Potential Projects

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fudge on a cute plate

So while we're discussing homemade gifts, an obvious gift is food!  This year I decided to make fudge for my staff and co-workers.  I usually make my mom's fudge recipe (maybe you'll get to see that next year!), but this year I decided to try my friend Lisa's fudge.  A few things influenced that decision.  First off, I tried Lisa's fudge while we were making meatballs for the incredibly fun holiday party that her family hosted (which we sadly ended up missing because the little one was sick!).  It is super good fudge.  Second of all, her fudge recipe makes at least 3 times more fudge than my mom's recipe.  Which is good when you want to give fudge to a truckload of people (As an aside, are you familiar with that expression?  I believe I also occasionally say a "boatload."  My co-worker, Strudel, thought it was quite funny!  Maybe it's the farmer in me?).

OK, now for the backstory about this plate my tasty fudge is sitting on.  Last Friday a friend of mine was going to be in my neighborhood for a work event that was scheduled to end at 4pm.  That's right:  4pm on Friday afternoon before Christmas.  The last day of school.  I should mention this friend lives South of Seattle, while I live North of Seattle.  It usually takes me about an hour to get to work, and her commute isn't the shortest either.  We figured that there would be peace in the Middle East before she managed to get home that Friday.  So instead we convinced our husbands to babysit while we had a mom's night out!  Woo-hoo!

How does this relate to that cute fudge plate?  Hold on to your hats.  I'm getting there.

So my friend and I came up with a plan to meet at my house and then head out to one of the cute restaurants in my neighborhood for happy hour.  Ultimately I decided we should try out this cute little wine bar that just opened up this fall, and is only a few blocks from me.  Unfortunately, the day of mom's night out I woke up with some unfortunate sinus bug, which left me unable to taste much.  Be that as it may, we were both still eager to take advantage of a  night out without children.  So we walked over to the wine bar and I casually asked if they had any tea.  Fortunately for me, they apparently have a B&B above the wine bar, so our server ran upstairs, and grabbed me some tea.


Still don't see how this relates to the fudge?  We're really close, I promise.

So after my friend had a couple glasses of wine, and I had several mugs of tea, we decided to order some food.  We had been sitting at the bar for a couple hours, and the place was now packed.  Sitting at the bar was interesting:  we overheard all the gossip of the staff, who didn't seem to be paying much attention to how close we were to their conversations.  We also got to watch the cooking happening just a few feet from us.  Everything was looking good (and apparently smelling good, although I was too stuffed up to smell much).  I ordered their special, while my friend ordered a salad.  Sadly when the food came, it was not great.  I ate part of my meal, and decided to take the rest home for my husband.

I should mention that when we were planning for girls night out, my husband was very excited and declared that the boys would have Macoroni and Cheese with hotdogs!  So you can understand why I thought even my bad leftovers might be a welcome treat for him.

When our server next swung by, I asked if I could have the rest of my meal boxed up.  She returned with my food all wrapped up on this cute little plate.  She explained that they don't use boxes, but send their customers home with a plate from the kitchen.  If we were able, we could bring the plate back, or not.  My friend and I shared a hearty laugh as we headed out of the bar, and off into the dark, chilly night, parading my leftovers through downtown as we walked back to my house.

So that, you see, is how I came upon this plate.  Which I think is really cute.  Overall I'm not sure that I can recommend the wine bar.  Their prices seemed high, and as I mentioned the food wasn't great.  But I do love that I can walk there from my house, and my friend and I had a wonderful time being footloose and kid-free.

OK, so if you want the recipe for the fudge, head over to Lisa's Blog.  While you're there, check out this post, with an awesome picture of our kids making pizzas.  Aren't they adorable?!  Happy Holiday's everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

homemade gifts

Spoiler alert:  If you're related to me, you may not want to read this post, as you may see something that I've made you for Christmas!  :)

I really like homemade gifts.  I love receiving homemade gifts.  I mostly love making homemade gifts.  I think it gets a little tricky when you put a lot of time into making a gift, and the receiver doesn't necessarily recognize or appreciate your efforts.  And that can be a major bummer if you put a lot of thought, care, and time into making a gift.

