Chocolate Chip Cookies – Yes – Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I make this recipe ALL the time.  I make them as cookies or as a bar cookie.  I have never posted it because I thought it would be silly to post a simple Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  I decided I enjoy posting what I make/bake and since we have these in our home on a regular basis why not share the recipe.  It is the one on the back for the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag.  Of course, Simple and Delicious.  Need I say more!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (I use light or dark, whatever is in my cupboard)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
12 ounce bag chocolate chips (I generally use the milk chocolate chips.  I also use a combo of milk, semi sweet and bittersweet.  That is especially delicious.)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.  Mix first three ingredients until creamy and pale yellow.  Add eggs and vanilla, blend well.
3.  Add dry ingredients, mix together.
4. Add chocolate chips and mix into batter by hand.
5.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  I generally turn the cookies around at the half way point.  That way they bake evenly.

I know everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe.  This is my go to recipe, hands down, any day of the week.  Enjoy!

Did you know…Mascarpone cheese is not a cheese?!

Mascarpone-   Mascarpone is a thickened cream (with a sweet note) that is on it’s way to turning into butter.  It is made from only two ingredients, whole cream and citric or tartaric acid (to thicken the cream). The process is so simple you can even make your own at home.

Mascarpone should have a very smooth texture with no lumps or graininess. The flavor should be milky and lightly sweet. It tends to go bad quickly, so use an open container of mascarpone within a few days.

The closest cousins to mascarpone are probably English clotted cream and French creme fraiche. However, high-quality creamy ricotta or cream cheese can also be a substitute for mascarpone. (I would not substitute mascarpone but if you must I suppose you could use those ingredients.)

Besides tiramisu, what can mascarpone be used for? In both sweet and savory dishes, mascarpone can add a creamy, rich element.  (Some people even use on their toasted or not toasted bagel!)

I use Belgioioso Mascarpone.  Belgioioso is a northeast Wisconsin cheese company.  Love their cheese!!

Pay Attention to Details

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I love to bake. (In case you couldn’t figure that out.)  Measuring cups and measuring spoons are really important to me in my kitchen.  I am very particular about both of those utensils.  Especially my measuring cups.  I like stainless steel, rounded, like a tea cup, measuring cups.  Measuring spoons I like the same way but also enjoy the new, fun spoons they have out there.

When I was in Denver in October, Kathleen , Scott and I went to  a couple of very cool kitchen stores.  When we were in one place called Sur La Table I saw the perfect measuring cups.  Kathleen tried to get me to buy them for myself but I was not having that.  It seems I don’t have a problem buying stuff for others but when it comes to me, evening measuring cups go to the back burner!

Fast forward to today.  I received a box in the mail.  It isn’t my birthday, not Christmas or any other holiday.  It was from a very special person in Denver.  In that box were those measuring cups and owl (I also love owls) measuring spoons.  For her to remember that day and those silly measuring cups means a lot to me.

I will be seeing Kathleen and Scott in Syracuse in a couple of weeks.  I must bring a simple and delicious gift made with my new measuring cups and spoons!  Hope I pay enough attention to details to make the perfect surprise!   😀

Tiramisu for Pizza Friday

For our Pizza Friday this week we had quite the spread;   salmon pizza, purple pig pizza, cheese pizza, Canadian bacon pizza, fruit pizza and TIRAMISU!  The tiramisu was enjoyed by all and gone in minutes.  I will be making another one for Sunday this week.  Instead of using a 9×13 glass dish I used a 9×9 inch glass baking dish.  Honestly, I thought the 13×9 dish would be too big and I would have too much left over.  I guess I was wrong on that one!!   (I can be wrong once in awhile.)  😉  Everything I made was Simple and Delicous, as always!

Tiramisu
(Recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen)

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Ingredients

2 1/2 cups strong black coffee, room temperature
1 1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
9 Tablespoon dark rum (I used 7 Tablespoons)
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds mascarpone cheese (Did you know mascarpone cheese is really heavy cream?)
3/4 cup heavy cream (cold)
14 ounces ladyfingers (42-60, depending on size)
3 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa, preferable Dutch processed (I used Ghiaradelli naturally unsweetened)
1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated (optional) (I used bittersweet grated chocolate on ours)

Directions

1.  Stir coffee and espresso and 5 Tablespoons rum (I used 4) in wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves.  Set aside.
2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined.  Add sugar and salt and beat at medium high speed until pale yellow, 1-2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl with rubber spatula once or twice.  Add remaining 4 Tablespoons rum (I used 3 Tablespoons) and beat at medium speed until combined.  Scrape bowl.  Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30-45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice.  Transfer to large bowl and set aside.
3.  In now empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl) But I did 🙂  with whisk attachment beat cream at medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1-2 minutes longer.  Using rubber spatula, fold one third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.  Set mascarpone mixture aside.
4.  Working ONE AT A TIME, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove and transfer to 13×9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  DO NOT submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take not more than 1-2 seconds for each cookie.  Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.more tiramisu 002
5.  Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface.  more tiramisu 005Place 2 Tablespoons of cocoa in fine mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.more tiramisu 003
6.  Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining cocoa.  Wipe edges of dish with dry papertowel.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6-24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using (why wouldn’t you?); cut into pieces and serve chilled.

