Monday, October 26, 2009

Molasses Pecan Cookies

Halloween's a coming, and thanks to this silly holiday my friend has asked me to whip up some goodies for a party. I didn't want to do anything too crazy, so I thought that cookies would be the best bet. I love the taste of molasses cookies and they are definitely a Fall flavor (don't ask me why, they just are :P) and nuts are always delicious, so I decided to make some molasses nut cookies.

Molasses Pecan Cookies

Yields 30 large cookies

- 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup crushed pecans (or your favorite nut)
- 30 whole walnuts to decorate
- 1/2 cup of sugar for rolling

1. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and spices
2. Beat the butter until creamy, then add brown sugar and molasses until smooth. Add in egg, continue mixing until well incorporated.
3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Split the dough into two portions, rolling them into logs and wrapping each in plastic wrap. Place dough in the fridge for 1hour to settle.
5. Cut each dough log into 15 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, coat with rolling sugar and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Ensure at least 2 inches between cookies, as they spread out significantly. Flatten the sugar-coated ball with the bottom of a glass and gently press a decorative pecan into the center of the cookie. Repeat for all the dough pieces.
6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 14 minutes. Allow to cool for 1 minute on the tray, then remove to cooling rack.

I doubled this recipe with no problems, and the cookies turned out fantastic! I brought half of the doubled batch to my family and they simply loved them. (I also made a special batch for my sister who's allergic to nuts; in it I added chocolate chips, coconut, oats and sunflower seeds... not your traditional molasses cookie, but she enjoyed them). Now all I have to do is complete my Halloween costume... that's right, I'm sewing my own! If it turns out right then I might post pictures... we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can't Have Thanksgiving Without ... Pumpkin!!

Well, another year's rolled around again and it's Thanksgiving time! Luckily I didn't have to learn how to make my own turkey (I'm sure I'll have to learn eventually, but for now I think I'll stick to meats I can cook on the George Foreman :P) because my parents invited me over to the house for dinner. I didn't want to show up empty handed and I had this can of pumpkin filling that I'd been wondering what to do with for the longest time... so I set to work on storming up a recipe for a pumpkin bar that would be easy and delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Cake-bars
Yields 1 13x9 inch rectangular pan


Bottom Layer
1 package Betty Crocker's Butter Pecan cake mix (or another white-cake based mix)
1 egg
1/2cup butter, softened

3 cups pumpkin pie filling (1lb, 4oz)
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs

1 cup reserved batter of the bottom layer
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp each nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon
¼ cup butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 13x9 inch cake pan.

2. Mix together the ingredients for the bottom layer. (This batter will be fairly chunky and thick). Reserve 1 cup and set it aside for later use.

3. Press the remaining mixture into the pan.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the filling ingredients and pour it over the bottom layer.

5. Combine the topping ingredients with the 1 cup of reserved batter and crumble it over the top.

6. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool and cut into squares and eat the day of baking.

These bars were very tender and you had to be careful not to break them when lifting them after cutting. Luckily I lined the cake pan with parchment paper, otherwise there would be no way I could have removed the cake bars without destroying a good portion of them. I included "eat the day of baking" to the last step because although the bars were wonderfully tender on the bottom, with a crisp streusel topping just after baking... the next day (after I had packaged them all) I realized that the topping had also become soft :( but luckily my parents and sisters didn't cake. They were just happy to eat some festive pumpkin dessert bars, and when eaten warm and topped with ice-cream... they were divine!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Asian-Cajun Chicken Salad

Making meals for one is sometimes a task, but individual chicken breast pieces make dinner-making way easier. For dinner yesterday I was craving something a little healthier than cup-o-noodles, mac 'n cheese and canned soup... so I opted for a salad. And to get my protein kick I decided to top it off with a marinated chicken breast. This recipe was basically a hodge-podge of amazing spices and Asian sauces that I had lying around my kitchen... and I call it Asian-Cajun chicken salad.

Asian-Cajun Chicken Salad
Serves 1

1 frozen chicken breast, thawed
- 1 tsp each cayenne pepper, paprika and red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon, cumin and coriander
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp Hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced finely
- Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 bed of your favorite greens

1. In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken breast, toss in the chicken with the spices, pepper flakes, vinegar, hot sauce and hoisin sauce. Let sit in the fridge, and allow to marinate for at least 3 hours.

2. Just before cooking, add the finely minced garlic and allow chicken to sit for another 30minutes.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste and place on a pre-heated grill plate or barbeque. Cook chicken for about 5 minutes, or until done to desired tenderness.

4. Once cooked, remove chicken from the grill and let sit for at least 3 minutes. During this time, prepare your salad.

5. After the chicken has rested, and the juices have settled, slice the chicken breast to strips of desired thickness and place on top of your salad. Add a dressing of your choice if you wish to have a more flavorful salad.

Optional: For my salad, I added a home-made salad dressing by combining: 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp Frank's Red hot sauce, 1 tsp sweet relish and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar.

This chicken was delicious! I made mine on my George Foreman grill and it was cooked to perfection, nice and juicy just the way I like it. The Hoisin sauce gave this chicken a real kick, and the red wine vinegar tied the Asian spices and the Cajun tastes together nicely. I will definitely be making this recipe again. It's perfect for a nice, light and healthy dinner or even for a lunch! Super easy and definitely delish!