Monday, January 30, 2012

Rosemary Cheddar Crackers

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Hello all! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I did. Friday night I was able to spend time with some of the people I love most and Saturday night was spent sleeping. I was in bed super early and woke up refreshed and ready to face the day. And by "day" I mean the gym and yoga. Don't you just love those weekends?

So of course I did some baking but I actually made these crackers a while ago. I was trying to use up that rosemary and made these in tandem with the Rosemary Cookies a few weekends ago. These crackers are perfect for entertaining and super easy to make. They remind me of spicy macaroni and cheese in cracker form. Or a spicy Cheez-It.

First I combined the butter and cheese. Sorry for the weird picture, my kitchen lighting was off!
While that was combining in my stand mixer, I whisked the dry ingredients together.
I love this color combination on the white flour. It looks so sharp and stunning! Once the cheese and butter was combined, I mixed in the dry ingredients and started to roll the dough into logs. This was what my kitchen looked like while chopping all of that rosemary for the cookies as well!
I rolled the dough into two separate logs, wrapped them in saran wrap and put them in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning they were hardened up and ready to be sliced and baked. I used my fork to poke small holes in the tops of them, in the shape of an X.
When they were all sliced and ready for the oven, I baked them at 375F for about 13 minutes.
My poked holes didn't come out quite like I wanted but I served these up with a little Ballerina goat cheese and they were absolutely divine!


Recipe
Yields: 24-36 crackers

2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (or 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary)
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, cream the cheese and butter until smooth and well combined.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes, and cayenne. Add the flour mixture to the cheese mixture, and stir to combine thoroughly. (If it still seems dry, feel free to throw the dough into your food processor, and pulse until it comes together.)

Turn the dough onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. Roll it into a log shape for round crackers; for square crackers, gently tap each side of the log on the counter several times to form a long rectangle. Wrap the dough in the paper, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take the dough out of the fridge, and cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet. Using a fork, prick the center of each cracker several times, and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool completely before serving or storing. (You can store these in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Note: The dough for these crackers can be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to bake and serve. Once baked, the crackers can be frozen and then reheated in the oven for a few minutes before serving.


Friday, January 20, 2012

I Have To Say Something...

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I try to steer clear of certain topics on my blog and stick to what I love which is baking but sometimes things just need to be said. Paula Deen. I've never been a fan of her food. I once said that to someone and their response was, "well that's because you're thin." No. No, it's not. It's because I try to put an emphasis on healthy living. Now, I'm not saying I won't use butter and I'm not saying I won't use sugar but what I am saying is that I won't use it to excess. If I see a recipe that has more than one stick of butter or a whole cup of sugar, I've lost interest. I don't really like using a whole stick of butter or one cup of sugar to be perfectly honest but I will. Or I find ways to make it taste just as good with less.

It's hard to have sympathy for someone who has built an empire on advocating an unhealthy lifestyle. Sure, she can "emphasize" portion control but she's not leading by example, which is the best way to get your point across in my opinion. I have sympathy for people who have health conditions beyond their control. What I can't have sympathy for is someone who promotes unhealthy food, becomes ill because of it and then uses her illness to profit off of it.

Her health is her business, right? Couldn't agree more. People have a right to their privacy. What they don't have a right to do is mislead the public for three years by promoting an unhealthy lifestyle and then own up to it because they see a business opportunity. If she wanted to use her illness to promote awareness, she would have done so when she first received her diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. She should have started introducing new, healthier recipes three years ago. Which by the way, her new "healthy" lasagna isn't even remotely healthy. It's loaded with fatty cheese and she basically cut out the butter.

So now I leave you all with something to think about, I hope. Before the news of her diabetes came out I had no opinion of her. I just didn't care for her recipes. Now, I believe her true colors have been shown. Shas no regard for fans and the people who pay her bills by supporting her. I ask you all to take what I have said into consideration because I do care about you all. All 3 of you who follow my blog. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rosemary Cookies

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Last weekend I was in a daring mood. Well, as daring as I can be. I am a pretty cautious person. Skydiving? Nothing about that looks fun. Not even the plane ride in that small airplane to get up there looks fun. In fact, it looks frightening. But these cookies aren't that daring. I mean they are different but not dangerous. The fact that I shared them was a bit daring. I can get shy with things that I'm not sure how they will be perceived.

And I wasn't sure how these would go over at work. You see, they are a tad spicy and spicy doesn't usually go well with cookies. And while I found them tasty, I think others were a bit overwhelmed with them. I love spicy foods. Not so spicy that you burn your mouth and can't enjoy the other flavors but spicy enough that you do start to sweat a little bit. Also, did you know that studies have shown that spicy food can actually boost your metabolism? How awesome is that?!

