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Archive for the ‘In My Kitchen’ Category

The Other Turkeys

I roasted a turkey for Thanksgiving.  But we also served another kind of turkey at our house.

Sugar cookie turkeys!  Back in August I co-hosted a bridal shower and we decorated cookies for favors and the cookie decorating bug has been biting me ever since.  So I splurged on some quality supplies (like piping tips and bags) and have been practicing my steady hands and icing recipe.

I also took care of my 3-year-old nephew and made him a fire engine cookie.  Because really, what little boy cares about turkey and leaf cookies?

Pretty soon it’ll be gingermen, stars and Christmas trees.  I can’t wait!

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Summer Grilling

Saturday was an ideal summer day.
Windows open.  Lawn mowing.  Housework.  Beer.
Quality time with my husband.

And an oven at 180 degrees all day cooking this.

6 1/2 pounds of baby back ribs.
Yum.

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After making Blueberry Cobbler for Two, I had just enough blueberries leftover to try the Blueberry Scone recipe in my new America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (A Christmas gift, thanks Steve and Donna!).

Since the recipe was pretty involved (freezing butter, grating butter, rolling out dough, chilling the dough, rolling out the dough some more), I mixed these up yesterday and just refrigerated them overnight.  Popped ’em in the oven at 5 this morning and they were ready for my hubby to take on his drive to work at 6.

Of course, I saved a couple for myself to enjoy when I finally rolled out of bed around 9. Yum!

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My favorite friend got me a cookbook for my birthday that I love, America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two 2009.

What better place to start in a cookbook than with dessert?  I love the idea of having a tasty dessert that doesn’t serve 12 and leave me feeling guilty every night all week long.

I started with a berry dessert; they’re Alex’s favorite kind of treat.  And you can see it was a success.  I think the recipe could serve 3-4 if accompanied by ice cream.  Or just 2.  I suppose it depends on the degree of guilt you want to feel all night.
Also, I only have 7 ounce ramekins, too small, so I baked this in a Pampered Chef Mini-Baker Stone.  It would definately be better (thicker) and cuter in ramekins.

Blueberry Crumble
Makes 2
1/4-1/3 cup (1 3/4 – 2 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Salt
2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled.

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Gently toss the berries with the sugar mixture. (If the fruit tastes tart, add up to 1 1/2 tablespoons more sugar.) Divide the berries evenly between two 12-ounce ramekins.
2. Mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter to the bowl and, using your fingers, blend butter into the dry ingredients until dime-sized clumps form. Pinch together any powdery parts, then sprinkle the topping evenly over the berries.
3. Place the crumbles on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the topping is a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Let the crumbles cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes: Frozen berries do not work in this recipe because they shed too much liquid.  The comble can also be prepared in an 8 1/2 by 5 1/2-inch baking dish. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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My favorite monster came over today.  Usually our routine involves playing Mario Cart on the wii.  It’s Zoe’s favorite thing about Auntie Jess and Uncle Alex’s house.  But today, Zoe was on a TV and wii restriction and we had to get creative and find something else to do.  So we destroyed my kitchen baked cookies.

After the repeated “Can I taste that?” and finger dipping, I decided not to try any cookies and instead sent them home with her.  But I wasn’t in it for the cookies.  I did it for those adorable smiles!

Even better, while the dough chilled in the freezer we did some coloring and I taught my little cookie monster how to draw a star.  I drew dots and numbered them so she could connect them.  With only a couple practice tries she was drawing and numbering her own dots.  It was cute.

The best compliment of the day was my super-sweet mother-in-law who told me I’d sure make a great mom someday.  Loved that.

After sending the monster home to destroy her own house, loading and starting my dishwasher, washing some dishes by hand, and wiping down every surface of my kitchen, I’m now enjoying a quiet afternoon…

watching the rain fall and drinking a big glass of wine.  I’d say it’s a fair reward for all my hard work. In fact it’s still early so there’s a good chance it’s not the only glass I’ll drink tonight.

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These are Chica’s favorite treats.  She is a picky little dog and turns her nose up at a lot of treats.  But she lives for these and Greenies.

How can you say no to that cute little face?  So here’s the recipe.  Make sure you keep these in the freezer.  The dogs love them frozen.  They come running any time I open the freezer, hopeful.  One word of warning, your kitchen will stink all day when you cook these.

15 Minute Liver Treats

1 lb chicken livers
1 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 egg

Place chicken livers and liquid in blender, liquify. Add egg, mix a minute more. Pour into bowl. Add flour, corn meal and garlic powder. Mix. Spray jelly roll pan with pam. Pour mixture into pan. (Mine never really pours, you have to spread it out with a spatula to fill the whole pan.) Bake 15 minutes in 400 degree hot oven. Cut into small squares while still warm. Keep in freezer to prevent spoilage.

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This week, Kim‘s Dare to DIY challenge was to make yummy holiday cookies.
click on the badge to head over to Kim’s site and find links to what the other ladies baked:

I chose to make Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints from my latest issue of Cooking Light.


Don’t be confused.  The cookies are not the healthy treats mentioned on the left side of the cover.

These are delicious!  The cookies have a brownie-like texture and richness while the Nutella gives them a creamy smooth finish. 
Personally, I think the best way to make them is while drinking a Mikes and snacking on holiday Chex Mix. 

A few things I learned:
–  When I added the flour mixture to the egg mixture, my dough didn’t come together.  So, I stopped, scraped the beater blade off really well and when I mixed again, the dough came together right away.
–  I didn’t toast my nuts (I was a little lazy) and think the cookies came out fine.
–  I should have, however, chopped my nuts smaller.  I left them a little bigger to be pretty, but the larger (pretty) pieces fell off the cookies at the end.  Smaller bits stuck better.
–  I baked all of my cookies at once.  10 minuets wasn’t quite long enough though.  They probably cooked 12 minutes total (and could have gone a minute or two longer).
–  My thumbprint almost completely disappeared during baking.  I just put a new thumbprint in when the cookies came out of the oven.
–  A small offset spatula works great for applying the Nutella.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints (from Cooking Light – December 2009)

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional; I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1/3 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk.  Place butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Stir egg yolks with a whisk, adding espresso, if desired.  Add the yolk and vanilla to butter; beat well.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.
3. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead 6 times or until smooth and shiny.  Shape dough into 28 (1-inch) balls.  Roll sides of balls in nuts, pressing gently.  Arrange balls 1-inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving indentation.  Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.  Spoon scant 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie.  Yield: 28 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie).

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