Friday, May 14, 2010

More cookies and even some chicken this time!

So, ok, it's been a while. On the bright side, I finished my paper and my semester is rapidly coming to an end. I have two finals next week and then I can relax and enjoy my shavuos.

In big news, Hubert grew his first sprout! I tried to get some pictures, but I couldn't get them to come out right. They're all blurry. Let's just say, Yaakov and I are very excited! :)

Nothing else too exciting is going on, so we'll move onto food now. (mmm...food...)



Last week, I baked some more cookies, this time trying out oatmeal cookies. I thought it would be interesting to take the recipe on the side of the oat canister and see if what would happen if I substituted 3/4 cups of oil for 1 cup of margarine. I think I should have used more oil, though, because the cookies came out pretty crisp (which everyone but me seemed to enjoy). They were very tasty though, especially when they first came out of the oven and were still gooey. I mixed in some chocolate chips and craisins instead of raisins and walnuts, because that just sounded yummier. I plan to try them again today, this time with more oil.

Now, my big fun over the past couple of weeks was meat related. I've been breaking out my George Foreman recently with delicious results. Last week, I made some hamburgers that came out so juicy and yummy. They were the most amazing burgers ever. Here's what I put in them: diced onion, bread crumbs, egg and homemade sauce (ketchup, worschester sauce, hot sauce, garlic duck sauce, soy sauce, and a little liquid smoke). Mix it all together, make patties, and throw them on the grill. Now here's the key: I watched them very carefully to avoid letting them get overcooked like I've tended to do in the past. I wanted them just a little bit rare, to maintain juiciness and flavor. While I grilled them, I also grilled some purple onion and some large slices of mushroom. The sandwiches were heavenly. :)



This week, I decided to grill some chicken I'd had in the freezer for a bit. I defrosted them in the fridge over night, then prepared them and marinated them overnight in a honey sauce (honey, soy sauce, olive oil, fresh ground black pepper and garlic powder), turning them once during the next day, then I grilled them on Wednesday night. They came out so yummy! The texture wasn't exactly juicy, because they were grilled chicken fillets, but it wasn't dry either. They were just...good...and healthy. My only regret is that the only side dish I had for them was baked potato wedges with cajun seasoning instead of some kind of yummy vegetable.

Last night, though, I made a stir-fry. Tons of green crunchy veggies (snow peas, green beans, broccoli, scallions) mushrooms and onions, stir fried with tofu (marinated in soy sauce) and served on tortillas. Yum! Still have leftovers, too. I'll be eating them for lunch today.

Now, here's my big plan. I found a recipe for a peanut butter cake with a chocolate glaze and I'm now completely determined to make it for shavuot. And I will. Because it looks amazing and decadent and oh-so fattening but oh-so worth it.

So there you have it. I will, iy"H, return with more food adventures next week. :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cookies, cakes, soup, school and papers!

So, I'm sitting here right now watching the very very psychedelic screensaver on my netbook, eating some butternut squash soup, and trying to stall with my paper-writing. You know how sometimes, your final paper sounds so easy, you think it must be a trick. Surely your teacher doesn't actually just want you to summarize large sections of your textbook. Surely she wants us to use deep insight to apply the concepts to real life circumstances. But no. She really does want exactly what she asks for. Now I just have to stop wasting time and write it!

My semester is slowly but surely winding to an end. This semester has been, well, let's not call it easy, but certainly not a challenge. As a result, the last 3 weeks of the semester which are usually characterized by cursing, crying, and desperately wishing it could all be over are looking to be pretty calm. I have this paper due in about 2-ish weeks, (then a wedding in Lakewood) then I have two finals, then a sweet summer break.

This summer is going to be very nice. I'll be working all summer, but because I won't have any classes, I should be able to work out the occasional day off where I can go to DC or do other fun summer-y things. On top of that, my brother and my brand new sister-in-law will be coming to visit for possibly a whole month. Squee! ^_^

Next semester, I'll be taking Hebrew 201, Social Work 397 (the last one I need to take before I do my internship) and possibly a health administration class to fill my "human biology" requirement (unless I can convince someone that the human biology class I took in CCBC should be accepted for it).

As for more current events, I've been baking pretty regularly the past few weeks. Last week I baked a really delicious vanilla cake from a recipe given to me by my friend, Aviva. This week, I was thinking of baking it again to get rid of the Coffee Rich in my fridge before it goes bad when I had the sudden urge to make cookies instead. I thought, "I just want a basic cookie recipe. Nothing fancy." So I went to my "reference" cookbook, The Joy of Cooking.

Now, before I go on, I should mention that I rarely use Joy because it's so big that it's a little overwhelming trying to pick out a recipe. As a result, I've never made anything from it. I use it to get general ideas for how to make basic things. I used it once to learn how to make a glaze. That may have been the only time I ever opened it before Friday. Now I'm really sorry I didn't get into it sooner, mainly because the layout is so much simpler to understand. Instead of listing ingredients and then directions, it incorporates them (as you'll see below). It makes the recipe easier to follow, somehow. The ingredients are bolded, so you can still pick them out and collect them beforehand, but when you're actually preparing everything, you don't have to keep referring back to the ingredients list, or wondering, "Wait, how much flour do I add for this step?"

Anyway, this time, I opened to the cookie section and pretty quickly found myself in a sub-section entitled "Drop Cookies." Those are my favorite. Do you know why? Because they're easy. No refrigerating or rolling. No filling. Nothing fancy. Just mix ingredients and plop them on a cookie sheet. Also, it's easy to make drop cookies come out soft and chewy, which is the way I like them. I've never been a fan of the crunchy cookie.

Well, the moment I saw the words "Sugar Drop Cookies" I immediately knew I'd have to make them. I had all the listed ingredients at hand, and it was so straightforward. How could it go wrong?

The result? Sixty-seven delicious, adorable, sugary, easy-to-make cookies with just the right softness to please just about anyone.



Sugar Drop Cookies

Yields about 60 2 1/2 inch cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit. Lightly grease or line 2 cookie sheets.

Sift together:
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (you can do less)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon grated/ground nutmeg


Combine or mix to blend in a large bowl:
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup vegetable oil


Add one at a time, beating well after each addition:
2 eggs

Add:
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and beat well.
Shape the dough into 1/2 inch balls and dip them into:
sugar
and place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets, or flatten the balls with the bottom of a glass. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, about 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Let stand briefly then remove to cooling racks.


I hope you guys like these as much as I do. Between myself, Yaakov, and my parents, we finished these off in record time. :)

My favorite part about these (other than the taste, texture, shape, and everything else) is that they're made with oil instead of margarine. I really don't like working with margarine. Mixing it into a dough usually requires the use of a mixer, and that's just more equipment to clean. When it comes to cookies, I like something I can easily mix with a fork.

B'te'avon!