Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Amy's Peanut Butter Cookies

Here's another recipe from the Politics and Pot Roasts cookbook that I shared with you on my previous post. This time the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies is compliments of our former "first daughter", Amy Carter. Did you know that Amy was only 9 years old when her dad Jimmy, our 39th President was elected? A couple other tidbits taken from the book: "Amy occasionally roller skated in the White House and had a tree house built for her in the South Lawn." Pretty cool huh? Well, I'm not sure if Amy actually baked these cookies herself in that huge White House kitchen back then, but I'm pretty sure she must have shared them with her peanut-loving family. I personally loved the soft, delicate texture of the cookies which reminded me a lot of a butter cookie. Surprisingly though, they were a little weak on the peanutty flavor. Next time I think I'll use a full cup of peanut butter and maybe add some chopped up peanuts to the mixture as well. By the way, these taste wonderful with a cold glass of milk.

Amy Carter's Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups sifted flour

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, shortening and peanut butter
2. Beat in the sugars and salt.
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
4. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the warm water; add this to the large bowl and mix well.
5. Stir in the flour. Mix until dough is smooth.
6. Wrap plastic wrap over bowl and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
7. After 1 hour, preheat oven to 400 degrees F
8. Using a small ice cream scooper or a spoon, scoop dough into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Gently flatten the ball using the tines of a fork; (create a criss cross pattern with the fork, if desired).
9. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown
10. Allow to stand for 10 minutes on the baking pan before transferring to cooling racks
(Makes about 4 dozen cookies)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fit For A President

My boyfriend recently surprised me with a new cookbook titled, Politics and Pot Roasts, An Unofficial, Unauthorized and Completely Unclassified Cookbook by Sarah Hood Salomon. It's an interesting, fun, and educational read, filled with some of the "favorite" recipes of over 40 U.S presidents and their wives. Starting with George Washington and rounding up with George W. Bush, I got a kick out of learning about our former president's food preferences as well as tidbits on entertaining styles of the presidential families. I decided to try this simple and quick recipe for Corn Muffins from the collection of Ida McKinley who was the wife of our 25th president, William.
According to the author, the recipe was first published in 1896 in The Canton Favorite Cookbook by the Ladies of the First Baptist Church in Canton, Ohio. The simplicity of this recipe makes it very appealing--it can all be made using just one bowl and one wooden spoon for mixing, and the muffins turned out moist and light with just a hint of sweetness. My boyfriend took one bite and declared them "presidential-tasting!" Okay, you be the judge. Enjoy!

Mrs. McKinley's Corn Muffins :
Preheat oven to 425 degrees farenheit
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Mix the dry ingredients together. Beat egg lightly and add to the dry ingredients.
2. Pour in milk and melted butter.
3. Mix until everything is just moistened.
4. Spoon into muffin tins, about two-thirds full.
5. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Yields 6-8 muffins

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday's Sweet Treat

I just wanted to share a quick post with you today. It's for a Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze, a recipe that can be found on the Leite's Culinaria website. The cake is loaded with a combination of both Granny Smith and Fuji apples as well as lots of pecans, then topped off with caramel. It is lusciously moist and is perfect for breakfast or dessert. I would recommend a big mug of coffee or a cold glass of milk to go with it. Click here if you would like to give this delicious recipe a try yourself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How About Some Tofu?

Despite all the baking I love to do, I also make an effort to eat as healthfully as I can most of the time. Treats and sweets are usually reserved for weekends and so my meal planning centers mostly around things like vegetables and whole grains, leaner cuts of meat like chicken breast or extra lean beef, and fresh fruit. On occasion, I also like to experiment with non-meat main dishes such as tofu. Lately, this Tofu Oat Loaf has been appearing on my menu more often. A lot of people shy away from tofu because of its reputation as being “boring" and "bland”. Well, I can assure you that there is nothing boring or bland about this loaf. The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks called Oat Cuisine which as the title suggests, incorporates heart-healthy oats into most of its recipes. Here, the tofu is mixed together with uncooked oatmeal, tomato sauce, and fresh herbs. I also included some peppers for an extra kick. Eat it with some marinara sauce on top or maybe as a sandwich with some melted low fat cheese and toasted rye bread? Now I’m not promising that you’ll enjoy this more than a “true” meatloaf mind you, but it does make a nice, healthy alternative and who knows, you just might find yourself getting excited about tofu.

