Buried Treasure Cookies

I want to bake different cookies and sweets each week.  I always make the family favorites and would like to add some new ones to that list.  I found this recipe here. I ended up changing a couple of the ingredients to our taste.  The sweet and savory flavors really work together.  Too Simple and of course Delicious!

Buried Treasure Cookies

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Ingredients

1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 egg (I use large eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used chips) – if you don’t have bittersweet, usw whatever you have
1/3 cup butterfinger bites (I cut in half, they may crumble a little but that is ok)
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup lightly crushed kettle cooked potato chips
1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted pretzel twists
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (I did not do this – I kindof forgot!!)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven 350 degress
2.  Using stand up mixer fitted with paddle attachment beat butter at medium speed until soft and smooth.  Add the brown sugar, sugar and salt, then beat at medium high speed.  Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed until light and fluffy.
3.  Add the eggs and vanilla, beat until just combined.  Add the flour and baking soda, beat at low speed until just combined.  Scrape down side of bowl as needed.
4.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix until blended.
5.  I measured a 1/4 cup and rolled into balls. 022014 002 Place on plate and put in fridge for an hour to chill.022014 003 ( I was able to roll 20 cookies.)

6.  After chilled, remove from fridge.  Place cookies on parchment lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Flatten the cookies down a bit with the palm of your hand. If desired, sprinkle with the sea salt (I bet you could use Kosher too).  I did not do this step and they were still awesome!
7.  Bake for 12 minutes.  I bake for 6 minutes, than rotate the cookie sheet.  They bake even that way.

That’s it.  Takes no time at all.  Enjoy!! 022014 005

Chicken Cacciatore

As the weekend approaches everyone knows I always ask my family what they would like me to make or bake.  Whenever I ask Kent (for those who don’t know that is my hubby) he rarely has a suggestion.  He actually requested Chicken Cacciatore this weekend.  I was shocked.  I checked to see what recipes were out there.  As always America’s Test Kitchen got my vote.  Believe it or not I have never used wine in a recipe.  I always replace it with broth.  I know, you are thinking how crazy that is.  Especially how much I love to cook.  Well, I am not a fan of wine and just never bothered to use it.  I mentioned to Kent I wanted to avoid the wine.  He said to make it per the recipe or find another one.  Since he rarely has any opinion about what I throw on the table I decided to make this recipe exactly as written.  That included the red wine.  I checked out on their website on what type of wine I should use.  They recommend using a red wine made with berries.  I Found Red Rock Winery Merlot in our basement stock.  02162014 005 This wine has a blend of raspberries and blackberries.   Let’s begin;

Chicken Cacciatore

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Ingredients

8 bone in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 ounces Portobello mushrooms, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) dices tomatoes, drained (oops, I just realized I didn’t drain)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (all I had was dried thyme.  I used 1 teaspoon.)
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (2 inches, about 1 ounce), this is optional (I weighed 1 oz piece of Parmesan rind)
2 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves (their was the option to use rosemary.  I used rosemary instead.  I LOVE rosemary!)

Directions

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1.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes.  Add four chicken thighs, skin side down and cook, not moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip the chicken  and brown on second side, 5 minutes longer.  Transfer browned chicken to large plate.  Brown remaining thighs.  (It is best to do them in 2 batches.  They will not brown if you crowd all 8 in one pan.)  Set the chicken aside.
2.  Drain off all but 1 Tablespoon of fat from the pot.  Add onion, mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt; saute over medium high heat, stirring until browned.  About 6-8 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, remove and discard skin from browned chicken thighs.
4.  Add garlic to pot and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly until combined with veggies.
6.  Add wine, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits.  Stir in broth, tomatoes, thyme, cheese rind (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt (Omit salt if using cheese rind), and pepper to taste.
7.  Submerge chicken pieces in liquid and bring to boil. 02162014 006 Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Turn chicken pieces with tongs halfway through cooking.
8.  Discard cheese rind, stir in sage (or rosemary), adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve!

