Friday, 29 June 2012

Sea Salt and Black Pepper Potato Chip Cookies

I’m very glad that my family and friends are so open-minded about trying new foods.  They willingly taste my various mad-scientist kitchen experiments and, even more importantly, they’re honest about the results. 

I’ve learned over time that people’s food preferences vary wildly.  What tastes perfectly good to one person may be really distasteful to another.  For example, I like my cookies soft, and slightly under baked.  My brother likes his cookies soft, but overcooked to the point of being slightly burnt.  My step-dad likes his cookies crisp and won’t eat any that contain chocolate.  My husband likes pretty nearly any cookie at all.

Naturally, when I get my friends and family to test my recipes, their feedback is almost always wildly divergent too.  I’m grateful for that.  It turns out that their opinions form a pretty accurate predictor of the response my recipes will get when I publish them.

With so many wildly varying opinions available to me, how do I decide which recipes I’ll share and which recipes I won’t?  It’s pretty simple really:  It’s my blog, so I share the recipes I like. 

That doesn’t mean I don’t take my tasters’ opinions into consideration.  I do.  Often, the suggestions I receive from my friends and family will cause me to go back, revisit a recipe, and make changes. 

I remade this recipe (adapted from the Potato Chip Cookie recipe in the July edition of Martha Stewart Living) four times, each time changing it slightly based upon what my tasters told me.  This is the final version, made with my favourite chips.  I like it an awful lot.  I hope you do too.

To make Sea Salt and Pepper Potato Chip Cookies, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (not pictured)
  • 4 cups of coarsely crushed Kettle Brand sea salt and black pepper potato chips

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Add in the vanilla.  Beat the eggs and add them in too.  Mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and pepper.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir them together to make a fairly stiff dough.  Fold in 2 cups of the crushed potato chips.

Form the cookie dough into 2-inch balls, then roll the cookies in the remaining potato chips to coat the outer surface of the dough.  I had a little trouble making the chips stick to the raw cookie dough.  You’ll probably have to use your hands to press them lightly into the surface of the cookies.

Place the coated cookies about 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies on the middle rack of a 350ºF oven for 12 to 15 minutes; just until the bottom of the cookies brown and the edges begin to take on a little bit of colour. 

Let the baked cookies rest on the baking pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a sheet of brown paper to cool completely.  (The paper will soak up some of the excess oil from the chips.)

You can store these cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Greek Pizza

A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune to spend the day with my step-mom.  We spent a lovely morning walking on the shore and then went in search of lunch. 

We ended up in what my husband likes to describe as a “cosmic granola café.” You know the kind of place I mean:  They appear to be hangovers from the 60’s and 70’s, with brightly coloured walls, mismatched furniture, lots of local artwork of questionable merit, loud music, and a menu that leans heavily towards nuts, grains, and odd juice combinations.  The patrons are often seen wearing bohemian shirts, tattered hand knit sweaters, multiple piercings, unkempt hair, and socks and sandals.

It’s not that I mind these places. I don’t. They have the potential to afford me hours of entertainment - people watching - and some really interesting conversations.  Unfortunately, though, they’re a challenge to me when it comes to actually ordering food.  I have diverticulitis and cannot eat nuts, seeds, or unhulled grains.  In a “cosmic granola café,” that constitutes pretty much the whole menu. 

Our lunch café was no exception to this rule.  A quick scan of the menu showed only a single dish that I’d be able to eat:  Greek pizza.  The pizza was expensive - $12.95 for a slice and a salad – but I consoled myself that, for that price, it must be fabulously good.  

It wasn’t.  

When it arrived, my slice of pizza was pretty sad looking; a sea of mozzarella cheese studded with a few cherry tomato halves.  Its taste lived up (or perhaps I should say down) to its appearance.  There was a whole wheat crust that tasted like soggy cardboard, a quantity of unseasoned spinach, and the aforementioned mozzarella and tomatoes.  That’s it.  

I guess they were calling it "Greek" pizza because of the spinach and tomatoes.  Its flavours certainly didn’t speak to me of sunny Mediterranean shores or of hot, dry hillsides.

The good thing about a disappointing meal like that is that it spurs me to do better.  I came home determined to make a better Greek pizza while working within the same basic framework.  Here’s how I did it:

I made a batch of whole wheat bread dough.  I used a third of the bread dough to make my pizza crust.  (I baked the rest into a loaf.)

Once my pizza crust had risen for an hour and a half, I baked it in a 375ºF oven until it was cooked through but hadn’t taken on any colour.

I allowed the crust to cool.  While it was cooling, I thawed a 10-ounce box of frozen, chopped spinach, wrapped it up in a clean dish towel and squeezed out as much liquid as I could.

When the crust had cooled, I spread it with about 3 Tablespoons of tomato sauce; just enough to cover the crust.  (I don’t like a lot of sauce on my pizza.  If you prefer more, by all means use more.)

I topped the sauce with some very finely minced garlic and the thawed spinach, then sprinkled it with a little freshly grated nutmeg.  I added  some thinly sliced red onions, and kalamata olives that I’d pitted and coarsely broken apart with my fingers.  I seasoned this mixture with some finely grated lemon zest.

