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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Butter Pecan Bread

I've made this bread twice in the past week or so and it has been enjoyed both times.  First, by Ron and myself.  And now with my parents.  So, it is definitely post-worthy.

I love baking with buttermilk.  Any time I see a buttermilk recipe, I normally save it and pick up a carton the next time I am at the store.  I love the smell.  I love the taste!  I saved this one because I had recently made some maple cocoa pecan spread and I knew the combination would be awesome.  It was absolutely dynamite!

This bread is delicious.  It is a sweet bread, with a lot of sugar, so I'd advise to save it as a treat and not eat as much as I did for the first day or so.  But, it's just sooo good!  You can't help yourself.  Enjoy with a cup of coffee and some apple butter.  Yum :)
Butter Pecan Bread
Southern Food About.Com

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices; blend in brown sugar.
  3. Combine egg, buttermilk, and butter; add to flour mixture, stirring to blend well. 
  4. Stir in chopped nuts. 
  5. Turn batter into a greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. 
  6. Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

It has been a gloomy week.  We've had a lot of rain around here.  And when it hasn't been raining, there have been a lot of overcast clouds.  To top it off, there have been serious germs floating through our house.  I have been sick for what seems like 2 weeks.  But, I am finally on antibiotics so hopefully I can nip this illness in the bud before it's time to travel, pick up new germs, and then return to try and run a marathon.  Oi.  I say 'try' because I haven't been able to run because of my fever.  Always interesting.  But, anyway.
When it's cloudy and gloomy, I do not feel like cooking.  Rain makes me want to just lie in bed and watch movies all day.  One thing that I have found is that foods that can be made in a pot always seem to be on the menu when rain is in the forecast.  It makes sense.  Aside from the prep work, the soup practically cooks itself.  No one wants to stand over a stove when they are sick!  So, this soup is great for that.  It simmers for an hour or so and doesn't require much soup-sitting.

I've been making this recipe for a while, but I don't think I have ever blogged about it.  It's one of my favorite soup recipes ever.  I think it's so good because it has so many different flavors and it really satisfies as a meal.  I recall reading the recipe the first time and wondering how it was going to work with so many different flavors, but it really does go well together.  And, just like the recipe creator, Linda, said, you do feel like you are in the caribbean with all the flavors.  Well, maybe not quite, but the sweet pepper, the spices, and the coconut milk are so tasty that maybe you can envision yourself having purchased the ingredients at a caribbean market earlier that day.
Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
recipe by Linda at Eating Well, Living Thin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium sweet green pepper, diced
  • 1 14-oz pkg smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 Tbsp pearl barley
  • 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes with garlic, oregano and basil - pureed
    • I don't always puree the tomatoes and it works out fine, just a different consistency.
  • 1 14-oz can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 - 1 cup lite coconut milk
  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the olive oil, onion, celery, green pepper, and turkey sausage.  Saute until vegetables are tender.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, barley, pureed tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, black pepper, and spices.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to low.
  3. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until barley is tender.
  4. Stir in garbanzo beans and coconut milk; heat through.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

On a recent trip to California, I was pretty bummed that I didn't get to head into a Sprinkles cupcake shop and try one of their cupcakes.  Some say the cupcakes are overrated, but others say they are the best ever.  Regardless, I wanted to judge for myself and try one of their famous cupcakes that put cupcake bakery shops on the map.  But, I didn't get to.

So, since then, I've been obsessing thinking about cupcakes.

When I get struck with a craving, my world pretty much stops until I fill the void that is obviously missing in my life.  I never noticed how important cupcakes were until I didn't have them in my life. Cupcakes were popping up everywhere in the food blog world.  There were recipes appearing in my food magazines.  It turned into total chaos when I turned on the tv: a marathon showing of DC Cupcakes.  A marathon showing of Cupcake Girls.  A marathon showing of Cupcake Wars!  The final straw was when I saw a cupcake throwdown on Food Network.

Damn it.  I NEEDED a cupcake.  And I needed a cupcake that was going to satisfy this craving (which means, not one of those sad looking cupcakes from a grocery store) and put an end to my cupcake daydreaming.

So, even though I have come to realize that I will forever be unhappy with kitchen appliances until I can purchase MY OWN and bake in MY OWN house, I decided to bake a small batch of oreo cupcakes that I have been dying to try.  I cut the recipe in 1/4ths as I realized that I needed to do some test runs with the oven before I started bringing goodies to share.  So, 1/4th of the batter was mixed and out came 6 beautiful looking cupcakes.

