SANDRA'S ARTISTRY ALASKA [retail online store items for purchase]

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SANDRA'S CHRISTMASTIME SPRITZ COOKIES

A tradition that's going to take place every year during Christmastime
from now on, they're beautiful and a buttery scrumptiousness...
Yield: Appx. 7 Doz. (depending upon disc sizes used)
Prep: 15 Mins.
Bake: 8-12 Mins. (Per batch, depending upon disc sizes used)

INGREDIENTS

3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
--(depending upon humidity, adding 1 TB at a time to reach desired consistency)
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (omit if using salted butter)
2 tablespoons milk

--Assorted colored decorating sugar crystals

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Set aside silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheets.

In medium bowl, sift flour and baking powder and soda; set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add beaten egg, almond and vanilla extracts, nutmeg, salt and milk; mix to combine. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture, while gently mixing just until combined.

[Do not chill cookie dough.]

Fill cookie press with dough and desired disc (alternate disc to a new one when desired), press cookies onto lined baking sheets about 1" apart.
Generously sprinkle with your favorite decorating sugar crystal color(s).


In batches, bake 8-12 minutes (depending on size of selected discs), just until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet then transfer to a cooling rack. Store, once completely cooled, in an airtight cookie jar. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S PEANUT BUTTER-MINI CHOCOLATE CHIP-CINNAMON COOKIES

A light, buttery cookie that enhances in flavor over time,
they're delectable and deliciously addicting!


Yields: About 42 cookies
Prep 15 mins
Bake: 10-12 mins

INGREDIENTS

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

--Sugar (1/2 cup) for rolling balls, and dipping fork to form criss-cross texture on cookie tops

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets topped with silpat liners or parchment paper; set aside.

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter, butter, white sugar, and brown sugar for 5 minutes, until light and creamy. Add the beaten egg and vanilla, mixing to combine. Place a sieve over the wet ingredients in the stand mixer bowl and sift flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt; mix to combine. Add the mini chocolate chips, mix just to combine (do not over mix).

Place 1/2 cup sugar into a small bowl; set aside.

Roll mini scoop full of dough into balls. Roll each ball in sugar, and place cookies 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Press each ball twice with fork tines to form a criss-cross pattern (dip fork into sugar it does not stick while doing so). Be sure not to flatten the cookies too much when doing so, or they will not bake properly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container. ~ Enjoy!


SANDRA'S HOMEMADE PIZZAS from SCRATCH

A fantastic recipe for two 14" pizzas you are able to prepare
from beginning to end in 1-1/2 hours,
although an hour of that time is kicking back while the dough proofs...


Yield:2 (14-inch) pizzas
Prep: 20 min
Proof/Rest: 1st Proof = 1 Hr -- 2nd Rest = 10 Mins.
Bake: 12-14 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Crust (makes two 14" pizzas):
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 envelope instant/rapid dry yeast = 2-1/4 tsps. (no need to pre-proof)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups water, 110 degrees
2 tablespoons olive oil
--Plus spray to oil bowl and top of ball, plus rolling surface/board

Toppings (divide each topping ingredient in 1/2 for each pizza):
1 (14-oz. jar) prepared Classico Pizza Sauce, divided
4 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella, divided; plus more for sprinkling on top
1 (5-oz. pkg.) Applegate Naturals uncured pepperoni (3" rounds), cut into quarters, divided

METHOD

Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. Add more flour if too wet or more water if too dry, but only 1 teaspoon increments at a time. Let machine knead dough ball around hook for 2 minutes.

Scrape dough into a large sprayed bowl. Knead a few times and form into a ball. Flip ball over, spray top of dough, including underside of bowl lid. Cover bowl, place in oven (with no heat) turning on just the appliance light. Let proof for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Remove proofed dough from oven.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, placing rack 1 level up from bottom rung. Spray and sprinkle two 14" round pizza pans lightly with corn meal; set aside.

