Posts Tagged ‘food’

Ginger Snaps, Cookie Belly, and a Minor Freak Out

My Cookie Baking Spree

My Cookie Baking Spree

I’ve spent the last 3 days packing up Christmas. There’s a sticky spot of sap on my right hand from taking the ornaments off the tree and I’m sitting here writing this because it seems like a better idea than hefting our now de-ornamented tree out to the curb.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the sparkle and the lights and the hope and joy and songs… it still holds that magic for me that it did when I was a child staring out my window looking for Santa and it gives me the calm peace I always feel after singing Silent Night in a darkened church while holding a lit candle. But this year I had a hard time finding my spirit. My cat Ruby became suddenly ill the second week of December and in a matter of 3 days time went from being perfectly fine to dead. She was only 5. At the same time there was the awful shooting in Newtown, CT that I connected with so deeply as I’m the mom of a 1st grader and a teacher. I felt cracked, sad, disjointed and not fully involved. My Christmas spirit was there but only in hints and whispers and quick moments. At the same time it was a very THANKFUL time. My Man was supposed to be shipping off to parts across the world on December 21 for 6 months away – that trip was cancelled. I can imagine the alternate universe we three would have experienced without him and I know we were blessed and lucky and so fortunate to be the 4 of us. By Christmas Day I did find my joy. The pageant at church, the tour of tacky Christmas lights we took, and my children’s excitement lit my heart and allowed me to be present and happy and glad for the holiday.

I went on a bit of a baking spree this holiday. I made many, many, cookies and I ate many, many, cookies. Which leads me to a phenomenon I call Cookie Belly. I watch what I eat, I exercise regularly, I’m no super fit firm mama, but I’m at a good healthy weight and I think I look pretty all right for an almost 42-year-old. My goal is to stay like this for the rest of my life. My baking did not help that goal. I developed a nice little 5 pound cookie belly from all my sampling and snacking and enjoying. By the end of January I’ll lose that belly – but if anyone who knows me wonders why I’m wearing the same jeans all the time it’s because they are the only ones that fit! My Grandma G’s Ginger Snaps were worth every pound of that Cookie Belly. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy.

Ginger Snaps

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Mix together shortening, sugar, molasses and egg. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. Roll into balls and roll in granulated sugar. If you were my grandma you’d make very small balls, if you are me you will make biggish ones.
  3. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes until set when touched lightly. They begin to crack on top and are usually set a minute or two later. They need to be lightly browned on the bottom and not jiggly on top.

If you make these I guarantee you will love them.

The day before Christmas I was getting ready for family to arrive. I began to become a small freak out mess as I got overwhelmed with all the tasks I wanted to get done. My family heard my little tirade about chores and they said to me – no worries and they all chipped in. Buddy picked up toys and organized and put everything in its place. My Man vacuumed the entire house. Little Miss cleaned the bathroom. And my self-induced freak out mess stress just melted away as I felt the love of my family. Christmas morning I opened my present from Little Miss. There was a paper in a box that said on it, “do not go into the hall bathroom”. My sweet 7-year-old explained that I actually could go into the bathroom because I got my present early – she was going to clean the bathroom and she had already done it the day before. She knows me so well – a gift of cleaning is always appreciated – and I also got a hug.

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What to do With 12 Pounds of Apples? Apple Crunch!

About a month ago the kids and I had to drop off My Man at the airport. He was going to be gone for 3 weeks and to take all of our minds off the fact that we would be missing him terribly I decided that directly after airport drop off we should enjoy the splendid fall day and go pick some apples.

In all my 41 years I had never been apple picking. Sure, I used to pick crab apples off the tree behind my cousin’s house to chuck at my brother, but heading to an actual orchard and frolicking among the trees I just had never done. I did a little googling and I found a place west of my home that still had apples on the trees. It was called Stribling Orchards. We had a super time. We started off by buying hot dogs wrapped in foil and ate them at a picnic table with some Cokes to chase them down (no way could I do some serious apple picking with an empty stomach). We then checked out the orchard map and decided it was just a pain in the butt to try for a certain kind of apple so we just wandered – and picked all the apples we could reach. Throughout the orchard there were folks with long apple picking contraptions that we did not have. What we did have was a mom who was willing to hoist a 50 pound kid up on her shoulders to reach higher. Little Miss, Buddy and I had a great time! We picked red apples and green apples and little apples and big apples and by the time we ended and weighed our haul we had picked 12 pounds of apples.

Most people automatically go for the apple pie solution when faced with this many apples, but since I had received a fancy pants Le Crueset french oven for my last birthday I decided to put it to work. I made a recipe called Apple Crunch that I found in a little book called 101 Things to Do With a Dutch Oven (which is actually the same thing as a french oven). It was easy to make, every one liked it, and I would have to say it is best served with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crunch

Dutch Oven Size – 12 inch

  • 15 – 16 apples, peeled and sliced (I used half that amount)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1 TBS cornstarch

Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter

Place apples in Dutch oven sprayed with nonstick spray. In a saucepan, heat sugar, water, vanilla, and cornstarch until thickened. Pour evenly over apples.

Combine topping ingredients and then sprinkle over the apples. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes.

A Reason NOT to Use Your Food Processor: Potato-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Kartoffelchips-1

Kartoffelchips-1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Why do you keep thinking things made with potato chips will be good? They’re not.”

That’s the quote My Man threw at me after this dish: Potato-Crusted Chicken Fingers. This was a recipe I decided to try because the photo looked just delish, we all like chicken fingers and potato chips, and I’d also get to use my food processor. And while I followed the recipe to a T these suckers were just blah. The breading that the potato chips made wasn’t anything special – I might as well have smooshed a bunch of chips up on my plate and dipped some cooked chicken in it.  We all ate it but we all did so with the thought, “it’s not that good but I’ll eat it anyway.”

I got this recipe from the October 2011 issue of Cooking Light. Give it a try – maybe it’ll be super good to you!

Potato-Crusted Chicken Fingers (hands on time 40 minutes. Total time 40 minutes. Serves 4)

  • 6 oz baked potato chips
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk – (I used 1%)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips – (seeing as I don’t like cutting up chicken I used the pre-cut strips)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBS canola oil, divided

1. Grind chips in a food processor and place in a shallow dish. Place 3/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Combine the milk and egg in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt, dredge in flour. Dip chicken in milk mixture, dredge in ground chips.

2. Heat 1 1/2 TBS oil in a lg skillet over med.-high heat. Add half of chicken, cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.

If you give this a try and LOVE it I’d like to hear your story. As for our family – this recipe is headed to the recycling container.