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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade Naan

Bread.  I don't know how you people feel, but I would definitely take bread over chocolate any day.  I love the scene in America's Sweethearts (probably the only redeeming scene in that vapid little flick) where Julia Roberts talks about dreaming of bread.

This naan is lovely, and EASY.  If you have an electric stove, just flip it for the second cooking.  No need to start a fire.  Enjoy with grilled indian chicken and tomato yogurt sauce.

Homemade Naan
adapted from Indian Simmer

2 cups all purpose flour or wheat flour
1/2 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup of yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Now mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together.
The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to hand too much then use little bit of oil on hand and then punch into the dough.

Cover with damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.  Or skip this part if you are really pressed for time.

After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 smaller balls.

Dust the board again and flatten the balls to make bread which is a little thick and elongated.

Now sprinkle one side of the bread with any of the following:  cumin, minced garlic, chopped cilantro or butter naans.
Brush the other side with water.
Heat a thick bottom skillet or a wok or any heavy bottom pan with a lid. Once its nicely hot place the naan wet side down which would stick and cover it with a lid.

Let it cook for about 30 secs or until you see bubbles on it.  Now cook the other side of the naan over direct flame of the burner with the help of tongs. When you see some charred brown spots then you know that the naan is done.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homemade Tortillas

Like everything in life, it's better homemade.  I recently watched a 60 minutes episode in which they exposed the food industry's chemical taste industry.  That show ruined the phrase "natural flavorings" for me forever.  Ewwwww.   We tend towards only whole foods anyway, but good god.  Meet these tortillas.  Tasty, fresh, with NO natural flavorings.  Thank heaven.

Homemade Tortillas
adapted from Foodie Bride

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp shortening, lard, softened butter, or olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

Pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt a few times in your food processor fitted with the dough blade or mixer with a paddle.
Add the fat and process until the mixture is uniformly crumbly.
With the food processor/mixer on, slowly stream in the water, just until the dry ingredients form a ball and starts bouncing around the bowl.
Let the dough knead for ~30 seconds. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl, be soft and not overly sticky.

Turn out onto a flour-dusted surface and divide dough into golf-ball sized portions (2 oz each).

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a large, dry saute pan over medium high heat.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough balls into thin almost translucent about 8" rounds, dusting the top with just enough flour to keep the tortilla from sticking to the rolling pin.

Lay tortilla flat in the heated pan and cook on each side for ~20 seconds, until the bubbled areas brown.
Keep covered with a kitchen towel to keep warm and pliable. Eat warm.  Feel free to freeze.  These heat well wrapping in tin foil in a 200 degree oven.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chunky Chicken Chili

I love this chili.  The original recipe calls for heavy cream, but plain yogurt is a good substitute.  It's spicy, and a true white chili.  You can also make this recipe with poached, shredded chicken breast, but I like the ground chicken better.  It's not very spicy, especially once it's mixed with rice.

Chunky Chicken Chili
Adapted from Big Daddy

1 stick butter, divided
2 pounds ground chicken breast or turkey
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained
2 (4-ounce) cans mild green chiles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar, for garnish
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces until nicely colored and cooked through. Remove chicken to a large bowl and set aside.

Using the same Dutch oven, stir in the flour. This will make a roux. Stir in the onions and peppers. Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and stir in the yogurt. Lower heat and cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, add the chili powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and the salt. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the cannellini beans, chiles and the chicken and simmer for another 6 to 8 minutes. At the end, mix in the sour cream. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with Cheddar and parsley.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake Tops

This platter is what happens when you make 3 different batches of cookies to bring to work in one day.  You serve christmas cookies on a starfish platter.

No matter, one bite of this ganache frosting and no one will notice!  They are a very cakey cookie, and true to their name.  The icing seals in the freshness, so no concern that they won't be yummy on day 2.  They passed the toddler test with flying colors.

