Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

THE RETURN OF COOKIE MONDAY!

Maybe. For now. Sporadically, I think.

But we had a Cookie Monday this week!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately decided I must make it and feed it to everyone. This turned out to be an excellent idea. I ran out of cookies by lunch time. This is crazy! And a lot of people have asked for the recipe. It's fantastic.

I didn't use the chopped up candy canes because I find that they get a weird texture when baked, and I don't particularly like it. So I used Andes Peppermint Baking Chips, which worked wonderfully. They pass well for candy canes but don't get weirdly chewy. I loved these cookies. I plan to make them again for my family over Christmas. We are planning to make little ice cream sandwiches out of them. Amazing.

crinkle

Peppermint Crinkle Cookies
Lauren's Latest {not me}

3 whole candy canes, crushed
1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non stick cooking spray, line with parchment paper or use silicone baking mat and set aside.

Place candy canes into a plastic food storage bag and crush using a rolling pin. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla and egg. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir all dry ingredients together in a small bowl and then in pour into mixer and slowly mix until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Stir in crushed candy canes. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Yield: 2 dozen (I doubled it and got 5 dozen total)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Chickpea Tomato Minestrone

It is cold and has been kind of snowy, which means it is soup season. I have a whole bunch of kale in the refrigerator so I'm trying to use it up (I've made a lot of kale chips, for example). I decided to make this soup, but I changed a few things. Instead of chickpeas, I used cannelini beans. I used mafalda pasta instead of bowties because that is what I had already opened. I used kale instead of swiss chard. And I added fresh rosemary sprigs that I dried from our summer garden to infuse the soup from the start. These were all excellent ideas.

The not-so-excellent idea was to add extra red pepper, and early on, so it would have time to really spice up the soup. The result of this was a very, very spicy but deliciously autumny minestrone soup. My gentleman liked it a lot but did have issues with the amount of spice. I liked it but I did wish I'd reduced the red pepper. Oh well! Next time.

soup

Chickpea Tomato Minestrone
Kitchen Daily

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks -- diced medium
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup small pasta (such as Barilla Mini Farfalle)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 bunch swiss chard or kale, chopped, discard hard stems
Salt and pepper
Dash red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften. Next, add in the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes (with the juices from the can), and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add in the stems of swiss chard, chickpeas, and pasta. Let cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the swiss chard leaves and let cook for 30 seconds or just until the leaves start to wilt. Remove from heat.

Add salt / pepper / red pepper flakes to taste and top with Parmesan.

Servings: 6

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bananas Foster Bread

I had some bananas that were beginning to brown so naturally I decided to make banana bread. I had all the ingredients available to make this bread, though I used some coconut rum from the Bahamas instead of dark rum (and it turned out fine). This was super quick, super easy, and super tasty. I probably would bake it for a little less time because the bottom of my bread was pretty dark by the time it was ready, but otherwise this is a good way to use up some bananas. And rum, of course.

Oh! Also, I didn't have flaxseed, because who does? so I used 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour. Totally the same thing, right?

cake

Bananas Foster Bread
Cooking Light, October 2010

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1 cup packed brown sugar -- divided
6 tablespoons butter -- melted and divided
1/4 cup cognac or dark rum -- divided
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 large eggs
6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour -- (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Cooking spray
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine banana, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 5 tablespoons butter, and 3 tablespoons cognac in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat; cool. Place banana mixture in a large bowl. Add yogurt, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, and eggs. Beat with a mixer at medium speed.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; place on wire rack.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter, remaining 1 tablespoon cognac, and powdered sugar; stir until well blended. Drizzle over the warm bread.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Restaurant-Style Hummus

I've been meaning to make a batch of hummus for weeks now. I even special-ordered tahini from the internet because goddamned if I can find any in my area of Pennsylvania (not even at Wegmans!). But I had a feeling that there's something out there that's better than recipes I've tried before, and I WAS RIGHT.

It should come as no shock that the recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated - a magazine known for its rigorous testing of different methods and ingredients to make the best possible recipe for a simple dish. And this really is great. You know how the hummus you order in restaurants is perfect and silky and smooth? This is that. It's wonderful.

I did double the amount of garlic because I wanted a garlicky hummus, and I reduced the amount of cumin because my gentleman hates cumin (but it needs at least some to taste authentic). I didn't bother with the fancy presentation and instead just dumped it in a bowl to eat all day, but if I were making this for a party I would garnish it as recommended. I just love this. I will make this again and it shall become my standard hummus recipe from now on. I'm going to have to buy a lot more tahini at this rate!

hummus

Restaurant Style Hummus
Cook's Illustrated, 5/2008 via What Did You Eat

1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 15 oz. can drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne
About 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the water and lemon juice in one bowl, and the tahini and oil in another. Set aside about 12 of the whole chickpeas for a garnish.

Put the chickpeas, salt, garlic, cumin, and cayenne in a food processor and process for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Then add the lemon water mix through the feed tube with the processor running for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides several times. Then add the oil and tahini, with the processor running, until the hummus is fluffy.

Put the hummus in a bowl, garnish with the cilantro and whole chickpeas, and drizzle with some olive oil if you want.

Thanksgiving #1

I think this year we finally embraced the fact that the holidays are terrible. I lack motivation to cook, and my family recently had the tragedy of putting one of our dogs down (Ramone, the chihuahua). Thanksgiving sucks. So my gentleman and I are not "celebrating" today. We will drink beer and watch football. I did make onion dip to eat while watching the parade, because some things can't be changed, but that's the extent of it.

