Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chocolate Nutella Cookies

This was the best I could do at getting a picture of these before they vanished!  My husband volunteered to be the hand model for this one (and the taste tester it appears!).  What's not to love about Nutella?!  Personally, I like my cookies a bit more on the fluffy side, but it's Nutella we're talking about here.  I've been in a bit of a cooking funk and I was counting on this recipe to pull me out of the rut.  I think they did the trick!

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of Nutella
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts 

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter in an electric mixer for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and Nutella and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each. Add the vanilla and mix for 10 seconds.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda (do not skip this step as sifting eliminates clumps of cocoa). Mix into the butter mixture on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides at least once to ensure even mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and refrigerate the dough for ten minutes.

Spoon tablespoon-sized drops of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheets for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 6 dozen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meatless Monday - a repeat already?!

Call me boring, but we did a repeat this Meatless Monday.  We liked them so much, I put Roasted Veggie Sandwiches back on the menu after just a couple weeks!  Happy Monday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Oatmeal Cream Pies

These weren't quite as good as the real thing, but still a delicious treat. The cookies were very similar, but I would use an icing-based filling instead of cream cheese if I were going for a true copy-cat. No matter what, my husband loved them and that makes me happy.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup golden raisins
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown and granulated sugars, and molasses on high, scraping down bowl, until light and fluffy, 4 minutes. Add vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture and beat just until combined. With a rubber spatula, stir in oats and raisins. Drop dough in 2-tablespoonful mounds, 2 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set at edges and slightly soft in middle, about 11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets, 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, using mixer, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until light, 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Spread filling on flat side of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Slow Cooked Spicy Orange Chicken

We tried this out the other night and it immediately went on my "sure to be a crowd pleaser" list. Mmm, mmm, good. A little spicy, a little sweet, moist and tender meat - yum! Roasted sweet potatoes were the perfect side veg.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs

1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup chicken broth

Put the chicken into the bottom of your slow cooker.
In a small bowl, combine the marmalade with the dry spices and chicken broth. You'll end up with a slimy orange gel that smells like ginger. Pour this on top of the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for about 4.

You can either carefully remove the chicken and serve in full breasts or large chunks, or you can do what I did and shred it all with two forks allowing the meat to soak up more of the tasty juice. I suggest serving over brown rice with roasted sweet potatoes. Delish!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meatless Monday - Spicy Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Mushrooms with Tofu

It'd been a while since I'd made stir-fry. I think stir-fries are all about the sauce. This sauce was spicy and delicious and would work with any number of other veggie combination.

1tsp cornstarch
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp Thai chile sauce, such as sriracha
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbs canola oil, divided
1 14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 lb box choy, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms

Whisk together cornstarch and 1 tsp water in a bowl. Whisk in soy sauce, ginger, chile sauce, garlic, and sesame oil.

Heat 1 Tbs, canola oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir-fry tofu until golden brown; transfer to plate. Add 1 Tbs. canola oil to wok. Stir fry bok choy 4 minutes; transfer to plate.

Add remaining 1 Tbs. oil to wok. Stir-fry mushrooms for 2 minutes, or until tender. Return tofu and bok choy to wok. Stir in soy sauce mixture, and stir-fry 1 minute or until hot.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Roasted Carrot Soup

As much as I love fall, saying goodbye to Summer is always difficult. This smooth soup helped the adjustment. It needed a little something at the end, but an extra dash of salt and some Sriracha (aka Rooster Sauce) did the trick. The recipe came from Simple Bites.

2 lbs carrots, peeled and uniformly sliced

2 tsp vegetable oil

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 tsp cumin

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 tbsp veg oil

6 small new or nugget potatoes, about 2/3 lb (Use only waxy varieties)

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup cilantro (lightly packed)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sliced carrots in 2 tsp vegetable oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Roast in the center of your oven for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove when slightly caramelized or blackened. Set aside.

In heavy bottomed saucepan, sauté onion on medium heat in 2 tbsp of oil. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into large chunks.

Once onions have turned slightly translucent, add potatoes and sauté for about 10 minutes.

Add the stock and turn the heat up to high. Once boiling, lower to a simmer.

Keep simmering until the potatoes are almost done (about 10-15 minutes), then add the roasted carrots. Cook just enough to bring the carrots up to temperature, then remove from heat.

Pour soup into blender or food processor in batches (or use an immersion blender). Add in your cilantro at this point as well. Blend it all up until it’s as smooth as you like.

Return soup to saucepan and reheat.

Serve with crusty bread for dipping and even a swirl of sour cream or crème fraîche.
To Freeze: Allow soup to cool completely. Ladle into freezer-safe containers or glass jars, taking care to leave enough headspace to allow for ice expansion. Close lids, label clearly with the date and place in the freezer.
To Thaw: Whenever possible, thaw soup overnight in the refrigerator. For a quicker thaw, place jar in tepid water and let stand at room temperature. Never pour hot water over your jar or it may crack.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blackberry Cobbler

I adapted a recipe from allrecipes to get this delicious cobbler. Next time, I'll let the berries sit in a bit of sugar to get their juices flowing before adding them to the mix. You could use this recipe for pretty much any fruit that sounds good in cobbler form.

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
1-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
3 cups blackberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Once oven temperature is reached melt butter in a 8x8 square baking pan.

