Monthly Archives: January 2013

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles.  What can I say?

My husband and I got married in 2007 in Lake Placid, NY in the Adirondacks – a picturesque, beautiful, and fresh location place.

Before I get into the recipe, I must detour for a moment…  My family spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks growing up.  Each summer we would travel to Rollins Pond and camp in our pop-up camper in a just-roughing-it enough place.  There was electricity but we had to boil our water, walk to the bathrooms with flashlights, and make showering an outing at the communal, pay-by-the-minute facility.  It was gorgeous.  After breakfast each day, we would decide what to do…  Should we canoe to the inlet today?  Swim and sunbathe?  My brothers would bring their putters and create make-shift putting greens out of the dirt and fallen pine needles.  And each night after dinner, we would play euchre or some other card game before turning in for the night.  So it was only natural that my parents would retire to Saranac Lake, NY, not too far from our family camping area.  George got to experience the Adirondacks with my family this way, making this location near and dear to his heart too, having made more than a decade of memories there.

Now back to the recipe…  We thought long and hard about what we wanted to put in the goody bags that would delivered to the hotel rooms of each of our guests. They had traveled so far and we wanted to give them a taste of comfort that was uniquely us.  For many of our friends and family, this was the first (and maybe last) time that they would get to experience the Adirondacks and it was going to be with us.  In the end, along with the rest of the goodies, we gave our friends and family Snickerdoodles with a recipe card.  In addition to being a great late night snack, we felt that this sweet little cookie was a representation of us.

If you haven’t had a Snickerdoodle before, they are a crowd pleaser – not too sweet, crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center.  I have yet to meet a person who does not enjoy this little detectible treat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. butter
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 C. flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Topping:

  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream butter, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Add Cream of Tartar, Baking Soda and Salt and combine thoroughly.  Add flour in three groups, scraping the side of the bowl down each time.  Mix thoroughly.

Roll batter into 1 inch balls (a little smaller than a ping pong ball).  Roll in cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 8 minutes or until golden.  These cookies will rise a bit in the oven and then sink after cooling.

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Korean Tofu

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This is one of those dishes that you may just skip over when surrounded by offerings like bulkogi, kimchee, and dumplings.  But before you pass it by, circle back and give it a taste.  I don’t know of a single person who didn’t come back for a second, third and probably fourth helping.  It’s THAT good.

When I made this for my sister-in-law for the first time, she was instantly addicted after one bite.  I think over the course of a four day visit, I made it for her three times.  No joke.  It still continues to be one of her favorites and I make it for her almost every time I see her.  I actually have to make a double batch so other people get to have some. 🙂

The tofu is pan fried golden on both sides, so the outsides are crispy yet in the inside is still tender and then it is drizzled with a yummy soy, sesame, garlic sauce.  It’s simple yet delicious.

This is the perfect tofu dish for someone who doesn’t think they like tofu.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package tofu
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1/4 C. soy sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • vegetable oil for pan frying

Begin by draining the tofu and wrapping it in paper towels.  Cut the tofu block in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch slices, yielding about 12-14 3×2 pieces.  Note: the tofu should be as dry as possible before cooking, otherwise you won’t be able to get that yummy golden crust on the outside.

In a skillet, place enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan and turn to medium heat.  Wait until the oil is hot enough – you’ll see the oil begin to ripple slightly which is your cue that it’s hot enough.  Pat the tofu on a paper towel before placing in the pan.  You may need to do a couple batches.  The tofu should not be touching. Resist the urge to move it!  Like beef, it will tell you when it’s ready – when it doesn’t stick to the pan, it’s ready to flip.  It should be a nice golden brown color.

When the right color, blot each piece on a paper towel to remove excess oil and place on a plate.  Spoon a little of the dressing on top of each piece and serve.

Tips:

  • To make this Gluten Free, simply use a Gluten Free soy sauce.  (My sister-in-law is a celiac, so I am very familiar with Gluten Free modifications) 🙂
  • If you have hot pepper paste and like spicy food, add a teaspoon.  It’s a nice variation.

