Sunday, August 30, 2009


So I took my second qual on Friday and it didn't go so well. What is the easy solution to a bad mood? Baking of course! So I called a friend and we decided to make some cookies for our friends at Case to welcome them back the school year. They are two recipes I've been meaning to make, but haven't really had a reason to make 3 dozen cookies. Because if I had 3 dozen cookies in my apartment, I would eat them in about 3 days, which probably isn't healthy.

Black Forest Cookies

These might give a run for my favorite cookies except for the f
act that the chocolate chunks melted a little too much and you couldn't tell they were in there. Maybe we overbaked them a little? I usually bake my cookies a little less than the suggested time so they are still kind of goopy and half crumbly, but we had to bake the full time since they are traveling cookies. Oh well, they are chocolatey with a the tartness of dried cherries and I just love that.

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies

These did not turn out well, but they taste good. They just look bad. My friend may have forgotten some flour because the dough was extremely sticky and then didn't hold together when they baked. Also my recommendation for these is to either do it in a cool place, or stick the dough in the fridge after you put the crumblies on top, immediately before you roll it. It's easier to roll when it is cold (roll the parchment, not just the dough). Then refridgerate it (or even freeze it a little) before cutting it, and use a sharp knife. I did this and mine turned out better than my friend's. Also, you might want to make more filling, I didn't feel like there was enough. The picture shows the goopy messiness. But like I said, tasty. And you can definitely taste the orange, so you might want to put a little less in so it is more subtle.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Make the dough: Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Beat butter, sugar, and orange zest with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture gradually, and beat until just combined. Divide dough in half, wrap each half in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).
  2. Turn half the dough onto floured parchment. Roll into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle, then trim edges straight. Repeat with remaining half of dough. Transfer rectangles on parchment to a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm but pliable, about 10 minutes.
  3. Make the filling: Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Crumble mixture evenly over rectangles. Starting on a long side, roll 1 rectangle into a log, and wrap it in the parchment. Repeat with remaining rectangle. Refrigerate logs for 1 hour (or overnight).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each log crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, and bake until edges are golden brown, about 19 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peanut Chickpea Stew

I made a tasty stew today that probably isn't fitting for summer, but it is loaded with veggies and protein and it sounded good, so I made it. Again, I don't have pictures, but honestly, the pictures for this are not particularly appetizing. It was made from lots of canned food, but this makes it easy and fast (and I used dried chickpeas that I rehydrated and cooked last night, so slightly less fast). I used no salt added tomatoes, low sodium black beans and did not salt the chickpeas and found the salt level just right, but I don't really like salt, plus I thought the peanut butter took care of it pretty well (I have a slightly saltier jar of peanut butter I've been trying to use up, so I use it in baking/cooking a lot)

One onion chopped
1-2 chilis, diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini (I sliced it very thinly and then chopped it into little tiny pieces so I didn't know it was there but you can cut it however you want)
vegetable broth
one can of tomatoes
one can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
one can black beans, rinced and drained
5-6 Tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
salt and pepper

Cook the onion in a broth or a little oil until almost soft. Add vegetables and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook. Use enough broth to make it stewlike.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pasta with Pork and Veggies

So this isn't the kind of thing I usually post, it was just a concoction to use up some of the loose ends (in particular, we had a small amount of past left from spaghetti yesterday, enough I wanted to save it but not really enough to be a serving of pasta). But it was super tasty and there was a secret ingredient: red wine vinegar. It was a great way to use some leftovers and it went together very well.

I cooked some chopped onions and green peppers in just a touch of olive oil for just a few minutes, not enough to soften them, just enough to make them a little less pungent. I added some red pepper flakes, cumin, dried minced garlic and a little paprika, and then shredded half a large carrot on top. I added leftover pulled pork and cooked until that was heated, then added the leftover pasta (maybe 1-2 ounces max, there really wasn't a whole lot) and a dash of red wine vinegar. It was spicy, a little tangy, slightly sweet, and downright delicious. This coming from someone who doesn't really like pork. Then a tiny piece of leftover peach crisp for dessert. Yum!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peach Crisp

I apologize for not having pictures.

Crisps and cobblers are classic in my family in summer. I don't remember my mom ever making pie (it bakes too long, over an hour), but she makes a fruit dessert almost weekly. But it's always one of two recipes with slight modifications: crisp or cobbler. I make berries into cobblers and peaches, pears, and apples into crisps (I like crisps better, there is nothing better than oatmeal, cinnamon, and brown sugar). So here is the peach crisp recipe, but you can use apples, pears, or plums I suppose. Apricots might also be good, but probably mixed in with the peaches.

4 c (about 4 large) peaches, sliced thin, skins removed
1/2 c oats
1/2 c flour
1/2-3/4 c brown sugar (adjusted based on sweetness of fruit)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c butter (softened)

Preheat oven to 375. Lay peaches in layers in 8x8 or 9x9 pan.
Combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Fold in butter and mix until blended. (You could use a pastry blender, but I find it easier just to use my hands). Sprinkle on top of peaches. Bake until fruit is tender, about 35-40 minutes.

