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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

It is finally bright & sunny in Boston.  That means, at this precise time of year, the moment the sun rises, I am also awake, it shines right down into my room.  Which is both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing b/c it makes waking up so much more pleasant than the dreary dark of dead winter, but, a curse because mornings when I want to sleep in the sun is taunting me.

You may be thinking, ok, on a weekend this is a problem, but a Wednesday, doesn’t she have to work? I do.  But, of the few great things about my job, #1 at the moment is that I don’t have to be there until 10. That’s right. 10 am.  As in, when the third hour of The Today Show begins.  A couple of mornings a week I work out in the morning, but not on Wednesdays.  Usually I’ll get up and putter – empty the dishwasher, blog, have my cup of tea with Matt Lauer & Meredith Vieira, and every once in awhile I even sneak in the host chat of Live! With Regis & Kelly.

Annnnyway,  this particular Wednesday I awoke especially early sans alarm clock, before 6:30, and didn’t know what to do with myself.  I read a bit of Vanity Fair, made my grocery list for Friday’s cocktail party, and it was barely 7 by the time I was done.  I did not feel like putting my running sneakers on and hitting the Charles, I just didn’t have it in me.  So. Instead, I baked.

I am still trying to work through the bag of mini cinnamon chips I bought, and decided cookies was the way to go.  What goes well with cinnamon? Oatmeal. And raisins.  I took out my ginormous container of Quaker Oats, took the lid of and “AHA!” The perfect recipe for oatmeal cookies.  All I needed to do was add the cinnamon chips, and dial back the cinnamon spice it called for in the recipe.

I made a combination of cookies & bars.  Let me tell you, the bars are amazing, just a wee bit undercooked so they remained soft & chewy.  They were still warm by the time I brought them to work.  Make these some morning and brighten someone’s day. Or ruin their diet. 🙂

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Heaven.

Welcome to the King Arthur Baking Store in Norwich VT. King Arthur is hands down the best flour. Ever.  The women in my family, (namely my Mom and her mom) are huge flour snobs.  None of this Gold Medal junk. King Arthur is the way to go.  So when my Mom & I were planning our Canadian road trip we realized that we’d be passing by Norwich Vermont on our way home from Montreal.  We decided we needed to go, and when I discovered that they had baking class I knew that would be the best way to wrap up our trip.  The Baguette class was already sold out, but the Lemon desserts class was a great second choice!  I’ve recently discovered that I do indeed love lemon baked goods, but have feared the foundation of many lemon desserts- the lemon curd.  I was really excited to learn how to do it from a professional and am no longer afraid.  Here is the photo-journal of the afternoon!

Now this is school I could really love

Cooking stations

Lots of tools for a room full of cooks

That's a lotta butta

Fresh eggs

Mirror above head station so we could see what Robyn was whipping up!

I learned how to make an egg stay on the counter, slightly tap the bottom to flatten it

All about lemons!

No stand mixers here! Good ol' fashioned elbow grease & a wooden spoon to get butter & sugar all creamed up

Once flour is added & mixed, voila, I have a nice piece of pastry dough

All rolled out & in the mini tart pan

coffee filter w/dry beans to cook up the tart shell

Industrial oven. WANT. Also, the 3 minute cycle dishwasher. I have kitchen envy.

Pretty!

Lemon curd on the burner

I thought we burned it, but it was ok to be a bit scorched on the bottom, and anyway, the brown bits were just caramelized sugar= YUM!

And into the tart shell

So pretty!

Next up, lemon cookies!

Rolled in sugar

Smooshed with a measuring cup

Fresh cookies, yum!

My take-home box of goodies!

And more goodies from the store. I could've bought the whole place

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Oh Joy!

Hello my lovelies! The holidays have been a whirlwind and I didn’t get to participate in as much Christmas cooking as I normally do.  But, I did get something that should help liven things up around La Cucina.

My dearest Nate & Kate gave me my very own copy of Joy of Cooking.  It’s amazing.  And, just in case, I got another copy from my parents… Oops.  Anything you could ever imagine to make- soup to nuts, it’s in there.  I’m excited to get stock up the pantry and tuck into a New England winter.

Thank you!!!!

Though, the pantry is well on its way.

Open my cupboard right now.  Go ahead, it’s cool.  (Just be sure to shut the door after because I have this irrational fear of open cupboards after seeing The Sixth Sense. )  We’ve got your basic cooking supplies, flour, sugar, baking soda, a few staples- rice, marinara sauce, beans, oatmeal.  And then. There’s the brown rice.  The muesli mix.  The whole wheat flour, millet, barley, and bulgur.  Um. This is weird.  I mean, yes, Whole Foods is the closest grocery store, so it makes sense that over time my diet would improve, but this is just plain wacky.  For plenty of people this is the norm, but again, for me, this is a big change.  Blame some of it on last year’s Lent challenge, and the rest on finally trying to expand my horizons.  So.

My new box o'bulgur.

What to do with all these whole grains and goodies? Why, make something delicious!!! I made a lovely snowed-in pasta dinner the other night.  It was deeeelish.  I had bought parsley to make the meatballs, and only needing about 1 tablespoon, I thought to myself, “Ok, now what?” I didn’t want to waste an entire bunch of garnish, and what possibly uses parsley as the starring ingredient? Tabbouleh!  This is where the bulgur comes in.  Parsley begat bulgur, bulgur begat cookies. Yeah, that last one’s a bit of a leap, but I was on a roll! I wanted to see what else I could whip up.

I had on hand this package of Muesli and wasn’t enjoying it as a cold cereal.  There was a cookie recipe on the side which I kept telling myself I’d try, as soon as I had all the ingredients on hand.  I never seem to have applesauce, so this was a problem. I finally decided to go for it and use the old ripe bananas I had in the freezer.  Not too shabby for a healthy cookie.

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Yeah, now that I say that out loud it does seem kind of random…but trust me, it was a good night in the kitchen.  I didn’t really need to make dinner, I had left-overs in the fridge, but I was trying to plan out the rest of the week and make sure I had lunches ready to avoid having to buy something sub-par and overrpriced in downtown Boston.

I also knew the next couple of nights were busy and I had a free night to spend in the kitchen.  On top of all that, it had been a stressful couple of days at work and I needed cooking therapy.  I went through my binder of recipes (some I’ve made, most are on the to-do list) and found something that seemed good, and bonus! I had all of the ingredients (sort of.)  I made a basic ragout of tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic & seasoning, added chickpeas, and ladeled that over some prepared couscous.  Hate to admit it, I didn’t have an onion so I used a bit of onion powder, and I didn’t have any parsley to top it off with.  See recipe here.

A bit later in the evening, I was still antsy to make something else.  I finally made the gluten-free peanut butter & jelly cookies I’d been eyeing for a couple of weeks.  They were super-quick, and so good.  I echo Joy’s thoughts, peanut butter is just good at any time, for any reason, and nearly in any form.   This was also exciting for my roommate, who has one of those obnoxious gluten allergies and can never eat anything I bake.  We’ve both had a bit of a rough start to the week so a couple of warm cookies and re-runs of The Hills made for a fantastic evening.

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