Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vanilla Malt Cookies

Vanilla Malt Cookies

I love cookies, but my preference is usually that they have some chocolate of some sort in them. These cookies are completely chocolate free, and are some of my favorite. They are extremely addicting and go perfectly with coffee! Malted milk powder if you have never had it, adds a great milky carmel flavor. My favorite brand is Carnation, if you can find it (usually in the isle at the grocery store with the coffee and tea). The vanilla bean is optional but I've tried these cookies without them and it does add some very distinct flavor, but I would imagine vanilla paste would also work. I've also tried these cookies with whole wheat pastry flour but that also does change the flavor of the cookies and they taste more like graham crackers (not bad just a different flavor)...

Vanilla Malt Cookies (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe) - makes approximately 36 2" cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups malted milk powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
3 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup white sugar
2 TBS corn syrup
1 egg (room temperature)
seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the corn syrup, once mixed add the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, malted milk powder, salt, and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and mix together. Scoop the dough onto greased sheet pans (or lined with parchment paper) and press down slightly. At this point you can either freeze to bake later (always my preference so you always have fresh cookies or bake right away. Bake 375 for 12-15 minutes. If you decide to freeze the dough, scoop the dough on a sheet pan and let it freeze solid and then put the dough into a zip lock bag. When ready to bake just simply put them on a sheet pan and into the oven- no defrosting necessary, the cookies bake better though if you press the freshly scooped dough down before freezing (you only need to slightly press the dough down otherwise the cookies will end up too flat).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tomato and Lentil Stew

Tomato & Lentil Stew

It's almost June and our heat is still on!!! This makes for a satisfying and healthy lunch or dinner. It can easily be made by pantry staples and it gets better as it sits overnight. I slightly modified a recipe from Ina Garten- although it didn't need much modification! I haven't given up on my blog, but being a working mommy keeps me very very busy! Summer is such a great season for food and I will be sure to honor it with more frequent blog posts. Enjoy, and may your weather be too warm for this recipe!

Stewed Tomatoes and Lentils from Barefoot Contessa At Home

2 tsp olive oil
2 onions diced
2 carrots diced
1 TBS minced garlic
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (briefly pulse in the food processor)
1 cup french lentils (very small lentils, regular brown lentils can be substituted but the french lentils are worth seeking out.)
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp summer savory
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBS red wine vinegar

Saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil over medium heat and cook the vegetables until they begin to caramelize. Add the garlic about a minute before the vegetables are done. Add in the tomatoes, lentils, stock, curry powder, thyme, and summer savory. Simmer over low heat for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add some more chicken stock or water if the mixture seems too thick. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar. The combination of the tomatoes and lentils paired really well with polenta.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hoisin ginger dipping sauce, dressing, and marinade

Hoisin Ginger Sauce

I struggled with what to call this. I modified a recipe I found in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison and the recipe was labeled "Marinated Tofu". I didn't use it with tofu,so that wasn't going to work for a recipe title but used it for almost everything else! It worked great for dipping sauce for salad rolls and pot stickers. I also used it with buckwheat noodles for a cold veggie and noodle salad. I also used it as kind of a marinade with some steamed chicken (tossed the cooked chicken in the sauce which it soaked up...). If I had any left it could have easily also been used for a stir fry sauce. It's versatile, fast and keeps for a while! What more could you ask from a recipe?

Hoisin Ginger Sauce (approximately 2 cups)

1/3 cup hoisin
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1/3 cup mirin
3 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 TBS brown sugar
1 1/2 TBS tomato paste
3 cloves garlic minced
1 TBS minced ginger

All you have to do is put it all in a bowl and mix! I've kept it for two weeks with no problems (in the refrigerator)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pumpkin Apple Soup

Pumpkin Apple Soup

It seems I'm always off season with my pumpkin posts :). The problem is I go crazy when they are in season and I roast and puree lot's of pumpkin to use through out the year, thus the off season posts (be on the look out for some pumpkin scones). I was also very pregnant when pumpkins were in season this year and was not up to posting...
If you don't happen to have fresh pumpkin puree in your freezer I would substitute with some other squash puree like butternut or kabocha squash. With such a simple soup, canned pumpkin won't do this soup justice (but can be used, especially in a hurry). To roast the squash, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Put the squash cut side down in a pan with a little water in the bottom of the pan, cover with foil and bake at 350 until tender. Let it cool and scrape out the squash. Measure out three cups and if you have any left over you can always freeze it for later.

Pumpkin Apple Soup

3 cups pumpkin or squash puree
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 medium sized carrots peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium apple peeled and chopped (any flavorful cooking apple)
1/2 tsp red thai curry paste*
28 oz chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2
3 TBS sherry
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper

*optional, provides a nice hint of spice

In a large pot, saute the onion, carrots, and apple in olive oil and add salt and pepper. When the carrots are soft and the onions are translucent add the thai curry paste, cook for one minute (if using) then add the stock, squash, and bay leaves and bring up to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, (make sure carrots and apple are very soft, simmer longer if needed) turn off the heat and add the 1/2 and 1/2 and sherry. Puree in a blender until smooth. Check for seasoning adding more salt and pepper if necessary. A nice garnish is toasted pumpkin seeds and sauteed apple (or just pumpkin seeds).

