Friday, December 11, 2015

Carrot Cake Cookies with Allspice Orange Cream Cheese Filling

Carrot Cake Cookies
Preheat oven to 350F
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Ready cooling racks.

Cream together:
1/2 c butter, unsalted (if using salted, omit salt in dry ingredients)
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 lg. egg
1 T vanilla

Whisk together, then combing with butter mix:
1-1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)

Mix into dough:
1-1/2 c grated carrots
20oz can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice, drained well (and I mean well, pick it up and wring it out with your hands, well.)
1 c walnuts, chopped

I used a cookie scoop (approx. 1 Tablespoon) and flattened the top of the cookies slightly before baking.  There are so many goodies in this dough, that it doesn't spread much on it's own.  We're going to help it out a little so you can still wrap your mouth around the finished sandwich.

Bake 10-12 minutes, or until just golden brown on the bottom.  I could see the top middle of each cookie change gloss, like when you're watching pancakes to flip.

Let rest 1 minute on the cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack.  These are very cake-like, so you don't want them to steam on the cookie sheet, they'll stick.

I made the cookies the night before and kept them loosely covered.  Too tightly covered and they'll get all sticky.  It's at this point that I'm sure you could freeze them, to thaw and frost later - but I haven't been intentional enough to have extras to freeze.

Allspice Orange Filling

8oz cream cheese, softened
2 T powdered sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp orange juice
2 drops orange essential oil
*I LOVE using essential oils in cooking.  Because they're lipo-soluble, they blend in with the butter or oil and infuse the entire dish with amazing flavor.  Citrus oils are pressed from the rind, so you get the same flavor as zest, without having to have the fresh fruit on hand.  And, there's the long list of health benefits pure essential oils bring to the table - bonus!*

Whip together.  I used the paddle on high in my stand mixer.  Fill a piping bag or spread with a knife, and make sandwiches!  Store in the fridge and eat within 1-2 days.

(I highly recommend making a double batch of frosting and dipping graham crackers in it once you've run out of cookies...)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coconut Lime Rice Pudding

I love rice, and I love creaminess (that's a word, right), and I have a serious sweet tooth - so I love rice pudding (when it doesn't involve raisins... eew...)  Me, and my husband, and my kids... we all love this rice pudding.  And not just in the winter, oh no, it's super yummy cold in the summer!

You'll want coconut milk from the can, sometimes also labeled coconut cream - but not the coconut cream you find next to the mixed drink stuff.  You're hunting in the "ethnic foods" aisle.  I use Botan Calrose rice.  It's delicate and slightly sweet and I love it.  I buy it in 10lb bags from Amazon Prime. I'm serious about my rice.  Sugar is easy - use whatever you like.  Granulated, brown... I've even catered to a diabetic and made it with Splenda (that's love).  It's a seriously easy and very forgiving recipe, so don't feel like you have to have every single last thing done perfectly.  Just don't scorch the bottom... that I can't help you with. (sigh)  I hope that you'll make it the first time as written, and then start experimenting.  It's perfect for when you have rice leftover from the night before (even if you have to guess how much milk you need).  You don't have all the milk in coconut? Ok, substitute dairy, rice, almond milk (it's really good all almond milk too, just increase vanilla to a full tsp and omit the lime).  Not a fan of lime? Try adding dried cranberries, blueberries and golden raisins instead.  Or, just sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg over the top. Dig around in the pantry and get creative!

But, I mean, really... "You put the lime in the coconut..." they didn't write a song about it because it's icky. Right? Right!

Bonus points... This also fits the bill when you're in need of a dessert that's dairy and gluten free (and nut and corn, BTW)! Tootle on over to my Microwave Peanut Brittle for another dairy-free dessert option. 

Maybe now you're beginning to see why I love this recipe so.  I hope it becomes one of your go-to treats as well!

