Posts by Julie:

Molasses Spice Cookies

Confession time:
I didn’t “make up” the original recipe for these cookies, but because I simply cannot cook anything as written these change up each and every time I bake them. They are consistently great no matter what I’ve tweaked because of mood, ingredient availability, inspiration, general laziness… So I’m posting it in here.

Also because Heather asked for the recipe :)

This is what I put in the last batch, I’ll put some options & hints the end.

But first a cookie secret:
Like many cookies, these get better if you make the dough overnight-36 hours ahead of time. There now my secret is out, I make the dough, saran wrap the bowl & leave it in the fridge til I have time to bake. The sugars & spices marry together with the butter = magic.

Makes about 3 dozen

Prep

375° & rack in middle position

(2) cookie sheets w/parchment paper

1/2 C mix of ginger sugar, turbinado & superfine sugars in a flat bowl for rolling

 

Ingredients

2-1/4 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp chinese 5 spice

1/4 tsp cardamon

3/4 C softened butter (1-1/2 sticks)

1/3 C sugar

1/3 C dark brown sugar (packed)

1 large egg yolk

1-1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla

1/2 C dark molasses

 

Whisk the flour, soda, salt, pepper & spices and set aside.

Beat butter and sugars on med speed until light & fluffy, about 5 min. Beat in vanilla & yolk until combined, beat in molasses, about 30 sec each addition, scraping bowl & beaters as needed.

Add flour mixture and beat on low until combined, about another 30 seconds, it will be a soft & sticky dough. At this point I scrape the dough into a lump in the bowl, cover & put in fridge til later. That’s not necessary, you can go straight to baking at this point.

Wet hands with cold water and roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll balls in the sugar mixture to coat. Place about 2″ apart on the parchment, these will spread out.

Bake 1 cookie sheet at a time until edges are set but the centers are still soft & underdone 10-12 min. Don’t overcook!!! Let them set on sheet another 10 min. they will flatten, crack and wrinkle with a crispy outside & chewy middle. Transfer to rack to cool if you can wait, or eat warm.

Variations

Rolling sugar:
I’ve used regular ol’ granulated, superfine, turbinado, demerara, ginger sugar or orange sugar.

Spices:
I’ve used fresh grated ginger or orange zest in the dough sugar. Also varied spices and amounts. Include? curry powder, nutmeg, chai spice, chili powder, pumpkin spice, different types of vanilla, and substituted rum for part of vanilla.

Frosting:
Glaze cooled cookies with rum & powdered sugar.

Do not use margarine instead of butter. It won’t work.

 

Asparagus Quesadilla

Hunger & no time is the mother of invention…

Asparagus Spears, cut into 1″ pieces, leftover from last night’s dinner

Cheese, I had Mozzarella

Tortilla

Sauce, I used Pesto

Make a quesadilla the usual way & consume.

Sweet & Sour Tilapia & Rice

IMHO sweet chili sauce needs to be in everyone’s fridge. Just because the bottle says “For Chicken” shouldn’t stifle your creativity. This easy combo sounds icky, but it’s delicious. Trust me…

1 C Rice
Salt
2 Frozen Tilapia Fillets
Sweet Chili Sauce
Sour Cream

Set up your rice cooker the way you usually do for the rice. I usually put a little salt in my rice. About halfway through the cooking time, toss the frozen tilapia on top. Close the lid & finish cooking the rice as if nothing happened.

When the bell rings, put your rice & steamed fish in a bowl & top with the sweet chili sauce & sour cream. Yumm!

Three Cans & a Box

I’ve been making up recipes for years. I think it all started when it was my job to have the family dinner on the table by the time mom came home from work. Ah nothing like the pressure of cooking everyday with limited store bought ingredients, but plenty of frozen & canned meats, fruits & veggies from the garden to get those creative juices flowing.

Here’s one I made up in college, flexing my skills on the fast, easy, available, pre-made foods. I gotta say it became a favorite among my friends. This one also works wonders for those last minute potlucks too. Just double the recipe to 6 cans & 2 boxes & use a larger cake pan. Guys at potlucks love this stuff & clean the plate every time! Go figure…

Three Cans & a Box

1 Can Tamales
1 Can Chili
1 Can Corn
1 Box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix + milk & egg

Pre-heat oven 350°

Open can of tamales & dump into 9×9 pan. Remove the pieces of paper surrounding each tamale & chop into bite size pieces. Open can of chili & add the pan. Open can of corn, use lid to drain juice & add to the pan. Mix ingredients together. Make corn muffin mix by following directions on the back of the box. Spoon batter over the top of the chili mixture & bake until the top is golden brown.

Sweet Potato Stew

So I like the flavor of pozole, but the hominy, well, not so much. So this is what I came up with. It’s perfect for my oh too big 6-quart slow cooker crock pot thing, but I’m sure it can be slow-baked in one of those fancy enamel coated cast iron dutch ovens too. Don’t let the fact that it contains 5 jalapenos slow ya down either, after 8 hours they mellow into a flavorful sauce that won’t send you grasping frantically for your beer. I don’t measure when I cook so the amounts are approximate, just make it look & taste good to you.

Sweet Potato Stew

4 Pork Shoulder Steaks
Salt & Pepper
Oil
2 Onions, sliced thin
3 Jalapeno chilis, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
6 Cloves Garlic, pressed
1 28oz can diced tomatoes in juice
2 Oranges (Peel a strip of zest with a potato peeler, about 12″ or so, then juice the oranges)
2 Chipotle Chilis in Adobo sauce, minced
1 Tsp dried oregano leaves
2 largish Sweet Potatoes, washed & chopped about 1/2″ cubes
Chicken Broth
corn starch
1/2 bunch Cilantro, remove the big stems & chopped

Salt & pepper then brown steaks one at a time in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. You won’t need oil, there should be enough fat on the steaks. Stack them up in the middle of your slow cooker.

Add some oil if there isn’t juices in the pan from the meat. Add the onions, jalapenos & meat magic to the pan. Cook until the onions are softened & the rendered juices have cooked out. Add the garlic & just warm it on top, don’t brown the garlic. Add the tomatoes, using the juices to scrape up all the goodness stuck on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, then add it the slow cooker.

Distribute the onions & peppers between the steaks, but keep them stacked in the center of the slow cooker. Add the orange juice, chipotles and oregano to the slow cooker & stir. Nestle the sweet potatoes & orange zest strip around the edges. Add the chicken broth until the meat & potatoes are covered.

My cooker has a low 8 hour setting. Cook for 8 hours, go to work, go to bed, whatever, just don’t stir or mess with it. If you are using the oven, cover tightly, 300° for 4 hours or so, until potatoes are soft & the meat is starting to fall apart.

Turn off slow cooker & pull the meat out & set aside to cool. Pull the potatoes out & set aside. Discard the orange zest strip. Let the juices settle & skim off the fat. Mix some corn starch with water. Add to the juices & turn slow cooker on to high to thicken sauce. Add potatoes back in & the cilantro. When the meat is cool enough to handle, pull the bones, gristle & fat bits out & toss the meat chunks back into the pot.

Spoon into bowls & serve with a daub of sour cream & some tortillas, a spritz of fresh lime, & the beer of course! Mmmm

This freezes well too.