 

 

 

Salmon Pizza

I thought I would make finding salmon pizza a bit easier and putting it in it’s own post.  This is a super simple and really delicious pizza.  I don’t even like salmon and I like this pizza.

Salmon Pizza

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Ingredients

1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced (you can also use canned diced tomatoes, drained)
1 small green pepper, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 pound salmon, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1.  In a small bowl put the olive oil, salt, clove garlic, and juice of 1/2 lemon and mix together.  Brush on your pizza dough
2.  Top with mozzarella cheese
3.  Top the cheese with tomatoes, green pepper, onion, salmon 420 017
4.  Bake at 525 degrees for 12-15 minutes

That’s it.  You will love this pizza combination.  Enjoy!!  🙂

50 States, 50 Pizzas – Alaska

Pizza Friday extended into Saturday this week.  I made pizza on Friday but only a cheese pizza and a sausage pizza.  Martin wasn’t able to come on Friday and the Alaska pizza was one he really wanted to try.  Alaska was a Salmon pizza.  The toppings for Alaska were tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, salmon and mozzarella.  I used the New York Thin Crust pizza recipe.  This time instead of dividing the dough evenly, I divided in thirds.  This made about a 12″ pizza which is the perfect size for my stones.  Not much in leftovers though! 😦

When I read the description of this pizza it didn’t say anything about a sauce.  I ended up using a mix of olive oil, juice from a fresh lemon and 1 clove of minced garlic.  I let that set on the counter while I prepared the toppings for the pizza.  I then coated the entire dough with the olive oil mix, then added mozzarella cheese.  I topped the cheese with tomatoes, green pepper, red onion and a 1/4 pound thinly sliced salmon.

Honestly, I did not think this combination sounded enticing at all!  Neither Kyle or myself are seafood people.  Kent opted out last night.  Martin brought a long time friend, Brenda over with him.  Brenda has been to many food festivities at our home.  So, let the taste testing begin!  I always taste the pizzas. Kyle actually had a piece and we were both pleasantly surprised.  Martin(4pieces) and Brenda  (2 pieces) loved it!  He took 2 pieces home for Jordan.  End result;  this was a success.  I will definitely make this one again.  Next time Kent and Rachel will have to try it.  🙂

Simple ingredients….

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Delicious result!!!

My Mother – Random Thoughts

My mother means everything to me.pizza friday 211

I can remember when I was younger and that was not the case.  She drove me crazy from around 14-19.  No reason other than she was my mom.

After that I started realizing how important she was to me.

She was with me in my crazy, partying years.  She was with me when I started to grow up a little bit when I met my husband.  She was with me when we had our children.  She helped me through those years in a huge way!  One thing we did do was we would take one day a week for just us.  We would go shopping and out to lunch.  Just to talk, me and her.  No one else.

Then 12 years ago we moved to Green Bay.  We had the phone and could talk frequently that way. I would go back to Syracuse to visit, and still do, a couple of times a year.  Mom and Dad ended up going into assisted living.  Sold their home.  Time changes things doesn’t it?  Now when I go back home I stay at a hotel or my brothers home.  Mom and Dad stay in their room at the assisted living place.  No more holidays in a home where memories linger.  Kind of weird I have to say.  No more on that topic.

Up to now.  My mom is 85 soon to be 86 on June 23rd.  I had to go back home in February as she ended up in the hospital.  I was very worried about her so flew back home.  We spent a few days chatting in her hospital room.  I have some issues I needed to discuss with her.  Very important issues.  One of which was my son Kyle is now my daughter Lily.  This was a very difficult topic to discuss, not just with my mom but with anyone.  My mother has always been ahead of her time.  She accepted all people for as many years as I have known her.  I knew she was not prejudice against any race.  Gay was in her vocabulary way before it was in ours.  She just accepts people for who they are no matter what.  But to tell her that her grandchild, that she came to the hospital and was in the  room when he was born was transgender.  That was way above and beyond anything I thought she could deal with.  Well, I was wrong.  She listened to me and listened to me and listened to me.  She does not quite understand but she does accept this and loves her grandchild and always will.  THAT is my mom.

