Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Not cookies

Zucchini-Orange Bread
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute I used 2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 large)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts I omitted these
Cooking spray

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bread, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through baking soda) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Combine granulated sugar and next 4 ingredients (through 1 tablespoon juice). Add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in zucchini and walnuts. Divide batter between 2 (8 x 4–inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans.

3. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons juice, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle evenly over warm loaves. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information: Calories:145 (32% from fat) Fat:5.1g (sat 0.4g,mono 2.1,poly 2.3g) Protein:2.8g Carbohydrate:22.5g Fiber:0.7g Cholesterol:0.0mg Iron:1mg Sodium:142mg Calcium:21mg

I had some zucchini that I originally picked up thinking I would use it in something savory but then I started thinking zucchini bread. As soon as I saw this recipe, I looked no further. I've been in a citrus-y mood lately.

This is a 'light' recipe and at first I thought it was going to be a tad dry but even though there isn't a lot of glaze, I think it infused just enough moisture into this bread. I thought this was better the second day.

I made this a couple of weeks ago and I really wish I had some of it in front of me right now. I do have another zucchini ....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Busy weekend

Oh, the recipes I could be posting about right now - 'big' oatmeal cookies, those famous World Peace Cookies, Asian glazed chicken drumsticks, strawberry bread, orange-zucchini bread, the most incredible coffee brownies. But, I don't have any of those blog posts ready - sorry! Stay tuned.

I cooked up a storm this weekend. Why would I do that on one of the hottest weekends in recent history? Well, we have air conditioning and it was too hot to do much outside so why not? I've been on a cooking ahead tangent since I am tired of rushing home to make dinner during the week and I am also tired of spending so much money on food. Planning and cooking ahead saves time and money.

I made a variation of Enchiladas Suizas last weekend and I put together two meal-size pans of them, one we ate last week and one was put in the freezer. Instead of using one package of boneless thighs for one dinner, I easily stretched it out to cover two dinners. I bought a pack of corn tortillas for $1 on sale, that had 30 tortillas in it. Not only did I make those two pans of Enchiladas Suizas, I also free-styled a Mexican lasagne with the last of them, using some ground beef I got on sale and using my homemade taco seasoning (scroll down on that link for the recipe).

I made enough Venison in Sauce for two meals last weekend too. This weekend I made Crockpot Pulled Pork. That wasn't planned but I came across pork shoulder on sale. One shoulder roast yielded three containers of pulled pork, for sandwiches or recipes like Barbecued-Pork Burritos and Barbecue Pork Pot Pie.

I cooked a lot of rice since I find it freezes well and I can use it for fried rice or as a quick side dish. Speaking of fried rice, I cooked some chicken thighs to be used in fried rice or stir-fries. It stretches a lot further that way.

I roasted beets. I bought some on a whim on Friday and I didn't want to forget about them like I forget about much of the produce I buy on a whim. I love beets and they really aren't hard to prepare except for the time it takes to peel them, which isn't an incredibly long time.

I sautéed a lot of cabbage. My favorite produce lady at auction had large heads of cabbage for $1 so I grabbed one. They weren't great cabbages - not very green like I prefer for cole slaw but perfect for cabbage and noodles later in the future. I never tried freezing the sautéed cabbage separately but I think it's going to work.

I made sloppy joes. I roasted chicken drumsticks.

The next couple of weeks should go a bit easier.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sorry, more cookies

Lime Cooler Cookies
The Ugly Binder, from the internet

1 cup bleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Line two cookie sheets with either parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and lime zest. Add the butter and vanilla; beat, either with a mixer or a wooden spoon, until a dough forms.

Drop dough by generous teaspoons onto the cookie sheet, spacing evenly. (I made these small, using my small scoop and flattening them a bit.) Bake one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes, until cookie bottoms are golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a quart or gallon-sized zip-loc bag. Working with a dozen at a time, drop cookies into the sugar and shake to coat. The cookies must be completely cooled.

These were a last minute addition to my future SIL's shower. I woke up that morning thinking I should make one more cookie, something easy, something that I had the ingredients on hand to make. I just happened to have a bunch of limes since I've been enjoying a margarita here and there.

There are a million variations of this type of cookie, some with nuts, some with coconut, some plain, etc. There is a reason there are so many variations - this is basically a very good, melt-in-your mouth buttery cookie that many people love. No one would bother coming up with so many variations for a lousy cookie.

I can remember eating the boxed lemon cooler cookies (do they still make those?) These were much better of course. I love citrus infused baked goods and I love making them ever since I purchased a Microplane which makes zesting citrus so easy.

