Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cookie Carnival: Blueberry Drop Cookies

I actually made these for an end-of- school picnic a few weeks ago, but with all the Seattle traveling I didn't get a chance to post it until today.

These turned out a bit more muffin/scone-esk than I expected but everyone agreed they were delicious. The lemon and blueberry were a really nice combination.

These cookies were a life savor with their short prep time. I had a final in the morning at 7:30, and still had plenty of time to come home and bake these before our lunch party.

I used frozen (and thawed in the fridge) blueberry's. These were a little messy. I think in the future fresh, or leaving them frozen, would be better. I also modified the recipe a bit to cut out some of the butter (also changed the fat from shortening to butter) and sugar (which was probably why the texture was funky), and didn't do the refrigeration step (due to lack of time).

Blueberry's contain many potentially beneficial, and often mentioned, compounds such as antioxidants and anthocyanins. Epidemiological studies have implicated these compounds as potential risk reducers in age-related diseases. One study suggests that dietary supplementation with fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants might be beneficial in reducing the damage the body undergoes from oxidative stress, with is a normal part of aging and can lead to age related diseases such as Alzheimers.1

This is my first submission into the cookie carnival, hosted by The Clean Plate. Check out the site to find the whole round up!



* One-half cup shortening (I used half a stick of butter)
* 1 cup sugar (I used half a cup of sugar)
* 1 egg
* One-fourth cup milk
* One-half teaspoon almond extract
* One and one-half teaspoons grated lemon zest
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* One-half teaspoon salt
* 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and picked over


1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, sugar, egg, milk, almond extract and lemon zest, mixing well after the addition of each ingredient. Slowly add the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in the blueberries and mix until well blended.

2. Cover and chill for 4 hours (skipped this step). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls, one and one-half inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing them with a spatula.

Makes about 4 dozen.

1. Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Casadesus G. Reversing the deleterious effects of aging on neuronal communication and behavior: beneficial properties of fruit polyphenolic compounds. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1 Suppl):313S-316S.

Friday, May 30, 2008

See Seattle: Part I - tossed salads and scrambled eggs

Sorry for the long hiatus, but I have a pretty good excuse. I was Seeing Seattle.

Seattle is one of those iconic cities that appears in films and TV shows that seems exciting and elusive to a Midwesterner. Can you imagine a place near the ocean AND mountains, a thriving metropolis with innumerable culinary temptations? We had to check it out!

First and foremost on my list was the Pike Place Market.

Apple cinnamon roll from Piroshky Piroshky, and cheese making at Beecher's Cheese,
and MarketSpice where we picked up some tea and special smoked salt.

We started our trip with a tour of the market, which I would highly recomend. It was a great way to be introduced to the market and Seattle. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and humorous. The tour was kept small (around 15 people) and we used little earpieces to listen to the guide instead of following a shouting person around for an hour.

For dinner our first night we experienced the Crab Pot restaurant, on the pier. As the picture shows, some of the meals on the menu are dumped directly on the table top, and you use a mallet to wrestle your seafood dinner into submission. While the whole thing is a bit silly, it did feel more appropriate then the time I ordered crab legs at McCormick and Schmidt (where I was bibbed and given fancier tools but faced with the same messy challenge - with the added obstacle of trying not to embarrass myself in a fancy restaurant).

In Portland we had Stumptown coffee, and the Voodoo donut (raspberry filled for more authentic breakfast torture).

With all the culinary adventure taking place in my mouth, it left me pondering could Seattle someday be...

Taken from inside the Seattle Public Library.

Check back next time for the non-culinary adventures we experience in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Madelines

Just a quick post this week (don't kick me for not being verbose - my excuse is the same - school).

In the midst of finals I managed to whip up a batch of the Earl Grey madelines from the 'playing around' recipes.

I've always wanted to make madelines (I'm not sure why) but without the proper pan I was forced to improvise. I made a half batch with mini muffin pans, which turned out good, except only one ended up with the madeline baby bump.

I saw someone mention substituting spoons for the correct pan. I tried this as well, with less than stellar results (probably due to my over-filling with the refrigerated batter).

This is my weekly submission to Tuesdays with Dorie, hosted by Laurie of quirky cupcake. Be sure check out all the other creations by my fellow TWD bakers. A big thank you to Tara of Smells Like Home for picking this weeks recipe, check there to find the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Florida Pie

Sorry I've been out of touch this week, with school drawing to a close, many things have gone neglected. But don't fear, I still managed to attempt this week's TWD recipe.

Unfortunately for me, this week's recipe got off to a shaky start. Being pressed for time I didn't start this until Sunday afternoon, but was intending to take it to a Sunday evening mother's day celebration.

