Monday, December 19, 2011

Havard unveils findings on canned soup diet

Now this is something that has to be checked on your diet... eat in moderation...

Posted: 23 November 2011

Test tube with samples
WASHINGTON: People who ate canned soup for five days straight saw their urinary levels of the chemical bisphenol A spike 1,200 percent compared to those who ate fresh soup, US researchers said on Tuesday.

The randomised study, described as "one of the first to quantify BPA levels in humans after ingestion of canned foods," was done by Harvard University researchers and appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association's November 23 issue.

"We've known for a while that drinking beverages that have been stored in certain hard plastics can increase the amount of BPA in your body," said lead author Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

"This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use."

The chemical BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animal studies at levels of 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight and higher, though it remains uncertain if the same effects cross over to humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

This study did not measure BPA levels by micrograms per kilogram of body weight, but rather by micrograms per litre of urine, so a direct comparison to the EPA-cited danger level in animals was not possible.

However, previous studies have linked BPA at lower levels than those found in the Harvard study to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity in humans, Carwile told AFP in an email.

BPA is found in the lining of canned foods, cash register receipts, dental fillings, some plastics and polycarbonate bottles marked with the number 7.

Seventy-five people took part in the study, eating a 12-ounce serving of either fresh or canned soup for five days in a row. They were advised not to otherwise alter their regular eating habits.

After a two-day break, the groups switched and ate the opposite type of canned soup.

A urine analysis showed the canned soup eaters had 1,221 percent higher levels of BPA than those who ate the fresh soup.

BPA is typically eliminated in the urine and so any spike is usually considered temporary. The researchers did not measure how long elevated BPA stayed in the body, saying more study would be needed to examine that question.

The US government's health and environmental agencies are considering whether "further action is needed to address human health risks resulting from non-food-packaging uses of BPA," according to the EPA.

France's Agency for Food Health Safety (Anses) in September called for tougher preventive measures, warning that even "low doses" of the chemical had had a "confirmed" effect on lab animals and a "suspected" effect on humans.

Preventing exposure to BPA among infants, pregnant or nursing women was a "priority goal," Anses said.

Meanwhile, the Harvard study authors said their findings should encourage people who eat a lot of canned foods to opt for fresh instead, and should serve as a red flag to manufacturers who use BPA to make cans.

"The magnitude of the rise in urinary BPA we observed after just one serving of soup was unexpected and may be of concern among individuals who regularly consume foods from cans or drink several canned beverages daily," said senior author Karin Michels.

"It may be advisable for manufacturers to consider eliminating BPA from can linings."

- AFP/wk

Taken from; source article is below:
Havard unveils findings on canned soup diet

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Green bean casserole, Baked baby eggplants, etc.

Español: Berenjenas encurtidas de AlmagroImage via WikipediaAubergines from via WikipediaFilet Steak, Green Beans, and Roasted PotatoesImage by Sea-Turtle via Flickr20-Dec-2011

I was going through some recipes, and i realized that the articles are copyrighted materials. This prevents me from copying over the items into my blog, since I haven't got any permission from the authors/owners.

Therefore, here are the links. Hopefully, these are superb dishes, and healthy ones as well.


Green bean casserole from the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune

Baked baby eggplants & String beans and potatoes from FOX News Network

The Picayune Creole Cook Book from New Orleans Net LLC

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vitamin D activates immune response to TB

Posted: 13 October 2011

Oily fish such as salmon are rich in Vitamin D
WASHINGTON: Vitamin D is needed to activate the immune system's response to tuberculosis, said a US study on Wednesday that could lead to new treatments for the lung disease that kills 1.8 million people per year.

Researchers have long known that vitamin D plays a role in the body's response to TB, but the study in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows it must be present in adequate levels to trigger the immune response.

This finding could be crucial to efforts to treat the disease in parts of the world like Africa, because people with dark skin tend to be more susceptible to TB and also are more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies.