But! This past weekend we went up to visit my family and had our traditional dinner. The only thing I contributed was a batch of Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies at Erica's request. I've made those a bunch of times before and they were delicious as usual. We ate some food, it was good, and then the dog had a stroke. Bah-bah-baaaah.

food
{Here is my plate.}

Sorry this isn't an uplifting post. We're doing Second Thanksgiving at my gentleman's family's house on Sunday so perhaps I will have more to report at that time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bibimbappy

There are just so many weird grilled cheese sandwiches in the world, and I want to eat all of them. Forever. And I likely will continue to make a lot of them throughout the winter. So be prepared.

Continuing with my Korean food obsession lately, last night I made this sandwich adaptation of one of my favorite meals (Bibimbap). I got to use my gochujang and kimchi, so that was good. I added a little extra layer of cheese on top to help bind everything together, which worked well. I used a microwave packet of coconut rice, which was a bad idea because it was kind of gross on its own, but I wouldn't leave it out. Next time I would just make my own rice.

I didn't love this as much as the ramen-Kimchi one I made the other night, but this was still pretty awesome. It's so much fun!

sandwich

The Bibimbappy
Grilled Cheese Social (The best website ever for grilled cheese)

3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese -- grated
1 1/2 tablespoon kimchi
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 green onion
2 tablespoons coconut rice
1 fried egg
2 pats salted butter
2 slices sourdough bread

Spread some gochujang on the bread.

Add on some of the cheddar cheese. After that, add some coconut rice. (To make it yourself, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to rice before cooking.)

Next, add kimchi and diced green onion.

Add the rest of the cheese and the top piece of bread. Butter the bread.

Heat up a pan or panini press to medium-high and cook for a few minutes on each side.

Take it off the heat and let it sit for a minute or two. After the cheese has thickened a bit, gently open the sandwich up and add the fried egg.

Servings: 1

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Apple Cider Baked Donuts with Maple Glaze

We bought this amazing apple cider from Grimm's Orchard around Halloween and have been obsessed with cider ever since, but the cider I bought last week from the local grocery store sucked. Instead of tossing it, I used it to make these donuts on Sunday morning.

THEY ARE SO GREAT. Similar in taste to the Apple Cider Donuts I've made in the past, but much better, and with a MUCH better texture. Loved them so much. I didn't go overboard with the glaze, just kind of drizzling it over each donut, which I think was the right thing to do. The maple flavor was SO subtle because I didn't have any maple extract, so if you have access to maple extract (or even maple sugar, probably!) I would definitely use that. Otherwise it's just a syrupy sugar glaze. Which is fine.

So we loved these. I made six in my donut pan and had a little bit of batter left over. And we ate all of them.

donuts

Apple Cider Baked Donuts with Maple Glaze
From Brazil To You

For the Doughnuts:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon. In a small separate bowl, whisk the egg. Set both aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the apple cider, sugar and butter, stirring continuously until butter has just melted. Remove from heat, let cool for 2 minutes, and stir in the apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and whisked egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry; stir well with a whisker until combined and almost no lumps are visible.

Using a tablespoon or a cookie scooper, spoon/scoop batter into a donut pan (3/4 full). Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes (standard-size baked donuts) or for 6-7 minutes (mini baked donuts), or until light brown and cooked through. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on a rack. Then, remove baked donuts from pan and place them directly on a rack to cool completely before dipping into glaze.

For the Maple Glaze: Whisk everything together in a small bowl until smooth. Set rack of donuts over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dip the top of the baked donuts into the maple glaze, turning to coat well. Let baked donuts rest on rack until glaze sets.

Yield: 6-7 standard-size or 24-26 mini donuts

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Kimchi Ramen Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I'm on this big Korean food kick right now. I recently procured some gochujang (Korean chile paste) and gochugaru (Korean chili powder, basically) and have been going ham with it. I always have kimchi in the refrigerator now, for some reason. I also have been making a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. This sandwich, obviously found on Pinterest, was perfect because it's a combination of everything I love the most right now.

It was pretty epic. I do have to say this. It was amazing. I added in some of the gochujang and gochujaru. I used "Oriental"-flavored ramen. If you're feeling like getting a little weird for dinner, this is the sandwich for you.

kimchi

Kimchi Ramen Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Tastespotting

1/2 package ramen, any “flavor”
1/2 ramen seasoning packet
Handful of kimchi, chopped and squeezed of excess liquid
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 thick slices very sturdy bread
Handful of mozzarella or jack cheese
Handful of American or cheddar cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop the ramen noodles in and cook until the ramen noodles are soft, about 5-8 minutes.

Drain the ramen noodles, then put the noodles back into the pot or into a bowl. Pour the contents of half the seasoning packet over the noodles. Toss the noodles to combine. Set aside to prepare sandwich.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over low heat.

Spread the outside of both slices of bread with softened butter. Place both slices of bread buttered-side down in the oil in the pan. Pile one slice with mozzarella/jack cheese; pile the other slice of bread with American/Cheddar cheese. Cook until bread is toasted and cheese has melted.

Remove the grilled bread with cheese to a plate or cutting board. Pile as much ramen noodles on one slice of the bread as you’d like. Add chopped kimchi on top. Close the sandwich with the other slice of grilled bread and cheese. Press together firmly.

Yield: 1 sandwich