This soup freezes well.

Monday, March 22, 2010



I was never a huge cheesecake fan... if given the choice of cheesecake or something else I would usually pick the something else. That was until I had met my husband, who is a huge cheesecake fan and would always pick cheesecake over anything else. I discovered this recipe, which is called Three Cities of Spain cheesecake (from Three Cities of Spain coffeehouse in New Mexico that closed in the 70's) and it converted me into a cheesecake fan! What sets this cheesecake apart is after it's baked it gets a thin layer of lightly sweetened sour cream on top, and briefly baked in the oven to set it. The addition of the sour cream helps to balance the sweetness of the cheesecake. I also prefer to use cinnamon sugar graham crackers, or add some cinnamon to a regular graham crackers crust, for an extra dimension of flavor.

Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake

5 oz (1 1/2 cups) graham crackers finely crushed- you can also use gingersnaps, chocolate cookies, vanilla wafers
1/3 cup of sugar (you can adjust the amount or leave it out completely if using cookies that are fairly sweet)
5 TBS melted butter
1/8 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cinnamon (optional, but if using regular graham crackers I highly recommend it!)

Mix everything together in a small bowl and press into the bottom of a 8" or 9" greased springform pan (if you use a 8" pan the cake will be a little higher).

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the crust in the oven for 5 minutes, long enough to dry out the crust. Once the pan is cool, wrap the outside in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil, using the top of the pan to help hold up the plastic and foil, make sure all the plastic is tucked inside the foil. Set aside and turn the oven down to 300 degrees.

24 oz of SOFTENED cream cheese
4 lg room temperature eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla

16 oz sour cream
2 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

It is very important that the cream cheese is softened so you don't end up with lumps. I like to use a mixer to mix the filling, but this could easily be done by hand as well. It is important that the sugar and cream cheese is creamed together really well so there aren't little lumps of cream cheese left. Once you start adding eggs it is important to not over mix or incorporate too much air (so the filling remains dense and creamy).

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed, scrape down continually to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Turn the mixer down to low and add the eggs one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape after each addition. Add the next egg only after the previous one is completely mixed in. Add in the vanilla and any other desired flavors at the end. Pour into the par baked crust and put pan into a larger pan and fill it with hot water that goes 1/2 way up the sides of the pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Mix the topping while the cheesecake bakes and set aside until the cheesecake is done. To test the cheesecake for doneness, gently tap the pan (the actual cheesecake, if you tap the outside pan it will make the water slosh and possibly go up into the cheesecake) and if you see it wiggle all together then it's done (as opposed to sending a ripple through the batter). After the cheesecake is done, let it sit for 10 minutes and then carefully spread the sour cream topping evenly over the top. Put it back into the oven for 10 minutes. Pull it out, let the cheesecake cool and then once it's room temperature, put it into the refrigerator and let it cool completely. Unmold and cut with a hot clean knife...
Fresh strawberries or strawberry puree make a wonderful accompaniment!

Baking options- I recently tried two other ways to bake cheesecake:

Cupcakes: Use paper liners, and press some of the crust into the bottom and par bake the same way. You don't need a hot water bath and the cooking time will be dramatically reduced (check after 20 minutes). Once the cheesecake is done, take it out of the oven and put the sour cream topping on and return it to the oven for 5 minutes. You can either leave the papers on (if letting people serve them selves, it might be easier) or you can peel the paper off before serving. It helps if the cheesecake is completely cool and thoroughly chilled.

In the pressure cooker!
Follow the directions as stated in the recipe above, but you don't need to wrap the outside with plastic and foil, instead raise it off the bottom of the pressure cooker and put 2 cups of water in the bottom, and then cover the top of the pan instead with foil. Once the pressure has been reached in the pan, cook for 25 minutes (cooking time will vary from brand to brand), take it out, and spread the sour cream on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 (make sure to leave the oven on after par baking the crust) and you're done! I like that I don't have to mess around with the water bath and the cheesecake turned out wonderfully creamy and perfectly cooked!

Thursday, March 11, 2010



Granola can be made from so many different things, you can use different kinds of flakes (not just oats) including barley flakes, triticale flakes (both of which are in the picture). It can be made with or without coconut, it can have a number of different nuts or seeds, or none at all. There are many different dried fruits that can be added, or left out completely. The point is you can make granola how you like it, don't feel too confined by the recipe given here. The oats, nuts, coconut, fruit are all considered "garnish" and can be substituted for whatever you want... only like oats and nothing else? Substitute everything else for oats. Only like nuts and oats but nothing else? Leave the rest out and increase the amount of nuts and oats... all you have to do is add up the amount of total garnish (except the dried fruit which is added after cooking) and divide up however you desire. The total amount of garnish is 10 cups.

