Friday, April 27, 2012

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

My "go to" cookie has always been the Nestle Toll House recipe on the back of the package of chocolate chips (with the addition of extra vanilla and a pinch of extra salt).  I always have the ingredients on hand, and it's incredibly easy, especially if you make them into bars...basically pouring all of the dough into a small cookie sheet.  Anyway, I was intrigued when I saw a recipe for "Chocolate Chip Cookies Reinvented" in an issue of Cooks Illustrated.  I was blown away at how much better this recipe could be...the only changes were browning the butter (which gave the cookies a toffee-like flavor), upping the brown sugar in the recipe, and the elimination of one egg white.  These are my new "go to" cookie, the are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside...the perfect cookie!   Anyway, try them out and enjoy!

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12- inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use#24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking seet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

I've been loving this healthy dessert blog called Chocolate Covered Katie.  We LOVE dessert in our family, and I really like the idea of making healthier desserts, since we eat them so often.  These were super easy and they are gluten, dairy, and egg free.  I modified them a bit by sticking a dark chocolate chip in the center, and I used half craisins and half raisins because I didn't have enough raisins.

You can find the recipe here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lentil Soup with Wheat Berries and Beets

The only soup I can get away with making in my house is a hearty soup, with lots of substance.  Rarely would I make soup without meat in it, but this soup is so hearty, that you don't even miss it.  It's perfect on cold, rainy day (which I'm thinking we'll have many more of until mid-June).  

1 1/2 cups lentils (rinsed)
1 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries
1 1/2 cups corn
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large beet diced
3 celery stalks diced
1/2 onion diced
2 carrots diced
8 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Kirklands no salt seasoning (or any other seasoning mix you would like to use)

Saute all of the vegetables in olive oil for 5 minutes, add the lentils, water, and spices.  Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat and add in the wheat berries and corn.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Maple Syrup Herb Rubbed Steak and Roasted Veggies

This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous!  It's going to be perfect for a barbeque, so dust off your grill, thaw out some steaks and try this simple steak rub!  I also roasted vegetables to go along with this meal, I was going to throw them on the grill (wrapped in foil) as well, but I really wanted to include my asparagus, and the cooking times for the different vegetables wouldn't have worked out.  Roasting them allowed me to add in the asparagus for the last fifteen minutes instead of having to cook them the entire time, which would have resulted in soggy asparagus.  Anyway, here is the recipe for the rub!

2 steaks
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh rosemary

 To roast the vegetables (I used potatoes, carrots, onions, and asparagus), cut them about the same size and place on a cookie, bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.  If using asparagus, add that in for the last 15 minutes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sauteed Chicken with Herbed Brown Butter Sauce

This dish was amazing!  It's modified from a recipe I saw in Cooking Light magazine.  The browned butter in the title caught my eye.  I love browned butter, in savory and sweet dishes.  I served the chicken with garlic, buttered orzo pasta and a salad. If you are looking for a quick, but flavorful chicken recipe, definitely try this one!

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place each breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; coat with cooking spray. Place flour in a shallow dish (season with salt and pepper); dredge chicken in flour.

Add chicken to pan; sauté for 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan.2. Add butter and lemon thyme and parsley to pan; cook over medium heat until butter browns.  Add shallots; cook for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; cook for 30 seconds. Serve on top of chicken

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Granola bar - FAIL

I love making snacks for our family.  I love knowing that we are snacking on healthy, homemade food...rather than processed food from the store.  I love the entire process (well everything but the clean up anyway) of creating delicious healthy treats.  Last week, I wanted to make some healthy snacks for the plane ride last week, so I decided to make some granola bars.  I based my recipe on one I saw in a Taste of Home magazine, but apparently I should have followed the recipe a little closer, because my granola bars wouldn't stick together...FAIL.

It wasn't a total failure though, because actually, this granola bar crumbled mess made some of the tastiest, chewiest granola I've ever had.  So...if you are in the mood to make your own granola, you can use my tried and true recipe healthy granola, or you could try this one too...minus the egg...that was only necessary for the granola bar recipe. Hey, and if you want to try to make bars out of this recipe, let me know if it works for you. 

