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February 3, 2011 / Baker by Night

Veggie Chicken Nuggets

Hi. My name is Aliza. And I am addicted to lunch boxes.

Wow. It feels so good to have that off my chest.

Now, I know what you are thinking, how does one form an addiction to lunch boxes? And what type of lunch boxes? Stainless? Plastic? Bento? Eco? Well, let me tell you my story. Don’t worry, it won’t take long, and at the end of this story is the recipe for the veggie chicken nuggets, so just hang in there.

It started off so innocently. I just wanted to save some money and eat healthier, so I decided to pack my lunch. It wasn’t long until I saw the benefit  on my wallet and my waist line. It also wasn’t long until I started realizing the impact all of my plastic bags were having on the environment. So I casually started looking for lunchboxes to pack my lunch in. I found a compartment lunch box at The Container Store and I instantly fell in love. You might say that it was my gateway lunch box. I was hooked. At first I just used it for lunch at school, but then I started using it on the weekends. And then, sometimes, I would use it for dinner. It got to the point where I didn’t want to eat unless it was out of my lunch box. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I found that there were different types of compartment lunch boxes. I just started out by browsing the internet for lunch boxes. It was just on a rare occasion, just late at night when I couldn’t sleep. But then, I started shopping for them during school. A few times I have woken up in the middle of the night and looked at lunch boxes on my cell phone, hiding under the blanket so that the hubby didn’t wake up from the light of the phone. It was fine when I was just looking, but then I started buying. Two lunch boxes later, and many more bookmarked and saved, I am ready to admit that I have a problem.

Wow, all of that to talk about lunch boxes just for a chicken nugget recipe. Well you see, I had to tell you about the lunch boxes (granted, I probably didn’t have to tell you THAT much about the lunch boxes), but I had to tell you about the lunch boxes so that you would understand that these chicken nuggets are delicious and easy to pack in a lunch box. I like to make things for lunch on the weekend so that I can have a delicious, non-processed, tasty food option for lunch. I found this recipe and was a little nervous that the flavor would taste more pea puree than chicken, but I am happy to say that the veggies only add a little extra somin’ somin’ to the nugget. I think that this would be a great and healthy way to sneak some veggies onto your kids plate without them realizing it. They also freeze really well, and they fit really well in a lunch box!

Get the recipe!

January 31, 2011 / Baker by Night

PPQ: Ginger-Pear Quick Bread

As you all may know, when I started this blog, I joined a wonderful group called Project Pastry Queen. To those of you that are new here, PPQ is a group of a bunch of wonderful bloggers trying to bake their way through the Pastry Queen cookbook. Each week, a different blogger gets to choose a recipe and host it on their blog. Well, it is finally my turn!! I spent weeks going through the cookbook trying to find the perfect recipe for my choice. There were so many wonderful looking recipes in the book. I couldn’t figure out what to make. I chose this bread because I am really not ready to give up on winter yet. I love everything about winter. I love the smell of the cold air, I love the feeling of goosebumps on my skin, I love that my nose hurts when I’ve been outside for too long. I love flannel sheets, the weight of extra blankets, and snuggling by the fire. But one of the things I love most about winter is spending the day in the kitchen basking in the warmth of the stove and oven. And those days when I’m in the kitchen the whole day, I absolutely love cooking with seasonal winter flavors. I only had to see the title of this recipe – ginger and pear, and I knew that this was the one for me!

Yesterday, I spent the entire day in the kitchen with all the windows open (it was 60 degrees yesterday!). I cooked for 13 hours straight, with only the occasional bio break or a break to eat a well deserved cookie. I love these kind of days, but time has a tendency to get away from me. I had a list of 9 things that I wanted/needed to cook and by the time I got to the bread, I realized that I had run out of butter and I didn’t have enough fresh ginger. It was too late to run out to the store, so I made do with what I had. I substituted the butter with oil, and I used rinsed crystallized ginger instead of fresh. I’m happy to say that the end result is amazing. I think next time I might use brown sugar instead of white sugar, I really think the slight molasses flavor would compliment the ginger and pears. The bread is dense and moist, it would be perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or in the late afternoon with a cup of tea. Actually, that sounds like a really good idea. I need to go put the water up to boil. In the meantime, check out how the other members did here.

Get the recipe!

January 24, 2011 / Baker by Night

PPQ: Triple Threat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you seen When Harry Met Sally? Of course you have. And if for some reason you haven’t, stop what you are doing, shut down your computer, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and go watch it. There is a very famous scene in the movie where  Harry and Sally are eating lunch in a deli. I’m pretty sure you know the scene, it’s the one that ends with the woman saying “I’ll have what she’s having”. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. Well, I realize that in the movie she was not eating a cookie, but I’m pretty sure they gave her one of these right before filming the scene. I’m willing to bet on that. I’ll bet cookies, but not these because I refuse to share them.

