Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Doubly Spiced Molasses Cookies

Doubly Spiced Molasses Cookies
(makes 2 dozen cookies)

My husband LOVES molasses cookies (and so do I!) so naturally our child is genetically destined to love them as well. I have tinkered with my molasses cookie recipe a lot over the last decade trying to find the perfect balance of chewiness, deliciousness and healthfulness (as much as a cookie can be). I've put one version of them on IBB ( Mmmmmmolasses Cookies ). They were good but I think they were too heavily weighted towards the 'healthfulness' requirement. With this new recipe I tried to get a more balanced cookie. This attempt was perfection in the deliciousness department, satisfactory in healthfulness but NOT perfection in texture. I like a chewy molasses cookie (think Dancing Deer brand). These were kind of cakey. Again, they taste really, really yummy but they are not chewy like I like them. Is it because I used whole wheat flour? Is it the brown sugar (as opposed to white sugar)? Any thoughts on how I can get them chewier would be appreciated.


3/4 c butter, melted

1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1/2 c. B grade REAL maple syrup (Grade B, sometimes called Cooking Syrup, is made late in the season, and is very dark, with a very strong maple flavor, as well as some caramel flavor. Although many people use this for table syrup; because of its strong flavor, it's often used for cooking, baking, and flavoring in special foods.)

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger (tip: I recently read in a magazine that you can store fresh ginger root in the freezer and grate it frozen as needed!)

1 egg

1c. all-purpose flour

1c. whole wheat flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 c. white sugar


1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the melted butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, egg and grated ginger.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.

3. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to the wet mixture until well combined.

4. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6. Use a small cookie dough scoop to scoop out balls of dough. Roll in hands to make round.

7. Roll balls in white sugar to coat. Place 2" apart on a parchment paper cookie sheet.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for a couple minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Perfect Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread

I have always adored Pepperidge Farms' Cinnamon-Raisin Bread, and I wanted to come up with a recipe to make it myself at home. I've been tinkering, and I have finally perfected it - my family is in love with this bread, and we're going through about half a loaf a day! It's delicious toasted and buttered, and it makes an awesome PB&J.

Perfect Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread


1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast or bread machine yeast
1 cup raisins

6 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp unsalted butter

Add all of the dough ingredients, except for the raisins, to your bread machine pan according to your bread machine's directions (mine calls for wet ingredients first, then salt, then dry layered on top, and yeast on top of it all). Set the machine for the dough cycle.

Add raisins during the knead, either when your machine calls for it (my machine beeps) or about 15 minutes into the knead.

When the dough cycle is complete, place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Set one half aside; use the palms of your hands to pat the other half into a rectangle, roughly 9" x 13".

Prepare the swirl: in a small bowl, use a fork to mash together 3 Tbsp of the brown sugar, 1 tsp of the cinnamon, and 2 tsp of the unsalted butter.

Spread the swirl mixture all over the dough rectangle, but leave about 1 inch uncovered at the top of the rectangle, like so:

Tightly roll the dough - I find it helps to slightly stretch the dough with each roll to get a very tight spiral.

Set the rolled dough into a greased 9"x5" loaf pan.

Repeat the process (and make up a second bowl of the swirl topping) with the second half of the dough.

Set your loaves aside to rise, covered with a clean dish towel. They should look like this:

Let rise for about 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the loaves of bread for about 30 minutes, until they are browned on top and sound slightly hollow when tapped.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Curried Chickpea Stew with Pan Garlic Naan

We've been indulging in a lot of fall flavors lately and needed a little getaway from root vegetables, apples and the like. This meal satisfies that desire for warm and hearty but with flavors of curry and ginger. The naan, of course, makes a great utensil for mopping up the stew juices. Neko gobbled it up which is great because its filled with protein and vitamin packed veggies! I think this is a great "Intro to Curry" for toddlers because the curry flavor is very mild.

These recipes made enough for the 3 of us to have dinner AND a couple lunches during the week. I'm going to bet that this stew will be even better tomorrow.