I feel like Christmas time can be really complicated.  There's come to be a cultural expectation that we will give and receive gifts.  But in so many ways, gift giving has come to be all about consumerism.  That's one of the reasons that I like to make gifts for people.  Plus, generally speaking, my family and friends have enough "stuff."  Working daily with folks who are homeless, I'm aware how much I value my relationships with friends and family members.  Without their love and support, it's not that difficult to imagine myself in the place of many of the people that I work with.

So this year I decided to try to make gifts for almost everyone on my list.  Again, because there's such cultural pressure to give gifts to so many people (all your relatives, your co-workers, your friends, your child's teacher, your hairstylist, the list goes on...), I tried to keep my gifts simple.

This is an easy gift idea that works well for family, friends, or even folks at the office.  I discovered this project idea over at MADE.  Instead of me recreating her excellent tutorial, I'm going to send you to her directions here, which are really top notch.  Have I mentioned how much I like her blog?  It's really a winner.

Here's a few of my additional suggestions:  I bought 1/8th of a yard of felt in some pretty basic colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and purple.  Felt was on sale at JoAnns for $2.99 a yard, so all that cost me about $1.75 total.  I also bought 1/8th of a yard of a nicer felt in off-white.  In the cheap felt they only had a really bright white, and I liked the slightly off-white color.  That was $9.99 a yard (!), but I didn't buy much, and I used a coupon.

Speaking of which, did you know JoAnn's has coupons that you can load onto your phone?  I used The JoAnn app (it's free!) to download my coupons, and it worked slick!  No more forgetting your coupons!  If you shop at JoAnns ever, I have to recommend it.

OK, back to the project.  I also bought matching thread to sew on my letters.  I used a sewing machine to sew them on (the only part of this project that really couldn't be done while watching tv---unless your sewing machine is near a tv).  It would be easy enough to hand sew on the letters if you don't have a sewing machine.  I also bought some thin crochet yarn (you could use what you have on hand--I don't crochet!) to sew the pieces of felt together.  I had ribbon on hand.  I also stuffed mine with some fake snow.  You could easily use cotton balls, tissue, or whatever else you have around, or not stuff your ornaments.  I liked the 3-D effect.

To make the circles, I traced a juice glass.  To make the letters, I picked a font that I liked, set the size to 150, and printed out the letters for my relatives.  I then cut them out with scissors, and traced them onto my felt.  Ta-dah!  Easy!  (If you're a fancy scrapbooking type, I'm sure there's an easier way with your fancy-pants machine!)

I completed this project over the course of a few days while watching TV in the evenings after the kiddo had gone to bed.  I found it very relaxing, and I think they turned out great.  Let me know if you try it!  Again, you can find the original tutorial here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

I'm quite fond of a good salad.  It seems that lettuce is almost always in season, and you can top it with whatever fruit or vegetable is also in season.  It's infinitely adaptable and open to improvisation.

Now salad dressing is another beast all together.  The bargain hunter in me loves that it's fairly easy to score free salad dressing using coupons.  The health conscious part of me cries out every time I buy bottled dressing, "Beware!  High fructose corn syrup!"  "Eek!  Preservatives!"  "OMG!  Artificial everything!"  "Hydrogenated Oils, oh my!"  

So I do like to make my own dressing.  It's really quite fast, as long as you already have all the ingredients on hand.  Simply measure them all into a mason jar, screw on a lid, and shake for about 10 seconds.  Presto!  Store in a fridge and use in the next week or two.  Easy enough, and also pretty darn cheap (well, at least compared to paying full price for dressing).

