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Holiday Gift Ideas: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m busy baking for my annual gift boxes. These won’t be in them, because I”m working on two new cookie recipes I’ve never tried my hand at before. More on that later…

Chocolate Chocolate Cookie

These are pretty and very tasty.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

cropped-flower_poinsettia_d2.jpg

Originally posted Nov 2011

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Dinner Menu: Oven Baked Chicken and Garlic Baked Potatoes

Oven Baked Chicken

I’ve had this in my files to post for a while, so I thought it would make a good full dinner menu. I had run across two different techniques to improve on oven-baked chicken and decided to combine them to see what would happen. I will not make it any other way going forward.

The first thing that is different, you add the flour to the egg mixture, making a bit of a batter. Dip the chicken in it and coat completely. Hold up and let excess drip off, back into the bowl. Then place the chicken piece into the breadcrumb mixture.

P1020737

Take a spoon and generously spoon bread mixture over the entire chicken. Using a fork, press the breadcrumbs into the egg wash. Turn it over gently and repeat on the other side. Place on a baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper for ease of clean up).

Baked Chicken Prep

Bake according to directions below. This technique  works well with boneless or bone-in and any meat you would dredge in flour or breadcrumbs. It coats piece evenly, creates a tighter seal and you lose less of the breading. By adding flour to the egg mixture the batter keeps the chicken very most and creates a great, crunchy crust.

On the board tonight:

  1. Oven Fried Chicken
  2. Broccoli
  3. Garlic Baked Potatoes
  4. Sliced Pears

Oven Fried Chicken

  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken legs (or two additional thighs)
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup water**
  • 1/8 tsp ea. salt & pepper (or to taste)

large mouth bowl, large plate and baking sheet lined with foil or parchment

Wash and pat dry chicken. In large bowl, add water, eggs, flour, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Spread breadcrumbs and panko evenly on large plate. I often use extra seasoning in the breadcrumbs – garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and oregano, lots of pepper.

Take chicken pieces one at a time and dredge in the egg mixture, coating completely, dredge in bread crumbs until lightly coated on all sides. See technique above. Place on baking sheet. Bake  at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until temp registers 160 degrees. I usually cover for 10 or 15 minutes with foil at the beginning to avoid burning the crust. For even crisper chicken, place a wire baking rack on the baking sheet and cook chicken on that. I don’t have one big enough, so I haven’t tried it.

** add more if needed

Baked Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Butter

  • 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 metal skewers

Spread

  • 1 or 2 large head of garlic
  •  olive oil
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of rosemary, minced
  • 4 to 8 tbsp of butter

Skewer each potato (depending on the size of the skewer you can sometimes get 2 on it, leaving room between potatoes). Rub oil liberally on potatoes and then coat with a light layer of salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, peel white paper skin from garlic and slice off 1/4 inch off the top. Coat well in olive oil, place in a small baking dish (I saw a great recommendation making several and using a 6-cup muffin tin). Cover with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cloves are soft when pierced. (Of course you can use a garlic roaster if you have one). You can cook this while you are prepping the chicken and potatoes, then reduce heat.

Once garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves out of their skins. Using a fork, mash garlic, butter, pinch of salt and minced rosemary to smooth paste. Serve with potatoes.

Shopping List:

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, 2 bone-in thighs, 2 legs (or additional thighs)
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large head Broccoli
  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 4 large pears
  • parchment paper (my preference) or foil
  • 2 heads of garlic

Also: rosemary sprigs, olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter

 

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Breakfast Pr0n – Burrito

DSC_9461 (1600x1060)I’ve loved these things ever since my first introduction at a jobsite where they were being sold out of a cooler by a fellow helping out a girlfriend.  This one is beef and bean with a cheese omelet all rolled up together.  I’m really liking my hot sauce, I’ll be making more of this stuff.  The cayennes I used didn’t heat it nearly so much as I thought they might.  I believe a few habaneros will go into the next batch.

Thanksgiving Files: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

In preparation for next week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

This is by far the most requested dessert I make.  This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers  this week.  Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation.  If you’re looking to wow, try this one.  From 2009:

Cranberries are on sale!  Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up.  I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take.  It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner.  You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Topping

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.

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Thursday Recipe Exchange: Spicy Pumpkin Cookies with Crumble Topping

Finally got down to some cooking. I started the week out with Pumpkin Squares (recipe here), a real favorite with everyone, so a big pan goes pretty quickly. Then it was on to a good spicy pumpkin cookie, the featured recipe tonight. The photo shows both a crumble topping and a cream cheese frosting, but since I really preferred the crumble topping, that’s what I included in the recipe. These freeze well, so they can travel to Thanksgiving dinner with family.

