Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oatmeal Coconut M&M Cookies

I quickly made these the other night as a surprise for my husband.  They're so good!  We both loved them, they're perfect.  Oats, coconut, M&Ms, and lots of vanilla flavor in a thick, chewy, moist cookie.  Yum!  Next time I may try toasting the coconut first, but that's the only thing I'd be at all interested in changing.  Also, holy moly, for once in my life a cookie recipe actually made exactly the number of cookies it said it would!  Proving once again that my normal cookies are huge, we thought these were cute and tiny.
This recipe is from a Pillsbury recipe booklet from 1991 called Cookies, Brownies, and Bars.

Update:  This has become one of the cookie recipes I make most frequently.  They're delicious, quick to make, and just happy cookies.  I still haven't tried toasting the coconut first, but will one of these days.  I'd also like to try leaving out the M&Ms but adding white chocolate chips and dried cranberries, doesn't that sound good?
Oatmeal Coconut M&M Cookies
1 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 C rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
1 C sweetened coconut shreds
13 oz package M&Ms, divided
Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Mix in vanilla extract, milk, and eggs.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix in just until combined.  Add oats, coconut, and all but 1/2 C of the M&Ms and stir until combined, being careful not to over mix.  You may need to get in there with your hands to finish mixing as the dough is rather stiff.
Roll dough into small balls (I made them slightly larger than a cherry), place 1 1/2-2 inches apart on the baking sheets, and press 2 M&Ms into the top of each cookie.  Bake just until golden, about 10-12 minutes.
Yield: 4 1/2 dozen small cookies

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spam, Rice, & Eggs

This is one of those recipes I'm kind of embarrassed to share, both because it's incredibly easy and incredibly unrefined.  Everyone makes fun of Spam, and here I am tossing it into dinner.  My husband convinced me to post the recipe anyway because we enjoy it and the ingredients are basic enough that you can always have them on hand.

Spam, Rice, & Eggs

1 1/2 C raw rice, cooked according to package directions with 1/2 tsp salt (I use this baked brown rice recipe)
1 T butter
1 can Spam, cubed (I use turkey Spam)
6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
soy sauce to taste

Keep the rice warm while you cook the Spam and eggs.  Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high and add Spam.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned: about 10 minutes.  Remove Spam to a bowl and remove skillet from heat.  Crack eggs directly into skillet, then whisk them with your spatula.  Return pan to stove and scramble eggs over medium low.  When cooked, add salt and pepper to taste.  Return Spam to skillet as well as cooked rice.  Stir to combine and heat the rice through.  Let everyone top their own bowls with soy sauce.
Yield: about 6 servings

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Brown Sugar Oat Scones

Got another great recipe from Catherine Newman's blog, Ben and Birdy.  It's called Brown Sugar Oat Scones!  I've wanted to make this recipe for over a year, and finally did this morning.  I'm not entirely sure why I've been so fascinated with the recipe- maybe because all the recipes I've tried from that blog have turned out amazing?- but the scones were definitely worth the wait!  The only thing I'd change is that I wish I'd made them sooner so we wouldn't have been scone-less all this time.
Let's see if I can describe the scones.  They look very rustic and are sort of pretty in their own way.  They're really brown because of the whole wheat flour and brown sugar.  Just looking, you'd think they have cinnamon in them (maybe an idea for the future?).  They have a very tender, rather crumbly texture to them, and a little bit of sweetness, but not too much.  The whole wheat and oat flavors are very toasty and savory and perfect.  These scones have instantly gained the status of #1 scone in my book!  My husband called them little oat pizzas when he saw them, and he loved them, too.
Quick Note: According to Catherine, this recipe is originally from the book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  In the original, Deborah says to use cream or milk for the liquid.  Catherine uses half and half in her version, but I happened to have exactly 3/4 C cream in the fridge left over from another recipe, so the perfect amount for the scones plus a tiny treat for the kitties.  I'm sure cream makes for the best texture.  Next time I'll try milk and will update the recipe then!
Brown Sugar Oat Scones
1 C rolled oats (not quick oats, they're too fine), plus more
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C packed brown sugar (I used dark, added some extra flavor)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 t salt
7 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces (wait to do this until right before you use it)
2/3 C cream (or half and half)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir together dry ingredients.  Whisk together cream, egg, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and set aside.

