In this season of good wishes, a special variety of kindness has broken out in some of the communities we cover with our CSI Media newspapers.
I first noticed it earlier this month in a Facebook post from the Rockton Police Department. One of our papers, the Stateline News, covers the village located just over the border in Illinois.
The post showed a photo of a Starbucks gift card with the now familiar hashtag #bluelivesmatter, which began on Twitter in support of those who serve in law enforcement.
Well, the cookie baking has begun and there are so many good recipes coming my way I have to share these, sent in by friends and readers of this column. I’m going to try them all, especially the highly recommended eggnog cookies.
— This recipe starts with a cooked custard, eliminating any danger from raw eggs.
Makes 6 cups
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups whipping cream or 2 cups half-and-half
1-1⁄2 tsps. vanilla extract
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Use a saucepan or stockpot large enough to hold 2 quarts.
In saucepan, beat together the eggs and sugar until smooth.
Stir in 2 cups milk.
Cook over medium low heat, whisking or stirring frequently.
Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches 160 F on a food thermometer.
Remove from heat.
Slowly add the 2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half while whisking together until smooth.
Add vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and combine until incorporated.
Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled —several hours or overnight.
Serve garnished with your choice of toppings: whipped cream, chocolate curls, maraschino cherries, cinnamon sticks or peppermint sticks.
Brandy, rum, whiskey or flavored liqueur may be added before serving if desired.
— Doris Johnson, a dairy farmer, says she makes her own eggnog using eggs from her chickens. “Sometimes I’ll use duck eggs if they’re still laying,” she explains. “But the real reason I make the eggnog is to make these cookies.”
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup eggnog
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 to 5 Tbsps. eggnog
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheet and set aside.
To make cookies: In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars until fluffy. Add egg yolks, eggnog and vanilla, continue beating until creamy. Add flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Mix until well combined.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned on bottom. Let cool on wire racks.
To make frosting: Cream butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add eggnog, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat for three minutes until smooth. Frost cooled cookies and sprinkle nutmeg over the frosting if desired.
Chocolate rum balls
3-1/4 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 Tbsps. corn syrup
1/2 cup rum
In a large bowl, stir together the crushed vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, cocoa and nuts. Blend in corn syrup and rum.
Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in additional powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container for several days to develop the flavor. Roll again in powdered sugar before serving.
— Lebkuchen or Pfefferkuchen is a traditional German Christmas treat, somewhat resembling gingerbread. There are many variations of this cookie. Some are iced with a powdered sugar glaze and some have chocolate; most are decorated with almonds. Often, these are made using cookie molds and these can be quite large.
Debbie writes, “I brought this recipe over from Germany almost 20 years ago. It has molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, honey and brown sugar in it. This is one of my favorite memories of Germany at Christmastime.”
Makes 6 dozen cookies
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup diced candied citron
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup powdered sugar
In a medium saucepan, stir together the honey and molasses. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the citron and hazelnuts. Cover dough and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets. Using a small amount of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into small rectangles and place them 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Brush the icing over the cookies while they are still hot and quickly remove them to wire cooling racks. Store in airtight container with an orange or apple for a few days to mellow.
To make the icing: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat to 235 F or the soft ball stage. Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar. If icing becomes sugary while brushing cookies, reheat slightly, adding a little water.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Other than the snowstorm that quickly moved through the area last month, the weather of late has been anything but winterlike.
That’s been no surprise to John Frye, associate geography professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, who said a strong El Niño weather system is enveloping the northern states this winter.
JANESVILLE -- The holiday season is in full swing at Janesville historic Lincoln-Tallman House. The five-story, Italianate-style house that famously welcomed Abraham Lincoln before he was elected president is showcasing holiday tours through Dec. 30.
What: Holiday tours of the Lincoln-Tallman House
When: Through Wednesday, Dec. 30. Offered on the hour from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays or Monday through Wednesday by appointment by calling 608-756-4509.
Where: Tours start at the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center, 426 N. Jackson St., Janesville.
Cost: $8 for adults, $7 for students and seniors ages 62 and older, $4 for children 5-17, and free for children 4 and younger, veterans and RCHS members.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Amanda Eaton recently had the enjoyable task of researching the origins of pizza.
The Franklin Middle School eighth-grader chose the topic for her Janesville Free Press article. Eaton, 14, said she decided to become involved with the online school newspaper because of her interest in writing and in interacting with other students.
STATELINE NEWS -- Dealing with a chronic illness or the death of a loved one is perhaps the most difficult thing a family can face, especially during the holidays.
But a variety of community organizations offer programs and services designed to help families get through the holiday season.
JANESVILLE -- Hundreds of fellow police officers and community members lined the route from McFarland to Janesville on Tuesday to honor Officer Ryan Copeland, who died Monday in a car accident.
The holiday season can be a time to worry about shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping and a never-ending to-do list.
