Friday, August 28, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

I have always preferred a "pure" oatmeal cookie to one including raisins...or even chocolate chips. I love the texture of the oats combined with the spice of the cinnamon. De double licious. I have just one "plain" oatmeal cookie recipe so I wanted to try a new one--especially since I think the recipe I have used for years and years is a little too heavy on the margarine. I came across this recipe at Simply Recipes and new I had to try it. When the name "Grandma" is used in the title of a recipe it almost always a positive indication of greatness.

I loved the result! Perfect amount of cinnamon. Perfect combination of softness and chewiness and crispness. Kevin gave them an 8 out of 10 and described them as "fabulous." His favorite oatmeal cookie though was the thicker variety: Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (Oh, and apparently this means I actually have two "plain" oatmeal cookie recipes. Sorry for pretty much lying before.) I hope you enjoy!

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
3 cups oat (use Quaker Quick or Old Fashioned. NOT instant.)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Cream shortening and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add raisins (if using) and nuts. Add oats last.
Spoon out by rounded tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harvest Soup

I found this recipe on Stephanie's famous blog--A Year of Slow Cooking. If you ever need ideas for what or how to cook in your crockpot, you must check this site out. She has just recently published a slow cooking cookbook--way to go, Stephanie! Anyways, I was searching for (wonderful) ways to utilize the massive amount of fresh produce in my fridge. (Hint: I have found the produce stays uber fresh if you keep it in Snapware or other sealable storage containers. I'm talking weeks here, people. Which is awesome, since it's just the two of us, and I hate to see good food go to waste.) The most recent recipe on her blog was just perfect. It was delicious. And nutritious. And super easy. You must try it! However, you must have a love of zucchini and yellow squash and tomatoes and white beans and onions. Otherwise you will be sadly disappointed. :) I just had leftovers for lunch together and it's even tastier than the first time around!

(I cut Stephanie's recipe in half and made a few other alterations to better suite our needs...and I still have 2 bowls leftover!)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or broth)
1/2 cup pasta sauce (prego works well)
1/2 cup water (or a little just cover the veggies.)
2 zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup dry white beans

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours or until beans have reached tenderness. If you don't have 8-10 hours before your dinner, do what I did--cook the beans stovetop* and add to the crockpot. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese--delish!

*rinse beans and place in a 2-3 qt. pot. Cover with water and bring to a rolling boil. Uncover and continue boiling for 2 minutes. Turn down to low and simmer (covered) for 1-2 hours--until tender. You may need to add additional water once boiling has taken place. Water should continue to cover the beans throughout cooking.

Spicy Homemade Salsa

This is an incredible use of your garden tomatoes! I found this salsa recipe over at Annie's Eats and as I've mentioned before, she never fails me. :) I had all the ingredients on hand--though I did substitute a few items (like lemon juice for the lime juice). You'll want to be very very careful about adding in the jalapenos. I love spicy foods and I only incorporated the 2 that were called for, but man alive is our salsa every spicy. There's many people I know who could definitely not be able to handle the heat. If that's you, just lower the amount of jalapeno added or eliminate altogether. For the rest of us, bring on the heat!

I loved getting to use my food processor for this recipe and I loved all the ingredients used. I enjoy a chunky salsa but also a more processed salsa such as this. It's perfect, people, it really is. P.S. The 3 containers of salsa shown in the picture is two full batches.

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and very coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
5-6 large vine-ripened tomatoes (OR 2 tomatoes and one 28oz. can diced tomatoes)
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar (or apple cider--what I used)
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (I didn't add this)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
juice of one lime (or 2 splashes of lemon juice)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the jalapenos and garlic. Process until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add all other ingredients to the food processor. Pulse in very brief pulses until the vegetables have reached the size you desire (it does not take many pulses so don’t overdo it). Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

Banana Bread

I'm not sure I'll ever stop trying new banana bread recipes. I just love almost every results and each of them is slightly unique. Therefore I cannot stop. So if you have a favorite banana bread recipe please please share it with me! I would LOVE to try it!

I whipped the up the other evening with my abundance of $0.19/pound bananas and had just written the measurements down on a scrap piece of paper. Thus, until this very moment, I have been at a complete loss as to the origins of this recipe. You see, I'm a little tiny bit addicted to food blogs and checked at least 8 blogs (some with multiple b.bread recipes) before deciding on one. This lovely recipe comes to us from a fantastic blog: Simply Recipes. I absolutely love everything about Elise's blog--her organization, the family input, the photographs and of course the glorious recipes themselves.

In any case, this recipe was used to make 6 mini loaves to be eaten by my darling husband at a later date. (I'm a big fan of freezers.) They turned out moist and delicious!

3-4 banana, ripe, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup (or less) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a greased 4x8 inch loaf pan (or mini loaf pans or muffins tins). Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Cookie Bars

I stumbled across this recipe as I was browsing the Brown Eyed Baker's recipe blog. She has some amazing photographs and even better recipes and I never doubted that anything I tried by her recommendation would not fail to impress. When I showed Kevin the picture of these cookie bars he immediately declared, "You have to make those!" Well, I did. We were having a family over for dinner and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out this sweet treat. It turned out beautifully and absolutely delicious. Everyone raved. The recipe is quick and easy to throw together. If you love chocolate chip cookies and you love chocolate with your salty pretzels and a little peanut butter (opt) to top it off, then you will love these bars!

Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Cookie Bars

Makes 32 squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12-ounce bag bittersweet (or semisweet, if you prefer) chocolate chips
1½ cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chocolate chips, for drizzling (optional)
¼ cup peanut butter, for drizzling (optional)
¼ cup pretzels, crumbled, for topping (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces.

3. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and press it down evenly with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely.

4. In separate sandwich size baggies, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cut off a small corner on each bag and drizzle the chocolate and peanut butter over the top of the bars. Sprinkle the extra crushed pretzels on top. Let set and then cut into squares.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Soft No-Roll Sugar Cookies

Once again, the Betty Crocker Cookbook has passed with flying colors. I have made cut out sugar cookies many times but never an unfrosted round simple sugar cookie such as this. I love this recipe! Quite fast and easy to throw together--even with the addition of oil and powdered sugar (two additions I don't normally see in a cookie recipe). The cookies were perfectly crisp yet soft and de-double-licious. Yum! I might replace Christmas cookies with this recipe. :D

1 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 large eggs
4 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In large bowl, beat 1 cup sugar, the powdered sugar, butter, oil, milk, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed or with a spoon until fully and evenly combined. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. In several additions, mix the dry ingredients into the creamed ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Roll ball sin sugar. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 3 inches apart. Press bottom of drinking glass on each ball to flatten to about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle each cookie with additional sugar.

Bake 10-13 minutes or until set and edges just begin to brown. Immediately remove from cookie to cool on a wire rack.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Crockpot Corn on the Cob

This is by far the simplest meal you could ever think of preparing. And not only that but cleanup involves...ummmm...throwing away the tin foil and putting your crockpot away. How awesome is that?! I had a thought the other day as I watched the weather forecast for the week. The temperatures were skyrocketing and taking humidity right along with them. I knew I didn't want to heat up the house by turning on the oven or even boiling water, but I had 4 ears of fresh corn I really wanted to use up. Then it occured to me--why not use the crockpot? And I'm so glad I did! Now, I'm not sure how many of you would consider corn on the cob a "main course" but in my house we did. And though I wouldn't serve it to guests, Kevin and I had no problem with this meal--especially topped off with the Black Bean Salsa and chips!

4-6 ears of corn
Remove husks.
Wrap individually in tin foil.
Place in a dry crockpot.
On high.
for 2-3 hours.

Butter and enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Garlic Deviled Eggs

These deviled eggs are not for the faint of heart. I set about making this lovely little appetizer in hopes of making my husband very happy. He loves deviled eggs! I do too! However, I have never made them before (which is weird actually) and I wasn't exactly sure what the protocol was for deviling eggs. So rather than search for the perfect looking recipe, I decided to make up my own. Risky, I know! The result is perfectly delicious for my tastebuds and I'm certain Kevin will be totally geeked about them too! But if you don't like spice you'll definitely want to limit the garlic. and the mustard. and the cilantro. :)

6 eggs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1/4-1/2 cup mayo (I used light Hellman's)
paprika, for garnish
cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Place 6 eggs in a 3 quart saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn heat off immediately and let the eggs sit on the burner for 20 minutes. Drain hot water off and cover with cold water. Let cool completely and then peel the eggs. Cut eggs in half, lengthwise and scoop out the yokes into a small bowl. Combine yokes with garlic, mustard, mayo, salt and pepper until desired flavoring is achieved. Use a small spoon to fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and chopped cilantro.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

I have been dying to try my hand at homemade cinnamon rolls for quite some time now, but I knew making them when just Kevin and I were home was probably not the best idea. :) So when six of my best girl friends were spending Friday night at our house I decided it was the perfect opportunity! Now, I realized far in advance that I was not going to be getting much sleep at this slumber party/reunion night so when I stumbled across Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls recipe I was pumped! Out of 250+ reviews his average star rating (1-5) was a five and everyone from novices to experienced bakers were raving about this recipe! I started the dough Friday evening and after rising and rolling and slicing they were put away in the refrigerator until morning. How perfect is that?! These were surprisingly simple to put together and absolutely fabulous to eat! I think everyone had to have at least 2 of these glorious rolls and couldn't stop talking about how great they were! Britt even said they were delicious and her mom makes the best cinnamon rolls! So don't be afraid! Try this recipe soon! Since I made no alterations to the recipe I am simply providing a direct link to the Food Network recipe card.

Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls