It’s true, there is a candy cabinet in our house. And while most of the time it is filled with random leftover movie or holiday candy, it invariably has a variety of Lindt Chocolate tucked in a bowl in the back. What? I’m not hiding it, exactly. More like saving it. For my own personal use. Don’t judge.
Happily for the family members who don’t know I hide chocolate, I was sent some Lindt Chocolate recipes and samples – yes, samples! The hot chocolate recipe is perfect for today – we thankfully did not get as much snow as other places and hunkering down is a luxury not a necessity. I’m thankful that my day includes the Sunday paper and a cup of hot chocolate. Here is a great recipe from Lindt Chocolate, and yes, I tried it out. You’re welcome.
When I got the invitation to Fairsted Kitchen, it was a given that I would say yes. Every time I drive by it, I remind myself that we need to have dinner there, then I get home and life happens and I forget, again, at least until the next time I drive by. And when I saw that McDonald’s was hosting and Executive Chef Stephanie Cmar (yes, foodie friends, of Bravo’s Top Chef and of Stacked Donuts fame), was going to cook only with McD’s ingredients, I was intrigued. How would this work? What would the menu look like? And most importantly…Would there be fries?!
Pineapple Mango Mocktail
There were fries!
Chicken Croquettes with Cilantro Lime Sauce, Cucumber and Peanut Salad, and Wilted Romaine Puree
Seriously, yum. McNugget get all grown up
Gnocchi with Sausage and Beef Bolognese
And not only were there fries – there was a bar of fries! Everyone talked, laughed and nibbled as we circled the table and there were lots of stories because…fries. And I was so excited that the charming and twinkle lighted exterior of Fairsted Kitchen was a perfect preview to the lovely space within – warm wood tables, lovely vintage mismatched china, and a welcoming staff. What a wonderful antidote to a cold and rainy night.
Dinner was, as expected, fantastic. And made only from ingredients that would be used in a McDonald’s kitchen. The first up: chicken croquettes with cilantro lime sauce, cucumber, peanut salad, and wilted romaine puree and our hosts explained that the fresh produce was the same used in McDonald’s premium salads and McWraps. I learned that McD’s sources from local distributors when possible.
Next up, gnocchi made with actual McDonald’s french fries that were put through a meat grinder. Wow, super clever Stephanie Cmar! The Bolognese made with sausage and 100% ground beef, was delicious! I also learned that McD’s uses 100% beef that is ground, then formed into patties and flash frozen, and made with no additives or preservatives. Good to know.
Dessert was seriously the biggest doughnut I have ever seen. It’s okay though, years of training had prepared me for the challenge and I was undaunted. Doughnuts with Cranberry and Salted Caramel made by Stephanie (McD’s uses USDA grade A fresh eggs and North American grown whole wheat flour).
Served with a perfect cup of coffee (from McCafe) and made with 100 percent Arabica coffee beans. I loved McDonald’s coffee when it was Newman’s Own and I love it now, too. A great price for great coffee.
Photos* were taken by Debbie Grubstein, friend, food blogger extraordinaire, and all around wonderful person. Thanks, Deb!
*except the coffee cup so you can see why Deb is good to have around!
This post was sponsored by McDonald’s. All opinions are, and always will be, my own. Thank you!
Basically, I bake and send a dozen cookies to three other bloggers, then receive three dozen different cookies from other food bloggers from all over the country. Yes, it’s a sweet deal. And it gets better because The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is again partnering with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.
So how does a long distance cookie swap work? Well, this one runs like clockwork – I happily baked my three dozen holiday cookies and shipped them off and then sat by the mailbox waiting to get my three dozen cookies. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long!
First up, some brown butter cookies with vanilla bean icing from Kristen at Bourbon and Honey. Wow. Wonderfully delicious!
Next some rosemary shortbread from Amber at Loves Food, Loves to Eat. Fantastic – especially because she even dipped them in chocolate!
Brown butter white chocolate macadamia nut cookies Jessica at Golden Brown and Delicious were prettily packaged and on my door in time for breakfast – I mean lunch. I would never eat cookies for breakfast, even cookies as delectable as these.
My cookies? The recipe for my first (and best) batch is from a phenomenal home baker and friend.
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (except when they’re not chocolate)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly to blend. Add butter and process about 30 seconds
until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and vanilla and process until a smooth dough forms. Pat dough into a flattened ball, wrap in
plastic and chill for at least 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Put on greased cookie sheet (wash them with the egg yolk.) Bake for
15 to 18 minutes or until firm but not browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Notes from husband of the phenomenal home baker’s husband: add additional butter and sugar. When making the non-chocolate, add a little more flour to make up for the missing cocoa powder…not scientific.
Frosting is very unscientific mix of powdered sugar and water…to whatever consistency works for you. Put on frosting and decorate immediately…let dry for a really long time or else your beautiful work will be wrecked if you stack them.
Ultimately these are my family’s favorite cookies but I felt as if my instructions were too imprecise so I made Joanne Chang’s very precise and wonderful holiday cookies.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Cream sugar and butter for 5 min until light and fluffy in an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 min until combined.
In separate medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder & salt until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture into the butter-sugar-eggs-vanilla mixture and them mix until it is totally incorporated.. Refrigerate the dough for around one hour – I have done it for less and it’s been fine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly flour your work surface, place dough on the surface and flour the dough and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and use your favorite cookie cutters. I went with stars this time. Transfer to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on the edges.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
I’m proud to have donated to The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and the proceeds go to
From the website:
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national 501(c)3 non-profit, is committed to raising funds for research to develop new, improved treatments for pediatric cancer, the #1 disease killer of children in the U.S. We provide inspiration and support for individuals, businesses and organizations to raise funds by hosting grassroots bake sales and other fundraising events.
Beautifully hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen – many thanks! Want to know more? Join next year’s swap? Go here.
Thank you to sponsors Dixie Crystals Sugar, OXO and Land O’ Lakes butter for the baking treats.
What is sweeter than Halloween? And some of our favorite shows are on The Food Network, where I often find inspiration, and they have special Halloween themed recipes…of course they do! Check out these sweet and savory treats. The Food Network has two great October shows that offer more great Halloween recipes and ideas – Halloween Baking Championship (Mondays @9:00pm) and Halloween Wars(Sundays @9:00pm).
You know I’m all about the sweets, and there are some great treats like Wicked Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Chocolate curls or jimmies, optional
Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Mound 30 small clusters of pecans, about 3 or 4 pecans each, spaced a couple inches apart on the pan.
Make caramel: Warm the cream over low heat and keep warm while you cook the sugar.
Put the sugar and corn syrup and in a deep, heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and simmer until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage, or 305 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture. Gradually pour in the cream and vanilla taking care since the mixture will bubble up. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F on the thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Immediately remove from the heat and cool for a minute.
Ladle a couple tablespoons of warm caramel over some of the nut clusters, to make the spider bodies. Then press 6 pieces of licorice into the warm caramel to make the legs. Repeat with the remaining caramel and licorice. (It’s helpful to have an extra hand here, since the caramel can set quickly. If caramel hardens, warm over very low heat. ) Let spiders cool 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1-inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.)
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each spider. Sprinkle with jimmies or chocolate curls, if desired. Let cool until firm.
Copyright 2007 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved
But I also love tomato soup with a nice grilled cheese and this recipe is too adorable not to share! Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster Sammies to fuel us your little trick or treaters before they get all sugared up from Halloween. Plus it’s a rookie move to order a pizza on Halloween night because everyone does and the wait is endless.
For more Halloween recipes and ideas, tune in to Food Network or visit Foodnetwork.com