Yellow Cake Mix Hamantashen

This recipe was submitted by GKC friend and fan, Yael Seruya.

Dough:
1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup flour
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water, approximately

Filling Suggestions: Favorite Jams, poppy seed or prune filling (from can), chocolate morsels, white chocolate chunks, colored sugars, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, marshmallows, chopped candy bars, gummy bears, candy hearts, or any other fun treat you dare to try!

Coat two cookie sheets with shortening or vegetable spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine cake mix, flour, beaten eggs, and water until batter is well moistened, and holds together. If dough is dry and crumbly, add water a few drops at a time. (Hint: After starting with a fork, I used my hands to finish mixing and added one teaspoon more water.) On flour surface, roll out dough to one-eighth thickness. Cut circles with four inch round and/or two and one-half inch round cookie cutter or cup, to make both large and small hamantashen. Place circles on prepared cookies sheets and spoon fillings or candies in center of each. (Hint: the more you put in the center, the trickier it is to get folded corners to hold together during baking-but we do it anyway!)
Fold into triangles by pinching tops together first, then bottom. Make sure top corners of triangle lean inward over filling so they won’t come apart during baking. If dough is dry, moisten hands with a few drops of water while working or spray dough sparingly with water mister. After folding, sprinkle edges with more toppings or chocolates, as desired.
Bake for 5-7 minutes, until slightly golden. Do not over bake. Smaller hamantaschen take less time. Remove from tray to cool.
Servings: 10 four-inch, and 17 two-and-one-half inch from one batch.
Serving Suggestions: Eat and share all day on Purim!

Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn


3 quarts freshly popped popcorn
1 cup cashews (or other nut of choice), unsalted and roasted
1 cup salted and roasted macadamia nuts
1 cup whole almonds or pecans
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup margarine
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the popped corn and nuts in the pan, mixing well. Place in the heating oven while preparing the glaze.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, orange zest and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until l the sugar dissolves. Boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and baking soda. Gradually pour the glaze over the popped corn mixture, stirring to coat well.

Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Using a metal spatula, free the popcorn from the bottom of the pan. Let cool completely in the pan.

Break into clumps. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Easy Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge

Although it is not common to send a Purim gift that is dairy, this fudge is just too good not to post. If it’s PC in your community to send dairy items, try it and wrap each piece individually in tissue with decorative ribbons on both ends. If dairy Shaloch Manot are not for you, save this one to your recipe box and make it for Shavuos.

Makes 8 dozen pieces

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups toasted walnut, pecan, macadamia, or other nuts, chopped, optional
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
20 large marshmallows
4 cups sugar
2 (5-ounce) cans evaporated milk

Combine the chocolate pieces, nuts (if using), butter, and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Place the marshmallows, sugar, and evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour the marshmallow mixture into the chocolate mixture; beat constantly until creamy. Quickly pour into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of a wooden spoon to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into pieces. Serve at room temperature.

Vodka

If you don’t want to make your own flavored vodka, the stores are full of options. A few new ones from me oko were recently sent our way. They are definitely unusual and sparked interest and conversation among our guests. We sampled the ginger-infused, the strawberry-infused and the jalapeno-infused. I liked the jalapeno one the best; it has a real kick! We tried them straight – ice cold from the freezer but the company also suggests some cocktail options. These are not for the faint of heart!

Ginger Snap
1 part me oko ginger vodka
½ part Amaretto

Combine with ice and serve in a shot glass.

Hot and Sour Martini
1-1/2 parts me oko jalapeno vodka
3 parts grapefruit juice

Blend over ice and serve in a chilled glass.

Bloody Mary
(Make a big pitcher!)
2 parts jalapeno vodka
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dash fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon horseradish
4 parts tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix

Shake over ice and strain into a tall glass of ice. Garnish with sprig of celery and wedge of lime.

Bottoms up!

Grasshopper Pie


This is an adult dessert as it contains alcohol. It is green and vibrant and perfect for Purim!

Crust:
28 chocolate creme filled sandwich cookies (recommended: Pareve Oreo)
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or 1/4 cup chips)
3 tablespoons soft unsalted margarine

Filling:
3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup pareve milk
1/4 cup Crème de Menthe (kosher brand is Leroux)
1/4 cup Crème de Cacao Blanc (kosher brand is DeKuyper)
1-1/2 cups pareve whipping cream
Few spots or drops green food coloring, optional (I use it)
1 loose-bottomed 10-inch fluted tart pan, 2 inches deep

Set aside 1 cookie for later use. Process the remaining cookies and chocolate in a food processor until they form a crumb mixture. Add the margarine and process until the mixture starts to clump together.

Press the mixture into a high-sided fluted tart pan, making a smooth base and sides with your hands or the back of a spoon. Put it into the refrigerator to chill and harden.

Melt the marshmallows in a saucepan over low gentle heat along with the pareve milk. Once the pareve milk starts to foam (not boil), take off the heat and keep stirring until the marshmallows blend into the pareve milk to make a smooth mixture.