Turn dough out onto a lightly sprayed surface (with oil), and divide into 2 equal sections. Cover balls of dough by turning the same empty bowl upside down over them, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each ball out into two separate 14" crusts, place each on prepared pizza pan.

Top each crust with 1/2 pizza sauce, 1/2 shredded cheese, 1/2 of the quartered pepperoni, and finishing light sprinkling of more mozzarella cheese.

Bake, one at a time, in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, letting each pizza rest 5 minutes prior to serving. ~ Enjoy!

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Tip:

These are the topping ingredients I had on hand, but a multitude of other options would be tasty too, i.e., Canadian Bacon and Pineapple vs the Pepperoni, etc.

SANDRA'S SAVORY CURRIED PUMPKIN SOUP

OMGoodness!! My favorite soup creation to date!

A culmination of ingredients I had on hand today,
and usually do most days,
so I'll be able to remake this delectable delight quite often...


Prep: 15 Mins.
Cook: 30 Mins.
Servings: (4)

INGREDIENTS

1 slice center-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces (or 1 TB olive oil)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup sliced celery
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15-oz can) pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix),,,(or 2 cups pureed squash, just puree 1st)
1 (14-oz can) fat-free low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 cup filtered water (or more to reach your desired soup consistency)...or 1 cup quality white wine)
2 teaspoons fireweed honey
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

--2 cups baby spinach leaves, obvious stems removed, roughly chopped
--1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter, cut into quarters

METHOD

In 3-quart saucepan, heat over medium-high heat, add the bacon and brown until crispy (do not drain drippings or remove bacon). Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, while sautéing.

Stir in all remaining ingredients, except fresh baby spinach and cold butter. Heat soup to boiling; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add chopped spinach, stir to incorporate and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. ~ Remove saucepan from heat; fold in cold butter cubes, and gently stir just until incorporated. 


Serve with toasted, warm homemade bread slices. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S ANYTIME SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE


I microwave the sweet potatoes with 1 TB of water
so as to retain their utmost flavor
versus boiling them in the traditional fashion.

This makes for a phenomenal sweet potato casserole...


Servings: (6)
Par-Cook: 7-10 Mins.
Bake: 30 to 35 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

4 (about 1 lb.) of regular-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons real maple syrup (more or less, to your desired sweetness)
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
--2 cups miniature marshmallows

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside an 8x8" casserole dish.

Place sweet potatoes in a medium glass bowl with 1 tablespoon water, cover with a large microwaveable plate, and cook in microwave on high for 7 minutes. Stir, recover, and microwave in for 1 minute -- 3 times; for a total of 10 minutes, just until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

Using mitts, as bowl will be hot, remove from microwave (do not drain). Add butter, maple syrup, orange juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg; toss to combine just until butter has melted. Spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Top with miniature marshmallows.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, until marshmallows are puffy, golden brown and crispy. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tip:

If you prefer a fluffy and smooth sweet potato casserole, simply use a hand mixer to beat the mashed sweet potatoes and other ingredients (except marshmallows), then top with marshmallows before baking.

SANDRA'S WILD ALASKA BLUEBERRY STREUSEL MUFFINS from SCRATCH

While recently picking my first batch of Wild Alaska Blueberries from my front yard,
I decided to come up with a muffin recipe from scratch.

End result...these streusel topped muffins turned out absolutely fabulous!


Yields: (12)
Prep: 15 Mins.
Bake: 30-35 Mins.


INGREDIENTS

Berries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups fresh wild Alaska blueberries

Wet
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon powder (or zest)
1/2 cup 2% milk

Dry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Streusel
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, diced

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 paper liners in regular-size muffin tin slots, then spray liners with baking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over blueberries, and swirl bowl to coat; set aside.

In a stand mixer bowl, beat 1/2 cups softened butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and milk. Sift 2 cups flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt through a sieve over bowl of wet ingredients; mix on low just until combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and gently fold, using a spatula, the blueberries (shaking off excess flour beforehand), do not stir or over mix. Use an ice cream scoop to equally proportion batter into prepared muffin liners. Use the back of a spoon to even out tops.

