lemon pistachio cookies – christmas baking begins!

This is one of my “maybe” Christmas cookies – I haven’t quite decided if this is going on the final baking list. Every year I always make at least one lemon treat because in the winter our lemon tree seems to always be exploding with lemons – and this year is no different.  I decided to experiment ahead of time to see if this new recipe would be a winner for the cookie list this year – but I can’t decide! People seem to always really enjoy what I’ve made in year’s past, so it’s hard to decide what to mix it up with. Maybe you’ll have an opinion?

You don’t need too much for this batch – fresh lemons, pistachios, and the usual suspects: sugar, flour, eggs and butter.

Start by whipping that butter and sugar together in a frenzy. Frenzy, I tell you! Anything else and it won’t turn out as right.

Well… it probably will. But I just like to say the word “frenzy”.

After that, you must add eggs. And flour. And lemon juice. Continue with the frenzy.

Then, pull it off the mixer and fold in your pistachios. I suppose you can to this in the mixer, too, but I rather like doing it by hand.

Just a thing, I guess.

Then you take your lemon zest…

and mix it in with a half a cup of sugar. Mix and smoosh it together to make “lemon sugar”.

The lemon sugar is super sparkly and makes the cookies shiny and glittery!

You’ll take a ball of dough and roll it up and then roll it around in the sugar.

Then place it on your cookie sheet and slightly flatten out the cookies. You can use your fingers or a little spoon, like I did.

The cookies spread out a bit, so I did rows of 2 so they’d have a little extra room for expanding.

If you like a really nice lemony flavor, use extra lemon juice when making the dough. If you’d rather have a “hint” of lemony flavor without feeling like you’ve been punched in the face, use about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice instead. I kind of lean towards “punch me in the face” but not everyone is into that (ie: Jake).

I love how the sugar sticks to the cookies and create a glittery effect. It reminds me of ornaments and frosted things. The pistachios give a nice little crunch to this cookie as well. If you want a crispier cookie, cook these for a tad longer – otherwise, these have a soft inside with a light crisp edge. Get the recipe below!
Continue reading “lemon pistachio cookies – christmas baking begins!”

gouda stuffed tortilla chip meatballs with cranberry orange ginger glaze | clash of the cooks challenge

I like trying new things and doing new things. This was definitely a new thing in which I’m battling it out with other bloggers in the Clash of the Cooks Challenge, sponsored by Whole Foods Market. You, too, can also participate at home by creating your own holiday inspired meal with the ingredients listed below! Check out the Facebook link for more information!

Monday evening I trotted over to the Whole Foods Market in La Jolla to pick up my basket of “mystery goods”. I had to use all of the items to create a holiday inspired dish!

My mystery basket included: Whale Tails Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt Tortilla Chips, Chicken Stock, Cranberry Sauce and Smoked Gouda Cheese.

My mind started running immediately. Cranberry sauce? I hardly ever eat that. Paired with smoked cheese? Are you serious? And TORTILLA CHIPS? I started walking out to my car in a daze with a number of ideas running through my head.

And to keep on thinking through those ideas, I stopped for a pumpkin cupcake at Sprinkles. I mean, why not? It was right there!

I made my decision on what I was going to make and I needed a few more things – off I went to prepare for the evening’s feast!

Or in my case, the evening’s appetizer.

I decided to make gouda stuffed meatballs with tortilla chips and a cranberry orange ginger glaze. I know, that’s pretty much a mouthful of words right there… I suppose I could have just said something like “savory and sweet meatballs” but that didn’t seem very fun to me.

First things first… let’s make the glaze/sauce thing!

I say it’s a glaze because it’s really thick, but I didn’t want to coat the meatballs in the stuff… I just wanted a little on top. Because I’m not a sauce person. Glaze. Sauce. You know what I mean.

I started off by putting in some brown sugar and chicken stock in a pan and setting it to simmer. Then I added some of my cranberry sauce along with the zest and juice of one navel orange.

I didn’t get all of the steps here in my photo, but also in the mix was some rice wine vinegar, grated ginger and pinch of black pepper.

Once you’ve got all of the ingredients into the pot, you pretty much just need to let it sit back and simmer away until it thickens up.

After about 30 minutes of simmering, you’ll get a thickened glaze/sauce. The beauty of sauces is that if you forget what you’re doing and don’t watch the pot and it maybe goes a little too far… you can just add in a bit more chicken stock to thin it back out! Yes, this totally happened to me. Honesty is the best policy in all things.

Once you bring the sauce together, you’re good to go to start making the meatballs. First thing to do though is to turn on your oven to 350 degrees!

Then, chop up some onion and garlic and saute it in a pan. I cooked the onions until just slightly brown and threw in the garlic for about a minute. Then I took if off the heat to let it cool slightly while I prepared the rest of my mix-ins for my meatballs.

In a big bowl I added in my ground beef, some freshly chopped oregano from the garden, my onion/garlic mixture, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a good pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper. Time to prep the Whale Tails!

The Whale Tails chips really are whale tail shaped! For some reason this surprised me. Probably because I wasn’t paying attention to the bag. All I thought was, “What am I gonna do with tortilla chips?” instead of really looking at the bag.

The tortilla chips got crushed up under the mighty weight of my rolling pin!

The crushed tortilla chip get dumped right in along with two eggs. Then, it’s time for mixing. I just use my hands – I’m not afraid of a little bit of cold meat. Just squish it all together until it’s well mixed.

Then, cut your gouda cheese into little cubes and start making the meatballs.

The meatballs are about palm sized – just place a chunk of cheese in the middle and wrap the meat around it and form a nice ball.

Continue until all the meatballs are done. Eat any leftover cheese (after you wash your hands, of course).

I put my meatballs on a pizza pan with holes in it, over another baking sheet. This way any fat and grease would drop to the bottom so the meatballs wouldn’t be sitting in its own grease.

Bake meatballs for about 30 minutes until a luscious golden brown.

The gouda cheese got kind of oozy and gooey there – but I think that just adds to the look! Who wouldn’t want to goggle up one of these babies?

These little meatballs are flavorful and delicious – with plenty of cheese to make for the perfect bite of tastiness.

That little square of cheese sure made a difference in flavor!

But pair it up with a good dallop of sauce and you’ve got yourselves a winner! The sweet from the sauce pairs nicely with the savory and cheesy meatball. Perfect thing to appease the relatives and visitors for this upcoming turkey day!

If you enjoyed my recipe and post, please like it on Facebook (using the Facebook like button below), post this on Twitter or share one of the photos on Pinterest. My entry is being judged on the following:

• Originality / Use of Ingredients
• Plating / Photography
• Likes / Tweets / Pins

Every bit helps! If I win the weekly challenge, I will be headed to a live cook-off competition at the Encinitas Whole Foods Market to compete for:

• First place will receive is a Whole Foods Market Pantry Makeover, a Vitamix blender and dinner for 2 at Solace
(prize valued at $700)
• Second place will win dinner for six catered by Whole Foods Market (prize valued at $200)
• Third place will receive a holiday meal for six (valued at $130)

Thanks in advance for your support!

Remember, you can also compete as well – check out the details on how you can join in on the fun!

If you’d like to recreate my recipe at home, then check out the full recipe below! Continue reading “gouda stuffed tortilla chip meatballs with cranberry orange ginger glaze | clash of the cooks challenge”