Oh my molasses…cookies!

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So how do you get a subject for a blog and cheer someone up? Go for the old fashion molasses cookies. I am testing out the recipe on the bottle of Grandma’s Molasses with a twist on the flour and shortening.

This is such an easy recipe the but flavor is bakery good without sucking 5 dollars out of your wallet. I really liked the replacement of the shortening as it smoothes out the cookie taste while making it a bit healthier. The cake flour makes it soft and smooth, gently melting in your mouth.

Overall, this is a time tested recipe from Grandma’s you can count on. Easy to make and easy to eat.

Ingredients for Dough:

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil – this is my addition. Don’t use the liquid oil but the oil that looks like shortening.
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Grandma’s Molasses
  • 2 1/4 Swans Down cake flour (my change from all purpose)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 crushed cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger 

     

Equipment:

Directions for the dough:

  1. Mix coconut oil, sugar, egg and molasses in the mixer bowl until well combined.
  2. Once this has mixed a bit, add the baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the flour one large spoon full at a time until all the flour has been incorporated.
  4. Chill the dough.
  5. Set the oven to 375 and let it get to temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Roll the dough into balls and dip in sugar or spoon on the cookie sheet swirling it to get the size of cookie desired. I like a good size cookie!
  7. Depending on your oven, the cookies will take from 10 to 12 minutes but you’ll need to check. It took 14 minutes per batch for my oven. You will just need to watch as the coconut oil may have added time to the overall process.
  8. Makes up to 4 dozen cookies.
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Near Miss with Mirror Glaze Cake

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Well the first mirror glaze cake was a near miss on execution but it tastes like so good. This was supposed to be a German Chocolate cake with a pecan garnish. The cake and the frosting in the middle of the cake was very successful, the frosting and pecans around the side did really add to the flavor, so I did like that. I did not have any coconut flakes (I’m never with out flakes!) for around the sides of the cake. I accidentally spills some Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds on some of the mirror glaze and OH MY GOSH! It was really good though next time I will run the cereal the food processor.

So status:

Good Stuff:

  • Cake
  • Frosting between layers
  • Pecans
  • Honey Bunches of Oats
  • Taste of Mirror Glaze

Not So Good Stuff

  • Mirror glaze pour. Only do one pour, subsequent pours add chances for bubbles (tips welcome)
  • Presentation needs cleaned up
  • Don’t use mirror glaze on two tiers until I figure it out better
  • Cut down the amount of glaze made. The recipe created way too much and I felt like I wastes a lot.

I’ll be trying this again next week and hopefully have the recipe figured out.

TTFN

Light and Quick Pasta Dish

I wanted pasta but did not want the heavy feeling or calories. I found nice alternative that is quick and very easy.

I tossed some brown wheat pasta with a mixture of EVOO and Italian seasoning. The red and yellow peppers were lightly cooked. If I would have had some olives or sun dried tomatoes, I would have added them (I know, it’s a sin not to have some on hand!).

Put the pasta on the plate and add veggies as you like. There you have it, quick lunch in about 15 minutes.

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Pecan on that Cinnamon Roll

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When your buns are freezing outside, it’s time to warm up with some baking. My favorite is this Cinnamon Roll recipe. I found in the recipe book that comes with the Kitchen Aid mixer. I have been working on tweaking it for a while and now it is my favorite desert in the winter. This can be made with or without the nuts. Depending on what is available in the fridge and because I’m not going outside today, I am using pecans but almond work well also.

