Brownie Cookies

I checked with Eric today to see if he would like any cookies made for Sunday dinner.  Everyone else had stuff going on and he and Rachel were popping over.  I like it when they give me different food ideas.  He said he wanted Brownie Cookies.  I checked around and found a recipe at Food Network that I thought I would try.  Here is this very simple and delicious recipe.

Brownie Cookies

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6 oz or 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
6 oz or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 eggs
8 Tablespoons (1/2 cup)  softened butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz or 1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I did not use nuts)

Directions -Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.  Place bittersweet and semisweet chocolate in top of double broiler.  Add softened butter.  Stir until melted.  Take off heat and set aside to cool.
2.  Using an electric mixer (I did not use my stand up mixer), beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy.  Add 1 cup of sugar gradually until the mixture ribbons off the beaters.  Add the cooled chocolate and stir to combine.
3.  Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  Fold in the milk chocolate chips and nuts (if using).  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to chill.
4.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (I LOVE parchment paper!)
5.  Scoop up dough and roll into ball the size of a walnut.  122913 012Place on prepared cookie sheet 1 1/2 inches apart.122913 011
6.  Bake for 12 minutes.  I time 6 minutes and then turn the cookie sheet around.  Bake for 6 more minutes.   The top of the cookies will look dry and cracked like a brownie.  122913 013Take out to cool.

We loved these cookies.  Even Kent liked them  Not too chocolatey but definitely a yummy brownie cookie!!  Simple and Delicious!!

Much Too Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

I am experimenting with candy recipes this holiday season.  Everyone in this house enjoys chocolate and peanut butter.  I found this recipe and thought I would give it a try.  It takes 15 minutes, tops.  You need to try this.  Myself, Rachel and Martin2 really enjoyed it. Eric said it was okay (thought it was kind of grainy).  Not sure what Lily or Martin thought of this one.  I will know tomorrow night for sure.  Needless to say 3 of us could eat the whole 8×8 dish of it so I would say it is a winner.  Simple (simpler than simple) and Delicious!

Much Too Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

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Ingredients

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, divided
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoonvanilla extract

Directions

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1.  Line an 8×8 inch dish with parchment paper (I used a glass baking dish)
2.  In a medium sized pan (I used a stainless steel pan), stir together the chocolate chips, 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 cup sweetened condensed milk and pinch of salt until all the chocolate chips have melted.  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Remove from heat. (this takes no time at all!)
3.  In a small sauce pan (stainless steel again) stir together the peanut butter chips, remaining sweetened condensed milk and 1 teaspoon butter until all the peanut butter chips have melted. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract.
4.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.  Using spatula, smooth out the top until level.  Drop the dish from 1 inch high, 2-3 times to release air bubbles.
5.  Dollop the peanut butter mixture evenly across the chocolate.  Using butter knife, swirl the peanut butter into the chocolate.
6.  Allow to set in the refrigerator for 3 hours.  After 3 hours carefully pull the parchment paper up and remove the fudge from the pan. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  (If it lasts!)

Extremely Delicious Peanut Brittle

I asked my mom what I could do for a gift for dad this Christmas.  My Dad has Alzheimer’s.  His short term memory is shot.  Not so sure about the long term memory either.  He lives in the moment, the exact moment and that is it.   Anyways, being the foodie I am she said he would like Peanut Brittle and a Chex Mix.  At first I thought I could go to Seroogy’s (a local candy store) and get the Peanut Brittle there.  Then I thought, why not, I will make it myself.  I am not a candy person.  So I wasn’t sure if I would succeed.  I found this recipe on Epicurious and it worked perfectly!  Dad won’t remember it minutes after he eats it but he sure will enjoy it while he is chomping on it!!  2013 UPDATE:  This recipe continued to work for me this year.  No changes in temperature.  I still did the 260 for first boil and then 295 after adding the nuts and butter.  My combination of nuts this year was 3 cups of salted roasted cashews and 1 cup salted pistachios.  Once again, delicious!   I happen to like this recipe a little too much.  I may hold out in 2014 and make for 2015 or…maybe not!

