Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Since most of my baking is eaten by my 2.5 year old, I'm always looking for recipes that are tasty and somewhat healthy as well.  I was going to make some oatmeal raisin cookies from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook, and then remembered I had made them before and they were rather crunchy.  I'm more of a chewy cookie kind of gal, so I searched for a recipe that uses zucchini since I had already bought some and probably won't use it for anything else.

I found a recipe from that sounded promising.  My number one chocolate chip cookie recipe comes from so I'm always willing to give their recipes a try.  I halved the recipe since it seems rather large, and I don't need that many cookies in the house since my sweet tooth tends to peak at 2pm.  I didn't make any changes to the recipe, I usually follow a recipe precisely the first time and experiment from there.  If I made these again I would probably use whole wheat flour and cut a bit of the sugar out.  I find any recipe that contains either raisins or chocolate chips can stand to have the sugar reduced or they end up way too sweet.

The final verdict?  They're kind of ugly.  And a bit too cakey for my liking, but Mike really enjoyed them.  You may think I'm rather vain to take a cookie's looks into account, but I find eating (especially sweets) to be a experience for all the senses.  As you can see in the picture, they have an undercooked look to them, which despite my love of cookie dough isn't that appealing.  And they're not undercooked, just the parts around the zucchini ended up rather mushy, had I baked them for longer they would have ended up dry, and there is nothing worse than a dry cookie.  Flavour-wise, they're good.  Cinnamon and raisins are a match made in heaven, and this recipe has plenty of both.  But next time I think I'll leave the zucchini for muffins.

ZUCCHINI OATMEAL COOKIES,191,137189-233200,00.html

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. zucchini, grated
3 1/2 c. oatmeal
1 c. raisins, optional
1 c. nuts, optional

Beat butter and sugar together well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together and add creamed mixture. Stir in zucchini, oatmeal, raisins and nuts. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

Pancakes are becoming a bit of a weekend tradition at our house.  Someone is bound to be in the mood for pancakes and I'm always happy to indulge.  For years when I made pancakes they came out of a box.  And they never really tasted right.  There is something about pancake mixes that just doesn't cut it, they have a weird taste I can't put my finger on, maybe it's too much baking soda or something like that.  At any rate, after making pancakes from scratch a couple years ago I have never gone back.  I can't understand why pancake mixes have become so popular, most require you to add the wet ingredients anyways so you may as well spend the extra three minutes to prepare the dry and get pancakes 100X more delicious.

Anyways.  My favourite pancake recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  Yes, I know I have mocked Martha for many years, but her recipes are the bomb.  I can't think of one recipe I have yet to make from her website that hasn't turned out delicious.  Back to the pancake recipe.  I have adapted it a little, for instance I never use buttermilk, just add a few splashes of lemon or lime juice to regular milk and let it sit for a few minutes, and I usually use white whole wheat flour.  There are plenty of add-ins for pancakes: chocolate chips, diced apples, blueberries, etc.  Be creative, pancakes are hard to screw up.  

If you like your pancakes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside like I do, add lots of butter to your griddle before every batch, and flip them fast (shortly after you see bubbles form on top).  If your batter seems too runny you can add more flour, or just go with it.  The pancakes end up being quite spongy rather than cakey.  Top with maple syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream and you've got a completely delicious breakfast.  This recipe makes a lot more than nine pancakes as it claims, if you have leftovers enjoy them cold with a bit of jam . 

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Makes nine 6-inch pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk on hand just reduce by a couple teaspoons and add lemon or lime juice)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle 
    1. Heat griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
    2. Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or reserved bacon fat onto griddle. Wipe off excess.
    3. Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
    4. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.
    Enjoy!  You'll never go back to a pancake mix again!

    Indulge Yourself

    I love to bake.  It has become my favourite hobby, and while life with two small kids doesn't allow for a lot of time baking, I do it whenever I can.  I think my favourite thing about baking is that I constantly amaze myself that I can make something so beautiful and tasty.  I used to be absolutely terrible in the kitchen.  I remember making my first batch of banana bread from my mom's recipe which I had erroneously written down, and it not occurring to me that something must be wrong with adding only 3/4 cup flour.  My banana bread was a soupy mess. 

    Since that ill-fated banana bread I have improved considerably, making gorgeous cupcakes, tantalizing cookies, and scrumptious scones.  Things don't always work out (I like to play fast and loose with measurements) but most of the time the recipes are a success, much to the delight of my husband and child who can eat solids. 

    And of course much to the delight of my own sweet tooth, which is a formidable force.  For years I agonized over every tasty treat I allowed myself, feeling guilty for hours after.  But in the past few years, I am slowly learning to say "F#@! it".  Indulge yourself, life is short.
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