Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Meatballs

This recipe is another classic from The Joy of Cooking. It can also be made into chicken meatballs or turkey/chicken loaf, which is equally as delicious.

I used ketchup instead of tomato paste because I always have that around an am not willing to open a can of tomato paste for 1 tablespoon.

Turkey Meatballs
from The Joy of Cooking

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add chopped onion and garlic and cook, stirring for 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Transfer onion and garlic to a medium bowl and add ground turkey, egg, Parmesan cheese, milk, bread crumbs, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper and thoroughly combine*.

3. Make into 1-inch meatballs and roll in cornmeal.

4. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the meatballs and cook until brown, about 10 minutes (internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees).

5. Serve with a vegetable or pasta and tomato sauce.

*To make turkey loaf, transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled 8x4-inch or 8 1/2x4 1/2-inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees until the center feels firm when pressed, about 35 minutes (internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees). Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin Bars

Although it pained me not to make a Thanksgiving feast this year, I had to at least bring something to Thanksgiving with my husband's family. At his request, I made pumpkin bars, one of his favorite treats. I would have chosen something much more complex if it had been up to me, but it turned out to be a wonderful thing that I only had to make these very simple (and delicious) bars amidst the rush of getting packed up and ready to go.

Pumpkin Bars
from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs, beaten
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup cooking oil (I used canola)
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cloves. Stir in the eggs, pumpkin, and oil until combined. Spread batter in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

2. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 2 hours. Spread with 1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting. Cut into bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/2 to 6 cups powdered sugar

1. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency. This frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers. Halve the recipe to frost a 13x9x2-inch cake.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meat Loaf

Meat loaf is the ultimate comfort food, especially when served with a hearty helping of mashed potatoes. This is my favorite meatloaf recipe that I've come across so far, far better than meat loaf made with condensed vegetable soup. Although it's a subtle change, adding brown sugar and dry mustard to the ketchup glaze really makes a big difference.

Meat Loaf

from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs or 2 cups soft bread crumbs (2 1/2 slices)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons dried leaf sage, basil, or oregano, crushed
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, ground lamb, or ground por
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard

1. In a medium bowl combine eggs and milk; stir in bread crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, sage, and pepper. Add ground meat; mix well. Lightly pat mixture into an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan.

2. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Spoon off fat. In a small bowl combine ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard; spread over meat. Bake for 10 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into eight slices.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My dad came down to visit yesterday and watch the Packer game with me so I whipped one of my favorite appetizers/snacks, spinach and artichoke dip. It's quick, easy, and delicious!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups canned artichoke hearts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
4-5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Chop the artichoke hearts.
3. Squeeze excess water from spinach.
4. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
5. Spread into a small glass baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the dip is hot. Serve with tortilla or pita chips or veggies.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Carrot Cake Cookies

Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts, but I don't often make large cakes unless there's a special occasion. This cookie recipe makes sandwich cookies that are like tiny, inside-out carrot cakes. My dad is coming to visit tomorrow and watch the Packer game with me, so I thought these would be a nice sweet treat in addition to the salty snacks I'll be making for the game tomorrow.

Carrot Cake Cookies
from Martha Stewart's Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flattening cookies
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well-combined.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture; mix on low speed until just blended. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

4. Bake until browned and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using an offset spatula, spread about 2 teaspoons of frosting onto flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich together with remaining cookies. Cookies can be refridgerated in airtight containers up to 3 days.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add butter and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ranger Cookies

I found the recipe for Ranger Cookies when I was looking for a high-energy treat that my husband could bring along with him when he goes hunting this weekend. Packed with coconut, raisins, and rolled oats, Ranger Cookies are an amped-up version of oatmeal raisin which should help keep the munchies at bay.

Ranger Cookies
from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

makes about 48 cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 c. coconut
1 c. raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries, or mixed dried fruit bits

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in rolled oats, coconut, and raisins.

