Thursday, September 26, 2013

Espresso Kissed Cinnamon Chip Snickerdoodles

Let's talk about awkward for a second.

The other night, hubby and I were chilling in the living room.  He was watching TV and I was (of course) on the computer, working.

(And I think we all know that is code for social networking, but truly, I was also editing pictures in Photoshop, which, if you have ever done for a long period of time, can make your eyes begin to burn and head begin to throb.  That's why I have to change screens every now and then to Facebook and Pinterest, and check into my Instagram on my phone.  You know, to keep from going blind and developing a migraine.)

Anyway, I was getting a little bored, so I thought I would liven my night up by sending a really horrendous Snapchat to my sister, who will usually answer me back with another completely hideous Snapchat, and then we'll laugh and laugh and laugh like we are in high school again.  (And then my husband who does *not* do any kind of social networking at all, will say "What is so funny?")

I know.  It's hard to believe I'm 43 and a grandmother, huh?

So I grabbed my phone and began to contort my jaw line so my chin would resemble Jabba the Hutt, and just for an extra measure of fun, I thought I'd throw in a bit of a nostril flare close-up.  All this without a stitch of make-up on, which would normally soften the blow.  That's when I glanced over and saw my husband staring at me.

That certainly killed my moment.

After all these years, there are still some things about me that I would rather him not see, and me sending a daily ugly to my sister is at the top of the list.

And to make matters worse, he didn't even ask me what in the world I was doing.  He just looked at me with no expression.  Then he looked back at the TV.  I'm pretty sure in disgust.

So since I am obviously such a mature grown-up, I'll give you my latest "grown-up" version of Snickerdoodles.  Snickerdoodles to me are, well, nothing to rave over.  They are kind of plain, and in all the recipes I have seen, none of them had cinnamon IN the dough, which I don't get. My Snickerdoodles have my all-time favorite combination in them--coffee and cinnamon.  Man, I love that combo.  I also added cinnamon chips to make them extra good and soft.   These scream fall to me.  Unfortunately we are still in the upper eighties here.  Blah.  But I am ready for that first cool day.

PS.  I use my Snapchat for constructive things too.  Like this evening when I wanted to give good counsel to someone.  I think my crazy eyes *really* drive home the point.

Here are my notes:

--These have subtle coffee flavor, at least to me, so you could increase the amount easily if you wanted.

--I baked my batches for 12 minutes, but I wish I would have taken them about between 10 and 11 minutes, just for some extra softness.  But they still had soft, chewy middles and crispy edges.

--I know someone is going to post that these aren't real Snickerdoodles because the don't have cream of tartar.  But I can call them Snickerdoodles if I want.  My blog.

--I used a bag of Hershey cinnamon chips.

Espresso Kissed Cinnamon Chip Snickerdoodles

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups, plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon, plus 1 tablespoon cinnamon, divided
4 teaspoons instant espresso granules
1 (10-ounce) bag cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Beat the shortening, butter, and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Place the instant espresso granules in a small bowl, and with the back of a spoon, crush them into a fine powder.  Beat in half the powder until well mixed.  Beat in the flour mixture until dough forms.  Stir in the cinnamon chips by hand.
Place 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and the remaining ground espresso in a small bowl and stir until mixed.  Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll each ball in the sugar mixture, then place on an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or just until cookies are set and light golden brown around edges.  Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Approximately 4-5 dozen.  

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber and Dill Cream Sauce

This simple dish is a splurge meal at our house.  It's the meal we make when something rare and happy happens, like a birthday celebration.  Or when we have dinner guests.  Or when my husband finishes a carpentry project.

Oh I kid.

It's a splurge because salmon here is $7.99 a pound, and we also have to get it out of town in the big city.  So it's a rare treat.  But my husband recently requested it for his birthday, so I made it again and I had forgotten how delicious it is and how well all the elements blend together.  Nothing new here under the sun.  Cucumber, dill, and salmon is a classic combination.  This is just how I put it all together.  Easy peasy.  Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

Here are my notes:

--I really should have taken pictures of how to deseed (is that a word?) the cucumber and shred it and squeeze it out, but basically I peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise.  Take a small spoon and run it down the center and remove all the seeds.  Next, I grate it with a box grater, then I take handfuls of the grated cucumber and squeeze the water out.  This is important or your sauce will be too watery.

