Apricot Butter Cookies

Tonight, our Convent was humming with Christmas cheer as we readied our home for Christmas. Some wrapped presents to send to families, other Sisters spent time catching up with old friends as they penned their lovely cards. In the kitchen, we turned on Bing Crosby and poured over old fashioned family recipes as we pondered which cookies we would make this year. The royal icing was prepared and crispy butter cookies were being decorated with sprinkles covering every surface. I remembered a cookie that I hadn’t baked in years and a favorite to be sure. In fact, you won’t find this anywhere else on the internet, at least I couldn’t. Cut from an old magazine, pressed onto an index card and covered in plastic, this shows how treasured this recipe is. Sometimes baking can restore wonderful memories of times past and other times it just puts a smile on your face, honey in your belly and much joy for the adventures ahead. I love Christmas. The beauty, the magic and most of all the precious gift that is awaiting us in the form of a little baby on Christmas morning.

May the season of light be yours this year. Blessed Christmas!

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Apricot Butter Cookies
SERVINGS
32cookies
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
cookies
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
1 1/2hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, sugar and water and simmer for 15-18 min. or until the liquid is reduced by half and add the rum or brandy. Let the mixture cool slightly and in a food processor or blender, puree it.
  2. Make the shortbread cookie dough. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate standing mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg, beating the mixture until it is well combined. Slowly, add the flour mixture in stages and mix until just combined, but don't over mix or your shortbread will be tough.
  3. Form the dough into a log, wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hr. Divide the log into 4 pieces.
  4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place the dough in plastic wrap and roll into an 8 inch long rope - place on a parchment covered sheet pan and make a canal down the center with your finger so the log becomes a 8 x 2" rectangle with a channel in the middle.
  5. Spread the apricot puree in the canals.
  6. Bake the cookie sticks in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 min. until the edges are slightly golden.
  7. Transfer to a rack and let them cool.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients and add just enough water to make a thick but pour-able icing - you want it to be on the thick side.
  9. If desired, transfer the glaze to a squeeze bottle or piping bag and drizzle the icing over the cookies.
  10. Cut the rectangles diagonally into 1" strips.
  11. The cookies will keep in the freezer or in an airtight container for 1 week.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

St. Lucia Bread

Since St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) is just around the corner on December 13th, we thought we’d share this special Swedish bread with you – fantastic for the Holidays. The celebration of the day comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. “St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head, so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.” (see note below**)

December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day. It is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Thus, the wreath of bread dotted with candied “berries.” If you’d like you can also add small candles to the cake as well for a more festive look.

** read more at https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/sweden.shtml

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St. Lucia Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
20-25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2-3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large mixer, soften the yeast in the warm water
  2. Heat the milk until warm. Add the oil and sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture in the mixer
  4. Add salt and saffron
  5. Add the 3 slightly beaten eggs and mix with dough hook.
  6. Add the lemon zest, citron and almonds and continue mixing
  7. One cup at a time, add the flour and mix well after each addition. Stop adding the flour when the dough starts pulling away from the side of the bowl. Adding more flour if necessary.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 min, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic; adding flour as necessary.
  9. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 1 hr. (At this point, you can refrigerate the dough, if you want to work with it later).
  10. Divide the dough into six equal balls and roll into large ropes and then braid three together, making two braids.
  11. Pinch the two ends together and tuck under, forming two circular loaves.
  12. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with baking paper, or grease, and put a braided loaf on each pan.
  13. Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled.
  14. Combine the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush on the braids.
  15. Bake for about 20-25 min or until the loaf feels firm to the touch. If you would like to use a thermometer, the internal temperature should read about 190 degrees.
  16. While the bread is baking, prepare your frosting, mixing all ingredients until smooth and on the thicker side. Cut your cherries in half.
  17. Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly, then decorate, using the green cherries as leaves, and the red as berries.

Crispy Coconut Cookies

Today is Springtime at its best on Cape Cod— robins chirping, rabbits and squirrels scampering about, flowers blooming everywhere.

Put’s me in the mood to try a fresh new cookie recipe, and I have indeed found one! Crunchy, rich, with added coconut and a bit of almond flavoring—I ended up making a second batch, as I know they’ll be needed for upcoming events.

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Crispy Coconut Cookies
SERVINGS
3dozen (approx. 40 cookies)
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen (approx. 40 cookies)
COOK TIME
12-15mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg and extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients just until blended. Add the coconut and mix well but don't over beat.
  5. Form into balls, a little larger than walnut size, roll in sugar, flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake for 15 minutes or until just barely golden around the edges.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake

For years, rhubarb has long been one of my favorite fruits. Always a bit of a wild child in the fruit family (since most people don’t have any idea what to do with it), I’ve loved it since I was a kid and always looked forward to my mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie – which I deemed ‘the best!’ When we moved to New England back in 1981, my great grandmother (who embodied Tasha Tudor) gave us her heirloom rhubarb plant to take with us. After 37 years, it’s still thriving in my mother’s garden!

