Archive for ◊ January, 2011 ◊

17 Jan 2011 Cowboy Cookies (Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies)

Why these cookies are called Cowboy Cookies I have absolutely no idea.  I have spent considerable seconds trying to figure it out. Coconut + oats + Rice Krispies = Cowboy Cookies? Really? What cowboy eats coconut?  A Polynesian cowboy?  That makes no sense. I’ve never heard of a Polynesian cowboy.  Soooo…, any other ideas? This conundrum aside, I am pretty pleased with my picture!  I think the picture says Cowboy Cookies, even if the recipe doesn’t!

The recipe I have was cut out of a newspaper years ago.  Unfortunately I don’t know which newspaper (but probably from either the San Diego Union Tribune or the San Jose Mercury News).  Nor do I know which decade I clipped the recipe.  Probably sometime in the 80’s, 90’s or 2000’s!  I just have the recipe, no intro, no hint as to why this cookie has such an inexplicable name.  The original recipe called for a cup of shortening.  I use half butter and half shortening.   I haven’t tried them with all butter, but let me know how they turn out if you decide to give it a go.

Anyway, this is a wonderful cookie.  It’s crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and delicately flavored.  More of a Princess cookie than a cowboy cookie.  A Polynesian Princess Cookie!  A much better name.  If you are setting cookies out, this is a nice alternative to the usual chocolate chip, peanut butter and sugar cookies.  Hey, I could open a cookie counter!  I’d feature this cookie, the Abby’s Peanut Butter Blossoms, my Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Louise’s Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies, the King Arthur Flour’s Chocolate-Caramel cookies and the Better Homes and Gardens Ginger Cookies, which I still have to post.  Scoot on over, Mrs. Fields, make room for Granny Polly!

Cowboy Cookies

(which really, really need another name… Coconut-Oatmeal Princess Polly Cookies, maybe?!)

½ cup butter

½ cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups quick-cooking oats (not that instant stuff)

2 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325º. Beat the butter and shortening together for a minute or so.  Add in the sugars and beat for 5 minutes with an electric mixer.  Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add flour mixture to butter-sugar-egg mixture.  Stir in oatmeal, Rice Krispies and coconut.  Drop by tablespoons-ful onto cookie sheet.  Roll dough into a ball, then flatten slightly with finger or palm of hand.  Bake in preheated 325º oven for 12-14 minutes.  Cookies will have a very light tan tinge when done.  Don’t overbake. Remove cookies from oven and cool on racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

You are going to love these cookies.  They are delicious, and they keep well.  Maybe THAT’S why they are called cowboy cookies! They last long enough to be taken on a cattle drive…, in Polynesia…!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

16 Jan 2011 Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts ruined every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the first thirty years of my life.  It was a rule, in my house, that everyone had to eat one Brussels sprout at Thanksgiving dinner and another at Christmas dinner. I dreaded Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.  Brussels Sprouts were bitter, soggy and all around YUCKY.  I would choke. I would gag.  My stomach would lurch.  I’d grimace.  My family would laugh, but show no mercy. It had to be swallowed. It usually took two bites. Although Brussels Sprouts were number one on my most hated foods list, there were other foods on the list, too: lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup. But! Lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup didn’t constitute a power struggle with my parents.  Brussels sprouts did.

I was thirty years old before I had the wherewithal to refuse to eat one more Brussels sprout.  When I put down my fork that Christmas, I didn’t pick it up again, for ANY Brussels sprout, for another twenty years.  Whatever possessed me to try Brussels sprouts again, I don’t know, but when I was fifty years old I found out Brussels sprouts could be rendered edible if they were fresh and roasted.  My parents used to serve frozen Brussels sprouts that had been boiled.  Please! Don’t do this!

Buy fresh Brussels sprouts, preferably on the stalk, and preferably after the first frost (Brussels sprouts that have been nipped by frost are sweeter).  Old green beans don’t taste good, neither do old carrots or old mushrooms.  Cook the Brussels sprouts soon after harvest, and roast them using the recipe below (which is based on a recipe I found at Epicurious.com in 2004).  They’re GOOD!

