Thursday, December 30, 2010

Egg Free Cookies

One of the blogs I follow is The Baking Bookworm and I hope its okay that I put it up here as a link, because she's got some fun recipes and book reviews. And yesterday's post was about cooking for people with allergies.

As a person with a SEVERE nut allergy, I constantly have to be aware of what is in my food. Often I don't eat the yummy treats set out at school or church activities because I can't trust what is in them. Of course, I do make my own, but its always nice to get a taste of something that another person has made.

Well, Laurie's post about finding an egg-free treat took me right to a recipe that my 19 year old daughter has been baking whenever she comes home from college (I've made it but for whatever reason it tastes better when she makes it!).

The recipe is called Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies and it contains NO EGGS!

The original recipe calls for icing to put on top of the cookies, but honestly we've never made it that way, there is no need - the cookies are so great without it. I will include the icing recipe anyway, but believe me, simple is just great (and less work).

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned works just as well as fresh and = less work)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350ยบ and grease your cookie sheets. Personally when I can I love to use parchment paper because its so easy for clean-up.

In a medium bowl, cream the shortening and the sugar, then stir in the vanilla and pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir this dry mixture slowly into the creamed mixture. Add the chocolate chips.

Drop dough onto cookie sheets, bake 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool one minute on the cookie sheets before putting on wire cooling rack.

The cookies don't look like much, and they don't rise a lot when they are baking, but wait until they are cooled off (really, even warm they don't taste as good) and they are amazing!

Now, if you want to make that icing I mentioned, its just a simple recipe you might have used for something else. You need:

1 - 8oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup of butter
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

Mix this all together and spread it on the cooled cookies!

This is a terrible picture so I will have her make some more this weekend and I will update this post. Sadly for my waistline, these cookies disappear quickly. Its really hard to stop eating them!!! But it will be a lovely weekend for eating cookies, I'm sure. With my cappuccino from my Magic Bullet, I'll have a delicious weekend!

My New Rice Cooker

So while we were in for the evening in Arlington I am reading a book by Roger Ebert called The Pot and How to Use It. Yes, this is Roger Ebert the movie critic. You may know this, but apparently Roger cannot eat solid food because of a tracheostomy that he elected to have done after numerous neck and throat surgeries due to cancer. Funny, but he still loves to cook and has written a book on one of his favorite tools – the rice cooker.

This book was on my Christmas list. I also wanted a rice cooker and my husband
bought both for me. I gave the rice cooker a try the other night. The thing about
the rice cooker is that you put in the rice, add the water, and flip a switch,and the pot knows what kind of rice it is (not really) but knows how much time it takes for the rice to be cooked. It then shuts off and you are supposed to leave the rice to sit in the pot for 15 more minutes.

The Rice Cooker my hubby bought me even though he hates giving appliances for gifts... 

During the cook-time I had to run out the door and my husband and son were both busy, so I told them not to worry about the rice cooker. They didn’t. The
rice was overdone. Hubby felt the rice was spongy. I have hope. I will post my
successes and failures as I persevere with this new appliance.

I THOUGHT the book was a recipe book. However, I can't say that it is. It does have some recipes in it, but it is mostly a book espousing the virtues of the Rice Cooker and why you should have one. I am hoping that I will feel the same way just as soon as I figure out how to use mine!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Milkshakes & Smoothies

Last night we were away on a one day trip. I made a happy mistake a few weeks ago and booked a night at the Hyatt in Arlington, VA through Priceline (love that Name Your Own Price). At first my hubby couldn’t get the night off so I wasn’t sure whether I was going to just take the kids myself or maybe give the stay to someone else. Happily he was able to take off work after all so we were all in our cozy hotel room.

We have four kids, ages 22, 20, 16, and 13. It is the oldest's 22nd birthday today!! It is so nice to see the kids laughing and talking and getting along so nicely. I pray that they continue to get along when they are grown. While on our overnight trip, we walked to a McDonald’s and ate and acted silly. All of us. And I have the pictures with which to blackmail them!

So today I was jonesing for the lovely cappuccino I have been making, but I wasn’t home for much of the day before we left on our trip. So now I’ve made sure I know where the nearest coffee-bars are near the hotel! Its not the caffeine I’m looking for, because I order decaf most of the time, but I love the comfort from the sweet sugar and coffee smell. I know, sounds crazy.

Anyway, I was thinking about what else I have made with the Magic Bullet. Yesterday we made smoothies, milkshakes, and I used it to blend the cream cheese for the frosting for my carrot cake.

For the smoothies we used some fruit I had in the fridge: cherries and blueberries. I also had bananas. Into the bullet cup I threw one banana and a handful of the frozen blueberries. Then I added 2 handfuls of ice (which looked to be about one cup). Then I added about 4 tablespoons of orange mango juice (all I had in the house). I blended them and voila! My first smoothy.

Next I used the cherries instead of blueberries and then instead of the orange mango I used cranberry juice (I was out of the orange mango) and while it sounds crazy – it was awesome! The texture was perfect, you could drink it or even use a spoon. Delicious.

For the milkshakes we still used ice, but used milk and sherbet. Basically I guess you can add anything you want to the blender and enjoy it. Hopefully. There are some things I can imagine my kids might throw together that I wouldn’t want to touch.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fun Stuff

Hi! Welcome to my blog. I've started this because I wanted to document some of the fun things I have envisioned I will cook in my kitchen in the upcoming year. We have a lot of plans for our kitchen in 2011, from cooking and crafting to remodeling, so I'm really excited!

I was already thinking about doing this when *Surprise!* on Christmas Eve my mother-in-law gave our family The Magic Bullet. My 2 youngest children SQUEALED with delight but since I have made a commitment to turning off the television whenever an infomercial comes on, I had never seen exactly what it can do.

My Magic Bullet Christmas present.

The only blender I have ever owned was a $40 Oster that couldn't even crush ice. I swore I would not buy another blender until I could put out the money for a fancy one.

Two days later I decided to open up the box and try out a recipe or two. A friend had given me some finely ground Italian coffee, so I decided to make cappuccino. It was so simple, there was no way to mess it up.

If you're not aware, cappuccino is espresso coffee with hot milk and milk froth. The froth is what looks like soap bubbles on the coffee in the picture. While I don't have an espresso machine, using the finely ground Italian beans in my coffee maker produced an amazing flavor.

After I brewed the coffee I poured a small amount of milk into the short cup (from the Magic Bullet kit) and closed it with the Cross Blade. Following the easy directions from the Magic Bullet package I blended (pushed down on the top of the "bullet") for about 10-15 seconds and then took the Cross Blade off and put the short cup into the microwave for about 55 seconds (remember, microwaves vary).
Once hot, I poured the liquid into the coffee, then used a spoon to put all of the froth that I could onto the brew. It was delicious! And while I know that I'm a very enthusiastic person I swear I can see myself doing this in the morning before work, and saving myself my trip to Starbucks that I take one or two days each week.

Until next time...