Monday, January 31, 2011

S'more Cookies for Me Please!

S'mores were my favorite part of having a camp fire growing up. I would eat them until I felt like the sugar was exploding my brain... (They were definitely secretly sneaked because my doting parents would only allow SOOO many to be eaten!)

Here is the oh-so-delicious treat transformed to an easily portable cookie form!
(adapted from Cookies Madness)

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I bought these pre-crumbled in the baking aisle... YES!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag mini chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 Hershey bars, broken into little pieces (I'll explain this more later)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, and mix until combined.
  4. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda and mix well.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Use 2 tablespoons or a medium-sized ice cream scoop to drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from oven.
  8. Push a few marshmallows into each cookie.
  9. Break the Hershey bar on the lines of the little segments. Then break the segments in half.
  10. Push the chocolate into each cookie and return to the oven to bake an additional 3-4 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven when the marshmallows are puffy and a little bit browned.
  12. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  13. Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy the deliciousness!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beats Marie Calendar's Chicken Pot Pie

I have always dreamed about making a chicken pot pie at home. Ever since my little brother and I ate the Marie Calendar's frozen pot pies like they were cake (how ironic!) growing up. My mom was a great cook, but frozen meals were a huge hit for the two of us... And I'm sure she appreciated not having to put together lunch every day when we could operate the microwave ourselves.

These delicious little puppies were adapted from here. Enough about me already, right? , here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Chicken meat (I bought a rotisserie chicken for $5 and will use for enchiladas this weekend!)
  • 1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • About 1/4 cup of flour (although you will only add one tablespoon at a time!)
  • Garlic powder, celery salt, seasoning salt, and black pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream (same thing as heavy whipping cream it turns out - you learn something new every day!)
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen peas

Directions:

  1. Begin to remove the meat from your chicken and shred it into bite sized pieces. (If you're not going to make enchiladas later with the chicken don't shred it all, just shred what you need for your pies!)
  2. Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots.
  3. Bring a sauce pan (make sure it's big enough to handle all of the water and the veggies!)
  4. Place chopped veggies (carrots and potatoes) in the pan and boil until tender.
  5. Add the frozen peas to the boiling mixture in the last five minutes or so.
  6. Drain the veggies and set them aside for later use.
  7. In a deep frying pan, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter.
  8. Saute the onions and garlic in the butter.
  9. After the onions and garlic are browned place them in the same container the veggies are in.
  10. Melt the 1 stick of butter in the same deep frying pan. (Don't worry about cleaning it out, just let it be)
  11. After the butter is melted begin adding the flour by the spoonful in order to make a nice paste in the bottom of the pan. (I added about 1/4 of a cup before I felt like it was thick, but not too thick)
  12. Cook the paste for a minute over low heat, stirring constantly.
  13. Add the chicken broth and stir until warm.
  14. Add the heavy cream and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to thicken.
  15. While this is cooking, season to your heart's content with the garlic powder, celery salt, seasoning salt, and pepper. (This is where you have the chance to make the meal all your own! I suggest trying the little mixture every couple of shakes to ensure the spices aren't getting out of control or are too boring)
  16. Once the mix has thickened, turn the heat down and add the chicken and veggies.
  17. Stir until warmed all the way through.
  18. Line the pan with the pie crust. (I use the pre-made pie shells found in the cookie and bread dough refrigerated section in the grocery store, you could use frozen shells, or make your own if you're that skilled)
  19. Divide between 2-3 pie shells.
  20. You will use one crust for the bottom of the pie, and the other crust will become the top.
  21. Once one pie crust is full you can top it off with the other crust and pinch the edges shut.
  22. Slice a few vents in the top of the crust to allow the pie to breathe and keep it from exploding!
  23. Slide it right on into the oven (Unless you used a freezer crust, then place it on a cookie sheet and slide it into the oven).
  24. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color.
  25. If you made extra pies that you are going to freeze skip placing it in the oven and cover tightly with tinfoil before putting it in for the deep freeze.
Jason's Rating: 5/5. He absolutely loved it and made sure that I was going to put the other pie in the freezer. Yep, hun, don't worry it's freezing.

Homemade Chinese Take-Out: Sweet and Sour Pork

Jason and I both really love chinese food but struggle finding a good balance of the delicious take-out taste and heathy, nutritious meal choices. This little Food Network recipe was just the fix, I added a couple of things just to make it a little more interesting, but find the original recipe here!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup good ol' H2O
  • A pinch or two of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sliced baby carrots
  • A bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 3 cups snow peas (I bought a bag at the grocery store and didn't cut them... I should have done that!)
  • 1 can of sliced water chestnuts (Adds a very delightful crunch)
  • Cubed pineapple (I didn't have this in mine because pineapple is not really in season despite it feeling like summer out in January, but it would be DELICIOUS!)

Directions

  1. Toss the pork with 1/2 tablespoon vinegar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  2. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, ketchup, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in another bowl.
  3. Heat the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.
  4. Add the pork and slowly stir until it turns mostly opaque, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
  6. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet.
  7. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the skillet.
  8. Stir-fry the garlic with a pinch each of salt and sugar, 15 seconds. (Add a little water if the garlic starts to stick to the skillet.)
  9. Add the carrots and scallions and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 2 minutes.
  10. Add the pork, snow peas and soy sauce mixture.
  11. Stir until the pork is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
Jason's rating: He gave it a 4/5. Although it was delicious, he said it just doesn't have the same flavor as a good carton of take-out. He then admitted that it's probably that flavor that is a result of the unhealthy aspects of the dish. (Isn't that always the case!?!)