Cut butter into flour mixture either with a pastry blender or just use your fingers to rub the dry ingredients and butter together until the butter is mostly mixed in and the mixture looks very sandy. 
Pour in the cream/egg mixture and stir just until it comes together, being careful not to over mix.  After I stir it a a little bit, I dive in with my hands because it's easier to tell whether the dough is evenly moist that way.  Gently form dough into a ball.
Sprinkle about 1/3 C oats on a clean work surface and place the dough ball in the center.  Gently pat it out until you have a circle about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully move them to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake scones until they begin to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Serve with butter, jam, and honey.
Yield: 8 scones

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Thai Peanut Noodles

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Jess's blog, Inquiring Chef!  I was really excited to get her blog because I'd already poked around on it a bit.  Her blog is just chock full of amazing looking recipes.  I couldn't sleep the day we got our SRC assignments and actually read her entire blog that night, all the way back to when she started it in late 2010!
Jess's blog is really interesting, and not just because of the recipes she posts.  She's lived in Thailand with her husband for the past several years.  I absolutely love travel and am fascinated with different cultures, so her blog is a good read!  Jess and her husband also have a pair of pretty much the cutest identical twin baby girls, Molly and Clara.  I even love their names!
Anyway, to the recipes.  I marked a good 20 of them as possibilities to make for this blog post.  A couple of weeks ago, I actually made her Parmesan Rosemary Oven Fries, but realized after I made them that she originally adapted the recipe for an SRC post a couple years ago, so I had to pick a different recipe for my post.  No problem, like I said, she has lots of yummy looking recipes.  The ones I considered the most were Chicken and Orzo with Lemon and Olives, Chicken Stew with Rosemary Parmesan Dumplings (any recipe with rosemary catches my eye!), Crispy Scallion Pancakes, Baked Crab Rangoon, Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Chocolate Pots de Creme, Light and Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes, Apple Rubies in Coconut Milk, and her very simple looking 5 Minute Baked Ziti.  I fully intend on making the ziti, whole wheat pancakes, chicken with orzo, and apple rubies very soon!
In the end, I chose Thai Peanut Noodles.  I've made recipes for peanut noodles a few times in the past, and they've ranged from okay to pretty good.  None of them were good enough for me to make again or post on my blog, though.  I'm happy to say that Jess's recipe makes the cut to qualify for its own blog post, even if I didn't have to post about it!

My only changes were to sprinkle the crushed peanuts on top as a garnish instead of mixing them in, and I used canned Chaokoh coconut milk instead of the lighter kind you drink because I didn't catch that I was supposed to use the drinking kind until after I'd purchased a can.  No regrets, though, because the noodles turned out amazing!  Very creamy and delicious with great peanut, coconut, and curry flavor.  Absolutely no complaints, and I intend to make the recipe with the canned coconut milk in the future.  Next time I'll use another half teaspoon of red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand, turns out it's pretty mild) and spaghetti noodles instead of bucatini, but that's it for alterations.

Just want to note, I served these noodles with Salt & Pepper Tofu Triangles and thinly sliced cucumber tossed with seasoned rice vinegar.  Very satisfying dinner!  I can also confirm that leftover noodles are delicious both cold and reheated.
Thai Peanut Noodles
8 oz spaghetti noodles
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp red curry paste (or more if you want more spice)
1/4 C peanut butter (the typical kind like Jif or Skippy that has a bit of sugar in it)
1/4 C water
1/2 C coconut milk
1 tsp salt
for garnish:
finely chopped peanuts
sliced green onion
Cook pasta in lightly salted water and drain.

While pasta cooks, heat oil over medium in a large nonstick skillet.  Add curry paste and peanut butter, and cook until both are melted and mixed together.  Don't cook at too high a temperature or the peanut butter can separate (I had to throw away my first go at it)!

Stir in water, coconut milk, and salt, and cook until sauce is very smooth and slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add cooked, drained pasta and toss to coat.  Divide among plates to serve and garnish with chopped peanuts and green onion.

Yield: About 3-4 servings