around here, things are a special kind of crazy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken and Pasta

Pug has the weekend off and so far we've enjoyed a ton of fun family time. Today we also had to grocery shop and did fairly well, splitting the trip between Aldi and Target and using coupons when we could. Only 6 dollars over budget and we got a few extras like paper towels and lean cuisine lunches for Pug. We bought them as part of the "big" grocery run because I found a coupon for $1 off 4 and the were already pretty cheap at Target.

Did you know you can narrow down a Google search for printable coupons by time? I just typed in "lean cuisine coupons" and clicked "last 24 hours" in the sidebar. There's also buttons for last week, last two weeks, last month, and last year. I'm so glad I figured that out last night because all of the stuff on the first page of hits was at least six months old and therefore expired.

Woot woot frugality!

After grocery shopping and a frozen pizza for lunch Pug went out with RC and played MTG while Pon and I napped. When Heydew got off work we all went to the pool for about an hour and a half, then came home and I made dinner. I made The Angry Chef's Garlicky Lemon Pepper Chicken from The Hungry Mouse and oh, man, was it tasty! I could never hope to match the clear instructions or beautiful step by step photos, so just click on that link for the recipe. You won't be disappointed. My only changes were to substitute regular garlic for the elephant garlic and italian seasoning for  both the oregano and parsley. I served the chicken over a bed of butter-parmesan-pepper bowties, and we were all quite stuffed by the end of the meal. I also managed to make exactly the right amount of food for all five of us! No left overs and nobody left hungry! I think that's probably the first time I've ever managed that.

Family fun times continue tomorrow with a big breakfast, light lunch, and dinner and sprinkler fun at some friends' new house. I'm excited :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dinner Par-tay

Buffalo chicken and rice wantons, super ramen, and bacon ranch
Tonight we invited RC, Heydew, and Jett over for dinner and pool time. We hadn't seen Jett in at least a month, so it was good to see him. Pon had lots of fun playing with his "aunt" and "uncles" at the pool and in the apartment while I finished up dinner.

Pon and I had actually had a pretty full day, filled with an event at the library, McDonald's playplace, and Target wanderings with Rose, Monkey, and Keats (Rose's husband). Even with that flurry of activity, Pon was still uninterested in a nap. Instead he snuggled himself on the couch for a Dragon Tales marathon and I pre-stuffed the wantons so I could just toss them in the oven once we were ready to eat. Pug had actually requested a repeat of the buffalo calzones, but I still had the leftover wantons from the lasagna cups- I thought this recipe would merge both perfectly.

Buffalo Chicken Wantons adapted from Baked by Rachel

4 chicken tenders
1/4-1/2 C buffalo sauce of choice
1 C rice
Bacon ranch (or regular ranch, or bleu cheese dressing) to taste, more for dipping
24 wanton wrapper
Water for sealing wrappers

*This was at least twice as much filling as I needed for the wrappers I had, so either cut the filling in half, or double the wrappers.

Place tenders and buffalo sauce in a pan and bring to a simmer , turning occasionally until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Shred with fork in pan.

Add rice, ranch, and additional buffalo sauce if desired and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Prepare a work area, whether it's the counter, a cutting board, or the pan you plan to bake it on with a pinch bowl with lukewarm water, the wrappers, and the filling. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, wet two edges of the wrapper. Place a spoonful of filling off center, towards the dampened corner. I tried to use my cookie scoop (just over 1 Tbls) but that was way too much. 1/2 Tbls wasn't enough, so I tried 2 tsp (which is 2/3 Tbls) and it was perfect.

Fold the dry corner over to the wet corner and press edges to seal. Continue until you have filled all of the wrappers, covering completed wantons with slightly dampened cloth or paper towel to keep them from drying out. Arrange the wanton on a baking sheet so they are not touching (or they'll stick together).

If, like me, you're preparing these ahead of time, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in fridge until you start to preheat your oven. When ready to cook, spray lightly with cooking spray (for crispiness) and bake for 15 minutes at 350, rotating once midway. Serve as an appetizer, side, or main dish with your choice of dipping sauce.

