Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't You Carrot All? (bad pun for a bad day)

Not much of a post today as I am just not feeling up to snuff. Mary and I did make a pretty delicious dinner~ pressure cooker/grilled beef ribs, fresh tomatoes with simple olive oil, salt & fresh ground pepper, and these carrots that were as good as any baked sweet potato fries I've ever had. The kids would disagree, but I loved 'em!! Hope you enjoy them too!!

Roasted Carrots with Mint

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ pounds carrots, cut into finger-size pieces
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Arrange carrots on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & mint. Mix well. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies

3 cups old fashioned oats (please don't use quick oats- they don't work well in this)
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 tsp. milk
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup raisins (I use a combination of golden and brown raisins, but you can use what you like)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease pan or line with parchment or silpat.

Combine oats & sugar. Stir in oil, eggs and raisins; set aside for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda & salt. In another bowl, mix together milk and vanilla.

Add 1/2 flour mixture to oat mixture, stirring until combined. Add 1/2 milk mixture to this and stir until combined. Add remaining flour mixture and rest of milk mixture, stirring well until combined.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful (or use small dough scoop) onto prepared baking sheet. Make sure cookies are not too big, about the size of a small walnut.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, only until lightly browned. Be sure not to overcook~ these need to be brown on the bottom and look a little underdone on top~ then they're perfect!!

Sowing My Oats (oatmeal cookies, that is...)

As I grow older, I am realizing how much of my childhood memories have shaped my relationships~ both with people as well as food. One of these relationships is with my Grandma Aziz and her oatmeal cookies. Grandma wasn't the typical stay-at-home grandma as she has worked since I can remember. During my younger years, I remember getting to spend time with grandma as she ran a statuary store in Hawthorne, California. Then, in my later teen years, I would sometimes drive over to Torrance in the summer to meet grandma at a local restaurant during her lunch break from TRW where she was an executive secretary. She also didn't do a lot of cooking as my Grandpa Ed was (and still is) the cook in the family. I think this was the reason her baking was so special. She didn't have a lot of "specialties", but whatever she did make would be delicious!

I have eaten a lot of oatmeal cookies in my life, but none come close to the sweet oatmeal-y and raisin-y taste of grandma's cookies. These were the first cookies I can remember trying to bake on my own as a 12-year-old budding cook. The best part was how they turned out~ chewy but a little crisp and an almost melt in your mouth consistency~ every time I tried making them. As I grew into adulthood, I went through an cookie "experiment" phase and have tried numerous other oatmeal cookie recipes thinking maybe there was a recipe out there somewhere that would be...dare I even say it...better than grandma's.

My children have been subjected to crispy, raisin-less, chocolate chip added, buttery oatmeal cookies throughout their growing years. Not that these were bad. In fact, some were pretty tasty. The only thing that was missing in any of these experimental oatmeal forays was that they weren't grandma's recipe.

It has been a few years since I've actually made oatmeal cookies~ grandma's or otherwise~ but this morning, after getting up before the rest of my sleeping family, I decided to try another batch of grandma's cookies. Reading through the recipe again, I realized how these are the epitome of oatmeal cookies~ simple yet complex, both in the making and the tasting.
I decided to double the recipe~ just in case they turned out good~ which is a good thing to have done. First thing David- my 16 year old "bottomless pit" eater- did when he woke up this morning was to ask for a cookie. His response made baking these worthwhile as he exclaimed how good they were. My only response needed to be, "why, of course, they're grandma's recipe"!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Salsa Verde & Chalupas

Salsa Verde

1 lb. fresh tomatillos, husked & rinsed (to remove natural sticky coating)
1- 4 oz. can green chiles
1 yellow onion, chopped into large chunks
2 scallions, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

- Preheat oven to broil, with rack on top shelf.
- Lay tomatillos on rimmed baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes. Turn over & broil for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven & let cool.
- Place cooled tomatillos in bowl of food processor; add remaining ingredients.
- Pulse until blended but still slightly chunky. Place into container & refrigerate. This should last for about a week~ if it doesn't get eaten before that! This is delicious in the following recipe, but it is also wonderful on eggs, with chips, on a salad, etc.


2 tblsp. vegetable oil
12 (4-inch) Don Pancho corn tortillas
1 cup cooked & shredded chicken or turkey
1/4 sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup crumbled Queso Fresco (or shredded mozzarella)
tomatillo salsa

Preheat oven to 200F. Heat 1/2 tblsp. oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high, then cook tortillas, three at a time until softened but not too crisp. Transfer tortillas to rimmed baking sheet & place in oven; cover with foil. Continue cooking rest of tortillas, adding more oil as necessary, until all are done. When finished, top with a few shreds of chicken or turkey, a bit of cheese, a spoonful of salsa & a dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately. Muy Bueno!!!
Makes 12 appetizer servings or 4 servings in the Keatley household

Thursday, September 3, 2009

OMG~ it's OAMC time!!