Coconut Lime Rice Pudding

1-1/3 cups rice, cooked according to package directions (I use an electric rice steamer.)
3 cans (about 5 cups) coconut milk/cream
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 drops lime essential oil
zest of one lime, finely grated

Combine cooked rice, milk and sugar in a heavy-bottom medium pot.  Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.   I try to give it a stir every 5 minutes when cooking at medium heat, stirring constantly the last couple minutes.  You can drop the temp to medium-low and stir less often, it'll just take longer.  You'll know that it's done when it gets to "molten lava" stage.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, lime essential oil, and lime zest.  We add these after it's off the heat so the flavor doesn't just evaporate.

You can then pour it into individual cups, or stow it in one big covered bowl. Either way, you'll want to cover the surface with plastic wrap or parchment paper cut to fit the top surface (this keeps it from getting that icky skin).  And let it cool a while on the counter top before sliding it into the fridge.

Serve warm or cold.  Get fancy and use an ice cream scoop to serve in individual dishes with another sprinkle of lime zest and some whipped cream.  Or less fancy- in a plain bowl, curled up on the couch watching NCIS reruns with my hubs... Or is that just me?

*** Giveaway ***
And, because I love it so much (and I love you so much) I'm giving away a bottle of my favorite lime essential oil.  Tell me how you use essential oils when you cook.  Just comment on this blog post to enter. I'll draw a winner after noon CST on Wednesday, Sept. 30th.  Y'all, this is my first giveaway and I'm pretty stinking excited about it!  So please, share this with your friends.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Honey Oatmeal Bread

*** UPDATED ***

So, I was a little over zealous in sharing this win with you. It was so good fresh out of the oven.  A little dense, but yummy for sandwiches the next day.  But today... oh, boy.  It's turned in to a brick.  A beautiful brick, but a brick nonetheless.  *sigh*  I think it's because it uses butter instead of oil.  

I'm very sorry if any of you ran out there and whipped this up, only to be disappointed that I'd lead you astray on this one.  I'm feeling rather sad myself, really hoping I'd accomplished this rare feat - lovely, yummy, home made bread.  So... the search continues.  I will keep you posted, and please share with me in comments if you have a tried and true recipe I should give a whirl.   For now, I'm going to scratch this one off my list.  


I have a confession to make.  I am working to overcome my fear of making yeast bread.  It's an irrational fear, considering that when I was a teenager I won medals at the county level with my challah bread... but, you know, that was years ago. And my memory? Not so hot.

As adventurous as I usually am in the kitchen, it seems a little embarrassing.

I'm also trying to downsize our "stuff", so, as Alton Brown would put it "single taskers need not apply".  I LOVE my KitchenAid stand mixer.  It is red.  I love red.  It is a gift from my in-laws.  I love my in-laws.  I usually make things like mashed potatoes or marshmallows in it (or cookie dough, or frosting...)  But a while back, while coaching me through cinnamon rolls, Aunt Mel showed me how to use the dough hook and a light bulb went on.  Breadmaker, shbreadmaker - I have a KitchenAid!

I am now also... drum roll please... a stay at home mom.  Really.  And it's amazing.  A little scary too, but amazing.  It's where God has put me. Knowing that, I am doing my very best to rest in Him and embrace my new role.  So today, when we used the last slice of bread, I thought "Tracy, why can't you just make bread".

WHAAA???  Crazy talk.  Good crazy.

Yeah, so a couple minutes on Google, a half dozen recipes critiqued, and one conglomerate emerged.  My bread.  Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, with honey and oats.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Honey Oatmeal Bread
Makes 2 loaves.

Preheat oven to 350F, grease 2 standard loaf pans.
(I have one glass and one non-stick and they both worked great.)

1-1/2 c water
1/2 c honey
1/2 c unsalted butter (if using salted butter adjust salt)

5 to 6 c all purpose flour
1 c quick cooking oats
3 tsp salt (reduce to 2 if using salted butter)
2 T dry active yeast or (2) 1/4oz packets

3 eggs, one separated

1 T water
oatmeal to sprinkle on top

In small saucepan, combine water, honey and butter - bring to 120F (this is the right temp to feed your yeast).  While this is warming, combine dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl.

Mix on speed 2 while gradually adding warm wet ingredients.  Next add 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk (reserve white to brush the top).

