Saturday, November 29, 2008

December Cookie Recipe: Chocolate Chippers

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year (followed by Halloween and Thanksgiving). I can remember baking cookies with my mom every year. She would bake batches and batches of cookies and put them in tins, which she would then serve for a Christmas party, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. She always made the same couple of cookies - Chocolate Chip, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Graham Cracker Yummies (my fav), Sugar Cookies (which of course, I always HAD to decorate), and Doggie Turds (of course, if you ask her, she'll say they are called Oatmeal Logs or something, but I know better - despite the name, they are a wonderful oatmeal and confectionary sugar based cookie dipped in chocolate and actually is a recipe passed down from Karen's mom).

Well, despite my mom's recipes, I am on the hunt for my own traditional cookies (p.s. Graham Cracker Yummies are always on my list). With December just a couple of days away and our yearly girl's baking weekend coming up in a few weeks, I thought I would start experimenting before the actual day, so I can figure out what I am going to make this year. Tonight, Biz and Justin invited us over for some fajitas and margaritas (yahoo!) and altho the Mexican Wedding Cakes probably more fit the bill, I took a look in my trusty BH&G 1965 ed. "New Cook Book" and stumbled across a cookie called the Chocolate Chippers. I have been craving a chocolate chip cookie (sorry, ladies, not THAT kind of craving ;) and this one seemed to fit the bill.

My mom always had a copy of the BH&G cookbook around when she baked. As I use it more and more, I think it may have been moreso because they use a lot of Crisco in their baking. My dad is lactose intolerant and Crisco is perfect, because there is no trace of milk products (aka butter) and if there was butter, she would use margarine or non-dairy creamer instead of milk. I don't think I started using butter until a few years ago when I realized the flavor was that much better (and no trans fats!). Of course, in this day and age, fortunately unlike some other allergies, my dad can use Lactaid and safely ingest milk-based products (although he still doesn't drink a glass of milk, but then again never did, even before he became lactose intolerant, which started when he was 18, but the doctor didn't diagnose him until he was 28!).

Anyhow, as usual I digress, one lifesaver that Crisco has come up with is their individual Crisco sticks. These things are excellent! No more buying the big tub, which I would never use before it went bad (is that possible with this stuff?!) and scooping it into a measuring cup and then back out into the mixer (you get the idea), now you just cut it like you would cut a stick of butter. Yes, you pay more for convenience, but it is one convenience I don't mind!

Chocolate Chippers

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I used Nestle Chocolate Chips)
1/2 cup broken/chopped nuts (optional, I omitted)

Oven 375 degrees

- Cream together shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla till light and fluffy.
- Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture, blending well.
- Add chocolate pieces and nuts. If desired, add 1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy.
- Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from pan immediately.

Review: I absolutely LOVED these cookies. I will definitely make again this Christmas season. Now, BH&G says the recipe makes 3.5 dozen. I didn't come close to this. I used the medium cookie scoop (also from Pampered Chef) - p.s. I will never do cookies any other way; I used to use the 2 spoon method - you know, the way your grandmother or mom would have taught you back in the day, scoop some cookie mix and then use the other spoon to drop it onto the cookie sheet - no longer necessary with a good metal scoop!! Anyway, I used the medium scoop and only got 21 cookies out of it. Needless-to-say, I will probably at least triple the recipe when I make it for the holidays (as hope to give away some cookies as well). I also tried a new feature on my stove, which I haven't used in the past - the Convection Bake option. When you put in 375, it automatically drops it to 350. I don't know if it made the cookie better or not, but I definitely think I will try this feature again. I hope you enjoy these cookies as well!

September/October Recipe: Paprika Chicken & Egg Noodles

I thought I would hit two birds with one stone for September and October. Of course, my husband and I eat chicken like it's going out of style (mainly because it is the better meat health-wise). Similar to Michelle, I am always looking to change it up a bit (although do have some old stand-bys when I don't have time to follow a recipe). The great thing about chicken is that you can really eat it so many different ways and add so many different types of spices to it and it just adapts to however you are cooking it.

