Mom It Down! Orange-Basil, Maple Cookies

Commenter, eep suggested I post the recipe of the orange-basil cookies I consumed before my long run on Saturday. It’s a mega easy recipe. It’s not the healthiest cookie on earth, but when you plan on running off over 1000 calories, I think it’s OK to indulge in a cookie or four.

What you will need

  • Cookie sheet(s)
  • Parchment paper OR silpat
  • Standup mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour, sifted

Mom It Down!

Preheat often to 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat for 3 to five minutes. Add egg, mix. Add orange zest, honey, basil, vanilla and salt. Mix. Add sifted flour. Mix.

Form roughly 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch balls in palm, roll in sugar, place on cookie sheet, and press with fork, glass bottom, or fingers. (These will take patterns and keep them pretty well. So feel free to use something decorative to press them with.)

Makes 24 cookies depending on how big you like your balls. :]

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Overcoming Obstacles

I bet you could make this dough ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to use. It’s pretty sturdy dough. They are very simple.

Variations

I think lemon zest would be amazing as well. And really any spice would work. The dough is very versatile. I might try a rosemary version of this as well.

You can use honey instead of maple syrup.

Nutrition

Each cookie is about 150-155 calories and 15-20 grams of carbs. (Let me know if you need more nutritional information. I have it all.)

Mom It Down! Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache Tart

Have you ever eaten something so good it makes you want to punch, slap or kick shit? This tart will do just that.

I first got wind of this tart from Catherine on Twitter. She wrote something about a reviewer stating, “This tart is so good, I want to punch people when I eat it.” I knew exactly what the person meant. Of course I had to make it. So Catherine sent me the link and I made it that very day.

You should make it too. And feel free to modify it, as I have below. Although the original is perfectly amazing as is.

I’ve made this tart three times. The first time, I followed the recipe, changing only the crust as I didn’t have any chocolate graham crackers. (I normally don’t have any graham crackers in the house at all, but we’d gone upstate a few months back and made s’mores and I took the remaining crackers home with us.) But don’t worry! If you don’t have graham crackers, you can use pate sucree, my favorite homemade crust. The second time I made this tart, I used pate sucree.

Anyway, the recipe below features a graham cracker crust, this time I added a flavor and I’m quite pleased with the end result.

What you will need

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 9 graham crackers (basically, one package, mashed up)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • flavoring, in this case three Earl Grey teabags
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (less than 65% cocoa)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon warm water

Mom It Down!

Preheat oven to 350.

On stovetop, bring cream to slight boil. Remove from heat, add teabags, set aside.

While the tea is steeping, crush up graham crackers. I used my hands. Hands are handy! The big pieces will mash up even more when you add the sugar and butter and press it into the pan.

Add butter and sugar and mash it up some more.

Press it into a buttered flute pan.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Go back to your tea and cream mixture. Ring out your teabags being careful not to tear the bags.

Put 9 ounces of chocolate into a metal bowl. Set aside.

Reheat your tea and cream mixture. Pour it over the chocolate. Leave it for a couple of minutes.

While that’s melting the chocoalte, in separate bowl, add salt, eggs and vanilla.

Whisk that together.

Delicately whisk the cream/chocolate mixture without agitating it too much. (You don’t want to add a bunch of air to the mixture.)

Add egg mixture to the chocolate. Pour over baked pie crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sides are baked and the middle wobbles a bit. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. Like this:

The sides will flatten as it cools. The tart will be very level. Let it cool completely.

When you’re ready and the tart is cool, take two tablespoons of heavy cream and microwave it for about 50 seconds. (You can boil it too, but it’s hard to boil that small amount, so I just microwaved it until it was hot.) Pour over chopped chocolate, whisk until it melts. If you have trouble getting it all to melt with that small amount of cream, feel free to put it over a pot of simmering water, or a bain-marie. That’ll take care of business. You want it to be SUPER smooth. Add your water and light corn syrup, and pour it over tart. Turn tart to coat it evenly with the glaze.

You’re done! Let it sit for an hour, until the top hardens and cools.

