Friday, 28 January 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies?  I don't know anyone, do you?  I have made countless recipes of chocolate chip cookies.  All I need is the ingredients and I can whip up a batch without reading the instructions, they're all the same right?  No . . . . they are not . . . too bad I realized that after I already mixed up the cookies. . . . The other night I was craving some chocolate chip cookies, so I pulled out a recipe that I had been wanting to try, I mixed them up and put them in the oven.  While I was waiting for them to bake, I decided to read the instructions and guess what it was nothing like I did.  I made them using the basic method where you cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs then the dry ingredients.  These instructions actually melt the butter and add the wet ingredients to it then stir in the dry ingredients and it states several times in the recipe to "Do Not Overmix" in fact, you are supposed to use a wooden spoon and barely mix everything until just combined.  

So, I was anxious to taste my cookies to see if I completely ruined them or if they still tasted ok.  I tasted one warm, right out of the oven and they were good, but the next day they were really really good!  They just kept getting better and better. So, I will definitely make this recipe again.  However, next time, I am going to try them the correct way as per the instructions.  I would like to see if melting the butter and changing up the mixing method really makes a difference.  So, I will let you know as soon as I try them the other way.  For now, here is my version of these yummy chewy chocolate chip cookies.  
Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
chocolate chips (I like Guittard® Milk Chocolate)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is combined.  Add the vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt and add to wet ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Stir in desired amount of chocolate chips.  Use a small ice cream scoop and drop dough onto cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes (Mine were perfect at 11 min.). Yield: about 33 cookies.         

Thursday, 27 January 2011

KATIE LEE'S CORNBREAD

Cornbread is another one of those recipes that I am on the search for the perfect one.  This is probably the sixth or seventh recipe I've tried for regular cornbread.  I have found two that I really like so far, one that calls for buttermilk (My Aunt Marie's recipe) and one that calls for regular milk.  Even though I really like those two recipes, I still want to try new ones just to see how they compare.  So, how did this one compare to my others?  1.  The baking method - You are supposed to cook it in a cast-iron skillet, but unfortunately I do not have one of those, so I just preheated the vegetable oil in a glass casserole dish in the oven then poured in the batter.  It sizzled and began to cook immediately.  This created a very yummy crispy crust on the cornbread.  I loved the crust!  2.  The flavor - I thought the flavor was very light compared to others.  It still tasted really good, I just wished it had a little stronger flavor, but if you drizzle a little honey on it, then it takes care of the lack of flavor.  3. The texture - This was just like every other cornbread.  4.  Overall - It was good and I really loved the crispy crust, but it was not better than my Aunt's version (I'll post her's someday for you). If you are looking for something a little different, try this Pumpkin Cornbread.  It is really really yummy!!  
Cornbread:
adapted from: Katie Lee Joel

 2 Tbl. canola oil (I used vegetable)
2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted & cooled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour the oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or casserole dish) and place in the oven to heat while the oven is preheating.  In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk and butter.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Carefully remove the hot skillet from oven and pour the batter into it.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  Serve warm.  

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

WINGER'S STICKY FINGERS

I love everything about Wingers.  I love the popcorn you get to munch on when you sit down, the yummy vanilla rootbeer, the yummy salads, sandwiches, fries and asphalt pie, but most of all I love their wings.  They are definitely best known for their yummy wings.  I was thrilled when they came out with Sticky Fingers.  They have the same great taste of the wings, but no bone to deal with.  Every time I go there, even if I order a salad, I always order two sticky fingers on the side.  So, I was thrilled to try this recipe.  And let me just tell you, it is pretty darn close to the real deal.  In fact, I bet if you served these for dinner and told everyone you stopped by Winger's on the way home, they wouldn't even notice the difference.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!  It is spicy yet sweet.  So yummy.  Now, you can have Winger's anytime you want.  I made five sticky fingers and served with curly fries.  I did double the sauce recipe and I had plenty for coating the tenders and extra for dipping.   

