Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Other Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I've been married to Justin I've sworn by this chocolate chip recipe (shown here). It's my mother-in-laws and it's the best in my opinion. But the thing about her recipe is that it requires a box of vanilla pudding. Now most of the time I keep it on hand and you wouldn't catch me dead without a box of pudding in my house, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Today was one of those days. After dinner I asked Justin what he wanted me to make and he insisted on chocolate chip cookies. Then I realized I was plum out of pudding. How disappointing! So I got mad and went on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie with ingredients that any casual baker would have on hand at all times. And I found this. Dare I say they are better than my mother-in-laws original perfect cookies? Now I'm not out to put anyone down or come out with a statement that the recipe I have is better than yours, or your moms, or your grandmas. I'm just sayin they're pretty dang good and if you're bored one day, just whip them out and you will NOT be disappointed! I also came to realize a few pointers about making chocolate chip cookies that aren't flat as a pancake, super tender on the inside and a little crisp on the edges:

-Make sure you cream your butter and sugar to start until is light and creamy. This can take up to 3-5 minutes folks. When you taste it, it should taste whipped and airy.

-Add the eggs and vanilla and beat ANOTHER several minutes. If you aren't diligent about this, your cookies will fall flat on their faces.

-You have to be spot on with your flour. I like to measure, but I always scant on every recipe. I beat the flour and then feel the texture between both fingers. If it's extremely sticky and sticks to both fingers, you need to add more flour. Obviously if it's crumbly, you've added too much. It's a fine science really. The perfect texture is when it's very tender so you can handle it, but it's not sticking to your hand if you roll it into a ball. So I usually add flour till I get this texture.

-DON'T skimp on the chocolate chips!!! They are the heart and soul of the cookie. If you're not going to go big, just don't even make them:)

-Cook them till they are BARELY brown on top. There is a fine line between undercooked and over cooked. You don't want them all over brown. As soon as you see a tiny bit of color coming to the top or sides of the cookie, take them out.

I swear if you follow these rules your cookies will come out perfect every time! With the right recipe of course...

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (or until the perfect texture is achieved)
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
2 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla and beat another several minutes until very airy. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour and beat until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Batter should be thick. Drop onto a cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes depending on your oven. Remove immediately from the cookies sheet to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

* Adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sausage Balls

I had these for the first time at Christmas. My brother-in-laws mom makes them every year as a tradition. They are SO GOOD!!! They're incredibly addicting also. If you don't plan on eating the whole pan, just don't even make them. They're the perfect appetizer (or meal at our house:)) They also freeze really well. I made a huge batch and then froze the leftovers for a later treat.

3 cups Bisquick
1 lb Jimmy Dean Regular Sausage (you can use hot if you like)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine Bisquick and sausage until well incorporated. Add cheese. Roll into 1 inch balls. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. ENJOY!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Philly Cheese Steaks

I love me a good cheese steak. I might be a little picky though. It's gotta be flavorful and melty, cheesy, and saucy. Don't sell yourself short either...order the roast beef from the deli and ask for it to be shaved. This is the only way really. Then top it with A LOT of delicious cheese sauce. The other important thing is the roll...I like mine to be chewy on the outside and soft on the inside, then toasted to perfection. Put it all together and you've got one DELICIOUS sandwich!

1 lb. shaved roast beef deli meat
1 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 deli rolls, toasted

1 T butter
1 T flour
2 cups milk, heated
1 cup grated sharp provolone cheese (I found a wedge at Walmart)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat 1 T olive oil. Add diced green pepper, onion and garlic. Saute about 5 minutes until peppers and onions are soft. Add shaved roast beef. Stir to combine, cover and set aside. To make the sauce melt butter in a saucepan then whisk in flour. Cook for about 1 minute. Add heated milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add provolone and parmesan cheese. Stir continuously until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put roast beef mixture on toasted buns and top with the cheese sauce. ENJOY!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Frosting

My mother-in-law bought me the greatest book. I LOVE IT. It's a chocolate book. It's slowly becoming my lifeline to sanity and pure chocolate bliss. There are numberless recipes that I know, in time, I'll try. We'll start it off with the best frosting ever. I don't know about you, but I've searched and searched for the perfect chocolate frosting. Well, it ends here. It's just incredibly delicious! You can also add almond extract instead of vanilla to give it a one of a kind, special flavor that you'll love.

2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1 t vanilla
2/3 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup cocoa (optional see instructions)
3-5 cups powdered sugar

In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the two chocolates and the butter for about a minute. Stir. Continue to melt at 30-second intervals until almost, but not quite liquid. Stir periodically until the retained heat melts the rest. To the chocolate mixture, add the vanilla extract and whipping cream. Beat on low to mix in, then switch to high for 30 seconds. Reduce speed. If using cocoa, sift it with 1 cup powdered sugar. (The cocoa will result in a darker icing. If you want a lighter chocolate icing, omit the cocoa.) Add the cocoa/powdered sugar mixture, mixing well on low speed. Gradually add more powdered sugar, beating after each addition, until you reach the desired consistency. A very stiff consistency - too thick to spread - can be used in a pastry bag to pipe truffle-style "kisses" onto the top of a cake or cupcakes, while a thinner consistency lets you spread the icing traditionally. Either way is delicious!

* From the book, "Chocolate Never Faileth" by Annette Lyon

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I had some leftover buttermilk and found this delicious recipe. It's super easy and doesn't disappoint. A classic, yummy bread that you'll love!

2 c. flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c. margarine
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
3 T brown sugar
1 T cinnamon

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt. Set aside. Cream together margarine and sugar. Add the eggs. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the margarine mixture. Start and end with dry ingredients. Add vanilla. Pour 1/2 the batter into a greased loaf pan. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon & sprinkle over the batter. Top with the remaining batter. With a knife, make swirls through the batter. Top with a good sprinkling of brown sugar...just for good measure:) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*From Mandy's Recipe Box

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

7-Layer Bars

We've all had these, haven't we? I know I have. I don't know why I don't ever think of making them. They're so easy and are basically a homemade candy bar, which hits the spot every time. They are a classic and never disappointing.

1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 stick (8 T) butter, melted
9 graham crackers (usually 1 package), crushed
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with two overlapping pieces of foil or parchment paper, leaving overhang to act as handles for lifting the bars out of the pan. Spray with non-stick spray.

Spread the coconut and pecans on a baking sheet and bake until the outer flakes just begin to brown, about 4 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it – coconut can go from slightly browned to burnt in a matter of seconds.) Set aside.

Combine melted butter with graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Toss with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

In order, sprinkle the walnuts, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut over the graham crumbs. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the entire dish.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.

6. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares.

*Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Creamy Taco Mac

This is so easy and delicious. I guess it could be a play on Hamburger Helper - although I don't even know if I've ever had Hamburger Helper:) Either way it's the perfect comfort food for all ages. So easy and so delicious. I opt to make it with ground turkey, but hamburger could easily be substituted. This actually can be an extremely healthy meal if you use whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, fat free cream cheese and light sour cream. But most importantly it doesn't skimp on flavor either way.

1.25 lbs ground turkey (the best I've ever found is the 4 pack from Costco - it has the most flavor without being too dry)
8 oz dry pasta + 1 cup reserve pasta water
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
4 T taco seasoning
4-5 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
cheddar cheese (optional for an extra creaminess)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.

Over medium heat, brown ground turkey until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, cream cheese, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Give it a good stir until cheeses are melty and incorporated. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, as desired. Top off with cheddar cheese for extra cheesy goodness.

* From Delish