Note: To help remove the skin from peaches, place the peaches in simmering water for about 30 seconds. Technically, you are supposed to place them in cool water immediately afterward, but this isn't necessary when making crisp as you are just going to bake them. The skins peel right off!
If using pears, you probably don't need to remove the skins, especially if you are using Bartlett pears. The same technique as peaches probably works for plums, but you could probably keep plum skins on as well. I'm not an expert, I just have learned a few tricks that I think I should share because I don't always remember.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Restaurant Review: Waterhaven

Note: pardon my spelling, spell check didn't seem to work. I know there are mistakes, but there are just too many and I am too lazy to check that many words.

So as part of Atlanta (ha, I almost said Cleveland) restaurant week (well, there were two Atlanta restaurant weeks and this was part of the first one) you could go to a variety of restaurants and get a 3 course meal for $25. Now this is certainly more than I usually spend on a meal, but I will splurge from time to time. We chose Waterhaven since it seemed to be what we could most agree on. Plus it's very near the Georgia Tech campus, making convenience a plus. However, we don't think it will do very well with business since it is in "Tech Square" a primarily student oriented block, and it is out of the price range of your typical college student. At least for your typical college student to patronize regularly. But it was good. I would give it an "above average" rating.

We ordered everything on the restaurant week menu: lamb sliders, calamari, fried green tomatoes, lemon caesar salad, and hummus plate. The lamb sliders were awesome and came with a yogurt sauce with a little flavor (I do not remember what the flavor was, but it complemented the lamb very well) and coolness on the lamb patty. The fried green tomatoes were pretty average, at least from my experience with fried green tomatoes. They basically tasted fried. The lemon caesar salad was fantastic and very summery. The lemon covered up the excessive anchovy taste that I hate and made it taste very fresh. Speaking of lemon and freshness, the hummus was very lemony, and we all loved that. It was refreshing without being compromising the essence of hummus. And we are all big hummus fans.

Between the six of us, we only ordered three entrees: Trout, Steak and Oxtails. I'd say the two I tried, Steak and Oxtails (I ordered the oxtails) were very good but relatively safe. The steak was topped with carmelized onions, which are a pretty classic pairing. The oxtails were tasty, I had never had oxtails before. They taste like red meat, but are very, very tender, they basically fall off the bone. They came with herbed potato dumplings which were a nice texture, less dense than what I've had before, which was good because the meat was plenty filling, though they were still pretty firm and cut well which was good for sharing. But like I said, there was nothing exceptional about either dish, they were just very well done, but obviously not that memorable.

Clearly I judge restaurants based on their desserts. There were only two (at least on the special menu): Chocolate Icebox Pie and Creme Brulee. Two of the six ordered the creme brulee and claimed that the rest of us would wish we had chosen that and want to eat lots of theirs. Of course I knew this was false since I always like dessert with chocolate, especially when I go out. When we got our desserts, the creme brulee enthusists admitted that the creme brulee was great and they were not disappointed with their choice, but that ours was better (though somewhat rich). And the creme brulee was good. Sweet and warm with a creamy, consistent texture. But the chocolate icebox dessert was awesome: a nice thick chocolate mousse with a tasty oreo crust. Delicious, but again, very safe, nothing that unique or memorable.

Oh, and as I type this, I'm watching Food Network as it advertises the new show with Melissa, the winner of Next Food Network Star, who is doing $10 dinners for 4 people, while still making them healthy. She may become my new favorite since that is the type of cooking I try to do (and write about) except when it comes to dessert. Plus she's and AXO.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Staples

Quite possibly my favorite food in summer is my mom's Summer Spinach Salad. I'll try to come up with the dressing from memory (since that is what makes it awesome!)

Poppyseed dressing:
1/2 c canola oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp+2 tsp red wine or cider vinegar
2 Tbsp +2tsp sugar
1/2? tsp salt (I'm not positive that it is a half, but I think it is)
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard (I use a little less since it is often too strong with that)
~1 tsp poppyseeds

Combine first six ingredients in blender. Blend until sugar is dissolved (or until there are no more onion chunks). Then add poppyseeds and mix thoroughly.

Technically you are supposed to make the salad all at once, but I just make up the dressing and make single serve salads (since not all of the ingredients keep fresh at the same rate) and I am not serving 4-6 at once.

Summer Spinach Salad
10 oz spinach washed and dried with stems removed
4 green onions, chopped
1 pt strawberries, quartered
1-2 bananas, sliced
Toasted almonds slivered or sliced
Poppyseed dressing (probably not the whole container)

Mix everything and toss. Or if you are serving yourself and yourself only, just throw what you want on it at any given time and toss.

Also, my mom makes this great, tasty, healthy black bean salad, which to me tastes like summer. And is a good use of leftover veggies, as I discovered on Thursday when trying to plan a dinner that would get rid of my green onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Again, I am approximating, but I think it's close.

Colorful Black Bean Salad
2 cans black beans
1 green or yellow bell pepper (my mom prefers yellow because it makes it more colorful), chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 pt. grape tomatoes, cut in half
3 Tbsp+ cilantro, chopped

Combine beans and veggies and stir to mix well.

3 Tbsp fresh lemon (I use lime) juice
3/4 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir dressing and add to bean and veggie mixture. Stir and enjoy!

They are both fresh and tasty and I make both frequently in summer. Actually, I always keep poppyseed dressing on hand in summer and just throw it on spinach anytime I have spinach. It keeps me eating my greens when I would much rather eat corn.