The "super ramen" I served these with is just regular packaged ramen cooked with peas, corn, and lightly scrambled eggs. I typically only use one seasoning packet per two packs of ramen to reduce sodium. There's still plenty of flavor, though you can add more to your liking.

Baked by Rachel's recipe is just chicken, I added the rice to make it more filling, and because I was afraid I hadn't made enough chicken for all of my wrappers. That was not the case. I had enough leftover filling for at least as many wrappers again.

Maybe I'll reheat it for burritos as lunch one day this weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Corn-tastic!

I made corn dogs, baked fries, and roasted corn on the cob for dinner tonight. Everything was so good, Pug and I both overate, and Pon ate most of a corn dog and a ton of fries! And no, there are no leftovers.

Carnival food at home!

The corn was simply wrapped in foil and roasted at 350 for 40 minutes, rotating the corn and pan every ten minutes. After being removed from the oven, each ear was bathed in butter, and received a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Baked Fries *start these at least an hour before you start cooking

3 baking potatoes
2 Tbls olive oil
Sea salt to taste (I used maybe 1/2 Tbls as we're watching out salt intake, and they were still very good)

Peel the potatoes, and cut in half. Cut each half into fairly uniform pieces of your thickness of preference. Place fries in a large bowl, and pour in enough cold water to cover. Loosely cover bowl and place in fridge for at least half an hour (mine sat in the fridge for 2 hours). After the fries are done soaking, rinse well and spread out on a cooling rack with paper towels under it and allow to dry completely, 20-30 mins, or, if you're in a hurry, place directly on paper towels and using more paper towels on top, press dry by hand. Once the potato slices are dry, toss with olive oil and desired amount of salt and spread in single layer on baking sheet (I used a casserole dish that was slightly crowded, so my fries were a bit floppy). Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, shaking and rotating the pan at least once (I did 30, shaking every 10).

Corn Dogs adapted from live love pasta
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbls sugar
3/4 C all purpose flour plus additional for dredging
1/2 C cornmeal
1tsp baking powder
3/4 C milk
1 egg, beaten
1/8 C vegetable oil
desired amount of hot dogs (I made 6 using this recipe and only used about half of the batter!)
vegetable oil – enough to frying

*I used old chinese takeout soup containers to mix and dip the batter, and the leftover candy sticks from the cake pops Heydew and I made.

In a container, mix the dry ingredients, set aside.

In a separate container, blend the wet ingredients.

Gradually add the dry mix to the wet until it is completely incorporated. The batter will be thick.

Using your choice of skewer, insert stick about half way up the dog, being careful not to pierce the sides. Dredge the hot dog in some flour.

Dip the hotdog in the batter, tipping the container and rotating the dog if necessary to achieve complete coverage. (Sorry, I forgot to photograph this step!) Heat at least 1/2 inch of oil (I would do more, my corn dogs touched the bottom of the pan the whole time) to ~375 (I started on heat setting 5, then dropped it down to 3 later). Use a spoonful of batter to test the oil, when it's hot enough it should bubble immediately. Or use a deep fryer, that works too, but we don't have one. Once the oil is to the right temperature, gently place 1-2 corn dogs into the oil and fry until golden brown on each side, turning occasionally.

This one's actually a bit too dark, as it was sitting on the bottom of the pan.
Place on paper towel lined plate or cooling rack to absorb excess oil.

Plate up and serve with your favorite dipping sauce and sides.

I'd intended to use the leftovers for funnel cakes. I added 1 Tbsl of honey and mixed it in well. Unfortunately I cut too big a hole in my drizzle baggie, and it turned into a giant gloopy unappetizing mess. Pug tried a tiny bite and said it tasted like super sweet corn bread, which it basically was. I made myself a chocolate milk instead.

As always when working with hot oil, be extremely careful. Keep all children, pets, and clumsy people out of the kitchen. Watch your temperature carefully, use a candy thermometer if you have one. Oil burns and oil fires suck. Please be careful.

On that note, a lolz kitteh:
from i can haz cheezburger

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On the Verge of Tears and Violence

Sorry I missed posting yesterday, I was at a farewell dinner for one of the coordinators of my mom's group. 3xK is moving a few states away in a week and a half so 10 of us gathered at a new local restaurant to send her off in good taste. She also gave me a bunch of flours and some food dyes, so I'm hunting for some good bread recipes to make with them. Thanks 3xK! (I told you ladies I had nicknames for you!)