Ingredients for Dough:

Ingredients for Mixture:

Ingredients for topping (this goes in the muffin pan first):

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or so cut into pats
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans

Equipment:

  • Kitchen Aid Mixer
  • Mixing bowl – Medium
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Rolling pin
  • Dough scraper
  • Spatula
  • Thermometer
  • Two large muffin pans

Directions for the dough:

  1. We need to make the dough first. Go to Indeed.com… sorry needed at least one dad joke.
  2. On low heat, mix the milk, sugar, salt and butter until butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Cool the mixture to lukewarm.
  3. In a warm mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast into the 1/3 cup of warm water.
  4. Add lukewarm milk mixture, eggs, 5 cups of flour, and sour cream.
  5. Attach bowl to mixture with dough hook and run on speed 2 for about 2 minutes.
  6. Continue on speed 2, adding 1/2 cup flour until the dough clings to the hook and clears the side of the bowl. The original recipe says for another 2 minutes but that will vary along with the amount of flour according to humidity and your altitude.
  7. Put the dough in a greased a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a warm damp towel. Let it rise for about an hour in a warm, draft free location.
  8. Time to create the filling. Soften the butter first. Place all the ingredients for the mixture into the mixing bowl. Mix with the flat paddle attachment on speed 2 for about 2 or 3 minutes. (Original recipe says 1 minute but I found it’s never mixed entirely)
  9. Set aside the filling mixture.
  10. Once the dough is doubled in size, punch down (I wish I could do that with my belly!) and roll out into a flat square about 1/4 inch thick.
  11. Spread the mixture on the dough and roll it like a cigar. The roll should be about 24 inches long.
  12. Use a dough scrapper to cut into 1 inch sections.
  13. In the muffin pan, place a pat of butter, a few pecans and a tablespoon of brown sugar in first then the raw cinnamon roll dough. Repeat for all the muffin tins.
  14. Allow dough to rise in the pans for 45 – 60 minutes. About 15 minutes before this is done, turn the oven on to 350 degrees to get it evenly up to temperature.
  15. Bake the rolls from 20 to 25 minutes based on your oven. I check them at about 23 minutes.
  16. The original recipe has a glaze but I found by putting the butter, brown sugar and pecans in the pan first, you don’t need it.
  17. Lastly, get a big glass of milk, a pecan roll and your favorite people to enjoy this tasty treat.
  18. Oh yeah, call the gym to see if they have extra cross fit training for the next week!

 

Pugliese Please – Bread to Beg For

I was invited to a holiday party at a friend’s home. Of course I wanted to bring something special. I got the great idea to try a new pie crust recipe with sour cream. I baked the crust, added fruit and tasted it. It was a disaster!

Luckily I had a couple of days so I went to my trusty The Bread Bible (Published and copyrighted by W.W. Norton & Company) book. If you don’t have this cookbook in your cooking arsenal, you need it. I have yet to have a bad recipe from it yet. The recipe below is modified (page 360) a bit for the time of year and elevation as my first attempts weren’t as airy as I would have liked.

Making this bread is best if you are going to be home awhile as the rising takes 3 hours with intervention to stretch and shape the bread but is it ever worth it.

Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients for Biga (Starter – 6 hours to 3 days before hand):

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour (book calls for 1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast (book calls for 1/16 but I found it needed a bit more)
  •  1/2 cup water (book calls for 1/4 cup)

Equipment:

  • Plastic container with lid
  • Large Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring cup and spoons

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl for about 5 minutes until smooth and pulls away from sides. 
  2. Put in plastic container with lid to rise for 6 hours.

Note: If you are not going to make the bread immediately after, you can put this in the fridge for up to 3 days. Before using, it needs to set out for about an hour to come up to room temperature.

Ingredients for Bread:

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour – I used Gold Medal for both flours (book calls for 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (book calls for 1/2 cup durum flour which I could not find)
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast (book calls for 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt  (I used sea salt from Morton Salt)
  • 1/2 cup water at room temperature 70 to 90 degrees
  • Pam Spray
  • Glad Plastic Wrap

Equipment:

Directions:

