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Holiday Cookie Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, November 26, 2016

(Photo by midwestliving.com)


Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is time to start thinking of new recipes to make for Holiday cookies! My friends and I always do a big cookie exchange amongst ourselves. To save time and money, it is always best to plan ahead and have your recipes on hand. Here are a few you might like to include!


Peppermint Sugar Cookies


Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 Tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Red gel paste food coloring


Directions:

1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.


2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat for 2 minutes on medium speed or until mixture is light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add egg and egg yolk; beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Beat in peppermint extract. Gradually add flour mixture beating on low speed just until combined.


3. Divide dough in half. Knead about 1/2 teaspoon gel paste food coloring into one of the dough portions (add more, if desired, for a deeper red color). Leave the remaining dough portion plain. If necessary, wrap and chill dough for at least 1 hour or until easy to handle.


4. Form dough into desired shape. For peppermint swirl cookies: Divide each red and plain dough portion in half for a total of four dough portions. Roll a red dough portion into an 8x6-inch rectangle on parchment or waxed paper. Pat or roll a plain dough portion into an 8x6-inch rectangle on paper. Use the paper and your hand to carefully invert the red dough rectangle on top of the plain dough rectangle; remove top layer of paper. Starting from a long side, roll up dough using bottom layer of paper to help lift and guide the roll. Pinch dough edges to seal; wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining red and plain doughs. Chill dough rolls for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice. Unwrap dough rolls; reshape, if necessary. If desired, roll each of the dough rolls in red edible glitter or red coarse decorating sugar. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice rolls crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Rotate roll while cutting to prevent flattening. For candy cane cookies: For each cookie, on a lightly floured surface, shape a 1/2-inch ball of plain cookie dough into a 5-inch rope. Repeat with a 1/2-inch ball (1 measuring teaspoon) of red cookie dough. Place the ropes side by side and twist together. Form into a cane shape.


5. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven until edges are set (9 to 10 minutes for swirl cookies; 6 to 8 minutes for candy cane cookies). Cool on cookie sheets on wire rack for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.



Cookie 'N Cream Blossom Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cornstarch
36 Hershey's Kisses Cookies 'n' Créme, unwrapped


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350º and line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.


2. Add egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.


3. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients and mix until combined.


4. Form level tablespoons of cookie dough into a ball and place onto prepared cookie sheet.


5. Bake until edges are set and centers look mostly set, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey’s Kiss into center of each.


6. Let cookies cool 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.



Sugar Cookies


Ingredients:

1 c. butter (no substitutions)
½ c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy. On low speed, beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt until blended.


2. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm enough to roll. (Or place dough in freezer 30 minutes.)


3. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8 inch thick. With floured 3-inch to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.


4. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.


5. When cookies are cool, prepare Ornamental Frosting, if you like; use along with sugars and candies to decorate cookies. Set cookies aside to allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between layers if decorated) at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or in freezer up to 3 months.


Chocolate Volcano Cookies


Ingredients:

1 lb. confectioners' sugar
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa
½ tsp. salt
4 large egg whites
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1½ c. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper; lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.


2. In large bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add egg whites and vanilla and beat with wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Set dough aside 5 minutes. If your batter is too runny, cover and refrigerate 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.


3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, or until set and crackly. Let cool on cookie sheets 3 minutes; then, with spatula, carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Russian Tea Cakes


Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine, softened 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar


Directions:

1. Heat oven to 400ºF.


2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.


3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.


4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.


5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.


We hope you enjoy these delicious cookie recipes, and don't forget to share with your friends and family!




Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, November 19, 2016
                                                                                   Photo by Justin Bernhaut

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite side dishes and desserts for you. The turkey should always be the star of the show, of course, but having some delicious sides to pair with it make the meal perfect!


First up is a delicious Corn Pudding that is so rich, it is the perfect comfort food. This recipe is also super easy because you will be using packaged cornbread mix. The perfect mix of corn on the cob and corn bread, this is one recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.


Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix

1/2 cup 2% milk

1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

1 can (14-3/4 ounces) cream-style corn


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325°. 
  2. 2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  3. 3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  4. 4. Beat in sour cream. Gradually add muffin mix alternately with milk. 
  5. 5. Fold in corn.
  6. 6. Pour into a greased 3-qt. baking dish. 
  7. 7. Bake, uncovered, 45-50 minutes or until set and lightly browned.


What’s Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? This recipe puts a spin on the traditional canned version by adding orange marmalade and cilantro. This is very easy to make ahead and will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. If you do plan on making this ahead of time, don’t add the cilantro. You can add it in just before you serve.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup orange juice

16 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 to 3/4 cup orange marmalade

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (optional)


Directions:

  1. 1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. 2. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the sugar, orange juice, and cranberries.
  4. 4. Cook until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
  5. 5. Stir in the marmalade to taste (depending on desired sweetness).
  6. 6. Turn off heat. Stir in the pepper and cilantro just before serving.
  7. 7. Serve warm or at room temperature.


One of my favorite potato sides to make for Thanksgiving is this Skillet Scalloped Potatoes with Chive Butter. Super cheesy and easy to make, someone in my family has made this for the last few Thanksgiving meals, and it is always the first thing we run out of.


