Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kirsty's Chocolate Fruit Tart

This was Sarah's birthday "cake" Kirsty made this year....the fruit and everything were so good! You can use whatever fresh fruit you have for it. It's a good time to get creative. Essentially, you have a shortbread-type crust, milk chocolate layer, then pastry cream and the fruit. Some people put the fruit glaze on it, but Kirsty didn't this don't need it!

This crust benefits from lots of handling. Yolks only give a more golden crust.

2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c (12 Tbsp) butter cut in chunks
2 egg yolks (or 1 whole egg)
1/2 bag (approx) of semi sweet chocolate chips

300 degree F
Stir flour and sugar. Add butter. With fingers, work butter into flour.
With a fork, stir in egg until dough holds together(or use food processor
mix first 3 ingredients until you have fine crumbs, then add egg until dough holds together).
Press dough firmly into a smooth ball. If made ahead, you can keep in fridge wrapped
in plastic at least an hour and up to a week. Makes 2 c of dough.
Use 1 c dough for 11 inch pan, 2 c for 12 inch pan.
Press pastry into pan, pushing firmly into bottom and sides.
Bake 30-40 minutes- until lightly browned.
Remove from oven, spread a layer of chocolate chips over crust, and put
back in oven that's turned off for about 7 minutes. Spread melted chocolate
evenly over bottom of crust.

Pastry Cream
3 oz cream cheese (softened) beat until smooth
1 cup whipping cream (continue beating and add to cream cheese)
do not over beat but will end up like stiff whipped cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon peel grated

Beat cream cheese to smooth. Continue beating while adding whipping cream.
Do not overbeat, but should end up like stiff whipped cream. Stir in powdered
sugar, vanilla, and lemon peel.

Smear a layer of pastry cream on chocolate filled crust (after it cools).
Cut up fruit and arrange in the cream. You can glaze the fruit or dip in lemon
to keep fruit from getting brown. Glaze with apricot or currant or strawberry jelly, melted over low heat and cooled slightly. You can also dust with powdered sugar
instead of glaze.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aunt Effa's Cheese Ball

This is a classic Mooney family holiday cheese ball. We haven't made it in years, but Kathy made it today. Okay, Kathy made another one for my birthday yesterday. It's so surprisingly delicious!

2 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 pound blue cheese (crumbled)
8 oz Kaukuman sharp cheddar cheese spread (in the tub)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp minced onions (approx - can't find the recipe card)
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Mix it up in a bowl. Stir it with your fork.
Roll it into a ball. You can use plastic wrap to help roll it.
Roll it in chopped walnuts. Just wondering out loud, but I bet
this would be even better if you toasted the chopped walnuts too.
Place on a Christmas platter. For full effect, serve with Triscuits, or Wheat Thins, or Any of the old fashion crackers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sour Cherry and Chocolate Chunk cookies

These are another top drawer cookie, and I haven't made these yet this year, because I need the chocolate chunk first. Sarah Clausen provided this recipe. I think it's a Martha Stewart too. Picture to follow, when I make them.

makes 3 dozen
use parchment paper on cookie sheets
bake at 350 deg F 9-11 minutes, do not overbake.

1 3/4 c flour
1 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (yes, 1 1/4 cup)
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c unsalted butter (i know- it's 2 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar (i am sure light brown is just fine)
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
12 oz bittersweet chocolate (bash with hammer into cookie size chunks)
1 1/2 c dried sour cherries firmly packed (again, Trader's had these)

Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, and salt.

In another bowl, cream butter and both brown and white sugar till fluffy, then add eggs, and vanilla till well combined.

Add flour mixture, beat on low, just till combined (do not overbeat)
With a wooden spoon, lightly fold in chocolate chunks and cherries.
Shape into 2 tsp balls and squish.

Bake 9-11 minutes at 350 deg F. Don't overdo.


We used bittersweet from Trader's. The trade off was milk chocolate plain,
or bittersweet with almond chunks. We went for the bittersweet with almonds.
I think it was the right thing to do.

We made 2 teaspoon cookies, and rolled them into balls, then smashed them.
The smashing was required or they came out too puffy. Take that back. After
cooling a bit, they go back to flat, the preferred density. About 2 1/2 to 3 inch
bake 9-11 minutes at 350 deg F. Don't overdo the cooking, or you won't have that
super chewy gooey deliciousness you are looking for.

It looks like we will get like 5 dozen from these. We started with small,
2 teaspoon cookies, and then went to larger. smaller is best. these
are not eat-by-the-handful cookies. One does it. Okay, Mo, you can
set the bar... one is never enough, i am sure. :-)

Russian tea cakes

These are really tasty and a family tradition. You can see the picture down there with the Bourbon Balls and Thumbprints. They look deceptively like the all-too-famous bourbon balls. They are both finished by rolling them in powdered sugar, and they are both one inch there you have it!

