Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Honey Oat doggie treats

I have been itching to make some homemade doggie treats for so long. I mean, we've had Murphy for 2 1/2 years and I've never made them. Am I a bad doggie mom? Probably not. But I can't believe I haven't done this before. It's so easy and cheap.

My friend Michelle over at Sugar and Spice made some peanut butter treats for her doggie a while back and she really inspired me. The only problem was, I didn't have any fun doggie shaped cookie cutters. Not that Murphy would care, but what fun is making dog treats if they're not in fun shapes? So when I was at Barnes and Noble and saw a dog treat cookbook that came with 3 fun cookie cutters, I grabbed it right up.

The first recipe I decided to try was the Honey Oat cookies. They were super easy and smelled really yummy when they were baking. Murphy really loves them and will do pretty much anything for them. See how patient he is?

Honey Oat Cookies (source: Make your own Healthy Doggie Biscuits book)

1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix oatmeal and whole wheat flour together. Blend honey, water and cinnamon and slowly mix with dry ingredients. Mix until a stiff dough is formed, adding more flour if needed.

Place dough on floured counter and roll out, about 1/2 inch thick. CUt into shapes with desired cookie cutter and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until biscuits are crisp.

Makes about 30 treats

Gingerbread Cookies

These need some frosting. I have decided that cookies that require rolling and cutting are not my friend. So I'm not going to make them anymore. I had to add so much flour to these just to keep them from sticking to my counter. So they are pretty dry. They taste ok, but they're dry. Some kind of frosting would help. I guess thats what I get for using the recipe on the side of the molasses jar...

Gingerbread Cookies
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Beat butter with sugar and molasses. Mix in egg. Sift dry ingredients and mix into wet mixture. Chill in freezer 1 hour or in refrigerator 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350. Roll out portion of dough 1/4" thick on lightly floured board. Chill remaining dough. Cut with cookie cutters, place on greased baking sheets (I used parchment paper) and decorate with raisins, chip or nuts, if desired. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Lemon Cookies

So I feel like I need to start by saying that these are actually called Frosted Lemon Cookies. but as you can see from my pictures, I decided to skip the frosting. Since these are going in tins with lots of other goodies, I thought it would be a good idea not to frost them. So I didn't. Anyway, they are very very good and I am definitely holding on to the recipe. And when I make them just to have around the house, I will definitely frost them.

I found the recipe on Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats. I love this blog. I have yet to be disappointed by one of MrsPresley's recipes. And her pictures always look so yummy. So when I saw these cookies on her blog, I knew they'd be a sure thing. Maura absolutely loves them and I think I'll be making them just for us sometime very soon.

Frosted Lemon Cookies (source: Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats)
Cookie Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted Butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Glaze Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine all cookie ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine all glaze ingredients in small bowl; stir until smooth. Frost warm cookies with glaze. Sprinkle with additional lemon peel, if desired.

Yield: 5 dozen cookies.

Molasses Cookies

This was the first time making, and eating, molasses cookies for me. I had honestly never even heard of them. But someone on the nest posted a link to a food blog, and there were molasses cookies staring me right in the face. They looked amazing and I knew I had to try them. They have become my new favorite cookie. I think I will always have a jar of molasses in my house.

The blog that I found them on is named Cast Sugar and it is amazing. Everything on there looks incredible and I'm so glad that I stumbled across it. Thanks for all the great recipes Nemmie!

Molasses Cookies (source: Nemmie at Cast Sugar)

2 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ginger
¾ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
¾ c. shortening
½ c. dark brown sugar (I didn't have dark brown so I used light brown)
½ c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. molasses

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium bowl, sift and mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugars, until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg, vanilla, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Roll dough into small balls, and roll balls in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets (I used parchment papaer on my cookie sheets), about 2 inches apart. Bake 11-13 minutes, then cool on racks.

Holiday Goodies

This year I am baking almost all of my gifts for my family. I have a huge family (9 aunts and uncles just on my Dad's side) so giving baked goodies is much easier than trying to buy something for everyone. I decided to try a few new recipes this year, along with atleast one tried and true recipe.