CousCous with Craisins and Toasted Almonds

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There’s no real soulful origin to this recipe.  Sometimes, my recipes come from pure curiosity in one ingredient.  As I have grown older and metabolism has slowed down :(, and I struggle to get healthy foods into all of our bodies (did I mention that my husband is nearly as challenging with the veggies as my four year old?), I look for creative, tasty ways to get necessary nutrients.

While in the store, I noticed a box of couscous, read the instructions, and it seemed easy enough so decided to give it a whirl.  But when I got thinking about it, it didn’t sound very exciting.  So I started thinking about flavors.  Onion and garlic, who doesn’t like that?  And hmmm… I was in a bit of an almond kick because the protein and good fats, blah, blah, blah.  And I had extra Craisins that I had to use.  And so I ended up with this.

This is a simple, no frills side dish, but the different textures of the soft couscous with the sweet, tart craisins and the crunchy, toasted almonds has proved to be a crowd favorite.  My four year old actually gobbles it down (minus the almonds)!  I make an individual batch when it’s just the family and double it when I am entertaining.  It’s also perfect with chicken and fish.

1 box of plain couscous (I like to use whole wheat when I can find it)
2-3 C. of low or no sodium chicken broth/stock
2 T. Olive Oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 of a small bag of Craisins
1 8 oz bag of slivered almonds
6-12 large basil leaves (depending on how much you like basil)

In a medium size stock pot, sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until soft in olive oil, but not browned. Season with salt and pepper (adding salt here helps to “sweat” the onions so the moisture comes out without browning). Add chicken broth and a little more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add couscous and turn heat off, cover and let sit for 5-7 min.

Meanwhile, in dry skillet, heat at medium high. Add almonds and toast until golden. Watch closely as they are easy to burn. The best kitchen tool here is your nose, yup your nose…  Your nose knows.  Once you smell the almonds, they’re almost ready!  You may need to flip them around a bit in the pan so they toast evenly. Turn off heat and take off burner because they’ll keep cooking.

Chop Craisins into desired size. I prefer mine to be chopped finely because my toddler and hubby don’t enjoy the flavor of large chunks, but it’s totally up to you.

Toss couscous with a fork. Mix in basil, almonds and craisins. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving dish.

Notes:

  • If you read the couscous box, it calls for basically a 1:1 ratio of liquid to couscous. I use a 3:1 ratio for this so it stays a little more moist, especially because you’re adding so many more ingredients. Just make sure to fluff and separate it well with a fork as it can stick together easily. Add more or less of any ingredient – it’s really to your taste and preference.
  • I like this recipe because it should be served room temperature.  It’s perfect for summertime picnics because it doesn’t have mayonnaise and you don’t have to worry about it going bad.
  • You can also add chunks of rotisserie chicken if you want to serve it as a main dish, it just makes it little more substantial and filling.

Favorite Coffee Cake

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I’ve heard my mother credit Betty Crocker for this recipe before, but my family has been making this coffee cake for so long that I actually consider it a Palmateer Family Recipe (for those of you who don’t know, Palmateer is my maiden name).  This coffee cake is truly aptly named.  Whenever we gather as a family, this coffee cake is present and devoured in one morning.

It’s funny how some recipes actually make you think of a specific person.  Both of my brothers love this cake, but it’s my oldest brothers face that I see when I think of this recipe.  I remember the middle piece would go “mysteriously” missing, as if a mouse with a butter knife had come and carved out his special section.

The cake itself isn’t that sweet.  The real treasure is in the topping of brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter that bubbles and sinks into the cake in a way that makes it so that no two coffee cakes were ever the same.  Inevitably as the cake cooks and the edges begin to puff up, the topping shifts towards the center and sinks in an unpredictable way.   And it’s delicious.

Cake: Makes a 9 x 12

  • 3 C. flour
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. shortening, butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 2 eggs

Topping:

  • 2/3 C. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 12 pan.