Today, on the other hand, has been trying to say the least. I didn't really cook today either. Well, I make alfredo angel hair with turkey meatballs. Twice. Once for lunch and again for dinner because that's what Pug wanted and Pon and I had just eaten pb&n sandwiches (Peanut Butter and Nutella, yeah, I know how healthy that is...)

The highlights of the day were going to the bounce house with Pon and Pug before Pug went to work today and Pon's face when we bought a "wocket pop" from the "I keen tuck".

The lowlights included, but were not limited to:
  • getting a cavity filled first thing this morning
  • Pon getting up from bed after 15 mins at nap today to show me his "datoo"
  • Pon wetting my bed and his bed, twice, during attempts at nappage
  • Pon dumping half of my body wash into the tub during his bath
 I think the cavity part set me up for a shorter fuse than normal. By the third time Pon wet the bed today I just walked out my front door and cried on the porch for a few minutes. And at this point I'm pretty sure it was more of a punishment to me than to him for telling him "no pool until after your nap" and then sticking with it, but consistency in discipline needs to start now, right? Pug's trying to put Pon to bed now, and I'll be heading to bed in a minute too (not lying, 11pm is super early for me).

I'll cook something phenomenal tomorrow though, I promise. And Heydew is coming over on Thursday to hang out and maybe bake, so yay there! And there's the potential of a playdate on Friday. This week will get better, it will.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Mommy, Bed Wet"

Yeah, Pug and I heard that 6 separate times in the past two days. It started yesterday at nap time, and I think it was a ruse so he could stay up. Thankfully I had my handy-dandy layering trick up my sleeve, so we took off the fitted sheet and waterproof mattress cover and voi-la, another fitted sheet over a mattress cover lay underneath. Then he wet that. And then our bed. And did the same thing again today. Le sigh. All of Pon's sheets and mattress covers are dirty, and his room is the one the laundry is in, so tonight he's sleeping with Pug in our room. Pug's pretty sure we're sending Pon mixed signals with the whole "Stay in bed!" and "Go use the potty!" parts of the sleepy times equation. So, Pon does stay in bed until he wets it, at which point he rises to inform us that "bed wet" or "bed messh" (that's how he says it). I have no idea how his body contains so much liquid...

And, as it's Sunday, it was coupon clipping and sorting time. I, silly me, made the mistake of trying to start while Pon was still awake, so I got to sport a new hair accessory:

Safety before fashion
Yeah, fun times here in Zelans-land.
Anyway, the day wasn't entirely frustrating! We enjoyed a family breakfast before heading out to hang out (separately) with Heydew and RC. Heydew and I took Pon out to an outdoor shopping center where we treated ourselves to iced coffees, and Pon to some Chuck E Cheese. Heydew and RC had an early afternoon appointment, so we headed home with the intention on napping Pon and then hitting the pool. Nap aversion boy and a thunderstorm curtailed those plans, but we still had fun, for the most part. After the storm passed, I sent Pon and Pug out in swim trunks and rain boots for some puddle jumping fun so I could clean up some of our dinner mess.

Spinach lasagna cups, balsamic chicken, and cheesy garlic bread

Pug handled making the chicken for us, marinading it briefly in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and italian seasoning before sauteing it all.

The bread is a sliced up italian loaf slathered with a margarine, garlic powder, italian seasoning, parmesan and black pepper mix before being topped with italian blend cheese and baked at 350 for 5ish minutes. Basically long enough for the cheese to melt. It could have gone a bit longer, but we were hungry!

The piece de resistance, the lasagna cups didn't take too long to put together either! Maybe half an hour, from gathering ingredients to plating. Also, I used frozen spinach for this, so make sure that yours is thawed before you start, or use fresh, which is way tastier!

