Monday, December 30, 2013

Cookie Monday: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

I actually wasn't planning on making these this week. I planned to make oatmeal butterscotch cookies. I had printed this out as a consideration but ended up deciding on the oatmeal. So I had the following in my mixer: butter, sugar, brown sugar. I had the following in a bowl: flour, baking soda, salt. And then I went to add the oats and discovered I have no oats. None. In the entire house. Why did I think I could make oatmeal cookies? Panic set in.

So I grabbed this one as my backup, trying to figure out what I could salvage. Then I realized that the amounts of butter and sugars were exactly the same in the two recipes. I tossed in a brick of cream cheese and suddenly my mixer was making this recipe. I added an extra cup of flour and an extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt and suddenly my dry ingredients were the correct amounts as well. WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF THIS?!

These cookies don't have a cheesecake consistency but they are very soft and springy. They have a little tang like a cheesecake. I used dark chocolate chips but you could definitely use pretty much any kind of baking chip. These were really good!


Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies
Something Swanky via Pinterest

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips

1. Beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and Philadelphia cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer.

2. Add the egg and vanilla, mix well.

3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add gradually to the stand mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as it mixed.

4. Mix in the Hershey's baking melts with a wooden spoon.

5. Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment or silicon lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes, until the edges look set.

6. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to wire rack.

Yield: 3-4 dozen

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Honey Chili Beer Chicken


I have come to the realization that I really can cook anything as long as I have a recipe. I've never been the kind of person who can make things up on the fly, but I can always do it with a recipe. It turns out that this extends to meat, which I don't even eat. I've recently fallen in love with The Beeroness, so as soon as she posted this recipe for beer chicken, I decided I MUST make it for my gentleman and a friend who came over to watch football.

Gentleman purchased some chicken thighs, and our friend prepped them for me while I made the sauce. I used Goose Island Nut Brown Ale, which I didn't love straight from the bottle but was wonderful for cooking. I used a Le Creuset braiser instead of my cast iron skillet because I thought it would cook nicely in it, and it did. I made a little extra sauce and poured it over some crispy tofu I'd made for myself, which was surprisingly excellent. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the sauce was delicious, and we ate our food with some rice and some roasted vegetables.

I actually will save this recipe and make it again sometime. It was really easy and successful.

Sorry the chicken is a mess on the plate. I did not feel like prettying it up for photos.


Honey Chili Beer Chicken
The Beeroness

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced sweet white onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brown ale, divided in half
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
6 boneless skinless chicken thigh filets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon (or more) flour

1. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. Add the onions and caramelize over medium heat until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic then add 1/2 cup brown ale, balsamic vinegar, honey and chili sauce. Simmer until reduced and thickened, remove sauce from pan and set aside.

3. Sprinkle the chicken thighs on all sides with salt, pepper and flour.

4. Increase heat to medium-high, cook the chicken thighs until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.

5. Pour the sauce back into the pan along with the remaining 1/2 cup brown ale.

6. Cover loosely with a lid, lower heat to maintain a simmer and allow to cook until chicken is cooked through, about an additional 10 minutes. Turning once during cooking.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pudding Cookies

I've posted the recipes for many, many pudding cookies as I've made them for Mondays (and I'm sure there will be many, many more), but for some reason I can't find a basic Pudding Cookie Recipe. Did I ever post it? I don't think I did. It isn't Oreo, it isn't peanut butter, it's just a basic vanilla pudding cookie base. I'm going to share it with you now because it's the most versatile thing ever.

I have made basic chocolate chip cookies with this recipe. I made some this week with Christmas chips (dyed red & green). I have added chopped up Butterfingers. I have used mini M&Ms. How did I never post this? I am clearly disorganized.

So here is the basic pudding cookie recipe. I usually make a half-batch and get about 4 dozen. I'll be making them again next week for my gentleman's holiday party at work. It's great. Make them. Be creative. Enjoy!

Pudding Cookies
Sunday Baker

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3.4 oz) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups add-ins (chocolate/butterscotch/peanut butter/white chocolate chips, candy bars, m&m's, nuts, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour and baking soda in seperate bowl and set aside; in a large bowl, cream butter, brown and white sugar. Beat in pudding mix until well blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. When smooth, slowly add in the flour mixture. This can take a little while, but make sure it's well incorporated into mix.

Finally, add the "fillers".

You can use a small melon ball scoop to make 1 " balls so the cookies are all uniform in size and bake evenly. When using candy like snickers, make sure you smooth the balls or the snickers part will ooze all over your pan.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden.

Yield: 8 dozen

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cookie Monday: Giant Molasses Cookies

I was drawn to this recipe because of all of the reviews claiming that they are soft and chewy. I wanted a soft gingerbread cookie for Cookie Monday. Not a gingersnap. Not a hard cookie. Something soft and reminiscent of Pepperidge Farm.

My mistake may have been that I smallened the cookies. Instead of making them gigantic (3" diameter, claim the reviews), I made 1" balls and got about 4 1/2 dozen cookies. I adjusted the cooking time to 11 minutes so that they would be slightly underdone when they came out of the oven, enhancing the softness. So I am unsure how much of this really is my mistake, because when I took it out of the oven, I discovered we had gingersnaps. The opposite of what I wanted.

It has been pointed out to me by several people that I am overly critical of my cookies that even when they're subpar, the fact that I bring in cookies at all is appreciated. But I want to make sure people are getting the best and I didn't feel these were the best. They're absolutely delicious. But they're kind of hard. One person at work described them as "a good dipping cookie." I bet they would be really good with some pumpkin ice cream in between two of them, though. For real. I will continue my quest for a nice, soft ginger cookie.


