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…
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.
Originally posted Nov 2011
This week I’m focusing on recipes you can give as gifts (and you thought I was just going to annoy you with Christmas Carols). This week is about sweet and salty. A change from the traditional sweet treats. Here are two spicy nut recipes that are sure to be welcome gifts:
Cajun Spiced Nuts
- 1 tsp teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tsp teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 cups unsalted deluxe mixed nuts
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 brown sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
Mix spices together and set aside. Heat the nuts in a dry skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to toast, about 4 minutes. Add the butter, stirring, until the nuts begin to darken, about 1 minute. Add the spices, the sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and the salt, stirring until the sauce thickens and the nuts are glazed, about 5 minutes.
Remove the nuts from the heat and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are all separated. Let the nuts stand until cooled and the sugar has hardened, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Makes 6 cups
Indian Spiced Nuts
- 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (or cashews)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 4 tablespoons shredded coconut (either fresh or unsweetened)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the nuts coconut, butter, sugar, coriander cumin, garam masala and salt together and pour onto the baking sheet. Toast for 40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through for even baking. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 cups
Now once you have these recipes completed, how about some creative ways to wrap them? Colored plastic wrap and ribbons, holiday Chinese take out containers are always fun, glass canning cars with fabric inserts between the rim and the seal, or even more fun, wrap the nuts in decorative paper cones, tied with ribbon. These are all creative ways to present your gifts and you make personalized labels to enhance the presentation.
Originally Posted December 2011
I’m repeating the holiday gift series this week. We’ll start with flavored popcorn:
One of my favorite things is the mixed can of flavored popcorn. Unfortunately they can vary in quality and price. And if you’re paying a premium, well let’s face it, it all hype, because popcorn is cheap, as are most of the ingredients that go in flavored popcorn. So I thought I’d pull a few recipes together this week so you could make your own variety tin of flavored popcorn. I actually have a tower of gift boxes that I’m thinking of filling with different flavors. You can use decorative plastic and ribbon, or holiday tins, or zip-lock bags placed in pretty gift bags.
For the first recipes, I thought something cheesy.
White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
- 8 cups popped corn
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese powder
- 1/4 tsp dried mustard
- dash of cayenne
- salt to taste
It might be easiest to do this in two batches. In a large bag, toss popcorn thoroughly with butter to coat completely. Mix together cheese and spices, toss with popcorn in the bag until everything is well coated. Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging (this keeps it from becoming soggy).
- 8 cups popped corn
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 2 tsp chili powder
- dash of garlic
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan (I’d use the Kraft style for ease)
- salt to taste (the Parmesan may make it salty enough)
Again, you may want to make this in batches. Mix together butter and spices and toss with popcorn in a large bag. Add cheese and toss again until well coated. Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging.
Additional flavor ideas:
White cheddar cheese powder and taco seasoning. Parmesan and dry packaged buttermilk ranch dressing seasoning.
Originally posted Dec 2011
I asked JeffreyW to send me some ideas for comfort foods and he included this photo. Yum.
I hope everyone had a good holiday. Now it’s time for the Christmas rush. But before I start with those recipes, I thought we’d revisit comfort foods. When things get crazy busy, I fall back on easy comfort foods: soups, mac-n’cheese, slow-cooker meals.
What sparked this idea was a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese Bacon Cups. No, seriously, someone thought of putting macaroni and cheese into cups made of bacon and baking it in the oven. If you’re daring and want to try your hand at it, JeffreyW has the recipe for Bacon Cups here and two Macaroni and Cheese recipes are here and here.
The photo above is easy to recreate (JeffreyW recommends frozen shoestring fries), but he has a recipe for even more elaborate Chile Cheese Fries, click here for recipe and mouth-watering photos.
When cold weather hits and my schedule is full, I want Spicy Potato Soup and Biscuits, recipes here.
Starting next week, I’ll move into holiday recipes, both for the meals and gift giving. For the animal lovers, there is a Bixby update here, but be forewarned when you click through, HE. HAS. GROWN. Although he doesn’t seem to realize it.
What’s on your menu for the weekend? How is the holiday shopping coming along?
Tonight’s feature recipe is very simple and quick to put together.
Slow-Cooker Tangy Roast Beef w/Potatoes & Carrots
- 2 to 3 lbs boneless chuck roast
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion, quartered
- 4 red potatoes, halved
- 4 carrots, peeled & quartered
In order, place items in Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low). Couldn’t be simpler. But if you don’t want tangy, just substitute a good red wine for a richer flavor. If you have time, it’s worth it to brown your roast on all sides before tossing in the slow-cooker. Lightly flour all sides, heat oil in a skillet and brown quickly. I usually use tongs and brown the sides as well.
That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll tackle holiday treats for gift giving or to take to parties. – TaMara