Raisin Crisp Cookies

WIN_20151119_160152My Mom makes these and, like everything my Mom makes, Raisin Crunch cookies are delicious. I enjoy Raisin Crunch Cookies with coffee, because they are crunchy enough to hold up to a quick dunk. To be fair, I enjoy anything with coffee, but still… Happy baking!

Ingredients (Makes 4 dozen)

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup oats (I use old fashioned; quick oats will also work)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raisin bran cereal (variations such as “Honey Bunches of Oats” also work well)

1 1/4 cups flaked coconut

1/2 cup raisins

Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix well.

Step 2) Fold in cereal, coconut, and raisins.

Step 3) Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 14 – 16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Step 4) Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest on the baking sheets for 4 minutes. This helps them to crisp – and these cookies are supposed to be crispy! After 4 minutes, transfer cookies to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely before covering and storing.

Chinese Tang Yuan Chicken Soup

WIN_20160424_133707Tang Yuan are glutinous rice balls – easy to prepare, versatile in recipes, and a delicious comfort food. In my German-American kitchen, the equivalent would be dumplings. Today we are making a simple chicken soup with Tang Yuan. Children and grown-ups alike have given this soup rave reviews. I think you’ll enjoy it, too!

One friendly tip: There are only a few ingredients in this recipe, so each of them is important! Please don’t skimp on the quality of the chicken stock by substituting cans of chicken broth or cubes of bouillon. Chicken broth is a watery, less flavorful cousin of true chicken stock… you’ll taste the difference in this soup. Bouillon cubes are mostly salt.

WIN_20160424_132041Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 cup glutinous rice flour (sometimes called “sweet rice flour” or “sticky rice flour”)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 quart good quality chicken stock

1 cup diced celery (or substitute carrot)

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt)

WIN_20160424_132455Directions

Step 1) Combine glutinous rice flour, boiling water, and sugar in a medium size, microwave safe bowl. Stir together with a fork.

Step 2) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a small edge uncovered to allow steam to vent. Microwave the bowl for 2 minutes. Stir, cover again, and microwave an additional two minutes.

Step 3) Grease the bottom of a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Transfer the microwaved rice flour mixture to the greased bowl. Use your knuckles to press down on the mixture, kneading and compressing the mixture into a dough. Do this for at least five minutes, or until the mixture has formed a smooth dough. If the mixture is too hot for your hands, use the flat bottom of a cup or a mason jar to press down on the dough.

Step 4) Break off tiny pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of marbles. Be careful not to roll your Tang Yuan balls too large, especially if you are feeding children! Small, marble size Tang Yuan are more desirable.

Step 5) In a medium size pot, heat chicken stock to just below boiling. Add Tang Yuan balls, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add celery, ginger, and salt. Cook for an additional two minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Pumpkin Applesauce Cake

WIN_20160421_200343Low fat and vitamin packed, Pumpkin Applesauce Cake makes an awesome dessert item or star of Sunday brunch. This cake is so tasty it hardly needs frosting. But – just to be safe – we’ve topped our Pumpkin Applesauce Cake with an awesome cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You’re welcome.  ;)  Enjoy!

WIN_20160421_181139Ingredients (Makes a 9 x 13 inch sheet cake, serves 20)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup applesauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil Continue reading

Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind

WIN_20160420_175431Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind is an old school recipe which hails back to the Great Depression, when nothing was wasted. Depression era cooks were creative, not because it was chic but because it was necessary. Children love the sweet, tangy taste of these pickles right from the jar. Grown-ups love them as bacon wrapped party snacks, broiled and enjoyed while hot. However you enjoy them, I can guarantee that once you’ve sampled Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind, you’ll never look at a whole watermelon quite the same way again!

WIN_20160418_191438Ingredients (Makes about 4 pint jars)

Rind from one large watermelon

1/2 cup salt

6 cups cold water Continue reading

Chocolate Cheesecake Roll

WIN_20160208_195716

If chocolate chip cheesecake and homemade sweet rolls fell in love and had a baby, the result might be this Chocolate Cheesecake Roll. One taste and you’ll understand… you need this in your life. Equally perfect for breakfast or dessert, Chocolate Cheesecake Roll can be enjoyed while still warm from the oven OR can be frozen to be frosted and enjoyed later. On second thought, when the aromas of fresh bread and chocolate waft through your kitchen, I doubt the finished product will ever see the inside of a freezer.  ;)

WIN_20160208_152324Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves, serves 16)

For the bread:

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter Continue reading

Lazy Cheesy Eggplant

WIN_20160328_085536I love cooking with eggplant – it’s very low in calories and versatile – but I don’t always think of eggplant when I’m looking for something fast. Lazy Cheesy Eggplant requires only a few minutes to prepare, and a half hour in the oven… the results are addictively delicious! Each high fiber serving of Lazy Cheesy Eggplant contains approximately 125 calories.

Side note: We’re using frozen eggplant here, because the texture Continue reading

Indonesian Slow-Cooked Pork

WIN_20160324_165428Few cuisines rival the foods of Indonesia for their fragrance and layers of rich, exotic flavors. This dish will taste like you have worked kitchen wizardry all day long, when really, it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Pop this dish in the oven and let it cook slowly. Enjoy over potatoes with a side of fresh fruit. Or, enjoy with roasted vegetables and fresh bread. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

WIN_20160324_130118Ingredients (Serves 6)

3 pounds boneless pork spare ribs

2 tablespoons oil, such as coconut oil

1 small onion, cut into 1 inch chunks

3 pieces of lemongrass, each approximately 4 inches long

2 lime leaves

1 generous tablespoon chili paste, such as Nam Prik Pao

1 can coconut milk

WIN_20160324_160304Directions

Step 1) Working in two batches, brown spare ribs with oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook spare ribs for about 3 minutes per side. Don’t wash the skillet yet!

Step 2) Layer spare ribs in a large casserole dish along with lemongrass. lime leaves, and onion.

Step 3) Add chili paste and coconut milk to the pan in which the pork was browned. Whisk together the chili paste and coconut milk with the pan drippings, and then pour the mixture over the pork in the casserole dish.

Rachael Ray Cucina Stoneware 3-Piece Round Casserole & Lid Set, Agave Blue

Step 4) Cover casserole dish and slow cook in a preheated 325 degree oven for 3 hours until fork tender. Enjoy your Indonesian Slow-Cooked Pork!

Helpful Tip: Feel free to reduce (or increase!) the amount of chili paste in this recipe to suit your personal preferences. Thin slices of fresh green bell pepper (shown at top) help cut the heat from the chili paste, making this dish more enjoyable for diners who are sensitive to hot spices. The green pepper slices are Half-Pint Approved!