Monthly Archives: November 2010

Oatmeal Cream Pies – Recipe

Yum, yum, yummy yum.  Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Cream Pies are fabulous, but this recipe blows them away.  These are the essence of chewy goodness.  I can’t recommend them enough.  They’re best eaten at least a day after they’re made, if you can wait that long!

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Adapted from Beantown Baker

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp unflavored gelatin (about 1 1/2 packets)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup water (divided)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces vegetable shortening

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees . Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside or use parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, flour, and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture. Add the cinnamon and oats. Mix well.
  3. In a small dish, add the baking soda to the boiling water, and then stir the mixture into the rest of the batter. Mix well.
  4. Drop by the tablespoon onto the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Leave on cookie sheet until set; then move to a wire rack to cool.

Filling Directions:

  1. In a small measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Let stand, stirring once or twice until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup hot water until well blended. Continuing to stir, raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil. Continue boiling for 30 seconds. Immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the gelatin mixture until it dissolves completely.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the vanilla.
  4. With a mixer on medium speed, beat for 20 seconds. Gradually raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is stiffened, white, very fluffy, and cooled to barely warm, about 7 minutes.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar.
  6. Add the shortening and beat until completely smooth.

Assembly
Match similarly sized cookies.  Spread filling over one cookie and place a matching cookie on top.

 

National Geographic’s Photo Contest

I used to subscribe to National Geographic when I was in college, purely for the pictures.  The photography is astounding.  Take, for example, yesterday’s photo of the day.

And that’s just yesterday’s.  There’ll be a new one today, and tomorrow, and the day after…

Aside from the photo of the day, there’s also a photography contest in the works right now.  Everyone is able to vote.  Though I don’t know that the most votes from the masses translates into winning the contest, I do know that it’s loads of fun (and a way to waste quite a bit of time, too).  In my opinion, the photos aren’t worth looking at without reading the captions, so make sure you take a moment to scroll down!

Chocolate Cutout Cookies – Recipe

While iced pumpkin cookies may be more seasonal, chocolate cutout cookies are much more versatile.  This past week, I did make them quite seasonal with a set of autumn themed cookie cutters.   This was the result:

They can be either soft and chewy or crisp and crunchy, depending on their thickness and how they’re stored.  Delicious either way – especially with a mug of hot coffee.

Chocolate Cutout Cookies

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and yolk.
  3. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough. Dough will be crumbly; stir until smooth or knead if necessary.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies onto cookie sheets.  They do not spread much, so they may be placed close together.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Put powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup – no need to measure) into a fine mesh sifter.  Tap sifter lightly over cookies until covered to desired amount.

Yahtzee!

Note the very last score…. 458.  Possibly the best round of Yahtzee I’ve ever seen.  It’s my husband’s doing, but to him, it’s old hat.  Legend has it that when he was six, he rolled seven Yahtzees in one game.

Strange that he was playing alone, though, isn’t it?

Turkey Stock – recipe

Less than 24 hours ago, the leftovers were on their way the fridge and the turkey carcass was destined to be garbage.  I intervened.  Never mind that I had never made stock of any kind before; never mind that I didn’t even know if turkey stock was any good.  I’d try, at least, to get just one more meal out of that turkey.

It worked!  I now have half a dozen large containers of turkey stock (delicious – I tried it).  I’ll bring one back to my parents, who were kind enough to give me the turkey bones in the first place, and try to rearrange the bread and milk and leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge until the remaining five find a home.  We’ll have to start eating to clear out the freezer so I can save some stock for the cold winter months.

it's not pretty... but it's tasty!

Making stock was much easier than I thought.  The basic directions are:

  1. Throw turkey carcass, seasonings, and vegetables into a large stock pot; cover with 1″ cold water.
  2. Simmer for 4 hours.
  3. Strain.

If you want a few more details, though (and who can blame you), you can follow the recipe below.  The only tip I’d add comes to straining at the end.  I first used a set of tongs to remove bones and large vegetable pieces.  I found it easiest to place my containers, one at a time, in the sink and set a mesh strainer on top.  I then used a 1-quart measuring cup to transfer the stock through the strainer and into the container.  This process worked really well for me.  Another commenter suggested removing large pieces first and then letting the stock settle.  After pouring the clear liquid into another container, let it settle again and pour it back into the first container.  I had way too much liquid for this method, but if you had a smaller bird it would work well.

Turkey Stock

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Directions

  1. Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for making sandwiches later or for adding to the soup.
  2. Break up the leftover bones of the carcass a bit, so they don’t take up as much room in the pot. Put the leftover bones and skin into a large stock pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Add any drippings that weren’t used to make gravy, and any giblets (except liver) that haven’t been used already.
  3. Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, and some peppercorns.
  4. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to a bare simmer.  Skim off any foam that may float to the surface of the stock.
  5. Add salt and pepper.  Don’t overdo it – you can always add salt to your soup later.
  6. Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered, occasionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. Alternately, cook the stock in a 180-200°F oven.
  7. Remove the bones and veggies and strain the stock, ideally through a very fine mesh strainer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Image from Manhattan Virtual Office

Wordle

Wordle is one of those activities that even though I know that I have more important things to do with my time, I just can’t rip myself away.  It gives an overview of frequently used words in any given text, or in this case, blog.  It took the most recent posts and mashed them into this beauty:

Love it!  A bit embarrassing that quite a few of the largest words show my unhealthy habits (butter, sugar, oil…), but fun nonetheless.  “I think it’d be neat to do a wordle of my blog every month or so and see how things change over time!

And just for fun, here’s a wordle of my kindergarten class blog:

As you can see, we had Stuffed Animal Day on Tuesday, our author of the month is Tomie dePaola (author of Strega Nona), and we just finished our patterns unit in math.

If you’d like to make your own wordle, it’s a piece of cake.  Just type in your text, web address, or del.icio.us name on the create a wordle page and one will be made for you.  You can then customize to your heart’s content.

Saving a wordle as a document is trickier.  I had to use some super-secret codes to these onto my blog.  Okay… well… not super secret, but the directions weren’t exactly out in the open, either.  Takeascreeshot.org has an easy to follow tutorial.  On my mac, I hit apple-shift-4 and then drew a rectangle around the image I wanted to capture.  It was automatically saved on my desktop as “Picture 1.”

I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do with all of the information (aside from using it the blog, of course).  Couldn’t you picture some sort of framed picture with family names, words about family, etc.?  Hm… maybe that’s a Christmas gift in the making!