Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sourdough Surprises: Chocolate Pizzelles

Ah, the sourdough cookie. When I started sourdough baking, I had all kinds of breads and quick breads. Cookies were notoriously missing until recently. Now I've made a few kinds of cookies...here and here and here. But when SourdoughSurprises announced that they were doing cookies for December, there was a recipe I had to try again.

I told the story of how we came about the pizzelle iron the first time I attempted to make Sourdough Pizzelles. Pizzelles are a traditional Italian cookie, frequently making an appearance around the holidays. How my 100% Polish great aunt got to making them, I may never know. All I know is that I accepted them as a treat from up north, like Platter's Orange Chocolate. When my niece fell in love with them, my mother bought the iron. And my first thought was: How do I make sourdough pizzelles?

My first attempt, using a waffle recipe, didn't turn out very sweet at all. I ended up using them in place of bread. Then I came across this desert waffle recipe and thought I was on to something.

The problem is that malt powder was going to be another one of those one-recipe-and-done ingredients. So, a little research and I came up with a substitute using flour and powdered milk. Everything else was according to the recipe.

A word of warning about pizzelles: They take forever. It was easily over 2 hours that I spent carefully pouring batter onto the heated iron. They are certainly a labor of love, which is why I knew they were a special treat.

The recipe, as follows:
Chocolate Sourdough Pizzelles
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup fresh Sourdough starter
1/2 cup Cocoa powder
1/3 cup powdered milk
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk the dry ingredients in a small bowl; you may need to sift the mixture if your cocoa is lumpy.

Add the dry ingredients, plus the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla to the sourdough batter, stirring to combine.
Drop batter by scant tablespoonfuls onto preheated waffle iron. Bake according to manufacturer directions.

Pizzelles may be shaped into cones, bowls or cannoli shells while still warm. They will crisp up as they cool.

They are a little chewier than most pizzelles (although they still hold their shape quite well). However, they disappeared quickly. They were rich and chocolatey, not too sweet, with just the hint of cinnamon.

I'm very pleased. I finally have made a sourdough pizzelle. I'm not done though. One of these days, when I have the energy to burn at the pizzelle iron, I have an idea for a more traditionally flavored sourdough pizzelle. Until then...I'll have to find other ways to keep my starter active.

Check out our other awesomely delicious cookies!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Shine Supper Club: Sourdough Sugar Cookies

A lot of years ago (in fact, I think I was still in junior high), I finished a batch of Christmas sugar cookies. Being home alone at the time, I decided to be nice and bake a new batch. I went to town with a cookie cutter and sanding sugar. My mother wasn't at all upset that she got hardly any out of the batch I finished – she was more impressed by the cookies. It's been a tradition of mine to ever since to bake her sugar cookies before Christmas ever since. And with the Shine Supper Club doing holiday dishes, I decided to share my tradition.

For a few years, I deviated from that tradition a little, baking sourdough soft pretzels and rolling them out like cookies (still topped with sanding sugar though!), thanks to my new-found love of sourdough baking and my lack of sourdough sugar cookies. Now I happened to find a sourdough sugar cookie recipe. Perfect.

I used the almond variation of this recipe, and omitted the frosting. I'm not against frosting, but who needs the extra calories this time of year? Fortunately, these cookies are sweet and soft enough to go without it.

The recipe:
Sourdough Sugar Cookies


Adapted very slightly from King Arthur Flour
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on how big your cookie cutter is
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract or almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sourdough starter, active
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Sanding sugar or other desired decorations

In a large bowl, cream vegetable shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs, lemon or almond extract and vanilla extract until mixture is fluffy. Stir in sourdough starter; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into sourdough mixture. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or overnight ( helps firm dough etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured board, roll dough to 1/4-inch thick; cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly browned (for me, it was about 15 minutes, but my cookies were on the large side). Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
When cool, frost and decorate as desired.



Other than taking a little longer than specified to bake (and 90 minutes was not quite enough time to chill!), I can't tell you how pleased I am with these cookies. Coupled with my Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies (and another recipe I've made for Sourdough Surprises, coming up on December 20th!), these are perfect for an all-sourdough cookie tin.

And on that note...how did one lonely red grain of sanding sugar get on this green Christmas Tree?


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sourdough Surprises: Kit Kat Scones

Ah, scones. There's something comforting about them. Back in college, briefly, my mother and I both worked at the mall. We had a tradition: If we started and ended within a half hour of each other, one of us drove and the other bought drinks and munchies from this little smoothie shop in the food court. Sometimes I'd get a muffin, other times I'd get a scone. Then there was my high school band trip to Scotland. Scones are, in fact, a Scottish creation. They were also one of the few foods I ate that tasted like I was used to. (Seriously – I lost eight pounds in two weeks over there, the food was so unpalatable. I didn't get a decent meal until the last day, Fish and Chips at the Allan Water Cafe in Sterling. After two weeks of hardly eating, I couldn't finish it). Plus, I've made them before – although it was so long ago, I think I was still using the milk and sugar starter from the Friendship bread. So I was very excited to have this month's Sourdough Surprises be scones.

That aside, it's still that time of year. All of the birthday cakes are gone and forgotten until March, but we still haven't finished the leftover Halloween candy (why do we always end up with at least three extra unopened bags, Mom?) Plus, Thanksgiving is this Thursday already? And then you have Christmas, with the baking I'm expected to do and the obligatory parties...more than enough to make those of us who watch what we eat fits.

That leftover candy, though, had me thinking. I've made this Twix Cheesecake Pie a few times, and substituted Kit Kat Miniatures one time. One of those extra bags just happened to be Kit Kat Miniatures. While I love that they are fall patterned and not Halloween themed, pretty soon we'll be getting out Winter themed stuff and the fall leaves will be obsolete. So I decided to chop a bunch of them up and knead them into the scone dough.