Another great thing about chicken is that Costco sells it in this HUGE 10lb. bag of Perdue chicken breasts in different sizes (but not as JUMBO as they seem to make them in the supermarket these days). Makes it very convenient as I don't have to bring them home, cut them up and freeze them and whenever I plan on making chicken for dinner, I just take 2 pieces out and defrost them.

Anyhow, I had a Pampered Chef party several months ago and bought their cookbook called "29 minutes to dinner." There were 2 main reasons I decided to buy this cookbook, maybe three. 1) It has pictures. A cookbook with pictures is always a big plus for me. I am a very visual person and pictures just helps spark the creative juices flowing. 2) The P.C. consultant actually had a list of the Weight Watchers points per recipe, which was a HUGE plus! 3. It's small, won't take up too much room on my shelf! =) Oh yeah, and did I mention it's only supposed to take 29 minutes to the meal?! So make that 4 reasons! When I come home from work the last thing I want is to make a meal that takes an hour. Anyhow, I thumbed through the book and found a recipe that had both chicken (September recipe theme) and pasta (October recipe theme). I figured it was a win-win, or was it?

Paprika Chicken and Egg Noodles

8 ounces green beans
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
8 ounces mushrooms
1 medium onion
3 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
Sour cream (optional)

- For noodles, bring salted water to a boil in a 4-quart pan. Cut green beans diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Lightly spray a 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until hot. Meanwhile, dice chicken into 1-inch pieces; sprinkle with paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, if desired. Cook 5-7 minutes or until centers of chicken are no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.
- As chicken cooks, cut mushrooms into quarters. Cut onion in half lengthwise; then into -inch wedges. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to skillet. Cook and stir mushrooms and onion over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, add noodles to boiling water and cook 2 minutes. Add green beans to noodles. Cook, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until noodles are cooked to desired tenderness. Carefully remove ¾ cup of the cooking water for use in sauce. Drain noodles and green beans using large colander.
- Add chicken and cooking water to skillet; stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is heated through.
- Meanwhile, toss noodles and green beans with remaining butter. Snip or chop dill.
- To serve: Divide noodle mixture among serving plates; top with chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with dill and garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Serves four.

Nutrition values per serving: 500 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated), 49 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 31 g protein, 150 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium.

Review: Well, not my favorite chicken recipe, but it was good. It was definitely something different and may just be the way I cooked it, so I might try again just to see if I change my mind. I used dried dill (didn't have fresh) and light sour cream, which helps cut some of the calories. I also don't think I used the butter to also cut calories and use yolk-less egg noodles, which cuts down on the cholesterol. haha Maybe it's cutting down on all of these calories is why it wasn't as good as I hoped, but then again you can still have good tasting food without the calories. So try it, you might like it and if you aren't worried about the calories, go all out!

Weight Watchers Points: 11 points per serving

Daring Bakers Challenge: Shuna Fish Lydon's Caramel Cake

Like a lot of my fellow Daring Bakers I was excited to get back to something sweet. I was also very happy that it was a cake this month. Since this is/was my birthday month I thought it would be the perfect thing to make for my celebration.

Thank you to our DB hostess and helpers this month for a great selection they are the following: Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex from Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie , Jenny of Foray into Food and helping them with the alternative baking side of things is once again Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go .

This month's recipe comes from Shuna Fish Lydon's website:…%20he-recipe/

Author: Shuna Fish Lydon

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Review: I made this cake for my birthday and thought it came out great. The cake part itself was very straight forward and I did not have any problems with it. The cake to me was dense but really tasty. The caramel gave it a nice flavor that was unique and very pleasant.

The part I really enjoyed and loved was the caramel syrup. I think I could have cooked it a little bit longer but I was afraid of burning it. It taste SOOOOO good and I would make it again in a heartbeat. I used it as a sweetener for my coffee and even got other family members to do the same. It kept very well in the refrigerator for several weeks before we finished it.

The part I didn't really like was the brown butter buttercream (which is why I didn't include the recipe above). I have decided that I am not a fan of homemade buttercream and unless it is required I don't think I will make them again. My husband doesn't really care for them as well and it is sort of wasted on us.