These were so easy to make and the idea that they were filled with oreos made the entire process fun.  Despite the fact that my oven told me it was baking at 350, when in fact it was only at 315, they turned out pretty damn good.  I cannot begin to tell you how delicious these cupcakes were.  They tasted like one giant oreo cookie in cupcake form.  And, then we put them in the fridge to keep and the end result was a cross between an oreo blizzard, an oreo cookie, and a cupcake.  Something like a bliz-ookie-cake.  I think I preferred the blizookiecake... but Ron preferred leaving his cupcake out to sit and adjust to room temperature.

Whatever your preference, my craving was satisfied.
Oreo Cupcakes
Annie's Eats
Yield:  24 cupcakes
  • For the Cupcakes:
    •  24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
      • I used mini's.
    • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt.
    • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 2/3 cup sugar
    • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 cup milk
    • 20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped 
  • For the frosting:

    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • For garnish:

    • Oreo cookie crumbs
    • 24 Oreo cookie halves
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners.  Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up.  (I used 2x mini's.)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside. 
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  
  4. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.  Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  7. Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.  Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Maple Pecan Flax Pancakes

 Breakfast.  They say it is the most important meal of the day.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I am a big fan of breakfast.  I am also a big fan of eating a big breakfast.  Some people, like Ron, can wake up and go out the door without eating anything until lunch.  I do not understand this and I think it is crazy behavior.  Normally, by the time Ron has eaten his first bite of food, I am already on my post-lunch snack.  So, people who do not eat breakfast:  how do you do it?  How does your brain function without a single bite of food?   How can you resist grabbing something, ANYTHING, while you are running out the door??

My father kindly pointed out one time that I am a super cranky beeyotch when I am hungry.  I suppose it is true.  I do become somewhat irrational when hunger pangs begin.  Ron won't let me travel, if even just to a store, without some type of snack resting in my purse for emergency situations.  Yikes.  I can not imagine how I would be if I did not eat until 5 hours after I woke up. 

So, yes, I love breakfast.  Bagels, toast, eggs, waffles, fruit, yogurt, granola, muffins, breakfast sandwiches. . . and pancakes.  PANCAKES ROCK.  But, these pancakes were not served for breakfast.  They were served for a Friday evening dinner after a Friday evening class.  These delicious pancakes were enjoyed around 9:00 p.m. which I believe might be even a better time to eat them instead of breakfast pancakes.  Breakfast for dinner?  Yes, please!

The original recipe used walnuts, so feel free to substitute them if you do not have any pecans on hand.  I did not have any buttermilk so I ended up making a buttermilk substitution with lemon juice (put 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice in a measuring glass.  Pour milk to 1 1/4 cup fill line.  Stir.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes before using).  They turned out great!  We sprinkled some leftover pecans on top and I sliced a banana for mine.  Delicious.  Make them now!
Maple Pecan Flax Pancakes
Bon Appetit  
Yield:  Recipe says 12 servings (So, in normal the-size-people-expect-pancakes-to-be, this is the equivalent of about 6-8 pancakes.)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
    • Some people left comments in the reviews indicating that they used old-fashioned oats with good results.  You can also ground flaxseeds to make your own meal.  
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-fat (2%) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) vegetable oil
  • Additional pure maple syrup
  1. Whisk flour, flaxseed meal, pecans, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend.
  2. Whisk buttermilk, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and egg in another medium bowl. 
  3. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk just until incorporated.
  4. Brush large nonstick skillet lightly with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat.  Working in batches, add batter to skillet by scant 1/4 cupfuls.  Cook until bubbles appear on surface of pancakes and undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until golden on bottom, about 2 minutes. Brush skillet lightly with vegetable oil as needed before adding each batch. 
  5. Transfer pancakes to plates. Serve with additional maple syrup.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tomato Basil Bean Salad with Italian Marinated Chicken

Here is another summer'ish recipe that I had made a while back when we hosted friends for dinner. We served it with a light chicken marinade and grilled out on a beautiful summer evening.  I love walking into the grocery stores at the end of summer and seeing heirloom tomatoes brightening the produce aisles.  They inspired me to seek out a lovely tomato salad recipe.

