Archive for ◊ July, 2011 ◊

26 Jul 2011 Blueberry Chip Cookies

Hey world, there’s a new cookie on the plate!  It’s sort of like a chocolate chip cookie.  It has all the elements of a chocolate chip cookie.  It crunches like a chocolate chip cookie; crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. It even looks like a chocolate chip cookie.  But it’s NOT!  It’s a Blueberry Chip Cookie!  Nope, not reminiscent of a blueberry muffin  or a blueberry cake.   Nothing like a blueberry tart or a sugar cookie with jam either.  I think it really is a chocolate chip cookie.  With blueberries. And white chocolate chips.

Two secret ingredients:  freeze dried blueberries and dried wild blueberries!  I had never seen freeze dried blueberries either, but there they were right on the shelf at Trader Joe’s, not too far from the dried blueberries.  The freeze dried blueberries are crushed into a powder and then mixed into the dough with the flour.  The small dried blueberries have a lot a flavor and don’t burst into a gooey mess when cooked.   Genius, pure genius!  And we have Irvin, from Eat the Love, to thank for this delightfully twisted Chocolate Chip Cookie 🙂

I made a few changes to the original recipe.  I didn’t use Kamut flour (what IS that?) and I didn’t make these jumbo.  Irvin made 18 cookies from this recipe (they must have been the size of a PIE!), I made 5 dozen.  I am not sure the sugar sprinkle is necessary, I might leave it off next time but my daughter liked the sparkle (she’s such a girlie girl).

Blueberry  Chip  Cookies

  • 3 cups plus 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried blueberries, crushed into powder (put into a Ziploc and go to town with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 oz white chocolate chips (don’t use Nestle’s-they are nasty)
  • 1 cup dried wild blueberries (I’d probably add an extra 1/4 – 1/2 cup next time)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. Place the  flour, freeze dried blueberry powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk vigorously until the dry ingredients are evenly distributed and uniform in color.

3. Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.

4. Add one egg to the creamed butter and beat on medium until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and repeat with the second egg and then the vanilla.

5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter and beat on slow speed turning up the speed to medium as the ingredients incorporate into the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add an additional 1/3 of the batter repeat, beating on slow to medium. Scrap and add the final 1/3 dry ingredients.

6. Add the white chocolate chips and dried blueberries to the cookie dough and turn the mixer on to slow speed, mixing in the chips and blueberries until evenly distributed.

7. Scoop a tablespoon of the dough, roll into a ball, place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Sprinkle with a little white sugar. Repeat.  I found I could place 14 cookies on each cookie sheet.

8. Bake in preheated 350º oven for  about 13 minutes or until the edges of the cookie starts to look golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes to cool before moving them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

I am so pleased with these cookies!  They are so much like a chocolate chip cookie, but so different.  The dichotomy tickles me purple!   I hope you are the first person on your block to make Blueberry Chip Cookies!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

23 Jul 2011 Beef Skewers

Meat on a stick! Is there anything better?  When I was pregnant with my first child, my cravings were iced tea, tomato soup, and “tasty chunks of beef”!  Twenty-six year later, I still crave tasty chunks of beef!

This is a very easy recipe, resulting is some mighty fine, Asian accented, “tasty chunks of beef”.  Chill the meat for 30 minutes, marinate for 30 minutes, grill and eat.  For a special treat serve with corn-on-the-cob, grilled veggies or a salad and some Bloomin’ Onion Bread!

When I was a single full time working mother of three children I was a master of freezer food.  This was one of my favorites.  Homebaked Chicken Nuggets were another.  I would buy two flank steaks and some skewers.  I’d unroll the flank steaks and then freeze for 30 minutes to make it easier to slice. At the same time I would soak the skewers in cold water.  Then I’d probably sit down with my feet up, an iced coffee and a good book while the the meat chilled and the skewers soaked, LOL!  A sense of humor is a wonderful thing!  More than likely during that thirty minutes I’d finish putting the groceries away, wipe up a spill, ask a telemarketer to put me on the no-call list, solve a kid dispute, feed the dog, move the laundry over, eat lunch and load the dishwasher …  ANYWAY, after thirty minutes I’d slice the beef and thread it onto the skewers.  Then I would layer the skewers into a shoe box sided plastic container.  I’d put wax paper between the layers, and freeze the whole box.  One box would last two or three months and provide plenty of yummy and quick week night main dishes…easily expandable to however many people were home.  Just take out 3-5 skewers per person.  Mix up the marinade.  Marinate the desired number of skewers for 30 minutes, then grill or broil!

