Feb 25, 2012

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

This recipe, with some very minor variations, has been making the rounds on the internet recently, especially on Pinterest. And after having made them myself this afternoon, I can see why. They are tasty--thin, delicate, lemony, and buttery. I'll be making these again for sure. Some variations I've seen suggest topping the cookies with a lemon glace and/or crushed Lemonheads candy. Another person substituted lime juice and zest for the lemon. These variations sound delicious, and I'll give those a try in the near future.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment or spray lightly with cooking spray.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice and mix well. Add the dry ingredients (except the powdered sugar) and blend until just combined. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in the powdered sugar to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes. I like a slightly crisper cookie, so I bake them until they are just slightly browned on the edges, but you may prefer baking them just until they will have lost a bit of their shininess on top. Whatever suits your fancy, but don't overbake them. Cool the cookies on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container.

Feb 19, 2012

White Chicken Enchiladas

Pinterest is turning out to be a great source for new recipes, and that's where I found this one. Yummy White Chicken Enchiladas! And I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken to make this even easier. The recipe comes from Joyful Mama's Kitchen.

10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.
2. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
3. In a saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
4. Stir in sour cream and green chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.
5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

Feb 11, 2012

Red Onion Salad Dressing

I've said many times before that homemade salad dressings are well worth the extra (often minimal) effort it takes to make them. And here is yet another dressing to prove my point. This delectable recipe comes from Mark Magleby, both a friend and cook extraordinaire. It's a poppy seedless poppy seed dressing ;-). Whether in a tossed salad, a shrimp salad, or drizzled over avocado and orange slices, this dressing is a huge winner.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt (add more after tasting)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups canola or other light oil

Puree onion and sugar together in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and puree until emulsified. Makes approximately 1 quart.

(adapted from Melba Susannah Robison Allen’s Poppyseed Dressing)

Feb 10, 2012

Cinnamon Honey Butter

This sweet spread is fabulous on toast, scones, or cornbread.

1 pound butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in an electric mixer and blend at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Chill.

Feb 5, 2012

Carmelitas

My sister Emily made these richly delicious bar cookies for a family home movie night recently. She found the recipe on Pinterest and then posted it on her blog. The oatmeal/chocolate/caramel combo is killer.Yum, yum, yum! The original recipe comes from here.

32 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.
*A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you're pinched for time. They shouldn't be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.

Feb 4, 2012

No-Knead Bread Variations

A little over two years ago, I discovered Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe (which I blogged about here), and I loved it so much that I've made it again and again since that time. I make it for family dinners, for friends and neighbors, and just for myself. It is so good, whether served with butter and jam, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, cheese, or whatever. It's also delicious toasted or made into French toast.

As much as I love this recipe, I've also also wanted to tinker with it, to create something new. I've seen all kinds of interesting variations online, with add-ins including herbs, nuts, dried fruit, and even chocolate chips. But because I love the original recipe so much, I've only tried a few variations so far that I'm happy with. Actually, I also tried a whole wheat version that was a miserable failure. That loaf was virtually inedible. I don't know what I did wrong.

Anyway, the first variation is simply a minor adjustment in the measurements of the original recipe so that I get a larger and slightly more flavorful loaf; it is now my standard recipe. I even adjusted the measurements on the original post to correspond with this. This version was suggested by Mark Bittman.

Revised No-Knead Bread Recipe
4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
A scant 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rising yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water at about 70 degrees
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (I usually just use flour and sometimes a little cornmeal)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Put dough seam side down on floured work surface and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a cotton dish towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in the oven while it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove heated pot from the oven. Gently move the ball of dough with your hands from your work surface and drop it into the pan. It may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes (Note: I often like a less dark and crunchy crust, so I'll usually reduce the final baking time by about 5 minutes), until loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

No-Knead Bread Variations
Garlic Parmesan
This is probably one of my favorite variations. After I combine the dry ingredients, I add 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, and 1 tablespoon dried sliced garlic (I found this at Costco) and mix all of that in. Then I add the water and follow the instructions above. The cheese and garlic are a wonderful combination.

White Chocolate Chip/Cinnamon Chip
I tasted this variation for the first time at a free bread-making class at a local kitchen store. It was terrific! And the clear favorite of the 20 students, though I still love the original recipe. The instructor added 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup mini cinnamon chips (they sold these at the cooking store) to the dry ingredients at the beginning, as well as an additional 1/4 teaspoon of rapid-rising yeast. I made this recipe at home and it turned out very delicious, but I found that the white chocolate chips tended to burn a little at the high temperature you bake this bread at.

No-Knead Bread with Sunflower Seeds
I love seeded breads, so I tried using sunflower seeds. I used the recipe above, but I substituted one cup of oat flour for the all-purpose flour. I also added 1/2 cup honey. Then I stirred/folded in 1/2 to 3/4 cup sunflower seeds and baked the loaf as normal. Very delicious result.

Oatmeal No-Knead Bread
Another version I am pleased with includes steel-cut oats. Again, I used the revised no-knead recipe above, but made a few alterations. I substituted 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup steel-cut oats for 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, and I added maybe an extra 1/4 cup water.

With these variations, the mixing/raising/baking instructions are basically the same.