Cream sugar and eggs.  Add butter (or shortening or vegetable oil).  Add baking powder and salt and mix well.  Add milk.  Add flour in three separate cups, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each one.  Pour into pan and shake to make sure it’s even.

Meanwhile, make the topping.  In a large bowl, place all ingredients in pan. With a pastry cutter (or two knives in a criss-cross action), cut the butter and ingredients into pea-size pieces.  Place on top of cake batter.

Bake for 30-40 minutes for until toothpick comes out clean.

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Mac and Cheese with Hotdogs

Every person I have ever made this for became instantly obsessed and gorged themselves on this cheesy, decadent childhood treat.  And every time I make it, I think of my Nana, my dad’s mother, who loved to make casseroles and bring family together over food.  My Nana was a sweet woman with only kindness and warmth in her heart. My child’s mind recalls thinking that she and my grandpa ate very strange food – goat cheese, goats milk, nutella, tongue, liver, angel food cake…  Ha!  While I still don’t eat tongue, liver or goats milk, I regularly incorporate the rest into my diet.  Perhaps she was just way ahead of her time in the culinary world…

But it’s this recipe that I have kept with me and I always come back to when the air outside is chilly or if I want my four year old to actually eat a full dinner.  🙂  Over the years, I’ve modified the original recipe which is below for you to enjoy.  Make sure to wear your stretchy pants!!

Pasta:

  • 1 box of macaroni (or your other favorite tubular pasta)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
  • 3 C. milk
  • 1 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 all-beef hotdogs, cut thinly on the bias (about a quarter inch)

Topping:

  • 3/4 C. breadcrumbs (or panko)
  • 2 T. butter
  • chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish or other casserole pan.  Begin boiling water for pasta.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Add salt and pepper and cook until translucent.  Add mustard and flour.  This will create a roux.  Cook for about a minute to get the raw flour taste out.  Slowly add milk, stir, and cook until smooth and hot – stir often so the milk doesn’t scald.  Add cheese slowly, stirring often.

Cook pasta to a little under al dente.  You want it to have a visible bite and not to be cooked through – it will be going in the oven too and you don’t want the pasta to overcook.  Drain and place in the baking dish.  Stir in sliced hotdogs.

Pour cheese mixture over pasta and stir to combine.

In microwave, melt butter and toss with breadcrumbs and parsley.  Sprinkle over top of pasta.

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the bubbly and browned on top.

Tips:

  • Add 1/2 – 1 C. roasted butternut squash.  This is an excellent way to get veggies in the kids without them actually knowing – it takes on the Kraft mac and cheese yellowish/orange color and they won’t know the difference.  If you choose to do this, add after the mustard and flour BEFORE the milk.  To roast butternut squash – with your knife, remove the thick skin of the squash.  Cut lengthwise and remove seeds.  Cut into chunks and place on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until soft.  Remove from oven and mash with a fork.  Divide into three portions (I freeze the other two for later use).
  • To make this Gluten Free, use a rice pasta macaroni or brown rice pasta.  Cook less than regular pasta so it holds its shape during the oven cooking process.  For the roux, use rice flour or skip altogether.  Omit the bread crumb topping.

Individual Cheesecakes with Fruit Topping

Post holiday, I discovered that I had double purchased the sale on cream cheese at the market, leaving me with 5 unopened packages.  How could I possibly eat that much cream cheese?  This question lingered in my brain for days, so much so that one morning, I awoke with an intense craving for cheesecake.  Aha, cheesecake!  I could make cheesecake.  But my husband and daughter don’t eat it.  I didn’t want to make a huge one because it would go to waste.

And then I recalled these miniature tart-shaped cheesecakes that my father’s secretary would give us for christmas.  They were delicious and she would make them in all kinds of flavors.  And inevitably, there were never enough – a family of five — two brothers, a mother, and a father to compete with…

I began to scour the internet for individual cheesecake recipes, none of which were exactly what I was looking for.  So, I created my own…

Crust:

  • 2 C. mini Nilla wafers
  • 1/2 sleeve of honey graham crackers
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 T. flour (optional)
  • 16 cupcake wrappers (I like the foil ones)

Filling:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest and juice from one lemon (I recommend doing this in a separate bowl to make sure you don’t get any seeds)

Topping:

  • Your favorite whole berry jams (I like the Smuckers harvesty ones in berry, cherry, and strawberry)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and Nilla wafers into fine crumbs.  Add cinnamon and brown sugar.  Transfer to a bowl and add the melted butter.  Mix together until cohesive (should look and feel like wet sand).

In a mixing bowl blend the cream cheese and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and mix.  Add sour cream and combine thoroughly, scrape down sides of bowl.  Add lemon zest and juice.  Add vanilla last.  Scrape sides and make sure the mixture is smooth, without visible cream cheese chunks.

In a cupcake pan, place wrappers.  Take 1 T. of crust mixture into each wrapper and press firmly.  If there is leftover crust, you can distribute equally amongst the 16 wrappers.  Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes (I like my crust crusty, but if you prefer it softer, skip this step).

Remove crusts from oven and with a ladle, spoon filling into each wrapper.  The filling should go right up to the top (it will puff during cooking and then settle once cooled).  Bake for 20 minutes or until the center is just slightly jiggley.  If one looks about to crack, they’re ready.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Resist the urge to touch or taste.  🙂

Once cooled, spoon your favorite jam on top of each one.  Each should have a little dent that works perfectly for the topping. Return to fridge to completely set up for an hour.

Short Rib and Dumpling Soup with Roasted Seaweed and Kimchee

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What’s better than soup on a cold, wintry day?  It warms you from the inside out, leaving you feeling satisfied and relaxed.  Mandoo-Guk is a traditional Korean soup with a beef stock, shredded beef, oval shaped rice cakes, and mandoo (dumplings).

My mother-in-law made this for me while we were living in our first apartment after graduating from college.  (As a side note, I think in some ways, it made the “living in sin” feeling more palatable if she could pass along her recipes to me.)  And I was the ready student.  I gobbled up every last drop.  There’s something truly special about the yummy rich beefy broth, the tender beef, the discs of rice cakes with a slight firmness to bite, the hearty dumplings, and the nutty salty roasted seaweed on top.

This is my version of her soup.  Bone in short ribs make a luxurious, rich broth and the beef just falls apart tender during the cooking process, making it the perfect choice for this soup.

The stock:

  • 2 lbs. bone-in short ribs (if you want make extra so you can have left overs for another recipe).  These should be the thick 2-3 inch size.
  • 2 T. vegetable oil or 1 T. sesame oil
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, skin on
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water to cover

The soup:

  • 1/2 lb. of rice cakes (soak in warm water for 20 minutes)
  • 16 Vegetable and beef dumplings (I buy these – hey, you’re making the stock, it’s okay to cut this corner!)
  • Shredded, roasted seaweed
  • Kimchee

Salt and pepper each rib on both sides.  In a large dutch oven or stockpot with a heavy, flat bottom, brown all sides of the ribs.  Note: Be careful not to to overcrowd the pan or you will steam the beefrather than sear it.  You will most likely need to do this in batches.  Once browned, remove the ribs and place a plate.  They will not be cooked – you are just looking for a nice brown crust to seal in the juices.

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Once all are browned, return to the pot.  Cover with water.  Add the carrots, onion, and garlic.  It is okay that all the skins are on – you will be straining the broth after it cooks later.

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Simmer on medium heat for 2-4 hours.  Note: the longer it simmers, the more rich the broth and the more tender the short ribs. Skim the fat off periodically.  Short ribs are fatty, so don’t be surprised if there’s a good amount, but that’s why you want to remove it.

Once done, place a colander inside another large pot.  Drain the soup.  Separate the bones, veggies and the beef.  Shred the beef and set to the side, toss the veggies and bones.  Return the stock to the dutch oven. Add the rice cakes and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the dumplings and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through.

Spoon soup into bowls.  Let each person top with desired amount shredded, roasted seaweed, beef and kimchee. Enjoy!!

 

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