Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dangerous Layers

When summer begins it gets kind of sad in the college department. Most of the students are either home for the summer or doing summer missions somewhere. However, we do have some people who stick around for summer school or come home from other colleges. So, a few weeks ago we had a summer kick-off grill out. The church provided the hamburgers, etc but teachers we asked to bring dessert. I knew that there would be chocolate chip cookies and brownies, so I decided to take something a bit different. There was a brownie that I have had before that is kind of a rocky road brownie but it has a chocolate base. Well, I found this slightly different recipe on Peabody's site (for full recipe, click on the word recipe) and combined the top of that with the browned butter blondies from cooking light. Turned out great! First off, the blondies don't EVEN taste like they come from CL. The browned butter really deepens the flavor. They combined perfectly with the peanutbutter, chocolate, marshmallow topping. PLEASE, just be sure that you label these are having peanut butter. I walked in from somewhere else and found one of the ladies checking her son's stomach...he's allergic and had taken a bite of these! He was fine, benadryl allergy fixed it. I felt horrible but she said they knew there was peanut butter b/c they smelled it, just didn't realize what it was in. Yikes! SO glad I didn't have to pull out my doctor's bag...they had an Epi-Pen Jr. in case it was needed. Despite that, these are a great treat and I recommend them!

Butterscotch Blondies

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup egg substitute
Cooking spray

Topping Ingredients (from Peabody):
7 ounces mini marshmallows
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 TBSP unsalted butter
1 ½ cups Rice Krispies

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Place butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook for 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Pour into a small bowl, and cool for 10 minutes. Combine butter and egg substitute, stirring with a whisk. Pour butter mixture over flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray; smooth top with spatula. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serving size - 2 squares (1/24 of recipe) Calories:170 (without topping)

Remove the blondies from the oven, and immediately sprinkle the marshmallows over them. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes.
While the brownies are baking, place the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until melted (or melt all in the microwave using 30-45 second intervals, stirring in between...that's what I did). Remove from heat, add the cereal,and mix well. Allow this to cool for 3 minutes or so.
Spread the mixture evenly over the marshmallow layer. Refrigerate until chilled before cutting. Makes 12 3×3-inch bars.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Simply Strudel

I always get excited when I know that I'll have people to share my Daring Baker challenges with. This month, I was able to share the strudel with my family when they came for my graduation! The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers. After we went to lunch on Friday, I came back to my apartment and quickly put together a little dessert strudel while some of my family ran errands. I made the dough the night before and let it sit overnight as was suggested on one of the forums. One thing that frustrated me about the dough was the stickiness of it. The instructions say to knead it for 10-15 minutes...well, I couldn't knead it at all it was so sticky. However, I didn't want to put too much flour in it, so I quit kneading. Don't think it hurt the dough. When it came to stretching the dough, I split it into two pieces because I didn't have enough room to do it in one big piece. Surprisingly, it stretched fairly easily; though, I did have a hard time getting the dough on the edge to be thin, which resulted in thick pieces on the end. For the filling, I used what I had available...strawberries and chocolate. I simply sprinkled cinnamon on the dough after spreading some butter over it. I used oatmeal instead of bread crumbs...because I didn't have bread crumbs! Then I just put defrosted TN strawberries and chocolate chips on the dough and rolled. I think that was my favorite part...rolling! Unfortunately, the juices from the strawberries seeped out of the strudel. I did put too much chocolate in the pastry, which my dad commented on..."Next time it needs more fruit and less chocolate" and my brother responded with, "Fruit, what fruit" (knowing full well there were strawberries in there!). For the other half of the dough I scrambled some eggs, crisped some bacon, and tossed it all together with some cheese. The pastry for this one was a bit tough and the eggs got a little tough as well...I'm sure this is from being cooked twice. Probably would have been better to undercook the eggs a little first and then bake it. Overall, both of these were very good! The dough was easy to make (surprisingly) and was fun to put together. If I made this again, I think that I would like to try a spanikopita-like filling with spinach and feta or maybe roasted veggies with feta. Yum! Thanks for a great challenge, Linda and Courtney. Check out more results here. Here is the recipe for the dough and the instructions on how to fill. I'm not posting the apple filling since that's not what I used.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

5. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described above. Spread about 3 tablespoons (I used about 2) of melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with bread crumbs. Spread the filling about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dr. Claire

This past Thursday, my family came into town to attend my long coat ceremony. For four years I've been wearing the well known short coat of a medical student. It's one of the ways they distinguish us from the residents and attendings. So, this ceremony is a pretty exciting time! It's when we finally get that coat...with our names embroidered above the pocket with that all important "M.D." following it! (Yes, mine will have to be tailored!) I had a great time, even though my best friend and I were at mirror image tables (i.e., ALL the way across the banquet hall from each other at the same table). The food left something to be desired. The salad was your typical iceberg with feta/bleu cheese (not sure which), bacon, and (depending on your bowl...mine had none!) tomatoes. For the entree we had chicken cordon bleu (not stuffed but with ham melted to the chicken by cheese), about half of a red potato, and squash. Dessert was either carrot cake (which was pretty good) or chocolate cake (which was SOOO rich...I barely had a taste). Despite the lack of exceptional food (it was hotel food) it was a wonderful evening. One of the best times was when they had all of us stand up after receiving our long coats. It really hit me then that my class had done it, we were all doctors! Pretty cool! The next day was my official graduation. We had to get there an hour and a half before it started (WHY? Please, tell me why!) and then sit through all the other schools being announced as the medical school was next to last. However, then we were all hooded with the lovely green that designates a medical doctor. Do I feel different? Not really, until someone calls me Dr. Claire...then it's kind of weird. After graduation we went to a new restaurant called Mint. It was a cute little southern place with sandwiches and seafood. The food was pretty good outside of the french fries. I got a portabello sandwich. I enjoyed it but there was just a bit too much goat cheese for me. Daddy had the shrimp po-boy. The shrimp was brought in that day and hand breaded in the restaurant, so I'm sure it was great. Mama had the roasted chicken quesadilla with watermelon salsa. I didn't get much feedback on that one but I think it was pretty good (not as good as Daddy's crawfish quesadilla the next night!). Philip got the butter burger with fried pickles on it. He ate it all, so I'm sure it was good. Finally, Aunt Betty, who came all the way from Houston to see me graduate, had the green plate special (b/c of Mint) which was roast beef, greens, and Hoppin' John salad. She seemed to like the salad part the best. Cute place...I'd try it again sometime. It was a GREAT weekend and now my blog address is TRUE! Cookie DOC! :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Changing Seasons

This is the big week...the week I graduate!!!! On Thursday, we have our long coat ceremony, where we transition from our short white coats (a clear sign of a medical STUDENT) to our long coats, which indicate DOCTOR! I bought a new dress for it today and am so excited. Then, on Friday, I will officially graduate! Lots of things to celebrate...and then lots of changes. I'll be super busy with residency, trying to become a proficient and good pediatrician. I know I'll need a break from the kiddos and will make time to do things with friends, but it will become even tougher than it is now. I've been trying to get a certain group of friends together since at least New Years. Well, we finally got together the other day. They all took a break from studying for USMLE Step exams to come enjoy some food and fellowship. We had chicken breast supreme, zucchini, rice, and rolls. I knew they wouldn't require a dessert but I wanted to make a little something. So, I found this recipe on Anna's site. These brownies looked wonderful but wanted to make them bite sized; so, instead of baking in a pan, I baked in my mini-muffin tin. They turned out great...not overly chocolaty but moist and with that delicious crumbly crust on the outside. I provided Starbuck's Carmel Macchiato ice cream to go with it (only one person took me up on that offer). It was the perfect mini-dessert to end the evening with friends.

Julia’s Best-Ever Brownies adapted

1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (5 oz/145 grams) — measure after sifting
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (228 grams) unsalted butter
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups (380 grams) sugar (divided use)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir the sifted flour and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium-low heat (or in the microwave like I did). When melted, reduce heat to low and add chopped chocolate, stirring often until it melts. Add 1 cup of the sugar to the mixture and stir for about half a minute. Remove pan from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the vanilla.