  1. Using the whisk attachment, mix all the flours and yeast.
  2. Next whisk in the salt (this is done separate so the salt does not kill the yeast, very important)
  3. Change to the paddle attachment. Add the water, biga and mix for about 1 minute until the flour is moist enough to start forming a dough.
  4. Change to the dough hook and mix for 5 minutes. Mixer speed should be set to #4. The dough should be sticky. If the dough is not sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.
  5. Allow the dough to rest for 2 minutes.
  6. Flour the counter or a large pie mat. Place the dough on the mat and with floured hands, stretch the dough then fold it like a business letter.
  7. Spray the plastic wrap with the Pam Spray  and place over the top of the dough. Allow it to rise for 30 minutes then repeat the process again (no don’t put it back in the mixer!).
  8. For the third time, spray the mixing bowl then repeat stretching, folding and flouring the dough. Use an oiled spatula or dough scraper and transfer the dough to the mixing bowl. Cover it with a lid or oiled plastic wrap. Use a piece of tape to mark the outside of the mixing bowl where the dough should be to triple in size. The dough should take about 2 hours to rise.
  9. Dust a counter with bread flour and very gently place the dough on the counter using an oiled spatula. Shape the bread and place colander lined with a floured towel seam side up. Sprinkle with flour and cover with a oiled plastic wrap. Allow it to rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
  10. After 30 minutes, set the oven to 500 degrees to preheat for one hour before baking.
  11. Once the dough has completed rising, remove the plastic wrap and very gently flip the dough onto a bread stone or Lodge Cast Iron Griddle sprinkled with corn meal.
  12. Place a 1/2 cup of ice cubes in a pan into the oven. Place the bread dough in the oven for 5 minutes then reduce heat to 450 degrees. Continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes based on your oven. I would check the temperature after 15 minutes which  will need to be 205 degrees internally when done. The thermometer can go into the side or bottom if you don’t want to pierce the top of you beautiful creation.
  13. About two minutes before it is done, you can spread butter or egg wash on top to get a golden brown finish.
  14. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for about ten minutes before serving to allow the baking process to complete.

Hope you enjoy this recipe and pick up The Bread Bible  for more tasty treats.

 

Frittata In Cast Iron, A Heavy Metal Breakfast

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Cast Iron cooking is becoming one of my favorite ways to prepare a meal. This frittata just reminds me of home, family and comfort, especially on a cold winter day like today in Michigan.

I love a hardy breakfast but also like to get in some vegetables. Yes, I said vegetables not chocolate or sugar. This is a easy breakfast that takes about 45 minutes.  This is pretty simple to make and will allow the younger members of the family to participate.

What I really like about this recipe if you are single or have a small household, you’ll have enough to put in the freezer to for the week.  If you have a large family or friend over, no one is going hungry. I did accompany this with a premium cut maple bacon and hash browns. Either way, everyone will be happy after this creation appears in your kitchen. Happy eats!

Difficulty: EASY

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs.
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
  •  3 shallots
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup gouda cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Non stick cooking spray or vegetable oil.

Equipment:

  • Large cast iron skillet
  • Chef Knife
  • Whisk
  • Large Spoon.
  • Measuring cups

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees to warm while you mix the frittata ingredients.
  2. Crack the dozen eggs into the skillet.
  3. Add the heavy cream and whisk.
  4. Chop the shallots, peppers and garlic. Stir in to mixture with wooden spoon.
  5. Grate the cheese and set aside.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. I used 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper and 1 tsp of sea salt to start. Whisk again.
  7. Coat the skillet with a non stick cooking spray or vegetable oil.
  8. Pour the mixture into the skillet.
  9. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the mixture.
  10. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Keep an eye on this as your oven may have a different cooking time.
  11. Once done, let it set for a few minutes.
  12. Cut, serve and enjoy!

 

Simple and Healthy – Oatmeal with Granola

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I used to think that cooking breakfast before two cups of coffee was impossible. But I started a routine to get up a little early, do some mediation and reading. This slowed me down enough where I actually thought it would be nice to have something to accompany my coffee and reading. I was told that keeping it simple is usually the best answer and this meal proved that to me.