I really wanted to make a Pumpkin Bundt Cake this year, so I went searching for recipes and adapted one to use buttermilk, click here, which I thought created a very moist, flavorful cake.

And finally, Pumpkin Cream Pie with a brown sugar whipped cream topping, which I am really enjoying at Thanksgiving instead of the traditional custard pumpkin pie. Pictures and recipe here. I’ll probably make it again this year.

For the pet lovers, Bixby update is here. He’s five months old this week and a wild thing. And as I was writing this, JeffreyW put up some adorable photos of shelter puppies in sweaters, click here. Please keep your squeals to a minimum.

Now it’s your turn. Are you a fan of pumpkin? I know it can be one of those ingredients that inspires a very strong response, either positive or negative. What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe or product this time of year? If not pumpkin, what treat really puts you in a fall mood?

Tonight’s recipe:

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies with Crumble Topping

Cookies

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice

Cream together butter and sugar; add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, mixing well. Sift together dry ingredients and slowly mix into pumpkin mixture and mix until well combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then drop by spoonful on a baking sheet. Top with crumble topping, pressing gently into the dough. Refrigerate remaining dough until ready to bake.

Bake for 12-13 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 2 dozen

Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together until crumbly

That’s it for this week. Stay warm – TaMara

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Frozen Treats: Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato1

This first appeared May 2013. At the time I had borrowed my friend’s ice cream freezer to test drive it. I bought my own this past week or so and decided it was a good time to start making some sweet frozen treats again. And as luck would have it, LFern is back from Japan and coming over tomorrow to share stories of her adventure. I also need to ask her a big favor, so I thought a fresh batch of her favorite frozen treat couldn’t hurt my case.

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My friend LFern and I are not able to get together frequently. Family, work and other daily obligations, plus the fact we now live about 25 minutes apart, make it difficult to plan a lunch or coffee time. But this week I sent her an email that said this:

If you decide to come visit me this week I’ll make chocolate-hazelnut gelato (ok, I’m making it anyway, but why miss out?)

T.

That seemed to be incentive enough. Remember she’s my coffee and chocolate friend. I sweetened the deal with the promise of Lavazza coffee, too. When she arrived the ice cream maker was busy humming away. Fifteen minutes later, we had coffee and Gelato ready for a well-deserved girls’ afternoon.

I served up bowls and then proceeded to put the rest in the freezer. LFern mentioned I really didn’t need to do that, she’d be happy to finish it for me. I reminded her I still needed to take photos. She suggested this would be the only photo I would need:

empty bowl1

Needless to say, the recipe was a success. I had to agree with her, it was difficult to put enough away to photograph later. But luckily, once the photos were done, someone had to eat the bowl of goodness. Since I was the only one around at the time, I didn’t have to share.

So here is the next recipe in the Frozen Treats series. (A reminder, the first recipe is here and the second one is here. )

Hazelnut-Chocolate Gelato

  • Gelato plain base (recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp dark cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 13 oz chunky chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella style spread)
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

bowl with cover, ice cream freezer

ETA: Two things I forgot to mention. I reduced the sugar in the plain base because the hazelnut spread has lots of sugar in it and I was afraid it would be overly sweet. When I tasted the mixture after the spread was added, it was still a little too sweet, so I decided to add the tablespoon of dark cocoa powder. That did it and gave the finished product a nice rich chocolate flavor.

Make gelato plain base. Remove mixture from the heat and sift dark cocoa into the mixture and then add vanilla and hazelnut spread, stirring until the spread has dissolved completely. Remove to bowl, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Before covering with lid, I also cover with plastic wrap, pressed down onto the mixture to keep it from forming a ‘skin’. Next add to the ice cream freezer and freeze according to the machine’s directions.  It will be a soft serve consistency when done, freeze for at least an hour before serving. (Okay, we didn’t wait that long and it was yummy anyway). You can stir the chopped hazelnuts in before freezing or you can use as a garnish for each bowl.

This recipe is the base for most gelatos, it’s also good frozen by itself:

Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar (for the Hazelnut Gelato, reduce to 1/2 cup)

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.

*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.

Recipe makes 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.

Side note: While I was typing this entry, late (last) night, I kept hearing this repetitive sound. It took a moment for it to register. It was our neighborhood Great Horned Owl, making quite the ruckus, hoot-hooting away in the rain. That was a pretty perfect moment.