Giant Molasses Cookies
Taste of Home, November 2011

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup coarse sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in pecans.

Shape into 2-in. balls and roll in coarse sugar. Place 2-1/2-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 13-15 minutes or until tops are cracked. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 dozen.

Servings: 24

Monday, December 09, 2013

Cookie Monday: Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)

Oops! I was about to post about today's Cookie Monday cookie and realized I'd never published this one from last week.

OK, so the Kourabiedes. I found this recipe in a Penzeys catalog. It uses a ton of butter, but it made more than enough cookies so I didn't even have to double the batch. I had shied away from cookies covered in powdered sugar (like almond crescents or Mexican wedding cookies) because I give them out at a hospital and I didn't want doctors walking into rooms looking like they'd just done coke in the bathroom. Thankfully, I underestimated the eating habits of my coworkers and no one looked overly powdery.

They were very yummy. Very simple. Definitely buttery. They were kind of dry in that the whole cookie just explodes and melts in your mouth. Several people compared it (favorably, I swear) to the Cinnamon Challenge (google it). I suggested everyone follow it up with coffee or milk due to that. A few people deemed this their favorite so far. I agree. They were very good!


Kourabiedes - Greek Butter Cookies

1 pound sweet butter, unsalted (4 sticks)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
3 cups cake flour (fine flour that produced more tender, fine textured baked goods)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar for dusting the cookies, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. soften butter at room temperature. Beat butter with an electrix mixer for 1/2 hour at medium high speed (don't skimp, the long beating time is crucial). Add the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, followed by the egg yolk and continue beating so the sugar and egg yolk mix in well. Add cake flour a little at a time, then the regular flour and baking powder. The dough should be soft but not sticky to the hand. Make sure you mix the dough well. Roll the dough into 3/4 inch balls and make a small indentation on top to hold the powdered sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. sprinkle with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Remove from pan and place cookies on a board or rack to cool and sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar. Let them cool overnight.

Yield: 60 cookies

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Turkey Noodle Soup

As you may recall, I made an entire 10 lb turkey for my gentleman (and one of our friends, who ate some leftovers). He could only eat so many turkey sandwiches and eventually asked if I could make it into soup.

Not knowing what exactly he wanted, I decided to go with my gut and find a homey, noodly soup using leftover turkey. And I found that with Ms Martha. Turkey stock was on sale because Thanksgiving is over, so that was cool. And then since we live in Pennsylvania, I found these Pennsylvania Dutch "pot pie" noodles - square-shaped egg noodles. Perfect.

So I whipped this soup up and it was definitely a winner. My gentleman loved it, our friend loved it, and now I have a go-to use for turkey in future years. I highly recommend this if you have leftover turkey!


Turkey Noodle Soup
Everyday Food, November 2009

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 celery stalks, diced medium
3 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 medium white onion, diced medium
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 cups turkey stock (storebought or homemade)
2 cups wide egg noodles
1 sprig rosemary, about 2 inches long
3/4 pound shredded cooked turkey

In a 6-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high. Add celery, carrots, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a rapid simmer. Add noodles, rosemary, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer until noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add turkey and heat through.

Servings: 6

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Lauren Roasts a Turkey: Thanksgiving 2013

That's right. As I mentioned, we went to Connecticut for early-Thanksgiving this year and then decided to have our own Thanksgiving at home.

{Side note: We get free turkeys from a local turkey farm through work, so I combined both of our regular-turkey vouchers in exchange for one 10-pound organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, free-range turkey. It was $17 more expensive than a 15-pound non-organic one there. Don't get me started on how appalling it was to go to the turkey farm and see factory farming at its finest. Appalling.}

Anyway. So. My gentleman assisted me with removing the neck and giblets, and with thawing out the turkey. But I took the initiative for cooking it (albeit whilst wearing surgical gloves from work). I borrowed a countertop electric roaster from a friend so that it wouldn't take up the oven all day. Then I timed everything to be done at the same time and life was awesome.

Let's discuss this turkey.

Here is a photo of the turkey in the roaster. I used the following tutorial to learn how to roast the turkey: Perfect Whole Turkey In An Electric Roaster Oven. In addition to the olive oil, salt, and pepper, I made my own poultry rub, using the following recipe, and used another pair of surgical gloves to massage it into the turkey carcass.

Poultry Seasoning
From AllRecipes

Combine the following:
2 teaspoons ground dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground dried marjoram
3/4 teaspoon ground dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

After a few hours of roasting, the turkey (Sir Theodore the Turkey) was ready! He didn't have the same golden brown that you'll get by frying the turkey or roasting it in the oven, because that isn't how the electric roaster works. But what it DID do was create a turkey that was moist and flavorful - no easy feat, as this brand of turkeys is known for being dry and tough.

What else did we have?

Here is our table, set with all the food.

And here is my plate. Yum!

We had:
Beer-Cheese Skillet Potatoes
Pepperidge Farm Stuffing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Canned cranberry sauce
Salted Caramel Pear Tarts

It was lovely.

It was the first Thanksgiving meal I have ever created by myself. (I mean, with my gentleman's help for the turkey, but you know what I mean.) No catastrophes, just love and food.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts

When we were in CT with my parents, we had the traditional pecan and pumpkin pies. I didn't feel like repeating these at home, so I found a unique little pastry for us for dessert. I already had all the ingredients, so it seemed like it would be super-simple. And it is! You just cut the pear halves into fancy little fans, put them on a frame of puff pastry, and pour the caramel ingredients on top. While it bakes, the caramel forms itself without you even having to do anything.

