My comfort cookie

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ahhhh...pumpkin cookies. Feel free to text me right now and tell me how much you love me so I’ll feel compelled to send you some. Not that there are any left- I need to make another batch. That’s how it goes around here every October/November...I’m constantly baking single batches of pumpkin cookies because i never ever want them to go to waste, In reality, I could probably quadruple the batch and they would still disappear.
These cookies are definitely one of my top 5 “things i grew up with that remind me of everything good about being a kid.” My mom used to make the with raisins, which to me, are a sin in cookies. Many years ago we jumped on the trendy bandwagon and stopped using raisins and used dried cranberries. And hello, there is no other way to do it. Plus with the orange zest you’re gonna put in the cookies and the squeezed orange you’re going to put in the icing (yes, icing)- there will be no topping that combo.
I advise you to make these cake like cookies for any type of function you’re bound to attend. They come together quickly and I think I’ve only met one person in my whole life who hasn’t liked them. I don’t think I'm friends with them anymore.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

I have about five recipes begging me to post them. And every day I told myself I would do it, but then I'd leave my camera at home...every single day. See, when you leave the house at 6:15 am and it's still dark outside, you forget things; your camera, lunch, running shoes for the gym, half your brain, etc. The camera happened to be on that list all week.
My apologies.
Let the string of Fall recipes begin now...

I don’t know if you’re aware, but October is finally October around here. The bbq is currently collecting dust and my sister is cursing me for going into a baking frenzy; supplying her with a bounty of cookie stones and casserole dishes to clean. (At least she gets to eat pumpkin cookies when she’s done- those will be up here tomorrow!)

I started the week deciding that rain and cold weather put me in such a nesting mood that I should make all the dinners for the week. I am sure glad I did because meetings, studying and, eh hem, the World Series (Go Giants) are keeping me busy.
Monday night brought us this classic Chicken Noodle Soup and dumplings. I will tell you the dumplings are straight from a box of Heart Healthy Bisquik. Yes, you heard me. I have a tendency to get all June Cleaver and decide that I should make things from scratch when in reality, it is the biggest pain in my butt and I could be doing a million other things. Then I cut corners in other places when in reality they would only take me an extra few seconds. Would you like an example? On a normal day I would roast my own chicken for this soup to create homemade broth, plus i would hunt for a recipe for homemade dumplings. On the other hand, I would say, “screw peeling these carrots, I’m going to leave them looking ugly and throw them in.” Insanity. A pre roasted chicken was $1 less than an uncooked one. Now I know I wasted plastic on that pre roasted chicken and I am all about making stuff from scratch because it’s calming and lovely and better for Mother Earth, but sometimes we have to cut a few corners to make our lives run a little smoother. I’m patting myself on the back for recognizing this and buying a free range organic pre roasted chicken. I peeled those carrots, which took about 12 seconds and the soup turned out great. I modified this from a Tyler Florence recipe I’ve been using since I first started making chicken soup when I lived in Portland with my lovely friend Megan and we would eat soup for days because 1. it wasn’t fast food and 2. it was cheap.
Some notes:
Feel free to use whatever broth you have lying around- I highly recommend buying that stuff whenever it’s on sale.
Also, I really, really, really like the fresh thyme, but you could use dried. I used chopped dried bay leaf, but you could use whole ones.
Finally, this original recipe did not call for garlic, but seriously why isn’t garlic in every recipe? Except maybe apple pie...stick some in the soup.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon dried, chopped bay leaf
2 boxes of pre made chicken stock
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 roasted or boiled chicken- shredded and cut into bite sized pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the carrot first and let sit for a couple of minutes. Then add the onion, garlic, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6-8 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. You can leave this on low for about an hour to really let it set. This soup freezes well.For dumplings, follow the recipe on the side of the Heart Healthy Bisquick box, or be awesome and find your own recipe.
Serves about 6-8

Fake Fall is here to stay.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One of these days the weather around here will actually match the season it's supposed to be in.
Until then...
You can make, or just look at, this chicken pasta Caesar salad that I really think is one of my favorite meals. It satisfies those who wouldn't qualify a salad as a meal (with the meat and pasta additions) but is still light enough to serve on a 90 degree October day. (Unbelievable)

Cook between 1/2-3/4 a box of swirly corkscrew pasta (whole wheat preferred). Make sure to throw a dash of oil and salt into the hot water so that the pasta doesn't stick together and has flavor. When cooked, throw it into a LARGE bowl (large enough for the whole salad) and put it in the fridge to cool.