This recipe is in my mom's hand, on the back/inside of an envelope. It looks a lot like we are missing part of it. I may have to add to this for clarity, but for now....

Double it, it's a small batch. I think mine came in at around 30 cookies.

Set oven to 350 deg F bake 8-12 minutes. do not brown.

1 c butter - room temp
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c chopped walnuts (or pecans or other nuts)

The notes say, hands, stiffs? 1 inch un-greased.

I am pretty sure that means:
Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla just to mix.
Slowly add flour, salt, then walnuts. Make into 1 inch balls. bake at 350 deg F for about 8-12 minutes. They won't be brown. Let cool a little, but before completely cool, roll in powdered sugar. Roll them again after they completely cool.

Kirsty's Gingerbread Cookies

This is an interesting picture for a number of reasons. First, that is a lot of gingerbread cookies. Yes, hundreds (well, almost). And yes, we still have more dough to go. Okay, also, see the poppy-seed bread Kathy gave us for Christmas? Mmm, so delicious. Behind there, more snicker-doodles, and so on.

This is a very large recipe. Think twice before doubling.
Bake at 350 deg F 8 minutes.

1 c light molasses
1 c brown sugar (packed)
1 c butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
4 1/2 c flour (yes, 4.5 c)

Bring molasses and sugar to boil, pour over butter in bowl. Stir until melted, cool.
Add eggs once it's cooled.
Mix in dry ingredients and chill overnight.
Roll dough out thin on floured board or counter.
Cut with cookie cutters.
Bake on greased cookie sheet. (I wonder if parchment paper would do it?)

egg white
powdered sugar
few drops of vinegar
you can add butter if you want

Cream it all together. Add food coloring if you want.

These are great to decorate with frosting of various colors, and all the sprinkle stuff...we will do this at our party on Wednesday.

holiday party

Okay, the gingerbread cookies are for the party this Wednesday. Kirsty had the great idea that we should have some people over to celebrate the holidays..., so, we decided on an open-house sort of thing. A couple little fun things Kirsty is cooking up....Hmm, am I spoiling the surprise if I say, cookie decorating and ornament decorating? Anyways, neighbors, local family, kids' friends and family...should be fun.

Cranberry Noels

Okay, now we are breaking out the good stuff. Here's a recipe from my dearest sister-in-law, Sarah... She is the queen of Christmas cookies. She makes Christmas cookies to de-stress, and a couple Christmases ago, when she arrived in Denver at mom's, we started baking almost immediately. I have never seen the magnitude of cooking, as she displayed, tripling recipes, while making several different recipes at once...I was in awe. Anyways, these are one of the best ever, called Cranberry Noels. Not sure where the recipe comes from, Martha Stewart or someone like that...Okay, after doing my research, yes, they are on Martha Stewart, and a couple other places. I guess the noel thing is, most of the time, you make them into a "log" and cut cookies off, like the cookie dough you buy in the grocery store...well, as irony would have it, martha had a picture of hers, cut with Christmas cookie cutters. That's how we do it too. On to the recipe, with Sarah's notes: makes 3 dozen, might need to double....;-) Dough can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

2 sticks butter (unsalted, room temp)
3/4 c sugar
2 Tbsp milk (i used skim, so anything works)
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c dried cranberries
3/4 c shaved coconut (i used sweetened, but i don't think it matters)
1/2 c chopped pecans

In bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla until just combined.
Put mixer on low and add everything else. Flour, salt, cranberries, pecans, coconut.

Split dough into 2 balls. Dust counter with flour. Roll out a ball at a time. Go for thin cookies.
Cut with cookie cutters. Preheat 375 deg F. Use parchment paper. DO NOT BROWN cookies.
You really have to keep an eye on them, as I didn't- and had several batches browned more than I like. Okay, fine, they are still good, but ideal is just barely starting to brown on the edges. Supposedly 14-16 minutes, although 12 minutes was too long for me. I am saying try 8 minutes, and check every minute after that. Bottom line, keep an eye on them. I will post a picture later. These are the best I have made so far this year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bourbon balls

These are an all-time family favorite, going back 100's of years. Okay, a few decades anyways. The earliest recipe I found from the family came from Nana, from her Woman's City Club. These things rock, and look so elegant, and yet, require no baking!! The Bourbon balls are in the red and white box. Included in the picture is a beautiful platter from Aunt Kallie, Russian tea cakes, and Thumbprints with blueberry jam.

