Friday, November 7, 2008

If Sarah Palin Were a Cookie, What Kind Would She Be?

I've been a litte down since the 4th.  I'm disappointed, although not surprised at the way things turned out.  That said, there is one person in all of this that I have a lot of respect for - Sarah Palin.  I don't believe that she is presidential material, at least not now.  Who knows what could happen over the next four years, but what I think she is really good at is inspiring Republicans.  I admit I was very excited when I heard her speech at the convention.  I really like her a lot because she is down-to-earth, she sticks to what she believes in, and she has handled all of the criticism much better than I ever could.  I think its sad the way she has been attacked by liberals and the media, especially since the election.  They wouldn't be picking on her though, if they didn't see her as a threat.  That's why I think we should put her to work campaigning for a solid conservative candidate and we'd have the next Republican President in office in 2012.  Anyway, I think Sarah Palin has good things in store for her and four more years of experience can only help her.  
On a lighter note, I thought a batch of cookies is just what I need to cheer up.  If Sarah Palin were a cookie, what kind of cookie would she be?  I looked at several recipes, and none of them seemed quite right until I found this recipe for Oatmeal-Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies.  It is from Cooking Light Magazine.  These cookies are made with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, sweetened dried cranberries, and semisweet chocolate chips.  Seems fitting to me!

Makes 36 cookies
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup regular oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream (I used fat free plain yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites (I used 1/4 cup egg substitute)
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flours, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Place sugar, butter, and sour cream in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth (I used my Cuisinart food processor and pulsed until smooth).  Add vanilla and egg whites, beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture, stirring until blended.  Fold in cranberries and chocolate chips.  
  • Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (took only 13 in my oven) or until edges of cookies are browned.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.
I thought these cookies turned out very well, and they're pretty healthy for cookies (ONLY 88 CALORIES EACH)!  I added the cinnamon, it was not included in the original recipe.  I think they would also be good with cardamom.  I made them in my Cuisinart food processor, which helped make them less chunky (I didn't chop the cranberries first).  I think I would make them again without chopping the cranberries.  They turned out chewy and moist with a hint of tart/sweet cranberries, cinnamon and chocolate.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Honey Wheat Bread

I found this recipe online a few months ago, I don't remember where now, but whoever posted it attributed it to Vegetarian Times Magazine. It is an easy recipe for a bread made with part whole wheat flour and part all purpose flour, which results in a tender crumb with the slight sweetness of honey. Its good for sandwiches and makes great toast for breakfast.

1 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 [degrees] F to 115 [degrees] F)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • IN SMALL BOWL, combine yeast and warm water. Stir gently and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • In large bowl, combine boiling water, honey, oil and salt. Stir until honey is dissolved, then let mixture stand until lukewarm. Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole-wheat flour until blended, then yeast mixture. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
  • Place dough in large oiled bowl, turning dough to coat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • Oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly, then flatten dough with both hands to remove any air pockets. Fold dough into a semicircle and using your palms, square off and flatten short ends. Position dough so long sides are horizontal. Starting from long side farthest away, fold dough toward you two or three times, each time sealing edge where dough meets by pressing with heel of your hand. Place dough in prepared pan. Cover loosely with towel or wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 [degrees] F. Bake bread until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from pan and set on wire rack to cool completely.


  • Skip the step of putting the yeast in warm water, you will do that later. In a large bowl, place boiling water, honey, oil and salt. Stir until honey is dissolved and ingredients are well mixed. Add wheat flour, stir until mixed. Add 2 cups of the all purpose flour, stir until mixed. The dough may seem a little dry at this point, but don't worry about it, just stir until all of the flour is soaked up.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature overnight (8-24 hours).
  • THE NEXT DAY: Place yeast in warm water (105 to 115 degrees F). Stir gently and let stand until foamy. Mix yeast mixture with dough mixture. It will be soupy at this point and does not seem to mix very well with the dough. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all purpose flour 2 tablespoons at a time and stir to mix, until the dough holds together in a ball and comes away from the side of the bowl when stirring. Continue with kneading, rising, shaping, and baking as above. You may need to add more or less than a 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch, but still easy to knead by hand.

The overnight soak helps make the wheat flour in the bread more easily digestible and results in a better textured bread. I always make it this way now, because its also easier, I think, than doing all the steps in one stretch of time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Simple Lentil Stew

My Mom has been making lentil stew for as long as I can remember. I didn't really appreciate it that much when I was a kid. It just wasn't exciting enough then, but it appeals much more to me now and I realized I actually missed having it. Its a very simple, frugal meal to make and it doesn't take much time or effort. It goes great with the Almost Fat Free Cornbread or the Basic Hearth Bread, or whatever kind of sandwich you might like to have with it. It is also low in calories (about 100 calories per cup), fat free, high in fiber (13 grams per cup) and provides a good amount of protein (11 grams per cup).

Makes about 8 cups
7 cups water
2 cups lentils, rinsed and sorted
4 medium carrots, peeled if desired and chopped no more than 1/4 inch wide
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced (I leave out the onion since my husband doesn't like them)
OR 1 tsp onion powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4-1/2 teaspoon celery seed
salt and pepper to taste
  • Place water, lentils and cut veggies in a large pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Add the seasonings after the first 10-15 minutes of cooking. Simmer until lentils and veggies are tender, approximately 20 minutes.
Seasoning amounts are approximate, I usually just sprinkle things in without measuring them. Play around with the seasonings and add whatever you like. My Mom never made the stew with the garam masala, but I find it adds a nice flavor.