Friday, February 12, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe goes way back. I tweaked and tweaked back when I was in college to come up this. I even did a class presentation on this recipe for one of my engineering classes, using slides on a slide projector, showing my scientific process determining how different types of fat affect the crispiness/softness/chewyness of cookies.

I determined that Parkay yielded the softest cookies compared to other brands of margarine. Butter yielded a crisper cookie. (Parkay cookies stayed softer after the cookies had cooled than butter cookies. Thank you trans fats, you rascals).

Scientifically speaking, I made probably 10 batches of cookies so I definitely had a fair amount of data to work with.

Now as deliciousness is concerned, even the type of oats impacts the texture of the cookie. For this batch, I used Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. They are whole. They add a more chewy, oaty-nuttiness than Quick Oats. It's up to you what you like better. Both are yummy.

1 cup margarine or salted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons milk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups quick-cook oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars in a large bowl.

3. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla while beating.

4. Beat in flour, a little at a time.

5. Add salt and baking soda.

6. Using a wooden spoon, mix in oatmeal thoroughly.

7. Fold in chocolate and nuts.

8. Drop dough by spoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet. Space them about 2 inches apart.

9. Bake 10-13 minutes or until golden.

10. Let cool about a minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fresh Pesto with Pasta and Crab

This is one of my favorite dishes. It's super easy. Of course, using good basil is key to making this pesto. You may omit the parsley if you don't like it. I do. I think it adds a nice freshness that compliments the basil.

I recommend this dish for pot-luck parties and picnics because you could keep the crab out separately (in the cooler) and add it to the pasta right before serving, if keeping the whole bowl cool is an issue.

I could envision cooking the garlic first to reduce its pungency. I would probably mince it and sautee in the olive oil 1-2 minutes before adding it to the processor.

2 cups basil leaves, large stems removed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, large stems removed
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 Tablespoons pine nuts
3 oz. real Parmesan cheese, from a wedge or block, *NOT KRAFT*
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
12 oz crab, imitation or real if available
8 oz tri-color rotini
salt to taste

1. Boil rotini according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine pine nuts, basil, garlic, parsley, and cheese. Whirl a few times. Scrap sides and whirl until texture is uniformly grainy.

3. Drizzle olive oil into herbs with processor running to make a paste.

4. Taste test and add salt, if desired. This will make 6-8 oz. of pesto.

5. Add pesto and crab to drained pasta and toss.

6. Serve room temperature for best flavor.