Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies

It's time again for a cookie update.  My latest batch is inspired by chai spices.  They were divine.  I found this recipe, and I immediately knew that I had to make them.

To get a picture of this cookie, think of a soft, chewy snickerdoodle that is laced with cardamom, ginger, allspice and black pepper.  They are sweet, but the spiciness gives a delightful contrast.  This recipe make about 3 dozen cookies, so there's plenty for you to eat, and you'll have many to share.

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies
Adapted From: My Baking Addiction
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a medium bowl, combine sugar and spices.  Remove 1/4 cup of mixture, and place in a small bowl to be used to coat the cookies.
In the bowl of a mixer, place the butter and the remaining sugar mixture.  Beat for three minutes or until light and fluffy.  
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until they are fully combined.
Slowly blend in the dry ingredients.  Mix until they are just combined.
Use a tablespoon and form dough into a ball.  Roll the dough into the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Leave about 1 1/2 inches between each cookie.
Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.  Let them stay on the cookie sheet for two minutes and then move them to a cooling rack.  

*NOTE: The original recipe calls for 2 3/4 cup of flour.  I read the reviews, and some said their cookie dough was crumbly.  I added only 2 1/4 cup of flour to my cookies, and I think they turned out well, but I'll let you decide how much you would like to add.  My dough was a little crumbly even when omitting 1/2 cup of flour, but it was still very manageable.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Farmer's Market Pizza

I've had this picture hanging around for a few weeks now.  On one of my trips to the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market, I hit the jackpot of fresh produce, particularly with the corn and squash blossoms.  Indiana is known for corn, but it really does taste so much better here.  I found myself eating the corn kernels without even cooking them.  They were so sweet and tender.

I decided that I wanted to make something to combine the squash blossoms and the corn, and I came up with a Squash Blossom pizza.  They pictures I took didn't turn out so great, but trust me, it tasted heavenly.  Here's how I made my pizza.

Prepared pizza dough or crust (I got the pre-made dough from Trader Joe's)
olive oil
dried basil
dried oregano
dried parsley
red pepper flakes
1 ear of sweet corn
6 squash blossoms, stem, stamen and rough portion removed
Italian cheese blend


Form your dough into a pizza, and preheat the oven to the direction's temperature.  Place your pizza dough onto a baking sheet if it is not already baked.  Pour a little (maybe a tablespoon or two) olive oil onto your dough.  Spread it out.  I used a pastry brush to evenly distribute the olive oil.  Then sprinkle the spices onto the crust of the pizza.  Use as much or as little as you like...everybody's taste are different.  Sprinkle a little bit of cheese, then add as much prosciutto as you like.  Sprinkle on about an ears worth of corn.  Top your pizza with the squash blossoms and lots of cheese.  Place in the oven and bake according to package directions.  I like to take my pizza off the baking sheet once the dough is stable so that the bottom can get crisp as well.  I finally like to turn on the broiler in the last few minutes so that the top of the cheese gets bubbly and brown.  If you do this, be sure to watch it carefully.

That's all!  It hit the spot and was not a typical pizza.... just my type of thing.  Scott and I gobbled it right up!

Here are some more pictures from the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market.  Now you can see why I keep talking about it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

It is once again time for a cookie update!  For the most recent over night shift I wanted to make a cookie that I hadn't made before.  I found a recipe similar to the one I made in my Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.  It called for almond flour, which can be pricey, so I found a different version.  

This version can be found at The Busty Baker.  To imagine this cookie, imagine a chocolate snickerdoodle with a cayenne kick.  These were really tasty.  I think I made mine a bit smaller than the original recipe, so they were a little more firm than I was expecting, but they still weren't crunchy...which I don't like.  They had a crunchy edge and a soft chewy center.  They cracked open beautifully, and they had a really pretty shimmer from being rolled in the sugar.  These are an easy cookie to make, and it's something different that most people haven't had before.

