Archive for November, 2010

Un-Classic Snickerdoodles

Brother Bear left late Saturday night to go back to law school.

(Are we the only people who still occasionally use Berenstein Bears names?)

Anyway, my little brother went back to school earlier than we all would have liked.

And, yes, I know he’s 22 now, can vote, can imbibe legally, and can be drafted, but he will always always be my little brother.

He’s all I got in terms of siblings and we’re only 2 1/2 years apart so we’re pretty close. He’s a strong-willed little fella’ but, for me, he’ll drop mostly everything if I ask. I’ve heard his friends comment more than once that they could never imagine him as a “little” anything but the second I’m around they understand.

This is not to make him sound like a sad little puppy around me. We just have a better relationship than most siblings. My parents thought he was developmentally delayed for a while because he didn’t speak until he was two. Why, you ask? Big sister (that’s me, by the way) doted on little brother soooo much he never had to speak!

You get it. We’re Brother and Sister Bear of Berenstein Bears fame.


But we don’t get to see one another much anymore since he’s away becoming a lawyer of sorts and I’m still chasing that doctor dream.

So when we were both home for the holiday of Thanks there was a lot of laughter and silliness. But when he announced that he had to leave Saturday night to go study (my parents’ house is a black hole of unproductivity largely due to the big screen television) there was certainly some disappointment.

My immediate reaction?

I jumped up and said, “Wait! I’ll make cookies!”

And wait he did.

Because he’s my little brother and always will be even if he lives miles and miles away now.

These cookies are fantastic if you’re in a rush. You don’t have to bring the butter to room temperature since it’s just melted and they bake up in just 7 minutes. No stand or hand mixer to wash either! 2 bowls, 1 plate, a whisk, and a spatula (along with your measuring tools) are all you need. The most time-consuming part is the rolling etc but once you get into a rhythm it really doesn’t take long at all and is quite enjoyable.

The result? A beautifully soft, fluffy cookie that’s rich (the two sticks of butter may have something to do with that) but not so rich that you don’t want to eat five more right away . I call these “un-classic” because they don’t contain cream of tartar which is largely thought to be essential to provide a snickerdoodle with that little “bite.” These don’t have a bite. Do I miss it? Not really. But in case you would, know that these are biteless but completely delicious in their own right.

Save this recipe for a rainy day. You likely always have all the ingredients on hand and they take no time at all!

You’re welcome.

Un-Classic Snickerdoodles
adapted from the Kitchn

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies depending on size.

Ingredients

For Cookies:

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 heaping cup dark brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1 c white granulated sugar
  • 3 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Rolling:

  • 1/4 c white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425F. Take out baking pans but leave unlined (or line with parchment paper for easier cleanup).

For Cookies: Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool while making the rest of the cookie batter. Stir together dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Then whisk eggs into melted and slightly cooled butter. Add vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.

For Rolling: In a shallow plate, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Form 1 1/2″ balls of cookie dough, then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place each ball onto baking sheet and flatten slightly. Space cookies about 1 1/2″ apart. Bake for 7 minutes and then cool on the pan.

Don’t forget! Today’s your last day to enter for STO’s first giveaway! Contest ends at midnight TONIGHT.

What’s your go-to cookie in a jiffy?

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DB November – Chocolate Fruit Crostata

 

So how did it go, everyone?

Lots of family, friends, and love? Some turkey with stuffing?  Mashed goodness? Sweet goodies in crusts?

I was lucky this year and celebrated two Thanksgivings, once with my friends and once with my family. That meant double the fun, double the cheer, double the poultry, and double the dessert. So this month’s Daring Bakers challenge could not have come at a better time! This way, I could make the challenge for one Thanksgiving and make the dessert of my choosing for the next. And ohhh how excited I was to make this challenge! It was actually quite easy and I imagine it won’t be the last time I attempt to make a lovely crostata with some minis for snacking.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge the Daring Bakers to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Chocolate Fruit Crostata
adapted from the Daring Bakers website and Dorie

Makes 1 crostata.

