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I'm Laura. I am female, 31, a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic.

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies


Posted at 12 Oct 2008 03:50:19 PM

I'm trying out this recipe for Pumpkin Cookies today, as it's fall-ish outside and I really wanted an excuse to play with my new Kitchen-Aid Artisan Mixer. They're only halfway through baking, but the verdict from the first batch is that they're absolutely outstanding.

The recipe says it makes 40. I'm at 3 dozen now, and will probably hit 4 before I hit the bottom of the bowl. Good thing too - they are seriously addictive little cookies!

I left the pumpkin seeds out altogether. And - just in case you can't find dried currants, I used a 3/4 cup bag of dried cherries (chopped a bit). I think they've even better!


( Click for the rest )





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Luau Day experiment


Posted at 17 Sep 2008 02:27:31 PM

Five stars to this recipe for Key Lime Bars (or Squares, for those of us not in Minnesota). I made a double-batch last night for Luau Day at work, and from what I may have licked off the spatula, they are amazing. A couple of random annotations, as noted in the original recipe on Martha's site --

* 23 key limes for 2/3 cups juice? Are they looking at them, poking 'em with a stick to get a few drops out, then throwing them away? You've got to be kidding me.
* In any case, it's tough to get key limes in Missouri in September, so I used bottled key lime juice. Each bottle had ~1/2 cup in them, and as a commenter had mentioned that they were a bit over-the-top with the full 2/3 cup called for, I used only 1 full cup for the double batch.
* I -wish- they made springform square pans.
* I also should try to remember that just because my mother has an armful of niftily-shaped spatulas, I do not also have the same resources. Hooray for lifting tiny custardy squares out of a 9x9 with a bread knife?

Original recipe is under the cut --

( Click for the rest )


In other news, we're gearing up for the wedding. I'm SO FAR BEYOND the "I wish it was over" stage, but despite that things are coming together. We've got clothes (well, I do... still no idea what Dan'll be wearing). We have my ring, and his is en route. We have an officiant, we have food, we have guests. It's a party!




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Buttermilk Lemon Cookies and a finished garden


Posted at 17 Sep 2008 09:47:11 AM

So, fortified with a jack & coke, sour patch kids and the lack of a headache, I present to you the promised post. Only a day late*; not too bad, considering.

The cookies which I mentioned are these:



They are the lemon buttermilk cookies which were mentioned here at Orangette's blog. You know that I'm a sucker for anything involving lemon, so they became my weekend baking. I made the full recipe, figuring that even if it made all 6 dozen I could always foist some off on Timm and Liz, or on the office.... well, it made 7.5 dozen, so I did both with two full tupperware containers left for us!

The original recipe as printed in Gourmet magazine can be found here. The only thing I changed was to double the amount of lemon zest to around 2 tsp (or 3 lemons' worth) as suggested on Orangette.

Skip past the recipe?



Buttermilk Lemon Cookies
INGREDIENTS

For cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

PREPARATION

Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter 2 large baking sheets (note: I used silicone-treated parchment paper instead).

Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until smooth.

Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks.

Glaze cookies:
Whisk together all glaze ingredients and brush onto tops of warm cookies.

Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

Cooks' note: Cookies are best the day they're made but can be frozen, wrapped well, up to 1 month.





Also accomplished is the raised garden in the back yard!



More pictures are here; the album should be public.

It's about 2' high on the outside, and is set into the hill. Down the road if we want to build another box on top of it, it should be relatively easy to base one wall on the existing (inside) wall, like we did for the shed-ward now (it's set on top of the retaining wall around the shed). That might do bad things to my sunlight, though, so for now this is more than good!

It has more soil in it now than in the picture, and comes up within about 6 inches of the top. It's a mix of ~3:1 soil to peat moss, which should help hold in the moisture once temperatures hit the 90s this summer. You'd never know it now, though... from the radio this morning we're slated to get 8 days of sporadic rain and thundershowers.

On the plan are heirloom cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers, snap peas up the wire screen in the back, cippolini onions, dwarf carrots, hungarian wax peppers (my favorite), chinese 5-color peppers**, possibly some jalepenos and assorted herbs.

Weather-permitting I'll get the peas and carrots off of my windowsill and actually planted. Keep your fingers crossed that they don't get drowned out, but I don't think they'll survive much longer in the limited environment I've got for them inside anyway.

Probably bowling this evening :) I'm slowly getting less bad at it, which is a comfort! League starts the 19th (of May), and I'd like not to be a complete embarrassment, though Dan assures me I'm not ;-)



* Or two,if you consider that I'm posting the morning after actually writing the post.

**The mystery peppers from Tom Matarese, finally identified thanks to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog!





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Apple Streusel Muffins


Posted at 06 Jan 2008 02:45:03 AM

I can't remember the last time I made something so good it required a blog posting. The closest I can think of would be my spicy lemon chicken risotto, and I think I forgot to actually post about that at the time (at least, so a search through my archives has revealed).