We served over pasta.  You could use rice, noodles or even mashed potatoes.  Whatever you desire.  It really was simple and delicious.  I look forward to making this dish again!

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes

Martin2 sent me this pic  02152014 012  and asked if I could make a better rendition than the one in the box.  I love it when I am given a baking challenge.  It took me awhile to decide how I was going to replicate this.  I went online and found some recipes but decided to use the Hershey’s Cocoa Chocolate Cake recipe, America’s Test Kitchen Chocolate Ganache and America’s Test Kitchen Chocolate Buttercream frosting and the basic peanut butter filling recipe.  This is a simple and delicious recipe but takes time.  If you have a couple of hours, you can bake these awesome cupcakes!

**Prepare the Ganache before starting your cake.  It needs to be in the fridge for 45 minutes to cool.**

Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes

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Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa (I used the dark chocolate cocoa)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you are going to bake a cake, grease and flour the baking dish you will be using.  Since I did cupcakes, I used paper cupcake liners.
2.   Whisk together the dry ingredients.
3.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.  Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
4.  Add boiling water.  The batter will be thin.
5.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.  Tap lightly on counter to lift the air bubbles.
6.   Bake 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Filling

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons softened butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup peanut butter

Directions

Combine above ingredients and mix well

After cupcakes have cooled.  Put peanut butter filling in pastry bag with a star tip.  Insert tip 3/4 inch into top of cupcake.  As you press pull up.  You should put about a tablespoon of filling in the cupcake.  I gauged it by filling a tablespoon with filling before I started.  As I filled the cupcake you can feel it and the top will crack.  After I filled with peanut butter filling I frosted the cupcake and topped with a rosette.  02152014 010

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces of semisweet chocolate (milk or bittersweet or whatever you want to use)

Directions
1.  Bring cream to boil in small saucepan or in microwave. Place chocolate in medium bowl and pour boiling cream over. Cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and slightly firm, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2.  Transfer cooled chocolate mixture to bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment; whip mixture at medium speed until fluffy and mousse-like and forms medium-stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.

This is a very fluffy, airy frosting.  It is also very rich.  I LOVE it.  Keep it refrigerated.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

10 Tablespoons of butter
pinch of salt
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces of semisweet chocolate, melted (I used a combo of semisweet and milk chocolate)

Directions

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then reduce speed to low and gradually beat in melted chocolate. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

As I mentioned this is a time consuming treat.  It is well worth it though.  Enjoy!!

Creamy Potato Soup

I found this recipe many years ago in the Syracuse Herald Journal newspaper.  Kent and I have enjoyed this recipe for a very long time.  The Martins popped over last night.  Martin2 mentioned that I was supposed to make this soup a while back.  (I didn’t think he was paying attention!)  I decided to whip it up this afternoon.  It takes less than an hour from start to finish.  Here is a simple and delicious soup to make after work or for lunch on the weekend.  I guess I will share a bowl with Martin2 also!!  😉

Creamy Potato Soup

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4 cups chicken broth
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cups cubed potatoes (4-6 medium)
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk

Directions

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1.  In a saucepan, combine chicken broth, celery and onions over medium high heat to a boil. Turn down to medium to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.
2.  Add cubed potatoes, cook 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  When they are completely done, mash about half of the potatoes with a potato masher right in the pan.02092014 008
3.  In another sauce pan, while the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter.  Mix together the flour, salt and pepper.  Add to the melted butter and stir until well mixed.
4.  Slowly add the milk and whisk until it thickens and bubbles.02092014 009
5.  Add the milk mixture to the potato soup.02092014 010
6.  Serve with crumbled bacon, shredded cheese and parsley.  02092014 011 (I am not a fan of the parsley.)

You can have this soup with or without the extras.  It tastes delicious either way.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Peppers

I have been craving stuffed peppers.  All this frozen tundra weather is bringing out the comfort foods of the past for me.  My mom used to make these and I hated them.  I didn’t mind what was inside but did not like those peppers.  I guess my taste buds have changed (or died due to the aging process) 🙂 but I love peppers now.  I used green bell peppers today but I think next time I will use red, orange and yellow.  I also would like to try some other peppers besides the bell variety.  I imagine myself at the farmers market this coming summer getting all kinds of peppers.   Back to the real world!! This recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare and another 30 minutes to bake.   I found this recipe at  America’s Test Kitchen.  It reminds me of my mom’s recipe.  Here goes;

Classic Stuffed Peppers
(just like mom’s)

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4 green, red, yellow, orange bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off tops, cores and seeds discarded (I used 6 green, they were small to medium size and on sale this week!)
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1# ground beef (I used ground chuck)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes, drained – 1/4 cup juice set aside for later use
5 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper

Directions

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1.  Bring 4 quarts water and 1 Tablespoon of salt to boil in large stockpot over high heat.  When water boils,  add your peppers.  02062014 006Cook until peppers begin to soften, 3-5 minutes and remove with slotted spoon.  Set the peppers upside down on paper towels to drain water, then flip over as soon as drained.  Return water to a boil, add 1/2 cup of rice and boil until tender or 12 minutes.  Drain rice and transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle position.
3.  While the rice is cooking heat a 12 inch heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat until hot, add oil and swirl to coat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer mixture to the bowl with rice, stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
4.  In a small bowl stir together the ketchup and remaining tomato juice.
5.  Place peppers cut side up in 9 inch square baking dish. 02062014 009 Fill each pepper with meat/rice mixture.  Spoon 2 Tablespoons of ketchup mixture over tope of each filled pepper, sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, 25-30 minutes.  Serve immediately.02062014 013  Also, don’t limit yourself to the classic stuffing.  You could use any kind of ground meat, different cheeses, grains, veggies.  The list is endless.  Hope you enjoy this simple and delicious comfort food meal!!

 

 

Spicy Chicken Skillet Dinner – 45 minutes or less

I am finding more and more that I really like to come home after work and make a quick dinner.   I pulled some chicken out of the freezer yesterday so I knew I had to use that today.  I had a couple of tomatoes and shallots that needed to be used up.  I made this very quick skillet dinner and served over rice.  It was quite spicy (which Kent and I love) and speedy (which works for me too!).  So, as I always end my intro; try this “Simple and Delicious” meal!

Spicy Chicken Skillet Dinner

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1# boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 roma tomatoes, diced (these were going to be used tonight or thrown away tomorrow.  You don’t necessarily need tomatoes)
2 shallots, chopped (you can use any kind of onion.  I had these and needed to use them up.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers, chopped (You could use any kind of pepper you want.  I always have chipotle peppers in my kitchen! You may only want to use 1 chipotle pepper.  I did not remove the seeds.  If you do the kick will be less.  I like spice, so it works for us.)
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of corn 
1 can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper)

Directions

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1.  Place 2 Tablespoons of canola oil in non stick skillet over medium heat.
2.  Add shallots and diced tomatoes (If you do not have the tomatoes, just the shallots.), saute until opaque – about 3-4 minutes.
3.  Add chicken, cook over medium high until browned, 5-8 minutes.
4.  Add cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic and chipotle peppers, stir into mixture until fragrant (30-60 seconds).  Add rest of ingredients; black beans, corn and Rotel tomatoes/green chilies.  
5.  Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  
6.  Serve over rice.  

I used long grain rice.  When I cook rice I use 2 cups of liquid (water, broth, stock) to 1 cup of rice.  

Kent and I really enjoyed this simple and delicious meal.  I had fun thinking what I had in my kitchen to use vs running to the store to buy ingredients for a recipe I found online.  It is too cold to go to the store!!  Where is Spring?!  Enjoy this Simple and Delicious meal!!

