Friday, April 26, 2013

Mothers Day is Coming

Hard to believe, but it is almost May. Not only that, Mothers Day is a bit early this year, since it is on Sunday, May 11 th. Now you might already have the perfect gift picked out, or even purchased, but it's also possible that you have no idea what to get Mom.

If she likes to cook and bake, consider giving her my beautiful cookbook Classic Comfort Food, full of delicious recipes and lovely photos. I created it for my Mom for Mothers Day last year. You know if it is good enough for my Mom it is probably good enough for yours, too.

There are classics like biscuits, soda bread, waffles, fried chicken, coconut cake, sugar cookies and more!

Now the great can get $10 off the book if you order it through Blurb by May 2, 2013. That should get it to you just in time for the big day, since they will ship it either to you or to your Mom...whatever address you give them.

To order through Blurb and get that $10 off, click HERE or on the image of the book at the top right of this blog (in the web version). At checkout be sure to put in SHARING10 for the promotion code to get that discount. Don't delay...May 2nd will be here so quickly and Mothers Day is just around the corner.

Also, you can buy a copy just for yourself, or as a Graduation gift (perfect of a grad who will be living in their own place with a kitchen now), or as a gift for a wedding, too. Just use SHARING10 for the promotion code and you are good to go and save $10 on the book.

Not exactly a give-away, but a good deal for a wonderful cookbook!

Hugs and kisses, Elle

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fresh Strawberries Fill a Rolling Pin Cookie

Back when I was in college, my boyfriend's mom would sometimes interrupt our study time with something home baked. She was an excellent cook and baker, so I looked forward to the interruption. Besides, we were usually pouring over thick history books about 'Westward Expansion' or something and it was nice to take a break from that.

One time she had baked a lovely cookie that had a cherry baked in the middle. The cookie was crisp around the edges, soft in the middle and then you bit into the juicy cherry in the center...memorable! I didn't have much time for baking at that point in my life, so I never asked for the recipe. Wish I had.

Sweetie came home a couple of days ago with three pint baskets of gorgeous strawberries...the first of our local ones. They are not as sweet, nor as juicy as the ones that come later, in May especially, but they are still delicious. I decided that I wanted to make a cookie similar to the one I remembered so well, but with thinly sliced strawberries in the middle.

After looking in lots and lots of cookbooks it became clear that her cookies were not the usual kind at all. It didn't help that I wanted to include almonds and  maybe some lemon curd. Long story short, I started with an unusual spice cookie recipe and went on my own merry way. Although this dough isn't difficult to work with, you will give your rolling pin a workout by the time you are done.

One of the unusual things about this recipe is that it takes brown sugar, dark corn syrup and butter and boils them together for 2 minutes. Another unusual thing is that there are no eggs. I enjoyed figuring out how to change the recipe by eliminating the spices and adding vanilla extract. It already had the ground almonds and almond extract I wanted and some rum that mostly cooked off.

You could probably make these by wrapping some of the dough around a whole strawberry, but I wanted a cookie version of hand pies. I used a large cutter for starters, 4-5 slices of strawberry for each cookie and about 1/2 teaspoon of purchased Meyer lemon curd. I sealed between the top and bottom cookie with egg wash, then pressed down all around with a fork to seal it even better, cut a slit in the top, brushed egg wash over the whole cookie and sprinkled the middle with sparkling sugar. These cookies were so large that you really only needed one, but they smelled so great while baking that it was hard not to eat more than that.

In the end, it worked out to be just what I had in mind. The outer edges and bottom of the cookie were crispy, the inner cookie soft, but chewy with a true almond flavor, and the strawberries barely cooked, soft and juicy and fragrant and there was just a hint of citrus.

Next time I might try it with granulated sugar instead of the brown sugar for a more delicate cookie flavor but otherwise I'm very happy with this experiment. Since the strawberry season is just starting I'm sure I'll make 'em again, especially since they are perfect for taking on a picnic.

