Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love pot lucks at work. It gives me a chance to bake something new and have people to share it with so I don't eat it all by myself. Everyone at work said they wanted cookies. And they requested the molasses cookies I made around the holidays. That sounded good to me because they are my favorite. But I didn't have all the right ingredients so I decided to try something new. And as common and "run of the mill" as Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are, I think I've made them once. And it was years ago and they didn't not turn out well. I don't know what I did differently, but I know I used this same recipe and that they were not good at all.

This time however, they were perfect. Soft and chewy, sweet but not too sweet. They are wonderful, and I will make these over and over.

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (source: Quaker Oats by way of Bakingblonde's Weblog)

2 stick margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins (bakingblonde soaked her raisins in warm water and vanilla for 10 minutes and i didn't not do this. i think i will next time though, because my raisins weren't as tasty as i'd hoped they'd be)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat margarine or butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes (mine took more like 15 minutes for some reason) or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wir rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Better Homes and Blondies

Blondies are kind of a staple dessert in my house. it's something that everyone here likes, and they're easy to throw together so they're perfect for those sudden cravings. Like the one I was experiencing tonight. But I haven't been super thrilled with the recipe I've been using. They always seem to come out raw and I can't seem to find the right baking time. So I've been planning on trying out a new recipe for while, but haven't gotten around to it.

I wasn't even planning on baking blondies tonight. I wanted to make some cookies, and I wanted to try a new recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook again. But when I saw that there was a recipe in there for blondies, I decided that blondies would be even better. I am SO HAPPY that I stumbled across this recipe. It is perfect. These blondies puff up quite a bit more than the other ones I usually make, so I was afraid they'd be too dry and cakey. Not the case at all. They are still gooey and soft and chocolatey and everything I've always wanted in a blondie. Needless to say, this will now be my go to blondie recipe :-)

Blondies (source: Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Cookbook)

2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup (10 2/3 tbsp) butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup chopped nuts ( I omitted these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 baking pan; set aside. In a medium saucepan heat brwon sugar and butter over mudium heat until butter melts and the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Cool slightly. Stir in eggs one at a time; stir in vanilla. Stir in flur, abking powder and baking soda.

Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (avoid chocolate chips). Cool slightly on wire rack. Cut into bars while warm.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

This cake is a very popular one in my family. My dad loved it, and my Aunt Clare is almost famous for it. So it seemed only fitting that I should make it for her for her birthday this year. It was a big milestone birthday for her ( I won't announce her age here, out of respect) and the whole family got together to celebrate. We had tons of fun and the cake was a huge hit.

I'm glad that I decided to try to make it myself. I thought it would be complicated, but it wasn't. Aunt Clare told me that she usually uses half and half for the milk part because it makes the cake richer. But she said that using skim, or 1% or 2% would work just as well. So I decided to save myself a trip to the store and just use the skim milk I already had in my fridge. The cake was definitely rich enough with the skim milk and I will probably always just use skim, unless I happen to have some half and half on hand and I feel like being extra bad ;-)

I was always a bit skeptical about the use of unsweetened chocolate for the drizzle on top. But the frosting is so sugary, and the cake is so rich, that it really is a nice balance. I will definitely be making this again very soon!

Hot Milk Sponge Cake (source: my Aunt Clare)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup half and hlaf (or skim, 1% or 2% milk)
4 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a tube pan or 2 cake pans (I used 2 9" round cake pans)

Sift together flour and baking powder; set aside

In a mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4-5 minutes or until light anf lfuffy. Add the dry mixture; beat on low to medium speed just until combined.

In a small saucepan heat and stir milk and butter until butter melts. Add to batter, beating until combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in a 350 dregree oven for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Butter cream frosting
5 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
milk to obtain consistency

Beat butter until smooth. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, alternating with milk until spreading consistency is obtained.
(You may find that this recipe does not make enough frosting for your cake. I like lots of frosting so I made 1.5 of this recipe. so I used 10 tablespoons of butter and 3 cups of confectioner's sugar. I didn't really measure the milk too well, but I'd guess I used about 1/4 cup)

After icing cake with butter cream frosting, drizzle melted unsweetened chocolate on top and down sides in an interesting pattern.

Corn Muffins

The recipe for perfect cornbread continues to elude me. I was in the mood to bake some muffins the other night, and I have a ton of cornmeal to use up. So I decided to break out my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and give their recipe for cornbread a try. I find that I don't use my cookbooks a lot, and this particular cookbook does not get the attention it deserves. It's one of those cookbooks that is a staple in any kitchen. There are so many timeless, classic recipes in there, and I always seem to forget about it.

I'm glad I tried this recipe because it is quite good and very easy to throw together. It's a little crumbly for my liking, but still very tasty. And definitely still worth trying. I will definitely make these again.

Corn Muffins (source: Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Edition Cookbook)

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2-3 tbsps sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl combine eggs, milk and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

Spoon batter into 12 greased, or paper lined, muffin cups, fillinf cups two thirds full. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned anda wooden toothpick inserted in centers come out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I've been tagged!

I'm usually really bad at actually posting these things :-) But I was tagged by Christina over at Nothing to see here! and I thought it would be fun to do it this time around :-)

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Graduating from High School :-)

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
1. Go to the store for some ingredients
2. Cook dinner
3. Bathe my daughter and put her to bed
4. Watch a movie with my husband
5. Eat some ice cream :-)

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Doritos
2. guacamole and tortilla chips
3. soft pretzels
4. White Cheddar Cheez-its
5. Popcorn

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a house
2. Build my dream kitchen
3. Have more children IMMEDIATELY
4. Quit my job :-)
5. Donate a large sum of money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Places I’ve lived:
1. Baltimore, MD
1. Columbia, MD
LOL I haven't exactly moved around a lot :-)

Jobs I’ve had:
1. worked at a bakery
2. Cashier at a children's clothing store
3. Cashier at a toy store
4. After school daycare program
5. Cashier at a gift/card /book store
6. Bank Teller
7. Mom :-)

I am tagging:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chicken Fajitas

So, as simple as this dinner is, I've never made fajitas before. I guess I just wasn't sure of the technique. And actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've ever really eaten fajitas before. These were so good and easy to throw together. I really wanted to make them with a combination of red and green bell peppers, but when red bell peppers are almost $5 a pound, I will stick with green bells. Although I have to admit, I prefer the flavor of red bell pepper over green. If someone could enlighten me as to why red peppers are so much more expensive, I'd appreciate it :-)

Chicken Fajitas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Asian Marinade
2 large bell peppers
1 small yellow onion
vegetable oil

Assemble marinade in a large liquid measuring cup and stir well. Put chicken in a large zip top bag and pour marinade over chicken. Let as much air out of the bag as possible, seal and marinade in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Slice the bell peppers and onions into thin strips and sautee in oil over medium heat until softened. I actually like to sautee them until the onions are starting to caramelize a bit.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding leftover marinade. Grill chicken on either an indoor or outdoor grill ( I use my George Foreman) until juices run clear. Remove chicken from grill and slice into strips. Serve chicken and vegetables inside warm tortillas.