Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Problem Solving Cooking

So, I like to think that I have pretty good problem solving skills. Now, don't worry, I fully realize this is because I get myself into so many situations where problem solving skills are necessary.

Lately I have been doing some problem solving cooking...

First I decided to bake up some macaroons. I was thinking about Spain again and looking up recipes for the almond nun cookies they make in Salamanca. I came across a recipe for macaroons and remembered I had coconut so I decided to make some.

Unfortunately I didn't know that my parents oven doesn't cook right when you put two pans on the same shelf. They were supposed to bake for 20 minutes and 10 minutes in I smelled them burning. What? Yep, the bottoms of them were a nice shade of black. Boo.

I refused to let them go to waste though. I cut off the tops, mushed them all together in a dish and melted some semisweet chocolate on top. It turned out to be a winner after all!

Tonight I decided to figure out a way to use up some feta. After eating fresh Greek salads daily in Greece I wanted some feta. We accidently bought a Sam's size container of fat-free feta crumbles. OK, so it was not fresh, crumbled and fat free--3 strikes against it, and it tasted pretty similar to chalk. I didn't want to waste it though, so I figured out a way to make it taste good--baked feta. We'd had it one day in Greece and it was delicious. It's basically feta with marinara sauce on top to make a kind of Greek queso dip to go on bread.

(OK, so this isn't exactly what mine looked like, but close!)

It turned out pretty tasty! All I did was spray a baking dish, add the feta, mix in some minced garlic, a squirt of lemon juice, oregano and basil (and I put in a little bit of butter to make up for the fat-freeness!) and then top with marinara sauce from the jar. (I also read that it tastes great with a drained can of basil and oregano diced tomatoes, or, you know, actual tomatoes.) You bake it for 20 minutes at 350 and then spread it on to sliced up french bread. Yum! This might be my new go-to recipe for potlucks.

Oh, and here is the macaroon (or MA-croon as I always end up accidentally saying) recipe if you make them the normal way!
  • 8 ounces, weight Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 8 ounces, fluid Sweetened, Condensed Milk
  • ½ Tablespoons Vanilla
  • 2 pinches Salt
  • 2 whole Egg Whites
  • 6 ounces, weight Chocolate Chips

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Set aside. In an electric mixer, beat the salt and egg whites to stiff peaks, fold together softly to incorporate.

On parchment paper, use two teaspoons to place each macaroon. Bake for 21 minutes until the tops have browned.

Once the macaroons have cooled, melt chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave (be sure not to burn it). Dip the bottom of each macaroon into the chocolate and place back onto the parchment and into the refrigerator to cool.

This recipe will make 16 large macaroons or 32 smaller macaroons. (

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