Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sassy Sweets: Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hard to believe that at the end of this week it will be December already!  The house, of course, is fully dressed with my Santa wreath and a brand-new purchase of a Christmas gnome.  Not to mention the menorah (can't forget the Jewish half of me) and the lights.  I am ready for the holidays!

I'm so ready in fact, that I decided to test drive some Christmas recipes early.  It just so happens that in my office there are a LOT of December birthdays.  Not just a lot of people, but a lot of people I actually really like (that always helps).  Oatmeal cookies are one colleague's favorite and so I practiced 3 different recipes until I found the softest oatmeal cookie going.  Then, I filled it with dark chocolate chips (of course, you can do this with whatever suits your fancy). 

They are chewy and soft and very comforting on a cold winter's night.  In fact, I might have eaten them right out of the oven!  The best part of all?  You can make the cookie dough into balls and freeze them.  Perfect for a last minute pop in the oven to have fresh, delicious cookies for Santa!  Or yourself.  I won't judge.

Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serves:  40 (6-dozen cookies)
1 cup salted butter (4 sticks)
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups dark chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a handmixer for 1-2 minutes until softened.  Add the brown sugar and white sugar.  Beat well for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and the sugar is fully incorporated.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Then, add flour and baking soda, beating until just combined.  Then, add the oats and chips.  In order to avoid crushing the oats, use a large spoon (or clean hands) to incorporate the mixture together. 

Chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days in a covered container. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper*.

When you're ready to bake, roll two tablespoons of dough into a ball and place on the prepared cookie sheets.  Approximately 12 cookies should go on each cookie sheet.  Bake for 14 minutes and then remove from the oven.  Let cool for 5 minutes and then place on cooling rack to finish cooling (another 10-15 minutes).  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*If you prepare 4 cookie sheets, I can fit 2 in the oven at one time which means by the time the other 2 have cooled down, I can move the cookies to the cooling rack and re-use the parchment paper (saving money!). 

Make Ahead:  After the dough is chilled, scoop two tablespoon dough balls onto cookie sheets (these balls can be placed much closer together so you will likely only need 3 cookie sheets).  Freeze for 3 hours, or overnight.  Then, remove from the cookie sheet and place in an airtight container.  Place back into the freezer until ready to use.  They do not need to be defrosted but should bake for 1-2 extra minutes. 



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Weeknight Dinners: Tandoori Rotisserie Chicken

Happy almost Thanksgiving to you all!  We have a lot to be thankful for this year in our house - I just got back from a whirlwind work trip in Paris, Lisbon, Cannes, London, and Dublin!  My parents met me for a fun-filled, alcohol-fueled weekend there and can I say I am just so thankful that we got to spend that time together?! 

Another thing I'm thankful for?  Last week, I told you all about our new convection oven/toaster.  It's made by Breville and it's absolutely tremendous but it sits in a corner of our new kitchen and to be honest, we use it for so many things, it has been completely worth the big purchase!

The reason we made the big switch from a normal toaster to this was mainly due to the rotisserie feature; rotisserie chickens are so easy for the week and to buy them from the store are expensive and have a lot of sodium (more than I'd like).  Since it's something that factors into our weekday dinners fairly often (pre-cooked chicken), I thought it would be a great add to our kitchen gadgetry.  We've made gorgeous roasted chickens with lemon and garlic, with Latin American spices, African spices, we have really gotten creative!  Best of all, the chicken takes about an hour to roast and then dinner done!  Pair this with some raita and naan; make your own little wraps, eat and enjoy! 
Tandoori Roasted Chicken
Serves:  6 (one whole chicken)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole roaster chicken

In a small bowl combine ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Mix well.  Rub evenly under the skin, all over the chicken, and some inside the cavity.

If possible, place the chicken on the rotisserie sticks.  Rotisserie at 450 degrees F for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through.

If a rotisserie is not available, roast in the oven at 450 degrees F for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through.

Let cool for 5 minutes and then carve and slice.  Serve sliced chicken with raita and naan.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fancy Pants App: Arancini (Stuffed Rice Balls)

Arancini are an amazing Italian invention that my dad grew up on and that we love to indulge in during the holiday season.  They really use a lot of leftovers so you can start preparing this dish a few days before the actual event and freeze all of the arancini individually.  It also helps to have several extra hands in the kitchen, just like the Italians do, to help this go a little faster!
Arancini (adapted from Things I Made Today)
Serves:  16
Risotto:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups arborio rice, dry
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (the good stuff, please)
1 egg, whisked

Filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound meatloaf mix (or ground beef)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup peas, frozen
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into small 1-inch squares

Frying:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs, whisked
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
olive oil (for frying)

Risotto:  In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter.  Add rice, stirring to coat all the rice in butter, and let it toast for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup of broth.  When it starts to boil, add garlic powder and stir.  Keep adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the rice absorbs all the moisture, before adding the next 1/2 cup.  It should be al dente (soft but chewy). 

Remove rice from heat, stir in Parmesan cheese and let cool.  Once cooled to the touch, add whisked egg.  Spread rice out on a baking sheet, lined with tin foil, and let cool completely.