Combine 2 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons cold butter with fork until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle equally on top of batter in muffin liners.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, turning pan half way through baking, just until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack, just until cool enough to transfer to a serving platter.  ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:

If using a large 6-cup muffin tin, be sure to increase baking time accordingly.

SANDRA'S 3-BANANA BUNDT CAKE from SCRATCH

Unbelievable how quick and easy this flavor-packed cake
is to prepare, yet so rewarding in under an hour...


Servings: 10 to 12
Prep: 10 Mins.
Bake: 45 to 50 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, slightly packed
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups (3 medium) ripe bananas, mashed
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of table salt

ICING:
1 (small 4 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted through a sieve
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons water (approximate, to your desired consistency)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with Bakers Joy; set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, bananas and vanilla, and mix until creamy. Sift through a sieve over bowl the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; gently mix on low into creamed mixture just until blended. 

Transfer mixture to prepared bundt pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in bundt pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, then drape with a clean kitchen towel to cool. 

Meanwhile, for the icing in a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Sift, then add the confectioners' sugar.  Add vanilla and a little bit of water in increments, and beat until smooth, just until desired icing consistency is reached. 

Spread the icing on bundt cake and let it set for 2 hours before covering. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S HOMEMADE FRENCH BREAD

Its crisp-crunchy crust, perfect center and phenomenal flavor
makes this French Bread the only recipe you'll ever end up using!

That glistening crust is from the egg whites, not oil = healthier bonus...
Yields: (1 Loaf)
Prep 20 Mins.
1st Rise Dough: 30 Mins.
Rolling: 10 Mins.
2nd Rise Loaf: 40 Mins.
Bake 40 Mins.
Cool Loaf: 20 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1/2 teaspoon more for oiling bowl
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
--1 large egg, white only

METHOD

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let proof/bloom for 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, flour and salt, and use the dough hook on low speed to beat until well blended. Increase the speed to medium, the let the stand mixer knead the dough about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Wipe a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, place dough in the bowl, and turn once to ensure dough is completely but lightly coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.



Place a silpat liner or parchment paper on a baking sheet; set aside.



Punch dough down and place onto working surface. DO NOT re-knead. Use a rolling pin to roll into a large rectangle (I DO NOT add flour, as the outer olive oil prevents sticking to the working surface and rolling pin)



Using fingers in a typewriter-fashion to roll into rectangle loaf, starting from a long side working to the opposite long end. Pinch to seal seam. Tuck tapered ends under.



Place loaf seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white, the brush on top of loaf (reserve remainder for a second basting through mid-baking time). 



Cover loaf with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

About 30 minutes into last rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees.


With a very sharp knife, make 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4" deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. 



Brush again with egg white mixture, rotate baking sheet for even baking. 

Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. Remove loaf from baking sheet, and cool a minimum of 20 minutes on a wire rack covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel. 



When loaf is rested, cut into 1/2" crosswise slices using a serrated knife. ~ Enjoy!


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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Try my French Bread recipe in
Sandra's Oven-Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
[Click here for recipe...]

Sandra's Oven-Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

SANDRA'S OVEN-ROASTED TOMATO BRUSCHETTA


The mouth-watering scents while roasting are second to none,
which provides for a super flavorful appetizer
served hot, room temperature or cold...

Yields: (Appx. 1-1/2 cups)
Serves: 10-12 (i.e., 2/person)
Prep: 5 Mins.
Roast: 1-1/2 Hrs.

INGREDIENTS

Sandra's Homemade French Bread Recipe
[Click here...]
2 (14.5-oz cans) organic stewed tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Finishing addition:
--1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, to finish topping
--Shredded Parmesan, for serving garnish

-- Prepared toasted baguette slices (See 'Tip' below)
            [Click here for Sandra's Homemade French Bread recipe]


METHOD

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with cooking spray.

