Chocolate Chip Favs

A good chocolate chip cookie is as American as apple pie.  Heck, I’d say chocolate chip cookies and brownies are more American than apple pie.  Seriously, which do you eat more often?  I for one am more likely to eat a chocolate chip cookie than a slice of pie or a brownie.  Nothing to brag about I know, but facts are facts.

Those three basic American baked items are all ones that I am more likely to enjoy if made by somebody else.  I never feel I have quite the right recipe.  However, I have churned out a lot of chocolate chip cookies this past month and have tinkered with the recipe from the Ghirardelli Original Third Edition Chocolate Cookbook 1986 to the point where I can say I really like the result.

I have doubled the recipe and with the fat and flour have decided to go “half ‘n half” — unsalted butter/Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, and white A.P. Flour/King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Cream softened butter & Earth Blance with both sugars.  (I do this in my Kitchenaid stand mixer.) When light and fluffy add eggs and whip.  The mixture does not need to be perfectly smooth.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together 1 cup of each of the flours, salt, cinnamon, vanilla powder, and baking powder (or baking soda). *   The baking powder gives you a fatter, less spread & crispy cookie.  The photo in the tiles about shows the flatter, crispy cookie.

In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips, chopped walnuts – if using, and remaining 4 TBs of flour.

Pour contents of medium size bowl into the creamed ingredients and hand stir until just combined.  Add chip mixture and finish hand stirring.  Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before scooping onto baking sheets.

Bake scooped cookies for 5 – 6 minutes in a 350F oven before rotating baking sheets and baking for an additional 4 – 5 minutes.  The exact baking time depends on your own oven, size of cookies, and your personal preference.  I find this recipe yields just over 3 dozen cookies and I can bake 3 sheets of cookies at a time in my convection oven.

glass plt choc chip

 

These cookies, on the glass plate, were made with baking powder.  They are fatter, chewier, and less flat & not as crispy as cookies with baking soda.

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Family Dinner Rolls

IMG_8989

I did some baking today for a charity sale that is taking place on Saturday.    Cloverleaf rolls were a tradition at every family holiday meal.  The recipe is one I cherish.  My mom hand wrote it out for me a few years before she died when I had misplaced the copy that was late my Aunt Erma’s.  So I decided to make a double batch of dinner rolls for the baked goods table.

It is a really rich recipe, with eggs, milk, and butter.  I have made it with some whole grain flours, but it really is better taste & texture wise when you stick with all white AP flour.   My aunt and my paternal grandmother always baked with Gold Medal flour.  I mainly use King Arthur flour these days as it is a Vermont company, but I decided to pick up a bag of the lower cost store brand.  The result was as good as any batch I have ever cranked out of my kitchen.  I know because my husband and I split the little extra roll that I baked in a measuring cup.  As you may have noticed in the photo I skipped the time-consuming cloverleaf shaping and made simpler pan rolls.

IMG_8991I am not going to write out all the directions, because it is not that big a deal and now that I have a nice stand mixer I do not do the steps exactly as written.  If you are not confident with the procedure for making yeast rolls you can google any recipe for that.

RICH DINNER ROLLS   double batch

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 packages regular Active Dry yeast
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 11+ cups of flour

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Chicken Soup

… be it for the soul or for the body, or maybe just for the warmth and aroma.soup

It may look a bit more like beef broth than chicken as I decided to use some “forbidden rice” which added an extra depth of color.  I guess I could have/should have rinsed the black rice but to me that means washing about nutrients.

However, whatever, I have a good number of hearty bowls of low sodium/low cal goodness ahead of me this week.

Besides the forbidden rice I used arborio rice, & whole wheat orzo, carrots & celery – plenty of onion powder, ground rosemary, a couple pinches of ground pepper and paprika, and oodles of torn chicken meat.

Back of the Box Cookie Recipe

There are many good recipes on the back of boxes or cans.  I recently found a recipe for Magic Raspberry Cookie Bars on the back of a box of Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs.  You can click on the link above to view the recipe as it appears on the box.

I made a few alterations while preparing the recipe.  Instead of using 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs I used 1  1/2 cups of  graham cracker crumbs & 1/2 cup of oats.  I also decided to add an egg to the sweetened condensed milk.  My reason for that is that it would add protein and help bind the bars together.  Instead of the pecans or walnuts called for in the recipe I used 1/2 cup of almonds and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  I had an abundance of almonds on hand and what isn’t better with the addition of chocolate.  I was very happy with the finished results.  These cookies freeze very well.

