Archives for the month of: May, 2012

What is it about the smell of homemade cookies that can make all of your current bothers melt away? And chai gelato, but that is a whole other post.

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Growing up, my sisters and I were fortunate that we generally had homemade cookies around the house. Mom’s favorite was the original toll house recipe, made with a mix of chocolate and butterscotch chips. As I got older, baking cookies was about the only cooking task I was allowed to do short of Hamburger Helper – I guess Mom was willing to tolerate the mess in her kitchen for a taste of those cookies.

Now that I’m older (but still make a ridiculous mess baking in my own kitchen), I don’t bake cookies nearly as often because it’s just DH and I at home. I was finally able to spend some time at home this weekend, and my therapy of choice were these cookies. I usually make them at Christmas, but for some odd reason I was craving oatmeal cookies, and I tend to think oatmeal cookies taste best when stuffed with something (with the exception of raisins, which I only eat in the situations when I am duped into thinking they are a chocolate chip cookie).

Try these….they are super quick to make and are awesome!

Cranberry, White Chocolate, and Oatmeal cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes two dozen cookies

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1 cup regular oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped cranberries
2 oz white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and brown sugar together in the mixer. Add vanilla and egg until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add slowly to the wet ingredients, mix until combined. Stir in cranberries and chocolate by hand.

Spray cookies sheets with cooking spray. Drop dough by tablespoons. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool briefly on sheet, then move to a wire rack.

Enjoy!!

Beth

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I can’t believe that May is almost over, and yet I’ll be grateful when it is as it will hopefully mean I will be traveling a little bit less. But I have to keep up at my current pace for at least another week. Blech.

I’ve spent my entire weekend doing nothing much at all, which has been wonderful! Sometimes I just need a few days away from the world and home with the kitties. And so far they haven’t gotten too terribly annoyed with me.

When I got home from work on Friday night, I discovered that we had several veggie options in the fridge for this week’s CSA share. So Saturday morning I spent some time thinking about how to use all of them in the most efficient manner possible. And I came up with a Panzanella salad. I want to call this a summer Panzanella since it’s already 98 degrees out, but I feel like that would lead to the traditional Panzanella with tomatoes and basil. This is not that. So I call it my Late Spring Panzanella. It’s delicious and enjoyable even on a hot summer’s night.

Late Spring Panzanella

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Salad
1 head radicchio, shredded
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 loaf day old sourdough bread (although I used an Italian loaf I found at WF)
2 pints blackberries
1 bunch green onions, diced
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Grilled chicken (optional)
Feta
Lemon vinaigrette (below)

Steps:
Cube up you bread onto a cookie sheet. Toss with 3-4 tbsp of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 7-8 minutes, or until toasted.

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I’m a sucker for a fresh loaf of bread (as evidenced by the hunk that was already missing by the time I took this picture)

Combine veggies and blackberries in a large bowl. Toss in feta and crusty bread. Top with lemon vinaigrette and serve with chicken.

Lemon Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, whisk together
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Hope you are resting easy this Memorial Day weekend!
Beth

Oh, my apologies Julia. I just couldn’t do it! I couldn’t bring myself to stay true to this recipe. It was the butter. And the ginormous size of these rolls. And the fact that I was leaving them at home with DH when he was by himself to consume.

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And I apologize for being a day late in writing and uploading this post. Monday was a zoo, complete with travel, 7 hours of meetings in Minneapolis, and ending with dinner at a lodge in South Dakota where the ONLY dinner options consisted of a big steak or a bigger steak and a trek out to Mount Rushmore to see the monument lit up at night. My travel on Tuesday got messed up and I ended up getting in late to sleep a few hours in Denver. And now I write this post at 6 AM inspired by flying over the Rocky Mountains on my way to Salt Lake City.

Yes, travel is amazing. Traveling for business, no matter where you are going, is frustrating. It encourages the 24-hour always on lifestyle we have, and because so much of your day is spent in transit, you then feel guilty about everything else that is piling up as you sit there trying to figure out why the airport wireless feels the need to boot you off their network every 15-20 minutes.

This frustration is why I choose to cook- it’s therapy. It’s something that I have complete control over the way I feel about the outcome. It’s only tied to my own personal definition of success, and not by success as defined by a boss, client, etc. Someday I hope to learn to define my work by my own definition as well. Someday.

Julia might be disappointed in my sticky rolls due to my desire to cut the butter. But I think they turned out beautifully, albeit they were sturdy rolls and not as gooey as I imagine the original recipe made. I’m OK with that for the following reasons:

1. I learned that yeast will rise in doughs while using warm almond milk as a substitute for whole milk(a good lesson when you’re allergic to dairy and almost never have milk on hand). I can also say I’ve successfully made a sponge.