With autumn coming faster than a speeding bullet along with school for almost the entire family (4 in college including my husband and my youngest doing high school at home)~ not to mention more fencing classes for me to start teaching~ I knew it was time to put together meals for our freezer that would allow us to eat food that comes without someone asking "do you want fries with that?" I got out my trusty Once A Month Cookbook by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg~ the first (and actually only) freezer meal cookbook I've ever owned~ and started looking for recipes I would want to make for this month. I have been doing OAMC on and off for about 15 years. It pretty much got a bit boring after a few years, so I stopped doing it, but I seem to go back to it when our schedules are crying out for good food made easy!! I haven't perfected the system, but I have figured out how to morph meals into the OAMC genre. There are quite a few family favorites from the cookbook that I pulled out this time as well as some others that I've collected/made up over the years. I've decided this time to only make dinners for the week nights as I have so many new recipes I've been wanting to try~ this way I can make sure I am keeping my culinary skills honed as I cook during the weekends.

Saturday morning dawned early as I finished the last of my grocery lists~ that's right, I said "lists" as in more than one. This was due to the fact that I was planning on cooking 18 dinners on Tuesday as well as planning on a weeks worth of camping food. The kids and I hit the Salem Saturday Market to get the few items we didn't get in our CSA box from Gardenripe the week before then ran downtown to try to break our fasts with coffee and goodies from Little Cannoli Bakery. Imagine my distress when we got there to find a sign that said they were closed~ for good. Of course, the good news is that Joann, the owner's mom, was there and she told us Tim had not closed for good, but instead had relocated to South Salem at his new place, Bakery D'Amour. That is great news for those of us in Salem who love everything that comes out of the bakery! We ended up tyring to save time by hitting the downtown Great Harvest. I wasn't too disappointed as I tried a coconut rum cookie that was delicious!! Then we were on to United Grocers (a.k.a. Cash & Carry) to grab a few more things before heading back home to finalize what else we'd need before Tuesday's cooking craziness.

The boys and I spent most of the day scouring the supermarket shelves Monday (except the time I was actually at work for 4 1/2 hours teaching and running a Salem Middle School Fencing League Parent Orientation~ what was I thinking??). At least the evening was an enjoyable way to hang out with my teenage boys~ even if it included an interesting time at Winco as the boys entertained what seemed like half of the store with their rendition of "supermarket stomp" in the bulk section! Finally, I was done with all the shopping for our Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) adventure as well as most of our camping food!

The alarm went off at what seemed way too early, but I got up to start cooking anyway! After starting a pot of Italian Roast, I got going on Grandma Pitalo's (paternal grandma) spaghetti sauce. This takes at least 3-4 hours to get a really good flavor, so I knew it needed to be the first thing going. I had it bubbling on the stove by 7 o'clock (that would be a.m.), and I was on a roll~ especially since the next thing on the list was Grandpa Aziz' (maternal grandpa) pizza dough. After a bit, Mary got up and helped put together the calzones. David was up a little bit later and he did many of the dishes as did my "adopted" daughter, Danielle, who came over about noon to help out too. It went by pretty fast as we ended up getting the 18 dinners done by 2:30 p.m.I decided to reward the kids (and myself, if I have to be honest) by running up to EZ Orchards for shortcake plus I wanted to pick up some fruit for the upcoming camping trip. I know I could've made shortcake, but theirs is really good~ plus we were all a little tired from being in the kitchen all morning!!

The kids also decided to make stuff to get ready for camping that afternoon when we got back. Mary made oatmeal banana chocolate chip cookies while David started working on chocolate toffee s'more cookies. Danielle decided to work on one of our camping breakfasts with oatmeal huckleberry scones. The kitchen smelled divine!!

We usually end up going out or ordering pizza on cooking night, but I decided to use the tomatillos we had gotten in our CSA box to make up some salsa verde. I found a wonderfully simple salsa recipe that I was able to tweak just a bit with stuff I had at home. I then made some chalupas with small corn tortillas, turkey, queso fresco and sour cream. They were amazing! The cheese was really exciting for Mary and I because it tasted so close to what we had in Ecuador. The tortillas were so good plus they were fun to use as they are only 4" round~ I had picked them up at Cash & Carry just because they were cute, and we ended up using a bunch of them- I love when stuff comes together!!
I can't wait to be able to pull out a meal from the freezer instead of having to decide what to cook at the last minute for at least a few weeks. If this works out as well as I think it will, I am pretty sure that we'll be OAMC for the rest of the school year!