It was very good and I would definitely make it again.  But, my only complaint was that it didn't keep well through the night.  The beans tasted like super mush the next day so it was edible but just barely.  I knew this was bound to happen, but I still had a lot remaining and was hoping to at least try and get another meal out of it.  I however was not a fan of the pasty flavor the beans had coated over the tomatoes.  Having said all that, it is definitely worth making, just eat it the same day it was made.

I am also including the recipe for the summer marinade we used on the chicken.  I was hesitant to try this chicken because I just didn't understand how it was going to be very flavorful.  There were a lot of textures going on, but it didn't seem to be saturated which is what I normally expect of a marinade.  But, I was shocked when I tried my first bite.  The chicken, which Ron had cooked absolutely perfectly, was amazing.  It was seasoned perfectly and did not need any type of additional side sauce.  I don't know how it worked but it worked better than any marinade I had used before.  (Sorry there is no picture, but it was chicken with some spices on it.  Use your imagination.)

Tomato Basil Bean Salad
from Healthy. Happy. Life
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, roasted or canned 
    • *You can use any variety of beans you'd like 
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • fresh black pepper
  • splash of EVOO (1-2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp maple syrup 
  • optional: splash of apple cider vinegar
  1. Prep your veggies: dice your onion. Wash and quarter slice your cherry tomatoes. Chiffonade your basil. Place in large bowl.
  2. Add all ingredients to large bowl and toss well. 
  3. Allow to sit in marinade for 5-10 minutes before serving!
  4. Best served day of. 
Basil Marinade
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp chopped basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp basil and garlic seasoning, optional
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
  1. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, basil, onion, seasoning (if using), salt, peppercorns, and garlic in a bowl.  Transfer the marinade to a gallon-sized seal able plastic bag with the chicken and shake to combine.
  2. Refrigerate chicken for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or preheat gas grill.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade.  Grill the chicken, turning once, until browned and just cooked through.
  5. Garnish with extra basil sprigs, if desired.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lime Cilantro Chicken with Lime Cilantro Corn

I always do this!!  I cook dinner, we love the recipe, I add it to my posting que, then I never post it and it remains in 'edit' mode for several weeks.  This isn't really that big of a deal, but I have a number of summer posts remaining and we are basically in fall.

Well, we're still grilling, so maybe you are too!  This was a light and fresh meal that I cooked up for friends one night.  It was an impromptu visit and I looked at my odd abundance of lime and cilantro and decided that it would be the theme for the night.
Unfortunately, the one thing that I forget to do when I add the recipe to my que is write down what I thought about the meal.  Oops.  I need to start doing that.  I do recall that everyone really liked it (or at least everyone finished their meal).  And, I recall adding it to the que that night with a note that we should use it for bbq's more often.
Lime Cilantro Marinade
  • 2 pounds chicken (I used breasts)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Mix all marinade ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Pour over chicken and turn to coat.
  3. Cover chicken and chill, marinating for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  4. Grill chicken until no longer pink in the middle.
Lime Cilantro Corn
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked (preferably fresh, but frozen can be used as well)
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/8-1/4 cup cilantro
  1. Cut corn kernels off of cob.
  2. Saute onions and bell peppers in olive oil until soft.
  3. Add corn and cook 5 more minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, squeeze lime juice over corn, add cilantro and lightly toss.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Honey Oat Quick Bread

    I'm injured (I know, I know... shocking, right?), so I'm going somewhat stir crazy.  This weekend, the last high mileage weeking before taper, was supposed to be spent running a 20 mile run around White Bear Lake.  Instead, I hobbled around the house pouting, cursing, and forcing myself to sit and "relax."

    I do not like sitting still.  Even as a child, my parents had to strap me at the dinner table to eat.  They had no other choice; I would get up, take a bite, go run around and play, come back, take a bite, go run around and play.  Family dinners did not seem to involve me as it normally took me nearly 2 hours to finish my meal.  I don't blame them.  I'm sure that if Ron would do the same thing because he gets pretty annoyed with my restless legs.

    So, naturally, my day of rest on Saturday included a short run.  Ouch.  So, I decided to actually rest of on Sunday.  Sunday included a lot of the following:  mowing the lawn, doing laundry, cleaning the basement, dusting, vacuuming the house, running errands, and of course, baking some bread.  And, as always, the bread put a smile on my face in an instant.  I substituted applesauce in lieu of oil and added some cinnamon.  The end result was a yummy loaf of bread that is almost gone.

