Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays! My Ragdolls, Bella and Bailey, have been enjoying the scents of pine and spending lots of time with the tree.
I will be doing lots of cooking over the next couple days. Appetizers tonight with my side of the family and a big traditional ham dinner with Husband's side on Sunday. Hopefully I will remember to take a little time to grab a photo to get up on the blog.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms



Who doesn't love these cookies? It just seems like they are the go-to favorite holiday treat. Personally I think it's hard to argue with peanut butter and chocolate together.

Ingredients:

½ cups Creamy Peanut Butter
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 cups Packed Light-Brown Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour (Spooned And Leveled)
1 tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt
⅓ cups Granulated Sugar, for rolling dough
Milk chocolate stars or kisses or mini peanut butter cups

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.

3. Scoop off dough by the tablespoon; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet.

4. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Press one star in center of each cookie. Return to oven; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt, about 6 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely.

Credit to Martha Stewart.

I prefer stars on my cookies; mostly because they are easier to stack and store. But chocolate kisses make a really adorable cookie. I have never tried the mini peanut butter cups, but I am sure it is awesome.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Almond Biscotti



I think of biscotti as hard, crunchy and delicious. This recipe is a bit sweeter than most I have tasted with all that wonderful chocolate and also softer. But it would still be awesome dunked in a cup of coffee; which is my ideal way to east biscotti.

Originally I found a recipe for Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti. Try as I might I couldn't find shelled, unsalted pistachios. I finally decided to substitute with almond. The recipe also called for dark chocolate, for which I substituted milk chocolate. I know, I know...dark chocolate is good for you and some people adore it. I don't and I want my chocolate to be worth every single calorie.


Ingredients: 

 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cups Sugar
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt
¾ cups Chopped Almonds
4 ounces Milk Chocolate, chopped
3 large Eggs
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
¼ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in pistachios and chocolate. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, vanilla, and cocoa. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined (dough will be stiff, so mix with hands if necessary).

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Divide dough in half and place on sheet. Shape into two 2 ½-by-12-inch logs and sprinkle top of each with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until risen and firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Let logs cool completely on sheet, about 30 minutes.

3. Reduce oven to 300 degrees. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake until biscotti are dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pecan pie bars


I have been wanting to share this recipe since yesterday afternoon. It has taken me several tries to get any sort of decent picture. Note I said decent, not great or even good. My decent camera is out of town, my old iPhone camera wasn't doing the trick and it took me forever to find the cord to go with the passable camera.

*breathe*

These bars are truly fabulous. They are everything that is good about a pecan pie with chocolate added. How can that be bad?

Recipe found on the wonderful Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

For The Crust:

1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
½ cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
¼ cup Packed Brown Sugar

Filling:

3 large Eggs
¾ cup Corn Syrup
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 ¾ cups Coarsely Chopped Semisweet Or Bittersweet Chocolate - Or Chocolate Chunks In A Bag
1 ½ cups Chopped Pecans


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. For the crust, mix together the flour, butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Press into the baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown.

3. For the filling, beat the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla extract with a wire whisk. Stir in the chunks and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.

4. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cool completely and cut into bars.

*I made the bars in an Airbake 9x13 pan and probably could have baked the crust a little longer as it is a bit crumbly. But that just means you can't walk through the house without dribbling crumbs. It is more a stay on the plate sort of bar.
I highly recommend using the chocolate chunks in a bag-so easy!

I ate my model bars for breakfast this morning; on a plate with a cup of coffee. So far it is the highlight of the day. There is a stupid amount of snow out there and it's -2 degrees. Oh, and the Vikings game has been postponed.  Guess I do some more baking today!

Friday, December 10, 2010

My colorful dinner


After a week which included going out for Mexican food and starting my holiday baking; I decided it was time for a healthy dinner. I made fish tacos this summer and enjoyed them. Using Tilapia which thaws and bakes quickly this came together in about 15 minutes. I baked the fish in the toaster oven with a little olive oil and lemon pepper.

It turned out so pretty! Fish, chopped grape tomatoes, green onions, spinach and Chipotle mayo made a great combination; both looks and taste.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge


My holiday baking is in swing. Bring on the cookies.

I love Christmas candy, but I don't make very much of it. I don't deal with candy thermometers and the like. That sort of baking putziness just doesn't appeal to me. Homemade pie crusts, yes, candy thermometers...nope.
Fudge is my all time favorite and I had to try this new recipe. It sounded very easy and was described as very creamy. Perfect!

Ingredients:

1 Pkg Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 stick Butter
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
½ cup Powdered Sugar
Mini Marshmallows

Directions:

Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in microwave safe dish and microwave on defrost setting at 2 minute intervals stirring between each interval until smooth. A double boiler method can be used if desired.

Mix in the butter, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth.

Add enough mini-marshmallows to make the mixture lumpy (around 2-3 cups depending on your preference.

Line a baking dish with wax paper and pour fudge mixture over the wax paper.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight and cut into squares.

*The butter and chocolate chips melted in about 5 minutes in the microwave. Double broiler? No idea why anyone would bother with that when it is so easy in the microwave.
Definitely refrigerate for at least 4 hours before attempting to cut the fudge. I tried a bit sooner and it was still soft and sticking to the wax paper. But a few hours later the wax paper came off easily and the process was a snap.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mint Chocolate Sugar Cookies



Yes, the cookies are green; it's not your monitor. :)
They taste like an Andes mint. If you like mint you will love these cookies.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

1 Pouch (1 Lb 1.5 Oz) Betty Crocker® Sugar Cookie Mix
½ cup Butter Or Margarine, softened
¼ - ½ tsp Mint Extract
6 - 8 drops Green Food Color - I did 6 which seemed be plenty.
1 Egg
1 cup Mint Baking Chips
1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chunks

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in mint baking chips and chocolate chunks.

Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

* I briefly thought about making the cookies from scratch, but ultimately decided it would be less risky to just use the mix and avoid having to adapt my cookie dough recipe.
I immediately stuck them in the freezer to avoid eating them all; saving a few to bring to work. My coworkers raved. My green holiday cookies were a hit.