The one trick is to really watch the baking time.  Since they are a dark dough, you can't see when the cookie is browning, so just watch to see when the cookie cracks.  Also look to see that the center is set. You don't want a super glossy looking middle.  It should look done, but not totally solidified either.
Here's the recipe:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
Makes a little over 3 dozen

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In a medium bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until it is fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.  Scrape down the sides as needed.  Add vanilla, then mix in flour mixture until combined.  

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Form heaping tablespoons of dough, roll into balls, and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart.  Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, for 10 minutes.  Let cookies cool before removing them to a cooling rack.  

I hope you like them!  They are really tasty a few days later dunked in milk. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hot Chocolate for a Summer Night

I know what you're thinking...who in the world drinks hot chocolate on a 100 degree day?  Well, I have a reason, and I'm certainly not regretting the decision.  My poor little fella came home last night, and he was sooo tired, but he still had work to do.  We quickly ate dinner around 9:30, and around 10:00 he had to start preparing for today.  I really was afraid he was going to fall asleep on his computer, and I didn't want him to drink yet another cup of coffee, so I offered him some hot chocolate.

He agreed, and I got to work at finding a recipe.  I liked the idea of the one I found at All Recipes.  (I really like All Recipes because it customizes the recipe.  For example, this made 4 servings, but I only needed 2, so it instantly converted it for me.  Pretty great!)  All hot chocolates are pretty much the same, but this one had heavy whipping cream and a pinch of salt.  I was sold.

As I made the hot cocoa, I kept sneaking samples, and I got more and more excited about this warm beverage as the time arrived for it to be ready.  Finally, it was done, and I ladled it out into our two mugs.  It tasted wonderfully sweet and thick, but it also had and end note of saltiness which is just wonderful.  Here's the recipe so you can make your own!

Creamy Hot Chocolate
Source: All Recipes

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of boiling water
1 3/4 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
heavy cream or half and half

In a saucepan, blend cocoa, sugar and salt.  Turn stove top to medium heat and add the boiling water.  (I just put the water in a mug and stuck that in the microwave for 45 seconds.)  Let this come to a simmer for about two minutes.  Whisk to make sure that it doesn't scorch.  Add the milk and heat until it's very hot, but don't boil.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Pour the heavy cream into the bottom of each mug until it just covers the bottom.  Then, ladle the hot chocolate into the mugs.  Drink away; it's delish.

And it did just the trick for my guy.  It allowed him to muster his energy to his work done before he fell asleep.  

Monday, July 16, 2012


Hi there!  Sorry for the absence; our internet has been down, but I am happy to report that it is finally back!  It made for a boring week, but I had a lot of time to read.  I got through "The Pioneer Woman" in two days, and I have been meticulously combing through her cookbook with the rest of my time.  I'm bound and determined to make those cinnamon rolls that she keeps talking about.

Saturday, I went to the farmer's market, and I spotted a big box of Roma tomatoes, and I knew that I had to have them.  The trouble was that another lady wanted them too, and she spotted them first.  Luckily her mom talked her out of them; I really did have better plans for them anyways.  So I grabbed them, a spaghetti squash, and a cabbage.

The second I got home, I got to work.  Here's how I made my spaghetti sauce:

Spaghetti Sauce
Source: Me :)

20 or so Roma tomatoes
1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes*
3/4 teaspoon dried basil - you can use fresh too*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse your newly purchased tomatoes and cut an X into the end opposite the stem.  As you are doing this, get a large pot of water boiling.  Drop the tomatoes in, and let them boil for a minute.  While they are boiling, grab a large bowl, fill it with ice and water, and set it close to the tomatoes.  When your timer sounds, put the hot tomatoes into the ice bath.  This will make the skin super easy to peel off.  

Continue to boil the tomatoes in shifts until all of your tomatoes have been boiled for the minutes.  Drain out the water and grab a trash can.  Peel the skins off of the tomatoes... warning this is about to get messy!  Then take a sharp knife and cut off the stems.  Cut the tomatoes vertically and discard the squishy insides, seeds and any core that remains.  And that's the tricky part!  It's really not tricky, just kind of time consuming and you'll be up to your elbows in tomato juice, but it's good for your skin...I think.