Peanut Brittle

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3 cups sugar
2 cups water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 cups coarsely chopped salted roasted peanuts (I used 3 cups peanuts and 1 cup salted roasted cashews)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (I changed this from 2 Tablespoons to 3 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Butter 2 heavy large baking sheets.  (I used a jelly roll pan and a 13×9 cake pan – that worked fine)
2.  Stir first 4 ingredients in heavy large saucepan (I used my Dutch Oven pan) over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
3.  Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until candy thermometer registers 260 degrees, about 40 minutes. (It really takes about 40 minutes.  I have a gas stove.) (Be sure it stays rapidly boiling)
4.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Mix in peanuts and butter and cook until thermometer registers 295 degrees, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes. (this really took 15 minutes of stirring constantly.  I am glad Kent helped me with this)
5.  Add baking soda and vanilla and stir briskly (mixture will foam up).  IMMEDIATELY pour out onto prepared baking sheets, dividing evenly.  Spread out brittle as thinly as possible.  121913 009
6.  Let stand until cold and hard. (about an hour)
7.  When set, break brittle into pieces. December 16 2012 002 IT IS DELICIOUS!!
8.  Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

This was a success and I will NOT be going to Seroogy’s for dads gift.  He will certainly have his moments of enjoying this Simple and Delicious confection!!  🙂

Ridiculously Easy Rice Krispie Treat

This was the easiest recipe I have done in quite a long time.  Martin wanted to make this for our Christmas baking day.  Martin2  brought this home over the weekend when he visited his mom for their baking day.  (Confusing, huh?!)  Martin2 gave me the recipe. This is a treat they have made in their family for the holidays for a long time.  Now we will be making it too! (maybe not just for the holidays) 😉  You will want to make it also because it is incredibly simple, fast and DELISH!

Ridiculously Easy Rice Krispie Treat

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Ingredients

2 cups Rice Krispie cereal
2 cups salted Spanish Peanuts (yes, the one with the redskins on them.  You could use any nut you wanted though.)
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter (spray the measuring cup with non stick cooking spray.  The peanut butter comes out much easier!)
2 pounds white chocolate (I used 3-12 ounce bags of white chocolate chips)

Directions

1.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.   In a large bowl, combine the Rice Krispies, peanuts and marshmallows.121813 010

2.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and peanut butter on “high” for 1 minute, take out and mix. 121813 011 Put back in for 30 second intervals.  Take out and mix, until fully melted.  (Martin has great patience for this kind of job.  Last time I was in charge of this the chocolate seized.  He made sure that didn’t happen again!)

3.  Stir chocolate mixture into the cereal mixture.

4.  We used a 1/4 measuring cup and dropped onto waxed paper.  After we emptied the bowl we put the cookie sheet in the cold garage to set. (You can use your refrigerator too.  Mine was pretty full.  Good thing it is 20 degrees here!)  We let them set about 2 hours.  121813 016

5.  Store in an airtight container or storage bag.  Either works.

This took us no time at all!  Enjoy!

Lokum (Bulgarian) or Turkish Delight

Martin and I had our annual Christmas baking night last evening.  He chose candies to make this year.  We did a very simple Rice Krispie treat, caramels and Lokum (or as you may know it, Turkish Delight).  Martin has enjoyed Lokum since he was a young child when he lived with his grandparents in Bulgaria.  He found a recipe and wanted to give it a try this year.  It was a nice change making candy this year.  It takes a long time and there is down time where you can enjoy each others company.  The Lokum came out quite tasty and Martin said it was just like what he was used to in Bulgaria.  Here is the recipe, compliments of about.com.  One thing I recommend is to have everything all prepared.  You may think you have time when the temperature reaches that magic number but you never know.  Be prepared!  🙂  Another suggestion; this recipe made LOTS of Lokum.  Next time we make this I am cutting the recipe in half.   This may be time consuming but this was a very simple and delicious treat!

Lokum

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Ingredients

4 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water, divided per directions
2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used a lemon, not bottle)
1 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 1/2 Tablespoon rosewater
2-3 drops red food coloring
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

