Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This is a second recipe that I made this past weekend. It made about 4 dozen cookies. They taste wonderful and are definitely one of my favorites.

This recipe is an old one that my grandmother use to make for me. I always preferred a chewy cookie versus the crispy, crumbly dried out cookies that my mother likes.

I use to bake cookies with my grandmother every summer when I'd go to visit. I learned about measuring ingredients, how to plump up raisins that were hard as rocks, what spices to add a little extra of, and most importantly; how to make a chewy cookie.

There are three secrets in making a chewy cookie. The biggest is the timing in when to remove the cookies from the oven. You don't want them bake completely in the oven. They need to be approximately 1-2 minutes away from being fully baked. Remove them too soon and it looks like a raw cookie. Remove them too late and you have a crisp cookie. The timing takes practice. To aid in the timing, use a chilled dough, straight from the fridge onto the cookie sheet and into the oven.

The second tip to keeping a soft, chewy cookie is to store them in an air-tight container with a slice of bread. The bread will dry out after 1-2 days and need to be replaced to keep the cookies moist.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mexican Rice Pudding

When I get depressed I don't want to eat but I cook. My kitchen is full of cookies, quick breads, and pudding type dishes.

Yes all of those are plural. There are oatmeal raisin cookies, oatmeal-red currant cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, banana nut bread, banana blueberry bread, tapioca, Persian rice pudding, and a Mexican rice pudding.

They all look beautiful. I'm sure they taste delicious too, I just have no appetite to eat them.

Tomorrow will make 10 months since my fiance died. 10 months since my entire world fell apart. 10 months of hell. There isn't a day that goes by that my heart doesn't ache, that tears don't roll down my cheeks wishing he would walk into my door, like nothing at all has happened. I want my miracle. I don't deserve it, but I want my happily ever after. And I want it with the love of my life.

Ok, enough depressing.

This was a recipe that Joseph brought home one day for me to make for some of his employees.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cheese & Macaroni

The sounds of school buses going down the road, cooler mornings, and a few million pink flowers falling from my unidentified tree in my backyard. Is summer really coming to an end already?

It makes me sad. At the same time, I am anxiously awaiting the fall leaves, the crisp cool air, and state fair.

Last night was one of those unusually cool evenings for August. Like a sneak peak at the fast-approaching autumn weather.

Last night was also the perfect night for a big dish of Macaroni and Cheese. Or in my case, a big dish of "Cheese & Macaroni". I'd been waiting on a cool day to turn the oven on so I could do this recipe for the America's Test Kitchen Blogger's Challenge.

Since the star of this dish is the cheese, it is important to get a great blend of multiple cheeses plus a little hot sauce for a little bit of spice.

This is a variation of the homemade macaroni and cheese that my mother has been making for years. The original recipe came from her The New Pillsbury Family Cookbook from 1975 in a yellow 5-ring binder that is lovingly held together with duct tape.

It is a very simple recipe that is easily adaptable to your own taste.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

It's 105 degrees outside.

Most people would be happy drinking a root beer float. Not me.

I have to turn my oven up to 350 degrees and add to the heat radiating through my walls of my house.

Let me tell you, it was SO worth it.

(I'm also getting a head start on the America's Test Kitchen Bloggers Challenge for the end of August.)

I love cupcakes and I love old recipes. While waiting on my delicious cupcakes to come out of the oven, I decided to search through some OLD cookbooks to see what the original version of cupcakes were.

While searching around, I realized there is no set origin for the word "cupcake". Some argue that it came from  the time when recipes were being switched from weight measurements to what we consider the standard measurements of cups, tablespoons and teaspoons. The word "cup" referred to the type of measurement used, therefore breaking cakes into a new category of "cup cakes".

Others argue that the name "cupcake" came from cakes that were baked in individual cups or ramekins.

While I can find no proof to substantiate the origin coming from the type of measurement, I can find a reference in a 1796 cook book American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons on page 48 that says:
 "A light Cake to bake in small cups.
Half a pound sugar, half a pound butter, rubbed into two pounds flour, one glass wine, one do. rosewater, two do. emptins, a nutmeg, cinnamon and currants."

While "emptins" is referring to the yeast from a barrel of ale, other recipes of the early 1800's (such as The Frugal Housewife from 1830) say "When you have no eggs, a gill of lively emptings will do." So I assume that an egg can be used in place of the yeast. 

Yeast or egg, either way, the original "cup cake" recipe written in 1796, sounds more like a biscuit or type of bread than our modern sweet cake topped with frosting. 

OK enough with your American Cookery history lesson. 

Onto what you came here for. Delicious, 21st century cupcakes, made with the help of modern technological marvels.