Ingredients

For Pasta Frolla:

  • scant 3/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For Chocolate Pastry Cream:

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small piece

For Assembly:

  • fruits of your choice, sliced if necessary

Instructions

For Pasta Frolla: [I made mine using a food processor but see the DB website if you are making it by hand.] Pulse sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor to mix. Then add cold butter and pulse until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. Empty contents of the food processor onto your work surface.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the beaten eggs.  Using a fork, begin to combine the eggs with the dry ingredients then use fingertips to finish. Knead until a ball forms – do NOT overknead as the cold butter will get warmed by your hands and you will lose the flaky crust – and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, patting into a round disk. Chill for at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch or 3 mm and place in tart pan (or pie plate which is where I made mine). Cut off excess around the edges. Place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil large enough to cover the dough and hang over the edges and place in pan. Fill with dried beans or rice in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes. Take off weights and foil/parchment and bake again for 5 more minutes. If the dough begins to puff up without the weights, gently push it back down with the back of a spoon. Allow shell to cool completely before filling.

You can use leftover dough to make cookies or these little fruit crostatas I made by spooning a bit of strawberry jam atop rounds of dough followed by a lazy lattice (not woven) of dough strips on top.

For Pastry Cream: Heat milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until thick. Whisk in about 1/4 c of the hot milk, stirring constantly so as not to cook the eggs. Then, slowly add the rest of the milk while whisking constantly. Heat this over medium heat and bring to a boil while continue to stir constantly. Once at a boil, continue to cook while whisking constantly for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate and let sit for five minutes. Then, whisk in the butter until fully incorporated. Cool the custard either by refrigerating with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface or using an ice bath and stirring occasionally.

To Assemble: Whisk cream briefly, then spoon into pastry shell. Smooth top with back of spoon. Layer fruit however desired.

PS. Don’t forget about the giveaway!

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread + GIVEAWAY

See that? There’s no beautiful crust on the end of that sizable chunk  of pumpkin bread.

Why, you ask?

My grandma ate it. That’s right. She went around the entire perimeter of my beautiful chocolate pumpkin loaf and ate all the good parts.

Hence, no lovely pictures of the entire loaf. I apologize for that. So does my 93-year-old grandmother.

Anyway..

I somehow scored the week off since I have no interviews scheduled. That means lots of blog things happening! I haven’t gotten time off to really spend on this blog since it began (chalk that up to the perils of medical school) so I’m quite excited to try out a few new things in both the kitchen and here on the internets.

First up, this chocolate pumpkin bread. Ooooooh baby is this good! I’m making B.Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding for Thanksgiving and started with making the pumpkin bread yesterday. But then I felt guilty that I made this wonderful pumpkin loaf and had to tell everyone that it was not for eating! So.. another pumpkin loaf was born with a few adaptations because why the heck not? I’ll be posting the regular recipe with all its glory soon but for now please please please try this recipe out. It’s fantastic. Half the loaf was gone in a matter of minutes. The other half will likely not make it through the day.

Secondly, I received a lovely email asking if I would like to be a part of a list of 100 blogs for students a few weeks ago. Of course, I said yes! My first little bit of press out there and I’m ecstatic about it. I’m featured at the wayyyy bottom of the page under Student Bloggers. Also featured are lots of other blogs I happen to read so please visit the website here and give some love!

I am holding my very first giveaway here at small town oven! Wooooooo!! Up for grabs is a $35 gift certificate from CSN Stores which features a ton of products including kitchen/dining things such as the apple peeler I reviewed last month, decorating items, and even little holiday gifting ideas for your loved ones (which may or may not be yourself I won’t tell)!

Here’s the deal.

1. You comment, you get an entry.

2. You subscribe to the RSS feed, you get an entry. (For Google Reader, you can click here.) Comment again for another entry.

3. Post about the contest on your blog, facebook, twitter or what have you. Comment with a link to the posted link for another entry.

Contest ends in one week: MIDNIGHT, NOVEMBER 30TH.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
adapted from Bobby Flay

Makes 1 9″ loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • scant 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c water

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or extra butter.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and oil on high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Add pumpkin puree and blend well. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Then, on low speed slowly add the dry ingredients and the water. Mix until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing and eating!

Note: I also folded 4 oz of chopped white chocolate at the end but as you can tell by these pictures they melted away. If you want to add a handful of white chocolate chips I think they could go great but I might cut back a little bit on the sugar.

Look for updates including a longer blogroll and a new Facebook page coming soon!

Happy Turkey Day to you and yours. Sharing is caring so try not to eat all the “good parts” (ie the crust on this loaf) on your own!

Oreo Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a confession to make.

I have a mixer and I’m not afraid to use it.

I know I should only be using it for the greater good. With my special powers in and around the oven I should really be a superhero of sorts but sometimes sometimes I use it for evil.

To get my way.

It’s terrible but true and I am ashamed but probably not ashamed enough to never do it again and it comforts me to think that perhaps someone else out there has done the same thing? Or something like it? Come on, you know you’re out there!

