Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekly Cookie: Easter Cookies

Well, I didn't keep up my theme of weekly cookies too long, but I wanted to post this cookie idea because I have lemon extract left from the lemon coolers and I have buttermilk, so I may just give these Lemon Buttermilk Easter Cookies a go, except I don't have bunny cut-outs. I would probably do a drop-cookie version, or maybe roll out the dough in a log and slice it up to bake... I just get inspired when I realize I have all the ingredients for something. :)

I'm going to do the lemon coolers again with my sister, and I'll use the leftover lemon extract for these. If I get time before Easter. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Weekly Cookie?

I love cookies. Most of you know by now my love of all things cookie. I even love their name and it's one of my favorite things to say: cookie. Cookie. Cookie cookie cookie. (..."starts with C!")

Ok I've sung the praises of cookie enough... I would love to have the time to bake cookies at least once a week. I have, actually, for the past two weeks. Here is my batch of cookies from last week:

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was happy that I was finally able to produce a batch of cookies that were nice and puffy, and I believe I achieved this by finally switching to real butter rather than using those crappy vegetable oil sticks. I also used half cake flour and half all-purpose, and this may also have helped with their texture. The batter also uses a package of vanilla instant pudding, and I'm not really sure what that did for these cookies, but nevertheless they were good. Also, I used milk chocolate chips, since darn it, I just think that's how chocolate should taste. None of this semi-sweet stuff.

And today, I was inspired to bake Baking Bites' version of Lemon Coolers, a retired Girl Scout cookie, partly because I had all the ingredients and it gave me a chance to use up some more of my cake flour and some cornstarch, and partly because lemon cookies are delicious. All I had to pick up at my last grocery store trip was lemon extract.

I think they turned out pretty successfully! They do taste a lot like the old Girl Scout cookies.

Will I have time to bake more cookies next week??? Here's hoping!!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Another Letter on the Health Care Debate

This letter from the AUL (Americans United for Life) website lays out the abortion concern in the health care package much better than I could ever do with what I know just from debate on TV. Go here to send this letter to your Senators and Representatives:

Mar 5, 2010

Senator Claire McCaskill
Hart Senate Office Building, Room 717
Constitution Avenue and 2nd Street, NE
Washington, DC 20510-2507

Dear Senator McCaskill (and Todd Akin, and Kit Bond),

I am deeply concerned about the President's health care reform bill that will shortly be considered by the Congress. Under this version of reform, the federal government will have the power to require private insurance plans to include abortion coverage as a part of their package of "preventive care." This is a serious defect in the legislation. While it is true that the current version of reform states that certain federal funds cannot directly pay for those abortions that currently cannot be paid for by federal funds under the Hyde Amendment, that critical safeguard will become meaningless if the Hyde Amendment is ever eliminated. This is a very serious threat and grave concern given that supporters of abortion have identified the elimination of the Hyde Amendment as their highest legislative priority, and will no doubt take action to eliminate Hyde quickly if reform, as currently proposed is passed. Furthermore, this funding prohibition is narrowly written and would not apply to other funds in the bill, such as the 11 billion dollars authorized for "Community Health Centers." Those funds could be used to directly pay for abortions.

Also, under the current reform bill, subsidies to insurance plans that cover abortion will be the norm; individual states will have to pass new legislation to prevent subsidies from going to plans that cover abortions in their state. This requirement is a complete reversal of the long-established federal approach to abortion.

Inclusion of the Stupak Amendment is the only possible remedy to these serious problems. I urge you and your Congressional colleagues to address this matter by including the Stupak Amendment in health care reform legislation without delay.


Miss Kristin Weiland

Monday, December 21, 2009

Passengers vs. the Airline Industry

Wow, this administration did something I might actually agree with. MIGHT. We'll have to see how it plays out, though. There could be unforeseen consequences with this...

The government imposed a three-hour time limit on airplanes delayed on tarmacs. The airline industry countered that it will only result in more delayed and cancelled flights. Which, I can sort of understand that, BUT, I think the needs of passengers stuck on a metal tube without ample access to food, water, and proper facilities, especially for the elderly and those in poor health, are more pressing that those that have to wait longer for a flight in an airport.

