Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

I thought I would take the time out to help those shopping for somebody that likes to cook or bake. I know anyone of these gifts under my tree would definitely get my motor running.

KitchenAid Professional 6-Qt Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Professional 6-Qt Stand Mixer

Oh yeah, this is one thing I could not live without.  My KitchenAid mixer!  For anyone that loves to bake or cook, this will come in handy almost all of the time. Available in several assorted colors, and just about every attachment you can think of to make kitchen life easier!

Product Image

All-Clad Stainless 13-inch French Skillet

I have 2 All Clad Stainless steel pans.  I love these things. Oh sure, you have to clean them well to keep them looking nice, (I use Bar Keeper’s Friend and it works fantastic!), and yes, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for All Clad. But! Consider this: You will be handing these down to your kids.  They will last forever properly taken care of, and they’re like a dream to cook with.  These pans are an investment, and you will not need to go buy these pans yearly. Worth the cash in my opinion.

3793821 Larger Front

KitchenAid – 13-Cup Food Processor

Another kitchen item, I could not live without. It’s a must have in my kitchen!  I use it to slice, dice, shred, chop and I make my pie crust in mine.  It makes life easier. I use mine ALL the time. (Although I don’t have the big one.  I bought my food processor many moons ago, and it still keeps going).  That’s the nice thing about kitchenAid products. They LAST! Available in many assorted colors to match your decor!

Tramontina 5.5-Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Bonus Trivet, Assorted Colors

5.5-Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Another must have in my kitchen.  I use this constantly! I use my Dutch oven so much, that the porcelain inside mine is beginning to fade, although I expect it to still be useable for a very long time.  You don’t have to break the piggy bank to buy this either, Walmart has the above pictured one, for $39.90! Here’s a link for those interested. Available in Red, Cobalt & Green.

18 inch x 13 inch 18 Gauge Half Size Aluminum Bun / Sheet Pan

Half-Size 18-Gauge Aluminum Sheet Pan – 13 X 18 (NSF)

Another must have in my kitchen. Forget the Air bake pans, these bake the best cookies!  On sale right now at Gordon’s Food Service for $5.99.

Henckels Premio 14-pc. Metal Cap Knife Set

Henckels Premio 14-pc. Metal Cap Knife Set

Another must have. A quality knife set. Knives are an investment. Proper care and maintenance, and they’ll be around forever.  With many, many sets to choose from, this is just one example. But be good to yourself or someone else, and invest in a superior knife set. You’ll be glad you did!

Okay, now for some fun stuff that bakers, cookie decorators, etc. might like to see under the tree:

<i>Cars 2</i> Cookie Cutters

<i>Sesame Street</i>™ Sandwich Cookie Cutters

Garden Cookie Cutters

Fun Cookie Cutters at Williams Sonoma, they’re on sale right now!

Snowman Cake Pop Pan

Snowman Cake Pop Pan or –

Snowman Cake Pop Pan

You can buy the Snowman Cake Pops Kit.  Complete to make the Snowman Cake Pops. Fun! Again, on sale at Williams Sonoma.

Autumn Wreath Cranberry Mold

Autumn Wreath Cranberry Mold

On sale right now at Williams Sonoma.

Martha Stewart Collection Cookie Cutters, Set of 3 Stamp & Press Holiday

Martha Stewart Collection Cookie Cutters, Set of 3 Stamp & Press Holiday

Only available at Macy’s and on sale right  now for $11.99

Prepology Set of 8 Holiday Themed Cookie Cutters

Prepology Set of 8 Holiday Themed Cookie Cutters

Available at QVC!


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Sweet & Spicy Cookies

What a busy, busy, September, (daughter and niece got married), October, November, December and most of this January has been for me! Please forgive me as this blog has been put on the back burner as life had taken over.  And even in all that hustle, bustle, bake-a-thon that went on here, I have only a few pictures to account for it. Sad, I know.  Anyways, I wanted to post and let you know that I have not abandoned my blog here, and I will be back, with excitement, baked goodies and a  burning desire to share it with all of you.