This is what it looked like when I had them all set to go into the oven. So pretty!


As it turns out, my oven is tilted ever-so-slightly forward. So what ended up so subtly occurring was that as the caramel (successfully) formed, it started oozing out of the tart shell.

What this tells me is that the method for making these does work. You might think pouring the ingredients over top a pear would not yield caramel, but this shows that you'd be wrong. Caramel does form. And I'm sure if it had stayed in the tart, it would have been amazing. I served them as they were and we still really liked them. I would try this again and try not to screw it up, because I think these would be great if they had the caramel still in them.

Salted Caramel Pear Tarts
Anna Olson via someone else's blog via Pinterest

1 sheet all-butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
4 small pears
8 teaspoons Demerara or turbinado sugar
8 teaspoons whipping cream
Pinch coarse sea salt

1. Preheat your oven to 375F/190C. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Roll out your puff pastry. If you are using a block dust your work surface with some flour and roll out a rectangle 1/4? thick. Divide your rectangular shaped puff pastry into 8 squares. With a sharp knife, cut an “L” into 2 opposing corners, don’t cut all the way but leave a ½-inch in two corners. Brush with the beaten egg . Pick up the cut corners of the pastry, cross them over each other (one over, one under) and lay them flat (now on opposite sides).

3. Brush the tops of the pastry with the eggwash and put the tray in the refrigerator to chill.

4. Now prepare the pear filling. Peel the pears and split them in half lengthwise, core them, and slice in 1/4? slices. Take the pastry shells out of the fridge and set it on your work surface, place one pear half in the center of each tart. Then sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of double cream per tart, then add a pinch sea salt on top. Brown sugar, cream and sea salt turn into salted caramel in the oven without you doing a thing!

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until pears are soft and pastry is golden.

6. Top with either powdered sugar or a sprinkle of demerara sugar.

Yield: 8 tarts

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Beer-Cheese Skillet Potatoes

I will post about our Thanksgiving in a little while, but for now I will tell you about the potatoes.

Because we had already eaten the standard food at my parents' house, I decided to try some new things for our side dishes for our own Thanksgiving. I discovered this recipe on The Beeroness not too long ago. Her blog is great. She cooks delicious foods using beer. This sounded wonderful so I decided to try it.

It calls for a hoppy beer, so I used The Brew Works' Hop'solutely - a locally-made beer that is SUPER SUPER hoppy to the point where I can't drink it. But it worked very well in this recipe!!! It would be fun to try this with different types of beer, as well. I really liked that the cheese sauce is blended before you throw it on top of the potatoes, and cooking it in a skillet added a little extra magic. I made the sauce ahead of time, which really helped with keeping things low-key on Thanksgiving. It re-heats beautifully, too. I loved this and would definitely make it again.


Beer Cheese Skillet Potatoes
The Beeroness

2/3 cup beer (IPA, hoppy pale ale, or black IPA)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, plus ¼ cup divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, sliced
1 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a food processor add the beer, 2 cups cheese, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cornstarch. Process until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the potato slices and cook until browned. Spread the potatoes out until fairly evenly distributed around the pan.

4. Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes and allow to simmer for ten minutes.

5. Add the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and panko bread crumbs to the top. Transfer to the oven and allow to cook until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shake Shack

I love Instagram. Lately I've started following restaurants known for being very "food porn"-y, with beautiful and delicious photos of their food and behind the scenes in their kitchens. I follow the Gramercy Tavern, Del Posto, Rolf & Daughters, and the Cypress Room most of which aren't even located near me. I follow Waffle House, which surely looks more appetizing in the photos than in their actual restaurants (although at 4am on a road trip Waffle House always looks pretty appetizing). I follow Hash House A Go Go, a restaurant we ate at in Vegas this summer. And I follow Shake Shack.

I can't even tell you how much I have pined for Shake Shack since following them. They're a burger restaurant. Their photos are amazing. I don't eat meat, but no big deal - many of the photos are of their vegetarian portobello burger, their crinkle-cut fries topped in real cheese sauce, their shakes and frozen custards (seasonal flavors, different at each location), and their own brand of beer, Shackmeister Ale, from the Brooklyn Brewery.

Every time I've seen a post, I've thought, "I must have this." The closest ones were in NYC but you know I hate going into the city. Then Shacks just opened up in King of Prussia PA and Paramus NJ, both of which are close enough to go to, but I couldn't justify driving all the way out there just for this food.

And then my mom informed me that there are two (2!) within 45 minutes of my parents' house in CT. While we were in Connecticut, my parents, my gentleman, and I drove over to the Westport CT Shake Shack to realize my dream.


OK. It's pretty and organized and has hand dryers in the bathroom that dry your hands in 4 seconds. But it is, when it comes down to it, fast food. BUT! It's made with quality ingredients - delicious ingredients - that are not horrifically bad for you like its competitors. From what people have told me when I've told them about the Shake Shack, more and more places like this are springing up everywhere. And they're super socially- and environmentally-conscious. This makes me happy about the world.

Anyway, this is what we got from Shake Shack:


*One cheeseburger
*Two portobello mushroom burgers (stuffed with Muenster & cheddar cheeses)
*One standard hot dog
*Two orders of cheese fries, to be shared amongst us all
*One chocolate shake
*One hot cocoa
*One Shackmeister Ale
*One banana frozen custard

My dad enjoyed his burger and my gentleman enjoyed his hot dog. Both felt they had ordered, and received, pretty standard food. My mom and I both really enjoyed our portobello burgers. It's rare to find a vegetarian burger that is creative and delicious without falling apart. The cheese fries were amazing, with real cheese sauce. My dad was not impressed with his hot cocoa, so that's fine. My mom said the milkshake "tastes like the Easter Bunny," which she then clarified meant that she thought it tastes like real chocolate (she was right). We all agreed the Shackmeister Ale tasted oddly like Welch's Grape Soda, which my gentleman attributes to the hops used. The frozen custard was also very good. It had a wonderful texture.

