Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mom's Crisp Oat Cookies

The best cookies ever, bar none.

Mix together:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Pinch of mace, ginger; 2 of cinnamon
(Mom says "Only a tiny bit, if any; this is not a spice cookie")

Cream in bowl:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Stir in flour mixture. Divide into 2 or 3 rolls; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To bake, cut in 1/2 inch slices, bake on ungreased sheet 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Lemon Meltaways – 3rd best cookie ever

After my mom's oatmeal cookies, the best cookies in the world come from the butter people. These days, you can be old-school and write off for the Land O' Lakes Holiday Cookies booklet, or just go to I reproduce here my favorite (my favorite to make, that is -- it's quite easy but looks fancy and is delicate, great to bring to girly tea parties) exactly as they print it. It's a little time-consuming but easy to split into two days (mix and chill, then bake and frost) if you're doing them before a party or something.

Notes: The lemon zest makes a HUGE difference (don't skip it) and the frosting recipe makes WAY too much (half it). My friend Russell says the name is accurate because they are so light they really do feel as though they're melting when you eat them.

Also: In case anyone's counting, the 2nd best cookie ever is the Final Exam Cookie. That recipe TK later.


These lemon-flavored cookies are so tender that they seem to melt in your mouth.

Preparation 45 min.
Baking 8 min.

Cookie Ingredients:

Frosting Ingredients:


Combine all cookie ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 8x1-inch log. Wrap each in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate until firm (1 to 2 hours).

Heat oven to 350°F. Cut each log into 1/4-inch slices with sharp knife. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until set. (Cookies will not brown.) Cool completely.

Combine all frosting ingredients in small bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until fluffy. Frost cooled cookies.

*Substitute LAND O LAKES® Soft Baking Butter with Canola Oil right from the refrigerator.

Tips for successful Lemon Meltaways:
  • This cookie is a shortbread-type cookie with a high proportion of butter to flour and sugar. The dough may seem slightly more crumbly. Egg is not an ingredient in this type of cookie.

  • Be sure to measure all ingredients accurately using the proper measuring cups. For dry ingredients use graduated metal or plastic measuring cups. Spoon the dry ingredient lightly into a measuring cup. Do not tap or shake the cup or scoop the ingredient into the cup. Level off any excess amount by running a straight-edge or table knife across the top.

  • Use measuring spoons to measure liquids in this recipe rather than tableware spoons for accuracy.

  • The butter in this recipe should be softened, but not melted. For best results let butter stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before mixing the cookie dough. Or, cut the butter into chunks or pieces for easier mixing. Also, 3/4 cup butter equals 1 1/2 sticks of butter.

  • If the dough is dry and crumbly after beating, add 1 to 2 tablespoons cream or soft butter, adding 1 tablespoon at a time until dough forms.

Lemon herb chicken SOLVED!

Very simple, it turns out: just 3 main ingredients, all fresh.

Chop a snack pack of baby carrots and cook a bowl of brown rice.

Fill a large glass with:

Zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 long sprigs rosemary, washed and chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sugar
Most of a can of chicken broth

Flour and brown chicken breasts, then dump the stirred contents of the glass (and the chopped carrots) into the pan with them. Bring to boil, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Pull out the chicken and simmer the sauce to thicken. Serve over the rice!

I'd like the sauce to be thicker, but I'll settle for this watery stuff as long as it's richly flavored, which it is. Mystery solved!

Football season's here: Corny Dog Bites

I was looking for a meaty appetizer recipe to bring to my fantasy football league's draft, and these worked perfectly. They are perfect for fall (reminding me of the State Fair) and for football-fan snacking. The batter could use a little extra flavor of some sort -- they are not as flavorful as Fletcher's -- but otherwise these were very appealing snacks, both visually and as convenient food-on-a-stick.

The frying worked extraordinarily well in my wok, using enough oil pooled at the bottom to deep-fry about six doglets at a time. They fry up fast -- if you have an assembly line going, you'll be yanking them out as quick as you can get the next ones battered up -- and putting the flour in a coffee cup and the batter in a tall cereal bowl worked neatly.

Late-breaking: Apparently Alton Brown puts cayenne in his batter. And this just in from the Travel Channel... According to Bill Fletcher (son of the man who invented the original Corny Dog) the primary ingredients are corn meal, a lot of eggs, a little bit of flour, salt and pepper of course. Beyond that, the recipe is secret.

Corny Dog Bites

Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
1/2 cup flour (for dredging)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ready-to-eat frankfurters (1 pound)

Place 1/2 cup dredging flour in coffee cup; set aside.

Mix cornmeal, 1/3 cup flour and salt in 2-cup glass measure. Add milk, egg, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix well and set aside.