Even though people can get vitamin D through sun exposure, dark skin contains more melanin which shields the body from ultraviolet rays and also reduces vitamin D production.

"Over the centuries, vitamin D has intrinsically been used to treat tuberculosis," said first study author Mario Fabri, who did the research for the study while at the University of California Los Angeles and is currently at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Cologne, Germany.

"Sanatoriums dedicated to tuberculosis patients were traditionally placed in sunny locations that seemed to help patients -- but no one knew why this worked," he said.

"Our findings suggest that increasing vitamin D levels through supplementation may improve the immune response to infections such as tuberculosis."

Previous studies by the same research team found that vitamin D played a key role producing a molecule called cathelicidin, which helps the innate immune system kill the tuberculosis bacteria.

The current findings show that vitamin D is necessary for the T-cells, which respond to threats as part of the body's adaptive immune system, to produce a protein called interferon which directs cells to attack the bacteria.

"At a time when drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are emerging, understanding how to enhance natural innate and acquired immunity through vitamin D may be very helpful," said co-author Barry Bloom, former dean of the faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The World Health Organization reported this week that 8.8 million people had TB last year, with about one quarter of those cases occurring in Africa and 40 percent in India and China.


Taken from; source article is below:
Vitamin D activates immune response to TB

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Toxic chemicals in children's soup cans

Posted: 22 September 2011

A man walks through a grocery store. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)WASHINGTON: Worrying levels of BPA, an industrial chemical with suspected links to cancer, lurk inside canned soups and pasta targeted at American children, the Breast Cancer Fund said on Wednesday.

In a product testing report, the non-profit advocacy group - which focuses on environmental causes of cancer - said an average of 49 parts per billion of BPA, or bisphenol A, was detected in a dozen cans of food items tested.

"Every food sample tested positive for BPA," with Campbell's Disney Princess and Toy Story soups testing the highest," said the group, which is pressing canned food producers to embrace alternatives to BPA.

Best known as a hardening agent in plastic bottles, BPA is also widely used 
to line the inside of metal cans, but a raft of scientific studies have pointed to a possible link with cancer and other illnesses.

Earlier this year, the European Union banned the use of BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles. Its use in infant food containers is also restricted in Canada as well as 10 US states.

"We're concerned about BPA because it disrupts the body's delicate hormonal system," Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund, told AFP by telephone from San Francisco.

"There's a toxic chemical in our canned foods marketed to children, and it doesn't belong there."

In its tests, the group found levels of BPA ranging from 148 ppb in a can of Campbell's Disney Princess Cool Shapes shaped pasta with chicken and chicken broth to 10 ppb in a can of Campbell's SpaghettiOs with meatballs.

Earth's Best, Annie's Homegrown and Chef Boyardee products were also tested, with eight of the 12 cans found to have BPA levels in excess of the 49 ppb average.

It was unclear why there was such a wide variation between the cans tested, or why cans bought in California were liable to have higher BPA levels than those from Wisconsin.

But Salter said that previous laboratory experiments have suggested that some foodstuffs are liable to provoke greater toxic leeching from BPA packaging than others.

Pending sweeping legislation to ban BPA across the board, the Breast Cancer Fund urged parents to avoid canned foods and instead feed their youngsters dry or frozen pasta, fruit, or soup packaged in paper-based containers.


Taken from; source article is below:

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

M.Y. San Grahams Pineapple Box Cake and Crema de Fruta

pineapple upside-down cakeImage by normanack via FlickrPineapple Upside Down CakeImage by Made In PHL via FlickrClose up of Crema de FrutaImage by Zeetz Jones via FlickrCrema de Fruta CakeImage by Zeetz Jones via FlickrI have lifted these 2 simple recipes from M.Y. San's Grahams wrapper. Hope it is useful to many.

