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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maple, Chocolate, and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies


There are all kinds of cookie recipes out there and I have certainly tried a lot of them.  Well these cookies here, most notably, smell better than any other cookie I have ever smelled.  They taste pretty damn good too, but the smell of the maple syrup filling the house was sheer heaven.  I couldn't wait to taste them.  I had the patience to wait until after dinner to indulge, and let me tell you...they did not disappoint.  They have my favorite cookie consistency - crisp around the edges, super chewy on the inside.  The cherries add a nice tart punch to the sweetness of the chocolate, and the maple syrup make them perfectly sweet in a special sorta way.  This is now on my list of go-to cookies.  They are worth every calorie...and are they considered healthy if they contain rolled oats and dried fruit?  I'm going to say...yes.

Maple, Chocolate, and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Joy the Baker

I halved the following recipe and ended up with 20 cookies.

1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1-3/4 cups old-fashioned uncooked oatmeal
3/4 cup dried cherries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined and slightly fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.  Add vanilla extract and maple syrup and beat to combine.  Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.  Fold in oats, dried cherries, and white chocolate chunks.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Spoon batter onto prepared pans by the heaping tablespoonful.  Leave  about 2 inches of space between cookies.  Bake cookies for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and cool cookies on the sheet for 5 minutes.  Remove cookies from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  I hope you can wait to taste one while having a nice cup of tea with a cozy blanket on your comfy couch.  #heavenonearth




Sunday, March 17, 2013

Colcannon


I don't understand the obsession with boiled dinner on St. Patty's Day.  I love cabbage, but the smell of boiled cabbage makes me gag.  I am more of bangers and mashed kinda gal.  So I was perusing the food blogs as usual looking for some fun St Patty's Day recipes and I came across a recipe for colcannon.  I honestly had never heard of colcannon.  It's apparently just mashed potatoes with bacon, cabbage and scallions.  Like I said before - I love cabbage, so since I was planning on making mashed potatoes anyway...why not make colcannon instead?  Well let me tell you how amazing this was.  I had three helpings and didn't even care about the bangers anymore.  If you like cabbage and mashed potatoes, then you'll love this.  I have never cooked with bacon - rendering bacon fat and cooking with the grease - but I can see why people do...holy crap, is it good.  Bacon, butter, cabbage, potatoes, yum.  Five years ago, I would be in Davis Square celebrating this day with friends at the Burren.  Alas, at least now I have some delicious bangers and colcannon and even some shamrock-shaped sugar cookies as consolation.  Happy St. Patty's Day!  I hope everyone had a fun day celebrating!

Colcannon
adapted from Closet Cooking

2 lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced into medium chunks
4 oz. bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 of a small head of savoy cabbage, sliced thin
4 scallions, sliced
2 Tbsp butter, divided

Put potatoes in a medium pot of water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.  In a large pan over medium heat, saute the bacon for about 5 minutes until rendered.  Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook for about 1 minute until it foams.  Then add the cabbage and saute, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Add the scallions and cook for another 5 minutes.  When the potatoes are done, drain and return to the pot.  Then mash and add the cabbage mixture and the remaining butter.  Combine well and serve hot!


Dessert...
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adobo-Maple Glazed Bacon on B-L-A-T Sandwiches


B-L-A-T sandwiches are a very quick and easy weeknight meal.  In case you don't know what I mean when I say "BLAT sandwich" - I mean a BLT with avocado.  We don't do BLTs without avocado in this house.  If I could eat avocado with every single meal, I absolutely would - but it might taste pretty funky with spaghetti and meatballs...or pancakes...or well you get what I mean.  So I was thinking about how I could turn our average BLAT sandwich into something special tonight, and the thought of the delicious avocadoey goodness made me think of Mexican food....which made me think of chipotle...and bacon makes me think of breakfast...and pancakes...and maple syrup - and eureka!  ChipotleMaple Bacon!  So I decided to mix those things together and brush that magic on our bacon before baking it in the oven.  My husband's words were this exactly: "That was the best BLT I've ever had...bravo."  You can make your own call though.

Adobo-Maple Glazed Bacon

1 16-oz package of bacon (I use nitrate-free - I think this kind takes much longer to crisp)
1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a wire baking rack on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place the strips of bacon on the rack.  The baking sheet below will catch the bacon grease.  If you are going to make the whole package of bacon, you will need to make two separate trays.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  While it is baking, mix together the adobo sauce and maple syrup in a small bowl.  Then brush the bacon with the glaze, flip over, and glaze the other side.  Return to the oven and check your bacon after another 10 minutes.  When it's done, the ends of the bacon will have curled.  You don't want to overdo it because it will continue to crisp a bit after you take it out of the oven.  If you think your bacon needs to cook more, continue baking, but check on it after another five minutes.  I like my bacon a bit on the floppy side - not at all crispy - but everyone has their own bacon preferences, so cook it to your desired doneness.  When it's done, it's ready to serve...so enjoy it while it's hot!