Spinach Lasagna Cups adapted from Can You Stay for Dinner who adapted from Hungry Girl

24 wanton wrappers
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 block frozen spinach, thawed
1-2 eggs (I used two, but you can be healthier than me and use 1)
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1 Tbls italian seasoning
1/2 Tbls garlic powder
1/2 Tbls onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 C spaghetti sauce
1/4-1/2 C italian cheese blend

First of all, I didn't actually measure any of this, I just sprinkled  it all in and mixed it up. I warned you earlier that I don't measure. Anyway, in a medium bowl mix the ricotta, spinach, egg(s) and spices. Set aside for a minute.

Generously grease or spray a regular sized 12 cup muffin tin. Gently press one wanton wrapper into each cup, trying to keep it centered, running your finger into the edge to help the wanton conform to the cup's shape.

Using half of the ricotta mixture, evenly distribute into each cup. I used 1 scoop each from my cookie scoop, which worked perfectly.

Add a spoonful of spaghetti sauce and a pinch of cheese to each cup.

Layer on the next wanton at an angle to the first so the corners are halfway between each other. Press gently to shape to cup, being careful not to squish out the filling. Repeat the layers of ricotta mix, sauce, and cheese, sprinkle on a little italian seasoning for prettiness' sake.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until cheese has melted and started to brown slightly. Carefully run a butter knife around the edge of the cup, and again, carefully, lift out of the muffin tin onto a plate.

Serve alone or with sides. Feel free to fill these the way you usually make your lasagna. In theory they're kid friendly, but Pon wanted "Buzz Soup". However, they are portion controlled, so there's that!

Pug and I loved them, each eating three. At my first bite I told him I'd be making the recipe again. I think he's more excited to see what I come up with for the second half of the pack of wrappers though. The only package Food Lion had was twice as big as I needed. Hmmm... foodgawker and AllRecipes here I come!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mommy Time

Since Pug went out last night, I had some mommy time today. Rose and I had intended to visit a tea house here in town, but they were closed for a private party. Instead we wound up at a local Italian place and caught up on each other's gossip and reading lists. It was really great to get out with her and just hang out for a while.

After lunch I joined Pug and Pon at the pool, where we enjoyed a solid hour of jumping in and splashing around. In the early evening we went grocery shopping for everything we'll need for this week. We went over budget as I needed a few stock items, like vegetable oil and brown sugar, and a few items I haven't ever bought before, like wonton wrappers. For sneak peaks of the meals and desserts I'm planning on making this week, check here, here, here, here, here and here. I'm really excited about trying them all and reporting the results to you. There will be a few staple recipes, and I'm making the buffalo chicken calzone again, so look forward to that!

Pizza Night

Pug was enjoying "Daddy Time" tonight,  so I took Pon out for pizza at a local place we'd never gone to before. It was a lot of fun. Pon behaved perfectly during the wait for the pizza and ate 3 whole slices, which is in itself high praise indeed! My only complaint was the bottled drinks, but that's something I can easily get over for good pizza. And, eating pizza at a hole-in-the-wall-recommended-by-locals-kinda-joint made me think back on my favorite pizza places from the past.

The first place I remember loving pizza was in Korea at Anthony's Pizza by the laundromat. My dad was in the Air Force, retiring my sophomore year of college. Anthony's Pizza is a chain, but I don't remember ever seeing it anywhere but on military bases. Of course, I don't remember loving Anthony's after leaving Korea either, so maybe it was a supply and demand thing :) In high school there was a place across the street from the school that I went to a lot with sports teams and clubs called Gianni's that sold slices bigger than the plate and had a house blend of spices and parmesan to sprinkle over your pizza. In college it was Donio's, the 30 inch pie for $18 was both student budget friendly and delicious. When Pug's folk's still lived in the area we went out by them to Little Italy #4 for sicilian pizza that has the perfect amount of crunch and doughiness as well as tasty toppings. Little Vito's Pizza tonight was my first attempt at finding a local pizza in my own town, and I was not disappointed. I'll keep exploring though, just for comparison's sake.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lazy Days of Summer

Pug closed again today so we slept in, then he made us breakfast of leftover english muffins and fried eggs. Once again Pon and I went to the pool as soon as Pug left for work, and stayed for an hour. Cartoons during lunch ("Dora Soup" for Pon and yesterday's leftovers for me) followed by a two hour nap, more cartoons and chores before hitting the pool again for another hour and a half before dinner. Tonight I made jalapeno chicken, based on an AllRecipes app find from forever ago.