Curried Chickpea Stew
(makes approx 8 servings)

1 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 white potatoes, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. grated ginger (fresh)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 c. vegetable stock
2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 vine tomatoes, diced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3c. spinach, chopped
1 can coconut milk

1. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent.
2. Add the potatoes and 2 tsp. of the salt and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the curry powder, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Cook for another minute, stirring frequently to incorporate flavors.
4. Add a generous splash of the broth and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
5. Add mixture to crockpot along with the cauliflower, chickpeas, remaining broth, tomatoes and remaining salt.
6. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high.
7. Just before serving stir in the spinach and coconut milk. Let cook covered for another couple minutes until the spinach is cooked. Serve!

Pan Garlic Naan
(makes 12 4" round pieces)

1c. warm water
1/4c. sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
3-1/2c. bread flour
2-1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/4c. butter, melted

1. In your bread machine pan combine in order the water, sugar, milk, egg, salt, bread flour and yeast.
2. Set machine to dough cycle and run (an hour and 40 minutes on my machine).
3. When the dough cycle is complete, punch down the dough (I did this right in the bread machine pan) and begin to pinch off small (approx 2"), round balls of dough.
4. Arrange the dough balls on a cookie sheet leaving room in between for them to rise.
5. Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise. I set my oven to 200 degrees while I was making the balls. When I was halfway done I shut it off and opened it to let a little of the heat out. Let rise until doubled in size (for me this was about 45 minutes).
6. In a small, microwave safe bowl melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the minced garlic.
7. Brush the bottom of a large skillet with a little bit of the butter/garlic mixture and heat to medium heat.
8. Flatten the balls to form little dough cakes (approx 4"). Add to pan.
9. While the first side is cooking, brush the other side with the butter/garlic mixture. Cook until brown spots appear and flip. Cook the other side until brown spots appear. Remove from heat. Repeat until all the dough is cooked. Serve!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Raspberry Applesauce Muffins

As promised....
Raspberry Applesauce Muffins
(makes 1 dozen muffins)

1c. whole wheat flour
1c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar
1c. buttermilk
1/2 c. raspberry applesauce
1 egg


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 muffin tin with papers or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir in the oats.
3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, buttermilk, raspberry applesauce and egg.
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until JUST combined. Do not over stir.
5. Divide batter amongst muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Serve!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crockpot Raspberry Applesauce and Apple Pickin' Pork Chops

I'm a HUGE fan of autumn which, incidentally, officially begins TODAY! That means its apple picking time again! We usually go 2-3 times each fall and that means lots of apple inspired recipes! My husband makes the world's best apple crisp. I'll have to get him to write a recipe for me so I can share it with you. It seems to be very free form though so I'm not sure he even knows any exact amounts.

Last night I opened my fridge and stared blankly at the sack of fresh picked apples...what to make? I had bought pork chops on sale yesterday and I love pork chops with applesauce so I decided to try my hand at some homemade applesauce! Upon further fridge digging I came across some raspberries that needed to be used up asap or they were on their way out so I took a chance and threw them in with the apples! Great risk...homemade raspberry applesauce is a WINNER, especially over pork chops!

Crockpot Raspberry Applesauce
(makes approx 5 cups of sauce)


6 cups apples, washed, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (I used 2 large yellow delicious and 4 small macintosh)
2 cups raspberries, washed
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tsp. vanilla
2 Tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. water
3 Tbsp. agave nectar (or sweetner of your choice)


1. Put all ingredients except agave into crockpot. (If you are using sugar or brown sugar put it in now. I use agave because it is unrefined and low glycemic however when COOKED it loses those properties so I added it at the end.)

2. Cook on LOW for 5 hours.
3. Using a potato masher, mash until applesauce is the consistancy you like.
4. Let cool. Stir in agave nectar. Serve!

Apple Pickin' Pork Chops
(forgot to take a pic...sorry!)

Pork chops (thick cut)
Raspberry Applesauce

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Pat porkchops dry using a paper towel.
3. Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops.
4. Put chops on broiler pan and put in broiler.
5. Cook for 8 minutes.
6. Check to see if top of chops have browned. If so, flip and cook an additional 8 minutes.
7. Test internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Temp should be 155 degrees F.
8. When temp. has been reached, remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes.
9. Top with raspberry applesauce (or serve in a small bowl on the side). Serve!

