Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sugar Cookie Revisited

A few weeks before my father passed, new neighbors moved in next to their home.  Specifically, a family associated with a motorcycle group.  I remember seeing them and thinking that it would be bad for the neighborhood based on nothing but my own stereotypes.  After my dad passed, seeing them angered me more.  To me, it was bad enough my mom had to deal with the loss in the house, but to add the added noise and raucous of the neighbors made me frustrated.  In hindsight, I just wanted to be mad at anyone else to avoid dealing with the loss.

So, imagine the humble pie I was served when my sister called to inform me that the new neighbors mowed my mom’s entire lawn after learning of my dad’s passing.  Imagine the shame I felt when my sister called me the following month to say they did it again.  Feeling both embarrassed at how much I had judged a family for nothing and simultaneously thankful at their graciousness, I cried that day.  After crying, I baked.  I baked to thank.  And, I have decided to bake them something once a month to show that their gesture does not go unnoticed.

These cookies seemed appropriate for February.  I used a different recipe from my usual to try something new.

I loved these cookies.  If you can believe it, one sugar cookie doesn’t necessarily taste like the other.  My usual sugar cookie tastes rich, buttery and very chewy – almost dense with sugar.  These taste wonderfully in a completely different way.  It’s light, perfectly sweet and fluffy.  These cookies puff up when baking and almost melt in your mouth when you bite down.

My sister stole a couple and said these were the best sugar cookies she has eaten.  I have to agree they are great.  I would definitely make them again depending on my mood/preference.  I’ve learned not to be so rigid.

Sugar Cookies
barely adapted from here

Yields approximately 48 medium-sized cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened (I usually leave my butter sticks out overnight)
  • 1-1/2  cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Additional sugar for rolling.  (I used colored sugar)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and well blended.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract.  Mix until incorporated.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three batches and mix in between each addition.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, roll each scoop into the sugar.
  7. Place each cookie onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 8-9 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
  9. Once you remove the sheet from the oven, cool on the sheet for about 2 minutes and then move to wire racks to completely cool.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

7 Comments

Filed under baking, Cookies, Desserts, Life

Spinach Pesto Omelette

If you’ve been reading, I’ve hit you up with quite a bit of sugar lately.  If you don’t believe me, look here, here, and here.  I swear I eat more than dessert.  In fact, my favorite thing to eat lately have been eggs.  Eggs are an absolute staple in my diet.  It’s easily accessible and cooks quickly.  In fact, an omelet is my go-to breakfast when I want something different from the usual yogurt bowl with granola or cereal.

And these days, when I eat breakfast around 10:30 a.m., this omelet offers acts as the perfect brunch option.  I prefer this delicious meal with a buttered piece of sourdough toast.  As I eat my first meal of the day later than what constitutes breakfast, the spices and full-flavor of this omelet makes a satisfying brunch.

The funny thing about this omelet is that while eggs lend itself wonderfully to versatility (adding whatever ingredients you want depending on what you have in store), I made these eggs exactly the same way for more days than I would like to admit.

Spinach Pesto Omelet Recipe
Yield: 2 servings 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (you may not need so much salt as the Parmesan is pretty salty)
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, spinach, garlic powder, onion powder, pesto, salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, mix the cheeses together.
  2. Heat non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Once pan is hot, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.
  4. Once pan is hot, pour egg mixture into pan.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes over medium-high heat.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low
  7. Once the bottom of the eggs have cooked (the top will still be under-cooked), add cheese to the top.
  8. Cover pan with lid.  Let steam for 5 minutes.
  9. Lift cover and fold omelet in half.
  10. Cook for another 2 minutes, until fully cooked through.

11 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

French Toast Casserole

I love French toast.  Remember?  Love it.

I love bread pudding.  Remember?  Loves it.

Now, French toast + bread pudding = this.

This = french toast casserole.

Math is good.

Math is delicious.

This was by far the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time.  The cinnamon-y nutty topping is the best part.  Perfectly eggy. Not mushy.  Perfectly spiced.  With a splash of the boozy.  Meant to be shared.  Your family and/or friends would love you for it.