Luckily for me, I found an old store-made graham cracker crust. I usually make my own now, but I was happy to skip that step and save a few minutes, especially since Dorie recommends this in the recipe.

After searching two stores for key limes, I gave up and went with 'regular' cheapo (12 for a dollar) limes. I also left out all of the coconut (wasn't sure if the mother's would approve). And, since we're being honest - I didn't do the cream reduction either. I just made it like the key lime pie from good old Betty Crocker (I was worried about running out of time).

But there is one thing I did according to the recipe, the meringue. I've never made it before (kind of like my unreasonable fear of raw meat, meringue seems inherently scary). But this was super simple, and super delicious.

Despite the issues, and substitutions, this pie was gobbled up and got rave reviews from the family. Thank you Dorie, for a successful mother's day dessert!

This is my weekly submission to Tuesdays with Dorie, hosted by Laurie of quirky cupcake. Be sure check out all the other creations by my fellow TWD bakers. A big thank you to Dianne of Diannes Dishes for picking this weeks recipe, check there to find the whole thing.

That's all folks, time to hit the books!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte

I knew this week’s recipe wouldn’t be a big hit in this household. The husbot doesn’t care for peanut butter anything…or Oreos. (sad face)

Rather than eat a whole week’s dessert by myself (admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of those two things either) I decided to see how much ‘creativity’ I could get away with.

First off, I changed the peanut butter to pecan butter (with the power of the food processor, I can do ANYTHING!). Next, the Oreos got replaced with graham crackers. I realized (too late) that using pretzels for the crust would have been a perfect since I’ve been craving a Sheridan’s custard with pretzels all week. Now what I really want to make is some sort of pecan/caramel/ ganache/pretzel/cheesecake concoction!

Even without the pretzels and caramel, this was still pretty darn good.

Although I didn't include the oreos or peanut butter, I did layer on ganache aplenty. Chocolate (due to it's high cocoa content) is a rich source of polyphenols such as catechins and procyanidins. These polyphenols (usually studied from tea) have been shown (in animal models) to inhibit LDL oxidation. However, I did find one study which examined the long term effects of cocoa powder on plasma cholesterol levels. They found that "polyphenolic substances derived from cocoa powder may contribute to an elevation in HDL cholesterol", which in turn may lead to a "suppression of LDL oxidation".1 In other words, it potentially increases the "good cholesterol" which in turn decreases the "bad cholesterol".

Sounds like a good excuse for me to eat some more TWD torte!

This is my weekly submission to Tuesdays with Dorie, hosted by Laurie of quirky cupcake. Check out all the other creations by my fellow TWD bakers. A big thank you to Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food for picking this weeks recipe.

Baba S, Osakabe N, Kato Y, Natsume M, Yasuda A, Kido T, Fukuda K, Muto Y, Kondo K. Continuous intake of polyphenolic compounds containing cocoa powder reduces LDL oxidative susceptibility and has beneficial effects on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):709-17.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Humpty Dumplings

I love dumplings. There's really no easier way to say it.

I love them steamed, I love them fried, I love them boiled. I've never met a dumpling I could say "no" to. Even the janky ones served at cheap Chinese buffets I scarf down, and then go back for more.

Last night my husband wanted Thai lettuce leaf wraps (blog post to follow). Unsure this would quench our hunger, I decided to pick up some pork, cabbage, and wrappers to whip up some easy dumplings.

My usual method of dumpling making is quite simple. I throw cabbage, pork, and soy sauce into the food processor, I cook the filling, then fill the dumplings and pan fry them in oil. Horrifically un-authentic, you say? Yes, but when you have an unreasonable fear of raw meat (as I have for most of my life) you leave nothing up to chance.

After getting home, I had a forehead smacking moment when I realized that even after going to two grocery stores to get everything required, I had forgotten to pick up the dumpling wrappers.

Not to be deterred, I put on my thinking cap, rolled up my sleeves, and discovered my new favorite website, Epicurious.

Rediscovered is more like it, I guess. Around Christmas this year I made my sister a Tastebook using a few recipes from epicurious, but I had never taken the time to explore the website. Yesterday I found a treasure trove of recipes and, even better, videos! Including this awesome step by step video and recipe guide for making 1) dumpling wrappers 2) dumpling filling 3) directions for filling and cooking the dumplings AND 4) dipping sauce.

I decided it was time to get over my unreasonable fear of cooking dumplings with raw meat. I enlisted the husbot to help with the dumpling filling. We choose to steam half and pan fry half. Both were delicious and almost all were devoured last night.

These might have been the best dumplings ever (definitely the best I've ever made). If you've got an hour to spare, and a hankering for something tasty, try these out!