Fresh Strawberry Filled Rolling Pin CookiesBased on 'Swedish Spice Cookies' in Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great CookiesMakes 10 filled 3" cookies

2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 oz. (scant 1 1/4 cups) blanched almonds
2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 1/4 cup prepared lemon curd
6-8 fresh strawberries, washed, dried, hulled, and thinly sliced
egg wash of 1 egg beaten lightly with 1 tablespoon water
about 1 tablespoon sanding sugar

Place the corn syrup, sugar, and butter in a saucepan. Place over moderate heat and stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for about 2 minutes. Then set aside to cool to tepid.

Place the almonds in a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade. If desired, you can lightly toast the almonds in the middle of a 350 degree F oven for 10 - 12 minutes and then let cool before putting into the food processor. I made my cookies with untoasted almonds.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Place 1/4 cup of the mixture in the food processor with the almonds. Process the nuts and flour mixture for about 30 seconds, until fine. Add to the dry ingredient mixture in the bowl. Stir with a spoon to combine.

When the sugar/butter mixture has cooled to tepid, add the rum, the almond extract and the vanilla and stir to combine. Add this mixture to the flour/nut mixture in the bowl then stir or beat with the mixer until a dough forms.

Spread out three 12-inch lengths of plastic warp or wax paper, and place about one-third of the dough on each piece. Fold the sides of the wrap over the dough, flatten each piece slightly, and refrigerate the packet for an hour or more, and up to a week if you wish. If it has been refrigerated for more than an hour, it will be too firm to roll out; it should stand at room temperature for about a half hour or more, until it can be rolled out.

When you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator long enough ahead of time so that it can be rolled out. Flour a pastry cloth and a rolling pin. Adjust two racks to divide your oven into thirds and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with baking parchment, foil with the shiny side up, or silicon baking mats.

To roll out the dough, unwrap on piece of the dough and place it on the floured cloth. Roll out the dough carefully until it is very thin and even all over. Try for about 1/8 inch thick. During rolling, turn the dough and re-flour cloth and pin as necessary.

To make large cookies as I did, cut with 3-inch round cutters. I was able to get about 5 rounds from the first rolling out of one piece of dough, but this dough is easy to reform into a ball and then re-roll for more rounds. Once you have gotten some more rounds from the first piece, add what is left to the second piece, continue rolling out the dough and cutting out rounds and repeat with the scraps and the third piece. I used the final scraps to make a small plain cookie...this dough is too yummy to waste any.

Place half the rounds on the prepared sheets. Place 1/2 teaspoon lemon curd on each in the center and spread out, leaving at least 1/4 inch border plain. Place 4-5 strawberry slices in the center over the curd. Brush the egg wash around the plain border and top with another cookie dough round. Press gently around the border to seal, then seal fully by pressing with the tines of a fork. Use a sharp knife to make a slit in the center. Repeat until you have about 10 filled cookies. Brush egg wash over the tops of each, then sprinkle the centers lightly with sanding sugar.

Bake the prepared cookies for 5 minutes in the preheated oven, then switch the pans, top to bottom and bottom to top, plus have the side of the sheet that was toward the back of the oven face toward the front. (This is probably not necessary if you have a true convection oven.) Bake for another 5 minutes, then check to see if cookies are golden brown. If not, bake another minute or two.

Remove from oven to a cooling rack for 2-3 minutes, then use a spatula to lift the cookies onto the cooling rack itself. Let cookies cool before eating or storing. Centers will get softer if cookies are not eaten the same day. Store, covered, in the refrigerator...if there are any left. I warn you, they smell irresistibly good while baking.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Babes Bake Italian

The colors of the Italian, green and white...are all on display in this month's delicious bread, Pane Bianco with Garlic, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, brought to us by Kitchen of the Month Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. The fragrance that fills your kitchen when you bake this seems very Italian, too. The best part about this bread isn't the colors or the fragrance, but the taste. It is savory and you can really taste the sun-dried tomatoes, followed by the herby basil, warm garlic and wonderful melty cheese. I used some roasted garlic, as suggested by fellow Babe, Elizabeth, and it brought a depth of flavor that was delightful. Otherwise I pretty much followed the recipe as written (shocking!) until it came time to shape the second half of the dough. (Well, my dough did take longer to rise, but it was a chilly day.)