Oh, and I often omit the sesame seeds, as I don’t care for them 🙂

Beef Skewers

  • 1 flank steak, approx 1.5 lbs, (unrolled) and slightly frozen (for about 30 min or so)
  • 30 bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes)

Marinade

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sake (an opened bottle will keep 1 year in refrigerator)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated ginger (keep any leftover fresh ginger in baggie in freezer, when ready to use no need to defrost, just peel and grate!)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (toast in dry frying pan until fragrant)
  • 3 green onions sliced

  1. Slice flank steak, across the grain, into thin strips.  Thread meat slices onto skewers, accordion style. It’s easy!  Child’s play!  (NOTE: Meat on sticks can be frozen at this point. When ready to use, just remove from freezer.  Let defrost for as long as it takes to make marinade.  Then continue with recipe.)
  2. Combine soy sauce, sugar, and sake; stir well to dissolve sugar.  Add in garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and green onions.
  3. Pour over meat on sticks.  Marinate 30 minutes.
  4. Remove skewers from marinade.
  5. Grill over hot fire or broil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Good hot, room temperature, and cold! I’ve served these as appetizers and as a main dish.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  I hope I have given you an idea for this weekend’s BBQ and for busy school night meals, too!

    22 Jul 2011 Traditional Arabic Hummus

    Traditional Arabic hummus.  How do I know its traditional?  Because I learned how to make it from my Saudi and Kuwaiti students in 1981 and 1982.  I watched how they made it, wrote everything down, and have followed the recipe ever since.  Well, once I tinkered with it and added a bit of cumin and coriander.   My kids reacted most negatively.  I remember their scorn quite clearly,  “What did you do to the hummus? It tastes FOUL!”  Lesson learned.  No tinkering with the authentic 🙂

    This was the first recipe my son learned how to follow and  for a long time was the only thing he knew how to make.  Truth be told, his hummus is better than mine!  Why?  He follows the recipe!  He shells the garbanzo beans, just like my students used to do.  (Before 1981 I didn’t even know the garbanzos had shells, but they do.  Pop one out of its clear little membrane, and you’ll see!)  Over the years I have gotten lazy, and I now no longer shell the garbanzos.  As a result, my hummus isn’t as smooth as my son’s or as my students’ used to be.

    Do as you wish, shell the garbanzos or not, just don’t even think of tinkering with the other simple ingredients.

    Traditional Arabic Hummus

    • 1 can Garbanzo beans
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup sesame paste (available at most larger supermarkets now, in the middle eastern foods section)
    • approx. 1/2 cup reserved garbanzo liquid
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • paprika (optional)
    1. Drain the garbanzo beans, reserving the liquid.
    2. Shell the garbanzo beans if desired (shelling the garbanzos results in a much smoother dip).
    3. Place drained garbanzos, approx. 1/2 cup reserved liquid, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and process until smooth.
    4. That’s IT!   Isn’t that easy?
    5. Add more garbanzo liquid if needed to make a softer dip.  Remove dip to a serving bowl.  My students used to spread the hummus onto a dinner plate and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.  Americans usually serve it out of a bowl.  My students served hummus only with triangles of warm pita bread.  American often serve with pita bread plus carrot and celery sticks, cucumber rounds, red pepper strips, and cherry tomatoes.

    From following my students around I also have recipes for Sambusas and Kapsa, and so many warm and fond memories of teaching English as a Second Language to some wonderful pre-literate Arabic and Saudi women.

    Thanks for stopping by my middle eastern kitchen today. Enjoy the hummus.  It’s better than that stuff you can buy in tubs, and much cheaper!

    19 Jul 2011 Corn Dogs

    I am sooooo bad.  I KNOW I shouldn’t cook like this.  I know it. I know it. I know it.  But I did.  And my little experiment turned out wonderfully well.  Who knew homemade corn dogs were so easy to make?   I guess there is no need to go to the fair now, or to make that once every other year stop at the Hot Dog On A Stick outlet in the mall.

    I made mini corn dogs, so that counts for something, right?  I cut each bun length hot dog into 3 pieces, speared each piece with a good quality toothpick, rolled it around in the cornbread batter, and then placed it in the <gasp> hot fat to <gasp, gasp> deep fry.

    Bad girl, BAD girl.

    Delicious outcome though.

