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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cowboy Cookies: BAKED Sunday Mornings

I was a bad blogger and skipped out on the last BAKED Sunday Mornings recipe.  This time of year is my very busiest at school and I had so much going on I had no time for 'extra' cooking.  But I'm back in the game for this recipe.  These are called Cowboy Cookies, but as the description in the book says, there's no real reason they are associated with cowboys.  They are basically oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (which are some of my favorites -- when you put a whole grain like oatmeal in, then you can try and convince yourself that the cookies are healthy!) with the addition of salty, crunchy bits of pretzels.  Being someone who adds salt to just about everything, even watermelon and buttered toast, I welcomed the pretzels. 

The cookies are delicious!  Chewy and chocolaty and salty, and with that bit of oatmeal you can count them towards your whole grain count for the day.  ;-)  I didn't read the recipe thoroughly beforehand and therefore did not realize the dough should be chilled for 4 hours prior to baking.  I didn't really have time for that on a weeknight, so I let them chill about an hour and a half and went for it.  I knew it meant they would spread a bit, but I was okay with the consequences.  I could taste the bit of coffee in the dough, but not in the final cookie.  They are a great variation on the basic chocolate chip cookie and we'll definitely be making them again.  

Head on over to BAKED Sunday Mornings to see everyone else's cookies and to get the recipe!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mushroom Provolone Patty Melt

I cut this recipe out of a fall copy of Cooking Light.  It had been in the back of my mind since then, always as a menu idea, but never quite making it on the menu.  Then we bought some ground beef in bulk and I was looking for something else besides the standard burgers or meatloaf to do with it and this recipe came to mind.  It also uses beer, which is never a bad thing in a recipe in my opinion.  

It made a quick and pretty tasty weeknight dinner.  I really enjoyed it and it will definitely show up again in our meal rotation.  The flavors were great, the earthiness of the mushrooms paired well with the dark beer and the beef patties.  I really liked it and I took one of the extra sandwiches with me the next day for lunch.  I prefer the fresh out of the pan version, but it worked well as a leftover, cold sandwich as well. 

Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melt
slightly adapted from Cooking Light
serves 4


1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces mushrooms (white or cremini), sliced 
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1/4 cup dark beer (such as porter or stout)
8 slices bread (I used sourdough, but you can use your preference.)
Spreadable butter or margarine
4 slices provolone cheese

  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Shape beef into 4 (4 inch) patties. Add patties, cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, salt, pepper, and mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer and cook 30 seconds or until thickened. Remove from heat.
  • When patties are done, remove from skillet. Wipe pan clean and reheat over medium high heat. Coat 1 side of each bread slice with butter or margarine. Place 4 bread slices, coated sides down, in pan. Top each with a patty, cheese slice, and one quarter of mushroom mixture. Top with remaining bread slices and then spread with butter or margarine. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Asparagus Risotto

This recipe is the first from my Cookbook of the Month, the Foster Harris House Cookbook.  I chose it because we always have arborio rice on hand and all the other ingredients except the asparagus.  Asparagus was on sale for 1.99 a pound at a local grocery store so I picked some up with no specific plan.  I flipped through this book and decided it would be a perfect match.  This was a fairly straight-forward risotto recipe, except for the first few steps  You cook the asparagus in chicken stock that you then keep simmering on the stove to use as the cooking liquid for the rice.  This maximizes the asparagus-ness of the risotto and makes for one less pot to clean!  It was delicious and had a great spring flavor.  I hope to make it again soon as we start to get our weekly CSA boxes and can use some of the farm-fresh asparagus we will get early in the season.

Asparagus Risotto 

1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
1 pound asparagus
4 tablespoons butter, divided in half
4 tablespoons oil, divided in half
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper

  • Trim ends off asparagus.  Cut on the bias into 1/4 inch pieces, saving the top 2-3 inches as whole spears.  
  • Heat the chicken stock to a simmer.  Cook asparagus in chicken stock for 5 minutes, or until al dente.  Remove from stock and keep in a cool water bath.  Return stock to a simmer.
  • In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add rice and stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until liquid is absorbed.  
  • Add about half a cup of stock at a time to the rice and onion mixture.  Stir frequently until liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding the stock, half a cup at time, stirring in between and adding more stock once the last addition is absorbed.  The rice will get thick and creamy.  Taste the rice towards the end of the process, you are looking for it to be al dente, with just a bit of bite in the middle.  
  • Add the chopped asparagus, 1/2 cup of cheese and the remaining butter and olive oil.  Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve risotto, topping with spears and extra parmesan.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cookbook of the Month: May 2011

This month I am picking a cookbook we recently got on a weekend trip.  We went to Washington, Virginia and stayed at the Foster Harris House.  It was a great bed and breakfast, the highlight of which was a four course breakfast!  I planned the trip as a surprise getaway for the 5th anniversary of our first date.  Washington is about an hour and a half away from our house, so we left mid-afternoon, stopped at a few wineries along the way and then arrived at the Foster Harris House.  I picked Washington so we could have dinner at the fabulous Inn at Little Washington.  We've seen it on the Travel Channel and knew of it's prestigious reputation.  It is often ranked on lists of the top restaurants in the country and even the world.  It was absolutely phenomenal, exceeding our expectations, which were high to begin with!  It's definitely one of the top three meals I've ever had, ranking up there with our Table 21 experience at VOLT and a tasting menu at Graham Eliot

One of the best parts of our stay was getting to take this cookbook home with us!  I added it to my collection, close to 60 cookbooks now, and it's gotten some use so far!  I'll be sharing a few recipes over the course of the month, and hope to recreate our four course breakfast as well!