Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Chex Mix

Homemade Chex Mix close-up macro view

The Ultimate Party Food

Chex Mix is one of the best party foods going.  Put out a bowl of it, and you’ll have an irresistible guest magnet.  People hover around, grabbing handfuls until the bowl is empty.  And then they’ll look for a refill.  It’s great for New Year’s Eve – or any other big party night.

For most of us, serving Chex Mix means buying a packaged snack that’s shelved with potato chips, pretzels, and corn chips in the “salty snack” aisle of the local supermarket.  This pre-packaged stuff is readily available, and it’s pretty tasty.  But it can’t compare to the homemade version. 

Haven’t had homemade Chex Mix lately?  Or ever?  You’re in for a treat.

And once you’ve tasted the real thing, you’ll have a hard time going back to the packaged variety.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Stollen

Stollen slices and loaf reflected on black acrylic

A Traditional Holiday Cake — or Is It Bread? 

‘Tis the season for Christmas cakes. You know, like fruitcake, panettone, and Stollen. All three are sweet, and all three typically contain candied or dried fruits. Stollen (like fruitcake) also contains nuts, but Stollen has a more breadlike consistency.

Dresden is synonymous with Stollen, and Dresden Stollen is often quite hefty. Loaves can weigh upwards of 4 pounds, and typically are covered with white icing. But Stollen is baked throughout Germany in all sizes and shapes. And almost every family has its own recipe.

This recipe has been in my family for generations. It probably arrived from Germany with my great-great-grandmother. It’s a bit less rich than the typical Dresden Stollen, and can be baked either in a loaf pan or free form on a baking sheet. It’s delicious plain or dusted with powdered sugar (or iced, if that’s your preference). And although the dough takes several hours to rise, actual hands-on time is only about half an hour if you knead the Stollen in a stand mixer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cherry Winks

Cherry Winks cookies on napkin with plate of cookies and milk in background

A Classic Cookie from the 1950s

You can’t have too many cookies at Christmas.

In a recent discussion on Pfeffernüsse, I mentioned that when I was young, my mother baked Christmas cookies in quantity every year – usually more than a dozen varieties. Although many were family favorites like the Pfeffernüsse or the Best Chocolate Drop Cookie, she frequently added new recipes to the rotation.

One that I always enjoyed was Cherry Winks. This cookie was born in 1950 — as a winner in the second-ever Pillsbury Bake-Off contest.

Cherry Winks are tasty and very easy to make. And they’ll definitely make you a winner in the kitchen!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eggnog

Eggnog in white punch cup on black acrylic

Make This Winter Classic Now to Enjoy Over the Holidays

Eggnog (or Egg Nog) enjoys seasonal popularity between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  Then it drops off our radar screens for the rest of the year.  Which is OK by me — certain foods are best savored seasonally.  And nothing says “holiday season” like Eggnog.

But when was the last time you tasted the real thing?  Yeah, you’ll find shelves of “Eggnog” in your grocer’s dairy case this time of the year (usually non-alcoholic; it’s up to you to add the booze).  But the commercial stuff pales in comparison to what you can make at home. 

Eggnog is a snap to make.  My recipe takes only a few minutes.  But the mixture should age a week or more for peak flavor.  So now’s the time to whip up a batch if you want Eggnog for the holidays. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kitchen Riffs on What’s Cookin’!

Just some fun news - the good folks over at What’s Cookin’ have a nice review of Kitchen Riffs in their What We’ve Been Reading feature. You can check it out here.  .

This was a real surprise.  But thanks to them for such a kind article.