Sunday, March 7, 2010

Catching up

Schedules have prevented me from trying new recipes, new kitchen gadgets, and just having time to make something that varies from the usual menu of meals. This weekend was a flurry of kitchen experiments.

Experiment 1: KitchenAid pasta press
Over the winter break, Jeremy and I caught up on DVR and watched an episode of Martha Stewart Living where she demonstrated (and gave away!) this little wonder. It is the latest KitchenAid attachment and makes spaghetti, large and small macaroni, bucatini, rigatoni, and fusilli. We found it on Williams Sonoma and Jer ordered it for our anniversary gift. It was back ordered for three months and arrived during my busiest travel time. This weekend, my dad and oldest niece visited and we tried out the fusilli with a homemade tomato sauce - delicious fresh pasta.

Experiment 2: Oatmeal cookies
Ok, so this is nothing new for me, but apparently, my husband has never eaten an oatmeal cookie. He said that they always sounded gross and they did not have oatmeal in Western Kansas. I think we converted him with this recipe that is chewy (even after sitting on a plate for some time) and crunchy on the outside.

Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
raisins or nuts (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, cream together white sugar, butter, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.
2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda,and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. If you are using nuts or raisins, mix into dough, combining well. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.Makes approx. 36-60 cookies, depending on how large or small you make them.


Experiment #3: Ham and egg cups
Our chickens are producing so well that we have a lot of eggs on hand. While looking for a new breakfast idea, I found the ham and egg cup recipe on a blog

Ham & Egg Cups

12 slices of deli ham
12 eggs
grated cheese
chopped basil

1. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
2. Line each cup with a slice of deli ham (I asked that they not be sliced too thin...and had rather hefty slices this time).
3. Break an egg gently into each ham cup. Season with salt and pepper...sprinkle with chopped basil (or chives or your herb of choice).
4. Bake at 350' F for about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven...and top each egg with grated cheese (cheddar or Parmesan)...and bake for 5 minutes longer.
6. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

I used ramekins instead of muffin cups. The ramekins worked great! I also increased cooking time by 5 minutes and the yolks were much more firm than they seemed in the picture, but still good. The ham we used was also much more thinly sliced and the edges were a little crispy (ok, burnt black), but easily removed.


Experiment #4: No knead bread
The website promises that it is so easy a four year old can make it. I am feeling the pressure because the author even posted pictures of her four year old son making the bread! We are at the second proofing stage when the dough is napping in a floured towel. The recipe seems very straight forward and we will see if my knock off Le Creuset pot holds up to the 450 degree oven.

Fresh baked bread in approximately two hours!


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