I hope to use my remaining applesauce to make some muffins tomorrow so check back soon for that recipe! Also, don't forget last year's Apple Pickin' Chicken! That should give you 4 recipes for using those fresh picked apples so get pickin'!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

French Dinner Date! Ooh la la!

Summer is over and autumn is here (almost officially). The lazy days of summer had Kara and I feeling lazy (I was lazy...Kara was moving) with our blogging but with fall and return to the routine we are feeling a renewed excitement about getting back to it. I find when I'm consistantly blogging for IBB it usually means my family is also eating healthier and more creatively. This is motivation enough to get back to it! Hopefully we haven't lost you forever in our hiatus!

There was a two part inspiration for this dinner date.

1) The French food episode of Top Chef from a couple weeks ago...all that French food had my pregnant brain longing for some French flavors. I also realized that I haven't really cooked many truly French foods so I thought it would be fun to channel my inner Top Chef and see what I could come up with!

2) I came across this recipe in a recent copy of Women's Day magazine that came to my house. I felt it NECESSARY to recreate a version of it asap. In the end I came up with something decadant but felt like it didn't really fit the 'for toddlers' bill so I made it for Kara and I and opted for a more tot friendly treat for the girls. Win/win!

Ratatouille over Quinoa
(serves 6)

Ratatouille seemed like an obvious choice when looking through class French main courses. Its a very "fall-like" meal and any toddler who has seen the movie Ratatouille would have some frame of reference (and hopefully excitement) about the dish.

1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tsp. Herbes de Provence (or a similar herb combo)
1 bay leaf
salt (I prefer kosher salt because I am very Top Chef) ;o)
1-1/2c. quinoa
3c. chicken stock
3/4 c. parmesan cheese flakes (shredded would work too)

1. Place a large colander over a dinner sized plate. Add the eggplant and zucchini. Toss with a few generous pinches of salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes to draw some of the moisture out of the veggies.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Add the olive oil to a large saute pan. Heat over med-high heat.
4. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
5. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
6. Add the eggplant, zucchini, herbs de provence, bay leaf, balsamic vinegar and another pinch of salt. Toss everything together until well combined. Remove from heat.
7. Add the mixture to a roasting pan. I used a glass 9x13 pan. Bake in preheated oven for at least 1 hour. I did an hour at 350 and another half hour at 250 to get a good roasted veggie flavor.
8. With 15 minutes left in the ratatouille baking time, rinse the quinoa, combine with the chicken stock in a med. saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
9. Serve the ratatouille (make sure you took out the bay leaf) over a scoop of the quinoa and top with Parmesan cheese. (I totally forgot to add the parm when I served the food...grrr!)

I tried to be very fancy and chef-like by scooping a little of the quinoa into a heart shaped cookie cutter and topping it with the ratatouille. It actually worked and looked very cute!

Mini French Loaves (using a bread machine)
(makes approx. 12 loaves)

1c. warm water
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3c. bread flour
3 tsp. bread machine yeast
1/2 c. cold water
1 tsp. corn starch

1. Combine the warm water, salt, bread flour and yeast in your bread machine. Set machine to dough cycle and run. (On my machine this took an hour and 45 minutes.)
2. When the dough is done, turn out onto a lightly oiled surface (I sprayed Pam on my counter top). Cover with a tea towel or saran wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Tear off small balls of dough (about the size of an apricot). Flatten the ball into a flat circle.
4. Fold up the bottom half and fold down the top half.
5. Using the edge of your hand make a crease down the center...
6. Bring the edges together and pinch the seam closed.
7. Dust a cookie sheet with cornmeal.
8. Slice 3 diagonal lines across the top of each loaf using a sharp knife.
9. Arrange the loaves about 2" apart on cookie sheet. Cover with towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
10. While the loaves are rising, combine the cold water and cornstarch in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, whisking constantly. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
11. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
12. When the loaves are done rising, put them in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Open oven and brush each loaf with the cornstarch mixture. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.
13. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool. Serve! These were crusty on the outside and chewy (in the best way possible) on the inside. Yum!