I've been craving apple streusel muffins all week. Don't ask me why, since I really wasn't sure that there was such a thing. Nevertheless, a google search revealed what I wanted to know, and this is the result:

Apple Streusel Muffins
Recipe from Diana Rattray at About.com

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/4 cup shortening
* 1 large egg, slightly beaten
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup chopped tart apples, cored and grated (1 apple, peeled and grated. The core made a nice place to hold on while grating. -ed.)

* Topping:
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, or macadamia... -ed.)
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

PREPARATION:

Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, chopped pecans and ground cinnamon.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until fine crumbs form. Combine egg and milk. Add to dry ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to moisten.

Stir in apples. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with crunchy topping. Bake in 375 F. oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 12 muffins (10. -ed.)

The muffins are everything a muffin should be: moist, dense, spicy and filling. The topping is a bit crumbly, but again it's all to the good - one expects streusel to be not quite neat.

I highly recommend that you try this - it was an excellent way to use up an apple, and you won't be sorry you did!




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Recipe: Raisin cookies


Posted at 23 Apr 2007 10:16:41 PM

I posted a question earlier today asking whether anyone knew what cookies I was describing, and elitenobody wins at life for somehow immediately recognizing what I was talking about :D

These cookies are incredibly nostalgic for me, as my mom and my grandma also made them, and it's one of those recipes which is handwritten in a box on a shelf at my parents' house. These were 2am cookies; the kind for which you sneak out of bed and tiptoe downstairs in the middle of the night, hoping that you could find your way to the cookie tin in the dark, and that Mom hadn't used the squeeky lid (rearranging the cookies in the tin after sneaking one - maybe two! - in hopes that your snacking wouldn't be noticed in the morning). They're light and fluffy and full of plump raisin-y goodness - so simple and delicious, and very addicting.

Raisin Cookies

Plump raisins:
1 cup raisins (I would use smaller ones next time, for more even distribution)
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cookie dough:
1 cup shortening (I used 1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup butter)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

More white sugar, for rolling


Add the water, vanilla and raisins to a small saucepan and gently bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the raisins to soak while you make the rest of the dough.

Cream the butter/shortening and sugar together. When evenly creamed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, soda and salt. Drain the raisins, and gently fold them in until evenly mixed.

Form largeish walnut-sized balls, being sure there's enough dough to hold the cookie together around the raisins. Roll in sugar to lightly coat the whole thing in sugar, and bake 2 inches apart on a [parchment paper-covered] cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies should be firm, and just starting to brown. Makes between 30 and 35, depending on how big you make 'em.





And the final look before devouring --


Those plump raisins are also a part of one of my favorite breakfasts - oatmeal with plump raisins (and LOTS of brown sugar!). It's absolutely divine on a chilly morning :)




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Cookies!


Posted at 26 Sep 2007 10:27:02 PM

I am a cookie-baking maniac lately! Though nowhere near Aunt Dorothy's OLOB (Our Lady of Baking) status, I have nevertheless over the last 5 days inclusive made two gingerbread loaves, two giant batches of gingerbread cookies, and have one more of snickerdoodles baking merrily away in the oven as we speak (or rather more accurately, as I type).

Yum :D

Just got done frosting the 2nd batch of gingerbread, too - the first one I wasn't entirely happy with. I think I rolled the dough just slightly too thin, and although these are still on the crunchy side of the cookie line, they're just chewy enough to be good :)

And frosted cookies look so pretty! I just did the old standard milk & confectioner's sugar & food coloring, which is pretty much heaven as far as I'm concerned. Easy, yummy, colorful and isn't like eating packing styrofoam like some other frostings are.

There was nearly a crisis with the snickerdoodles. I'd just creamed the butter and sugar (got to love doing that, by the way. Fantastic arm exercise, but I'm exhausted for hours afterwards >_>) and was rooting around in my cupboard for the dry ingredients when I realized that there is no chance in the world of me posessing such a never-used ingredient as Cream of Tartar. None. Midnight Wegman's trip, here I come.

And then I remembered the box of spices that mom had brought up from Aunt Betty when she cleaned out her cupboards - I still had them all in a mini box in my cupboard. And serendipitously enough, there was some Cream of Tartar! I did a small jig of joy and then went back to sifting before my butter melted. And there were snickerdoodles, and there was happiness. Amen.

The gingerbread recipes are here for the actual bread; here for the cookies (but remember what I said - roll it a bit thicker than the paltry 1/4" they suggest!), and in the Joy of Cooking for the Snickerdoodles. I really wanted to try this recipe for Chewy Molasses Cookies from ghostmommylady over on LiveJournal had I the time and available cookie tins, but I'm thinking that's not going to happen this year. And honestly, even if I did, I've no idea where I'd put them once I ate the one or two that I'm really jonesing for - aside from giving them to the staff of the office en masse (and I really don't like anyone there well enough to expend the energy of actually baking for them), loading down Aunt Kathy's christmas dinner more than it already will be, or spontaneously making friends with my neighbors, they would probably just go to waste.

So anyway, enjoy! (Pictures will be up on LJ's Cooking and/or my diary here whenever I get them off of my camera, and also probably after tins being mailed have arrived at their destinations.)