    We–my son, my daughter, my grandson, and my houseguest–ate them standing at the stove, putting the mustard and ketchup on the paper towel I was draining the corn dogs on.Dip, bite, mmmm, dip, bite, mmmmm, dip, bite, mmmmmm…

    Tes At Home led me astray. Her Tastespotting picture showed up in my RSS feed right at lunch time. I followed her directions exactly.  The only thing I have added in is a suggested temperature for the hot oil (I know, I know, it’s a sin that I know such things), and I did increase the salt a bit <gasp>, and I rewrote the directions just a bit, just to make them sound more like me…, BUT! The recipe is ALL Tes At Home 🙂

    Mini Corn Dog

    • 6-8 hot dogs, your choice…all beef, turkey, Kosher, vegan, super premium, ultra bargain discount, regular length or bun length, it doesn’t matter…, whatever you prefer or have on hand
    • 1 cup corn meal
    • 1 cup flour
    • additional flour for coating the hot dogs (2-3 tablespoons)
    • 4 tsp baking powder
    • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup milk
    • Oil for deep frying
    1. Cook the hot dogs in boiling water for few minutes.  (I know they are already precooked, but do it anyway so they can get all that plumping business out of the way.) Remove cooked hot dogs from the water, drain,  and set aside.
    2. Combine corn meal, flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
    3. In another bowl, whisk egg and sugar until sugar is dissolved,  then stir in milk.
    4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir well.  Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
    5. Heat oil in the deep fryer over the medium heat.
    6. If desired, cut hot dogs into halves or thirds. Spear each piece with a good quality toothpick.
    7. Roll  hot dog pieces in flour and then dip into the corn bread batter, coating well.  (The cornbread batter coats surprisingly well.  No worries here!)
    8. When the oil reaches 365 degrees, place the cornbread covered, toothpick skewered, hot dog into the hot oil. (I have a small pan for deep frying, so I could only cook two mini dogs at a time.)
    9. Deep fry until golden brown. Serve hot, with ketchup and mustard for dipping, of course.

    Note: I had enough batter for six bun sized hot dogs cut into thirds, 18 mini hot dogs–and I put the batter on pretty thickly (the corn bread batter is my favorite part).

    Aren’t you glad you stopped by my kitchen today?  Just what you needed to know…, how to coat a hot dog in a corn bread batter and deep fry it!  Deeeeeelicious!!!  Serve with a green salad and a glass of orange juice.  My daughter sees no reason why these can’t be frozen and then reheated in the oven as needed.  I don’t either.  Costco sells them twenty four to a box just that way!

    Now for all my Facebook, “Polly, Julie and Julia” friends.  YES,  to make matters WORSE I then cut some Reese’s Peanut Butter cups in half , wrapped each half in that roll out crescent roll stuff, baked at 375 for 10 minutes, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and ate.  Ummm, no.  That refrigerated crescent roll stuff is bad news.  The rolls tasted and smelled like chemicals. That being said, of the eight I made guess how many are left?  ZERO.

    Now, aren’t you glad to know you can make killer corn dogs at home any time you want?!  I’ll try to post something a little more sane tomorrow….

    13 Jul 2011 Butterbeer Cupcakes

    Harry Potter.  My 20 year old twins have tickets to the midnight show.  Of course they do.  They were in second grade when I read the first book to them. We stood in line at midnight for the fifth book to be released. After Book Two we had to buy multiple copies of each because no one (myself and their older sister included) could possibly wait for someone else to finish the book before they could start it. They’ve both read all seven books at least three times.  Yes, that’s right.  They’ve both read ALL seven books at least three times.  We have some books on ten disk CD sets.  They listen to them when driving home from college. They saw all seven movies on the day they were released. We own all the DVDs. Tomorrow’s movie premier:  Book Seven, part Two is the end.  The end of everything.  The last Harry Potter movie signals the end of their childhood just as much as their high school graduation, their high school prom, and their first nights in their college dorms rooms did.

    My daughter is running a Harry Potter marathon tonight.  She’s  set up the Three Broomsticks Tavern.  Tonight’s specials: Butterbeer cupcakes and Cockroach Clusters (chocolate covered pretzel clusters sprinkled with powdered sugar) and Butterbeer Floats (cream soda with butter pecan ice cream).

    These cupcakes are delicious; a from scratch cupcake, a filling, a frosting, and a drizzle!  To die for.  Oops. A double entendre.

    I found the recipe at AmyBites, as have a good many other people!  Thanks, Amy!  I left out the artificial butter flavoring, and I should probably say to reduce the ganache by half.  Abby had a lot left over…, but I think it will be a good drizzle for that leftover butter pecan ice cream 🙂

    Butterbeer Cupcakes

    For the cupcakes:

    2 cups flour
    1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
    3 large eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1/2 cup cream soda

    For the ganache (for the filling and the drizzle):

    1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
    1 cup heavy cream
    .

