Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sugar Cookie Rollouts

This is the best recipe for sugar cookies I have found.  It is the one my grandma, aunt and mom all use when they bake rollouts.  Here are some photos. I have a ton of different cookie cutters, so I make these cookies throughout the year.  Not only is the dough just wonderful to eat by itself, but they almond and vanilla flavors shine once baked.  Plus, you can use whatever frosting you like best or even better make your own.  When I am being lazy I used store bought cream cheese flavored as it compliments the almond flavor well.

Sugar Cookie Rollouts
1  1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2  1/2 cups flour
1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar (sometimes I omit this if I don't have any)
granulated sugar

Beat powdered sugar and butter until creamed.  Stir in vanilla, almond and egg.  Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar (if using).  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (until firm).  (Sometimes I leave it overnight.)

Heat oven to 375 F.  Roll half the dough at a time.  You want it about 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured counter.  Cut into shapes.  Place about 2 inches apart on a ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with sugar or wait until baked and cooled to frost.  Bake for 7-8 minutes or until just turning light brown.  Remove from the cookie sheet to a wire rack until cooled.

Blackberry Muffins

I like to collect berries whenever I can find them in good condition and on sale.  I freeze them for future use, which works out great when I have them throughout part of the winter as it brings back memories of the warm weather that brings so many good fruits and vegetables.  I also like to freeze blueberries as they freeze exceptionally well.  Plus, both blackberries and blueberries can be used from frozen without the need to thaw beforehand.  Though blackberries are still available fresh, I used frozen ones here as I wanted to rotate my stock and not leave the older ones still sitting in the freezer.  Plus, I like to add a lot of berries to anything that requests them as the juice add both flavor and moisture.  This recipe is adapted from at home in the whole food kitchen and comes together quickly.  I made smaller muffins than the recipe originally called for as I find them very filling, but you can easily make larger one if you so desire!

Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins
1 1/2 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal (I used fine ground)
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup ground almonds (almond meal)
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice (from the orange you just zested)
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a muffin pan with silicone lines (or you can use paper ones too).  Set aside.

Whisk ground chia seeds and almond milk together in a medium bowl.  Let rest for 10 minutes to thicken.  In a medium bowl, place the cornmeal, spelt flour and baking powder.  Add the almond meal and whisk to combine to break up any lumps.  Add the orange zest, orange juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and salt to the chia seed and almond milk mixture.  Whisk to combine.  Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.  Add the blackberries and stir until evenly distributed.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling to the top (as they won't expand much).  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, but this depends on how many you are making.  If you are making bigger muffins, you will need an extra 5 minutes or so.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving (or transfer to a wire rack to cool).  Like most baked goods, these are best the day baked, but will last a couple of days if left in an air tight container, but just left on my counter they disappeared quickly.  (This made about 16 smaller muffins.)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Apple Fritters

Recently, since I have had more time, I have been reading more cookbooks.  Also, I have been craving something fried.  So bring the two together and  you have apple fritters.  This is a bit odd for me to make since I don't like cooked apples, but the apples bits are small and nicely speckled throughout the fritters.  This recipe is adapted from one in Cook's Country.  The nice thing about these is that it is a small recipe and therefore I didn't feel bad about making them and trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers.  I quite like treats like this or other baked goods, but don't like that most baked goods make so much that two people can't possibly eat as much as the recipe makes.  But I am pretty sure my co-workers don't complain when I bring extra goodies to work.  All the better when it is a surprise and they walk into the break room with something good to start the day.

This recipe came together quickly.  When frying the fritters, they stuck together really well so that there was very little cleaning of the oil to worry about, so I can easily reuse the oil for another batch at a later time or some other delicious treat which may appear here as well in the next few months.  Plus, you only need one apple to put these together.  For your next fried craving, try some apple fritters.

Apple Fritters
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is better)
6 tablespoons orange juice (or apple juice or cider)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 cup canola oil for frying

Glaze (if desired)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Spread the apples in a single layer on paper towels to thoroughly dry them off.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, egg, and melted butter.  Stir apples into the flour mixture.  Stir the orange juice mixture into the flour and apple mixture.

Set a wire rack over paper towels.  Heat oil in a dutch oven or similar pot until 350 F.  Divide batter into 5 equal portions.  Place batter into the heated oil and smooth the top.  Be sure to keep the temperature between 325 and 350.  Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to the wire rack to cool. 

If you are using the glaze, whisk together sugar, cider, cinnamon and nutmeg until smooth.  Top each fritter with about 1 tablespoon glaze.  Let set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grains, Greens and Scrambled Eggs

Since I have been on my farro kick all summer, I have made this greens and grains dish many times for breakfast throughout the summer.  It started out to be a cooler summer, so a nice warm dish which comes together so quickly was just what I was craving many times this summer.  It is a filling dish with the protein and grains, but also gives that boost of greens which I often crave.  This is another recipe adapted from Whole Grain Mornings, but there are so many grains to try that you can easily substitute whatever you have been cooking recently as long as you have some leftover!