M.Y. San Grahams
Pineapple Box Cake


  • 12 pcs M.Y. San Grahams Honey
  • 1/4 cup M.Y. San Grahams Honey, crushed
  • 1 439g can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 1/2 cup (1 1/2 of 250mL brick) all-purpose cream, chilled and whipped
  • 1/2 168mL can condensed milk


  1. DO THE FILLING - In a bowl, combine crushed pineapple, whipped all-purpose cream and condensed milk. Divide into 4 equal parts. Set aside.
  2. LAYER and ASSEMBLE - Spread a fourth of the pineapple cream mixture on the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Dip 4 pieces of crackers into reserved pineapple juice and place on top of pineapple cream mixture. Repeat procedure for the remaining crackers and cream mixture.
  3. FINISH and GARNISH - Spread the crushed M.Y. San Grahams on top. CHILL before serving.


M.Y. San Grahams
Crema de Fruta




  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pcs egg yolk, beaten slightly
  • 2 cups fruit cocktail, drained (reserve some juice)


  • 1/2 bar clear gulaman
  • 1/2  tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup water


  1. DO FILLING - Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. In a bowl, combine condensed milk and water. Gradually add milk mixture to the cornstarch mixture. Cook on low heat until thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat.
  2. ADD - egg yolks to the thickened cornstarch-sugar mixture, beating vigorously to avoid  cooking the eggs. Return pan to low heat and cook for 2 minutes more. Cool.
  3. ASSEMBLE - Arrange 6 M.Y. San Grahams (dipped in the fruit cocktail syrup) on the bottom on an 8-inch square pan. Spread half of the custard evenly on top of the crackers. Top with a fourth of the fruit cocktail. Repeat procedure.
  4. BREAK - gulaman bar in half of the cold water to soften. Boil the remaining water; add the softened gulaman mixture and the sugar. Boil until gulaman is completely dissolved. Pour gulaman on top of fruit cocktail. Chill and serve.

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    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Winning recipes from the SJ-R's annual cookie contest

    Fully cooked shortbread rounds on a baking sheet.Image via WikipediaOcean Spray Craisins brand dried cranberriesImage via Wikipediacaramelized rice crispies (?) shortbread cooki...Image via WikipediaAlso called "Caramel shortbread," th...Image via WikipediaScottish shortbread fingers.Image via WikipediaApparently, it is, technically, a flan.Image via WikipediaPlateful of Christmas CookiesImage via WikipediaA dish full of cookiesImage via Wikipedia
    Posted Oct 18, 2011 @ 10:10 PM
    Last update Oct 19, 2011 @ 06:02 AM

    A chocolate cookie topped with mocha frosting, a spiced oatmeal cookie and a slice-and-bake shortbread cookie with dried cranberries took the top prizes in The State Journal-Register’s 2011 Homemade Cookie Contest.
    “The cookies this year tend to be homey, more old-fashioned,” said Bitzy Groth, who judged the contest for the fourth year with her husband, Patrick. The 43 recipe submissions were whittled down by newspaper staff to 12. Those finalists were asked to prepare their recipes, which were judged Oct. 10 by the Groths, who own Incredibly Delicious, a Springfield bakery and café.
    Prizes were $100, $75 and $50. Cookies were judged on taste and appearance; recipes did not have to be original.
    Annie Jaech, a history researcher and retired insurance underwriter who moved to Springfield in June, took the top prize with Baked Truffles with Mocha Frosting.
    “I’ve had this recipe for 40 or 45 years. I make it often,” she said. “I think it’s the best recipe I have.”
    “It has a great texture and layers of flavor,” said Patrick Groth about the soft drop cookie. “The frosting is complex, but not too sweet.”
    “The flavors just pop in your mouth,” Bitzy said.
    An avid baker, Jaech follows advice dispensed by Julia Child: Use the best ingredients you can find, and use unsalted butter for the best flavor.
    This was the first time Jaech has entered a cooking contest.
    “I’ve never won anything before,” she exclaimed.
    The Loaded Oatmeal Cookies, which came in second, live up to their name. Besides walnuts, raisins, oats and buttermilk, they are packed with a blend of spices and topped with brown butter icing.
    Joan Newell of Springfield first tasted the iced drop cookies at St. John’s Hospital. While visiting a relative there, she ate a cookie that a nurse had brought in.
    “I found the nurse who made them and she gave me the recipe. I’ve been making them ever since,” said the mother of six and former home economics teacher. She later found out the recipe originated with celebrity cook Paula Deen.
    “They’re very spicy, but the spices have a great balance. One doesn’t overpower another,” Patrick Groth said. “It tastes like something your grandmother might make,” added Bitzy.
    Newell said the cookies are very easy to make, but the icing can be a bit tricky.
    “Don’t burn the butter. Simmer it until it’s a golden color and then take it off the heat,” said Newell, who entered a spice cake in her first Illinois State Fair contest this year and won.
    Pat Pedigo of Springfield found the recipe for third place finisher Holiday Cranberry-Orange Slices in a magazine long ago. She has been making them ever since.
    “You know it’s a shortbread when you see it. It would be great for the holidays, with the orange and cranberries and pecans in it,” said the Capital Development Board employee and grandmother of four. (Her fiancée has another two grandchildren, and they’re all eager cookie eaters.) She often makes the icebox cookie dough in advance and freezes the rolls.
    “The cookie is pretty. And it would be convenient for people to make at home,” said Bitzy Groth. “It’s crisp, and it has lots of bits and pieces in it,” added Patrick.
    “This is probably going to be one of the easiest cookies you’ll ever make,” said Pedigo. She bakes all of her cookies directly on a baking stone, rather than a cookie sheet.
    “The bottoms never get burnt,” said Pedigo, who also likes to bake pies and make fancy appetizers.