I did use the recipe I made before, still in my cookbook:

Sourdough Scones
Adapted from Group Recipes
Makes 16. How many that actually serves is debatable.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (I used Splenda this time. It only saves a couple calories per scone – but I'm trying to use it up!)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/4c sourdough starter
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped Kit Kat bars (24 miniatures)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  3. Cut in the butter.
  4. Mix in the starter.
  5. Lightly work the dough on a floured surface until no longer sticky.
  6. Knead in Kit Kats until just incorporated
  7. Divide into four parts, and shape each part into a circle 1/2" thick.
  8. Cur each circle into 4 parts.
  9. Place on a lightly greased sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.



I made these in the morning, worked out and had lunch and ran a couple errands. But when I got back, I dove into one:

The original recipe recommends serving them with a “sour marmalade.” But I think I like these just the way they are.

Check out our group's other awesome scones:


Friday, November 16, 2012

Cream Cheese Cake Mix Cookies

That time of year has to be in full swing, doesn't it? And that unfortunately means a reduction in my baking activities. Still, I can't resist sometimes. After all, we're supposed to indulge a little this time a year. Just a little.

Last year – right about this time of year, actually – my local grocery store had these red velvet cookies from the bakery. I am a sucker for pretty much anything red velvet. On the other hand, neither my mother nor I were willing to shell out $5 for a dozen cookies. I had since vowed to make my own and found several recipes – I just keep finding every other recipe that I need to try first.

A few months ago, my aunt made these cream cheese cake mix cookies. She went on and on about how easy they were. And they were good. Not just good, heavenly. Of course, I requested the recipe, and she happily obliged (Pretty much the same recipe found here). As it turns out, they were a variation of cake mix cookies. Hers were made with yellow cake mix and regular chocolate chips. My wild imagination thought of other ideas. The first thing I thought of was red velvet. Red velvet cake isn't red velvet without cream cheese icing. A red velvet cake mix with white chocolate chips would be perfect.

This week, it finally fell into place. Most of the munchies from Halloween and Birthday Season are gone, cream cheese was on sale, and there was a box of red velvet cake mix in the pantry from another meal deal. I had no more excuses.

It seems simple enough – a box of cake mix, a brick of cream cheese, half a stick of butter, an egg, a teaspoon of vanilla and a bag of chocolate chips. What could go wrong?

My suspicion is that not all cake mixes are created equal. This particular cake mix called for more water and less oil than the other boxes presently in my pantry. It got almost impossible to mix – or even knead – after I'd mixed in about 3/4 of the cake mix. Then the chocolate chips decided that they didn't want to stay in. There was a good handful in the bottom of the bowl. They also fell apart easily. I ended up having to make them about twice as big as I normally make cookies in order to get them to stay together. Nor did they look as nice as my aunt's version.

The one thing is that they did seem to cook more thoroughly. Hers got extremely after being left in a hot car. These seemed more cookie like.

The recipe, as follows:

Cream Cheese Cake Mix Cookies
Taken from my aunt, who got it from someone who got it from a website similar to this one
Makes 3-4 dozen

Ingredients
1 box cake mix. Any flavor
8 ounces cream cheese. Room temperature
1/4 cup butter. Room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 12-oz bag of chocolate chips or 2 cups mix-ins of choice – candy bits, dried fruit, nuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add egg and vanilla and mix well until blended
3. Stir in cake mix a little at a time then add mix-ins
4. Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are brown and enjoy.

So they weren't as easy as my aunt made it out to be and they aren't things of beauty. But they taste good. There's a perfect hint of cream cheese with that rich red velvet flavor.



Some other ideas I've had:
Carrot cake mix with half raisins and half chopped nuts
Orange cake mix with dried cranberries
Strawberry cake mix with coconut



And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, I'm going to try these again, using another cake mix.



That is, unless I find other recipes to try...



Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Shepard's Pie

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention. The same might as well be said of creating new recipes.

Like I said, my father's out of town. That's when my mother and I normally treat ourselves to everything that he won't eat – things like spinach, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. This time, though, we have to work around my sister's birthday and my work schedule. Sure, he'll be gone for five dinners, but only two of them can my mother and I choose what we eat and eat together. And we have to squeeze in one of his least favorite restaurants while we're at it.

I was browsing recipes a couple of weeks ago on Food52, looking for a creative non-pasta ground beef dish. After seeing not much besides pasta, stuffed peppers and Shepard's Pie, I came across this Sweet Potato Cottage Pie.

I'm not a huge fan of Shepard's Pie or Cottage Pie, typically, and it's not just that I don't really care for ground beef. I think it's the fact that it was one of the few meals my father felt comfortable cooking, meaning back when my mother worked retail when I was a kid, we'd eat it for days on end. Still, it got me thinking. And it kind of took off.

I found a few Sweet Potato Shepard's Pie recipes on the internet – here and here – but when I realized the limited time we'd have to squeeze our favorite foods in, I started taking inspiration from each, adding the broccoli, and making it into something new:

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Shepard's Pie
Inspired by this and this and this recipe
Serves 6

Ingredients
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 oz cream cheese
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 oz cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped broccoli

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350. In a medium size pot, boil sweet potato until tender.
  • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add tomato sauce and spices. Spread in a baking dish. Top with broccoli and set aside.
  • Mash sweet potato with cream cheese, salt and pepper with a potato masher or electric mixer. Spread over meat and broccoli
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Dare I say I think I actually created something original here? And you know what, it was good. Darn good, in fact. I had to resist eating seconds. Plus, my mother even told me to freeze a helping to save for my aunt.

