Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oaty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like to know what’s in my food.  Because of that, I have a really hard time buying pre-packaged cookies.  Just take a look at the label! (ewww ... )  But! In less than 15 minutes of actual prep time, you can have a delicious and WAY more nutritious substitute.

I call these “oaty” because they are made with only oat flour, though I’m sure you could substitute a portion with almond flour, if you wanted more protein or a more complete snack.  Oat flour naturally has more protein, dietary fibre and calcium than all-purpose wheat, and the taste is great!  They still have butter and sugar ... those things you just can't mess with for flavour.

I feel so much better giving Morgan one of these with a piece of fruit when she gets home from school, than a cookie from the grocery store shelf - baked a month ago, full of preservatives and questionable ingredients I can pronounce. (again ... ewww.)  She loves them.  Matt loves them.  And that makes me REALLY love them. :)

Oaty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups oat flour** (can use gluten-free)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups of old fashioned or quick oats (can use gluten-free)
1 cup raisins*
1 cup Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips*
* really any combination of toasted nuts, chocolate chips and raisins works - just so they equal 2 cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, baking soda and cinnamon - mix to combine.
Add in oat flour** and quick oats and combine until mixture forms a thick dough.

Add raisins and chocolate chips and mix until evenly dispersed through the dough.
Scoop dough in portions on a baking sheet or stone.

Speaking of scoop, I have to tell ya about my two VERY favourite cookie making tools.  First - the scoop.  It allows you to make all the cookies a uniform size.  Not only does it look pretty, but all the cookies bake evenly.

Bake cookies for 11-12 minutes, give or take for the variation in your oven.  You know cookies are done when they look just slightly raw.  They continue to cook as they cool.  You'll see they spread a little flat, which is where my second favourite cookie making tool comes into play - the mini spatula!

TIP:  If you take just a quick second to push those flattened edges in toward the middle, it make the cookies nice and circular in shape ... and somehow makes the texture chewier.  You have to do it quick before the cookies start to cool or it won't work.  It does take a couple seconds to do, but it's well worth the effort.

Remove cookies onto a cooling rack or wax paper to cool ... and enjoy!

** If you don't have oat flour, it's really easy to make!  Just take out your food processor or dry blade Vitamix attachment and blend some old fashioned or quick oats into a powder.  Super easy ... takes about a minute to do.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Homemade Pasta

There is nothing like the taste of homemade pasta ... and it's easier than you might think!  

Whether you have specific pasta making tools (pasta drying rack, pasta rollers) or not, you can still roll and cut with a pizza cutter or roll the pasta into small balls and smash them with your thumb - I did that for years - no tools needed but your hands!  At any rate, it's lots of fun ... not to mention, super yummy!

Mario Batali's Homemade Pasta
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra
  • 5 eggs

With the dough hook attachment, mix together eggs and flour on speed 2.  It will take a while for it all to incorporate, but stop every 30 seconds or so and push the flour on the sides down - it speeds up the process.

The dough will be sticky, but that's good!  Knead for about 10 minutes on speed 2.  Flour your hands and remove the dough.  Roll lightly in flour and knead a time or two by hand.

Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.  I usually use this time to starting making my sauce (see below for a couple of our favourites).

After the pasta has rested, divide into 4 sections and run through the roller, adjusting the width of the press smaller and smaller until you reach your desired thickness.  Ours is 5 or 6.  Morgan can do most of this on her own ... I'm only there to "help" (and it makes her so proud).  Don't be afraid to cut the sheets of pasta into more manageable sizes.  They can get quite long!

Run the sheets through the cutter of your choice.  We usually choose fettuccine be it's easier to manage.

As you run it through the cutter, hang it by the handfuls on the drying rack.
Bring a large pot of water to rapid boil.  Season water with 2-3 tsp salt.  Add pasta (it will have started to dry out, but that's just fine) and cook for 3-4 minutes to al dente.  Serve with your favourite sauce and enjoy!

Mario Batali's Quick Marinara Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree (about 1 (28-ounce) can) roughly chopped (I use the tall jar of strained tomatoes and it works great!)
  • Sprig fresh thyme
  • Sprig fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Use now, store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Tyler Florence's Alfredo Sauce (pictured above, topped and stirred with fresh basil )
    • 1 pint heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • Freshly cracked black pepper
    Heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

    Life is Good

    The past couple weeks have been yet another adjustment for our family.  While it's something I've looked forward to for so long, especially with all the change this year has brought, it's been a great challenge to slow down.

    I'm still learning and adjusting (it's funny how many things I was missing), but I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be in this moment, and I love it!  All the stress of job transitions, downsizing, moving, renovating and the unknown is starting to fade ... and as it clears, I'm beginning to see why God allowed it all to happen.

    I still have my moments of guilt - "I should be out bringing in a top salary to help support my family ... " - the voice of society rings over and over in my mind.  It's sad how our culture today makes women that choose to stay home feel like less.  We're thrifty, savvy, creative divas who are committed to our home.  I'm ashamed to say that I do feel smaller without a title ... but I'll get over it.  I know in my heart that the title given to me at this moment is so much greater - it's simply: wife, mom, housekeeper, dog walker, cook, friend ... and, in my spare time ;) freelance designer.  So, for now, in those moments I am purposing to keep calm and carry on ... life is not perfect, or fancy, but it's good!  Thank you, Lord!