Savory Cookies

Crackers are great with soup but a homemade savory cookies takes the points. And, such recipes can be adapted to whatever cheese or seasoning you have on hand.

Savory Cheddar Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon hot mustard powder
4 ounces sharp cheddar, grated finely
1 stick softened butter

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Blend together the cheese and butter until relatively smooth. Mix in the flour mixture by hand or with a dough blade with your mixer. Mix until it forms a ball.

Divide the dough in half, form each half into a cylinder, wrap in clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least three hour or overnight. (A great make-ahead idea that can be baked just before dinner or the arrival of guests)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove cylinders of dough from the refrigerator (if you froze them, take them out 30 minutes early) and slice them into even discs and place about an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet for ten minutes and then place on cooling rack.

These are nice to go with soup, salads, stews, or just for a lunchbox snack.

If you are gluten-free, Better Batter gluten-free ‘four’ mix or Authentic Foods – Steve’s GF Bread Flour works well, cup for cup.

Chocolate Coffee Chip Cookies

Okay, get your ovens going and get something along these lines baked TODAY! Don’t bother with doubling the recipe, either, as Ash Wednesday is only about two and a half days away from now. In fact, my excellent ice cream making daughter already has her orders to make me a pint of orange ice cream TODAY or she WILL have a very penitential Lent!

Chocolate Coffee Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or, better yet, a teaspoon of espresso powder
1 tablespoon water or fresh orange juice
3/4 cup room-temperature butter (Margaine just won’t do!)
1/2 cup lightly-packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup either milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chocolate chips

Sift together the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for now.

Mix the coffee granules or espresso powder in the 1 tablespoon of water or juice.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugars and beat until well-incorporated and the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, and dissolved coffee. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Fold in the chocolate and white chocolate chips.

Divide the dough into two and form them into approximately two-inch round rolls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two and a half hours.

Cookie time! Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line three (or as needed) baking sheets with parchment paper. With a large, sharp knife, cut approximately 15 slices from each dough roll. Place the slices about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets (because of spreading during baking), and bake for about twelve minutes or until golden brown. Let cookies cool ON the baking sheet for about ten minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. If you weren’t planning on sharing these pre-Lenten cookies with your children, hide them NOW!

Palatable Salmon!

Okay, I’m going to share my ‘secret’ recipe that keeps my husband thinking I’m a good cook! As brought to mind in a previous posting, Lent is almost here will find a lot more fish on the dinner table. Our go-to is usually salmon . . . mainly because we can get it at one of the big box stores for a reasonable price and it is the one fish that we will all agree on for dinner. Boneless fillet strikes a chord in my kitchen prep time heart! I prepare it a variety of ways but baked in the oven on one shelf with vegetables roasting in a pan on the bottom rung of the oven makes my Lent a little too easy.

Okay, your have purchased your nice pink slab of boned salmon. Line a baking pan (with a rim for escaping juices) with parchment paper and place your fish on it. Preheat your oven to 350 at this time.

My secret sauce recipe? Go to Walmart (best price on this ‘secret’ sauce!), go to the condiments aisle under Asian and look for Tsang Stir-Fry Szechuan Spicy Sauce. You will need most of one bottle for this recipe. By the way, the bottle of sauce IS my secret sauce recipe!

Spread the sauce over the fish. The sauce is spicy so taste test as to how thick a layer you prefer. Now, generously shake on sesame seeds. How much is up to you. My family likes a lot. https://www.thespicehouse.com/sesame-seeds-white The Spice House is the best price for ordering sesame seeds.

Bake in your pre-heated oven until cooked which for a fish fillet means the fish will flake when pressed with a fork. It goes well with a salad and a side of rice seasoned to taste.

Lent? When Was Christmas Over?

There is a rumor going around that Lent is just about upon us! Time to think about the ‘give-ups’ and the extra prayers that are needed in this spiritually declining world. One of our annual ‘give-ups’ is taking meat out of the diet on both Wednesdays and Fridays. On the surface, it seems it might be a little too easy but after six weeks of coming up with meatless meals for both days of the week plus insuring my husband has meatless meals and snacks for his work lunch, the challenge makes itself known.

One of our favorite go-to meals has been a quick pasta meal with a salad. It is meatless and somewhat less in volume than a usual evening meal and seems to provide all the nutritional perks and sacrifice to keep us strong for Lent!

Lenten Pasta

1 pounds of spaghetti (or any shape you might prefer)
3 eggs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan and/or Romano
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Salt & black pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter

Cook the spaghetti until almost done, drain, and stir in the butter, garlic, salt, and pepper until the butter is melted.

Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the pasta. If the pasta has cooled down too much, turn on a low heat to warm. Immediately after adding the eggs, mix in the cheese and stir to combine. If you like a creamier outcome, you can add a bit of milk to taste.

Great quick meal on a day when dinner time approaches before you are ready for it!

It is a very versatile dish in that you can add some chili flakes, drained tuna, use cheddar instead of the Italian cheeses, add some finely-diced parsley, some fresh mushrooms braised in a bit of butter or olive oil . . . Basically, look in the cupboard, see what you have, and you can come up with an original entree.

Lemon Square Cookies

Lent is approaching all too quickly. Time to think of a few sweets to soften the blow before the ‘give-ups’ begin! We don’t overdo our Fat Tuesday but a batch of fresh cookies made on the preceding Sunday to last through Tuesday always seems the best way to go for us.

Lemon Square Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into small squares
2 teaspoons finely-grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix together the dry ingredients, place into a mixing bowl. Add half of the pieces of butter, the lemon zest and mix to form buttery crumbs. Add the second half of the butter and mix until no flour is visible. Add the extracts and lemon juice until the dough just holds together.

Lightly knead the dough and then divide into two portions. Place each on a square of waxed paper and form into about 1 1/2-inch square logs about four to five inches long. Wrap the waxed paper around the logs and refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. Remove the dough rolls about 30 minutes before baking to soften a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, carefully slice 1/4th thick slices from the logs and place about an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. They should be firm to the touch and golden brown around the edges. Remove them to a rack to cool before icing.

Lemon Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Enough fresh lemon juice to form a medium-thick icing.

I’ve never heard anyone say no to some colorful sprinkles scattered over the cookies before the icing dries.

*A thought . . . If you have some walnuts or pecans on hand, you can toast a cup of them then finely grind them. After you form the log squares, you can roll and press the nuts all around the logs before you refrigerate them. That way, you get an extra bit of crunch and the flavor of the nuts goes well with lemon.

 

 

Not a Science Experiment!

Even before the various tainted greens reports, not even bagged lettuce or cabbage ever came to the table without a thorough bathing! First, I cut or shred the greens to the size I want for my soup or salad. Then, I put them into a large bowl with half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and fill the bowl to the brim with water. And there it will rest for 30 minutes while I go about my other kitchen chores. Then I pull out the greens with tongs and place in the colander. No sense in pouring the soaking water over the lettuce again. Just look at what it left behind after the soaking! When you pick up a head of lettuce,red-leaf lettuce, or kale at the market, they are always so damp and crisp feeling giving you a false sense of security about the food you want to put on your table. However, when you think about it, how many people have touched your salad greens before they end up in your serving bowl for dinner?

Thought I’d share my method with you. After I rinse the formerly peroxide-soaked greens, I given it a good, long clean water rinse and have been known to even add some vinegar to the rinse. Then, the greens are laid out on a length of triple-layered paper towel, rolled up and then rolled into a clean, cotton dish towel and stored in the refrigerator until needed.

Shhhh!!! Secret Recipe Alert!

Okay, perhaps, not all that secret but here is my way to up the grade on homemade apple pie or apple crisp.

When I first started baking, my mother’s ‘secret’ suggestion was to add lemon juice to the apple dessert prep. Fresh lemon juice does up the apple/cinnamon taste and people often wondered how my mother’s apple desserts were just a wee bit better.

I was an abstract artist in college and this inclination has seeped down into my baking and sewing over the years. In other words, I never leave well enough alone if I get inspired to add something more. So, this is how my latest apple dessert preparations has evolved.

1. Wash, peel, and slice the amount of green apples you will need for your planned dessert. When they are on hand, I will often throw in a couple of sweeter apples, too. They break down a bit more in baking and sort of form an applesauce texture to the more firm green variety.

2. First, I zest the lemons and limes and set it aside. Then toss the prepared apples with the juice and let them sit a minute while I gather the spices and sugar.

3. I usually use up to 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Use a good quality one as the ones on the grocery shelves can be a bit bitter. My go-to for the best cinnamon is The Spice House which is on-line. To the cinnamon, I add half a teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a smidge of salt.

4. Depending on your recipe, mix the spices into one to two cups of granulated sugar. Add the zest of the lemons and limes.

5. Combine the sugar/spice/zest mixture with the apples. If you really want to deepen the final result, a quarter cup of brandy works very well.

6. Add a quarter cup of cornstarch, mixing in well. This is what will hold the apples together a bit after baking.

7. This is my final secret. Put the prepared apples into a bowl or container, cover and refrigerate at least one day before using them in your recipe. My batch for this Thanksgiving got a two-day soak.

8. When you get to making your pie crust, substitute a quarter cup or so of the water called with vodka. It makes for a more tender crust.

Time is wasting so one guess what I’m about to put into the oven!