Saturday, December 21, 2013

Krispy Kringles

Kringles are usually ring shaped and filled with a nut mixture but I find that preparing these delightful individual Kringles are perfect for breakfast on Christmas morning. Use your favorite preserves in these, mine just happens to be apricot. I urge you to make these the night before so that all that is needed the morning of chaos is a cup of coffee or a glass of milk and breakfast is over and the unwrapping can begin.


Believe it or not....

Wisconsin just proclaimed Kringles the official state pastry less than a year ago(June,2013)

The first Kringle known to have been made and referred to as such was for President Woodrow Wilson's wedding by a Danish baker named L.C. Klitteng

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sweetened, condensed milk or whole milk

1/2 cup cold butter or margarine

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk(or more)

1/2 cup apricot preserves


Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles small peas. Stir in the milk and egg, mixing until combined well.

On a well floured work surface, transfer dough and knead only until it comes together and isn't sticky, adding flour if necessary. Roll out 1/2-3/4-inch in thickness. With a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass dipped in flour frequently, cut out as many rounds as possible; set aside. Briefly knead the dough just until it holds together, roll out again and cut out as many circles as possible. Repeat until all dough is used. Divide dough discs into 2 equal piles. In the center of half the discs, mound a tablespoon or so of apricot preserves. Place a disc over the top and press around the perimeter to seal. Place the cutter over the filled Kringle and press to make perfectly round. Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet and repeat until all dough discs are used.

Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a rack set over yet another cookie sheet or large baking pan.

Mix the powdered sugar with the milk and either brush or drizzle icing over each of the Kringles while still warm. Let cool completely before serving.


Makes about 7 Kringles.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Only At Christmas

Although these recipes would be great during all the colder months(and maybe during the warm temperatures as well), they are great additions to your Holiday table or even as gifts for family and friends to take with them once they have finished and are ready to roll out.

Sugar Plum Jelly

Many of you may have the powdered form of pectin already in your pantry. And YES, you can substitute one for the other. Liquid pectin is used in preserve, jam and jelly recipes that require cooking first while powdered pectin can be used in the same recipes, even if you aren't cooking them. One tablespoon liquid equals 2 teaspoons powdered.

In the recipes below, each pouch is 3-ounces, or 1/4-cup powdered if using. Double this in the following recipe. While Certo brand liquid pectin comes in 6-ounce pouches, Sure Jell comes in 3-ounce pouches. I also use the pink box at times, which is called "Sure Jell Liquid Pectin for Less". This means that the pectin will set up with less sugar and no sugar commonly found in most jams, jellies and preserves. Use dry as you would wet pectin.


2 cups plum juice(Sunsweet brand makes a great one)

3/4 cup sugar

Juice of one large orange, strained

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2(3-oz)pouches liquid pectin*


In a food processor or blender, add the plums and apple juice. Pulse until plums are minced but still have small chunks throughout, about 10-15 seconds. In a large saucepan, bring plum/juice mixture, sugar, orange juice and grated orange zest to a boil over high heat, stirring almost constantly. . Stir in the pectin and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour into four half-pint jars. Seal with lids and refrigerate 6 hours, or longer, until set. I don't care for the uneasy spreadability of jelly so I always mix it up before using.
This is fantastic on any fruited quick bread or coffee cake, toast, English muffins or just plain ol' crackers.



Figgy Pudding Preserves

Although this recipe contains no figs, I substituted raisins. Many recipes call for this substitution in Figgy Pudding and if you want to stay true to the classic, use 1/2 pound fresh figs, trimming off both ends first before adding to food processor. Add, also, 1 tablespoon lemon juice. If using dried figs, boil 6 ounces in apple juice for 10 minutes, over medium heat, until starting to soften and plump. Remove from heat and let sit in hot juice for 1 hour. Add this to the food processor with candied ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue with recipe.

For a great, warm and homey taste and feel of "Yankeeville" during the Holidays, spread some of this comfort preserve on absolutely anything you desire.

