No-Chill Cutout Cookies

Cook’s notes: This recipes used to be posted on the Penzeys site, but it is no longer there. Luckily, I had an arcIMG_2702.jpghive copy of this recipe, which makes buttery, delicious cookies. The original author said, “These cookies are especially quick and easy because you don’t have to chill the dough before rolling.” I doubled the vanilla in this recipe. No frosting is needed. And of course, the number of cookies depends on the shape you cut. I got well over 50 moon cookies.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Heat oven to 400°F.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and the vanilla, mix until well blended.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder then gradually add to the butter mixture and blend well. Form the dough into a smooth ball. (Add a little water if needed.)

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Cut out with cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Fill each cookie sheet with cookies of equal size to ensure even baking.

Bake for 6 minutes (a bit longer for thicker cookies), but they shouldn’t brown at all. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.

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Almond Flour Brownies

IMG_2692Cook’s notes: I adapted this recipe to use a brownie pan from Wilton. I like the way it makes individual brownies with edges. If you don’t have one, use a 9-inch square pan. I was surprised by the divots in these brownies, but a friend pointed out it was perfect for whipped cream. The flavor is amazing. The maple syrup seems to deepen the chocolate flavor. I may not go back to traditional brownies after tasting these gems.

8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (by weight)
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups almond flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a brownie baking pan (with individual wells) with cooking spray.

Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on High. Stir after heating. Repeat two more times. Stir constantly until completed melted.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs completely. Beat in maple syrup, salt, and baking soda. Blend well, then beat in almond flour. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and combine completely.

Scoop the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.

Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack for a few minutes. Let cool on a rack for about 1 hour.

Source: Adapted from PCOS Health Coach

Recommended: Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

IMG_2578Cook’s notes: Highly recommended and super fluffy. The only change I made was not keeping them warm on a baking sheet, although this is a great idea. Ms. Segel’s tip to put maple syrup in the pancake batter was pure genius. You don’t need additional butter or syrup on them; we enjoyed them warm.

via Pumpkin Pancakes – Once Upon a Chef

Thai-Style Soft Chicken Tacos

Cook’s notes: Use a cut-up rotisserie chicken for an even faster weeknight meal. I reduced the sugar by a great deal and switched out soy sauce for coconut aminos to bring down the sodium.

Serves 6.

Sauce 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 to 3 Tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, minced
Chicken Either 3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts or

1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed

Stir-fry vegetables  4 cups broccoli coleslaw mix
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot (jarred OK to use)
Tacos 6 soft flour or corn tortillas (8-inch size), any flavor
Lime wedges for garnish.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together.

Prepare the chicken. Set cooked chicken aside.

  • If you are cooking chicken, cut chicken breasts into strips. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in skillet, and stir-fry chicken strips over medium heat until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • If you are using rotisserie chicken, cut the chicken breast meat into strips. Save the dark meat for another meal.

Stir fry the vegetables in the same skillet you cooked the chicken in. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.

Warm the tortillas. Stir in peanut butter sauce into the broccoli mixture. Spoon into warm flour tortillas and top with cooked chicken. Squeeze fresh limes onto tacos.

Source: Adapted from a recipe by Trudy Williams in Taste of Home Simple & Delicious, February/March 2017.

Crochet a Hat for Charity

chartThere are many articles listing charities that take crocheted items, and there are many worthy charities. However, I’ve decided to focus on making hats. For any charity, use a crochet stitch to produce a tighter fabric. Hats should always be handmade, new, and free from smoke and pet hair.

As Red Heart says, “make sure your item matches their guidelines before you send it in. Groups may have restrictions or guidelines on size, color, etc. on the items they can take”. They may only accept items made from an approved pattern list or only those items made with specific yarns.

Tips on better hat making:

  • Seamless hat:  The chain at the start of a round does NOT count as a stitch. Ch2 and hdc in same place [1 hdc]; or ch 2 and dc in same place [1 dc]. Join the last st of the round with slip st to the first st, not the chain. This will hide the seam.
  • Start with a twist: Sloppy Slip Knot adapted from http://www.freshstitches.com/wordpress/?p=19
  • Color Change Join adapted from jogless color instructions at http://needlenoodles.com/home/node/139

Free Patterns by Yarn Weight

These are all patterns worked from the top down. I strongly prefer starting at the crown and working to the desired diameter (see the chart).

Worsted Weight

Alpine Nights Beanie. Crocheted in a waffle stitch with an I (5.5 mm) hook. Pattern recommended to me by someone who uses this to crochet hats for the homeless.

Basic Men’s Hat Seamless Crochet Pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet. hdc stitch.

Beanies for the Homeless. Similar to the Little Monkeys pattern, but with dc stitch.

Better Late Than Never Beanie. A wonderful striped hat pattern that I’ve made at least 4 times. Designer Kathy North alternates rows of dc and sc. I average 1.6 oz total yarn, 91 yds for both colors (52 yds main color and 39 yds contrast color).

Caron Cakes Slouchy Beanie. Worked in a cute yarn that changes color. hdc stitch, H-8 (5 mm) hook.

Cuffed Cutie Hat. For children. Uses K-10.5 (6.5 mm) hook and post stitching to create a turn-up brim. Recommended by Wool-Aid.

Double-Double Crochet Hat by Kathy North. Extra warm; made with 75 yds. each of 3 colors worsted weight yarn (light, medium, dark color) and a K-10.5 (6.5 mm) hook.

Shanti Hat. For children or adults. Uses K-10.5 (6.5 mm) hook and 60 – 190 yards (55 – 174 m) yarn. I’ve made this hat 4 times.Wool-Aid also recommends this pattern. Some of my pattern notes:

  • Medium size: 18″ head size, 5.75″ across and 10.25″ long, will fit a variety of head sizes. Looks better inside out. TOTAL: 2.44 oz, 132 yds (1.4 balls).
  • Medium size, with stripes: Total yarn: 2.64 oz, 143 yards. Work to 6″ across, then stop increasing. Work rounds 6 to 16 even, then add ribbing.

Two Stripe Beanie by KT and the Squid. A cute way to use up leftover yarn. Worked from the top down in a variety of sizes.

Chunky / Bulky Weight #5

Chunky Beanie Hat. This pattern uses a contrast color for the last round. She also provides tips for a neat finish.

Gumdrop Slouchy Hat. Uses a J-10 (6 mm) hook. Author says, “This is a really simple slouchy hat that even a beginner could handle! It’s a heavier slouchy hat that is perfect for colder days and nights. You can make it a solid color or change colors after every round to make stripes.”

Just Like That Hat. A thick and warm hdc beanie.

Lovely Lady Slouchy Hat. Uses a K-10.5 (6.5 mm) hook. Pattern calls for Homespun yarn.

Maia’s Hat. Free download from Ravelry. One of my favorite patterns. Because you work from the top down, you can actually use any weight yarn, not just bulky yarn. Work crown to desired diameter. Using the back loop only (blo) for hdc puts a lovely ridge on the hat and makes in stretchy.

Mama’s Easy Hat. A dc hat that is slightly slouchy. Note that pattern calls for Lion Brand Jiffy, which has been discontinued. Use 135 yds/123 m of any acrylic yarn with #5 weight instead.

Super Bulky #6

Lion Brand Junior Crochet Hat. Free pattern, but you must be a member of the web site to see the pattern. Uses a N-13 (9 mm) hook. One size; will stretch to fit a range of sizes. Finished circumference about 21 in. (53.5 cm). Finished length about 11-1/2 in. (29 cm).

Lion Brand Ridge Hat. Free pattern, but you must be a member of the web site to see the pattern. Uses a N-13 (9 mm) hook and J-10 (6 mm) hook. One size; about 20 in. (51cm), Hat will stretch to fit a range of sizes.

Under the Bridge Hat. Hat is worked in continuous spirals without joining. The author says, “I designed this hat to meet the charity group Bridge and Beyond Project’s specifications for donations, but it’s a great unisex project that works up quickly in super bulky yarn. Crocheting in the round in the half double crochet stitch’s third loop creates a look to mimic to the stockinette stitch in knitting.”

Finding a Charity By Fiber

Start with this section if you want to work through your stash by fiber (such as, “I have a lot of wool hats on hand; where can I send them?” or “Which charity wants washable acrylic only?”)

Wool Only

Generally, these charities serve children and adults in cold climates.

  • Wool-Aid: Fiber used must have 80% wool content. Their biggest need is for children 8 to 12 years old. Hats should be thick and dense, not lacy; consider adding a cuff.
  • Hats and More for War-Torn Syria (wool preferred but not required). Washable fibers preferred.

Acrylic or Cotton Only (Washable and Soft)

Generally, these charities serve cancer patients, who need extremely soft yarn and seamless caps. Hats should cover the ears.

Any Fiber

These charities will accept hats made from any fiber.

  • The Hat Box Foundation collects hats for cancer patients and others in need. They accept hats for all ages and genders. They say, “Hats for children should be at least 18″ in circumference; hats for teens and adults should be at least 22″ in circumference.” They prefer soft yarns (see the approved yarn list from Knots of Love).
  • Operation Gratitude (sends care packages to US military). Items for adults only, 21 to 23-inch heads. Since items sent in care packages are not regulation, they can only be worn by people who are off-duty. They request colors “on the subtle side–blues, browns, olives, grays, maroon, and black.”