There is no surprise that these are called triple threat cookies. They are a threat to my waist line, my thighs, and my bottom. They are also a threat to my friendships and marriage because, as I’ve mentioned, I am not willing to share these cookies. They are crispy on the outside and fudgy/cakey on the inside. Plus, toasting the nuts really adds an amazing flavor. I have no idea how I have gotten by without toasting nuts in the past. From this point on, I will always toast my nuts. Haha, try writing that with a straight face. I didn’t make many changes to this recipe because it looked so perfect. I chose to use milk chocolate chips, and I only used 1 cup of them because the hubby doesn’t like to much “stuff” in his cookies. He’s a cookie purest. I actually sometimes have to make chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips. Next time, I might add half milk chocolate chips and half white chocolate chips to add even more chocolate to this recipe.

Get the recipe here. And find out how other bloggers did here. And stay tuned till next week!! It’s my week! I’m so excited. We are making ginger pear quick bread.

January 21, 2011 / Baker by Night

Whole Wheat Banana Bran Muffins

I think I am starting to get a reputation as the “dessert lady”, which is a title that I am completely fine with. In fact, it was kind of my goal in starting this blog that people would ask me to more dinner parties in which I could bring more desserts. We are going over to a friend’s house tonight for a Shabbat dinner and I was asked to go bring the dessert. Yay! Immediately my head filled with visions of key lime cheesecake, opera cake, poached pear pie, and black and white cookies. I was starting to look through my recipes when I got the email.

No dairy.

No gluten.

Safe in pregnancy.

I thought it was a joke. I read the email at least 4 times and then looked at the list I had made. I came to the realization that none of those options would work. I didn’t know what to do. I googled a few things and realized I had no idea what I was looking for, so I took the dogs for a walk to get inspiration. Since it’s still pretty cold outside, I knew I wanted to make something with seasonal flavors. After a very, very long walk, I decided on a gingered pear pie with a gluten free pie crust. I  searched for recipes for a pie crust and finally found one that looked like it would work for a first time GF baker. I also chose a GF strusel topping for the pie. I’m not sure how the pie came out. I haven’t tried it yet, it looks tasty, but I couldn’t very well take a slice out of the pie and then present it for the dessert tonight. I guess we will find out tonight! I might bring a fruit salad with me just in case…

So what does any of that have to do with these muffins? Well absolutely nothing. But like I’ve said before, this is my blog and I should be allowed to talk about whatever I want to. See the thing is, the pie might be inedible and I might not want to share the recipe with you. Also, I haven’t taken a picture of the pie and don’t have my camera with me. So, I am posting a recipe for something that I know is very good so that you don’t stop reading my blog.

I love breakfast, and I especially love muffins. I make a big batch of these every few weeks, wrap them individually, and stick them in the freezer. Then, I can have a homemade muffin every morning while I’m driving to school (It’s a very long drive. Sometimes I take 2. Please don’t tell anyone.) These muffins are not your normal bran muffin. They were adapted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe, and really, she can do no wrong. They remind me of the bran muffins I ate while we were on our honeymoon (I may have even snuck a few of these bran muffins back into the country, maybe). They are also chock full of whole grains and just 1 with some a piece of fruit will keep you full until lunch. So make these muffins and enjoy them, and check back to see how the pie turned out!

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January 20, 2011 / Baker by Night

Mocha Chip Shortbread


I love coffee. I loved coffee before I even knew what coffee tasted like. My Dad would make a large pot of coffee on the weekends and I remember loving the way it made the house smell. To this day, I believe that there is nothing better than waking up to the smell of bacon and coffee. When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to have any, so I used to pretend that I was drinking coffee. I would drink my milk out of a mug at breakfast and say it was coffee. Instead of tea parties with my stuffed animals, I had a coffee shop. If we went out for  ice cream, I would get chocolate and vanilla and mix it together until it turned a light brown color and tell my parents that it was coffee ice cream. When I was finally old enough, my Mom made me a “coffee drink” with some of my Dad’s leftover weekend coffee. It was 1/4 coffee, 3/4 cold milk, and a lot of sugar poured over ice. All I needed was one sip and I was hooked. From then on, I always ordered real coffee flavored ice cream and if I ever saw a treat or sweet with coffee flavor, I had to have it. I fell in love with opera cake, nibs, and chocolate cake with mocha butter cream. Even to this day, I prefer coffee flavor over anything else. That’s why when I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to make it!

Now I know that you are probably looking at this and thinking to yourself, shortbread? But shortbread are so boring! Well these are definitely not boring, they are crispy and buttery with just a hint of coffee flavor and mini chocolate chips mixed in. I love mini chocolate chips. And alphabet noodles. And rainbow sprinkles. But none of that has to do with this post. So back to the mini chocolate chips, they are the perfect size for these mini cookies and add just enough chocolate flavor to complement the coffee. If you want more chocolate flavor, you can dip these little biscuits in some melted milk chocolate. That would also taste good.

