Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turtle Brownies

NBA basketball player Tim Duncan once said, “"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best."
I don’t know if he was quoting someone else, or if the saying is his own, but it’s a good one.
Yesterday’s recipe is good (especially if your crowd is kids). Today’s is better:

Turtle Brownies

Begin by making Triple Chocolate Brownies.
Just before the drizzle of melted Hershey bars, sprinkle down a few more mini chocolate chips, and some chopped pecans. Gently press them into the chocolate frosting.
Spoon some jarred caramel ice cream topping (I never use anything but Mrs. Richardson’s) into a quart size freezer strength Ziploc bag. Clip a small hole in the corner and generously drizzle caramel onto the chocolate chips and nuts layer. Then proceed with the melted Hershey bar topper.

In my opinion, Turtle Brownies are better than plain Triple Chocolate.
What is best?
A Turtle Brownie gently heated with vanilla ice cream, caramel topping and hot fudge sauce.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Several years ago, on a warm fall day, I set out for a quick run along the irrigation canal ditch road. As I ran, a duck was swimming in the canal. He seemed to keep turning its head and looking over at me, as if to chart my speed and match it. I can be ridiculously competitive at times. I guess this was one of those days. I challenged the duck to a race. (What? You runners out there don’t talk to ducks while running?!?) I quickened my pace and laughed to myself at this duck that began to swim faster. Again, I turned up my intensity- the duck followed suit. I was running at a great pace as we neared the first cross road. Without even as much as a nod, the duck took off flying. Cheater!!! (Don’t worry- This I said in my head). So the duck won. Throughout the rest of my “race” he was a hundred feet or so in front of me, and would often take flight. Did the duck really cheat? No. He was simply using its resources. That’s how I feel about brownies. Use your resources-
Many would agree that brownies are my signature dish. For years, I’ve thought it funny that everyone from the attendees at a church potluck to the local high school football team raves at how good “my” brownies are. I’m never hesitant to share my recipe- because it belongs to Betty (Crocker). I am finishing up my last few mixes of her Original Supreme- (the old box). I've tried the new recipe of "Original Supreme" and to be honest, it seems overpriced for what you get. She cut the number of ounces in the mix, and made a few other changes. I'll experiment with what else is out there. Chances are, you may already have a favorite mix, or prefer your current scratch recipe. Nevertheless, I use a mix.
I believe the key is thickness. I prefer 44oz. of mix in an air bake jelly roll (15.5x10) or 56 oz. in a standard (12x17) baking sheet. I make and bake the brownies as the package indicates. I continue to use available resources by spreading the cooled brownie with canned chocolate frosting.
Perhaps what makes them my signature dish is the way I top them from here. Today, we’ll start off simple-

Triple Chocolate Brownie:
2-3 brownie mixes, made as directed, in a large baking sheet.
Frost with 1 – 1 ½ cans of chocolate frosting.
Immediately sprinkle with mini chocolate chips while the frosting is still wet, so they stick.
Melt 2 Hershey milk chocolate bars (1.55 oz. size) in a freezer strength quart size Ziploc. Snip a small hole in the bottom corner of the bag. Drizzle the contents onto the brownie sheet.
[I once helped a local high school football player make a pan of these in a quest to ask a girl to a dance. I explained to him to “drizzle” by making happy circles all over the brownies in varying sizes.]
Let cool completely. I find the brownies easiest to cut and serve if they are chilled. I use a thin paring knife to cut them. I’ve also heard a plastic knife works well, avoiding the “drag” that rips one brownie into the next, giving them uneven, unattractive edges.

Rumor has it, someone whom I’ve already shared my resources- uh I mean “recipe”- with is selling this product. Don’t I deserve royalties? -Or do we owe them all to Betty?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mom's Holiday Pumpkin Bread--Mom's Way

In church today, they announced that there were empty boxes in the foyer so those who were interested could participate in the Salvation Army Food Drive. I know that many receiving those boxes also receive in a sense a bit of hope- for better times. My thoughts wandered a bit to the Christmas of 1986. And in honor of such I made Mom’s Holiday Pumpkin Bread – the way Mom makes it..