Greens and Grains
1-2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1-2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (or as much as desired) packed greens (I like arugula or spinach)
1/4 cup cooked whole grains (I used farro, but barley or wheat berries would be good)
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, salt and egg(s).  Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the green onion and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil then the grains and greens.  Cook until warmed throughout, about 3-5 minutes.  Decrease heat to low and add the egg mixture.  Stir until they are cooked, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, add pepper and salt to taste.  Add the chopped chives.

Serves 1, but can easily doubled to serve two.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blueberry Breakfast Bars

I love fruit, but one of the most versatile fruits that I love are blueberries.  They are sweet and are easy to freeze.  In fact, I stock up in summer so I can use them all winter long.  This recipe using blueberries is adapted from Whole Grain Mornings.  It combines my love of blueberries with my love of eating breakfast.  Sometimes I want something sweet, but sometimes I want something savory.  There are both here.  These particular blueberry breakfast bars remind me of the not so great bars you can buy in the store, except these are much better for you and just taste that much better!

Blueberry Breakfast Bars
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons from 1/2 a fresh squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon water
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
8 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoon ice water

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter an 8 inch pan.

For the filling: In a saucepan, combine the berries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water.  Stir over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer.  Continue stirring until berries begin to break down and sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

For the crust: In a food processor pulse together rolled oats, almonds, sesame seeds until they are chunky, about 30 seconds.  Add the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder and pulse a few times more.  Add the egg and butter and pulse until the mixture is the consistency of large crumbs.

To assemble: Press half the crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Pour the berry filling on top and spread evenly.  Scatter the remainder of the crust mixture across the top.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Let cool completely in the pan.  Slice into bars.

Pesto Stuffed Flank Steak

I am not a big meat eater, though at times the mood strikes me for a really good steak.  This recipe is for a grilled flank steak which is perfect for summer, particularly because it is stuffed with basil and parsley which are in season in your own back yard right now.  Throw it on the grill with your favorite grilled vegetable(s) and you have yourself a quick meal which doesn't require you to turn on your oven in the already hot summer.

Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Canal House Cooks every day by Hamilton and Hirsheimer.

Pesto stuffed Flank Steak
2 loosely packed cups basil leaves
2 loosely packed cups fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan
2 lb. flank steak
salt and pepper to taste

For the pesto, puree the basil, parsley, garlic and anchovy fillets in a food processor.  Add the Parmesan and pulse a couple of more times.  Use right away on the flank steak or remove to a small bowl and cover (as air will turn the pesto dark).

Butterfly the flank steak, opening the steak as you slice, but stop about 1/2 inch from cutting the steam into two pieces.  Press the meat flat.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Spread the pesto onto the meat, leaving about 1 inch space all around the edges.  Roll up the steak and tie with kitchen string every two inches.  Wrap in plastic until ready to grill.

Preheat the grill so it is medium hot.  Place the steak on the grill and turn it until it is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the flame, but remain on the grill and let rest for about 10 more minutes.  Place steak on a cutting board and let rest another 10 minutes before slicing into 1-2 inch rounds.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sesame Seed Farro Bowl with Cucumbers

In my search to use more whole grains, I came across the cookbook the whole food kitchen by amy chaplin.  This recipe uses one of my favorite grains, farro, as the basis for the salad.  The best part is that the only cooking required is the farro and it can be done in advance since it is a room temperature or cold salad.  The sesame seeds in this recipe make it smell deliciously nutty (though there aren't any nuts) and the soy sauce adds a bit of a salty flavor with more depth.  It also keeps well so you can eat this again and several days later after cutting up additional tomatoes and cucumbers.  It has become one of the salads for the summer as I have already made it several times.  If you like farro, you should try this one out.

Parsley Farro Salad with Sesame Seeds
2 1/2 cups cooked farro, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar with pomegranate (or just red wine vinegar)
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon tamari)
3/4 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 scallion, finely chopped (more for garnish or reserve some for garnish)
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley (and a little more for garnish)
1 - 1 2/c cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium cucumber, diced
Additional olive oil or flax oil drizzled on top to serve (if desired)

Place cooled farro in a medium-large bowl.  Sprinkle red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil over the farro and stir to combine.  Add toasted sesame seeds, parsley, and scallions.  Mix again.  Season to taste with additional soy sauce.  Spoon into bowls and top with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, additional parsley, additional scallions.  Drizzle (if desired) with flax or olive oil and serve.  (Serves 3-4)