3-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped cashews  
1 egg, lightly beaten 
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup honey 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup sunflower kernels 
1/2 cup flaked coconut 
1 cup dried cranberries 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon  

In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, cashews, cranberries, coconut, sunflower kernels, cinnamon, and any other seeds or nuts you would like to add.  In another bowl whisk together the honey, butter, and vanilla.  Pour the honey mixture into the oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.  Spread in a large cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Egg scramble and lots of veggies

I'm not really a huge fan of scrambled eggs, but throw in a few veggies and a side of toast and it quickly becomes a favorite.  I love to cook with vegetables, all kinds of vegetables.  For this meal, I just used whatever I had laying around in my fridge.  This was actually a meal I made for dinner (breakfast for dinner is the best) but it would be perfect on a lazy Saturday morning too. 

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1 Roma tomato chopped
1-2 handfuls spinach
6 eggs
1-2 tbsp cream (or milk)
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese (for sprinkling on top)

In a bowl whisk together eggs and cream, season with salt and pepper. 

 Saute onion and peppers in olive oil for 5 minutes, add in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper (a few shakes of each) and cook for another couple of minutes.  Add in the spinach and cook for one more minute and then add in the egg mixture.  Cook through and sprinkle with feta.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chocolate cookies

I love this simple chocolate cookie recipe from Martha Stewart.  They are perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  Normally, these cookies flatten out pretty well, but when I made them this time they stayed puffy.  I think it's because I used Silpats (silicone cookie sheet liners) instead of parchment paper.  I recently purchased a couple of them, and I'm still learning when to use them and when to not.  Flat or puffy, these cookies are tasty...enjoy!

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies (Martha Stewart)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons) unsalted, butter room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus more for dipping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, 2 cups sugar, and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients, and combine with mixer on low speed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until dough is firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dip top of each ball into sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Creamy Pesto Sauce

I have a special place in my heart for creamy sauces over pasta.  I know a good cream sauce is calorie rich, and probably has more fat in it than I should consume in a day, but it's so worth it.  Last night I made a creamy pesto sauce with tomatoes, and it was AMAZING!  You can my recipe for pesto sauce here, or even a store bought pesto, if you want a really easy dinner.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp butter
1 cup pesto sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)

Heat cream on low to medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add butter, and once butter is melted add pesto sauce and tomatoes to pan.  After sauce is heated thoroughly, add Parmesan cheese to sauce.  Pour over pasta and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

Well, I'm off to Vegas for a few days, so I'll be taking a little blog break.  Have a great week!

Baked Veggie Chips baked chips are not for the faint of heart.  I've never baked chips (or fried them for that matter) and I had no idea how time consuming it was.  I gave my mandolin away at a white elephant Christmas party last year, which is unfortunate because it would have really come in handy yesterday.  I had to manually cut the potatoes and beets, which wasn't a big deal, except that they were different sizes and so they all cooked at different times.  Anyway, they were super tasty and I think I'll do it again, I just think it would be way easier with a mandolin.  Here is the recipe if you want to brave making these tasty treats.

2-3 russet potatoes (peeled and sliced thinly 1/8 inch-ish)
1 large beet (peeled and sliced thinly)
Any other root vegetable you have on hand (sweet potatoes, parsnips)

Place the slices in a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake at 375 degrees until they veggies are golden brown or about 15 minutes, turn once. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

Things are coming up!

I so love this time of year, when my seeds start sprouting and popping up out of the ground.  My peas have been out for a couple of weeks now, I have some lovely onion starts in the ground, and my lettuce just peeped it's head out of the soil a couple of days ago.  I'm going out today to plant a few more seeds with my little guy.  He is very excited about his own garden bed that daddy made for him last week.  Today, we will be planting carrots, beets, broccoli, and kale.  It's been so fun to get him involved.  He helped daddy fill the box with soil, and yesterday, planted all of his peas by himself.  He is choosing the veggies that he'd like to grow, and can't wait to eat them.  I love that we are not only teaching him how to grow his own food, but also teaching him hard work and patience.