Winger's Sticky Fingers

Sauce: (enough to coat about 6 tenders)
3 Tbl. Frank's® Hot Sauce (It has to be Frank's®)
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbl. Water

1 cup oil
6 Tyson® frozen breaded chicken tenders

Heat hot sauce, brown sugar and water in a medium saucepan until sugar dissolves.  Meanwhile, heat 1 cup oil in medium skillet.  Add 2-3 tenders at a time, cooking about 3 minutes per side or until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and continue with remaining tenders.  When they are all cooked, put tenders in a tupperware bowl with the sauce and shake until completely coated.  Serve with additional sauce and Ranch.  Note: If you want their creamy amazing dressing, just mix the sauce with Ranch. *Double the sauce recipe if you like extra.    

Saturday, 22 January 2011

CHICKEN CAESAR PITA POCKETS

Do you ever just want something light yet filling for dinner?  If yes, this is the perfect meal for you and your family. It's pretty much a chicken caesar salad stuffed inside a pita pocket.  Yummy, I love the flavor of caesar dressing.  I've never tried a homemade version, but I do love the store bought kind.  The leftovers are perfect for sending in your kid's lunchbox the next day or taking to work for a light lunch.  If you want it to be a little more healthy, try wheat pitas and light caesar dressing.  Enjoy!!  
Chicken Caesar Pita Pockets
From: Jenn - Eat Cake For Dinner

Chicken breasts (One large chicken breast is enough for about 2 whole pitas or 4 pita halves)
Mrs. Dash (yellow lid)
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
lemon pepper
pita pockets
lettuce, chopped
tomato, diced
Parmesan cheese, grated
Caesar salad dressing

Season chicken breasts with Mrs. Dash, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and a little lemon pepper.  Place in a casserole dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes - 1 hour or until no longer pink; chop when done.  Or, if you are in a hurry, you can grill the seasoned chicken breasts on the George Foreman.  Toss chopped lettuce with a little caesar dressing.  Stuff pita pockets with chopped caesar coated lettuce, chopped chicken, chopped tomato and freshly grated Parmesan.  Or stuff with all ingredients and drizzle caesar dressing over the top.           

Thursday, 20 January 2011

PAULA DEEN'S GARLIC ALFREDO SAUCE

Just so you all know, pasta is my least favorite type of food (except homemade Mac & Cheese - Love it!).  I'll eat it, but it's not my first choice, however sometimes I try to switch things up a bit for dinner.  Ya know, try something different.  So, I found this recipe in the November/December 2010 issue of Paula's magazine.  I can't even tell you the last time I had chicken alfredo pasta?  So, I'm probably not the best judge of this dish, because I don't really have anything to compare it to?  With that said, I actually thought it was pretty good.  It was rich and creamy.  It didn't have tonz of flavor, but just enough?  I grilled a few chicken tenders and added them to the sauce and served over some fettucini noodles.
Garlic Alfredo Sauce:
adapted from: Paula Deen

2 Tbl. butter
2 Tbl. minced onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
3 cups half-and-half
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I only added a tiny pinch)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
white pepper, to taste, optional
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently, or until onion is tender.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes.  Gradually add half-and-half, whisking constantly.  Cook, whisking constantly, for 8-10 minutes or just until mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper and white pepper (if adding).  Add cheese, stirring until melted and smooth.  Serve over pasta with chicken or vegetables.  Makes about 3 cups.  (I served over Fettucini with Italian seasoned grilled chicken strips).    
       

Monday, 17 January 2011

OLIVE CHEESE BREAD

This bread is absolutely addicting.  I have made it countless times since I picked up a copy of This Cookbook.  I will make spaghetti (which I have never been a huge fan of) just so I can make this bread to eat with it.  Also, I seriously HATE olives.  You will never see me eating olives, if they are on my salad, I pick them off or if they are in dips, I will pick them out, but for some reason I LOVE them on this bread.  Maybe it is because I chop them so small that I can't taste them?  Or maybe it is because the other flavors are so incredibly delicious that it makes me forget there are olives in it?   