A favorite recipe that I had come across in the Holiday season is a cookie recipe, that quite frankly has replaced MOST of my sugar cookie recipes. Unless requested, this is the cookie dough that I make almost every time now.  This recipe has nutmeg in it, so you if have anyone with nut allergies, leave it out and continue with the recipe. Once you try this, you may not go back to regular sugar cookies. The recipe comes from a Red book magazine.

My daughter’s wedding test picture

Sweet & Spicy Cookies (Snowflakes)

Slightly adapted From: Redbook

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour plus cooling

Makes about 54 cookies

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I start at 3 cups and work in up to a 1/2 cup more if needed.)

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

Another Test picture for my daughter’s wedding – Miette Style


1.  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves, and nutmeg.  In a large bowl, beat butter, shortening and sugars until creamy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  With mixer on low-speed, beat in flour mixture, half at a time, until blended.  Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic wrap and press into a disk shape.  Refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 2 hours.  (I skip this process, as you can roll these without them being refrigerated.)

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease several large baking sheets.  Roll 1 piece of dough  at a time, on lightly floured surface with floured rolling-pin, to scant 1/4 inch thickness.  With 3 to 4 inch snowflake (or any desired cookie cutter), cut out cookies.

My beautiful niece & husband cutting their cheesecake

Cookies, my sister in law and I did for Grand kids to take to school!

3.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned at edges.  Cool on wire racks.


If you’d like to make the snowflake cookies, you will need a straw, royal icing, coarse sanding sugar, silver dragees, and ribbon.  When cutting out the cookie dough, use a straw to make a hole in the top of the snowflake.  Bake as directed.  Decorate snowflake with royal icing, sanding sugar and silver dragees.  When cookies are dry, run a ribbon through the hole at the top of the cookie.  Makes beautiful tree decorations.

So there you have it.  Some of my baking escapades these past months. I wish I had pictures of everything I had made, the blog wouldn’t have been neglected  this long. Such is life. I’ll be seeing you soon!

My daughter, sister-in-law and I made these coffee cakes for the holidays. I’ll be posting the recipe soon!  (Look for Nanna’s Old World Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe! It is a delicious coffee cake.)

Holiday Coffee Cakes

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For Valentine’s Day, I made cookie arrangements for the kids teachers.  I recently bought the Wilton Heart Cookie Treat pan.  It works great, and makes nice, big cookie hearts to decorate.

I used stencils to decorate the cookies.  The recipe I used for the cookie dough can be found here. These cookies taste great and what really makes them nice too, is they are mix and roll cookies, no need to chill.  Stencils can be found here at Global Sugar Art, or here, at Culinary Stencils or here at Designer Stencils.  All three sites have a wide selection of stencils. These were a lot of fun to make!

Here’s the Royal Icing recipe I used. I adapted it slightly in the amounts of corn syrup and flavoring listed by Bake at 350 Blog.

Royal Icing

Adapted From: Bake at 350 Blog

4 Tbsp. Meringue Powder

Scant 1/2 Cup Water

1 lb. Powdered Sugar

1 tsp. Light Corn Syrup

1 Tbsp. Clear Vanilla (I used CK Products, artificial clear vanilla flavoring)

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do not skip sifting). Add in the corn syrup and vanilla.   Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.  (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.)  Do not overbeat! Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food coloring. This stiff icing is perfect for outlining.  To fill in your cookies add 1 teaspoon of water at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula  until it is the consistency of syrup.

I Doubled the recipe to decorate my cookies. This icing worked fantastic! Thanks go to, Bake at 350!

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Sarabeth’s Linzer Cookies

(The above Image, taken from Leite’s Culinaria from inset picture of Linzer Hearts from the book Sarabeth’s Bakery.)