Tofu Oat Loaf (adapted from Oat Cuisine by Bobbie Hinman):
1 pound firm tofu
1/3 cup tomato or marinara sauce
1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
1/3 cup fresh chives chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Coat a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray
3. Rinse the tofu and pat dry; place it in a large bowl with 1/3 cup of marinara sauce. Add the herbs, spices, jalapeno pepper and ground pepper. Mash everything well together with a fork.
4. Add the oats and wheat germ and mix well until blended.
5. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan.
6. Bake for 45 minutes; after baking, allow the loaf to cool slightly for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Curry Craving

Another food craving hit me over the weekend and this time, it was for the spicy flavors of curry. I love a good curry dish and since I had a freezer-full of chicken and all the ingredients I needed already, I decided to make chicken curry. This was a recipe I made up as I went along, trying to incorporate all the ingredients that I enjoy whenever I go out to my favorite Thai restaurant for curry. Sometimes though, I find that curry dishes can be a little on the heavy side so I found that by making my own, I was definitely able to control that aspect of it. I used a combination of coconut milk and plain yogurt in this recipe which balanced out the spiciness of the curry paste and added a nice tanginess overall to the dish. Whether you eat this with some rice or pasta or even over plain toast, you will be sure to have your curry craving cured.

Chicken Curry
3 chicken breasts, 3 chick thighs, 4 drumsticks
1 15 oz. can chicken broth
1 lemon grass stalk—slice up the white bulb part
1 piece of ginger-sliced
1 cup of coconut milk (I used light coconut milk)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoonful red curry paste
handful of basil leaves
handful of mint leaves
handful of cilantro
whole black olives (optional)

Rinse the chicken in water and pat dry; except for the chicken legs, cut up the chicken meat into smaller pieces, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and brown the chicken for about 4 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Pour the chicken broth into the skillet, add the lemon grass, ginger, and coconut milk; allow this mixture to slightly boil then turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, curry paste, turmeric, and mustard seeds and stir for about 3 minutes. Add the yogurt to the mixture and stir well. Next, add the chicken back into the skillet, bring the mixture back to a boil and then turn down the heat again and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Finally, add the olives, basil, mint and cilantro and then remove from the heat.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Make a lemon cake!
Over the last three days, I have been craving lemon cake. Ever since my boyfriend described a delectable slice he had the other day at a business event, lemon cake has been on my mind. My brain cells began working overtime, trying to find a recipe that would fit my needs and satisfy my craving. First, my cake had to be luscious and moist; second, and this was a bit more challenging, I did not want a cake that was too fattening or high in calories; lastly, being the citrus-lover that I am, the cake had to pack a whopping punch of lemony flavor. Searching through my cookbook collection for something that fit the bill was a bit tricky but when I found this recipe for yogurt cake, I knew I could make it work. The recipe comes from the cookbook, “Chocolate and Zucchini” and makes a wonderful base for all sorts of flavors, particularly lemon. I loved how simple and straightforward this recipe was, and with just a few tweaks here and there, I was able to customize it to my liking. You would never know that I only used one-third cup of oil and non-fat yogurt because the texture of the cake was quite moist, luscious and delicious. Though the cake tasted so good on its own without a glaze or frosting, I chose to make a low fat lemon curd to top onto the cake. This made for a nice, refreshing, and lip-puckering touch. I would have to say that this dessert has achieved a spot on my favorite list. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Lemon Yogurt Cake (adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusolier)
Serves 10 people:
1/3 cup Canola oil
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
Juice of one whole lemon
Zest of one whole lemon
1 and 2/3 cup AP flour
1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides of a 10-inch spring form pan or a cake pan with cooking spray (line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper if not using a spring form)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, oil, rum (if using) and mix again. Lastly, stir in the lemon juice and zest.
In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Pour the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture and whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to stand for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen or if using a spring form pan, unclasp the sides. Flip the cake onto a plate a place back on the rack.
Lemon Curd (from Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts)
1/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
fresh lemon zest from one-half of a lemon
5 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add the lemon zest, stir until the sugar is dissolved completely.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. While whisking constantly, very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for about 2 minutes , then transfer this mixture back into the saucepan by pouring through a strainer. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.Transfer to a small airtight container and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2/3 cup.

Note: The cake can be eaten slightly warm or at room temperature. Once its cool you can wrap the cake in foil and keep at room temperature for several days. The flavors get more intense and delicious after a day or so.