Now you're going to want to get two free range organic chicken breasts out of the fridge (yes I am using passive aggressive blogging to get you to buy REAL chicken- not the kind they fill with hormones) and tenderize/pound it. Sprinkle it with a little oil, salt, pepper and dried basil (just use your eye here, people) and throw it onto your hot barbie.

Hello there, pretty little chicken. (It takes about 15 minutes total to get to this point.)

While that chicken sits on a plate underneath some foil for 10 minutes, chop up two bunches of romaine lettuce (or cut open a bag) and toss it with your beautiful cherry tomatoes that are still growing like it's August. You can just toss in a pack of cherry tomatoes, or two regular tomatoes if you don't have any tommys basking in your garden.

Now, cut (into cubes) up 1/2 loaf of good sourdough/french/some other kind of delicious bread. Ya know how when you cook with wine they say to never use one you wouldn't drink? Same is true for these fab croutons you're gonna make- use a bread you would eat. with lasagna, baked chicken, olive oil and balsamic...mmmm. Anyway, cut those chicken breasts while you're at it and at the lettuce, tims and chicken to that big bowl of pasta.

In a large skillet, heated on medium high, drop in 1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (some people like there croutons a little crunchier, so use more "fat") When the "fat" completely melts, toss the cubed bread into the pan- they should not overlap: give that bread some space to breathe, and heat and get all pretty and delicious.

Leave these alone- don't touch them and let them get golden- this takes several minutes.

Now for the final touches: put everything into that giant bowl and add one jar of julienned sun dried tomatoes, drained. Toss this all around and add Caesar dressing. You want to start with 1/4 cup and add more depending on if you liek to slightly taste your dressing or if you are the kind who likes to taste the dressing and say "hmmm, is that lettuce in here somewhere?"

And there you have it, a Summer Dinner, fit for Fake Fall.

Run: October 2010 #1

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's with the #1 in the title?
And you're now thinking, "um I didn't even realize there was a #1 in the title. I never read your titles...or your posts. I just look for pictures of food."
It's okay, I'm not judging.
However, the #1 is there for a reasons. I'm running 3 races this month. Yes, 3. don't even ask me how much money this month is costing me.
If you'll recall, I lived up the slacker status in July and didn't do a run, so one of those runs will make up for that and the third run this month is for no particular reason. Well sorta. It's a mud run. How could I even begin to pass up that?!

In any case, this past weekend I ran the Urban Cow- what a fun race! The beauty of it is the fact that there are a 5k, 1/2 marathon relay and 1/2 marathon. My faithful local running buddy, Erin, and her mom, along with one of Erin's friends, and I split ourselves into two relay teams. If you're trying to do the math, that's 6.55 miles per person.
I realize I've run a lot more than that at one time- 6.55 miles more, but I was SCARED for this race. Really scared. On Saturday night I acted like a 5 year old, whining and complaining about getting up early and running that far. What a pansy!
Nevertheless, running is not like riding a bike and you do, or at least I, totally lose my running momentum if I don't stay with it. My runs have been hit or miss this summer and never more than 4ish miles- pathetic for someone who ran a 1/2 marathon this year. I won't give you the list of excuses, but I'm trying to promise myself I will never ever go that long without running 6 miles. I'm not gonna lie, mile 5 kinda killed me and I could not get my mind over my negative thought hump. I was doing so well; loving life, thinking of all the fab things I was doing for my bod and how lucky I was and then I just lost all that positivity in a sea of negative thought trash. Lesson learned.
All in all, gorgeous morning, great course, cool shirts, ridiculous cowbell souvenis and a burrito coupon from Chipotle- not too shabby of a race.