Whatever the reason, thank goodness, because I would be missing out if I would have chosen to never make this bread.  From one "Olive Hater" to another "Olive Hater" don't be afraid of this bread.  I promise if you just give this a try once, you will be hooked.  I have changed the recipe quite a bit from the original to match my taste.  The original recipe uses pimiento-stuffed green olives, but I prefer just the plain pimientos.  I also added some Parmesan cheese and garlic powder to give it a little better taste.        
Olive Cheese Bread
slightly adapted from This Cookbook

1 (14.5 oz.) can black olives, drained
1/4 c. pimientos, drained
1 cube butter, soft
1/2 c. Mayonnaise (no subs)
8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 c. Parmesan Cheese blend, grated
salt and pepper
garlic powder, to taste
1 loaf french bread

Finely chop the black olives and pimientos and add to a mixing bowl.  Add the butter, Mayonnaise, Monterey, Parmesan blend, salt, pepper and garlic powder; stir well to combine.  Slice french bread in half lengthwise.  Spread both halves evenly with olive/cheese spread.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.  Serve with spaghetti or lasagna.  

Saturday, 15 January 2011

ST. PATRICK'S PISTACHIO CAKE

I usually only make this cake for St. Patrick's Day (hence the name), but I was craving it, so I had to make it now, but hey, now you have an idea for a fun green cake two months in advance!! I decided to try it as a bundt cake this time instead of the usual cupcakes and to even make things quicker I used a store bought frosting instead of making homemade.  This cake is extremely light and fluffy which is my favorite type of cake.  It has a yummy flavor and it stays fresh for several days and it does not have to be refrigerated.  (I opened my oven a few minutes too soon and a ring around the cake sunk, that it why the inside is not completely flat)   



St. Patrick's Pistachio Cake
adapted from the: The Cake Mix Doctor

1 White Cake Mix
1 small box pistachio instant pudding
1 c. lemon-lime soda
1 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. Irish cream coffee creamer, optional
3 eggs
green food coloring, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt pan or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl.  Blend on low for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium and mix two minutes more.  Bake about 50 -55 minutes for a bundt cake or 18-22 minutes for cupcakes.  Cool completely.  Frost with desired frosting.      

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

JENN'S HAM CHOWDER

My father-in-law, Bob, made some yummy ham chowder for us last week and I thought it was the greatest idea.  I honestly had never eaten it before.  What a great way to use up leftover ham.  I had some in my freezer that I needed to use.  So, last night, I decided to create my own recipe for this chowder.  I used the same vegetables that I remembered in Bob's and let me tell you, I absolutely loved it.  I really wish that I had some more to eat for dinner tonight.  This really is my new favorite way to use up leftover ham from the holidays.  By the way, this was the first time I had used frozen leftover ham and just to let you know, it tasted the exact same as it did the first night we ate it.  

I like my chowder super thick and chunky, so add less veggies if you don't like it really chunky.  Also, I used 1% milk and trust me, it was super smooth and creamy, so there is no need for all those extra calories by adding cream.  Serve with bread and you will be in heaven! 

**Update 10/21/12 - I have made this countless times since this post and it is a family favorite**
Jenn's Ham Chowder
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner

1 Tbl. Butter
1 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 c. onion, finely chopped
3 carrots (about 1 1/2 c.), chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
garlic, minced
1 1/2-2 c. leftover spiral ham, chopped
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
4-5 c. milk (I use 1%)
4 Tbl. cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 c. water
1 can corn, drained
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt & pepper
1 1/2-2 c. Cheddar cheese, grated

Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, chopped carrots and diced potatoes.  Saute for about 10 minutes or until onions and potatoes are slightly translucent.  Add the garlic and ham and cook another minute or so.  Add one can of chicken broth and bring up to a boil.  Boil until potatoes and carrots are tender.  Add milk and stir to combine.  Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pot.  Add the can of corn and season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (you might not need salt depending on how salty your ham, broth and corn are).  Stir to combine.  Cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Last, add shredded cheese and stir until smooth and melted.  Serve with sliced baguette.  Serves: 5-6.          