For the first half I made the lovely 'S' shape that the recipe gave directions for. I really enjoyed working with this dough. It was easy to shape.

For the second half I decided to make mini-buns to take to a morning meeting the following morning. I baked them a little less than golden (see photo), then reheated them in the morning until they were warm and golden. They were a hit!

The key to the mini buns is to roll the dough very thin and about twice as wide as the shaped loaf. Since you are spreading the same amount of filling ingredients over twice the amount of rolled dough, the buns don't get too filled and stay small. The last 'trick' is to then divide the filled dough in half (I used my bench scraper) so that each piece is about the same width (8 1/2 inches) as the big loaf, then roll up the dough from that point, one roll to the right, one to the left, which gives you two thin snakes of rolled dough. Cut each snake in pieces about an inch thick and lay those pieces cut side down in a greased cake pan...or two. Cover and let rise as you do the big loaf, but bake them for a shorter time, about 25 - 30 minutes. You should end up with a nice tray of savory, cute mini-buns with all the flavor and cheesy goodness of the big loaf.

Thank you Natashya for choosing this great recipe, and for giving us recipes by weight, volume, etc. I used the one by grams and it worked out perfectly.
Also sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the wonderful weekly Yeastpotting event. Check it out!

With a bread this delicious and fun to play with, I'm sure you want to be a Bread Baking Buddy, right? Just bake this bread, take a photo or two to share, and e-mail Natashya with a short description of your experience that that photo or two. She'll get a Buddy Badge to you and include you in the round-up. You have until April 29th, so do consider making Pane Bianco with Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic!
Tomato Basil Garlic Filled Pane Bianco
Ingredients by grams: (direct from King Arthur Flour website)

• 113g warm water
• 50g sugar
• 4 teaspoons instant yeast
• 227g warm low-fat milk
• 67g extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 723g bread flour
• 1 (241g) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
• 4 cloves roasted garlic (or more if you really like garlic) my change
• 170g shredded Italian blend cheese, divided
• 14g chopped fresh basil

1) Combine the water, sugar, yeast, milk, olive oil, eggs, salt, and flour, and mix and knead by hand, stand mixer, or bread machine until you've made a cohesive, soft dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and turn to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 45 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the sun-dried tomatoes; lay them on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Using kitchen shears, finely chop the tomatoes.

3) Line two baking sheets with parchment. Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Roll one piece into a 22" x 8 1/2" rectangle. Sprinkle on half the garlic, cheese, basil, and tomatoes.

4) Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way.

 Pinch the edges to seal.

5) Place the log seam-side down on a baking sheet. Using kitchen shears, start 1/2" from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1" deep, to within 1/2" of the other end.

6) Keeping the cut side up, form an "S" shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the "S" to form a "figure 8"; pinch the ends together to seal.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

7) While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

8) Bake the first loaf for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with foil after 15 to 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Bake the remaining loaf.

9) Remove loaves from their pans; cook on racks. Store any leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature.
Yield: 2 loaves.

For mini-bun directions, see the post, above the recipe.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Chocolate! Need I Say More?

In general I've been fairly successful with my diet changes, mostly so I don't have a repeat of  January, but also for weight loss. There are times, however, when I really, really want something sweet. Although I love cookies and have little will power around candy, for some reason the item that kept popping up in my mind was chocolate pound cake. You know the kind...moist, deeply chocolate, fine grained, just a bit buttery.

This week I decided that the solution was to make a chocolate pound cake type cake, but to bake the batter in small loaves. One was left in the fridge for snacking and the other three went into the freezer. Now you might think that a cake in the freezer is still potent temptation, but that means you haven't seen the state of my freezer. Sometimes items disappear for months!

This lovely chocolate cake is from one of the best books for a chocolate lover...Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. Two of my all-time favorte recipes can be found in the book: 86 Proof Chocolate Bundt Cake and Chocolate Fudge Pie.

