"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Haystacks-Lion House Bakery

My little sister called this past week searching for a pumpkin cookie recipe. I shared this one with her from my Lion House Bakery cookbook and it motivated me to try it myself. I only had a large can of pumpkin on hand so I had to double the batch! It is a good thing they turned out wonderful because it was a HUGH batch of cookies! Just the butter, sugars, and eggs filled my Kitchen Aid to the rim. Adding the dry ingredients required using the largest bowl I have. Worked out great, because they were a hit with my family and neighborhood friends. A perfect Halloween pumpkin treat.

Pumpkin Haystack Cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened (I used 1 cup butter flavored crisco & 1/2 cup real unsalted butter)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (16 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (I made these optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add pumpkin, then gradually add the dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts. Scoop batter onto lightly greased cookie sheets and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 4 dozen cookies

Friday, October 22, 2010

Margherita Pasta with Grilled Chicken

My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and said they really enjoyed it. We second the notion. If you like the smell of Italian food cooking, you will love this one. My kitchen smelled heavenly while I was preparing it and I couldn't wait to eat it. I knew Jack and I were going to love it because our favorite pizza flavor is the Margherita Pizza. Sure enough Jack loved it and so did I. Our kids love the noodles and chicken they are not crazy about tomatoes yet, but they are at least willing to taste them. I didn't have the grape tomatoes as listed, but had two home grown tomatoes that I was saving to try this dish with. There's nothing like a home grown veggies!

Margherita Pasta with Grilled Chicken
(From Cuisine at Home magazine)
For the Pasta--
8 oz dry spaghetti
3 cups (12 oz) halved grape or cherry tomatoes. I used regular tomatoes/slightly drained
2 cups (8 oz) diced fresh mozzarella (I used 8 oz shredded mozzarella-can't get fresh here)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (I used 3-4 med/large size cloves)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (I used a little less and it was still good, but full amount can only make it tastier.)
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
Toasted pine nuts (we didn't have on hand)

For the chicken--
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 or 5 oz each) I used 6-7 Costco tenders
Extra-virgin olive oil, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.
Cook spaghetti according to package; drain and set aside. (I did this last so it was warm to serve.)
Combine tomatoes and mozzarella for the pasta in a bowl; set aside.
Coat chicken with oil, oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. (Season them like you would when BBQ not specific amounts, just shake it on. I didn't use much of the red pepper flakes because my kids don't love hot and spicy. A few pinches did the trick for us). Grill, covered, until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. (Less for tenders). Remove chicken from grill and tent with foil; rest 3-4 minutes. Slice each breast into strips.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a skillet over medium-low. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. (cooked mine a little longer) It's important to cook the raw taste out of the garlic so it doesn't overpower the other flavors in the dish. OH CAN YOU SMELL IT NOW? YummO.
Toss tomatoes and cheese mixture with the garlic-infused oil and pasta . Stir in basil; season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
To serve, divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls, and top with sliced chicken and pine nuts. (Those are huge portions! We fed our little family of 5 easily with a nice amount of left overs. Granted we served it with sauteed zucchini and a slice of ciabatta bread.)

Oh I hope you Italian food lovers give this one a try. It is a quick meal to prepare 30 minutes tops.