But like I said, since I deal directly with the airline industry, it'll be interesting to see if it really benefits travelers overall. It may result in higher fares and more fees from airlines trying to offset the fines they will be charged if they break the three-hour limit. Airlines can come up with any reason at all to impose more fees, and if they don't like these new rules, they'll come up with some way to complain, most likely at the cost of their traveling customers. They used the rising gas prices as an excuse to hike fees, and those fees have not come down, even though gas prices have. So I wouldn't be surprised if they come up with some way to protest this decision.

But I do feel a little better about flying, now that there is less chance that I would be one of those poor people stuck in that traveling nightmare!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Z is for Zest

Zesting a lime or lemon was one technique in baking that used to intimidate me, but ever since I made my lemon raspberry cake for Easter, I am no longer afraid to zest away. It's amazing how much flavor just a little bit of the outer layer of a lemon or lime adds to a batter.

The implement pictured above is a microplane, but I just have a regular zester that I got from Schnucks for something like $5 and it did the job. The microplane might be more efficient for quicker zesting, but I couldn't find one for less than $12.99 and the little zester worked well enough for my purposes.

So now that I have the technique down, I really need to apply it to some more recipes, such as:

Lemon Sugar Cookies
Lemon Bars
Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes
Lemon Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd
Lime Loaf Cake
Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Cupcakes

Whew, that's enough for now, don't you think?? Eh, maybe... :)

And we come to the end of my little A-Z Baking list. We'll end this Z post with one more little fun tidbit... I love Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, but which one is my very favorite??

Not Twinkies...

Not Swiss Cake Rolls...

Not Hostess Cupcakes...

You may have already guessed....

Zebra Cakes. LOVE 'EM!!!

Don't go too far, I may be starting another ABC list soon on a new topic, just because it's fun! See ya then!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Y is for Yeast

I said before that I have never attempted baking bread with yeast. But I bet you get some pretty good results with it, probably better than with quick bread recipes. Bread that I bake usually turns out crumbly and doesn't hold together well. I'm betting that yeast gives it a more bready and less cakey texture. (My one exception, of course, is my family's Pumpkin Bread, which while it does have sort of a cake-like texture, it is absolutely perfect without yeast.)

It is definitely on my list though, to attempt making bread with yeast. This Rustic Country Bread looks like a nice recipe to start with.

That recipe uses bread flour, which would give me practice with yet another kind of flour to add to my repertoire... :)

Yeast seems to give you a better variety of the types of breads you can bake. Another recipe that is a bit more savory is this one for Feta and Tomato Focaccia. WOW.

I bet it would also be fun to try out my own English Muffins...

...and pita bread.

Some more I'm bookmarking:

Cinnamon Buns
Perfect Pizza Crust
Yeasted Blueberry Pancakes
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Basic Baguettes
Classic Monkey Bread

And this is off the subject, but I am starting to become tempted to bake up a batch of Gooey Butter Cake... simply because I have all those ingredients and it sounds sooooo goooooood... and my work buddies would love me! :)


Sunday, July 12, 2009

X is for Xanthan Gum

Now this post is almost a 180-turn from the last post...this post is about using non-wheat flour. When baking with a gluten-free flour (such as rice, buckwheat, or chickpea), a fine powdery substance called xanthan gum is often added to the recipe to help with the texture of whatever baked good is being made. This is a handy tip to know in the event you ever have to bake for someone with celiac disease. Who knows, you might make that person's whole day by knowing about this powdery stuff.

So just in case you ever need a gluten-free recipe, here's a pretty extensive list of recipes that use xanthan gum, including blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, and pumpkin bread... because no one should EVER miss out on pumpkin bread.

As for recipes starting with X, the closest thing I got was this recipe for X-traordinary Rich Chocolate Pudding Recipe. Also Hot Cross Buns look pretty delicious and they have X's on them... ok maybe they're supposed to be crosses, but turn 'em diagonal and it's an X! Right??

And my totally random recipe that I just feel like posting because it looks good is this one for Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake. I LOVE breakfast desserts. :)