Friday, October 14, 2011

Rainbow Cookies

Hi There! 
So uh, how long has it been since I've posted? Almost 3 months??? Yikes, sorry! Starting fourth year of college doesn't exactly entail too much free time to bake or blog, ya know? 
It's usually more like this: drink drink drink class sleep drink eat sleep class drink drink drink sleep drink drink eat... Catch my drift? I also live in a house of 10 girls. Ten. Two (and a half) bathrooms. That just screeeams drama. and dirtiness. (Is that a word?)  We even have a cleaning lady that comes every two weeks and it's still disgusting. At the beginning of the year, we had this really bad gnat problem, where like a bijillion of them would hover around the kitchen and trash can. You basically had to plug your mouth and nose when you walked into the kitchen unless you wanted extra protein that day. Did I mention my room is right across from the kitchen? Ummmmmmm, ya. You're probs really grossed out right now.

So with aforementioned situation, you can imagine how much baking/cooking I've done since school started. 
[0] <-- this much. Actually, I lie. I DID bake one time, when we were sequestered to our house all day thanks to hurricane Irene. We drank about 12938 bottles of wine, oodles of cheese and crackers, and then....I made cookies. Keep in mind I'm in unfamiliar territory over here! The stove is electric (I think?). It has creepy coils that heat up. And the oven has this little light that turns on when you set the oven temperature and then the light turns off when it reaches that temp. At least, I know that's how it works now. At the time, I thought the oven kept shutting off every time the light went off so I kept cranking up the temperature so the light would turn back on. #fail. The cookies were fat but crispy. Weird texture. At least now I know how the oven works.

Anyway, I probably sadly won't have too many recipes to share until I go home for Christmas break, BUT I did go home last weekend for our Fall Break. What a treat! It's starting to get chilly up in here in VA, so I was definitely looking forward to laying out and getting tan. And eating delicious foods. And baking! I told my sister that it was vital to my being that we bake. 
I didn't have too much time at home so despite the hundreds of recipes I have bookmarked, I went straight to my most-trusted blogger, Jessica, for a fool-proof yummy recipe. These bad boys have been calling my name ever since she made them back in July. I love that they're colorful They're just so happy! And you will definitely be happy after eating them. They're gooey and chewy and right out of the oven, melt in your mouth. Aaand they stay soft. Don't you hate when cookies get hard and stale the very next day? Like sorry, I can't eat 18 cookies in one sitting. I mean...I could, but then I might feel sick after. Maybe.

Jessica made these cookies gigantic and baked them a funny way [she rolled a big dough ball, ripped it in half, and placed them on top of each other]. I did some of mine like this and others just regular but either way, they still taste fantastic! 

Rainbow Cookies
Recipe from How Sweet Eats
Makes 18-20 cookies, depending on size

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup m&m’s (or something else that you love)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the butter and sugars until they are combined (and look like the first picture above). Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to help at one point. Fold in the m&m’s.
Divide the dough how you choose. Shape each portion into a ball with your hands then pull each ball into two equal pieces. Turn each half so that the rough side of the half (what used to be the inside of the ball) faces upwards and then squish both halves together. Place the dough rough-side up on a baking sheets. If you’re doing large cookies, I’d leave about 2 inches in between each.
Bake for 12-15 minutes (large cookies) or 8-12 minutes (small cookies) or until the edges are slightly brown. The centers should be soft and puffy. Do not over bake. 
Let cool completely then dig in!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cheesy Basil Pizza & Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

I have a confession to make.


I used to hate pizza.

I know, it's weird, right? Like what kid doesn't like pizza?

The pasta-obsessed child that's who. Aka me.

It wasn't that I didn't like cheese or bread because c'mon those are like the holy grail of the food groups. It was just that I didn't like.......tomato sauce.

When I would come home from school as a kid, I would make a snack. Either a box of mac n cheese or a box of pasta with butter and cheese. Yes I said a box. I ate the whole thing. Yes it was a snack. What can I say... I like my pasta.

One time when I was seven years old my uncle bet me $100 that I couldn't finish this gigantic plate of pasta that probably weighed more than my seven-year-old-being. You bet your bottom-dollar I finished the whole thing! True story.

Anyway back to the pizza. Apparently every seven years your taste buds change (or so my wiser, older sister tells me) and I have now grown to love things I once hated: sushi, eggplants, tomato sauce, and pizza. Moral of the story: keep trying new foods!

Don't get me wrong I still really don't like take-out pizza. That stuff is so oily the grease drips off each slice. Nasty. This pizza is definitely not take-out (or DiGiorno's). The crust is crunchy and whatever toppings you put on it instantly make it "gourmet" haha or so I tell myself. I usually throw on every vegetable I have in the fridge but this time around I really needed to go grocery shopping so I just caramelized some onions (YUMM) and threw some fresh basil on top with the cheese. 