It's kind of sad that my father won't eat it. For as much effort as it was, I want to make it again. Two thumbs up, easily. Only because I only have two thumbs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cleaning out the Pantry (with a twist): Cranberry Orange Nut Muffins

That time of year is almost in full swing. There's two big bags of candy sitting by the front door for the kids who come a-knockin' and the first of three birthday cakes have been ordered. (No, I'm not baking those. Maybe next year). Pretty soon, we'll start the Thanksgiving meal lists. Not good for those who watch their waistline. Still, I have made a vow to keep myself in the kitchen.

My father is out of town this week, and you know what they say: When the cat's away, the mice will play. My father doesn't care for fruit besides apples and bananas, so with him gone, it was time to knock out a Martha White Cranberry Orange muffin mix.

I still don't care for baking from a mix, especially another one with fake fruit. The good thing with these mixes is that they only make six muffins, meaning that they'll be gone before my father comes back with Tim Horton's donuts. (We really need to get those in Florida). Plus, there's always room for a little creativity...and getting rid of some sliced almonds as well.

I made the muffins as directed on the package, topping each one with a scant tablespoon of the sliced almonds. Then, bake as usual.


The only issue I had was that, as can probably be expected, a few of the almonds fell off getting them out of the pan. Still, I was pleased with how they turned out:

Now doesn't that look good enough to eat?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sourdough Surprises: Mexicali Grissini

October started off so beautifully. Even with 90 some odd degree weather, the humidity dropped and the breeze made it seem like fall, as much fall as we get in Florida. And then, on the day I planned to make sourdough grissini as part of dinner for this month's Sourdough Surprises, a front comes through and stalls out. Great bread baking weather, right?

But I keep my promises. Besides, I think part of the reason for joining a group like Sourdough Surprises is the challenge. So, on to my grissini.

I'll admit that I was not looking forward to this one. Years ago, when I first started baking with sourdough, one of the first things I tried making were breadsticks. They turned out horribly. I figured we could at least feed them to the fish in the pond by my sister's house. I'm not kidding – the fish wouldn't even eat them. Still, I am up for a challenge.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to do the suggested recipe. For one, my father will not eat olives. We've found by accident he likes a few foods he didn't think he did, but I doubt I could slip that past him. And no way are my mother and I trying to eat them all. For two, my food scale broke years ago (what I get for using it to weigh my parrot) and I never replaced it. Every single sourdough grissini recipe I found called for ingredients by weight, though. So I took EatingWell.Com's grissini recipe, halved and modified for sourdough. With the addition of my filling, of course!

I played around with some ideas, trying to use up some random ingredients. Maple walnut? Chocolate? Then again, I haven't baked anything savory in a while. So I decided against desert. I was pretty sure I wanted to do something Mexican-themed, something I love very much. It took off from there.

For the second time, I cooked with Kraft Mango Chipotle dressing. It's new (there's still no link or mention of it on the Kraft website), so it might be hard to find, but get it if you can. It's delicious as a marinade, as a salad dressing, and as it turns out, a base for my breadstick filling. I think the fruitiness kind of gives it a California flavor – hence calling them “Mexicali”. I mixed that with some taco sauce as my base, sprinkled some cheese on it, and voila!

My Recipe:
Sourdough Mexicali Grissini
Adapted From EatingWell.Com
Makes 12 Grissini
Breadsticks:
6 oz fresh sourdough starter (A little over 2/3 of a cup, or 1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp)
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting.
1 tblsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Filling
2 tblsp Kraft Mango Chipotle Dressing
1 tblsp taco sauce
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese (Mine was a combo of Monterrey and Colby Jack)

  1. Mix sourdough starter, about half the flour, salt and oil in a large bowl. Add additional flour until dough is no longer sticky. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  2. Lightly oil a large bowl. Roll dough in oil until coated. Cover and let rise until doubled.
  3. Mix salad dressing and taco sauce.
  4. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each into a roughly 6”x8” rectangle. Brush with dressing mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Cut each half into 6 strips. Carefully twist and place on baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden


I'd suggest serving them warm out of the oven, but with my family – especially during the week – that's not going to happen. They were still very good a few hours later:

They were a little stale the next day with my lunchtime salad:

Not sure if I'll do this again anytime soon, but it worked out.

Check out our other great grissini:
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sourdough Banana Bread

It seems like banana consumption goes in spurts at my house. We usually shop on Sunday, and some weeks they're gone by Wednesday. Other weeks, on Saturday, there's half a bunch still sitting there overripe. They go into the freezer. Every so often, I'll have one in a smoothie. Sometimes another recipe comes up and having a supply of overripe bananas comes in handy. I do love myself a Doctor Bird Cake, and this Sweet Potato OatmealCasserole was delicious (and easily modified for non-vegans)

Recently, though, they've been getting frozen faster than I can use them. So I decided to knock out a few of them and use the sourdough starter at the same time: Sourdough Banana Bread.

A quick internet search yielded a couple easy recipes. The first two were almost identical, except one called for half a cup of shortening and the other only a third of a cup. Even though it only saves about 20 calories in a one-inch slice, I went with the lower fat option. To me, it adds up.

I took a baggie with 3 bananas in it out of the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge overnight. The only thing I don't like with frozen bananas is that they ooze a brown liquid. My guess is that's because ice crystals rupture the cells, allowing the juices to flow out. However, it makes them a bazillion times easier to mash – no food processor needed. I just mash the baggie until no big chunks remain.

Anyway, the recipe I used:
Sourdough Banana Bread
Taken from TheFreshLoaf.com

1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp grated orange rind
Cream together the shortening and sugar, add egg, and mix until blended. Stir in bananas and sourdough starter.

Add orange rind or vanilla. Sift flour, measure again with salt, baking powder, and soda. Add flour mixture and walnuts to the first mixture, stirring just until blended.

Pour into greased 9x5" loaf pan. Bake in moderate or 350 oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

If there's one thing about banana bread that I like better than the taste, it's the smell. I find it heavenly. This one certainly smelled perfect, and it tasted darn good too. Two thumbs up. The lower fat recipe is just right. No alterations needed whatsoever.