    For the buttercream frosting:

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
    Splash of milk or cream (as needed)

    For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugars and beat until well-combined, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in vanilla. Add one third of flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture and stir to incorporate.  Add half of the buttermilk and half of the cream soda and mix to combine. Add half of remaining flour mixture, mix well.  Add remaining buttermilk and cream soda, mix well.  Stir in remaining flour mixture.

    Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

    For butterscotch filling: In a double boiler (heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), combine butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Fill a squeeze bottle with ganache and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until filling begins to overflow.

    For buttercream frosting: Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in cooled ganache, vanilla, and salt and mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until reaching desired consistency. Add milk or cream by the Tablespoon as needed. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of butterscotch ganache.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  These are very, very good cupcakes, even if you are not into Harry Potter or Butterbeer 🙂  If you are into Harry Potter, you have to make them.  To mark and to celebrate the end of and era.  A very, very good era.

    13 Jul 2011 Southwestern Pasta Salad

    I have not been very impressed with the food section of our local paper in the last, oh, decade.  There is one column in particular that drives me iNSaNe.  Typical recipes include a bit of Dream Whip here, Bisquick, Cream of Chicken soup and canned mushrooms there,  with Tater Tots, Rice-a-Roni, and crushed up Ritz Crackers stirred into a can of Pineapple Tidbits on the side. PLUS, not one of the recipes has been tested by the columnist! (Although she does say how good they all sound and she might get around to trying one over the weekend…)  Arggghhhhhh!!

    That all been said and vented, there have been a few recipes over the years that I have tried.  And I have to admit, most have been pretty good.

    This one here is a keeper. The basic salad can be thrown together with cans from the pantry, and it’s good for you with lots of fiber from the beans and lots of other feel good stuff from the veggies.  If you have some fresh herbs on hand, the basic salad can be jazzed up a bit, but it’s not necessary, the basic salad is good as it is.  If you want to go all out, throw in a few chopped avocados and a pound of bay shrimp.  This salad serves a bunch of people, so it’s ideal to take to any potluck or family gathering.  I’ve made this a number of times, and I have only had the recipe for a few weeks.  It’s been a popular side dish, and I love, love, love how fast and easy it is to throw together from ingredients I have in my pantry.

    This recipe was inspired by two recipes that ran in the “Home Plates” column in the San Jose Mercury News in June 2011, both recipes were attributed to Hazel Lawson Gentry.  I took the best of both recipes, experimented a bit with quantities, and came up with this, my new “go-to” Pasta Salad.  You can do the same!  This recipe is very flexible and very forgiving. Make it yours!

    Southwestern Pasta Salad

    For the Dressing

    1 cup ranch dressing

    1 7 oz. can chopped mild green chilies

    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

    For the Pasta Salad

    1 pound corkscrew, penne, or wagon wheel pasta, cooked and drained according to package directions (if you want less pasta in your salad, cook only 1/2 lb pasta, use 1 can of beans, and  keep all the other quantities the same.)

    1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (in the summer use 2 cups diced tomatoes from your backyard or from the farmers market), do not drain

    1 OR 2 15 oz. cans (your choice) of black beans, pinquitos, or kidney beans (I use 1 can black beans), drained

    1 15 oz. can corn (or 2 cups frozen corn, or fresh cooked corn stripped off the cob), drained

    1 7 oz. can sliced black olives, drained

    If you have it…

    4 sliced green onions

    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or basil

    To make this Pasta Salad “Supreme”

    2 diced avocados

    1 lb. bay shrimp

    1. Combine the ranch dressing with the undrained chiles and the cumin powder.  Set aside.  (Dressing can be made up to one week in advance.)
    2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Cool with cold water, and drain well.
    3. Combine the pasta with the can of undrained diced tomatoes and the drained beans, corn and olives.
    4. Stir in the desired amount of the prepared dressing–you might use 3/4, or you might use all of it.  It all depends on how much liquid your pasta absorbs (this depends on the brand, the style, and how long you’ve cooked your pasta), and your personal preference, how saucy do you like your pasta salad?  Stir in as much as you think you’d like.  Save any leftover dressing, after a few hours the salad might look a bit dry and you can stir in the rest of the dressing at that time.  (If the salad looks dry and you have no dressing left, stir in a few spoonfuls of salsa!)
    5. If using, stir in your choice of herbs, green onion, avocado and bay shrimp, and salt and pepper, if needed.
    6. Cover the salad with plastic wrap and chill until serving time.

    That’s all there is to it!  Easy peasy!

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Print out this recipe.  It will become a staple. Do you know how much stress is relieved by having a good, “go-to” pasta salad that can be made at the drop-of-the-hat, without a trip to the grocery store? Invite the neighbors over, get the burgers on the grill…, it’s Summertime and the livin’ is easy!!