Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

More from the using up what is in the cupboard…I came across my nut stash and found a bunch of pecan pieces, so went looking for a recipe.  It also helped that I was cooking for some folks who had a chocolate allergy and I wanted to make sure I had a bit of a dessert for them.  Thrilled to not have to make a trip to the grocery store, I put together these Oatmeal Pecan Cookies from the A Taste of Hope and Prayer cookbook.

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

1 c butter or Crisco
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 c oatmeal
2 c chopped pecans

Cream sugars and shortening; add vanilla and milk.  Beata eggs and add to the mixture.  Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; add to above mixture.  Add oatmeal and pecans; mix thoroughly.  bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until browned.

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Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

In the middle of Iowa, there’s a fairly short period of time when sweet corn comes fresh from the cob, and this dish, from Denver and Boulder Chef’s Table, is full of Midwestern goodness.  It incorporates bacon, sweet corn, and cheese curds (preferably from Wisconsin — luckily only an hour away from here, so Wisconsin cheese curds are plentiful).  This recipe was a little time-intensive, and a little heavy for the hot summer day when I made it, but the flavor was great.  I also love a cheese curd and incorporate them all the time into things, but if you find a great one, you’ll hear the curd squeak as you eat it, so something to watch for when purchasing your curds.  While not Wisconsin, one of my favorite local cheese curd purveyors is WW Homestead Dairy.  With fresh sweet corn, leftover milk from my ice cream making adventures this summer, and some bacon ready-to-be cooked, I knew it was time to make this recipe.

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Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

Paprika Oil:
2 fluid ounces canola oil
1 tsp smoked paprika

Roasted corn:
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 Tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted garlic puree:
2 heads garlic
1/2 c canola oil

Corn puree:
3 ears corn, shucked
1 quart milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

Risotto:
1 quart chicken stock
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 c finely diced yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
salt to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, deveined and diced small
3/4 c Wisconsin cheddar curds
6 strips, bacon, cooked until crispy, divided
2 Tbsp chopped chives, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the paprika oil: Pulse the ingredients to combine in a blender, pour into a small container or squeeze bottle, and let sit until the paprika settles.  Strain and reserve.

To prepare the roasted corn: Slice the kernels carefully off the cob with a knife.  In a pan with canola oil over medium heat, lightly saute them until tender, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Next, roast the garlic: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Slice off the tops of the bulbs so that the tips of the cloves are showing.  Place top-down in a shallow baking pan and pour oil over the top.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in oven until tender and golden, about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool, reserving the oil in the refrigerator for future use (it’s great on bread or in pasta sauce).  hen ready to handle, press the roasted cloves out of the bulb and mash them with a fork or use a food processor to grind them into a paste.  Set aside.

To make the corn puree: Slice the kernels carefully off the cobs.  Add them along with the milk and herbs to a small saucepan and, over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Strain the kernels, reserving the milk but discarding the herbs; place in a blender and puree, adding milk as necessary (use as little as possible) until the consistency is smooth.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent the formation surface skin and set aside.

Begin the risotto: In a medium pot, bring the stock to a simmer.  Add canola oil to another good-size pot and sweat onion and garlic over medium-low heat.  Add rice and toast until translucent.  Deglaze with white wine.  Add 3/4 c stock to the risotto, stirring continuously.  When the liquid is almost gone, add another 3/4 c and keep stirring.  Repeat until rice is tender yet still has tooth, about 20-25 minutes.  (You will likely use all the stock, though a little less or more may be needed to ensure the proper al dente texture.)  Salt to taste.

When the risotto is finished, fold in the roasted corn kernels, 2 Tbsp of roasted garlic puree, 4 Tbsp corn puree, diced red pepper, cheddar curds, 4 pieces of bacon crumbled into small pieces, and 1 Tbsp of chives.  Heat a few minutes until the cheese begins to melt.  Season to taste.  Ladle into four bowls and garnish each with a half piece of the other two bacon slices, remaining tablespoon of chives and paprika oil.  Serve at once.

Cinnamon Zucchini Bars

There is a point when zucchinis become too big to eat regularly.  They are only good for baking at this point.  And, so, we’ve become pretty inventive about incorporating zucchini into baked goods, such as these cinnamon zucchini bars, a recipe from the Linn County Fair Cookbook.  Bonus component was that I was able to use up some coconut that was in my cupboards!

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Cinnamon Zucchini Bars

2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c margarine (softened)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c shredded zucchini
1 c coconut
3/4 c nuts

Cinnamon Icing
2 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp melted margarine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Grae and set aside a small jelly roll pan.  In a small bowl, blend flour and baking powder; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the margarine for 30 seconds.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Add zucchini, coconut, and nuts.  Spread in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients.  Beat well and frost bars.

