Mini Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

April 25, 2010

Raisin oatmeal cookie is probably the only type of cookies that my mom actually loves. She doesn’t really have sweet tooth; and I definitely take after her. However, I can appreciate good cookies once in a while. I have relied on this Oatmeal Craisin Cookies from Martha Stewart for a successful “chewy in the inside and crunchy in the outside” cookies; but wanted to try a new variation, and decided to try Ina’s recipe. After all, I have had very high success rate with a lot of her recipes.  The two recipes are basically similar: this one though, uses toasted pecans that added extra crunch to the cookies, but skips the coconut that the other recipe has. This one uses regular granulated sugar instead of maple syrup for an added hint of sweetness. I honestly can’t say which one I prefer since both fit into what I am looking for in a cookie. Red thinks that he likes the addition of pecans to the cookies slightly more, so we may keep this variation. You really can’t go wrong with either one of these. I also used a smaller ice-cream scoops than what she had recommended (1.5-inch instead of 2-inch size), and made these into a perfect bite-size goodness.

Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, raisins, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Yield: 30-35 cookies, using 2-inch size ice-cream scoops, or ~ 50 cookies using 1.5-inch ice-cream scoops

Tri-Berry Muffins

April 24, 2010

I have hit a rut with my breakfast routine lately and have been craving breakfast breads and muffins. I wanted something portable that I can also take to work! There’s my go to Easy Banana Bread, but then I also love muffins. I thought these berry muffins would be a great one to try especially since I have frozen berries from last summer. I was a bit worried about using frozen berries, since they tend to bleed more than fresh berries.  I thawed them, dried them as much as I could with paper towels, and rolled them in a little bit of flour. They still bled through more than I had expected; but the taste was out of the world. It had enough crunch on the outside with just the right amount of moistness in the center.

If you want to try other muffin recipes, check out:

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
Banana Crunch Muffins
Cranberry Harvest Muffins

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/4 cup milk
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1-1/2 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir with your hand to be sure the ingredients are all combined.
In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined. There will be some lumps but don’t overmix the batter! Add all of the berries, and sugar. Stir gently until combined.
Spoon batter into the muffin cups, and bake for 20-25 minutes (or until a cake tested comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned).

Yield: 18-20 muffins

Cinnamon Rolls

April 17, 2010

One of Red’s all-time breakfast food is cinnamon rolls; so this has been on my list for a while. I am on the other hand, very picky when it comes to cinnamon rolls. I don’t care for the store bought one that have been sitting out for a while that they are cold and ehm… maybe even dry. I finally though became very motivated though after I watched Paula Deen making her cinnamon rolls on Food Network.

I didn’t want anything other than butter, sugar or cinnamon as the filling, so I omitted the raisin and nuts.  I also wanted cream cheese frosting instead of the regular icing; so I decided to try Alton Brown’s frosting and it was *delicious*. The only disadvantage of this recipe is that it requires total time for about 3.5 hours of resting time (excluding the active time). What I did instead was, I prepared the dough all the way until the 2nd time it needed to rest. Next, I left it in the refrigerator covered, overnight. The next morning, I took the pan out and let it thaw on the counter while the oven heats up. It turned out fine and definitely saved up some time in the morning.

If you are looking for something special to serve for breakfast or brunch, these rolls are a must!!

Adapted from Paula Deen & Alton Brown on Food Network

1/4-ounce package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans, optional

2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all over dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12-16 slices.

Coat the bottom of 9×13 baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Yield: 12-16 rolls

Chicken Salad

April 11, 2010

Red introduced me to this fantastic chicken salad when we first started dating over four years ago; and I was hooked from the first bite. I had already loved chicken salad before we met; and his version had more fabulous additions that I loved even more: chopped apple, sliced grapes, blue cheese and toasted walnuts. This is definitely one of our favorite lunches in the summer: it is hearty, crunchy and full of summer flavors. He has made this recipe for so long that he can’t even remember where he adapted this recipe from; but it’s definitely a keeper and will continue to be a regular at our house.

Source: Blissfully Delicious Original

2 cups cubed grilled chicken (marinated with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper and tarragon)
1 cups sliced seedless grapes
1 cups chopped Granny Smith apple (unpeeled)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups low-fat mayo
1/2 cup of blue cheese
1 cup of chopped toasted walnuts

Mix everything together in a 2-quart bowl using a plastic spatula.
Serve them on your favorite sandwich bread, wrap or lettuce bowl.

Yield: 6-8

Cheddar and Scallion Bread

April 10, 2010

I have made garlic breads in the past. Most of the times though… pssst, it’s semi-homemade… maybe I’d grab a loaf of bread from a local grocery, and then make my own garlic spread, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I don’t really have a go-to garlic bread recipe that I absolutely love. Then I saw an episode of Giada at Home where she made these cheddar and scallion breads, and I thought that it sounded delicious, and very cheesy! Using one of my classic French baguettes, which now I always keep around the house, I decided to whip up her spread’s recipe. The scallions really added a new dimension to the spread’s mixture; and it’s absolutely fantastic! I love the contrast of sharp cheddar cheese and the tangy onions with garlic. If you don’t have a favorite garlic bread recipe, give this one a try and let me know what you think. I think they would make great pairing not just for pasta type dishes.

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or coarsely grated
6 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 pound) loaf ciabatta bread, cut in half horizontally

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor, combine the cheese and butter. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the scallions and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the cheese mixture on the cut sides of the bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 1-inch thick slices and serve.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Glaze

April 3, 2010

I looooove…. muffins; especially fruit muffins… banana nut, blueberry, mixed berries, you name it. I have been looking for a new muffin recipe and I thought that  lemon poppy seed muffins with lemon glaze will be perfect especially with the spring coming.  These muffins have all of the key characteristics that would make a great muffin: great texture (crumbly, but not dry), just enough moistness (not soggy), and enough contrast in flavor between the sweetness from the sugar and tartness from the lemon.

I made the icing a little bit too thin by accident (duh, I forgot to check how much lemon juice I needed). I probably ended up with the same amount of sugar but doubled the lemon juice. It made the icing consistency thinner than what it was supposed to be; but I actually thought that it was perfect for me.  But this was an excellent recipe; and I know I will be making again in the future.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

For the Muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong.

Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough –a few lumps are better than over-mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

Directions for icing
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. Then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely.

Yield: 12 muffins

Wilton Class 2 Course 4

April 2, 2010

This was our final session from the second class. I must have made over ten dozens (yes, TEN!) of flowers between the class and the practice at home on the weekends. Red thought I was nuts to actually spend the hours that I did on making royal icing flowers. Practice makes perfect, I reminded him! We had to bring frosted cake to class using the two oval pans that came from the course kit, to make a small basket. I had to bring all of the flowers that I wanted to put on the cake, along with the birds that I made using color flow (which I was not a fan of!).

In class, we practice doing the basket-weave and reverse shell techniques several time; then we tried them right away to decorate the entire side of our cake. I enjoyed this class tremendously simply because I picked up a lot of new skills, and I appreciated only having to make ONE cake for the entire class (mind the 4-5 recipes of frosting that I had to make). My class (there were five other students with me) also decided to take the third course in April, so I decided to go ahead and sign up with them since they were a fun group. I don’t necessarily like the taste of fondant, but look forward to learning more about using them. Stay tuned for future postings on Class 3.