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake Tops
Adapted from Annie's Eats


For the cupcake tops:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. espresso powder
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. sour cream
2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water (or briefly in the microwave) until smooth.  Set aside and let cool until just barely warm.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg.  Beat in the vanilla.  Beat in the melted chocolate until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Add in the buttermilk and mix just until smooth.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

Drop the dough in spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets- your tablespoon cookie scoop is good for this- spacing each about 2 inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.  Melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in short intervals, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the sour cream.  Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy.   Frost cookies as desired and decorate with sprinkles (if you like).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Andes Candies Mint Cookies

These are my sister in law and father in law's favorite cookies I make.  I usually make these with chopped andes candies in thirds, but this time I used to pre chopped Andes' bits.  I really prefer the huge chunks, and I won't be buying the bits again.

That being said, the whole cookie gets this nice minty flavor throughout regardless of how you do the bits.  It's a favorite cookie for everybody! I'm probably in the doghouse that I didn't mail any off this year!

Andes Candies Chip Cookies,
adapted a good bit from the new York times 2008 and me

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons  vanilla extract plus 1 vanilla bean pod's worth of seeds
1 1/4 pounds chopped Andes Candies (in thirds)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop andes candies in and incorporate them with a spatula without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop  3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls- I used my muffin scoop) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

I have never made whoopie pies before.  However, I recently went to a cookie swap that had them and it gave me a hankering.  I found out short notice about a work holiday pot luck, and I had my excuse!

The filling I doubled from the original recipe, and added shortening for half the butter, in order to taste slightly more "oreo-filling"-esque.   A good choice.  I purposely did not double the vanilla.  The peppermint flavor is decidedly there, but not overpowering, so if you want that brrrrrrr feeling you should add another 1/2 tsp.

Peppermint Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Brown Eyed baker (who adapted from Whoopie Pies)
Makes About 24 whoopie pies

For the Cakes:
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (238 gms)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (66 gms)
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar (192 gms)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk (skim is fine)

For the Filling (Peppermint Buttercream):
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons  heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon salt

Crushed candy canes, to garnish as desired.  Since I was making these a day in advance, I thought it was ill advised.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, roughly 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and ½ cup milk and beat until completely combined.

Drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. I used my tablespoon cookie scoop.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10-11 minutes each, or until the whoopie "cakes/pies" spring back when pressed gently.

Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool fully.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the powdered sugar, shortening, and the butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Assemble the Whoopie Pies: Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon, or using a pastry bag and your trusy 1M tip. Top it with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling. Roll the edges in crushed candy canes if you like, but they may soften the candy canes f they are not eaten within a few hours.
You could also roll edges in sprinkles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce

This is a good, solid, midweek meal.  It's got good flavor, and is easy enough to pull off.  It's originally from epicurious, and has made its way around the blogs.  I did not adore it, but I'd definitely make it again.

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and halved (4 halves total)
Salt and pepper
¾-1 cup flour

For the sauce:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ tsp. fresh oregano, minced
½ tsp. sweet paprika
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (about 12 oz.)
1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, oregano, and paprika.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the oregano butter with the olive oil.  Place the chicken breast halves in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to brown and burst, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining butter mixture to the pan.  Crush the tomatoes slightly to release their juices and continue stirring until the butter is melted.  Add the wine or broth to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen the frond.  Cook for a minute more until well blended.

Slice the chicken, transfer to serving plates, and top with the pan sauce.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mississippi Mud

post updated on 9.28.2012 to put a new picture and to add link for homemade marshmallow topping.

OK, so I have requested this recipe a number of times from someone, to no avail.  So she forced me into it. I had to recreate it.

Better than hers.

Sometimes the gloves gotta come off.  Enter this "cake."

The cake is well hydrated (ahem, ahem, L, you better let me know I'm doing this for some reason....), and the pecans are a great twist.  I can't really say where this recipe came from, I made it based on recipes from all over the web, taking some from all.  But credit is probably due here, here, and here.

For some reason all these recipes use marshmallow creme, which results in a huge mess and displaced fluff.  I have adapted the recipe to let the cake melt actual marshmallows, which will then firm up.  To make homemade marshmallows is actually easy, quick, and noticeably yummier.