“Sarabeth’s  Bakery” – From my hands to  yours by Sarabeth Levine.  What a beautiful, outstanding, inspiring, informational book it is, and I highly recommend it as a must have for anyone that loves to bake!)  This particular recipe comes from Sarabeth’s Bakery and in my opinion is an outstanding Linzer cookie.  The amount of cinnamon in the recipe might put you off, but when I tested this recipe, I used the full amount and did not find it at all over powering, in fact I found it to be a delightful, tasty, tender cookie, just as written.  I filled some of mine with Raspberry jam as instructed per the directions, but couldn’t pass up the temptation to smear some Nutella in some of them also! (How can you go wrong?)  Make up a batch today, you won’t be sorry! Perfect for Valentine’s Day too!

Linzer Hearts

By:  Sarabeth Levine – Sarabeth’s Bakery: From my hands to yours

Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies

These classic cookies are a little time-consuming to make, but the results are so beautiful and delicious that you won’t mind the extra effort.  The cinnamon-scented hazelnut dough is cut out into heart shapes, then baked and sandwiched with raspberry preserves.  This lovely cookie is reminiscent of the finest Linzertorte (Linz is an Austrian town that is famous for this kind of tart/cake.)  The dough is on the soft side, so handle it with care.

Bakers Note:  These cookies bake up crisp but soften when they come in contact with the preserves, and soften even more if stored in an air tight container. You will need a 2 1/4 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter (measured across the widest point) to make these beautiful jewels.

  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) raw hazelnuts
  • 2 1/2 cups pastry or unbleached cake flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, as your love of cinnamon dictates
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup or so raspberry preserves
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350ºF (176°C).

2. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until the skins split, about 10 minutes. Working quickly, place the warm hazelnuts, a handful at a time, in a kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skin (some skin may remain on the nuts; this is okay). Repeat. Let cool completely and turn off the oven.

3. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the cooled nuts with 1/2 cup of the flour until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and combine with the remaining 2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the butter and superfine sugar with a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. The dough will be rather moist.

5. Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap loosely and shape into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours.

6. Adjust oven racks to the center and top third positions and preheat the oven to 350ºF (176°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

7. Cut the chilled dough in half. Place half of the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and sprinkle the top with flour. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Roll out the dough into a 1/8–inch-thick rectangle. Using a 2 1/4 inch-heart-shaped cookie cutter dipped in flour, quickly cut out the cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. (The dough is delicate, and you will probably find it easiest to move the hearts with a floured offset metal spatula.) Gather up the scraps of dough and set aside. Repeat rolling and cutting out the cookies with the other half of the dough. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator. Combine the dough scraps into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until lightly chilled, about 10 minutes. Then repeat the rolling and cutting until all of the dough has been cut into hearts and placed on the pans. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 30 minutes.

8. Bake the heart cookies, switching the position of the baking pans from top to bottom and front to back, until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans.

9. Arrange the heart cookies on one of the baking sheets with their flat undersides facing up. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry preserves in the center of each cookie. Sandwich with one of the remaining cookies, flat sides facing. Cover with parchment and let stand at least 8 hours or overnight to set. (The heart cookies can be stored in an airtight container, with the layers separated by parchment paper, for up to 5 days. Note, they will soften considerably when stored.) Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the cookies.

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Gone are the days when Chicken wings were a mere .29 cents a pound. When you could walk into the supermarket and pickup a package of chicken wings for pennies!  Chicken wings have long since turned into one of those prime premiere, lip smacking, delicacies that  can no longer be ignored and for good reason; they taste GREAT!!  I’ve been making this recipe for years, and still make them to this day!  These are great served any day for any reason or occasion!

Hidden Valley Ranch Buffalo Wings

3 – 5 Lbs. Chicken Wings/Drummettes

1/4 Cup Butter

1/4 Cup Hot Pepper Sauce (Less if desired)

3 Tbsp. Vinegar

2 Pkgs. Hidden Valley Ranch Milk Recipe Original Ranch Salad Dressing Mix

1/2 tsp. Paprika

Celery Sticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.    In a sauce pan, melt butter. Remove from heat and add the hot pepper sauce and vinegar. Dip chicken wings in mixture; put in a baking pan on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with 1 pkg. of dry dressing mix. Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until browned.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Serve with celery sticks and prepared Hidden Valley Salad Dressing as Dip.