Filling:  Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Add ground meatloaf mix and tomatoes, cooking until meat is browned.  Stir in peas, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.  Set aside and let cool. 

Assembly:  Thoroughly wet your hands.  Then, take about 3 tablespoons of cooled rice and form it into a bowl in our hand.  Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling in the middle, top with a cube of mozzarella.  Take another 2 tablespoons of cooled rice to fully cover the meat mixture, forming a ball.  Set on a cookie sheet.  Continue this process until all the rice is used up, being sure to re-wet your hands between every 2-3 balls.  We have frozen them after this step for up to 2 weeks without issue. 

Fry:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil to 370 degrees F.  Make sure you have enough oil to fully submerge each arancini. 

Dip the balls into the flour, then whisked egg, then breadcrumbs.  Immediately place into the hot oil and fry until the outside is a nice golden brown.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and let cool slightly. 

Serve with marinara sauce and extra mozzarella on top.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stand Out Sides: Salt Potatoes

Have you heard of salt potatoes? I feel like they are all the rage right now with 3,000 methods and opinions on what makes salt potatoes best.  To be honest, I don't know how salt potatoes can be bad - they are salt and potatoes.  I mean, I'm pretty sure the human race has decided these two things go together (hello french fries).  Best of all?  These are a great addition to any Thanksgiving table.  They aren't fried, so you don't feel too bad about them, but they do have all that delicious salt flavor that is just YUM!  Plus, boiling potatoes in salt water makes them extra creamy - without butter or sour cream!

Time to get personal (maybe too close).  Over the last couple of years, I've been gaining weight - not a noticeable amount all at once but a little at a time, over and over again.  One day in July, I looked at myself in the mirror and just felt like I had encased myself in a fat suit.  I wasn't happy and it showed.  It was time to readjust my priorities.

Of course, I love to eat - and I love to eat good food so I didn't want to restrict myself from all of that.  Instead, the things I love to eat, I just savor a little bit more with smaller portion sizes; I started working out 3-4 times a week, and although John insists I have only lost weight in my chest area, I can feel the difference in my clothes (all my clothes ;)).  After all, if you don't like what you see in the mirror, how can anyone else?  Anyway, I'm pretty proud that I've lost about 7 pounds (so halfway to my goal) since July.  It's been a slow struggle but a good one.
Salt Potatoes (adapted from Serious Eats)
Serves:  6-8 people
2 pounds small new potatoes, rinsed
1/4 cup kosher salt

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water.  This works best if potatoes are just a layer or two at the bottom of the pan.  Add salt and stir until salt is dissolved.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a low boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has completely evaporated (about 45 minutes).  Potatoes should be covered by a thin film of salt.  Remove from heat and let potatoes rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Sassy Sweets: Apple Tarte Tatin

One of my wonderful friends, Snappy Gourmet (aka Lisa H), is an accomplished blogger and recipe creator, and amazing in person!  I was so excited a few months ago when she let me know she was writing a book for kids; as she has 2 kids herself, she can relate to how a lot of kids want to get in the kitchen themselves and now her book is out in the world!  In fact, you can order it on Amazon now.

This weekend is family game night in our house which has our cousins, aunt, and uncle coming over for a night full of games and food and fun.  As you know, my cousins are obsessed with Paris and one of the cousins is a very picky eater; her mom has been getting her into the kitchen to help make dinner and when she's involved, she'll eat anything she makes.  Even if her mom made the same meal the week before and she didn't even want to try it!  Kids are funny.

Anyway, what better way to combine our love of Paris and our apple picking extravaganzas then with an Apple Tarte Tatin.  The recipe was very straightforward and although the apples didn't caramelize as well as I would like, the kids didn't know the difference.  We let Dad do the honors of flipping the tart and in the end and it wowed everyone with the end product.  Even better, it was delicious warm with some ice cream!

It really got me in the mood for all things French and knowing that I would be going there soon really made it taste so much sweeter.  Just 4 more weeks until I go!!
Apple Tarte Tatin (adapted from Kid Chef Bakes)
Serves:  12
Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg yolk
2-4 tablespoons ice cold water

Filling:
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5-6 apples, peeled, cored, and quartered

Crust:  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt.  With a fork, cut in 1/2 cup of cold butter; stir in the egg yolk and cold water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together.  Form the dough into a disk, cover completely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until cold and firm.

Filling:  In a cast-iron pan or oven-safe skillet, over medium high heat, add butter, sugar, and lemon juice.  Stir occasionally until blended and butter has melted (3-5 minutes).  Then, add the apple quarters; cook 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally until the apples are soft and the liquid has thickened and darkened in color.  Remove from heat.  With tongs or a spoon, carefully arrange the apples in a single layer on the pan.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a circle 11-12 inches across.  Place the dough over the apples in the pan, and cut off the excess around the edges.  With a sharp knife, cut 3-5 slits in the crust.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Gently turn the pan upside down onto a serving plate, and release the tarte.  Serve warm.  With ice cream!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Field Trip: Angry Orchard Innovation House

