Linzer Cookies

August 28, 2015 · 2 comments

in desserts/sweets

Just a reminder, the reader survey is still open, but will only be open through the end of the month. If you haven’t already filled it out, please do! I’m so surprised (and pleased!) with the number of responses received, so thanks to those who have already completed it.

Now, onto cookies! I make cookies…almost never. I also buy cookies…almost never. Cookies are really good though, aren’t they? That’s precisely why I don’t keep them in the house. Until they change the serving of Oreos to an entire line or make it so cookies taste like cilantro or mayo and are therefore inedible, I will eat far too  many. You may think, “they are perfectly portioned,” but I think, “they are small enough that I can have another one!” The good thing about cookies, though, is that they are so easy to bring somewhere else. You can eat a cookie to see if it’s good and still bring a dozen into work, but you can’t make a cake at home and then bring it to work with a missing piece. At least in theory. Also, why would I share cake?

Anyway, these cookies are practically health food. They have fruit in them (kind of) and not a whole lot of sugar at all. I loved the hint of cinnamon and clove in these, which I am not used to with most linzer cookies. We made these with almonds since I had some at home already, but I’m a sucker for a hazelnut linzer for sure. Like I do with Dorie’s standard sablés (still one of my favorite holiday cookies, for the record), I added a teaspoon of vanilla to these. I just feel like vanilla is a requirement for cookies. Or any baking, really.

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For his birthday (way back in early June) Tom requested salmon. I kind of knew he was going to request some sort of seafood since he loves it and we don’t eat it much (thanks to me) but I was kind of hoping for…not salmon. I’m just not a big fan of it. I re-tried it and it was okay, but still not my thing. Trying things again is always good practice, but when you have kids this is a rule you live and die by to set an example. :) “At least you tried it again, right, Mom? You never know!”

That said, the kids and Tom devoured their giant salmon pieces and I enjoyed this salsa over a pork chop, so I’d still call it a hit. We recently made the salsa again and I had it with a za’atar and lemon grilled chicken thigh, which made for a great combo. The salsa is really light and fresh tasting, not at all overpowering. Just a nice complement to the protein. I made the recipe as indicated the first time but when we had it again I used jarred peppers since we had some around, and that worked just fine, too.  I did cut the amount of dressing from the very beginning because it seemed like a lot, and I’m glad I did.

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We got back from our mini vacation on a Wednesday, and I decided to take Thursday and Friday off because why not? I have a good amount of PTO this year since my kids are at the age where they don’t really get sick often and have officially fought every daycare/school illness known to man. (I totally just jinxed myself, didn’t I?)

I wish I could tell you I used those 2 days for something really fun and interesting but actually what I did was…organize my pajamas. And stuff like that. Because, I’m old.

But, I did want to make some new stuff while I had the time, and I was thinking about a really delicious sandwich I’d had from the local Caribbean place recently (Caribbean Corner, if you happen to be in the Western Chicago suburbs!), which spurred me to make something Caribbean-y. You can’t really go wrong with bowls because as my 5  year old will tell you, meals are better when they include lots of different things.

These were delicious! There isn’t really anything in here that we don’t eat regularly but they just all go together really well. The chicken has a bright, citrusy marinade (and I reserved some of the marinade that didn’t go on the chicken to drizzle over the top of everything), the beans and rice and comforting are and homey, the plantains sweet with just a tiny bit of spice, and the salad nice and fresh for that crisp counterpoint.

This recipe looks rather…long, but I promise it’s not difficult or terribly time consuming. The chicken can be marinated early in the morning and can cook while your beans and rice cook. You can also chop the salad and pan-fry the plantains during that same time. So, really, however long it takes to make the rice (about 40 minutes) plus a little prep time is how long it will take to make the meal.

You may have a little of the rice/bean mixture leftover depending on how big you make your portions. I am here to tell you it makes a delightful breakfast with an egg and some hot sauce the next morning. :)

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This was the first year we were able to plant a garden (and by “we” I really mean Tom, since he and the kids did all the work). We had a great yield of tomatoes and spinach, a small yield of green beans, and like 2 jalapeños. Not sure what happened with our peppers (in addition to jalapenos, we also planted poblanos and red bell peppers), buuut better luck next year?

