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Martha’s Cookie of the Month

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I’m a Martha person. Are you? Her recipes are usually simple enough, well tested, and tasty. She only makes me feel like the most disorganized person on the planet some of the time. What a woman. When I get too discouraged I just remember she spent time behind bars and it makes me like her again.

This month the special cookie in her magazine is the “Nutty Butter.” This really isn’t a “throw it in the mixer and forget it” type of recipe. There are a few steps involved, so make sure you have about 45 minutes. You can find the recipe for these cookies after the pictures.

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Recipe can be found on page 56 of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, April 2012.
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Mix Mix Mixing up the butter and sugars.
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Thank you to my back yard chickens for making this egg and these cookies possible!
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Highly recommend investing in a full sized sheet pan. It takes up the entire oven and you can bake all of your cookies in one huge batch. Cuts a lot of time and energy…
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Here they are! And they were awesome. Not just because I’m pregnant.

Ingredients:

  • I 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (If that sounds too healthy, substitute chocolate chips. That’s what I did.)
  1. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5-7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat together the remaining stick of butter and the sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Add nut butter (I used peanut butter but you can also use almond or cashew), and beat until combined on medium speed.
  3. Add oat mixture and chopped nuts (or chocolate chips), and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, beat until combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets, can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week. But they won’t last that long.

Liverpool Leading Lady

I’m not as English as I once thought.

My father and I were talking about having corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day and I said that it would be worth the effort, “Even though there’s not an ounce of Irish blood in us,” to which my father replied, “I’m half Irish.”

Oh. Really?

Well, then we certainly should have some corned beef and cabbage and throw in a loaf Irish soda bread while we’re at it.

Now, I was perfectly justified in thinking that I was English. My great-grandparent and company were all born in Liverpool. Well, there’s a story behind that.

It just so happens that I am not the first actress in my family. My grandmother Kathleen was certainly one of the most dramatic people I knew, but her grandmother certainly takes the gold.

For many, many years being Irish was not nearly as grand as being English and my great-great grandmother thought she could do something about that. When the time came to give birth to each baby in her brood, she would go to Liverpool, have her child, and then go back to her homestead in Ireland. Doing this made her English (In her mind, of course). She did the baby act a few times and it was not easy, but the performance must have been worth it.

So, in honor of her and her wild antics, I adapted Nick Malgieri’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread Muffins. Don that green apron of yours and bake some up this weekend.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour     1 ½ teaspoons baking powder    ½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted    ¼ cup sugar    1 large egg    1 ¼ cups buttermilk

¾ cup raisins, currants, or cranberries tossed with 1 tablespoon flour

confectioner’s sugar    vanilla extract    half-n-half

  1. Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 F.
  2. Line your muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar. Whisk in the egg and ½ of the buttermilk. Gently stir in ½ of the flour mixture and then add the remaining buttermilk.
  5. Stir in the dried fruit and then the rest of the flour mixture.
  6. Spoon the batter in to the muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes or until the muffins have a touch of gold and are firm to the touch.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Mix together a cup of confectioner’s sugar, two tablespoons of half-n-half, and one tablespoon of vanilla. Add liquid or sugar until you get a nice consistency. Drip the icing over cooled muffins and allow the icing to harden. The muffins should look glazed.

An Acceptable Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Koslicks (Koslick is my maiden name) are notorious cookie snobs. Your cookie better not be too hard, too lemony, too crumbly, too chocolatey, or not brown-sugary enough. I have never been able to make a cookie that is worth their caloric intake…until now.

I believe I have found the holy grail of ingredients… Cornstarch. Cornstarch?! In a cookie?! I finally found the recipe to appease even the most sensitive Koslick cookie palate. And today, I will share it with you. See below.

Ingredients: 
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (or whichever you prefer)
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. I use my stand mixer for this… and one of the reasons why I love this recipe so much is that you can make the dough using only one bowl! So next you want to…..
3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Then add the chocolate chips.
4.  I roll my cookies into one inch balls and place them close together on a baking sheet. You can fit quite a few on one baking sheet since they puff up rather than spread out when they are cooked. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on how large of a pan you use. I used a sheet-cake size, so I can literally fit this entire batch in my oven all at once. Which is amazing. Start to finish the cookies take me about 20 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

*Recipe comes from http://kelseysappleaday.blogspot.com/, which she adapted from Anna Olsen, Food Network Canada.

“Tandoori” Naan

Okay, so I don’t have a Tandoor oven in my house, nor am I hiding one anywhere else on my property. I am just a big fan of naan and hummus, and I thought I would search for a recipe that gave me that same flavor without the same price tag (I calculate these will cost about .30 cents for a batch of four, which is a savings of $1.70 versus even the cheapest store bought varieties!!!).  Unashamedly I saved the Trader Joe’s “Tandoori Naan” freezer safe bag, and yes I will be storing the home made version in it.  This post should really be called “bread maker” naan, because that’s what it is.  I’m VERY into fast and easy recipes, so if you don’t have a bread maker….. I don’t know what to tell you. That’s Kelsey’s department and maybe she can come up with some great alternative for you. Note: If you have a 15 month old with an egg allergy, it isn’t advisable to let them sample this bread or to eat a whole piece. And that’s coming from personal experience. Oh well, here’s the recipe. While you’re testing it out I’m going to grab the Benadryl.