The one I made this time is also excellent; Sour Cream Chocolate Loaf Cake. Because I had some new Bensdorp Cocoa from King Arthur Flour which is a deep, dark wonderful cocoa, I changed the recipe some so that I could use cocoa instead of semi-sweet chocolate. I also adore the addition of Bourbon in the 86 Proof cake, so I substituted some for some of the water called for. I confess, since I also used some egg substitute instead of one of the eggs, and some lowfat plain yogurt instead of the sour cream, this recipe has only a resemblance to the original. Still, that's half the fun and the changes resulted in a delicious, not too sweet, slightly bourbon-y chocolate loaf cake that doesn't even need the icing that the recipe calls for. It had a wonderful chocolate flavor. A couple slices of the mini-loaf took care of my chocolate cravings for the day. It's three days later and I still have some in the fridge. Might have to have another small slice with tea after some gardening. I might have to clean out my freezer sooner than I thought...

Chocolate Loaf Cake

based on a recipe in Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

2 teaspoons dry espresso coffee
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup bourbon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (like bensdorp Dutch-process cocoa*) or 1/2 cup regular cocoa powder (like Hershey's unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) sweet butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large or extra-large egg
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt (Greek style is fine)
extra flour and cocoa for the pan(s)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place oven rack one-third up from bottom of oven.

Butter a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or a combination of small pans that equals 8 cups volume, then dust with a mixture of flour and cocoa, using a fine mesh strainer. Tap out any excess flour/cocoa mixture. Set aside.

In a heat-proof 2 cup measure, place the dry espresso, then the boiling water. Stir to dissolve the coffee. Add the bourbon. It should reach the 1 cup mark. Set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the vanilla and brown sugar and beat to mix well. Add the egg, mix and scrape the bowl well. Add the egg substitute and beat until all is incorporated. On low speed gradually add half the sifted ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only until smooth. Add half the coffee mixture and again beat only until smooth at low speed. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the rest of the liquid mixture on low speed. Mix until incorporated, scrape the bowl and mix again only enough until mixture is smooth. Batter may be thin.

Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). If baking the full loaf pan, bake for 60 to 75 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean and dry. If baking smaller loaves, place them on a baking sheet for stability and bake about 30 minutes, testing at 25 minutes. Cake is done when tester comes out clean and dry.

Cool cake in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool, right side up. Can be frosted with your favorite icing or ganache. To freeze, wrap in plastic and then wrap in a zip-closing bag. If not freezing, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Farm Box Fun

At the home show about a month ago I signed up for delivery every other week of a box of fruits and veggies. The company is called Farm Fresh to You and they deliver from the Sacramento area. I will probably cancel once my own veggies start coming in, but for now it is encouraging me to eat more whole foods. The produce is wonderfully fresh, organic, abundant and delicious. Over the weekend I made both a veggie quiche and some chicken soup chock full of vegetables. Yesterday's lunch included a handful of small Nantes carrots. They were crisp and sweet and so good. Yesterday we enjoyed the broccoli from the box and tonight we are having stir-fry which will include some red peppers, onions, and asparagus, the latter two from the box. I've also been eating some very juicy tangerines from the box as well as navel oranges. We still are shopping at the market for our melons and garlic and potatoes, but it really is nice to have really fresh produce right on hand to inspire me.

Sweetie continues to heal and he and I have become very expert at doing the dressing changes. He still has about another 4 weeks before he can play tennis but we are grateful that he did no long-term damage.

Still playing with kitchen designs and researching appliances. Do any of you dear readers have experience with Samsung gas ranges or with their refrigerators or dishwashers? How about Bertazonni?

For now I'm having fun with my current kitchen and appliances. This baking spree over the weekend was the first time since mid-January that I really wanted to cook and bake. There will be a new bread showing up here on the 16th. I'm looking forward to playing with yeast dough again!

Here is the quiche recipe. It is just a variation of my usual one. If you use evaporated milk as I do, be sure to shake it well before opening. I forgot to do that this time and it took some doing to get it all mixed up in the bowl (which also had the eggs in it). I think this is the perfect quiche for the spring...savory, flaky, full of asparagus and onions and cheese. Now I want another slice...and it's all gone. It went so fast that I didn't really get great photos...but if you make one yourself you can see how beautiful it looks with the green asparagus spears on top.