Langues de Chat (or Langues de Gato) aka "Cat Tongue" cookies
(makes about 18 cookies)

While in search of a more child-friendly French dessert for the girls I Googled "French cookies". These came up a lot in the search and I found many variations...plain, with chocolate, orange flavored, lemon flavored, etc. I didn't have and citrus fruits on hand so while digging around in my spice cabinet I came across coconut extract. I knew I also had actual coconut so I decided to give this chocolate/coconut version a whirl. They came out great!

4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar (I realized I was out of powdered sugar so I cleaned out my coffee grinder and added some granulated sugar, gave it a good grind and voila! powdered sugar!)
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1/8 tsp. salt
2 ROOM TEMPERATURE egg whites (or, as I learned, your butter will reharden)
1/2c. flour
1c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1c. flaked coconut


1. Beat the butter, sugar, coconut extract and salt on medium high for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the egg whites one at a time.
3. FOLD in the flour.
4. Refrigerate mixture for an hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
7. Fill a pastry bag or (what I used) my beloved Pamperd Chef Easy Accent Decorator with the dough. I used a star tip.
8. Pipe 3" tubes of dough onto the lined cookie sheet about 2" apart (you might need 2 cookie sheets)
9. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
11. Microwave chocolate chips in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on high(100%) power for 1 minute; stir. Chips may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. I got these chocolate chip melting instructions from the Nestle site. I just winged mine in the microwave and the chocolate got a pasty consistency that would have been impossible to dip anything in so I ended up spreading my chocolate on the cookies. I think dipping would be better.
12. Dip one end of each cookie in the melted chocolate. Place on a sheet of wax paper, sprinkle coconut on the chocolate part. Let cookie rest until the chocolate hardens. Serve!

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding (for the grown ups!)
Boo! Hiss! We gobbled this up so fast I forgot to take a picture!

(serves 5)

I liked the concept of the Woman's Day recipe but not the actual ingredients so I crafted my own version.

3 day old croissants (the giant ones)
1c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4c. sugar
1-1/3c. half and half
2 Tbsp. cold butter, diced
Whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium casserole dish or 5 individual baking dishes, tear small pieces off 1-1/2 croissants and place in bottom of dish(es)
3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over layer of croissant. Top with the remaining croissants (also torn into small pieces).
4. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and half and half. Pour evenly over croissant/chocolate layers.
5. Top with diced butter.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes (or until the custard mixture firms up).
7. Top with whipped cream and serve!! Yum! Yum!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheesy Cauliflower Pie

Well hello there! I'm all moved in to my house, the days are getting cool and crisp, and I have a fabulous new kitchen to work in - time to get cooking!

So now you're thinking "you come back from a ridiculous hiatus with cauliflower? Blech." I am not a fan of cauliflower (and I seriously doubt Abby or Lizzy would touch the stuff normally) but I am a huge fan of this pie. For one thing... it has a hash brown crust. Drool.

I had had this at my friend Ana's house before, but never tried it for myself. So I finally dusted off my Moosewood Cookbook and gave it a whirl - with a few changes to make it a tad easier and more like something my kids would eat. We all wolfed it down! It basically tastes like cheesy hashbrowns, so how can you go wrong?
Cheesy Cauliflower Pie


4 packed cups of grated raw potato
1/4 packed cup grated raw onion
1 egg white (keep yolk for the filling)
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray


2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 medium cauliflower, diced small
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Generously coat a deep 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Mix together all crust ingredients. Pat into the bottom of the pie plate and around the edges to make a crust. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, spray with cooking spray, and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

While the crust is cooking, prepare the filling - heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the garlic, salt, and herbs for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until cauliflower is tender. Remove from heat.

Whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and milk.

When crust comes out of the oven, lower heat to 375F. Spread 3/4 cup of cheese across the bottom of the crust. Top with vegetables, and spread the other 3/4 cup of cheese over the veggies. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until set.