Chop and spear frankfurters. Stir in dredging flour to coat, shaking off excess. Dip frankfurters, one at a time, in cornmeal batter, then fry in 375 degree F oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Down with the quesadillas, on to the fish

The quesadillas were so boringly untasty it's forced me to reevaulate the evils of Taco Bell et al. I'm pretty sure they're putting the same basic stuff in there I am -- and I know they're not filling up on ingredients at those prices -- but yet cheapie restaurants have mastered the filling quesadilla and my empirical attempt was soggy, largely tortilla and quite bland. Huh! as Bridget would say.

On to the next thought. Coming across a couple fish recipes tempts me to try Crunchy Fish, Honey-Soy Salmon, garlic-rosemary potatoes and green beans with almonds. That's all so virtuous that perhaps I will let myself go with some Chicken-Fried Steak (double up on the buttermilk and the potatoes?) 4 + 4 + 3 = 11 estimated entrees. Time: 40 min for the fish and green beans; 40 min for the salmon and potatoes; 40 min for the CFS.... so longer than the previous weeks' menus, but healthier, and really, I've been skipping the sides, so these are full meals. Flavor: Should be pretty good; we'll see. Price: also we'll see. Shopping list is as follows: 4-5 potatoes, green beans, 2 small lemons, garlic, 4 fish fillets, 4 salmon fillets, good hunk of steak, wild rice, honey, pint of buttermilk.

Crunchy Fish

1/3 c seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c crushed almonds
1/2 c buttermilk
4 fish fillets

Preheat over to 400. Crunch the crumb/almond mixture up even finer; dip fillets in buttermilk, then coat, and cook on lightly grased baking dish for 10 minutes. Perhaps pair with the rosemary potatoes?

4 fillets should be 4 servings for me, and with only the fillets to buy, relatively cheap.

Since I have the almonds on hand, green beans and almonds in garlic salt are a good pairing anyway with salmon -- especially this dish I used to get at an Asian fusion restaurant near here before it closed. Their green beans were so good I would eat them like candy. The salmon I think they did with a honey-soy glaze; at any rate it was sweet and tart and kinda crunchy. I think this might approximate it, cobbled together from a couple recipes, and with my addition of wild rice:

4 center-cut salmon fillets
wild rice
honey, soy, sesame oil, small lemon

Cook the rice. Preheat oven broiler to high, placing one rack 2-3 inches from heat source. Brush salmon with olive oil on all sides, salt and pepper. Make a glaze with 1 Tbsp soy, 2 Tbsp honey, 1/2 tsp pepper. Grill 3 min each side, brushing with the glaze.

Make a dressing with 4 Tbsp soy, 3 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp honey, 2 tsp lemon juice. Put salmon on rice and drizzle all with dressing.

From Hudson's on the Bend chef Jeff Blank's new book:

Oven-roasted potatoes

  • 8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves, removed from stems and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. flaked sea salt or 1/2 Tbsp. regular salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss together. The potatoes should be completely covered with the olive oil and seasonings. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Serves 4. - 'Fired Up!'

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lemon chicken and chicken plan update

Mom and I attempted the Lemon Herb Chicken this weekend and came out with a pretty good meal. What we did:

1 Wyler's chicken bouillon cube, crushed
1 Tbsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 dash salt
1 dash sugar
zest and juice of one lemon

Mom salted and peppered the chicken, then dusted with cornstarch, and we browned them in a couple Tbsp butter. Then in with the above soup mix in a glassful of water, and about 5 carrots, chopped.

We pulled out the chicken after 10 min of simmering and kept thickening the sauce and cooking the carrots, but the sauce never got very thick nor the carrots very cooked. Perhaps the original cooking method in flour adds more gloopiness to the sauce.

To try next: use Mom's Italian Herb Blend in place of pure thyme; cook in flour to see if it makes a difference; try tossing in more butter with the carrots at the end to cook them longer.

Note: The Chicken Plan is not to be confused with Chicken Man, although partway through I am indeed starting to holler "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!" It's a lot of chicken. So far, so tasty, though. 3 piccata meals plus 3 popcorn chicken meals plus at least 2 quesadilla meals = 8, so the math was about right. The piccata needs more sauce (and less pasta), and the popcorn chicken needs some more enjoyable side than the sweet potatoes.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lemon herb soup

Lipton used to make a great soup mix that allowed me to make reliably yummy satisfying chicken with great sauce to spoon over the carrots in 20 minutes. I'm going to try to recreate it.

Here's what was definitely in the mix: chicken base, lemon, sugar and herbs (see below).

Mom suggests Wyler's chicken granules. I suggest I never again try thickening with cornstarch -- it tasted like lemon-flavored glue.

It probably had two or more of the following (though Mom says probably not many of them, so as not to muddy the flavors): Dill, chives, parsley, tarragon, rosemary, thyme. Garlic powder also possible.

