Sunday, January 23, 2011

oatmeal cookies

Here's a life lesson for all of you: if you want to be liked, bring cookies. Who doesn't like a cookie? Bring homemade cookies somewhere, and you'll be welcomed with open arms. It's my number-one secret to parties, social interactions, and man-winning.

For these cookies, I took a cue from Jen & Juice and swapped the raisins for dried cranberries.

A word about oats... Conventionally harvested oats are often contaminated with trace amounts of wheat. Because I am merely gluten-intolerant, oats & oat flour have never bothered me. But if you have celiac disease, make sure to use certified gluten-free pure oats & oat flour.

Makes 2-3 dozen

3/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together the first six ingredients by hand.
When smooth, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Last, add in the oatmeal, cranberries, and chocolate chips.
Drop by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on top.
* For gluten-free, substitute 1 cup of oat flour and 1/2 cup white rice flour.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

sweet potato hash

Carbs are my number-one vice. If I had to choose my last meal on earth, it would probably be a heaping bowl of spaghetti, garlic bread, and a side of mexican beans & rice. Maybe some mashed potatoes too, just for good measure.

Nonetheless, I have a conscience, so I don't feast on starches every single night. Most starches do undesirable things to my body (stomach and waistline alike.) For the most part, I avoid excessive carbs, and feel much better for it.

There is one starch, however, that always treats me kindly: my good buddy, the sweet potato. It has more vitamins, more fiber, and a lower glycemic index than white potatoes. When I'm not making them like this or this, I like to dress them up with a mix of sweet & savory spices in a simple hash. (If you're feeling up to it, top this with a fried egg--oh baby.)

serves one

1/2 large sweet potato
2-3 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper
1/4 large onion, diced
1/2 cup chicken stock (water will work in a pinch)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to broil. Peel & dice the sweet potato into small, 3/4" cubes. Rub a cast-iron or oven-proof skillet with the olive oil. Add the sweet potatoes with a small shake of salt & pepper. Toss to coat.
2. Put the potatoes under the broiler for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another five minutes. (This will allow the potatoes to form a crispy outside.)
3. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion starts to become translucent.
4. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock, and cover the pan. Once the liquid evaporates, add the rest of the stock & repeat. (This will steam the potatoes to cook them through.)
5. Add the spices & toss to coat. Taste, & add salt & pepper if needed.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

connie's lemon pudding

This is another lovely recipe I learned from my mom. Recently, I've realized that this is essentially lemon curd. But who wants to eat "curd" when you can eat pudding? "Pudding" speaks of childhood, of stove-top treats poured from a box long ago. "Curd" is just a weird four-letter word. It's the new year, and I'm closing in on my last few months of teenagerism. Let me eat my pudding before I'm old.

Tirade of vocabulary and quarter-life crisis complete.

I'm a citrus fanatic, so I prefer my pudding almost bracingly tart. If you like yours a little sweeter, up the sugar to 1 cup. This recipe is frighteningly simple, but it does takes a little time. The lemon pudding is indeed a labor of love.

Oh, and happy new year!


2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice plus the pulp, if you can get it
1/4 cup water

1. In a skillet off the heat, beat the two eggs. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and beat until very well combined. Finally, beat in the baking powder. The mixture may foam up a little--this is normal.
2. Put the skillet over medium-low heat and add the lemon juice, then the water, stirring vigorously. It is very important to keep the mixture moving, lest you get lemony scrambled eggs. (Foam is still okay.)
3. For a few minutes, continue to stir steadily until the mixture just barely begins to boil. At this point, you will see that the mixture turns from a "cloudy" yellow to a "clear" bright yellow. It's done.
4. Divide the pudding into ramekins, or pour off into a bowl. Allow to cool, then refrigerate. Best if served chilled.

Fills 8 small ramekins.