Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Molasses Cookies

February 3, 2013

IMG_9560I don’t know about you, but I have two types of stores that I could literally live in (while handing over my full paycheck in exchange for goods!). Kitchen stores (ie: Sur La Table) and spice stores (ie: Penzey’s). And the funny thing about spice stores is that I don’t even really need to be on the lookout for a spice to spend a good half hour in this olfactory heaven. I just glance at the spices available, and the recipes that they generally display to get your creative juices flowing.

So last time I was at Penzey’s, I spotted a recipe for Molasses Cookies. At first glance I thought to myself, not sure I have ever made those and it has probably been since childhood last time I tasted them. But, I started thinking that a spiced cookie would be delicious in the winter – might even warm me up!

This recipe is originally from Linda Aukerman and to my surprise, has no butter. Apparently, when baking with just shortening (vs butter) it really affects the texture of the cookie. And I have to admit, the crunchy outside and super chewy inside is worth the ingredient switch. And, combined with the warming spice mixture, make this cookie amazing.

These cookies were a clear winner the minute we tasted them – or quite possibly the moment they came out of the oven and we could smell them. They also disappeared at work quite quickly.

Thanks to Penzey’s and Linda Aukerman for sharing a recipe that does warm me up on a cold winter night!

MOLASSES COOKIES
1 1/2 cups shortening, melted and cooled (do NOT substitute butter)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra sugar or vanilla sugar for rolling (if you have a Penzey’s or spice shop nearby and can get the vanilla sugar, I highly recommend it!)

To the melted, cooled shortening add: the sugar, molasses and eggs. Beat well with hand mixer. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing to incorporate. Chill for at least an hour (can make the dough ahead and make the cookies the next day if desired). Preheat oven to 375. Using about a tablespoon of dough, form into balls. Roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets (although I would recommend a silicone mat or parchment paper), about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Check at 8 minutes. You want them to flatten but still be soft. Let the cookies cool for at least 2 minutes before removing them from the pan, as they can break if you try to pick them up when they are very hot. Cool on a cooling rack.

Chili-Baked Ribs

January 3, 2012

For years, my husband has continuously asked me to make “saucy ribs.” But for some reason, every recipe I have tried, although good, never really gave me that sweet, spicy, sticky, lick-your-fingers ribs. Until last night.

Thanks to my parents, a bottle of liquid smoke was in my stocking this year (which is apparently available in many specialty food stores or online and can be used in many dishes!). I had heard of the ingredient and was curious about the depth of flavor it would add to items made in the kitchen vs. the grill. So when I found a saucy rib recipe that required liquid smoke, I knew I had to try it.

You need a weekend day for this one, but it is WELL worth it. I will never make another rib recipe again. The sauce is AMAZING and has such complex flavors – layering the liquid smoke, molasses, coffee and cinnamon. Then, it combines that sauciness with a great dry rub along with slow roasting the ribs until they fall off the bone.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit, but I made a few changes based on user reviews. I changed the recipe for a slower roast, and reduced the sugar for the right balance of sweet and spicy/smoky.

As someone who has tried many rib recipes, take my word that this one will be your favorite. And, if you have any doubts, just ask my rib-requesting husband!

CHILI-BAKED RIBS
Serves 8

Sauce (might want to make extra!)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses (although I used dark and it tasted great!)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ribs
6 baby back pork rib racks (about 9 pounds total weight)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
6 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Ribs:
Score white membrane on underside of ribs. Place ribs in large roasting pan. Mix vinegar and liquid smoke in small bowl; brush over both sides of ribs. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix chili powder, cumin, sugar, onion powder and cayenne. Rub over both sides of ribs. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange ribs, meat side up, in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Roast 3 hours, covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly.

Remove ribs from oven. Brush both sides of ribs with 3/4 cup sauce. Roast 10 minutes. Brush both sides of ribs with additional 3/4 cup sauce. Roast 15 minutes longer. Remove ribs from oven. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes.

Cut ribs between bones into 3- to 4- rib sections. Serve with remaining sauce.

Brazilian Feijoada

February 26, 2011

Due to an upcoming trip to a land of spit- roasted pig and beans, this Brazilian dish felt like a good precursor. It is pronounced fay-zwah-da (my Brazilian friend says it MUCH better than I do!) and is traditionally served on special occasions. Thanks to the lovely invention of the slow cooker, this dish was possible with little hands-on time on a weekend.