Continue on speed 2 while adding remaining flour, 1/3 cup at a time, until the dough clings to hook and sides of the bowl are clean.  The amount of flour can vary depending on many things, I ended up using a total 6 cups.  Knead 2 minutes.

Put dough in greased bowl to rise.  I sprayed olive oil in a large glass bowl (about the same size as my stand mixer bowl) and put the dough in, then turned it over so the top and bottom got some oil on them.  Drape a clean kitchen towel over the bowl, and set it somewhere warm and dark.  I put it on the counter next to the fridge.  The motor from the fridge creates a warm draft on one side, so I took advantage of that.  Set your kitchen timer for 1 hour and walk away.

Flour a small patch of counter top.  Pour the dough out, push it around a little (get bossy) and pinch in the middle to make two loaves.  Shape them a little and put any rough edges on the bottom of your loaf.  Place in greased loaf pans and drape with clean kitchen towel.  Set aside for 20 minutes or so.  This is your second rise.  They'll rise more as they cook too.

Add 1 T water to reserved egg white and brush on to tops of loaves.  Sprinkle with oats (Cora got to help with this step).  Bake for 40 minutes at 350F.  Remove from oven and turn out onto cooling rack.  I immediately cut the heel off one, poured some milk, and Cora and I quite enjoyed ourselves.

I hope you'll try this in your home.  Turns out, baking bread isn't all that scary!!  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easy Cranberry Bread

Ever stared blankly into your pantry wondering what you'll use to make... something... Hoping, maybe, that you'll find a new use for a tried and true pantry staple?  I have two words for you.

Cranberry sauce.

Not just for Thanksgiving, it also makes AMAZING sauce for tangy cranberry meatballs.  And, as luck would have it, quick bread!!  There's something so magical about baking yummy food without a special shopping list or trip to the store.  So here it is.  I scoured the interwebs, read dozens of recipes... and made one that we're keeping.  When I asked Stan if he liked it, he suggested it go on the blog.  We have a winner!!

Easy Cranberry Bread

Preheat oven to 325F, grease bottom of loaf pan.

2 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 drops Wild Orange essential oil (optional)
1 c chopped walnuts

Sift together flour, baking powder and spices. Set aside.

Cream together butter, sugar and essential oil.  Add eggs then cranberry sauce.

Fold in walnuts.

Bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from center.

Makes 1 medium loaf.  Store covered at room temp for about 5 days (if it lasts that long).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

I'm just going to come out and confess:  I created these out of desperation.

Cora wants to feed herself now, which is great... except for the fact that she has a whole whopping 6 teeth - none of which are molars and she can't effectively use a fork or spoon.  So, when I went searching for "easy toddler foods" and meatloaf popped up, I was inspired!  Stan does not like traditional meatloaf, so I knew I had to get creative if it would be a successful family meal.  I dug out my Joy of Cooking book and read the section on meatloaf.  I used quick cooking oats instead of bread crumbs and followed their suggestions for how much meat/wet/dry ingredients.  Then I tossed them in muffin liners for a fast weeknight meal - only 20 minutes cook time!

These are a HUGE success.  Not only does Cora love them, but so does the rest of the family.  Win!!!  They are savory, with the rosemary and sweet, with the cherries.  Like the perfect bite of Thanksgiving dinner. Hope you enjoy them just as much as we do.

Mini Turkey Meatloaf 

Makes approx. 20, Serving = 3 (adult)

2 lb ground turkey
3 large eggs, beaten
1 c cherry preserves, 1/4 c reserved.
1 c quick cooking oats
3/4 c sliced almonds
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
dash dried ground mustard

Mix just until blended.  Line muffin pans with liners or spray with oil.  Fill muffins (I used a large ice cream scoop) and bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until thermometer reads 180F internal temp. Remove and brush with reserved cherry preserves.

Serve hot with some roasted sweet potatoes and peas, and you're in business.

Happy baby! She ate a whole muffin in one sitting with a handful of frozen peas.  (And yes, that's a fork in her hand... she has to hold one so she's just like us!)