February 24, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies

 I rarely make shaped cookies because, really they just take too much time.  I can have a batch of chocolate cookies made start to finish in 45 minutes.  However, after having a few raspberry thumbprint cookies at a recent church event I've been craving those buttery cookies.  I emailed the event coordinator to see if she remembered who made them only to find out she had brought them.  Yay for Lisa.  She calls them Sweetheart cookies.  Regardless of the name, they are one of my new favorites.

I made mine a little smaller (36 cookies), and using spark recipe calculator, mine came out to 75 calories a cookie - I skipped the chocolate drizzle and only put powder sugar on a few.

3/4 cup butter softened (do not substitute margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk 
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tbsp jam/fruit preserves - warmed (I used strawberry, my favorite)
Powdered sugar for dusting
2-3 ounces melted semi sweet chocolate (not chips) for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease cookie sheet or use a silpat.  In a large bowl cream butter and sugar 2 minutes.  Add egg yolk, beat on medium speed for another minute, dough should be pale and fluffy.  Stir in flour by hand until dough comes together.  Use a cookie scoop or roll dough into 1 inch balls (will make roughly 2 dozen cookies).  Spray the handle of a wooden spoon with non-stick spray then use it to make indentions in the cookies.  Fill with 1/4 tsp warmed jam (warming it will make it easier to scoop and fill cookies).  Bake 13-15 minutes (take off 1-2 minutes if you make smaller cookies).  The jam will shrink considerably during cooking, so refill each cookie as soon as you pull it out of the oven.  Move cookies to wax paper to cool.  

If desired dust warm cookies with powdered sugar and melted chocolate.  Dip a fork in the melted chocolate and gently wave back and forth.  Be careful - it's easy to get overly enthusiastic and have chocolate end up everywhere!

For a slightly more complex flavor you could add up to 1/2 tsp almond or other extract at the same time as the egg yolk.  I love the simplicity of the flavor just as the recipe is, but have fun experimenting.  Because it is so simple, you will get the best results with good quality ingredients.  

February 19, 2012

Mongolian Beef

I'm behind on recipe posting, but this recipe is a definite winner.  I love Chinese food and have been wanting to learn how to make a few dishes at home because we don't have a lot of good options close by.  Plus making it at home usually means less salt and calories (at least that's what I tell myself).

I made this last weekend and was very impressed.  I added mushrooms, since that's how Pei Wei serves it and served it with sticky rice and steamed broccoli.  The sauce had great flavor, similar to Pei Wei/P.F. Chang but the texture was slightly off.  I think if you pureed the sauce and strained it, you would get the texture closer to the restaurant.  I finely chopped the garlic and used a micro plane to grate the ginger but it wasn't quite fine enough to match the restaurant sauce - though still fantastic.  Not sure I would go through that much effort in the future, but its an option.

Here is the original recipe, although some of the directions were vague, so I have adapted it (below):

1 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. ginger, finely minced or grated
2 Tbsp. garlic, finely minced or grated
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 lb. flank steaks
½ cup cornstarch
3 large green onions

optional: 8 oz mushrooms (quartered or large sliced), 2 heads broccoli, or other vegetables
rice for serving

Make the sauce by heating 1 tsp. vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to medium and boil the sauce 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens a little bit. Remove sauce from heat.  The sauce can be made ahead of time.
Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45 degree angle to the top of the steak so you get wider cuts. In a ziploc bag mix the beef slices and cornstarch, then shake out the excess with a colander. Let the beef sit about 10 min. so the cornstarch sticks. As the beef sits, heat up 1 c. oil in a wok or skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat until it's hot, but not smoking (Tip: put the end of a wooden spoon into the oil, if bubbles form the oil is ready to cook). Add the beef to the oil and saute for 60-90 seconds on each side.  Depending on the size of the skillet it may take 2-3 batches to get all the meat cooked.

Use a large slotted spoon or tongs to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour the oil out of the skillet. Put the pan back over the heat, add back the meat and any vegetables, add the sauce, and green onions, then cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.  The sauce will thicken up as it mixes with the corn starch in the beef.  Serve hot over rice.  

February 15, 2012

Allison's Adventure at the Doctor

Enjoying her nuggets & cartoons 
My normally happy girl was fussy all morning besides sneezing and coughing. She'd had a runny nose off and on for a month, but so had everyone between the crazy weather and pollen. Unfortunately I think Allison has inherited my allergies rather than Kevin's lack thereof.

I decided this was too much to be just allergies so we bundled off to see Dr. Moore. Turns out Allison has an ear infection and needs her first ever round of antibiotics.  Aside from that she is doing well developmentally and finally hit the 20 lb mark!

We ran to the library while waiting on our prescription, then CVS for drugs, and Allison got McDonalds drive-thru for lunch since she didn't eat much breakfast. She loves nuggets and fries for a special treat. We prefer Chickfila, but this was on the way home. Hopefully she will be feeling better soon. A full tummy should help if nothing else.

February 11, 2012

February 10, 2012

17 months old

Allison was so excited about turning 17 months old today she woke us up before 6 am. At least it's friday, I have a feeling it's going to be a long day!

February 8, 2012

Not so Superbowl snack

Just out of the oven - certainly looked yummy
A couple weeks ago I saw a recipe for baked buffalo chicken bites and thought it would make a good Superbowl snack.  Since we were staying home to watch the game I wanted to make bar food type snacks, but liked the idea of baked not fried, easier execution, and less calories means I can still have dessert too, right?

I served them with both ranch and blue cheese dipping sauce.  Would have been nice to know ahead of time that Kevin hates blue cheese!  Anyone want an almost full bottle of blue cheese dressing?

Here is the recipe: http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/09/24/buffalo-chicken-bites/


Turns out it was better in theory than execution.  It took a fair bit of effort, and Kevin and I weren't impressed.  First I mixed the dough (left picture), then made patties (middle), then the dipping for a crispy coating- flour, egg wash, and crushed corn flakes (right).  I bought the corn flakes the day before but they tasted stale - not sure if it was the baking time, or if they had been sitting on the Kroger shelves for eons?  I'm glad I tried it and it kicked my craving for anything 'buffalo' until next Superbowl rolls around but I wouldn't recommend it.  If you do try it I would switch out panko crumbs for the corn flakes.  Oh well, this week I'm baking for a cookie sale fundraiser at Church, I saw a lemon cookie recipe this morning, maybe we'll try that for this weeks new recipe.

February 4, 2012

Allison finds her own snack

This is what happens when the pantry door is not firmly shut and I leave Allison in the living room alone for 5 minutes.

February 3, 2012

Little girls are a blessing

Here are two of my favorite blessings - Allison Nicole and her friend Brooklyn Nicole - both named for Brooklyn's mom, Holly Nicole. Allison and I went to visit the Baskin family today. While Allison played with Brooklyn I dropped off a meal and met Holly and TD's two newest blessings - Caroline and Madison. It's hard to remember that Allison was ever that tiny. The twins turned a week old yesterday and look like tiny perfect dolls. Almost makes me want another one.

February 2, 2012

The Mustard Game

Allison's new favorite game is to sneak the fancy mustards out of the fridge and hide them. Last night I found them in my night stand when I was looking for Advil before going to bed.