Place drained tomatoes in a large bowl (you'll end up with about 1-1/2 cups drained liquid when sufficiently drained); add onion, basil, oregano, oil, garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine. Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet in an even layer.

Prior to oven-roasting...
Bake 1-1/2 hours, stirring tomato mixture half way through, plus rotate baking sheet for even roasting.

Post oven-roasting...
Using care, roughly chop the roasted tomatoes, while on baking sheet, to bite-size pieces.

Using a spatula, place hot chopped roasted tomatoes into a bowl, and add 1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar; cool mixture to room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the toasted baguette slices. (See instructions below)

Serve bruschetta in a decorative serving bowl placed in center of a platter with toast slices alongside. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:

To make toast, slice a French baguette and brush one side of each slice lightly with olive oil. Place bread, oil-side up, on baking sheet. Bake in 350-degree oven 7 to 10 minutes, or until toasted and crisp to your liking.

Also, if you prefer to serve this as a hot appetizer, simply place the bruschetta topped with parmesan under the broiler a minute or two, just until cheese is melted.

SANDRA'S RUSTIC ALASKA MOOSE STROGANOFF

A scrumptious meal I created today that we will definitely be preparing often!

It's so easy to toss these ingredients together
and let the skillet do the majority of the work 

for such a phenomenal outcome...


Servings: 4 to 6
Prep: 10 Mins.
Cook: Appx. 2 Hrs.

INGREDIENTS

4 moose cube steaks, thawed, cut each into large pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 large dry bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 (10.5-oz. can) Cream of Mushroom Soup
8 medium button mushrooms, wipe clean, slice 1/4" thick
1/4 cup sweet petite frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1/2 cup sour cream

--1 pkg prepared wide egg noodles (we like 'No Yolk')

METHOD

Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet or Dutch Oven to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted in the oil, add the meat pieces and sear, just until browned on both sides.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Sprinkle in flour and sauté until it's incorporate, about 1 minute.  Deglaze skillet by adding the rice vinegar, and let it cook for 1 minute, while scraping bits off bottom.  Add beef broth, bay leaf, thyme, and onion; mix to combine. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to low to gently simmer for 1-1/2 hours, or until meat is tender.

Add the cream of mushroom soup, mushrooms, and frozen peas. Once a gentle simmer is reached, cover, and cook for a 1/2-hour longer while occasionally stirring. Fetch out bay leaf, and discard.

Remove skillet from heat and add sour cream, folding to incorporate.  Taste for seasonings, adding additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired. 


Serve immediately over wide egg noodles. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S ALASKAN HOMEMADE ICED TEA


An easy, inexpensive and healthy beverage
to prepare and serve
on those beautiful sunny days with your loved ones...
Yields: (1 quart)
Prep: 15 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

7 tea bags (Green Tea, Oolong, Lipton, or your choice of herbal tea)
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons fireweed honey [click for recipe]
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups cold water

METHOD

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling in a teapot. Pour into a 4-cup glass (heatproof) measuring cup, filling up to the 2-cup point. Steep for 10 minutes, exactly (set a timer).



After squeezing the teabags using a slotted spoon, discard them.

Add the fireweed honey and lemon juice, stir to combine.  Add cold water until the 4-cup liquid measure is reached; stir a final time to incorporate.



Pour sweetened tea into a 1-quart pitcher. To serve, pour over ice in individual glasses.

Store in a pitcher, covered, in refrigerator. ~ Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:

To ensure maximum flavor of your iced tea, make sure your ice cubes are freshly made, as they change flavor over time when too old.

SANDRA'S HEAVENLY CHOCOLATE CAKE with COCONUT PECAN FROSTING

You'll think you've died and gone to heaven!

A super moist and decadent dessert
that will keep you coming back for more...