1.  Prepare a 9×9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.
2.  Place the sugar, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a boil. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming.  Insert the candy thermometer.
3.  Allow the sugar mixture to continue boiling until it reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.  No need to stir during this time period. (I kept the temperature at medium to medium low.)
4.  When the sugar syrup is around 225 degrees, begin to get the rest of the candy ingredients prepared.  Place the remaining 3 cups of water in another, slightly larger, saucepan.  Add the cornstarch and cream of tarter.  Whisk until the starch dissolves and there are no lumps.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly.  The mixture will become thick and pasty. (Glad Martin did this job!)
5.  Once the sugar syrup is at 240 degrees, remove it from the heat.  Slowly pour into the cornstarch mixture, whisking until it is fully incorporated.
6.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking every 8 minutes, for an hour, until the candy has turned a light golden yellow color and is very thick and gluey.
7.  After an hour, remove from the heat and stir in the food coloring and rosewater.  Pour the candy into the prepared pan and allow it to set, uncovered and overnight.  (I left out on the counter.  You can put in fridge if you want.)
8.  The next day, remove the candy from the pan using the foil as handles. (Lokum has a soft, delicate, jelly-like consistency.)  Dust your work station with the powdered sugar and flip the candy onto the powdered sugar.  Remove the foil from the gack and dust the top with the sugar.  Use an oiled chef’s knife to cut the Lokum into small squares.  Dust each side of the square with powdered sugar to prevent stickiness.
9.  This treat is best soon after it is made.  It does not keep well.  You can store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers and dust the sides with powdered sugar again before serving.

Enjoy!

 

Crepes with Cheese Spread

Martin’s appetizer request; Crepes (or Palachinka as Martin calls them) with a cheese spread.

Palachinka (pancakes in Bulgarian) are something Martin really enjoys. When Martin lived with his grandparents in Sofia, Bulgaria he would have Palachinka often.  I can remember when he first wanted me to make these. I had never made crepes before and thought they would be a flop.  He missed his Grandma and home country so much at that time. I knew the only way I was able to give him any warm memory of being home in his Grandma’s kitchen was through food.  I know I will never be able to make them as good as his Grandma.  However, I do believe I am getting close! 😉

Crepes are a challenge to make.  Once you get it down it is very easy though.  Here is the recipe I use:

Palachinka (Crepes)

Ingredients

2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (yes, whole it makes a difference)
6 Tablespoons water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons melted butter (plus extra for brushing on pan)

Directions (sorry this is so long, really it is worth it AND Simple and Delicious!)

1.  Mix all of the above ingredients in food processor or blender. (you could also do by hand using a whisk.  I use a food processor and it is great because there are no lumps at all.  If you do by hand you may need to strain.)  If using a food processor let it mix for about 15-30 seconds.  It doesn’t take long at all.  After you mix, transfer batter to a covered container.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.  (Try not to skip this step.  It really works much better when making the crepes.)

2.  Take out of refrigerator and gently stir batter if ingredients have separated.  Heat a 6-7 inch pan (I use a non stick 9 inch skillet) over medium heat.  Brush pan bottom and sides very lightly with butter, which should sizzle when it hits the pan.  I use just under a 1/2 cup of batter (for my size pan, if you use a smaller pan you will need to use less batter).  I put the batter in middle of pan, lift off the heat and rotate, covering the entire bottom of the pan.  Set on burner and let cook for 30-45 seconds, flip it over and cook same amount on other side.

3.  Place cooked crepe on plate and repeat cooking process with remaining batter, brushing pan with butter as needed (every 2 crepes for me).  You will get about 8 crepes with the way I make them.  You can store in refrigerator for 2-3 days.  You can also freeze up to 2 months.  I have never had any left so I am not sure how they taste the next day!  🙂

Martin loves the cheese spread for these just barely sweet crepes.  Nutella, jam or preserves are also a great filling.

Cheese Spread

1/4 cup sirene (Sirene is Bulgarian Feta Cheese.  Use any Feta you like)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic
1 Tablespoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh dill (please use fresh if you can)

Mix all together.  Spread in middle of crepe and roll up.  This truly is simple and delicious!  Enjoy 🙂

Turkey Biscuit Pot Pie

Thanksgiving gives us plenty of leftover turkey.  Kent loves pot pies.  He also loves biscuits.  I threw this together last weekend.  Personally, I would prefer chicken.  However, I had lots of leftover turkey and that is what I used this time around.

Turkey Biscuit Pot Pie

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Ingredients

1 carrot, chopped
1 potato, diced
1 cup peas (frozen)
1 cup mixed vegetables (frozen)
4 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used a combination of rosemary, thyme, parsley and sage)
2 cups of turkey, cut into bite size pieces (or chicken)
1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pillsbury.  You can make your own too.  Sometimes I just need fast!)

Biscuits

2 1/4 cup Bisquick (yup, fast…remember)
2/3 cup milk

Directions

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  In 9 inch pie plate place the pie crust. Poke holes all around the pie crust, bottom and sides, with a fork.  Prebake in oven at 450 degrees for 5-10 minutes.  Take out to cool. Lower oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Meanwhile, in a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, cook until softened.  Beat in flour with wire whisk.  Gradually beat in broth and fresh herbs.  Reduce heat to medium low, cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.  Stir in vegetables and turkey into sauce.  Spoon mixture into pie crust.continued november 009
3.  Place biscuits on top of mixture.  continued november 010 Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

This is simple and delicious, anytime of year!

