Blog

RECIPES

Katie’s Holiday Sugar cookies

Every Christmas, our family decorates sugar cookies. So now, after years of practicing the art taste vs. sturdy-enough-for-frosting cookie – we have a winner! And I’m sharing it with you.

For the cookies:

  1. 2 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup  sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened (this is important!)
  5. 1-ounce cream cheese softened
  6. 2 teaspoons almond extract

For the frosting:

  1. 2 cups  confectioners’ sugar
  2. 3 tablespoons milk
  3. 1-ounce cream cheese softened
  4. Food coloring
  5. Assorted festive sprinkles

 

Wisk the flour, sugar, and salt until combined.  Using a mixer add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until dough looks mush and wet (not too tasty looking at this time.) Then add cream cheese and vanilla and beat until dough begins to form large clumps.

Transfer dough to parchment covered counter; knead (spray your hands with PAM it makes it easier.) just until it forms a cohesive mass and divide in half. Form each half into disk, wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.  Don’t skip this part. Plus it’s nice to be able to get half of your work done and move on to other things.

Two hours later or more: Begin working with 1 disk of dough at a time, roll dough 1/8 inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Slide dough, still between parchment, onto the baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Working with 1 sheet of dough at a time, remove the top piece of parchment and cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters. Using a thin offset spatula, transfer shapes to a prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1-inch apart.

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.

cookiesOnce you have your cookies cooled, mix the frosting ingredients together and start being the real artist you know you are deep in your heart. Or if you’re like me, you frost, sprinkle and eat.

P.S. I never said I was patient enough to make them pretty, but they taste really good.

Best,

KatieB

RECIPES

Feijoada

Feijoada -jpegIn my book that will be coming out this fall A Ghost of a Chance  (a brief synopsis is on the “Katie’s books” section of my website or click here. ) there is a lot of talk of food. A LOT. I love food. And my books often feature yummy food. After a particularly grueling part of the book, one of the characters makes Feijoada for the ghost hunting team. Feijoada (pronounced fedg-e-wa-da) is the national dish of Brazil. Its origins are less than stellar. Enslaved people, desperate for sustenance would mix black beans with whatever meat leftovers their owners deemed to offer them. Therefore, they often had to make due with a cow’s tongue, and other pieces of discarded meat. They wasted nothing. And they cooked and cooked and cooked this dish. All that cooking somehow made magic happen. This black bean dish is based on the creativity and resourcefulness of the slaves of Brazil. It is amazing. Make sure to cook some rice at the end and play some Antônio Carlos Jobim while you eat this wonderfully tasty meal.

Serves 8-10

Spareribs
Chorizo or other smoked spiced pork sausage
Fresh breakfast sausage
ham hock
3-1/2 quarts water
Dried black beans
Lean slab bacon
Canadian-style bacon in 1 piece
2 tablespoons butter
About 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped(or 1 cup
canned plum tomatoes, drained
2 bottled Tabasco peppers, drained, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

5 large oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

THE MEATS: Precook the meats in the following fashion:  Put the spareribs, sausages and ham hock in water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. THE BEANS: In a heavy 12 quart casserole or a large soup pot, bring water to a boil over high heat.  Drop in the beans and boil them briskly for 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour.  Then add the ham hock and lean bacon.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour.  Check the beans so that they do not get too dry. They should be moist and slightly soupy.  Add boiling water if necessary. Preheat the oven to 250.   Continue cooking the beans  for  1 hour.  Finally, add the smoked and fresh sausage and bacon and cook for 30 minutes. when the meats are tender, remove them from the pot and place them in the oven to keep warm.  Skim the fat from the surface of the beans and remove the pot from the heat. THE SAUCE: In a heavy 8-10 inch skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat and all the onions and garlic,  Cook , stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent but not brown.  Stir in tomatoes, Tabasco peppers, salt and black pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of beans from the casserole and add them to the skillet.  Mash them thoroughly into the onion mixture, moistening them with 2 cups of the bean liquid as you mash.  Stirring occasionally, simmer the sauce over low heat for 25 minutes, or until it becomes thick. With a rubber spatula scrape the sauce into the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Present the beans, with rice and orange slices in separate bowls.

Katie's Thoughts

Dear Depressed Person

After reading about the death of singer, Scott Hutchinson’s passing, I made a decision. I’m coming out.

I have been struggling with depression since I was a teenager and it’s an insidious disease. Years ago, before I went to therapy and was on any medication for my depression, I drank too much and on occasion would do drugs.  (I told you, I’m coming OUT!) Anything to keep me numb.  To be numb is not to think. Feeling numb is a break from the voices in my head that were always telling me I’m not any good. I’m ugly; unworthy and a thousand other negative things.