2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup special dark cocoa
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup crushed pecans (or hazelnuts!!)

Cream together butter, sugar, and cocoa.  Add 4 eggs and beat.  Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and add to wet batter.  Stir in crushed pecans.

Pour into a 13 x 9 pan, and bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes.  While cake is hot, sprinkle 10 oz of mini marshmallows over the cake.  They will melt in a gooey layer.  If using homemade marshmallows,  spread on cake after whipped and thickened.   Let cool thoroughly.  Once cool, ice.

Fudge Icing
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup special dark cocoa powder
1 lb powdered sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together and frost the marshmallow topped cake.  Slice like brownies but in thin slivers.  Chill is desired.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Green Bean Bundles

I usually scorn vegetables with meat.  I have been known to turn my nose up at green beans boiled with salt pork or ham.  So my husband was pretty shocked when I made this.

To be fair, I like it better without the bacon.
The brown sugar-mustard marinade is delicious, although I have to say I think I prefer it NOT marinated overnight.  The sauce seems to stick on better that way, since it's still liquid and not congealed.  Appetizing word, congealed.

Anyway, make these either way.  I also recommend haricot vert instead of green beans.  Saves all the trimming!  And time saving is a good thing...

Green Bean Bundles
adapted from The Pastry Queen Christmas, by Rebecca Rather via Pink Parsley

1 1/2 lbs haricot vert
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces of bacon, each piece cut in half width-wise

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, and blanch the beans 3-4 minutes, or until they are bright green in color and pliable but still very crunchy.  Drain and run them under cold water. or plunge into an ice bath  Pat dry with a paper towel.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, mustard, salt, and brown sugar.  Pour the mixture over the green beans, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  I sometimes skip this part, and just assemble.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Gather 8-9 beans at a time and make bundles.  Wrap with a slice of the (halved) bacon, and lie seam-side down in a greased baking sheet or casserole dish.  Pour remaining marinade over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and the beans look wrinkled.  Cook under the broiler for an additional 1-2 minutes to crisp the bacon even more, if you like.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Butterflake Herb Loaf

King arthur is definitely under-rated.  I can't tell you how much success I have had with their recipes.  This one is no exception.  This is a great holiday loaf because it's scrumptious and decadent.  The butter oozes out somewhat and makes for a buttery bottom crust.  As far as flavor, it's a milder alternative to garlic bread.  It reheats well, too!

Butterflake Herb Loaf
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons potato flour or instant mashed potatoes

butter herb filling
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, soft
1/2 teaspoon caraway or chopped fennel seed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon grated onion or chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
1 clove garlic, minced

Bring the milk to a simmer and pour over the butter, in a mixing bowl or the pan of your bread machine. Add the sugar and salt, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

When the liquid is tepid, add the eggs, yeast, 3 1/2 cups of flour, and the potato flour and begin mixing the dough.

After the dough comes together and has mixed for 3 minutes, touch the dough to test its consistency. If wet dough comes off on your finger, add more flour 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing between additions until it's incorporated.

Once the dough is smooth and soft, not sticky, let the bread machine finish its cycle, or place the dough in a greased container, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, place the herb butter ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.

 After the dough has risen, deflate it and roll it out on a floured surface 1/2" thick. Cut in 3 1/2" to 4" circles with a biscuit cutter.

Butter generously half of each circle, fold in half, and place in a 12" x 4" x 2 1/2" tea loaf pan, or two 8 1/2 x 4" bread pans.

* I rerolled and cut the scraps and made a second loaf*

 Bake the loaf in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Tent with foil for the last 15 minutes of baking if necessary to keep the top from over-browning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Playdough

I made this version for the kids.  It's Christmas cookie time, so you know that the kids are all about helping.  I found this recipe in gingerbread form, and I adapted it into chocolate playdough!    So the kids get to roll it, play with cookie cutters, and do their own thing endlessly.  Put in a cute jar with a cookie cutter a bow, and it's fantastic for cookie swaps or your host to the holiday parties.