So this is what happened. My medical school rotates through several hospitals, the closest being 5 minutes away and the furthest being 40 minutes away. This seems to be a no-brainer, yes? Wouldn’t you want to do your rotations close by so you don’t waste precious hours driving? Except what if the other hospital is “cushy”? What if you don’t work as hard there, have more time to study? Well then. That, my friends, sounds like the place to be.

And so that’s where I went for my most recent rotation.

It took a little bargaining which may or may not have consisted of a batch of cookies for three weeks at a certain hospital.

Guilty as charged.

But these cookies were delicious and I ate a whoooooole bunch of them before I gave the rest of the batch away and so it was essentially a win-win situation in my book!

Oreo Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Picky Palate

Makes 18-24 cookies depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 11 Oreos, crushed
  • 1 1/2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix crushed Oreos with cream cheese until a dough forms. Set aside. If using a stand mixer, spoon mixture out of bowl and simply use bowl as is for the cookie dough (that’s what I did anyhow).

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Then fold in chocolate chips.

To assemble: Take Oreo mixture and portion and roll out little balls about 1 tbsp each. Scoop cookie dough onto prepared sheets. There should be equal balls of the Oreo mixture and equal blobs of cookie dough. Make an indentation in a cookie dough blob, insert a ball of Oreo mixture, and reshape cookie dough to cover the Oreo. Continue for the rest of the cookies.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges of cookies just begin to brown a bit. Cool on rack until you can’t contain yourself then dig in!

Happy holiday eating if I don’t update between now and then. Be on the lookout for some fantabulous holiday desserts coming soon though!

Cinnamon Cupcakes with Pumpkin Filling

“Tell me about yourself.”

What a difficult question! It seem so simple. There’s so much to say! I’ve lived for so many years, had so many experiences, but where does one start? Do you want to know about why I wanted to become a doctor? How about the time I puked in the hallway in second grade while everyone was walking for some event and I just kept moving as if it never happened? Do you want to know about my parents? Brother? Grandmother? Pet fish who died a few months ago?

Which self do you want to hear about, is the questions I should reply back.

It’s officially interview season for residency programs all over the country! My first one is tomorrow followed by my second on Wednesday right before my third on Thursday and my fourth on Friday. Yes, that’s right. Four full-day interviews complete with tours of hospitals in four days with an added “Meet the Residents” dinner the night before each and every one of those interviews.

And this is only the beginning?!

I have 13, possibly 14, scheduled interviews with the last on January 5 (for now anyway).

How I’ll keep sane with all the travel is beyond me at the moment. I’m stuck in the present. The present, where I still have these cupcakes to calm me down the second I start hyperventilating about how these interviews will decide the next four years of my life, what city I’ll be in, which hospital I’ll work at.

I’ve been thinking lately that it’s been awhile since I’ve come up with a new cupcake recipe. After much thinking and consideration, this idea came to me in an instant. Funny how things work that way, isn’t it? You spend all this time trying to plan it all out and, in the end, things just fall into place.

These came together perfectly on the first try and they are a taste of hearty fall. The cake itself is a bit dense, almost like a quickbread even. The filling and frosting are not overly sweet but are filled with spicy warmth. The combination is winning and every bit make me feel like I am home and settled into the autumn season.

I urge you to make these as is or leave out the filling and frosting altogether and you have a semblance of a cinnamon muffin on your hands!

 

Cinnamon Cupcakes with Pumpkin Filling and Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
a STO original

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients
For cupcakes:

  • 2 c cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 /2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c buttermilk

For filling:

  • 3/4 c pumpkin puree, I used canned
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

For frosting:

  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a cupcake/muffin pan with lining papers.

For cupcakes: In a large bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until completely incorporated before moving on. Add vanilla. Alternately add the flour mixture followed by the buttermilk in 3 and 2 additions respectively, mixing until well combined. Do not overbeat. When mixed, divide evenly among cupcake liners, each about 2/3 to 3/4 filled. Pop in the oven for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once done, cool on wire racks.

While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the filling and frosting.

For filling: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

For frosting: With a stand or hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until creamy and smooth. Then add vanilla, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and mix just until combined. Taste and adjust flavorings as needed.

To assemble: When the cupcakes are cooled, cut out tiny cones from the top of each one. Cut off the very tip of each cone to give a little more space for filling. Drop about 1 tbsp filling per cupcake. You should have just enough filling. Replace the cone and frost with the cream cheese mixture. For these I put the frosting in a gallon-sized plastic bag, cut off the tip, and piped the frosting on.

PS. Is anyone as excited about seeing the Pioneer Woman and Bobby Flay go at it as I am?

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks to everyone for the tips and the well wishes for my trip! I’ll keep you updated on how the planning is going.

It’s scary how quickly the holidays are creeping upon us, isn’t it?

I’ve already begun looking for presents.

I know.

My top three tips?

1. Online shopping. No lines, no sensory overload, no need to do it during normal business hours (which is key if, say, your working day encompasses ALL normal business hours). One of my new great finds? CSN stores through which I got the apple peeler I featured a few posts ago. They have cookware, contemporary coffee tables, fitness equipment, and so much more. You can find gifts just by browsing around aimlessly!

2. Planning ahead.

3. These cookies. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Peanut butter for protein, oatmeal for fiber and it’s supposedly heart healthy, and chocolate for energy! Also, they taste pretty good and will magically put you into a good non-stressful mood. By my official analysis, these are the perfect cookies for holiday season on-the-go-ness. (WordPress is unhappy with the word I just made up. Surprisingly, a red squiggly line is also under “wordpress” as I type this. Ironic that they don’t even approve of their own name.)

They have a wonderful sandy texture and taste rich because of the peanut butter but they’re not heavy. Substituting chopped chocolate for chocolate chips has been a new thing of mine. The chocolate stays gooey for a longer period of time and I like their irregularity in the cookies. I stole the idea from Dorie who never fails me. Definitely good stuff, friends.

Happy cookie making and holiday celebrating!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Makes 24 cookies (but this is entirely dependent on how large your cookies are).

Ingredients

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c instant oats
  • 4 oz  semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract, 3-5 minutes. Add egg and mix until combined. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in oats followed by the chopped chocolate.

Drop dough onto prepared sheets, leaving 2 inches around each cookie. Brown Eyed Baker dropped 3 tbsp per cookie and got 16. I used a heaping tbsp per cookie and got 24. It’s be good no matter what! Bake until cookies are lightly golden. They won’t look done and will likely be puffy but take them out based on color. Cool completely on the baking sheet so they finish baking and then eat, eat, EAT!

How do you stay sane for the upcoming holidays?

Blueberry Applesauce Muffins

I’m planning a trip out of the country.

(YAY!)

We’re flying off to Beijing in May for the wedding of one of the cutest couples I’ve ever met. They did a cross-continent long distance relationship for several years before finally deciding to tie the knot. And they’re having a huge wedding in Beijing to do it! (They’ll have one in the USA too but this is a wonderful excuse to trek over to Asia so I’m going with it.) Boy and I plan on flying out to Beijing, spending a week or so exploring that area of China, and then roaming on over to Japan for a week or so. I’m quite excited even though it’s months and months away.

I’ve begun planning, reading up on how to do Japan on a budget because Tokyo is supposedly the most expensive city in the world. For two broke-as-a-joke medical students, that doesn’t sound good. But I’m determined to make it work.

Any tips on where to go/eat or what to do in Beijing or Japan are more than welcome!!

All this thinking about leaving the country, however, made me already start to miss home. Planning vacations stresses me out a bit and trying to figure out how to cram an entire country in one week is overwhelming. My train was about to pull into freak-out central and that’s never good.

So I made these blueberry muffins to remedy the situation (my growling tummy was thankful too). Oh goodness did they hit the spot! They were spicy (in that cinnamon sort of way) and homey and all sorts of comforting. I guarantee you they’ll give you warm and fuzzies. The crispy little topping was perfect too, a lovely contrast to the soft, moist interior created in part by the addition of applesauce to the typical blueberry muffin mix.

How can you argue with the simplicity of a great blueberry muffin?

In a bite and a half, all was right with the world.

Blueberry Applesauce Muffins
adapted from epicurious

Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients

For muffins:

  • 1 1/2 c + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c applesauce, unsweetened or cinnamon flavored
  • 1 c fresh blueberries, or frozen and thawed

For topping:

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp quick-cooking oats

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F.

For muffins: Toss blueberries in 1 tbsp flour and set aside.

Whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until well combined. Slowly add melted butter, whisking the whole time until creamy. Stir in applesauce followed by flour mixture. Finish by stirring in the blueberries and divide among muffin cups.

For topping: Stir all ingredients together and sprinkle atop muffins.

Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.

Seriously. Any ideas on what we can/should do in Beijing and/or Japan?

And what makes you feel at home?