This dressing was inspired by an America's Test Kitchen Recipe.  Unfortunately, just about the only ingredient I had on hand was pomegranate juice.  So I made a bunch of substitutions, and it turned out great.  I've now made this twice in the last week (one bottle of pomegranate juice will make two batches if you don't guzzle the juice first!).  The recipe makes enough dressing for 2-3 large salads.  It's received rave reviews from everyone who has tried it.  I think you'll like it.  Another bonus is this recipe is extremely low in fat.  The reduced juice gives this dressing a wallop of flavor while minimizing the need for fat (only 2 Tbs oil in the whole recipe!).   

So let's make salad!  

Bring a couple cups of pomegranate juice to a simmer, and let it reduce by at least half:

While the juice is reducing, add the rest of your ingredients to a mason jar:

Let the reduced juice cool a bit, then add it to the mason jar and give it a shake:

Toss with your favorite green salad and enjoy!  Tonight I served this with a combo of spinach and romaine, topped with candied pecans, apple slices, and small chunks of sharp cheddar cheese (Beechers was on sale---love, love, love that stuff!).  I served mine up with some veggie enchiladas:

My two boys were quite happy with this dinner (Yes, that is antibiotics in the background.  Someone has an ear infection).  Now make yourself happy, and make this dressing!  

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Inspired by America's Test Kitchen, but pretty much my recipe
2 cups Pomegranate Juice
3 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbs Maple Syrup (you could use honey)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer juice in a small saucepan on the stove until reduced to about 2/3 of a cup.  The original recipe said this would take 25-35 minutes.  After 20 minutes I measured how much I had, and it was already down to about 1/2 a cup.  Worked out fine.  Don't stress it.  After juice has reduced, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to a clean jar with a lid.  Add cooled juice to ingredients, seal tightly with lid, and shake until combined.  This will store in your fridge for at least a week or two.  Note that the olive oil may solidify when cooled in the fridge.  If you see yellow-ish chunks floating on the top of your refrigerated dressing, fear not!  Just allow the dressing to come to room temperature (you can speed up the process by running warm water over the jar), give it a little shake, and you're ready to go.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto, and bonus brussels!

There's a part of me that loves fall.  It feels like the pace slows down a bit.  Instead of trying to cram every possible activity you can into our short sunny season, fall's rainy weather gives us permission to ease up our pace.  When it's pouring outside, I don't feel guilty about curling up with a book in front of the fire.  And I feel downright proud when I'm doing crafts while watching TV in the evening, whereas in the summer I want to be getting outside and doing something!  Fall's darkness, its rain, its quiet, leave me feeling relaxed.

I really enjoy the meditative aspects of making risotto (stirring as an exercise in mindfulness can be really powerful!).  I know some people are frightened off by risotto, but give it a try.  It's really very inexpensive to make, and you can think of it both as an upper-body workout and a chance to practice your mindfulness.  This week I made butternut squash risotto, which both of my boys devoured.  I served it with balsamic glazed brussel sprouts, which only one of my boys devoured.  But seriously, they're amazing, so if you like brussel sprouts, I highly recommend this method.

Let's get started!

First cut up your squash (I used half a large squash, or you could use a whole small one), and saute it in butter until it starts to brown and the edges soften

Then add your rice and stir for a minute or two.  Then add wine.  The rest of the bottle is reserved for the chef to sip while continuing to stir (heightening the meditative experience). 

After the wine is absorbed, continue to add hot broth in half cup doses, stirring until the liquid is absorbed after each addition.  Knowing when "the liquid is absorbed" is an aspect of making risotto that used to strike fear in my heart.  Maybe I wouldn't know!  Maybe I would do it wrong!  Here's my advice:  the liquid is "absorbed" when you can run your spoon across the bottom of the pan and it leaves a clear path of exposed pan.  That looks something like this:

It will take 30-45 minutes of adding broth and stirring to get all your broth absorbed and your rice fully cooked.  Don't worry.  You'll be drinking wine and meditating.  Once the liquid is all absorbed and you've tasted the risotto to make sure the rice is fully cooked (I occasionally end up adding more broth/water because it's not done), you'll stir in rice and parmesan cheese.  And that's it!  Enjoy with brussel sprouts and a beer (if the chef used up all the wine while cooking):
Yummy!  (and yes, that is a math shirt)

Butternut Squash Risotto
More or less from Martha Stewart 
1 Tbs butter
1 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1/2 inch chunks
course salt and pepper
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
About 4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken if you're not vegetarian), heated (just keep it on an adjacent burner)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbs chopped fresh sage (you could use a different herb, maybe Basil or thyme if you don't love sage).

