The Missing Ingredient

A Food Blog

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies January 4, 2009

Filed under: Dessert,Holiday — xigumdrops @ 4:35 pm
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Definitely some of the best cookies I have ever eaten.  I made these for a book club meeting and they were a hit.  My husband who is not a cranberry fan loved them too!

Source:  Recipe Girl 

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted, room temperature butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips 

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cranberries

2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, for drizzling


1.  Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, beat butter and both sugars with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and blend just until incorporated. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

4.  Drop batter by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart (they will spread a bit). Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

5.  Place chopped milk or white chocolate in small glass pyrex bowl. Melt in microwave, stirring after 30 second intervals, until melted and smooth. Carefully pour chocolate into a small ziploc baggie. Snip a tiny piece off of the corner of the baggie. Squeeze gently to drizzle a zigzag pattern over baked cookies. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 1 hour.


Lasagna Rolls: Food Network top ten recipes in 2008 January 3, 2009

Filed under: Holiday,Italian,Pasta,Proscuitto,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 1:39 pm
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According to a Food Network web article, this was one of the Top 10 recipes of 2008!  After making it and getting rave reviews I can certainly see why!  This was delicious and although somewhat time consuming, simple to make.  The béchamel sauce was the most time consuming part and next time I’ll probably substitute marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan instead.  That will cut down on a lot of the prep time and I think it’ll taste just as good.  The recipe makes 12 rolls will should be enough to serve 6 people (2 each).  I served it with a side salad.

Source: Giada de Laurentiis Episode: Italian Fast Food


2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour 
1 1/4 cups whole milk 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 
Pinch ground nutmeg


1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese (I used part skim ricotta) 
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry 
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan 
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped 
1 large egg, beaten to blend 
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 
12 uncooked lasagna noodles 
2 cups marinara sauce 
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)


1.  To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

2.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

3.  Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

4.  Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

5.  Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. I used high heat non-stick spray.  Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.



6.  Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.



Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables November 19, 2008

Filed under: Chicken,Holiday,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 8:47 am
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The chicken and vegetables tasted great even with my thyme substitution for the rosemary.  It was really easy to make because there is not too much chopping involved.  Changes in green.

Source:  Ellie Krieger The Food You Crave

6 Roma tomatoes 

3 medium zucchini 

1 bulb fennel (omitted)

2 carrots

3 tablespoons olive oil (4 Tbs.)

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin removed

4 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 4 teaspoons)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (1 tablespoon fresh thyme)


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds.  Trim the zucchini and cut it in half crosswise.  Then cut each piece in half lengthwise twice if the piece is thin and three times if it is thicker, so that the pieces are relatively uniform.  Cut carrots into similar size chunks as the zucchini.

3.  Remove the outermost layer of the fennel bulb and discard.  Cut the bulb in half so that each half retains part of the stem end.  Cut each half into 8 think wedges so each wedge is held together by a little piece of stem. (omitted)

4.  Put the vegetables in a large baking dish.  Toss them with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt (and the thyme).  Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan with the vegetables.

5.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 (2) tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, the garlic, and lemon zest and juice.  Rub mixture into the chicken in the pan.  Season with a few turns of pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, then give the vegetables a stir and add the rosemary (omitted).  Return to oven and roast until the chicken is just cooked all the way through and the vegetables are tender and are beginning to brown.  20 to 30 minutes more.


Pumpkin Bars with Oat Crust October 9, 2008

Filed under: Dessert,Holiday,Pumpkin — xigumdrops @ 8:16 pm
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What to do with that leftover pumpkin?  Pumpkin bars!  I love fruit bars as they are so simple to make and always really delicious.  Man are these really good and just different enough from a classic pumpkin pie recipe.  Too bad there is a butter overload.  Changes in green.


1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats


1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon soda

3/4 cup butter, room temperature  (Less 2 tablespoons)


2 cups pumpkin puree (16 ounce can)

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice *


1.  Combine oats, flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the baking soda, and the butter; beat until mixture is crumbly. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture and press remaining mixture into a lightly buttered 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.

2.  Prepare filling. Beat filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Spread filling over the crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Return to oven and bake 25 minutes longer. Cool and cut into bars.



* recipe for pumpkin pie spice is as follows:

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice



Mini Spiced Pumpkin Pies October 3, 2008

As soon as I saw these in Katie’s blog, I’ve been dying to make them.  Unfortunately, I was sick last weekend and haven’t been cooking or baking since.  Today I decided to make them for my sweet coworkers!  I tried a few and they are so cute and tasty!  Comments in green.


1/2 recipe basic pie dough (1 package pre-made pie dough in the dairy section – both rolls)
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
3/4 c. canned solid pack pumpkin
1 Tbsp molasses
1 large egg plus one egg yolk
1/2 c. cream


1.  Place a heavy baking sheet in oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Spray mini muffin tin with baking spray.

