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TDot’s Treats #3: Nan’s Peanut Blossoms

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 26, 2010 in TDot's Treats

With the requisite “no offense intended” disclaimer to the ladies who happen to read law:/dev/null, my (limited) experience with female drivers suggests to me that they tend to look at traffic laws more like traffic suggestions.

Co-Counsel nearly gave me a heart attack back in January. Q.T. seems to have a new citation of some kind or another every time we talk. Even 雅雅, the safest of the bunch, was once on the telephone with me while driving… a fact I didn’t know, until I hear “OH MY GOD I JUST RAN THROUGH A STOP SIGN!” on the other end :beatup:

So you can imagine my shock (shock!) when I was talking with the Pickle Princess early today and find out that she happened to get a speeding ticket1… on the very day she has an attorney in a different county taking care of another speeding ticket on her behalf.

You may commence head-shaking at any time ;)

Since she’ll be needing another attorney sooner than I’ll have my law license, I promised I’d put up my family recipe for a special brand of cookies in the hope she might be able to offer them as compensation. It also gave me an excuse to stop studying for tomorrow’s Property exam :angel:

Hope y’all enjoy :D

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TDot’s Treats #3: Nan’s Peanut Blossoms
Difficulty: 4 of 5 (kinda tough)

One of my absolute favorite family traditions growing up was having the entire family gather at Nan’s each Christmas Eve for dinner and other festivities. Pretty much everyone in my family fights with everyone else all the time — imagine locking some Tea Party folks in a room with Obama-ites, the Goracle, and a handful of illegal immigrants — but the fact Nan would bake almost a dozen different types of cookies more than made up for it ;)

This recipe is my personal favorite, and continues to be my favorite cookie to this day.

***

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 unbeaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • A small bowl of sugar on the side (for coating)
  • A bag of Hershey Kisses

***

Culinary Notes:
Any recipe that calls for more than 1 cup of flour calls for a mess. Make sure you’re comfortable with having to do some kitchen clean-up when it’s all over :)

***

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375º F.

Tonight's finished product. Had to eat 1 already...

In a glass or ceramic mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter and the shortening.  Gradually add in the sugar and the brown sugar, creaming all of that well.  Then add in the egg and the vanilla and beat/cream well.

By the time this first phase is done, you should have a light brown, not-quite-gooey-looking lump of not-quite-dough.

Next you’ll want to gradually blend in your remaining dry ingredients (the flour, baking soda and salt) and mix well.  By the time you get about 1 cup of the flour into it, the dough will probably be too thick to mix with egg beaters or a wooden spoon so I’d recommend just using your hands to mix in the rest.

After everything is very thoroughly mixed, it should be a uniform color throughout.  It should also be dry enough that the dough will crumble around the edges of the lump in the bowl, but still moist enough that if you mush it together in your hands and shape it into a ball it’ll hold its shape.

As you can probably guess, that’s what you’re going to do next :D

Take a chunk of the dough and roll it into a ball in your hands, so it’s roughly 1″ in diameter.  Take the ball and roll it around in the bowl of sugar on the side so there’s a light sugar coating all around it.  Then place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies at 375º for 10 minutes.  While the cookies are baking, unwrap 1 Hershey Kiss for each cookie you’ve got on the sheet.

At the 10 minute mark, take your cookies out of the oven and firmly push a Kiss into the middle of each cookie. The cookie dough ball should crack around the edges.

Put your cookies back in the oven to cook another 2-5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and let cool on a cookie rack.  Clean up the mess in the kitchen and then reward yourself with one of your new sweet treats :D

***

Total Preparation Time: ~30 minutes
Total Cooking Time: ~30 minutes

Serving Size: ~24 cookies

Recommended Side Items: n/a

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Have fun y’all :) And have a great night! :D

Past TDot’s Treats entries:

  1. In contrast to my somewhat more leisurely driving preferences ;) []

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TDot’s Treats #2: QuietStorm’s Beef Tips & Rice

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 7, 2010 in TDot's Treats

If necessity is the mother of invention, exam time is the father of cheap+simple meals that provide plenty of leftovers so you can spend less time cooking and more time studying ;)

Now that midterms are over and Spring Break lies ahead — complete with temperatures in the upper-60s! — here’s a not-so-quick but simple recipe for your own exam-induced munchies :D

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TDot’s Treats #2: QuietStorm’s Beef Tips & Rice
Difficulty:  1 of 5 (very easy)

I borrowed this recipe from QuietStorm about 5-6 years ago but never actually got a slow cooker until last month. This was/is the first thing I’ve cooked in it, and makes for a hearty meal around midterms and a good 3 meals’ worth of leftovers.

***

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of beef tips / stewing meat
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, ~11 oz
  • 2 packs of dry onion soup mix, ~1 oz each
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • A smidge of cooking oil (for braising)
  • ~2ish more cups of water (for braising)

***

Culinary Notes:
This recipe is on the (very) salty side, so if you’ve got high blood pressure or related health ailments I’d recommend grabbing a low-sodium version of both the onion soup and the cream of mushroom soup.  You can also add more water to the mix without it diluting the taste much.