I grew up in a somewhat large family of six children. Each Christmas our family would carol to friends and neighbors and upon leaving with our parting tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” my little brother would give a loaf of Mom’s Holiday Pumpkin Bead to our friends. Many of the friends and neighbors we caroled to considered our visit one of the highlights of their season. Money was always tight in our home, but one Christmas in particular things were especially tough. My parents called the children together to discuss the caroling plans and to let us know that there just wasn’t enough money for both ingredients for the holiday pumpkin bread for caroling and for our traditional Christmas meal of ham, rolls, Jell-O, and pies. My parents let us know the decision was up to us to choose between making the bread and having our Christmas feast. My parents left the room to allow for free discussion amongst us children. It wasn’t but a moment until my older sister announced our unanimous decision to our parents. We wanted the bread!
We caroled on several nights in the weeks preceding Christmas. With our last batch of holiday bread, our final night of caroling was Christmas Eve. It was cold and we were tired, but as a teenager, when I saw a tear fall down the face of a lady we caroled to, I knew it was all worth the effort. Our family returned home that evening to find our front porch lined with numerous stuffed grocery bags filled with Christmas ham and trimmings and much, much, more. Those people, who had gone out of their way to our home, tended to our immediate needs, but also left a testimony to children, teen-agers and a couple of struggling parents of a sense of love, compassion, hope and a desire to serve.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cobblestone Muffins

New snow fell this morning. We live in a region where we don't typically get very much, so the kids were constantly happily distracted during “family cleaning" with the activity going on outside
A week into this snow coverage, I'm feeling a little trapped in my home. So I try to distract myself with a new idea in the kitchen. Much of what I bake is inspired by something I've seen or tasted before.
A trip to Seattle means a stop at Panera Bread. I always want one of everything, but am content with a french toast bagel. Last time, my husband ordered a cobblestone muffin. Today I attempted to copy the idea for a sledding snack.

Cobblestone Muffins

Make your favorite biscuit recipe, or use refrigerated, or defrost frozen ones. My favorites are Schwann’s Country Biscuits.
Roll out 1/2 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1/2 inch squares. Give each piece a light squeeze to form it into an irregular rounded shape. Dip in melted butter then roll into a mixture of:
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp. Cinnamon
Fill each muffin cup heaping full and bake at 350 degrees. Time depends on size. Let cool somewhat before drizzling with glaze.

Winters in the town I grew up in Iowa were very harsh. When it snowed, it was often measured in feet, not inches. Oft times, I was the daughter selected to go out and help my Dad shovel the walks. As winter skies darken in late afternoon, by the time dad returned from work, the light from the street lamp reflected on the snow to give a strange luminating light to the task. The sounds of the shovel scraping the sidewalk and Dad’s breath as he worked hard and quick became sounds of comfort to me. I remember a particular evening that Dad had assigned me to help shovel the walks. I was eight years old, short and scrawny. There had been at least a foot and a half of new snow that day. As I tried to walk down the front steps to the sidewalk, trying to catch up to Dad, I could barely move. Every time I put my foot down, it sank up past my knee in the fresh snow. My Dad kept turning around and calling for me to catch up. I was trying to be tough (certainly a trait I was known for) and move quickly towards Dad; but I was truly having a tough time moving at all. I began to get frustrated and tears fell down my cheeks. Dad turned around again to call to me, and saw me crying. He came back to where I was struggling in the snow and pointed to his footsteps. He told me that if I walked in his footsteps, I wouldn’t get stuck. He had paved the way with his larger boot. We were both headed to the same place and all I needed to do was follow him. And I did. Not just in the snow that night, but throughout my life, I’ve recognized that when I follow in the wisdom that has gone before me, I have found peace, safety joy, and even a few smiles from the contents of the oven.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Monster Cookies

Today, the outside temps have raised enough to make sledding more fun. The frigid arctic cold system has left the area, and now it’s just cold enough for the snow to not melt, but be pleasant. From my warm, protected perch inside, I can look out my kitchen window and watch the group that has gathered today to sled.
A snow fight has now ensued meaning they will no doubt soon be in cold and wet. My Cocomotion is ready to brew some hot chocolate, and I’ve just taken the last batch of monster cookies out of the oven. The first time I made this recipe, I made it as directed. This time, I replaced some of the oats with flour. The finished product is a heartier cookie that I prefer- especially to help satisfy seven cold teenagers.