The recipe is as follows: Flour and brown the chicken in butter, 4 min each side; add the soup and carrot slices and simmer 10 minutes.

If I can make a jar of the soup mix....!

Chicken plan

I predict I will get all chickened out after this week -- and in fact I'm only going to do a partial week as I will get to go enjoy my Mom's wonderful cooking this weekend -- but here's the plan:

Grocery list: 6 chicken breasts, 2 sweet potatoes, salad greens, walnuts, salsa verde, flour tortillas

Meals: Chicken Piccata (3); Popcorn Chicken (3); Quesadillas Verdes (2) = 8 = 4 days.
Price per meal:

Difficulty.... predicting moderate. Tastiness... probably also moderate.

Slice 3.5 of the chicken breasts into thin medallions, 2.5 into popcorn chunks.
---Put the popcorn chicken in a bag with breadcrumbs and refrigerate.
---Flour half the chicken slices; simmer the rest in chicken broth for 10 min. Leave 1/2 cup broth for next recipe. (est 30 min)

Cook enough angel-hair pasta to thinly back 3 piccata entrees. (5 min)

Chop the cooked chicken and assemble quesadillas. Microwave them to melt the cheese? (10 min)

Brown the floured chicken slices in 2 Tbsp butter + 3 Tbsp olive oil.
Remove chicken, lower heat and add 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup chicken broth and some capers.
Bring to a boil and add the chicken. Simmer 5 min.
Plate the chicken, add 2 Tbsp butter and whisk. Pour sauce over chicken to serve. (10 min)

Second night: Fry the popcorn chicken and peel, chop, boil & mash the sweet potatoes. Divide into 3 small side portions, and make 3 small salads with cranberries and walnuts (items assumed to be in the pantry).

So, I estimate about an hour's worth of cooking the first night, and about 30 minutes the second night.

(Another possible dish from this grocery list is Rosemary Garlic Chicken, but Mom and I are going to narrow down the hunt for a homemade replacement for Lipton Lemon Herb Soup mix, and I will try that out then.)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Tortilla soup/stirfry/spaghetti plan

Tastiess on this plan rates high, though the stirfry needed more sauce (too much oil was left in the wok to make proper sauce) and one must really reheat the meatballs good and hot or they're not tasty. But even so, I did not get bored and they were good.

So, truly, it has boiled down to two nights' cooking for a full week of food (and by two nights I mean not full, exhausting kitchen sessions, but an hour's work and then a normal evening when you can actually get something else done before going to bed).

Price: $52
Meals: 14 -- $3.70 per meal
Difficulty: An hour the first night, half-hour the second night -- acceptable for high yield
Yield: High
Tastiness: Excellent.

The hero of this week is the tortilla soup. It made six portions, and I had an appetite for it whether it was lunch, evening or sinus-headache morning, because of its sweet spicy garlicky chickenyness. And really, not that hard to make a giant pot -- or rather, not much harder to make a giant pot if you're going to make a little.

Since I am still enjoying not having to cook, I will take a break until, perhaps, Tuesday -- and I need to come up with more recipes. Garlic-Rosemary Chicken and enchiladas verdes are two possibilities, but I don't have reliable recipes for them, which is where I usually trip up! Plus, I need a third and maybe a fourth recipe.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Eating for a week, take 1

Experiment #1: $52

That's how much my grocery bill was, at least -- and it did include a couple of sundries that aren't on the menu. But so far, so good, as far as ease and taste have gone:

Spent an hour of prep time and another hour of simmering time Monday night to fix Kitty's Tortilla Soup -- main time snags were dicing the garlic and onions, chopping the chicken (note: seems harder to remove all the fat once it's cooked) and frying the tortilla strips. (Do in bulk and freeze? Tortillas are certainly easy to purchase in bulk.) Result: 6 meals

Spent another 30 minutes Tuesday night making homemade meatballs and cooking spaghetti. (Also made a hamburger with some of the beef.) Result: 5 meals

If I succeed in fixing the lemon stir-fry beef tonight in an estimated 30 minutes prep time and get 3 meals out of it, my result will be:

14 meals -- $3.70 per meal -- 2 hours prep time (if you simmer while you chop).

14 is, plainly, enough to get you through a week -- even if you eat one meal on prep night, you might want to eat out for variety in the ensuing 7 days. Especially since having only three dishes means lots of repetition -- though, technically, I will probably have a steak from some of the stirfry fixings. I could well be sick of these meals by the end of the week. And -- importantly -- this includes no side dishes, which will ramp the time up.

So far, so good: Price is OK, flavor is excellent, yield is high. Wasn't hungry for spaghetti again today after having it last night, but spicy tortilla soup still sounds good for tonight! Need more veggies, and possibly variety.

For next week, perhaps quesadillas verdes? Could dovetail with this week's leftover tortillas if I had bought in greater bulk.