Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ginger Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Last week I failed. I did not post. I did not cook or bake. Really I just barely kept it all together. BUT I'm back and maybe even better than ever. School has definitely gotten more stressful, but instead of completely losing my mind, I started doing yoga. And am trying to accept that it (life, school, etc.) is a process, which gives us only fleeting moments of perfection.

So with all of that in mind, I post one of most flavorful, yummy, crisp cookies that is just begging to be dipped in coffee or tea. This cookie will definitely help you relax. It will encourage you to slow down for a minute and to take a deep breath. To stop what you're doing and just be in the moment.

I hope you get to make these. Or that someone makes them for you. Because they go along way toward creating one of those fleeting moments of perfection that so many of us could use.

Ginger Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup rolled-oats
3/4 cup pecan halves

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cornstarch
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

*or use 1 teaspoon ground ginger, but prefer the taste of fresh. I used a grater and just squeezed out the water with a paper towel.

1. Put the oatmeal and pecans into a food processor and grind until it has the texture of cornmeal.

2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the oatmeal/pecan mixture.

3. Put the butter in your stand-mixer bowl and beat until light (about 1 minute). Add both sugars and beat for 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla and the egg and mix until incorporated.

4. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix until combined.

5. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and pack the dough into the pan evenly. Cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool (about 2 hours).

6. Heat your oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the loaf pan and slice in half lengthwise. Cut into 1/4 inch thick cookies. Bake on cookie sheets with parchment paper for 15-18 minutes (until the edges are browned).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lemon Roasted Chicken

In my apology last week for dwelling on the sweets, I mentioned lemon roasted chicken. And then, couldn't stop thinking about it. Lemony, garlicy, with some delicious potato chunks thrown in for good measure. Yum!

This is one of those pretty impressive dinners that truly doesn't take much effort. Yes, I basted and turned the chicken every 20 minutes, but other than that it just hung out in the oven and did its thing allowing me to study for my first-ever law final. So it worked out well for both of us. Though in the end the chicken was eaten and I had to sit for 4 hours typing as fast as I could about jurisprudence... so maybe "well" is an overstatement.

Admittedly, the only part of the chicken that had the lemon flavor was the breast, but all of the meat was juicy and full of flavor. And the potatoes! I'm going to sneak to the fridge and get some now, even though it's 7am. Is that weird?

Lemon Roasted Chicken

1 4 lb whole chicken
1 lemon, halved
1/2 head of garlic
salt & pepper
handful of thyme

3 handfuls of new potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Make sure to remove the giblets package from the chicken.
Rinse it with cool water inside and out; pat dry with paper towels.

2. Shove the lemon halves, garlic, and thyme inside the bird's cavity. Generously salt & pepper the cavity.

3. Place the bird in your pan breast side up and secure the legs with twine (or one of those special rubber bands made just for this purpose) and spread the potatoes around the pan.

4. Drizzle olive oil over the bird and potatoes and
sprinkle the whole thing with salt & pepper.

5. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, rotating the pan a quarter turn and basting every 20 minutes. When the chicken is done, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird will read 165 F. Let sit for 10 minutes so the juices settle and serve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

So I realized as soon as I put these in the oven that I haven't done a dinner food post in a while. I can only really attribute this to the fact that I've scheduled my blog food project for Sunday mornings and I guess at that time I'd much rather eat muffins, and pancakes, and crisps, than lemon roasted chicken or pork chops. But here's the deal: these muffins make my faux pas seriously ok. They actually make it super tasty.
They are a cinch and I have two of my favorite food blogs to thank. Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks did a pumpkin muffin this week, which inspired me, and Smitten Kitchen is where I picked up the recipe. These muffins are a great way to bring something special to the morning and are so approachable that it makes me wonder why I don't make muffins every week (note to self: fear of your waist line keeps you from doing this). It takes one bowl, ingredients you probably already have with the exception of 1 can of pumpkin (which the recipe uses all of), and muffin cups.

So if you love fall (who doesn't love fall?!) and want your whole house to smell like Thanksgiving and/or a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, this is the recipe for you!

Pumpkin Muffins from Smitten Kitchen

1 can solid-pack pumpkin (15 oz., not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line muffin tin with cups.

2. In a large bowl (preferably with a pouring spout) stir together, pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add flour a bit at a time and mix until just combined.

3. In a small bowl combine cinnamon and extra tablespoon of sugar.

4. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full and sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture on the top of each.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Plum Crisp

A Trader Joe's just opened up across the street from us, which is a pretty big deal. Not just because it's Trader Joe's, which in and of itself is pretty awesome, but because they managed to make it feel like a real supermarket. Anyone who lives in New York knows what I'm talking about. Our "super"markets aren't super at all. They are tiny and cramped, with the items you want way high up on the shelves and to make matters worse, carts are miniature. Well, Trader Joe's fixed all of that with two glorious, well-spaced, well-lit floors with great selection and get this: regular-sized carts! *swoon*

So on my trip there this morning, I saw a delicious little basket of plums next to a bright-colored orange, and I knew that this crisp was going to happen today! I'm still so excited that Fall has arrived. And in that spirit, I made the crisp topping with oats, and toasted almonds, and a dash of cinnamon. And the best part of all, it took about 15 minutes to put it all together and then did its thing in the oven for about another 40. So in less than an hour I was eating it, which now that I think of it, is actually the best part of all. :o)

Plum Crisp

1/4 cup sliced almonds
6 tablespoons of cold butter, in chunks
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 lb plums (I used the Italian prune plums that are in peak season right now)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup of sugar

1. Heat the oven to 375 F. Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast until light brown (about 7 minutes).

2. In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, butter, and oats. Pulse until the texture is a course meal.

3. Quarter and pit each plum. Place in a large bowl and add the orange juice, zest, water, cornstarch, and sugar. Mix to spread evenly.

4. Fill the bottom of a pie dish with the plum mixture.

5. Add the almonds to the crisp topping. Evenly spread the topping over the plums. Bake for 40 minutes.