In a medium bowl stir together the flour, soda, powder, sugar and milk; batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour mixture on top of melted butter in baking pan. Do not mix butter and mixture together.

Drop blackberries into batter; if more crust is desired add less blackberries. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until golden brown on top.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I had fresh blueberries in the fridge, two lemons on the counter, and some friends coming over for brunch. An ingredient search on allrecipes served us this fantastically moist treat!

1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, juice and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk. Fold in lemon zest, nuts, and blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Remove bread from pan and drizzle with glaze. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slow Cooked Lamb with Prune Gravy

Our friends have an upcoming trip to Iceland and we wanted to celebrate with them (aka live vicariously) over dinner. I heard they eat a bit of lamb over there, so I ventured out - but not too far since I used the crock pot. Anything tastes good after being simmered in a crock pot all day, right?! It was delicious. The prunes on top got a bit charred, but I did leave it on an hour too long.

2-4 pounds boneless lamb
1 tsp rosemary or thyme
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups dried plums (prunes?!)
1/2 cup white wine (or apple juice)
1 cinnamon stick

Use a 4-5 quart crockpot. Put meat inside and rub on all sides with dry spices. Add garlic and pruned. Pour in wine and through in the cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for about 4.

If you want, remove meat from stoneware and make a gravy with the accumulated juices and some corn starch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stone Fruit Compote

Here's a nice way to use up the last of the peaches or other stone fruit of the season. I don't have the photography gear (or skill) to make compote look good, but I promise that was what was in the bowl (along with several scoops of ice cream!). I actually enjoyed it with oatmeal almost better than the ice cream.

3-4 cups coarsely chopped stone fruit, such as peaches, nectarines, and plums (about 3/4 pound total), dried or fresh
2-3 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt
2-3 cups water, start with 1 and add more as needed
1 small cinnamon stick

Put everything in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to simmer 15-20 minutes or until fruit is completely soft.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meatless Monday - Roasted Veggie Sandwiches with Basil Pesto Spread

We had a slew of fresh veg and a flourishing basil plant, so I made a last minute decision to invite friends over for roasted veggie sandwiches. They were delicious! Grilling them in a little butter didn't hurt. =)

To roast the veggies:

Preheat oven to 450.
Thinly slice whatever veg you have on hand. I used a zucchini, remnants of a red and green pepper, and some eggplant.
Either spray your roasting pan with cooking spray or lightly toss your veggies with a little olive oil.
Lay out veggies on pan, not overlapping. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Pop in the oven.
Check after 20 minutes. They're probably ready to flip. You want a little color on the bottom side of the veg before you flip it. After flipping the veggies, put them back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve on bread with fresh tomatoes, spinach, cheese, other regular sandwich fixings and some basil pesto spread:

2 c fresh basil
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp salt, add more to taste
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Place basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and salt to taste in a blender or food processor.
Process until finely textured but not completely smooth.
Scrape pesto into a bowl and sir in the cheese.
If not using immediately, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until needed. Makes about 1 cup.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shrimp in Spiced Tomato Sauce

Quick. Simple. Full of flavor. Easy to double and freeze. Better if you pay attention and buy peeled and deveined shrimp. Doh.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
16 ounces (1 pound) peeled and deveined shrimp
cooked couscous, for serving
chopped cilantro, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Stir in onion and ginger - cook until the onion has softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in coriander, cayenne and lemon zest - cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking them up as you go - bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season sauce generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Stir in shrimp and simmer until shrimp have cooked through, about 2 to 4 additional minutes. Serve each portion with couscous and a scattering of chopped cilantro on top.

This recipe also freezes well: after finishing the sauce, let cool to room temperature. Place shrimp in a 1-gallon freezer bag and pour cooled tomato sauce on top. Press out air, seal bag, and freeze flat. Store int eh freezer, up tot 2 1/2 months. To serve, thaw shrimp mixture in a refrigerator overnight. Transfer to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high, cooking 3-5 minutes longer until shrimp is cooked through.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blackberry Slump

I clipped this recipe out of a Saveur magazine a while back, waiting for the slew of wild blackberries in our neighborhood to ripen. The description said it's a cousin of a cobbler. I'd say more in the family of coffee cake. But delicious either way and a great use of any fresh berry. I don't own ramekins, so I used an 8x8 baking dish.

2 1⁄4 cups flour
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter,
cut into 1⁄2" cubes, chilled, plus 8 tbsp. melted and more for greasing
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 lb. fresh or frozen thawed

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

To make crumb topping, combine 1⁄4 cup flour, 1⁄4 cup sugar, and 2 tbsp. chilled and cubed butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture takes on texture of coarse bread crumbs, about 10 seconds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350°. Grease eight 6-oz. ramekins with butter and dust with flour; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large measuring cup, whisk together melted butter and wine; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining sugar, vanilla, and eggs until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Add wine mixture to eggs and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide batter between ramekins and top each with berries. Sprinkle reserved crumb topping evenly over berries. Put ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes; serve with scoops of ice cream on top.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kickin' Cream Cheese Dip

This is quite possibly the easiest thing you could serve that will be sure to have everyone coming back from more, and more . . . and more. I've already used it as an appetizer twice this week!

Place a large chunk of cream cheese in a serving dish. Place several heaping spoonfuls of any spiced fruit jelly on top (something like this). Serve with a Triscuit-esque cracker.
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