    Baked Truffles with Mocha Frosting
    From Annie Jaech of Springfield
    • 2 squares bitter chocolate, melted and cooled
    • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • ¼ cup cream or milk
    Mocha Frosting:
    • 1 square bitter or bittersweet chocolate
    • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons very strong coffee (can be omitted)
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk or cream
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    1. Carefully melt chocolate in microwave (or use your preferred method). Sift flour, soda and salt. Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in cooled chocolate. Add milk or cream to sour cream. Add sifted flour to chocolate mixture, alternating with sour cream. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheet, using about 1 tablespoon per cookie. Bake at 350 degrees 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies should be soft.
    2. Frosting: Melt chocolate and butter together. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Spread cooled frosting on cookies. Very good when made, but the flavor improves if cookies are stored overnight in cookie tin. Keeps well.
    3. Makes 2 dozen.

    Loaded Oatmeal Cookies
    From Joan Newell of Springfield
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
    • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or freshly ground nutmeg)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
    • 1 cup raisins
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Brown Butter Icing:
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons water
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1 or more cookie sheets.
    2. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is light in color. Add buttermilk.
    3. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in oats, raisins, walnuts and vanilla, blending well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes.
    4. Brown Butter Icing: In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat: stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Stir in enough water to make an icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on warm cookies.
    5. Makes 5 dozen.

    Holiday Cranberry-Orange Slices
    From Pat Pedigo of Springfield
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
    1. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in cranberries, pecans and orange peel.
    2. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 9-inch-long roll. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill 3 hours or until firm enough to slice.
    3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices with serrated knife. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool.
    4. To store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in airtight container; cover.  Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month.
    5. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

    Crispy Pecan Sugar Cookies
    From Jeanine Benanti of Springfield
    • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 2 ounces softened cream cheese
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tablespoon half-and-half
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans on a shallow plate, set aside
    • Raw sugar for sanding
    • Pecan halves, for garnish (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
    2. Place 1 1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (lumps will remain). Whisk in oil. Add egg, half-and-half and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft dough forms.
    3. Roll 2 tablespoons dough in hands to form ball and roll in raw sugar. Place bottom of each cookie in chopped pecans and flatten into cookie using bottom of drinking glass. Place cookies on baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with more raw sugar, if needed. Place pecan half in center of each cookie, if desired.
    4. Bake 11 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Cool completely before storing.
    5. Makes 2 dozen.