I’m not a canner (and am really too lazy to both learn how and actually do it) so I knew I needed to come up with some recipes to use with our tomatoes, other than throwing them on top of endless salads and making everything Caprese-esque. I asked Tom if he wanted roasted salsa or fresh salsa, and he chose roasted.

Salsa is one of those things that’s insanely easy to make. It has so few ingredients, takes almost no time, and comes out tasting worlds better than the stuff you buy in the jar.  The only bad thing about it is that there is no greater complement to it than tortilla chips, which are perhaps not the best thing to eat. I mean, they ARE, but you know.

This salsa had a nice kick to it, which we really enjoyed. Obviously the heat will depend on the jalapeños, so you may want to taste-test them first to see what their heat level is like before deciding whether to add 2 or 3 to the salsa.

 

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On our way home from our mini vacation on Lake Michigan, we stopped to pick blueberries. The kids really enjoyed it (and were very meticulous about which “good” blueberries should get picked and placed in the bucket) and we got about 7 lbs. of delicious berries for a crazy good price (though my husband is still complaining we didn’t get more like 20 lbs.). Afterward, one of the employees showed Zachary how the machines separate and package the berries for stores, including how the mushy or unripe ones are tossed, and in my head I imagined a golden egg/Veruca Salt situation.

When we got home I flipped through a couple cookbooks to find a new blueberry recipe and came across this one. I really liked that it used whole wheat and pure maple syrup vs. refined sugar. I mean, there’s butter and a good dose of said syrup, so I’m not going to say it’s super healthy but it’s not terrible for you, either.

The glaze for this…I don’t even know what to say. I will say if you can somehow manage to not swipe your finger through the drippings on the baking sheet and into your mouth over and over and over until you’ve completely wiped the baking sheet clean…well, you’re a better person than I. I want to make this glaze and put it on everything, from pancakes to ice cream. It tastes like butterscotch and tight pants.

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Mpizeli (bees-EL-ee) is one of those things that always seems to be hanging out on the stovetop of every Greek home. I ate truckloads of it growing up and I still love it. It’s great as a side, of course, but I will literally just eat it as a snack—sometimes even cold from the fridge (I know, I’m weird). I actually prefer this pea dish at room temperature, so it’s great for potlucks, parties, and picnics. This kind of-sort of made it on the blog a bazillion years ago, as an alternate version of Greek style okra. It’s one of those things that, while still pretty common for me to make, is so normal I don’t even think about blogging it (likely because until recently I thought I already had. ;))

I put a ballpark dill measurement below but, honestly, I’ve never truly measured it. Even when I’ve tried in an attempt to be more concise with a recipe, I end up adding more as I’m cooking, so it doesn’t really matter. Bottom line is add what you want to add. You’ll probably end up adding a lot more than you think you will, though. There’s something about copious amounts of dill that really makes this. I have a friend who dislikes dill and initially didn’t even want to try this before proceeding to eat bowls full of it.

Also, this is a really forgiving dish. Another reason I haven’t really blogged this before is because sometimes I add a little water or a little crushed tomato as I’m cooking it, and it’s fine for eating but perhaps not for recipe documentation. Bottom line is just taste and add as you go.

Common additions to this dish are potatoes or mushrooms. You can also make a one-dish meal, similar to this kokinisto, with chicken or another protein.

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Reader Survey

July 31, 2015 · 1 comment

in misc.

Why hello! I hope you’ll excuse my infrequent postings as of late. Things have been kind of crazy and, truth be told, I haven’t been really motivated, either. We just got back from a short vacation in Saugatuck/Douglas, MI and had a lot of fun, but coming back doesn’t have me gunning to be productive. :)

I’m currently in the middle of a site redesign (that I’m SO excited for, and I think you will be, too) and I was thinking this would also be a good time to collect some feedback from my readers. I hope you’ll fill out a quick survey to let me know what you like and what you don’t about this blog, and if there are any changes (layout or content-wise) that you’d like to see. I would really appreciate it. (And it’s anonymous.)

I’ll be back next week with new posts!

Survey Link – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FFDJZQN

 

(Also, as a housekeeping note, comments haven’t been displaying on posts for some reason. I do still receive the comments and appreciate them, and they will be fixed with the new design. If you post a specific comment, I will be sure to send you a response via email. Thanks!)