Melt butter over medium heat in a big pot.  Add squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the edges soften and the squash is beginning to brown.
Add rice and stir to coat.  Add wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated (this will depend on how hot your pot is, it could take anywhere from 1-5 minutes I think).
Reduce heat to medium (Martha recommends medium-low--I think that would be easier if you have a gas stove, which sadly, I do not).  Add 1/2 cup hot broth to the mixture.  Cook, stirring, until almost all the liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more.  This will take 35-45 minutes.  Taste your risotto when all the broth is gone to make sure rice is fully cooked.  If not, you can add another 1/2 cup of hot tap water (or stock).
Stir in parmesan, sage, and season with salt to taste.  Serve immediately. 

Bonus Brussels!  (or Balsamic Glazed Brussels)
I'm sure I must have read a recipe like this sometime, but this time I was just winging it.

Brussel sprouts, cut in half (as many as you can fit, cut side down, in your pan)
olive oil, to lightly coat the bottom of your pan
1/3-1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, oven safe pan.  Place the brussel sprouts, cut side down, in the pan.  Leave them alone to develop a nice brown crust.  This will help bring out their flavor.  And if you're busy stirring risotto, you can just ignore them for about 8-10 minutes.

Once the bottoms are browned, pop them in your hot oven to finish cooking through.  This will take 5-8 minutes depending on how big/thick your sprouts are.  

Return to the top of your stove (remember the handle of your pan will be extremely hot when you take it out of the hot oven---BE CAREFUL!).  Flip over your sprouts, so the cut side is up.  Pour on balsamic vinegar.  Shake the sprouts around in the pan.  The vinegar will start to evaporate and reduce.  If your pan has cooled off too much (for example if you got distracted after drinking too much wine), feel free to turn the heat back up on the burner to assist the vinegar.  This should only take about a minute.  And they're done!  Season with salt and pepper.  See if you can avoid eating the whole pan while waiting for the risotto to finish.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Yummy Cinnamon Roll...

I find Cinnamon Rolls to be very comforting.   Before I had a child, I tended to make them often.  I would make a batch of my mom's honey-whole-wheat bread dough, roll it out, brush on melted butter, sprinkle on cinnamon, sugar, raisins and walnuts, roll it up, slice it, and bake it.  


Nowadays, I am somewhat limited to what I can bake/cook/sew/etc during naptime.  Which doesn't leave much time for working with yeast.  But I tried an experiment with this Cinnamon Roll recipe, and it turned out great.  I started the dough after Elliott went to bed and let it rise all night.  I started the rolls early enough that I thought I would let the dough finish its first rise while the Hubs and I watched a movie, and then quickly get the rolls ready so they could do their second rise overnight while I was sleeping.  Unfortunately when I checked the dough after our movie (which sadly was terrible, otherwise I'd tell you about it), it had not risen much (suggestions on this below).  So I just let it finish doing its thing overnight and finished the project in the morning.  It turned out great this way, but did make for a late breakfast.  Fine for the adults, less fine for the toddler.  Although in the end, he ate almost 2 rolls, which was twice what I managed.

Oh, did I mention these are Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls?  Perfect for this time of year.  I plan to make these (or another version) again, because it really is pretty easy to prepare the night before (especially if you do a better job proofing your yeast than I did), and then just pop in the oven when you wake up.  Yum!