Friday, November 21, 2008

KAF Soft Molasses Cookies

For a while now I have been wanted to make some kind of molasses cookies. One reason was because my husband requested them. Another reason was because I bought a jar of molasses thinking I didn't have any in the only find out that I had a jar at least 3/4 full. So I figured this would be a good way to use up some of that molasses. I was also thinking about making a gingerbread house this year for the holidays but with an almost 3 year old boy in the isn't going to happen.
I actually had this recipe bookmarked for a while now but what made me decide to make it was that it was today's post on the King Arthur Flour blog...Bakers' Banter. I was also having company over on Monday for brunch and though this would make a great addition to my other desserts.

Review: This is an easy to make cookie recipe in every way. I also think by using a cookie scoop it makes it all that much easier. I rolled mine in a combination of sugars...course sugar, granulated sugar, both course and granulated and none at all. By far to me the course sugar wins it because it adds a nice crunch to this cookie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I am always searching for new recipes to try out for dinner. I just feel like I make the same thing over and over again. I am sort of a person who needs variety but at the same time I like the comfort of making the same thing over and over again.

One day about a month ago while my son was taking his late nap I decided to watch Oprah. I can't remember what the show was about but her chef friend Cristina Ferrare was on it. Her segment was making meals for less. She had a few women cooking at home with her and she was basically showing them how to turn 2 roasted chickens into multiple meals.

The recipe that really caught my eye was for Chicken Enchiladas. It is something I have had out many time at Mexican restaurants. I know Heidi even has talked about making it once for dinner. When I saw what the recipe was and how easy it sounded I wanted to try it out.

To be honest for me to buy a whole chicken and roast it is not a hard thing. However, it is cheaper as well as less time consuming if I go to my wholesale club and buy a rotisserie chicken. I used the dark meat for this recipe and save the white meat for another meal.

Review: I was so excited and surprise on how yummy this recipe came out. I have made it a couple of times and really can't wait to make it again. I do have some notes on the recipe that I feel is important to share with you. I only needed use one 16 oz can of beans which was all my supermarket had instead of the 2 cans the recipe calls for. Maybe there are smaller cans out there which is what they might have had in mind. I also used a small can of sliced black olives instead of the kalmata olives the recipe calls for (I think the black olives are cheaper). The first time I made it I used a bag of a cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese mix. The second time I made it I used just cheddar and I couldn't really tell the difference. I also used sour cream the first time and cream cheese the second time and I also couldn't tell the difference. The one problem I had both times was that my enchiladas stuck to the bottom of the pan. The first time it was worse because I didn't use enough sauce (I used only one 8oz jar because that was the only size the supermarket wasn't until I got home that I realized it was suppose to be a 16oz jar). I also find that I can only fit 5 and not 6 enchiladas in my pan...maybe I stuff them too much or don't roll them tight enough. It isn't that much of a problem since we don't eat all 5 in one sitting any way. They are very filling and I can eat 2 but I am SO stuffed after that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

August Recipe: Chip's Grilled Bluefish

My husband and my birthdays are 6 days apart and for our birthday present this year, my parents took us on a fishing charter out of Norwalk, CT into the Long Island Sound. We had such a good time and learned a lot from Captain Frank.

We fished for fluke (summer flounder), bluefish, lobsters, and crabs. (Unfortunately, the lobster was too small and had to be thrown back.) I was the first one to catch a fish (go me!). It was unfortunately an inch smaller than is allowed, so it went back (bummer! but I still get the title for First Fish! =).

I was really excited to get fluke, as I really like flounder. I wasn't so excited to get bluefish. I remember bluefish as being one of my fav fishes as a child, but made it a few years ago and it just didn't do anything for me. At the end of the fishing trip, we ended up with about 4 lbs. of both. Turned out the bluefish was 10x better! We froze most of the fish and just finished the rest of it last week (October). We used the below recipe found on on both of the fish and also passed it to my parents, as they had just as much fish as we did!

