Monday, December 15, 2014

Thin and Chewy Lemon Cookies

It is hard to believe that Christmas is only ten days away! My husband's family will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us as usual. I will also be hosting my annual holiday party for the daycare families. This year, it will be held the day after Christmas. Needless to say, there is a lot to do. Usually, I would have already started to stress over the details and the to-do list a week ago, but this year, I am atypically nonchalant about the upcoming events. Perhaps, I  am finally learning not to sweat the small stuff? I hope so! It is such a good philosophy to live by! How about you? How is your to-do this coming along this holiday season?

Thin and Chewy Lemon Cookies

I was inspired by Chobani yogurt for this week's recipe. They had asked me to participate in their #MadeWithChobani program to create a recipe using their yogurt. I am not compensated for writing this post but thought it would be fun to take part in the effort. After testing smoothie and dip ideas, both yielding unsatisfactory results, I decided to cut my losses and moved on. In the end, I realized that the tanginess of the yogurt makes it a great addition to the citrusy lemon cookies. Chobani even has lemon flavored Greek yogurt—how perfect! 

Thin and Chewy Lemon Cookies

Unlike the smoothie and dip, the cookies came out great after some tweaking. They turned out the way I envisioned them...sweet, lemony, and chewy. Because I reduced the amount of butter and added yogurt to my lemon cookie recipe, the chemistry of the cookies was affected, therefore changing the texture and chew. My first batch came out dry and spongy. I made some adjustments, one of which was a tip from Alton Brown. He suggested using melted butter instead of room temperature butter and to use bread flour instead of all-pupose help promote a chewy cookie. I also adjusted the sugar content as the first batch was not sweet enough. Finally, I flattened the dough before it was baked as it did not spread on its own. The adjustments created awesome, flat, and chewy cookies. In fact, it was love at first bite for my husband who has put in a standing order for them every Christmas!

See you back here soon!

Update: After additional experimenting with the recipe, I concluded that hand mixing is the best method for obtaining chewy cookies. Using electric mixers will not affect the taste but may affect the texture.

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Thin and Chewy Lemon Cookies:

2 cups bread flour (do not substitute)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 lemon zests, grated
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Chobani non-fat lemon Greek yogurt
yellow food coloring (optional)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and lemon zests in a bowl. Set aside.

Using a whisk, beat butter and sugar by hand until light in color. Beat in egg until combined. It will form a mass. Add lemon juice, yogurt and food coloring (I use about 1/8 rounded teaspoon of yellow gel food coloring). Beat until smooth and well incorporated. Slowly add flour mixture until well blended. You may need to switch over to a wooden spoon to mix as the batter thickens. Don't overmix.

Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Drop cookie dough onto baking sheet using a 1.5-inch ice cream scoop (or scoop using a tablespoon and roll into a ball). Place 2-inches apart. Flatten dough to about 1/4-inch thick using the bottom of a glass or cup to press. Dip glass or cup into powdered sugar if it sticks to dough. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on cookies when they come out of the oven. Transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 30 3-inch cookies.

Note: Hand mixing is the best method for obtaining chewy cookies. Using electric mixers will not affect the taste but may affect the texture.

Also Found On In Good Flavor

In Good Flavor likes to keep in good company and parties at Full Plate Thursday, The Country Cook, Lady Behind the Curtain and these other places. Please check them out!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thai Coconut Soup

Thai Coconut Soup

So, I worked on this recipe to the point where I am finally confident in sharing it with the rest of the world. One of my daycare parents asked if I would make a Thai Coconut Soup for the blog. She loves it, and a place near where she works makes THE best. Naturally, I welcomed the challenge. But frankly, she is probably more knowledgable about this particular food than myself. Although I like it, I have only had the soup a couple of times, and it has been many, many moons since I had it last.

After a bit of research, consisting of sampling field trips to a couple of Thai restaurants, and after preparation of multiple test batches, I came up with a version that I think stands up to the test. The soup is unassuming yet flavorful and is very easy to make. As in many Asian soups, the broth base is the star of the dish with many layers of flavor. Ginger, lemongrass, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce are the flavoring agent for the coconut milk and chicken broth base in this soup. My version is finished off simply with thin chicken and shiitake mushroom strips. The restaurant versions I recently sampled used button mushrooms, but I personally think shiitake is a better aesthetic and textural choice for this dish. Finally, for added flavor and color, cilantro is added as a garnish. 