Whisk the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs in a second bowl – Whisk only until combined – don’t over-beat (I hand wisked!). Gradually pour half of the sugar/egg mixture into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, stirring gently so that eggs don’t set from the heat of the chocolate mixture.

Using a hand-held mixer (or your own arm power...this is what I did!), beat the remaining sugar/egg mixture on high speed until it becomes pale and thick (it should double in volume).

Carefully fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture. When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients.

Using a small cookie scooper, scoop the batter into a pre-greased mini-muffin pan. Bake for 16-20 minutes. (mine took a bit longer than this.) Remove and let cool slightly before removing from pan (I tried too early as I was in a hurry and some of them fell apart). The cooking temp and times are courtesy of Peabody. I got 48 mini-brownies!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Healthy Cookies!

A healthy cookie? Don't we all wish there was one that existed? Sure, there are those cookies that are healthy but they don't really taste like a cookie. They're often tough and just plain bland. Well, I have come across a cookie that I think is as healthy of a delectable cookies you're going to get! Katrina even says it's her FAVORITE cookie! I made it when I was on my ENT (otolaryngology) rotation, and everyone liked it. The resident on that month even guessed the main contents. The scene proceeded like this: The resident walks in the room and immediately spies the bag of cookies on the counter. "Ooo...cookies. Who brought cookies?" I smile and raise my hand. "Mmm...gotta try one. (takes a bite) Mmm...banana?" I nod. "Peanut butter?" I nod. "Those are my favorite. Thanks! This is gonna be my lunch (as he had clinic that morning and went to an unexpected surgery that afternoon)." Now, how can a cookie be healthy you might ask. Well, this cookies DOES have sugar in it....BUT not nearly as much as you would think. The only fat is from the peanut butter. So, no butter, no margarine, no trans fat...just the healthy nut fats. It gets some GREAT moisture from the banana. Additionally, the flour is whole wheat. It does have a bit of a whole wheat taste, but it's not so much that you don't want to eat it...and I think it actually provides a good texture for the cookie. The first time I made these I used Reese's to add a little; the second time I used mini chocolate chips. The Reese's are MUCH better!Banana Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from Picky Palate through Baking and Boys
1/2 cup mashed rip banana (I used 2 small)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium egg (1/2 large egg beaten or 2 tablespoons of Egg Beaters - I think I just used a whole egg)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (the whole wheat white or pastry flour makes a more tender cookie, or use AP flour but you must use 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 regular sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (I used 14 mini cups, chopped)
1/3 cup additional sugar for rolling (I used sugar in the raw...adds great texture)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together in bowl of electric mixer the mashed banana and the sugars. Mix in vanilla, egg and peanut butter to combine.Add the combined flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir just until combined. Fold in the chopped peanut butter cups. Don't over mix. Scoop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls and roll in sugar. Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Using the palm of your hand, gently press down the cookies to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

O-reo, reoo-oh!

In my children's choir, we have what we call the bean jar. If you fill the bean jar, you get a party. How do you fill the bean jar? Well, be quiet, listen well, sing well...all that fun stuff. How do you lose beans? Talk to loudly, move too much, annoy the teachers...also fun stuff. For first graders, it is a very good way to help with/control behavior. However, it's really no surprise as to WHEN the parties actually occur. We plan the dates in advance and just put bean in accordingly, so that the bean jar happens to be full on the day of the party (I don't think even Glenda the Good Witch could plan it better than that!). Well, we filled our bean jar a couple of weeks ago and I signed up to bring cookies or cupcakes. Well, I wanted something fun so I went in search of a recipe for oreo cupcakes. I was in an ambitious mood and wanted to make these from scratch. THAT took a while to find. I kept finding these WONDERFUL looking recipes, but they used cake mixes...not that I have an issue with using a cake mix, but I wasn't in the mood. Finally, I found this recipe at Baking Bites. It turned out really good and would have been even better if I hadn't forgotten to set a second timer after I checked the first time! My cupcakes ended up being more like frosted muffins...I still think the kids liked them. At first I was afraid there wouldn't be enough frosting, but there was plenty, even extra. This is an extremely sweet buttercream, unlike the buttercream I dislike that is like eating butter. However, when I first tasted it I could just FEEL my teeth rotting! It was just bitingly sweet...but SO good. I would still probably cut down on the sugar just a bit. One of the good things about the icing is that it firms up nicely. I even used the top cookie to pull the cupcake out of the holder and it held. I would definitely recommend these cupcakes...the kids liked them and some of my friends in adult choir did, too!
Oreo Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup milk (skim is fine)
1 1/4 cups crushed oreo cookies (10-12 cookies) - I used reduced fat and it worked fine.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with baking cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract, then beat in the egg whites one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Working in 4 or 5 additions, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the sugar mixture. Keep the mixer on low speed while you do this. When just combined, stir in the crushed oreos. Spoon batter evenly into muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick comes out clean (a few chocolate cookie crumbs are fine, but not batter).

Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Store in an airtight container if not serving the same day.
Makes 24 cupcakes

Quick Vanilla Buttercream Fr
1 stick butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat, with an electric mixer, until frosting is creamy, 3-5 minutes.

Frost cupcakes with frosting using a butter knife or offset spatula. Add as much or as little frosting as desired. If making oreo cupcakes, garnish with additional chunks of Oreo.

Monday, May 04, 2009

In Remembrance

Do you remember when there was an event hosted by Cate called ARF-Tuesdays? That post was SO good for me as it forced me to make something each week that was healthy and had antioxidants or lots of veggies/fruit. Now, I do this weekly but tend to do the same thing over and over! So, Cate's even made me try something NEW. Why in remembrance? Because this yummy salad is FULL of great antioxidants! Well, when my Sunday School had an Easter lunch, I decided to take a yummy salad as I knew that most things there would be casseroles. Now, I love broccoli salads, both the yummy mayo-based one and the great marinated one. However, both of these have their own down-sides. The mayo-based one is obvious...LOTS of mayonaisse! The marinated one uses about 1 cup of oil and TWO cups of sugar! I'm just not willing to do that, though I know it is SO good. So, I found one that was better and modified it a bit...turned out GREAT! One of the other teachers, before she knew it was my salad, commented that it was her favorite part of the meal. I've since made it again for my brother's graduation (with dessert recipe to come!)...of course none of the men at it but the ladies enjoyed it! And me, I'm enjoying the leftovers!!! Broccoli Salad
2 hearts of romaine (you could probably use three), chopped
2-3 small heads (one of the packs offered at Kroger) of broccoli, cut into florettes
5 green onions, sliced
2 handfuls of craisins (or more...put what you want!)
3/4 cup walnuts, would be best toasted and cut into quarters
Ramen noodles, crumbled (optional...I didn't use)

1/4 cup sugar
2-4 T oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)

Directions: Put all salad ingredients in a large bowl with a lid. In a small bowl put the dressing ingredients and whisk together. Pour the dressing over the salad, cap the bowl with the lid, and have some fun shaking it!

Friday, May 01, 2009

I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane...

But only if they serve these cookies! This past semester I started working in the college Sunday School at my church. It has been a lot of fun remembering how college was...I forgot how LOUD college girls are! :-) Anyway, a few weeks ago, the college choir led in worship and we decided to have a pizza party afterwards. The adult choir (which I'm also a part of) was asked to bring desserts for the students. So, I took it as an opportunity to try a new cookie recipe. I had seen these on Katrina's site earlier and even tried to make them until I realized I didn't have any nuts. This time, the nuts were available. One of the things that makes these particularly special is that they not only have chopped nuts added at the end but FINELY chopped nuts added in with the flour. This really gives the cookie a nice texture and flavor. I think this is one of the best oatmeal cookies I've made...will definitely make them again. Another intersting fact about them...the recipe came from an Alaskan airlines pilot (thus, the title of the post)!
Alaska Airlines Pilot Oatmeal Cookies, adapted

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted, crushed finely
2 cups walnuts, toasted, barely chopped
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup Hershey's cinnamon chips
1 cup Hershey's Premier White Baking Chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine flour, finely chopped nuts, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix together. Add oats, coarsely chopped nuts and any other mix-ins and stir to combine. Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 11 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen cookies, depending on size.