Do I think it was worth driving 45 minutes away to eat at Shake Shack? Well, yes. But would I do it again? No. Would I eat there if one opened up nearby? Of course. It's delicious and I will continue to happily look at their photos.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Early Thanksgiving in Connecticut

Because I couldn't get more time off from work, my gentleman and I visited my parents in Connecticut last weekend to celebrate early Thanksgiving. We did all the traditional things (cheese ball and onion dip), made all the regular foods, tried a few new things, and had a fun time.

Frying the turkey is always the quickest (and really, it's the best) method for cooking turkey, so that's what my family opted to do this year. My gentleman helped my dad with the process.



I obviously didn't eat it, but my dad always does a good job frying the turkey and then everyone is happy.


I made Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler for dessert and it was disappointing. You can go to that post to read about why.

We also had green bean casserole, canned corn, biscuits, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole. To go with the biscuits, my bestie (/brother's girlfriend) Erica made butter.


No seriously. She made butter. She put cream in a kitchenaid mixer, beat it until it became a solid, squeezed it out in some cheesecloth, added some salt, and then formed it in molds.


It was fantastic. I might try it sometime because I would love to make my own butter. It's so much easier than you would expect. Good job, Erica!

So that was Thanksgiving in Connecticut. It was nice and traditional and made me happy.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

This recipe was rounding on Pinterest and I was so excited because a) I love apple cobbler, and b) I love snickerdoodles. It looked so awesome in the photos. We decided to make it for Early Thanksgiving at my parents' house (which I will post about at another time when I am not feeling lazy). I whipped it all together and voila! It looks awesome.


But then I baked it. And it did not look good anymore. And the apples were very dry and not cobbler-like. And the cookies didn't really taste much like a snickerdoodle.


It was edible, but not impressive. Blah. Not a make-again. Foiled again, Pinterest :(

Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler
Baked By Rachel

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Apple Ingredients:
8 cups apples (roughly 6-8 apples depending on size)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, combine the first four dry ingredients for the cookies. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and 1/3 cup sugar. Add egg, followed by premixed ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Chill dough until easy to handle, at least several hours.

2. When ready, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Peel, core, and slice apples. Add to brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, tossing to coat. Transfer apples to an 8x8 baking dish.

5. Form 1-inch balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place coated dough balls on top of apples, pressing down slightly to flatten.

6. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until apples are tender and cookie topping is lightly golden.

7. Allow to cool prior to serving. Serve with optional whipped cream or ice cream. May be chilled to store for several days.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Barbecue Shrimp Orleans

I've had this recipe printed out for over a month and kept meaning to make it, only to find out that we were out of one ingredient or another. Finally! Finally I made it! And it was worth it! This is excellent! With the amount of butter in it, is it any surprise? Don't be put off by the 1 pound of butter. That's to make a huge batch of the barbecue butter, of which you only use 1 cup. (I actually only used about 1/3 of a cup.) I understand that's still a lot, but I don't care. It was lovely. I would definitely make this again. Super quick and yummy.

I don't know how it compares to the actual restaurant dish (it's supposedly a copycat from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse) but I don't really care because it's tasty.


Ruth's Chris Steak House Barbecue Shrimp Orleans

1 pound butter
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped dried rosemary leaves
2 ounces garlic, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound shrimp, 16-20 count, cleaned, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup dry white wine

1. For Barbecue Butter -- Soften butter at room temperature to 70-80 degrees F. Place butter in mixing bowl; add pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, rosemary, garlic, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and water. Whip on high speed 3 minutes or until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate to 40 degrees F. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

2. For Shrimp -- Pour olive oil in a hot sauté pan. Add shrimp to the sauté pan and cook on one side for 1 to 2 minutes. (Don't crowd; if necessary, use 2 pans. A 12-inch pan will accommodate 1 pound of shrimp.) Reduce heat to medium, turn shrimp, and add the chopped green onion. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add white wine and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in 1 cup cold Barbecue Butter (reserve the remainder for another use), reduce heat to low and cook and stir frequently until shrimp are just done (white throughout, moist and tender), approximately 1 1/2 minutes. Take care not to overcook the shrimp.

4. Serve immediately in a bowl preheated to 160 degrees F.

Servings: 3

Monday, November 18, 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't know, guys. This one just sounded good. They turned out puffier than I thought they would be, and the caramel didn't soften as much as I'd hoped, but they were very delicious and fairly popular. I'm pretty happy.


Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Zesty Cook via Pinterest

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
16 wrapped caramels, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
Sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

3. With an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms (may take a couple minutes of stirring). Fold in the chocolate chips (do not add the caramels yet). Do not overmix the dough at any point in this process.

4. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (or up to 5 days) in the refrigerator. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Press a few pieces of caramel onto the tops of the cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. The centers should appear very soft and puffy. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt while they are warm. Let cool completely and enjoy!

Yield: 3 dozen

Make sure to keep dough cold at all times while the batches are baking.

Game Day / Texas Trash

One of the fun things about having a gentleman who likes football is that when he invites his friends over to watch the game, I get to make fun food, like dips and stuff. This week our friend brought some buffalo chicken dip (a recipe I do not have, but imagine is pretty close to THIS ONE), another friend brought moonshine, and I got to use my brand new football-shaped crockpot to make dinner.


