Monday, December 23, 2013

Button Cookies & Bonus Recipe

Hey everyone!

Merry early Christmas!  Since Christmas is so close I’ve been busy looking through our big book of old family recipes in search of the perfect cookie recipe (for Santa, of course).  My mom suggested I make my grandmother’s recipe for Button Cookies, but I had to make a few changes before I began baking.  My grandmother used to make cookies with a lot of cream cheese and powdered sugar, which I decided to remove from the recipe to make it healthier. 

The recipe for Button Cookies is very simple to make and can also be used to make Thumbprint Cookies!  The difference is, once you have the balls of dough, stick your thumb in it and fill the dip of your thumb with jelly.  If you’re looking for the perfect, easy and delicious cookie recipe for Christmas this year, Button Cookies and Thumbprint Cookies are the perfect recipe for you! 

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas, Lizzie Marie 

Button Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into about 16 pieces
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

BONUS: Thumbprint Cookies
Same ingredients as above, just pick your favorite jam and add about 1/2 teaspoon into each thumbprint before baking.  Bake for the same amount of time and temperature.

Button Cookies:
Place butter pieces and brown sugar into food processor fitted with metal blade.  Pulse until creamy.  Add 1 cup flour to processor; pulse to combine.  Add remaining flour and vanilla and pulse to combine and dough forms into a ball.  Remove dough from processor and place onto a dry, clean work surface.  Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough, roll into a ball with your hands and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean up). 
Cut an extra piece of parchment paper (about 3” x 3”) that will cover the bottom of a drinking glass.  Place piece of parchment paper on top of dough ball, then press the bottom of the drinking glass onto the top of the parchment paper, twisting the glass while pressing down onto the cookie dough to form a flat cookie about 1/4 inch thick.  The piece of parchment paper prevents the dough from sticking to the bottom of the glass. 
Remove piece of parchment paper and repeat to make about one dozen cookies on the pan (the cookies will not spread during baking).  Take the end of a wooden spoon handle or a chopstick and press two small “button holes” into each flattened cookie.

Bake 7 – 9 minutes or until golden around edges.  Immediately after removing from oven, re-press the button holes if they closed up a bit.  Cool 5 minutes then move to cooling rack.

Stack 2 or 3 cookies and run a narrow ribbon through each hole at the bottom of the stack and tie a bow at the top of the cookie stack.

Yields: 36 button cookies

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Eat Like a Champion: The Katniss Connection

When people learn that I am a competitive archer, their first reaction is to usually ask if I started because of The Hunger Games.  While I am a fan of the series and think it’s amazing how popular archery has become because of it, I was actually slinging arrows at a target years before Katniss became popular.  After trying archery at a Girl Scout camp and liking it I, discovered a local archery club and decided to join.  My first bow was tiny, about the length of my forearm, and a “long” distance to me was 20 meters.  4 years later I am now shooting bow taller than I am at distances of up to 60 meters.  I’m a member of an archery team, the Archery Learning Center Hornets and a member of USA Archery. 

Within the past year and a half I decided to get more serious with my archery and began competing at tournaments.  Archery tournaments are not just quick one or two hour events – they usually last all day and some are even days long.  One of the most important things I’ve learned from shooting in a tournament (aside from what to do when your bow breaks unexpectedly) is what snacks to bring.  While some people don’t consider archery a “real” sport or workout, it most definitely is.  Archery engages many different muscle groups including your arms, back, shoulders and core.  When you’re shooting hundreds of arrows a day, you’re going to get sore and you’re definitely going to need fuel to keep you going.  The type of snacks I bring help me stay energized and full so I can shoot all day, and they’re great snacks to bring to any other sporting events you might be competing in. 

My first rule of thumb when packing snacks is to not bring foods that contain a lot of sugar like cookies, gummies, or sodas.  Foods that are full of sugar may make you feel energetic for a while but will end up leaving you tired and sick.  Instead, bring foods that have a balance of protein and carbohydrates, such as peanut butter, whole grain crackers, cheese, nuts and yogurt.  Protein will help keep your muscles strong and healthy carbs will fill you up and give you long-lasting energy.  Protein bars are another good option because they fill you up and are convenient to pack.   
Me with some of my teammates at a tournament

Another important thing to remember is to bring lots of water.  Always try to sip water as you exercise, don’t drink it all at once or you’ll get painful stomach cramps.  If you don’t want to be drinking water the whole time, bring a sports drink with low sugar, such as Gatorade.  Sodas and juices usually contain a lot of sugar and nasty chemicals that will make you feel sick if you drink while exercising.

