Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

So I've made these with dried apricots many times, but I decided to try them with dried cranberries today. Completely different flavor, and loved them. Not sure which I like better. Maybe the apricot because they are more tangy... maybe the craisins because they go from tart to sweet. Now that I think of it dried cherries would be amazing. You could always do the traditional raisin oatmeal combo because the white chocolate still gives it a new spin.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from: Closet Cooking

1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries (finely chopped)
1/2 cup white chocolate (coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix in the rolled oats, apricots and white chocolate. Place the dough onto a cookie sheet one table spoon at a time. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lemon Mousse with Pound Cake and Berries

I revisited this luscious lemon mousse recipe for Aunt Jenan's visit. This time I paired it with Sara Lee pound cake and fresh berries.

While cooking the lemon curd over a double broiler, we also had potatoes roasting in the oven and risotto simmering away on the stove. I think the extra heat caused some of my egg whites to fry. I kept stirring constantly the whole 12 minutes, and then tasted it after it thickened. It was okay, I think the lemon zest saved the flavor. If it was vanilla, it might have tasted eggy. So I poured the curd into a sieve to take out those scrambled egg whites and then it was smooth again.

I do like this mousse with the whipped egg whites, but just to prevent raw egg consumption, I added the original cup of unsweetened whipped cream plus one more cup of sweetened whipped cream to substitute the whipped egg whites- and I think it actually comes out even better.

Awesome tip: Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and make sure the edges come out enough on all sides so that you can lift the plastic out later. Pour the mousse into the loaf pan. Cover the top with the extra plastic hanging over the sides and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Later, you can take the mousse out of the loaf pan by lifting the plastic. It makes it very easy to slice perfect sized wedges of mousse, especially since I served this with pound cake that was also in a loaf pan.

Another tip: after washing your berries, sprinkle alittle sugar over your whole and sliced strawberries. After about 30 minutes, the strawberries will get juicier and sweeter - and taste naturally ripe.

Lemon Mousse
Adapted from: Ina Garten

3 extra-large whole eggs
3 extra-large eggs, separate the yolks and whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
Kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
Sliced lemon, for garnish

In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.

Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a 7-inch-diameter, 3-inch-deep souffle dish. Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices that have been cut into quarters. Chill and serve cold.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oatmeal Date Spice Cookies

Ramadan is approaching = a huge box of medjool dates now sitting on the counter.

Apricots, cranberries, and now dates in my cookies... I think I'm ready for fall!

When you eat these date cookies freshly warm from the oven, surrounded by the smell of oatmeal and cinnamon, and immersed in the fruity flavor of the dates thats intensified because of caramelization - sigh, only about 15 more years til Ramadan is in the winter! These cookies passed the test - soft and chewy on the inside, crisp texture and crunchy nuts on the outside.

I'm just happy that for once someone from food network didn't think of pairing bacon with dates.

Oatmeal Date Spice Cookies
Adapted from: Sandra Lee

1 (18.25-ounce) box classic yellow cake mix
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 cup chopped dates

Combine cake mix, melted butter, flour, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer for 1 minute, or until well blended. Stir in oats, walnuts and dates. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack or platter.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Paula Deen's Banana Pudding

I've watched Paula make this but it wasn't until I saw Bake or Break's photos, as usual, that I had to save it under my favorites tab. Its been long over due for testing so I finally made it this week.

Actually, I've been wanting to make this for probably about a year and then I went to a house warming for my brother and Naven. She made a scrumptious fruit trifle with pudding that had cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and whipped cream.

This recipe is very similar. Except the title is misleading. The pudding isn't banana flavored... and it's more like mousse! It's dense, thick, and keeps its shape perfectly, and the only reason you'd call it pudding is because its so rich. I actually can't eat that much of it because so. It doesn't have banana flavor because its made with the french vanilla pudding mix but I would imagine this would be amazing in chocolate, banana, lemon - any flavor! I added some blackberries to my piece - fresh fruit really lightens it up.

Be sure to open both bags of cookies and check them out first. I bought two bags of Chessman cookies, and to my horror they were all crushed, save only 8 cookies from each bag. So thankfully taking pretty pictures was still possible. I just had to put those ugly cookies on the bottom. I only used 4 bananas because it looked like they already filled the dish, even when I neatly placed them around the edge so outsiders can drool when looking through the glass pan.

I have never used my kitchen aid mixer to whip up instant pudding before. It came out so much thicker than when I used to mix by hand. Use whole milk too!

I read the recipe wrong and only bought 8 ounces of whipped cream but it was fine. I guess it would have been a bit more airy. But, I liked how thick it was. Extremely easy, no bake recipe. Can easily serve 20.

PLEASE READ: the recipe says to add the whipped cream to the cream cheese and then add the pudding last. Thats wrong. If you watch Paula's video, (and just from common knowledge if you're a foodie) she blends the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together, then adds the pudding, and lastly folds in the whipped cream.

**Edit 8-10-11: Made this recipe again for a girls iftar, but with chocolate pudding mix and topped it off with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries! It was like chocolate mousse! Without raw eggs - awesome! The only thing I would suggest is to add the berries right before serving. I did it the night before and fridged it. The next night, the mousse was more liquidy because the fruit released water. Still tasty though. I'm calling myself stupid right now for not taking any pictures.

Paula Deen's Banana Pudding
Adapted from: Paula Deen

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Fold in the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Blog Installation and Coding by Designs by Linds 2011