Here we go:

First gather all your ingredients:
Then proof your yeast in a bowl (note, the original recipe does not have you add any sugar.  Next time, I would add a spoonful of your brown sugar to the yeast at this point):
Add your milk, eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and butter and beat that baby up!
Then slowly add the flour
Once the flour is incorporated, change to a dough hook, and "knead" on speed 2 for about 7-8 minutes (alternately you can knead by hand until you have a smooth elastic dough)
Spray a clean bowl with cooking spray, add dough, and let rise until doubled (could be overnight in a cool house or your fridge)
Then punch down your dough and roll it out into a big square or rectangle
Pour on melted butter (original recipe calls for a lot of butter, next time I'll use half the amount!), and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  You could add nuts or raisins here if you wish.
Then roll up your dough into a long log
I use a bread knife (any cerated knife will work, or you can use floss or thread) to cut my rolls and add them to a greased 9x13 inch pan
Let those rise for a bit (this would be the ideal time to throw them in your fridge for a nice, slow overnight rise).  After they're bigger, toss them in the oven, and make your frosting.
Remove rolls from oven (try not to eat them now!)
Frost, or not, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing


Roll Dough:
1/4 cup warm water (not hot, about 110 degrees)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups (approximately--I used more) All-Purpose Flour
1 1 /4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour  (I've used regular whole wheat flour in the past.  It's OK!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom  (I left this out)
1 stick butter  (next time I'll use half a stick.  I got butter everywhere!)
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Cream Cheese Frosting:  
(I would also recommend making half a batch, unless you need frosting for something else)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 cups powdered sugar


In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften  (Add a spoonful of sugar! See above). Let rest for 5 minutes before stirring. Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, butter, 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
Gradually add remaining flour (all purpose), a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead. Start with about 1 1/2 cups and increase if necessary. Use the dough hook on your Stand Mixer and knead at level 2 for 7-8 minutes.  Alternately you can turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  You may need to add more flour (I added an additional cup).
Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour (This ended up taking overnight for me).
Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl, set aside. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16" x 12" rectangle (or whatever you can manage--don't sweat it!). Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture.
Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 slices.  I like to use a cerated knife, other people used string to great effect. Place slices in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan (or in two 8 or 9 inch round cake or pie pans). Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven. Bake the rolls till they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20-30 minutes.
While rolls bake, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice.  I used my Stand mixer, but you could also use your blender, food processor, or electric mixer. Blend until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed and desired consistency is reached. (I used 2 cups powdered sugar)
Frost warm rolls with the cream cheese frosting and serve immediately.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I can sew, sew can you!

Who is that dapper gent, and wherever did he get those pants?  You'll never believe this, but I actually sewed them myself!  Not only that, but I made up the pattern, and finished the whole project while someone was napping.  This made for a really awesome day for me!

So disclaimer:  I don't have a lot of sewing experience.  I attempted to make a pillowcase the other day that literally came apart at the seems (there's a little more to that story, but it's also true!).  So I truly believe that most of you could do this yourself, as long as you have access to a sewing machine.  Truth be told, I don't even own a sewing machine, but I do have my sister's on loan (Thanks Rach!).

Instead of trying to give you any kind of directions on how to make these pants, I'm going to point you to the tutorial over at MADE.  It is extremely well written and easy to follow.  I used some grey fleece that I had leftover from another sewing disaster experiment.  Hopefully if I keep practicing I will have fewer disasters.    I learned a lot from making these, and I know the next pair I make will fit even better!  Looking forward to it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chana Masala

When I was in college, I volunteered with a community ESL class.  The class was geared toward the wives of visiting faculty or graduate students at the local university.  Many of these women were incredibly isolated: they didn't speak the local language, their husbands were at school for extended hours, and they were at home, alone with their young children.  The woman who started the class regularly went to the University to talk with new employees and students and to encourage them to invite their wives to our class.