2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown and centers are set. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Now don't get me wrong, I like boxed macaroni and cheese (except for Kraft for whatever reason), but homemade baked macaroni and cheese is on a whole different playing field. Although it's not as cheap and easy, it's definitely worth it once in a while.

This is another of those dishes that is wonderful because it is so customizable. I use whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. One of my personal favorite additions is cooked, crumbled bacon, but if you want to make it a little more healthy peppers are an excellent addition. Add chunks of ham or hamburger to make this a hearty and filling main dish (you may want to increase the amount of sauce if you add quite a bit of extra ingredients).

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
from The Joy of Cooking

makes 4 to 6 main-course or 8 to 10 side-dish servings

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a deep 1.5 quart baking dish. Prepare 2 c.
White Sauce (recipe below, you will need to double it).

Stir into the prepared white sauce:
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 t. sweet paprika

Simmer gently, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Have ready:
2.25 c. grated sharp cheddar or Colby cheese (9 ounces)
Remove the sauce from heat, discard the bay leaf, and stir in 2/3 of the cheese. Reserve the rest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender:
2 c. (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, small shells, or tubetti

Drain and remove to a large bowl. Stir in the sauce. Pour half of the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Top with the rest of the macaroni and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the top: 1/2 c.
Buttered Bread Crumbs (recipe below).

Bake until the crumbs are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

White Sauce
yields 1 cup

Melt 2 T. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Whisk in 2 T. flour until well-blended and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in 1 c. milk.
Return the pan to heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue to cook, whisking, until the sauce is smooth and hot and has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Buttered Bread Crumbs
Use dry bread crumbs. Season with salt, allowing 1/2 t. for each cup of the bread crumbs. Brown them slowly in 4 T. butter. Use at once. You may season with bits of crumbled cooked bacon, chopped nuts, grated cheese, ground or crumbled dried herbs, garlic or onion powder, salt, or pepper. Cook until butter is absorbed and crumbs are golden brown.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Apple Cake

The treats I've made of late have been quite indulgent, especially the Oatmeal Fudge Bars, so I thought my next treat should be something a little healthy. I found this simple and delicious gem that uses apples, walnuts, and whole wheat flour.

Tart green apples with the skins left on are recommended. I used Granny Smith, which I happened to have on hand, but I think any tart cooking/baking apple would work well. This recipe calls for buttermilk, and I rarely, if ever, have fresh buttermilk on hand. I was also out of powdered buttermilk, so I used sour milk as a substitute. To make 1 cup of sour milk, add one tablespoon of lemon juice to a glass measuring cup and add milk to a total volume of 1 cup. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes before using. I also used canola oil instead of vegetable oil and omitted the brandy/rum, although I probably would have added it if I had it on hand. This cake is moist and delicious plain, so I opted not to frost it, although it would be delicious with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Apple Cake
from The Joy of Cooking

Makes one eight-inch square cake

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan or line the bottom with wax or parchment paper.

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl, pinching out any lumps in the brown sugar:
1.5 c. all-purpose flour or 1 c. all-purpose flour plus 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. grated or ground nutmet
1/2 t. salt

Add and stir together until smooth:
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
(2 T. rum or brandy)
1 t. vanilla

Stir in:
1 c. chopped apples
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack. Serve warm, plain or with vanilla ice cream or let cool completely and frost with white or butterscotch icing.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food, from the deep-fried Americanized version you'll find in a food court, to authentic recipes passed down by generations of Chinese grandmothers. My childhood favorite was always sweet and sour chicken so it was the first Chinese food I ever attempted to cook from scratch, starting with this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I don't know how authentic the recipe is, but The Joy of Cooking is an eternal classic, so it's always a good place to start in my opinion.

This sweet and sour chicken turns out a little more on the sweet side if you use the whole 1/3 c. sugar. I don't like things terribly sweet, so I usually use less. I used red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper since that's what I had on hand, using the full 1/2 teaspoon. I always serve it over brown rice, but I'm sure it would be delicious with chow mein noodles as well.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

from The Joy of Cooking

makes 4 to 6 servings

Although I made this recipe using chicken it is also very well-suited to be pork and can easily be made vegan by substituting 1.5 pounds of firm diced tofu for the meat, vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and margarine or oil for the butter.