"It tastes jamaican jerk inspired with an asian twist!" ~Pug
Jalapeno Chicken adapted from

4 jalapenos, capped and seeded if desired
4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp coarse salt
1 Tbsp oregano (I used italian seasoning)
1/4 C lime juice (I used a little more as I wanted to finish off a bottle)
8 chicken tenders

Finely mince the jalapeños. Combine with all other ingredients in a large ziptop bag or covered dish. Marinade for 8 hours or overnight (I ended up marinading my chicken for almost 30 hours) turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag and sautee, bake or grill until done, discard marinade.

I served my chicken with white rice and green beans sauteed with 2 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp garlic powder and 1/4 C soy sauce. It was a tasty meal, although next time I think I'll only deseed two peppers rather than three for a little more oof.

Also, while stumbling about the internet today, I found this:

How perfect is that?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Starting and Ending with Muffins

Today I made muffins. This morning I made homemade english muffins for breakfast, and tonight after dinner I whipped up a batch of banana cinnamon chip muffins- frosted, because I could. All in all it was a phenomenal day for me and flour. One of these days I'll remember to wear the adorable apron I bought at a shop on main street at least a month ago...

Pug worked the closing shift, so he didn't go in to work until 1. That meant I had the opportunity to make a big breakfast on a weekday. Pug and I were really impressed with the results, and Pon even ate an entire english muffin! I'm really excited about making these again when my parents and Mei-mei come to visit in two weeks.

Check out those nooks and crannies!
English Muffins from Michael Ruhlman 

(The original recipe was in metric units, so I used this conversion site to figure out what he meant)

4 Tbls butter
1 Tbls sugar
2C milk
1 1/2 tsp (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
1 large egg, beaten
*16 oz flour (I seriously weighed it because I couldn't figure out this particular conversion)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder dissolved in 1 Tbls water (I forgot the water part, but it still turned out okay!)

In a small saucepan on medium heat melt together the butter and sugar, whisking to combine. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Use a food thermometer to check the milk mixture's temperature, which should be between 100-110* F. If it's too cool put it back on the burner, if too warm, allow to cool or whisk. Stir in yeast and let rest 5-10 minutes, then whisk in the egg. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir in the yeast/milk mixture until well combined. Allow to rise in a warm location for 1 1/2 hours, or store in fridge overnight (as I did) removing from fridge 1 hour before cooking.
Hey batter, batter, batter!
Preheat a griddle to medium high, spray, and dust with corn meal if desired (I didn't do the corn meal thing, I was out). Now, at this point you could use rings, if you have them, to make completely round and pretty muffins. I don't have muffin rings, so I used my icecream scoop to just plop the batter onto the griddle.
Don't overcrowd your griddle, or they won't cook evenly.
Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, being careful not to burn them.
Even just 6 at a time was hard to flip.
Use a fork to split the muffin, and eat as is while warm, or toast it and enjoy with your favorite topping.

The batter made 14 muffins for me, Pug and I ate the first few plain straight off the griddle. They're buttery and yeasty with just a hint of sweetness. Once cooled, they're still good, but fantastic toasted with butter and honey or lightly spread with nutella.
They look so rustic!
I kept the muffins warm in the oven at it's lowest setting while I fried up some turkey bacon and made some cheesy scrambled eggs. It was seriously a feast!

After Pug went to work, Pon and I sunscreened up and headed to the pool for an hour and a half. He loves the water and is getting more and more bold daily. He even likes to put his face under the water and jump off the edge of the pool! After the pool we came home for some "Buzz soup" and a few episodes of Diego and naps. I meant to do some chores, but I guess the sun and fresh air got to me! After naps I cleaned up the kitchen, made a jalapeno marinade for tomorrow's dinner and took Pon back to the pool for another hour of splashing around.