In the same pot that you boiled the tomatoes in, add the olive oil and onions.  Let them cook until they begin to soften, about five minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Then take the onions, garlic and tomatoes, and put them in a blender.  I hate chunky tomato sauce, so I blend it to a pulp, but it you enjoy your sauce with a little more texture, pulse it until you have the consistency that you enjoy.

Pour the newly formed sauce back into the pot, add the red wine, sugar and all the seasoning.  Let it simmer for a long time... like two hours.  Your sauce may look thin at first, but it will thicken beautifully; the longer it simmers, the thicker your sauce will be and the sweeter and more full flavored it will become.

You can easily add meatballs or brown some ground beef to make a meat sauce.  I know this takes quite a bit of time, but it really just tastes better than canned tomato sauce.  It's easy work, and your taste buds will thank you!!

*Feel free to change the amount or even the spices themselves. If you don't even like a hint of spice, leave out the red pepper flakes.  Do whatever sounds good to you!*

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cookies to Say Thank You!

Happy Saturday!  Yesterday was Scott's first on-call night at the hospital.  All week he has been telling me how wonderful the nurses are, and so I made them some cookies.  A few years ago, one of my mom's gave me these cookies for Christmas, and I begged her for the recipe.  It took two years, but I finally got it!  This is a hybrid (very technical) chocolate chip - oatmeal combo cookie.  The trick that makes it extra special is to use chocolate chunks...not chips and toffee bits.  These make the cookie extra chewy, melty, delicious.... you get the point.  And since nurses are extra-special people, they needed an extra-special cookie. 

The nurses enjoyed the cookies, so I may be doing a weekly cookie installment.  But for now, here is how you make these.

Tricia's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: My Wonderful Student's Mother :)

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups flour

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs, mix then add next four ingredients and mix.  Add blended oats and flour gradually.  

Then mix in any type of chips you want like toffee bits, chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, etc.  I used chocolate chunks (whole bag) and half of a bag of toffee bits... delish.

Bake for 9-11 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  I used a tablespoon and baked them for about 9 1/2 minutes.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Have I Waited So Long?

Over the past few months, I have pinned way more things that I ability to make, do or create, so I have made it a goal to at least tackle my dinner board.  Before I go to any other source, I've tried to start filtering through those ideas so that I can keep some and get rid of other recipes.  Tonight, I made chicken, kale and the creamy curried beans that I am writing about.

I can't believe I waited so long to make these.  They are so insanely good!  Even though I had chicken, I could have just eaten a bowl of these with some corn bread...it's like a new southern dish.  The sauce that the beans are in is truly delicious.  It has garlic, curry, ginger, garam masala and some cayenne pepper to give it some heat... and it has heavy whipping cream to make it extra rich.  I could go on and on, but I really think that you should just make them yourself.

Creamy Curried Beans
Source (Recipe & Photo) Let's Dish

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
dash or so of cayenne pepper
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro

Melt butter and saute onions for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, and saute another 2 minutes.  Add all spices, and let them simmer for 2 minutes.  Add cream, lemon juice and beans.  Simmer until the sauce thickens.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with cilantro.  

Easy Peasy!  I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spider-Man & Patio Gardening

Happy Fourth of July!   Scott gets two (full) days off this month, and today happened to be one of those days.  I was super excited that he got one so early in the month, but the poor fellow has a long time ahead now. Today, we went to see The Amazing Spider-Man.  It was pretty great, and it was equally great to have a movie theater close by.  The movie was nice for me because I didn't know the history of Spider Man, and this movie helped to sort through some of those ideas.  Plus, Emma Stone is a wonderful actress.  She's so versatile, and she wasn't just an accessary to Spider Man.  (I can't remember the guy's name, but he did a great job too.)  I liked this one much better than the Toby McGuire ones.