Adapted from Sweet Sugarbelle

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water and oil and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over low heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper or wax paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Burrito bowls

This recipe is infinitely adaptable.  Shredded beef, pork, chicken, meat free with beans only and grilled veggies?  Sure!  I love the blend of flavors, and I love the pico de gallo's cold contrast with the warm burrito fillings.  And with my new favorite carnitas, it's a sure thing.

Burrito Bowls
adapted from melissa d'Arabian

3 cups cooked brown rice (from 1 cup uncooked)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 cups cooked black beans
1 1/2 to 2 cups Simple Fresh Pico de Gallo
2 cups Pork Carnitas
1 cup shredded Cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 green onions, chopped

In a medium bowl, toss the rice with the cilantro and the orange zest. Divide the rice evenly among 4 individual serving bowls. Top with the black beans and half of the pico de gallo. Add warm carnitas and top with the rest of the pico de gallo. Sprinkle on the cheese, and spoon a dollop of the sour cream on top. Finish with the chopped green onions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pico de Gallo

It's amazing to me that I grew up with zero mexican food, since I make it as much as I do.  This pico de gallo I made to go with burrito bowls, which I'll post one of these days.  It's a nice thing to make when you can't decide between avocado and salsa!

Pico De Gallo
Adapted from Melissa D'Arabian

Pinch of sugar
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed and finely chopped
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon salt with the pinch of sugar. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes gently with the salt mixture. Add onion and jalapeno and combine.

Place the avocado on top of the tomato mixture and squeeze with lime juice to coat the avocado.

Sprinkle on the cilantro, and stir to combine. Serve.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pork Carnitas

There was a time during making this dish that I had serious reservations. During the simmer in liquid phase, it looks....nasty.  No mincing words.  As in, did I just ruin 6 lbs of pork??   As you can see from the final resulting filthy pan, I need not have worried.  This is the way I will make pulled pork forevermore.   The crispy edges are fantastic, and the flavor is not noticeably citrus.  It's just amazingly good.  And I also love how they fry up in the same pot in the rendered fat, not in an intentional way, but more in a "oh I forgot about you, now how did this happen?" kind of way.Pork Carnitas, Homesick TexanAdapted from Smitten Kitchen6 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes1 1/2 cup orange juice1/2 cup lime juice 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed2 teaspoons ground cumin2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more to tastePlace the pork in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and enough water to just \cover the meat. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours. Don’t stir.After two hours, increase the heat to medium-high and while occasionally stirring and turning the pieces, continue to cook for about 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated, leaving only the rendered pork fat. Let it sizzle in this fat long enough to brown at the edges, turning pieces gently, only as needed.  I love that this also shreds the meat, leaving none of that messy tedious pulling.
When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve as you will.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Do not overbake.  Do not overbake.  Repeat these words over and over again.  If you remember this, your cookies will be amazing.  It makes such a huge difference.  You should let these stay on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes to firm up, but otherwise, they will be fantastic and everyone will be thoroughly impressed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
adapted from Annie's Eats and King Arthur Flour

1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (6 1/4 oz)  all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. (1 5/8 oz) special dark cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse salt
¾ stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar (99 gm)
½ cup brown sugar (106 gm)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. water
2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, (cooled or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and water.  Blend until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Add in 2 cups of the chopped peanut butter cups and fold in with a spatula.

Use a large dough scoop to drop rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing 2-3 inches apart.  Gently press a few pieces of the reserved peanut butter cups into the top of each of the dough balls.  Bake 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

I decided I had to make some chocolate peanut butter cup cookies, but I was completely out of reese's.  No matter- these were quick, and I had my eye on them for christmas cookie plates anyway.  These are very good, and easy.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: About 3 dozen peanut butter cups

1 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup light brown sugar
1¼ cups powdered sugar
4 cups dark chocolate chips (two 11.5-oz bags)
¼ cup vegetable shortening

Light spray a mini-muffin tin with butter spray; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Heat until completely melted and starting to bubble a little, stirring often. Remove from the heat. Add the powdered sugar, stirring until completely combined with the peanut butter mixture. Set aside and let cool.

Melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in the microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, until completely melted, stirring after each burst.

Use a heaping teaspoon to scoop out the peanut butter mixture. Roll it into a ball, and then flatten it slightly into a disk. Place on waxed paper.   Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Using a small cookie scoop or a couple of teaspoons, spoon melted chocolate into the bottom of each muffin well.

Place a peanut butter patty on top of each chocolate-lined muffin tin. Then use a scoop or spoon to add more melted chocolate on top and around each peanut butter patty.

Refrigerate again for 30 minutes, then they’re ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Pie and Coconut Pie

"Those were some good women."  This is what I always hear about my great aunt in law and great grandmother in law.  Although I met the latter, she was no longer herself at that point.  I'm sad to have missed them, but judging by their recipes....those were some goooooooood women.

This was one of those family recipes that I had to learn.  It's at my in law's for almost every major meal. I adapted the meringue and pie crust, but the rest are untouched.  These are some good pies!!!!!

Easy Pie Crust
Adapted from Annie's Eats


1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. very cold water

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix briefly to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are not much bigger than peas.  Mix in the cold water on low speed just until the dough comes together.

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  (This dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)  Remove from the refrigerator.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface.  For this recipe, Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes to blind bake.  Before baking, put parchment over crust and place uncooked rice in the cavity of the pie.  This will keep the crust from slipping but it will be able to breathe.

Chocolate Pie Filling
Adapted from Dot, Jewel, and Tina

4 tablespoons special dark cocoa
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar

Whisk flour and cocoa into a saucepan.  Stirring over low heat, add milk, eggs, butter.  Cook, whisking often, until thick.  Add vanilla.  Spoon into pie crust and cool.

Coconut Pie Filling
Adapted from Dot, Jewel, and Tina

1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 small can (3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut

Whisk flour and cocoa into a saucepan.  Stirring over low heat, add milk, eggs, butter.  Cook, whisking often, until thick.  Add vanilla and coconut.  Spoon into pie crust and cool.

SUGGESTED: BEFORE TOPPING WITH MERINGUE-- CRUMBLED ONE GRAHAM CRACKER ON TOP of pie filling.  This helps the meringue bond to the filling and stay in place.  You won't taste it.

Meringue (enough for both pies)
Adapted from the Pastry Queen via 20somethingcupcakes
Cooking method adapted from Shirley Corriher

10 large egg whites, at room temperature 
3 cups sugar

Set a large, very clean metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. I use my mixing bowl.  Pour in the egg whites and sugar. Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all sugar grains have melted. 

Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; increase the speed to high and beat 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

To assemble the pies, Pile the meringue on top of the pies. Style the meringue with your fingers by plucking at it to tease the meringue into jagged spikes, or use the back of a spoon.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  If things are not sufficiently browned at the end, broil BRIEFLY.  (watch out- it can ignite!!)

Sunday, December 4, 2011


My grandfather was not exactly a warm fuzzy guy, like few men of his generation were.  I remember 3 things clearly about him besides his gruff tone: his love of seven and seven's, andes candies, and gingersnaps.  The warmest moment in my memory is when I made him gingersnaps.  He was thrilled, and they were delicious!

These are equally good.  I whipped up these babies to crumble them into the bottom of pumpkin pie, and to save them for the upcoming santa plate!

Adapted from David Leibovitz Ready for Dessert

3 cups (15 oz)  all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 t g cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temp
granulated sugar, for coating the cookies

In a medium bowl, combine flour through ground cloves and whisk until mixed well.

In a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar, mixing on medium until smooth. mix in molasses and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. add flour mixture and mix until completed combined.

divide the dough tablespoon scoop sized pieces, roll in sugar, chill.

preheat oven to 350 F.   Place the other side down on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for ~9-10 minutes.  Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.