Monster Cookies

½ cup soft butter
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. corn syrup
1 cup flour
3 ½ cups oats
2 tsp. baking soda
2 ½ cups combined of -chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla, or peanut butter chips and M&M’s.
Cream butters and sugars. Stir in eggs, vanilla and corn syrup. Add dry ingredients. Mix together. Fold in chips and M&M’s. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, depending on size.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of the cold. I suffered from frost bite as a kid and can’t tolerate the cold, but I enjoy watching those who seem invincible to it. Somehow this group outside today just keeps on playing. I’ll gladly keep my perch inside, and enjoy the view from here! When they are done, I’m ready with warm cookies and steamy hot cocoa.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilgrim Hat Place Cards

When the boys were young, I had a subscription to Family Fun Magazine. Each month, I would sift through it to see if there was something fun to make or do. I went through the effort to cut out the pages of my favorite activities, games, and food crafts. The product of those hours is useless. Now, (for ease and quickness) I simply turn to the internet to retrieve what I need. My daughter, J is making this year’s Thanksgiving place cards.
Place Card Pilgrim Hats
• 24 chocolate-striped shortbread cookies
• 12-ounce package of chocolate chips
• 24 marshmallows
• tube of yellow decorators' frosting
1. Set the chocolate-striped cookies stripes down on a wax-paper-covered tray, spacing them well apart.
2. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler.
3. One at a time, stick a wooden toothpick into a marshmallow, dip the marshmallow into the melted chocolate, and promptly center it atop a cookie.
4. Using a second toothpick to lightly hold down the marshmallow, carefully pull out the first toothpick.
5. Chill the hats until the chocolate sets, then pipe a yellow decorators' frosting buckle on the front of each hat

The truth is, she made these same place cards about four years ago. They “complicated” Thanksgiving. My nephew was too young to want to wait until after dinner for his treat. An epic fit ensued lasting clear through the big meal. I only felt a little bad for being responsible for the reason. I was mostly entertained and somewhat delighted watching a grand toddler fit -as we had been out of that stage for quite some time. After he exhausted himself, he ate his required portions and then enjoyed his treat as dishes were being done. Better luck to you all- and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are the very reason I am here today- “here” meaning being married to W and living where we live.
I met W in college. One night my roommates and I crashed the Elder’s Quorum activity: a basketball game. W was undercut as he went up for a lay-up and suffered a gash over his left eye. His girlfriend rushed to his side. His not-so-secret and terribly awkward crusher (that’s me) was whisked away by a couple of wise roommates back to our apartment. We made chocolate chip cookies and delivered them that evening.
W may remember the details of our relationship a little different (hopefully with me being less awkward), but the truth is- the girl with the plate of cookies eventually got the guy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ cup buttered flavored Crisco
½ cup soft butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 – 2 ¾ cups flour (2 7/8 cups for high elevation)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 scant tsp. salt
2 ½- 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream Crisco, butter and sugars by hand, or on the lowest Kitchenaid setting. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, soda and salt all at once, stirring until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-12 minutes. For a richer flavor and smoother texture, I form cookie dough balls and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake.

I have made this recipe countless times over the years. It’s used to celebrate, console, and cheer on. It’s one of the very first things I learned to bake. A special thanks to two fabulous college roommates- Laura and Andrea for introducing me to world of baking cookies!
Today, we celebrate the first snowfall of the season and the hours of great sledding that are sure to follow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jane's Rolls

Grammy always made the best rolls. No matter what time of year we’d visit, she’d task long in the kitchen preparing a meal served with melt-in-your-mouth rolls.
I can’t get Grammy’s recipe to turn out. I think I can blame it on humidity, elevation, and barometric pressure. . .
So on a crusade to be triumphant with a simple no-fail dinner roll, I called all four of my sisters asking for their success stories. I only found one! It’s a recipe one of my sisters begged off of a neighbor.
I played with it, bumping up the flavor. I give credit to the recipe’s origin by calling it:

Jane’s Rolls

2 cups warm milk (microwave for 2 minutes)
2 T yeast
¼ cup sugar
Mix these three ingredients together and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast mixture is foamy.
Add :
¼ melted butter
1 egg
2 tsp. salt
3 cups bread flour
Beat in Kitchenaid until smooth.
Add 2-3 more cups of bread flour.
Change the Kitchenaid attachment to the dough hook for 5 minutes. (Or knead on your well-floured work surface.)
Let rise until double.
Form into any shape of roll you’d like. I divide dough into two discs. I roll each one out into a 14 inch circle, then brush with soft or melted butter. Then take the pizza cutter and cut into 16 triangles. Beginning with the wide end, roll up the dough to form crescent shapes.
Rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Lightly brush with butter while still hot.