1 box vanilla wafers (crushed- Cuisinart or blender or rolling pin does the job)
(amounts to like 2 1/4 c crushed)
1 c Confectioners sugar
2-3 tbsp Cocoa powder
1 c Nuts, finely chopped (walnuts or pecans do well)
3 tbsp Karo light syrup (or honey)
6 tbsp bourbon - add more if needed to moisten (or rum or whiskey)
1 c extra powdered sugar

Roll or food process wafers until they are fine.
Add and mix sugar, cocoa and chopped nuts.
Add Karo and Bourbon.
Form into 1 inch balls. (It's gonna be sticky!)
Roll in powdered sugar. (DONE! do not bake!)
The sugar gets absorbed over time, so re-roll them
to freshen them up. Dang, these are good, and really nice looking.

Store with wax paper on the bottom. These keep in the fridge for
at least a month. They just keep getting better with age.


I am not sure these are Christmas cookies, and not my favorite, but definitely, pretty good cookies. We made these because Kirsty got them as a gift from one of her students. I have to adjust the recipe a bit, I learned along the way.

375 deg F
8 minutes bake time (light brown)

8 Tbsp butter (room temp)
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, salt and mix.
Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar, then slowly add to butter mixture.
Make into 1 inch balls.

Cinnamon topping
Combine 1/4 C of sugar with 2 tsp of cinnamon in a bowl.
Roll 1 inch balls in the cinnamon sugar.

Bake, 375 deg F, about 8 minutes. I tried keeping them round balls
and flattening them before baking. The round ones are a little puffier.

Christmas Thumbprint Cookies


These turned out pretty darn good. I used raspberry jam from Trader Joe's on top. You make the dough, then roll the one inch balls in egg white, then chopped nuts, then put your thumbprint in them, and fill that with the jam.

I doubled the recipe, and even then, it's not that many cookies.

10 TBSP unsalted butter - room temp (ok, i used salted and cut back on the salt)
1/3 C sugar
2 egg yolks (keep the whites)
1/2 tsp salt (or less)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour

nuts and jam on top
2 egg whites
1 C chopped fine walnuts (or your favorite)
1/3 C jam - i used raspberry

Oven 350 deg F
parchment paper on cookie sheets

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and salt.
Slowly add flour and continue mixing. Make into 1 inch balls. Roll in egg whites (lightly
beaten). Roll in chopped nuts. Put on cookie sheet, and push your thumb in. Add 1/2 tsp jam
before (or after) cooking. I add before.

Cook 16-18 mins.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's summer

Alright, so basically the garden is what its going to be. There are vines going everywhere. Still not sure what everything is. I am sure I have a bunch of cucumbers- the Persian kind...but mostly see flowers and no veggies yet, although Sarah has found a few. Sarah did the corn and sunflowers, which look really cool right now. Both are super tall, and the sunflowers are coming out, and the corn looks like there will be corn...the ears have lots of hair coming out...almost looks fake! There's some nice looking peppers scattered around, each plant looks like it's in the wrong place, but hey, I'll take it. Not sure why the basil didn't make's so nice having it... i got the first couple tomatoes. early girls...tasty!! they actually were off a branch ellie broke off, and i left it there and the tomatoes ripened. Anyways, we'll see what's next. I am bit anxious about it. Just gotta wait and see. Good things are coming.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

As the garden grows

Okay, a couple updates. I'll get a couple pictures soon.
First- the watermelons turned to pumpkins! Well, that's what I thought when I saw the nice size watermelons, turning a yellow orange on the bottom. At first I am like, okay, what happened? Then I noticed they were all doing it, and finally realized, yeah, they are pumpkins...i wonder if they are carving kind or eating kind.
Second- How does Sarah keep finding the cucumbers? I looked all over. Carefully! She goes out there, in the dark, with a flashlight, with one eye and finds another one. Third time. They are those persion ones, so tasty!!
Third - green beans are coming in. they are so tasty when you get them young. sooo delicious!
Four- wow, so many vines. they take up so much room. they are really taking off. So are the sunflowers. getting lots of flowers coming in. all different kinds and colors. and the corn is so tall. maybe 7-8 feet?
Finally- i ate a couple strawberries. really flavorful, but i think i am going to pull them up. they take too much space. i think i need to make a plan for next year now, while i see how much space is being taken up by everything.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The first harvest! 7/8/09

Yahoo!! The gophers aren't the only ones loving on my garden. I am amazed that I have already been harvesting zucchinis and yellow squash! The gophers (they say in an area the size of our yard, it's only one!) are gobbling up various things. Every year they go for tomato plants, and they got a few this year, another surprise is they got a bunch of the string bean plants too...and what I really wasn't expecting is they tore down a few of the sunflowers as well(if you click on this image, and look in the corner, you can
see sunflower stalks they/he/she pulled into the hole...) Uhg, it's so demoralizing!! Attempts to get rid of them later...