Prep: 30 Mins.
Bake/Cook: 30 Mins.
Yields: (1) 2-layer 9" cake

INGREDIENTS

Cake
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Hershey’s cocoa powder
2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of table salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Frosting
1 (14-oz. can) sweetened condensed milk (not un-sweetened condensed milk)
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into cubes
2-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (I like to pulse finer in a food processor)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped candied pecans (I do so, separately from the coconut, in a food processor)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray (2) 9" round cake pans with Bakers Joy; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift through a sieve the flour, cocoa power, instant espresso coffee, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt, using a spoon to coax dry mixture through sieve.

In a medium bowl, beat with a hand mixer the buttermilk, softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and egg, just until a marbled texture is achieved. Pour into dry ingredients and gently fold with spatula until ingredients are incorporated (maintain aeration while doing so for a moist-tender cake).

Distribute batter evenly among prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Let cool 15 minutes before removing cakes from pan to cooling racks, then cool completely (right side up).

Meanwhile, while the cake is baking, prepare the frosting in a COLD medium saucepan by whisking the condensed milk and egg yolks together. Add the butter and turn on heat to medium and cook, while constantly stirring (important to prevent potential burning), until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from the heat and fold in coconut, vanilla and pecans. Place lid slightly ajar on saucepan, and let frosting cool completely.


Once cake and frosting have cooled, spread frosting between 2 layers, top of stacked cake and its sides. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S CHOCOLATE-LOVER FUDGY BROWNIES from scratch


Fantastic warm!

Feel free to take these Chocolate-Lover Fudgy Brownies
over the top by serving them with French vanilla bean ice cream alongside...


Servings: (12)
Prep: 15 Mins.
Bake 30 to 35 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

Brownies:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso
Pinch of cayenne
3⁄4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (or regular)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1⁄2 cup white chocolate chips

Post-bake finishing:
1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a glass 8x8" square pan with Bakers Joy; set aside.

In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Stir in brown sugar and vanilla extract. Add beaten eggs, instant espresso, and cayenne, mixing well to combine.

Place a sieve over mixture, and sift flour, baking powder, soda, and sea salt into cooled mixture in saucepan. Gently fold, just until combined (do not over mix). Fold in white chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes for super moist, or up to 35 minutes for moist (do not over-bake). Remove from oven and, while hot, evenly sprinkle with semisweet mini chocolate chips.

Hot out of the oven
and immediately sprinkled with
semisweet mini chocolate chips...

Let brownies cool a minimum of 30 minutes before cutting into 12 equal squares. ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~
Tip:

Glass baking dishes generally take more time than dark baking pans, so you might have to decrease your baking time if using a dark baking pan.

SANDRA'S CHICKEN and FRESH VEGETABLE TACO SOUP

I created this recipe using what I had on hand today, and I tell you...
this Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Taco Soup is quite phenomenal, 
you truly must give this recipe a whirl...





Servings: (4-6)
Prep: 10 Mins.
Cook: 30 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

--1 cup uncooked mini-macaroni, cooked according to pkg directions but only to par-cook for 5 minutes, reserve after draining to add back during 'finishing' below...

Taco Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1 ear of fresh corn, kernels removed, reserving corn cob
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, cut in half and discard rough end sections;
--Cut tips to 1" lengths, then thinly slice stocks - both are cooked separately
1 (14.5-oz. can) stewed tomatoes, undrained (break apart in a small bowl with masher)
1/2 cup bottled chili sauce
2 cup of cooked, roughly shredded chicken
1 tablespoon of taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups hot water

Finishing:
Asparagus tips, reserved from above
1 green onion, both white and green parts, sliced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Pasta par-cooked, reserved from above

--Optional side:
1 pkg Jiffy Cornbread, prepared according to package directions, with the addition to the batter before baking:
--2 TB shredded cheddar
--2 TB shredded Mozzarella
--1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning.

METHOD

In a medium heavy-bottom pot, par-cook the pasta, as stated above...for 5 minutes, drain; set aside.

Heat olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, sliced-stock-portion-only of asparagus, and corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the cornbread (as stated above), if using.

To continue with the soup, add stewed tomatoes with juices, chili sauce, chicken broth, water, taco seasoning and reserved corn cobs minus their kernels (adds flavor). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered. Remove, then toss the corn cobs.

