Wednesday, May 29, 2024

American Cookie #1: {Dutch Tea Cookies - Oldest Cookie Recipe In America}

Over the winter I found a gem of a cookbook called American Cookie by Anne Byrn. Bryn's cookbook combines three things I love: baking, reading, and history. The book was captivating (who knew the history of cookies was so exciting)? I vowed when summer rolled around I would spend some of my time off exploring the history of the American cookie!

Each week, I'm going to be highlighting a new American Cookie and sharing it's history, as well as my results. This week I am beginning with the Dutch Tea Cookie, which the historians say is the Oldest Cookie In America! 

The History of Dutch Baking in America: In 1609-1664, the Dutch controlled the Hudson River Valley and they pioneered cookie baking! Who knew? Dutch settlements had a town bakery with a central oven where the baker baked bread for home consumption, but some bakers also baked up cookies and traded them for animal hides. Dutch foodways were established in America and there is still a deep Dutch imprint found today with tea cookies and also with doughnuts, also known as ollykoeks.

The History of Dutch Tea Cookies: Dutch historian Peter G. Rose says this recipe may be one of the oldest cookies in America. The recipe was found in the handwritten cookbook of Maria Sanders van Rensselaer (1749-1830) and adapted for the modern kitchen. The cookies were called "Tea Cookjes", which was a half-English, half Dutch spelling. 

My Results: I believe these are the simplest cookie I've ever made. They consist of four ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, and water. There is no egg or leavening. Directions indicate the cookies can be baked for as little or as long as you like, depending on how crispy and brown you'd like them to be. I baked mine for about 22 minutes, until they became just golden brown on the bottom and on the edges. 

I was expecting them to be mild and sweet and that is exactly how they turned out. I like how the cookies are soft in the middle and crispy on the edges. I can see how they would pair very well with tea. I rather enjoyed them and can see myself making them in the future, especially since they can be made with so few ingredients. For best results, I would allow the dough to chill for several hours, or overnight. 

My Rating:  3 out of 5 stars!

I'm going to be rating all the cookies with the five-star format, one star being the lowest rating and five star being the highest.  

Dutch Tea Cookies

Adapted from American Cookie

by Anne Bryn

Makes About 8 dozen (1-1/2" cookies)


1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup water, chilled in the refrigerator

Place the softened butter in the bowl of a mixer and beat on low until the butter has creamed well, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Resume adding the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes total time. Set aside.

Measure the flour into a medium-size mixing bowl. Spoon a third of the flour into the butter and sugar mixture and beat on low speed to combine. Add half the water, then beat until smooth. Add another third of the flour, then the remaining water, and finally the last third of the flour, beating only until just incorporated. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill at least 1 hour and as long as overnight.

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop or spoon about 1/2" balls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing them at least 1" apart. These cookies do not spread much in baking. You can get 12 to 15 cookies per baking sheet. Place the baking sheets in the oven.

Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges and underneath, 16 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven and how browned and crispy you like the cookies.

Transfer the cookies at once to a wire rack to completely cool. Repeat with the remaining dough, giving the baking sheets time to cool down between batches. Once cool, serve with tea. Or place in storage containers and freeze for up to 6 months. 


Sunday, May 26, 2024

How Sweet Eat's Lemon Butter Chicken {My New Favorite}!

 Over time, my favorite dishes have become the recipes with only a handful of ingredients, like this one: chicken, flour, oil, butter, lemon juice and slices, garlic, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper.

NOTE: This is a lemon-forward dish. The lemon isn't overpowering, but it is there, so if lemon isn't your thing than skip this, but if lemon is you're thing then.. Newsflash: THIS CHICKEN IS SO SO TENDER! In fact, How Sweet Eats mentions "This is easily my most-made recipe of the last ten years."

That's saying something, isn't it?

After making this dish and pretty much inhaling it, I can certainly see why it's one of anyone's most-made recipes! The chicken is extremely tender! And the lemon butter sauce is so flavorful. Not to mention, the dish is really easy and quick to put together.

