Monday, April 26, 2010

No Butter Sugar Cookies

To further stick with my baking with oil theme I give you the no butter sugar cookies. These cookies just like the other no butter ones did not come out greasy and were really tasty. What I think I really liked is that they were not overwhelmingly sweet like some sugar cookies. They have a nice subtle underlying sweetness about them, which is perfect and you can always up the subtle sweetness by putting a sprinkling of sugar on them before baking. I tried this on a few cookies just to test it out and the sugar melted leaving a thin covering on the top of the cookie. If you're afraid the sugar will burn or brown from the high heat of baking it doesn't, so no need to worry.Since these are drop cookies there is no need for chilling them before baking and I believe that they would work in bar cookie format too. This recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder which I truly believe helps give the cookies lift and not become too dense and flat. Also for all of those inpatient people these cookies bake up fast, in my oven they were done in 6 minutes so barely after getting one batch out and started cooling the next were ready to be taken from the oven.
I really do recommend these cookies, even if you're put off by the fact that there is no butter in them you at least know in a pinch when you need to do baking have no butter and don't feel like going to the store you still have options. And hey maybe after trying them just once you'll be converted, well at least partially converted.

No Butter Sugar Cookies
Adapted from: RecipeZaar

2 eggs
2/3 c canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together with a spatula.
2. Create a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla, and oil beating just these together.
3. Take spatula and mix everything together until it is all incorporated.
4. Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheet.
5. Flatten out slightly or optional take the bottom of glass moistened with water and dipped in sugar to flatten cookie.
6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6-10 minutes (mine were done at 6 minutes).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No Butter Oatmeal Cookies

So we all know that I've been known to add avocado to my chocolate chip cookie in order to reduce half the saturated fat filled butter with a healthier fat. Well one day I got the notion that I really needed to bake some cookies, except I had no butter (probably a good thing if you really think about it), so it hit me why not use oil to bake. I mean you use oil in those boxed brownies and cakes, right so why couldn't it work for cookie dough. So long story short I set out to find a recipe that already existed, as I didn't feel like converting any of mine over. In a quick search I found 2 promising cookie recipes, so here I am to share the first of the 2 that I made.

A quick note, in case you didn't know oil can be a healthier alternative to butter. Yep, that's right if you use the right oil, something like canola, it has a low amount of saturated fat and higher amounts of the healthier fats.

Without further ado I give you one of the best oatmeal cookies I've had. I followed the reader suggestions of f the site I got this from and made a few small tweaks in the recipe and was not at all disappointed by this cookies. I dislike thin and hard oatmeal cookies and that often happens to a lot of the recipes I've tried. OH, but this one did not disappoint at all. Of course it probably helped that I followed one suggestion and added baking powder to the dough to help make the cookie thicker. What I got was a plump soft cookie that you could taste the brown sugar (probably due to reducing the amount of white sugar used in the recipe) and cinnamon, which I added for an extra layer of flavor. Also, I was worried that the cookies might come out really oily, but I have to say there was no greasiness about these at all. Bottom line I thought these cookies were so good that I cannot wait to make it again.

No Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from: All Recipes

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder (my own addition)
3/4 tsp salt
cinnamon to taste (my own addition)
1 c sugar (I reduced it to 1/2 c and w/o a problem)
1 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c oats
3/4 c canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 2. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powdeer, salt, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and oats. 3. Make a well in the center and add canola oil, eggs, and vanilla 4. Mix together with a spatula. Form the dough into balls and place on cookie sheet slightly flattening them out 5. Bake 10-12 minutes

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Samosa Experiment

I cannot now say enough how much I love samosas. They're another Indian favorite of mine, which consist of a pastry filled with a potato, pea, and spices mixture. They're then folded up, which is actually quite difficult to do at first, and traditionally fried until golden brown. Again my very good friend introduced me to these. In college they would be in her freezer and we would pull a couple out, reheat them, and enjoy them as a delicious midnight snack.