Mix together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and set aside:
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. cornstarch

Melt in a large skillet or pot over medium-low heat:
2 T. butter

Stir in:
1 large onion, diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, diced
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/4 to 1/2 t. ground red pepper

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add:
One 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, with their juice
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. distilled white or cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar

Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture (you'll want to stir it up again). raise heat to high and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add:
3 to 4 c. diced cooked pork, chicken, turkey, or tofu

Return to a simmer, then turn the heat down as low as possible and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over rice or chow mein noodles.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crusty Pizza Dough

My pizza, loaded with veggies and cheese.

Who doesn't love pizza? Frozen pizza is often a cheap and easy go-to dinner for busy days, gourmet and specialty pizzas a real treat. One of the best things about pizza is that it is infinitely customizable to individual taste. Vegetarians, vegans, and hard-core carnivores alike can all find a pizza right for them. It can range from the healthy, made with whole wheat crust, tons of veggies, and a little cheese, to the heart attack-inducing meat lover's pizza drenched in mozzarella.

I've made pizza at home frequently in the past, but always with store-bought whole wheat crust, probably due to my hesitance to make yeast breads that required kneading. With my new-found determination to make more yeast breads, I decided to tackle pizza crust. Since it was my first try with this recipe and pizza crust in general, I used all white flour, but in the future I'm going to use half whole wheat flour and make multiple batches so I can freeze some. This recipe makes a pretty thick crust, so if you like thin crust better (as I do), I'd recommend either rolling it out into a much larger pizza or dividing the dough in half for two thin crust pizzas. I used a KitchenAid mixer to knead mine, but you of course can knead it by hand if you don't have one.

Crusty Pizza Dough
from the KitchenAid Baking Companion

1 package active dry yeast (2.25 t.)
1 c. warm water (105 to 115 F)
1/2 t. salt
2 t. olive oil
2.5-3.5 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1 T. cornmeal

Step 1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl of electric stand mixer. Add salt, olive oil, and 2.5 c. flour. Attach dough hook to mixer. Turn to low and mix 1 minute.
Step 2. Continuing on low, add remaining flour, 1/2 c. a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on low about 2 minutes longer.
Step 3. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down.
Step 4. Brush 14-inch pizza pan with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough into bottom of pan, forming collar around edge to hold toppings. Add toppings as desired. Bake at 450 F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Oatmeal Fudge Bars
from The America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book

Makes 16 bars

Old-fashioned oats may be substituted for the quick-cooking oats, although the bars will be more chewy.

1 c. (3 oz.) quick-cooking oats
1 c. packed (7 oz.) light brown sugar
¾ c. (3.75 oz.) all-purpose flour
¼ t. baking powder
¼ t. baking soda
⅛ t. salt
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

¼ c. (1.25 oz.) all-purpose flour
¼ c. packed (1.75 oz.) light brown sugar
2 t. instant espresso or instant coffee
¼ t. salt
1.5 c. (9 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips*
2 T. unsalted butter
1 large egg

*Although they’re not semisweet, I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips, as they were what I had on hand and I prefer darker chocolate.

Step 1. For the crust and topping: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil.
Step 2. Whisk the oats, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter until combined. Reserve ¾ c. of the oat mixture for the topping.
Step 3. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake the crust until light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack, about one hour.
Step 4. For the filling: Whisk the flour, sugar, instant espresso, and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
Step 5. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the filling even over the cooled crust and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the reserved oat topping. Bake the bars until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the filling begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
Step 6. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, cut into squares, and serve.

These bars are decadent and delicious and are definitely on my list of desserts to make again. It only takes one little square to satisfy a sweet tooth, but you may find yourself going back for seconds as I did.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked Spaghetti

I love pasta. The Atkins Diet will never be for me. Spaghetti is a great quick meal when you don't have time to make anything fancy or time-consuming, but still want a filling meal that isn't just sandwiches or fast food. As a kid, I always looked forward to spaghetti night. My family even had special Fiestaware bowls we used for spaghetti; they were even in Poppa, Momma, and Baby Bear sizes.