Get the recipe!

 

January 17, 2011 / Baker by Night

PPQ: Peach Jam Scones

Ever wonder what goes on in a blogger’s head? Well I can’t speak for all food bloggers out there, but  here is a peek into the ramblings in my head during preparation for and making of these delicious scones.

1/9/11 – “Oh no! I missed another PPQ blog! That’s 2 in a row. And I really wanted to make those lemon tarts. Ever since I bought the cookbook I’ve wanted to make those tarts. It’s ok, I’ll make them tomorrow and just post a day late. What’s next week’s challenge? Wild card. Awesome! Better start looking in the cookbook to see what I’m going to make. Must stop thinking about blog, must go to sleep, first day back to school is tomorrow”

1/15/11 – “Ack! PPQ is tomorrow!! I forgot to find a recipe! (Grabs cookbook and frantically looks through for a recipe in which a trip to the store is not required) Aha!! Triple-threat chocolate chip cookies! I will make these! They look decadent! (Checks with hubby) Yes! Tasty chocolate cookies it is! (Checks PPQ blog site to make sure I am getting this wild card thing right.) Wait, what is this? Make something I didn’t make before that everyone else did? Oh no! Ok, find something everyone else made that I didn’t (Searches through book) Peach jam scones. Perfect. I will make peach jam scones. Tomorrow…”

1/16/11 – “Yay!! Day with the hubby!! I am so excited! I’ll make the scones tomorrow and blog them tomorrow. I have the day off, it will be ok. No, I must make them today, I am going to get excommunicated from my group. Ok, I will spend the day with the hubby and just stop at the store on the way home and make them tonight! I need buttermilk, frozen peaches, and peach jam. That’s not hard to remember. It’s just 3 things. This will be perfect! I can go out and still blog! (Spends day out, goes to store, comes home, starts to make scones) Yipes! I forgot the peach jam! It’s ok, I have apricot, apricot will work, right? (Moments later) The dough is so sticky, why is the dough so sticky? Is the dough supposed to be this sticky? It says I can add more buttermilk if I need to, why would I need more buttermilk? Oh my gosh, did I miscalculate when I halved the recipe? (Recalculates recipe) No, I’m ok. Maybe its just sticky, oh well, I’ll still blog it if they taste gross. (Puts scones in oven, 10 minutes later) Is that golden brown? I mean there’s a little golden brown on top of the scone, but not a lot. What does golden brown mean? Does it need more time? Is it supposed to be golden brown all over? (reads recipe again, puts scones back in oven for 2 minutes) Ok, now this is golden brown. Yes, golden brown. Right? They are done, right? Oh no, I’m going to burn them… One more minute? Maybe one more minute, if they burn I can scrape off the burnt part before I take a picture. Picture? Eek! It’s 7pm! There’s no natural light and my light box hasn’t arrived yet! Maybe I will take a picture and post tomorrow. No, I must post tonight, better have a bad picture than none at all. Scones, oh right, my scones. (Puts scones back in oven for 1 minute) Ok, now I understand. This is really golden brown. More time? Hmm… no! Take them out. And eat them. Yummmmmm. Ouch! Burned my tongue. Yummmm. Ouch! Yummmmm.

Check out the recipe for Peach Jam Scones here. And see what recipes the other bloggers did here. Oh, and be sure to stay tuned till next week’s challenge – Triple-threat chocolate chip cookies! (The very ones I almost made today!)

January 12, 2011 / Baker by Night

Puppy Chow Cookies

I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post! I had gotten so used to waking up, baking something, and then blogging it a few hours later (after I had eaten at least half of it of course). I was in such a groove and then it finally came time for our vacation. Well go figure, the hubby wanted to spend some time with me without the computer or the blog. So, for the first time since I got the thing, I left my laptop at home when we went on vacation. At first, it was a little uncomfortable waking up and not getting in the kitchen and blogging, but after a few computer free days, I found that I had time to read, sight see, and relax. It was great for my mental health and very good for my waist line. I think I actually lost weight over the holidays! So now I am back from a great trip, stuck in the house on my third snow day from school, and very excited to be back on the blog.

These cookies are not for the faint of heart. If you are that type of person that is a size 4 but complains they need to go on a diet every time they indulge just a little, don’t make these cookies. If you are that type of person that chooses popcorn over candy at the movie theatre, these cookies are not for you. If you don’t like cookies that are so sweet they make you reach for water over milk, then move past. But if you grew up on muddy buddys (aka puppy chow), if you love anything coated in powdered sugar, and if you crave chocolate and peanut butter, then give these cookies a try. They are definitely messy – I think I even ended up with powdered sugar in my ears, but they are worth the mess.

Get the Recipe!

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