Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies

This weekend rolled around, and once again, we were in the mood for something sweet! I didn't want to make the usual (since I'd just made them earlier this week...wait, I mean...earlier this month...I didn't make cookies twice this week...). With a little searching, I stumbled upon these gems from Joy the Baker. Chewy and carmel-y, with hints of cinnamon and ginger. These babies hit the spot and they are some of my new favorites! They're almost a cross between sugar cookies and a gingersnaps. Or like a flavorful chocolate chip cookie without chocolate chips. Just make them.

Brown Sugar Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for one minute more.
Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat on low speed until the dough begins to come together and the flour disappears. Stop the mixture and finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula. Once all the flour is thoroughly mixed in, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner. Dollop tablespoon size balls of dough onto baking sheet. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will last in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days...good luck getting them to last that long. ;)

* If you only have light brown sugar like me, just add 1 Tbsp of molasses.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Waffles

If you don't already know, I go on a major pumpkin kick the last three months of the year. When I saw these pumpkin waffles from You're Gonna Bake It After All, I knew it was just a matter of time before I consumed them.

I made a couple small changes to make them a tad healthier, and they were so delicious! Think pumpkin pie in waffle form. When the smell of pumpkin and spices had filled our house, Stew said to me, "The smell of pumpkin and spices in the kitchen at this time of year means there's someone in the kitchen who loves me!" :) He was so glad I convinced him to have these waffles for dinner. Make them soon!

Pumpkin Waffles
Adapted from this recipe

Makes 5 full traditional (not Belgian) waffles (20 squares)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk*

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin

6 Tbsp canola oil

Cooking spray for waffle iron

*Or use 2 cups milk with 2 tablespoons vinegar and allow to curdle for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron.
Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and oil until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined. In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the waffle batter until just combined.
Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour or spoon batter into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
If serving many people, transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp.
Repeat with remaining batter.
I just cool my extra waffles on a cooling rack, break up the squares, wrap them in waxed paper, and pack them up in freezer bags. Then they are ready to pop in the toaster from frozen.
Serve topped with butter and maple syrup and enjoy the flavors of fall!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Happy Halloween from lindstewfoodies!

Our little Hattie-cake and her bakers, and the candy corn cupcakes we made for a Halloween party.

Cupcakes have become really popular in the last few years...and I have to admit...I'm not a cupcake person (please don't shoot me). I mean, I won't say no to a good cupcake now and then, but I definitely wouldn't pick a cupcake over a yummy cookie. 
For the Campbell family Halloween party we were in charge of a dessert. I was going to make pumpkin cookies or some other festive treat, but then I got thinking...Hattie's Halloween costume is a would be cute if we took cupcakes to the party. Once I mentioned that thought to Stew he wouldn't have it any other way! I remembered seeing candy corn cupcakes online in several places and thought they'd be an easier cupcake to make (seeing as I'm a novice cupcake baker).
I didn't want to just use a boxed cake mix, but I wasn't about to make them from scratch. I knew of two ways to make a cake mix taste homemade, and since I made a double batch, I did them both! I filled the muffin tins a little too full however, and this is what the first round looked like out of the oven.
Sorry for the bad phone photo, I texted this to Stew with the caption, "The cupcakes exploded!"

Then I sent this photo to Stew saying, "They are actually pretty cute from the side!"

I think cupcakes have frosting on top to hide the flaws...right? Topped with the best buttercream frosting I've ever made (I figured out the secret to a good buttercream!), these cupcakes were actually pretty delicious, and I admit I looked forward to eating the leftovers days after.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

White cake mix, plus ingredients called for on box
1 cup sour cream


White cake mix, plus eggs called for on box
Buttermilk or milk instead of water called for on box
Melted butter instead of oil called for on box

Preheat oven to temperature called for on box. Prepare muffin tins with white paper holders (or something you can see through).
Make cake mix as directed on box, either substituting milk and butter for water and oil, or adding sour cream at the end.
Divide batter into three separate bowls. Add yellow food coloring to one bowl, yellow and red to another, and keep another bowl white.
Drop a spoonful of white batter into each muffin "hole" (is there a proper name for that?), and spread evenly over the bottom. Follow with orange, and then yellow. **Be careful not to fill the muffin tins too full, especially if you added sour cream to the batter, as that tends to make the muffins expand more.
Bake cupcakes for the time recommended on box. Let cool, then frost!