The cucumber salad on the side is one of the easiest side "salads" to make and Jason loves to do it all by himself! It's just two cucumbers sliced thinly (or at least they are supposed to be) and doused with some vinegar... I usually use rice vinegar, but had to use balsamic this night because my rice vinegar had gone missing! Add a little salt and pepper to taste and you are in business!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Red Rider Cookies

These are a family favorite in my house. So delicious and sure to brighten up ANY day!

ingredients:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup shortening (butter flavored Crisco is my favorite!)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bag white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray

  • directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 f.
    2. With an electric mixer cream butter, shortening, and both sugars on medium high.
    3. When light and fluffy reduce to a medium speed, add eggs and vanilla.
    4. Drop mixer to low speed and add the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
    5. Beat in the oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.
    6. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray.
    7. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
    8. Bake until the edges of the cookies begin to brown (this is a little difficult to tell with the red, but just keep your eye on them!) about 15 to 18 minutes.
    9. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool.
    Jason's rating: 5/5 stars. Well, he loves these! He always has. :)

    Terrifically Toffee Brownie Bars


    This delicious little number is so simple it should cook itself, but I promise it will get major props from anyone you share it with (or even just for yourself!).

    ingredients:
    • box of brownie mix (and the ingredients needed to make the brownies -eggs, oil, water, etc)
    • two king-size chocolate bars with toffee (I used Symphony because it's my mama's favorite!)

    directions:
    1. Turn the oven on to the temperature listed on the package. (mine was 375 f)
    2. Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the box. (add ingredients and mix)
    3. Line a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan with tin foil.
    4. Spray the tin foil liner with baking spray.
    5. Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the lined pan.
    6. Unwrap the chocolate bars and use to cover all of the batter in the bottom of the pan.
    7. Cover the chocolate bars with the rest of the batter.
    8. Bake it in the oven for the time directed on the package.

    **To see if the brownies are done cooking, use a toothpick stuck in the center of the pan. If the toothpick comes out clean the brownies are all done!

    Jason's rating: Jason was at work when I made these for a friend so he didn't get to try them. But I have more of the supplies so I'm going to make them for him this weekend... but I'm sure they are a 5 star rating... Chocolate, toffee, and warm brownies are a combination for success!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Sinfully Sweet Red Velvet Cupcakes

    these delicious little treats are good enough to be on the red carpet! so yummy! i made them on friday during a baking frenzy but haven't had time to post with all of the craziness of this weekend (going to the fights, a gun slinging double date, and a half marathon!) but now i have time to catch up!


    Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cups vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • a splash or two of red food coloring
    • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you forget the distilled vinegar at the house you're taking care of while it's owners are out of town like i did!)
    • 1 splash vanilla extract

    Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
    3. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.
    4. Add the the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
    5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled (or 1/3 of a cup in each little well).
    6. Bake in the oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through.
    7. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness.
    8. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
    and for the delicious and absolutely heavenly cream cheese frosting:

    Ingredients

    • 1 box confectioner's (powdered) sugar
    • 1 stick butter
    • 1 package cream cheese (in the little cardboard box thing, not the pot)

    Directions

    1. Combine all three ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Mix using a handheld electric mixer (or a standing mixer)
    3. Spread onto cupcakes with a butter knife or use a piping bag.
    4. Finish with a berry and some sprinkles (or a chocolate kiss!)

    **It's important to note, the frosting will seem like it's not working out, but let it mix... Suddenly it magically becomes perfect and it's so delicious!

    Jason's rating: 5 stars!
    Yipee he loves them! He ate four or five of them over the weekend... and I loved them muchos as well!

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Banana Bread Bonanza!

    So I had three bananas that I let get absurdly ripe - beyond the point of tastiness - and I decided that since I wasn't going to eat them myself, I would bake them into a delicious little loaf of yumminess! I found a bunch of recipes online and found this one to be my favorite... However, I definitely put my own twist on it all.


    ingredients:
    • 1 stick butter, at room temperature, plus more for loaf pan (or use Pam like I do!)
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan (not too much more for the pan)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 large very ripe bananas
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • package of dried banana chips
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Butter and flour a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. (Don't be too excited on the flour or it cooks to your bread and makes it a little creepy on the crust... I found this out the hard way!)
    3. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a wooden spoon, leaving a bit of texture.
    (this is best done after a stressful day... or week!)
    4. Add the cinnamon to the mashed bananas and mix in to the texture.
    5. In a large bowl, use a hand electric mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
    6. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix.
    7. Stir in the mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until just combined.
    8. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
    9. Mix all of the ingredients together until thick and well combined.
    10. Pour the batter into the pan.
    11. Add banana chips to the top of the bread to add a little crunch (and cute detail!)
    12. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
    13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack (or wooden cooking board if you're like me and don't have a wire rack) to finish cooling.
    14. Slice and serve with butter.

    Jason's rating: 4
    He said it would be better with nuts in it... But he just had his wisdom teeth out so I skipped them... Easy to add next time! And if you add a 1/2 cup of pecans (in step 8) you'll be good! He also said he felt like it was cooked too long... I have to agree (but just note, I am still cooking in a foreign kitchen so I'm struggling getting to know the oven... Other bakers will understand - I hope).