I’ll conclude this series with the Friday Recipe Exchange, featuring the recipe idea that started the whole thing off. Until then…

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Dinner Menu: Crepes

Crepes front2

I love crepes and friend of blog, Kirk Spencer just did a posting on them, reminding me that I had a pretty decent recipe, too. Check out his link, he has some nice filling ideas. For this menu, we’re sticking with fruit.

Do the idea of crepes scare you?! They did me until I decided to brave the waters for this recipe.  They are unbelievably easy.  The only difference between this and making pancakes is how you manipulate the pan.  Make sure after you’ve lightly greased the pan and heated it, you remove it from the heat before adding the batter.  Then you need to swirl the batter thinly around the pan and up the sides, until it sets.  Return to the heat to let it cook.  Immediately begin to loosen the top edges with a butter knife, so when it’s time to flip, it’s easy to do.  I found flipping it by hand easiest.  Gently loosen the edges completely and gingerly pick up by the edge and flip it over when the bottom is golden.  You may need to loosen the bottom with a spatula before flipping.  If you’re feeling daring…you can try flipping them.  Just remember, they don’t have to look perfect or be paper thin to work!

It looks like we’re going to have another bumpy, rainy, flash flood warning weekend. No grilling. I’ll have to make do with some Buttered Potato Pie and nice Pan-Seared Strip Steaks. And a reminder, there won’t be a recipe exchange this week, but I’ll find something fun for later in the weekend.  Until then….TaMara

On the board tonight: Kids Night Crepes Dinner

  1. Fruit Crepes
  2. Raw Vegetable tray w/dips
  3. Popcorn

Crepes4a

Fruit Crepes

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 oz sliced strawberries
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 2 kiwi fruits, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • powdered sugar

10-inch skillet with sloped sides or a crepe pan

2 bowls, plate, parchment or wax paper

Whisk together eggs, flour, milk, butter, ¼ tsp cinnamon.  Mix well and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes while you prepare fruit.

In medium bowl, combine ¼ tsp cinnamon, berries, banana, kiwi, granola and yogurt. Cover and refrigerate

Crepes pan1

Lightly grease skillet and heat over medium heat.  Just before adding batter, remove from heat.  Add ½ cup of batter for each crepe.  Immediately after adding it, swirl pan until batter is spread completely around the pan and up the sides.  Return to heat and cook until golden on the bottom, flip and cook until other side is golden.  About 2 minutes each side, but watch carefully.  Remove to plate.  Repeat for each crepe.  Place parchment paper between crepes.

Crepes pan2a

To assemble, put ¼ fruit mixture in each crepe and roll up.  Top with garnish of powdered sugar. Makes 8 crepes.

Alternately you can prepare them on a griddle, using a ladle to spread the batter around into a 10” circle.

If this still sounds too difficult, you can always purchase pre-made crepes in your produce section, usually by the fresh berries.  Follow package instructions to heat.

 

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Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti Carbonara

DSC_8135 (1600x1060)We are really liking this dish.  This is my second attempt, the first time I thought I may have needed more egg so I went with six eggs this time.  I’m afraid I added them too quickly, or into too hot a pan, or was too slow tossing the pasta, or some other thing, because I have a fair amount of scrambled egg where there should be a nice creamy sauce.  Or so they say!  Really nice tasting dish as it was, the thought of it being any better has my toes curling.

Breakfast Pr0n – Salami Hash

DSC_8060 (1600x1060)We really went through that homemade salami in a hurry.  I was thinking it would make a pretty good breakfast hash with a couple of sunny side up eggs and I was correct.  It is a kind of lie that it’s breakfast porn, I couldn’t wait that long and made this up tonight for supper.  Let’s say that it isn’t just breakfast porn.  LOL

Spaghetti Carbonara

DSC_7789 (1600x1060)We saw this dish somewhere last week and decided to try our luck with it.  We spent a half hour watching Youtube how-to videos to get a handle on the method and a few comments led me to decide to go with the real deal pancetta and pecorino cheese.  I mail ordered a roll of pancetta, a slab of the hard cheese, and a few other items to make the free shipping cut off.  That all made it in this morning via FedEx so we were good to go.  At least after a quick market run after fresh parsley.

Youtube has so many good chefs making this that you would be best advised to go there and see rather than listen to me.  LOL

Next time making this I’ll cook the pasta a little more, and use whole eggs rather than just the yolks like I did today.  I weighed out 12 ounces of spaghetti and thought that three egg yolks would be about right.  I saw some of the chefs mix the grated cheese in with the beaten eggs, I didn’t do that but I will next time.  Don’t forget to reserve plenty of the pasta water to add while you are stirring the beaten eggs in.

 

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