Archive for January, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 7, 2009
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Almost No Knead Bread baking did in my flour and parchment paper supplies so I had to go the grocery store to replenish. Gold Medal Flour was on sale. Two five pound bags were on sale for $5.00. This is quite a bit less than the brand I usually buy so I decided to give it a try. As I was putting away the groceries I noticed a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the bags. I didn’t think much of it and went on with my chores. Later when I used the new roll of parchment paper I noticed that there was a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the inside of the box and I started thinking that maybe it was a sign that I was supposed to make CC cookies. I continued on with my day and checked one of my favorite blogs Cookie Madness. On that particular day (January 5) Anna had blogged about a new cookbook and CC cookies. I knew at that point that I had to make some and I knew that my son would be pleased with the choice.

I decided to go with the recipe on the inside of the Reynold’s Parchment paper box. I’ve made many different cookie recipes over the year, and may have even made this one, but since I couldn’t remember for sure I decided to go with it. These cookies are good. With more care with the scooping they would be really pretty cookies. They are a nice thickness. Not too thick or thin. Both my husband and I thought they tasted a little less sugary than some other CC cookies but the ratio of sugar to flour isn’t that different so I’m not sure why we felt that way, and they weren’t less sugary in a bad way.

Adjectives used by my husband and son to describe these cookies. Outstanding, and great. I think they’re a good cookie.

The recipe can be found here.

On a different note. The new box of Reynold’s parchment makes a big note of saying that it’s oven safe to 420 degrees. I don’t know what happens at 425 which is what the Almost No Knead bread is baked at, but I think it’s time to find a different kind of parchment paper for that use.

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Three more loaves!

January 6, 2009

_dsc001612631The loaf of Almost No Knead Bread that I made this weekend went so fast that I had to make more. My husband and son wanted another plain loaf while I was ready for a variation.  The third loaf was for our favorite neighbors. These are the neighbors who use their gigantic snowblower to clear the end of our driveway of the big, heavy piles of snow the plows leave behind. You’ve got to love neighbors like that, and bake for them from time to time. They also scored a jar of my husband’s homemade raspberry freezer jam.

When these loaves were ready to be baked I was too tired to even think about being up so late so I stuck them in the refrigerator where they sat for almost eighteen hours. When I was ready to bake them I took them out, shaped them and let them come to room temperature before baking them as directed.

The loaf on the right has 1/2 c. toasted walnuts, and 1/2 c. dried cranberries added to the mix. I really like this variation and can’t wait to try a piece toasted.

My apologies for the photos. They were taken after dark so I didn’t have natural light to work with.

Update: More apologies. I just discovered that the link I provided to for the Almost No Knead Bread is available to members only. I truly thought it was one of CI’s free recipe/video links. I am loathe to violate anyone’s copyright so I won’t be posting the recipe. I will tell you that variations of this recipe abound on the Internet. I prefer the version that uses mildly flavored beer, white vinegar and water. Instant yeast, also known as bread machine yeast, or rapid rise yeast is the leavener you want to use, not active dry yeast. A heavy enameled dutch oven works best for this. My Le Creuset dutch oven has repeatedly performed well for this task. Mine is oval and my loaves don’t turn out oddly shaped. You don’t need any fancy flours. Unbleached all purpose works well here.

The cranberry walnut version toasted up nicely.

Toasted cranberry walnut bread with a melting piece of butter

Toasted cranberry walnut bread with a melting piece of butter

My new immersion blender

January 4, 2009
Raspberry Smoothie

Raspberry Smoothie

For Christmas I received a wonderful new kitchen gadget. A Kitchen Aid immersion blender. I’ve used it twice already. The first time was to blend some butternut squash soup, and today I used it to make one of my favorite healthy snacks. Smoothies are so easy and you can pack a lot of nutrition into a glass. You can also vary them according to taste or what you have on hand. I usually put in some whey protein powder. It’s an easy way to up my protein intake without adding a lot of fat. I like to use pineapple juice as the sweetener. It adds a lot of sweetness, and some vitamins, but if I don’t have any I use orange juice, apple juice or whatever juice is available. I buy a big can of pineapple juice and then freeze it in ice cube trays. When I need it I just take out what I want and I don’t have to worry about the juice going bad before I use it up.

Making this with the immersion blender was so fast and easy, and so easy to clean up! Thanks to my daughter for this wonderful and much appreciated Christmas gift.

Today’s smoothie is raspberry pineapple.