Anyway, on to the cookies... I found this recipe over at Bitter Sweet Blog and thought it looked like it could be a different twist on a typical cookie. I'm always looking for something new and exciting to try. I made a couple changes though. I used an egg and omitted the pecans because I didn't have any on hand. I'm not a huge pecan fan. Mostly because they are the worst nut for you. I did have a delicious pecan cheesecake a while ago which was definitely worth every calorie! I also added the egg because my dough wasn't coming together but you are more than welcome to try with out the egg and just add it if you run into the same problem.

First I started with the dry ingredients. I thought the spices were beautiful when placed on top of the white flour. I also mixed in a little whole wheat because I do that whenever I can. I think the whole wheat has much more flavor to it than regular AP flour.
Next I creamed the melted butter and creamed it with the maple syrup and sugars and vanilla. I love that maple syrup was used. I don't think it gets used enough in recipes.
Now, like I said before, when I added my dry ingredients to the wet they weren't coming together. I was only getting a mixture that was similar to sand or pebbles. So I added an egg. Once I did that, things were much, much better.
I baked them at 325F for 12 minutes since I like a chewier cookie and they came out just right.

 I liked these, I did. I just don't know if I'd make them again since I'm not really a cookie person. They were definitely different though and sometimes, different is good.

*Side Note: The picture has a slightly green tint to it but these cookies were not green by any means. Except for the rosemary, of course! 

Recipe
Yields: 12-18

1/2 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine, Melted (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary (or 1 Teaspoon Dried), Finely Chopped or Ground
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Toasted and Chopped Pecans (I omitted)
1/2 Cup (3 Ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Chunks

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, blend together the melted margarine, both sugars, maple syrup, and vanilla until smooth and fully combined.

Sift the flour into a separate bowl, and add in all of the spices, rosemary, baking soda, and salt. Lightly toss both the pecan pieces and chocolate chips in, to coat with the flour.

Add the dry goods into the stand mixer in two additions, being careful not to overwork the dough but mix it just enough to bring everything together, without any pockets of flour lurking at the bottom. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions so that everything gets incorporated.
Scoop out dough with a medium sized cookie scoop or two large spoons in about 3 – 4 tablespoon portions.

Give the cookies plenty of space on your prepared baking sheets, leaving at least and inch between blobs. I usually bake only 9 per sheet, to ensure that none of them spread and collide. Flatten the raw cookie dough out lightly with the palm of your hand, so that they’re nice and round, and about 1/2 inch in thickness.

Bake for 12 – 16 minutes, watching closely to make sure that they are just barely golden brown around the edges when you pull the from the oven. They should still look fairly under-baked in the center, to ensure a soft and chewy texture.

Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, and then move them off to a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week, if they last that long.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Girl Scout Cookies

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I have yet to find a person that doesn't like Girl Scout Cookies. At least one kind of them. Everyone has at least one that they love. Me? I'm a Thin Mints and Samoas ("Caramel Delights" if we want to be politically correct about it) kind of girl. Frozen Thin Mints with Vanilla Ice Cream? Love it. And the chewiness of Samoas? Those always make me smile. But like all things in life, with the awesomely good comes the awfully bad and these cookies are awesomely bad for you.

So like the Halloween post I did back in October, I decided I would break down the Girl Scout Cookies nutritional information for you per cookie. So let's get down to it, why don't we?!


Do-si-dos
(for Peanut Butter Sandwich,
see below)


Per Cookie:
Calories: 55
Total Fat: 2.5g, .75g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates: 8g, Fiber <.5g, Sugars 3.5g
Protein: 1g






Dulce de Leche


Per Cookie:
Calories: 40
Total Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat .88g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 5g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 2.25g
Protein: .25g






Lemonade

Per Cookie:
Calories: 75
Total Fat: 3.5g, Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 11g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 4.5g
Protein: 1g








Peanut Butter Patties
(for Tagalongs see below)


Per Cookie:
Calories: 65
Total Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 6.5g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 3.5g
Protein: .5g










Peanut Butter Sandwich
(for Do-si-dos see above)


Per Cookie:
Calories: 53.33
Total Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat .83g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 8.67g, Fiber <.33g, Sugars: 2.67g
Protein: .67g









Samoas (Caramel deLites)


Per Cookie:
Calories: 70
Total Fat: 3.5g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 9.5g, Fiber .5g, Sugars .5g
Protein: .5g







Savannah Smiles


Per Cookie:
Calories: 28
Total Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat .3g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 4.6g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 2g
Protein: .2g








Shortbread
(for Trefoils, see below)


Per Cookie:
Calories: 30
Total Fat: 1.125g, Saturated Fat .5g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 4.75g, Fiber <.25g Sugars 1g
Protein: .25g