Cranberry Pear Crisp

I made plenty for Thanksgiving this year.  However, the best recipe for me was the Cranberry Pear Crisp.  I get Food Network Magazine and this recipe is from the November issue.  This was a hit in our home.  Most everyone enjoyed this recipe.  I also baked a pumpkin pie (I don’t bake pies) which I was told was delicious and my usual cheesecake.  Plenty of desserts to pass around that is for sure!

Cranberry Pear Crisp

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Ingredients

1 pound cranberries (thawed if frozen – I used fresh)  Did you know Wisconsin is the leading produce of cranberries in the U.S.?
1 cup dried cranberries (these are delicious just by themselves!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 firm pears, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used Bosc)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon)
pinch of allspice
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (I did not melt.  I used softened butter to room temperature.)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the fresh and dried cranberries in a large bowl.  Add 1 cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons water (I did not add the water) and the vanilla.  Toss and coat.  Lightly smash with a potato masher or fork to burst the cranberries.  Add the pears, cinnamon, allspice and 2 Tablespoons flour and toss to coat.  Transfer to a 3 quart baking dish.Thanksgiving 2013 009
2.  Make the topping; mix the remaining 1 cup flour, the pecans, oats, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a medium bowl.   Stir in melted (I used softened) butter.  Use your fingers to pinch the topping into small clumps and sprinkle it over the fruit. (I put all of these ingredients into a food processor.  Pulsed until mixed together and crumbly.  I spread this over the fruit.)Thanksgiving 2013 012
3.  Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This was extremely delicious and really simple.  Took no time at all.  Give it a try!!

 

Too Much Stuffing AGAIN!

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite “holiday”.  The main event is food.  Sitting at a table with family and friends and eating a meal together.  This year we have so much to be thankful for.  We had some losses and we had some bumps in the road this year.   However, on Thanksgiving day we were all sitting at the table together.  We shared with each other what we are thankful for, enjoyed our meal, laughed and had great conversation.  Sitting at the table, I was looking at these wonderful people that I love very much and so very thankful I have them in my life.

I have been with my husband since February 1982.  That would be over 31years.  He has tolerated my insane Thanksgiving behavior for at least 15 of those years.  Especially since we moved to Green Bay in 2011.  I think that is when Thanksgiving became even more important to me.  Needless to say, every year around August…yes, August I start slowly, gradually discussing Thanksgiving.  Kent and the kids think I am absolutely crazy! (Really) I love to discuss the “menu”.  Sometimes I start out by not wanting to have anything to do with the tradtional menu. I go on and on and on about the menu. No turkey here, let’s try ham or roast beef or whatever. (I, personally do not like turkey at all.) However, it just doesn’t seem to work that way.  We always end up with the basic traditional menu.

My big problem is stuffing.  Yes, stuffing.  I go back and forth on what recipe should I use for stuffing.  I ALWAYS make too much stuffing.  I try so hard to make an amount that is enough for everyone to have but not too much left over.  Last year I told Eric to remind me this year NOT to overdo the stuffing.  He told Siri; “remind mom not to overdo stuffing this year”.  Siri reminded him and he reminded me this year.  I keep a list of what I do for Thanksgiving each year.  I have done that for about 5 years now.  In each of my handwritten notes (all over the place by the way)  continued november 013I have “DON’T OVERDO STUFFING” (in caps, just like that).  Well, this year I decided to make a combination of cornbread/regular bread stuffing.  Needless to say with the reminder from Eric, the mention of not making too much stuffing from Kent, I still made way too much stuffing. UGH!

Leftovers are great.  Kids having their own place is great too.  They get to take the leftovers home!  Martin and Martin opted for the dessert leftovers.  Eric and Rachel came back the next day for the turkey/stuffing (yes, stuffing) leftovers.  Stuffing is still in my refrigerator!

Now that my favorite day of the year has come and gone my thoughts head towards Christmas.  I think this year I would like to not buy as many presents as I do EVERY SINGLE year.  I told the kids I was going to be good this year and not spend a lot.  Small gifts, that’s it!

Well, Christmas is kind of like Thanksgiving for me.  I overdo the stuffing and I overdo the gifts.  But this year, it is going to be different, right?!  😉