Raspberry Pineapple Smoothie

3/4 c. frozen raspberries

3/4 c. plain soy milk

3 oz. pineapple juice

1 scoop whey protein powder

Place all of the ingredients in the cup of your immersion blender, or in a regular blender, and blend until completely mixed.

Almost No Knead Bread

January 3, 2009
Almost No Knead Bread

Almost No Knead Bread

The February 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated features the recipe for this bread. I had heard a good friend rave about no knead bread and tried the New York Times version and while I loved the crust, I wasn’t impressed with the flavor. Leave it to the folks at Cook’s Illustrated to find a solution. This bread is simple,  has good flavor, and the crust is perfect.

Usually this bread has great holes in it, but this time the holes were not as impressive as usual. Something unusual happened when I took the bread out of the oven. There were snapping and crackling sounds that I don’t remember ever happening before. I believe some of the cracks on the outside of the loaf occurred after I took it out of the oven. I couldn’t help but think of Rice Krispies and their snap, crackle, and pop, but this was much louder. It could be heard across the room!

I used Fat Tire Ale for the beer. It’s what I had in the refrigerator. I don’t recall what kind of beer I’ve used in the past, but maybe the beer has an impact on the holes in the bread? No matter, it’s good tasting bread, with a great crust, and is a very attractive loaf.

This recipe has been posted all over the Internet and since the folks at Cook’s Illustrated were kind enough to provide the recipe for free on their site I’m going to provide a link directly to them for their Almost No Knead Bread

Variations for the bread abound, but we like this one so much that I’ve never felt the need to change it up. The cranberry-pecan version is quite tempting though!

Six cookies

January 2, 2009
Six Cookies

Six Cookies

Yesterday’s cookie was good and liked by those who ate them including me, but I felt they were a little sweet. Anna from Cookie Madness suggested knocking back the sugar a little which I thought was a great idea. This morning I made one quarter of a batch which yielded six cookies. Yesterday I added a little flour to make them easier to roll in a cinnamon sugar mixture but this morning I decided to skip the flour and the roll in the cinnamon sugar.

You might wonder what a person does with the rest of an egg? Truth be told I made these before I had breakfast this morning, and even before I made a cup of tea! Once I had the cookies in the oven I scrambled up the rest of that egg and ate it for breakfast. The other thing you might wonder is how do you measure 1/4 of an egg? First break the yolk and stir the egg. I have a teeny measuring cup that has measurements in millilters. My egg was about 50 millilters, so I used approximately 12.5 ml. which is roughly equal to a scant tablespoon or 2 and 3/4 teapoons. This isn’t science, just guesstimation.

How do they taste? Less sugary! I prefer these over the cookies I made yesterday. It may have been enough to skip the roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture, but the addition of the salt and removing some of the sugar from the cookie itself made these into cookies which don’t leave me reaching for a cup of tea to wash them down.

Peanut Butter Star Kisses – Take Two

1/4 c. sugar minus 1 1/2 teaspoons

1/8 t. salt

1/4 c. peanut butter

1/4 t. vanilla

1/4 egg (break up the yolk and stir the egg prior to measuring)

six chocolate stars or kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place sugar, salt, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl and stir the mixture together until well blended. Divide dough into six portions and roll into balls. Place the balls on the foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly press one chocolate candy on each cookie.  Let the cookies sit on the baking for three more minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Star Cookies

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Peanut Butter Star Cookies

Peanut Butter Star Cookies

The start to the New Year has been calm and lovely. The sun is shining and the temperature was above zero when I got out of bed this morning. The morning was spent reviewing all kinds of recipes and remembering recipes I’ve made in the past. I thought I would make something to use up the huge stash of walnuts I have but that didn’t happen and just when I declared this a non baking day I decided at the last minute to mix up these cookies.

These are ridiculously easy to mix up. I mixed ours up with a spoon. They could be gluten free but I really wanted to give them a roll in cinnamon and sugar and my dough was a bit sticky so I added a tablespoon of flour. You could easily make them the way Anna at Cookie Madness did and drop them from a spoon.

The recipe made 28 cookies. I had cookie eaters standing at the counter waiting for the ok to dig in. I’m hoping there are some left once the chocolate stars set so I can try them warm and fully set. The cookies are on the sweet side so have your favorite beverage ready to accompany them. At our house the sweetness was welcomed by the coffee drinkers, milk drinkers and tea drinkers alike.

For the recipe visit Cookie Madness