John and I's anniversary always sneaks up on us because the middle of September is filled with Jewish holidays (and therefore Sundays in the office), the cabins, fall baking, and general rushing around.  This year, though, has been a rough one for us and I wanted to ensure that we took a day to ourselves and just ENJOYED.
That was about as far as I got until 1 day before we were supposed to leave for our "romantic adventure".  I was lamenting to a few girls in the office about it and one of them suggested Angry Orchard.  Genius!  So I immediately read up online that there were tours you could take at set times during the week and then looked around close by for a place for lunch.  This was going to have to be enough since we were meeting my family for apple picking and our annual sojourn to the cabins later that night.
I didn't tell John where we were going and for ONCE I surprised him (this is so hard to do, by the way, because everything is written on my face).  We had lunch at Woody's Farm to Table Burgers, which I thought John would love because well, he loves burgers.  Plus, they get all of their meat from a little farm in Maine.  Always a positive for John.  The burgers were very tasty and they had all-natural sodas we both liked, too!

Then, it was off to Angry Orchard Innovation Cider House!  We got there just in time for their 2 PM "barrel room tasting tour" where they took us through all of their aging processes, and then into a special room where we tried a limited edition apple cider that was almost like a fine white wine, a little dry but very apple-y and tasty.  However, the tour cost was $10 per person though which I thought was absolutely not worth the money and wouldn't recommend to someone else going (and we probably wouldn't do that again!).  They have a free tour plus a 3-sample tasting that I thought was basically the same except you don't get to try the "limited edition" cider, which for us was Oval Nouveau which we did like and bought a bottle of.

Every person who visits the innovation house gets a 3-sample tasting and luckily, 6 varieties were available to us so we got to try all 6!  The flavors were Crisp Apple, Pear, and Easy Apple, which you can find anywhere.  And then 3 flavors you could only get at the Innovation House including Rose en Sal, Walden Hollow, and Understood in Motion :02.  They were all really tasty.

It was a great afternoon and since Angry Orchard always has events, etc. going on there, I'd recommend anyone in the city making a drive up.  What a fun way to spend a day!

PS - We did not get anything from Angry Orchard from this post; nor do they know about our intention to blog about it :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sassy Sweets: Tartlettes aux Pommes

***I am reporting this from my 2014 post as I remade this lat weekend and retook some photos that really does these delicious apple tartlettes much more justice!  They are seriously still one of my favorite apple recipes EVER, and not just because Paris still owns my heart.  Plus I'll be there in a few weeks, what better to get in the mood?!**


In about 12 hours, I will be on a plane to Paris (aka one of my favorite places on Earth).  I'm both slightly anxious (read:  terrified) and excited.  I'm going for work and it's the first time I'm being trusted to go all on my own.  Granted, I'll have a few guys from the London office there with me but I'm the only one coming from stateside.  Plus, John isn't coming with me so I have a whole weekend entirely by myself.  I try to wonder if I've EVER had a weekend like that before in my life and I'm hardpressed to think of one.  It should be fun, and lonely, and Parisian.

Since I booked my tickets a few weeks ago, I've been alternatively dreading / loving watching the few weeks fly by.  John will be meeting me in London in a week's time (where I'm working next week) and when we get back it will be November.  And I'm sitting here feeling like - did this year even happen?!  What the heck have we done to show for it??

In the midst of all this anxiety, I have lost the kitchen.  Not completely but a lot.  So last weekend, when I decided to use up the last of our apples from apple picking into something dramatic and French and autumnal and lovely, this was the only thing I could think of.  Truth?  The recipe was so good that I felt like we were in Paris.  I'll be there soon enough but if you're not as lucky, these tartlettes will do the trick!
Tartlettes aux Pommes (adapted from Joy of Baking)
Serves:  6 (6 6-inch tart pans)
Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour

Apple Filling:
8 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Calvados
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Crust:  Beat butter until softened; add the sugar and beat until sugar is fully incorporated and mixture is light and fluffy.  Add egg beating until just incorporated.  Add flour and with your clean hands, mix until the dough forms a ball.  Flatten the dough into a large round disk and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate about 60-90 minutes, until firm. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Have six 6-inch tartlette pans with removable bottoms ready.  Cut the pastry into 6 even pieces.  Remove one piece keeping the rest refrigerated.  On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll the pastry into a 6-inch circle.  Folding the circle in half, then half again.  Pick it up and transfer it to the tart pan, unrolling it onto the top of your tart and using your fingers to press the pastry onto the bottom of the pan.  Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.  Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Repeat so all 6 tartlette pans are used. 

Remove the unbaked shells from the fridge.  Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is only golden brown on the edges.  Remove from oven.  Let cool

Apple Filling:  Take 5 of the apples and chop into bite-sized pieces.  In a small saucepan combine apples, sugar, water, Calvados, and cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8-12 minutes, until the apples have reduced and the compote is still slightly chunky (consistency is like apple sauce with small apple chunks).  Slice the remaining 3 apples in thin slices.

Fill the crusts evenly with apple compote.  Then, top the apple compote with thin slices of apples.  Brush butter over the tops of the tartlettes and bake for 15-18 minutes until the crusts are browned.  Allow to cool slightly.  Then, remove the tartlettes with the removable bottoms.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store the tarts for up to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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