Overcoming obstacles.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can break it up over the course of the day. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can do the crust and leave it for however long. You can make the ganache, bake it and then leave it for however long. I would suggest measuring out all the ingredients, preparing and baking the crust, then go clean the house or something. Make the ganache filling, bake the tart and then go put the baby to sleep, walk to dog—whatever. Come back to it later when you have another 30 minutes. The last time I made this, I took a nap with a sick baby while the tart cooled (for two hours!). This is a very easy recipe that tastes impossibly not easy. It tastes better than it looks.

Variations

Dude, you can flavor this puppy so many different ways. When I was in school, we infused cream for ganache with citrus, tea, ginger—you name it. Or just make it with some amazing high-end chocolate.

That’s another thing, the better the chocolate, the more amazing the ganache. However, the first time I messed with ganache at home, I used Baker’s Chocolate. I used Baker’s for the first attempt at this tart as well. It’s easy to find and cheaper than most high-end chocolate. So if you screw up, you don’t feel as bad. High-end chocolate can cost a pretty penny! But if you want to knock the pants off people? I recommend getting some super awesome chocolate.

If you have questions about how to flavor the ganache, ask away! I will happily help out.

Nutritional Stuff

One more thing: I calculated the calories (because I am still watching my calorie intake every day) and the whole pie is roughly 4400 calories. Each slice (It’s rich! So good luck eating more than the sliver shown above!) is roughly 270 – 300 calories assuming you get anywhere from 16 to 18 slices per pie. I don’t think that’s too bad! :]

Mom It Down: Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge Ever

I was craving fudge on Sunday, specifically peanut butter. So I read through a few recipes and came up with this one. The original recipe was taken from All Recipes and I modified it a bit. Anyway, it’s just too damn good and easy not to share. I don’t have any photographs because my card reader seems to be broken. Forgive me for that. But it’s super easy. I promise.

What you will need

  • Saucepan
  • Mixer
  • 8 x 8 square pan
  • wax paper (optional)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Fill mixing bowl of KitchenAid with powdered sugar. Set aside.

Melt butter in your saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and milk. Stir often. Let the mixture boil and after it boils let it go for 2 minutes. It will bubble up quite a bit.

After 2 minutes or so, remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla extract. Stir up until mixed well.

Pour liquid over powdered sugar.

Using the KitchenAid beater attachment, mix that until all the powdered sugar is incorporated.

Spoon into your square pan, evening out as much as possible. Cover the surface with wax paper. It’s going to be oily. That’s normal. Refrigerate. You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

Oh my goodness, there are none. This recipe could not be any simpler. I had fudge within the hour.

Variations

I bet adding some peanuts or chocolate chips to this recipe would be divine. If you try it, let me know.

In other news

I’m still pregnant. Duh. Last night I had this weird sensation that I was going to go into labor. Obviously that didn’t happen. I’m not sure how much more my pelvis can take. It feels really bruised and I find walking more and more impossible. Granted, it doesn’t help I had to dig my car out of an igloo of snow yesterday. Yeah, that was fun.

But enough listening to me bitch; go make some fudge!

Mom It Down: Homemade Deodorant!

I can be really stinky. Unfortunately, my armpits (and feet!) are my biggest culprits. I used to go weeks and weeks without having to wear deodorant. But something changed in my late 20s. (I blame hormones. I blame them for everything.) Nowadays, unless I want to fill up an entire subway car with my stink, I have to wear something.

I am forever searching for a natural deodorant that actually works. I have tried Toms of Maine and it just doesn’t work. (It works for my husband, however.) By the end of the day I end up smelling like an onion sandwich.

Old Spice works (and they offer a stick without aluminum) but they are owned by Proctor and Gamble and I try not to support P&G whenever possible. The Old Spice sticks are also filled with other questionable ingredients, so I’m not pleased with them either.

I’ve also used Arm and Hammer deodorant. But the sticks include chemicals such as propylene glycol. And I’m a little bit wary of propylene glycol (PG). While I’m pretty certain that it won’t cause harm in small amounts, industrial strength PG is used in engine coolants, antifreeze, paints, enamels and varnishes.

I always come back to the same question: If I can find something completely “natural” that actually works, why not try it? (Plus, the hippie in me gets a boner for such things.)

Last Friday, friend and twitter contact Mary wrote about making her own deodorant. I’ve always wanted to try this, but never really researched it. So I reached out to Mary and she totally came through. (Thanks, Mary!)

Today I’d like to share that homemade deodorant recipe with everyone. While this doesn’t fall in with my usual “Mom It Down” recipes, it’s pretty awesome. (And it is actually edible! But don’t eat it, because that’s weird and I can’t imagine it tastes very good.)

One more thing I should mention: I put this stuff to the test yesterday. I had an 8-hour pastry class, one where I spend all 8 hours standing next to and over many, many hot ovens. Plus, we’re made to wear long-sleeve, chef jackets. Guess what? It worked!

What you will need

  • Saucepan
  • Spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Mom It Down!

Put everything into a saucepan.

Over low heat, mix until melted and milky in color.

Remove from heat. If you’re adding a secondary smell, add it now.

Pour into a lidded container. (I made a label for the one made with patchouli because I’m a dork.)

Put it into the refrigerator to firm up.

You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

The refrigerated mixture will be rather hard—the consistency of very cold butter. At room temperature, it will loosen up a bit. This is perfectly normal. Mine ended up being the consistency of lotion as did the one I made for my husband.

The smallest amount goes a long way.

Shea butter and coconut oil can be pricey. The good news is, they go a long, long way. I reckon you could get a good year’s worth of deodorant out of one container of each. In the end, I know it’ll be MUCH cheaper than buying deodorant sticks all the time. And your body will thank you.

One last thing from Mary: she mentions that baking soda can irritate freshly-shaven skin. Please keep is in mind, ladies. I would wait a little bit after shaving to apply it.

Variations

As mentioned earlier, feel free to add essential oils to your mixture. I did one all-natural (smells like cocoa butter) for Toby and one using a dash of patchouli for myself. (Might as well turn the hippie up to 11, right?) Be warned, however, that some essential oils can irritate the skin. I would suggest testing any oils before adding them to the deodorant.

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

NaBloPoMo: Mom It Down: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

This could very well be some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. But I’m a terrible judge of food right now. You could hand me a buttered Saltine and I’d rave about it.

Anyway, these are great. My son gobbled them up. And they’re easy to make.

(Please note: I used my iPhone to snap the pictures, so they aren’t perfect.)

What you will need

  • Bowl
  • Skillet
  • Whisk or spoon (or both!)
  • Hungry family

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (low fat)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mom It Down!

Put your dry ingredients into a bowl. Give that a quick stir.

Separate your egg white.

Add all the wet ingredients to the flour mixture.

Whisk that up.

In a hot skillet, spoon in your pancake batter. Heat until they bubble, flip, heat some more.

You’re done.

Feed child, self.

Overcoming Obstacles

There really aren’t many obstacles here. I reckon if you wanted to you could omit the egg white-only part and just toss in two eggs. But the egg white makes it nice and fluffy

If you don’t have any buttermilk, simply add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup. (Vinegar works best, but either will do.) Top off with milk to equal one cup. substitute that for every one cup buttermilk.

Please note!

This batter keeps really well. I make the recipe above and place the leftover batter in an airtight container. We have fresh pancakes for two or three days. :] It sure beats that frozen crap!

Variations

Spice these babies up if you wish! Add some chocolate chips or bananas, they’re really versatile. We tossed in a few ground flax seeds one day. The sky’s the limit, my friends!

As usual, any questions and/or comments let me know.

Gluten Free, Super Healthy Flax Seed Cookies

I know this is a repeat, but it bears repeating as these are a little gem in my Mom It Down series and I just keep coming back to them. Why? Let’s see: they’re super healthy. They’re made made without sugar. They’re gluten-free and they’re full of flax seed and protein. Oh! And they taste great!

You seriously can’t go wrong with these cookies. Just this morning Em asked me if he could have cookies for breakfast and I was all, “Sure you can have cookies for breakfast!” And behold, he had three cookies for breakfast paired with a glass of milk. Awesome, right? My extremely picky child even likes these. He and his father eat them up like they’re treats. And I suppose they are! But they’re super healthy treats! AND I JUST CAN’T WRITE THAT ENOUGH, PEOPLE! You should make these for your family.

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Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup whole almond meal
  • 1/4 cup soy protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Mom it Down!

Take your unsalted butter out of the refrigerator a while before starting. It should be room temperature—super soft. I usually put mine directly into the mixer.

Preheat oven to 350.

Add honey, vanilla, and egg. Stir that up until it’s creamy. It might be a little lumpy. That’s OK. Once you add the dry ingredients, the batter will smooth out.

In a separate bowl, or directly into a two-cup measuring cup, add all the dry ingredients.

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Add that to your mixer.

Spoon walnut-sized balls onto a cookie sheet.

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Flatten each one down usig your fingers, a spoon, or a spatula until they are about half their height.

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Bake for 10-14 minutes. (Mine used 13 both times.)

You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

If the dough is too sticky, you can refrigerate it for 15-30 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, add a little bit more soy protein powder.

Variations

I wish to change the original even more. I might glaze the tops with maple syrup or honey before baking. Also, I think serving these alongside some jam or preserves would outstanding—specifically, strawberry or raspberry. YUM!

I’ve used Booker’s bourbon instead of vanilla and it works perfectly.

P.S. Sorry I haven’t updated in, oh, like forever. We were in Disney last week and I’ve got some stuffs going on. I hope to write more now that things have settled down a bit.

Mom it Down! Creme Anglaise (ICE CREAM!)

Last weekend we had our practical in school. I did well. Granted, I practiced a great deal ahead of time and failed once or twice as well. Our practical included a written test; we also had to create a flourless chocolate soufflé as well as creme anglaise, which is the base for french ice cream.

I gotta admit to something. Up until this exercise, I never, ever would have opted to eat an egg-based ice cream. But this is damn great stuff. For those unfamiliar (as I was), you can’t taste the eggs at all. I guess I ignorantly thought you’d be able to! It’s just ice cream, rich, creamy ice cream. It’s wonderful.

Today, I’d like to share that recipe with you.

What you will need

  • Medium-sized saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Strainer
  • 2 Bowls
  • Ice Water

Ingredients

  • 1 pint half and half (or 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk)
  • 1/4 of a vanilla bean
  • 4 ounces of sugar
  • 6 egg yolkes

Mom It Down!

Separate out your yolks. Whisk them together. (I saved my whites to use for egg white omelets and/or egg-white based desserts like meringue.)

Combine half and half, sugar and scraped out vanilla bean in a saucepan.

Bring it to a boil. Remove from heat. (Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the next few steps because it all happens so fast that I didn’t have time to stop with the camera. Next time, I’ll get Toby Joe to take them so that every step is featured.)

Combine 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolks whisking the entire time. (You want to temper the eggs but not scramble them, hence the constant whisking.) Add that mixture back into saucepan.

Continue to heat that mixture over medium heat for 30 to 60 seconds stirring the entire time. You do not want the mixture to boil. YOU DO NOT WANT TO OVERCOOK IT. You do not want the eggs to cook. (It’s easy to do!) The mixture will thicken a bit. Once that happens and it’s coating the sides of the pan or you’re able to run your finger over the back of a metal spoon without the liquid coming back together again, you are done! Strain it immediately into a bowl over ice. The strainer will collect some pieces of cooked egg. This is normal. Let that cool and then refrigerate overnight.

You’re ready to make your ice cream! And damn is it awesome.

Feed to kid.

Overcoming Obstacles

The key is to not overcook the base. So keep an eye on it. It really should be thick and ready to go in a minute. If you remove it from the heat and it doesn’t seem thick enough, then just go ahead and put it back on. It’s better to undercook and then reheat it right away than to overcook it. Because once it’s overcooked, there’s no saving it.

Creme anglaise is super easy to do, once you get the hang of how it’s done. And the whole process (including the egg separating and prep of ingredients) takes about 15 minutes tops—less if you’re good at separating eggs. :]

Variations

Flavor the ice cream however you want! Simply omit the vanilla and add whatever flavor you might want. You can also add chips or nuts, but do that by hand after the ice cream is made and ready to serve.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 139) Mom It Down! Roasted Myrtle

Today we’re going to explore a very rare delicacy called Roasted Myrtle.

What you will need

  • Roasting pan

Ingredients

  • One strange cat
  • Kisses

Mom it Down!

Leave roasting pan out for optimal “new stuff” opportunity. Walk away. Wait. Find cat in pan.

Yell to toddler. Ask him or her if they want “Roasted Myrtle” for dinner. Laughter ensues. Kisses follow. You’re done!

Please note: no cats were harmed, cooked or consumed in the creation of this post. Just kissed and laughed at.

