.

I'm always on the look out for a new crust trick and new crust recipes.

This is my favorite - this year.

Karla's Best Pie Crust (2007)

Makes 1 (9 or 10 inch) single crust pie shell

2-3 tablespoons ice water
(Put 2 or 3 ice cubes into a glass and fill with tap water before continuing with recipe)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup solid white vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons - margarine not recommended)

Put all ingredients (except ice water) into the food processor. Pulse together until crumbs are uniform looking - about 45 seconds.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water (not cubes) and process until dough comes together into a ball - about 30 seconds.

Remove dough from processor and by hand, flatten into a 6 inch circle. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Roll out dough on very lightly floured surface.

Question: How do I know whether to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of ice water?

Answer: It depends on the dri-ness of the flour, amount of moisture in the butter and the humidity of the air in your kitchen.

Begin by add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse dough a little. Open processor and squeeze a bit of dough between 2 fingers (before it's formed a ball).

If the dough is sticky, don't add any more water. Continue processing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

If the dough seems a little dry, like it won't come together, add the remaining tablespoon. Continue processing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

This is one of those things that a recipe assumes you know. With a little experience, you'll soon be able to read the dough like a pro.

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Check back tomorrow as we count down to Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for family and entertaining.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Perfect Pies

It's November and that means Thanksgiving is on it's way. What would Thansgiving be with out pies!?!

For tips on how to make the best pies, I went right to the source - "Mom" of Mom's Pies in Warrenton (and other locations). Here's what Mom had to say:

1. Use good, fresh flour, good butter (or shortening or lard).

2. Keep the butter (or shortening or lard) chilled so it doesn't mix with the flour but rather forms a layer of it's own.

3. Don't mix the dough very much. Don't over work or over roll the dough.

Mix the dough until it bearly holds together.

Roll the dough 3 times in 3 directions then stop.

4. The crust does not have to look perfect when you put it into the pan.

5. Make sure the pie is completely baked before removing it from the oven. The crust should be opaque top and bottom. The juice (if a fruit pie) should be bubbling for a few minutes.

6. For single crust pies (like pecan), freeze the crust before filling and baking - it makes it flaky.

So there you have it! Tips for perfect pies straight from Mom.

Happy Baking!!

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Check back tomorrow as we count down to Thanksgiving.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Recipes - Blood Clots and Vampire Blood Cocktails

It's Halloween but there's still a little time left to get ready for the witching hour.

I have two frightfully ghoul-ish recipes for your today.

This is the last batch of Halloween recipes till next year.

Tomorrow, after all, is another day.

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Blood Clots
OK, really cherry tomatoes tossed with spices - but don't tell anyone.
A ridiculously easy (and yummy) hors d'oeuvre but the thought of eating blood clots will gross out everyone.

Serves 6-8

1 (1 oz.) package ranch salad dressing mix (dry)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

Put dry mix into a plastic bag. Rinse tomatoes. Shake off excess moisture but don't dry. (You need a little moisture to get the mix to stick to the tomatoes.) Place tomatoes in the bag. Shake to coat. Arrange on serving dish and serve with tooth picks.


Vampire Blood Cocktails
A Halloween version of the Bloody Mary. To be authentic, serve at blood temperature, 98.6 degrees.

For each serving:
Put ice (if desired) into a tall glass. Add 1 shot (1 oz.) vodka or gin (or to taste). Fill with V-8 juice, tomato juice or Clamato juice. Stir in horseradish and/or hot sauce, if desired. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime.

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Check back tomorrow for more blog chat from Cheesecake Farms.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hallowwen Recipes - Spider Cake

Halloween is almost here.

I've been swooping around on my broom all morning trying to get things ready.

My horsey friend, Marilyn Cheek of Warrenton, gave me a bushel of apples from her tree yesterday and since then I've been peeling and poaching. But more about apple stuff another day.

Today's recipe is for a cake and since it is a know fact that every holiday needs a cake, what could be more fitting for Halloween than this easy one that looks like a spider !!

Gateau Arachnid (Spider Cake)
Everything sounds better in French
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Serves 10-12

2 (8 or 9 inch round) cake layers (any type, any flavor, purchase or home made)
Fudge frosting (enough to frost the cake layers - purchased or home made)
6 black licorice sticks (for legs - not shoe laces or whips)
2 lemon drop candies or yellow gum drops (for eyes)
5 pieces candy corn (plus extra to decorate bottom of the cake, if desired)


Place cake on serving dish and frost.

Using scissors, cut each licorice stick in half length wise cutting 3/4 up the length of the stick. (This makes 2 thin strips attached at the top.)

Stick the uncut ends of 3 licorice sticks into the cake on opposite sides to make the legs of the spider.

Position lemon drop (or gun drops) on one side (without legs) to make eyes. Stick 5 pieces candy corn (pointed side facing toward plate) under eyes as teeth.

If desired, surround base of cake with addition candy corn to decorate.

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Check back tomorrow for the last recipe before Halloween. It will be a ghouling experience!

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Recipes - Slime

We had a frost last night here in beautiful Sumerduck, Virginia, that caught me by surprise.

Once the sun comes up, I'll head out to the garden and see if there's anything to salvage.

This season, I grew this absolutely gorgeous and sweet variety of basil called "lettuce" basil. I hope there's some left and that the seeds can be collected for next year. The leaves are huge and crinkel-y all over. It's pale green and has a delicious taste perfect for people who don't like the heavy licorise taste of Italian basil.

There are just a few short days left until Halloween.

Today's recipe is for a very slimey drink - alcoholic for the adults and spirits free for the kiddies - guaranteed to gross out your guests!

Slime

Makes 1/2 gallon punch/16 (four oz.) servings

1 (3 oz.) package green gelatin mix (like Jello)
9 cups green fruit drink or punch (chilled)
1 - 1/2 cups gin or vodka (or to taste - optional)

Prepare gelatin according to package directions. Chill until partially set.
At serving time, put remaining ingredients into a punch bowl. Stir in globs of gelatin.

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Check back tomorrow as we count down to Halloween with scrumptious recipes for tricking and treating.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Recipes - Vampire Eyes

Frost is on the pumpkin!

We've finally gotten a cold snap here in Fauquier County, Virginia so Fall is finally on the way.

Today's recipe as we count down to Halloween creeps me out but the kids will love it!

It's really just plain old stuffed eggs with olives but you don't have to tell any one!!

Vampire Eyes

Makes 12 eyes

6 hard cooked eggs (shells removed and chilled)
1-2 tablespoons (Miracle whip or mayonnaise - to taste)
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard (optional)
1 (7 oz.) jar green olives stuffed with pimentos (any size)
Red food coloring (optional)

Cut eggs in half length wise (from small oval end to bigger rounded end) making 2 halves like for stuffed or deviled eggs. Remove yolks being careful not to break whites.

Mash yolks with Miracle whip (or mayonnaise) and mustard. Stuff back into egg whites. Position an olive (pimento facing up) into each yolk so they resemble eyes. If desired, use a tooth pick to squiggle a little red food coloring on the whites to make them look blood shot - in which case you could call this recipe "Blood Shot Vampire Eyes."

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Check back tomorrow as we count down to Halloween with scrumptious recipes for tricking and treating.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/