Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Giveaway! and Felix K.'s 'Don't even try to say these aren't the best you've ever eaten because they are' Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Is there room in your recipe box for another Chocolate Chip Cookie? I have my favorites, but I'm always trying out new recipes just to see if I can find what I consider to be "THE" cookie. My grandson arrived Saturday evening for a two week stay, and one of the first things he requested was to make cookies with his Mimi. And what kind did he want? Chocolate chip, of course.

 I came across this recipe earlier this year when Anna at Cookie Madness gave it good reviews. And with a name like Felix K.'s "Don't even try to say these aren't the best you've ever eaten because they are" Chocolate Chip Cookies, I had to try them. (I love a challenge!)

 The verdict? Well they're definitely in the running for their lofty title- they really are very good and I'll surely make them again.  There's a slightly crisp edge to these cookies giving them a good bite, but the rest of the cookie is good and chewy, just like I like it. They're sturdy cookies, but not dry, and they keep their shape nicely even without chilling the dough before baking. (That's a plus for me because when I really want cookies, waiting for the dough to chill can seem like forever.)

 Here's the link to the recipe for Felix K's 'Don't even try to say these aren't the best you've ever eaten because they are' Chocolate Chip Cookies. The only change I made was to use Smart Balance 50/50 blend (sticks) instead of butter. I also made the cookies smaller than the original recipe called for. (Three tablespoons of dough makes a really big cookie!) I used my 2 tablespoon cookie scoop instead, and just slightly flattened the tops before baking.

 And in honor of my little grandson's love of cookies, and to thank you all for being such wonderful friends, I'd love to give away a little something for your holiday baking pleasure- a copy of Holiday Cookies from America's Test Kitchens.

 All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If I can figure out how to work the random number thingy, I'll use it to select a winner. If the non-technological side of my brain wins out, I'll have my grandson pick a number out of a hat (or a cookie jar, which seems more appropriate somehow.) Comments close on Nov. 30th- I want someone to have plenty of time to use these lovely cookie recipes!

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored give-away, and I am not being compensated in any way. I just saw this on the magazine rack in the store and thought it would be fun to share!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

 No French Fridays this week for me. Instead, I'm sharing this recipe for Cranberry Orange Nut Bread. One of my daughters-in-law made this bread for us a couple of Thanksgivings ago. We loved it, and she was sweet enough to share her recipe.

 Full of tart cranberries and crunchy nuts, this orange flavored quick bread makes a delightful not-too-sweet afternoon pick-me-up with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Toasted and spread with a bit of cream cheese, it's also a great breakfast treat.The recipe makes two loaves, so enjoy one now and freeze one for later!

Did you know? Cranberries are also called bounce-berries, because the good ones bounce when they're ripe!

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
recipe from Madeleine
(makes 2 loaves)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 and 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup very light flavored olive oil (or canola oil)
2 cups fresh cranberries,cut in half
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp. orange zest
  • In a large bowl, whisk together first four ingredients. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Pour into two greased and lightly floured loaf pans. 
  • Bake at 375° F for 55-60 minutes. 
  • Cool pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. 
  • Remove loaves from pans and continue to cool completely on a wire rack. 

This post has been added to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    French Fridays with Dorie- Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

     Roast chicken is one of those kitchen basics that I've never been able to master. Mine is usually passable, but often dry and flavorless. So Dorie's version, Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux- lazy people- was my choice this week for French Fridays with Dorie.  The recipe was incredibly easy, and I'd have to say that it's as perfect for busy people as it is for lazy ones.

     The verdict? A keeper! Roast in my trusty cast iron dutch oven- with rosemary, thyme, oregano and garlic- that one little bird made the whole house smell divine. Potatoes and carrots added about halfway through the cooking time were perfectly done. (The carrots were like candy- please don't skip them! Next time I'll add more.) I let my bird rest upside down for a few minutes before serving, and even the breast meat (that I normally eschew) made lovely moist flavorful slices.

     This recipe includes what Dorie calls "the bread trick." A thick slice of bread is placed in the dutch oven under the chicken, so that it absorbs the chicken drippings and gets browned and crispy. Many who have reviewed this recipe have loved the bread, but alas I can not count myself in the number. Maybe my palate is not as refined as it should be for this to be considered a treat, as I didn't care for it even spread with the luscious creamy roast garlic or the tasty liver that was tucked inside my lovely organic bird. It was beautifully browned and crisp on the bottom, but soggy where the chicken lay on it. And it just didn't appeal to me. Sorry Dorie.

     But the chicken? It was absolutely lovely and I'll definitely make it again exactly as I did this one. Whether lazy or busy, it would be the perfect choice for a dinner that doesn't need to be fussed over. This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan's newest book, Around My French Table. To see what others have made this week, visit French Fridays with Dorie!

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

     I am not a bossy person by nature. I pretty much go with the flow- I'm a middle child for heaven's sake.  But I'm going to tell you to do something. Now. Make these cookies. Make a cup of tea. Perch one of these puppies over your steaming hot tea for just a minute. Then take a bite, close your eyes and swoon over the gooey caramel apple deliciousness that is this cookie.  I mean, it is fall. And what screams "Fall" more than caramel and apple cider?

     This is another awesome recipe from  Laura at The Cooking Photographer.  (If you don't' know her blog, you really should make a visit- she has so many lovely recipes and photos!) All you'll need- in addition to what you probably already have in your pantry- is a bag of Kraft Caramels and a box of Alpine Instant Spiced Cider. (Yep, those little packets of powder that you mix with hot water.) These two magical ingredients take an ordinary sugar cookie base and transform it into this perfect tea-time treat.

     These cookies are best enjoyed slightly warm, either from sitting atop your tea mug or microwaved for a few seconds. My favorite method? My tea mug of course. (I even used a pair of chopsticks this morning to suspend my cookie, since it was smaller than my big mug.) The warmth of the rising steam from the tea makes the caramel melt ever-so-slightly into a gooey center, surrounded by a crispy sweet-tart apple flavored cookie. Now tell me you can resist that!

    Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies
    1 cup softened butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets (I found this in my grocery store near the hot chocolate mixes.)
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    3 cups all purpose flour
    1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)

    • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!)
    • In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
    • With your mixer (or an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
    • Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.
    • Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
    • Refrigerate for about an hour. (If you're really impatient you don't have to do this, but it makes it so much easier to work with.)
    • When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. 
    • Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. (I used a rounded cookie scoop-full. My scoop holds about a Tablespoon.)
    • Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
    • Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.
    • Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on how large you make your cookies (or how many caramels have been snitched out of your bag before you begin.) Store in an airtight container.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    French Fridays with Dorie- Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flan

     Maybe it's because I was feeling a little bit silly.

    Maybe it's because I'm a huge fan of Jon Scieszka's sense of humor.

    Maybe it's because I spend most of my waking hours with 7 and 8 year olds.

    Whatever the reason was, I just couldn't help myself. The entire time I was making these delightful little flans, one thing kept running through my head. 

    Are you ready?

    Run, run, run, as fast as you can!
    You can't catch me, I'm the Stinky Cheese Flan!

    (I do hope you're familiar with the delightful book, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales- written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith- from which the preceding line was butchered.) If you're not, please take a moment to indulge your inner child here.

     Now that that's out of my system, I have to tell you that this was one of Dorie's recipes that I approached with trepidation. Pumpkin and gorgonzola? I wasn't really too sure I'd love the combination, but I'm glad I forged ahead and tried it. It was super simple to put together, and definitely a dish I wouldn't have tried without the commitment to cooking through Dorie's newest book, Around My French Table

     Dorie says to serve it with crème fraîche and a drizzle of honey, but I found that the drizzle of honey by itself was a perfect complement. The creamy  pumpkin, crunchy walnuts, savory gorgonzola and sweet honey made for a delightful combination of textures and flavors. Each spoonful begged for a repeat performance!

     To see what others have made from Dorie's cookbook this week, look here. You might find this Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flan, a Potato Gratin, a Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake, or Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux! Aren't choices wonderful?

    Update: As participants of the group, we were asked not to share the recipe. I have since found the recipe online and have included a link to it. Girl Cooks World has shared the recipe here!
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