Update

29 04 2008

Okay, here’s the scoop.  Today is my birthday.  I’m 28!  I had a wonderful day, and now I’m sleepy but still ready to explain my lack of food blogging.  So here goes…

Life is BUSY.  Here’s what my week looks like:

Monday – birthday (yay, yay, yay!)
Tuesday – helping my sister-in-law and her boyfriend move into their new apartment
Wednesday – doing a final walk through of our (almost) house and meeting with our lawyer, aka mother-in-law
Thursday – CLOSING!
Friday – retirement party

…and the weekend is already filling up.  So, as you can see, I don’t have time to cook and blog this week.  Boo.  It makes me grumpy.  But I promise to cook my little heart out very soon, so stay tuned for something yummy to appear on your screen soon.  🙂

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Nothing blog worthy…

22 04 2008

I haven’t been cooking anything blog worthy these days, because things have been pretty busy.  This is what I ate for dinner tonight.  Enjoy the picture of my almost-finished dinner until I have time to post something more spectacular!

Salmon + pasta + snap peas + garlic + extra virgin olive oil  + a very tired kindergarten teacher = a quick, easy dinner that was just delightful to my waiting belly*

* Belly is a kindergarten term, of course. 





It’s a beautiful Sunday!

20 04 2008

Today is just perfect.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the spring flowers are blooming everywhere.  Days like this make me incredibly happy.  I don’t even care that it’s the last day before break!  To celebrate this beautiful day, I decided to finally make this chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve been hearing about for months now.  It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, and apparently these are the absolute best. 

Well, first – the recipe called for a lot more chocolate chips than what I’m used to (not a bad thing!).  Second, I usually make much smaller cookies, and third, I’m surprised at how these turned out.  They were a little crispy on the outside but chewy and soft on the inside.  I’m not a fan of the crispiness, and I’m thinking that I might have left them in for a bit too long, even though I watched them like a hawk. 

I think I need to try these again sometime.  I used salted butter instead of unsalted – will that make much of a difference? – and I skipped the salt that the recipe called for because of this.  Hmm.  I’m not complaining, because these cookies were great, but I didn’t like them as much as my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, which, I have to admit, is the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips.  Hey, why change a good thing, right?  I’ll try these again sometime and report back…

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

2 cups plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 T. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine dry ingredients; set aside.

3. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. 

4. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.

5. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.  Stir in chips. 

6. Roll scant 1/2 cup dough into ball.  Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves.  Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.

7. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are soft and puffy (15-18 minutes). 

8. Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool. 





Oatmeal apple cinnamon muffins

20 04 2008

Last night I felt like baking, but I didn’t have any butter left in the fridge.  I decided to check out my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and I found a muffin recipe that called for oil instead of butter.  Then I saw that I could add oatmeal in place of some of the flour (healthier, right?!), and I decided to chop up an apple and throw that in there, too.  I also threw a teaspoon of cinnamon in there for some extra flavor.

They came out great!  Nice and light and perfect for breakfast.  There’s nothing really special about them, I suppose, but they took me all of 10 minutes to make, which is pretty special all in itself.  😉 

Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Muffins
adapated from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook 

Ingredients:

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 medium apple, peeled and cored, then diced – I used an Empire apple.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Grease twelve 2-1/2 inch muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal.  Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

4. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).

5. Fold in the diced apple.

6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.





Blackberry scones

13 04 2008

My mom, sister, and niece are coming to visit tonight, and I wanted to make them something special.  My sister has already requested salmon cakes for dinner (see salmon cakes post), and I thought I would whip them up something to snack on and/or have for breakfast. 

I had been eyeing the blueberry scones in Katie’s blog (another food blogger) for awhile now (www.goodthingscatered.blogspot.com), and I thought today would be the perfect day to make them.  I didn’t have any blueberries in the freezer, but I did have blackberries.  Why not, right?  I’ve never baked with blackberries before, and oh my goodness!  They turned the dough a very bright purple/red color.  They taste good though, so no complaints here. 

My pictures aren’t the greatest, but it’s about the taste of the scones, not my photographic abilities!

I recommend you slather on some butter while you’re eating these. 

…but not THAT much!  I scraped some off before I ate that bite.  Don’t worry.

I also recommend that you sweeten them up a bit by dusting on some powdered sugar.

Or just eat them plain with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.  Heck, or even a glass of wine.  Everyone needs wine!

Here’s the original recipe for blueberry scones:

Oh – and a couple notes…

a) I used whole wheat flour because I was all out of regular flour.

b) I didn’t have half-and-half, so I used 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. heavy cream.  I’m not sure how much that affected the recipe.

c) I had to actually post a message asking Katie if the blueberries (blackberries in my case) needed to be frozen or thawed.  She assured me that they needed to be frozen.  So glad I asked.  I was about ready to defrost the whole darn bag before using the blackberries.  (Thanks, Katie!)

d) Click on the link to take you to Katie’s blog and check our her scones.  They look much more delicious than mine do! 

