Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lemon Chick Cookies

Motto: If I can do it, so can you. I am probably the least artistically inclined baker in the universe. I'm not particularly visual in general and I care a lot more about how a food tastes than how it looks.

But this week in-laws came to visit and my mother-in-law brought a magazine with these cute little chick cookies. How could we resist? We both thought the kids would love them. The original recipe was a cake box recipe. If you follow this blog at all, you know that I'm not a huge fan of cake box recipes in general. Although truth be told, I might have just gone with it for cuteness sake. Except that I had a better idea. What if I made the chicks with my Lemon Doodle recipe? Why, yes, it was brilliant.

Although when I first pulled those "chicks" out of the oven, I wasn't so sure. They were, to put it sweetly, the most obese chicks I'd ever seen. They'd spread quite a bit and run into each other and I couldn't picture them ever looking like chicks. In fact, I didn't even bother taking a picture of the cookies straight out of the oven because I was so sure they wouldn't make it onto this blog.

But then we added the eyes and little beaks and I'll be darned if they didn't come alive--those fat little Siamese-twinned cookies.

So then we decided just to do this thing and topped them off with little tufts of chicky, um, hair.

And of course there had to be a girl chick too (long hair and even some accidental eyelashes from those melty chocolate chip eyes because we all know--at least if we are four--that long hair and eyelashes is what makes someone a girl).

And then we ate them and they were soooo delicious. And so cute. And they would be super easy to make into snowmen in the winter. Or cats for Halloween (tail plus pointy ears).

I should also say that your chicks may actually come out not obese. We like to mess things up a little just to keep it real. We did not chill our dough as we were supposed to and my 9-year-old was measuring flour with a 1/4 C measuring cup and at one point lost count. This may have resulted in 1/4-1/2 C less flour than we were supposed to use. Can I just say that you know a recipe is a winner when you mess it up and it still comes out okay.

What You'll Need:

-Lemon Doodle dough
-Lemon sugar (optional). You could also use yellow sprinkles to very good effect if you've got them.
-mini chocolate chips (for eyes)
-Orange Tic Tacs (for nose)
-a bit of white frosting (for "hair")

What to Do:

1. Make 1 recipe of Lemon Doodle cookie dough (1/2 recipe is one sheet of cookies and actually what we did). Dye it yellow if you wish. We did and used several drops yellow food coloring.

2. Make your lemon sugar for the lemon doodles and dye it yellow as well if you wish. To do this, put the sugar and lemon zest in a Ziploc bag with a few drops of food coloring and mash it around (see here). (Note: If you don't love lemon or lemon zest, you can just use sugar).

3. Chill the dough if you want slightly less obese chicks.

4. Roll dough into small balls and big balls. Our small balls were about one inch and our big ones were about two inches. Note: I was worried the small would cook too fast and be burned, but surprisingly this was not the case. It just worked.

5. Place on cookie sheet--little ball touching big ball with plenty of space in between chicks. Bake for about 10 minutes at 400.

6. AS SOON AS cookies come out, plop on some mini chocolate chips for eyes and an orange Tic Tacs for the nose. You've got to do this while the dough is warm or it will be hard to get them to stick into the face properly.

7. Let cool. Then, if you desire, pipe a tiny bit of frosting onto the top for "hair." I had a little bit of this white chocolate frosting left in my fridge and that's what I used (though this would work too). I just scooped it into a Ziploc bag, cut a tiny bit off the corner and piped away. I should say, though, that if you skip the "hair," probably no one will hate you and they're still pretty cute...

Some of you want that cake box recipe, don't you. Fine. Though I'm gonna promise you that they won't taste nearly as good (and I'm even going to say that that Lemon Doodle recipe is not that hard to put together). This is from Woman's World.

1 pkg. lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 C oil
yellow food coloring

Mix this together, then follow the directions above.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hot Honey Vinaigrette

This month for Secret Recipe Club, I had Suzanne from Thru the Bugs on My Windshield (which is an awesome blog title, don't you think). Suzanne used to be the moderator of my Secret Recipe Club group and she was always super helpful, so I was happy to get her this month.