My gift tins will include:
mini pumpkin bread loaves
molasses cookies
chocolate covered pretzels
lemon cookies
gingerbread cookies

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chicken Not Piccata

So I had every intention of making Chicken Piccata tonight. I had to go to the store to get some ingredients, and capers were on the list. Only problem was the only capers I could find were not certified kosher. So I couldn't buy them. No biggie. I just made the recipe without the capers. I'm sure they add a whole new dimension to the dish, which I will hopefully get to experience once I can find some kosher capers. Until then, I will continue to make this dish without them. Because it became one of our favorites tonight. Rob said it was one of the best things I've made to date and Maura said it was delicious. A dish they both like? And I like it too??? This one is definitely a keeper. I'm actually afraid to add the capers. Why fix it if it's not broken, right?

I believe this is originally a Giada recipe, but I found the recipe on Mary Ellen's blog. It really is easy. I had dinner ready in well under 30 minutes. And after my long day of cleaning and baking and High School Musical 2 watching, I greatly appreciated that. Next time, I will serve it with pasta or rice. I followed the recipe using Mary Ellen's measurements since I was also making 3 chicken breasts. And I was left with a lot of sauce. But that was probably because I only served broccoli on the side. I poured the sauce over the broccoli, but it just doesn't need much. So next time I'll serve something that will soak up a lot more sauce. I didn't add the parsley at the end because I didn't have any. But I wish I had. I think it would have looked prettier.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

I decided I was going to make my own birthday cake this year. I made the Hershey's Chocolate Cake for Maura for her birthday back in August and it was awesome. But this time I wanted to make it with the rich chocolate frosting instead of the light cool whip frosting I used in August. Plans changed, however, when someone pointed out that Nestle had a chocolate cake on their website that looked like it would be a pretty good contender against the Hershey's recipe.

Nestie living_insanity posted the recipe one day, and I decided that I had to try it. She recommended maybe doing a taste test to see which one is better. That would be fun and all, but I wasn't up to making 2 seperate cakes. It was my birthday after all. So I decided to just make the Nestle recipe and try hard to remember what the Hershey's cake tasted like.

I was blown away. This cake is so moist and rich and delicious. There are a few things that I did "wrong"/differently though. When I lined the baking pans with wax paper, I didn't grease/spray the wax paper. Big mistake. It doesn't say to do that in the recipe, but do it! The wax paper was a pain to get off. It was really stuck to the cake and it took me about 10 minutes to get it off without tearing my cake apart. Also, I used 2 9" cake pans, since thats what I have. I just reduced the baking time to 30 minutes and it turned out great.

Honestly, I don't remember the exact taste of the Hershey's recipe. So I don't think I can make a fair comparison. I will say that I know that this recipe is atleast just as good as the other. But I would need to taste them both at the same time to make a fair judgement. Anyone want to make me a Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Ckae so I can compare it to the leftover cake in my fridge???

Here is a link to the recipe on Nestle's website.


The fall after I graduated from high school, I worked at a mall in Towson, MD at an Imaginarium toy store. There was a Great Cookie right down the hall and I remember being in love with their Snickerdoodles. They were so soft and chewy and sugary I am really glad that I don't work near a Great Cookie anymore, because I can guarantee that I would be there everyday buying a sleeve of those things.

I realized a few weeks ago that I had never made them, and I had an opportunity so I decided to give them a try. The ones I made were not soft and chewy like the ones I used to love at The Great Cookie. But they were totally delicious. The recipe was posted on the What's Cooking message board on The Nest by nestie I&R_4_23_06. She got the recipe from Cooking Light. I didn't know it was a Cooking Light recipe until I had made 2 or 3 batches of them. Turns out, if you make only 30 cookies, they are only 99 calories per cookie! Yay! I usually get about 34-36 cookies out of this recipe. We had a lot of fun making them. Maura loved rolling the dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Snickerdoodles (source: Cooking Light)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat just until combined. Shape dough into 30 balls.

Combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small shallow dish. Roll balls in sugar mixture, and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until tops crack. Cool on pans 1 minute. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 99(30% from fat); FAT 3.3g (sat 2g,mono 0.9g,poly 0.2g); IRON 0.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 15mg; CALCIUM 17mg; CARBOHYDRATE 16.9g; SODIUM 59mg; PROTEIN 0.9g; FIBER 0.3g

Potato Latkes

I do not have an actual recipe for this. I just have a method that I have come up with over the years. It is a combination of many recipes I have used in the past. But I don't need a recipe anymore. They are relatively simple, so you just have to get the consistency right and then you're golden.

One thing I've learned is that you need to be really patient with the potatoes. You need to let them lose as much water as possible. If they stay too wet, they won't crisp up real nice. So let them drain a looooong time. And you'll probably have to still drain more water while they're sitting in the bowl waiting to be fried. Here is my "recipe"

4 medium to large yukon gold potatoes, grated
1/2 medium yellow onion, grated (I have also used chopped green onions heer and it was good that way too!)
1/2-1 tbsp flour
1 egg beaten
oil for frying (I use canola oil)

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat pan with oil. You'll want to use enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet, but not too much, or they won't cook right. Drop batter by tablespoons into hot oil and flatten with the back of the spoon, forming a pancake shape. Fry until golden on both sides (about 5-6 minutes each side, depending on how crispy you like them.) Drain on paper towel lined plate. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven on a baking sheet while you cook the rest.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Chanukah!

I just love Chanukah. I love lighting the candles with my family and singing the songs. It's such a wonderful feeling. I also love Chanukah because I get to make latkes. Now, I know I could make latkes more often if I didn't fry them in oil. But they're just so good that way I can't imagine baking them in the oven. So every year I wait until Chanukah comes around and I grate potatoes and onions for almost 8 straight days.

I also wanted to make a really special meal to go along with the latkes. I decided to roast a whole chicken. This is about the 3rd or 4th time I've done this and I love it more and more every time. It's such a wonderful, comforting meal and it went really well with the latkes.

We also had parsnips for the first time last night. I roasted them in the pan with the chicken and they were really yummy! For those of you who maybe haven't had them before, they taste kind of like a combination of a carrot and a sweet potato. I really liked them and I think I will be adding them to the menu more often (despite the fact that Rob and Maura did not like them very much.)

Herb Roasted Chicken
1 3-4lb chicken
olive oil
1/2 a lemon
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped and divided
4 or 5 leaves of fresh sage
dried basil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry. Place in roasting pan with a rack, breast side up. Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper and half of the herbs. Fill cavity with lemon, salt and pepper and the remaining herbs. Cover with foil. Roast for 20 minutes at 450. Decrease oven temp to 350 and remove foil. Roast for another 50-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 at the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

I used the drippings in the pan to make a pan gravy. I simply put my roasting pan across 2 of my stovetop burners and heated it. Then, I deglazed with some homemade chicken stock (you could also use part white wine here, but I didn't have any) Add about a tbsp or so of flour and whisk until thickened.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Not so Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken

I have been wanting to try Cooking Light's Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs for some time now. The recipe gets rave reviews on The Nest's What's Cooking message board and I trust those ladies. So I knew it would probably be really good. But I was scared. See, I don't really like spicy food. Actually, that's not true. For a long time I didn't like spicier foods. Now that I'm trying to branch out and try more new things, I'm finding that I'm building up a pretty decent tolerance for spicy stuff. Still. I was scared. A recipe with Spicy right in the title didn't really sound like something I would be able to handle. But I read the recipe a little closer and saw that I could very easily control the amount of heat. So I gave it a try.

I did not use boneless skinless chicken thighs because I didn't have any. Instead, I used chicken leg quarters, but I did remove the skin. This recipe was so incredible. I loved the smoky flavor. It was really wonderful. I have to say that I didn't really measure the spices very well. So I'm not going to type up the recipe the way I made it because I'm not really sure what I did :-) I will link to the original recipe here though. What I tried to do was cut the spicy spices in half (cumin, chili powder) and add more of the smoky stuff (paprika) Also, I didn't have any ground red pepper, so I just used my black peppercorns in my pepper mill. It was not spicy at all! I think next time (and there will be a next time!) I will make it just as the recipe says and see what happens.