Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Most Favoritist Chocolate Chip Cookies!!

I know everyone has their favorite go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  So I want to share mine. =)  I am a big (huge) fan of soft cookies.  I really don't like them crunchy at all....unless i have a tall glass of milk handy to dip them in.  for awhile I had such a hard time with my chocolate chip cookies.  They kept spreading on me, would end up crunchy, but if i tried to shorten the cook time the were under don't ge tme wrong, i love cookie dough (I usually eat half the cookie dough before cooking it) but when it is slightly cooked and gooey.....not a fan.  So a few years ago I discovered this recipe and it is now the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I use. But then a few weeks ago, I came across a tip to make cookies even fluffier.  I decided to give it a whirl.  I thought the extra ingredient was a bit strange, but now it will be a new addition to my already awesome recipe.  =)

Knock Your Socks off Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. butter (do not sub for margarine.....that will make them spread)
1 c. white sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla (yes, that is a tablespoon)
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp. cornstarch (weird, I know, but it works!  but if you don't want it, you can leave it out)
chocolate chips (however many you like, I usually use about 3/4 c- 1 c)

Preheat you oven to 350.

Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla.  Mix in eggs.  Add in salt, soda, starch and flour.  Add in chocolate chips.  The dough may be a bit crumbly.  Don't be alarmed and add milk or anything.  Wash your hands, and squish it together and it forms up nice.  The form the dough into 1 in balls.  Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Cook for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

These cookies don't brown up....if they've cooked them way too long!  Also, they don't spread a whole lot either so they stay nice and fluffy.  I seriously love these cookies!

I have to stop myself or I will eat the whole batch.....but If I'm in a good enough mood I might share with a cute kid.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chinese Honey Chicken and Fried Rice

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!  May your day be filled with love, whether it's from a spouse, significant other, kids, friend, parents, neighbors, whoever.  This is a day about showing your love to those around's not just for couples.  My mom used to always get us valentines.  It was usually some chocolates or a rose.  But it always made me feel loved.  Now I've continued that tradition and i always get my kids a little something.  This year they get some cute stuffed animals and candy.  My hubby, on the other hand, isn't satisfied with stuffed animals....except to use as target practice (mean, i know!).  So I usually like to bake him a sweet treat, along with the present I get him.  After all, the way to man's heart is through his stomach, right?

Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Layer:

3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons milk, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Cheesecake Layer:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 18 jelly roll pan with butter or spray with non-stick spray.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla extract, red food coloring, and white vinegar.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients, until completely combined. The batter will be a really thick, almost moldable texture...but don't worry, that's what you want. Remove 3/4 cup of the batter and place it in a medium bowl. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk (into the 3/4 cup of batter you just took out). Set aside the 3/4 cup batter.
Pour the remaining batter into the prepared jelly roll pan. Using a spatula, smooth out the batter to reach all the edges.
Now, in your stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined and there are no lumps. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the red velvet layer and smooth mixture till it reaches all the edges.

Drop spoonfuls of the remaining red velvet batter onto the top of the cheesecake layer. 

Drag the tip of a knife through the red velvet and the cheesecake layers to create swirls.  If you want to get creative you can swirl heart shapes into it, but I figured since I'm cutting out the hearts that might be pointless, but if you are serving it whole, go for it =)

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating half way through, or just until the center is set and it no longer jiggles. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. 

Use a medium sized heart cookie cutter to create the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

If you don't want to use red, change up the colors =)  Or color the cheesecake and have a brown and whatever color you pick swirl.  If you don't want hearts, use your favorite cookie cutter shape. 

These are super yummy! They aren't overpoweringly sweet.  You can even get the kids to help cut out the shapes......and I'm sure they would love to help clean up the scraps. =)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Truffle Cupcakes

I've come to the conclusion that if flavors ever got married that chocolate and peanut butter would be the perfect couple and would live forever in wedded bliss ( can you guess which is the bride and which is the groom ;) )  I like to do a lot of things combining these 2 flavors.  Even though there are so many things to do with them.....I never get sick of them and each one tastes different.  

I was browsing along one day and came across this recipe and of course had to try it.  I had to make a few substitutions because the original recipe called for coffee in it and due to us being LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), we don't drink coffee.  But they turned out FABULOUS!!!!!  So if you like peanut butter and chocolate together.....and nice and moist cupcakes....make these....right now!

    6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup warm water plus 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa mixed in (the original called for coffee so if you drink coffee, you can just do 1/2 c. strong brewed coffee)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter


For truffles, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate at 70% power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in peanut butter. Cover and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or until firm enough to form into balls. Shape into twelve 1-in. balls (I got 18 but it depends on the size you do them, I did mine on the small side); roll in cocoa. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and coffee and mix well.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full (about 1/4 cup should do it). Top each with a truffle (do not press down).

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in cake portion comes out clean (mine cooked for about 17). Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt chocolate, in 20-30 second intervals until smooth.  Combine peanut butter and cream until smooth.  Add chocolate and mix thoroughly; chill until mixture reaches spreading consistency. 

Frost cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: approximately 12-15.  The original said 12, but I got 15.  But I don't over fill my cupcakes because i don't like the  "muffin-top" look.