Although, I have a bag of almonds in the freezer I need to use...but maybe that needs to wait until the bananas pile up again.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Maple Spice Microwave Mini Cake

Ah, October. The humidity is down for now, the air has cooled a little, it's been sunny and pleasantly breezy. It almost feels like fall...at least as much fall as we get here in Florida. Naturally, it's also the time to start thinking about fall foods. Like spice cake.

I've mentioned a few times about the “Meal Deals” that my local grocery store has. A fairly frequent one is buying some bacon and getting pancake mix and pancake syrup free. We go through the pancake mix and bacon a lot quicker than we do the syrup, and it's starting to pile up. So I decided to try something with it.

I know very little about replacing sugar in a recipe with maple syrup. It's not my family's favorite, so it's not something I've tried before. But still, this is a microwave cake. I figure if I messed it up, it's small enough to not make a fuss over.

I took my base recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Kirbie's Cravings. There aren't a whole lot of mug spice cake recipes out there, so I started with her “Light Strawberry Mug Cake” and swapped the pancake syrup for the sugar and added the spice, omitting the strawberries. Yes, I know you're supposed to reduce the liquid. I didn't.

The cake itself came together nicely. I noticed two things baking it, however: One, it took a lot longer – almost two and a half minutes – to microwave. For two, it was very dense. It almost had a pudding like consistency. This was mentioned in Kirbie's original post on the recipe, so I can't necessarily blame that on too much liquid.

Still, I can have my cake and eat it too. I topped it with about a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar for a little extra oomph. Yet neither myself nor my mother could taste maple (granted I didn't use real maple syrup), and it wasn't very spicy either.

Anyhow, the recipe I used:
Maple Spice Microwave Mini Cake
Adapted heavily from Kirbie's Cravings
Ingredients:
5 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pancake syrup (use real maple if you have it, but otherwise the blends will do)
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 egg
5 tablespoon nonfat milk
1 tablespoon oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp Pumpkin Pie spice
1tsp cinnamon sugar (optional)

Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients except cinnamon sugar. Stir until smooth. Spray a microwave-safe 2 cup ramekin or oversize mug with baker's spray and pour in batter
  2. Microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Continue in 20 second intervals until cake tester inserted in the middle of cake comes out clean.
  3. Invert ramekin over a small plate and top with cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Dense and non-spicey-maple-y as it might have been, it still tasted good. I'm going to keep this in the play-around with file. That is, if I don't find another recipe I have to try first.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sourdough Pancakes

Sourdough isn't all about baking. Much as I love to bake, I just love being in the kitchen. And when I can make a meal for my family and have to worry less about indulging, so much the better.

That's why one recipe I've made time and time again is sourdough pancakes. I'm always good for "brinner" or breakfast-for-dinner, and this is definitely a favorite.  That being said, I definitely have a love-hate affair with them. While I am quite a capable cook, expert pancake flipper I am not. It takes practice, and I guess I don't make them often enough. This time around, though, they turned out pretty darn good. 

This particular recipe came from my mother's old Hickory Farms sourdough recipe file. It came as part of a kit with a little packet of sourdough culture. To give you some idea of how long it's been in my family, there's a handwritten date on it that says Spring 1975.

I modify the recipe differently on different days. The one thing that's consistent is omitting the oil. I tried it as written, and it just wasn't right, so I kind of thought maybe the oil was for greasing the pan/griddle. Therefore, I tried it without and it worked. I've added extra sugar when I wanted sweeter, added a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half a teaspoon of vanilla for a little extra flavor, but this time around, it was regular.

The recipe:

1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
3 tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups ripe sourdough starter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
[3 tblsp cooking oil]

[Since I use a frying pan instead of a griddle (possibly part of my problem with pancakes), I can't preheat it, but the recipe says 375 degrees] Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well to blend. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Batter may be slightly lumpy.

Grease [or spray] hot griddle/pan for first pancakes and as needed. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for larger pancakes or about 1 tablespoon batter for silver dollar pancakes. Bake until edges are dry.

It says it makes 12 large or 48 small pancakes, but I use a 1/4 cup ladle and it typically makes 15-18 pancakes.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled baking...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shine Supper Club: Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

I had one semester in college where I attempted to work nearly full time hours while maintaining a full time school schedule. I think I had all of four days where I didn't have school or work. Meals were usually either at the mall food court or the campus cafe. It got expensive quick. One day, I found a little bit of time and threw together a pasta salad with a bunch of ingredients I found laying around. I had a portable meal that was cheaper (and healthier) than fast food, and it could keep a couple days. I started doing this whenever life got hectic: the same basic dressing recipe, a protein, a vegetable, some pasta – and I freed up some time.

Life is seldom that hectic anymore (especially when you work for an NHL team right now...). However, the Shine Supper Club is doing favorite pasta recipes this month, and I happened to have some leftover Miracle Noodles from last night's dinner. So lunch was set.

When I can plan for this (it's a pot luck favorite, in fact), I have a set recipe:

Secret Mustard Dressing
~1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
~1/2 cup Mustard (I use about half yellow and half brown)
Hot sauce, to taste

  1. Mix ingredients. This recipe is forgiving and adaptable – adjust it according to your tastes. (Personally, I like it sinus-clearing spicy, but this is the pot luck version!)
Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

1 Box Pasta, preferably elbow noodles
2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 medium tomato, diced
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
Secret Mustard dressing (see above)

  1. Prepare pasta to al dente. Drain, rinse and allow to cool
  2. Toss with dressing. Mix in other ingredients
  3. Serve. If this is a pot luck, it goes fast!