I served the chicken with some pasta to round out the meal, but you could also serve this with rice and/or any green veggies.

This recipe is one of my favorite recipes of the year so far! I will be making it on repeat in my kitchen!

Lemon Butter Chicken

Adapted from Everyday Dinners

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced in half lengthwise

salt and pepper, to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter 

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 lemon, juiced (1/4 cup lemon juice)

chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, or thyme for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Pound the chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer until they are the same thickness. Season them on both sides with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan.

Take each chicken breast and dredge it through the flour, making sure it's completely covered but shaking off any excess. Place it in the pan and repeat with the other chicken breasts, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes total, 2 minutes each side. This might have to be done in batches. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and repeat with any remaining chicken, using the remaining olive oil as necessary.

Once the chicken is out of the pan, keep the skillet over medium-low heat and add the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the lemon slices and lemon juice. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping the lemons in the pan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the lemon butter mixture over the chicken in the baking dish.

Bake for 15 -20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve immediately. 

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Sunday, May 19, 2024

How Sweet Eat's Cheeseburger Puff Pastry Pockets {A Real Family Favorite}!

 Right now I have a passion for cleaning out my pantry, freezers, and fridges. I'm grateful enough to have an inside fridge with a freezer and a garage fridge with a freezer. This really allows me to shine when it comes to hoarding food. It's something I really excel at. Just ask my family. They love it when they're looking for popsicles or ice cream and pork tenderloins are falling on their toes.

I like to have just about everything on hand at all times, but I really seem to excel at hoarding chicken breast, ground beef, and puff pastry. Earlier in the week I cleaned out some chicken breast and made How Sweet Eat's BBQ Chicken Enchiladas. I had planned to share those, but the BBQ flavor was overwhelming and it just didn't work for us. So, I got out the ground beef and hit paydirt when I found this recipe for Cheeseburger Puff Pastry Pockets because it allowed me to use up some ground beef and some puff pastry! WOOHOO!! 

Warning: I'm feeling chatty today! Summer is about one week away and this school year was a total doozy so I'm really feeling a long break!

Very important: When you cook, you should make the recipe your own. The recipe here is simply whatever cheeseburgery filling you'd like stuffed in puff pastry dough and baked. The only hard rule is that you don't want your filling to be too wet.

Now, How Sweet Eat's cheeseburger filling was ketchup heavy and my family isn't really into ketchup, so I went easy on the ketchup. What my family does love is onions and pickles so I added chives and dill. Then I added extra cheese because we like it like that too.

Also important: How Sweet Eat's likes to top these pockets with sesame seeds. I would probably like that, but my gut wouldn't. Back in December I was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis and have been rather sick ever since so I stay away from seeds, nuts, corn, etc. 

I find all kinds of other ways to flavor my food now, and as I mentioned, we love pickles so I topped my pockets with this Seasoning In a Pickle Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe's. You do you! 

I don't have to tell you that these were delicious, do I? And oh so easy? I mean you just cook up some ground beef and season it with whatever you like, grate some cheese, make a house sauce, then stuff it in a puff pastry square, brush with some egg wash, fold and bake. It is crispy and flaky and buttery and savory and sauce, and cheesy, with all the flavors and seasonings that you love! Make this if you want your family to be happy!

Cheeseburger Puff Pastry Pockets

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 8-10, depending

For the Pockets

1 pound of lean ground beef

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated

2 sheets thawed puff pastry

1 large egg, plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

2 tablespoons, sesame seeds, for sprinkling* and/or various other toppings*

House Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoons favorite BBQ sauce

Disclaimer: All puff pastry is not the same. It isn't the same shape or size and doesn't produce the same results. Dufour puff pastry is the best, but also the smallest. I used Pepperidge Farm for this recipe and got four squares from each sheet, hence 8 pockets for the recipe. Everyone's results will probably be different based on the puff pastry you use.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Place each of the puff pastry sheets on a piece of parchment paper on baking sheets. You can only make one sheet at a time, but I like to have the other one ready to go too.