3.  Roll out pie dough and using 2.5 – 3 inch circle biscuit cutter, cut dough into 24 circles.  Press each circle into mini muffin tins, pressing dough up the sides.  My pumpkin mixture filled about 45 pies requiring me to use another pie dough roll. 

4.  In small bowl, combine pumpkin, molasses, and eggs.  Stir to combine uniformly and set aside.

5.  In large bowl (preferably with a spout), combine sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and whisk to combine thoroughly.

6.  Whisk pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients.  Slowly mix in cream.

7.  Carefully pour pumpkin mixture into each of the muffin tins, leaving 1/8 inch at the top of each crust.

8.  Place mini muffin tin on top of preheated baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

9.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until filling puffs and center is fully set, about 10 additional minutes.

10. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from tins to serve.


Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo September 21, 2008

Filed under: Cheese,Holiday,Italian,Pasta,Pork — xigumdrops @ 8:10 pm
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A great dish for entertaining.  I served it with toasted fresh bread and tomato bruschetta.  It would also be great with a simple salad.  I reserved about 1/2 cup of the pork liquids prior to processing and added it to the casserole dish with the pasta.  I think it would be even better adding 2 diced fresh tomatoes and possibly some tomato paste or sauce before baking in step 3 as well. Comments in green.

Source:  Food & Wine

3 1/4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 pounds with large fat pieces removed)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup dry red wine

4 thyme sprigs

5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbs. chopped oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 1/2 pounds orecchiette

2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)


1.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  In a large enameled cast-iron casserole (large non-stick skillet), heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer.  Add the red wine and thyme springs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.  I couldn’t fit the stock in my largest skillet so I poured all of the ingredients into my 8 quart stock pot for the 2 hour cooking.

2.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs.  Pulse just until the pork is shredded.  Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole.  Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.  This would be a great time to add some fresh diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup reserved pork stock, and some tomato paste or sauce.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well.  Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce.  Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over the the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I sprinkled the cheese all over the top and then “pushed” the cheese into the pasta and then sprinkled all over again.  Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.  Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Apple Tart with Almond Cream

Filed under: Apples,Dessert,Holiday,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 10:55 am
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I love apple pie and liked the sound of a simple apple tart with a twist.  Once the tart crust is ready, the tart goes together quickly.  I performed Steps 1-2 of the tart recipe while I was waiting for the tart shell to chill.  Changes and comments are in green.

Source:  Food & Wine

Apple Tart with Almond Cream

1 cup slivered almonds (about 4 oz) I used sliced almonds that were on-hand

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 Tbs. butter melted, for brushing

2 large eggs

1 Tbs. dark rum

Baked Pastry Shell (recipe follows)

3 large Golden Delicious apples – peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/8-inch think (2 very large apples)

1/4 cup light brown sugar


1.  Preheat the over to 400 degrees. (Preheat once you have prepared and cooled the Baked Pastry Shell)  In a mini-processor, pulse 3/4 cup of the almonds until finely ground.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Pulse the remaining 1/4 cup almonds, until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to the same bowl, add the granulated sugar, flour and salt and toss gently to combine.

2.  In another bowl, (my stand mixer bowl), beat the 4 Tbs of butter until creamy.  Add the almond mixture and beat until blended.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the rum.

3.  Spread the almond filling in the Baked Pastry Shell.  Arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles (just something pretty that covers the cream).  Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar.

4.  Bake the tart for 1 hour (50 minutes), until the filling is set and the apples are browned and tender.  Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly.  Remove the ring and serve the tart warm or at room temperature.


Baked Pastry Shell

Makes one 9-inch tart shell

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

5 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

2 to 3 Tbs. ice water


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas.  Add the yolk and 2 Tbs. of ice water and pulse just until the dough holds together when pinched; if necessary, add the remaining 1 Tbs. of ice water.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 1 hour.  (I did not think a food processor was necessary so I used a pastry blender to cut in the butter.  I also only used 2 Tbs. water as the dough held together when it was pinched.  I think the 3rd Tbs. ice water might have been a good idea though based on my issues in Step 2.)

2.  On a lightly floured surface, roll our the  dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick.  Transfer to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Push a rolling pin over the top to trim any overhang.  Prick the bottom in several places with a fork.  (My dough was a tad dry (Did I need that 3rd Tbs. ice water?) and the edges were cracked.  I tore off some extra pieces and rolled them in the cracks to get a 12-inch round.  Overall it worked fine but the dough was a bit frustrating to work with.)

3.  Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights (I don’t have these so I substituted 3 tall ramekins).  Bake for 25 minutes, until the shell is lightly colored around the edge.  Remove the foil and weights and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Let cool before filling.