And don't be nervous about using yeast! I didn't even know people were scared of it and I used it and had no problemo. Like I tell my kids at the tutoring center, it's easy peasy!

Cheesy Basil Pizza 
Recipe from The Savvy Kitchen
Makes enough dough for one, 16" large pizza

1 cup warm water 
1 package dry yeast (2.25 tsp.) 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. sugar 
2 tsp. olive oil 
3 cups flour, divided

Put cup of warm water in bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, sugar and olive oil. Stir in 2 cups of the flour to combine and then add another 1/2 cup of flour until the dough comes together and becomes elastic. Put the other 1/4 cup of flour on a board and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth.

Put the ball of dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and knead it lightly on a surface covered in the remaining flour. Roll or stretch the dough to fit a pizza pan or baking stone.

If the dough is too elastic to cover the pan and it keeps springing back, stretch it out and let it rest. Keep stretching it and letting it rest until it relaxes enough to cover the pan.

Top with desired toppings. I like to put tomato sauce, sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, and fresh basil. This would also be delicious as a white pizza though with no sauce! Cook in a preheated 450 degrees F oven for 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lemon Garlic Tuna Burgers

Amazing things can happen to your food when you have fresh herbs.

Like...delicious, amazing things. Remember those Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers? Crunchy perfection. Along with the rosemary in the backyard is cilantro, parsley, and basil (hellOoO caprese pesto pizza??). While the cilantro is slightly suffering and the basil is sparse (from pesto we made the other night), the parsley is overflowing. I really wanted to make something with it. Ergo, these Lemon Garlic Tuna Burgers.

They're so easy. I just chop and drop everything in the bowl and then moosh it together with your hands into patties. Kinda fun actually.

These are also a really college-friendly meal. Tuna = super cheap. And you probs already have everything else in your fridge right now. Cept maybe the parsley. But that's easy to find (I think?). Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll be making a lot of these babies at school. I love the crunchy texture from baking them (no greasy frying yayy) but the tuna inside melts in your mouth. The lemon and parsley make them really light and fresh. Perfect for a hot, sunny summer day.

I know normally burgers call for...buns (duh) but I really don't like eating buns with non-meat burgers. To be honest, I just don't really see the point of all that bread hogging all the flavor when the meatless burger is so good by itself! So my tuna burgers are nakey. Feel free to add buns.

Since I was the only one eating this tonight, I made all four patties and then froze the other three patties for a quick meal. Then I took one of those Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies I stashed in the fridge and threw it into the oven because I was seriously craving a cookie. Nothin' like a fresh baked cookie - can I get an Amen?!

Lemon Garlic Tuna Burgers
Recipe adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner?
Makes 4 burgers 

2, 6 oz cans tuna fish, drained and flaked
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1/4 tsp each, salt and pepper  
juice of half a lemon 
2 tbsp sour cream (or you could use Greek yogurt or mayo or all mustard)
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1/4 tsp of some spices (I used Paprika and Cumin) - you don't have to use spices if you don't want/have
1 egg  

Preheat oven to 400 degress F.

Combine tuna, bread crumbs, red onion, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon, sour cream, mustard, spices, and egg, and mix well with your hands. Form into 4 patties (they will be wet). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with a toasted bun, lettuce, tomato, onions, and whatever else your heart desires.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers

The other day, I went a little crazy.

Not like...the I'm-a-crazy-girlfriend-don't-go-near-my-boyfriend crazy. Mainly because I've a) been there, done that but also because I b) don't even have a boyfriend! So that takes care of that problem.
No the other day I went crazy - as in, I-have-to-bake-something-right-this-minute crazy. I didn't know what though. Did I want something sweet? Did I want something salty? So to remedy this problem, I had three recipes simultaneously going in the kitchen. I was like a mad scientist. No joke, this is what it looked like..........

I ended up making Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers, Chewy Fruit Granola Bars, and a new Banana Bread recipe. I normally make this amaaaazing Banana Bread that is my favorite of allllll time (I'll share it soon!) but I decided to venture out. It was a bad decision. On top of it being not tasty, my simultaneous recipe concocting got the best of me and I forgot to add in the sugar after I put it in the oven! I ripped the pan out and threw/mixed in the sugar but it still obviously was gross. That recipe won't be shared but look at this banana bread. I pathetic. Poor thing didn't even rise.

Back to the crackers.

So remember how I've been watering the plants everyday during my very busy days here in NJ? Well one of those plants is fresh rosemary and it smells sOoOoo good. At Wegman's they have these Rosemary dinner rolls that are to diiiie for so these crackers were inspired by those. The recipe I got was in the metric system so I had to do some conversions here. The crackers basically taste like those Carr's water crackers. Really delish with hummus or spin dip. mMm. These didn't even last a day in our house.