Now, that's the pot luck version. Obviously, zucchini is out of season, and I didn't have a tomato handy. Besides, I was making a single serving. I had a couple of baby carrots from feeding the bird and turtles, and some leftover bacon. So I chopped up some carrot and tore up some bacon to throw together this version. Plus, I used a packet of Chinese mustard and quite a bit of chili powder in the dressing. And the Miracle Noodles. If you're expecting these to taste like regular pasta, you will be disappointed, but they work for me.  However, this recipe works just as well with regular pasta.

I do wish I had bought a shape other than fettuccine, but that's what makes it the “Kitchen Sink”. It's less of a recipe and more of a technique. Use what you have and what you like, and you can't be disappointed.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spooky Speculaas Moons (aka Homemade Biscoff Cookies)

There's no other explanation for this. I had a craving.

I was introduced to Biscoff as a cookie many years ago, given away on a Delta Airlines flight. I hate flying, but man I loved those cookies. One time when I wasn't with him, my father asked if he could have an extra one to take home for me. A nice flight attendant gave him a whole sleeve. I was in heaven for a week or two (that was several years ago, before the airlines hit so much financial trouble and well before my diet). They're not cheap where I live and never on sale, and seeing as I don't travel anymore, I only get one every so often when my father brings them back.

It seems like everyone is using Biscoff spread these days in their recipes as well. It's made by the same company, and supposedly tastes like the cookie. Again, it's not cheap. It's $5 a jar at my local grocery store and even more at the specialty store, and similar prices online. Deals just don't seem to be had. Yet here I am, reading recipes for Biscoff this and Biscoff that. I want some.

As it turns out, Biscoff are speculoos or speculaas cookies, which are traditionally eaten on the Feast of St. Nicholas (not Christmas) in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Northern France. Recipes are actually fairly easy to come by and are written in plain English. Some are pressed into molds, like Biscoff cookies, others are rolled. I had to do it.

I selected this recipe, because I have a big set of cookie cutters that I just bought and wanted to use for Halloween, and because I didn't want the hassle of ground/roasted/blanched almonds (they're in this recipe too, on top, and easily omitted or added as you like). I modified it somewhat, halving it and subbing allspice for aniseed out of personal preference. Neither are in the traditional mix of speculaas spices, but after baking them, I looked on the ingredients list for Biscoff and the only spice listed is cinnamon. So Biscoff aren't traditional speculaas either.

My recipe, as follows:
Spooky Speculaas Moons (aka Homemade Biscoff Cookies)
Adapted from Food.com
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
9 tblsp butter (1/4 cup +1 tblsp, or 1 1/8 sticks)
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tblsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
dash of salt

  1. Cream butter and sugar together
  2. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Gradually add to the creamed mixture, mixing well, until the dough forms ball
  3. Roll out to about 1/4” thick. Use cookie cutters to shape into desired forms
  4. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes, until lightly brown

Word of warning: these smell good. Really good. I honestly couldn't wait to seal them up because they were making me hungry. They're not quite Biscoff – a little spicier and crunchier. But they are as good as they smell. In fact, I think I like them better than Biscoff.

Now I just need to find a way to get the spread. On the other hand, there's no eggs in this dough...

I might have another project on my hands.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Easy Peasy Mocha Donut Muffins

Awhile back, as I browsed my food blogs (as I frequently do when I'm bored), I came across a review of the new Jif Hazelnut Spreads. At the time, they were so new that I hadn't seen them in the store yet. I Then I found out about the Mocha Cappuccino flavor...and I couldn't wait to get my hands on some.

To this day, my regular grocery store still doesn't carry them, but they are conveniently located near the end of an aisle at a certain supercenter I frequent, and noticed that they had been marked down. I had to do it. Even Mom agreed with me. However, with all the other baking projects that I've been trying, working with it has been pushed towards the back burner.

Last week, one of my usual blogs posted this recipe from a few years back. Three ingredient Nutella Donuts. With the small output size, it was a perfect recipe...save for one thing: I don't have a donut pan. I'm running out of room in the kitchen to store pans, even if I bought one.

But, even though I was replacing Nutella with a competitor, I'm all about recipe experimentation. So I made an adjustment and baked them in a regular muffin pan!

The first thing I noticed about the mocha spread was the smell. You can't avoid that delicious mocha smell from the second the jar gets opened. The second thing was that the look and texture are not the same as Nutella. It's kind of a cross between peanut butter and chocolate frosting.

Still, I measured out 2/3 of a cup (giving my mother the spoon I used to scoop the stuff out to lick and making sure I licked the measuring cups clean!) and mixed the ingredients. The recipe, as follows:


Easy Peasy Mocha Donut Muffins
Adapted from Lauren's Latest
Makes 6 muffins

Ingredients:
2/3 cup nutella + more for glazing
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with baker's spray and set aside.
2. In small bowl, combine nutella, egg, egg yolk and flour until smooth batter forms. Spoon evenly into pans and spread batter around to fill cavities evenly.
3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
4. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack.
The original recipe called for glazing with more Nutella and an optional sprinkling of hazelnuts. I didn't do that for a couple of reasons. For one, the texture of the mocha spread is not something that can easily be used to glaze like Nutella. For two...it's hard to resist eating them right off the rack. They...smell...heavenly!




If you're expecting that perfect Nutella flavor, these aren't for you. You can't taste hazelnut whatsoever. The review I read had prepped me for such. But these things are absolutely divine and were ready in just about half an hour total. Two thumbs up...and I'm going to have to buy me a few cases of this stuff!

Monday, September 24, 2012

[Virtually] Carb Free Bread

It's getting to be that time of year.

Come October, the food barrage starts. There are three birthdays within nine days in my family at the end of October and beginning of November, sandwiched around Halloween and all the candy leftovers. After all the cake and candy, you have no time to recover before Thanksgiving and Christmas give everybody who watches what they eat all kinds of temptation. Not to mention that it also starts the busier season at work, meaning meals get kind of crazy as well.