Thai Coconut Soup

One discovery I made during the testing of this recipe is that canned coconut milk can vary in consistency where the milk solid layer in one can may be granular while it is creamier in the next. If you open a can where the top white solid layer is granular, don't panic. It is perfectly fine to use and will not affect the taste of the soup. The finished product will not be creamy looking but will taste just great! But, to play it safe, buy an extra can of the coconut milk for backup if you want the soup to look perfect.

Thai Coconut Soup

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Thai Coconut Soup:

3 lemongrass stalks
1 2-inch chunk ginger, about 1 1/2" diameter (or equivalent)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 can (14.5 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
2 2/3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. lime juice 
2 (13.5 oz.) cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast—flattened and sliced into 1/4"x 2" strips
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/2 strips (caps only)
12 sprigs cilantro for garnish

Peel off the outer brown, dry layer of the lemongrass, if any. Cut the top half of the lemongrass stalks and discard. Cut off and discard the bulb at the bottom. Place the usable lemongrass portions on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Using a flat mallet or a small hammer, flatten stalks. Peel and slice ginger into 3 or 4 pieces. 

Preheat a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add oil. Add lemon grass and ginger. Stir for a couple minutes. Add chicken broth and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lemongrass and ginger with a slotted spoon or tongs.  

Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice. Increase heat to medium and allow to come to heat without coming to a full boil. Add chicken and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve with cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

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In Good Flavor likes to keep in good company and parties at Full Plate Thursday, The Country Cook, Lady Behind the Curtain and these other places. Please check them out!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Quarters

Roasted Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Quarters

I cooked these chicken leg quarters at night, and due to the lack of natural lighting, I waited until the next morning to do the photoshoot. Regrettably, marinated chicken skin does not hold up well after it sits overnight and takes on the look of a prune—with deep creases and wrinkles. These birds aged  90 years after sitting in my refrigerator for only 10 hours! I tried to revitalize them with a little warm blast in the oven to get the juices flowing and the skin a-glowin'. It helped.....a little. The skin did not really smooth out and the juices were not a-flowin'. Luckily for me, these babies are phototgenic. They actually look better in these pictures than they did in real life. I suppose it is all about the lighting—it works wonders on chicken as well as people!! And that is all I will say about that! I also love the blur effect you can achieve on cameras. They too can hide a multitude of sins when you are taking a picture at close range. If you look closely, notice that the chicken skin in the background is very wrinkly, but with the blurring effect, it is barely noticeable. 

Roasted Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Quarters

These wings are marinated with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, rosemary, brown sugar, garlic and black pepper. I also threw in a little cayenne pepper for a little somethin' somethin'. The 1/4 teaspoon I use in this recipe is barely noticeable, so if you like spice, add a little more. For marinating time, I try to get a good 4 hours, flipping the chicken over halfway for even marnination. The chicken quarters are patted dried before baking, and when they come out of the oven, they look delectable and rich amber in color.

Roasted Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Quarters

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Roasted Balsamic Rosemary Chicken Quarters:

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary  (about 10" sprig of rosemary)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 whole chicken leg quarters

Combine all ingredients, except for the chicken, in a bowl. Place chicken quarters in a large zip lock bag. Pour marinade into bag. Seal bag and work the marinade into the chicken pieces with your hands. Lay flat on a tray and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Flip over the the bag halfway through for even marination.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat chicken thigh with paper towels. Avoid removing the garlic and rosemary bits. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until juices run clear. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chipotle Chili Pepper Shrimp with a Limy Dipping Sauce

I did not cook dinner Tuesday, which meant it was a free-for-all night for the family. Everyone was free to make or reheat whatever they chose to eat. So, I had leftover beef stew and a hot dog for dinner (I know...a bit eclectic). You should be glad to know that I refrained from making a half peanut butter and fluff sandwich as well—that would just be completely wrong—or not??

