Chewy Sugar Cookies

Chewy Sugar Cookies
(from the Food Network’s show Sweet Dreams, online recipe)
2 3/4 C flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 C softened butter
1 1/2 C white sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
3-4 T buttermilk
Sprinkles or colored sugar (optional)

Making the Cookies (oven at 375°F)
1. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
2. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla extract.
3. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the butter mixture until the flour is incorporated.
4. Stir in enough buttermilk to soften the dough so it can be rolled into balls, but not so much that the dough becomes wet.
5. Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place them on a pan.
6. Gently flatten each cookie and lightly brush with buttermilk. If desired, press the toppings onto the cookies before baking.
7. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the pan for two minutes before moving to a rack.

Today we set out to complete this simple, fun recipe to make sugar cookies. We lacked buttermilk, so Luke took it upon himself to make homemade buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a cup of milk. First we mixed the dry ingredients, the flour, the baking powder, and the baking soda. In another bowl, we mixed the butter and sugar, hand creaming it and blending in the egg. By mixing the ingredients in the two bowls we were able to start a dry dough. To soften the dough we added about 5 tsp of the homemade buttermilk. Then the dough was ready to to be molded into small balls. We were able to fit 28 of these small cookies onto the cookie pan, and using a cup we flattened the balls into small disks. All that was left to do was to pop them in the oven and wait for our delicious treats to be ready! In retrospect, 28 cookies was too many for one tray, as the cookies grew into one mass. We tried again with less cookies; both batches were equally tasty, even though the first batch wasn’t perfectly shaped.

Lattice Apple Pie

Apple Pie
(from the Food Network’s show Tyler’s Ultimate, online recipe)

Crust:
2 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
3/4 c chilled vegetable shortening
Ice water

Filling:
1/2 to 1 c all-purpose flour
6 to 7 c apples cut into thin slices (recommended: Green Golden and Jonathan’s)
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
2 T melted butter

Preparing the Dough
1.    Stir together the four and salt in a mixing bowl (using a stand mixer helps in the next steps).
2.    Add the shortening and mix into the flour until there are no large lumps of shortening.
3.    Slowly add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, being sure to scrape the mixture down, until the dough clumps easily when mixed (about 3 T).
4.    Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, for use as the two pieces of crust when assembling the pie.

Making the Filling
1.    In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars, flour, cinnamon, and butter.
2.    Wash, peel, and core the apples, then cut them into eighths.
3.    Add the apples to the sugar mixture and coat all the slices.

Rolling the Dough and Assembling the Pie
preheat oven to 375°F
1.    Roll out the larger dough ball until it is about 2 inches in diameter larger than the pie dish.
2.    Transfer the sheet of dough onto the rolling pin and place it in the pie dish.
3.    Firmly press the dough into the dish.
4.    Evenly spread the apple filling in the crust.
5.    Cut the dough into even strips, long enough to cover the top of the pie
6.    Lay four of the strips about an inch apart across the pie
7.    Weave four to five more strips perpendicular to the strips already laid down.
8.Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top of the pie is browned.

The biggest challenge we faced while making this pie was perfecting the dough. We added water to the mixer to moisten the dough, we were already doubting ourselves. It was still crumbly, but we were still able to roll it into a ball. We thought that some time in the fridge would help the dough come together. After making the filling, we removed the dough from the fridge and sprinkled our work surface and rolling pin with flour, attempting to roll the dough that was falling apart. It took a lot of extra water to make the dough workable, and it turns out that we probably needed a little more water in the mixer from the start. Since we were having trouble rolling the dough into one thin layer to completely cover the filling, we decided to attempt a lattice weave. With help from our instructor, we were able to weave the dough correctly. We then used a fork to mold the edge of the dough together and then trimmed the edges. Finally, foil covered the edges and the pie then went into the oven. The struggles with the dough were over.


Journey to the Perfect Smoothie

Today, Luke, Thomas, and I worked with basic smoothie ingredients to create a berry-filled smoothie. We started by using frozen mixed berries  blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries),  Greek yogurt and orange juice. The recipe we began with was:

1/2 c orange juice
1/4 c yogurt
1 1/2 c frozen berries

After blending the ingredients thoroughly and a quick taste test, we decided that the mixture was too tart. However, a peer who also tasted the mixture suggested that there was too much yogurt. We changed the recipe so that there was more yogurt but less orange juice so that it would work proportionally. To prevent the orange juice from overpowering the yogurt, more yogurt was added in order to balance the orange juice.  The new recipe we came up with was:

1 c orange juice
3/4 c yogurt
1 1/2 c frozen berries

The mixture we produced this time was thicker, which was a plus, but it still tasted too tart. This is when we got the bright idea to add sugar to balance the orange juice. Our final recipe is listed below.

Mixed Berry Smoothies
Yield: 2 8 oz. smoothies

5/8 c orange juice
3/4 c yogurt
1 1/2 c frozen berries
1 T granulated sugar

After blending the ingredients, another taste test was in order. The sugar balanced the orange juice and brought out the taste of the berries, producing a sweet and tasty smoothie. Sugar turned out to be an essential ingredient in this particular smoothie because the orange juice and berries were not particularly sweet.  For example, one would not need to add sugar to a smoothie using canned fruit, such as pineapple, because the syrup  it sits in is very sweet. Next time we make smoothies, we will be sure to add sugar from the very start.