When the emotional pain is bad, I long for that dissociation. For numbness. That blissful time when I don’t feel anything. But that is where the real darkness of depression lurks. That desire to “let go” can lead to unhealthy and often impromptu decisions that may lead to suicide. Jim Morrison once said “No one here gets out alive,” and that’s true, so why rush it? Life sucks on occasion, but it’s also amazing. Those of us who struggle with depression, often forget to notice the beauty in the world. For me, taking a walk with my dog has been a keen reminder that life can be beautiful A happy dog and a sunny day? Hell yeah.

For us, the clinically depressed, the feeling of being the only one that feels this pain, the feeling of being alone and that people would be happier without you in their life. That softly whispered voice in your head? That is the darkness. But those voices lie. Because as we have seen from Scott’s apparent suicide, nothing is further from the truth. He was beloved, and so are you.

Why am I telling you all this? To feel sorry for me. Hell no. I work hard to deal with my depression. I go to therapy every week and face my darkness head-on. I’m also on antidepressants to stabilize my mood. Yep. On medication. And I’m thankful every day that my sister convinced me to ask for medication for my moods.

If you struggle with this disease, there are many of us out there that understand what you’re going through and will listen! I repeat:  You are not alone. Okay, so there isn’t a simple button to push to make your depression go away. You do have to work for your good days. But it’s worth it!  Get therapy, work with a doctor to get on the right anti-depressant. One day you will notice the soothing warmth of the sun or a flower bursting with color, or the giggle of a child and you will smile. That is the beginning of the path to healing. Step out of yourself and into the world.

Don’t allow those voices in your head to lead you on a path to destruction. You are worth it. You are loved, and we don’t want you to slip off your mortal coil – we want you to be here with us.  We need to come out and let people know we are here and we can be a support to one another. Let’s start now. Let’s do it for Scott Hutchinson and all the others who didn’t feel like they could survive in their own skin.

Let’s all take one simple step.  Let’s believe we are worthy.  Get the help we deserve and reach out to those who love us. Trust me; They have been waiting to be there for you and me.

 

Sincerely,

Katie Baldwin
Romance Writer and depressed person.
Reach out @katiebwrites or Katiebaldwin2015@gmail.com

RECIPES

Irish Boxty (potato pancakes)

There is an old Irish quote “Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan; if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man’.” While the old quote makes me cringe, I do have to admit that the potato pancakes are amazingly yummy. I can’t confirm that this is some kind of magic charm for grabbing a man though. (Also maybe he can make them for you!)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups grated raw potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 leek, diced
3/4 cup of Irish Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Boxty Ingrediants

1. Toss the grated potatoes with flour in a large bowl.

shredded potatoes
2. Stir in mashed potatoes until combined.
3.In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk; mix into the potatoes.
4. Add leeks and cheese.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

all miexed up potatoes
6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
7. Drop in the potato mixture, forming patties about 2 inches in diameter. Fry on both sides until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

fry those suckers - boxty
8. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
9. Serve warm. with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives on top

plated boty

 

RECIPES

Rice Pudding warms the soul

I will never understand why people think it’s gross. It’s pudding with rice. What could be more awesome? I fell in love with it as a child living in Ecuador. It was quite cold in Quito, and some warm Arroz con leche (aka rice pudding) hit the spot every time. What I love about this recipe I’m about to share is that it is so dang easy. You use cooked rice!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups milk (I use whole milk for this treat.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup  raisins or currants
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup  sugar
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Combine cooked rice,  1 cup of milk, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir remaining 1/2 cup milk,  raisins,  and white sugar into the rice mixture; add beaten egg, and stir continuously or else the egg will cook and then you will have such grossness. Remove saucepan from heat; stir butter and vanilla extract into the pudding. EAT.

rice pudding

RECIPES

Potato and Leeks Soup

Finally, it is soup season. And for your enjoyment, one of my favorites.

3/4 cup leeks (white and light green portions only), sliced (*Trader Joe’s has leeks in the freezer section, cleaned and sliced. So nice*)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and the cubbed
salt
pepper
finely sliced scallions for garnish (optional)

 

Instructions
Heat the butter in a pan and add the leeks. Cook over medium heat, stirring until softened. Pour in about two cups of water or two cups of Chicken Broth. Add the potatoes and season with salt and a little pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, the potatoes and leeks should be mushy.
With immersion blender blend leaks and potatoes into a creamy soup. Add 1/4 of milk or heavy cream. Sprinkle with sliced scallions, if you like. I always add a bit of Irish cheddar to my soup.

 

Enjoy!

RECIPES

Pasta with Garlic and Oil

By now I assume you know I love to cook as well as write romances.  This pasta is light and full of flavor. It is also a great side dish to a shrimp or scallop dish. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced garlic or 10 large garlic cloves. 
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice from 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 4 TO 6

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set large heatproof serving bowl on rack and heat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in large pot. Add pasta and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to boiling water, cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

2. Combine 3 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until garlic foams and is sticky and straw-colored, 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon raw garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water to skillet and stir well to keep garlic from clumping.

3. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl; add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and remaining reserved pasta cooking water and toss to coat. Add garlic mixture and 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes to pasta; toss well to combine. Serve immediately.