These were super moist.  I loved them!  The truffle sank into the cupcake so it was in the middle/on the bottom.  These were perfect!  I loved the frosting since it didn't call for powdered sugar (I'm not the biggest fan of powdered sugar but it is usually a necessary evil with frosting).  The only downside is that since it's made with cream, they need to be refrigerated.  But if you store them covered they won't dry out.  Also the cupcakes can be frozen for later too. =)


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chicken, Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta

I think I should have been born in Italy.  I LOVE pasta!  Seriously LOVE!  My favorite foods are pastas and breads (yes, I know....lots of carbs....).  Another thing I love is cheese =)  (yes, I know, more calories)  So I love that this dish has lots of cheese and pasta.  while I was dishing it up the cheese was stringing out, kinda like it does with pizza (another favorite of mine).  The kids wolfed it down.

Chicken, Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2-14 oz. cans diced Italian plum tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 lb. pasta (tubes)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (I may have used more because my family is full of cheese freaks)
2/3 c. parmesan (I used the Kraft stuff)
2 chicken breast halves, cubed, cooked 

I sauted the chicken and used the same skillet for the rest of the stuff.
Heat the oil in the skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium high heat, 1 min. Add tomatoes and oregano and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally until thickened, 15 min. Add S&P.
Meanwhile, cook pasta. Toss pasta with sauce. Place half of pasta in an oiled 9×13” dish.Cover with half parmesan and half mozzarella. Top with remaining pasta, then parmesan and mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.  Serve with some garlic bread and enjoy!!!

I didn't want to use the 9x13 pan because I knew there would be leftovers and I didn't want the leftovers to go to waste so I used 2 8x8 pans.  I cooked one, and the other, I lined with tinfoil, sprayed with cooking spray and froze.  Once it was frozen, I wrapped in tinfoil and put it in a freezer bag to serve later.  I love when I can find a meal that I can freeze for later =) (less cooking later on)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Apple Dumpling Hand Pie

My hubby asked me if he could take some treats to work and he had a craving from some apple dumplings. Well, being the nice wife that I am, I made some.  But as I was perusing recipes, all of them were either for a full apple or using crescent rolls (and we already have a good recipe for those so I wanted something different).  So I decided to do my own =)  I have to admit, this was one of the first times that I made up my own recipe.  Usually I find a recipe and then tweak it.  I was pleased with the results.  there are some changes I will make next I make them though =)

Pie Crust (or you could take the shortcut route and use a store bought)
2 2/3c. four
1/8 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening
2/3 + 1/8 c. butter
1/2 c. ice water (you won't use it all)

Mix flour, sugar, and salt.  Add shortening and butter.  Mix with fork or pastry blender until dough is crumbly.  Add ice water 1 tbsp. at a time.  The dough should remain slightly flaky.  Refrigerate it until ready to use.

Apple filling:
3 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed.
2/3 c brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Combine in a bowl.  Set aside.

1 c. butter (may need more), melted
1 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Combine cinnamon and sugar.

Roll out pie crust and cut 3-in circles.  I got about 36 circles, with a bit of dough left over.

 Dip half the circles in butter and then dip in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place on baking sheet.  Place about 2 tsp. of the apple pie filling on each circle.

Dip the remaining circles in butter and the cinnamon sugar mix and place over top of the apples.  Seal the edges.

Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.

(Sorry the picture's not better, but believe me, it is super yummy inside!)

I did mine in 2 batches so I didn't have the crust sitting out the whole time.  I did 9 at a time on a baking sheet.  The next time I make them, I think I am going to make my apple pieces smaller.  I just cubed them but I really think they need to be almost minced (can you mince an apple?  oh well =)  )  The crust is super yummy and flaky.  Don't be alarmed that there are juices running out when it is baking.  If you want, you could probably bake them in a 9x13 pan and save the juices and use them as a drizzle (yum!).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pizza Pretzels

My family LOVES pizza =)  I think we could eat it several times a week and be good with it.  So I am always trying to find new ways to make it.  I found this idea on Pinterest and had to give it a whirl.  Needless to say, it was a big hit.  I need to make these again, and this time triple the batch so that I can have some leftovers =)

Pizza Dough:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2-2/3 cup hot water (120-130°F)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Italian Seasonings, optional (I used about 1 tablespooon)

Combine flour, yeast, salt, seasonings and sugar in the bowl. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. Gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. If you are one of those lucky people with a Kitchen Aide, use that.  I used my bread machine and just put the setting on "dough" to knead the it. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Continue mixing until the dough forms a ball, then knead for 1 minute.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray, cover and let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes.

shredded mozzarella cheese 
shredded parmesan cheese
 pepperoni slices
chopped mushrooms
chopped olives
whatever your family likes =)

1 egg slightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 400ºF. 

Cut the prepared pizza dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each out into a rectangle.
(I doubled the recipe so I could freeze some for later....but there weren't any left to freeze after my family devoured them)

 Scatter the cheese and toppings over the dough. Brush the one of the long sides with a little egg wash then, starting with the opposite side, roll the dough up into a log, enclosing the toppings inside. Shape the log into a pretzel and transfer to a baking sheet.

Brush the top of the pizza pretzel with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. 

Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

So they didn't exactly look like pretzels but they were still great =)  The good thing with these is you can put whatever toppings you like in them.  Have the kids help do their own.  And everyone can choose their own dipping sauces: ranch, marinara, garlic butter, or plain.  Whatever you want, you can do.