Happy April Everyone! Our days have been jam packed the last few weeks. I am happy to be finally taking a breather to share the recipes that I wedged into our busy days. First I made a few different kinds of cookies. I find that when I get stressed, the desire to bake cookies hits me pretty hard. The last few weeks have unfortunately contained a few stressful events that I won’t dignify with words. Suffice to say, during those few crazy days, I hung out in the kitchen baking cookies, in the attempt to lessen the blow. Happily, it worked. Crisis averted! Anyone who knows me, knows that cookies are my first love with regards to baking. I actually kind of miss my “Cookie of the Week” project. If you are interested, you can read about that year long project here: http://chris-cookieoftheweek.blogspot.com/2011/11/week-52-aunt-tonis-cookies.html#comment-form Anyway, when the stress monster hit, I ran to the kitchen to bake cookies. The result? Pure deliciousness. Here’s what happened. I actually took a “cookie poll” in the elementary school’s office. I questioned everyone about their favorite cookie, and then decided to honor their requests. The first request was for sugar cookies…not a cookie that you roll out, cut out, and then decorate, but an old fashioned drop sugar cookie. No problem. I have never actually made that kind of sugar cookie, so I was excited to try it. I searched my arsenal of cookie recipes, and settled on one that sounded simple. Simple. HA! Famous last words. Well it was simple until I got midway into the recipe, and realized that there must have been some mistake. The dough was very crumbly, and there was no way it was going to cooperate. The recipe didn’t contain eggs, or any other liquid other than a little vanilla extract, so it was extremely dry and gritty. Now I have made plenty of cookies, and never had this happen, so I decided to go “rogue” and make some corrections based on my “cookie experience.” I added an egg and increased the amount of vanilla, but that still wasn’t enough liquid to make the dough sufficiently tacky, so I added some water too. How much water? I am not sure. I just added it by the tablespoon full until I got to a consistency that I was comfortable with. In the end, I came up with a really great drop sugar cookie recipe. The finished cookie got rave reviews by the office staff, and I would definitely make them again. Here is my recipe:
- 1 egg
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup vegan shortening softened (it doesn’t have to be vegan of course, but that is the kind of shortening I use)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsps vanilla
- Water to desired consistency
- Additional granulated sugar for rolling
- Combine the egg, shortening and sugar in a bowl and mix well.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients until well mixed.
- Add water by the tablespoon until dough is sticky enough to roll into balls.
- Roll each ball of dough in the extra sugar (in a shallow bowl)
- Place cookie balls on parchment or silicon lined baking sheets approximately an inch apart (the cookies do not spread a lot)
- Flatten each ball of dough with a greased glass.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
The second cookie recipe was also chosen due to an office request. The request was for an oatmeal cookie. When I asked if the cookie needed to be oatmeal raisin, I was told any type of oatmeal cookie would do. I immediately knew which recipe I wanted to try. It was a recipe that I wanted to try during the above mentioned “Cookie of the Week” project, but I ran out of time before I could bake it. I found the recipe years ago, and I’ve had it my recipe box since then. I decided to add white chocolate chips to the cookie to give it yet another element of yumminess. I am happy to report that the cookies turned out great, and the office was extremely pleased. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Oatmeal-cranberry-cookies-304193?columns=4&position=3/36&ad=352559,e42386f2-65ec-4564-adfa-b569a36f41a6,Search%20Results,3,with%20image,http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Oatmeal-cranberry-cookies-304193 P.S. I omitted the pecans and added white chocolate chips instead. ☺
The next recipe I tried was tofu wontons. Okay…yes, I am a vegetarian, so I must love tofu right? Wrong. I actually do not like tofu…not even a little bit. It’s not the taste as tofu doesn’t really have one. It requires a lot of spices, herbs, sauce etc…to taste like anything in my opinion. What I cannot get past is the texture. It’s the same reason I cannot stand mushrooms. They are okay taste wise, but that texture…BLECH! I actually discovered that I could palate tofu in this recipe by accident. You see, I had these really yummy potato wontons at my good friend Tia’s house a couple of years ago. She shared the recipe with me, and I’ve made them a few times. The last time I made them however, I decided to try something new. Right before I made these potato wontons for dinner, my family had eaten at “Noodles & Company.” Dan and Victoria decided to have tofu added to their noodle dishes, and they loved it. With that in mind, I decided to cook up some tofu at home, so they could add it to their salads, mac & cheese, etc… Well, when I made the potato wontons, I had some extra tofu in the fridge, so I decided to mix it with a little feta, and put it in a wonton wrapper. The result? YUM-A-LICIOUS!!! I originally made the tofu wontons for Dan and Victoria as they do like tofu, but then I tasted one, and I loved it. Now, instead of potatoes, I make this yummy wonton recipe using tofu. Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.weightwatchers.us/food/rcp/RecipePage.aspx?recipeid=95191 When I make these wontons, I buy extra firm tofu and cut it into small cubes. Then I saute it in some olive oil and heavily spice it with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. Before stuffing the wonton wrappers, I mix the sauteed tofu with some feta. YUM!!