If you decide you simply must have one as well, you MIGHT be able to get one on Amazon. I got mine from the "unwanted gifts" section of an online marketplace. WHO WOULD NOT WANT THIS?! A crazy person, that's who.

I had a container of frozen barbecue pulled turkey (like pork, only with turkey) from a local turkey farm when I went there to buy our Thanksgiving turkey (yes, you read that right!). I dumped out the barbecue into the little crockpot and cooked it on low for several hours. The boys really liked it, which surprised me because it's barbecue turkey.


Because I didn't get to eat the turkey OR the chicken dip, I made myself a new dip recipe found via Pinterest for "Texas Trash," touted as one of the best bean dips ever created. It was not. I wished I had made my Rotel Super Dip instead. This is really just a creamy bean dip. It's good, and it tastes good left over as well, but I still missed the Rotel. I do not think this is a winner. I look forward to trying new dips in the future!


Texas Trash (Hot Mexican Bean Dip)

8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
30 ounces refried beans
1 1/4 ounces dry taco seasoning mix
1 jalapeno pepper -- diced, or more to taste
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Mix cream cheese, sour cream, refried beans, and taco seasoning in a bowl. Fold jalapeno pepper into the dip; spread into a 9x13-inch baking dish.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheese and continue cooking until the cheese has melted, about 5 more minutes.

Servings: 10

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bloomin' Onion Bread

This recipe is *everywhere* on Pinterest. Everyone has it. It took me forever to figure out where it originated, but I finally discovered that it came from The Changeable Table. Everyone on the planet seems to have made it and raved about it on their blogs.

I hated it. I think it's a really, really cool idea and it has a neat presentation. I did not like the cheese - I felt like the monterey jack just sort of pooled into goopiness and didn't add a nice cheesy flavor. The poppy seeds were weird. I wished that there was garlic. I feel like it would be better with some garlic, a different kind of cheese, and nix the poppy seeds.

But see? It looks cool!


Bloomin' Onion Bread
The Changeable Table

1 unsliced loaf of (round is preferable) sourdough bread
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons poppy seeds

Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions. Do not cut through the bottom crust. Places slices of cheese between cuts. Mix together butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Pour over bread. Wrap in foil the entire thing in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap. Bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles

I almost didn't take these today for Cookie Monday because I felt like they were inferior to most of the cookies I bring. They weren't chocolatey, and I didn't like their texture. The spice mixture is good, but it wasn't good enough to me. But I used the last of my eggs making these, so I didn't really have another choice.

While I was disappointed by them, my coworkers had mixed feelings. A few of them scored them as a "3 out of 5," but several said it's one of their favorites that I've made. I don't understand that, honestly. It just goes to show what a variety of tastes people have and why I make so many different types of cookies. Eventually there's something for everyone.


Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles
Dierbergs' Everybody Cooks, September 2006
as posted on Cooking Light forums

2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large mixer bowl, combine sugar and spices; reserve 1/2 cup of mixture in shallow bowl. Add cocoa powder to mixer bowl; stir to blend. Add butter; beat at medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat at low speed until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat at low speed until combined. Stir in flour and baking powder.

Shape 1 tablespoon of dough into ball; roll in reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 2 inches apart. Bake in 350 F oven until edges are firm, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Yield: 3 1/2 dozen

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pasta with Sage Browned Butter

I love roasted vegetables, especially brussels sprouts. But I'd never seen a recipe involving roasted radicchio so this was appealing to me. Instead of bothering with a sugar pie pumpkin, I used some pre-diced butternut squash instead. It worked just fine. I also read in the comments of the OP blog that this is good with some fresh spinach thrown in at the end. I didn't feel the need to do that, but I do think it would go nicely. I used fresh sage instead of dried, which I think is wonderful. I really liked this a lot. It also has reheated very well over the past couple of days.


Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pasta with Sage Browned Butter
Foodtastic Mom via Pinterest

1 2-pound sugar pie pumpkin
20 brussels sprouts
1 small head radicchio
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil, divided
8 ounce small pasta
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
Fresh Gruyere cheese for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve, seed and peel the pumpkin and cut into approximately 1/2-inch cubes. Peel the outer leaves from the brussels sprouts, trim off the stalky ends and halve. Toss the pumpkin cubes and halved brussels sprouts with 2 T. of olive oil, salt, nutmeg and chipotle pepper. Spread evenly on a sheet pan and roast for 25 minutes, stirring/flipping the vegetables once during cooking time.

2. Peel the outer leaves from the raddichio, quarter, remove the hard core and chop into roughly 1-inch pieces. Toss with remaining 1 T. olive oil. Evenly spread the raddichio over the roasted pumpkin and brussels sprouts, and return to the 400 degree oven. Continue roasting for 8 minutes more.

3. Meanwhile, heat water to cook the pasta. While veggies are roasting and water is heating, heat a skillet over medium heat and toast the walnuts, about 8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to evenly toast. Remove the walnuts to a bowl to cool, lower the heat to medium-low, and add the 6 T. of butter to pan. Melt, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is a deep golden brown color (being careful not to burn it). Once butter is browned, stir in sage and season with salt.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Toss the pasta with the roasted vegetables and the sage browned butter. Serve with toasted walnuts and Gruyère cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Cookie Monday: Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon and Butterscotch Chips

Oops, I forgot to post this sooner. I really wanted to make an autumny cookie while we're still outside the Christmas season, and I felt like the combination of butterscotch and cinnamon would accomplish that. And it did! These were very simple and very good. My partner at work deemed them to be her favorite, so that's cool. I just wish they had been more oatmealy. Somehow the oatmeal just blends into the batter. I had been hoping for the consistency of a traditional oatmeal cookie, and these do not really have that. But they're still so good!


Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon and Butterscotch Chips
A Spicy Perspective via Pinterest

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer and a separate bowl, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. *Don't cut the time short here.

4. Add the vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture and beat to combine. Then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.

5. Scrape the bowl and beat on low, adding the oats and baking chips.

6. Using a tablespoon, drop the cookie dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon portions onto the cookie sheets. Make sure they are spaced 2-3 inches apart for spreading.

7. Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes, until the edges are golden, but the centers still seem soft. Cool completely on the baking sheets before moving.

Yield: 3 dozen

Buffalo Chicken Taquitos

My gentleman had friends over to watch football in his newly-furnished "man cave" this weekend and, in typical Lauren fashion, I felt the need to provide food. They ordered pizza and ate some of the cookies I was baking for Monday, but I wanted to be a little bit more adventurous. While this is a meaty appetizer, I was able to just shred a storebought rotisserie chicken. Super easy. I didn't have any Mrs. Dash and don't really know what it entails, so I used a bit of Penzeys Old World Seasoning, a little bit of lemon pepper, and then went a little extra on the Cajun seasoning.

Despite the fact that I forgot to get blue cheese OR ranch dressing, all of these little taquitos disappeared by the end of the game. I am told they are very good. They seemed to be good football food!


Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
Betty Crocker via Pinterest

4 cups cooked shredded chicken
12 soft taco flour tortillas
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
4 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
1/3 cup Frank's Red hot sauce
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (if you want more spice)

Preheat oven to 425.

In a small sauce pot over medium low heat, melt butter. Add Mrs. dash, garlic powder and Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add cream cheese and stir until melted and completely combined with butter and spices. Whisk in hot sauce and milk. Simmer for 5-8 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Combine chicken and sauce.

Lay out a tortilla; fill with about 1/4-1/3 cup chicken and 2 tbs of mozzarella cheese. Tightly roll up taquito and place on a greased baking sheet; repeat until chicken is gone.

Brush taquitos with vegetable oil on all sides. Bake for 15-18 minutes; rotate them every 5 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Pumpkin Blondies

I made these for my friend's Halloween party last night. I have an abundance of butterscotch chips (they will appear in this week's Cookie Monday, as well) so it was a nice way to use them, along with the stockpile of pumpkin. I really liked them but had kind of hoped they would be closer to these Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies that I made several years ago, but these were much more dense. I'm not sure why I had this expectation, though now I want to try those brownies again. I really liked them but I feel like there are superior recipes for similar things out there to try.


Pumpkin Blondies
Brown Eyed Baker via Pinterest

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 15 oz. can pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, with enough to hang over the sides; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and both sugars until completely smooth and no lumps remain. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to incorporate, making sure the egg has been completely mixed in. Add the pumpkin and again whisk to fully incorporate. Add the flour mixture to the batter and, using a rubber spatula, fold the mixtur until combined and no pockets of flour remain. Fold in the butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips and pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.

Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, then use the parchment handles to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Yield: 24 bars

Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Sandwiches

I love breakfast food. I love Huevos Rancheros, especially. So many things going on. It's wonderful. I happened to have all of these ingredients in my kitchen yesterday (I had the guacamole left over from Chipotle Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos earlier in the week, so I used that. I did not feel like making my own. I also added some shredded cheddar cheese, because why isn't there cheese in the recipe? I really liked this a lot. It was a nice little breakfast. I would make this again if I had everything available.


Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Sandwich
I Wash You Dry via Pinterest

2 English muffins, split and toasted
1/3 cup refried beans
2 eggs
1 ripe avocado
Salt and pepper

While the english muffins are toasting, peel and pit the avocado and use a fork to mash it. Add salt to taste. Heat up refried beans till warm and spreadable in microwave. Spread half of the bean mixture on the bottom of each english muffin, then spread half of the avocado on the top of each english muffin.

Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil. Crack eggs into pan, one at a time, making sure the egg whites don't touch. Sprinkle with salt and pepper according to taste preferences. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, longer if desired, then carefully use a spatula to flip the eggs over. Season again with salt and pepper. Let cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, or longer if desired. Place the cooked egg on top of the english muffin that is covered in beans. Repeat with the other egg.

Add your desired amount of salsa on top of the egg, then place the avocado smeared half of the english muffin on top. Enjoy!

Servings: 2

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cookie Monday: Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last Cookie Monday of October, so it was time to do another pumpkin cookie!

My coworker and I were talking at length the other day about pumpkin in baked goods. The concern, demonstrated in the Pumpkin Snickerdoodles I made a few weeks ago, was that pumpkin seems to disappear when it's combined with flour. We tried all kinds of things. My coworker's mom even got in on it, trying to make things pumpkin-y. It just doesn't seem to work. Pumpkin flavor disappears and the spices are what you notice.

This cookie recipe is a pudding cookie, and I'm mildly ashamed to admit that the pudding mix replaces not only the spice but also the pumpkin. There is no pumpkin in this recipe at all. And the saddest thing about it? It tastes more pumpkin-y than anything else I've made. Sigh. So good though!!!

