Christmas Cookies Never Go Out of Style

Christmas Cookies Never Go Out of Style

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Every year my family can’t wait for the famous Christmas Cookie Exchange. My sons and family bake dozens of thumbprint cookies and give them away, Well, that is after all the tweedles munch on the first batch, and dine on part of the second. I may have one or two cookies, I say rolling my eyes. Not only does my waistline expand this time of year, my clothes shrink.

Look at those lights!

Baking these cookies is a must. My neighbors will graciously accept our donations. Nothing like a cookie to make folks smile.

Family favorite Thumbprint Cookies (Recipe below)

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Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue

Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue cookies

 

Thumbprint Cookies: Gail Ingis’s recipe
½ pound butter (2 sticks) or 1 cup Crisco
2 egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1teaspoon vanilla
1 bag of walnut meal (at Trader Joe’s) or ground walnuts
Mix ingredients (EXCEPT THE EGG WHITE)

Roll into approximately ½” balls then roll into the walnut meal, place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 2 minutes, depress center with thumb, then finish baking approximately 12 minutes for larger cookie or 5-8 minutes for smaller cookie. If you like crispy, bake until edges are slightly browned. When cool, fill depressed center with the icing mixture: a combination of slightly warm water, vegetable food coloring and confectioners sugar to an almost pasty consistency. (Color for holidays if desired).

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Cooking! Eating!

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.

My current books to be edited and have cover updates.

 

The Great Cheesecake Mystery

The Great Cheesecake Mystery

We picked a good day to prune our aged cherry tree. Lots of healthy exercise and well worth the work. After we finished the tree we made the cheesecake.

We did a much better job pruning the cherry tree than we did with the cheesecake!

The Cheesecake recipe that I’ve been making for fifty years was the best, I thought.

Then my almost 24-year-old grandson, Matt, began baking. One Thanksgiving, maybe three years ago, when it was dessert time, he pulled his work of art from the refrigerator and set it on the counter in all its glory, as a centerpiece, like a jewel in the crown, surrounded by dirt cake, thumbprint cookies, tiramisu, and Aunt Madeleine’s handmade chocolates.

 

Working up an appetite before we dig into the cheesecake.

I’ve been baking almost my whole life. I’ve made my share of delicious cheesecakes. Yeah right, my cheesecake is nothing compared to Matt’s. The best I ever tasted. The best. I asked him for the recipe, but alas, he couldn’t tell me, he had made a promise. He said the person who gave him the recipe said that it was an old family secret recipe. A SECRET? Whoever heard of such a thing? And this mysterious person made my Matt promise that he would never reveal the magic ingredients. Imagine that!

“But I’m your Grammy,” I said to Matt. “Surely it would be acceptable to give me the recipe.”

“Nope,” Matt replied. “I’m sorry, Grammy but a promise is a promise.”

A couple of years went by, and I asked Matt again if he would share?

“The person that gave me the recipe has passed away,” he replied. “But nope Grammy, a promise is a promise.”

Well, I resigned myself to my fate. I would never get that recipe. But you know what? Matt impressed me with his solemn vow to the person who gave it to him.

Springform into action!

The other day I FaceTimed with son Rick and Matt was home. I was curious, so I asked Matt what kind of pan he uses to bake his cheesecake.

“Spring-form pan,” he said.

“Oh good, that will be much easier for me than my trusty pie plate.”

I told Matt that I had just made a cheesecake—it was good but the sour cream topping was a little too soft when we ate it five hours later. I refrigerated overnight and it firmed up more to perfect.

I decided to bake another one this week and use my regular two packages of cream cheese but this time I’ll add a cup of sour cream to the mix rather than use it as a topping.”

“That’s what I do,” Matt said.

The ingredients

Aha! He didn’t tell me his recipe, but his agreement got me all excited,

So I tried to guess at his recipe. I tried to solve the cheesecake mystery but unfortunately, I didn’t crack the case! The cheesecake that I took out of the oven collapsed on me. I added the sour cream to the batter instead of smearing it on top. And so it fell in the center and it was also browned the top like a grilled steak. It tasted pretty good but it wasn’t MY usual cheesecake. This is what happens when you try to be a cheesecake sleuth!

My original, trusty, fifty-year recipe is here below for your perusal. Gail’s Cheesecake. I’m not so secretive with my recipes.

GAIL’S CHEESECAKE:

Crust for Cream Cheese Cake

This was my attempt at trying to guess at Matt’s cheesecake and as you can see it didn’t turn out right. I had to cover the top with some fresh sour cream. But it’s tasty.