Spring Quiche with Asparagus and Swiss Cheese and OnionServes 4 - 6

1 9-inch pie shell, blind baked at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes (recipe follows)
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Swiss cheese, cut into ¼ inch dice
3 eggs (or equivalent egg substitute)
1 ½ cups evaporated milk (I used non-fat) or light cream
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
dash pepper
Dash nutmeg
2-3 spears asparagus, tough bottoms trimmed off and sliced in half through the length of the spear
1 - 2 large mushrooms, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small skillet, saute the onion and celery in the olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Sprinkle the bottom of the pie shell with the sauteed onion/celery mixture and Swiss cheese, distributing evenly. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the milk and beat with a fork to combine, add the salt, thyme, pepper and nutmeg and beat with a fork or whisk to combine.

Arrange the half asparagus spears in a nice pattern on top of the onions and cheese in the pie shell. Place the mushroom slices near them where space permits between the spears.

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the ingredients in the pie shell. Place in the preheated oven and bake 30-45 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. I find that setting on a parchment-lined small baking sheet is a good idea in case some of the filling spills over. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

Pastry Pie Shell

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chilled butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or two knives, until particles the size of dried peas are formed.

In a small bowl mix together the egg, ice water and lemon juice (if using). Sprinkle over the flour mixture and toss with a fork lightly. Do not over mix. Gather the particles together in a ball. Wrap airtight and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Roll out with a rolling pin on a floured surface until large enough to fill a 9 inch pie pan with some overlap.

Fit into a 9 inch pie pan, smooth to fit, trip excess , tuck edges under and crimp as for any pie crust. Prick lightly all over the surface with a fork. Freeze 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and cover with a circle of parchment paper or foil. Fill the paper with beans or pie weights (blind baking the crust).

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 – 12 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove and save the beans or pie weights. Fill with filling as called for in recipes needing a pie shell.

Tip: If you use a pound of dried beans as pie weights as I do, save them once they have cooled off and you can use them again and again as pie weights...just don't plan on cooking them to eat. At about a dollar and a half for a bag of dried beans, it sure beats the almost $9 you would pay for Pie Weights from King Arthur or a similar amount at Sur la Table.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Doggie Biscuits

We've had a dog sharing our lives for most of the time that Sweetie and I have been married, mostly black labs. If you know anything about labs, you know that they love to chew, are very affectionate and are easy to spoil because they are so lovable and appreciative of attention. Although I manufactured my own training treats back when I was first dog trained (and it really is the human who gets trained, not the dog...well later the dog), for some reason I've never made dog biscuits.

We have a really cute metal biscuit tin shaped like a dog bone with a colorful graphic on the front of a dog in his doghouse. Usually I fill it up with dog bones from the store. A couple of days ago I noticed that it was empty and my baking bug took hold. After a while on the Internet looking at various recipes, I put together my own recipe with bits and pieces from a number of source ideas. I really haven't been baking much at all since January but I knew I could make dog treats. For ease of preparation, I decided to forgo cutting them out to look like bones and just cut them into rectangles. They aren't as cute that way, but Pi doesn't seem to mind. Besides, they are in a cute container!

I started with the idea of grains soaked in boiling water. I do that for bread making and like the idea. Cornmeal and rolled oats sounded good, plus I had a packet of chicken soup flavor granules that didn't go into a salad where I used the Ramen noodles, so I added that to the corneal/oats mush for added flavor. Dry milk powder added to the flour mixture (half whole wheat) sounded like a good idea, too. Peanut butter was always going to be an ingredient because Pi loves peanut butter. There is an egg for his coat shine, a touch of salt and a touch of honey for flavor.

I baked the dough at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes, then took the baking sheet out of the oven and divided up the dough so that I could spread out the treats. I used the end of a metal spatula to cut the rest of the way through the dough along the scored lines, then spread each treat out away from it's neighbor. That meant using another baking sheet. They both went back into the oven for another 10 minutes, but I could have baked them a bit longer and it would have been OK I think. After they cooled on the pans 5 minutes, they went onto a cooling rack so that they would dry out a bit more and crisp up.