I recently got a bunch of free whole wheat pasta from the grocery store (thank you BOGO sales and coupon doubling), and was searching for ways to use it other than regular spaghetti. I love baked spaghetti, though for whatever reason, I've never tried to make it myself. My staple cookbooks didn't have a recipe for it, so I browsed a few recipes on various website and decided to make up my own.

This dish can be fairly healthy, or really indulgent. I chose to stay more at the healthy end of the spectrum, using whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, and not a huge amount of cheese (although being a born-and-bred Wisconsin girl, I was mighty tempted). Next time I think I'm going to throw in some mushrooms as well. If you want to go all out, use ground italian sausage, white pasta, and as much cheese as your heart desires. I was very pleased with how this turned out and will definitely be making it again in the future.

Baked Spaghetti

1 lb. angel hair pasta or spaghetti noodles (or almost any other pasta of your choice)
1 lb. lean ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
½ c. green pepper, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1 t. salt
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 c. water
1 c. mozzarella cheese
½ c. mild cheddar cheese

Step 1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
Step 2. Meanwhile, cook ground beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add soups, tomato sauce, water, and seasonings to meat mixture; stir well.
Step 3. Add spaghetti to meat sauce, along with ½ c. mozzarella cheese; stir well. Transfer mixture to greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheddar and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Step 4. Bake at 350 °C for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly and cheese is golden brown.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Classic Swedish Meatballs

A less-than-healthy comfort food, Swedish meatballs bring up memories of church suppers and big family dinners. Although these take a while to prepare, they are simple, delicious, and definitely worth the effort.

Swedish Meatballs
from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. milk
3/4 c. soft bread crumbs (1 slice)
1/2 c. finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1/4 c. snipped fresh parsley (I used approx. 1 T. dried)
1/4 t. black pepper
1/8 t. ground allspice or nutmeg (I used nutmeg)
8 oz. ground beef or veal (I used beef)
8 oz. ground pork or lamb (I used pork)
1 T. butter or margarine
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 t. instant beef bouillon granules
1/8 t. black pepper
2 c. milk
3 c. hot cooked noodles (I used egg noodles)
Snipped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Step 1. In a large bowl combine the egg and 1/4 c. milk. Stir in bread crumbs, onion, parsley, 1/4 t. pepper, and allspice. Add the meats and mix well. Shape into 30 meatballs.
Step 2. In a large skillet cook half the meatballs at a time in hot butter over medium heat, for approx. 10 minutes until the meatballs reach 160 F, turning to brown evenly. Remove meatballs from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Reserve pan drippings, adding cooking oil if necessary to make 2 T.
Step 3. Stir flour, bouillon, and 1/8 t. pepper into drippings. Stir in 2 c. milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, then cook and stir for 1 minute more. Return meatballs to skillet and heat through. Serve over noodles. If desired, sprinkle with additional parsley.

The first time I made these I was surprised by how good they are, as was my husband. They remind me of going to Harvest Supper at church when I was a kid and scarfing down meatballs and mashed potatoes and gravy. The plain meatballs also make an excellent appetizer with the dipping sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies

I wasn't a big fan of oatmeal-raisin cookies as a kid, but as an adult I've grown to like them quite a bit, as long as they're homemade. It doesn't hurt that I can delude myself into thinking they're at least a little bit healthy since they have whole grains (oatmeal) and fruit (raisins). These cookies are a slight twist on the traditional oatmeal-raisin cookie, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies
from Martha Stewart's Cookies

for the cookies:
4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c. chunky style applesauce*
1.5 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1.25 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. coarse salt
1 c. golden raisins**

for the icing:
1.75 c. confectioners' sugar
3 T. pure maple syrup
3 T. water

*I didn't have any chunky applesauce, so I used some smooth homemade applesauce.
**I didn't have any golden raisins, so I just used regular raisins.

