Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I found this in Barnes & Noble on Friday. I'm super excited after so many bad or mediocre cookie recipes to try (hopefully) tested recipes for not one, but four different types of sugar cookies - chewy, crunchy, browned edges or cut-out! Plus each one has variations - just think of the possibilities!

Theme Meal: Tuscan Salad, my new favorite

Once I did the nutritional analysis of my original appetizer for my themed meal - a prosciutto and goat cheese salad - I knew I had to change it. It had more fat then I care to admit. So I went in the exact opposite direction and found a recipe that is amazing with minimal oil and no cheese at all. Just think how good it would be with a sprinkle of Parmesan! It was still tasty after a few days in the fridge so I had it for lunch a few days in a row. Thanks Giada!

8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/2 red onion, cut into slivers
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce shaved Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until beans are slightly tender. Transfer the cooked green beans to a bowl of ice water and let cool for 3 minutes. Drain the green beans.

In a large bowl, combine the green beans with the lettuce, cannellini beans, olives, and red onion. Toss to combine. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Top with shaved Parmesan and serve.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Paula Deen's Sugar Cookies

There were no cookies in the apartment, so darn, I had to make some. I went back to Paula Deen to supply me with these sweet sugar cookies. The combination of Almond and Vanilla is DELICIOUS! Instead of making cut-outs I just rolled the dough into balls and flattened them with a fork, like you do with peanut butter cookies. Only you press it once instead of twice, or else they flatten too much and burn the edges. 10 minoutes in the oven makes perfectly soft cookies, 14 minutes makes crispier ones. 


1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Granulated sugar
Royal Icing, recipe follows


In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, then mix in the egg and vanilla and almond extracts. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and cream of tarter; mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, then cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the chilled dough in half and roll it out on a lightly floured pastry cloth to a 1/4-inch thickness. Lightly grease some baking sheets. Cut the dough with a floured cookie cutter; sprinkle with sugar. Transfer the cookies to the prepared sheets and bake for 9 minutes.


These Coconut Macaroons Set Off the Fire Alarms

I am trying a new thing where the only cookies and sweets I eat are the ones I make myself. This gives me an excuse to try all the super unhealthy cookie recipes by Paula Deen. The other day I made her coconut macaroons. They went really well except that they kept making all this steam and setting off the smoke alarm every time I opened the oven door. Only later, when I told my mom that the macaroons stuck to the wax paper, did I find out that the steam was the wax paper burning of the wax. Oops! Hope I didn't inhale wax or something. Next time, I will be sure to use parchment paper.


3 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, almond extract, and salt. Mix in condensed milk to form a thick paste. Fold in egg whites with cream of tarter. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Themed Meal: Tuscan White Beans

These beans had great reviews and were promoted as great cold-weather comfort food, but although they were good, they were not AMAZING, and I am going to have to make them again before I completely decide to make these for my theme meal. First of all, they took 2 1/2 hours to cook, which may or may not have been because I kept steaming off the bean broth. Second, maybe I just don't understand how to cook dried beans, but "boiling the beans until 3/4 done" doesn't mean anything to me. I ended up just boiling them for an hour and fifteen minutes and transferring them to the other pot because I don't want them to "go soft on me", but I'm not sure why since they are going to get soft when they stew in the tomato mixture. Anyways, bitterness and confusion aside, I'm going to give the recipe another chance, and maybe with this experience under my belt (and a little google research), I can do better.

Fagiuoli all'Uccelletto

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 60 minutes

1 pound (500 g) dried canellini (white beans), soaked for 3 hours.

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

7-8 leaves of fresh sage

1-2 peeled fresh plum tomatoes or a small can of tomatoes

Boiling water

Salt and pepper to taste

8 Italian link sausages (optional; see below)


If you choose to serve Fagiuoli all'Uccelletto with sausages, you'll want freshly made mild Italian sausages, or perhaps a mixture of mild and other kinds (e.g. garlic or pepper-laced), so long as the spiced sausages aren't so strong they'll overpower the beans. Depending upon the size of the sausages and the appetites of your diners, figure two or more sausages per person.

In any case, begin by boiling the beans until 3/4 done in lightly salted water. This will take about an hour, though you should begin checking them after a half hour. You don't want them to go soft on you. If you are including sausages, prick their skins lightly with a fork and simmer them in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes to render out some of the fat.

