Sunday, July 17, 2011

Watermelon, Mozzarella & Cucumber Salad

Sometimes it is just too hot outside to want to cook. On those days, all you want is that perfect, cool summer lunch. Lately I have been seeing a lot of veggie and mozzarella salads. I had even noticed some using different types of fruit. One blog post that caught my eye had even mixed squares of watermelon and feta cheese in a balsamic dressing.

My salad was composed of watermelon, mozzarella and cucumber squares with fresh apple- scented mint and basil. I drizzled it with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and finished it off by sprinkling a little sea salt over the top.

This salad is fantastic for summer because it involves all cold ingredients and minimal effort. Not only do the flavors blend together so well, but the ingredients give it a bright color. I also love the idea of everything being cut into blocks. It gives it an unusual but clean, sharp look.

Don’t worry if you end up buying more mozzarella than you need. You can always use the leftover later to try and replicate Pioneer Woman’s caprese salad.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Root Beer Float Cookies

As soon as I read about the idea of using root beer concentrate in baking, I knew I’d have to try it. The first time I had seen this was a recipe for root beer float cupcakes. I filed that recipe away as one I’d have to try sometime. When I ran across a recipe for root beer float cookies, I knew they had to be tried immediately. Surprisingly, root beer concentrate is not hard to find. I even picked up mine at Wal-Mart in the baking supplies/spices aisle. I also had a good excuse for baking (as if an excuse is ever necessary), as my husband’s family reunion was that weekend and I’d volunteered to make some cookies.

Root Beer Float Cookies
From: Heat Oven to 350

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 T plus 2 tsp root beer concentrate
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Place butter and sugars in large bowl. Using electric mixer at medium speed, cream. Beat in egg. Continue to beat until mixture is fluffy. Beat in oil, milk, vanilla and root beer concentrate. (The root beer concentrate has a thick, oily texture. Be careful when measuring it as it will pour out of the bottle very quickly.)

In a large bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in vanilla chips.

Drop 2 T of dough at a time onto ungreased cookies sheets. (I used a Pampered Chef medium scoop, which is fantastic for the perfect size cookies.) Bake 10-12 minutes.

Root beer float in cookie form does sound a little different, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. These cookies exceeded expectation. The really do taste just like root beer and have a soft, moist texture. They may actually be some of my favorite cookies I’ve ever made. The only thing I would do differently is to try them with vanilla chips sometime instead of white chocolate.

I had a busy weekend of cooking for the reunion and made lots of food that I’m behind on posting. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the advice that if you have curious kitchen helpers like I do, it’s probably not a good idea to leave your cabinets open between grabbing ingredients.