Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lemon Drop Cookies


This is an old recipe that a friend of mine gave me.  I think you will love these.  So lemony and light. Very moist and tender!  They are a traditional Italian favorite for the Easter Holiday.







LEMON DROP COOKIES

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2-3 Tbsp warm milk  or lemon juice instead
1/2 tsp juice from a fresh lemon (optional- if you don't use all lemon juice)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray cookie sheets with cookie spray or line with a silpat.

In a large bowl, beat together shortening and sugar until light. Add eggs and lemon zest; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine flour, salt and baking powder; add to mixture in bowl alternately with sour cream and beat just until moistened.

Spoon onto cookie sheet, smooth into round balls or not with wet fingers.

Arrange about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake 10 min, until lightly browned. Do not overbake. Remove from pans and cool.

Combine confectioners' sugar and milk in small bowl; whip lightly with spoon until smooth and slightly thick. Add 1/2 tsp lemon juice if desired; stir briskly until well-combined.

While cookies are still warm dip tops of cookies into icing. Let set until icing is dry to the touch. Store in closed container.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

COCONUT LIME SCONES

These are the most fluffiest and moist scones I have ever eaten.  So creamy. The lime taste brightens your mouth.  Perfect for your morning breakfast.

I have said it before, if you have any preconceived notions about scones being dry, put that aside and make your own scones.  You will be richly rewarded with tender delicious, melt in your mouth awesomeness to go along side you coffee or tea.

COCONUT LIME SCONES
Use the coconut milk that comes in the can, not in the quart containers in the dairy aisle. Very important:  for a creamy moist scone- do not over bake!
Makes 8 scones

2 1/2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)

1 cup coconut milk

1 extra large egg
zest of 2 limes, plus more for topping

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons coconut milk
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Or, if you have a scone pan, grease it up.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Cut in the butter.  You can use your fingers to work it into the flour.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the coconut milk, the egg, and the lime zest. Add to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula to combine. Turn the dough out to a floured work surface. Lightly flour your hands and work the dough until it comes together into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc about 9 inches in diameter. use a dough cutter to cut the disc into 8 even wedges.

Or, if you have a scone pan, spoon it into the wedges evenly.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges. Wait about ten minutes and then move the warm scones to a cooling rack.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Beef Empanada's




I wish I could show you some of these empanadas but they are gone.  POOF.  Vansihed. Why? I believe its the delicious factor.  This one pictured here is the only one left.  It is left because I could not fry it because of the hole it had in it.  It would have leaked all over.  So I baked it.  They are very good baked.  But they are amazing, over the top, fried.  


This is a great meal to make ahead.  You can prep everything ahead of time.  Right up to the frying or baking part.  Dough and filling should be made ahead so they are chilled.

Where do empanadas originate from?  Seems like the best answer is Portugal.  Read about them here at Wikipedia.




BEEF EMPANADA'S
Recipe adapted from this recipe at the NY Times.

1 pound beef chuck, in 1/8-inch dice
Salt and pepper
Lard or olive oil, or a combination, for sautéing
1 cup diced onion
2 ounces diced chorizo
½ pound potatoes, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons capers
¼ cup chopped pitted green olives

dough: 
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 ¼ cups sifted flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ cup cold butter – sliced
1 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
1/3 cup ice cold water 

egg wash:
Use this only if you are going to bake them.  It will give the empanadas a nice golden color.

1 egg
2 tablespoons water

For the dough: With a fork stir together egg and milk.  Set aside.  In a large bowl or in a food processor, mix flour and salt.  Add pieces of butter to the flour mixture. Process or mix until flour has become clumpy or mealy.  Add in wet ingredients all at once.  Gently stir just until combined.  Gather up the dough pressing it together so it is cohesive.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour. Better yet, overnight.

For the filling:  Saute onion until translucent.  Add in chorizo and potato, cooking until potatoes are tender.  Add in oregano, paprika, thyme and garlic.  Cook one minute.  Add in tomato paste and about a 1/2 cup water, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat and add in olives and capers.  In a separate pan, cook beef.  Add the beef to the mixture.  Chill.