Pineapple Coleslaw (no mayo)

IMG_2347Cook’s notes: I adapted this coleslaw recipe without mayonnaise from Let’s Dish Recipes. The original recipe says, “Shredded cabbage and pineapple tidbits come together in a sweet and tangy dressing in this unique take on a classic salad.”  I modified it to make it less sweet (omitted brown sugar, cilantro, and jalapeño). A sprinkle of Tajin seasoning would also be delicious.

Prep Time: 10 minutes. 6 to 8 servings.

20 oz can pineapple chunks
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons pineapple juice (reserved from canned pineapple)
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups shredded green cabbage, about 1/2 head
1 cup chopped green onions (1 bunch)

Drain the pineapple chunks, reserving the juice for the dressing. Chop the pineapple chunks; you’ll have about 2 cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, pineapple juice, salt, and pepper.

Add the cabbage, green onions, and pineapple. Toss to coat well and serve immediately.

Pickled Red Onions

Cook’s notes: I used Mollie Katzen’s recipe for years, as posted on the Global Gourmet, but that site is down (web site can no longer be found). Luckily, I found the link saved to archive.org.

In the meantime, I tried a different version with red pepper flakes from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. Both recipes are quick and easy, and both yield delicious pickled onions.

onions

The original recipe from Global Gourmet

 

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes Redux

fullsizeoutput_18ebCook’s notes: I keep reworking my recipe for small batch pancakes. This simple recipe makes 8 pancakes. If you don’t eat eggs, it should work just fine without the egg (or try one of these substitutes).

Dry ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons Pie Spice (Penzeys brand)

Wet ingredients
1 beaten egg
1 cup almond milk
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Frozen blueberries without added sugar (1 Tablespoon per pancake)

Combine the dry ingredients (flour to spice) in large bowl. Whisk together to blend well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add beaten egg mix. Whisk the batter together with as few strokes as possible (There will be a few lumps in the batter.)

Lightly oil the surface of a large skillet, and heat over medium heat. Make two pancakes at a time: Pour 1/4-cup batter onto griddle for each pancake, spacing them out so they have room to spread without touching. Add 1 Tablespoon frozen blueberries to each pancake after you pour the batter on the hot skillet.

Cook until bubbles form on the surface, about 3 minutes; then flip gently and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking batches with remaining batter.

Serve with maple syrup and your choice of toppings.

Adapted from http://www.oprah.com/food/Pancake-Mix-Recipe#ixzz3siBKxkto and Review: Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Best Recipe: Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

IMG_1934Cook’s notes: These are similar to the Best Recipe: Dark Cocoa Brownies but the preparation method is different (and flour reduced with cocoa increased). I was out of chocolate chips and wanted to make decadent brownies for a party. These are amazing and very rich. They bake at a slightly lower temperature.

Beating the eggs vigorously is the key to the crackly top. Beating the batter too much once the flour and cocoa powder are added will “create air in the batter, which will give you cake-like textured brownies.” That is not our goal, according to Cafe Delites.

Makes 16 brownies

1 stick (4 oz or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 325F degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Using a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter, olive oil, and sugar for 1 minute.

Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, one at a time. Eggs will lighten in color.

Add cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Beat on low only until dry ingredients are just incorporated. Stop stirring when no traces of flour remain, and do not beat too long. (Note: You may want to do this step with a rubber spatula.)

Pour into pan, and bake about 25 minutes, or until brownies are set and barely firm in the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting.

Source: Reduced the sugar and adapted recipe for a stand mixer from Bon Appetit and Cafe Delites.

Kefir Smoothie

renderedcontent-7272beda-1819-48e4-a940-c74ff8af47b6Cook’s notes: Kefir gives this smoothie a wonderful tangy flavor. This is a great smoothie without greens, similar to the transitional Low Fiber Smoothie: Peach.

Makes about 3.5 cups. (2 servings)

 

2 cups vanilla Kefir yogurt drink
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 banana, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup frozen blueberries (unsweetened)
1/4 cup frozen cherries (unsweetened)

Add all ingredients in the order they are listed (from liquids to soft to hard to frozen) to the Vitamix container. Secure the lid.

Turn the machine on to Variable speed 1 and slowly increase to speed 10. Turn the machine to High.

Use the tamper to push frozen fruit into the ingredients as needed.

Blend for about 45 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately.

NOTE: This recipe has been written for the Vitamix 5200 with Standard 64-ounce container. If you are using a different machine, you may need to make adjustments to the speed or processing time. Know your blender and don’t overload the machine.

DISCLOSURE: This post is not sponsored by anyone. I paid for any products listed here and liked using them. This is my personal blog, and I am not compensated to create posts.