At first I was a bit skeptical. There were no spices other than salt and pepper – and just onions, chicken broth, garlic and meat/beans. I felt like it had the potential to be bland, until I realized you sear all the meat in bacon grease before putting it in the slow cooker, add a ham hock for flavor, and let them slow cook for a full 8 hours.

I am still unsure how this dish came from Cooking Light, but I will turn my head in denial because it is AMAZING. The flavor is so rich and comforting. I put orange juice in my rice (since you serve the dish with orange wedges) and it gave a good light citrus flavor to balance out the heaviness of the dish.

I have never been to Brazil, but this dish alone makes me want to take a trip immediately and have this dish in the land in which it was invented. If my slow cooker attempt was this good, I can only imagine what the real thing tastes like!

Bon Appetit!

BRAZILIAN FEIJOADA
Serves 8

2 cups dried black beans
4 slices applewood-smoked bacon
1 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed (about 2 pounds)
3 cups finely chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (9-ounce) smoked ham hock
1 tablespoon white vinegar
8 orange wedges

Place beans in a small saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Add pork to drippings in skillet; sauté 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Sprinkle ribs evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add ribs to skillet; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in slow cooker. Add drained beans, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, onion, and next 3 ingredients (through ham hock) to slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until beans and meat are tender.

Remove ribs from slow cooker; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred meat with 2 forks. Discard bones. Discard ham hock. Return beef to slow cooker. (if your dish is like mine, the meat had already fallen off the bone and I could just shred in the slow cooker!).

Stir in vinegar and crumbled bacon. Serve with orange wedges and rice.

Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken with Toasted Garlic Escarole

February 20, 2011

In the winter, my tendency is to make tagines, baked pastas and all day stewed meats. It is a season of hearty food, rich food and the king of comfort food. The cold weather makes us craves rich, warm dishes that satisfy the belly and the soul.

But generally, around the end of February, I start to feel – well, large. Fortunately, this winter didn’t tag me with the extra 10 pounds it normally does (thanks to an upcoming beach vacation that keeps me sticking to my workout routine). However, I still get to a point where I want something a bit lighter. Something that I don’t eat with a glass of wine and fall asleep on the couch at 9pm.

And, with the uncharacteristically warm weather we have had as of late, this felt like a good dish that can transition to the summer months.

The chicken is so crispy and has a fried taste, without the added guilt (this dish has less than 300 calories). The rosemary and walnut give it extra flavor, and is balanced by the lemony salad. It was so delicious, light, and surprisingly very filling. This one will be making more appearances as the seasons change.

So, if you are like me and need to have a slight departure from your winter food rut, this recipe is a great one – and without the guilt. Thanks to Cooking Light for this one!

WALNUT AND ROSEMARY OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN
Serves 4

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 (6-ounce) chicken cutlets
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Rosemary leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Combine panko, nuts, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture; discard buttermilk mixture. Dredge chicken in panko mixture.

Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 13 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.
TOASTED GARLIC ESCAROLE
Cut a 1½-pound escarole head crosswise into 1-inch strips; place in a large bowl. Heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat; add 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle dressing over escarole, and toss to coat.

Squash Apple Turnovers

December 8, 2010

In my butternut squash risotto recipe, I declared that I can finally and confidently cut a butternut squash. Although after demonstrating my Iron Chef knife skills, I realized that I needed to broaden my squash usage beyond dinner that night because butternut squashes are HUGE. It is such a rich, flavorful and fantastic seasonal ingredient, so I knew I couldn’t let any extra go to waste.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and thought it was a great alternative to the typical dinner, and also was a great vegetarian option for those who say “no” to meat (like my friend Emily!). Serving with a light salad (and using up the rest of the expensive and yummy goat cheese in it) made a light yet comforting cold weather meal.

So don’t dismay when your butternut squash takes over your Tupperware – this recipe will give you a yummy way to utilize one of my favorite vegetables!

SQUASH-APPLE TURNOVERS
8 Servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cups (1/4-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
1 cup (1/4-inch) diced peeled Jonagold apple (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 (11.3-ounce) can refrigerated dinner roll dough or pie crust dough
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté for 3 minutes. Add squash; sauté for 5 minutes. Add apple; cook 6 minutes or until squash and apple are tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Gently stir in cheese and thyme.

Separate dough into 8 pieces. Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Combine mustard and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl. Lightly brush top sides of dough circles with mustard mixture. Spoon about 2 tablespoons squash mixture onto half of each circle, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Fold dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal. Brush milk over dough. Place turnovers 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 19 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.


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