French Toast Casserole
adapted from Paula Deen

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb day-old challah bread
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Praline Topping Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter (1/4 lb)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts – only b/c that’s what I had on hand.  Next time, I’ll try pecans
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Directions:

  1. Slice challah bread into 1 inch slices.  Arrange slices into a buttered 9 x 13 flat baking dish in two rows.  I overlapped the slices a bit.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, Grand Marnier, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Make sure it’s all combined.  Pour mixture over the bread slices to evenly cover all the bread slices.  I had to spoon some of the mix over the bread after pouring to ensure even coverage.
  4. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, preheat the oven to 350F.  Take off the foil.
  6. Prepare the praline topping by mixing all the praline topping ingredients and blending well.
  7. Spread the praline topping over the bread evenly and bake for 40 minutes, until the bread puffs up and gets golden brown.
  8. Serve warm.

Note:  I don’t think you need maple syrup as it is sufficiently sweet on its own.  However, if you want to, use hot maple syrup.

8 Comments

Filed under baking, Bread, Breakfast, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Chocolate Sesame Seed Cookies

This is not your typical cookie recipe.  Combining tahini, chocolate chips and sesame seeds may not conjure up the most ideal cookie, but I ask that you don’t disregard this cookie.

The seemingly random ingredients mesh nicely for a comforting cookie that is soft without being cake-y.  Full of sesame flavor without being overpowering.  The chocolate allows the tahini to really stand out as the nutty ingredient it is without being reminded of hummus or falafel.

It’s slightly sweet and healthier than your average butter/sugar laden cookie.  Not that there is anything wrong with those.  But, when you need a break from that, consider this.

Word to the wise: be careful when eating.  Sesame seeds.  Everywhere.  Use a napkin or plate to catch the sesame seeds.

Or, if you’re like me, stand over the kitchen sink.

Chocolate Sesame Seed Cookies
adapted slightly from here

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp butter (I used Earth Balance vegan butter)
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted (you can do it quickly over the stove)

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate.
  2. Add butter to melted chocolate and incorporate well.
  3. Stir in tahini.
  4. In another large bowl, beat eggs.  Add the brown sugar and vanilla.  Stir to combine and smooth.
  5. Add to the chocolate mixture.
  6. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate and sugar mix.
  8. Put mixed dough into fridge for about 30 minutes.  It makes the dough easier to handle and keeps it from flattening too much during the bake.
  9.  At this point, preheat the oven to 350F.
  10. Using a cookie scoop, drop r into roasted sesame seeds.  Roll to coat.
  11. Place on cookie sheet.  Space about 2 inches apart from other cookies.
  12. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the cookies puff up a bit.  (Once you take them out, they will flatten.)
  13. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

9 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Chocolate Almond Toffee

When I first started dating Binks, around the holiday season six years ago, I made him a care package filled with goodies.  As I had just met him there was no meaning for the packaged goods, other than being delicious and wanting to impress him with deliciousness.  It worked.  Six years and a baby later, I can tell you that he still remembers that package.

The one treat that impressed me the most was toffee.  Considering that working with melting and browning sugar perfectly can be temperamental, this recipe was really forgiving and workable.

Toffee is a staple during the holidays, but considering the history of this simple candy, it means that much more.  Without question, Binks always brings up his first bite of the toffee after opening the package.

Now, to save myself from eating the whole batch, I package it away as edible gifts for friends.

Chocolate Almond Toffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Before beginning, line a cookie sheet with foil.  Cover everything.  I’m ultra-paranoid about candy sticking to the pan so I double wrapped the pan.
  2. Over medium-high heat, in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and salt.  Mix constantly.  (Keep the vanilla extract handy.)
  3. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and stir the mixture continuously until you get it to a boil.  It should be a smooth boil – not a rolling boil.  If it’s a rolling boil, then reduce the heat more.
  4. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you want to stir until you get the mixture to look like the color of a raw almond, a deep amber.  It’s completely normal in this process for the mixture to become gelatinous and mesh together.  Just remember to keep stirring.  It will get to the amber/almond stage.  Be patient.  Another way to test if the mixture is done is to take a bit of the sugar mixture and drop into ice-cold water.  It should be brittle when it hits the water.
  5. If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should be 290-300 degrees.
  6. Once the mixture reaches the temperature, remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pan and it should naturally spread to a good thickness.  I like for it to be 1/4 inch thick.  If not, use a spatula to spread more.  Don’t worry about it being perfect.
  8. Once you are done with the sugar mixture, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.  The chocolate will melt so take a spatula and spread the chocolate across the toffee mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate, and press the looser almonds slightly into the chocolate to make sure it sticks.
  10. Cool the toffee in the fridge until completely cooled.
  11. Once cooled, break apart into shards.  Store in an airtight container.