Make the empanadas:  Take a ping-pong ball sized amount (like, a 1/4 of a cup) and roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thickness.  Place filling in the center and fold the dough over it onto the other side. Be careful not to get the filling near the edges or it will not seal properly.  Crimp the edges. Place on greased sheet, brush on egg wash and bake in a preheated 350F oven.  Or fry in about a 1/2 inch of oil.  Make sure your oil is good and hot before you lay the empanadas in there.  If your oil is nice and hot it will not absorb as much oil.  Cook until golden.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

Today, I decided we needed some Irish Soda bread to go with the corned beef I plan on making.  Not that corned beef has anything to do with being Irish.  But then I have nothing to do with being Irish.  I am an American of Polish and Italian decent.  Here in America, on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish.  What the heck?  Why not?  I have a lot of Irish friends.  So here is to them!  Cheers!


Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from this recipe at the NY Times.

1 ¾ cups/288 grams whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups/224 grams all-purpose flour, more as needed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ⅔ cups/500 milliliters buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450F.

Mix flours with salt and sugar.  In a large measuring cup combine buttermilk and egg.  Stir to combine, breaking up the egg.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  Working it only enough to mix it completely.  Spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Place in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 400F and bake for 30 more minutes.


I didnt want to work it too much.  Adding more flour meant it might have been dry.  I wet my hands and smoothed it out a bit and stuck it in the oven.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fresh Apple Pound Cake


Its almost Spring.  I know some of you are already enjoying Spring weather and Spring flowers but here in Western New York, all the way up, near Canada, there are only whispers of Spring.  Usually, I would be dreading the warmer weather that is to come.  I know, shocking, since everyone seems to enjoy warmer weather.  Don't get me wrong.  I like 70's kind of weather a lot!  It's the 85 and above with humidity that is not my favorite. This year however, I have started a new look: being grateful. Being grateful for every moment, rain or shine, snow or whatever.  Besides, putting up with those days of humidity mean all those beautiful fruits and vegetables that are to come.  Yeah!

Not far from where my brother and sister in law live is Sevierville, TN.  In Sevierville is a store called The Apple Barn, Cidermill and General Store.  My Mom picked up a cookbook from there a few years back.  She recently made this amazing cake.  I had to share a virtual slice with you.  I do tend to cut back on sugar a bit in recipes but dont do it in this one.  The cake does not taste sweet so you really need the glaze.  The glaze totally brings everything together and makes it taste fabulous. This would be an awesome cake for a brunch, goes great with coffee.  


Fresh Apple Pound Cake

Fresh Apple Pound Cake with Brown Sugar topping

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups corn oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans, finely chopped
2 cups pared apples, finely chopped

Brown Sugar Topping ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

Instructions
Sift flour, soda and salt onto a platter or waxed paper. In a large bowl beat oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla at medium speed of electic mixer for 3 or 4 minutes until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture; beat until smooth. Fold in pecans and apples. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 325 oven about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool on wire rack 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Store in foil or tin can for a day or two. Brown Sugar topping: Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon hot sugar mixture over warm cake.
Yield: one 10" bundt cake, 22 to 24 servings

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lentil Tacos

This Tuesday Taco thing is going on is killing me.  You see we are not the typical household family. I am a foodie.  I have some things that I do every year but I like to try new things.  If I do Taco Tuesday like my daughter wants me to, this severely limits my exploration.  Not to mention beef can be pretty expensive and to my other daughter that is a vegetarian, it does not seem like a good idea at all.  Mind you, I am not complaining because these are good problems.  Having food and food choices is a very good problem.  What to do?...

Enter the lentil.  I could wax on poetic about the virtues of lentils. I probably have already done so in previous posts.  I actually was listening to The Splendid Table and learned even more great things about lentils.  They are my heroes.

It seems the lentil is quite a good crop to grow.  Lentils have the ability to take bacteria in the soil, combine it with nitrogen an make their own fertilizer.  Genius.  These fabulous little legumes are amazing!



Meatless Tacos

1 tablespoon Bold Chipotle Seasoning
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup black beluga lentils*

3 teaspoons taco seasoning or a packet**
2 tablepoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons water

In a sauce pan boil about 3 cups of water, Chipotle Seasoning, cumin and a cup of lentils.  Cook until the lentils are cooked but not falling apart.

Drain the water from the lentils.  In that same pan add in the taco seasoning.  Spoon in tomato paste. Keep it stirring.  Make a slurry of corn starch with about 3 tablespoons of water.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the lentils.  Stirs until it kind of thickens.  Add in salt and pepper to your taste.

