Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate, Caramel, Cookies, Strawberries= Homework??

Ike goes to a great school.  We love the Montgomery County School District.  Really-- his school is phenomenal.  That said:  they believe that kids lose too much over summer break (I know this is true).  They think that kids should work on their math and reading skill sets over the break (I know they should)... can you feel the big ole' "BUT" coming?  Yeah-- they believe our kids should do a huge reading and a huge math packet of homework over the summer. (it's due the first day of school!!) I know this is a good thing-- but dear LORD I needed a break.  ok-- so there are lots of fun, and sometimes just odd exercises to do to work on writing and reading.   Last week he drew a picture of his favorite restaurant and wrote three reasons why people should eat there.  (Got a guess as to the name of said restaurant?  Those of you who live in York and Lancaster should have NO trouble guessing).  And next week we have to go to the library and read a book that takes place in another country.  Then use a Venn diagram to show the similarities and the differences to the United States (this is the Kindergartner's homework-- -I'd hate to see what the 3rd graders are doing!!!!)

  Today's suggested assignment was to "create a new cookie.  Name it and design a box that will make people want to try it.".

Well-- it's cookies-- and-- Ike's mom is a bit of an over achiever (and now a jobless over achiever) sooooooo......  i think you can imagine how this might spin wildly out of control.  We weren't five minutes into this project before I suggested we make the cookies.  Then Ike suggested a particular design for the packaging (he wanted a long box to hold several cookies).  So he wrote out his cookie plan, which looked like this:

Then we went to Trader Joe's and bought these:

And to Michael's a bought a box or two... and then we came back home and I started to actually make his cookies.  He decided everyone needed to suggest several names for the cookie, then he would choose which one he liked best.  In the end the choices were= Rolo cookies, Caramel Berry Cookies, Mi Cookies, and Ike's delight.  He chose the latter and designed a box that looks like this:

It's still missing the picture he took of the chocolate and strawberry to put on each end, but otherwise- -it's done.  And the cookies look like this:

If you haven't guessed from the above "master plan"-- these are a vanilla base dough with rolo's candy (he spelled it roolos) OR in our case, trader joe's dark chocolate covered caramels, and a chocolate covered strawberry on top.  
Ike's both a genius and a delight-- and so are his cookies.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to give them a go.  they are really really delicious with or without the strawberry.  :)

The vanilla cookie base is from a fantastic little book called "Milk and Cookies" by Tina Casaceli.  Everyone should read it.  I changed the ingredients very very slightly, but this is mostly like hers.

2 Cups Old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate covered caramels
1 Tablespoons cocoa powder OR flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temp.
1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Cut chocolate candies into small (chocolate chip size pieces) add cocoa or flour and toss together (these will keep the candies from sticking together.
Preheat oven to 350.

Put oats in a food processor and process until finely ground.
In a large bowl mix together the ground oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In another bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer until it's soft.  Then mix butter on medium for 3 or so minutes until light and creamy.  With the beater running add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar beating until light and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla and when blended slowly beat in the reserved dry mixture.  When the dough is mixed, but still streaky, remove from the mixer and by hand, mix in the chocolate candy pieces.
Drop by Tablespoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350, or until lightly brown.

If you are like Ike and want to make them even fancier-- let them cool and place a chocolate covered strawberry on top.  We covered our own by melting Giardelli chocolate chips in the microwave and dipping the strawberries into the chocolate.  That boy likes too much of a good thing!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prosciutto. My third favorite pork product.

So-- prosciutto is just wonderful good.  I love pancetta (and it's cousin bacon) more, and a really good slice of Serrano ham.... but next in line is the beautiful prosciutto.  We made sandwiches earlier this week with some of that good stuff, along with fresh mozzarella, basil, soft bread and some aged balsamic.  So so tasty.... but, we had a good deal left over (isaac is practically a vegetarian and max is just 3 and moody).  Anyhow- last night Scott reminded me that we still have prosciutto and "it won't last long". (he meant, it will spoil, but I believe, it just won't last long)  No love, it won't.  It will be used as such:

Take these (the yukon golds that were NOT made into mashed potatoes earlier this week)

Plus this:

And this:

add a little salt and some pepper.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

Drop the chopped prosciutto (it's not chopped yet in this picture, but just tear or rough chop it).

 around the top and bake for 10 more minutes.  Delicious.  Scott's right.  It won't last long.