Blueberry Scones
from www.goodthingscatered.blogspot.com

Ingredients:

2 c. flour plus 2 Tbsp, plus 1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, plus 1/2 Tbsp, chilled
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 c. half and half, chilled
2/3 c. frozen Maine wild blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. In small bowl combine frozen blueberries and 1 Tbsp flour and toss to combine.  Place blueberry mixture back into freezer.

3. In large bowl, combine flour (2 cups plus 2 T.), baking powder, sugar and salt.

4. Take butter out of fridge, cut into chunks and add to flour mixture.  Cut butter into flour until pea sized or smaller.

5. Add vanilla and half and half and mix in with a spoon until just barely incorporated.

6. Take blueberries out of fridge and knead into mixture until mixture forms a ball of sticky dough.

7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and pat down into rough 9-10 inch circle.  Cut into 8 triangles and place triangles onto prepared baking sheet at least an inch apart.

8. Take 1/2 Tbsp butter and cut into 8 small pieces.  Place one small piece of butter on top of each scone.  Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

 





Oh sweet goodness

11 04 2008

I felt like making cookies tonight, and I wanted to try something new.  I also wanted to try a lower calorie cookie recipe since I’m trying to lose a few pounds before race day.  I googled “lower calorie oatmeal cookie recipe” and had low expectations.  I found a recipe at cooks.com and thought I’d try it out for kicks.

And THEN I decided to just sort of wing it.  I used the cooks.com recipe as the base, but I added what I thought would make the recipe even better – Splenda brown sugar blend to sweeten it up a bit (is 1 T. of honey really enough to sweeten an entire batch of cookies?), some Granny Smith apple pieces, and some chocolate chips. 

MIraculously, the cookies came out amazingly good!  They’re soft with just the right amount of sweetness, and the combination of the semisweet chocolate chips with the tart apples is heavenly. 

I didn’t want to take a picture of the outside of this ordinary-looking cookie, so I broke one open and photographed that instead.  DELICIOUS.

Confession: These cookies were so good that I literally couldn’t control myself while I was taking the pictures.  I snuck a bite and decided to just take a picture with my hand in it.  And I am not ashamed, because that bite of cookie was absolutely worth it. 

Oatmeal Cookies with Apple and Chocolate Chips
Adapated from a cooks.com recipe

1-1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal – I used regular oats.
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs beaten
1 T. honey
1-1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 cup Splenda brown sugar mix
1/2 cup diced apples – I used Granny Smith.
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Measure oatmeal into mixing bowl.  Stir in melted butter, mixing well.  Blend in combined eggs and honey. 

2. Add sifted dry ingredients.  Add milk and vanilla. 

3. Stir in Splenda brown sugar blend.  Mix in apple pieces and chocolate chips. 

4. Drop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Pour yourself a glass of milk and DIG IN. 





A very happy Tuesday with a funny story

9 04 2008

Today was a great day at work.  The weather was beautiful – 70 degrees and sunny! – and my kindergarteners were absolutely wonderful.  They worked hard and made me laugh all day.  Here’s a funny kindergarten tidbit for you:

One of my students, we’ll call her “A”, was having trouble pumping her legs on the swings.  The other girls were all soaring, and she jumped off the swing and started wimpering because she felt so defeated.  “A” is incredibly bright, and this is truly the first thing that has been difficult for her all year. 

I went over to her and then encouraged her to get back on the swing so that I could do a little coaching.  She started to get the hang of it a bit, and she was giggling and laughing with glee at her success.  She then said to me, and I quote, “If it’s Sunday or Saturday or even Monday, it doesn’t matter!  Call my mom if you hear that there’s going to be swinging lessons, because I REALLY need them.”  Hahahahahaha!  I sure do love kindergarteners.

I just had to tell this story so that you could get a feel for my day.  It was a fun, happy day at school, and that continued when I got home, went for a run, and then got ready to make salmon.  Remember how I mentioned that we love salmon?  (Check out the salmon cakes recipe.)

I wanted to try something new tonight, so I went to the WC message board (on thenest.com) and asked my fellow food bloggers to post their best recipes.  A few girls came through for me (thank you!), and I decided to make the recipe from the creator of www.bellalately.blogspot.com

It was a great recipe, and I loved the sauce.  So much so that I poured it on my rice, too.  So good. 

Salmon with White Wine Mustard Sauce
from previously mentioned blog

1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets
1 T. butter
3 T. minced shallots
2 T. dry white wine
3/4 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 T. dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. corn starch
4 tsp. fresh minced tarragon – I used dried tarragon.

Directions:

1. Season fish with salt and pepper.  Melt 1-1/2 tsp. butter in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add fish and cook for 7 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily with fork.  Remove from skillet.  Keep warm.

2. Melt 1-1/2 tsp. remaining butter in skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute for 1 minute.  Add wine.  Cook for 30 seconds. 

3. Combine 1/8 tsp. salt, broth, mustard, and corn starch with whisk.  Add to skillet, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup (approx. 1 minute). 

4. Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with tarragon.