In February I had to go to Syracuse to visit her.  Something I realized during that visit was that a woman is a woman whether she is 20 or 85.  We were getting ready to be discharged.  My mom got dressed and fixed her hair.  One of the things she asked me if she should continue to color her hair or go grey.  I said to do what she wanted but continuing coloring her hair is what I would do! ( I may get old but I will get old with a fight!!)  She also had some lipstick that she put on.  With that lipstick she used it as a blush on her cheeks to give her color.  (Maybe a little too much color.)  All the same she looked beautiful.  She asked me if she had too much blush on her cheeks. ( She knew.)  I just blended it in and it was fine.  She looked fabulous.  Isn’t it funny, no matter how old we are, we still care about the way we look.  I now know why I like blush and lip color.  I got that from my mom!

Since I came back home I talk to mom on a regular basis as always.  Her hearing on the phone isn’t too great but we try.  Tonight I called her to check in.  In our conversation she said she really missed me and wished I was home.  I don’t think in all the years I have been gone she has ever said that to me.  I mean, I know she misses me but she never has said that in the way she said that today.  I miss her too!

The one thing I realize about my mom is that there is absolutely no one out there, anywhere that knows me the way she does.  She is the only one.  I know I am very lucky to have her here with me now.  I also know there is absolutely no one who will every understand me the way she does.

You know, you grow up hoping you don’t become your mother.  I can only hope to be somewhat like her.  Accepting, thoughtful, an awesome listener, more love for her children than anyone I know, huge respect and love for her husband, with a touch of sarcasm and attitude.  What more could you ask for?

This is an early Mother’s Day thought.

I love you more than anything, Mom!!  Thank you for being YOU!

Seafood Pizza

Kent suggested a Seafood Pizza a couple of weeks ago.  He rarely suggests anything for me to make so I thought I would take him up on it.  He wanted shrimp and crabmeat.  I checked around online and we ended up agreeing on an alfredo sauce.  So, here is how I put together this Seafood Pizza.

Seafood Pizza

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Alfredo Sauce

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper

1 cup small shrimp (I bought frozen, cooked, deveined, tails removed)
1 cup crabmeat (I bought the fake stuff, sorry!)
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1.  Melt butter in medium saucepan with olive oil over medium/low heat
2.  Add garlic & cream and bring to a simmer.  Stir often.
3.  Add the parmesan cheese and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and smooth.  (You may want to add salt and pepper to taste.  I know I did.)
4.  When sauce has thickened, add the mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth.  STIR FREQUENTLY.
5.  After the sauce has thickened, remove from heat.
6.  Spread about 1 cup of alfredo sauce on pizza dough.
7.  Top with shrimp and crabmeat, add small amount of mozzarella cheese, top with fresh parsley
8.  Pop in oven at 500 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Kent and Rachel really enjoyed this pizza.  I had left over Alfredo sauce and was able to use that this week for a quick dinner; add spaghetti and shrimp to this sauce.  VOILA, another Simple and Delicious pizza AND left over meal!

Chewy Brownies

I wanted to make something chocolaty for Pizza Friday.  I found this recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen “All Time Favorite Recipes” magazine I bought the other day.  I prepared and baked these in less than an hour.  Simple, Delicious and AWESOME!

Chewy Brownies

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1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of boiling water
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional – I always opt for espresso!)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar)
1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch pieces April 6 2013 001(I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar)

Directions

1.  Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Make foil sling for 13 by 9 inch baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil; first sheet should be 13 inches wide and second sheet should be 9 inches wide.  Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other with extra foil hanging over edges of pan.  Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan.  Grease foil and set aside. (I forgot to grease the foil.  It worked out fine but next time I won’t forget!)
2.  Whisk boiled water, cocoa, and espresso powder together in large bowl until smooth.  Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.  Whisk in oil and melted butter.  (Mixture may look curdled – it did for me.)  Add eggs and yolks and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth.  Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. April 6 2013 002 (Rachel missed tasting this batter!) Whisk together flour and salt in small bowl and then mix into batter with rubber spatula until combined.  Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
3.  Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 1 1/2 hours.
4.  Using foil overhang, lift brownies out of pan.  Return brownies and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Since I made these before I had to leave for work my cooling method was a bit different.  I let them cool on the wire rack all day, in the pan, which I covered before I left for work.  When I got home I took them out of the pan.  It was perfectly fine this way too.  I was concerned because I forgot to spray the foil.  No need to worry.  The foil peeled very easily away.  These brownies were a total hit.  It sounds like a lot of work but I got up at 7am and had these in the oven and dishes done by 7:30.  Took them out of the oven by 8:00 and out the door by 8:30.  No big deal!!