Also be careful when you’re braising the beef tips — I burned off a couple layers of my right ring finger the last time I made this :beatup:

***

Directions:
Beef tips are a tough meat, so the first thing you’ll want to do is braise them up a bit to make sure you can chew them after they’ve been cooking for 8 hours ;)

Put a smidge of cooking grease in a sauce pan and heat to medium-high heat.  If you want to add any seasoning to your beef tips, now’s the time to do it.

Toss the beef tips in the pan (beware splattering grease!) to sear them; this’ll also lock in the flavor if you’ve added custom seasoning. After searing them for a few minutes add in enough water to cover the beef tips, put a lid on the pan, and let them stew for about 25ish minutes over medium heat. This braising process helps break down the collagen in the beef tips and makes them easier to chew once they’re done cooking.

When you’re done, drain the water/oil from the pan and pour the braised tips into your CrockPot or other slow cooker of choice.

Empty the mushroom soup on top of the beef tips. Empty both packets of onion soup mix on top of that. Then pour in the 1.5 cups of water over the mixture.

Put a lid on the everything and set your slow cooker to Low heat.

Let the whole mix cook for about 8 hours. You’ll want to stir it after about 4 hours, again at 6 hours, and again just before you eat it to make sure everything gets mixed up well.

Make some rice on the side, pour the beef tip mix on top, and you’re done! :)

***

Total Preparation Time: ~30 minutes
Total Cooking Time: ~8 hours

Serving Size: ~4 servings

Recommended Side Items: salad, cornbread

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Hope y’all enjoy :) Have a great night folks! :D

Past TDot’s Treats entries:

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TDot’s Treats #1: Nan’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 3, 2010 in TDot's Treats

Bookshelf #2: The Hierarchy of my Life

At some point over the last few years cooking turned into a semi-hobby for me.1

One of my bookshelves actually has a section reserved for various cookbooks and recipes handed down from the family over the years (or bought on clearance, in the case of Beef for All Seasons :D ).

The fact I can effectively navigate my way around a kitchen is apparently hard for some folks to believe — especially the ones who know me :beatup: The real shocker is that I’m actually halfway decent at it too ;)

So after finding some über-appetizing recipes over the past couple months at  cursory circumlocutionLegal Alien’s Law School Blog and Teasingly Diverse, I figured I’d join the law student cooking craze and offer some recipes of my own :D  Hopefully y’all will like some of them as they get posted over the next few weeks/months :)

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TDot’s Treats #1: Nan’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Difficulty:  2 (of 5)

The inaugural recipe for TDot’s Treats is actually one of my grandmother’s specialties and a favorite of mine growing up :)

Even though Pops’s family moved to the U.S. from Poland, he picked up some Italian habits growing up in the Bronx area of New York.  Spaghetti is one of his meals of choice, and over the not-quite-50 years he and Nan have been married she tweaked her spaghetti sauce recipe so it’s just right.

I’ve tasted a lot of spaghetti sauces in my life, and this recipe here is still my preference.2 :D

***

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of tomato sauce, ~15oz each
  • 1 can of tomato paste, ~12oz
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of seasoned salt
  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef

***

Cautionary Note:
I learned the hard way that it’s easy to put in way too much onion or way too much seasoning salt when preparing this recipe, leaving you with a not-quite-right sauce that’s either super-sour or super-salty :beatup:

Remember you can always add in more later if you need it, so start light on the onion and the salt then gradually add in more to your liking.

***

Directions:
Start by pouring the 2 cans of tomato sauce into a fairly large saucepan, and begin cooking over low to low-medium heat. Add in the can of tomato paste and mix in thoroughly.

Now add in your onion pieces and mix into the sauce.  Then add in your garlic.  Mix everything together and let the sauce continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes before adding in your seasonings.

Then add in the thyme, oregano and seasoning salt.  The sawdust smell at this point is normal ;) Stir in all of the seasonings and let the sauce cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Now add your cooked ground beef and mix in thoroughly to the sauce. Let the whole mix cook for — you guessed it — another 5-10 minutes.

After ~20-25 minutes of total cooking time, your sauce ingredients should be well-blended and ready for tasting.  Take a spoonful and try it, then add more onion (if there’s too much seasoning) or more seasoning (if there’s too much onion) to suit your tastes.

Boil some spaghetti noodles or other pasta on the side, throw it all together on a plate, and Voila! you have spaghetti for dinner :D

***

Total Preparation Time: ~10 minutes
Total Cooking Time: ~30 minutes

Serving Size: ~16 servings (depending on how saucy you like your spaghetti :))

Recommended Side Items: garlic toast, salad

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So there you go! All in all it’s a pretty simple recipe, and inexpensive too ;)

If any of you try it, let me know what you think — I just finished cooking a batch tonight, and I finally got the onion:seasoning ratio right :D

Off to study CivPro before bed. G’night folks!!

  1. The hobby actually started as a purely Darwinian response:  I was once told by a girl that if I were judged on looks, muscles, intelligence, and personality on a scale from 1-10, I’d get 5s across the board — so to differentiate myself I learned to cook an absolutely amazing Sunday breakfast, then expanded from there :D []
  2. Nan would even make batches of this stuff, freeze it and send it to me here in North Carolina until I had a kitchen to make it on my own. I’m spoiled :beatup: []

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