Okay, Campbell’s, I get it: your “Chunky” brand soup eats like a meal. I do not contest this.
I baked a batch of candy cane cookies yesterday using a recipe I got from a box of mini candy canes when I was a kid. I tried to do something fancy by making the cookies look like peppermint swirls. The swirls turned out okay, but not quite as nice as I’d hoped. I should have rolled the dough a bit thinner, I think.
The cookies are pretty hard when they’re done (tougher than your typical ginger snaps, for comparison). This is not all that surprising given the ingredients.
The cookies are very delicious, though. I’ll probably bake more again sometime and make them much thinner. Even though the swirls didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, I think I’d do it again, too; the swirls seem to psychologically enhance the flavor.
Here’s the recipe:
I found I had to bake the cookies a little longer than 12 minutes — 14-15 minutes seemed about right. I guess the baking time would depend more on how thick the cookies are, and I probably made the cookies thicker than they should have been.
And, again, I substituted peppermint oil for the peppermint extract, using about one drop of oil instead of the 1/4 teaspoon of extract. After tasting the baked cookies, it seemed about right.
I just baked some peppermint-flavored butter cookies. They turned out great, except for one thing: I made them too big.
The peppermint flavor is not very strong. I only had peppermint oil, not peppermint extract, so I had to be careful with how much I used. The oil gave off pretty strong vapors; my hands can still feel the tingly coolness of the oil.
The cookies themselves are super light and fluffy. I had never made butter cookies before, so I was unsure how they would turn out. I had no idea if the cookies would contract at all (they did not) and I used the amount of dough per cookie as depicted in the recipe (2 oz per cookie).
Really, if I hadn’t made the cookies so large they would have been absolutely perfect. As they are, you can’t really eat them in any sort of graceful manner. The cookies are just too thin and fragile. Even putting frosting on them was enough to break them if I was not being delicate enough. I’m a little disappointed because I was hoping to share them.
So, I tried to make some soup last night, and things got a little out of control. It turns out, however, that it’s pretty much impossible to screw up soup.
I stopped by the grocery store on the way home yesterday to buy some veggies, and used some chicken stock I had in the cupboard at home. I bought the stock a long, long time ago with the intention of making soup, but I never got around to it until now. The stock was a month past its best before date, but it didn’t taste off. It was a little less than two cups worth.
I thought I had a raw chicken breast frozen at home so I didn’t buy any at the store. When I got home, however, I discovered that I did not. Instead, I ended up using a pre-seasoned frozen chicken breast.While the chicken breast was boiling in the broth, I cut up a handful of baby carrots and let that all sit covered for a bit. Then I measured out a little rice and dropped that in, too. The soup smelled very “carroty” by then, and it looked like I put way too much in, so I fished some carrots out with a strainer.
I took the chicken breast out as it has mostly cooked through, and then I added some mini seashell pasta. I went to cut up the chicken breast and it basically fell apart. I guess the marinade and seasoning they used for the chicken really softened it up. I ended up cutting it into chunks and shreds, then tossed that back in a bit later.
After a few more minutes, I added onion and celery. At this point I realized I had put in way too much rice and pasta, so I added another cup of water.
After some more cooking, I added some slices of a red bell pepper and a can of sliced mushrooms. I was putting too much of every ingredient in, so I added another cup of water.
At this point, I had to transfer the soup (stew?) into a larger pot. I was just going crazy, throwing everything I had on hand into the soup.
I eventually added two more cups of water, half a small can of tomato paste, a teaspoon of salt, and a variety of seasonings. I figured I was somehow making a chicken gumbo, so I put some Cajun seasoning into it.
By this time, the carrots were nice and soft, but the celery was still a little too hard. I covered the whole thing and let it simmer for a good long while to get the celery to soften up. Two more cups of water were needed again at the end to thin the soup out.
In the end, my endeavor resulted in four times the amount of soup I originally expected, and it actually tasted really, really good. It honestly tastes like it could be one of those delicious newer Campbell’s Chunky Soup flavors.
I believe this are all the ingredients that went into my soup:
- 2 cups of chicken soup stock
- 6 cups of water (may vary)
- 1 Mediterranean seasoned chicken breast (from a 900g box of frozen breasts, can’t remember the brand)
- 1/2 to 1 cup of sliced baby carrots (not sure how much)
- 1/2 a celery stick, sliced
- 1/4 of a medium-sized red bell pepper
- 1 slice of medium-sized red onion, diced (maybe too little?)
- 1/3 cup of long grain rice
- 1/3 cup of mini pasta shells
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- two pinches of dried oregano
- two pinches of dried basil
- a small amount of Club House La Grille Spicy Pepper Medley seasoning (two or three light shakes)
- a little-more-than-a-small amount of Club House Cajun seasoning (a teaspoon? tablespoon?)
- approx 75g, or half a small tin (smallest tin I could find, slightly smaller than other small tins) of tomato paste
- a can of sliced mushrooms, drained
(Earth vs Soup??)
I had some company over last week and decided to make some pie for them. This time I bought an apple peeling machine, an apple corer, and a rolling pin to help. It was definitely money well spent.
Thanks to the machine, I was able to painlessly prepare much more apple filling for the pies (I made two at once). I had my reservations that a $10 apple peeling machine would be any good, especially with small apples, but it worked amazingly well. It was almost fun, actually.
The corer made it trivial to get rid of the seeds and hard bits. The tool itself had a flaw in that there was no easy way to get the core out of itself. Some sort of plunger or something would have helped.
I tried baking at a lower temperature this time in order to prevent the lattice from becoming too hard, but it still turned out too crunchy. I’m not sure what to do about that. If I attempt another pie, I think I will use shortening instead of butter. I hear it should make the crust flakier; maybe that will help with the hardness of the lattice.
Even with machines pies are still a lot of work. That’s really the main thing that keeps me from baking pies all the time (which is probably a good thing).
I still have a good amount of apples left, and I’m still hungry for apple pie…
A week ago, a friend of mine gave me a huge bag of apples from trees growing on his dad’s property.
I prepared yesterday by looking up a recipe for apple pie. There were way too many recipes out there — way too many “commercial” recipes, especially. I just wanted something traditional, so I found a generic recipe on WikiHow.
On the way home from work, I picked up the few things I was missing. As usual, I bought sugar that I didn’t need (my sugar collection is up to three bags of white sugar and two bags of brown sugar).
This is the recipe I actually ended up using:
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ~90 grams of unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons of cold water
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup of white sugar
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon masala chai spice
- “Enough” apples (12-15 small apples?)
Bake at 400ºF for 15 minutes, then at 375ºF for 45 minutes.
Here are a series of photos as proof:
Some things I learned:
- Brushing egg on pastry makes them look awesome after baking.
- Choosing the smallest apples is a dumb idea when you don’t have an apple corer or a proper peeler.
- Flattening a butter-based dough is a lot of work when you don’t have a rolling pin. A lot of work. It’s, like, an I’m-never-doing-this-ever-again level of work.
The pie is cooling right now. If I never make another blog post, that probably means the pie turned out to be poisonous.