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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Popovers




So I was having the most amazing dinner with a friend last night at Vine Brook Tavern in Lexington.  It began with a ginger margarita and ended with steak frites - so it really was my definition of perfect.  I will get both of those items every time I am there - that is how good it all was.  So we're eating this delicious food and we're talking about more food (as is my habit) and she tells me about a great popover recipe that she uses all the time.  Well when I think of popovers, I think of this trip to Bar Harbor, Maine that I took with my husband and daughter last summer.  We took a long horse-drawn carriage ride into Acadia National Forest - which ended with famous popovers and jam at a beautiful restaurant overlooking Jordan Pond.  If you are ever travelling to Maine, this activity is a must - especially after a long day of hiking or biking or kayaking or any of the other exhausting but extremely fun things to do there.  The carriage ride is a nice relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful, scenic park.  It's a gorgeous park to spend some time - beautiful biking and hiking trails, lakes and mountains.  You can go to the top of Cadillac Mountain and see the sunset.  It's a great place to visit - I highly recommend it.  Anyway...so the point being...the thought of good popovers brought me back to a really happy memory.  So I obviously made them the very next day - not only because I was now longing for popovers, but mostly because it was an extremely simple recipe and I had all the ingredients.  They did, in fact, come out fantastic.  I will make these all the time.  They are very airy and crispy and would go nicely as a side to any nice, family meal.  Also, they look beautiful and even impressive.  I would make these for company in a heart beat.  I hope you enjoy them at much my family and I did.  In  the future, I am going to play around with adding some fresh herbs to the batter.  I think it will be amazing, but I'll let you know.

Popovers
makes 6

1 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
butter for greasing the muffin tins

Grease muffin tin and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Pour the milk in a blender and add the eggs.  Blend until combined.  Then add the flour and salt.  Blend again until well-combined.  You may need to scrape down the sides to make sure all the flour gets incorporated into the batter.  Once the batter is ready, pour into your greased muffin tins.  Mine came to be filled about 3/4 of the way to the top, but just try to distribute your batter evenly.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.  Serve warm with butter, honey, or jam.




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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Baked Manicotti (from Scratch!)



Me and my husband were meant for each other for many reasons - our love of good food is one of those reasons - and it's a damn good one...because today when I had to go to a study group and would be unable to prepare dinner, he was the one driven to take me up on my suggestion that he make his Grammy's manicotti recipe.  Nothing makes three hours of hardcore Number Theory go away faster than some made-from-scratch manicotti at the dinner table with my family.

I will say that I had absolutely no idea that manicotti were stuffed crepes!  Did you???  My husband was wary about how it would end up tasting.  For some inexplicable reason he is not in love with a crepe like I am.  I told him to trust in his Grammy, and sure enough, they were amazing!  I hope this becomes a staple of our house because they were so satisfyingly delicious and much easier to make than your average fresh pasta - no rolling out or cutting any dough.  Once they're stuffed with cheese and covered in sauce - and of course more cheese - they taste like heaven.

Homemade Manicotti
made 10 manicotti

For the batter:
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups water

For the filling:
16 oz part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup romano cheese

For the topping:
2 cups marinara sauce (plus more for serving)
1 cup of part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a very small non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Spray with a little bit of oil.  Ladle a little less than 1/2 cup of batter into the hot greased pan.  Tilt the pan around so that the batter covers the bottom and flip when the top looks dry and cook on the other side until it is also dry.  Check them as you cook.  As the pan continues to heat up, it will take less and less time for each side to cook.  By the end, Jim was churning them out in less than 30 seconds each.  Stack them on a plate as you go - they won't stick to eachother.  You can keep them in the fridge if using later or the next day and they also freeze well.

Combine all the ingredients for your filling in a large bowl.  Place about 2 Tbsp of the ricotta filling in the center of each manicotti and fold like a letter (this is exactly what his Grammy's recipe book says.)  Jim folded the sides in first because he didn't want the cheese oozing out (I don't know if this would have happened, but I wasn't going to take a chance of being wrong.)  Place the manicotti in a greased baking pan.  Top with marinara sauce and cheese.  Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Then uncover and bake for an additional ten minutes.

Serve with extra sauce and romano cheese and mangia!











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Friday, March 1, 2013

Quick Roasted Tomatoes


One of the most delicious things to whip up on the fly and incorporate into almost anything is roasted tomatoes.  They can easily make an ordinary pizza or pasta dish so much more exciting.  A quick pesto sauce is one of the easiest things I can whip up during the week.  Boil some pasta...roast some tomatoes...combine it all.  You have one of the easiest and tastiest dinners known to exist.  That, and for some reason my two and a half year old daughter LOVES pesto.  She does not however love tomatoes.  At least she's eating the pasta - so I can't complain.  Especially because I then get to eat her tomatoes too.  I've incorporated zucchini before (my very first post) - zucchini pretty much blends in and is overwhelmed by the pesto - it's delicious, but not a tremendous presence in the dish.  On the other hand, the roasted tomatoes make themselves known - loud and proud and super yummy.  In the summer, do both!  Roasted tomatoes AND zucchini...oh I can't wait for summer!!!

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes:
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

Basic pesto:
3 cups basil
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/3 cup sliced almonds (or pine nuts or walnuts, etc.)
2/3 cup olive oil

1 box of whole grain penne

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place the tomatoes on a lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through.


While the tomatoes are roasting, combine the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor and process until everything is well incorporated and fine.  Boil the pasta according to the package and drain.  Combine the pasta and pesto.  Then add the roasted tomatoes and gently mix into the pasta.  Serve with extra romano cheese.

A creamy variation (IF you don't care about the extra fat and calories):  You can heat 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan.  Combine with the finished pesto before adding to the pasta.


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