--All measurements are approximate.  I never measure anything when I make this.  You can totally adjust to taste.  Yes, you can certainly use fresh dill weed.  And while you're at it, do a better job of garnishing it than I did.  Not my strong point.

--About grilling the salmon.  The salmon I bought this time didn't have the skin on it, so I cooked it in foil so I could cook one large piece and it wouldn't fall apart.  You could also bake it or broil it.  Or you could cut it into smaller portions that would probably grill better.  But I liked using the foil because it was really hands off.  I did not measure seasonings, I just sprinkled.

--Salmon is really rich and I can only eat a small amount.  My husband can eat a ton though.  But mostly it just takes a little bit to fill most people up.

--I would like to say that even people who do not like cucumber will love the sauce, but my son-in-law proved this to be an untruth.  So if you are a cucumber hater, this probably isn't for you.

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber and Dill Cream Sauce

Printable Recipe

2-3 pounds salmon
6 tablespoons melted butter
Dried dill weed
Lemon pepper seasoning
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper 

Cucumber and Dill Cream Sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
3 finely chopped green onions
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.  Lay out a large piece of heavy duty foil.  Place salmon on it and brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with the dried dill weed, lemon pepper, and kosher salt and pepper.   Place another piece of foil on top, then roll up sides tightly to seal.  Place on grill for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily in center.

Meanwhile, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon dried dill weed, and the green onions.  Grate the cucumber, then take a handful and squeeze out the excess water.  Add to the sour cream mixture, then repeat with remaining cucumber.  Stir into the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with salmon.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Cornmeal Dusted Crispy Smashed Potatoes

I had a totally awesome potato dish at a restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee this past spring.  The potatoes were boiled and smashed, then fried to a perfect crispy texture with a chimichurri sauce drizzled on them.  I kept telling myself I would try to recreate the dish at home, and I finally got a pocket of time a couple of weeks ago.  To add just a bit of oomph, I did what my grandmother used to do to her fried potatoes while I was growing up, which was to coat them in cornmeal.  They may not be all that pretty, but they are simple and delicious.

Here are my notes:

--Be careful when smashing them that you don't smash them too much.  They will break apart and they need to stay together.

--Do NOT overcrowd the skillet.  They will brown much faster if they are not overcrowded.

--Measurements are approximate.  There is no exact science here, just a little method.

--Yes, a variety of sauces and toppings would work on these.  Chimichurri, salsa, etc. would all be good drizzled on top.  I just left mine crispy and plain the day I cooked them.  A dollop of sour cream and bacon bits would definitely not be awful.

--There might be some cornmeal build up in the skillet that will burn after a couple of fryings, so watch it and scrape it out and add new oil as needed.

--I used a bag of very small, round, yellow skinned potatoes, but red would work too.

Cornmeal Dusted Crispy Smashed Potatoes

1 pound very small yellow or red new potatoes (or however many you want) 
1/2 cup butter, melted
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Yellow cornmeal (not cornmeal mix)
Vegetable oil for frying

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Cook over medium high heat until fork tender.  Remove from water and place the potatoes on a baking sheet.  With a flat bottom glass or cup, gently smash the potatoes to flatten, being careful not to flatten too much or they will break apart.  Let them cool for about 15 minutes.  Spray the bottom of the glass with nonstick cooking spray if it starts to stick.

Brush the potatoes with melted butter, then season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with cornmeal.  Turn over and repeat on other sides.  

Pour oil to  depth of about 1/4 inch in a large cast iron skillet.  Heat over medium-high  until very hot.  Place 5-6  potatoes a time in the hot oil, being very careful not to crowd them.  Cook until golden brown and crispy, turning once.  Set aside on a baking rack that has been placed over a baking sheet to drain oil.  

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