The whole meal took less than 10 minutes and it keeps me full until the afternoon. I used Old Fashioned Oats from Essential Everyday to make 3 cups cooked oatmeal, 1/2 cup granola mix between Bear Naked granola (cinnamon) and Cascadian Falls Almond Granola mix and 1/4 cup banana chips.

 

Biscuit, Cookie, Whatever! It’s good down under with an Anzac treat.

RJP_Food_20171126-219Doing homework (for studio lighting class) and watching Zumbo’s Just Deserts on Netflix is dangerous for my studies.  Just like with shiny things, I get distracted with all the wonderful ideas on the show. They were making this Anzac biscuit, which is down under for what we American’s call a cookie. This biscuit looked so good I just had to make it immediately. I found the recipe I like on AllSpices.com and will repeat it here with some modifications.

Difficulty: EASY

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Cooking Oats. I used plain Quaker Oats.
  • 3/4 Cup Flaked Coconut
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp Golden Syrup. I used clear corn syrup because that is all I had.
  • 2 Tbsp boiling water

Equipment:

  • Glass Measuring Cup.
  • Measuring spoons.
  • Mixer with paddle attachment. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer and love it.

Directions:

  1. Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut together.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the syrup and butter together. Mix the soda and the boiling water and add to the melted butter and syrup.
  3. Add butter mixture to the dry ingredients.
  4. Put down a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet, press the mixture by hand until it is about 1/4 inch flat. Place another sheet of parchment on top and with a second cookie sheet, press into the mixture to even out the shape. *see note 1
  5. This is another spot I
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes. I pulled my out at 17 minutes because my oven runs a bit hot.
  7. Pull out the sheet and use a round or square cookie cutter to extract your tummy treats. I used the excess as a crumble for mousse or ice cream.

EAT, EAT, EAT!! These are great by themselves, with home made whipped cream or a chocolate mousse. Ok, they are good with just about anything!

*Note 1: the original recipe has the following directions: Add butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Drop by teaspoons on greased cookie sheets (or baking paper).

Spinach Pasta vs. Fast Food?

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Two nights a week I have a late class and so many times I would just stop at McDonalds (I know, yuck but I grew up on it so…) and grab something staying under 600 to 700 calories thinking that was ok. Problem is a) it was after 7 PM and a lot of fat in those calories. So the other night I was going to grab a bite to eat on the way home and something changed. I just couldn’t spend that kind of money for fast food any more when I know it doesn’t take that long to cook. If you know me, it’s not like I’m starving so not eating on a 40 minute ride wasn’t going to kill me! I had this spinach and chive pasta from Trader Joe’s, some fresh tomatoes I picked up for another recipe, kalamata olives and parmesan cheese (always have olives and cheese on hand). This is so easy it can be done by anyone.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 package Spinach and Chive Linguine
  • 8 ea Campari Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Parmesan Cheese to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Place the pasta in the water. It will only take 2 – 4 minutes.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cut up the tomatoes and olives to your liking. I prefer to dice them so I get more in each bite.
  3. Once the pasta is done, drain and rinse. I like to rinse this pasta so it does not stick together.
  4. Mix the tomatoes, olives, and olive oil with the pasta and toss.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Top with cheese.
  7. Enjoy your smart choice.

Question or a suggestion for a recipe for me to try? Please email me at Ron Pickering.

Until next time, Namaste!

 

 

Micro Mashing Potatoes

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Simple and yummy for a fall season tummy.
Ingredients:
 
3/4 5 lbs potatoes
1/3 cup of sour cream or heavy whipping cream
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh corn
1 yellow pepper – cut to match corn kernel size
1 red pepper – cut to match corn kernel size
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Caribbean Jerk Spice
 
Directions:
Peel potatoes and cut into cubes about 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches. Once potatoes are soft where they slide of the fork, drain and use a hand mixer to mix in the sour cream, garlic and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
 
Mix corn, peppers, water and spices into a sauce pan. Heat until the peppers are at the crispness you prefer. Drain and serve with mash potatoes.