Chicken Quesadillas

Every Sunday I make dinner for whoever wants to come over.  Last Sunday Eric suggested Chicken Quesadillas. This was a recipe Eric found on Food Network.  These were way too easy.  Definitely a weekday meal you can make under 45 minutes.  Honestly, nothing takes me less than 45 minutes.  Even if I make a Rachel Ray 30 minute meal – NOPE.  45 minutes for this chickie!!  This meal is very simple and delicious.  Give it a try!!

Chicken Quesadillas

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Ingredients

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds skinless chicken breasts (I put them in the crockpot for 4 hours.  I seasoned them with 1Tablespoon chili powder, 1 Tablespoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.  It was very flavorful.  You could use a taco seasoning packet too.)
2 Tablespoons taco or Cajun seasoning
1 large onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 stick of butter (will be needed for frying)
12 large flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese

Pico de Gallo

6 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro (we are not a fan of cilantro so I use parsley)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 lime
Salt

Quesadillas Directions

1.  I prepared the chicken in the crock pot. I sliced the chicken into strips. If you do it per the Food Network recipe you should heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a skillet over high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and taco seasoning.  Add the chicken to the skillet and saute over medium high heat until done, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from the skillet and dice into cubes.  Set aside.
2.  Add the remaining oil to the skillet over high heat.  Saute the onions and peppers until softened.  About 4-6 minutes.
3.  Sizzle 1/2 Tablespoon of the butter in a non stick skillet.  Over medium heat lay a flour tortilla in the skillet.  Build the quesadilla by laying the cheese on the bottom of the tortilla, top with chicken, cooked peppers and end with more grated cheese, top with a second tortilla.  January 2014 019

4.  When the tortilla is golden on the first side, flip over to the other side.  You will need to add 1/2 Tablespoon butter to the skillet at the same time.  Continue cooking until the second side is golden.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.  (You may think this will be difficult.  It is not at all.  Super easy. I promise!)
5.  Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve with Pico de Gallo.

Pico de Gallo Directions

1.  Dice up the tomatoes, chop the onions and the cilantro (parsley).
2.  Slice the jalapeno in half.  With a spoon scrape out the seeds.  If you like things spicy, leave in some of the white membranes.  Dice the jalapenos very finely.  Place in bowl with tomatoes, onions and cilantro (parsley).
3.  Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and stir together until combined.

Hope you like it as much as we did!!

Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are a favorite in our home.  The Martin’s really love them!  I got this recipe from Epicurious many years ago.  December 29, 2007 to be exact!   As always they are simple and delicious!

Peanut Butter Cookies

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Ingredients

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup of creamy or chunky peanut butter (I use Skippy Natural Creamy or Chunky.  Generally I use creamy.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup golden brown sugar (Sometime I use dark brown sugar.  Depends on what is in my cupboard!)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs (I always use large eggs.  Never medium, jumbo, small…large only.  Believe it or not it does make a difference.)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Cream peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a large bowl.  (I use my stand up mixer.  You can use an electric mixer or by hand.)  Beat in both sugars.
3.  Stir in 1/2 dry ingredients.  Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in remaining dry ingredients.
4.  For each cookie roll into a ball about 1 3/4 inch in diameter.  Using back of fork, flatten dough balls and form a crosshatch design on the tops.
5.  Bake cookies until dry on top and golden brown on the bottom.  About 12-14 minutes.  I rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking time. (This makes an evenly baked cookie)
6.  Cool cookies on baking sheet.  These are a great cookie right out of the oven!!

Whenever I bake a batch of cookies I take half of them and put them in the freezer.  That way when the kids pop in or Kent and I crave a sweet  we don’t have far to go!  There are always cookies in my freezer.  I think every once in a while Eric (maybe Rachel too) may sneak over when we aren’t home and sneak a few.  Hey, why not!! 😉