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This summer has been…well, perhaps not great, weather-wise. I don’t mind the cooler weather at all, so I don’t take issue with that (well, except that we’re going on vacation next week and Lake Michigan will be FREEZING) but the rain. SO MUCH RAIN. Until the fourth of July weekend, we literally hadn’t had a 2-day rain-free period since before Memorial Day. It’s been crazy and definitely makes outdoor activities, like grilling, less frequent. Never mind the 80 bajillion mosquitos residing in our backyard, thanks largely to the swampland created by the rain. I will say, at least the rain is a good excuse for the days when it IS 90 degrees out and my husband wants to “open the windows and let in the breeze” instead of turn on the air. Dude. No.

At any rate, Tom was able to get out the past couple weekends and do some grilling, and I was thankful to catch a break from making dinner. I’ll admit that when he grills, chicken is almost never our protein of choice. I don’t know, it’s kind of like how I never order chicken at a restaurant. It seems like you should eat something more…worth it. But after a weekend visiting my family eating nothing but red meat, chicken it was.

This is a pretty standard chicken marinade in that it uses herbs, garlic, and lemon juice. The buttermilk is great because it not only keeps you from using too much oil, but makes the chicken incredibly moist and tender (always a good thing with breasts, especially, since they tend to dry out).  We all really liked these (although, Ian doesn’t care for zucchini) and my weirdo kids ate basically all the red onions themselves.

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There are times when writing blog posts comes very easily to me and I’m done in 5 minutes. Truth be told, that’s nearly every blog post because if I’m not feeling it, it doesn’t get written at that moment. Then there are days like today when I really want to share something with you, especially because it’s been a while, but I truly have nothing to write. It’s especially unfortunate because I seem to have all the time in the world being stuck on a delayed Metra train that’s making countless stops.  Random thoughts I’ve been having:

  • Why do Netflix original series have the longest theme songs ever?
  • Does everyone realize how funny Aziz Ansari is?
  • I don’t go to Starbucks often, and rarely get “fancy” stuff, so I’m still a little taken aback that I spent over $5 on a drink that doesn’t even have alcohol in it.
  • It’s even weirder when you see the old guy from your gym who makes sex faces outside the gym context.
  • E-books from the library are wonderful things.

Anyway, most of these things cannot be expanded upon (and I’m guessing you really wouldn’t want them to be) so let’s just talk about this pasta. This is another one-pot meal because if there’s anything you can count on in the blog these days it’s one pot meals or meatballs or maybe one pot meals featuring meatballs. And, like I said, I want to share it with you because you’re going to love it.

I changed the amounts a bit to suit our family/leftover situation, and I also didn’t use as much liquid as Tara. I’m not sure if I had thinner marinara or quicker cooking pasta, but either way, I started with less, thinking I could always add more, but didn’t need to. Also, while I have no qualms about using heavy cream (or half and half) what usually happens is I buy it for a recipe, forget to use the rest, and end up pitching it. To avoid the inevitable waste, I used Greek yogurt instead (bonus points, of course, for it being healthier), which worked great.  Finally, I wilted down some spinach into the pasta at the end.

Do I even need to say we all loved this? I mean, what is not to love about pasta, period? Let alone creamy pasta studded with sausage that can be cooked in one pot (okay, no one cared about that last part except for me).

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Even though I have long (LONG) been obsessed with fattoush, I was never a huge fan of tabouli growing up. I think maybe it was too much fresh parsley for me, which sounds silly considering there is a decent amount in fattoush and plenty in Greek cooking, but for some reason tabouli didn’t do it for me. Plus, I’ve only recently come around to mint in savory foods (and our mint plant is out of control, so I guess that’s  a good thing).

I’ve had it a few times as an adult and though it will never replace my beloved fattoush, I find that I enjoy it much, much more now. I love bulgur, but we were really low on it when I decided to make tabouli, so I used quinoa instead. It’s a great substitute but both are really healthy and good for you so this isn’t one of those times when quinoa necessarily adds a ton of added benefits (it does add slightly more protein and has fewer carbs). I of course increased the lemon juice/ratio to oil and did decrease the mint by a bit.

We had this one night with a pork tenderloin I marinated in my shawarma marinade and the roasted vegetables with za’atar and it was definitely one of my favorite recent meals (but I could eat Middle Eastern food every day so I guess  you’ll have to take that for what it’s worth). While Zachary was asking for more zucchini over and over, Ian kept asking for more quinoa, so things ended up working out perfectly. :)

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