Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brussel Sprouts

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I have lots of stuff to write about -- but the thing I liked best (and probably one of the easiest things I made) was roasted brussel sprouts. Simply delicious. I think I'll roast cauliflower next...

I bought two containers of fresh sprouts, and cut them in half (and trimmed the ends, if necessary)
Tossed with olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes
Roasted at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes
Cooled and popped in the fridge overnight, reheated for dinner on Thursday.

Yum, yum, yum.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cinnamon

Butternut Squash is one of those things that I hated as a kid, but love now. So I can sort of understand the turned up noses and gagging sounds when I try to feed it to my audience. However, since I'm in charge, everynow and then, I'm going to serve it up and let them whine all they want.

I swore I would never be "that kind of mom" but I have to admit, we had our little friend Tommy over and I made this for dinner. We not only forced him to eat it, we also asked him to rate it. Amazingly, Tommy gave it a 2.5 out of 5. And even more amazingly, my oldest son told me he liked it the other day. You could have knocked me over...

Anyway, I couldn't take a picture because we ate it all. Next time...

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2004 issue -- it was just a simple side dish in an article about pork chops, but it jumped out at me.

Roasted butternut squash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange 4 c. (1/2 in.) diced butternut squash in a single layer on pan, sprinkle with 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. groundcinnamon, and 1/4 t. ground nutmeg. Coat squash with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, turn with a spatula. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until squash is soft and begins to brown.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Best Macaroni and Cheese EVER

I love love love love macaroni and cheese. My mother used to make it with velveeta and milk -- but of course I had to find a much more difficult way to make it. We got this recipe at a family fair years ago, a cheese company was one of the exhibitors. I only make it occassionally, because I would eat it all the time, and there is no redeeming nutritional qualities to this dish. Maybe that's why it's so good.

I think the kids could go either way with this dish. Not sure the husband likes it so much either. Who cares? If Mom is happy, everyone is happy.

Macaroni and Cheese
2 c. macaroni
3 T. each butter, flour
1/4 t. dry mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 c. whole milk, heated
4 c. (16 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 c. buttered bread crumbs

Cook and drain macaroni. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Whisking constantly, sprinkle flour over. Continue whisking while cooking until a thick,smooth paste with a nutty aroma forms, about five minutes. Add mustard, pepper, Worcestershire. Whisking througout, gradually add milk. Cook until thickened and bubbly.

Reduce heat to low and whisk in 3 cups Cabot Sharp Cheddar Ccheese until melted. Stir in macaroni until well coated. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish (coated with non-stick spray). Sprinkle remaining cheese over evenly and top with crubs. Bake until hot throughout, bubbly and golden on top, about 20 minutes.


(The picture was taken with my groovy new camera -- birthday gift. I think my blogging career is really going to take off now!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Praline Muffins

I've discovered the secret to a happy marriage! I'm going to write an article for Cosmo... it's not what you are thinking. Drumroll, please. The secret to a happy marriage is baking. As long as we have pies and cookies and muffins at the ready, my husband is a happy man. So, as the butter softens on the counter downstairs, I thought I'd share the latest confection I created in the name of marital bliss...

Pumpkin Praline Muffins

Praline Topping
3 T. butter, cut into pieces
1/3 c. flour
3 T. light brown sugar
1/3 c. finely chopped pecans

Muffin Batter

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. salt
2/3 c. canned pumpkin
1/3 c. unsulfured molasses
1/3 c. canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Combine all the topping ingredients in a small bowl and use your fingers to rub them into a crumbly topping. Set it aside. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and grease the bottoms of 12 muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, molasses, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients just until the batter is blended.

3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and sprinkle on the praline topping. Then bake the muffins for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicken Piccata

I love piccata -- veal, chicken, whatever. My youngest recently complained that I was making the same thing over and over, and I took a few moments to scour my resources for something new -- Chicken Piccata came up. It's easy, it's yummy, it's chicken, what's not to like? I love the saltiness of the capers.

But when I served it, Zach, looking at the tiny green balls all over his plate asked, "Is that poop?"

I told him I rarely serve poop. They gobbled it up. Definately going on the kids meal list.

I got this recipe from Simply Recipes

Chicken Piccata Recipe

* 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 pound total)
* 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/3 cup flour
* Salt and pepper
* 4 Tbsp olive oil
* 4 Tbsp butter
* 1/2 cup chicken stock or dry white wine
* 3 Tbsp lemon juice
* 1/4 cup brined capers
* 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

1 Cut the chicken breast halves horizontally, butterflying them open. If the breast pieces you are working with are large, you may want to cut them each into two pieces. If the pieces are still thick after butterflying, put them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat hammer to 1/4-inch thickness.

2 Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces in water. Dredge them thoroughly in the flour mixture, until well coated.