Ingredients:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, diced

2 tsp. fresh thyme

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. chicken stock

1/4 c. chopped chives, plus more for garnish

1 c. shredded fontina cheese

3 to 4 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly on mandolin


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. 2. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and add garlic, onion, and thyme. Cook until mixture is softened, 3 to 5 minutes. 
  3. 3. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, heavy cream, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and mix in chives and half of fontina.
  4. 4. Add potatoes to skillet and arrange in any pattern, keeping slices vertical to ensure even cooking. 
  5. 5. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining fontina all over and bake until cheese is melty and crust is golden brown, 10 minutes more.
  6. 6. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.


One of the most recognizable side dishes that can be found on most tables is a Green Bean Casserole. Usually made with canned ingredients, this recipe is made with only fresh ingredients. Talk about a delicious comfort food!


Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing

5 cups sliced green beans

4 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons canola oil

1 1/2 cups diced onions

2 cups sliced baby Bella mushrooms

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows

1/2 teaspoon salt

HOUSE SEASONING:

1 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup garlic powder

1/4 cup black pepper


Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. 2. Boil the green beans in the chicken broth for 20 minutes, and then drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth.
  3. 3. Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and 2 teaspoons of the oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. 4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
  5. 5. Pour the reserved 1 1/2 cups chicken broth back into the pot the green beans boiled in and bring to a boil. Add the green beans to the skillet with the mushrooms and onions.
  6. 6. While that is coming to a boil, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the boiling broth, whisking constantly as it thickens, about 2 minutes.
  7. 7.  Pour the thickened mixture over the green beans and add the sour cream, House Seasoning and salt. Stir well.
  8. 8. Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle with the panko and cheese mixture. Bake until the casserole is hot, about 10 minutes, and then broil until the breadcrumb topping is slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. 9. Mix together the salt, garlic powder and pepper.

Switching to the dessert side of things, everyone is used to the traditional Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie at their Thanksgiving table. Why not showcase some of the different fruits available during the Fall? This Brown Butter Pear and Cranberry Cobbler is one of my personal favorites to bring to my family’s table on holidays!

Ingredients:

6 tbsp. plus 3 tbsp. butter, cut up

2 lb. ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

3/4 c. plus 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. cornstarch

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. 2. In 12" skillet, melt 6 tablespoons butter on medium. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant, swirling frequently.
  3. 3. Stir in pears, cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes or until pears begin to soften, stirring frequently. Cool.
  4. 4. Meanwhile, in food processor bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Pulse in remaining 3 tablespoons butter until fine crumbs form; transfer to medium bowl. 
  5. 5. Stir in heavy cream until dough just comes together, kneading once or twice.
    1. 6. In large bowl, toss pear mixture with cornstarch; transfer to 9" pie plate or 2-quart baking dish. With hands, scoop dough onto pie in small mounds. Bake, on foil-lined baking sheet, 40 to 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and pears are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.



From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, spending time with loved ones and making memories!


Local Events

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, November 05, 2016



Photo courtesy of Saratoga Farmers Market



Looking for something to do in and around Saratoga this weekend? The weather is supposed to be crisp and beautiful, so why not get out of the house! Keep on reading for some of the events that are on our list!



The Saratoga Farmers Market is moving indoors for the winter starting today, and they are hosting a delicious tasting event to celebrate! Located at the Lincoln Baths at Saratoga Spa State Park, the "Taste of the Market" will give market goers a wonderful opportunity to sample a variety of cheeses, fruits, vegetables, sweets, meats, and many prepared foods that the market vendors offer. There will also be cooking advice and recipes, too! The market runs from 9am-1pm today (Saturday). Don't miss out on your chance to try a ton of wonderful samples!



If you are a winter sports enthusiast, make sure to check out the Northeast Ski and Craft Beer Showcase, being held at the Empire State Plaza today 10am-6pm and tomorrow 10am-5pm. Formerly known as the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo, this showcase is New York's largest and longest running winter sports show, heading into it's 55th year! You'll be able to check out the best in new ski and snowboard equipment and fashion, along with some pretty fantastic destinations! There will even be prizes to win! Tickets are $10 at the door and make sure to bring extra cash to take part in drinking some delicious craft beers!  



Who doesn't love a good barbecue wing? If you fancy yourself a wing connoisseur, then you don't want to miss the Capital Region Wing Wars 13. Held in Troy at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom today until 5pm, a ticket to Wing Wars will only cost you $25. This will give you the chance to sample two wings from each of the 15+ vendors, which is over 30 wings per person! Make sure you are prepared for some seriously spice wings, as some of the vendors like to kick it up a notch. There will also be beer and wine for sale, a DJ and free pizza! All proceeds go to St. Jude the Apostle School tuition assistance program. 



And finally, if you feel like taking a bit of a drive, head on up to Lake George to drive the Prospect Mountain Memorial Highway. There will be no fee to drive here today and tomorrow, so take advantage and enjoy some spectacular views from high above Lake George in the Adirondacks. 



We hope you enjoy the beautiful weekend ahead and get the chance to attend some of these fun Fall events! 






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