Of all my hated foods, the only one left on the list is lima beans. And I’m afraid that I raised my kids to hate them, too.  I told them they never, ever, ever have to eat a lima bean. Then wouldn’t you know, a very nice, very personable college boy takes a liking to one of my daughters.  After awhile, he invites her over to his parents farm to have lunch with his parents.  His parents are lima bean farmers, ROFL!!  She had lima beans for lunch!! Fortunately, the relationship hasn’t progressed to the point where I have been invited to meet the parents and have lima beans for lunch!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 oz. pancetta, minced (2 oz. thick, good quality bacon can be substituted)

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine (or chicken broth)

salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, toss together sprouts, pancetta, garlic, oil, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a shallow baking pan.  Make sure the Brussels sprouts are laying flat in a single layer.
  3. Roast Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Turn over, and roast for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.  Makes four servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Go ahead!  Make this recipe! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

15 Jan 2011 Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie! You’ve heard of it, right? Toffee, bananas and coffee flavored cream in a pastry crust? There is more to British desserts than Trifle, Spotted Dick, and Sticky Toffee Pudding, you know!

This pie took the British Isles by storm in 1972, and  gets more and more popular by the year. I’ve read Banoffee Pie is now on Australian menus, New Zealand menus, and even a few US menus!

Last March I went to England with a specific goal: to taste Banoffee Pie.  It didn’t happen.  FINALLY, almost one year later, I got a taste and it was made by me in my own kitchen!  If you want something done right… 🙂 It’s a pity I had to wait so long, but it was worth the wait.

Now that you’ve heard of Banoffee Pie, don’t wait as long as I did to try it.  It’s as easy as pie to make!  There is no doubt in my mind that my very next dinner party will feature Banoffee Pie. No doubt at ALL.

The original pie was made in a regular baked shortcrust pastry, but I made mine in a crust of crushed “Digestive Biscuits” (another English specialty! And, no, I don’t know why they are called “digestive” biscuits. I don’t want to think about it actually.) and melted butter.  A graham cracker crust can be substituted.  So you have three crust options! Pick the one that best suits your tastes, what you have on hand, or is easiest for you to pull together.

Banoffee Pie

For “Digestive” crust

4 oz. melted butter

8 oz. English Digestive Biscuits (available in International sections of many larger grocery stores, British Food stores and Indian markets…)

For Bottom Toffee Layer

4 oz. butter

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

For Middle Banana Layer

3 or 4 small bananas

For Top Cream Layer

1 ¼ cups whipping cream

½ – ¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder (to taste)

2 tablespoons sugar

small amount of grated chocolate (or ½ of a “Flake” bar, crumbled–another very good British chocolate bar)

Directions:

Decide what kind of crust you want and prepare it.  To make the English crust, crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor and then stir in the melted butter.  Press mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  (If you don’t have a 10-inch tart pan, use a quiche pan or a regular pie pan).  Chill until firm.

Combine the butter and sugar into a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the condensed milk and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.  Let sit until cool.  This step is OK to prepare one day in advance.

If using a tart pan, remove the pie from the pan and place on serving tray.

Cut the bananas in half lengthwise.  Using the curve of the banana against the outside layer of the pie crust, begin to layer the banana halves lengthwise on top of the toffee layer.  When you get towards the inside you will have to cut the long banana halves to fit.

Combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form.  Spread the cream mixture on top of the bananas.

Grate the chocolate, you only need a tablespoonful or two, and sprinkle over the top of the whipped cream.

Serve immediately (or within an hour or two, although leftovers do keep rather well for a bit longer than that.., if there ARE any leftovers…)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope you make this soon and NEVER say terrible things about British food again! I may get offended! There is some very good British food out there, you know 🙂

14 Jan 2011 Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Ever had a “Bounty” Bar?  If  you are a coconut lover, I sure hope you have!   “Mounds” bars and “Almond Joy” bars are OK in a pinch, but if you are a serious coconut lover, search out a Bounty Bar! It’s an English candy bar, so it is often found at stores like Cost Plus World Market, English specialty stores (of course) and grocery stores with a well developed International Foods section (I’ve seen them at larger Safeways), and I just found them hiding out at Indian grocery stores (and there is an Indian grocery store within walking distance of my home…!)

Did you find one? Good! Now that you’ve tasted a Bounty Bar, you  know the appeal of these Coconut Macaroons.  You know the joy of a creamy coconut filling enrobed in some seriously good milk chocolate. And I know you’ll want to make these, because you’ve realized that if you continue to pay exorbitant US prices for a UK Bounty Bar you are going to go broke rather quickly.  And, I know that you want to share the joy!

You’ll notice that some of my macaroons don’t have milk chocolate on them.  What was I thinking?!  LOL!  I was making a batch to share, and I thought that some people might not want chocolate on their macaroon.  I was wrong!

I found the original recipe at The Brown Eyed Baker (one of my favorite recipe websites) who adapted the recipe from a combination of Joy of Cooking and Baking Illustrated recipes.  I changed the chocolate to make it so this macaroon more closely resembles a Bounty Bar.

The Brown Eyed Baker said this recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies.  I got half that many.

Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

For the macaroons:

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3½ cups sweetened flaked coconut

For the chocolate dipping & drizzle-ing:

1 large Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar, chopped (about 4 oz)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla and salt until combined. Stir in the coconut until well blended.

3. With a small scoop, drop the dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets.

4. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, 15 to 2o minutes.

5. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes; remove to a wire rack with a wide metal spatula.

6. Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir well.

7. Dip the bottoms of the macaroon in the melted chocolate.  Scrape off the excess chocolate. Place the macaroons a wax or parchment paper covered plate.

8.  Drizzle remaining chocolate over the tops of the macaroons.

9. Refrigerate the macaroons until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Leave me a comment…, I’d love to know that you were here!

11 Jan 2011 Cracked Sugar Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

Pumpkin isn’t only for October and November you know.  I hope you have an extra can or two of pumpkin puree on hand for the other ten months of the year.  This isn’t a pumpkin muffin, and it isn’t an apple muffin, it’s a bit of both, so it should please everyone.  I like the pumpkin, I like the diced apple, but I especially like the cracked sugar on top!

These muffins stay moist and tasty for at least three days.  I’ve never had one around longer than three days, so I don’t know what happens on day four or five. (If I had expected to have extras around that long, I’d freeze them.  It only takes a few minutes to defrost a muffin, especially if you slice or quarter it.)

In muffin recipes I often substitute half the oil in the recipe for applesauce.  Oddly, it doesn’t work well in this muffin. The texture suffers quite a bit.  If you are out of Pumpkin pie spice, as I am, use ¾ teaspoon ginger plus ½ teaspoon nutmeg, plus scant ½ teaspoon ground cloves OR allspice,  instead of the 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice.

This recipe makes 18-20 muffins.  I know that’s a lot. But you’ll make a lot of people happy!

Cracked Sugar Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

For the muffins

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
½ cup vegetable oil (or ¼ cup oil plus ¼ cup applesauce)
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apple (about 2 apples)

For the cracked sugar topping

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons butter

Preheat oven to 350º. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil.

Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, ¼ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter (about 1 teaspoon of topping per muffin)

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope I’ll see you again tomorrow!

10 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

I know a thing or two about chicken nuggets as I have been making them for two decades with a recipe very similar to the one Sara Moulton contributed to The 150 Best American Recipes.  Sara calls her version  “Garlicky Baked Chicken”, but I think she uses thighs or chicken-on-the-bone.  I don’t.  I use the same coating as she does, but I make chicken nuggets from boneless chicken tenders. To die for.

Make a bag-full of chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer. Double the recipe! You will be so glad you did. If you have kids at home, this recipe will probably become a staple.  Check out my recipe for Oven Baked Fries, too.  Put the two recipes together and you’ll be able to bake up some better-than-McDonalds Home Baked Happy Meals on a regular basis!

Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets

6 T. butter
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use the minced-in-a-jar kind)
2 cups Panko* (Japanese breadcrumb, found in the Asian section of the grocery store-regular or Italian Herb)
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not that stuff in the green shaker tube)
3 lbs. chicken tenders (for chicken nuggets cut each chicken tender into two pieces)

Melt the butter and the garlic in a shallow bowl. Mix the Panko*, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Set out a cooling rack. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the garlic/butter, and then into the Panko/parmesan mix. Once the chicken is well coated with crumbs place on rack to dry for a bit. (Use one hand for dipping in the butter and placing in the breadcrumbs, use the other hand for dipping in the breadcrumbs and putting on the rack. If you don’t use this alternate hand method, you’ll get big clumps of gunk on the fingers of both hands). When chicken has dried a bit, transfer to a plate or tray and place in freezer until firm. Once chicken is firm remove from plate and place in Ziploc bag and return to freezer.

To bake:

You need a hot oven to get a nice brown color to the nuggets. I cook at anywhere between 375º and 425º (preferring 425º). Take desired quantity of frozen nuggets from freezer and place on cookie sheetwhich has been sprayed lightly with a cooking spray or lined with parchment paper (to prevent nuggets from sticking to pan). Place in hot oven for 6-8 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. DONE! Serve as is, or with any desired dipping sauce. My son likes ketchup.  My daughter likes honey mustard.  On of my daughter’s friends swears by ranch dressing.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you tomorrow!

*Panko is my current favorite to use for chicken nuggets but in the past I have also used a wide variety of homemade and boxed breadcrumbs (both the plain and the Italian kinds)—and one time I even used crushed Wheaties! Everything seems to work with this recipe. One of the notes in The 150 Best American Recipes suggests adding some chopped pecans to the breadcrumbs. Now I’ve never done this, but nut-lovers might want to consider it!