Monday, June 30, 2014

Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies

Simple soft cookies made extra decadent with roasted hazelnuts and bittersweet chocolate

Oatmeal cookies make my stomach swoon. There is something extra special when you get a plump cookie stuffed full of oatmeal right out of the oven.  I was thinking of comfort and home when I decided to whip up these cookies. 

Oatmeal with a hint of cinnamon. And since I had some hazelnuts handy I threw those in too. There is some bittersweet chocolate in the mix as well. I had one of those Pounder Plus bars from Trader Joe's. I have several of vary levels of cocoa in my pantry.  It is a very good thing. 

Throw everything together and in the oven they go.  No chill time required.  The roasted hazelnuts add a little something extra special and goes oh so well with the cinnamon and chocolate. 

I made about 22 or so cookies but they went right away.  The conversation with Mr. J went a little like this...

Mr. J: Is it going overboard if I have another cookie?
Me: How many have you had so far?
Mr. J: 3
Me: Probably but go ahead.

I think I got three out of the 22. 

Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert chocolate oatmeal cookie
Ingredients (24 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated.

Add all the dry ingredients, including pecans and chocolate and mix until combined.

Scoop even size balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon size) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325°F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekend Edition: Beautiful Weather and More Painting

My husband is currently making dinner. He prepped about two hours ago.  He is crazy like that on Sundays.  

We painted, mowed and walked by the ocean.  We went to a flea market fair on the town green. I am kicking myself that I passed up three cute tin containers. We didn't really need them. So three dollars seemed like a waste of three dollars. Now that the fair is over and I don't have the tins I am like, "Man, it was only three dollars."  I am cheap like that though. Sometimes that means I have regrets. 

Did you have a fun weekend?

This was a very good week. We had all sorts of good eats and exciting adventures.  In case you missed it here is what I was up to last week:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Strawberry Crumb Muffins

There is something about strawberries that screams summer. When I worked at the farm store during my high school summers we sold strawberries from a local berry farm.  We also used those berries for jam and froze them for use all winter long.  That meant some days all I did for work was process the berries. Rinse. Cut the steam off. Chop. Bag. Repeat.

At the end of those days my fingers were all wrinkly and rosy red.  My belly was also full. Although we bagged lots and lots of strawberries. Many found their way into our stomachs.  It was glorious. I think many a day I consumed nothing but strawberries. 

My home style strawberry use isn't quite as elaborate. Nor is it as filling. We have a little farm store not far from where we live. I have been going once a week to get a container of strawberries. We need to go and pick our own!

I used some of the strawberries to make some muffins last weekend. Muffins are so fitting on the weekend. We have them in the morning, as snacks and they carry us into the week.  Monday mornings are much less rough when you have a muffin waiting for you to grab. This applies more to Mr. J than me but still. My mornings are better when Mr. J's mornings are better. 

These muffins were super good although messy with the crumb topping. Maybe if are less animal like and actually sit down while eating you won't have to deal with the scattered crumbs across the kitchen and living room floor.

What is your favorite summer time activity?

Strawberry Crumb Muffins

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast strawberry summer
Ingredients (16 muffins)
  • For the Muffin;+
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups strawberries, chopped
For the Crumb Topping:
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup flour
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients for the crumb topping until mixed well, using a fork.
In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl mix the wet ingredients and whisk until combined.

Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

Fold in the strawberries.

Pour the batter into muffin tins evenly. Sprinkle the crumb evenly over the tops of the muffin batter.

Bake for about 16 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve after slightly cooled.
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Skirt Steak: The Master Recipe {Pass the Cook Book Club}

With the warmer temperatures we have shifted our eating habits at dinner. No longer do we want to turn the oven on for 60 minutes to have a baked pasta casserole. A quick cooking steak is just the thing to feed our hungry while not roasting our bodies. 

Alton Brown is the ultimate foodie.  He knows everything. I swear. No exaggerations. We used to watch Good Eats all the time.  It was almost too much for me with all the scientific lingo. I just want cake. I don't care so much about what ingredients makes what happen when baking. I know I should, but I don't. Mr. J however soaks it all in...and then likes to let me know three years later word for word Mr. Brown's wisdom.