I added a generous quantity of crumbled feta cheese

then filled in with some mozzarella because I like how melty it gets. 

I sprinkled dry oregano and coarsely ground black pepper over the cheese.

I finished my pizza by arranging sliced and seeded red and yellow tomatoes on top.

When the pizza was assembled, I baked it at 400ºF until all the ingredients were heated through and the cheese was melted.  It was delicious!

This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to The Pity Party at Thirty Handmade Days, to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Weekend Potluck hosted by Sunflower Supper Club, to Link and Greet hosted by Country Momma Cooks, to Strut Your Stuff Saturday hosted by Six Sisters' Stuff, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to Sunday Round Up with Heather and Kayla, to Think Pink Sunday hosted by Flamingo Toes, to Makin' You Crave Monday hosted by Mrs. Happy Homemaker, to Craft-O-Maniac Monday hosted by Craft-O-Maniac, and to Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Full Time Mama, Mama Chocolate and Coping With Frugality, to the Tuesday To Do Party hosted by The Blackberry Vine, to Tip Me Tuesday hosted by Tip Junkie, to Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday hosted by DJ's Sugar Shack, to Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain, to the Look What I Made Linky Party hosted by Creations by Kara, to Wonderful Wednesday hosted by Printabelle, to Thursday's Treasures hosted by Recipes For My Boys, to Tastetastic Thursday hosted by A Little Nosh, to Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage, to Foodie Friday hosted by Not Your Ordinary Recipes

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Monday, 25 June 2012

What We Ate June 18 - 24

I'm pretty careful about what we eat.  I try hard to make sure that we get nutritious balanced meals, and that we do so while staying within our budget.

Although I try to provide variety, my meal planning follows an established format, including one large-ish weekend supper from whose leftovers we derive at least a couple of meals during the week, and at least three meatless dinners.  We try to keep our portions moderate and, although we eat some sweets, our desserts lean heavily towards either fresh fruit or fruit I've canned myself.

This week I strayed a fair way from our usual routine.  Our large dinner was served on Tuesday night instead of on the weekend.  On Wednesday I cooked lunch at the office and, having eaten a large meal mid-day, wanted just a banana and a cup of tea for supper.  My husband was left to forage for himself.  We had company on Sunday and cooked a lot more food than I normally prepare.

Somehow, it seemed like a lot of food. Our tummies are 'way too full!  We're looking to lighten things up a bit in the coming week.

Here's what we ate last week:



  • Breakfast - Oatmeal and applesauce
  • Supper - Roast chicken, stuffing, roasted parmesan green beans, roasted tomatoes, homemade peach ice cream


  • Breakfast - Raised waffles, canned cherries
  • Supper - Banana and tea for me, chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread, dill pickles, and celery sticks for my fella.


  • Breakfast - Granola, canned peaches
  • Supper - Salad of leaf lettuce, red onion, radish, celery, shredded carrot, pickled beets, quartered hard boiled eggs, and homemade ranch dressing, oranges


  • Breakfast - Apple slices, cheddar, whole wheat toast
  • Supper - Scrambled eggs, homemade hash browns, sliced tomatoes, yogurt, pear butter



  • Breakfast - Oatmeal and applesauce
  • Supper - Slow cooker teriyaki pork, almond chicken, stir fry of carrots, bell peppers, onions, and green beans in garlic black bean sauce, steamed broccoli, vegetable spring rolls, brown rice, with individual peach, and lemon cake trifles for dessert.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Rhubarb Spice Pancakes

Last month Over the Big Moon shared a smart tip about pancakes.  She makes a double batch and then freezes some for use during the week.  I decided to take her advice and cook ahead this weekend and, since I had stewed rhubarb on hand, to make some rhubarb spice pancakes.

I made my pancakes from the cinnamon pumpkin pancake recipe in Country Living Country Mornings Cookbook.  Pumpkin is not acidic but rhubarb is, so I amended the ingredients to include some baking soda.  I omitted the nutmeg and used more ginger than called for.  Other than that, I left the recipe unchanged.

I made a double batch of the recipe and all of my photos show those quantities.  The recipe given here is for a single batch.

To make Rhubarb Spice Pancakes, you'll need:

  • 2 cups flour (You can use up to 1 cup whole wheat flour if you'd like to.)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup stewed rhubarb
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I used canola oil)

Mix together the dry ingredients until well combined.

In a seperate bowl, combine the milk, rhubarb, egg, and oil.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add in the wet mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined.  The batter should still be lumpy.

Ladle the pancakes onto a non-stick griddle or greased pan and cook them over medium high heat until several bubbles burst on top and the bottom is light brown.  Turn and cook the other side of the pancakes until they're browned too.  If you touch the cakes lightly with your finger, it should leave no imprint.

These pancakes are quite thick and can take a little while to cook through.  If you wish to make thinner cakes, add a bit more milk to the batter.

I cooled my pancakes on a rack and then transferred them to a recycled bakery container for storage in the freezer.