Pour the mixture out of the saucepan into a heatproof bowl, then whisk in the creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Leave until cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk the pareve cream until it starts to hold soft peaks then, still whisking, add the cooled marshmallow mixture. This filling should be thick but still soft, not stiff or dry, so that it will eventually drop easily out of the bowl into the chilled pie crust.

When the marshmallow mixture and pareve cream are combined, whisk in a few drops of food coloring, if desired.

Spread the filling into the chilled base, swirling it about with an icing spatula or silicone spatula to fill evenly. Put the pie in the refrigerator, covered, to chill overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours until firm.

Crush the remaining cookie and sprinkle it over the top of the pie before serving.

Make Ahead Note:

The pie can be made 1 to 2 days ahead. When chilled and firm, tent with aluminum foil (try not to touch surface with foil as it will leave marks) and store in the refrigerator. Decorate just before serving. The pie will keep 3 to 4 days total.

Freeze Note:

The pie can be frozen for up to 3 months. Open-freeze undecorated pie just until solid, then wrap the pie (still in its tart pan) in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. To thaw, unwrap the pie and tent with foil (try not to touch surface with foil as it will leave marks), then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Decorate before serving.

Potato Chip Chocolate Toffee

2 sticks unsalted margarine
5 cups thick cut potato chips
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set 1 cup potato chips aside. Break the remaining chips in half if they are large.

Combine the margarine, sugar, vanilla extract and vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the 4 cups chips, then immediately pour onto the baking sheet and spread in a thin layer. Gently press the reserved 1 cup chips on tops of the toffee and let cool.

Put about ¾ of the chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl and microwave 30 seconds. Stir, then continue to microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until smooth, about 4 minutes. Drizzle the chocolate over the toffee. Set aside to harden, about 20 minutes. Break the toffee into pieces.

Penne Vodka with Herbed Chicken

1 pound penne pasta
2 cups homemade marinara sauce or 1 (23-1/2-ounce) container refrigerated marinara sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
½ head roasted garlic
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup vodka
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3 pieces grilled chicken or 2 cups leftover roasted chicken, skinned, and cut into 1-inch cubes

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently. Drain. Return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat marinara sauce, tomatoes with juices, roasted garlic, basil, vodka and crushed red pepper in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Add cubed chicken and stir until heated through.

Add sauce to pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl.

Mixed Nut Brittle

2 cups sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup unsalted margarine
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup sliced almonds

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.

Mix sugar and corn syrup in large heavy saucepan. Add margarine and corn syrup. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and margarine melts. Attach a candy thermometer to pan side. Increase heat, and cook without stirring until mixture is deep golden brown, bubbling thickly and thermometer registers 350 degrees, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove thermometer. Using large wooden spoon, stir in salt and then all nuts.

Turn mixture out onto the prepared sheet. Using large offset spatula, spread to ¼ inch thickness. Cool completely. Break into pieces of desired size. Can be made 2 weeks ahead and store in airtight container at room temperature.

Tequila Lime Chicken


This recipe is an Ina Garten recipe and needs no adaptation. It’s perfect in the summer and fun as a Purim dish. Don’t be afraid to make this if you do not like tequila (it is not my favorite either); the tequila gives the chicken a little zesty flavor that is hard to identify as an ingredient. The chicken is moist and tender and very flavorful. You can make it with boneless breasts and it is good warm or at room temperature.

1/2 cup gold tequila
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless chicken breasts, skin-on

Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill or a grill pan and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sweet, Savory and a Little Spicy Fruit Chutney


Use on roasted turkey, lamb, chicken or even as a dip on your favorite chip. Divine!

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 shallot, chopped
1 pinch chili flake
1 Serrano pepper, chopped (or jalapeno pepper for a milder version)
3 pears, peeled and diced
4 apples, peeled and diced
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
1-3/4 cups Dijon mustard
Salt

In a large heavy bottomed pot, over high heat, add the sugar, water and juice of half a lemon and cook until a medium-dark caramel is achieved, about 8 minutes. Add shallots and the chilies to the caramel. Immediately add all of the fruit, wine, and bay leaf. Cook gently until the fruits are tender and remove from heat. Add the Dijon when the fruits have just been removed from the heat, taste for salt. Let cool to room temperature. Store refrigerated in a covered container or in individual canning jars.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls


½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup plus1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon margarine, room temperature
1 cup crushed pretzels
2 cups chocolate chips

Stir together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add margarine and stir in the crushed pretzels. Form into 1 inch balls. Freeze for 30 minutes. Melt chocolate in pot or in a double boiler over a very low flame, stirring often or alternatively, in the microwave cook it in 30-second intervals and stir after each interval.

Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and refrigerate until set.

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Adapted from original recipe by Giada De Laurentis
1-1/2 cups cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons Amaretto
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and Amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a mesh sieve, dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Optional: Include a card that says Serving Suggestions

1. Eat in the morning, afternoon, evening or all of the above
2. Definitely enjoy with coffee or tea.
3. Extra delicious with strawberries. Instructions: Remove stems, wash and quarter 1 pint strawberries
Place the strawberries in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until the juices have pooled around the strawberries.
To serve, slice the cake and serve with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze
1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) pareve tofutti cream cheese or cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons pareve milk, soymilk, or regular milk
Melted margarine or butter, for brushing

Directions
After the dough comes together, on a well-floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 15 by 11-inch rectangle. In a mixing bowl add the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Spread the softened unsalted margarine over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough tightly ending with the seam-side down. Cut 10 slices each about 1/2-inch thick.

Place in 2 (9 by 13-inch) greased baking dishes and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the rolls to rise in a warm environment for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Brush with melted margarine before baking

Bake at 400 degrees F until the tops are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush tops with melted margarine and cool on cooling rack. Drizzle with prepared pareve cream cheese glaze.

Pareve Cream Cheese Glaze: In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, pareve cream cheese, margarine, pareve milk, and vanilla.

Rapid Rolls
3 (0.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted margarine, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, beaten
4 to 6 cups flour, plus more if needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the instant yeast, and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in the honey.

On low speed, add 1/2 cup melted margarine, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour cup-by-cup until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Portion the dough into 24 even servings. Form the rolls into desired shape and let rise approximately 20 minutes, or until doubled in size. Place the rolls in a cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet. Brush the rolls with melted margarine.

Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted margarine, and sprinkle with a little salt.

Smoked Salmon and Wontons

This recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled depending on the size of your crowd!

¼ cup toasted sesame oil
1 egg white
8 wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1-1/4 teaspoons wasabi
1 teaspoon minced ginger
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
6 ounces sliced smoked salmon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together oil and egg white and brush on wonton wrappers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cut in half (into triangles) and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool completely. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Place a slice of salmon atop each wonton and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with minced scallions if desired.

Spicy Chili

Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This is easy, delicious and great for a crowd. Can also be doubled and made ahead.

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 pounds ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons cocoa (powder form)
1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
4 cups beef broth
1/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven and sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add meat and cook until browned, stirring frequently and breaking into pieces as you go. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours to give the flavors a chance to blend.

Sweet Potato with Granola

5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup granola
2 tablespoons margarine, cut into about 6 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potatoes, salt and olive oil in a roasting pan and toss to coat. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are soft, stirring a few times. Remove from oven and immediately add marshmallows, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well and then mash together. Sprinkle granola on top and dot with margarine pieces. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

2 cups crushed pretzels
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) margarine, melted
1 cup pareve whip
½ cup tofutti cream cheese
½ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
About ¼ cup chocolate syrup, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together pretzel crumbs, brown sugar and melted margarine. Press across the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool. Beat whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in tofutti cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla. Keep beating until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Spread across bottom of tart shell and refrigerate. When set, lift out from ban (sides will fall away but it will remain sitting on the bottom piece) and drizzle with chocolate, if desired.

Mocha Truffles

2 (12 ounce) packages semisweet chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) package tofutti cream cheese
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons water

Melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Stir in tofutti cream cheese, coffee and water until completely blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill for about 1 hour. Dip in chocolate coating; then roll in topping of your choice if desired.

Chocolate Coating:
2 cups (1 12-ounce package) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Melt in microwave and stir until smooth.

All-Bran Muffins

Yet another version; I’m always trying different ones. This one is a winner.

1 cup Bran Flakes
½ cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2-1/2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups All-Bran

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour 1 cup boil water over Bran Flakes. Cool. Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add flour, baking soda and buttermilk; mix well. Stir in All-Bran. Fill greased muffin tins about 2/3 full (makes about 2-1/2 – 3 dozen). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from pans to finish cooling.

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

This is adapted from a recent Bon Appetit recipe; the squash is a great addition.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 (29 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes (you can use regular whole tomatoes if you’re stuck)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (make sure to mince; these are VERY spicy)
1 (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 –inch cubes

Possible Garnish:
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Chopped Cilantro
Pickled Jalapeno Rings

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add chili powder, tomatoes, beans and chiles and cook for about ½ hour to blend flavors. Stir in butternut squash and cook an additional 30 minutes. Serve over rice. I like it without any garnish but it’s nice to give everyone options.

Peanut Butter Truffles

1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons vanilla
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Cream together margarine, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix in remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Shape into balls and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets. Chill for 1 hour before dipping in chocolate coating and rolling in other toppings (chopped peanuts works nicely here)

Double Ginger Cookies


As you may have noticed from last week’s recipes, I am a big ginger fan. I also like to use crystallized ginger in cookies. This is a heartier cookie than your typical Ginger Crinkle.

1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ginger
1 cup sugar
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup oil
½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients. Make a well in center. Whisk together sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until just moistened. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Let set for 1 to 2 minutes on pan; them remove to wire racks to finish cooling.