    I should have rest days more often...
    Honey Oat Bread
    adapted from What Megans Making
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided 
    • 2 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour (or use half white, half whole-wheat flour)
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
    • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt 
    • 8 ounces (scant 1 cup) plain yogurt 
    • 1 large egg 
    • 1/4 cup applesauce (or equal parts canola oil
    • 1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey 
    • 3/4 cup milk 
    1. Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats. 
    2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. 
    3. Using a fork, beat the remaining 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, applesauce (or oil) and honey in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in milk.
    4. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed (don't overmix or the bread will be tough). 
    5. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top. 
    6. Bake the loaf until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (It’s normal for the top to crack.) Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack.
    7. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Chana Masala

    First and foremost, we remember the fallen.  We will never forget the victims and their families.  We remember the volunteers and their efforts.  And, we respect the courage of the men and women who fight in honor of this beautiful country.
    We Remember.  September 11, 2001.  God Bless America.

    One thing I miss the most about Pittsburgh is the fact that I was well-acquainted with the restaurant scene.  I had staples that I relied on and often frequented.  The little coffee shop on N. Craig Street near the Carnegie museum became my most reliable stomping ground.  Their sunflower bagels were my favorite weekend treat.  Saturday trips to the Strip District were never complete without lunch at Cafe on the Strip.  Their wedding soup was to die for.  A few years ago, Ron and I decided we would pay whatever it would cost to ship their soup out to wherever we got married.  Pizza at Italian Village.  Sandwiches in Shadyside.  Fine dining at Sonoma Grille.  Asian at Lulu's.  And of course, indian cuisine at India Garden.

    I remember back when I was a freshman in college and my sister introduced me to indian food at India Garden for my birthday.  We walked to the restaurant (I miss walking everywhere: to school, to work, to the grocery store, to dine, to drink, to shop...), we tried, we sampled, we ate, we enjoyed... I fell in love.  The vegetable samosas were amazing.  Their naan was incredible.  I became a regular.

    Then once I started dating Ron, I introduced him to India Garden.  Ron and I have some funny stories from the start of our relationship, but I think that his first experience with indian food is one of my favorites.  In the beginning, he would go along with whatever I wanted, solely to impress me.  At the time we met, I don't think Ron had eaten anything outside of McDonald's, KFC, Antoon's Pizza and burritos from the nearby 7-11.  He was timid while ordering his curry potato dish.  And, when the server asked how hot he wanted it, he answered "umm, around an 8 or a 9, I like spicy."  The server looked at him like he was a lunatic.  I said, "Are you sure you want it that hot?"  "Of course," he said.  "How hot can it be?"

    I laugh.  For those who are not familiar, indian food can be VERY spicy.  And well, Ron sat there, eyes watering as he ate a total of 5 bites of his food then assured me that he simply "wasn't that hungry" and let the waiter take the dish away.  He drank about 5 glasses of water.  At one point, I thought was going to kill the waiter for not bringing water around fast enough.  I think he even asked for milk when he realized that the water was not doing anything to help his burning mouth.   It kind of reminds me from that scene in Along Came Polly when Ben Stiller's character reluctantly agrees to eat at a ethnic restaurant and spent the night sweating, sick and hating his life.

    I, knowing that ordering anything above a 5 at India Garden was virtually suicide, loved my meal and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Well anyway, I don't have those familiar culinary experiences in Minneapolis.  I haven't found my go-to restaurants, including a decent indian restaurant and it saddens me.  So, considering I had a $9 jar of garam masala in my cupboard, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and cook my own indian food.  I'm not sure if this is a *true* chana masala recipe.  But, it was good.  It satisfied my indian craving and I'll definitely make it again.
    Chana Masala
    • 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1.5 tsp onion seeds
    • 2 16oz cans chickpeas, rinsed
    • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 3-5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1" piece of ginger, minced or grated
    • 1/2 - 1 jalapeno, minced
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp ground coriander
    • 2 tsp garam masala*
    • 1.5 tsp tumeric
    • 4 C water
    • fresh cilantro, chopped
    *If you do not have garam masala, substitute with 2 tsp of the following recipe:
    • 3/4 tsp cumin
    • 1/4 tsp coriander
    • 1/4 tsp cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    1. Prepare the ingredients in separate bowls.  It's helpful to have everything measured out and ready to go.
    2. Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cumin seeds.  Saute for about 20 seconds and then add chopped onions.  Cook until onions are lightly browned.
    3. Add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno; stir-fry for a minute or two.
    4. Add diced tomatoes and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.  Add spices and stir thoroughly.
    5. Add the diced potatoes and stir well to coat in spices.
    6. Add 3 cups of water and put the lid on.  Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat a tad and let simmer for about 20 minutes to soften the potato.
    7. Check to see that the potato chunks are soft, then add chickpeas.  Stir and add another cup of water.  Bring to a boil again and turn heat down to simmer for 15 minutes with the lid partially on.
    8. Stir in fresh cilantro, turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot and let stand for 15 minutes.
    9. Serve with rice, bread, or by itself!  Enjoy!