 

11 Comments

Filed under Candy, Desserts, Favorites, Holiday, Uncategorized

Dosa & Coconut Chutney

Have you heard of dosa?  Certain Indian restaurants, offering Kerala or South Indian food typically offer masala dosa as a part of the menu.  Masala dosa is just a dosa (cooked thinner) and then filled with potatoes.  Yum!

Dosa (and idly – both made from the same batter, just cooked differently) is a staple in the Kerala cuisine.  It is served as breakfast food, usually served with sambar and/or chutney.  I, on the other hand, love to eat it whenever.  During the beginning of my pregnancy when nausea was at its peak, dosa was all I craved.  Now, while nursing, I still love the stuff as it’s comforting and packed full of nutrients.

Now, if a dough mixed with lentils wasn’t healthy enough, my mom upped the ante as always.  She found chia and hemp seeds in my fridge and went to town.

If you have never had or heard of dosa before, the only thing I can compare it to is injera.  Light, airy and spongy.  All three of those are good things with regard to dosa.  I promise.

Oh and the coconut chutney, I could drink the stuff.  And I do.  I have issues.

Dosa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup parboiled rice
  • 1/2 cup skinned black lentils (urad dal)
  • 1/4 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt

 Directions:

  1. In one bowl, after washing the rice, soak the rice with water.  Add enough water to the bowl of rice to where you have water at least an inch above the rice.
  2. In another bowl, soak the lentils and fenugreek with water.  Add enough water to the bowl of lentils and fenugreek to where you have water at least an inch above the rice.
  3. Let both bowls soak overnight.  (At least 6 hours.)
  4. In a blender, grind the lentil mixture until smooth.  Once smooth (like a smoothie), move to a large bowl.
  5. In the blender, grind the rice mixture until smooth.  Add the rice mixture to the lentil mixture.
  6. Stir the mixtures in the bowl until combined.
  7. Cover and let sit overnight on your counter so that it ferments.  When it’s cold in Dallas, I place the covered bowl in the oven with the light on.  It keeps it just warm enough to ferment.
  8. The next day, add salt to the mixture and mix again so incorporated.  The batter should be runny (slightly runnier than pancake batter).  If it’s too thick, just add water, a tablespoon at a time until it’s a runny consistency.
  9. Heat a flat pan over medium heat.
  10. Take a paper towel, soak with oil and rub on pan.
  11. Take about 1/4 cup worth of the batter (I use my ladle) and spoon onto the middle of the pan and swirl the batter out making it thinner.  It should be thickness of a thicker crepe.
  12. Once the bottom of the dosa becomes golden brown, flip over to cook the other side.  You will notice air bubbles on the top of the dosa before the flip.
  13. Cook the other side until golden brown and serve hot.

Coconut Chutney

Ingredients:

  • fresh grated coconut, 1/2 cup
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • cayenne powder, 1/2 tsp
  • 1 red dry chili (optional), broken up into pieces
  • few (2-3) curry leaves (if you can’t find it, don’t worry about it – best with it but go on without it)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water, added in increments

Directions:

  1. Blend the coconut, shallots, and cayenne pepper with water until reaches a smooth pancake batter consistency.  You may not use the whole 1/4 cup.
  2. Over a small frying pan, heat oil over medium high heat.
  3. Sputter the  mustard seeds (be careful, it pops).
  4. Add red dry chili and curry leaves.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut/onion mix and salt.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with dosa.

8 Comments

Filed under Indian, Uncategorized, Vegetarian