My kids will begin Thanksgiving week by being grateful I made a “practice batch” of rolls for them to enjoy after school today. Your family would appreciate it too. I’ll be sure to tell Jane how thankful we are for the recipe.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baked Caramel Corn

As a young girl growing up in a large family in Southwest Iowa, I remember our family often took advantage of very strange opportunities. We were no strangers to work, and somehow “work” always revolved around Dad’s stack of 5 gallon buckets. The tougher the job, the more buckets he would get from the porch. We were delighted when the jobs were slight enough to only require one short stack of buckets. One November, in the late 1970’s, Dad loaded the family station wagon with a large stack of buckets. We were all told to bundle up and get in the car. As we drove about 10 miles from our home, my sisters and I asked Dad repeatedly, “Where are we going?”
“You’ll see when we get there” was Dad’s usual response. We arrived at a corn field outside of the neighboring town of Hamburg, Iowa. There were fields and silos and a light dusting of snow on the frozen ground. Dad unloaded the large stack of buckets, took two for him, and instructed each of us girls to take a bucket as he walked toward the field. Still the question “What are we doing?” had yet to be answered. As we neared the first rows of fields, dad picked up an ear of what looked like dried up sweet corn. We told Dad it was no good- it was old and frozen. Dad said “It’s perfect.”
My thought-“Perfect for what?” Dad then explained where we were-Vogel popcorn fields. (Vogel grows over half of the popcorn production in the United States and sells to popcorn giant Orville Redenbacher.)
So there we were- Dad had gained permission to glean the popcorn fields. He gave us quick instructions on how to gather the cobs and not to bother filling our bucket with the dried husks but to do our best to remove them. As a group of five girls ages 4-10, our “best” was certainly a matter of perspective. We worked to fill the buckets and as past family work had indicated, we were never done until the buckets were filled. Upon completion, dad loaded the car and we five girls squished together in the middle seat as the back was full of 5 gallon buckets of popcorn. As you may realize, the work did not end as we drove away. Once home, Dad taught us how to remove the popcorn from the cobs. The first few cobs were kind of fun as we ran our thumbs down the cob and watched to our delight as popcorn kernels fell into our bowls. But hours later, as our thumbs were blistered; this seemed like too much effort. However, our labors paid off in the end. After the work, Mom helped us pop the kernels and occasionally throughout the winter months, we’d have a special family night treat of caramel popcorn.

Baked Caramel Corn
6 quarts of air popped pop corn
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup corn syrup
½ tsp. baking soda

Pop the popcorn, set aside. Combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and turn heat down, boiling five minutes. Remove from cook top and stir in baking soda. Mixture will be foamy. Pour it over the popcorn and gently toss, coating each kernel. Divide caramel corn onto two greased jelly roll pans. Bake at 250 degrees for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread out onto a large surface to cool.
Fancy it up a bit? Once caramel corn is cool, gather it together single layer on a flat surface. Drizzle melted milk or dark chocolate over the caramel corn and let set.


The whole family would huddle together in the kitchen as we watched our popcorn kernels gathered from a frozen field, removed from the cob with tiny blistered thumbs- be transformed into a delightful treat enjoyed by the whole family- who together, under the direction of a wise and resourceful father, had worked so hard to obtain it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fruit Crisp

Several weeks ago, Y had a hard day on the grid iron. Because of the misdeed in his direction, I wasn’t happy either. When he arrived home, I volunteered to head out and cause some trouble with him, if it would make him feel better. He wasn’t interested in throwing anything, damaging anyone’s property or delivering tainted brownies to a coach’s doorstep. (I silently wondered if he had any of my DNA.) He told me he wasn’t angry, but if it would make me feel better, I could make him cookies. And so I did make cookies, and we both felt better.
Yesterday it was my husband’s turn to have a bad day. He works on a government contract safeguarding nuclear materials. Neither you nor I have clearance to know any more than that. Needless to say, when he has a hard day, I never get details. I can be empathetic, but most helpful if I’m busy in the kitchen doing what I can to ease the burden. This is the comfort food of choice:

Fruit Crisp

5 cups fruit (sliced apples, peaches, berries, etc.)
1 T lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup oats
¾ cup brown sugar
3/8 cup flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 T cold butter, cubed