Next I made ditalini soup with barley and potatoes. I actually got the recipe off of a box of ditalini a while back. Those of you who know Ryan, understand how much he LOVES pasta. Well about 6 years ago, I bought ditalini as it was required in a recipe I was making titled “little thimbles sciue sciue.” I saw the recipe on “Everyday Italian” with Giada de Laurentiis. I made the pasta dish and my family loved it. Ryan of course wouldn’t taste it as it had “sauce” on it. So before dressing the pasta, I set aside a little bowl of plain ditalini for him. Since then, he requests it all the time. Ryan adores ditalini, and is also very partial to spaghetti. Spaghetti…not to be confused with thin spaghetti or angel hair mind you. Yes my super picky eater Ryan, aka the pasta fanatic, is even particular about the shape of the pasta he eats. Trust me, he can totally tell the difference, and his taste preferences change at the drop of a hat. For instance, a while back, he would only eat angel hair. Then when I was grocery shopping, Kroger happened to be out of thin spaghetti and angel hair, so I had to buy regular old spaghetti noodles. Well Ryan could tell. He protested at first, but now he doesn’t care for thin noodles anymore, he prefers spaghetti. He did the same thing with ditalini. One time the store was out of ditalini, so I bought penne instead. Well he refused to eat the noodles, unless they were cut up into little shapes like ditalini. Man he is one tough customer! In addition to his pasta preferences, he is also now something of a “cheese snob.” In the beginning, he would only eat “Kraft Parmesan cheese.” I actually bought the Kroger brand once, and put it in the empty Kraft container at home, but he refused to eat it because he could tell it was different. Thank goodness that most restaurants bring shredded not grated parm with his plain pasta, because it opened the door for me to use shredded parm at home too. Last time I was at Costco, I bought a wedge of “Parmigiano Reggiano” as an indulgence. Not long after, I ran out of the shredded parm I buy at Trader Joe’s, and use on Ryan’s pasta. In a pinch, I grated some of the “Parmigiano Reggiano” on his pasta, and in doing so, I created a monster. Now Ryan, my pasta lover and cheese snob, only prefers the very expensive Parmigiano Reggiano. In fairness, he will eat the
other parm, he just prefers Parmigiano Reggiano now. Before you jump all over me and tell me that I indulge him too much, and that I should just make him eat what the rest of the family is eating, hear this...his pediatrician told me to do it! Yep, that is the honest truth. We were at a well check up, and I happened to mention how damn picky this kid is, and the pediatrician told me not to try the tough love tactic of “you eat what I make” with him. When it came to matters of nutrition and food, I was instructed and I quote “…feed your son, he needs the food. If he refuses, offer him something else that you know he likes…this kid cannot afford to skip any meals.” End of story. If you still feel compelled to chastise me, please know that I will tell you to mind your own damn business. I am operating on the advice of a wonderful pediatrician, AND my kid is doing just fine thank you very much. He really isn’t that particular in any other area of his life…just food…so get over it. It’s not like I am asking YOU to be a short order cook for him, so step off. As I am sure you have deduced by the above rant, I’ve had to defend this decision multiple times in the past. I apologize for the digression, but it needed to be said…AGAIN. Anyway, whilst making a box of ditalini for my Ryan, I happened to catch the recipe on the back of the box for this soup, and copied I it down. Last week, when I was in the mood for soup, I pulled this recipe out of the recipe box, and decided to make it. It was really yummy. In addition to the regular ‘ol yumminess of this soup, I added something extra by adding the heel of the above mentioned “Parmigiano Reggiano” to really flavor the broth. Here are the links to both the soup, and Giada’s pasta dish that started the ditalini madness in our house:http://mishapcooking.blogspot.com/2012/10/barilla-ditalini-soup-wbarley-potato.html and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/little-thimbles-sciue-sciue-recipe/index.html My only issue with the soup was it totally absorbed all the liquid. The recipe requires 3 quarts of broth…that’s 32 cups of broth…but by the next day, the noodles, barley, and potatoes had soaked up all the broth. It was still yummy, but more like a pasta dish than a soup.
The last recipe I tried was for Texas sheet cake cupcakes. It’s a recipe listed by “Six Sisters’ Stuff,” and I found the recipe on Pinterest. I knew immediately that I’d have to try it. I’ve only had Texas sheet cake once in my life, and I loved it. I was at my good friend Amy’s house, and she made one…YUM. Well since, I didn’t have a large enough sheet pan to accommodate the cake, I knew the cupcake version would be perfect. Well perfect it was not. Don’t get me wrong, they tasted amazing, but more than a couple of the cupcakes didn’t turn out. In fact, they sunk. It’s weird, and I still don’t quite understand what happened, but I had to scrap quite a few of them. Prior to making the cupcakes, a few of the reviews of the recipe reported that the cupcakes had indeed sunk. The “Six Sisters” blamed it on the high altitude of the kitchen the cupcakes were made in. Well let me assure you that here in Michigan, we are not considered a high altitude state, yet my cupcakes still sank. Next time, I think I would bake them a bit longer to see if that helps. I did follow the cooking time exactly as the recipe stated to “… be careful not to over bake the cupcakes.” I think that a few more minutes may have improved the consistency. Oh well, in the end the cupcakes that made it were extremely yummy. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/07/texas-sheet-cake-cupcakes.html
In lieu of the craziness that invaded our house over the last few weeks, I am really looking forward to enjoying the rest of the kids’ spring break in peace. I am done with work for the week, and Dan is taking tomorrow off. I hope we can do something fun, and make some memories with the kids. They’ve had a great break so far, and I hope the last few days of their break are as enjoyable. I hope you take some time to experiment with the recipes. We really enjoyed them! ♥♥