I was browsing Kirbie's Cravings yet again the other day in search of nothing in particular, and came across her Carb Free Cloud bread. It intrigued me. Carbs are not my enemy, but wheat is a big source of fructans, which is a chain of fructose that my diet limits. So, I figured, why not? It looked simple enough.

I clicked through and looked at the original recipe, along with the reviews. I liked the idea of just spreading it out on a cookie sheet and cutting it later, so that's what I did.

Another change I made to the recipe (yeah, I know, I'm good at doing that) was the addition of a half teaspoon of salt. This was also based on something in the reviews, although I knew it wouldn't mask the eggy taste.

However, there was one thing that the recipe wasn't clear on. The Kirbie's Cravings version uses a gram of sugar (roughly a quarter teaspoon), while the original calls for a “1 gram packet of artificial sweetener.” I buy both sugar and artificial sweetener in bulk bags, and one gram of artificial sweetener works out to about two teaspoons of Splenda, which supposedly is equivalent in sweetness by volume, but not weight. I'm not sure which sweetener the original creator used, and I have all this Splenda I'm trying to use up. Since I have broken every food scale I've ever owned, I went ahead and used two teaspoons of Splenda.

My version of the recipe:

[Virtually] Carb Free Bread
Adapted From Kirbie's Cravings, who adapted it from Food.com
Serves 4-12, depending on how you like your sandwiches
3 eggs, separated
3 tblsp cream cheese (about 2oz)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Separate the eggs into mixing bowls. Use a large bowl for whites.
3. Mix together the egg yolks, cream cheese, Splenda and salt until smooth.
4. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to the whites and beat the whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks.(You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out.
5. Very carefully fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites by stirring clockwise with a spatula until mixed and no egg white streaks remain.
6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
7. Pour mixture onto parchment and very gently spread with a spatula.
8. Bake on the middle rack about 25 minutes or until a golden brown.
9. Carefully remove by the parchment paper and cool on a rack or cutting board
10. Once completely cool, slice into bread-sized slices (about 8) and store in a tightly sealed storage bag or container over night.

I was a very bad food blogger and didn't take any pictures of this while it was still whole. I tasted a corner of it before I sliced it up and packed it away – it pretty much tasted like scrambled eggs. Still, I packed it up and put it in the fridge.

I used it for my lunchbox chicken salad sandwich for lunch. Perhaps (and you might be able to discern this from the photo) chicken salad wasn't the best choice, as it fell apart a little. The whole breast wouldn't fit in my reusable container, though. Anyway, I forked half of the chicken salad onto each slice and ate it open face.

As far as the taste goes, the chicken salad overpowered the egg taste. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it tasted. I haven't tried it yet with peanut butter and jelly, but I think it would still work. As an added plus, it was done quickly. And, at about 50 calories for an eighth of the recipe (and about half a gram of carbs), it actually works out to be slightly less than the sliced bread I normally buy. I'm very tempted to try this with Neufch√Ętel or part-skim ricotta cheese to lower the calorie count even more.

Even using full fat cream cheese, it's still one to keep in the arsenal. Even if I can't stop playing with it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sourdough Surprises: English Muffins

Florida has its benefits – but baking real bread and related goodies over the hot, humid summer is not one of them. You have to add so much flour that, at least I believe, affects the results. Still, I discovered an online baking group: Sourdough Surprises. This month's project was English muffins. I've never before attempted baking English muffins, let alone while the humidity is still above 90%. But with my aunt in town for the weekend and some Philadelphia Indulgence Dark ChocolateCream Cheese in the refrigerator, this was just a little added incentive to try.


I followed the recommended recipe, sans cornmeal – although it took about a cup and a half more flour with the weather we've been having. The cornmeal was both a convenience choice (none on hand and its a small amount to use, and when is the next time I'm going to make cornbread?) as well as personal (I hate it when things start to flake off of my breakfast, be it sprinkles, poppy seeds or cornmeal). I didn't do it all myself. I actually worked last Thursday and needed to do this on Friday, so I fed the starter before I left and my mother helped me by doing the first step for me Thursday night, so it would be ready Friday morning.

I couldn't resist testing one out Friday, eating a post-workout egg sandwich on one. But Saturday morning was special. They were good – really good – and that dark chocolate only made it better.

So good, the only thing that could make it even better was peanut butter:

Problem solved. Yum.

Check out the other Sourdough Surprises English Muffins here:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cleaning Out The Pantry: Blueberry Muffins

Life can most certainly get in the way of baking sometimes. Don't worry about the starter – I made pancakes last Saturday. But preparations to get the not-done-being-remodeled upstairs liveable for my aunt (who's in town for the weekend) coupled with work made for a rough week. So to make up for it (and keep my aunt happy), I had two culinary projects yesterday. One will be posted next week for an online project, but in case that didn't turn out, I had a Plan B: Krusteaz One StepBlueberry Muffins.

This particular mix had several reasons for sitting in my pantry so long. Like I've said before, my dad hates fruit, other than apples and bananas. Plus it's made with “imitation blueberries.” Unbaked, they're these little nugget things that taste like blueberries but look more like the carbon pellets I put in the filter for my turtle tank.

Having said that, I had a multitude of reasons for baking it today. One, my aunt loves my baked goods and I wasn't sure how my other project would turn out. For two, I think she's the one who gave it to us in the first place. Plus my dad is out of town and it quickly makes just a half dozen – meaning I could devote some time to Plan A and if it did work, not have a whole lot of extra baked goods.

They're also both hard to modify (there's only so much extra that will fit into the bottle) and hard to mess up. I did consider baking it in a mini loaf tin, but I wasn't sure how high it would end up baking up. So I made it exactly. It doesn't happen often.

Like most mixes, it tastes okay. I think the regular blueberry muffin mixes do taste better, though still not as good as homemade. It's not bad either though – I've certainly tasted worse things in my life.