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Add ingredients to the bread pan according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Typically they want you to add the wet ingredients first, dry on top, finishing with the yeast)
  2. Set Cycle: dough; Loaf size: 2 lb.
  3. After about 5 minutes, check the dough; add a tablespoon of water at a time if too dry, or a tablespoon of flour at a time if too wet.
  4. Preheat oven to 450F, put 2 baking sheets in to heat for 10 minutes (this will help the naan to puff up and brown).
  5. When dough cycle is done, turn dough onto a floured surface and punch down; Divide into 8 pieces.
  6. Working one at a time, with the other pieces covered, roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
  7. Bake for about 4 minutes, until puffed up.
  8. These freeze very well.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-naan-bread-machine-41503#ixzz1lhvM9G2B

Bars it is

Bars are as good as it gets these days. And probably will be as good as it gets for a few more months. It could be worse, of course. What if I left it all entirely? So, bars it is. Bars are as far as my brain can go.

I should have done lemon bars. Ha. That’s quite a way of beginning an entry. I made a coconutty-type of bar, but while they baked I thought of how terribly refreshing lemon bars would be and the winter seems like the time to be dehydrated and not know it. When else do you eat iceberg lettuce? Why does it taste so good in the winter? You’re dehydrated.

No, I shouldn’t write these blog posts late at night.

I’ll keep this brief.

So, when you are in the throes of everyday life, think of the humble goodness of the bar. Today, we’re featuring Jim Fobel’s Coconut Bars from the cookbook Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book.  Dress up the recipe by drizzling the bars with chocolate ganache. There’s a good idea for you.

Coconut Bars

Bottom Layer

1 stick of butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour                                  1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

Top Layer

2 large eggs                                                           1 cup slivered almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder                                     1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325 F and butter an 8-inch square pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine butter, flour, and brown sugar and mix well with a spoon. Turn the dough over into the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar for 1 to 2 minutes. With a spoon, stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, almonds and coconut.

4. Spread coconut mixture over the bottom layer once it has baked. Return the pan to the oven for about 30 minutes more.

5. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

In a Sequined Christmas Blouse

We took down our trees today. I know it’s a bit late, but we were waiting for snow. The snow came down early this morning…

and the trees followed.

While we tried to not be nostalgic, I couldn’t help but think of the season when the most delightful part of each day will be choosing from the manor’s menu–boiled ham sandwich or beef goulash.

The holidays will arrive and my children will draw from a hat to see who will feed me and the unlucky grand-kids will cry, “Do we have to?!”

I will sit in the manor lobby in my sequined Christmas blouse and wait. I imagine I’ll wait for at least forty-five minutes before I see an angry-looking relative.

All year long I’ve been looking forward to a festive dinner and I’m given an hour or so to choke down my rations while no one even attempts to talk to me. I don’t even get a peek at the Christmas tree.

I’m back in my room again before I know it and it’s time to choose breakfast–honey bun or runny eggs. Neither. Thanks.

To lighten the mood, I went with something terribly easy for someone in such a mental state–chocolate chip bars. And chocolate can be so comforting.

The recipe comes from Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book. These chocolate chip bars are just right.

Jim Fobel’s Chocolate Chip Bars

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                            1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                                 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt                                                1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened                     6 ounces of chocolate chips

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 11 3/4-by-7 1/2-inch pan.

2. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. Beat together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla.

4. Combine the wet with the dry and fold in the chips and nuts ( I omitted the nuts).

5. Spoon the mix in to the pan and spread it out evenly.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (I baked for 18).

7. Place the hot pan on a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

8. Cut the bars and eat them.

Happy Winter. Enjoy the soft centers and the chewy edges.

Stress

I’ve noticed a trend. When I become stressed I often do one of two things: I cut my hair or I bake.

Maybe three things. I’ve been eating a lot of frozen gingerbread lately.

There’s not much more chopping that can be done to my hair (I did my last “trim” using a fingernail clipper), so I turned the oven to 375.

The spring semester is beginning next week, so I made raisin bread, a large pan of sandwich bread, and some whole-grain apple walnut bread thinking that I would freeze it so we wouldn’t starve before commencement in May. But we ate all of that before I could take any pictures and…I don’t know. I didn’t feel like making a post about it. Maybe I don’t have a good attitude. Maybe it’s all of that gingerbread getting back at me or maybe I need more vitamin D. Maybe I need to get more sleep.

I’ve decided to share a cookie experiment with you. I’m calling it an experiment because I like the results, but I wonder if something else could be done to it. Dip it in chocolate? Make it a thumbprint cookie and add a caramel center?

Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I think it makes a nice cookie. My taster said that it tastes old fashioned and modern. He said that he doesn’t really have a grid for it.

Praline Nut Cookies

1 1/2 cups of pecans

1/4 cup walnuts or almonds

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling

8 tablespoons of butter, softened

1 egg

2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375. Take a couple of cookie sheets and line them with parchment. Throw the nuts in a food processor and pulse until you get nut crumbs, but not nut powder. Combine the nuts, sugar, butter, and egg in a mixer and beat for a minute. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour to the mixture. When the mixture is fully combined, use a small ice cream scoop to spoon out the dough and roll into small spheres. Place the spheres on the sheets and lightly press them down. Sprinkle the dough lightly with brown sugar. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes.

What do you think?