Thursday, June 11, 2009

All manner of baked goodness

My oven and I have been getting along famously this week. I know what you must be thinking -- summer is here, why are you running the oven so much? Well, the thing is, it hasn't really gotten that hot around here yet. But the real reason the heat's not getting to me is our downstairs neighbors. Not only do they let their dog do all manner of business all over their balcony, they also like to sit out there and chain-smoke. All the time. We've taken to leaving the balcony door and our windows shut because the smoke wafts right up into our apartment. And so, with the A/C keeping our pad at a constant 74, I have no problem trying out some new oven-based recipes.

First, there was baked mac'n'cheese, using Julia Moskin's recipe from the NY Times. With a heart-stopping 2:1 ratio of cheese to macaroni [yes, you read that correctly], it was melty, cheesy heaven... I was so excited, I forgot to grab the camera. Plus, it was easy! You don't even have to cook the macaroni before you plop it in a bowl with a pound of cheese and a seasoned milk/cottage cheese mixture. I was a bit hesitant but the macaroni came out perfectly cooked and the prep time was under 10 minutes. With a large salad and some wine, it made a perfect [and rather decadent] dinner. Definitely not a once-a-week dish but a good one to have in your repertoire for those days when only a big bowl of creamy comfort food will do.

Next there was the banana bread. This is seriously good stuff. Dense, moist, slightly chewy, and with a crusty cinnamon-sugar topping, Rich was swooning over the recipe for a week before I made it. I subbed apple sauce for the vegetable oil that the recipe originally calls for and I will definitely continue making it that way. I'm pretty sure this will be my go-to banana bread recipe from now on -- although I definitely recommend trying the parchment paper trick that Molly suggests for lining the pan, otherwise it is a bit tricky to get the loaf out without dislodging the topping.

And then last night, browsing some of my favorite food blogs for a new cookie recipe to try, I stumbled upon this one for Homemade Oreos. I couldn't resist, and even decided to make them the first recipe tested in my drop-dead-gorgeous Boysenberry Kitchen Aid stand mixer, a very generous graduation gift. I think I'm going to have to name her -- something feminine, but strong... any suggestions?

Rich was skeptical about the Oreos, extremely doubtful that anyone could make Oreos even better than they already are. And when I told him that the texture of the cookies would be a bit softer and chewier than the storebought cookies, he felt that they would be akin to "stale" Oreos and became even less excited about my endeavor.

After one bite, he was quick to admit that he couldn't have been more wrong, proclaiming between moans that these are better than the original!

The cookies alone are awesome, and as Deb from Smitten Kitchen points out, they would be perfect for ice cream sandwiches. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.


  1. LADY! Finally a post! I have been checking back and forth and nuthin! :)) ahahah lol I just read esther's comment! :[) cracking up over here! Okay, you gotta be on the mailing list for if you aren't already... thee best mailing list I have ever been on. Her recipes and pictures are sooo crazy/beautiful...wait no, that's a movie - I mean yummy/hearty/tasty/beautiful! :)

    How are you? I just read on your fb wall that you got a job! CONGRATS!! :[) now going over to say hi to esther! xo

  2. oh I'm a dork.... just now saw that you have 101 cookbooks on your inspiration bar! :-/ duh! :)