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
Recipe adapted from The Purple Foodie
Makes a whole bunch!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp chopped rosemary (fresh or dried)
Sea salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, water, olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes until it comes together - It will be a hard dough! Now you can either make walnut-sized balls and roll the crackers out individually (I used the side of a mug to roll them out) or you can roll the whole dough out on a cookie sheet and cut it into crackers before you bake.
With either method, place the rolled out crackers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle Sea salt and ground pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crackers are golden brown. Make sure to watch them because they can burn quick! Serve alongside your favorite dip :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!!


I hope you all celebrated today with lots of yummy foods and drinks! :)

Thank you to all who have served and our serving right now!

God Bless America

Very proud to be an American! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cheddar Broccoli Bites

I don't know about you, but my family always had a Sunday tradition.


We'd go to church where my sisters and I would play tic-tac-toe on the Sermon note papers.
Then we'd go to Bennigan's. Do you remember that restaurant? It's basically like T.G.I.Friday's but it was where everyone went before Friday's got cool. And they definitely started the buttons on suspenders look.

Anyway, this was back when I ate meat so I'd ALWAYS get the chicken fingers w/ honey must(ard). It was delicious. Tangy, but a little bit sweet, with crunchy mustard seeds. I never could figure out how they made it taste so good but I wanted to drink it. Luckily my fam always wanted to start w/ appetizers so we'd share 2 or 3 orders of Broccoli Bites and that infamous honey must. Broccoli Bites are just fried balls of broccoli, cheesy, oniony goodness. We'd usually ask the waiter to bring 2 more orders to bring home with us. They were THAT good.

Then, when I was in middle school, Bennigan's went bankrupt (dagnabbit Friday's!). I was deeeeevastated. What would I do without Broccoli Bites and that honey must?! It only took 8 years for my sister and I to realize that we could...Google. Wow. That took 2 seconds.


Make these tonight. You won't be sorry!!

Broccoli Bites 
Makes 15-20 balls

1 16 oz. package of frozen broccoli, thawed, dried, & chopped small (or use 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 16 oz. block of white Cheddar cheese, shredded (or 1 package of shredded) - Use any melty cheese you like!)
3 eggs
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Italian bread crumbs, as needed
3 cups Canola oil, for frying

Place first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl and incorporate all of them together well. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour.

In a heavy skillet with walls, heat about 3 cups of canola oil over medium heat. Place a paper towel sheet on a plate and set next to stove. In a shallow plate, set out some Italian bread crumbs. Using your hands, form small balls of the mixture and roll in the bread crumbs until coated. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. In small batches, fry the balls until golden, only about 2 minutes. Make sure to flip them halfway so they get browned on all sides. After they are fried, place them on the plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil. 
Serve with honey mustard!

Bennigan's Honey Mustard
Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt because I didn't have sour cream nor do I like it)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup honey
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard. Blend thoroughly using a wire whisk.
Slowly pour in the honey and lemon juice. Continue mixing ingredients until dressing is smooth and well combined. 

Serve with chicken fingers, Broccoli Bites, or as a salad dressing!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

Remember back in the day when you (or your mom) packed your lunch for school?

There was the kids with the prepackaged Lunchables... I strangely was always really jealous of these kids even though thinking back on those circular hams make me gag. Maybe it was because they always had a piece of candy.

There were the kids with the healthnut parents that gave them turkey and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread with the crusts cut off. They always got carrot sticks as a side. Snoozefest.

Then there were the kids who got leftover dinner foods. This was me. If you've ever eaten at my household, you know that an Argentenian (Argentine?) dad and Italian mom makes for interesting dinner combos. Sometimes I'd get Spanish tortilla or Milanesas (breaded and fried beef). I mean I'm not complaining - I thought it was divine - but the other kids thought it was a little weird. 

I did, however, get a wee bit jealous when I saw the other kids with the Mott's applesauces. I mean what a perfect little dessert. There was always that circular spot in the lunchbox that it seemed to fit well in. 

Anyways as an ode to Mott's, I decided to make my own applesauce because I'm really skeezed (?) out by all the ingredients on the back of packaged applesauces. Those things have a pretty long shelf life so let's be honest here, they can't be too good for you with all those chemicals. Not to mention that weirdish taste...

The best thing about it is you can totally do it how you like. Don't like the skin? Peel it off! Like it totally mashed into smitherenes? Mash away. I prefer mine chunky. Like my peanut butter. And my men, remember?

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce
Serves 2-3

2-3 apples, chopped (I used Pink Lady but Fuji or Braeburn would be great too)
1/2 water (it seems like a lot but it boils away!)
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil. Let mixture boil until apples are completely soft (You might need to add more water, depending if your apples are still hard), about 10 minutes. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the apples to desired consistency.