         

Basic Roasted Beets with Onion – FFw/KH #1

Before I launch into the recipe I created yesterday I do want to say that there are zillions of blogs that focus on food & recipes. I  discover that the Little Brick Ranch blog had used the ‘Foodie Friday‘ phrase for a series of posts in 2011.  So I have decided to use the category name of Foodie Fridays with KittyHere (FFw/KH) for my series.

Roasted Beets with Onion

4 medium large beets (2 lbs)
1 medium large yellow onion (12-13 ozs)
4 TBs olive oil
¾ tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 TB wine vinegar

Heat oven to 425 F.
Wash & trim beets.
Peel & quarter onion, leaving root so it doesn’t fall apart.

Place beets, onion quarters, and olive oil into an oven safe dish.  Turn vegetables so they are coated with oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

                Cover baking dish snugly with foil and place into preheated oven.  Set timer for 30-40 minutes.  Remove dish from oven after this period. Remove onions to an iron skillet or other pan.  Recover the beets with foil and return to oven.  Place the onions into the oven also, but leave uncovered.  Recheck vegetables in 20-30 minutes. 

When onions are soft and well roasted chop coarsely.

When beets reach desired tenderness remove from oven.  Allow to cool until you can handle them,reserving oil/juices for later.  The skins will slip off  by hand. (I use disposable gloves & a paper towel for this step. I also cover my cutting board with the foil to minimize staining from the beets.)  Cut each peeled beat in half and dice.  Combine diced beats with the chopped onion in a clean bowl.   Pour the oil and liquid from the roasting dish over prepared vegetable.  Add the wine vinegar and gently toss.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  These beets with onion can be served warm or chilled.

     

  I toyed with the idea of adding some seasoning besides salt & pepper.  When I ran a search for roasted beets I discovered that Molly Watson recommends fresh dill and parsley with roasted beets.

My choice of topic for this first 2012 food post was based on the fact that eating more vegetables may be on the New Year’s resolution list of many people.  Winter weather to me means root vegetables and warming up the kitchen a little more by using the oven.

I welcome you to add a link to your favorite roasted vegetable recipe in the comment section.  Stay warm and healthy!

Frozen vs. Fresh

Sure there are lots of things that you can pop into the freezer, but are they really as good as fresh? Well I pulled some of the Cheese ‘n Chive Puffs out of the freezer and reheated them today.  I have to admit there was nothing ‘wrong’ with them.  My husband was very happy having 6 or 8 of them with a glass of red wine (or was it a Stella?) but I just didn’t feel they were has tasty as fresh from the oven the first time.  What can I say – my friends always say when I push leftovers onto them “You know you could put them in the freezer for sometime when you are busy.”  Sure I could but I just don’t like eating it later from the freezer.  I’m too frugal to toss it after it has been frozen too long.  I’d rather give it to a friend while still fresh.

A side note:  I was blog surfing the other night and found a very similar recipe to these cheese puffs which called for half the cheese to be Gruyère (like mine) and the other half Parmesan.  That sounds like a really nice variation. That other recipe also called for lowering the oven temperature half way through baking, like I do on popovers.  Given that the recipe works fine without doing that I think I will leave well enough alone on that count.

Simple Weekend Food – Chicken

My husband likes his meat, veggie, & starch all separated on his plate. A casserole man he is not. Spice or sauces? Not too much. This is his idea of a perfectly fine meal.

Confession – the rice is from a box – Near East Chicken & Roast Garlic is his favorite. I do hold back some of the seasoning so it doesn’t become a total sodium wipe-out. Sometimes I add finely chopped celery. Didn’t go that route today however.

Green beans, what can I say, bland!   Therefore I simmer them in a vegetable broth (from a box.) Adds a touch more taste.  Like glazed carrots the  broth reduces by the time the beans are cooked.  A pat of butter at the end would be perfection, but in an attempt to be healthy I used a teaspoon of light Smart Balance Spread.

Now the chicken – still on the no fuss nearly recipe free approach. Cooking for two a small glass baking dish will do. To minimize the dirty dishes the chicken is prepared right in that baking dish.

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 TB good tasting oil (Olisana, olive, safflower…)

2 tsps quality seed style mustard (Edmund Fallet)

Sprinkling of panko breadcrumbs.

Prep: Measure oil into glass dish. Swirl around to coat. Add chicken & turn to coat in oil.  Place a teaspoon of mustard on each chicken piece.  Spread around.  Then sprinkle panko crumbs on top.  Place in a preheated 350-375F oven.  Bake for 30-45 minutes.

A totally typical Saturday lunch at my house.