This is my husband’s favorite cookie. I made 200+ of them as favors for our wedding guests. After trying many recipes I found that the one on the bottom of the lid of the Quaker Oats container was my favorite. But when I saw this one in my Test Kitchen cookbook I thought I’d give it a try. You know, for research. They are quite good and may give the Quaker recipe a run for its money.
But really a fair comparison can’t be made. I’d probably have to have them side by side to decide which is better. These are puffier and more tender than the others, they are more full of oats and are flavored with nutmeg instead of cinnamon. I kind of missed the cinnamon, so I’d add some the next time. I might also add more raisins.
A dear friend gave me her copy of “Deceptively Delicious” , the cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, when I complained about my kids not eating certain foods. Vegetables being our main problem. While perusing the cookbook I came across some really yummy looking recipes. The great thing is that almost every one sneaks veggies into foods that kids love (macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken nugget, etc .) I came across a chocolate chip cookie recipe that has an entire can of chickpeas in it. Well, we all know what I had to do that very day.
I changed a few things about the recipe, using butter instead of tub margarine, one egg and one egg white instead of two egg whites, and white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. I also mashed up the chickpeas instead of adding them whole, just to avoid biting into a big ol’ chickpea, which didn’t sound super appealing.
The results were not bad! You can’t taste the chickpeas. Ben actually took one off of the cooling rack when he got home, ate it and declared it good before I told him they were semi-healthy. I didn’t even tell him about the chickpeas. He’s finding out now via the blog…
The cookies are cakey and bake up in mounds with very little spreading. I left some in mounds and flattened others. You can flatten them with your hand, the bottom of a glass or the back of a fork. Eaten the same day they’re baked they are really tasty. After storing them in a container for a day they stick together a bit and are very soft. BUT still quite delicious.
I used milk chocolate chips, but I think semi sweet or dark would be better. The raisins are optional, but I really liked them in these cookies. I used pecans, because that’s what I had. But, and I know this is out of character, I think walnuts would be better. I don’t think the white whole wheat flour made much of a difference in these since they’re already very hearty in texture, I used it because I had some and it made me feel like I was making these even healthier! Healthier cookies means I can eat more of them! And I feel better about giving them to the kids. Both of the big kids, almost 4 and almost 2, really liked these. So while I won’t be making these cookies every time I want chocolate chip cookies, I will be making these again.
The challenge for the Daring Bakers this month was Easter Bread, which was perfect. Easter was on the 20th this month, so of course you’d make your Easter bread and serve it at your Easter meal and then post about it a week later. Unless of course you’re like me and procrastinate most of the challenges until just a few days before the posting date! So while I did make an Easter bread for Good Friday, this bread is just for The Daring Bakers and was made well after Easter.
The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den . She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world.
I chose to make a Dutch Easter bread called Paasbrood. I noticed many similarities in Easter breads as I searched for one to make. Many had dried fruits, like raisins, and many were braided either in long loaves or circles. This Dutch bread has raisins, and candied fruit peel (which I did not use) and is twisted into a long loaf. Oh, and it’s stuffed with almond paste! I couldn’t imagine anything better.
I found a recipe that looked reliable here, and I changed just a few things. I used pre-made almond paste instead of making my own. I also used a mixture of all-purpose flour and almond meal in the bread dough. I could not find candied fruit peel, and to be honest I didn’t try all that hard. I also added in some cinnamon with the cardamom. As a result this bread was very similar to the Hot Cross Buns I made last week, with the exception of the almond filling. The dough was pretty easy to deal with and had good texture and flavor after baking. The almond paste, which I was totally excited about, wound up being a little much for me. Maybe I should have used less of it. I divided a 7 ounce tube in half, rolled the halves into long ropes and put them inside each piece of dough.
When I ate a piece of the bread just after glazing I found myself breaking up the paste a little and kind of spreading it out onto the bread instead of taking a bite of mostly almond paste. And while the flavor of the bread was terrific, I wasn’t all that impressed with the almond paste filling. Maybe it just needed to be less concentrated. Or maybe I should have made my own so that the texture would’ve been different. But overall the bread was nice and toasting a slice and spreading a little butter on it is a really nice way to enjoy it.
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus extra flour for dough and counter
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon caradmom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup raisins
1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste
water or milk
red food coloring (optional)
Combine milk, yeast and sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup and allow to sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
Whisk flour, spices, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add in milk mixture, egg and butter and turn mixer on low to start mixing, then on medium for 4-5 minutes. Add in a few tablespoons of flour if dough is very sticky. Once dough reaches a consistency where it is becoming more elastic than sticky, cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour.
Divide almond paste into two equal sized pieces and roll each into a log about 12 inches long.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Flour a clean work surface and turn dough out. Knead in the raisins, then divide dough in half. Roll each half into a long rectangle a little longer than the almond paste log and a couple inches wide.
Place the almond log in the center of the dough piece and enclose it by pinching the dough around it. Repeat with the other dough and almond paste.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough pieces side by side on the sheet and pinch two end together, then twist the dough about 4 times, then pinch bottom ends together.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until bread is nicely browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before drizzling with the glaze.
Make the glaze: Mix about 1 cup of powdered sugar with either water or milk (you could also use lemon juice, like I did, but I would not do it again) a teaspoon at a time until it reaches a good drizzling consistency. You can color with food coloring if you’d like at this point. Drizzle over the bread and allow to set before cutting and serving.
The slow cooker gets a bad rap sometimes. But not every meal that comes out of it has to be mediocre or full of cream-of-whatever soups. I am currently in search of good crock pot recipes, and while I have had a couple mishaps, some of the meals I’ve made have been worth repeating. This is one of those meals.
The only thing I would do differently with this recipe is to use bone-in chicken instead of boneless chicken breasts. I knew that might be an issue, but I wanted to use what I had, and what I had was boneless chicken breasts. Our chicken was a tad dry after cooking all day, in my opinion anyway. Ben thought it was good, but Ben thinks most of what I make is good…I think he was just being nice : )
As far as flavor goes, this was a good slow cooker meal. The apricots and raisins get nice and plump after soaking up the cooking liquid and add a nice sweetness to the dish. The carrots stay surprisingly sturdy, not at all mushy, as long as you’re generous with your cut. I sliced them on a bias somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. A slight change I made was the addition of 2 extra carrots because I like more vegetables. The original recipe calls for 2 onions, but since mine was rather large I only used one, and am glad that I did.
The slow cooker bible says DO NOT take the cover off the slow cooker while cooking! I disobeyed this rule. After about 4 hours of cooking I stirred everything up so that the chicken would be covered in more liquid. I don’t know how much of a difference that made.
Served atop the couscous, and sprinkled with the fresh cilantro and pine nuts, this meal is quite tasty. The freshly made components make this seem less like your typical slow cooker meal. Enjoy!
Trail mix is one of my favorite snacks. I am not active enough to really need the calories and nutritional value it provides, but it’s still not as bad as chowing down on a bag of potato chips, right? Right…
Not only is trail mix delicious, but it’s an easy snack to take along with you, and we almost always have a bag (or a few bags) of it in our house. I was planning to make cookies for a trip we took to Angel Fire this past weekend. My original plan was oatmeal raisin, but then I thought I’d use the trail mix instead. Pure genius.
The trail mix I buy for Ben can be found at Sam’s Club, but when I don’t feel like going to Sam’s just for a bag of the stuff I buy it at Wal Mart. It is a perfect mix of peanuts, almonds, cashews, raisins and M&M’s.
I used a simple oatmeal raisin cookie base, but instead of the cup of raisins I measured out 1 1/2 cups of trail mix, chopped up the larger almonds and cashews and stirred it in to the dough. I added a few dark chocolate M&M’s I had left over from Valentine’s Day just to be sure there was enough chocolate in there : )
The combination of peanuts, raisins, M&M’s, almonds and cashews was terrific. The final product was hearty and delicious. Enjoy!
Trail Mix Cookies
1 stick butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups oats
1 1/2 to 2 cups trail mix, larger nuts chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat butter and shortening until smooth, then beat in both sugars, then eggs until light.
This is the second time around for me and these bran muffins from Ina Garten. The first time I made them I followed the recipe exactly…well, I did leave out the orange zest. They were terrific. There wasn’t a real need to change anything. You will not be disappointed if you try the original recipe. Here is the link.
I had some blackened bananas that needed to be put to good use, and fast. So I decided to try them in these muffins instead of the firmer chopped banana I’d used the first time. Here are the other changes I made.
Added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients
Used skim milk (mixed with lemon juice) instead of buttermilk
Used half whole wheat and half AP flour
Used half golden raisins and half regular raisins
Substituted pecans for the walnuts
Used the orange zest
The result was yet another yummy bran muffin. They do not photograph well though, so I used this photo courtesy of foodtv.com. I liked the subtle flavor of the orange zest. I definitely like the pecans better than walnuts…but that’s just a personal preference. The texture was a bit heartier with the wheat flour. The skim milk might have made the texture or moistness of the muffins a bit different, but not to a degree that I really noticed. The combination of golden and regular raisins is nice, but not necessary. I had some extra golden ones left over, so I used them. I wouldn’t buy them just for these muffins as the plain raisins are great.
You can change a lot of things in these muffins to make them your own. I would not leave out the banana though since I am sure that gives some necessary moisture. Next time I might use cranberries instead of raisins. I think that would be nice with the orange flavor, which I might bump up more by using more zest and some orange juice. If you think of or try anything else, let me know. Enjoy!
Why I ever bought a can of sweet potatoes is a mystery. I bake sweet potatoes every now and then, but I have never had a use for canned sweet potatoes. I saw this can of potatoes and went to the trusty internet in search of something I could bake with it. I found this recipe on cooks.com for sweet potato muffins. I changed it to a sweet potato cake by simply baking it in a bundt pan. Here is the link.
Ben is not a sweets person, but he really liked this cake. He even ate it for breakfast on 2 mornings last week, and he always has cereal. When I make something that Ben eats without being asked to or having a piece served to him, I am pretty excited about it. The cake is moist, the raisins and pecans add nice contrasts, and it is delicious. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Cake
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes or yams, fresh or canned
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Grease and sugar a bundt pan.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Beat sugar, sweet potatoes and butter until smooth.
Add eggs and blend well.
Sift together flour, baking powder, spices and salt.
Add alternately with milk to sweet potato mixture, stirring just to blend. Do not overmix.
Fold in raisins and nuts.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until firm to the touch, and cake tester comes out clean.