Add all the finishing ingredients, and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes longer.

Serve soup immediately, with the prepared cornbread. ~ Enjoy!

SANDRA'S HEALTHIER PEL'MENI in 5-MINUTES

My healthier version of pel'meni in 5 minutes...
we're nearly addicted to 'em 
😃 they're that good, really...
Servings: (2)
Prep//Cook: 5 Mins.

INGREDIENTS:

14 frozen potstickers (Costco Bibigo veggi brand)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (Costco brand, again)
1 tablespoon dry cilantro (McCormick Signature Gourmet brand)
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sour cream

METHOD:

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a medium sauce pan/pot.

In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large ramekin in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes. Add the dry cilantro leaves and let bloom for a couple of minutes (they need the melted butter to do so).

When water comes to a boil, add the sea salt (doing so just beforehand or it will pit your pot). Add the potstickers and wait until they float, set your timer for 2 more minutes (al dente is not good in this recipe). Remove potstickers with a spider or slotted spoon, blot on paper towel to remove excess water, then place 7 in each of the 2 serving dishes.

While you're waiting for the potstickers to finish cooking the last minute, add the sriracha and rice vinegar to the ramekin butter mixture; whisk to combine.

To serve, to the added potstickers in the serving dish, drizzle them with the butter sauce from the ramekin, then place the sour cream, split in half, alongside each (I like to do so in a mini-ramekin). ~ Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:
Of course, fresh cilantro is best although this is my go-to when it's not readily on hand, which works quite nicely.

SANDRA'S PERFECT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING or ICING

A truly delightful and airy buttercream frosting or icing
that I often prepare, as this confectioners' delight
enhances most any cake, bar, cookie, or sweet bread recipe...


Yields: (2-1/2 cups)
Prep: 7 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup (1/2 cube) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 of an 8-Oz. block) cream cheese, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons milk for frosting | 3-4 tablespoons milk for icing

METHOD

In a medium mixing bowl, using a hand mixer to cream together softened butter and cream cheese on high for about 2 minutes. Sift confectioner's sugar over wet ingredients, add milk (depending on your desired consistency for frosting or icing), blend on medium speed until light and fluffy for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, as needed. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use, keeping it at room temperature (as it will tend to harden if refrigerated).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tips:

~For variations, feel free to add natural food coloring(s), extracts for flavor, sprinkles, etc.

~One of my favorites is chocolate, simply add 1/3 cup Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder.

~Finally, I substitute caviar of a small vanilla bean, when on-hand, I like the punch of flavor and its small flecks it provides.

SANDRA'S MOOSE SAUSAGE and CARAMELIZED PIZZA HAND PIES

Delectable filling includes a combination of
caramelized onion, polish-sausage-style moose, mozzarella,
parmesan, parsley and a red sauce...

Yields: (8 Hand Pies)
Prep: 30 Mins. (Not including pizza dough 10-Min/1-Hr prep/rise time)
Bake: 30 Mins.


2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 recipe of homemade pizza dough
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2-1⁄4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup (6" piece) polish-sausage-style moose [Alaska Sausage Company], casings removed, cubed
 -- (Render fat by cooking on low for 5 minutes in a dry skillet; drain on paper towel lined plate)
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
homemade pizza sauce
3 tablespoons homemade pizza sauce, plus more for dipping when serving
1⁄2 cup shaved parmesan

-- Egg wash:
1 large egg slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon water

-- Coarse kosher salt, sprinkle tops before baking

METHOD

If previously refrigerated, make sure pizza dough is at room temperature (takes about 1 hour).

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, sugar, salt, and pepper, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 30 minutes, let cool. [Can easily be prepared ahead of time.]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Dust work surface and dough lightly with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle large enough to cut out 16 squares about 1⁄4" thick. Use a 3-1/2" square cutter, or knife, to cut dough into squares. If dough becomes hard to roll, simply let it rest 10 minutes, then continue working it.

