Monday, January 30, 2012

Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from a back issue of Cook's Illus.

If you like thin and crispy choc. chip cookies then this recipe is for you.  But.  Do yourself a favor and buy *good* chips, not Nestle's, something good.  Like Ghiradelli.  And try to buy the mini chips if you can.  You'll be glad you did.  Makes ~4 doz.

1.5 C (7.5 oz) AP flour (if you aren't weighing the "dry team" as AB says, you should be)
1/4 t salt (more if using kosher)
3/4 t baking soda
1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 C white sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1 large yolk
2 T milk (not skim, tho)
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used minis)

Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with parchment or a silpat and set aside.  Sift together flour, salt and soda and set aside.

Fit your stand mixer with the paddle (or use a hand mixer) and beat butter with the sugars and corn syrup until blended--about 1 min.  Add yolk, milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl at least once.  Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture by slowly shaking it into the bowl.  Mix until just incorporated ~ 2 min.  Do not overbeat.  Stir in chips until evenly distributed.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop 1 Tbs-sized balls of batter onto cookie sheet about 2" apart. Cookies will spread so give them enough room.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 12 minutes or until cookies and GB&D and flat.  Cool cookies on baking sheet for 3 min then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

carrot soup with miso and sesame

Oh Smitten, what a great recipe. If this soup doesn't cure what ails ya, I don't know what would. You food goodness folks already know that I've recently owned my new persona as the lady who pushes soup on people who sniffle in my presence. This soup is so so delicious and so pretty and orange.

Downside: My husband, he no like (ginger is not his preferred flavor). My kids, they no like either (It is actually downright spicy, not hot, but very zingy with all the garlic and ginger).

I like. so. much.

Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 regular or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated ginger, or more to taste (it could easily be doubled)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste [I accidentally bought red but it was so tasty. yuh-hum!]

To finish
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil [DO THIS.]
2 scallions, very thinly sliced [as much as I like scallions and as pretty as it looked, the oniony taste took over too much so I'd prob skip, or use some chives]

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in blender, or all at once with an immersion blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of sesame oil and small mound of scallions.

Pickled scallions? I didn’t do this in the end, but was tempted to lightly pickled the scallions by letting them hang out in a mixture of 6 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (I use Diamond brand, use less if you’re using Morton or another, which are more dense) and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar for a while before using them as garnish.




Banana Nut Muffins

In parenting, there are things on which I hold my ground and things on which I "drop the rope," as a former colleague used to say. For a few months, I had dropped the rope about letting the kids eat E--o waffles every morning for breakfast until T began waking every morning with a daily declaration that it's, "wapple time."  Oh yes, it was cute, but a "wapple" a day is not ok by me. For starters, S needs her breakfast to get her through an entire morning at pre-K, so I added breakfast back to ground-holding territory. I've been making these with the kids. I'm hoping to keep it up with weekly baking of healthy breakfast recipes that I then pump up with additional protein, fiber, calcium, etc.  
This one is adapted from Simply.

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed [I use my freezer stock, but I recently found I prefer just plain old overripe bananas before they hit the freezer]

1/3 cup melted butter [I plan to try to sub yogurt with the next batch]
3/4 cup sugar [I cut this by at least half]
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional) [Since I make these with/for the kids, I sub a tsp of cinnamon or chai spice blend]
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour [I use 3/4C white and 3/4C of another, heartier flour like rye, wheat or spelt.]
[2-3 tsp ground flax meal]
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw) [or pecans or other fave nut]


Method

No need for a mixer with this recipe. [S&T both love to help with this recipe, start to finish.]
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

2 Mix in the sugar, egg, espresso/spices and vanilla.

3 Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

4 Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

5 Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins. [we make mini muffins because the kids like to eat more than one at a time. makes 36 mini muffins]





Sunday, January 22, 2012

Baked Spinach

Adapted From: Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Julia Child

Yuuuu-uuuummmm!   This was really good.  I've been eating a lot of spinach lately (spinach salads, creamed spinach, etc) because it is a good source of iron.   I had a giant box of fresh spinach in the fridge, but that was only one pound.  3 pounds of fresh spinach is a LOT of fresh spinach.  So, I will admit that I cheated a little.  I used the 1 pound of fresh spinach that I had, and then I supplemented with a bag of frozen cut spinach.  I used beef stock and I really think that it added significantly to the deliciousness of this dish.  You can use other types of stock or cream instead, but if you have beef stock, I would recommend trying it.

Serves 6

3 pounds fresh spinach (or, a combo of fresh and frozen worked just fine for me)
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup stock (your choice; Julia recommends beef) or cream
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese (I used a mix of random hard cheeses we had in the fridge)
2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs

Stem and wash your spinach (see Tips below) well but no need to spin or pat it dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach. Transfer to a colander, immediately fill pot with cold water, transfer it back to the pot of cold water to shock it (stop the cooking) and drain again. Squeeze a small amount of the spinach at a time in your hands to extract as much water as possible. Chop the spinach coarsely (I skipped this step - I left my fresh spinach whole, and then added a bag of frozen cut spinach). You should have about 3 cups of chopped spinach, or about 1 cup per pound.

In the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat and stir in the spinach. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until all of the moisture from the spinach has boiled off — you’ll know you’re done when the spinach begins to stick to the pan.

Lower the heat and sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add 2/3 of your stock or cream, a tiny bit at a time, scraping up any stuck spinach as you do. Once the liquid is added, simmer for another minute or two, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, stir in one more tablespoon of butter. If needed, add all or part of remaining liquid. Season with salt (Smitten used 1/2 teaspoon table salt) and pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter (or spray) a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Stir 1/2 cup cheese into the spinach and pour it into the baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on spinach. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons remaining butter and pour it over the top. Bake until heated through and slightly brown on the top, about 30 minutes.

