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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.
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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.

Superhero Scones

Remind me if I’m repeating myself, but I’m super multi-tasker lady. I refrain from capitalizing the title because I am certainly not at superhero status. My multi-tasking is not always super productive and it is rarely graceful and never, ever glamorous. Just the other day I found myself ironing my clothes, putting on socks, brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush, and spitting out the words to “The Wheels on the Bus” (along-with some toothpaste) all at the same time.

(I don’t sing “The Wheels on the Bus” for my own enjoyment, by the way.)

Possibly the worst multi-tasking idea was when I took a twelve-pound roast out of the oven with one hand while I fed my infant son with the other. Not a good idea. Everyone survived, but it was still a very bad idea.

So, this infant son grew up in to a very large infant son and began cutting teeth. And cutting teeth. And cutting teeth. His mama did not grow bigger arms but still had to pick up and hold this very large infant son, especially when it was tooth time. One day, Mama wanted to make something special, but her very large infant son needed a hold. What a dilemma.

Being the dependable, efficient person she is, Martha Stewart made a recipe for such times as this: Apple and Oat Scones with Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

With the exception of the chopping, Mama was able make Martha’s delicious, fairly healthy breakfast scones using just one hand and one arm. The chopping bit had to be a solo endeavor, though.

Apple and Oat Scones with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups diced Granny Smith apple (2 apples cut into generous 1/4-inch cubes)
  • 2/3 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • Raw turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1.       Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers. Flatten the small pieces into disks. Add the apples and buttermilk and mix until it comes together.

2.       Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle and cut into twelve squares with a floured knife. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Brush the tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to rotate the sheets half-way through the baking process. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the pans and then place them on racks.

*From Martha Stewart Living, February 2012

The scones are especially tasty on the first day, but they’ll keep for a day or two if they’re individually wrapped in plastic.

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.

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.

Jessica’s Rustic Apple Pie

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Rustic apple pie.

What makes something “rustic?” Is it unfinished looking? Usually. That’s the case with this apple pie. There are no crimped edges, no perfectly pressed crust. There’s not even a stitch of butter in the crust, which is normally a no-no for me [Jessica]. This pie takes about 15 minutes to throw together, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Maddy Lu has an eye for the “rustic” in dessert. It might not be pretty, but I bet it’s one of the best things you’ve ever eaten! Here is my recipe for rustic apple pie. I highly recommend it… and your husband will thank you when he walks in from work and smells the cinnamon. Maybe a back rub is in order?

Preheat Oven to 375…

Ingredients:

FILLING

  • 8 Medium Sized Apples, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • A generous sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 3 TBS Flour

CRUST

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. To begin, slice and core your apples. This is the time when an apple peeler/corer comes in handy.
  2. Melt a stick of butter on medium heat, once melted, add the flour.
  3. Add the white/brown sugars and the cinnamon.
  4. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. That’s it.
  5. Get that crust prepared- using a pastry cutter or a big fork, cut the flour/salt into the shortening.  Mix in the water with your hands until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface- you want a big huge pancake.
  7. Lift the dough onto your baking sheet, and dump the apples into the center.
  8. Pull up the edges so they come in about halfway towards the center.
  9. Bake on center rack at 375 or until you can see the apples are bubbling and the crust is browned.

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.