Wednesday, January 27, 2010

8 Polish Foods of Christmas (Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I have forgotten how incredibly delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies are straight out of the oven. THEY'RE AMAZING!

Joe requested chocolate chip cookies the next time I decided to bake and share. So, since I'm working at MGA tomorrow, I made chocolate chip cookies. There is nothing special about them. They are just plain cookies. The best reaction is when Alex walks in the house and he stops mid conversation (talking to Jess on the phone) and gets super excited about the cookies that are cooling on the table. I had...3 of them? Maybe more. I can't remember. They're so good when they're all warm and gooey. Like I said, nothing special about them. I got the recipe off of the back of the chocolate chip bag.

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 sticks of butter (they're cookies, they aren't going to be healthy even without that much butter)
1 3/4 cups of chocolate chips (11.5 oz bag from Nestle)
1 cup of nuts (optional. I usually skip it because 1. I never have them and 2. I suspect I'm slightly allergic to tree nuts)

Preheat oven to 375*.

Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in one bowl.

In another bowl, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time (or both if you're impatient) and mix everything together.

Stir in chocolate chips and drop by the spoonful onto ungreased baking sheets. Put in the oven for 9-11 minutes. Mine takes 8ish, but then, my oven is a little crazy.

Resist eating them until they've cooled slightly.

Should make 5 dozen, but I only got 4. I made larger cookies this time. I usually make little cookies. Small things just seem tastier.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Procrastination Station (Manicotti)

Remember that time I made ricotta cheese? Oh right, that was yesterday. I made something with it today! I made manicotti. Mmm. I had some manicotti noodles hanging around. Last summer I made them, but only used 8 of them because I didn't have a large pan. So...since I had the noodles and the cheese, I went to town making it. It came out really well.

1 3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used just about all of the stuff I made yesterday, I didn't really measure)
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pesto
1 egg
12 manicotti shells
2 cups spaghetti sauce

Boil the manicotti noodles for about 7 minutes. They aren't going to be completely cooked through. They'll finish cooking in the oven. When they're done, drain them and rinse them in cold water. It'll make stuffing them easier.

While the noodles are boiling, mix together the egg, cheeses and pesto. Load all of that into a baggie with the tip cup off so it's easy to fill the noodles.

Put 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

Take the cooked noodles and fill them with the cheese mixture. It's easier to do it from both ends then trying to get it all to go down one side.

Lay the filled noodles in the pan and cover them with the rest of the sauce. Cover with tin foil and put in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. The noodles should be tender.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Love Cows (Ricotta Cheese)

I'm designing a dairy farm for studio, so yesterday I traveled out to the Howell/Hartland area to check out a few. I got to the Lyon's farm without getting lost (yay!) and then Terry and I drove to dairy farm #1. Lots of cows. Lots of manure. I'm going to pretend that it was mud caked on my shoes. Just let me pretend. They had calves. Lots of calves. 4 day old twins. THEY WERE SO CUTE! After that one, we went down the road and looked at some Oreo cows (Belted Galloways) and some miniature donkeys. Then we drove down the road again and looked at a huge dairy operation. 1,300 head, but not all of them get milked. They were all computerized and it was pretty intense. Then it was back to the Lyon's farm to look at the calves I had seen in October. Good times, even though I smelled like cow poo when I got home.

Since I'm designing a dairy farm, I decided to make some cheese. I wanted to test it out this weekend before I make it for real people next week. I went out to Whole Foods to look for rennet tablets, but I was informed that no one in the city has any. I bought some of the other stuff I needed for my cheeses and then came home. I ordered the rennet tablets and citric acid online and hopefully it'll be here at the end of the week. So I made ricotta today.

Ricotta Cheese
1/2 gallon/2 quarts/8 cups of whole milk, not ultra pasteurized
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Put everything into a large pot and wait for it to boil. Let it boil for about 2 minutes. Everything will curdle and it'll start to smell like ricotta cheese.

While you're waiting for everything to boil, line a strainer with cheese cloth.

When everything has boiled and is ready, take the pot off the heat and pour it into the strainer. Let it strain for about 15 minutes. You want most of the liquid to get out. That's whey and it's a yellowish green color. Pick up the cheesecloth and wrap it around the cheese. Gently squeeze the curds so more liquid comes out. Then, it's done!

Apparently this best warm and can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Makes about 2 cups.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Muffins in the Oven (French Toast Fingers)

I'm waiting for my milk to curdle for another recipe so I figured I'd update. Right after I got back here from Christmas break I decided to test out one of my new cookbooks. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite dinners so I picked out French Toast Fingers. I used some of my grandma's strawberry jam (yummy) and used the powdered sugar quite liberally. I don't have enough experience in french toast making so there was still a lot of it that was kind of eggy. Not a big fan of that part. I'll stick to the store bought french toast sticks I think.

French Toast Fingers
from Dinner on a Dime

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
8 slices day-old white bread

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and salt; set aside. Spread preserves on four slices of bread; top with remaining bread. Trim crusts; cut each sandwich into three strips.

Dip both sides in egg mixture. Cook on a lightly greased hot griddle for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Top with powdered sugar.

Sorry for the lack of story tonight. I've been craving chocolate chip muffins all day and I'm 6 minutes and 54 seconds away from being able to make them. So close! There is also a hole in my sock. It makes me sad. It's just another sock to add to the growing pile of socks without a mate. I pair them together in hopes that they'll be friends.