Plus, that's one more thing out of the pantry. Until next time...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Easy Weeknight Chicken: Baked Mango Chipotle Chicken Tenders With Avocado Tomato Rice

I love to cook. My mother doesn't. Her mantra on cooking is “I like meals with three ingredients that I already have.” Which is one reason why if I'm not the one cooking, a homemade dinner is almost always either spaghetti and meat sauce, pancakes with bacon or sausage, or baked chicken with a boxed starch and a can of veggies.

Having learned from her, I do make baked chicken, but I put my own spin on it. After finding a bottle of 
Mango Chipotle Vinaigrette from Kraft (it's so new that there's not even a link to it on their website yet)
at the grocery store this week, I had to try it with something. And with the Shine Supper Club doing “Weeknight Chicken Dinners” this month, it was a perfect time to put a new spine on Mom's classic. I've used this technique with bottled mojo marinade as well, so you can use just about any marinade that you want.

So, here is my recipe:
Baked Mango Chipotle Chicken Tenders
Ingredients
1lb Chicken Tenders
~1/4 Cup Kraft Mango Chipotle Vinaigrette

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9x13” glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Trim fat off of chicken tenders. Arrange in a single layer in baking dish. Drizzle with vinaigrette and brush with a silicone basting brush
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.

Avocado Tomato Rice
Ingredients
1 medium green skin avocado (or 1 large hass avocado)
1-8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups cooked white rice.
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

  1. Prepare rice
  2. While rice is preparing, roughly dice avocado. Immediately toss with tomato sauce and salt, pepper and hot sauce, adjusting seasoning as necessary.
  3. Serve over rice

I have to say I wish that the dressing lived up to the “Chipotle” in its name. It was good, just not very spicy, so if you're looking for that, you might want to sprinkle your tenders with a little chili powder as well. But hey, even my fruit-hating father enjoyed this one. It was quite good, it's healthy, and, on the table in under 30 minutes, is definitely one to keep in the arsenal as a change of pace.

As an added benefit, it might just be simple enough to make Mom proud.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Avocado Chocolate Cake

This week, I have time to relax from last week's chaos. However, it's not stopping me from having my days. And yesterday was one of them.

I have become a huge fan of using applesauce as a fat replacement in cakes. While it's fabulous, it has its limitations. Recently, I've been seeing more and more recipes that call for avocado as a fat replacer. Avocados are one of my favorite foods and I don't get them often (unless my plants ever grow and go on to produce fruit, but my research tells me that could still be a few years).

Normally, my instincts say you don't cook avocados. They turn bitter. On the other hand, these recipes seem to becoming more and more commonplace. With Kirbie's Craving's (one of my favorite food blogs) started posting all kinds of recipes, I knew I'd have to try a few, and I started with the non-original one: Avocado Chocolate Cake. You can view the recipe here.

And here's where things get crazy. Mom decided on a whim last week to rearrange the pantry and the spice cabinet. So things weren't where I expected. I had the baking soda out and was digging for baking powder when my phone rang. Telemarketer, but enough to distract me.

I had every intent of actually following this recipe to a tee. I realized, however, with about 10 minutes left in the baking time (as I was cleaning up and putting all of my ingredients away) that I didn't remember adding either the baking soda or baking powder. Too late now. That was mistake number 1.

Mistake number 2 was in frosting it. I still had half a can of frosting from the mocha cake, so I decided to try the microwave-and-pour trick. Yes, it works. Except, with the cake on a dinner plate and too much frosting, it spills over and makes a royal mess. Hence the lack of an iced photo. I was cleaning it up.

Still, the cake itself tasted good, but with the lack of the baking soda and/or baking powder, it was dense and the texture was...off. But hey, isn't that how brownies were invented?

So the lessons learned:
  1. Turn off the phone.
  2. I need a cake plate (or maybe I should have just done it on a cooling rack)
  3. As the Mythbusters would say...Failure is always an option (and, on that note, it can still taste sweet!)

Will I have another go at this cake? Absolutely. Avocados are good for you, and the chocolate does indeed overpower the taste of them (if you're not into sweet avocados. Personally, I like them both ways).

And hopefully someday, this tree I planted last year (and at least some of the seeds I'm currently trying to sprout) will give me a glut of avocados to use for cakes like this.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sourdough Mocha Cake

Oh, gosh, has it been a stressful week. The kind of stuff you can anticipate (for the most part) but can't stop. With it only getting worse and a need to use the sourdough starter, it was time to visit an old friend: The Mocha Cake.

The original recipe came from an Old Hickory Farms booklet (copyright date: 1972), that I also got my sourdough pancakes recipe from. It's also probably the recipe I learned to experiment on. The original calls for a half cup of butter, and it comes out dry and crumbly. I started making it with oil and the problem all but went away. Then I ran out of instant coffee and started subbing instant cappuccino, which diluted the taste so I upped it (and the cocoa) from a teaspoon to a tablespoon. Somewhere along the line, the nuts the recipe called for disappeared as well.

The original also says to serve with “hard sauce” and a recipe for a brandy or rum – based glazed follows. I have always just used frosting. So, I think this one is coming dangerously close to my own original recipe.

Now I had a new plan: Applesauce in place of oil. I'm looking to reduce as many calories as possible in as many recipes as possible. With the Amish Friendship Breadexperiment making me a little gun-shy about using Splenda again just yet, and this recipe calling for exactly half a cup of fat, this was how.

The recipe, as follows:
Sourdough Mocha Cake
Adapted from Old Hickory Farms

1/2 Cup Applesauce
1-1/2 Cups Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp instant cappuccino
1 tblsp cocoa powder
1 cup ripe sourdough starter
1/4 cup milk

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix applesauce and sugar together until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
  2. In one separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another, combine milk and sourdough starter (or just use a liquid measuring cup. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  3. Spray an 8” square pan (or 9” or bundt pan) with baker's spray. Pour batter into pan, tapping the pan on the counter several times to release air bubbles.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes for the 8” pan, 50-55 minutes for the bundt pan and 35-40 minutes for the 9” pan. Cool on rack before frosting.