However, the holidays also can be a time to enjoy the beauty of the season with decorated Christmas trees, lighted houses and storefronts, the aroma of hot chocolate and, of course, Santa Claus greeting children as they scurry to meet the jolly old elf.
If you’re looking for a way to bolster your holiday spirit, there’s plenty of seasonal events to enjoy. Here are our top 15 holiday events in the Stateline area:
I would wager that most everyone now knows someone that keeps vegetarian in their diet. Of course, that means they will not be indulging in the entire traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey. But there’s no reason to panic; make some minor adjustments to the menu and add one or two more side dishes and you’ll be fine.
One dish everyone looks forward to is the dressing or stuffing. Here’s where you need to make your first adjustment. Make the dressing without meat and use a vegetable stock instead of turkey stock to moisten the bread cubes. Then bake some of the dressing in a separate casserole dish before you stuff the turkey with the rest.
If you like to add the giblets or sausage to the stuffing, you can still do that after you’ve set aside the separate casserole of vegetarian dressing. A word of explanation is probably needed here -- dressing is cooked outside of the bird; stuffing is the same concoction stuffed inside the bird.
Vegetarians need to be sure to get enough protein in their diet without benefit of meat, so you can help them out by including vegetarian dishes high in protein. These dishes could include quinoa, nuts, cheese (good for vegetarians, but not for vegans -- who don’t eat any animal products), lentils, beans, chickpeas, soy and soy products and seitan (extruded wheat protein).
Vegetables generally aren’t high in protein, but spinach, peas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts have more than most.
Lentil quinoa salad
-- This recipe combines two high-protein foods, quinoa and lentil.
1/2 cup quinoa
1-1/4 cups water, plus 2 cups
1/2 cup lentils
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 lime, zested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a large microwave-proof bowl with a cover, add the rinsed quinoa and 1-1/4 cups water. Cover and microwave on high for nine minutes. Let it sit for two minutes, then stir. Quinoa should be tender enough to eat, but with a little pop upon biting.
Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a saucepan, simmer the lentils in two cups water until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together and drizzle in the oil to make an emulsion. Add the garlic powder, lime zest and salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the salad: In a medium salad bowl, mix the quinoa, lentils, green onions and chopped cilantro. Top the salad with the dressing, toss to coat and serve.
Roasted Brussels sprouts
--From “The Barefoot Contessa” television show.
1-1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsps. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve.
Baked vegetable side dish
1 lb. baby red potatoes, halved
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1/2 lb. Portobello mushrooms
6 cloves unpeeled garlic
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 lb. cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsps. toasted pine nuts
1 lb. spinach, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place new potatoes in a shallow roasting pan; drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes, turning once.
Add portobello mushrooms, placing stem sides up, and garlic cloves to pan. Sprinkle with chopped thyme. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Return to oven; cook five minutes.
Remove pan from oven and add cherry tomatoes. Return to oven; cook until mushrooms are softened, about five more minutes.
Scatter pine nuts over potatoes and mushrooms.
Wash spinach and slice thinly. Toss with the potato mixture and serve. The spinach will become wilted from the heat of the other vegetables, cooking it just enough while retaining some crispness and all its color.
Cheddar cheese potato bake
4 large russet potatoes (peeled or unpeeled)
1⁄4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (optional)
1-1⁄2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Butter a shallow baking dish.
Thinly slice the potatoes and place in the baking dish.
In a small saucepan, heat butter, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme until the butter is melted.
Drizzle over potatoes.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
Return to oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps. lemon juice, fresh
1/4 cup basil leaves, fresh, torn
30 Belgian endive leaves
1/4 cup California walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
Puree beans, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Add basil and pulse on and off until basil is finely chopped. Spoon equal amounts into endive leaves and top with walnuts and bell pepper.
SOUTH BELOIT -- Snow is expected to begin between 5 p.m. and 7p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 and continuing through the day Saturday. The highest snow totals are expected to be along the Wisconsin-Illinois border in the South Beloit, Roscoe, Sharon, Genoa City areas.
Four to six inches total are expected, although high temperatures are expected to rise back to 40 degrees by Monday.
Windy conditions will ease overnight Thursday as a low pressure system to the north moves off to the northeast, according to the National Weather Service in Sullivan, Wisconsin.
It will be mostly quiet but cold during the day Friday.
Then, a fast moving low pressure system will move into the region, which should bring our first accumulating snow of the season Friday night into Saturday.
There is still some uncertainty with the eventual track of the low pressure system, which would influence the final snowfall totals, so keep up with the latest forecasts.
Currently, a Winter Storm Watch is in effect from an Iowa county to Milwaukee county line and points south. Four to eight or more inches of snow are possible in the watch area.
The highest snowfall amounts should fall along the WI/IL border. Stay tuned to the latest forecast as amounts may change.
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