The other change was that I ran out of flour in the middle of baking and had to add a little bit of whole wheat pastry flour instead of the AP. I don't think this affected the taste or texture, and it probably was a pretty good mistake!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Chef-In-Training via Pinterest

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 small pkg. pumpkin spice instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter, brown sugar and sugar together in a large bowl. Add in dry pumpkin spice instant pudding mix and beat until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and baking soda and beat until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Roll dough into 1" balls. Place them on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

Yield: 3 dozen

Pumpkin-Beer Pie

My gentleman brought home a big bottle of Sam Adams Fat Jack pumpkin beer and, while drinking it, decided it needed to be involved in a pie. He googled how to include beer into a pie and then settled on a variation of the pie recipe from the pumpkin can.

His initial plan was to just reduce the amount of sweetened condensed milk, but what he ultimately decided to do was heat up the pumpkin and about 2 oz of beer in a saucepan on the stove. It helped to cook things down and blend it together. Then he followed the recipe as directed and then stuck it in a Pillsbury crust. It baked beautifully, didn't crack at all (effing genius, this man is), and was very yummy. He did a great job!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Spinach & Artichoke Melts

So this week I successfully made a meal plan, made a grocery list, and then actually made the food. This is the first time in a very long time that I have done this. I only picked three meals, and I had one alternate meal just in case one fell through. I started with two tried-and-true recipes that I've been making for years. One was my mom's recipe for Great Tostadas. I used to eat it all the time as a child and it is good, easy comfort food. I don't think my gentleman liked it as much as I do, but he also was eating it a few hours after I made it.

The much more popular recipe was my favorite Baked Potato Soup. Over the years, I stopped baking the potatoes and just microwave them before adding them into the soup. It's just so much easier. I made some real bacon bits for the gentleman's soup and he LOVEEEEDDDD it. It was my first time making it for him - it was my first time making this in probably over a year, actually.

Then I picked a new recipe to try. I found this on Pinterest, of course. It's a very simple recipe for a quick spinach-artichoke dip, spread onto some bread and grilled in a pan. Perfect. Gentleman pan-fried some thin strips of chicken to put on his and reported really liking it, despite a general aversion to most spinach-artichoke dips. So that is a success! I doubt I would make this again, but it was a fun little adventure.


Spinach and Artichoke Melts
Half-Baked Harvest via Pinterest

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
1 ounce cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup (about 5 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (6.7 ounce) jar grilled artichoke hearts or you can sub marinated artichokes, chopped
1 chicken breast, grilled and sliced thin (optional)
8 slices thick sourdough or tuscan bread
Butter, for spreading

1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in flour until it makes a paste. Cook over medium-low heat for a minute or two, then pour in milk. Stir and cook one minute, if your paste gets too thick splash in more milk.

2. Add cream cheese, mozzarella, parmesan and pepper. Stir until cheeses are melted. Stir in the greek yogurt until smooth. Chop artichokes and spinach and add to the sauce. Stir to combine. Dip will be thick, just use some muscle and stir in those veggies!

3. Heat a skillet (or griddle, etc) oven medium-low heat. Butter the outsides of every bread slice, then spread a good amount (any where from 1-3 tablespoons) of the spinach and artichoke dip on the inside (the non-buttered side) of each slice. If using, top one slice with the sliced grilled chicken. Top off with another slice of bread, buttered-side up. Cook until each side is golden and crisp and cheese is melted, then gently flip and do the same.

4. Slice and serve.

Yield: 4 sandwiches, with leftover dip

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cookie Monday: Espresso Double-Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Nothing particularly special to report here. I picked these cookies because they would be easy to make on Saturday night since I was going to a wine festival on Sunday. I doubled the recipe and I halved the size of the cookies so they would be normal-size instead of 3" diameter like Ms Martha makes in her recipe. I ended up with about 60 cookies. They're very chocolatey and good. The espresso seemed to be noticeable only to the people who don't drink coffee. No one reported a caffeine buzz from it. I doubt I'd make them again though. I think I can do better.


Espresso Double-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter -- (1 1/2 sticks) softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg -- plus one large egg yolk
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate -- coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder, vanilla, and a tablespoon of water; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and yolk; mix until incorporated. Add espresso mixture; mix well, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula. At low speed, add flour mixture in small batches, mixing until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in chocolate chunks.

4. Using a 2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop heaping balls of dough and place 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool completely before removing cookies.

Yield: 18 3-inch cookies, or 3 dozen normal-sized cookies

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Greek Pasta with Shrimp


I made a recipe.

Like, I had an idea of what I wanted to make for dinner, but I couldn't find a recipe that quite fit it, so I made one myself.

It was delicious. It also reheated really well (minus the shrimp - eat all of those asap).

I loosely based this on Spanish Shrimp with Garlic and on this greek pasta recipe from Pinterest. But then I just sort of went with what I had in the pantry.

I felt like it should be served with pita bread but all I had was frozen garlic naan so I brushed it with some olive oil and sprinkled oregano on top. Worked perfectly.

Sorry this is all in approximations and is poorly-written. I've never made anything up before.


Greek Pasta with Shrimp
By me!

Olive or grapeseed oil
10-12 frozen shrimp, peeled & deveined, tails off, thawed
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf

3/4 pound rotini or other pasta
2 roasted red peppers, chopped (or fresh? Mine were from a jar)
1/4 cup olive tapenade
1/2 cup chopped red onion
15 oz can chickpeas
1 cup feta cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste

You could use a Greek salad dressing. Or!
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning (I use Penzeys)
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive or grapeseed oil

To make the shrimp: Heat up the oil in the pan. Throw in the bay leaf and the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the shrimp. Let them cook about 4 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with oregano. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

To make the pasta: Cook the pasta as directed. Rinse and drain. Then throw all the other ingredients into the pot with the pasta and stir it up.

To make the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together, or pour the dressing out of the bottle over the pasta.