Pi loved them! Lots of tail waggin' going on here.  He only gets a couple a day because even with all of the good ingredients, they are meant to be treats and we don't want a heavy dog...another lab trait if one isn't careful.

Hope you try these if you have a dog. Your doggie will be glad you did and you will know exactly what is in those treats.

Doggie Cookies
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon chicken or beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups flour (half regular, half whole wheat is what I used, but all of one or the other is fine)
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey

In a large bowl mix the boiling water, cornmeal, chicken or beef bouillon granules and oats. Let sit 15 minutes.

While above mixture is sitting, put the flour, dry milk powder and salt into a stand mixer or large bowl and mix to combine.

Add the soaked cornmeal/oat mixture to the flour mixture, along with the egg. Mix to combine. Add the peanut butter and honey and mix to combine. If necessary, add additional water or flour to make a firm but sticky dough.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Roll out dough and cut with a bone shaped cutter and place on prepared cookies sheet, or make balls of dough and place them on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and flatten with a glass as you would sugar cookies, or do as I did and use dampened hands to push the dough into a large rectangle on the parchment or Silpat, about 1/2 inch thick and as evenly flat as possible, then score dough with a long knife into squares or rectangles.

Bake cookies for about 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown. If cookies are small, them might be done sooner, so check smaller ones sooner.

If you scored a rectangle of cookie dough, remove from the oven after 20 minutes and separate treats, spacing them at least 1/4 inch apart on the pan. You may need another pan. Return to oven and bake another 10 -15 minutes until golden brown.

Let pan(s) sit for 5 minutes on the counter, then remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Easter Eggs

I know it is well past Easter, but I just remembered that our daughter came over on Easter for brunch and then we colored Easter eggs. When I mentioned that at the gym, I found that DeeDee and Miss F would have been happy to join us. Next year I'm thinking that I should have a little party to color eggs. No need to be a kid to enjoy the fun of mixing colors, adding designs and generally messing around with dye.

Here are some examples of our eggs. I hard boiled them the day before, so the were cold and a bit damp. Next time I'll warm them up a bit and dry them off. I think that will make for ease when adding colored crayon designs. Having crayons that are newer than 15 year old ones would probably help, too.

Did you color eggs this year? Did you use the fizzy tablets ? Every year I get a lot of hits just before Easter for my many-years-ago post on how to color them the old-fashioned way with vinegar, food coloring, and boiling water. If you usually have food color in your cupboard, this way is much cheaper than using the sets sold in the markets.

You will have to use spoons to lower the eggs into the dye bath and take them out instead of the cool wire holder, but that wire holder usually bends out do shape before you are finished anyway. HERE is the link to the post telling how to do it with vinegar and food colors. As you can see, you can get some brilliant colors this way.

An even older way to dye eggs is with dyes made from things like beets, onion skins, saffron and other natural materials. This is the way to go to avoid the chemicals found in food dyes. Katie from Simple Homemade used beets and other goodies to color eggs and has a great write up telling you how, so go HERE to see how she did that.

Hope you had a happy Easter, if you celebrate it.  XO. Elle

Thursday, April 04, 2013


I thought that a kidney stone was painful. Well, it was, but at least there wasn't a true wound.

OK, this is primarily a food about wounds isn't usually on the menu. Still, on occasion I just let you know what is going on in my life, even if it isn't food related. This is one of those times.

There has been no blogging going on because most of my attention has been toward keeping the usual stuff rolling during Sweetie's healing period. He had a run-in with a table saw just a little over a week ago. He still has all his fingers, but a couple of them were injured enough for a visit to the ER, stitches, x-rays, dressings, visits to the hand surgeon (who didn't actually need to do any surgery! Yay!), and the hand OT, too. He is doing better every day and can now drive. Guess who has been doing all the shopping, laundry, cleaning and most of the cooking? Not Sweetie.

Hope to be back to posting food again soon. In the meantime I am counting our blessings; that his injuries weren't worse, that we have supportive friends and family, and that my health improved just in time. I hope recent history is no par for the course for getting old. Too many medical problems. Time to just be healthy and enjoy the wonders of spring, like the beautiful magnolia in the photo.

Happy spring dear reader.