For me, the class was a tremendous gift.  I got to meet young women from around the world.  I welcomed them to Seattle, and they in turn welcomed me into their homes as one of their few friends in a foreign country.  After several months of volunteering, I discovered that an easy way for us to connect was to cook together.  I started an ad-hoc cooking group in addition to our regular classes.  Anyone from the class was welcome to attend.  We met at each other's homes, and would teach the group how to cook what we believed was a 'typical' or 'traditional' dish from our home country.  At times the class would have more than one woman from the same country.  Then, often times, we would have a group of women who would teach us to make several traditional foods that accompanied particular cultural events, like Japanese Boys and Girls days.  Those were special times.

I started volunteering my first year in school, and continued throughout my 4 years.  As you can imagine, I was lucky enough to sample all kinds of delicious home-cooked food from around the world.  It was fabulous.  And it started me on a lifetime of loving all kinds of cuisine.

During and since that time, Indian food emerged as one of my favorites.  It's simple, it's inexpensive to make at home, it's often super speedy, and it's deeply flavorful.  If you're a vegetarian, there are TONS of options for you.  If you decide you're interested in cooking more Indian food, this is the cookbook I used in college.  Madhur Jaffrey now has many more cookbooks (including this one, which I hear is great), and I find that her recipes are usually straightforward for the American home cook.

Today I bring you a recipe for Chana Masala, which is essentially a chickpea curry.

Let's get started:
First we saute onions, garlic, ginger, and a hot pepper:

Then we get all our spices together.  There are a lot, but don't worry, it's worth it!
After our onions have started to brown, we add the spices and cook a couple minutes:
Then we add tomatoes, a little water, and 2 cans of chickpeas.  I used canned tomatoes.  It's a good thing:
Simmer for a bit, and then serve over rice.

Chana Masala
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I just minced mine)
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced (I used a jalepeno)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika (I used smoked paprika--less traditional, but tasty!)
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juices
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon (juiced) 

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.
Serve with rice, and possibly raita.  This curry also reheats extremely well.  It's a dish I often make on the weekend to reheat for an easy weeknight meal.  It also freezes well, and would make a lovely meal to bring to a sick friend, or someone who recently had a baby!  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

sweet little cookie

Tonight we had a feast of a dinner, and finished it off with a pan of these babies.  The recipe calls them Blondies.  Some people are apparently very fond of their Blondies.  I'm not sure what exactly makes them blond?  Are they brownies minus the cocoa?  I added enough chocolate to mine that they certainly had a fair amount of brown going on.  I'll tell you what though, they were tasty.  And easy.  You get to MELT the butter.  No forgetting to set the butter out, or worse yet trying to get room temperature butter in the microwave (guilty--often!).  

We managed to eat just a few (ok, so the above picture may tell another story), so the rest are going in the freezer.  I love frozen bar cookies, and I hope it will help us with portion control.  A girl can dream, right?  

Anyway here's the basic overview:
Melt your butter, add brown sugar
Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Then add flour.
Finally mix in chocolate chips, nuts, and whatever else strikes your fancy-pants self!
Pour it into a pan and bake it up.  Simple simple simple.  Possibly impossible to mess up.
Yummy yummy.  Enjoy!

adapted from How to Cook Everything
(note:  I doubled the original recipe in order to make a 9x13 inch pan, you can make a half batch in an 8x8)

2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2-ish cups each chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped.
  1. Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
  2. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Pour into pan. Bake at 350°F 30-35 minutes, or until set in the middle. I baked mine for about 32 minutes, and I ended up thinking they were a bit underdone.  But as my guests reminded me, everyone loves doughy cookies!  
In his original recipe, Bittman gives lots of suggestions of other possible additions.  I think these would be fantastic with dried cherries and dark chocolate chunks and maybe some flaked coconut.  Espresso powder would also be lovely, as would some booze.  Yum.  Hard to go wrong, really!  Now go whip yourself up a batch!  They only take about 10 minutes to get into the oven as long as you're not trying to take pictures of your work!