3 Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to a plate. Cook the other breasts in the same manner, remove from pan. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.

4 Add the chicken stock (or white wine), lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Plate the chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I'm Going On Strike

Here's what I said to my family last night at dinner. "I give up. Why don't you try to make dinner for a week, and see how it goes?" I was calm. I wasn't emotional, but I was sort of fed up.

The culprit? My crockpot and TexMex Chicken Stew. I didn't even tell anyone that the "S" word was part of the title. When they asked what was for dinner, I just kept saying, "Tex Mex Chicken." But in the end, everyone knew it was stew, and no one was really happy about it.

This is the second time I've tried to make something that contained all the ingredients my family likes -- or at least, mostly ingredients my family likes. However, as soon as the crockpot appears on the counter, my husband starts asking the probing kinds of questions like... where did this recipe come from? why did you decide to make this?

Since we had a bad chipolte chili in adobo experience last week, I opted against using them in this recipe. I replaced them with those green chopped chiles in a can. I think it turned out a bit bland, and I might try the chipoltes next time (and mark my words, there will be a next time -- but not this week, remember, I'm on strike.

From Martha Stewart.... Tex Mex Chicken Stew

1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 jar (11 ounces) mild or medium salsa (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
1.In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour, and 1 cup water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.
2.Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (Do not open lid or stir.)
3.Remove chicken from stew; shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

I heart panini

I have this personality flaw... I get sort of obsessed with a food item/appliance and I cannot sleep soundly until I explore/own the object of my obsession. I've done it with soup, beef bourgonion, and my electric skillet. A few months ago a new obsession bloomed, and fortunately for me, my birthday was coming up. Add to this pot the fact that my mother is an appliance/cookware lover like myself (she is the reason I have a food processor, kitchenaid mixer, and fancy all clad pans) -- and TA DA! I own a panini maker.

Honestly, I was a bit nervous about owning one, because I didn't have the slightest idea of how to create a great grilled sandwich, or even where to find the bread. Although, I had started that investigation weeks earlier, casually mentioning my need for ciabatta at book club and church and the like. As it turns out, I was not too worry, because, the other day not only did I return home from work to find a panini maker in my garage BUT ALSO a cookbook! Praise Heaven, I was in business.

On Friday night I piled the kids in the van and made them go from market to market searching for bread, brie, arugula and proscuitto -- and that night I created a sandwich that I, personally, found to be heaven on Earth. (My husband, who I believe I've mentioned can be a bit picky, and is the fourth picky kid in my opinion, said, "I don't like the cheese...") But that was okay, because that meant I could return to the store and buy another load of ingredients (this time tomatoes, fresh mozarella, basil and MORE fancy bread).

So, $60 worth of imported Italian ingredients and a weekend's worth of panini -- I am one happy camper, waiting for the next food obession to hit. My kids, I believe, would prefer a grilled cheese. My husband, seems like he'll go along with it as long as I don't use brie.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lot's of Cooking Going On!

Well the kitchen has been a busy place the last few days -- lots to "take with" and a new addition to the family menu (for me and my husband at least, not sure the kids were too into it).

First was the quiche -- the PTA at the kids' school always has a welcome back brunch for teachers right before the first day of school. Last year I volunteered to bring 2 quiches, but forgot (typical). Miraculously, I remembered this year. I made two quiches, using store bought crust. They took forever to bake -- but they were finally finished and I ran them over to the breakfast (better later than never). Have no idea how they tasted, as I had to drop them off... may make them for dinner sometime (not with spinach and mushrooms of course)

Quiche Lorraine (with bacon)
Quiche with spinach and mushrooms.

One pie crust per quiche
Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Heavy Cream

Cook filler. I wilted spinach and sauteed mushrooms for one quiche, I fried the bacon and cooked the onions for the other. Put the filler on the bottom of the crust, beat 3 eggs and 1/2 c. cream, added the cheese (about 1 cup) -- pour over the filling, bake at 350 for 45 minutes (until knife comes out clean). Let cool slightly.

Turkey Meatballs in Marinara

1/4 c. plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped flat leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T. whole milk
3/4 c. grated Romano cheese
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. ground black pepper
1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
5 c. Marinara sauce

In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, 1/2 c. cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape the meat mixture into bite-sized balls.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook wthout moving or turning the meatballs unitl brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 3 minutes longer. Continue to cook until all the sides are golden brown. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes.

I think I wrote about these before. I made these at 9pm one Sunday night (with Mad Men on TV) for a baby shower for a friend at work. Giada was my girl... and hooked me up with the recipes.