2 cups apple juice

1 1/2 cup raisins

2 ounces candied(or crystallized) ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2(3-ounce)pouches liquid pectin

In a food processor or blender, pulse first 5 ingredients until ginger and raisins are pulp-like in size, about 1 minute. Remove to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the pectin and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and carefully ladle the jelly into four half-pint jars, leaving a half-inch space on top. Seal with lid and refrigerate until set, about 6 hours or longer.
Once this is set(as I do the Sugar Plum Jelly) I take a fork and mix it up a little so the raisins that may have settled on bottom while hot is mixed throughout evenly.

Super Easy Peanut Butter Snowballs

Peanut Butter and Jelly Snowballs

What a great little gift for the children at your Holiday table this year. heck, the adults may want to try to "take candy from a baby", but good luck with taking these delightful, children's treats away. With the perfect amount of peanut butter and jelly, and a sprinkling of snow over each, they are the perfect mouthful.

1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 cups(12 ounces) white chocolate chips*

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or oil

2-3 tablespoons jelly

1 cup shredded coconut

In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about a minute or until very smooth but thick and pullling away from the sides of the bowl.
Form this mixture into balls the size of a quarter using a teaspoon. Place it in the palm of your hand and make an indent in the middle. Scoop a bare 1/4 teaspoon jelly into this indentation and fold over the peanut butter filling, sealing well. Place the filled peanut butter ball on a cookie sheet or plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm. You don't have to cover them.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 60 seconds, lightly stir and continue heating in 15 second intervals until completely melted. Remove balls from refrigerator and grab yourself fork. Plunge the peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate, roll around in it with your fork and lift out to gently shake excess chocolate off. Transfer to a plate or pan that has been lined with film wrap and continue with remainder of balls. If there is any chocolate left over, drizzle over the tops. Sprinkle coconut over the top of each while still wet from chocolate and rrefrigerate until chocolate is firm.


* You can substitute white candy coating without adding the shortening here as well, or use white chocolate squares, but you WILL need to use shortening or oil.

Makes about 20 small snowballs

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crockpot Figgy Pudding

"Oh bring us a figgy pudding, and a cup of good cheer."
Original Figgy Pudding is a steamed dessert that resembles more a very firm mousse than anything. although you can steam this dessert in its' classic preparation, not many have the tools to do so. The ONLY other method of preparation that closely resembles the original intent of this English pudding is through the crock pot. Honestly! It comes out to an almost cake-like consistency while having that pudding-like texture. Its hard to put it into words but I think this variation is light, fluffy and packed with flavor and the almost melt-in-your-mouth body is superior to that of any other Figgy Pudding recipe you can find.

Originally, this classic added figs, breadcrumbs, pepper, almonds or walnuts, dates, raisins and a Hard Sauce. Dark rum was often added, as well, as you can add here if you like. Simply add 1/2 cup dark rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract.


1 cup milk

1 cup apple jelly*

1 cup dried figs, dates or plums(prunes), pitted and minced

1/2 cup dried cranberries, craisins or raisins

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 1/4 cup flour

1 cup fresh bread crumbs, rye, white, wheat

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped fine

Red Currant Hard Sauce, recipe below


In a medium saucepan, add the milk, figs, cranberries and butter. Place over low heat. When it starts to simmer, let the figs and cranberries cook for 10-12 minutes, or until they are softened, mixing occasionally. Remove from heat to cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remainder of ingredients(except Hard Sauce) until thoroughly mixed. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine. If there are lumps, that is perfectly fine.

Preheat crock pot on medium heat. Transfer the Figgy Pudding to crock pot, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until cake bounces back when touched on top. Serve with ed Currant Hard Sauce poured over the top of each serving. The Hard Sauce will thin out and "melt" over the warm Figgy Pudding..


Red Currant Hard Sauce

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup red currant jam, jelly or preserves

With a hand mixer or tabletop mixer, beat the butter on high for 1 minutes, or until it is very creamy and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in a half cup of powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until it resembles peanut butter. Beat in the orange juice to thin out to the consistency of whipped cream. Hand fold the red currant jam so that it is streaked throughout. Use your favorite jam or preserves here as well or substitute real dark rum or rum extract to stay with tradition.

