Monday, May 27, 2013

Oatmeal Scotchies

It's a rainy Memorial Day in Michigan, so it seems as good a day as any to bake up a batch of cookies.  I'm stuck inside anyway, I may as well have something good to eat.  I've decided to go with another childhood favorite, Oatmeal Scotchies. 

I used browned butter to make this batch.
Chewy oatmeal cookies, studded with rich, butterscotch chips.  Does an oatmeal cookie get any better?  You can keep your raisins, for my money, an oatmeal cookie doesn't get any better. This was another common recipe in our house, and I have always loved these cookies.  I even went so far as to carefully copy it from my mom's recipe card, so I could recreate the magic after I moved out.  Much later, I would discover that the recipe had actually come from the back of the bag of butterscotch chips. 
I followed the classic recipe for this batch.

After reading about the joy and deliciousness of browned butter over at Bakergirl, I decided to try my hand at it.  And, what better medium for something so rich than oatmeal and butterscotch?  I thought it would change the flavor of the cookie, but I wasn't expecting to end up with two cookies that look like they came from two different recipes.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

(Unauthentic, not Hungarian & decidedly Midwestern)

Goulash was a staple in my house when I was growing up.  My mom was a single, working mom, and this was an easy and cheap one-pot meal that the two of us could eat for days.  I think this is one of the first savory dishes I learned to make and before I even left home.  It's comforting and rich, and it will always remind me of my childhood.

When I prepare savory dishes, I almost never follow a recipe.  I just sort of feel my way through the process, which is probably why I can rarely duplicate a dish.  Goulash is the exception, I don't follow an exact recipe (I eyeball most of this), I've just made it so many times that I can tell when I've got it right.


Printable Recipe

You'll need...
1 large white onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef or turkey
8  ounces button mushrooms, sliced
5 cups tomato juice
2 cups mini penne (any short cut of pasta will work & you can bump up the fiber by using a whole wheat pasta)
1(15)ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Worcestershire Sauce
Olive Oil
Salt & pepper to taste

First things first, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a large stock pot and put it over medium heat.  Next, strap on your onion goggles and get to work on that bad boy.  I go for a medium dice, but you really don't have to be too particular.  If you're worried about raw onion flavor, don't be, these will cook long enough to mellow considerably.  Add the diced onions to the pot, toss them in the oil and just let them work for few minutes.  Once you get the onions going, add the ground meat of your choice, I went with ground turkey.  You'll need a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat as it browns. 

Once the situation in your pan looks like this, turn your attention to slicing the mushrooms and mincing the garlic.  Yes, you can buy mushrooms pre-sliced at the grocery store, but I like to slice my own. 
Please, please, please don't use canned! 
I really like mushrooms, so I used an entire 8oz container, you can cut back if you're not as big of a fan. 

Add the mushrooms, garlic and a shot of Worcestershire sauce to the pan.  I find that when cooking with turkey, rather than beef, the Worcestershire really helps to make the dish taste richer and meatier.  Don't forget salt & pepper, but remember that we're using Worcestershire too and be mindful of how salty that is.

I have a confession to make...I didn't mince my own garlic for this recipe.  I was the recent recipient of a most amazing convenience product from the good people at Penzeys Spices.  That product?  Dried, minced garlic.  I've always scoffed at (and refused to buy) things like this, I mean, how do you beat fresh garlic?  But when I received it as a gift from my mom, I figured I may as well give it a try.  And, well, it's changed my life.  I still buy and use fresh garlic regularly, but on those days when I just don't feel like peeling and mincing it myself (I still don't have a garlic press, you know), this stuff is amazing!

Okay, back to business.  We've got onions, meat, mushrooms, garlic and Worcestershire working in the pot.  Once the meat is browned, we're ready to move on, but if you've used ground beef, you may want to pause here to skim off some of the fat.  Next, add the garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning (just eyeball it) and the 5 cups of tomato juice. Bring it to a boil, because we're going to cook the pasta right in this pan!  Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions (mine took 7 minutes). 

The pasta will pick up so much flavor from the rest of the dish, but it will also absorb a considerable amount of the liquid in the pan.  I combat that with the can of tomato sauce, I like my goulash to be a little thicker and find adding sauce gets me to just the right consistency.  If you're going for a soupier consistency, use more tomato juice instead.  Give it a taste, adjust your seasonings, and that's it, we're done! 

At my house, we dish it up in bowls and serve it with a slice of peanut buttered bread on the side.  After all, this is the Midwest and we take our carbs very seriously.


Monday, May 20, 2013


I've fired up the computer to write my first post, only to discover that I can't find the cord which connects my camera and computer so I can't use pictures of yesterday's dinner. Instead, for today at least, you get my musings and I hope you find them entertaining.

It's Wednesday afternoon (bordering on evening), and I'm considering starting another pot of coffee.  I'm just home from the Secretary of State, which is never a relaxing experience and caffeine is sure to help, isn't it?  I'm contemplating what to make for dinner and thinking about how much I'd like a plate of cookies and a tall glass of milk as opposed to anything responsible or green. 

I love to cook, bake, and create, but I hate cleaning up the mess.  My dream kitchen has a dishwasher, one of those sleek stainless numbers, and it matches the fridge (freezer on the bottom, thank you very much).  I'm not worried about them making the kitchen too sterile or industrial though, because I have a very serious problem with clutter.  Namely, that no matter how hard I try, I cannot conquer the problem in my house.  Unsolicited credit card applications,  magazines (yes, I still get paper magazines delivered by the USPS if you can believe that), empty coffee cups, pens, sunglasses, nail files, hand lotion, and workout DVDs, these are a few of the random objects that cover basically every horizontal surface in my house.  I blame it on the fact that my kitchen doesn't have enough drawers. I mean, don't you use the extra drawers in your kitchen to hide all your random junk when company is on the way?  Well, I only have enough drawers to house my collection of kitchen gadgetry, so that's out of the question. 

Yes, that gadgetry includes a set of non stick egg rings, and they did not stop my eggs from fusing together and becoming the size of the pan. So, no, fried eggs are not my strong suit.

French rolling pin?

Love it.


Gotta have it.

Nonstick egg rings?

No.  Just trust me.

I'm a sucker for a gadget, but in this case, I wish I'd gone with a garlic press instead.
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