Prepare fruit and toss with lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pulse oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and butter in the food processor until it forms crumbs. Add 3/8 cup nuts if desired. Lay fruit in the bottom of a greased 9inch baking pan. Sprinkle crumb topping on. Bake at 350 degrees for 40+ minutes, or until done.
B sent me a text last night bemoaning a happening in his life. I was tired, and done consoling people who'd had a hard day. He was given the following advice:
“Keep your head up. Keep working hard. Go forth with faith. Your dad and brother had some rough days too this week. Pray for them and focus less on your own misfortune. I love you.”
He replied “Okay.”
Reading it this morning, I hope I wasn’t too harsh. But it makes me feel better knowing today he’ll receive a surprise care package in the mail with ingredients to bake some of his favorite treats.
–Recipes will be posted another day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Bread/Bars

This morning, I head out to visit some ladies from church. I have been asked to check in on them to see how they and their families are doing, making sure all of their immediate needs are being met. I already know they are all doing well- however, today I will go and not go-empty handed.
This recipe can be compared to Mom’s Holiday Pumpkin Bread. The biggest difference is texture. The original recipe called for 1 cup of oil- it seemed heavy to me. I immediately cut it in half, and added more pumpkin to offset the moisture imbalance. This is the recipe I use when I want to make pumpkin bread or bars:
Pumpkin Bread/Bars
3 cups sugar
½ cup oil
3 eggs
2 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
I blend the first four ingredients in the Kitchenaid. The eggs can tolerate a little more beating since the desired end product is more cake like. Dry ingredients all at once and then mix until smooth. Divide batter into loaf pans or spread it in a jelly roll pan baking at 350 degrees. Time depends on size of pan.
Once the bread/bars are cool, frost with cream cheese frosting, or Steve’s choice of a ground clove infused powdered sugar glaze.
My message to the ladies today is about work. Just like the ground cloves in Steve’s glaze, it is infused throughout our lives- and it’s a good thing that it is.
I am extending a message of hope regarding the work that drives our everyday lives- I recently heard that “ a consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.”
So maybe we can find strength to continue the work we are asked and invited to do that leads us to progression in this life and throughout the next.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lemon Cake

A conversation via text between a friend and I last night awaiting the news on Y’s status with the basketball team-
Friend: “Hope the spirits are high at your home tonight because things went well for Y. Good luck!”
Me: “Actually, he was cut. He isn’t home yet so we haven’t talked.”
Friend: “Oh shoot…hope he handles it well. How is mom handling the news?”
Me: “Me?-I’m completely rational. All I want to do is sell the house and get the heck outta here!”
Friend: “Oh good…I was worried that you would lose it and do something crazy like make lemon cake!”
And so I did. . .

Lemon Cake
1 lemon cake mix
1/3 cup oil
½ cup water
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 small package of lemon pudding
I toss it all in the bowl and let the Kitchenaid work it. Several minutes later, it’s in the desired baking pan (jelly roll, rounds, bundt, cupcakes- whatever your feeling) baking at 350 degrees. Time depends on size of pan.
I keep it simple by frosting with a canned lemon frosting and setting the wow flavor factor with a glaze made of 2+T lemon juice to 2 cups of powdered sugar.
Mix.Bake. Share.

Y is handling the disappointment with toughness- probably because that’s how most 16 year olds think they should. He was quiet last night. In family prayer, his sister asked God to “help Y get over it”- before we could reverently giggle she quickly followed by asking “please let the Spirit comfort him.” I think he has felt that comfort. I have too- what an incredible gift the Comforter is.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today is Y’s last day of basketball tryouts. He will be home around 6pm with the news of whether or not he made the team. If I were to bake his favorite thing, I know in an instant what it would be. It’s not a treat, but rather a pepperoni and sausage pizza enclosed in the crust, saving the sauce for dipping. We call it Stromboli. You begin with dough- enough for one pizza. You can make your own, defrost a loaf of frozen bread dough (this takes over 5 hours) or purchase some at your favorite pizzeria.
When my eldest, B, was 4 and Y was 2, we moved to a community near Washington D.C. for a temporary work assignment. We could be found many Friday nights at Bertuccis in Herdon, Virginia. It was a great Italian restaurant with brick oven baked pizza. Each time we would go, the waiter would bring the boys a small ball of dough. He told them to make it into any shape they wanted, and then he would bake it for them, and bring it back ready to eat. He suggested a car shape, a boat, their favorite zoo animal- whatever. The boys worked over their dough for quite some time. Finally the waiter returned and asked “Didn’t you want to make a shape?”
B, speaking for both of them said, “They’re basketballs!” Y raised both hands in the air with tiny clenched fists and said “Yeah!!!”
The waiter returned with some baked balls of dough not looking much different than they had been initially delivered to our table twenty minutes prior. And I had two delighted young boys.
So after securing some dough, follow the directions to make your own version of Y’s favorite:

