Saturday, January 26, 2013

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Continuing on the path of feeding oats to Pritchard Parker, I made him these no bake oatmeal cookies.  As much as he likes these, I don't know why I've never made them for him. Actually, I do; these were always his mother's cookies. She always called them "boiled cookies" and when I started searching for a recipe, I saw the same basic cookie called by a number of different names.

My Mother-in-Law is one of the loveliest people I have ever known. I have always told my husband I want to be like her when I become an older lady.  She has a great sense of humor and she is always kind and smiling. She is an amazing gardener. A cook she is not. She never wanted to be in the kitchen when she could be outside. She did cook for her family but my husband has always joked about things such as the fact that he awoke in the morning to the smell of burnt toast and the sound of a table knife scraping on toast.

This was her go-to cookie because she could get in and out of the kitchen very quickly.

She is now a widow and lives in an assisted living facility. She seems very content and I'm sure she doesn't miss the kitchen at all. The nurses say, however, that she is a great eater. She may miss the garden.

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine milk, sugar, cocoa, butter, and peanut butter. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil, without stirring, for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in oats, coconut, vanilla and salt. Stir until oats are evenly distributed.

Drop by spoonful onto parchment paper. Cool.

I didn't ask if these were as good as Mama's. I'm sure they were not. Nothing ever is. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Citrus Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

I had been obsessing about thinking of this salad since before Christmas.  Fresh, seasonal citrus fruit is certainly one of the most cheerful things about winter. Even before the first taste, the aroma is already lifting your spirits. 

The salad was featured in the December, 2012 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. I was intrigued by the recipe not only because of the three kinds of citrus, the addition of the mildly onion flavor from the shallots, the fresh slightly grassy flavor of the parsley, both of which brought the salad to a more savory level, but also because I looked forward to trying the dressing with its unique flavors of sour cream, lemon zest, honey, and poppy seeds. It was delicious and did not disappoint. In fact, it really set this salad apart.

My husband and I both loved this healthful and refreshing salad one recent cold winter evening and then actually talked about it for a few days.  I must make it again.

Citrus Salad
6 oranges
2 red grapefruits
2 limes
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Carefully peel the oranges, red grapefruits, and limes, removing all the bitter white pith.  Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut fruit in between membranes to release the sections. Transfer all the fruit to a serving platter and top with the sliced shallot and parsley. (Reserve the juices for another use). 

 Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. poppy seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sour cream, honey, and poppy seeds. Season the dressing lightly with salt.

Pour the dressing over the fruit and serve right away.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Oatmeal Streusel Muffins

So, my husband has been on an oatmeal kick lately. I suppose it is his body's natural response as an antidote to all the rich foods and sweets from the holidays. Oats are a very nourishing and healing food and I understand his desire to eat them.

I ate oatmeal at lot when I was in the hospital and also quite a bit when I got home. I am taking a break from it now.

A couple of days ago, I decided to make some portable oatmeal for Pritchard Parker's morning commute by making oatmeal muffins. This is a recipe from Quaker Oats which I almost made as written. As I was mixing the batter, I was thinking that some raisins or diced apples would be good stirred in. Later, I was wishing I had listened to me and added some golden raisins. I did, however, add cinnamon which was not listed in the recipe. 

Oatmeal Streusel Muffins

1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray bottoms only of 12 muffin cups.

For streusel, combine oats, sugar, and flour. Cut in butter, using fingertips, until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

For muffins, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. In another bowl, combine milk, oil, egg, and vanilla and blend well. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, all at once, and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle with reserved streusel, patting gently.

Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan.

Try one with a smear of butter and a drizzle of honey.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Black-Eyed Peas

This year, I cooked my New Year's black-eyed peas very simply. No ham, no onion, nor garlic. I sorted and rinsed the dried beans and cooked them in salted water for about 1 1/2 hours, until they were tender but not mushy. Pritchard Parker topped his with hot sauce; I added a pat of butter to mine. They were delicious!

One item on the menu that day was baked sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes and whenever I bake them I always make a couple of extras for other uses. A favorite is topping a baked sweet potato with beans. Sometimes, I use canned black beans which I may or may not jazz up, and garnish with grated cheddar cheese. (My co-workers are curious and jealous when I bring this combo for lunch.) 

This day, I topped a leftover sweet potato with leftover black-eyed peas and then added a glob of butter and sprinkled with salt flakes.  Delicious and nutritious. You couldn't ask for more vitamins and minerals in a vegetable than a sweet potato and the beans add the protein.

No recipe today, just an idea. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Benne Wafers

Like a good Southerner, I cooked and ate black eyed peas and greens for New Year's Day. It is a tradition in my family and also a superstition for luck. These also happen to be two of my favorite foods and we enjoy them many times throughout the year.

For extra luck this year, I also made Benne Wafers. Benne (sesame seeds) was brought to the Low Country of South Carolina in the 17th century, from Africa, during the slave trade era, and the versatile annual herb was planted extensively throughout the South.  In addition to the delicious, nutty flavor and nutritional benefits, legend has it that eating sesame seeds brings good luck.

These brown and buttery cookies with their nutty taste are solid and crisp on bottom and crunchy-light on top. This recipe makes a lot of cookies, but you will need them. They are so delicious and hard to stop eating. However, you don't need to bake all the cookies at once; the dough stores very well in the refrigerator until needed.


Benne Wafers
1 1/2 cups sesame seeds
1 (1-pound) box light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
Toast the sesame seeds on a baking sheet, at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until just starting to brown and become fragrant. Set aside to cool completely.
Lower oven to 300 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
Cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs until very light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture until combined. Stir in the vanilla and the cooled sesame seeds.
Drop the batter by teaspoonful about 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 12 to 14 minutes until very brown around the edges.
Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheets. They will peel easily away from the parchment paper. Store in layers between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.
If I were going to make a New Year's Resolution, it would be:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I'm Rocquie and I'm married to Pritchard Parker. We live a happy life in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I love to cook and bake and I love taking pictures of my food. 

I like looking at your food.

If there were a beach nearby, I'd take a long walk on it.

I want a puppy.

I like quiet.

My favorite aroma is patchouli.

80 degrees is the perfect temperature.

I read a lot of books.

Coffee makes me nervous.

For a good time:

Pritchard Parker is a Philosopher. He will eat anything but corn. He doesn't always wear a Fedora, but if it is snowing outside and we are off to the Ballet, he might. He loves to shop and he knows funny. He has a big book.