Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies: Take 2

Yesterday I was bored and decided to try another oatmeal cookie recipe. I made a healthy oatmeal cookie a few months ago (before my blog) with apple sauce and it wasn't bad for a healthy cookie. This time around I didn't have apple sauce but decided to give it a go with butter. I, of course, cut back on the butter but I think it changed the texture of the cookie. The taste is great, but they are far too crumbly. They even cooked in a ball and didn't 'melt' down during cooking like typical cookies. I couldn't bring myself to take pictures because I was so perplexed by the crumbly texture. I guess if I had given in on the full amount of butter it might have helped the texture. Oddly, the recipe calls for cooling the dough for an hour before cooking. I think this gave the dough the extra crumbly texture. You don't need to chill dough unless it's a cookie than will run during cooking--something oatmeal cookies are not known to do.

Oatmeal (Almond) Cookie

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
Raisins or nuts (optional-- I used raw almonds and liked the extra nutty flavor)


1. In a medium bowl, cream together white sugar, butter, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs on at a time, then stir in vanilla.

2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. If you are using nuts or raisins, mix into dough, combing well. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 36-60 cookies, depending on how large or small you make them.

As I was blogging about this my mom called to report back that she actually really liked the cookies!! Mom's seal of approval on cookies means a lot, especially since I'm not an avid baker. She said we'll play around with the texture to perfect it, but the taste is there. Thanks Mom! =)

On an aside, I saw a recipe using apple butter and I think that would make a great cookie! I'm trying that recipe next and, hopefully, it'll turn out better visually and texturally than this batch!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I love being Italian

Ah, yes, now that is beauty. THAT is my definition of soul food. Something that makes you feel comfortable, warm, loved, and is always reminiscent of home. For me, it is and always will be spaghetti. Every Sunday--and I mean every Sunday-- at home while growing up we had spaghetti. (My mom still makes it every Sunday!) Special occasions would warrant Grandma's ravioli (YUM) and occasionally we had homemade spaghetti noodles. This Sunday we had homemade noodles. Sigh. Happiness does not come in a purer form.

Now let's examine how we got to the picture above.

Above: The noodles exiting the machine.
Below: The noodles laid out carefully on a floured cookie sheet.

I love coming into the kitchen and seeing trays of noodles laid out on cookie sheets. Remember that comfort food thing I was telling you? This is it. Homemade noodles mean you're in for an amazing dinner.

Now what are noodles without an amazing sauce? My mom makes almost a vat of sauce, or so it seems! But, extra sauce means more for me to take home and freeze. =) The original sauce came from my great-grandmother who used tomato paste, garlic, salt, and pepper--very simple yet delicious. My grandmother added the addition of meat and herbs and my mom learned from her. My mom swears pork makes the best sauce, but she switches from time to time and will use anything from ground pork to pork ribs to ground beef to ground veal. Forget BBQ ribs. (Okay, well not entirely because I happen to love those too, but you get what I'm saying.) Pork ribs cooked in spaghetti sauce are out of this world. My mom browns the meat first and then adds garlic, salt, pepper, tomato paste, diced tomato, and a generous amount of pecorino romano. I might have said it before, but my family prefers pecorino romano to parmigiano reggiano for spaghetti. It's much sharper and stands up to the tang of the spaghetti sauce.
Ah, yes. And occasionally we get meatballs. Ground beef and veal usually. But you can be creative and experiment with meats. You get a different taste and texture with each different type. So there you have it. I can't imagine not being Italian and having Italian food as often as I do. For most people it's a nice change from the daily fare, but for me it is my main cuisine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pickled Eggs and Beets

I think it's such a gorgeous color.
It's fresh, acidic, vinaigrey, and just so different.
Beets, hard boiled eggs, onions, apple cider vinaigre, dill, pickling spices, garlic, peppercorns-- need I say more? The longer it sits, the better. After over 12 hours of pickling, you can see the beet juice penetrates the white of the egg.
We had this growing up and, with my sister in town for her birthday, she requested it to be made. She's guarding it with her life from family and telling everyone it's horrible so as to have more herself! Translation: It's amazing and mine. Don't even think about it.

It's a wonderful and light side dish for any occasion, but it's awesome in summer since it's so light and fresh. Give it a try when you're wracking your brain for a different side dish and just can't think of anything. And the best thing is that you can make it so far ahead of time!