Saturday, 8 January 2011

TIE-DYE SUGAR COOKIES

If I had to pick a favorite cookie, it would be a sugar cookie with frosting, no doubt about it.  I recently posted my new favorite sugar cookie recipe, but I made them with glaze that time and I wanted to try them with frosting to see which way I liked better.  I had also seen a really cool way to make tie-dye cookies with royal icing over at The Hungry Housewife, but I had never tried royal icing, so I wondered if it would work with the frosting I wanted to try on my cookies?  As you can see by my pictures, they definitely did not turn out like Leslie's, but oh well, it was still fun to try.  If I would have made my frosting a little thinner and piped it on the cookie in a thinner swirl, it probably would have worked better.  Next time, I will try the royal icing.  

For the frosting on my cookies, I used a recipe from my friend, Andrea.  In my opinion, it is a cross between an icing and a frosting.  I have made it probably 8 or so times since she gave me the recipe.  I think it goes perfect with sugar cookies.  Don't let the sour cream scare you, because you really can't taste it.  I loved how these cookies tasted with the frosting.  They are super good with both the icing and the frosting, so which ever way you chose to make them, you won't be disappointed.  I think they deserve the title "Ultimate Sugar Cookies"!!!   
1.  Make a swirl with any color
2.  Make another swirl with a different color
3.  Followed by a 3rd swirl with another color
4.  Then make a 4th swirl with plain white
5.  Then, take a toothpick and starting in the middle, pull out to the end of the cookie.  Continue around the whole cookie.  Then, pick up your cookie and shake it back and forth to smooth out your icing. Fill in any gaps using your toothpick.  
This is the finished look.  Again, if you use a thinner frosting or royal icing, it would work a lot better than mine did.  
Or, just frost them with plain colors 

Tie-Dye Sugar Cookies

1/2 recipe of The Best Sugar Cookies
(1/2 batch yields 28 regular round cookies and 18 small hearts)
1 batch Sour Cream Frosting
Food Coloring: Any three colors  
Toothpick

1/2 Batch Sugar Cookies
1 c. butter, softened
1 + 1/8 c. sugar
2 Lg. eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk
3 + 3/4 + 1/8 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. lemon flavor
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 Tbl. honey

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and then milk.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Dough will be soft and sticky.  Place dough on a well floured surface.  Knead in just enough flour to make dough workable.  Dough will be very soft.  It is best to knead with a rolling pin motion so you have a smooth surface and you will not get cracks on top of your cookies.  Gently roll out to 3/8 inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes (mine took 13) or until edges barely start to change colors.  Cool. Yields: 28 regular round cookies and 18 small hearts


Sour Cream Frosting:
adapted from: Andrea L.

1 cup (2 cubes) unsalted butter, softened
4-5 Tbl. sour cream
5-6 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy; add 3 Tbl. sour cream.  Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, adding more sour cream as needed (The sour cream replaces the milk, so if you need the frosting to be thinner, just add more sour cream).  Add vanilla and salt and beat until light and fluffy and reaches desired consistency.  Frost or pipe onto cooled cookies.  You must keep the finished cookies refrigerated, because of the sour cream.   

*If you would like to try the tie-dye version.  Divide frosting into four bowls.  Add food coloring to three of the bowls and leave one plain white.  Add each color to four separate zip-lock bags and barley snip off the corner of the bag.  Pipe onto cookies as described above.  