Serve with steaks, chops, veal, chicken, broiled fish or, if you’re us, eggs, glorious eggs (you could even use this as a base for baked eggs - make a well in the spinach and break an egg into the well - bake until cooked to your desired doneness).

Do ahead: Spinach can be blanched and chopped several hours or a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Gratin can be fully assembled and 30 minutes before needed, placed in a preheated 375 degree oven to bake, then served.

To stem spinach, as per Julia: If spinach is young and tender, remove the stems at the base of the leaf. If more mature, fold the leaf vertically with its underside up, grasp the leaf in one hand and the stem in the other and and rip it off toward the tip of the leaf, removing the stem and the tough tendrils. Discard any wilted or yellow leaves.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Split Pea Soup

From: Gina's Skinny Recipes

I actually made this in a crock pot.  The soup was really good, but I think if I made it again I would do it on the stove-top, or at least add a little less liquid.  I'm not great at translating stove-top to crockpot.  Anyway, it's still really good and I'll definitely eat it all week.  Todd said that it was better than the Au B0n Pain split pea soup he often gets at the cafe at his job, so I know he liked it, too.  This was just a little liquidy, whereas I think of split pea soup being a thicker soup.   the recipe below is for the stove-top version.  If you want to try it in the crockpot, I would suggest decreasing the liquid by a cup or two.  I did 6 hours on high and everything was pretty mushy.  I would probably do 8 hours on low next time?  I don't know.  I would have to play around with it a little.  Again, though, it's still really good and we'll gobble it all up this week.  Apparently you could also use a smoked turkey wing in place of the ham hock if you don't eat ham, but I have never tried that.

Ingredients: 
16 oz bag of dried split peas
1 medium chopped onion
1 garlic clove or more if you like more garlic, use 2-3 cloves of garlic
8 cups fat-free chicken broth (use less if using crockpot)
2 tsp of olive oil
2 large carrots - chopped
salt and pepper, to taste (I did not add any salt - it was salty enough from the broth and ham hock)
1 ham hock

Directions:
Wash peas and drain them. In a pot, saute onions and garlic in about 2 tsp of oil.

Add peas, carrots, ham hock and your chicken stock, then cover the pot and let it come to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once it boils
you can reduce heat and cook for about two hours (beans should be very soft by then). Make sure to check the water and consistency. You may need to add hot water if it becomes too thick.
Remove ham hock and serve. You can pull any remaining meat off the bone and add it to the soup if you want.

chocolate-chip bundt cake

From Everybody Likes Sandwiches, with a lovely family story to go with it. This is a quick basic cake, with something special from the taste of the vanilla sugar. I doubled the number of chocolate chips, but otherwise left it alone.

1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 6-gram pack Oetker vanilla sugar (or 1 t of vanilla extract) [I found this vanilla sugar in the baking aisle, with the frosting and sprinkles]
3 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c corn starch
1 T baking powder
scant 1/2 c milk
1 package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a bundt pan.

Cream butter, gradually add sugar, the vanilla sugar and eggs.

Add mixture of sieved flour [I never sieve], corn starch and baking powder alternately with the milk. Mixture should be firm; don’t add too much milk. [I probably only used about 1/4 c.]

Stir in half the chocolate chips and pour/scoop batter into the pan. Sprinkle the other half of the chocolate chips on the top and press in lightly.

Bake for 50 minutes. When cool, dust with icing sugar.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

peanut-butter banana muffins

Modified from Gina's Skinnytaste -- I originally followed the recipe exactly, using this disgusting unsweetened unsalted almond-flaxseed butter that is awful by itself, and the batter tasted just like it, so I had to start modifying. If you were using good nut butter, her suggestion to have a blob of it in the middle is probably a nice one; if you're using a butter you're just trying to get rid of, I'd skip it.

Her recipe originally came out to 4 WW points per muffin... I used less PB and exchanged some AP for whole-wheat flour, but then added chocolate chips and a little more sugar, so I'm not sure where that ends up exactly.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg whites (I used a big splash of EggBeaters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7 tbsp nut butter
  • as many chocolate chips as you feel appropriate
Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners.

Mash bananas in a bowl, set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, apple sauce, vanilla, and nut butter, and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Add flour mixture, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into muffin tins and bake on the center rack for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

chicken stock with freezer veggies

I usually make chicken stock in a slow cooker (a la Shannon) but a few months ago, I'd seen something online about saving vegetable scraps to make broth and wanted to try it.

Whenever you trim the tips off of carrots or the leaves off of celery or the outer layers off of an onion, you throw them in the freezer -- just make sure they're clean. When you make chicken stock, you just add everything; since it's being strained out anyway, it's not like you'll be eating the veggie parts you didn't want in the first place.

And hey, it works!

This isn't rocket science and you could probably use the scraps in the slow cooker too. But this made the kind of perfectly clear broth that I don't usually get from my crockpot, so I'm writing it down so I don't forget it for next time:

1. Put a lot of water in a pot and set it to boil.

2. Get rid of all the skin from your chicken carcass. This is worth a few extra minutes, because it means there is hardly any gross fat to skim off the top of your broth after it cools.(Leaving a little bit of meat is good, though.)

3. Put the bones and the veggies in the pot, along with some peppercorns and bay leaves and oregano.

4. Bring to a boil and then turn it down to a low simmer for about three hours, with the lid halfway on.

5. Throw it in the fridge overnight, if possible, and skim if necessary.

Make some soup or freeze it, hooray.