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies

    I am always on the search for a decent batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I've made a ton that claim to be the best:  Alton Brown's the Chewie, the famous NY Times cookie, the Neiman Marcus cookie, and other random cookie recipes.  They were all good, but nothing that I could literally say was the "best" cookie ever.  I don't really think there can be a best cookie ever.  They are all good!  And, I can never tell the difference.  Honestly, what does 1/16 of a tsp more of salt add to a batch of 40 some cookies?  Nonetheless, this recipe had 1/2 cup more flour than the standard Nestle Toll House recipe and I can say that I would prefer this base over Nestle.  Hmm.

    But, I baked and ate these a few days ago, and I can still remember that they were awesome.  So, I think I've finally found a decent, quick, easy chocolate chip cookie recipe that I can remember and tell people to use!

    Honestly, these were up there with my favorite recipes.  The recipe uses those little cookie dough bites that you can find at the store or gas station.  I don't know if it was the base recipe or the addition of the candies, but they were simply incredible.  They were so moist, so chocolately, so buttery.  I couldn't stay away!  I think the recipe would be incredible without the candies (and with nuts), so I may use this as my go-to chocolate chip recipe.
    Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies
    Picky Palate
    • 2 sticks softened butter
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 3/4 cup flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
    • 2 6 oz boxes, chocolate chip cookie dough bites
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Cream the butters and sugars until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well mixed.
    3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips and cookie dough bites just until combined.
    4. Scoop tsp-1/2 tbsp full balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
    5. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
    6. Let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

    There are some smells in this world that can literally stop a person in their tracks.  For me, those smells involve anything with cinnamon and sugar.

    Cinnabon cinnamon rolls in the mall.
    Cinnamon sugar raisin bread in the toaster.
    Cinnamon sugar pretzels at Auntie Anne's.
    And of course, the worst culprit of them all, any type of cinnamon sugar coated nut: almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc., at any place that sells them!

    My mom LOVES these nuts.  We often give them to her as gifts for birthdays or holidays.  And, she loves the nuts for a damn good reason.  They are awesome!  So, gift ideas were in the back of my head as I mixed them up.  :)

    I see smell these nuts all the time.  At amusement parks, the mall, at Farmer's Markets, outside grocery stores, right in the middle of Vail Village in Colorado(?).  ("What an awesome day of skiing up on the mountains... I think it's time to buy some roasted nuts!")  But obviously, these things are sold anywhere because people will buy them, and I must admit that I purchased nuts in Vail Village before.  Seriously, once you smell them (often from a mile away), you subconsciously head in their general direction and inevitably purchase some.

    So, one random Saturday morning, I was super excited to mix up my very own batch of cinnamon sugar coated almonds.  The kitchen smelled like a carnival, Ron wandered in from wherever he was and said "It smells awesome in here!," I took a bite of one of these almonds, then another, maybe a few more... and all was right in the world.
    Cinnamon Sugar Almonds
    from here
    • 1 egg white
    • 1 Tbsp cold water
    • 3 cups almonds
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup white or turbinado sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 2 Tbsp melted butter
    1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
    2. Beat the egg white and water until frothy and foamy, prior to reaching the "soft peak" stage.
    3. Add in nuts and stir to coat. 
    4. In a separate bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon and sea salt.
    5. Stir into the egg and nut mixture until well coated.
    6. Grease a large jelly roll pan or baking sheet with the melted butter.
    7. Spread nuts in a single layer and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hr and 15 minutes, stirring every 20-25 minutes.
    8. Remove from oven, stir to loosen from sheet.
    9. Enjoy!