Granola (makes approximately 13 cups)

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup nonfat dried milk
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 cups unsweetened large flake coconut
1 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chopped pecans
6 TBS honey
6 TBS maple syrup
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used a coconut palm sugar instead)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup cranberries

Pre Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl mix together the honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, brown sugar and butter. Once it is well mixed, stir in everything else but the dried fruit (if the dried fruit is baked it will become too hard). Once everything is well mixed and coated, spread the granola out on 2 large baking sheets and put into the oven. Stir every 10 minutes making sure to that everything cooks evenly. It will take approximately 30-40 minutes. The granola is done when it is a golden brown. Take the mix out and let cool on the sheet pan. Once everything is cool, mix in the dried fruit and store in an air tight container to prevent the granola from getting stale.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Crunchy Coconut Cookies

Coconut Cookies

Be careful, these are addicting! This is another great cookie to use whole wheat flour in it, the flavor and texture nicely compliments the coconut. This dough can also be used for a variety of cookies. In the picture they are just plain drop cookies, but the dough is also perfect for little sandwiches with a chocolate ganache filling or maybe passion fruit curd? They could also be rolled and cut out into various shapes and decorated- they would make a great Easter cookie.

Coconut Cookies

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or All Purpose Flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream the butter and sugar together until all the powdered sugar is mixed in (be careful, too much creaming and the cookies will spread too much- a bad thing if you are rolling the dough out). Add the egg and vanilla and cream until creamy and smooth. Mix all the dry ingredients together and mix into the butter. This dough can be scooped, it can be formed into logs and sliced or it can be rolled out and cut (will keep it's shape). If you decide to roll the cookies refrigerate the dough in a 1" thick disk before trying to roll out. You can also freeze the dough after formed to bake later

Bake at 375 for approximately 8-15 minutes (depending on how thick/big they are).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Baked Apple Pancake

Baked Apple Pancake

This baked apple pancake is a great alternative to the standard breakfast options- pancakes, waffles, french toast. It's quick and easy and can easily serve quite a few with little effort and maybe more importantly all at once! This could also be served as a dessert paired with some ice cream or maybe whipped cream. While the leftovers are good to snack on you want to make sure to serve this right away. The batter portion could be made ahead of time though. This is a variation on what's called a Dutch Baby which is basically the same thing only baked without the fruit. I have used a raw cane sugar for some added interest but you can easily substitute in brown sugar or even white sugar. I also used whole wheat pastry flour with great results but you can also easily use all purpose white flour if you prefer.

Baked Apple Pancake serves 6 (adapted from Sunset Magazine)

3 Tbs butter
1/4 cup raw cane sugar (turbinado)- you can substitute light brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 large baking apple peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour- you can substitute all purpose white flour
1/2 cup milk (non-fat works fine, but a higher fat milk would make a richer pancake)

Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a blender mix the eggs, salt, flour and milk on high until uniform. Set that aside while you cook the apples. You will need an 10-12" oven proof skillet, preferably cast iron. Heat the pan over medium heat and add the butter and sugar. Let them melt and add in the apples and cinnamon and cook them over a medium heat until they are tender but not mushy. After the apples are ready smooth them out so they are one even layer on the bottom of the pan. While the pan is still hot, pour the batter right from the blender,over the apples and immediately into the oven. This bakes for about 15 minutes or until the middle is set and firm. It will be puffed up and fall as it cools. Serve immediately. The classic garnishes for this is a spritz of lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar.

You could easily substitute other fruit for apples, like pears or bananas. Another variation is to leave the fruit out of the pancake making it a traditional dutch baby and saute the fruit and serve it on top after the pancake is baked. If you do that, I would still melt the butter in the pan as normal, and add the sugar into the batter mixture.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Orange Chocolate Whole Wheat Biscotti

I always get asked what my favorite sweet is, and I never have a good answer because it depends on so many things. I'm never very predictable when it comes to what I like or what I want to eat, but I'm usually not one to turn down a cookie- especially a biscotti. I have posted a variation on Mark Bittmans biscotti recipe from How to Cook Everything. As with all of his recipes this is a basic biscotti recipe with ideas for variations. If you've never looked through this book, it's a great cookbook to add to your collection- it is very comprehensive and reliable with variations for almost all recipe's that allow for a lot of flexibility and creativity. I have written the basic recipe below and then I'll add a variation section with the variation I used in the picture and will come back to add to it.

Biscotti (adapted from How to Cook Everything)

4 TBS butter softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Whole wheat orange chocolate: Substitute flour for whole wheat pastry flour. When creaming sugar and butter together add the zest of one orange. At the end when combining the dry ingredients with the wet add in 1 cup chopped dark chocolate.

Pre Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix completely before adding the next. Then add in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix dough until you no longer see any flour. The dough will be very stiff by now. On a greased cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper) form the dough into one long log that is about 2 inches wide. You can either make one long log or two shorter ones. Bake for about 30 minutes- until the log begins to turn a golden brown and it feels firm on top in the center of the log. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and let the logs cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice on a bias(using a serrated knife), into about 1/2 inch thick slices and lay them back on the sheet pan. Bake another 15 minutes, turn them over and bake about another 15 minutes until they are dried out. They may feel slightly soft when you take them out of the oven, but as they cool they will harden.