Cut both sheets of puff pastry into six squares (see disclaimer) on the parchment paper. Basically make your puff pastry work for you! 

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until browned, breaking it apart into small crumbles. Stir in the ketchup and mustard until combined. Turn off the heat and add in a sprinkle of the cheese - just an ounce or two. Let the beef cool slightly.

Make the house sauce by whisking all the ingredients together and giving it time for the flavors to come together!

Once the beef has cooled a bit, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons into the square of puff pastry. Drizzle on some house sauce. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese. Brush the edges of the square with the egg wash, then bring one corner to meet the other, making a triangle pocket. Press the edges down with a fork to seal them. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry.

Brush the tops of the pockets with the egg wash. Sprinkle all over with the sesame seeds, or the everything but the bagel seeds, or the pickle seasoning as I've show above. Again, make these your own!

Bake the puff pastry pockets for 20 minutes, or until golden and puffed and shiny. Remove them from the oven and let cool slightly - the insides are super hot! Serve with condiments, lettuce, tomato, pickles and anything else you love with a burger. Don't forget to dip in the House Sauce.

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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Bittman's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

For the past few weeks I've been steadily working on shopping my pantry and using everything up. Today I'm using up some pasta and a loaf of bread to make Mark Bittman's Baked Macaroni and Cheese. 

I always buy way too many boxes of pasta and they quickly take over my pantry if I'm not careful. I also had half a loaf of rosemary garlic bread so I decided to make baked macaroni and cheese with a fresh rosemary garlic breadcrumb topping. It was a hit!

Mark Bittman calls for sharp cheddar and Parmesan, which are some of my favorite cheeses to use for baked macaroni and cheese. We enjoyed this dish today for our Mother's Day dinner. The sauce was very creamy and the flavors were on point.

The rosemary garlic breadcrumb topping added some good texture and flavor. I would definitely make this Baked Macaroni and Cheese again. It's a real go to recipe!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from How To Cook Everything

 by Mark Bittman

Serves 4-6

2-1/2 cups milk

2 bay leaves

1 pound elbow pasta

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups grated cheese, such as sharp Cheddar or Emmenthal

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup or more plain breadcrumbs, preferably fresh

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta to the point where it still needs another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop cooking, and place it in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk, and continue to do so until all th emilk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the Cheddar and Emmenthal and stir. 

Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Use the remaining butter to grease a 9 x 13-inch or like-sized baking pan and turn the noodle mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot. 


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Sunday, May 5, 2024

Mark Bittman's Roasted and Buttered Pecans

 The other day on Instagram, I watched someone shop their kitchen and create some really amazing dishes. So, I went through my pantry, fridge, and freezer and wrote down lists of things to make. I made some biscuit mixes I'd been saving, I made a Cheeseburger Macaroni, and I made a Jambalaya. Then I found a perfectly new bag of pecan halves, so I made these Roasted and Buttered Pecans.

Roasted and Buttered Pecans are as simple as can be, but they are a total treat that everyone loves. You can eat them as is, or add them to your morning oatmeal and/or a salad. 

Bittman says to roast the nuts at 450F for about 10 minutes, shaking and rotating the nuts every few minutes. I found my pecan halves only needed about 4 minutes. The roasting time will depend on the type of nuts you roast, so just watch them closely.

                                                               Roasted Buttered Pecans

Adapted from How To Cook Everything 

by Mark Bittman

Serves 4-6

2 cups (about 1 pound) unsalted nuts

1 tablespoon peanut oil or melted butter

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450F. Toss the nuts in a bowl with the oil or butter, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast, shaking occasionally, until lightly browned, checking every few minutes as nuts can burn quickly. Cool before serving, they will crisp as they cool.