I noticed it came out darker than usual. I have to say normally it almost looks like a dense white cake and just has the hint of the mocha taste to it. I so wanted to taste it, but I wanted to test out some of my new decorator tools.

The frosting (and I just used a spare can from the pantry) goes on a lot smoother with an angled spatula...

And this Wilton Decorator Triangle was an Amazon add-on well spent!

All in all, the cake wasn't that moist, but it was still pretty good. I think I could even taste more chocolate than I did in the oil-based versions. So, while I might play around with it some, I still have to give it two thumbs up.

Speaking of playing, I've got quite a few more toys that still need to be played with and a certain ingredient I love but don't get often from the grocery store. Stay tuned...



Friday, August 31, 2012

Mexican Miracle Noodles

I can spend many hours on food websites, finding recipes and reading various food news stories. Not that long ago, I read about Shirataki Miracle Noodles. No calories...all fiber. This intrigued me. For one, regular pasta doesn't completely agree with me anymore, even though it's one of my favorite foods. For two, like many people, I should be eating more fiber. So, with those Amazon gift cards piling up, I decided to give them a try and purchased a 6-pack of the Fettuccine.

Now, I was a little hesitant. I am not a fan of most Asian food – or rather, I'm not really a fan of most Asian vegetables. However, most of the reviews said that they did best with Asian dishes. So last week, I went searching for other recipes and came up with this from SparkPeople.

There's 3 of us eating dinner, but I decided to bulk it up a bit. I used a whole can of kidney beans and corn, a whole green pepper, half of a small onion, and two packages of noodles. I also started with a little over a pound and a quarter of browned ground beef.

I was a little nervous. I don't like making bad food. But, alas, it ended up on the dinner table:


I didn't take a picture of it served, but I topped it with cheese and salsa.

If you're expecting regular semolina pasta, this stuff isn't for you. Yes, it's gummy. But while the texture is unusual, there isn't a real discernible taste to them, and the dish was excellent. If need be, omit the noodles and use either regular pasta or maybe pile it on tortilla chips.

Hopefully, there will come a day when I don't have to order these noodles online. Until then, I will recommend them, and this dish, to anyone who is trying to eat healthier. A definite two thumbs up!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cleaning out The Pantry: Funfetti Whoopie Pies

There's something about whoopie pies. My whole family loves them. They truly are something special, but they're also normally a labor of love. I don't particularly like making them – the ends just don't really justify the means. So, with various recipes saved and a Pillsbury Funfetti Whoopie Pie kit sitting in the pantry, I took a step to fix that with one of my new toys: A Wilton Whoopie Pie Pan. Now I guess I have no excuse.

Like about 90% or so of all baking mixes I've done over the years, it doesn't make exactly as many as it says it would on the box. Plus, the pan makes 12 cakes at a time. Not 24. It's more of a muffin top pan, I think – but don't tell the folks at Wilton that.

In order to compensate, I just doubled the size (which, either I was rounding the tablespoons a bit much or there weren't 24 rounded tablespoonfuls in the box) and increased the bake time to 10 minutes from 7.

Does it work? Yes. The pies came out relatively even and fit together nicely. As far as form, I have no complaints. However, the filling is just vanilla icing and sprinkles. I love marshmallows – that's my favorite part of whoopie pies. So, as far as taste goes...it was just off.

So now I need a homemade whoopie pie recipe, preferably one that doesn't make a whole dozen individual pies. And I still need to use the sourdough starter. And some more baking mixes. Oh, and I still have a few more toys I haven't gotten to use yet.

But maybe, just maybe, I can learn to enjoy making whoopie pies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

I suppose this is as big a reason why these baking mixes keep sitting in my pantry in the first place. My mother went out and bought a bag of chocolate chips anyway, even after I baked the sugar cookies. (Never mind that there actually is still a bag of chocolate chips in said mess of a pantry). Why? “Because I want chocolate chip cookies.” OK Mom. Never mind I was going to bake you the whoopie pies you wanted last week and that I still have to use the sourdough starter sometime soon.

Which gave me an idea: Sourdough chocolate chip cookies. A quick search netted me this recipe, posted on at least half a dozen websites. Must be good enough, but while I try to eat healthier, organic foodie I am not (no offense to those that do eat organic, but I watch 3 things: Total calories, protein, and fiber). So, while I'm not into making major modifications to untested recipes, this was one that wouldn't stand the way it is.

For starters, I've learned my lesson about fresh starter in certain recipes. Maybe they would have spread more if I used fresh starter, but I used ripe. Secondly, shortening has become trans-fat free in recent years anyway. Not that I'm against coconut oil either, but our regular grocery store doesn't carry it, and the one that I know does tends to get me spending upwards of $50 on treats I don't need. Finally, Rapadura or Sucanat got replaced with plain ol' regular light brown sugar.

So my recipe, as follows:
Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 5-1/2 dozen

  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Ripe sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1-1/2 cups Chocolate Chips

  1. Cream together butter, shortening and egg. Add sourdough starter and vanilla and mix well
  2. Add brown sugar, mixing until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Incorporate a little at a time until just combined
  4. Fold in chocolate chips, being careful not to overwork dough. Let dough rest 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll into 1” balls and place on a cookie sheet 2” apart. Flatten and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

They don't spread much at all. But they are light, cakey and chewy, and I have to say, wonderful. Mom (who seemed to forget that I mentioned the sourdough chocolate chip cookie recipe yesterday) instantly said “,What else is in these? They're different. It's really good.” So clearly, two thumbs up and a definite keeper.

Now on to those whoopie pies...