With only two of us we had steak with green beans and corn for night number one.  We came back the second night with steak nachos. 

Please say I am not the only one completely obsessed with nachos. Every day I swear. Never. Gets. Old.

Writing this makes me want to make them all over again. 

I made this recipe as part of Pass the Cook Book.  In case you forgot the premise of the Pass the Cook Book Club each month a cookbook is chosen with three recipes. You pick the recipe that looks best for you and make it for the posting day. 

Skirt Steak: The Master Recipe

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: grill entree
Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 skirt steak
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Spray bottle for oil
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Resting rack
  • Aluminum foil or large bowl
Remove the steak from the refrigerator, pat dry and place on rack for at least 15 minutes.

Coat the surface of the meat with a thin film of oil. This will hold the salt to the meat, provide no-stick insurance, and serve as a heat conductor for all those nooks and crannies that don’t actually come in contact with the pan. The trick is to make this layer skimpy. Too much oil and the salt will wash away. Oil also likes to splatter and even burn when faced with high heat, so I say use as little as possible. A drug store spray bottle works well. Keep it set to spray, rather than stream at all times.

Season the steak on both sides liberally with kosher salt and pepper. What the heck does ‘season liberally’ mean? Truth is, most folks under season their food before cooking, which usually drives them to over salt at the table. In the case of skirt steak, I go with at least ¼ teaspoon per side.

Grind pepper onto each side (I go with half as much pepper as salt), and then use your hand to really rub the seasoning into the meat. Rubbing is the only way to make sure you have good salt-to-meat contact.

Once the massage is over, go wash your hands and allow the meat to sit for at least 5 minutes. This allows some juices to come to the meat’s surface – and those juices are what will give the steak a nice crust when seared.

Heat the pan. Place your largest cast iron skillet on the cook top over high heat. Allow 4 minutes for the pan to reach cooking heat.

Turn on your stove’s exhaust system. If you don’t have an exhaust system, open a window. Hold the steak so that the bottom of the edge hangs downright at the closet edge of the skillet and lay the steak down into the pan. This isn’t so much to prevent splat, tearing as to make sure that you get the whole thing in the pan without sliding it around. This is important because moving the meat around in those first few moments can cut down the crust production.

Leave the meat absolutely alone for 4 minutes, then flip it over and cook for another 3 minutes – uninterrupted, please. This will result in a perfectly medium rare steak.

Remove the steak from the skillet and let it rest on a resting rack for a minute, covered loosely with aluminum foil or with a large bowl. Do not skip this step.

Now, skirt steak is not a very tender piece of meat. It’s lean an fibrous and flat out tough unless you slice it correctly – meaning thing. By slicing thin across the grain, you present the prospective chewer with short muscle fibers rather than long ones, which creates a far more tender mouth feel. The problem with thin, however, is that a skirt steak is not very thick to begin with, so if you cut straight through it you end up with something that looks like meat fettuccine, which may taste good, but looks a little…weird. Thus the bias cut – across the grain. Slice the steak on an angle and you get all the short muscle fibers and great looking slices. The leftovers are delicious cold, by the way.
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If you want to become a part of the cookbook club read this post and click for the Facebook group

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I love fish and WIAW

Our rose bush out back looks unruly.  We were thinking about taking it out and only resisted because we wanted to see all of the plants for one full year before any big yard decisions. Well, the rose bush is still unruly but it recently bloomed. Pale pink roses. Swoon. Now we have flowers on the table. 

Breakfast was toast with smashed avocado.  Good bread toasted always makes me smile.  

I forgot to snap my lunch. It was a hectic hour yesterday and somehow my lunch was half gone. I actually am going to post the recipe of the salad I had in a few days.  

