Wow, it's been a very busy weekend here. Hubby and I are hosting my cousin, his wife and their three wonderful and totally adorable boys (one 8 year old and a set of 6 year old twins!) while they tour Washington, DC for the first time. They've been here since Friday night and I've been cooking up some of my favorite dishes for them to try. Feeding seven people for five days is a great way to use up my remaining bread products - which is one of my goals as Passover steadily approaches. After they leave tomorrow, I will do a major clean up of my pantry (I'm talking industrial strength elbow grease) and make sure I wipe up every last non-Passover friendly crumb. It will be a Herculean task, I'm afraid, because I haven't been keeping it very tidy lately.
Speaking of crumbs, I've baked for my guests and sadly I don't have a picture of my efforts to show you.However, Eating Well magazine's Zucchini Bread and Cooking Light's Oatmeal, Pecan & Chocolate Chip Cookies were so tasty, that my hubby rated them high enough to share.
(Funny story: last week I made a salmon asparagus risotto that my hubby deemed good, but not "blog worthy." Yes, he enjoys the good life, doesn't he?)
Zucchini Bread from Eating Well magazine
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup apple butter
1/3 cup canola oil
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans cooking spray. Spread oats and pecans on separate parts of a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 5 to 10 minutes; let cool. Chop the pecans. Stir together all but 2 tablespoons of the toasted oats, the pecans, white and whole-wheat flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk together brown sugar, eggs, egg whites, apple butter and oil in another bowl; stir in zucchini. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until well combined. Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans, smoothing the tops. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the reserved oats on top of each loaf. Bake until the tops feel firm when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Let the loaves cool in the pans for 5 minutes; turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- This is the first time I've seen apple butter as a substitute for oil. Usually, recipes call for applesauce in it's place. I just happened to have three jars of apple butter handy (dropped off on my doorstep by ambitious realtors!)
- Hubby and I enjoyed one loaf early last week and froze the second loaf for our visitors. I just double wrapped it in foil and put it into a large freezer bag. When I needed it, I warmed it up in the microwave for 1 minute. It was as tasty as the first loaf.
- When I reached for the brown sugar, I found it to be brick-like. I recently heard of a novel way to soften it. Apparently, putting a slice of bread in the bag with the sugar does the trick. Has anyone else tried this successfully?
Oatmeal, Pecan & Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Cooking Light
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside. Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and minichips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.
- To quote my younger self (straight from Jersey): Oh. My. God. These cookies are totally awesome.
- The dough can easily be rolled into a log, wrapped in plastic, and saved for a later date. I'm stealing a page from the Small Batch baking playbook by only making a small amount of cookies at one time.
On a completely different note, if you happen to live in the DC area and don't mind laughing until milk comes shooting out your nose, then stop by the DC Improv (www.dcimprov.com) tomorrow night - Tuesday April 15 at 8:30pm. I'm performing in the monthly DC Improv Comedy School cast show. It's the 5th anniversary show- well over 200 cast members have graced the stage. Tomorrow, I'll be one of 15 cast members. We had an all day rehearsal yesterday, and I'm honored to be part of this incredibly talented cast. Hope to see you!