Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Perfect Ginger Snap Cookies (and Mushroom Soup)



I originally started this post last night to be exclusively about the mushroom soup but then I got distracted. Then today, I made the most amazing ginger snap cookies and they overshadowed the soup by a lot, so this is now about cookies, with a side note about the soup.

The recipe I used for the cookies is the same one I used in my last ginger snap cookie post (which I'm too lazy to link to, sorry). The recipe is from David Lebovitz's blog. This time, though, I tweaked it to make it a little healthier.

I was not expecting these to come out as amazingly as they did. I had been thinking I was making it a little healthier and cutting corners, so I was expecting the cookies to be decent, but nothing special. When I finally bit into one of these perfect, pillowy cookies, I was blown away by the subtle spice, the crunchy "crust" and the chewy, delicious center. These are the perfect cookies. Make them. Now.



Perfect Ginger Snap Cookies (adapted from davidlebovitz.com)

Ingredients
  • 2 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C + 3 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 2/3 C Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 C Mild Flavored Molasses
  • 1 Large Egg, at room temperature
  • Extra sugar for rolling.
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (all except the sugar) in a bowl (or in a tupperware container, and shake)
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and oil until fully combined.
  4. Mix in the vanilla, molasses, and the egg.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until all of the flour is wet.
  6. With your hands (I recommend food gloves) finish mixing the dough.
  7. Form the dough into 1" balls and roll them in sugar, then place them on the baking sheet about an inch apart.
  8. Bake for about 11 minutes, until they are puffy and cracked on top.
  9. Let them sit for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. These are VERY crumbly fresh out of the oven. They will fall apart if you try to move them too soon.


So that's the amazing cookies. Now on to the soup. The soup is very simple and pretty tasty. It's also not too bad for you. The recipe can be found here. I didn't change anything. It was quite delicious.

Before I go, I just wanted to share with you the belated birthday present my mother got me. She said she saw them in the train station and knew I'd love them.



My mother knows me so well. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf

Let me begin this post by apologizing for not having any pictures. If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, remember that I always accept donations to the camera fund. :oD

Now on to business. For a while I've been saying that I want to start eating healthier, at least most of the week. This week I decided to actually do it. For this trick, I had to head to the grocery store and buy some healthy foods, like frozen vegetables, to stock up my freezer/pantry.

As part of this, I planned my meals for the week by hunting through my blogs and piecing together some ideas. Meal planning is something I keep thinking I need to do more of, too, but it's hard for me to remember to do it. Also, I often make the mistake of planning something for two meals, and then I get reminded around night 2 that the Huz "needs" to eat a lot of food or he'll "starve," and the leftovers from the previous night just won't cut it for him.

So here's my plan for this week:

Monday: Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Frozen Green Beans
Tuesday: Eat at my parents' for my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, MOMMY!)
Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir-fry with a side of rice stuff I discovered at the store. (I would write the actual name, but I don't remember it. I'll post more on it later if it's good)
Thursday: Mushroom Soup and leftovers


Today's post is about last night's dinner, Turkey Meatloaf. I got the recipe off of Gina's Skinny Recipes, a great blog with TONS of healthier versions of various foods. It's particularly great because she includes nutrition information and calculates the Weight Watcher's points for all the recipes.

I took her recipe and tweaked it a little (as I'm prone to do) to make it more fun.

PLEASE NOTE: This recipe contains Worcester sauce. Usually, Worcester sauce contains anchovies, a fish. To avoid mixing fish with meat, make sure to buy a brand which specifies that it contains no fish.

Mini Turkey Meatloaves

Ingredients
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1.3 lb 99% lean ground turkey {I only had 1 lb, but use the whole 1.3 if you have it}
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal {I didn't have oatmeal, so I used whole wheat bread crumbs}
  • 1/4 cup ketchup + 2 tbsp
  • 2 tsp worcesterchire sauce
  • {I also used hot sauce, because I love it}
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • salt
  • {I added in garlic powder, ground red pepper, and some ground black pepper}
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients, except for the the 2tbsp of ketchup and the worcesterchire sauce, together in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Divide into mini-loaf pans (I got about three little loaves out of it, but the extra 1/3rd of a pound should be enough to get it to four.)
  5. Mix together the ketchup, worcesterchire sauce, and a little hot sauce in a small cup.
  6. Brush the sauce over the loaves.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.
  8. Let it sit 5 minutes before serving to avoid burning anyone.


These came out really tasty and are actually a pretty healthy dinner when served with veggies. Check out Gina's Skinny Recipes for the nutrition details.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hoo boy! My bad! (a.k.a. - Neglected Thanksgiving Post)

So, funny story. I know how much you guys look forward to reading my posts and somehow I just got so caught up in school and other wastes of time that I completely forgot to post about the single greatest baking day of the season so far: Thanksgiving!



Let me start off by letting you guys know that I'm not a big Thanksgiving celebrator. Before this year, I hadn't had a Thanksgiving dinner (well, not a REAL one anyway. Last couple of years, we had tacos) for about 6 or 7 years. I didn't mind, really. I missed my father's Thanksgiving cooking (he makes the best stuffing and gravy!) but that was about it.

This year, however, my grandmother is back in town. She moved back here around March and unfortunately had some health problems (which are now resolved, thank G-d) and as November approached, it seemed to be taken for granted that we would have to provide her with a Thanksgiving feast. Okay. No biggie! It's just an excuse for me to try my hand at pie baking. And that's what I did.



My original plan was two pumpkin pies with a homemade crust. But come Thanksgiving day and I got...well, a little carried away. It turned into one pumpkin pie, one apple pie, and a large pumpkin cake.

You see, I was reminded the week before that my parents' anniversary is two days before Thanksgiving. Great! A chance for me to use that new cake-decorating kit I just bought! (By "cake-decorating kit" what I mean is, "An icing bag with 5 tips.")

All around, people loved all of the desserts, but it was definitely excessive. And as it turns out, cake-decorating is not as easy as I thought it would be. Apparently the word "anniversary" is really long in the context of a cake-top (Cake Wrecks, here I come!). I also may have made my cream cheese frosting too runny (snot comes to mind?) and my buttercream decorating icing too thick (really hard to squeeze it through the tube). Had I combined them, the decorating might have been more successful.



Of course my parents still appreciated the sentiment and thought the cake itself was delicious. That's what Thanksgiving is all about, right?

Anyway, here are the recipes:



The pumpkin pie recipe was just straight from Couldn't Be Parve. I used her simple recipe (taken right from the Libby's can) for the filling (replacing the soy-milk powder and water with plain ol' vanilla soy milk) and her crust recipe. I also used that crust recipe for the apple pie.

The apple pie was even simpler than the pumpkin pie. I used canned filling. I know. Dreadful, right? Two cans of apple pie filling. I also used (how shameful) a frozen pie crust for the bottom of the pie. I DID however use a homemade crust for the top.

Finally, the pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. This was a recipe I got from Gourmet Kosher Cooking. I made the cake according to the recipe, but decided against making the icing recipe they give. Here's why: the first time I made it, it was heavenly. The second time I made it, it was runny with lumps of margarine. I was completely determined to avoid the margarine lumps this time, so I left it out entirely. I made the icing with cream cheese, powdered sugar and a little vanilla. The result wasn't great, as I mentioned earlier. It was tasty, but very runny, no matter how much sugar I added. (This is an issue I've had with cream cheese frosting in general). I've come to the conclusion that this cake is better left unfrosted. Call me crazy, but I think I prefer it that way.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spiced Pancakes

I admit it's been a while since I've posted anything interesting (read: food related). So I figured it was high time I made something I haven't already posted about. This morning I woke up in the mood for pancakes and, since I had a paper to work on, figured making some from scratch was a great way to procrastinate.



I think I've mentioned before that one of the more awesome wedding presents I got (discounting gifts of money, expensive kitchen appliances, etc.) was The Joy of Cooking. I can't remember who bought it for me (sorry!) but it's come in handy more than a few times. There are those moments when I feel a sudden urge to make cookies and need a quick and simple recipe, or times like that today when I need a recipe and pointers on making pancakes.



Since I wanted to keep this as simple as possible, I used their basic recipe, but I tweaked it a little to make it more interesting. I added some pumpkin pie seasoning to give it a Fall/Winter feeling. If I did it again, I would add more of it. I only put in 1 teaspoon, which resulted in a subtle spiced flavor, but I tend to prefer my flavors to be more pronounced. They did turn out pretty yummy though. We gobbled those things up like they were going out of style (which believe me, they never will).



Spiced Pancakes


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 C flour (I used 1 C whole wheat and 1/2 C all-purpose)
  • 1 3/4 Tbsp Baking Powder (I thought this was a weird amount of baking powder, but I went with it)
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Seasoning (I would add an extra teaspoon to this.)
  • 3 Tbsp Butter (melted)
  • 1 1/2 C Milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing quickly. Don't worry about lumps in the batter (this was a pointer in the book, but I actually tried to get it pretty smooth.) The book also recommends letting the batter rest for a couple hours in the fridge, but I didn't have that kind of patience.
  4. Grease a griddle or frying pan and heat until water splashed on the surface sizzles.
  5. Using a spoon or ladle, pour about 1/2 a cup (or a little less) of the batter onto the pan. To ensure circular pancakes, pour it on one spot. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SPREAD IT AROUND! If your batter is the right texture, it should spread enough on it's own. If the batter is too thick, at a small amount of water or milk (1 tbsp at a time). If the batter is too thin (spreading too much/too quickly) at a small amount of flour to thicken it.
  6. Let the pancake cook until bubbles start to form and pop on the top. I found that this happened pretty early on, but give it time (2 mins?) until you're seeing big bubbles towards the center of the pancake. Using a large spatula, lift up the edge to see if it's nicely cooked on the bottom. If it looks good, flip it with the spatula.
  7. Let the other side cook about 1 minute, or until it seems done.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 with the rest of the batter.
  9. Serve pancakes with warm maple syrup, a pat of butter, whipped cream or whatever else you would normally eat your pancakes with. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Channukah!



Does this confuse you? Refer back to the first post for more information on the Bunny Box.

Still confused? Yeah, that's what I figured.

Be safe this Channukah! Keep fires away from bunnies and other flammable animals/children. Don't leave the candles burning unattended. Enjoy your Chag!