Pizza toppings
Italian spices

Shape the dough into a long rectangle, no longer than your baking sheet, and about half of the width. Sprinkle it with Italian seasonings. Line the very center with pepperoni. Layer grated Italian cheeses on top of the pepperoni, and then cover the cheese with sausage. It is important to keep the cheese in the center or it will bake into the crust, and essentially disappear. Next, gather both edges, meeting in the center, pinching them closed, being sure to also seal the ends. Flip your Stromboli over onto your baking sheet, sealed side down. Dust with cornmeal, garlic salt, and or parmesan cheese. Bake it for 20-30 minutes(depending on size) at 350 degrees or until done. Serve with warm marinara or cheese sauce for dipping.
I’m sure you are already thinking of variations for this recipe to make it your favorite- ham and pineapple, chicken and spinach, veggie delight. A word of caution- Watch out for too much moisture. Ingredients with a lot of moisture can make your finished product soggy.
I’m doing my part in the kitchen today to try and tell you that no matter what- team member or not, I’ll always be your biggest fan!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quad Chip & Oat Cookies

Y was 5’2” as a freshman in high school. Two years later, he has grown over 8 inches, and based on the size 12 shoe he wears, he isn’t done growing. Many kids are full grown with puberty behind them by the time they enter high school. The fast twitch muscle fibers are responsible for speed, strength and power, and are typically the last to develop. So a kid still in the thralls of his growth cycle doesn’t quite have all the factors of success working together yet. This reminds me of flavors working together in an oatmeal cookie – no really, it does- my brain is funny that way! Many people unite cinnamon and chocolate in an oatmeal cookie. I am against it. I favor cinnamon with raisins, and chocolate with other flavors that unite and work well together. My favorite cookie used to be a classic chocolate chip, until I played with my oatmeal cookie recipe and began making these:
Quad Chip & Oat Cookies
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups oats
2/3 cup each of semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, and vanilla chips.
As with all cookies, cream Crisco and sugars first. Stir in eggs and vanilla, careful not to over mix once the eggs are added. Doing so will change the texture of your finished product. Add dry ingredients at once, and then stir in the chips. Drop onto baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees. Time depends on size.
These flavors work together nicely. However, if you prefer to omit the chips and add a teaspoon of cinnamon and several handfuls of raisins, you won’t be disappointed.
Y enters day two of basketball tryouts without fast twitch muscle development, but with great determination and an uncompromising work ethic. Will it be enough?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Muffin with Crumble Top (Mom's Holiday Pumpkin Bread)

Today is the first of three basketball tryouts for Y, my middle child. The tryouts are in 7 hours and I'm already nervous for him. I remember tryouts my junior year. I remember sitting under the basket at the end of the gym, up against the cold concrete block wall. I was completely unsure in my abilities. I couldn't even lift my head as the coach called out the Varsity roster. I kept starring at the hardwood in front of me. That flashback early this morning sent me to my Kitchenaid. The weather is cloudy, with a little wind and rain. My thoughts have briefly returned me to my childhood, and one of the only things my mama used to bake (although only once a year- and for the neighbors). I've tweaked the recipe a little and exchanged a crumble top for the spice glaze. Based on texture, I prefer this recipe as muffins instead of bread, nevertheless, I call it:
Mom's Holiday Pumpkin Bread
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
3/8 tsp. ground gloves
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
3 T soft butter
I lazily toss dry ingredients and then add the wet. As a muffin, don’t over mix.
Bake them at 350 degrees. Time depends on size of baking cup. I prefer Texas size muffins.
Mom always added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 6 oz. chocolate chips, omitting the cloves. Then she would glaze the cooled bread with a clove infused powdered sugar glaze.
I often substitute some whole wheat flour, scant the cup of sugar, use skim milk instead of buttermilk, and skip the nuts and chocolate inside. This way, I feel okay about having two!
I do like to pretty it up with a simple crumble on top:
1T cold butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup oatmeal.
I pulse it in the Cusinart for a bit and throw in a few tablespoons of mini chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
Good luck today Y! Your dad says to play smart, your mama says to play with your heart!