This day was all about dinner though. We have been eating more fish. We have cute little local fish market. It is pricey but the quality of the fish is far and beyond anything we can get in the store. It is worth it.  We got Sea Bass for last night. Pan fried in butter before it was finished in a hot oven.  Olive oil, garlic and parsley on top with a drizzle of white wine. Yes, it was good.  Served with rice and steamed broccoli. 

I am pretty plain Jane when it comes to fish prep.  
How do you like your fish?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Remarkable Homes Tour {Madison, CT}

Get ready for a whole lot of photos. On Sunday we did a little home tour in our town.  Madison is an old school town right on the Connecticut shore line.  There are all sorts of historical homes from the 1800's, there are massive estates, and modern beach homes. Our house is none of these things but we ogle them each and every day. 

The remarkable home tour picks 5 homes throughout Madison to be opened to the public.

The first one up is The Comfort Scranton House built in 1817.  This house was styled more traditionally and in a way that fit my own design preferences. Thus, it was one of my favorites. 

The kitchen was my favorite room. Obviously.

This built in cabinet was on the far side of the kitchen. I want something similar in our dining room. Do you think it is asking too much for Mr. J to build if for me birthday present?

I want these bins and bowls. 

And look at the lobsters!!!

There was a huge mural at the front door going up the staircase of a beach scene.  The same artist painted this big rock that was then used as a door step. 

I have this thing for bookcases and built ins.  I want one in every room.

I was not expecting all the gorgeous outdoor spaces in these houses.  I am not an outdoorsy person but this set up made me want to call up a landscaper to come and make me a patio. And oh the potted plants. When you have a bzillion all in one area it looks fantastic.

Up next was the Timothy Dowd House built in the mid-18th century. 

I love the star fish above the door. 

More bookcases!!  This house was for sale and some of the other rooms were as decorated as this living space. 

The kitchen had been updated and I didn't think it was anything special. They did have an amazing outdoor space. 

I thought this sweet little walking path was so cute.  There were lush gardens all around the edge of the property and a cute gazebo in the middle. Sometimes I wish we would have something similar in our backyard. I know though it would never look like this or at least not for the long term. 

This house was by far my favorite. It might be the fact that the backyard is the ocean. Dream come true!!

We walk by this beach cottage when we go for our ocean walk. I have always been drawn to this front door with the roses across the front. 

Trying to figure where I can hang a light like this at our house. 

The entrance had herringbone floors. So cool! Mr. J and I want these in our house (tile not like the painted wood here).

How cute is this little nook?  Let's just pack it up and ship it to my house. No one will notice right?

And check out this little eating spot out back. 

And the other side. Yes, and yes!

I am not a huge gold fan but I really loved this bar cart. Mr. J was all about it too. 

The view from the upstairs balcony. Sigh!

The master bath had this boat's hole as the mirror on the mirror. I wasn't a fan but Mr. J loved it. He is all about nautical themes. 

I want this light fixture. 

These little shelves are precious and would be perfect in our powder room downstairs. 

There as a huge drift would bar in the kitchen. This was a bit much for me but seemed right in this beach setting. 

This house also had me considering wallpaper in our house. Mr. J said I was nuts and reminded me of the cursing that occurred as I was ripping the old stuff off. 

This house is aptly named Summerwind and was built in the 20th century. Huge is an understatement. 

There were fireplaces everywhere. 

And the views were amazing. 

More stained glass. This cute little door lead from the main house to a back stairwell for the kitchen. I am pretty sure it was the staff entrance and exit. 

The most gigantic linen closet ever. A small bedroom really. 

There were lots and lots of bedrooms. You could easily picture a large family gathering here with little kids running around the space barefoot and enjoying summer.

The last house was named Oyama and was built in 1906. Also gigantic. Although close to the ocean and on a hill there wasn't any views of the water. 

The house was cool and had nice lines but it wasn't my favorite. I think this really came down to how it was decorated. The colors, the furniture, none of it fit my style. I did love this stone fireplace and there was so much natural light throughout. 

We had such a marvelous time looking and dreaming. Poor Mr. J has a list of projects from all of the ideas we got from each house. 

Have you ever been on a home tour?

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