Recipe: Orange Pistachio Cookies

Mrs Fields Secrets Orange Pistachio Cookies
From all of us at Mrs. Fields and Mrs. Fields Secrets, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for letting us be part of your celebrations. Today’s recipe is beautiful, festive, delicious—something fun to make in a kitchen full of friends, family, or your favorite music. Fresh orange zest and crushed pistachios make up the creamy filling and crushed pistachios adorn the outside. Every bite is pure delight. They are as pretty as they are delicious.

Orange Pistachio Cookies
adapted from Star Tribune

For cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar, plus extra for rolling dough
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract

For filling
1 cup raw shelled pistachios, divided
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 orange, zested and juiced (see below)
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda, and reserve.  In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter,  sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla and orange extract and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, in thirds, mixing until just incorporated.

Form dough into ½-inch balls. Roll dough balls in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare filling: In food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse ½ cup pistachios until very fine. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter with orange zest until light and fluffy. Add orange extract and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, in thirds, alternating with juice, beginning and ending with powdered sugar, and beat until smooth (you may need another tablespoon or so of liquid to reach desired consistency). Fold in pistachios, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.

Finely chop remaining ½ cup pistachios and place in a shallow dish. Spread a generous dollop of filling on bottom of a cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom-side up as if making a sandwich, and gently press cookies together until filling is just at edge of cookies. Roll filled edge in chopped pistachios. Repeat until all cookies form sandwiches.

Recipe: Easy Chocolate Fudge

Mrs. Fields Secrets Holiday Fudge
What are the holidays without fudge? Not complete, that’s what I say. Today, I’m sharing a chocolate fudge recipe that couldn’t be easier. In fact, you can even make it in your microwave. It’s practically foolproof, and the best part of it is that you can use it as a base recipe to create your own favorite fudge concoctions. (See ideas below the recipe.) I love to box it up in decorated takeout boxes and give it as gifts. Try it for yourself and make your holiday complete.

 Easy Chocolate Fudge

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter, sliced into pats
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
Line an 8×8 pan with tin foil, then spray it with non-stick cooking spray. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and butter together, stirring frequently until mixture is creamy and smooth. (Microwave option: Heat the same ingredients in a microwave safe bowl on high heat, stirring after every 30 seconds until mixture is creamy and smooth.) Stir in vanilla and salt until completely combined. Transfer mixture to the lined pan and spread it evenly in the pan. Add optional toppings then refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting and serving.

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
Crushed Candy Canes
Crushed Candy Bars
Crushed Cookies
Crushed Pretzels
Glazed Nuts
Crushed Toffee

Recipe: Rolo Stuffed Cookies

Mrs. Fields Secrets Rolo Stuffed Cookies
These festive little cookies are attention grabbers right from the get go: snowy white sugar revealing chocolate cracks in a perfect dome. But wait, it gets even better! Inside is an ooey-gooey Rolo candy: sweet, surprising and so delicious! These little gems are perfect for the holidays. Whip up a batch and share them with someone special.

Rolo Stuffed Cookies

1 Devil’s Food Cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
30 Rolo candies, unwrapped
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil to form a thick dough. Place one candy inside a heaping tablespoon of dough. Roll in your hands to form a ball, enclosing the candy completely. Roll the ball in the powdered sugar for a thick coating and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and candies. Bake sheets of 12 cookies for 7-8 minutes, or until cookies are crackly in appearance. Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Clever Brownie Gift Idea

Mrs. Fields Secrets Brownie Gifts
Yesterday was National Brownie Day (hooray!) and today I’ve got a great way to celebrate with this clever gift idea. Simply bake your brownies inside cookie cutters to create a darling individual gift. The recipient can enjoy the brownie right away and re-use the cookie cutter forever. I love this idea for teachers, coworkers,  neighbors, and even as a bake sale item. Simply place your cookie cutters on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pour the prepared batter in, about 2/3 full. Bake at 325 degrees until shiny and crackly on top. Allow to cool before removing from the sheet with a spatula.

HINT: Cooking time will be shortened, so keep a close eye on your brownies. Mine baked for 13-15 minutes.

Pomegranate Ice

Mrs. Fields Secrets Pomegranate Ice
Here’s a simple tip to spruce up your holiday fare. Add pomegranate seeds to your ice cube trays before filling them with water to create beautiful pops of color in your holiday drinks. As the ice melts, you’ll have delicious little bites of pomegranate in your drink. One important hint: the hotter the water, the clearer your ice cubes will freeze, showing off the pomegranate seeds. Cold water will create a frosty look. Try them out at your next party!

Recipe: Egg Nog Truffles

Mrs. Fields Secrets Egg Nog Truffles
If you want to impress someone this holiday season, whip up a batch of these melt-in-your-mouth truffles and they will be putty in your hands. (I’m looking at you, Santa.) These rich and creamy treats are surprisingly simple to make up and you can store them in the fridge for weeks. (Not that they will last that long.) They are a perfect holiday treat to serve with your favorite hot drink or to give as gifts. Enjoy!

Egg Nog Truffles

1 pound white baking chocolate
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon rum flavoring
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus for for garnish
vegetable oil (optional)

Directions
Melt half of the chocolate according to directions on the packaging. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, rum flavoring and nutmeg together with a mixer until creamy and smooth. Whip in melted chocolate until completely combined, then refrigerate for 4 hours. Next, use a small cookie scoop (1 teaspoon) to scoop and shape 24 small balls from the mixture. Place on a sheet of wax or parchment paper and then chill again for about an hour, until you’re ready to dip in chocolate.

Melt remaining chocolate according to directions and, one by one, us a fork to dip each truffle in the melted chocolate. Tap the fork against the edge of the bowl to shake  off the excess chocolate. Place the covered truffle on fresh wax or parchment paper and sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg. Repeat with remaining truffles. If the melted chocolate gets thick or lumpy, pour a small drizzle of vegetable oil in and stir it. If necessary, heat it again for 10-15 second increments to keep it creamy and thin. Makes 24 truffles.

HINT: Store truffles in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks!

Recipe: Stress-Free Pasta Dinner

Mrs. Fields Secrets Roasted Tomato Pasta
With all the fuss and hustle to get your Thanksgiving meal prepared, dinner the night before can take you off guard! Today’s recipe is so simple and stress-free to throw together, you’ll be patting yourself on the back after every bite. With a few simple ingredients your probably have on hand, this meal can be ready in less than twenty minutes. Plus, it’s delicious warm or at room temperature, so it’s perfect to have out on the counter if you have Thanksgiving guests arriving at different times.

Roasted Tomato Pasta
adapted from Kitchen Revelry

1 pound of spaghetti (or your favorite pasta)
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes
10 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + a drizzle for pasta
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt
pepper
fresh basil (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat water on the stove for pasta and cook according to directions. Toss tomatoes, garlic cloves, sugar and olive oil together on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan cheese over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring half way, until the tomatoes are popping and releasing their juices. Toss drained pasta with the tomato and bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with a bit more oil and toss it all with red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Top with freshly chopped basil warm or at room temperature.

HINT: If you don’t have Italian bread crumbs (bread crumbs seasoned with Italian spices), mix plain bread crumbs with 1 teaspoon each of basil, oregano, garlic powder and marjoram.

Recipe: Mashed Cauliflower

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mashed Cauliflower
This twist on your traditional Thanksgiving potatoes will knock your socks off and probably even fool those who mistake it for mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower has all the creamy texture of mashed potatoes, all the robust flavor of mashed potatoes, and almost none of the carbs. Give them a try and see for yourself. They are an amazing vegetable side dish for your Thanksgiving table or your weeknight table too!

Mashed Cauliflower

1 medium head of cauliflower
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon chicken bullion
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter

Directions
Start a stockpot of water on high and heat until boiling. Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Add cauliflower to boiling water and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until pieces are soft. Drain cauliflower and then pat excess moisture off with paper towels. Place cauliflower in a food processor (or a mixing bowl if using an emulsion blender) and add the remaining ingredients, except for butter. Pulse until ingredients are incorporated and texture is creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Add three pats of butter to the top before serving.

HINT: One of my favorite ways to serve mashed cauliflower is with a generous topping of cheddar cheese melted on top. Delicious!

HINT: Add roasted garlic for your favorite garlic mashed potato flavor!

Recipe: Spicy Cranberry Chutney

Mrs. Fields Secrets Spicy Cranberry Chutney
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m going to share a couple of fun recipes over the next two weeks to help add a fun twist to your menu. Today’s recipe is my absolute favorite version of cranberry sauce. This sweet and spicy cranberry chutney adds a wonderful zing to your traditional turkey dinner, and it spices up your turkey sandwiches when you’re making leftovers. I have seen this chutney single-handedly convert people who previously refused cranberry sauce.  Say it with me now: NO MORE CANNED CRANBERRY SAUCE! Try it out and see for yourself.

Spicy Cranberry Chutney
adapted from Claire Robinson

2 jalapeños, finely chopped
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 orange, juiced and zested
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions
Rinse cranberries and place them in a sauce pan, followed by all the other ingredients. Cook on medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture should thicken and reduce by about half. Remove from heat and chill until ready to serve.

HINT: If you want to reduce the spiciness, discard some of the jalapeño seeds before adding the peppers to the mix.

Recipe: 3 Fall Quick Breads

Mrs. Fields Secrets Fall Quick Breads
There’s nothing like a loaf of homemade bread to fill your home with incredible smells of fall. (Who needs a scented candle when you can have a loaf of bread?) These three full flavored fall quick breads are simple to put together and delicious as a breakfast, snacks or dessert. They also make a perfect gift, wrapped up in a  tea towel.

Cinnamon Bread

2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup browned butter
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract.  Slowly whisk in browned butter. Combine wet ingredients with dry. Mix just until combined. In a small bowl combine butter pieces and 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon. Gently fold in coated butter pieces into the batter. Pour batter into prepared bread loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Apple and Cheddar Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
3/4 cup diced cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted, plus more for coating the pan
1 1/2 cups grated Granny Smith apples (about 2 medium), grated

Directions
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle. Generously coat a loaf pan with butter. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and sage together in a large bowl until aerated and any large lumps are broken up. Add the diced and shredded cheese and toss until the pieces are separated and evenly coated with the flour mixture. Set aside. Place the eggs, milk, and melted butter in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the apples and stir until combined. Add the egg mixture to the flour-cheese mixture and stir until the flour is just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be very thick. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown all over and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (test several spots because you may hit a pocket of cheese), about 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the bread and turn it out onto the rack. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes more before slicing.

Honey Maple Pumpkin Bread

3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 2 loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix the honey, syrup, butter, vanilla, and eggs together. Mix in the pumpkin puree. In a different bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir until everything is incorporated, but avoid overmixing. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans, and bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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