    Frosted Nutmeg Treats
    From Stacy Meyer of Springfield
    • 3 cups unbleached flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
    • 1 teaspoon rum flavoring
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 large egg
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Pinch of kosher salt
    • Freshly grated nutmeg for dusting
    1. For the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with baking parchment.
    2. Whisk flour and salt together, and set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in flavorings and nutmeg. Beat in egg. Gradually add flour mixture on low speed, just until blended.
    3. Working with a handful of dough at a time, roll on a surface sprinkled with granulated sugar into ½-inch-diameter ropes. Cut ropes into 3-inch lengths, and place them 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until light golden brown on the bottom and around the edges.
    4. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Beat butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, flavorings and salt on medium-high speed, until very creamy.
    5. Spread baked cookies with frosting while still very warm, just a minute or so out of the oven. (Frosting will melt and adhere to the warm cookies, hardening into a crisp coating as they cool.) Dust with nutmeg while they are still wet. Allow cookies to cool completely before serving. Store in airtight container; they will keep well for up to 1 week.
    6. Note: These cookies pack and mail extremely well, so they are perfect holiday cookies for gifting.
    7. Makes 3 dozen.

    Glazed Orange Cookies
    From Dotti Milner of Springfield
    • ¾ cup shortening
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in ½ cup sour milk
    • 1 teaspoon orange zest
    • 1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
    • 1/3 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs, lemon extract, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt and flour. Blend in the baking soda that has been dissolved in milk. Add orange zest.
    2. Drop on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake 11 to 12 minutes.
    3. Glaze: Mix orange zest, orange juice and powdered sugar. Spread on cookies while they are still hot from the oven, to give them a glazed effect.
    4. Makes 4 dozen.

    White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies
    From Brenda Dutcher of Springfield
    • 11 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped, or white chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
    • 1/2 teaspoon shortening
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet. In small saucepan, cook and stir 4 ounces of the white chocolate on low heat until melted. Cool slightly.
    2. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and melted white chocolate until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and another 4 ounces of the white chocolate.
    3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake 7 to 9 minutes only, just until edges are brown. Let stand for 1 minute on cookies sheet, then transfer to wire rack and let cool.
    4. Before serving, in small saucepan, cook and stir raspberry jam on low heat until melted. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of jam on top of each cookie. In small saucepan combine the remaining 3 ounces white chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir on low heat until melted; drizzle over cookies. If necessary, let stand until white chocolate is set.
    5. Makes 3 dozen.

    Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookie Bars
    From Kasey Schwartz of Chatham
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 Golden Delicious apples, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 jar caramel topping
    Crumb Topping:
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
    • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cubed and softened
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into 13-by-9-inch pan or cookie sheet with edges. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
    3. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Next add vanilla. Mix until combined. Pour over warm crust.
    4. In small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
    5. Crumb topping: In small bowl, combine flour, oats and brown sugar. Add cubed butter and combine. Crumble over cream cheese mixture.
    6. Bake 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and store in refrigerator.
    7. Makes 12 to 18.

    Big-Time Cookies
    From Marilyn Okon of Springfield
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 2 tablespoons hot water
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon gel or paste food coloring (color of your choice)
    1. Cookies: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 baking sheets.
    2. In a bowl, stir flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
    3. In a larger bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add egg, then sour cream, chocolate and vanilla. On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk until just blended.
    4. Drop five 1/4 cupfuls of dough on a prepared baking sheet, 4 inches apart. With spatula, spread each into a 3-inch mound. Bake 10 to 12 minutes on center rack, turning sheet 180 degrees halfway through, until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool cookies on sheet 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough on second sheet.
    5. Icing: Put 1 cup confectioners' sugar into each of 2 bowls. To each bowl, add 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup, 1 tablespoon hot water, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir mixture vigorously with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir cocoa powder into one bowl until icing falls in thin ribbons from the spoon (add water, if necessary). Stir chosen food coloring into the other bowl.
    6. Turn cookies over. With a small spatula, spread half of the flat bottom of each cookie with chocolate icing, creating a line down the center, and spread the other half with the colored icing. Let set for 1 hour.
    7. Makes 10 large cookies.