So, the good news is: holy smoke, we have a volunteer watermelon from last year. We have a few already set, about the size of a small football already. We will see how they are. It's hard to tell when they are ready, and now that I think about it, the bugs got the one or two we had last year... It also looks like we have a lot of vine plants. Not sure what they all are yet, some are cucumber for sure. I hope they all aren't! It seems most of the herbs got eaten by bugs or something. I may have to get some more or plant some seeds. It's amazing how everything filled in already. It seems early yet!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer garden planted

Well, we waited a while to get our garden in this year. I think it was because I am getting close to trying to fix the grass area It's settled, and the border stones have come down. We need to bring in about 20 yards of dirt...It's gonna be a big project.

So, we did a total clean-up of the garden area and got most everything planted.
That means:
- corn
- hot (mild hot) peppers
- zucchini
- butternut squash
- thyme
- basil
- thai basil
- sugar pumpkins
- other stuff

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Cherries are in!

Alright, sneaking a picture of Ellie at her finest. She loves the sun.

So, good news! We got the cherry trees in. The one at the top of the hill is the Stella and the lower one is the Bada Bing. They were both bare root trees with some potting soil on them so we could keep them in the pot until now. We weren't expecting it, but as soon as we pulled them out of the pot, all the soil fell off. This caused a few seconds of panic, but then we remembered what the nursery guy had told us...they are bare root, but he put them in soil so they would last. They did, about a month or more in the pot. We even saw some healthy new white roots growing in the pot. Hope these take off nicely!

Spring is in the air

Okay, it's a beautiful day, and we decided to plant a tree or two. Okay, so the lower trees are going to require a fence, so those will be a little extra work...okay a lot of extra work, so instead we will do the ones inside the fence. We are thinking continue
with the cherries inside the fence.

The second picture is probably more like what we will have. None of these are specifically Bada Bing cherries, so not sure where we will end up there in regards to looks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Skiing in California

Okay, it's been a bit long since the last post...not from lack of activities, so let's catch up. First, Matt and I had a great day on the was special for a couple reasons;
- first ski day in 2009!
- really nice weather, snow was reasonably good...we found some really nice runs
- first time skiing with Matt, since we last saw each other about 30 years ago at CCHS
- rented a really nice pair of skis, which if I were to buy a pair, these would be a nice pair...
Salomon Tornado XWing i think....178 cm
- We went to Squaw Valley

The photo is from lunch the week before...our first rendezvous after 30 plus we both live in the greater San Francisco area.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fruit Trees

We got fruit trees today, Valentine's Day! Our gardener suggested M & M Nursery so we gave it a try. Manfred was awesome helping us. The address is:
322 Woodside RWC CA

So, what did we get? I am glad you asked! We went to get bare root fruit trees, which normally would be perfect right now, but it's been so warm, some have already started to bud and blossom. Anyway, Manfred had already potted everything. What I didn't realize, when you get bare-root, he actually had them planted and he pulls them up if you want, which saves $10.00 per plant...hmmm. Well we would have done that if we already had holes in the ground and ready to plant. Since we didn't we got the pots. Instead of $25/each, they were $35/ doesn't stop there....I asked him if our gardener gets a discount, and he said 10% and he would give us the 3.50 off per container bringing the final price to $31.50/each.

What was our criteria for tree selection?
Well, we had a few criteria for our trees;
- hardy, requiring little or no water during normal times, little or no pesticides/spraying and so on, and resistant to disease and anything else.
- delicious fruit - tasty for eating straight-up and baking and cooking and canning, drying or freezing
- harvest season as long as possible. some fruits come all at once and if you aren't ready you can miss a whole crop, or even if you catch it, it may so much you can't pick and pass things out fast enough.
- the trees can not get too big or take up too much of our precious little space

So, what did we get?
We thought we had lots to cover, and would need to select lots of trees. So, we have about 50 feet across the back, and want to plant every 8-10 feet between trunks, suggesting we can do about 6 trees there. We think we can squeeze a couple other trees in the backyard as well. Closer up near the we are thinking a fig, possible mulberries, possible avacado or orange...

Listed in order of harvest time:
xxx hours Amount of chill hours below 45 deg. to produce fruit.

1) Compact Stella Semi Dwarf Cherry
Early season - June
Self Fertile
750 Hours, large, dark red fruit with good flavor and texture.

2) Bada Bing Semi-dwarf Cherry
Late season - mid June to Early July

3) Burgundy Semi-dwarf Plum
Early July-Late August
Self Fertile, Medium fruit with cherry red skin and deep red flesh.
One source says ripens in mid June. - others say later.

4) Blenheim Semi-dwarf Apricot
Ripens late June to July (Long season!)
Self Fertile Freestone, medium to large

5) Fan-Stil Semi Dwarf Pear
Ripens in August
Medium sized fruit with good eating quality. Fireblight resistant.

6) Red Fuji (BC-2) Semi Dwarf Apple
Ripens September
Self Fertile, 350 - 400 Hours,
red blush covers entire surface, firm, crunchy, great flavor.

Possible next trees later in the season:
Fig, mulberry, orange..nectarine,peach?