Thursday, 6 January 2011

MY TOP TEN MOST VIEWED RECIPES SO FAR

I thought it might be fun to see what the top viewed recipes are on my blog.  This is since September 2010 to today. Some might surprise you and some might make a little more sense.  My #1 viewed recipe shocked me, but it is one of my new favorite recipes.
  
#10 top viewed recipe is Red Velvet Bars

#9 top viewed recipe is Key Lime Pie Bars

#8 top viewed recipe is Phat Cow Fudge

#7 top viewed recipe is Fabulous French Bread

#6 top viewed recipe is Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

#5 top viewed recipe is Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

#4 top viewed recipe is Slow Cooker Pork Chops

#3 top viewed recipe is Eggnog French Toast
 

#2 top viewed recipe is Easy Orange Rolls

#1 viewed recipe is Pumpkin Cornbread

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

15 MINUTE CREAM BISCUITS

One of my favorite things about the end of a year/start of a new year is that you get to recap what happened during the year.  I love reading the "Best Of" lists.  Example: Top 10 movies, Books, Cars, Restaurants, etc. . . . And sometimes I forget about all the yummy recipes I found on Blog's throughout the year, so it's nice to get a recap of the best.  I found this biscuit recipe over at Real Mom Kitchen.  It was her #1 bread recipe from 2010.  Well, who can pass up a #1 recipe?  Not me of course, especially when I have a whole carton of whipping cream in my fridge that needs used up and this recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups (not a whole carton, but it's a start).  These come together really quick.  The first time I made them, I wished I would have rolled them out thicker, because they didn't rise too much in the oven, so they looked a little flat.  Then, I made them a second time and added an extra teaspoon of baking powder and they actually looked like a biscuit that time.  I thought they tasted so yummy with a little honey on top.  Plain, they don't have too much flavor since there isn't any butter in them, but they were perfect with the honey.  They are really light and fall apart pretty easy.  So, you don't want to pick one up and go eat it on the couch, because there will be crumbs everywhere!  Great way to use up all that leftover whipping cream from the holidays.  

This was my 1st attempt at these!

This was my 2nd attempt!  Looks a lot better, huh?

15 Minute Cream Biscuits
adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen

2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder (2nd time I used 3 tsp.)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in all but 1/4 cup of the cream.  Take a handful of mixture and place on work surface.  Add remaining cream to dry bits in bowl and add to mixture on counter.  Knead briefly until comes together.  Shape into a long rectangle and cut into 8 square biscuits or cut into circles with biscuit cutter (I got 6 round ones).  Place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake 15-18 minutes (mine took 17 min.) or until done.  Optional: brush tops with melted butter before baking.   

Sunday, 2 January 2011

SLOW COOKER PORK CHOPS

Happy New Year.  It's 2011 already, can you believe it?  Where did 2010 go?  I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday filled with lots of family, fun, games and most important, lots of yummy food!  This recipe is for all the busy cooks out there.  It doesn't get much easier than crock-pot meals.  This pork chop recipe comes from The Hungry Housewife.  Her picture made this dish look super yummy and convinced me to make it.  My eyes make up my mind for me the majority of the time, if it looks good I will try it.  I thought these pork chops tasted pretty good.  This dish definitely gets points for being super easy.  The chop itself was really good, but the sauce had a different flavor.  It was still good, it was just a little different than I had imagined it would taste like.  I think the rice went perfect with this dish.  I almost served this over mashed potatoes, but was glad I went with the rice instead.  If you make this, DO NOT add any salt.  I didn't add any and it was still almost too salty.   

Slow Cooker Pork Chops
adapted from: The Hungry Housewife

4 thick-cut pork chops, bone in or boneless
1 can cream of chicken soup (with herbs or without)
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. white wine (I used chicken broth)
1/4 c. chicken broth
pepper

Combine soup, dressing mix, garlic, wine and broth.  Sprinkle chops with pepper (Do Not Salt).  Place chops in slow cooker and pour soup mixture over top.  Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 6-7 hours.  Serve over rice.  Serves: 4