To reheat them, I preheated the oven to 350F and then placed the pancakes directly on the oven rack for 5 minutes.
Original recipe source:  Country Living Country Mornings Cookbook, editor: Lucy Wing, pub. Hearst Books, New York, 1989

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

What We Ate, May 28 - June 10

I realized this morning that I haven't posted one of these for a couple of weeks.  Oops!

We've been going through some adjustments in how we plan and prepare our meals; working around my new office hours.  I'm thinking more about preparing ahead on weekends, and about menus that my husband can help with.  This seems to mean cooking a roast or some other dish that will provide several days worth of meals from the leftovers, and factoring in one or two additional meals that require minimal preparation.

Here's what we ate:

Monday, May 28:

Tuesday, May 29:

  • Breakfast - Whole wheat toast and peanut butter, apples
  • Supper - Vegetarian red beans and rice, steamed green beans, canned pineapple spears roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon
Wednesday, May 30:

Thursday, May 31:

  • Breakfast - Leftover red beans and rice
  • Supper - Hot dogs, oven fries, carrot and celery sticks, canned cherries
Friday, June 1:

Saturday, June 2:

Sunday, June 3:

  • Breakfast - Eggs, toast, canned pears
  • Supper - Grilled chicken breasts (marinated in orange juice and herbs), brown rice, steamed beet greens, butterscotch pudding
Monday, June 4:

  • Breakfast - Toast, cheddar cheese, apples
  • Supper - Roast pork loin, scalloped potatoes, roast carrots, steamed cabbage, upside down cake
Tuesday, June 5:

  • Breakfast - Leftover upside down cake, yogurt
  • Supper - Mac 'n' cheese made with whole wheat macaroni, three cheese sauce (cheddar, mozzarella and edam), leftover pork loin, mushrooms, and caramelized onions served with leftover roast carrots, and celery salad.
Wednesday, June 6:

Thursday, June 7:
  • Breakfast - Peanut butter, marmalade and raisin sandwiches
  • Supper - Fried eggs, Fried leftover pork roast, veggie hash, canned peaches
Friday, June 8:
  • Breakfast - Broiled oranges topped with brown sugar and cinnamon, yogurt
  • Supper - The last of the pork loin, cubed and baked in thick teriyaki sauce, vegetable spring rolls, rice noodles cooked in chicken ginger broth with shredded carrots and green onions, canned pears in brown sugar syrup with ginger
Saturday, June 9:
  • Breakfast - Eggs, toast, apples
  • Supper - Carrot sticks, celery sticks, and radishes with french onion dip, multigrain crackers, brie, oranges   
Sunday, June 10:
  • Breakfast - Gingerbread and applesauce
  • Supper - Pot roast, caramelized onion gravy, boiled potatoes, steamed corn and carrots, peas, canned cherries

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Rhubarb, Orange, and Ginger Muffins

I enjoy a muffin for breakfast.  I often bake them on the weekends and store them in the freezer so that I can have them every morning through the week. 

Because they're so simple to make, I like to change my muffin recipes up fairly often  .This week we had stewed rhubarb in the fridge so I adapted one of my favourite recipes to incorporate it. 

The muffins smelled heavenly while they were baking and turned out very well, with a nice bright flavour.  My husband has been having them for breakfast and for lunch.  They're not going to last through the week this time.  :)

To make Rhubarb, Orange and Ginger muffins, you'll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • the zest of one large navel orange (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • the juice of one large navel orange with enough stewed rhubarb added to make 1-1/2 cups total
  • 1 cup canola oil (or other neutrally flavoured oil)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups uncooked rolled oats (not instant)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of finely diced candied ginger
Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add in the btrown sugar, orange zest, orange juice and rhubarb mixture, and oil.  Stir until well combined.

In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger until well combined. 

Add the candied ginger to the dry mixture.  The pieces tend to stick to each other so you'll need to use your fingers to break them up, toss them through the mixture and ensure that they're coated with flour.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir just until combined.  The batter will be lumpy.

Spoon the batter into oiled muffin cups, filling each cup almost to the top.  I got 18 muffins out of this batch.

Bake the muffins on the center rack of at 350F for about 25 minutes, until they spring back when lightly touched.  Cool the muffins in the pan for 10 minutes or so before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
This post is linked to Weekend Potluck hosted by Sunflower Supper Club, Meet Penny, The Better Baker, Life as a Lofthouse, 4 Little Fergusons, and The Country Cook,  to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, Sunday Round Up with Heather and Kayla, to CraftOManiac Monday hosted by Craft-O-Maniac, Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy, Tuesday To Do Party hosted by The Blackberry Vine, to Tip Me Tuesday hosted by Tip Junkie, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Coping With Frugality, Mama Chocolate, and Full Time Mama, to Watcha Whipped Up Wednesday hosted by DJ's Sugar Shack, to Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain, to Look What I Made! hosted by Creations by Kara, to Wonderful Wednesday hosted by Printabelle, to Wow Me Wednesday hosted by Polka Dots on Parade, to Thursday's Treasures hosted by Recipes for my Boys,  to Tastetastic Thursday hosted by A Little Nosh, and to Foodie Friday hosted by Not Your Ordinary Recipes.  

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