This recipe didn't make much but it is easily doubled, tripled, or whatever. The cookies don't really spread so you can fit a lot of them on a baking sheet at one time.

I know, the cookie recipes are getting boring but that's all I got.

Friday, July 09, 2010

My new favorite cookie

White Chocolate Dried Cherry (Craisin) Cookies
The Ugly Binder, from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

1 cup unsalted butter(room temperature) I used salted butter
3/4 cup caramelized sugar*
3/4 cup powdered sugar(icing sugar)
2 eggs(room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces good White Chocolate, chopped into small pieces I used Ghiardelli Sublime White Vanilla Dream - 1 1/2 bars
8 ounces dried Cherries(the more tart the better) I used craisins

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Grease your cookie pans with butter(to make a more golden brown bottom). I baked them on parchment paper. In a mixer, cream the butter for 3 minutes. Add both types of sugar and mix (on high) for another 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs on at a time, mixing 1 minute each. Scrape down the bowl again. Add vanilla and mix for one more minute on medium high.

In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. With the mixer on slow speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter. Do not over mix. Take the bowl off the mixer and by hand mix in the white chocolate and cherries.

Using small ice cream or cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. They will not look done. Take them out anyway, they will continue to cook on the pan. Leave them on the pan for 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven. Then transfer to a cooling rack.

*To make caramelized sugar for this recipe. Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. With the oven preheated to 375 F sprinkle 1 cup granulated sugar onto the middle of the pan. Bake for only about 5 minutes (you need to watch it the whole time because once it starts to caramelized it can quickly burn). (It took much longer than 5 minutes for my sugar to caramelize.) Take out of oven and it cool completely. Once cooled, lift the blob of caramelized sugar and put into blender. Blend until the sugar is back to being super fine. Measure out 3/4 cup for the recipe.

This recipe intrigued me, due to the use of the caramelized sugar. While it wasn't hard to make the sugar, it did take a while (probably 10-15 minutes per batch for cooking, then an hour or more of cooling) and required a lot of attention. I don't know why you couldn't do it on the stove-top if you preferred. It wouldn't take less time or attention but you would have a bit more control I think. You must let the caramelized sugar cool completely before grinding it so you won't be able to whip these cookies up on the fly if you haven't already prepared the caramelized sugar but otherwise, it's not a complicated recipe.

I made two batches of these and for one batch, I hadn't ground the sugar as finely and I didn't cream the butter and sugar together as long as I should have so they there were larger bits of the caramalized sugar in them. The batch with the more finely ground sugar is shown here. They had a smoother, more uniform texture. I'm actually not sure which I liked more. They were both pretty great.

Due to the cost of dried cherries, and my current surplus of craisins, I opted to use the craisins and I was pleased. Not having tried the recipe with the dried cherries, I can't say for sure whether or not that made a big difference. Also, I could not find plain white chocolate anywhere. I am not a fan of the white chocolate chips sold in grocery stores at all so they were not an option. I finally found this vanilla bean-infused Ghiardelli white chocolate and that might be what made these so great - just so you know. The quality of the white chocolate will make a big difference here. I didn't use 12 ounces, just 1 1/2 bars and each bar is only 3.5 ounces.

I made these for my future sister-in-laws bridal shower (a non-traditional co-ed party). Afterwards one sister commented that my other sister thought these were the best cookies ever but I didn't hear it first hand. I can tell you that I thought they were fantastic. There was something about them but I'm just not sure if it was the caramelized sugar or the vanilla-infused white chocolate that made them so good.

I froze some of this dough and I can't wait to bake more of these but they are DANGEROUS!

Friday, July 02, 2010

My baby is two!

I know I've been a bad blogger, even worse than usual. I never heard back about the townhouse and frankly what is the point of calling again? It would have been nice to get a phone call even if they weren't giving it to me, am I wrong?

So, in the meantime, poor Dan got the shaft and didn't get a real birthday party this year. We had cake and ice cream after dinner last night. I made a cake using this yellow cake recipe, but I added some melted bittersweet chocolate to a couple of cups of the batter, making it a marble cake. I used the reverse-creaming method again and at first I wasn't as thrilled as I was the last time I made that recipe but I had refrigerated the cake and it hadn't quite come to room temperature yet when we started eating it. At room temp I was pleased with the texture and flavor but it still didn't compare to my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I usually use for birthday cakes.

I did a buttercream transfer for Elmo, using purchased tubes of frosting for that and the other finishing touches. I used the Easy Buttercream recipe for the rest of the cake, adding some cocoa to about a cup or so of the frosting I put between the layers.

I've got no big plans this weekend so maybe I will get around to blogging the (small) backlog of recipes that I've built up recently.