Marinara Sauce
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
2 carrots peeled and finely chopped
1/2 t. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 t. ground pepper
2 (32 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 t. each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves until simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves, season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Speaking of Giada.... I made my first risotto last night. I've heard that it's hard and time consuming, but I've also been sort of obesessed with the idea of risotto for dinner. Again, I turned to Giada and found a reasonable recipe... not too much butter, and only 4 cups of chicken stock, which I had in my freezer.

4 c. chicken stock
3 T. butter
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the pot and continue to heat over low flame.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt 2 T. of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. ADd the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaoporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 c. of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 c. at a time, stirring constatnly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. STir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oven Fried Onion Rings

This is a great recipe! We LOVE LOVE LOVE onion rings here -- and to be honest, those frozen Ore-Ida things just weren't doing it for me. I found this on another food blog (The Bitten Word)and made it within days. This is definately going on the weekly schedule now!

It's from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, June 2009

* 1 1/2 cups cornflakes
* 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, quartered crosswise and broken into rings (discard small center rings)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form, then transfer to a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne and season with salt and pepper.

2. Dip onion rings in egg mixture (letting excess drip off) and dredge in cornflake mixture; place on a large plate. Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and heat 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil. Arrange onion rings on sheet. Bake, turning once, until onion rings are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Season with salt.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Party

So we had a few friends over for Cinco de Mayo... or at least a few days before. The menu:

Chips and salsa and guacamole (avacado smashed up with lemon juice and salt)
Steak Fajitas (skirt steak marinated overnight)
Southwestern slaw (I'd give it a 5 out of 10)
Cheesy Black Beans (my favorite!)
Shrimp with Cilanto and Lime (Gourmet cookbook, also very good)
Sangria (I, personally, don't like fruit in my wine)
Margaritas (yummy)

And a fruit tart for dessert -- not Mexican, not even Spanish but very very very good. Cookie crust, homemade custard on top of that, fresh berries, the apricot jelly -- I made a second one the next day, but because it was so very good.

Everyone left at 10:30, which we thought was weird, because we are used to people staying until 2am. It was almost as if we didn't know what to do with ourselves after eveyone left -- the night was still so young. But that must be how adults do it, right?

I've been cleaning out that darn freezer this week (much to the dismay of my family). I think we're probably getting to the bottom of it now. The rest I should just throw away --

My next challenge: trimming a beef tenderloin the Alton Brown way -- and making all those delicious red meat dishes --

I found video on YouTube -- can't wait!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My freezer

Last night I was overcome with a desire to make ice cubes. Odd as it sounds, I like good old fashioned ice cubes and we're having people over for dinner on Saturday, and thought I should stock up.

That led to me trying to secure freezer space to actually store the trays. Ugh! I have a freezer in the kitchen and one in the basement. The kitchen freezer was PACKED with stuff. Nuts, single steaks, 1/2 jars of spaghetti sauce, fish sticks (no one will eat), sauerkraut (?), hot dog rolls, bread ends -- to make crumbs some day, cool whip, all sorts of frozen vegetables. Some things are older than my children (yikes!)

Rather than actually edit the contents, I moved it all downstairs and will put that chore on my to-do list. We are also going to start eating out of the freezer -- it could be weeks before I have to go to the store again. On the up side -- I have made two batches of ice cubes and feel peace when I open the freezer upstairs.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Home made Sloppy Joes

I think my mom used to make sloppy joes using ground beef and a can of manwich. But it makes me feel like a better mother when I create sloppy joes from scratch. This is from Rachel Ray's book, and it's always a hit with the family...

1 T olive oil
1 1/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. steak seasoning blend
1 medium onion
1 small red bell pepper (I've substituted carrots)
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. tomato sauce
2 T tomato paste

Heat oil in a large skillet, add beef and break it up. Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning, add the mix to the meat in the skillet. When the meat has browned, add onion and veggies. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add vinegar, stirring to reduce, add Worcestershire tomato sauce and paste, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 5 more minutes.

The Split Pea Soup Experiment

I am vegetable challenged. I can't seem to figure out a way to get the green things into the kids on a regular basis. So, the other night, when my pal Alton Brown told me that split pea soup is a great way to sneak some peas into the unsuspecting little people, I thought I'd give it a shot.

Amazingly, it didn't go over quite as well here in the real world. Son #1 didn't even try it, daughter said it had a funky aftertaste, and son #2 said it was okay. Husband said it was good, but too thick. (I think he was just being nice). I, on the other hand, loved it (of course). I had some left over, and it does get thicker as it ages, to the point where I feel like I'm eating baby food for lunch. The other great thing about this recipe is that I got to use my groovy new emersion blender...

I think I've got to make it a few more times to get the kids on the right track. I'll torture them with vegetables.

Also, I realized I had to serve it with something they would eat, or they would all starve the night I made it -- so I made ham steaks and macaroni and cheese...

Here's the recipe:
Curried Split Pea Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
12 ounces dried green or yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon curry powder
Place the butter into a large (4 to 6-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, making certain not to allow onions or garlic to brown.

Add the peas, chicken broth and curry powder. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook at a simmer until the peas are tender and not holding their shape any longer, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Using care and a stick blender, puree the soup until the desired consistency. Watch out for hot splatters.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bow Thai Pasta with Shrimp

This has been a family favorite for a very long time. You make a pesto out of cilantro instead of basil, and although it calls for shrimp, I've also used chicken. And, not surprisingly, I rarely have the right kind of pasta (bows) -- so I use whatever is in the cabinet. Lately, I've been using almonds instead of peanuts -- and that works as well.

Bow Thai Pasta with Shrimp
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 T. minced fresh ginger
1 bunch fresh cilantro (stemmed)
1/4 c. dry-roasted peanuts
1/4 t. (or less) dried crushed red pepper
1/2 c. peanut oil
8 oz. bow tie pasta
12 oz. cooked,peeled, deveined medium shrimp
4 green onions, chopped
3 T. fresh lime juice

With processor running, drop garlic and ginger through feed tube. Add cilantro, peanuts and red pepper. With machine running, gradually add oil. Season to taste with salt. (Can be prepared 6 hours and up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate).

Bring pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Place shrimp in colander. Pour pasta into colander. Drain. Return shrimp and pasta to pot. Add pesto sauce, onions, and lime juice. Toss to coat.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Zuni Cafe Chicken = Comfort Food

As I sit here typing away, I can smell the makings of some good old fashioned chicken broth on the stove. It's just starting to snow.. life is good. What's in the pot is the leftovers from a DELICIOUS roast chicken recipe that is fast and easy. I found the recipe at the smitten kitchen

It calls for a bread salad -- absolutely make the bread salad. I couldn't take pictures, it disappears so fast

After you're down to the bones, make chicken broth and freeze 2c. portions for future use....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

REAL Spaghetti Carbonara

This recipe is so good -- and probably so bad for me, I LOVE it -- and everyone pretty much gobbled it up. In fact, #1 son ate it as leftovers this evening. That never happens. The prep is time intensive, and the ingredients can be pricey, but every now and then it's totally worth it.

1 cup finely diced fontina cheese
1/4 lb. bacon
6 oz. proscuitto
2 T. chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves minced
1 medium onion chopped
2 egg yolks
1 lb. spaghetti

Heat a bowl in the oven for the spaghetti
Put the water on to boil
Get out the food processor and chop up fontina cheese and proscuitto
Use a knife to chop onion parsley and garlic, and to slice bacon
Seperate 2 eggs (save yolks)

Throw the bacon in a pan and fry until crisp
Remove crisp bacon and drain, add onion to the pan, saute until tender, add garlic at the last minute or so
Cook the pasta
When the pasta is done, and drained, put it in the hot bowl
Toss with fontina cheese, proscuitto, onions/garlic, parsley, bacon, and egg yolks, toss to incorporate yolks (they'll cook as you toss)
Serve with parmesan cheese.

Christmas Cookies

Well it's the New Year already, and I'm on the verge of throwing away a bunch of cookies. In years past, we'd bake a bunch and give them to neighbors, but this year, for some reason, we never got around to passing them around. We ate a lot of them, but not all. I'd love to get all the recipes down here -- for future reference. But for now, a list will do. In 2008 we made:

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. light molasses
1 egg
3 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground allspice
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves

Combine butter, brown sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy
Add egg and all other ingredients, beat at low speed until combined and a smooth dough is created. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Cut with cookie cutters, back at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. honey
1 egg
1/2 t. almond extract
Strawberry or apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets (or use silicone). Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. On medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and honey. Beat egg and almond extract. In 3 additions, add flour mixture, beating well after each additional.

Shape into 1" dough balls, place on baking sheets, indent with thumb and fill with 1/2 t. preserves. Bake for 10 minutes, transfer to wire racks after 2 to 4 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Drop Sand Tarts
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs. Mix dry ingredients, gradually add vanilla. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes

Sugar Cookies
3 c. flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg beaten
1 T. milk

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and milk. Gradually add dry ingredients. Divide dough in half, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Roll out cold dough, use cookie cutters to make cookies and bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes until just beginning to brown. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet, then place on wire racks.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (Chris' favorite)
1/4 lb. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 package of miniature peanut butter cups

Open the peanut butter cups and remove all wrappers

Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars (granulated and brown)
Beat in egg and vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, and salt), blend into sugar/egg mixture, and mix until smooth dough forms.

Form into balls and place in mini-muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Immediately after removing trays from the oven, press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Let cookies cool in muffin tins for 10-15 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack.

Note to self: everything is better with frosting and sprinkles...