Dinner was literally thrown together in 15 minutes. Using 2 pots, I boiled penne in one, and put frozen turkey meatballs, jarred alfredo sauce, frozen spinach, a bit of skim milk and a dash of hot sauce in the other. The sauce simmered while the noodles boiled, then I just mixed the drained noodles into the sauce and served.
Not a bad presentation for such a quickly thrown together meal!
Pug was pleasantly surprised by the addition of the hot sauce, though his initial reaction was to call me weird. And then he got seconds :)

I had 4 bananas that needed using so I made some muffins and frosted them. The muffins are actually an adaptation of an find from the "Dinner Spinner" app on my phone and it's become my go-to banana bread recipe. I also had a bag of mini cinnamon chips that I bought from the "country market and deli" on main street, so I threw that in there and cut the original's sugar in half to accommodate for the added sweetness.

Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins with Banana Buttercream Frosting adapted from

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 C brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 C butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3 bananas, mashed
1 bag (~ 1 C) mini cinnamon chips


1 banana, mashed
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
3/4 C shortening

Combine all of the dry muffin ingredients in a large bowl, including the cinnamon chips. (A lot of bakers suggest flouring your chips before adding them to batters to prevent them sinking. I figure the dry ingredients are mostly flour, so may as well toss the chips in now!) In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas. Thoroughly mix the butter, eggs, and vanilla into the bananas. Add the banana mix to the dry mix, stirring until just combined. Bake at 350 for 15 mins for full sized muffins and 10 mins for mini muffins.
The batter makes 1 dozen each regular and mini muffins, and Pon loves the minis!

While muffins are cooling, beat together frosting ingredients until smooth and stiff. Frost as desired and serve!
I got to use the pastry gun thing Heydew loaned me!
I kind of made up the frosting as I was making it, so it needs a little more tweaking. It's a little too soft and a little too sweet, but practice makes perfect, so I'll try again another day. But try the muffins, they're awesome!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family Day

Pug was off today, so we had a family day. We took Pon to the Bounce House, the pool, and to dinner with RC and Heydew. For lunch I made pizza puffs. I over baked them a bit, but they were still pretty good. I didn't take any pictures. Pug said they tasted like cheddar biscuits and liked them, but said he wouldn't beg for me to make them again if we had extra pepperoni laying around. I used my regular sized muffin pan to bake them in, and used my cookie scoop to portion it out. This batter made 4 "full sized" (2 scoop) puffs and 8 half puffs.

Pizza Puffs adapted from Noble Pig

3/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 C whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 C italian blend cheese, or your choice
I package pepperoni- I used the minis, because they were on sale and adorable
dash italian seasoning
sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Mix together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the pepperoni, cheese, italian seasoning and parmesan. Let sit 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a muffin tin. Stir batter lightly and spoon evenly into muffin tin. Bake 15-20 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes (depending on age of recipients) and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blackberry Oatcakes/Cookies

I'm not gonna lie. This was a huge pain in the butt, which is why I only made 8 cakes before giving up and turning them into cookies. I got the recipe over here at Inn at the Crossroads, a blog based on the foods featured in the Song of Ice and Fire Book Series- the HBO tv series Game of Thrones is based on the first book. It's an excellent blog featuring many medieval and ancient recipes, and plenty of modern ones. Rose hosted viewing parties at her house, and I used the Inn as my go to whenever I needed a recipe. The honeyed chicken and tyroshi honey fingers are both utterly fantastic. It doesn't hurt that they both feature honey :) So, with such a tried and true source of uniquely tasty foods, I decided to give the oatcakes a shot.

Blackberry Oatmeal Cookies
I will reiterate the the oatcakes were a ridiculous pain the the derrière, but they are delicious. I still don't think I'll ever make them again, but they were a worthwhile experience. The cookies are sadly disappointing, but that's my fault as I failed to increase the sweetener when I added extra flour and oats. They are definitely blackberry though!


1/2 C AP Flour
1 1/2 C old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (the original recipe calls for "mixed spice" which I assume is allspice, but I don't like cloves)
1/2 stick butter
1 egg, scrambled
2 Tbls honey
2 Tbls molasses

Sort and rinse blackberries. Set aside.
Gather your ingredients.
Measure and mix dry ingredients.
Rub the butter into the dry mix. I would say until it resembles bread crumbs, but with the oats, it's a little hard to tell. Just keep going until you don't have any big clumps of butter left. Add the wet ingredients and thoroughly mix in.
You may need to use your hands. Be aware it's really, really sticky.
 Pinch off a piece of the dough. Try to form it into a disk and wrap it around a blackberry. It's really, really frustrating because the dough wants to stick to everything but the blackberry.
I told you it was sticky.
I only rolled 8 before I got super frustrated and decided to make cookies.
I took the last of the pint of blackberries and mashed it into the remaining dough. Because of the extra moisture, I added another 1/2 C flour and a handful of oatmeal. Again, I should have added more sweetener.
I used my cookie scoop to just plop some these puppies right next to the oatcakes.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and enjoy!