Brush olive oil over center (not edges) of half of the square bottom sections. Dividing ingredients equally among half of the squares without over-filling - sprinkle each with half the mozzarella. Top with moose sausage, caramelized onion, and parsley; drizzle with pizza sauce. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and the parmesan over top of each. Place top of squares over filled bottom squares, press edges to initially adhere with fingertips, then with a fork tines to completely seal.  Brush center of tops of pizza pies with egg wash mixture. Finish tops with a light sprinkle of coarse kosher salt.



To cook the pizza hand pies, place pies on prepared baking sheet, cut two small slits on top of each (to vent steam while baking). Bake until crusts are puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping alongside. ~ Enjoy!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:
Feel free to substitute the moose sausage with cooked pork polish sausage, salami, or pepperoni, that's divine too!

SANDRA'S HAM and CARAMELIZED ONION PIZZA HAND PIES


Delectable filling includes a combination of
caramelized onion, sweet ham, mozzarella,
parmesan, parsley and a white sauce.





Yields: (8 Hand Pies)
Prep: 30 Mins. (Not including pizza dough 1-Hr/10-Mins. prep/rise time)
Bake: 30 Mins.
INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 recipe of homemade pizza dough
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2-1⁄4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup finley chopped sweet, cooked ham
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
homemade ranch dressing
3 tablespoons homemade ranch dressing, plus more for dipping when serving
1⁄2 cup shaved parmesan

-- Egg wash:
1 large egg slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon water

-- Coarse kosher salt, sprinkle tops before baking

METHOD

If previously refrigerated, make sure pizza dough is at room temperature (takes about 1 hour).

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, sugar, salt, and pepper, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 30 minutes, let cool. [Can easily be prepared ahead of time.]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Dust work surface and dough lightly with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle large enough to cut out 16 squares about 1⁄4" thick. Use a 3-1/2" square cutter, or knife, to cut dough into squares. If dough becomes hard to roll, simply let it rest 10 minutes, then continue working it.

Brush olive oil over center (not edges) of half of the square bottom sections. Dividing ingredients equally among half of the squares without over-filling - sprinkle each with half the mozzarella. Top with ham, caramelized onion, and parsley; drizzle with ranch dressing. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and the parmesan over top of each. Place top of squares over filled bottom squares, press edges to initially adhere with fingertips, then with a fork tines to completely seal.  Brush center of tops of pizza pies with egg wash mixture. Finish tops with a light sprinkle of kosher salt.


To cook the pizza hand pies, place pies on prepared baking sheet, cut two small slits on top of each (to vent steam while baking). Bake until crusts are puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before serving. ~ Enjoy!


~~~~~~~~~~
Tip:
Feel free to substitute the ham with finely diced chicken or turkey, that's divine too!

SANDRA'S EASY PIZZA SAUCE

My favorite pizza sauce that
I also serve warm alongside for dipping,
as you never have enough sauce,
especially when only the edge of the pizza crust remains to be eaten...


Yields: (1-1/2 cups) -- Double recipe for 2 pizzas
Prep: 5 Mins.
Cook: 30 Mins.

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 (15-oz can) stewed tomatoes, mashed to small bits (do not drain)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (1/8 teaspoon if using ground)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

-- 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

METHOD


Add olive oil into a hot pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, stir to combine. Add the stewed tomatoes with its juices, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid reduces by half, about 5 minutes; stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Add the dried oregano and basil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes; sauce will reduce and thicken. Remove from heat, and finish by adding red wine vinegar; stir to combine. Let cool, and use in preparation of your favorite homemade pizza. ~ Enjoy!

RECIPE OPTIONS...

[Click LINK below photo for recipes]...

Sandra's Pizza Dough Homemade (Double Batch)

Sandra's Easy Pizza Sauce

Sandra's Ham and Caramelized Onion Pizza Hand Pies

Sandra's Moose Sausage and Caramelized Onion Pizza Hand Pies

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