Sunday, January 26, 2014

perfect peanut butter cookies

When I found myself with some (precious) extra time Friday afternoon, I decided to make cookies. I wanted to venture from the cookies I make almost every single time, and as I was mentally flipping through options (snickerdoodles, chocolate crackles, raisin oatmeal), my mind landed on peanut butter cookies and the decision was made.

I've never had a go-to peanut butter cookie recipe. Rather, I'd look up something new pretty much each time online, and inevitably be a little disappointed each time. Like Goldilocks and her porridge, the peanut butter cookies I made never turned out just right. They were too flat. Or too cakey. Or not peanut-buttery enough.

My lack of go-to peanut butter cookie dilemma exists no longer. I have found the magic combination of steps and ingredients that yield the perfect-sized, crunchy-on-the-outside while chewy-in-the-center, withstands being dipped in a glass of milk and perfectly peanut-buttery peanut butter cookies. The accolades belong to Smitten Kitchen (who adapted her recipe from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook), where my main change to the original recipe was to omit the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips (I didn't have the former and wasn't in the mood for the latter, though perhaps will test out their inclusion another time). Also, she flattened with a spatula, whereas I opted for the more traditional fork criss-cross. I used natural peanut butter (where the only ingredient is peanuts).

Rather than mostly re-type the recipe, I'll direct you to the original here.

Avery enjoyed his very first peanut butter cookie (yes, even this vegetable-pushing mom lets her offspring enjoy a cookie every once in a while), alongside his sippy cup of milk.

I hope you enjoy them as much as he did!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

lamb flatbread

One Christmas gift from hubby this year was a subscription to donna hay magazine. I have one of her cookbooks (The Instant Cook) and cook from it regularly. I'm pretty excited to have the guaranteed regular arrival of new recipes to my doorstep from her for the next year.

I was a little confused by the Oct/Nov 2013 issue that I have in my hot little hands currently, as the topic is Spring. Which seems a little out of season. I live in California, where it is never exactly winter, but it's still clear that spring and the fresh produce that comes with it is a ways off in the future. Still, there were a number of (non-spring-specific) recipes that caught my eye: sesame-crusted pork schnitzel with asian greens, chicken & kale & lentil slaw, green fish curry. The recipe that called out to me to make immediately was the spicy lamb flatbread.

The lamb flatbread was featured in a "10 under 20" section, focused on weeknight meals that are supposed to take 20 minutes or less to prepare. I'm not sure I pulled it together that quickly, though I also was unable to locate the prepared onion relish that the recipe called for, so I made some myself which added to the time (though I'm pretty sure the result was at least as - if not more so - tasty).

It didn't occur to me to snap pics the first time around (I guess I really am out of the habit, right?!?), so the pic featured above is from our leftover version that I made two nights later (only enough lamb for one more flatbread, so alas, Randy and I had to split it!). The combination of flavors is bright (as is the dish visually), and it manages to be both relatively light and filling at the same time. I paired it with a spinach salad dressed with yogurt mint dressing.

I'll definitely make this one again!

Spicy Lamb Flatbreads
Serves 4
Note: the magazine is Australian - I'm not entirely sure why some things are given in cups but other in grams, but I've provided the original measurements as well as the non-metric conversions in case you're cooking in the US and not a pro with the cooking scale like me.

500 grams ground lamb (this equates to just over a pound)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried chili flakes
1/3 c. store-bought caramelized onion relish*
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for brushing
4 large flatbreads
1 c. greek yogurt
250 grams cherry tomatoes, halved (this equates to a little more than a cup)
1/2 c. mint leaves (I roughly chopped mine)
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped (I left mine whole)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
*As I mentioned, I wasn't able to find this. Instead, I cokked a small chopped onion in olive oil over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until it was a deep golden brown. I then mixed the caramelized onion with some apricot jam and a splash of red wine vinegar. Not a perfect substitution, I'm sure, but it worked!

Place lamb, garlic, cumin, chili flakes, caramelized onion, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well to combine. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Brush the flatbreads with 1 Tbsp. of oil and cook for 30 seconds to 1-minute each side, until golden. Remove and set aside.

Add remaining oil and the lamb mixture to the pan and cook, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, for 6-8 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Spread 1/4 cup yogurt over each flatbread and top with lamb, tomatoes, mint, and pine nuts. Drizzle with lemon juice.
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