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined. Add egg and applesauce, mix until well-blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix in raisins.
Step 2. Using a 1.5-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden and just set, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating half-way through. Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack over parchment paper to cool completely.
Step 3. To make the icing, whisk confectioners' sugar, maple syrup, and water until smooth. Drizzle over cookies and let set. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to three days.

These cookies are wonderfully chewy and soft, but I'm not a big fan of the icing. It doesn't have as strong a maple flavor as I would like, as I love all things maple. Next time I might skip it, although my husband likes the extra sweetness.

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Although the weather here has been unseasonably warm the past few days, fall is an ideal time to make a big pot of soup or stew for dinner. Hearty and healthy chicken noodle is a simple, easy, and delicious dinner that makes plenty of leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook

1 3.5- to 4-pound chicken, cut up, or 2.5 pounds meaty chicken pieces
8 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 c. chopped carrot (2 medium)
1 c. chopped celery (2 stalks)
1.5 c. dried egg noodles
2 T. snipped fresh parsley

Step 1.
In a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven combine chicken, water, onion, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for approx. 1.5 hours or until chicken is tender.
Step 2. Remove chicken from broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and cut into bit-size pieces. Set chicken aside. Discard the bay leaf and skim fat from broth.
Step 3. Bring broth to boiling. Stir in carrot and celery. Simmer, covered, for approx. 5 minutes. Stir in noodles and simmer, covered, for approx. 5 minutes more until the noodles are tender, but still firm. Stir in chicken and parsley and heat through.

Each time I've made this I've used a whole chicken and cutting it up myself, and each time I swear I'm going to buy chicken parts next time. I hate cutting the chicken apart, but my frugality wins out every time when I see how much cheaper whole chicken is per pound. If you are going to cut up the chicken yourself, I recommend following the instructions in The Joy of Cooking.

I served this with the herb garlic baguettes (recipe in previous post). Enjoy!

Herb Garlic Baguettes

I love pretty much any kind of cooking and baking, but I've always been a little hesitant when it comes to making yeast breads, other than with a bread machine. I'm always worried that the dough was kneaded too much or little or is too sticky or too dry. Eventually I want to master making bread completely by hand, but I thought I'd get my toes wet using the KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment.

Herb Garlic Baguettes
from KitchenAid Baking Companion

Makes 2 baguettes

1 package active dry yeast (or 2.25 t., if you buy yeast in bulk like I do)
1 t. sugar
1/4 c. warm water (105 to 115 F)
3.25 to 3.5 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. chopped fresh basil or 1 t. dried basil
2 t. chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried oregano
2 t. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried thyme
1 t. fresh minced garlic
1 t. salt
3/4 c. cold water
1 egg
1 t. water

Step 1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water.
Step 2. Place 3.25 c. flour, spices, garlic, and salt into bowl of electric stand mixture and attach the dough hook. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then stop and scrape the bowl. Continue mixing on low, slowly adding the yeast mixture and cold water, mixing approx. 30 secs. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining 1/4 c. flour (I didn't need to add this). Knead dough on low until dough is smooth and elastic, appoximately 3 minutes.
Step 3. Cover, let rise at room temp. until doubled in size, approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
Step 4. On a lightly floured surface, punch dough down several times to remove all air bubbles. Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a 12-inch-long loaf. Place each loaf on a greased baking sheet or in a baguette pan (I used a baking sheet). With a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 shallow diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf. Combine the egg and water, brushing the top of each baguette with the egg/water mixture (save the remaining mixture). Cover the loaf with greased plastic wrap and let rise at room temp. until doubled in size, 1 to 1.5 hours.
Step 5. Brush the top of each baguette with the egg mixture again. Bake at 450 F for 15 to 18 minutes until a deep golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet or baguette pans and let cool on a wire rack.


Welcome to my cooking blog! Cooking is one of my passions so I thought I'd start a cooking blog to share my favorite recipes with anyone who is interested. I'm also an avid amateur photographer, so most recipes will be accompanied by pictures I took of the final product. Bon appetit!