One thing I did make for everyone that day was this dish. The shrimp had a slight kick from the chipotle chili pepper seasoning and paired well with the limy dipping sauce. I used 16/20 count shrimp and baked them for 6 minutes in the oven. You can pan-sear them if you wish, but baking takes the babysitting factor out of the equation. After all, this recipe is all about making it easy! 

Enjoy! I'll see you back here soon!

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Chipotle Chili Pepper Shrimp with a Limy Dipping Sauce:

1 lb. 16/20 count shrimp, peeled (with tails on) and deveined
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili pepper seasoning
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

For the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. agave nectar
4 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. grated lime zest
1 pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Place on a large baking sheet and rub with oil. Combine chipotle chili powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Season both sides of shrimp. Spread shrimp in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake in oven for about 6 minutes or until shrimp is pink and opaque throughout. 

While shrimp bakes, make the dipping sauce. Place mayonnaise, sour cream, agave, lime juice, lime zest, and salt in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Serve with shrimp. Makes 4 servings.

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In Good Flavor likes to keep in good company and parties at Full Plate Thursday, The Country Cook, Lady Behind the Curtain and these other places. Please check them out!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hearty Breakfast Trail Mix

Hearty Breakfast Trail Mix

I hope you all have had a good Thanksgiving and that the weather did not adversely affect your plans. Fortunately for us, the nor'easter was only a minor interference as it came in on Wednesday and our travel day was Thursday. We lucked out this time around. Thank goodness!

Now, it's time to think about Christmas! It starts early in my household...thanks to my husband. He LOVES the holiday and enlists my help with decorating the Christmas tree the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving every year. And every year, I never resist the opportunity make fun of his impatience. But it's one of those little things in life that makes him happy, so I let it be. As for me, I love looking at the tree once it is up, but I hate the long-drawn-out, messy process required to accomplish the job. I just wish that someone invents an umbrella tree so that it could easily be opened an closed (with lighting and ornaments intact) with a push of a button. How great would that be? I would be the first one in line to get it!

Hearty Breakfast Trail Mix

Moving onto food, I am excited to share this latest recipe with you! This breakfast trail mix, full of cinnamon sugar croutons, bacon, pistachios, and dried cranberries makes a perfect little gift that says "especially from me to you". It's a simple but personal token for a neighbor, coworker, teacher...or anyone who appreciates bacon and sweet croutons.

Hearty Breakfast Trail Mix

This trail mix is also a convenient, hearty breakfast for a family on-the-go. Made and packaged in advanced, it could easily be grabbed and snacked as everyone goes about their busy morning. It's like eating a cinnamon toast and bacon breakfast without having to sit at the table. It is a convenient way to fill you up and keep you energized throughout the morning. 

As an added bonus, your house is going to smell amazing when you make this. Your kitchen is going to be perfumed with bacon, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Hmmm...I wonder if they have that combination of scents captured in a candle?  Going to have to check it out.

Try this one today! 

Hearty Breakfast Trail Mix

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Hearty Breakfast Trail Mix:

1 fresh French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
6 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 scant tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (16 oz. pkg.) bacon
1 cup pistachios
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 

Place bread on a large baking sheet. Bake in oven for 4-6 minutes to slightly dry out. Remove from oven. Set aside. Increase heat to 350 degrees F.

While the bread bakes, place butter, olive oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan on medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally until butter melts and ingredients combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.

Drizzle butter mixture onto croutons making sure to cover as much surface area as possible. Mix, using hands to work the butter mixture into the croutons. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir croutons to ensure even browning. Bake for and additional 5 minutes or until croutons are crispy.  Cooking time may vary, if you need to bake it longer, be sure you check on it frequently. Remove and allow to cool on baking sheet.

While croutons bake, preheat large skillet on medium high heat. Cut bacon into 1/2-inch strips. Cook, stirring frequently until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and place on paper towels to drain fat. Set aside to cool.

Mix together cooled croutons, bacon, cranberries, and pistachio in a large mixing bowl. Serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 6 servings.

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