After our movie, we had a wonderful dinner with some new friends and their parents.  I can't tell you how much of a blessing it is to already have someone to call if I need something.  We had fried chicken, corn, this delicious cole slaw with cranberries, and I brought a lemon - lime tart.  (You can find the recipe here.)  We had a great time!  It was really nice to talk about new things and to get caught up on the old as well.  (They're from our hometown too!)  We had a really nice day together.

On to a separate note, Scott has to work early tomorrow, so he went to bed (a few hours ago.)  And so here I am... blogging in the dark. :)  I will say, our house is way cleaner than it's ever been, and for that, I am quite proud.  I have recently made myself familiar with the home improvement stores and my local Target.  You can see some of my handy work below.


I hung some boxes from our balcony too.  I don't know if they're super secure so I'm just waiting for them to plummet onto someone's car below.  I'll keep you posted about how that turns out. :)  But for now, friends, I need some ideas.  What are some of your favorite things to do (that are quiet!!)?  I need book suggestions or hobbies or else I'm going to be going to bed at eight too!

I'd love to hear your ideas!  Please share, and have a wonderful rest of your holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A New Town to Call Home

Hi Friends... I know it's been a long time.  So much has happened, so let me get you caught up.  This spring, my husband applied for residency programs and this year he matched.  We are living in Indianapolis for his transitional year.  Next year, we'll be moving again, but that's another story for another day.  Two weeks ago, we packed up all of our earthly belongings and left our beloved Louisville to come to a new city.  

I took it all in stride; it wasn't fun leaving my friends and a job that I really enjoyed to come here to who knows what.  For the past week, I have been unpacking and getting job applications to random stores.  It's odd to think that I won't be teaching this fall, but I'm kind of excited about working a much less stressful job for at least a year.

But this year, I wanted to chronicle our adventures and the culinary delights that I make along the way. Some of you are reading this to keep up with me so I'll tell you the stories behind the recipes.  Hopefully, if you ever come to Indianapolis, you'll have something to do by reading along.  I'm excited to find this city's little secrets and to share them with you.  

So here is my first adventure: The Broad Ripple Farmer's Market.  Scott and I drove to Broad Ripple to explore the new market.  I was pleasantly surprised.  There was an ice cream stand called Lick that looked like it had the funky flavors of Jeni's in Columbus.  There was a great variety of fruits and vegetables, and there were pastries.  We tried a orange and hazelnut croissant and a danish with lemon curd and raspberries.  I wanted to really love them, but the quality just wasn't there.  I found myself comparing them to perfection of Wiltshire Pantry and it just wasn't happening... kind of a bummer.  But there were raspberries, and lots of them, and I couldn't resist.  

This brings me to my first baking endeavor in Indy, Raspberry Breakfast Bars, via Smitten Kitchen.  I used black raspberries that we bought at the market, and this morning Scott had some serious goodness on his (50 minute) trek to work.

Here's how you can make your own:

Raspberry Breakfast Bars
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the Crust and Crumb Topping
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut into one inch pieces

For the Raspberry Filling
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
1 lb fresh raspberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

To Make the Crust and Crumb:

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease the bottom and sides of a pan, then line it with parchment paper.  Let the paper hang over the sides. This will make it easier for the bars to be lifted from the pan.  Butter the parchment.

Combine all of the crumb ingredients except the butter.  Then add the butter to the ingredients.  Blend with a pastry mixer until small crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture, and press the rest into the bottom of the prepared pan.  The crust should touch the sides of the pan.  Bake until the crust is golden brown - 12 - 15 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool.  Keep the oven on until cool.

Meanwhile, make the raspberry filling.  Combine the ingredients and gently fold in the raspberries so they don't become mush.  

Spread the raspberry filling on top of the cooled crust, then sprinkle the remaining crumb topping on top.  Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the edges are slightly bubbly.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  Remove from pan and slice into bars.  The slices can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for two days.

I'm working on a picture... I haven't figured out this new computer yet. :)