Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cranberry Orange (Almond) Cookies

Another fabulous cookie recipe. I actually think these would be a great flavor at Christmas time. (A little hard to think about Christmas when it is only May). The orange zest adds just the right amount of orange flavoring. They are nice and buttery and just a little crumbly. The almonds were my own addition to the recipe because I have a friend who gave me a bunch. The toasted flavor gets spread throughout the cookie and because they are ground so finely, you are never actually biting into a nut but the flavor is there. You could also leave them out, but I think it was a succesful experiment and will definitely be making these again.

Cranberry Orange (Almond) Cookies

2c flour
1 1/2 tsp powder
1/4 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
zest of one orange (1Tbls)
3/4 c toasted ground almonds (optional)
3/4 c dried cranberries

Toast 3/4 c whole almonds in the oven at 400F for 5 min. Toss then put them back in the oven for another 5 min. This enhances the flavor of the nuts. Let cool and then grind nuts into a powder in a food processor. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and orange zest. Gradually add the flour mix and the almonds. Stir until just incorporated. Stir in the cranberries. Drop dough into rounded tablespoonfuls on baking sheet and then flatten tops. Bake for 9-12 min. until edges are golden brown.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Caribbean Lime Coolers

I have been eyeing this recipe for some time and I just wanted to try it. I love lime in cookies. It adds this yummy zing that makes me want to keep eating them. Betty Crocker makes these premade cookie mixes in bags. I like to do things all from sratch, but when I just dumped all of the ingredients together and mixed I thought, "Wow, this was so easy and I only have to clean up one bowl. No measuring cups or anything!" Anyway, Betty Crocker holds a recipe contest using these cookie mixes and this recipe was one of their finalists. I love the Betty Crocker website because they have all of these great ways to use their cakes and cookie mixes to make something that looks and tastes original.

Caribbean Lime Coolers

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5oz) Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1/2 c coconut (I used sweetened)
1 Tbls grated lime peel
3 Tbl lime juice, about 3 limes
6 Tbls butter, melted
1 egg
1/4 c powdered sugar

Heat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, coconut, lime peel, lime juice, butter, and egg until soft dough forms.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 9-13 min or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely, about 15 min.
With small strainer, sift powdered sugar over cooled cookies. (I left this step out. I wasn't in the mood to make another mess.)

Banana Cake

Am I the only one who always has tons of rotten bananas laying around? In an effort to get out of the banana bread rut (not that it is a bad thing) I looked for something new. Ok, so this cake was so good! I only got to taste a little bite, but I definitely wanted more. It is very moist and tastes like banana bread, but it is a cake. The recipe was accompanied with a cream cheese frosting recipe, but I left it off. I think it is delicious all on its own, but if you love frosting, go for it! I thought the low cooking time was strange and I had to leave it in a smidge longer than an hour, but it baked perfectly. I would suggest checking on the cake at the end so that you don't overbake it. It would ruin the moist texture. Joey took this cake to one of the zero period classes at the high school. They loved it and devoured it quickly.

Banana Cake
From allrecipes.com

3/4 c butter, softened
2 1/8 c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk*
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 c mashed bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c butter, softened
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 275F. Grease and flour a 9x13" baking pan. In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas and lemon juice, set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour-end with the flour) Stir in banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

*If you do not have buttermilk here is a substitute. For each cup of milk called for, pour 1 Tbls vinegar into measuring cup and then fill to desired measure. This recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, so in a measuring cup first put in 1 1/2 Tbl of vinegar and then fill with milk to the 1 1/2 c line.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream 1/2 c butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat on low spead until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Spread on cooled cake.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jam Thumbprints

I love these cookies. My mom always made them at Christmas time, but they would taste great any time of year. Last February I went to Washington, DC and I bought some plum jam at Mt. Vernon. When I got home I was trying to think about what to make and I thought, "This would taste great in jam thumbprints." I actually made these cookies a while ago before this blog was going, but I happened to take a picture, so I'm posting it now. If you claim to not be a nut fan and you try to make these without nuts, I don't think they will taste as good. The nuts make these cookies what they are. Just chop them really fine. I am always looking for ways to use ingredients I already have so I drizzled the tops with melted white chocolate-I highly recommend it.

Jam Thumbprints

1/2 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 c chopped nuts (I used almonds. Pecans or walnuts would also be great)
Jam-Raspberry, plum, apricot, strawberry...

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg yolk and beat until fluffy. Add flour and salt; mixing well.
Shape into 3/4" balls; dip in slightly beaten egg whites, then roll in finely chopped nuts.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Press down center of each with thumb.
Bake at 350F for 15 min. Cool slightly then fill prints with 1/4 tsp each of jam. (You may have to push the centers in a little more before putting the jam in.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pasta con tonno

We make some really delicious pasta dishes at our house and I thought I would share some. It is a little difficult to come up with a recipe, because we don't really use one. Joey is the one that usually makes these meals, but I am learning and becoming almost just as good. This is a great recipe and so simple. Whenever we serve it to friends they can never guess the secret ingredient, tuna. Tuna imported from Italy is the best kind. I know from experience, we bought some imported expensive tuna and it was so much better. It gives the sauce a stronger tuna flavor without tasting fishy. If you must use regular old tuna (like we usually do), you must use the kind packed in oil. The kind in water will taste too fishy and like a tuna sandwich with tomato sauce. The thing to remember is that good sauce takes time. This is not opening a can and heating it up. The ingredients are simple, but it has to cook for a while.

Pasta con Tonno
(Pasta with Tuna)
3 T olive oil
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to desired hotness)
Italian flat leaf parsley chopped. About 3 T . Use less if using dried.(dried is ok, but fresh has much more flavor)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 15oz cans plain tomato sauce (Hunt's is best.)
1 can tuna packed in oil

In a large skillet at medium heat, heat the olive oil, red pepper, parsley, and garlic until the garlic has infused the oil. It only takes a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce. Stir and let simmer on med. low for about 30 min. Joey will say at least 45. Add the tuna and let simmer about 20 min. Serve over warm pasta and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. This makes enough for about 1 lb of pasta.

Note: Adding a little sugar to the sauce will help to cut the acidity.
Another note: Make sure the canned tomato sauce has nothing added to it. So no extra herbs!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Brown Sugar Chcolate Chip Cookies

I am having a baby sitter over tonight and she always does it for free, as long as I supply homemade cookies. These are what I decided to make because I was all out of white sugar. This recipe uses only brown sugar and is very chewy. I had bought some m&ms because they were on sale. I didn't realize that they were "ogre" sized Shrek M&Ms. They make a nice addition to the cookie. I would have prefered semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you could really use any sort of chocolate piece in them.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
(with ogre sized M&Ms)

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c butter
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 c semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until almost all incorporated. Then add the chocolate chips and stir them in.
Drop by rounded tablespoons on baking sheet. Bake 9-11 min at 350F. Makes 3 doz. For some reason I never get the amount of cookies that a recipe says it will yield. I must make them big.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

Since I was trying to save money on groceries I decided to make my own hamburger buns because I already had all of the ingredients. It was actually pretty easy and they tasted so good. I only wish that I would have had a little bit more time for them to rise before I baked them, but we had to leave for church. I actually left the wheat bran out because that I did not have any.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

2 cups whole wheat flour, divided, plus more for kneading
1 c water, warm (110F)
2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast (1 packet)
1/4 c wheat bran
2 Tbls brown sugar
scant 1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine 1 c whole wheat flour, 1 cup water and the yeast in a large bowl and stir well. Let it stand, covered for 1-3 hours. The time is flexible, it just has to be bubbly. This will puff up too.

Stir in the remainig flour, wheat bran, brown sugar, and salt into the yeast mixture. Add more flour if necessary in Tablespoons until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bow;l. Turn out ontp a lightly floured surface and knead, adding extra flour as necessary, for 6-8 min.

Place in a lightly greased bow, turning once to coat with grease, cover and let it rise until doubed, 1 1/2 hours.

Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 equal portions. Shape into rounds and flatten so they are about 3/4 inch thick. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for 45-50 min. Meanwhile preheat oven to 375F.

Bake rolls for 19-20 min, until browned. Makes 6 buns.

Note: Mine were definitely done at 19 min, so just check at the end to make sure they are not overbaked.

Cheesecake Cookies

When I found this recipe I thought...hmmm, sounds good, but these are incredibly delicious. There really isn't much to them. The dough is very sticky and the cookies spread alot, but they are so chewy and sort of taste like cheesecake. They are definitely addictive. I tried putting a strawberry slice on the tops of a few before baking. It was a very yummy addition. Don't bake them too long. They are pretty delicate and won't stay chewy if they are baked too long. You should definitely line the baking sheet with parchment paper--I'm sure they would stick otherwise.

Cheesecake Cookies

1/2 c cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 c flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add the suagr at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and salt.

Whisk baking powder and flour in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir by hand until combined.

Drop by rounded Tablespoons ontoprepared baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 12 min, until bottom is slightly brown.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pizza Crust

This crust is so good....it was really hard not to pig out on the pizza. It is incredibly easy and pretty much foolproof. Once I tried to use bread flour in pizza crust--not a good idea, actually a horrible one. It made the crust tough because there was too much protein in the flour. I found a little tip about making pizza crust in a regular oven and having it turn out light and crisp. Use cake flour. I didn't have any so I improvised. You level out a cup of all purpose flour and then take out two tablespoons. Then you replace the two tablespoons with two tablespoons of corn starch. You do this for every cup of flour you use. Then you sift it a few times. It's not as good as the real thing, but worked for the pizza dough. A bothersome extra step, but hey, I was experimenting. Otherwise just use all purpose flour and it is still really good.

Pizza Crust

3/4 c warm water
1 envelope dry active yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbls olive oil
Let the yeast proof in the warm water for 5 min until foamy. Add the oil, flour, sugar, salt, and most of the flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Turn out onto a lightly flour surface and knead in the rest of the flour by hand. Place in a oiled bowl turning once to coat. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let it rise for 1 hour, until doubled. Punch down dough and let it rest for 10 min. Roll out to desired thickness and place on a cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Add toppings of your choice.
Note: I divided the dough and made two thin crust pizzas.

Bake in a preheated 425F-450F oven for about 15-20 min. Until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Banana Bread

Who doesn't love banana bread? Well, there's Olivia, but she doesn't count because she is really picky. Once again I had some rotten bananas so last night I decided to whip up my favorite banana bread recipe. This is a great tasting bread and holds together very well. Make sure the dry and wet ingredients are folded carefully in and not overmixed. I just used a rubber spatula--there's no need for a mixer in this recipe.

Banana Bread

1 c walnuts or pecans (optional-I left them out)
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon*
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 large bananas (1 1/2 cups mashed)--don't skimp!
1/2 c butter (melted and cooled)
1 tsp vanilla

*I like my banana bread unspiced. I leave the cinnamon out.

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a laof pan with nonstick spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate bowl mash the bananas, add the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Lightly fold in the wet ingredients. The batter should be chunky and thick. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 55-60 min. in a 350F oven.