Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Oh, Sugar (cookies)!

So, I’ve officially started my summer job! That’s exciting. ☺ Yesterday was full of safety videos, but today was definitely interesting. I’m learning how to do all sorts of testing for bacteria and other infectious diseases from samples from patients that are sent into the lab. Tomorrow, I’ll get to try one myself! (Under the watchful eye of my supervisor of course. :) )

But don’t worry, these weren’t made anywhere close to the lab. In fact, I made them on Monday for a BBQ that I was going to and also to practice my piping again. The recipe is originally from The Repressed Pasty Chef, a great blog that you should definitely check out. I made a few changes: I forgot to add the salt to the cookies (oops!), but I used salted butter, so they still taste all right. I also just used butter and not butter and shortening in the icing. They turned out great, and they’re definitely a crowd pleaser. You can be as fun and creative as you like with the icing, especially if you’ve got a piping bag. Some I topped with designs, others with zigzagging icing trails and sprinkles, while some were cut in two and slathered with icing.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so I’m going to take them in to work tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they’re enjoyed!

PS. Sorry for the lighting, I iced these at night and just couldn't find a bright enough room to get a decent picture. Trust me, they taste lovely though.

Sugar Cookie Bars
Adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef

1 cup butter; room temp.
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt (I forgot this, but used salted butter. Turned out fine.)
1/2 tsp soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

1 cup butter; room temp
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
food colouring (if desired)

For frosting combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Cut up your cookies and ice as desired. Eg with piping bag or spread on top.

Cheers and enjoy!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

And now for something completely different.

There’s no denying that this is mainly a baking blog. In the past month and a bit I’ve whipped up cakes, brownies, and cookies – all with delicious results.

Today I’ve got something a little different. A couple years ago, I was vegetarian for a long time. Why I started eating meat again is another story, but hummus was a staple of my diet. Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed butter), garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper thrown in there for good measure. Tonight, we were looking for a quick, tasty, and healthy appetiser so we opted for this classic. Usually I just toss in the chickpeas etc and give a quick blitz in the food processor – no measuring required. Today, though, I’ve put some approximate measurements, but feel free to play around. You may think it needs more garlic, or it isn’t lemony enough for your taste.

That’s the beauty of hummus: it’s healthy, fast, and versatile.

As a little aside, whilst we were sitting outside enjoying the mild weather in front of the fire, my dog treed a raccoon. Here's a snapshot that the little guy. :)

Easy Hummus:
Makes about 2 cups

1 19 fl oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp tahini
2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and puree until smooth in a food processor. Add the water slowly to make sure it doesn't get too soupy.

Serve with fresh veggies or chips/crisps for a snack, or for a light lunch with pita bread and veggies.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Home at last!

So I'm finally back home in Canada. I was supposed to be back last Saturday, but I arrived on Monday. There's a story in that. The long and the short of it is that the airline overbooked my flight twice so I volunteered to kick about Glasgow for a few days. Now I've $900 in travel vouchers, which is basically me home for Christmas paid for! Yay!

Look how green and summery it looks!

Anyways, it's been about a week since my last post... Not a lot of opportunity to bake when you're packing and sitting around in an airport. So I finally got around to making some cookies. These are one of my favourites and just screams childhood to me. I think the recipe must be from the back of an old, old packet of chocolate covered raisins. I've made it countless times and it always turns out great.

The cookies don't spread out much, are best when loaded with chocolate covered raisins, and stay chewy. The recipe also has a fairly small yield, so you won't be loaded down with a 100 cookies, nor will you be waiting around the oven for ages as each batch has to get cooked.

So, without further ado, my favourite oatmeal cookies recipe:

Chocolate Covered Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg

1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate covered raisins

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium sized bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla until they're creamy. Add the egg and beat. Then, slowly in portions, add the flour mixture. Stir in the rolled oats. Stir in the chocolate covered raisins.

Scoop out rounded table spoons of batter onto and ungreased baking sheet. (Note: I used stonewear baking sheets, but metal ones would work fine too) Bake for about 10 minutes until the tops are just browning. They should still be slightly squishy if you want your cookies to remain chewy.

Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them onto a rack to cool fully.


Makes around 30 cookies.