This Mother’s Day, I decided to ‘pay it forward’ with a pie for mom and then my creative juices got going when, after delivering the pie, I left with a huge bag of freshly picked rhubarb from Grandma’s plant! So, next came this old fashioned pudding cake. Eaten warm, straight out of the dish, or with a squirt of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, it is melt-in-your-mouth goodness that will keep you going back for more. Super simple and quick to make, it’s the perfect go-to dessert for company or to make for your family after a long day. It can be made gluten free as well. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
40-45mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
55-60mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cover the bottom of a buttered glass 8 or 9 inch square pan with rhubarb and strawberries.
  2. Mix 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, extracts, milk and flour together and pour over fruit. Mix remaining sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over mixture in pan. Pour boiling water over the top- this will create a wonderful pudding around the fruit in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake at 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or bubbly and golden.
  4. You can see that the sugar topping creates a glaze on the top of the cake, something like a creme brulee, as well as creating the pudding at the bottom. Serve warm in a bowl with ice cream or whipped cream, or let it cool a bit, slice and invert on your plate to show off the pudding. You may also substitute a gluten free flour blend for the flour - you may need to adjust the cooking time.

Cape Cod Cranberry Torte

“Old Cape Cod”…home of the Cod, home of the Oyster, the Quohog and the Clam. Home of the Beach Plum and Rose Hip, and also of the Cranberry, now at the very peak of its season! 

I am fortunate to have lived here for many years, and one of my most favorite sights in  the late fall is that of the bright afternoon sun shining on the cranberry bogs, catching their sparkle….like beautiful gems or jewels reflecting the light as they wait to be harvested. Over my years here I have accumulated quite a collection of typical Cape Cod recipes. One of my favorites  is this beautiful Cape Cod Cranberry Torte, lovely looking, luscious tasting — at any time of the year, but particularly at this snowy, winter season.

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Cape Cod Cranberry Torte
SERVINGS
6-8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
40mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Beat egg yolks until thick, and gradually beat in 1.2 cup of the sugar. Keep beating until very light.
  3. Beat in extracts and mix in crumbs.
  4. Beat whites of eggs until foamy. Add remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat until shiny and stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold whites mixture into beaten egg mixture and blend in the nuts.
  6. Spread the beaten egg mixture into two 9-inch buttered pie plates. Bake 20-25 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool.
  7. In a saucepan, mix cranberry sauce and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved and cool until partially set.
  8. Whip the heavy cream and set aside.
  9. Spread a thin layer of cranberry mixture in the torte shells, followed by a layer of whipped cream. Continue to layer until the shell is filled, ending with whipped cream.
  10. Let stand until cranberry portion is completely set.

Summer Double Berry Cobbler

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity. This week’s recipe is from a dear friend, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN TV host. She is an award-winning author of more than two dozen books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. She is the founder of the “Feeding the Body and Soul Movement.” More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.

From Donna-Marie “Ahh, summertime! A time of well-deserved rest comes with a welcome change of scenery and in-season fruits. While making our plans, let’s not forget about our prayer lives. A change in schedule and eagerness to “get away from it all” might cause us to lose touch with our spiritual needs. We mustn’t let our prayer life go on vacation.


So that family prayer continues to happen throughout summertime, we have to carve out time for it. Many inconveniences pop up in the heart of the family, and God knows we can’t drop to our knees to pray while taking care of pressing family needs. He also knows we are a work in progress, too. When our planned prayer time gets sabotaged or rearranged, we should try again to make it work. If we have done our best, He will surely reward us for persevering, and for training our children and grandchildren to develop committed relationships with Him.

Don’t miss family time in the kitchen, too. Why not make my Summer Double Berry Cobbler together? Make an extra pan and gift it to someone who might need a lift. God bless you! ”

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Summer Double Berry Cobbler
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30 mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
50 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash berries (if using frozen berries, no need to wash! and mix with sugar (or honey), lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, vanilla and cinnamon (if using). Place in a buttered pie dish or 4 quart baking dish.
  3. Next, make biscuit dough topping. Whisk together flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar (or honey), baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center and stir in the milk (or yogurt) and beaten egg.
  5. Mix just until combined. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the berries. Bake for 30 min. or until well browned and berry mixture is bubbling and dough is cooked.

Amazingly delicious when served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or even a spoonful of greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Thank you, Donna Marie, for such a delightful summer recipe!
The Gourmet Nuns