Sunday, March 20, 2011

Old Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

When I was getting married, one of the things I wanted at my bridal shower was a Williams-Sonoma cookbook (and Paula Deen cookware - thank you Aunt Betty!!).  And my best friend, Erin, knowing me oh-so well, bought me the W-S Essentials of Baking cookbook and I love it (yeah, I love a baking cookbook - go figure)!  So of course, one of the first things I should make from this book should be for her.  She loves oatmeal raisin cookies but I don't (I'm not one for raisins) so I typically make cookies that both of us like.  She has had a bad week recently and what does a good Southern girl do for someone who's had a bad day?  We cook something for them.  (We seem to celebrate or acknowledge everything with food in the South... birthdays, funerals, job loss, job promotion, etc.  And people wonder why the South makes such good food - we have to cook it all the time!)  So here are Erin's oatmeal-raisin cookies (I have to admit, I do enjoy eating the batter for these cookies when I can get around the raisins... cinnamon... yummy!).

But before I get to the recipe, I would like to take a moment to tell you that you need to get a cookie scoop for these cookies.  What?  You don't have one?  In that case, stop right here.  Go purchase one immediately!  It will become your best friend when it comes to baking cookies (or scooping really small scoops of ice cream).  Some recipes (like this one) call for you to drop the cookies by the tablespoon.  Now, that makes one big cookie!  I prefer smaller cookies because rather than just eating one cookie, you can eat two or three!  Trick your mind into thinking you're eating more than you are.  This original recipe said it made 24 cookies.  Using my cookie scoop, I managed to get 40!  That brought the calories down from 141 calories per cookie to 84 calories per cookie.  So go and get a cookie scoop - you'll love it!

Old Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
(from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking)

1 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour (KAF)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 c. Butter (1 stick), melted
1 c. firmly packed Brown Sugar (I used light brown sugar but you can use dark brown if you have it on hand.)
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 c. Egg Beaters (or 2 eggs)
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract (Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
1 1/2 c. Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats (typically sold as just "old fashioned oats")
2 c. Raisins

Preheat oven to 350.
Line at least 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (I love parchment paper - no nonstick spray to use and you can reuse it!).
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars and stir with a wooden spoon (not entirely sure why the recipe said a wooden spoon but anyway) until smooth.
Add eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended.
Add flour, cinnamon, and baking powder and stir until well incorporated.
Now you need to add the oats and stir until combined.
Lastly, add the raisins and combine (this batter is very, very thick so make sure your raisins are well stirred into your batter).
Using your cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto your baking sheets.
Bake one sheet at a time for 15-20 minutes (15 minutes was perfect for me) or until the top of the cookies are firm when lightly touched.
Let the cookie sheet cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Then transfer the cookies to another wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temp.

Calories - 84 per cookie (makes 40)

Baklava Cookies

I've never had baklava.  And I've certainly never tried to make it (too many layers... one day, I may attempt it).  But that doesn't mean I've never wanted to try it.  But I've always been leery of new things but I've become more outgoing when it comes to food here lately so when I came across this baklava cookie recipe in Spike Mendelsohn's cookbook The Good Stuff Cookbook, I was certainly intrigued (for those of you who watch Top Chef on Bravo, Spike should be no stranger to you - he's one of my favorite chefs to ever be on the show and when I found out that he had put out a cookbook that was all about burgers, shakes, and sweets, I was alllll over it!).  So today, I finally summed up the courage to make this cookie and boy am I glad I did!  I adore this cookie!  The more I eat them, the higher up on my list of favorite cookies it goes.  Everyone loves chocolate chip (or, my other post, oatmeal-raisin) but every once in a while, you want something different.  If you want a different cookie, this is the recipe you should try.  It's buttery and rich and with the honey glaze, decadent but without being too overpowering to make you not want to eat more than one.  I highly recommend that you try this cookie recipe ASAP!

Side note:  Please use parchment paper under your cookies for this recipe.  When you drizzle the glaze over the cookies, it will make cleanup extremely easy for you.

Baklava Cookies
(from The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn)

2 3/4 c. All Purpose Flour (KAF)
1 - 1 1/2 c. Chopped Walnuts (I prefer less walnuts so I opted for 1 c. but you can use up to 1 1/2 c.)
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 1/4 c. Butter (that's 2 1/2 sticks!  I told you it was buttery.)
2 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Egg Beaters (or 1 egg)
1 tsp. Vanilla (Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)

1/3 c. Honey
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla (Vanilla Bean Paste)
1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine flour, walnuts, cinnamon, baking soda and powder .
In another bowl, mix melted butter and sugar until smooth.
Add the egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar mix.
Slowly add the egg mixture to flour and nut mix and mix well.
Using your hands, form small round dough balls and place them on a baking sheet that's covered with parchment paper (I told you before - I love parchment paper!).
Press down on the dough balls gently to flatten them slightly.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
While the cookies are baking, make the glaze by combining all ingredients into a small saucepan over low heat until the mix is syrupy.
Set the glaze aside until ready to use.
Let the cookies cool on their baking sheet and drizzle the glaze over the cookies after they've cooled.

Calories:  171 per cookie (makes 35)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

Show of hands - who goes to Red Lobster just for their garlic-cheddar biscuits?  Wow, lots of hands went up.  Not surprising, those biscuits are awesome!  Ryan said these biscuits taste just like the biscuits at Red Lobster, minus the garlic.  Don't worry, I'm trying to figure out how much garlic to put in these biscuits to make them taste like those from Red Lobster.  But for now, let's just be happy with the overwhelming delicious-ness of these biscuits and their cheese-y-ness!

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
(from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, recipe courtesy of, adapted slightly by me!)

2 c. All Purpose Flour (KAF)
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder (no, that's not a typo)
1/2 tsp. Kosher or Sea Salt
12 Tbsp. Butter, diced
1/2 c. Buttermilk (Pet Fat Free)
1 Egg
1 c. Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Kraft Reduced Fat)

Preheat oven to 425.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer.
With the mixer on low, add butter and combine until the butter is the size of peas.  (This takes quite some time and arm strength to keep your handheld mixer going while the butter gets smaller.  Do not despair - keep going because it can be done!)
Combine buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
Add buttermilk and egg to flour and butter mixture and combine.  (Now, there is a good chance that your batter is going to stick to your beaters on your mixer.  When that happens, use your hands to get all the batter off - you won't be using your mixer anymore anyway.)
Add cheese and, using your hands, mix until well blended.
Still using your hands, break the dough into 9 pieces and roll in your hands until they're nice and round.
Place biscuits onto a cookie sheet that's been lined with parchment paper and flatten slightly.
Bake for 17 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot or warm and enjoy!

Calories - 280 per biscuits (makes 9)

Overnight Coffee Cake for Two

I came across this coffee cake recipe in a magazine a few months ago.  I'm always looking for way to make my life simple in the mornings because, let's face it, who wants to get up in the morning and stand around and mix up anything more complicated than Aunt Jemima's pancake mix?  Not me.  I like recipes that I can do the night before (I'm currently trying to find time to make King Arthur Flour's cinnamon rolls that you freeze and can bake straight from frozen!).  So this coffee cake was right up my street!  The best part about this?  You can even freeze this coffee cake for up to 1 month and can bake straight out of the freezer!  How about that for simple?  This coffee cake is quick and simple to make and will taste like you woke up at 6 a.m. to bake (of course, you can do that too if you want).

One quick this you need to know about this recipe - it does require a 6 inch cake pan.  You can probably find this somewhere like Michael's and I know you can find it online somewhere.

Overnight Coffee Cake for Two
(from The Best of America's Test Kitchen - 2011 {magazine})

1 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar (Market Pantry)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. All Purpose Flour (KAF)
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds (optional - the nutrition does not include any nuts!)

2/3 c. All Purpose Flour (KAF)
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 c. Sour Cream (Daisy Light Sour Cream)
1 Egg
3 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar (Market Pantry)
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1 Tbsp. Sugar

1-Using your fingers, combine all ingredients for the streusel in a bowl until the mixture resembles coarse meal and set aside.
2-Grease 6-inch round cake pan.
3-Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
4-Whisk the sour cream, egg, brown sugar, melted butter, and sugar together in another bowl until smooth.
5-Gently fold the sour cream mixture into the flour mix with a spatula until well combined.
6-Pour batter into your prepared 6-inch cake pan.
7-Sprinkle streusel over the top of the cake.
8-Wrap the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 1 month.
9-When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.  (Note:  If you want to get up at 6 a.m. and bake this the same day, skip step 8 and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.)
10-Unwrap the cake and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick/cake tester is inserted and comes out cleans.  (Baking from frozen?  Don't thaw and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.)

Calories - 261 per serving (4 servings)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Today was National Pound Cake Day!  Didn't know?  Me neither.  Til I went to MSN and they had a whole article about pound cake and recipes for them.  Today's random bit of knowledge for you - pound cake is named as such because it used to have a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of flour in the recipe.  And did I mention a pound of eggs, too?  Certainly made it easy to remember the ingredients, that's for sure!  Good for the waistline (or the heart, for that matter)?  Oh no.  But we've come a long way baby!  You can find numerous pound cake recipes all over the place for any taste palate or diet restrictions (honestly, five years ago, could you have made a gluten free pound cake?).

I've loved pound cake since I was a child.  My mother has a recipe (which I'm currently searching for) of my grandmother's pound cake.  My dad and I used to fight over who would eat the top of the pound cake!  Sound strange?  You've never had that pound cake.  The top has this wonderful crunch to it that I've never found in another pound cake.  Once mom finds and gets that recipe to me, I'll have to make it and post it here because everyone must try that pound cake.  And if a fight breaks out, I wanna know that too ;)  Anyhoo, since I did not have my favorite pound cake recipe on hand, I decided I would need to make a new one!  I could not let this "holiday" pass me by without making a pound cake.  So I went to my plethora of cookbooks (one day, I'll post pictures of my bookshelf so you can see all my cookbooks) and found a pound cake that seemed simple enough and one I had all the ingredients for.  So all the way from Savannah, Paula Deen's Grandmother Paul's Sour Cream Pound Cake!

Grandmother Paul's Sour Cream Pound Cake
(from The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook)

1 stick of Butter
1 1/2 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Sour Cream (Daisy Light)
1 1/2 c. All-Purpose Flour (King Arthur Flour)
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Egg
1/2 c. Egg Beater (I used this because of the calorie count of eggs.  No Egg Beaters?  Substitute 2 large eggs.)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla (Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
Cooking Spray with Flour (I use Pillsbury Baking Joy with Flour)

Preheat oven to 325.
Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
Add sour cream.
In a different bowl, sift flour and baking soda togehter.
Add mixture to creamed mixture, alternating with eggs, beating well after each.  (This is important to ensure you have a light cake.)
Add vanilla.
Pour into a 9x5 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Calories - 283 for 1 serving (serves 10)

Side Note:  Want a different dessert?  Slice pound cake and throw onto a heated grill pan.  You'll get these nice looking grill marks and serve with vanilla ice cream and a yummy ice cream topping (strawberry is yummy!).