Shout Outs



Per Cookie:
Calories: 32.5
Total Fat: 1.25g, Saturated Fat .5g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 3.6g, Fiber <.25g, Sugars 2g
Protein: .5g







Tagalongs
(for Peanut Butter Patties, see above)


Per Cookie:
Calories: 70
Total Fat: 4.5g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 6.5g, Fiber <.5g, Sugars 4g 
Protein: 1g





Thank U Berry Much

Per Cookie:
Calories: 60
Total Fat: 2.5g, Saturated Fat 1g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 9g, Fiber <.5g, Sugars 3.5g
Protein: .5g






Thanks-A-Lot

Per Cookie:
Calories: 75
Total Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat 1.75g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 11g, Fiber <.5g, Sugars 4.5g
Protein: 1g





Thin Mints



Per Cookie:
Calories: 40
Total Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 5.25g, Fiber <.25g, Sugars 2.5g
Protien: .25g






All information was gathered directly from the Girl Scout Cookies website. Please visit for further information.

There you have it folks, all of the information you need to make an informed decision about those Girl Scout cookies you love so much! I'm not saying give up on them... just try not to eat the entire box.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holiday Cookie Trio- Gingersnaps, Oatmeal Rum Raisin and Salted Mudslides

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Is it strange that I am kind of glad the holidays are over? I mean don't get me wrong, they were great and I loved them but I don't usually mind January and February since it gives me some down time. I made these cookies a while ago for a little mini reunion I had with some of the girls from high school. I'm just now getting around to posting them... that's how crazy this season has been.

Let's start with the gingersnaps. Nothing says Christmas like gingersnap cookies. At least in my house. My roommate does "ginger mooshies" since she likes them chewie. I'm not much of a cookie person but I rather have chewy over crispy as well.
The molasses is what gives it that dark, rich color as well as that tasty flavor you get with gingersnaps.
Mine spread out way more than I thought they would so I recommend placing them further apart than the standard 1-2 inches. I guess I didn't take into account the molasses that causes the cookies to spread!
You can see where I had to cut them apart. Oh well, they were still delicious. Next up is the Oatmeal Rum Raisins which were absolutely divine! If I had to pick a favorite cookie, it would probably be Oatmeal Raisin. Add the rum to it and these cookies just shine! The key to this recipe is the soaking of the raisins in the rum. The longer I soak them, the better the cookies.
I froze mine for a few hours so the flavors really had time to get in there. When it was time to bake them, slicing them was easy because the alcohol made them soften quicker.
They turned out quite nicely, I will say. The batch is small so doubling it is always an option.
And last but not least, I made Salted Mudslides because... well who doesn't like chocolate cookies with Kahlua? Pre-rum addition, they still look yummy!
Post-rum addition... over the top!
When it was time to hand these out, I opted for ease over anything else. I put 4 of each in a clear bag, tied with Christmas ribbon and gave them a label.
You can see how I made the label over at the Make On Through page, my new crafts section. It won't be updated as often as my baking blog, but every once in a while I will add something that I have thrown together! That's all for now! Happy New Year!

Recipes:

Gingersnaps
Yields: 3 dozen

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (6-ounces) vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 extra large egg at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1/3 cup granulated sugar for rolling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, clove, pepper, and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg and molasses and beat until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.  Add the flour in three additions and mix until just combined.  

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour to firm.  (Dough can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month).

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.  Place the 1/3 cup sugar in a shallow bowl.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  Using a small ice cream scoop or spoon, shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in the sugar.  Place the balls 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 12-15 minutes (12 minutes for a chewier cookie, 15 minutes for a crisp cookie).

Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Oatmeal Rum Raisin
Yields: 12

1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons dark rum
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk from 1 large egg
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small bowl, stir together the raisins and dark rum. Set aside and let soak.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 1-2 minutes. Once thoroughly combined, add the egg yolk.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add half of it to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing until just combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and beat til combined. Do not over mix. Stir in the oats and raisins (include any rum that was not absorbed).

Divide into 12 balls and bake 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Don’t be afraid to let these cookies get a little color–the browned butter and rum flavor combo is delicious.

Salted Mudslides
Yields: 2 Dozen

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10-15 minutes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup coffee liqueur + 1 teaspoon (Godiva, Kahlua, etc)
1 cup chocolate chunks
sea salt for topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix the flour, cocoa, coffee powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stream in coffee liqueur and mix. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. If you find you absolutely need more liquid add in a teaspoon of coffee liqueur, but it should come together. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Remove dough from the fridge and roll into golfball sized balls. Set on a non-stick baking sheet with 2 inches between each. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are set and the middles are still soft. The centers should be puffy. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.