Poor cheesecake!

Use 9” pie pan

12 full Graham crackers

3/4 stick of butter, melted

Roll out crackers or use a blender, brush some butter on the pan first

then put the crumbs in the pie plate and add melted butter.

Blend with fork and spread. Then take a smaller pie plate to even out shell

If using for other pies: bake 10 min at 400 degrees

There’s nothing like enjoying a bite of cheesecake with your sweetheart.

Gail’s Cheese Cake

1lb cream cheese (2 packs eight oz each)

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg, 1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

Mix 15 minutes on 1 speed. Add to pie shell & bake 375, for 20 min

Topping:

½ pint (or 1 cup) sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Mix 10 min on 1 speed, add to the hot pie. spread on top. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees, Put the pie in the oven for 5 minutes. Let pie cool. Then refrigerate. Do not cut for three hours. Best if the pie is placed in the refrigerator overnight.

No springform pan, all the butter leaked out leaving the graham cracker crust too hard. I still have my good old 8″ pie pan.

Gail Ingis is an artist, interior designer, and published author. Her historical romances Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon.

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Let’s Get Cozy

Let’s Get Cozy

Winter is the time for cozy, comfort food. Tom and I love our comfort food on the lighter side as it’s easier on the digestion. That’s why I created this dish – to help my own digestion. There is no combination anywhere like this. The most important part is the spinach and the softness of the vegetable. It’s also healthy for your hair and skin, along with the safe beauty and body products I use from beautycounter.com/gailingis 
I hope you give it a try. Enjoy!
GAIL’S VEGGIE COMPOTE:
Ingredients:
Sweet onion ¼ cup diced
Spinach (6 oz package)
Fresh string beans canned 14.2oz
Mixed peppers 5 oz from a frozen sixteen oz bag
Organic brown rice 10 oz frozen
Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette 2 tablespoons
  • Ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s even the spray olive oil (it’s fab, I use instead of Pam). TJ’s does not have the canned French string beans, supermarket only, but you can cook their French frozen string beans, boil until soft, (7 or 8 minutes)
  • Spray a large skillet with olive oil and heat
  • Add and sauté one small diced sweet onion
  • Add 6 ounces of washed baby spinach (I use TJ’s it is already washed three times before being packaged).
  • Add one 14.2 oz can of French cut string beans (pour off all liquid) continue to sauté and mix with the onion and spinach (We want these string beans to be very digestible and soft—frozen or fresh never get soft enough for my tummy, but I have used TJ frozen ones and micro-wave, with a drop of water, for seven minutes before adding to my skillet.
  • Continue to mix and cook and add seasoning.
  • Add 5 oz of red, green, yellow peppers, (From a sixteen-ounce bag of frozen peppers) mix in and continue to cook on medium flame.
  • When all is hot and mixed well, add 10-ounces of pre-cooked brown organic rice. I use TJ’s frozen organic brown rice. Only have to cook for 3 minutes. (Make a small cut in one corner to permit steam to escape).
  • I season a little as I cook this with Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette salad dressing from Trader Joe’s. Or Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce from Trader Joe’s. Or your favorite spices. I have even used a spicy barbecue red sauce.
  • This is healthy and tasty. You can adjust to your own taste and have it just the way you like it.
  • Let me know if you have any questions. This is a great way to eat your veggies.
I don’t need to add salt with my seasonings.
If you want a touch of sweetness you can add tomatoes and or blueberries.
This dish is yummy, yummy and so good for your tummy!
Enjoy!
xo Gail
Thanks For Giving us the Claus Family

Thanks For Giving us the Claus Family

I’m writing this on Thanksgiving Day sitting in the Claus home in my sister-in-law’s den loving the space in this place, especially the kitchen. As an interior designer since 1969, I couldn’t have done any better with this home. Joyce got it right—function and beauty are in perfect harmony.

The smell off roasting turkey is everywhere. It’s kind of smothering me. I like turkey, but I don’t like to be smothered by anything—except love, of course. I may have to go to my room, but the turkey smell will probably follow me upstairs.

Around 2:30 pm today, twenty-eight relatives will descend upon this beautiful home—aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins—and of course—the brothers Karamazov aka the Claus brothers. (I’m married to the one on the left (wearing the bright blue hoodie) in the picture above.

The Claus brothers are here early to organize the seating,

Mother Claus, a great lady we all adored, is looking down from Heaven. The last time this great, big family got together was in 2011 for Mother Claus’s 100th birthday. Sadly she left us in 2012 at the age of 101. But what a legacy she left us: the love of family and the importance of family gatherings and God’s love washing over us all!.

Yes, the Claus name is pretty awesome isn’t it? Well, they certainly live up to that name. 🙂

We are missing two of Mother Claus’s grandsons, and their brood, for today’s celebration. Guess those statistics are not too bad considering everyone else who will be here for the turkey dinner and camaraderie.

Before the festivities begin, I’m getting in some writing time. My next book follows the life and love of Mia Baldwin, Allie Baldwin’s younger sister. (My follow-up book to The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin). Like the Claus family, the Baldwins are a loving clan; family gatherings mean a lot, especially during the Holiday Season.

I think Mother Claus would have enjoyed the Baldwins and I hope you do too.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays.

xo

Gail Ingis

The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is available on Amazon.

Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!

Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!

I have a recipe for you today straight from Mrs. Maniscalco’s kitchen. About 70 years ago, I babysat for Mrs. Maniscalco’s grandson, Bennett. They lived above my parents’ variety store in Brooklyn. The one remark from her that stands out to me was, “Never skim off the fat, that’s where all the flavor comes from.” So, forget fat-free pasta sauce. I’m doing this from memory . . . and a little help from my Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.

I’d love for you to join my new facebook group – called GAIL INGIS AUTHOR RECIPE EXCHANGE AND MORE… I posted Mrs. Maniscalco’s tomato sauce recipe – on the group page – but I also included it here. I hope you’ll join me in this fun facebook group – we’ll swap recipes and share memories of favorite food celebrations and family gatherings. I’m planning a Holiday/Christmas Cookie Exchange in November! Can’t wait!

I have fun with food in my new Gilded Age Romance, THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN. My heroine, Allie Baldwin is a food connoisseur and enjoys good cooking like all of you do.

Here’s a taste from chapter 12: Allie poked at the duck l’orange, wild rice, and roasted vegetables, and to make sure no one would go hungry, also served was a platter of pasta covered in the thick brown sauce from the entree. Pasta, Allie’s favorite, not usually served at a formal dinner like this one, was a delightful treat. “Pass the sauce, please,” Allie requested, adding to the already drowning spaghetti. She twirled some onto her fork, using her tablespoon to catch any dangling pieces of pasta, and savored each bite.

The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is available everywhere online:  Amazon. Hooray! I hope you’ll check it out.

‘Tis the Season For Hot Toddies

‘Tis the Season For Hot Toddies

Image from Wikipedia

It slides down my throat with the greatest of ease. Ha! Who said that? That’s a fallacy. Mom made me drink it whenever I got sick. Yuk. Her recipe was unique, hot water, tea, honey, whiskey, and milk. It was the worst. I got better fast. I had no choice. If I didn’t get better fast, I had to drink another and another. Horrors.

Here are the details, without milk, according to Wikipedia:

It’s called a hot toddy, also hot totty and hot tottie as well as hot whiskey in Ireland. It is typically a mixed drink made of liquor and water with sugar and spices and served hot. Hot toddy recipes vary and are traditionally drank before going to bed, or in wet or cold weather. Some believe the drink relieves the symptoms of the cold and flu — in How to Drink, Victoria Moore describes it as “the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.”

Preparation

Traditional Scottish preparation of a hot toddy involves the mixture of whiskey, boiling water and sugar or honey. Additional ingredients such as cloves, a lemon slice or cinnamon (in stick or ground form) may be added.

The Irish version, hot whiskey, generally uses Irish whiskey, brown sugar, a lemon slice with cloves, and hot water.

A common version in the Midwestern United States uses Vernors Ginger Ale, lemon, honey and Bourbon whiskey. In Wisconsin, brandy is often used instead of bourbon.

A common version in Ontario typically consists of heated ginger-ale, honey, and either whiskey or brandy. It is often recommended to heat the ginger-ale before adding the whiskey or brandy, otherwise, the heating process will reduce the alcoholic effects of the liquor.

Image from Irish American Mom

Hot Irish Whiskey

“My best friend who just happens to be Irish made this drink for me one cold night in Chicago and since then, I have been hooked! Warning: it is very potent, just one of these will warm you up and basically make you good for nothing afterward – what a treat! It is super to drink at night if you have a sore throat. My friend said this is what the Irish drink if they don’t feel good but don’t wait until you have a cold to try this recipe!”

Ingredients for one drink

Recipe by Trinka G

8 whole cloves
1 (1/4 inch thick) slice of lemon
1 tablespoon white sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger Irish whiskey

I did not know that whiskey, when heated, reduces its numbing effectiveness. Did you?

References

  1. “Definition of Hot Toddy”. Princeton WordNet. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  2. Nigel Slater (March 13, 2011). “Nigel Slater’s classic hot toddy recipe”. The Guardian. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  3. “How to make a Hot Toddy”. LifeOverHere.com. January 3, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  4. “Wisconsin Winter Toddy”. Princeton WordNet. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  5. “Glossaries: India”. Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive. Macquarie University. 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2012. Toddy: palm wine made from the sap of the palmyra palm.
  6. “Hot Toddies”. Conan’s Pub. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  • MacKay, Charles. A Dictionary of Lowland Scotch (1888)

Chicken soup made with love or hot toddy made with liquor . . . What’s your pick when you have a cold?

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

A work of art

 

 

 

Revolutionized Boston

Revolutionized Boston

ChartHouse from our room in CustomHouse (Marriott)

It’s been two-hundred-and-fifty-five years of ChartHouse’s existence in the Gardiner Building on Long Wharf in Boston harbor. It’s been one week since Tom and I dined there—and we can’t wait to go back. ChartHouse originally served as the office of Thomas Hancock and subsequently, his nephew, John Hancock. Once referred to as “Hancock’s CountingHouse,” it’s the oldest building on Long Wharf.

staircase to 2nd floor

Over the past two hundred years, while Boston evolved, Long Wharf and its granite and brick warehouses fell into neglect. In the 1960s the Boston Redevelopment Authority acquired the wharf with the aim of revitalization, encouraging private rehabilitation of the Gardiner building and CustomHouse Block, another historic building now dedicated to guests of Marriott.

After a four-month-long renovation in 2011, the Gardiner Building was preserved for years to come. The vibrant and refreshing new décor still boasts many original elements such as Hancock’s safe, broad-wooden beams, red-brick walls, and the original staircase.

Lava cake

Coconut shrimp served with a fan made of rice.

I don’t want to leave out ChartHouse dining experience. The food rated in the five-star category with the coconut shrimp, and lava cake topped with ice cream and fudge. The complimentary dessert was a perk of our stay at the Marriot CustomHouse.

I love New York. It’s my hometown. But I think Boston is now a big contender for my favorite city. It’s easy to get around on foot, little Italy (the North End) our fav. Until next time, Love, Gail.

Gail Ingis is an author, artist, and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in summer 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

Little Italy

G&T and the tallest building CustomHouse

 

 

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A work of art

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to ChartHouse’s Legendary Dining (scroll publication). On the front of the scroll is a brief history of ChartHouse and on the back our ConstitutionChartHouse is located at 60 Long Wharf, Boston, MA. Chart-House.com.

 

Chocolate is Never a Mistake

Chocolate is Never a Mistake

It was a perfect plan, or so I thought. Last week, I sent out a newly revised newsletter to my subscribers. So many of you emailed me that you, “love the new look.” Thanks for that!

After proofreading several times, the newsletter looked pretty good. New logo, new banner, new images. And I included a fun, little quiz asking my subscribers what kind of chocolate they preferred: dark, milk, or white. As a treat, I would draw a name and send that person a $10 Amazon gift card.

We decided on Monday, April 23rd, midnight for the deadline to the quiz. And the draw on Tuesday, April 24th. Then we decided to change it to the 19th and 20th, but forgot to change the dates in the newsletter! Big sigh. So this is what I did: instead of one winner, we had two winners: one from Friday, the 20th, and one from Tuesday, the 24th. No way would I leave anyone out. Mistakes happen, every day, in every way. Whether big or small, I was happy to have two winners, that date change turned a mistake into a double delight. Love Gail.

By the way: here are the results of the chocolate survey: It was pretty even between those who preferred dark chocolate (40%) and those who preferred milk chocolate (40%), with a smaller group who preferred white chocolate (20%).For Tom and me, we prefer dark ’cause ‘they’ say it’s good for you. Right?

And of course, it’s never a mistake to enjoy a piece of chocolate: dark, milk, or white.

I post here every Thursday morning at 5 a.m. Hope you’ll stop by.

Here’s another delight for you, Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark, or their imported Belgian big bar with or without almonds, or from Phoenix, AZ, Cerreta French Mint Truffles.  Yum! Cerreta.com.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in summer 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

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Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring – Let’s Eat!

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring – Let’s Eat!

Happy Easter from my family to yours.

You may think Easter sweet treats are all about those chocolate eggs that you hide around the house for the kids to find (or not). But in our family, it’s about Noodle Pudding!

This is no mashugana. And it’s not kugel! It’s noodle!

Have you heard? I’m famous! Well, sort of. I’m the Queen Of Noodle Pudding. In my family that is. Fame in any form is fun. My fame only continues as long as I keep making the noodle pudding. Every Holiday, including Easter, I am tasked with bringing the noodle pudding. And this year is no exception. So, with the help of my sous chef Tom, who is also my sweet-treat husband, we set to work. I’m calling him the King of Noodle Pudding from now on. We’ll share the crown.

Now, don’t get confused. Mine is one of those familiar dairy dishes with cream cheese, sour cream and lots of butter, but NO raisins. I hate raisins. My Aunt Miriam made her noodle pudding with raisins, and that’s where my love for noodle pudding ended. That is until my old friend Sheila gave me the best noodle pudding recipe EVER! It’s easy to make. Easy as pudding! Enjoy!

GAIL’S NOODLE PUDDING

Bake 325 for 40 minutes (can be covered and placed in fridge ahead of time.)

When ready to eat –  heat in the oven for another 30 minutes at 325.

Ingredients:

1 lb broad egg noodles boiled 8 minutes and drain

6 eggs or 4 xtra large

1 cup sugar (set aside 4 Tablespoons)

2 sticks sweet butter (set aside 4 Tablespoons)

¾ pound cream cheese mashed

1 pt sour cream (2 cups) room temperature

Topping:

2 cups corn flake crumbs-mix with the set aside 4T butter and 4T sugar. Make when ready to use

Beat on low, eggs and sour cream, add sugar and melted butter, add mashed cream cheese (does not have to be perfectly smooth). Mix with cooked and drained noodles, pour into 12×14 buttered casserole. Spread corn flake topping and bake in preheated oven 325 for 40 minutes, and serve. Also can cover with aluminum foil leave in refrigerator and cook next day, uncovered, in preheated oven 325 for 40 minutes. Freezes well, cooked. Enjoy!

Sooooo Good!

 

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

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Talking the Talk and Walking The Walk

Talking the Talk and Walking The Walk

Tom and I walk every day. Rain, snow, or shine.

Spring is in the air, (hopefully) and so is our desire to get into shape. But instead of thinking seasonally when it comes to your health – think long term. I’m going to give you three bits of advice so that you can be independent for the rest of your life: Move every day. Eat well. Sleep well.

Our friend Ed, 93 and going strong!

At the ripe old age of 82 I have done it all. I lost 50 pounds twenty years ago and kept it off.

Tom and I walk every day with our neighbor Ed, a former WWII Navy Vet. Ed is turning 93 in a few days. Yup, you read that right. 93. Ed walks every single day, except when it’s slippery. He is truly an inspiration.

Youth is a forgiving time, but when you treat it poorly, the consequences catch up to you eventually. That’s why it’s important to get out there and walk the walk. I say that metaphorically. If you have a treadmill at home, do that every day. If you enjoy swimming, make it happen. The point is to stay active, just like Ed. If you don’t do it now, you’ll have to rely on family and friends or pay someone to help you later. It’s a sobering thought.

Don’t diet! Instead, eat healthily. Don’t believe those TV diet commercials that show people scarfing down cupcakes. For weight maintenance, have that pizza and ice cream, but no more than once a month.

Cooking healthy in the kitchen.

What works for you may not work for others. For example, nuts are a healthy snack for many people, but for me, not so much because of my food sensitivities. The only way to figure out what foods work for your body is by trial and error. It takes a few weeks, but trust me, your digestive system will thank you. Eat in moderation, small portions, but 4-6 times a day to keep your metabolic rate steady. Drink water that amounts to half your body weight.

Don’t set weight loss goals, instead set actionable goals that you can accomplish. For example – set a goal to walk a 5 k. Work toward that goal over the course of one to three months. Start with 1 k then 2 k and so on, gradually add more to the walk and your time will improve as well.  No Olympian ever won a gold medal by getting up one morning and deciding to run the 100-meter sprint. Nope. They train every day to achieve that goal. And so can you.

Until next time, keep active and eat the food that your body loves, not the food that your emotions crave.

Love Gail

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in spring 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

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