In the spring I always get a hankering for salad. (And ice cream.) But let's pretend for today that I only have good impulses--nice salady impulses. I did, after all, recently purchase a spring mix, a tub of arugula, and a bag of spinach at the grocery store (and Breyer's ice cream). And I'll be darned if I didn't need something great to top it off with (dressing for the salads and Magic Shell for the ice cream, thank you very much). I was especially wanting something good for the arugula. I've been fixing to jump on the arugula bandwagon for a while. If you, like me, are a little behind the times in your greens--arugula is a slightly bitter, peppery green. Now I don't know about you, but when I hear bitter green, I tend to think of those garden greens that have shot up in your garden and are nasty and bitter. Yeah, those are gross (they are also the type of lettuce I'm most skilled at growing in the garden--arg). But arugula is not that kind of bitter. It's got a bite and a peppery taste, but it's not like those nasty bitter greens at all. It's more intentional in flavor--like a green with a strong personality. I found that I really liked it (hello, bandwagon, sorry I'm always so late jumping on). But for a green with a strong personality, I wanted a dressing with a strong personality. Suzanne's vinaigrette was just the thing: a little mustard, a little chile, a little honey. It totally worked. She used it for a Napa cabbage slaw, but it totally rocked my arugula

Happy Spring!

Hot Honey Vinaigrette
Makes about a cup
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $.70
vinegar: .20, olive oil: .30, honey: .10, other stuff (totally estimating here, sorry): .10

Note: Because this uses olive oil, it will sort of harden/set up in the fridge. Thus, you'll want to take it out of the fridge a half hour or so before use so it can "relax." If you find that planning ahead far enough to allow your food to relax is stressful, (hello, dinner in two minutes), run it under some hot water for a minute and that should do the trick. 

1/4 C rice wine vinegar
1/2 C olive oil (extra virgin)
2 Tbsp honey (or agave for a vegan dressing)
1/2 tsp chile powder (Suzanne used green; I used red)
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt (I used a tiny bit more)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (I used a bit less)
1/4 tsp onion powder

Add ingredients into a shake proof jar and shake your little heart out until the ingredients combine and seem to slightly thicken (emulsify). 

Or, if you'd like to spare your arm muscles, you can put it in a mini blender or mini food processor and blend/process. (I've done mine both ways.)

You can also put everything into a bowl and whisk, then slowly pour your oil in, whisking as you go. I've never done this since I have a terrible syndrome called "lazy arm"; otherwise known as "person of weak moral fiber syndrome." But don't worry, I'm working through it. 

No matter the method used to combine your dressing, if you have leftover dressing you want to use the next day, you'll likely have to re-shake it (so you may have to seek some treatment for your "super lazy arm" syndrome or perhaps just enlist the help of husband or hapless child).  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moroccan Carrot Soup

Generally speaking, I like my soups straight-forward and savory. Salt and pepper please. I have such a carrot soup on here. It's a carrot soup for carrot lovers because it is simple and, well, carroty. I've tried several other carrot soups that sound and look divine (ginger carrot soup, cardamom carrot soup, etc.) and they've been fine, but they just haven't been my cup of soup (ha ha--how hilarious am I?) Consequently, I wasn't sure if I would like this new recipe at all. It's chock full of spices (and they're weirdish ones, people) and it uses--gasp--a little honey. Usually, this is my veggie soup red flag. Even among all those squash soups of autumn--you know the ones--they use a little sugar and some cinnamon or whatever--I just can't quite get into them. If I'm going to have sweet vegetables, then I need you to pass the zucchini bread or pumpkin pie. This soup also uses coconut milk. Now I do love me some coconut milk. But again in soups (except a nice Thai soup of course) I like it, but I still usually prefer to go the old fashioned heavy cream route.

The point is, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this soup. But I super super soup did (sorry--been watching too much children's programming apparently). The combination of the carrot and the foreign-ish spices and the coconut just rocked it. An absolutely perfect combo.

Moroccan Carrot Soup
adapted from This Gal Cooks
Serves 4
prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Cost: $2.65
carrots: .75, pepper: .15, onion: .10,  coconut milk: 1.00, chicken stock: .35, spices: .30

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red pepper, chopped
5 average carrots, chopped
1/2 C onion, chopped (I used half a small onion--however much that was)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 C chicken stock (or veggie stock)
1 C coconut milk
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
salt to taste

Heat oil in large pot. Add onion, red pepper, and carrots. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic. Cook one minute. Add spices and cook another minute.

Add 1 1/2 C chicken stock. Cook for 10-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Put in blender and blend with remaining 1/2 C stock, coconut milk, and honey (Note: don't forget the honey--it makes this recipe sing. I forgot it at first and it was fine when I tasted it, but when I added it, then it became awesomeness).

Reheat a bit if necessary.



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