Best Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened (not melted)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Splash of almond extract, if desired

Place butter in a small bowl of an electric mixer. Beat butter until it is as white as possible (the step I've always missed!). Gradually add about half the sugar, beating constantly. Add the rest of the sugar and beat until smooth. Mix in vanilla, and milk if needed. Frosting should be smooth and easy to spread. Add extra milk or sugar until frosting is spreadable.
Keep frosting white, or color yellow or orange. Spread on top of cooled cupcakes with a knife (or if you're fancy, pipe it on). Top each cupcake with a candy corn. Enjoy!

Need an easy Halloween dinner recipe? This is what we'll be having.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pea Pesto Pasta

Made this the other night and it was so good! Great way to use all those fresh peas from your garden (or frozen peas from the store)!

I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, go here to get it!

Changes I made:
Used roasted salted almonds instead of pine nuts (which I didn't have)
Added more garlic
Used shell pasta instead of linguine

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken "Gyro" with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

Photo from here.

We’ve been on a Greek kick for the past couple of months because of a certain someone on the Next Food Network Star show…we’re so glad she didn’t win but really enjoyed watching her make some of the most amazing Greek dishes. Her dishes had our mouths watering every time she cooked! We’ve been to a few Greek restaurants lately and that coupled with the show has made us want to incorporate a Greek dish into our family dinner rotations.

This recipe can be done with lamb or chicken. We haven’t tried it with lamb yet…in fact, neither of us has ever eaten lamb. But the next time we make this (which will probably be in a couple of weeks) we will make it with lamb and report back. :) Making it with chicken can be a little less scary for kids and people who are not used to Greek food…but we’re serious when we say this: this is one of the most flavorful dishes we have ever made (to date).

So first…you gotta make the marinade for your chicken/lamb…

Ingredients for marinade:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest OR 2 to 3 drops lemon oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions for marinade:
Crush the garlic, and mix it with the remaining ingredients. Trim any fat off of your chicken and cut them into strips about 2.5” inches wide. Place the strips on a cutting board, and pound them till they're about 1/4-inch thick. You may want a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken while you're pounding to keep it from "spattering." Put chicken and marinade into a Ziploc freezer bag and keep refrigerated until ready to cook (up to 24 hours).

Next, the cucumber yogurt sauce…

Ingredients for cucumber yogurt sauce:
2 cups (16 ounces) plain yogurt (whole or low-fat, not nonfat, preferably without gum or other thickeners*)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 12 ounces, about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions for cucumber yogurt sauce:
Place the yogurt into a yogurt cheese maker, or into a very fine sieve, or a sieve lined with a coffee filter. Set it over a bowl (if you're using a sieve rather than yogurt cheese maker), and let it drain for 1 hour or so; up to 3/4 cup of liquid will drain off. This helps thicken the sauce (and trust me, you want it thick…not runny), and also mellows the acidic flavor of the yogurt. If you're using an English cucumber, or one without waxed skin, you don't need to peel it. Mix the chopped cucumber with the salt, place it in a colander, and let it drain for 30 minutes or so. Rinse the drained cucumber with cool water, and let it drip dry. Crush the garlic, and chop the mint leaves medium-fine. Or combine the garlic and mint in a small food processor, pulsing a few times till they're pretty finely chopped. Remove the thickened yogurt from the drainer, and mix it with the garlic and mint. Add the drained cucumber, then the black pepper, stirring to combine. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for several hours (or overnight) for the flavors to meld.
Yield: about 2 cups sauce.

Assembling the sandwiches:

6 to 8 soft flatbreads (I used pitas and it turned out divine!)
olive oil
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
cucumber yogurt sauce

You can either grill the chicken or sauté it as follows. Heat a cast iron or other heavy frying pan over medium-high heat for several minutes, until a drop of water will bounce across the surface. Grease the pan very lightly, and place as much chicken as will fit in a single layer into the pan. Cook until the edges turn white before turning over. The chicken is thin, so this doesn't take more than about 4 or 5 minutes before it's ready to turn. Cook just until browned, then remove it from the pan. The sandwiches are good made with either warm or cold (refrigerated) chicken, so this is a flexible recipe.

Lightly brush one side of each of the breads with olive oil. Grill them, or heat them in a heavy skillet just until they're warm and pliable (and we discovered that the hotter the pitas were…the better they tasted…so let them get hot). Place the breads on a plate, and top them with the cooked chicken, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Add a dollop of sauce. For a more portable feast, use a square of parchment or waxed paper to roll and transport the sandwiches.
Yield: 8 sandwiches.

YUM! Let us know what you think!

Recipe from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 4, Spring 2001 issue.