Right away I should say that my samosas were in no way perfect and they're is definite room for improvement. I feel that the filling was perfect, it tasted just how I remember my friend's samosas tasting. Mine consisted of mashed up potatoes, peas, and a mixture of Indian spices like coriander and turmeric. The one big thing about making these is that you can bake them and then freeze them or assemble them and freeze them without baking. I chose to do the latter and must say it is nice to be able to pop a few into the oven whenever I feel like a snack.

So, the real problem with these were the pastry shell, it was lacking something. It tasted very bland to me and that there was some flavor component missing from it. However, maybe this is partly my fault because I looked for a recipe that had the option of frying or baking them. I of course chose to try and make them slightly healthier by not frying them and taking the baking route instead. Maybe if they had been fried they would have had increased flavor, even though I read numerous things that they were just as delicious when baked. Mine also came out smaller than I would have liked, which made them difficult to form into a neat and tidy triangular shape.

Despite all of these things I will still enjoy eating my semi bland samosas, though I will not be allowing anyone else to eat these until I can fix the recipe.


Filling Ingredients:
4 potatoes
1 onion
1/4 c peas
1 sm ginger root (didn't use)
2 tsp lime juice (didn't use)
2 green chilies
1/4 c cilantro leaves (didn't use)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
2 tsp coriander
cumin seed to taste

1. Roast or boil potatoes and then roughly mash, add onion, peas, ginger, lime juice, chilies, cilantro, and all spices
2. Make sure it is mixed together well

Dough Ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp

1. Take flour and salt add water slowly to make a stiff dough
2. Take a piece of dough and roll out to form an elliptical shape
3. Form dough into a cone shape moistening edges so that they adhere to each other
4. Fill the cone with the filling and then fold over the open end to create a triangular shaped pastry
5. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Mine were done sooner due to the extremely small size of my samosas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indian Cauliflower & Potatoes

Have I ever mentioned that I love Indian food? It is so flavorful and typically healthy. I owe my very good friend for introducing me to the deliciousness of this cuisine. After moving to St. Louis I haven't been sure where I could find good Indian food, so in the spirit of what has become so typical of me I decided I would just make it myself. I was even in luck all of the spices were on sale at the grocery store, this was a sign saying make Indian food!

This is the second Indian dish I experimented with and all I can say is I'm so happy I made it. I'm assuming the flavor was right, since I had never had this dish before but had always heard good things about it. I roasted the potatoes and cauliflower and then added them into the peppers and spices. I finished off my meal with some brown rice, but Naan (that's a traditional Indian bread) would have been great with this too. I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, as I've mentioned before I really enjoy that food blog and if you haven't checked it out I strongly suggest that you do.

Indian Cauliflower and Potatoes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: I scaled this recipe down since I am only 1 person, but I'm posting the original recipe here. I also didn't have jalapenos so I used green bell pepper instead because that is what I had on hand. I left out the fresh ginger too.

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeƱo, including seeds
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water


1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F.

2. Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeƱo, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.

5. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables.

6. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Deep Dish Disaster

I think pizza is one of the most amazing food creations. Part of me feels like I could never get sick of pizza. There's so many different styles and types that fuel debates across the United States and so many varieties of toppings that you can pile on top. Well I've been having a hankering for deep dish pizza, something I have been dying to try. With no trip to Chicago in the near future for me, I decided that tackling the deep dish pizza in my very own kitchen couldn't be that difficult.
Oh, how wrong was I. It isn't that this was completely horrible in the end; it just wasn't right. I truly believe that the dough recipe I used was not meant to be turned into a deep dish pizza, especially because when I used the same dough recipe for another pizza (post on it coming soon) it turned out just fine. I believe for the deep dish dough to be successful I might have needed to use one that had cornmeal in it, which were some of the suggestions I saw and chose to ignore.
To make this pizza I doubled the original dough recipe (the recipe said I could do this) that I got from Smitten Kitchen, I then fought with it to get it into the pan properly and then to actually stay put. It was a battle that I only halfway won. I then placed sliced mozzarella cheese directly onto the pizza dough. I don't think I used enough cheese because this really wasn't as cheesy as it should have been, you know like the real thing. Then I only ended up putting on one topping, originally I thought I would put much more on it, but wasn't in the mood for it. Finally, I put the sauce on top of the cheese and toppings so that they didn't burn because the pizza has to cook so long for the crust to be done. Below you'll see the less than stellar thing I took out from the oven. I have to say that the leftovers, were much better than the first night. And don't get me wrong it isn't like it actually tasted bad it just didn't meet my expectations, which maybe I set too high these days.
So, I will try again on the Chicago deep dish pizza and I'll try a proper deep dish dough recipe and I'll use more cheese or maybe I'll just consider going to Pi here in St. Louis instead (hey it was good enough for the president) and get real Chicago deep dish pizza that's only 5 hours away from being authentic in the Windy City.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Restaruant Review: Olympia Revisited