Mom It Down! She Made A Strawberry Sorbet

We studied flourless soufflés last week in class, both fruit and chocolate. By the end of the day, we weren’t able to finish baking everything, so I had some strawberry-flavored simple syrup left over. I took it home and turned it into a sorbet. It’s outstanding. Sweet and outstanding.

Anyway, today I want to share this simple recipe with you. (Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the process, but it’s so easy you really don’t need them.)

What You Will Need

  • Ice Cream Maker (I have a KitchenAid attachment. Worked perfectly.)
  • Food Processor (I reckon you could probably do this by hand, but having a processor is just so much easier.)

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces of sugar
  • 2 fluid ounces of water
  • Pint of strawberries

Mom It Down!

Remove the stems from your strawberries. Add them to your food processor and mix ’em up real good. Put the mixture aside.

In a medium saucepan, slowly heat water and sugar. You want the sugar to dissolve completely. You do not want the mixture to boil.

Once the liquid is perfectly clear and all the sugar is dissolved, stir in your strawberry mixture. Heat that up for about 5 to 10 minutes. Again, just a simmer. Don’t boil it.

Let your mixture cool a bit and then add it to a lidded container. Put that in the refrigerator to cool. (I left mine in overnight.)

Once the mixture is cooled completely.  You’re ready to start the slow churn in your ice cream maker.

I set the timer for 30 minutes and checked on it from time to time. It definitely took the full 30 minutes. It could have gone a bit longer, but I was impatient. :] Once it’s at a consistency you’re pleased with, spoon the mixture into a plastic container and freeze.

You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

This is the easiest thing ever. It’s right up there with the time I started making applesauce. If you like sorbet and you have an ice cream maker, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be making this delectable snack at home. It’s so easy! It just takes a little time, not your time, but waiting time.

Variations

This could probably be made with less sugar. Remember, the base of this recipe was to be used for a flourless soufflé. It was meant to end up with eggs and baked. So, it’s on the sweet side! Not that we’re complaining. Even Toby Joe, anti-sweets guy, was eating it up! And your kids will love it.

Of course you can substitute any fruit you’d like. YUM!

Mom It Down: Chocolate Angel Food Cake SUCCESS!

I revisited the failed angel food cake from last week and had great success with it. It turns out, the many things I had done wrong were indeed to blame. If you follow the directions, it turns out pretty amazing if I must say so myself.

This recipe combines three different angel food cake recipes I have seen over the years. I took a few things from all of them and ended up with something pretty great. I hope you enjoy it too!

What you will need

  • 10-inch tube pan
  • Mixer
  • Working brain

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mom it Down!

Put egg whites in your mixer and let them warm to room temperature. (I have cut corners here a bit and things turned out fine, but it’s best to get them closest to room temperature as possible.)

Preheat oven to 350.

In separate bowl, sift together flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. (Or see my shortcut at the end of this post.)

Once eggs are close to room temperature, add extract, salt and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, beat that until it’s bubbly.

Add granulated sugar. Mix on high until it forms hard peaks.

Slowly spoon in flour mixture about 1/4 cup at a time. (You can slowly beat this with your mixer using the flat beater attachment. Just go slowly.)

Spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Sprinkle with almond slices.

Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes.

You’re done!

Overcoming Obstacles

I always try and sprinkle the top of my angel food cakes because it covers up the cracks and other blemishes. :] I know. I cheat. But it also adds a wonderful flavor. The almonds come out slightly crunchy—so good! And they go really well with chocolate.

Also: I mentioned above you can use your flat beater attachment to spoon in the flour mixture. It’s up to you. I usually do a mixture of both—starting with the attachment and then moving on to doing it by hand.

Lastly, if you don’t have time to sift the flour mixture together, which is what you’re supposed to do, you can easily use a wire whisk and just give it a good stir, breaking up the big chunks.

Variations

Next time, I want to try more cocoa and add chocolate chips to the top. I almost did that this time, but was worried that they might be too heavy. I wanted to make sure this worked before getting too groovy. Now that I know it does, I’m going to purchase some of the miniature chips and add them to the top.

I also think there’s room to add some other flavored extracts, but again haven’t messed with this too much yet myself.

I should mention that the only thing I changed was that I used regular, all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. I reckon using cake flour would make it even fluffier.

As usual, let me know if you have suggestions and/or questions!