Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Carrot Cake Cookies with Lemon Glaze

This recipe was my birthday cake this year! Rather than making myself a cake, I opted for these cookies. My friends were gracious enough to grate the carrots by hand, but injuries occurred, so if you are intimidated by sharp objects, I suggest buying pre-grated carrots.

The lemon glaze really makes these cookies, so don't skimp! Also, don't be worried if these seem too "healthy" - if it's a testament to how tasty these cookies were, they disappeared within 30 minutes at the party.

The only photo I have of these cookies is this one of me blowing out the candle on it, so I apologize for not having a close up of the beauty of these tasty little desserts.

Cookie Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour (if you've got it, make this using 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
Glaze Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • zest from 1 lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a cookie sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, carrot, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. With a mixer, or by hand using a spatula, beat in egg, milk, oil, and syrup until just blended.
  5. Drop small blobs of dough (about 1/8 cupfuls), about 2 inches apart, onto a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 10 minutes or until just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. While cookies are baking, whisk together glaze ingredients in small bowl. Add a Tbsp or two more powdered sugar if you desire a thicker, more frosting-like glaze.
  8. Once cookies have cooled, spread glaze on top of each cookie and let set.
These were light and a little chewy, so it wasn't hard to eat more than one. The lemon glaze really brightens up the flavor - I wouldn't recommend them without it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

When I was young, my mother used to save the bread heels from each loaf. After collecting a bagful, we would go feed the ducks at one of the local ponds. This recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman's in How to Cook Everything, is another use for all those heels of bread, especially since I don't live near a duck pond anymore.

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb small macaroni (I used elbow)
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter (1 Tbsp for greasing, 3 Tbsp for the roux)
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 heels of bread, ripped up into small pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Use about 1 Tbsp butter to grease a 13x9 pan. Set aside.
  3. Bring large pot of water to a boil. As water boils, salt well and add pasta. When pasta needs one or two more minutes until it's complete, drain, rinse in cold water to stop cooking, and return to pot.
  4. While pasta is cooking, cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear around the sides, about 8-10 minutes later, turn off heat and pour into separate (glass or ceramic) bowl to let stand.
  5. Return the empty saucepan to the stovetop over medium-low heat. Melt 3 Tbsp butter and when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk or fork until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and pour a large splash (about 1/4 cup) into the flour mixture, stirring with the whisk until the milk is incorporated. As soon as the mixture is smooth, add a little more milk and whisk, continuing this until milk is used up.
  7. Add the cheddar and stir.
  8. Pour the sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle the parmesan over top and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Turn the noodles into the 13x9 pan and top with bread crumbs.
  10. Bake until the bread crumbs turn brown, about 15-20 minutes.

This was really good, although I could have salted and peppered it more. I think it could have worked as a creamy dish (stopping after Step 8) if you wanted a homemade version of a boxed macaroni and cheese. I wonder what this would taste like with a leafy green baked into it.

What are some of your favorite alterations to macaroni and cheese?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Basic Pizza Dough

I consider pizza dough a staple - it can be used for pizza crust, yes, but also calzones, stromboli, and even non-Italian foods. This entry is for my basic pizza dough, which I make using a KitchenAid mixer. I've included a separate set of instructions for making this dough by hand.

You can make this the night before a meal that might require it, and put the entire bowl, saran wrap and all, in the fridge. It will rise slowly and be ready for you come dinner time the next day.

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's basic pizza dough recipe in How to Cook Everything.


  • 3 cups flour (unbleached bread flour if you've got it)
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • garlic powder and/or onion powder, if desired
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
Directions by Hand
  1. Combine half the flour, the yeast, salt, pepper, and any other flavorings you might like (such as a few shakes of garlic powder and/or onion powder).
  2. Add water and olive oil. Stir with wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. Add remaining flour a bit at a time. Begin kneading by hand on floured surface when dough gets too tough to work with spoon.
  4. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth.
  5. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bowl and roll the dough in the oil to coat. Place dough in bowl and cover tightly with saran wrap.
  6. Let dough rise in warm, draft-free area until dough doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.

Directions Using Stand Mixer

  1. Attach the bread hook to your stand mixer.
  2. To mixing bowl, add half the flour (about 1 1/2 cups), the instant yeast, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you might like (such as a few shakes of garlic powder and/or onion powder). Stir to mix ingredients.
  3. Add water and olive oil and mix at Speed 2 for 30-60 seconds.
  4. Add half of the rest of the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour while on Speed 2. Once incorporated, add in the remaining flour. Let mix at Speed 2 for another 2 minutes or so. Add a little more flour if the mixture is still very sticky.
  5. Once dough sticks to bread hook in one large mass (2 minutes or more total), stop mixing.
  6. Remove dough from bowl, drizzle a little olive oil down the side and roll the dough in oil to coat.
  7. Leave dough in bowl and cover tightly with saran wrap.
  8. Let dough rise in draft-free area until it doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.

You can use all-purpose flour if you don't have bread flour; however, the bread flour makes it a little chewy, rather than the flaky and somewhat dry consistency that you might get from all-purpose flour. Bread flour also browns nicely while cooking, making it attractive as well as tasty. If you intend to make your own dough, I certainly recommend making the investment in buying a nice bread flour, such as King Arthur.