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These are one of the best cookies!  Once you eat one, you can’t stop!  I recently made these for a wedding as Thank you favors.  We dipped some in chocolate halfway and left one plain as we packed them into favor containers. Everyone raved about these cookies! These are delicious and is one of our favorite cookies! This makes quite a few cookies.

Double Butterscotch Cookies

Adapted From: Taste of home

Yield: 7 dozen Cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Spice Island® Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package English toffee bits (10 ounces) or almond brickle chips (7-1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I left these out to avoid nut allergies)
  • Chocolate (Almond Bark, or Chocolate Chips, or whatever chocolate you  would like to use.)
  • Vegetable oil, to thin the chocolate a little bit


  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and brown sugar for 2 minutes or until mixture resembles wet sand. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; gradually add to the brown sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in toffee bits and pecans.
  • Drop by spoonfuls onto a silpat lined cookie sheet. (I used a cookie scoop to get uniform sized cookies)
  • Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1-2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: about 7 dozen.
  • Chocolate: In the top of a double boiler, over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring often. Once melted, thin with a little bit of vegetable oil until you have a nice steady stream when a spoon is dipped into it.  Dip cookies halfway into the chocolate and set on a silpat (or parchment paper) lined baking tray.  Let set until chocolate hardens.

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Some of you may or may not know, that I have a dessert blog too!  I have a tremendous sweet tooth, and LOVE making desserts.  I recently made a Raspberry Miroire that I’d like to share with readers of Fire up the Oven.  I am providing a link over to my dessert blog: Delectable desserts.  You can find the recipe there.  This is a wonderful, light, tasty dessert that is worth the effort.  It’s easy to put together, even though the recipe has a fairly long list of ingredients and directions. This would look really nice and make a great addition to any Holiday table, whether for Thanksgiving or Christmas!  Head on over to Delectable Desserts for this recipe and many others.  Baked Explorations – Mississippi Mud Pie Cake is another recipe that might interest you too.  It was Delicious! Dangerously so!

Here is the picture for Mississippi Mud Pie Cake, this too would be a welcomed addition to any Holiday table! Sinfully Rich & Chocolaty! Worth every calorie!

Delicious & Beautiful, Strawberry Fraisier! Replace the Strawberries with some Raspberries if desired.  Creamy and tasty, this is another of our favorites.

A dessert that can’t be passed up! – Caramel Creme Brulee!  This is the ultimate in desserts.  This is one of my very favorites, along with others that have tasted this. This can be made ahead of time, and refrigerated until ready to serve. This is heaven in a dessert dish!

Like Cheesecake?  How about a Raspberry Cheesecake?  Or a New York style Cheesecake with a fruit filling of choice for the top of it! Check out the recipes, here and here…..

Individual Tarts can be a nice touch or make full size ones.

These Lemon Meringue Tarts have a cookie crust, that are Delectable!!  The sweetness of the crust and the tang of the lemon, push these over the top of deliciousness! One bite, and you will be hooked!

Or try the Strawberry Meringue Tarts. These were delicious and would go quite nicely on a Holiday table.

In the mood for Cake?  I have you covered!! Try the Tuxedo Cake. Tall, Elegant and Delicious! Another must try!!

Here’s a Dutch apple tart, perfect for the season and delicious too!!

The possibilities are endless.  Head on over to Delectable Desserts and see if you can find anything that tickles your fancy!  If you have a recipe that graces your Holiday table, I’d love to hear about it!!  You can leave me E-mail on what your favorite traditional Dessert is!  You can email me at: fireuptheoven at gmail dot com!!  I’d love to hear from you!

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