Cartwheel Quilt

Remember Meg’s bestie, Daisy?  And how I shared that I’d become good friends with Daisy’s people?  Well, they are completing the next part of their transition to Mississippi.  As they were announcing their move this spring, I was working a quilt.  One day, as I was putting the fabrics together, I looked at it and could only see that it was the same colors as their house and I knew that the quilt had to be a going away gift for them.

This quilt was great — but then again,  I love jewel-tones almost all the time.  So I’m a little biased about it.  I used a Soho Chic jelly roll and the Cartwheels Quilt pattern from the Moda BakeShop.  My shortcut was using a jelly roll solid, instead of purchasing and cutting a separate yardage of fabric and cutting it into 2 1/2 inch strips.

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After the top was finished, I headed over to my friend Dawn’s place and her longarm business Modern Home Arts to get it quilted.  I am so lucky she lives nearby, but I know she takes orders from around the country as well.  Like I do with my hair, I often let her know that if there’s something she’s been waiting to try, then this is the quilt to try it on!  And we went bold!  But, isn’t this pineapple with the dark red a great complement to the bold colors in the quilt itself?  I love it so much!

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I am so thrilled to be getting some of these unfinished projects off my to-do list, because I have some other ideas of ways to work with my stash coming up…I hope you are enjoying seeing these projects as much as I am enjoying doing them!

Pork Ribs and Sauerkraut with Horseradish

Earlier this year, my dad asked me if I wanted him to make sauerkraut when I came home.  While he said this in a way that was meant to be joking, he didn’t realize that I had some sauerkraut in the refrigerator, waiting to make this recipe from the Smoke and Pickles cookbook.  I joked that on this weekend, where I also had coleslaw in the house, I was having cabbage two ways.

To me, this recipe is highly reminiscent of the food that would be served at a German Oktoberfest celebration.  Between the beer in the ribs, the pork and sauerkraut being served, this recipe full of German-inspired food flavors.

I brought some of the ribs home to share with my family, who all indicated that they were better than they expected and not as full of whatever flavors they connected with sauerkraut.  While this wouldn’t be a recipe I could eat every week, it was really good and really easy to put together, so it definitely remains on the make it again list.

Pork Ribs with Sauerkraut and Horseradish

Pork Ribs with Sauerkraut and Horseradish

One 5-lb rack pork spareribs

Rub

4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp five-spice powder

One 2-lb bag sauerkraut (about 4 c)
One 12 oz bottle pilsner beer
2 c chicken stock
1/2 c water
1/2 c apple cider
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Horseradish Cream
1/4 c prepared horseradish
1 c sour cream
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 335 degrees.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the rack of ribs into individual ribs.

To make the rub: Mix together the salt, pepper, and five-spice powder in a small bowl.  Use your hands to massage the rub all over the ribs.  Now is not the time to be coy–be forceful about it.

Transfer the ribs to a casserole or roasting pan.  Top with the sauerkraut, juice and all.  Add the beer, stock, water, cider, and Dijon mustard.  The liquid should just barely cover the ribs.  If it doesn’t, add water until it does.

Cover the roasting pan loosely with aluminum foil and poke holes in the foil with a fork.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove and discard the aluminum foil.  Turn the oven up to 450 degrees.  Return the roasting pan to the oven, uncovered, and bake for about another 30 minutes: When ready, the ribs should be meltingly tender.  The sauerkraut will be lightly browned.  The braising liquid should be reduced to a delicious jus. If you want a thicker sauce, simply ladle a few cups into a small saucepan and reduce until thickened.

Meanwhile, make the horseradish cream: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.  Leave out at room temperature until ready to use.

Evil Tongue

Some days (rare days), I want to end the day with a little cocktail.  So, while looking around for something to use up some gin, I came across this recipe which I had written down and tucked away awhile ago and thought I should put it to the test.  I enjoyed it.  I may even feel inspired to move from ice cream to cocktails for my Friday post through the fall.  We’ll see if that pans out.  It would be a good way to reduce my liquor cabinet…so we’ll see.  In the meantime, if you have gin and midori (or can get access to midori), you should probably throw the Evil Tongue together and try it.

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Evil Tongue

1 1/2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
1 oz Midori melon liqueur
1 splash Sour mix
1 splash 7-Up

Pour all ingredients into shaker over ice. Shake ans strain.

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

In the quest to use up things in the house (have I mentioned that a friend of the family once told my parents they were pretty sure we cooked in bulk — and it has become abundantly clear that I’ve assumed these qualities as well), I came across some white chocolate chips and started to think about how I might be able to use these up.  In the Relay for Life cookbook, I saw this recipe for white chip chocolate cookies and decided to make a batch, and then freeze the dough for baking when people came over.

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

2 1/4 c flour
2/3 c cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c sugar
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c white chocolate chips

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until creamy.  Beat in eggs.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in white chocolate chips.  Drop well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes, or until centers are soft.  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely.