Tuesday, September 13, 2011

hey, honey!

This Week's Cravings features honey!!!  I actually looked through my recipes and realized that very few of them call for honey.  This surprised me...we love honey!  I think we tend to just put it on things...cornbread, fried chicken, biscuits, you name it.

But, there was ONE recipe that I've featured that did call for honey...and it's one that we loved so much that my husband has been requesting it recently.  Guess I'm pulling out the honey jar!  That recipe is the cookie known as ANZAC Biscuits.  They are an Australian treat, and eating them brings back memories of our recent trip to New Zealand.  This is a wonderfully chewy, dense cookie with an incredible flavor.  They also freeze well, last a LONG time (even after a few weeks, the leftovers are still chewy!), and have the power to trick you into thinking that you are eating a granola bar instead of a cookie.

First, you combine some oats, flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl - see what I mean about tricking yourself into thinking it's a granola bar?!

In a small cup, combine some baking soda with boiling water and watch it fizzle.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, stir some butter and either honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup together until the butter melts.

Add the baking soda mixture to the butter mixture and watch it foam!  Pour it all into the the oat mixture and mix well.

It will look crumbly...this is a good thing.

Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls and place at least 2-inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is important here to keep them from sticking (remember...parchment paper is not waxed paper).

Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until they get nice and golden around the edges.  Store in an airtight container to keep fresh!

ANZAC Biscuits
in Gooseberry Patch's Best-Ever Cookies
1 cup long-cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup butter
2 T. maple syrup, honey, or corn syrup
1/2 t. baking soda
1 T. boiling water

Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl; set aside.  In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir butter and syrup or honey together until butter melts.  In a small cup, mix together baking soda and boiling water; add to butter mixture.  Add butter mixture to oat mixture; mix well.  Roll into 1-1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cookies will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.  Makes about 2-1/2 dozen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

spinach supreme

Spinach is good for you...we all know that.  It's just eating it that seems to be difficult.  Growing up, we ate it out of a can (very exciting, let me tell you).  As an adult, I started eating it as a salad.  Both ways became boring to me.

Fortunately, spinach is a versatile vegetable!  After playing around a bit, we discovered that this is an absolutely delicious way to eat it.

First, saute some mushrooms and onion in butter until they are tender.  Love the aromas coming from this skillet!

Stir in some salt and pepper, and then dump some fresh spinach into the skillet!  Stir it around until it starts to wilt.

Just a brief minute later, and you've got an amazing side dish!

Spinach Supreme
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 T. butter
5 oz. fresh spinach
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in butter until tender.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Add spinach and stir gently until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Serves 2.

Friday, September 2, 2011

apple dumplings

Last week, Cookie Bandit and I celebrated our 4th anniversary.

We have always given each other gifts based on the traditional anniversary gifts...I love thinking of creative ways to interpret the traditions!  For the paper anniversary, I recreated the night he proposed with gift certificates to the same restaurant and opera house.  I even asked a friend to meet us at the spot he proposed to take photos.  For the cotton and china anniversary, I gave him a whole new set of lounge wear and made him fortune cookies (China!) with things I loved about him written inside.  Last year, we celebrated the leather anniversary by going to the county fair (cows have leather!), eating at Outback (again, cows!), and then having dessert at Leatherby's Ice Cream.

Yes, we stretch it a bit, but that's what makes it fun!  This year, though, I was dismayed to find out that it was the fruit and flowers anniversary.  What in the world do you get a man that relates to fruit and flowers???

I thought and thought, agonizing for days.  Finally, I came up with a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.  I bought him an Apple iPod (hey, apple is a fruit!) and made him a dessert of homemade apple dumplings.  I even cut flower shapes out of the pastry to decorate the dumplings! :)

This dumpling recipe is to die for!'s incredibly easy!

Start by combining flour, sugar, and salt.  Then, using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  You might consider softening the butter slightly beforehand (although that's not necessary).

In a separate dish, mix together water, vinegar, and an egg.  Beat for a second to break up the yolk of the egg.

Pour the egg mixture into the crumbs and use the pastry cutter or fork to mix.  Keep mixing until you've got a soft dough.  Cover it and place it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes...long enough to chill but not so long that it's rock hard.

While your dough is chilling, peel and core 6 apples.  I placed these in a mixture of lemon water after peeling them to keep them from turning brown.

When your dough is through chilling, divide it into 7 equal balls.  Six will be used to cover the apples...use the other to create cute decor for your finished dumplings.

Pat a ball of dough onto parchment paper until it's about 5-6 inches in doesn't have to be a perfect circle, but it needs to be large enough to wrap around your apple.  Sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar.

Wrap your sheet of dough around a cored apple, covering completely.  Once again, it doesn't need to look beautiful and smooth.  The more creases it has, the more character it has!  Do this for all of the apples.  If you want to decorate them, use the last ball of dough to cut out shapes or mold tiny stems.

At this point, you can chill your dumplings until you are ready to bake them.  When you are ready to bake, create a simple syrup to pour over them.  Mix together sugar, water, cinnamon, and butter in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.  Pour over the apples and then bake them at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.  If you have decorated them with extra pastry, you might want to cover with foil halfway through cooking since the decorations will brown faster (look at my finished product to see what I mean).

Serve these warm with a side of homemade vanilla ice cream!

Apple Dumplings
4 cups flour
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
1 3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 T. vinegar
Garnish: cinnamon and sugar
6 apples, cored and peeled

1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
cinnamon to taste
3 T. butter

Combine flour, sugar, and salt together; cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.  In a separate bowl, stir together water, egg, and vinegar until yolk breaks.  Blend egg mixture and crumb mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until soft dough forms.  Chill dough for 15 minutes and then divide into 7 portions.  On a piece of parchment paper, pat 6 of the portions of dough into 5-6 inch circles large enough to wrap around an apple.  Sprinkle each circle of dough with cinnamon and sugar, and then wrap around an apple, covering completely. Use final portion of dough to decorate dumplings.  Place wrapped apples in a baking dish.  To make syrup, combine sugar, water, cinnamon, and butter in a saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.  Pour over dumplings; bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. 

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