Just a quick note, the cookies are fabulous with a little drizzle of honey on them. I'm just a bit of a sucker for honey.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blueberry Hand Pies

It's Sunday night, which usually means clipping and organizing coupons. But tonight I was feeling a little frazzled and decided to try and re-center with baking. So I made these little guys:

I'm not gonna lie, I ate all four.
I got the idea here at Braised Anatomy, but adapted their use of caramelized apples to sugared blueberries.

I probably could have stopped right there
First rinse, sort and de-stem your berries. I bought mine form the farmer's market, so there were a few stems, but not as many as if I'd picked them myself, also highly recommended. Sample a few berries, this is essential. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of sugar (or Splenda or Truvia, etc) over your berries, depending on how sweet they are and how sweet you want them to be. Stir gently to get the sugar on each berry, being careful not to crush them. Set the berries aside while you prepare the crust.

Not too big a list for such tastiness!

You will need:

1 1/2 c ap flour
3 Tbls powdered sugar
1 stick butter cold (I used margarine, just stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes)
1 egg yolk (save the egg white for an egg wash to keep the pies together and sugar on the top)
A few Tbls cold water (I ended up using 5, BA used 4)

Using a pastry cutter (or if you're me, a wire whisk) blend the flour, sugar and butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Thoroughly mix in the egg yolk, and add water 1 Tbls at a time just until the dough holds together. Use your hands or a spoon for this part. Form the dough into a ball and set it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. While it's setting, preheat your oven to 350 and prep your rolling pin and surface.

I like to do both at once!
I sprinkle some flour over the counter then run my rolling pin through it a few times to get better coverage on both. Once the dough is ready, roll it out as thin as you can. A tip I read once on All Recipes about rolled cookies was to never roll the dough more than twice since more flour gets mixed in with the dough and alters the flavor and consistency, so I divided the dough into thirds, rolled it out, cut it into rounds using one of Pon's cups, put the "scraps" into a pile, and when I was done with all three, re-rolled the scraps and then threw that batches scraps out. Besides, at this point I had enough rounds for 28 pies!

That cup worked well as a cutter.
Pulling the scraps out.
Stacking the rounds by twos helped me keep track of tops and bottoms.
Now, at this point I forgot to keep taking pictures, so I apologize. Take one stack of rounds and lay them out on a greased or lined baking sheet or two. I managed to fit 24 of 28 on my Silpat, so the last four went on a sprayed piece of aluminum foil. Stir your berries once more to evenly spread any resulting juices, and spoon 1/2 Tbls into the center of each round. I'm warning you now, this will be an exercise in patience as the berries really love to roll. Either divide up any leftover berries among the pies, or eat them as is or with a bit of yogurt. Brush the outer edge of the round with the reserved egg white and place one of the reserved rounds over it, pinching it closed. This also take patience as the dough may want to tear around the berries. Also, work one at a time unless you're super fast. I tried to brush four pies at a time, but the dough wouldn't stick. Once all your pies are sealed, use a fork to poke holes into your top crust (I just stabbed them each once) to allow steam to escape. Brush each pie with your egg white egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Waiting patiently for their turn in the oven
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350. Allow to cool, and enjoy!

I certainly did!
I learned a few things tonight, like a whisk and frozen margarine aren't good friends. I should get a pastry cutter, but my birthday's coming up, so maybe I'll get one soon :) Also, I found out that mixing different things into an egg wash causes different things. A whole egg scrambled with a bit of salt makes your pastry top shiny. Adding milk to that blend makes it shiny and golden brown. Adding water to the egg causes a matte finish to your baked good. Who knew? Well lots of people, obviously, I found a chart after all!