*If you can not find black beluga then just use brown.  But under cook them when boiling rather than overcooking.
**If you have a taco seasoning packet, skip the cornstarch and sugar.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chewy Granola Bars

              
I have my favorite granola bars, the ones I like making and eating, those are the ones that disappear around here.  They are the ones I make very regularly.  Mainly because I cant stand paying those high prices for granola bars.  If you buy them all the time and then make your own, you can save A LOT of money.  I mean a lot.

These are quite delicious and quite versatile.  You can change up the add ins as you like.  I list what the kids like to put in them but you can certainly change it up.  So, say, instead of sunflower seeds, you could add peanuts.  Instead of chocolate chips, maybe cinnamon chips.  The coconut really gives it chew so I would not substitute that.  If you don't like coconut then maybe try this granola recipe instead.

Chewy Granola Bars

2 1/2 rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup nuts
1 cup chips (chocolate butterscotch, peanut butter, white...)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the oats, coconut and the wheat germ together.  Add in condensed milk and butter.  It will be hard to mix but keep at it, it will come together.  Finally, add in the in the nuts and chips.

Press the dough into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Use the back of a rubber spatula to flatten the top. You can wet it a little if it begins to stick.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just until golden around the edges.  Score bars after it cools for ten minutes.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Apple Pie Protein Bars

Maybe I should have used brown rice syrup... but I didn't have it.  You see all kinds of recipes with it included rather than, say, corn syrup.   I wondered is one any better than the other?  I decided to do a little reading on it.

It's interesting to read about whether or not brown rice syrup is any healthier for you than brown rice syrup.  It really isn't.  Your body does not know the difference.  Both read as sugar.  But if it is about where it comes from, say GMO corn than that's a bird of a different feather.

Brown Rice Syrup
To make brown rice syrup, manufacturers digest amylose into a blend of maltotriose, maltose and glucose. The maltose is about 40 percent as sweet as table sugar and the maltotriose is about 30 percent as sweet as table sugar, explains the Amano Enzyme Company. Brown rice syrup doesn't taste as sweet as table sugar, but because all sugars — regardless of how sweet they taste — have identical caloric content per unit mass, brown rice syrup contains the same number of calories per gram as high fructose corn syrup and table sugar.



But remember that there was a big scare about brown rice syrup and arsenic? This is an interesting article about brown rice written by a blogger, To Live and Diet in LA.   Also, read more about it through this article from Dartmouth.

Also, did you know that there is a difference between corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup?  Well, at least for now, anyhow.  When I go to the Amish Market near me there are two different bottles of corn syrup. One is called "corn syrup" and the other is called, "light corn syrup".  If  you look at the list of the ingredients on the light one, it says high fructose corny syrup.  The other one just says corn syrup.  If you are an average consumer, seeing the 'light' would probably indicate to you less calories.  Or, somehow, better for you.  Right?  Read your labels.  Always read your labels.  Be a sleuth sometimes. If there is a word you don't understand, look it up on the internet.  You would be amazed what is in some of our food.

Like wood in bread or wood in cheese.  How else are they suppose to get fiber in there for the bread and still have it taste like white bread?  Well, I guess wood is natural, right?  But how about Parmesan cheese.  Read this article at The Daily Meal about wood in cheese.  Seriously.  When I buy cheese, I want pure unadulterated cheese.  But I do fork over the big bucks for the better stuff.  It tastes way better.  I guess, now I know why. At least one of the reasons anyway.


It really all comes back to the same things, the more you use whole, unadulterated foods, the better off you are.  Especially if you know where they come from.

Apple Pie Protein Bars

2 cups oat flour*
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup protein powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup almond butter or another nut/seed butter
1/2 cup corn syrup or brown rice syrup
1/2 cup applesauce

Mix all the dry ingredients together and combine thoroughly.  Add in the wet.  Be patient, it takes time for everything to come together but it will.  If you mixed and mixed and there is now way it will come together add a tablespoon of applesauce...  You want this mixture to be dry enough to shape into bars.  

Once everything is incorporated then pat down into a large square and cut into bars.  I made ten bars out of this.

* You can totally make your own oat flour.  Just grind it down in a food processor or a coffee/spice grinder.  

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