Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vanilla Sugar Cookies, No Refrigeration Required

I love sugar cookies, but I don't love the way many of the recipes I've used in the past require you to refrigerate the dough for an hour beforehand. (I want instant cookies!) I also love sugar cookies that are crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, which is also a challenge, since they usually turn out one way or the other. This recipe, adapted slightly from Martha Stewart's Living magazine, manages both challenges, allowing you to bake up a batch of soft/crisp sugar cookies from scratch in less than thirty minutes. No refrigeration required.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 large eggs

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt. In a mixer, blend butter and sugar until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add eggs & vanilla. Lower speed, add flour mixture until well mixed.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheets, making a tablespoon or so of dough, roll into a ball, then flatten. Sprinkle with sugar, brush with water using a pastry brush, then sprinkle with sugar again.

Bake until golden, 14-16 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets on top of wire racks for 5 minutes, then take off sheets and cool on wire racks.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Apricot-date-pistachio bars

I've been trying out some recipes from a cookbook called "Perfect One-Dish Dinners" by Pam Anderson (not the one of Baywatch fame). It's a pretty decent cookbook, with lots of ideas for food for entertaining that can also be adapted to family cooking, where you want to mess up a minimum of dishes and still want something that covers all basic food groups. My favorite recipe so far, however, has been for Apricot-Date-Pistachio bars. Sort of like a magic cookie bar combined with a granola bar, it has multiple textures, and is crunchy, sweet, soft, and gooey, all at the same time. It's also a good one to make with a kid who's interested in cooking with you - opportunities abound for stirring, pistachio cracking, etc. Here's the recipe, adapted slightly:

Apricot-Date-Pistachio Bars

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
6 Tblsp. packed light brown sugar
dash salt
1/2 stick (4 Tblsp) melted butter
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup shelled roasted pistachios
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped dried apricots

Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Take a 16 inch piece of aluminum foil, fold it in half, and fit it in the pan so that ends come up the sides a little bit. Spray pan with cooking spray.

Mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and dash of salt. Stir in melted butter until well mixed. Press 3/4 of this mixture into the pan.

In another bowl, mix together coconut, pistachios, dates, and apricots. Add condensed milk, combine. Pour entire mixture over oatmeal mixture in baking pan, sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture on top, bake at 325 for 30 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack five minutes. Lift out of pan with the foil, cool on the rack until reaching room temp. Cut and serve.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Awesome Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers

I sometimes buy turkey burgers at Whole Foods flavored with spinach and feta, and I decided recently I could make them just as well on my own. I made this recipe tonight for 4th of July and we grilled them outside. They were so good I want to write down what I did, since I improvised. No photos - they were gone too quickly to document.

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers

1 package lean ground turkey (not turkey breast) - about 20 ounces
Breadcrumbs from 1 slice wheat bread
Egg white, slightly beaten
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (half a normal sized container)
5 ounces fresh spinach (half a bag)
1 small Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 generous slug Worcestershire sauce
ground pepper

Saute onion and garlic until soft. Chop the spinach and mix with the onion and garlic mixture until wilted but still bright green. Mix with ground turkey, breadcrumbs, feta, egg white, generous slug Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Form into burgers and refrigerate for a couple hours, otherwise it will stick to the grill.