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2. I made a brioche dough! But my poor artisan kitchen aid’s lock switch kept coming undone as it proceeded to hop around the kitchen counter, so I did have to hold it throughout the entire mixing process!

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3. And the brioche dough rose beautifully! I am always awed when I’m able to get dough to do that.

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4. I skipped the part about rolling the dough in thirds and adding butter. And the dough still turned out with that air-filled texture

5. I found a way to use my leftover nuts/cinnamon sugar from the Cookies we made in February! (I kept it in the fridge all this time hoping I could use it). Hooray for being creative about not wasting food!

6. And they baked up beautifully. I think I had them a little high up in the over for the first part of baking, so the bottoms got a little brown, but the tops are pretty!

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So, I’m happy and define this one as a success. I also think that the results by this week’s hosts Lynn at Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cats and Nicole of Cookies on Friday are even more so – DO check them out!!

I have to admit that flipping through our Baking with Julia book, I’m starting to get ansy to try my hand at making something with some nutritional value, like the rye bread. I’m putting in my vote!!!

Keep on trucking’. Halfway through the week!
Beth

Guess where I am. No, not at the airport…yet. I’m in a bar in downtown LA, killing time before a red eye home. On a Friday night. At least the folks who brought me out here for a Friday afternoon meeting apologized for the shitty travel. While the meeting was successful, getting home at 8 am Saturday morning is going to kick my ass.

So sitting here at the bar, I got to thinking about re-doing my basement. And I’ve decided I want to incorporate some of my and Domestic Hubby’s travels into the decor. Especially from Thailand. The longer I’ve been away, the fonder I’ve become (impressive b/c I was completely overwhelmed for the first few days).

So I thought I might re-live my vacation here a bit. And those of you that know me know that I travel for the food. Now, ever since I had my first Thai curry back in good old’ Ames, Iowa (which was pretty sad in retrospect), I have LOVED THAI FOOD. And I am so happy to report back that Thai food in Thailand is so much more amazing than anything I’ve ever had in the States. DH and I happily ate Thai food for all of our meals while we were there and were still sad to see it go (with the exception of our anniversary dinner, which was Chinese at the Mandarin Oriental….yeah, who knows).

Of course, my favorite day in Thailand was cooking class with Yui and Kwan at A Lot of Thai cooking school. OMG it was amazing! They teach at their home and are set up perfectly!! Each of us got a workstation for the day

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And if you can’t tell I was suuuuuper excited

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For each dish Yui would walk us through the instructions

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And then we would be on our own to re-create!

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I have never made such good food!!! First there was Tom-yam goong soup

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Then green or red curry

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Cashew chicken!

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And Pad Thai, Spring rolls, and Mango sticky rice (where have those photos gone?!?). I have never been so full in my life but it was all amazing!!!

After class, Yui took us to the local market.

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And we saw Thai bird chillies, which are HOT but don’t burn for a long time like a habanero does

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And baskets of rice!!!

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It puts the Soulard farmer’s market to shame, really

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Most favorite day of vacation!!!

I have tried to recreate some dishes since. My last curry paste must have had an obscene amount of chili in it, because it was too tough to eat. But I think, while I am working on the sticky buns for this week’s TWD, I will plan on making Pad Thai and mango sticky rice. Ever had rice pudding for breakfast? Mango sticky rice is even better.

Thanks for letting me daydream about a place on the other side of the world. It’s amazing and I hope to go back (assuming I could survive 30 hours of travel again)! Now that it’s 8, I hope the LA traffic situation is cleared enough for me to head to LAX. Only 11 more hours to home!

Beth

I do try to get some exercise in frequently during the week. Always prior to 6 on workdays, if I can. Recently, I’ve had to get to the office by a little after 6, so that kills my ability to get my exercise. Why so early? Uninterrupted work times sacred during our busy season….which runs from March until early November. It’s a marathon.

At the very least, I try to make up for all of this on the weekends. Today’s exercise was about multi-tasking. I tackled my garden, which is a significant amount of exercise at my house. (I have a knack for picking homes which have a significant amount of gardening square footage. You’d think that would deter me…)

So instead of food tonight, I leave you with some pics of another hobby that I use to keep my mind off of work.

The peas are up and growing! So far, planting them along the back has been immensely helpful in avoiding last year’s failed battle with the rabbits.

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I am completely scratched up from cutting back my roses, which were over 5 ft table before I stared. And my poor arms are totally scratched up.

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And I managed to plant jump over 150 begonias, again, designed to keep the undies under control.

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I’ve got to get some sleep before the week kicks in.
G’night!

Beth