Once the beans are 3/4 done, set the olive oil to heat over a medium flame, in a heavy bottomed clay pot or dutch oven. When the oil's hot, add the garlic and the sage (not more than seven or eight leaves; too much sage will make the beans bitter). Cook until the sage crackles and the garlic is lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, then add the beans and bean broth to cover. Season the beans with salt and pepper, add the sausages, and simmer everything until the beans are quite soft, stirring occasionally and adding bean broth as necessary to keep things from drying out.

Serves four, and you will want a tossed green salad with several varieties of radicchio (arugola) to go with it. The wine? A light, zesty Chianti Classico d'Annata (le Corte Corsini's Chianti Classico comes to mind).


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Themed Meal: Wow! Fastest Dessert EVER!

       For my food service class, I have to plan a big three or four course meal, and I decided I would make tiramisu for dessert. Although there are many complicated recipes, this one by Sandra Lee who is known using preprepared ingredients and simple preparation methods, took only about 20 minutes. The most time-consuming part is layering the ladyfingers, cream cheese frosting and whipped cream. I didn't have wine glasses so I experimented with making parfaits in bowls before trying them in some plastic cups. 

       It didn't take me long to figure out that if you dip ladyfingers in hot coffee they pretty much disintegrate, so I began spooning coffee over the cookies instead. Spreading the cream cheese mixture on top was also a little frustrating. But when I used a cup instead, I could just drop a generous tablespoon in and press it down with the next layer of ladyfingers to spread it out. 


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (7-ounce) package ladyfingers
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder


Have 4 (8-ounce) wine glasses ready.
In a chilled bowl combine 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until light until fluffy.
Reserve 4 ladyfingers for garnish. Using1 lady finger at a time, snap or cut in half, then dip it quickly into the coffee, and drop it into the bottom of a wine glass. Repeat with the other 3 glasses. Put a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on top of the ladyfingers in each glad. Do another layer of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, another of the cream cheese mixture, then 1 more layer of ladyfingers. Top with remaining filling and dollop with the whipped cream. Break the reserved 4 ladyfingers in half and insert 2 halves into the top of each glass.
Put the cocoa powder into a small sieve and tap it gently over each glass to dust the tops. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Monday, September 6, 2010

These Almond Cookies Are So Much Better

These Honey Almond Flower Cookies turned out so much better! But they could have tasted a little bit more like almonds - gotta keep looking for the perfect Almond Cookie Recipe!

These look like my kind of cookie...

Courtesy of hotpolkadot.com
Honey Almond Flower Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp almond extract
3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Slivered almonds for garnish
1 egg yolk for egg wash
1 tsp water for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper then set them aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until it's light a fluffy. Add the egg, honey and almond extract then beat it until it's combined well.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt then add it to the butter mixture and mix it well.
Scoop a heaping tbsp of dough for each cookie and roll them into balls. Lightly compress the balls into thick discs between your palms. Carefully press five of the slivered almonds into each cookie in a flower arrangement. Whisk together the egg yolk and water then, using a pastry brush, coat the tops of each cookie in the egg wash making sure not to knock off the almonds. This will make the cookies shiny, golden brown and act as an almond flower glue to hold the garnish.
Bake them for 10 minutes until they turn a light amber brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

The Last Two Didn't Burn... but the other 18 Almond Cookies weren't so lucky...

The Two that Didn't Burn
Fluffy, Chewy, Sweet, Almondiness with Burnt edges is how I would describe these cookies from AllRecipes. I was so excited to use my new almond paste, I just picked the first recipe with good reviews that I had all the ingredients for. What I realized afterwards? This cookie is basically just sugar, flour and egg whites! I think there needs to be a little more substance!

I tried to improve with each batch, and the last batch was definitely the best. The first one I left in for exactly 15 minutes and they all were burnt and stuck to each other. I used Pam spray to coat the baking sheet, and sometimes I think Pam seeps into the edges and cooks them faster, so I decided to use butter in the next batches. 

The First Batch

The second batch, I used a stick of butter to lightly grease the baking sheet and I made much smaller cookies. I was sitting by the oven, checking on them every minute and some how, they still ended up crispy. They were still tasty, and they came up off the baking sheet much easier, but still I was not satisfied!

The Second Batch

The third batch was only three cookies because that was the only batter I had left. I was so determined not to burn these cookies, that when one cookie started browning, I just pulled them out. One of the reviewers suggested using parchment paper, which I bet would have helped with the crisp edges. They also said to chill the dough in the fridge for twenty minutes and use an ice cream scoop. But for now, I'm going to try almond cookies with some more substance.



1/2 pound almond paste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together the almond paste, flour, egg whites, white sugar and confectioner's sugar until well blended. The mixture will be very sticky. Scoop out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and drop them onto the cookie sheet. Place 2 inches apart.