Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It's fall. The temperature is a little more barable. The leaves are turning. One of my favorite things about autumn is cooking "fall food". I love cooking with pumpkin. It smells so amazing. This is a recipe that my friend Jen shared with me. It's a vegan recipe so it's great if your kids are allergic to eggs.

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds*

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a seperate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet, folding to combine.

Drop onto greased cookie sheets about a tablespoon at a time. They don't spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. Makes about four dozen.

Remove from oven and let set before serving.

*Ground flax seed will add a chewy texture to the cookie, but is optional. I found the ground flax seed on the "health food" aisle, but I've also seen it with the flour.

**Variation: Fold in 1 cup walnuts (finely chopped) and 1/2 cup raisins right before dropping batter onto cookie sheet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Linguini with Pancetta and Parmesan

My friend Maria put this recipe on Facebook earlier this week. (I've tweaked it a little, but it's still basically the same recipe.) I was intrigued because I've seen capers in the grocery store, but have no clue what to do with them. So...I decided to try this recipe. Usually I don't even print up a recipe if I don't know what all the ingredients are because who wants to wonder around the commissary looking for an ingredient that you can't even pronounce. I got all the ingredients at the local commissary. (A commissary is military-ese for grocery store.)

3/4 package linguini
1 cup onion, chopped
a clove of garlic, pressed (or 1/2 teaspoon minced)
2/3 cup chopped pancetta (about 2 oz)*
1 (25.5-ounce) bottle of Muir Glen Organic Italian Herb pasta sauce**
1/4 c black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers (sold in a tall, skinny jar, usually located one or two shelves above the olives)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

*Pancetta is Italian bacon. I found it in the deli. The man working behind the counter told me it was cured and I didn't need to cook it, but I was suspicious. It looked raw to me. I googled it when I got home and it turns out that Pancetta is cured, like America bacon; however, like American Bacon it is RAW. It is sliced very thinly so it only needs to cook for a few minutes.

**(Actually any pasta sauce will probably work just fine, but this is what the recipe called for so that's what I used.)

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. I'm a PAM girl. Add onion, pancetta, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add pasta sauce; cook 5 minutes. Stir in olives and capers. Add pasta; toss well, and sprinkle with cheese.

This would probably be much better if I had remembered to buy a block of Parmesan, but we had to settle for the stuff in the green can.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Corn Bread

This is my mother's recipe for corn bread. I thought this was real corn bread my whole life, but when I was living in Georgia I had some of their corn bread and this is nothing like it. This corn bread is moist, sweet, and really yummy. It dissolves on your tongue. It's a little sweeter than traditional corn bread. I love it! Tonight I made it into a bread bowl and served the chili inside. Here's what you'll need:

2 1/2 c corn meal
1 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 c flour
1/2 c butter
2 c milk
4 c water

Mix all the ingredients together in a large, heavy pan. I use my Dutch oven because I'm my mother's daughter. Cook over medium heat on the top of the stove until thick, stirring constantly. Put the mixture in the greased Edible Bowl muffin pan. (Or, if you don't feel like running out to Bass Pro Shop, you can grease a 9X13 baking dish). Bake at 400 degrees until it starts browning on top about 25-30 minutes.

If you use a regular baking dish, test your corn bread using the clean toothpick trick. The middle of the corn bread should be soft, but not mushy. This corn bread is even better when reheated in a microwave for breakfast the next morning.

Newest Gadget for the Kitchen

I found the coolest gadget at Bass Pro Shop a few weeks back. It's a muffin pan that makes Edible Bowls. You can use it to make shortbread bowls for Strawberry Shortcake, bread bowls for soups...even an ice bowl for Shrimp Cocktail. How cool is this? So I'm using it today to make my mother's corn bread for chili....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dutch Oven Chicken

This is a pretty simple meal to throw together, but I love the flavor of the vegetables so much that I'm going to blog about it.

Chicken Thighs (4)
Chicken Broth

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Heat a little olive oil over a med heat in the bottom of your Dutch oven. (You can use a cast iron skillet, too.) While the olive oil is heating, salt and pepper the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side. This will give the chicken a nice brown crust. (I pulled the skin off the chicken before photographing it because the skin just doesn't photograph well.) While the chicken is cooking cut up your vegetables into nice big chunks. I put the garlic through the garlic press because I think this makes the garlic flavor really pop. It has something to do with the press breaking up the garlic cell walls. Who knew biology was going to come in so handy in the kitchen? Toss the vegetables into the Dutch oven while the Dutch oven is still hot. Let'em cook for a few minutes, then add chicken broth. You want the broth to be about half way up the side of the chicken. Cover the Dutch oven and put it in the oven.

Now, go have a glass of wine, help your kids with their fractions, fold a few loads of laundry, watch Seinfeld, etc.

Let the chicken and vegetables slow roast for a few hours. The longer it roasts the softer and more wonderful it will all taste. Check it a few times and add more broth if needed, stir it around a little, and enjoy that garlicy aroma that is rolling out of the kitchen.

Serve with a good crusty bread...something you can use to really sop up that yummy goodness.

Confession: I also toss in any vegetable leftovers from the last night or so. You know, the green beans that you had one serving left and you put 'em in the fridge for tomorrow, but let's be honest, in a week you are probably going to throw them out anyway.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Avacado and Corn Salsa

2 ears of fresh corn,
1 tomato
1/4 red onion
3 avacados
juice of 2 limes
2-3 Tbsp fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Shuck the corn and cut the (uncooked) kernels off the cob. Dice tomato, red onion, and avacados. The orginal recipe called for 2 avacado, but lets be honest, I'm here for the avacado. I put three avacados in my salsa. The original recipe also called for 1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced. But I started choking and gasping as soon as I sliced into the pepper. So I tossed it and skipped that step. Gently combine all ingredients in a bowl along with lime juice and cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

*Sometimes you make up the salsa before the party. To really bring out the flavor, save a lime. Squeeze the lime juice into the salsa and stir just before serving.

Friday, September 3, 2010

An Amazing Grill Cheese Sandwich

You had me at the green chilies. I was reading the recipe for this sandwich online and I knew I had to try it when I got to the green chilies.

You'll need:
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
4 slices provolone cheese
4 slices mild cheddar cheese
Tomato, sliced
Red onion, sliced
4 oz can of green chilies
Rye (seeded) bread

Combine the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise in a small dish. You'll want to use real Mayonnaise, not that Miracle Whip nonsense. Spread this mixture (very thinly) on two pieces of bread. Put 2 slices on cheddar cheese on one piece of bread. (Or one long slice.) On the other slice of bread, layer tomato, red onion, provolone cheese(overlap the cheese slices), whole chilies, and a few more red onion bits for good measure. Close your sandwich. Butter the outside of the bread and don't skimp on the butter. If you do, your bread will be too dry. In a skillet, grill your sandwich over a low heat. This will take a little longer, but you want the sandwich to heat all the way through as the cheeses melt and as it browns on the outside. When bread is browned, flip it over and brown the other side. Cut in half and enjoy this amazing grill cheese sandwich. These ingredients are enough to make two sandwiches.