1 lb bluefish fillet, with the skin on

3/4 cup Hellman's mayonnaise (not fat free)
1-2 large onions, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
Old Bay Seasoning or cajun seasoning (optional)

1. Preheat Grill.
2. Lay pieces of Bluefish, skin side down, on UNGREASED aluminum foil.
3. Allow enough foil to make a package, sealed at the ends and folded at the top, allowing room for fish to steam.
4. Spread mayonnaise over the top of the fish, it should be very thick, if needed add more, the fish should look like a thickly frosted cake.
5. Lay onion rings on top of fish in several layers, sprinkle with seasonings.
6. Sprinkle with pepper and optional spices, drizzle lemon juice over top.
7. Bring together foil and fold to make a seal lengthwise over fish, fold in ends.
8. Remember to keep air space on top of fish.
9. Place fish on preheated grill, close cover.
10. Grill at medium-high heat, about 350-375 for 15 minutes, depending on thickness if fillet.
11. After 15 minutes, carefully open package to check for doneness, you want it just barely done.
12. Fish is done if it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
13. Leaving foil wide open, use a sharp knife or two tined fork to make several holes in the bottom of the foil.
14. Without disturbing the fish too much, make a few holes right through the fish and through the foil.
15. Close the cover to the grill and allow the juices and mayonnaise to drip through the foil onto the fire, this will get very smokey but you get that delicate smoked flavor.
16. After a few minutes of "smoking", remove foil and fish by just sliding if off the grill on to a platter or lifting it, foil and all carefully as not to break it.
17. Using a large spatula, gently slide fish off the foil onto a serving plate, the skin of the fish will stay stuck to the foil.

Review: Well, we obviously used the recipe more than once, so we like it! This helped keep the fish moist and flavorful. The recipe says to "frost or ice" the fish in mayo. I actually found this to be way too much mayo the first time around - it just didn't completely "melt" and was still residual, so I cut it down substantially the second time around and just put a thin layer on top. Also, I didn't use the Old Bay Seasoning the first time (didn't have it), but bought it and used it the 2nd time and really enjoyed the flavor on the fish. Captain Frank had skinned the fish when we got back to the dock, so I didn't have the skin on, but don't think this overall affected the fish, except when made on the grill (where it stuck to the foil). The second time I did it in the oven and it was fine without the skin (not burned or sticking to the foil, of course, I think I may have sprayed the foil with cooking spray to avoid this the 2nd time around =). Enjoy!

July Recipe: Blueberry Buckle

Wow, so it has been 3.5 months since my last entry! And probably almost as long since I have even been on the blog - how sad is that?! I took a new role at work and since June, there has been little time for anything else. Hours have been long and weekends fly by so fast, that I've blinked and Monday has already arrived. *sigh* However, being that I do work in the financial industry, I won't complain too much, as at least both my husband and I still have jobs.

I am home sick today (I blame it on the stress of work along with the cold weather!), so figured I would take a few minutes and post my various recipes for the past few months! P.S. I am really inspired right now - I'm watching Martha Stewart and there are 2 sisters that started a cupcake shop in Georgetown (DC) and now have a very successful shop making 900 cupcakes per day (at $2.75 per cupcake, do the math!). See, girls, there is still hope for us to open up our own shop!

Anyhow, back to my topic, my July recipe, Blueberry Buckle. I remember my mom making this for our Annual Family Picnic the first Saturday in August each year. I had made one myself years ago, but had such a craving for this the past summer and thought it was a perfect fit for our July recipe. The recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens: New Cook Book (1965).

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar
1 well-beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries

Cinnamon Crumbs:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar; add egg and mix well.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Pour into well-greased 11 1/2 x 7 x 1 1/2 inch pan. Top with blueberries. Sprinkle Cinnamon Crumbs over berries.

Bake at 350 degs. for 45-50 minutes. Cut in squares. Serve warm. Makes 8-10 servings.

Cinnamon Crumbs: Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter till crumbly.

Review: Well, I have to say, it wasn't as good as I remember, UNTIL the next day when it got a little moist and what I would call gooey. This is how I remember it and the way I enjoy it. It is a great breakfast treat or coffee cake type recipe and one that brings back warm summer memories. Enjoy!


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