The Cookie

Oatmeal CookiesGrowing up is hard to do. I am still growing up, and now I watch the struggles my kids go through. Simply put, life is hard. However, our struggles and stresses in life can always be removed by certain things. I know many who will turn to chocolate to forget about the pain, stress, etc. I have always found my stress relief to be a cold beer. Along with that, I recently found it was my grandmother’s oatmeal cookies.

Now my grandmother could attest to this, as well as my parents, and now my family, that I am a oatmeal cookie junkie. Not just any oatmeal cookie, but my grandmother’s recipe. I will make note that my grandma obviously makes them better than I do, granted they stem from the same recipe, however some things are just too good when you always got them from your grandma.

First, combine:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Then add to the above:

  • 1 cup of margarine
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Then, the final ingredient:

  • 3 cups of oats

Oatmeal CookiesOnce everything is combined, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a medium-sized soup spoon, spoon out at least 2 inches apart, the cookie dough. If you have multiple baking sheets, then continue this process onto the second cookie sheet. Bake these between 12-16 minutes, depending on your oven. When they are done, not only get ready for the smell, but get out some racks so that you can let these rest, and cool off. I have wired cookie racks for these.

Ok, not that they are cooled (trust me, you will want to eat these immediately), get a large glass of cold milk, and get ready to rumble.
I have been making these cookies now for over two years. The recipe yields approximately 30-40 cookies, depending on the size. These are a must make for when you are wanting a really good cookie. They come out crisp and chewy, and will most likely disappear within two days. 🙂 Enjoy.

Mac-n-Cheese

Mac-n-CheeseA colleague and I had a recent discussion on velveeta cheese. Let’s face it, a block of velveeta is funky, but overall, truly tasteful in dishes like queso or macaroni and cheese. Now I have made several batches of mac-n-cheese over the course of my lifetime, however I would say that I took a different approach to this last batch. My first thought was how can I make the mac-n-cheese not only a bit different, but also something my kids would attempt to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small onions, or 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 4 TB of butter
  • Roughly 1/8 cup of all purpose flour
  • One box of medium sized macaroni shells, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups of milk
  • Cheese, lots of it, approximately 2-3 cups (I used smoked gouda, medium cheddar, and mozzarella)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mac-n-CheeseIn a skillet, add your butter and chopped onion. Cook this down for roughly five minutes on medium heat. You do not want to caramelize the onions, but let them sweat. Add the flour and mix through. Let this cook for a couple of minutes, then begin to add the milk, and gently whisk until it gets thick and bubbly. You can begin to determine the thickness at this point in time. Add salt and pepper, then add all of your cheese. Let this melt down. In a large casserole dish, add the cooked noodles, then pour of the cheese mixture. I put in the oven for even more golden brownness for roughly seven minutes. Dish out into bowls and enjoy.

I did have these for leftovers the next day and added a bit of chipotle in adobo sauce, it was rocking. I have also mixed in a crushed garlic and pepper paste that also added a great kick to it, if you are into it.

Foccacia Bread

Foccacia BreadAs many of you know, I have been experimenting with baking breads. I have been nearly successful in many of the cases, however, this time around I went with Foccacia bread. Why foccacia? Because the ingredients can be as diverse as you want, once you get the dough made. The process of making the dough is also extremely easy. The total process time of making the dough, to getting it out of the oven was literally only one hour and thirty minutes.

Ingredients:

  • Nearly 3 cups of all purpose flour; 2 3/4 for dough, 1/4 cup for removal and kneading
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of white sugar
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TB of olive oil
  • 1 cup of luke warm water
  • 1 TB of vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 TB of parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Other topics can include olives, tomatoes, jalapeños, or however you like your foccacia bread.

Foccacia BreadIn a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, thyme, basil, oregano, and black pepper. To this add the vegetable oil and your water. Mix this together so the dough starts to combine and pull from the edges of the bowl. Put a bit of flour on a dough board, and with floured hands, knead the dough. Add some olive oil to another bowl and place the dough ball in the bowl, tossing to coat the ball with oil. Cover this bowl with a warm towel, and let it rest for 30-45 minutes. The dough should rise abit.

Now, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In the meantime, grease a baking pan, or as I did, a deep pie pan. Add the dough and shape it a bit, pressing down to a bit with your fingers, then with a fork, prick the entire top. Now, top with your cheeses and bake in the oven for nearly 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven). The bread should be a light golden brown.

I served this with roasted turkey yesterday. Everyone loved it. I will definitely be making this again and again. Enjoy.

The Onion Ring

The Onion RingThis is not your Aunt Jemima talking. Is it? No. It is a fan of the Green Bay Packers though, and just in time for the NFC Championship comes another fried goodie.
I was never a true fan of the onion ring, for whatever reasons. Maybe they were not salty enough, tender enough, or sweet enough. I really do not know. Until about three years ago, I was on the hunt to make a good ring. Why? Because my wife enjoys the onion ring, that’s why.

So be ready, and yes, it does include deep frying (yum), and as most of these recipes go, it is super easy. Depending on how many you are serving, these ingredients can vary.
Ingredients:

  • Yellow Onion(s), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Pancake batter (homemade, Aunt Jemima, Generic batter, what have you)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Onion salt to taste

The Onion RingIn a medium bowl, add nearly one cup of dry pancake mix. To this, add your salt, pepper, and onion salt, to taste. You might be asking, what the heck should it taste like? Feel it out in your mind, the salt, the pepper, and the onion salt.

The pancake batter itself sweetens it up a bit, so think of an onion wrapped in a thin pancake, and how would you season that. That is the goal. You can always, and you should always season when anything comes out of the fryer, whether it be salt, pepper, or other yummies.

So you have your pancake mix ready right? Good. Now, take your onion(s) and slice them about a 1/4 inch thick, keeping in mind you want rings. Maybe you do not want rings, and that is ok, then you have fried onions; no big deal.

So the onions are sliced. Carefully separate them to retain the ring. Once separated, place them in the pancake batter, and toss and coat, with your hands. 🙂

Now, lets consider the oil is heated. It should be by now. Depending on your frying device, add your rings, carefully not to overlap, or touch one another. I used a medium sized fry pan, as I am patient, and add 3-5 rings in at a time. Do not be afraid to gently shake the pan to get that oil dancing. Dance with it as well. It’s fun. You might laugh. The oil sound is therapeutic, so go with it.

The Onion RingThese do not take long. Depending on the thickness of your cut, these can take a few minutes, or up to six minutes to cook. Look at the golden brown tone. I typically use a fork and flip them half way through.

Drain within a paper towel-lined strainer, salt, and get ready to rumble.

Eat as a side, place on your burger, top on your mac-n-cheese, whatever. Get the onion ring going, and remember, Aunt Jemima, or whatever batter you have is not just for the flap jack, it is also for the onion ring. Enjoy.