* or 1/2 cup molasses

Sugar Plums

The Sugar Plum Tree
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?

'T is a marvel of great renown!

It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea

In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;

The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet

As those who have tasted it say)

That good little children have only to eat

Of that fruit to be happy next day.


When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time

To capture the fruit which I sing;

The tree is so tall that no person could climb

To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!

But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,

And a gingerbread dog prowls below--

And this is the way you contrive to get at

Those sugar-plums tempting you so:


You say but the word to that gingerbread dog

And he barks with such terrible zest

That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,

As her swelling proportions attest.

And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around

From this leafy limb unto that,

And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--

Hurrah for that chocolate cat!

There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,

With stripings of scarlet or gold,

And you carry away of the treasure that rains

As much as your apron can hold!

So come, little child, cuddle closer to me

In your dainty white nightcap and gown,

And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree

In the garden of Shut-Eye Town

Reprinted from Poems of Childhood. Eugene Field. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1904

What child hasn't heard of at least the beginning stanza of this classic poem? The numbers are dwindling, I am afraid, as well as the number or people who have actually had the enjoyment of the taste treat associated with this story.

True Sugar Plums were so-named because, although not actually 'sugared plums', the original recipes used raisins or dried plums, otherwise known as prunes. Raisins were held together with nuts of various types and other dried fruits and rolled into small truffle-like balls They were a hit with youngsters and oldsters alike many generations ago. Without altering the original too much, try The Yankee Chef's version of this Christmas sweet the way your forebears tasted them, with only a couple of extra touches to round off the textural experience.

Today's recipes use the food processor or blender to finely mince all the ingredients, but I think that method muddles the flavor too much and gives it a monotone texture.......Blah! By simply chopping the ingredients by hand, the taste is fantastic and you can actually distinguish the different flavors all "rolled up into one". Adding granola is a great touch as well, but if you happen to have some granola-type cereal on hand, even the nut-laden variety, by all means this is a nice alternative too. Refer to NOTE for extended list of various alternatives to use.

1/2 cup raisins, left whole or chopped

1/2 cup granola

1/2 cup dried banana chips, crushed

1/2 cup candied green cherries, chopped

1/2 cup dried plums(prunes), orange-scented, chopped

1/2 cup candied red cherries, chopped

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup honey


In a large bowl, combine all ingredients well with damp hands or use gloves(latex that is-work gloves won't work so well here). This may be best accomplished if you have a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. With your hands still slightly wet from water, mold into small balls, pressing tightly to mold. Place on a large platter and let air dry for an hour to dry the outside and make less sticky. Cover and keep until needed at room temperature. For a 'sweet and salty' flavor, sprinkle some kosher or other large-grained salt on top of each Sugar Plum.


NOTE: You may also substitute the following or use some imagination to form that perfect Sugar Plum, I promise Santa will love it just the same. I use candied fruits here because it adds that special flavor and extra holding power. Use all dried ingredients if desired. Try dried apple slices, candied pineapple(both yellow and green), crushed walnut, pecans or slivered almonds, golden raisins, dried apricots, candied or grated lemon or lime peel, candied citron or shredded coconut.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Round Robin of Egg Nogs

Round Robin of Egg Nogs

Below, find an extra thick recipe for everyone to enjoy this Holiday season. Don't be turned off by the addition of a boxed pudding mix, no-one has to know. I find that the recipe below is so much more tasty than any other "Shortcut" Egg Nog recipes. I have also given you an array of flavors to work with during that special time with family and friends, and hope you find the cheer and salutations appropriate for an occasion to be celebrated with this great Yuletide beverage.

Basic Egg Nog

4 cups milk
1(3.4-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In large bowl, whisk half the milk with pudding mix until smooth, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the remaining milk, egg substitute, vanilla and nutmeg until very well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream if desired before serving.