    Blueberry Oat Bars
    From Merry Riley of Springfield
    • 1 ¾ cups quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
    • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • ½ cup chopped nuts
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¾ cup margarine or butter, melted
    • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-inch square glass baking dish.
    2. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, nuts and baking soda. Add margarine, mixing until crumbly. Reserve ¾ cup mixture; press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared dish. Bake 10 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, combine blueberries, granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil; simmer 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
    4. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon water, cornstarch and lemon juice; mix well. Gradually stir into blueberry mixture; cook and stir about 30 seconds or until thickened. Spread over partially baked base; sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.
    5. Note: This also tastes great when made with other small berries, peaches , pears or a combination.
    6. Makes 16.

    Raspberry Thumbprint Lemon-Sugar Cookies
    From Heather Miller of Springfield
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Extra granulated white sugar for sprinkling
    • Raspberry preserves
    Buttercream Frosting:
    1. ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
    2. ½ cup vegetable shortening
    3. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    4. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    5. ½ teaspoon lemon zest
    6. 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
    7. 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
    1. Using electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and lemon juice until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
    2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg over butter mixture, stir to blend. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead gently for 1 minute. Shape dough into ½-inch thick rectangle, cut into fourths and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Let dough soften a little at room temperature.
    3. Position oven rack in the center and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter large baking sheet. One piece of dough at a time, roll out on floured surface into 1/8-inch thickness. Dust surface lightly with flour. Using floured 2- or 3-inch round or shaped cutters, cut out cookies. Pull away excess dough from around cookies. Transfer cookies to baking sheet, spacing ½-inch to 1-inch apart (cookies won’t spread). Sprinkle half the cookies lightly with granulated sugar. Re-roll dough scraps to make more cookies.
    4. Bake cookies until light brown, 9 to 11 minutes. While they are baking, prepare the frosting.
    5. Frosting: Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer in large bowl. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Icing will appear dry once all the sugar has been mixed in. Add 1 tablespoon milk and beat until frosting is fluffy. Add more if necessary. Cover bowl with a damp cloth until ready to use.
    6. Remove cookies from oven. Let cool 3 minutes and then use your thumb to indent centers of the sugar-sprinkled cookies. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool.
    7. Turn an un-dented cookie bottom-up and add thin layer of buttercream. Sandwich the frosting by placing a thumb-printed cookie on top. Repeat with all cookies. Add a dollop of raspberry preserves into each thumbprint.
    8. Makes 2 to 3 dozen.

    Triple Chocolate Cherry Drop Cookies
    From Trish Fenton of Springfield
    • 1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup cocoa powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup finely chopped chocolate chunks or miniature chocolate chips
    • ¾ cup dried cherries, plus another 30 reserved
    • 11-ounce bag white chocolate chips
    1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
    2. In medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
    3. In large bowl, combine butter and both sugars. Use electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add egg and vanilla, mixing to fully incorporate. Gradually add the dry ingredients, then mix in the chocolate chips and cherries.
    4. Arrange balls of dough, about 1 tablespoon in size, on prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 ½ inches of space between each cookie. Bake cookies, rotating sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until spread and set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Set out sheets of parchment or waxed paper.
    5. Once cookies are cool, in a microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate chips on high in 15-second bursts, stirring between each, until fully melted and smooth. One at a time, dunk half of each cookie into melted white chocolate, then set on parchment paper. Place 1 of the reserved cherries on top of the white chocolate on each cookie.  Refrigerate to set.
    6. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
    7. Note: Nuts or golden raisins may be substituted for the dried cherries.
    8. Makes 30 cookies.

    Taken from The State; source article is below:
    Winning recipes from the SJ-R's annual cookie contest

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