Right away I'll just start off by saying yes, I have already posted on this restaurant. And well I do have a whole backlog of recipes to start posting on (once I get the pictures uploaded) and it might seem weird to re-post on this restaurant so soon, but in my defense let me just say I couldn't help it.

I found myself eating at Olympia the other night and although I was tempted by the deliciousness of the Moussaka I had last time, I knew that I needed to branch out and try something new. So I went for the gyro, the vegetarian gyro to be exact since I wasn't ready to become acquainted with lamb last night. I feel like I can't begin to do justice to this gyro, but I was in complete bliss as I was eating it.

The vegetarian gyro consisted of sauteed mushrooms and onions. I should mention that mushrooms aren't one of my favorite foods, especially when they get really limp and chewy. Oh, but these mushrooms were thickly sliced and cooked until they were just tender and were full of so much flavor. Other items in this dish included lettuce, tomato, and feta cheese. Oh, and then there was the tzatziki sauce. In the past I was a little bit put off by the thought of yogurt sauces, but I can assure you that this is no longer a problem. What I forgot is that this yogurt sauce is made with Greek yogurt, which is more like sour cream and less like the yogurt we typically think of. This is what I think makes the sauce so good. It is nice and creamy, very flavorful but not overpoweringly heavy, and irresistible when nice and warm mixed in with all of my veggies on my gyro.

So in addition to the moussaka and saganaki the gyros here are something that cannot be missed out on. This is probably why Olympia was voted the best gyro in St. Louis. I've actually been thinking about the vegetarian gyro all day, so maybe that will give you an idea of how good I thought it was.

*Note: When I was looking over the menu last night I noticed that the saganaki is actually made with kasseri, which is made from sheep milk, and not feta like I said in my previous post on Olympia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins

These muffins seem like the perfect compliment to National Nutrition Month.

A good friend, who is also a future dietitian and a fellow food blogger, taught me about these muffins long ago when we were sitting in early morning classes during college. What made them so perfect is that they were actually a healthy muffin that left you feeling satisfied because they were packed with fiber and protein, while contributing very little calories and fat. If you ask me that's a perfect deal, plus there were blueberries and I love blueberries.
The uniqueness of these muffins doesn't stop there though. There is absolutely no eggs or butter in this batter. Yep you heard me right. The eggs are swapped out for non-fat plain yogurt and applesauce replaces the butter/oil (except for 2 tablespoons). This goes to show the millions of possibilities there are to swap, make substitutions, and put twists on recipes.
Another great thing about this recipe is all the different variations you could make. Don't like blueberries swap it out for something else or leave the fruit out completely. The recipe calls for walnuts, which I didn't include, but you could use almonds or another nut instead. This would definitely be fun to experiment with. One final thing I accidentally bought wheat bran instead of oat bran, which overall I don't think messed the recipe up. The difference between wheat bran and oat bran is what types of fiber they have. Wheat bran is high in insoluble fiber, while oat bran is high in soluble fiber.

Here is the link to my friend's blog where you will find the recipe for the amazing Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins.