Posts tagged baking

Cheese Puffs (AKA Stilton Puffs)

I made this yesterday for the first time. I got this recipe from my lovely sister-in-law. She made them for my Mom’s birthday bash last summer and I thought, Hey! Maybe the kids would like these in their lunches!

These tasty little tidbits are called “Stilton Puffs”. Since I used Imperial Cheddar Cheese (the cheese in the small red and black container) instead of Stilton cheese, perhaps we should call them “Cheese Puffs” instead. They look like orange cookies when they are done. I guess that’s why the kids asked if they were a new kind of cookie when they first saw them.

Cheese Puffs

1 cup water
½ cup butter (or hard margarine)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 Large eggs
4 oz Imperial cheddar cheese (or stilton, if you prefer)
8 bacon slices, cooked crisp and crumbled
¼ cup finely chopped green onion
½ tsp pepper

Combine first 3 ingredients in medium heavy saucepan on medium-high until boiling and butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium.

Add flour. Stir vigorously for about 1 minute until mixture pulls away from  side of saucepan to form soft dough. Remove from heat. Transfer to medium  bowl.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition until well combined and dough is thick and glossy.

Add remaining 4 ingredients. Mix. Drop, using 2 tsp for each, about 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheet with sides. Bake in  425°F oven for 15 to 17 minutes until golden brown. Let stand on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove puffs from baking sheet and place on wire racks to cool.

I left out the green onions, as my kids are fussy and don’t like them. Make sure you don’t overcook them as any scorching can overwhelm the taste. They make a very good appetizer and even if they don’t puff up, they are still delicious!

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Basic Sugar Cookies (Or M&M Cookies)

I’ve been baking a lot lately. I thought that since I tend to modify things to make them so my kids will eat them, maybe I should put some of them here in my blog.

I’ll start with my simple sugar cookie recipe. It takes only about five minutes to prepare and only five minutes to bake (per sheet, of course). It has to be one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever come across. Because my kids love M&M cookies, I’ve been adding them into it too. They don’t last long around here. I think of all the things I bake, these have to be the kids’ favorite…

Homemade M&M Cookies

Here’s my sugar cookie recipe:

1/2 cup butter/margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

Cream butter & sugar. Add egg, salt and vanilla. Add flour & soda (it’s always best to mix them together first). Roll it into balls, place on a cookie sheet and squash them. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.

I’ve been stirring in anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 cup of M&Ms or Smarties but you can add (or not) anything you like!

I wrote this recipe out from one of my Mom’s cookbook years ago just after I left home. Every now and then, I’d get a craving for cookie dough (it’s great on ice cream) so I’d whip up a batch. Most of the dough never saw an oven. Yep, I’m a nutbar. I never worried about getting sick from eating raw egg. The dough tastes so good, you don’t even think about it being in there. Besides, don’t some of those crazy health nuts drink raw eggs for breakfast?

Guess cookie dough could be considered the breakfast of champions – Armchair Champions that is… *wink*

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Baking Bread And Memories

Recently, I started baking bread to help cut the cost of feeding a large family (there are six of us). I make four loaves at a time and they all love it. As I began the journey of this intimate way of looking after my family, it evoked deep memories of bread making with both my Mom and my dear great Aunt. The motions were familiar, even though I couldn’t say I actually remembered doing it.

My Auntie Flo died on Good Friday in 1988 and I was crushed, destroyed, devastated. I had been struggling with depression issues from fourteen years old and then, at sixteen, I had just had my first boyfriend break up with me when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. For my whole childhood, Auntie Flo had been my companion, my friend and the only adult I felt truly accepted me as me. I was always good enough for her. She never expected something from me. We spent many happy days together, baking, taking short walks in the sunshine, talking about life. She loved for me to play old songs on the piano and to hear me sing. I felt happy when I was with her.

She had lost much of her eyesight and much of the use of her legs from diabetes. She was hard of hearing too. And in the midst of all these things that could have made her into an angry, resentful old woman, she was the complete opposite. I never saw her without a beautiful smile. She sang while we worked around her little senior’s bachelor suite in the old folk’s complex. She never complained about hurts or disappointments. She listened to me. She cared about me.

I remember vividly being told she had passed. I knew she was sick. She had been carried out of her suite in a coma a few months before. I never visited her in the hospital which I deeply regret. My needle phobia was in full swing then and I was mortally afraid of hospitals, doctors and needles. So bad I couldn’t see a needle, say the word needle – even see a drawing of one – without going into a full blown panic attack. I was doing dishes at my best friend’s house. Her mother asked me to put down the plate I was drying and gently told me that Auntie Flo was gone. I think my heart broke. I remember utterly wrenching sobs being torn out the depths of my soul, just before we were to leave for church to sing for the Easter service. Her request was for me to play “How Great Thou Art” at her memorial service. I have no memory of that service or of playing the song there.

There are times when I talk to her, as she watches from Heaven. At least, I’d like to think that she looks down on me from time to time from the happiness and joy that surround her there. I tell her about things, about how my life is going, about how I can’t wait for her to meet my children. I think she’d love them.

The thing I remember doing the most with Auntie Flo was baking – cookies, cakes, squares, candy – we did it all! There is an old picture of her, my brother and me making cookies in my Mom’s kitchen. It is one of my favorite pictures of her. She has her back to the camera and I am bent over the table, both of us focused intently upon the cookies, while my brother watches. I am about six years old in this picture. To me, it symbolizes our unity of mind, our similarities, even though I am six and she is in her seventies. Our postures are the same, our focus is the same, and our enjoyment in creation is the same.
So now, as I once again bake bread on this day, I feel close to her. I sense her looking over my shoulder, cheering me on. Those batches of cookies and squares I make for the kids’ lunch treats bring me a peace and love that I imbue into the baking in turn. I show my love for my family and for the remembrance of my beautiful Auntie Flo.

We did it together. We did it with love.

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