For Gingersnap Egg Nog, add 1 teaspoon dried ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup molasses with egg substitute, along with the vanilla and nutmeg. Or, to make an adult Gingersnap Egg Nog, stir in 2 ounces Ginger-flavored liqueur found just about everywhere believe it or not.

For Sugar Cookie Egg Nog, buy some large sugar crystals, which can be purchased at any supermarket. Wet the rim of each glass with corn syrup, by pouring some in a shallow plate and tipping each serving glass rim into the corn syrup, letting excess drip off holding the glass upside down. Then dip the wet rim into a shallow plate of large sugar crystals, coating well. Leave the glass in the sugar for 1 minute before continuing with other glass. Place in refrigerator until ready to fill. Sprinkle some finely crushed sugar cookies over the top of each drink if desired.

Pumpkin Pie Egg Nog: Whisk in 1/2 cup canned pumpkin with the pudding mix, adding another 1/2 cup with the egg substitute with 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, use 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger and 1/4 teaspoon dried, ground cloves. Omit the nutmeg in recipe.

Apple Pie Egg Nog. This would be an adult beverage when you add 2 ounces apple brandy, apple pie liqueur or apple-flavored liqueur.


Vanilla Bean Egg Nog. Cut 3 vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the egg nog before stirring and refrigerating. Cut each scraped pod in half to float on top of each glass of Vanilla Bean Egg Nog.

Caramel Egg Nog. This is simply accomplished by stirring in 3/4 cup jarred caramel sauce into the finished egg nog before covering to refrigerate. Mound each glass of Egg Nog with whipped cream or drizzle some caramel over the top and down the inside of the glass before serving.


Candy Cane Egg Nog. For a nonalcoholic drink, whisk in a teaspoon peppermint extract before refrigerating. For an adult beverage, stir in 2 ounces peppermint schnapps and decorate both with a candy cane for a swizzler or crush some candy canes with a little sugar in a food processor or blender to sprinkle on whipped cream mounding each serving.


Divinity Egg Nog.

There IS a way of safely enjoying whipped egg whites in a drink or dessert. Let me show you how. Make a double boiler out of a stainless steel bowl over an inch or so of gently simmering water, over medium-low heat. Before adding the steel bowl over the water, whisk together 1 tablespoon water with a large pinch of cream of tartar. Add 2 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk very well and set on top of simmering water. Have a food grade thermometer handy. Grab a rubber spatula and constantly fold the egg whites into itself while it is heating up. After about a minute, insert thermometer. It should read 160-degrees F. If it doesn't, continue heating until it does. Once the temperature has been achieved, immediately remove bowl from stove, turn heat off and beat with hand-held mixer, on high, until it has cooled and thickened to stiff peaks.

Either fold this into prepared Basic Egg Nog(I used Butterscotch Pudding mix here) or dollop a mound on top of each serving sprinkled with ground pecans. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THE Yankee Chef vs. Yankee Chef

I have been asked a few times if I am part of a restaurant in Milford, New Hampshire called Yankee Chef. John Sullivan, owner and chef at Yankee Chef has a gem of a restaurant and I would never take away anything from him. He is culinarily spot on when it comes to comfort food and the preparation thereof. Visit him online at

But having said that, I am THE Yankee Chef. Visit me at I can see where the confusion lies very readily, especially when John calls himself the Yankee Chef. I have great admiration for him and his restaurant but that subtlety of how THE is used is what differentiates us two. His is a building by the name Yankee Chef, and I am that towering figure of a man called THE Yankee Chef(had to make light of it somehow).

 So whenever you want to find out more about me and my recipes, don't ever forget to add the word The. Confusing? Slightly!

Why did I even bother to write about this on my blog? So that John knows(as well as everyone else who had been wondering)that I have nothing but admiration for him and his restaurant, but I am not the same nor do I work there.

Hope everyone is having a great Holiday season so far and I will have something very exciting to report within the next 5 days. Just haven't said anything up to now because it seems as though every time I mention something good is about to happen, it gets derailed, postponed or simply eliminated. This way, I don't have to explain anything to anyone.....yet!