Rosemary Cornmeal Cookies

I've been mulling over cornmeal for days now.  I picked up a bag of locally milled cornmeal, and I've been trying to decide what to make with it. Cornbread would be the obvious choice, but I just wasn't inspired. I thought about a cornmeal cake, but in the end decide to go with cookies. I'm glad I did. These are not too sweet -- don't expect the kids to love them, but they're perfect for the adults. I think they'd pair great with a glass of white wine, but since I made them at 10:00 in the morning, I didn't test out that theory. 

Rosemary Cornmeal Cookies

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and rosemary.  In a separate bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Add the flour/cornmeal/salt mixture gradually just until combined.  Scoop out onto a cookie sheet or baking stone and press down lightly.  Sprinkle with additional rosemary if desired. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until cookies look dry but not browned. Cool on a wire rack.

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I was running low on butter and didn't feel like making a trip to the store, so I halved the recipe.  Which is fine...until you get to the 1 egg part. I am haphazard enough about such things that I just cracked the egg into a bowl and used a spoon to scoop out about half of it. It was a little tricky, but it worked fine. 

Watermelon Salad -- and a Shameless Bribe!

While I am not going to pretend that plain watermelon sprinkled with a little bit of salt can be improved upon, there does come a time, after your 8th or 9th watermelon of the season, that you start to think, "hmm, what else can I do with watermelon?" Watermelon paletas are a great choice -- just blend cold watermelon with a little simple syrup and maybe some mint and freeze in Popsicle molds. However, I was looking for a side dish rather than a dessert, so I went with watermelon, feta, and mint salad. There's no need for a recipe. It's just what it sounds like.  Cubed watermelon, cubed feta and mint leaves. It's delicious. The saltiness of the feta mixes perfectly with the watermelon. 

Moving on from watermelon: If you've stuck with me this far, you deserve a prize!  And I have one!! I'm thrilled to be giving away a copy of Dinner: The Playbook, Jenny Rosenstrach's new book. Jenny's blog, Dinner: A Love Story, is one of my favorites. She and her husband, Andy, are an inspiration on the family dinner front. To win a copy of this fantastic book (read my review here), just comment with your favorite family dinner tip. It can be an easy recipe, a game, or a way to keep toddlers from smearing food all over their heads -- whatever stroke of genius you have to offer!  Comments will be open until midnight, Tuesday, August 26th.  I'll post the winner on Wednesday, August 27th! I can't wait to hear from all seven of you!! Good luck!

 

**Congratulations, Sue!! I love sneaking greens into my kids whenever I can!  I'll mail you a copy of Dinner: The Playbook!**

Civilizing the Little Hooligans

Much as I'd love to sit down to a peaceful, candlelit dinner where the delicate clink of silverware and china plays in the background as my perfectly groomed and mannered family discusses literature and world events, it just ain't gonna happen. At least not anytime soon.  While we may not be White House - ready for the foreseeable future, I do want to instill manners in my kids. However, I don't want to nag them relentlessly with a long list of thou-shalt-nots at the dinner table. I truly believe having dinner together every night is one of the most important things I can do for my family; although, I think all my effort will be for naught if it turns into a chore that everyone dreads. 

So for now, I'm focused on making dinner a fun time that everyone looks forward to. It's not always (or even often) easy.   There are days I get exhausted just thinking about cooking and doing the dishes, but I never regret making the effort. My children are young enough that I'm not overly concerned with good manners. I trust that by providing a consistent, good example, some fun lessons, and a few gentle reminders, they'll eventually learn what they need to know. In the meantime, here are some areas where I've completely relaxed my standards:

1.   It's okay to eat naked.  If you're under two. Or the kids aren't home. 

2.  I still get credit if we use paper plates. 

3.  Anything that gets them laughing counts as good dinner table conversation. It's not really in my nature to be goofy and silly. My husband, however, excels at it. And the kids love it. So I try to go with it. I keep a book of corny jokes within easy reach of the dining room table and use it frequently.  Even the baby has learned to say, "Knock, knock!" though he hasn't mastered, "Who's there?" yet. I also refer to this book a lot for ideas. I like all of Jane Healy's books and this one provides a lot of conversation starters that even the adults will find interesting. 

4.   If all else fails, a bucket of takeout fried chicken eaten standing up around the kitchen island is still family dinner.  It's the family in family dinner that's the crucial part. 

pasta e fagioli salad

As so often happens, I was struck with an absolutely brilliant, original idea last week. And, as so often happens, I went to "the Google" to do some research and found out that approximately 1, 370, 492 other people also had that exact same absolutely brilliant, original idea. It all started when I checked my meal plan and found that I had scheduled Pasta e Fagioli for dinner. In late July. Why I planned to serve hot soup for dinner in July escapes me at the moment. My initial thought was to ignore the weather, crank up the A/C and bravely forge ahead. Then I walked outside. And melted.  Soup was obviously off the menu. Still... beans, tomatoes, pasta, onions... of course! A dinner salad.

I have to confess: Despite the sheer brilliance of my idea, this did not really go over very well. It was a little too light for dinner. Everyone ate it, but we were all back in the kitchen a few hours later, foraging for snacks.  It would have been perfect for lunch.

It was pretty simple to throw together. I chopped some ham (you can use pancetta if you want to be authentic and if your small-town grocer won't eye you suspiciously if you ask for it), tomatoes, onions, and carrots. Then I drained and rinsed a can of beans, boiled some whole wheat rotini, and tossed it all together.

The dressing was a variation of gremolata.  I used lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, lemon thyme, and coarse salt to make a vinaigrette with olive oil and lemon juice.  I served it on a bed of baby spinach and topped it with basil and parmesan. I'll make this again but not for dinner. It'll go in the healthy lunch rotation -- you know, when I have to atone for my pie sins.