Bringing fruit is always a good idea – bananas are a great fruit to bring because they contain protein, fiber and potassium which will help you give you long-term, natural energy.  Apples and strawberries are other convenient fruit options to keep in a cooler for snacking.

The most important thing to remember is to know how much to eat.  Make sure you snack regularly to stay full and energized, but don’t go overboard and eat everything at once.  I can guarantee you’ll be able to compete better on a stomach full of healthy snacks then a stomach full of sugar and chemicals!

Thanks for reading and good luck at your next sporting event.
Lizzie Marie 

The Coolest (Gluten Free) Cookie in Town

Hey Everyone! 

Lately, I've been doing some research and experimenting to find the tastiest gluten-free versions of some of my favorite foods.  This week I searched for the best gluten-free cookie.  I also discovered a neat trick to maximize your milk and cookies experience - stick a fork into the cream of your cookie and dip it into your cup of milk.  This will keep your fingers clean and your cookie intact!

Thanks for watching,
Lizzie Marie


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mastering the Art of Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon, French for beef stew, is perhaps Julia Child's most infamous recipe. Ever since I received my copy of Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I have aspired to recreate her masterpiece meal. A few weeks ago while watching Julie & Julia, I became inspired to make this dish despite being slightly intimidated. After assembling the ingredients, the journey began.

Phase I: Cooked copious amounts of bacon then caramelized pearl onions in some of the bacon fat. The onions hung out in a covered pan for about an hour. At this point, our house began to smell what I imagine heaven to smell like.

Phase II: Quite frankly, this was the most painful part of the process because it involved searing a heck of a lot of chunks of beef that had to be dried with a paper towel first. Yes, each piece of meat patted dry before searing.

Phase III: Sautéed carrots and, surprise, MORE onions! After these veggies were slightly caramelized, I added them to the beef chunks and placed into a casserole dish along with a little bit of flour and half a bottle of wine. Don't worry, the alcohol burns off. I popped the casserole into the oven where it baked for a few hours.

Phase IV: I must admit, although I am able to stomach most anything, the one thing that might bring a tear to my eye is a cooked mushroom. Regardless, I soldiered on for the sake of my parental units. Never rinse off mushrooms with water because they will absorb the water and become nasty. Instead, brush off any dirt with a dry paper towel. The mushrooms were sautéed in butter and olive oil.  I almost panicked when the oil and butter magically disappeared (it absorbed into the mushrooms), but the liquid released back into the pan after a few minutes and I lightly caramelized the mushrooms. At this point, I became an expert on caramelizing most anything.

Phase V: As if that is not enough food, I boiled a couple pounds of potatoes which were served alongside the stew. Remember what Sam Wise said, "Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew."

Phase VI: Took a nap to recover from this seemingly endless process.

Phase VII: At this point, I didn't have the time to worry about presentation, so I just plated the potatoes and stew and enjoyed!  I survived and became a master of boeuf bourguignon! Boeuf bourguignon is definitely not fast food, it took about 5 hours to make. I accomplished a life long goal of creating this delicious and complicated dish in my own kitchen.

As Julia would say, "Bon Appetite!"

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fromagerie - How Stinky Can It Get?

Bonjour mes amis!

Whoops, I forgot I wasn’t in Paris anymore. Hello friends! In this video I’m going to be talking about one of my favorite shops in Paris: the ‘fromagerie’ (French for ‘cheese shop’). Fromageries are great stores to visit if you’re looking for a perfect cheese to compliment your dinner or to have on hand as a snack. Visiting a fromagerie can be a bit overwhelming due to the crazy amounts of cheese you’ll find, but I’ll help you learn what to expect and how to shop smart in my video, so check it out!

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.
Lizzie Marie

Where's the Boeuf?

Bonjour Everyone!

In today’s video I will be talking about boucheries, the French equivalent of a butcher. Butchers in France are a bit different from the butchers here in America. While they do contain similar basic meats like beef, chicken, and pork, French butchers do have more regional selections.

Boucheries in France typically have various offerings of seasoned meats, and one of my favorites was veal stuffed with figs. Chickens are also commonly found in boucheries, however there are several different options. You can choose to buy different parts of the chicken that have already been cleaned or you can buy the whole chicken (including the feathers and head). While the whole chicken is a bit more expensive, the quality is usually higher and most boucheries can skin and clean the chicken for you if you ask. Some boucheries also sell seasoned butters, such as garlic butter or herb butter, that go very nice with different types of meats.

Check out my video for more information on what to expect before shopping at a boucherie in France.

Thanks for reading, au revoir!