Top the pasta with shrimp and garlic. Ta-da!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Preparing for Winter

I finally got myself to the local farmer's market to stock up on vegetables for the winter. My goal was to get as many vegetables as possible, prepare them, and freeze them in order to use them throughout the winter. I got an enormous haul for very little money - I spent $40 total, and that included an $11 jar of raw honey (my favorite! Honey-in-a-bear be damned!).


Now, I only have a little bit of experience preserving food. I've frozen fresh peas, strawberries, and blueberries after picking them from a farm in Maryland, and a couple years ago I diced up and froze a ton of honeycrisp apples. But for the most part, I had to look up how to prepare all of the vegetables. I found different tutorials for each vegetable I froze, so I'm going to link you to all of them. The website I liked the most was Hickery Holler Farm. I liked her microwave method. It made the vegetables and greens less soggy than if I blanched them.


So, in addition to the 10 boxes of girl scout cookies I still have left from last winter (shut up), I now have:

*Corn on the cob
*Three colors of bell peppers (red, green, & purple)
*Rainbow carrots
*Yellow squash
*Roasted poblano peppers
*Kale (and this one)

(I linked each vegetable to the tutorial I learned from.)

I plan to try to get to the farmer's markets a few more times before the end of the season and do some more freezing so we will have fresh vegetables all winter long. Hooray!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

The cafeteria at work has been selling apple cider doughnuts, but I didn't feel like paying for one so I came home and made some myself. I love my recipe for Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts so I made a batch of those. I think the quality of the apple butter you use influences how they turn out, but they were still very yummy!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cookie Monday: 1 Year!

Thanks to my blog, I am aware that I've been doing Cookie Monday for work for exactly one year this week. With the exception of a few weeks when I was not at work on a Monday (Labor Day, the week I was in Vegas, etc), I've brought cookies every single Monday. And I haven't repeated any recipes! That was my personal goal - to make it a year without repeats.


Well, the year was up, so I decided to ask my friends/coworkers which cookie I should make to celebrate. The unanimous decision was Unicorn Poop.

And so I made Unicorn Poop. Nine dozen! For some reason they were flatter than usual and not as swirly-poopy, but I think that was probably okay. If you're curious what goes into making each cookie, here's an idea:


And then I roll them up like poops, bake them, and let them cool.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Monday was October 7, which was the first Monday of October. Thus, I knelt to the requests of my coworkers and made a pumpkin snickerdoodle for Cookie Monday. The recipe floating around Pinterest from RecipeGirl was bothering me because it didn't seem like it had enough pumpkin in it. The reviews I read supported this, so I looked elsewhere. I found this recipe, which uses more pumpkin. I will be honest - I was disappointed. I thought they weren't as cinnamon-spicy as I'd hoped despite all the ginger and cardamom and allspice and everything, and because they lacked the cream of tartar of an original snickerdoodle, they were a different texture than I'd hoped. But people seemed to like it so that's good. I wish there was a better recipe. If you find one, please let me know. Happy October!


Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of allspice

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, then beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liner. Mix the coating ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop equal dough balls and roll into the sugar mixture. Set on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat drinking glass into water, then into the sugar mixture and use to slightly flatten the dough balls. Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until baked through. Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: 5 dozen

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

It is fall now, so I felt inspired to make the apple cider doughnuts I made a few years back. I didn't have any apple butter. I went on a quest and came up with some apple butter... only to leave it on my desk at work. Boo. Not one to give up on an idea, I decided to make a different, new recipe for a baked doughnut.

Side note: I love my doughnut pan. Baked doughnuts have such a nice texture and are super easy to make. If you like to bake, you should buy one of these. They're cheap.

OK back to the food. So these are very tasty and very autumny. I used Penzeys Vanilla Sugar in the cinnamon-sugar mix, which was nice. I halved the recipe in order to make six, since we are just two people and do not need 12 doughnuts. I'm taking one to work tomorrow for a friend who's feeling down & out, but other than that this will be just enough for us. Yum!


Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts
From King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée(canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice(or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans. If you don't have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin; they just won't be doughnuts.

2. Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth.

3. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

4. Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. If you're making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15, so you'll need to bake in two batches (unless you have two muffin pans).

5. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you're making muffins, they'll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.

6. Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, loosen their edges, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

7. While the doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them in a bag with the cinnamon-sugar. If you've made muffins, sprinkle their tops heavily with cinnamon-sugar.

8. Cool completely, and wrap airtight; store at room temperature for several days.

9. Yield: 12 doughnuts or 15 muffins

Cookie Monday: Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

I actually had a different idea in mind for Cookie Monday this week, but the desire to stay in my pajamas and work with the ingredients I already had in my home won out over the desire to go to the grocery store to get what I'd need. I had everything for this recipe except for the Mini Reese's Cups. To make up for it, I used 3/4 cup peanut butter chips and 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips. I think it worked out just fine. You can do whatever you want if you make these. The cookies are very soft and crumble really easily, so be aware of that. A lot of them stuck together in my cookie box when I took them to work. They were really good, though!


Loaded Oatmeal Cookies
From Better Homes & Gardens

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup Reese's Pieces
1 cup mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups -- (about 15)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a very large mixing bowl beat peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour, the oats, peanut butter pieces, and peanut butter cups.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.

Yield: 60 cookies

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cake Batter Dip

I'm not crediting a source for this recipe because it's so ubiquitous at this point that I think everyone on Pinterest has either made it or eaten it at some point or another. I first had it at a friend's party in March and knew I needed to make it for my own party. It's very good. It tastes like Dunkaroos, if you remember those. Technically you could make it with any cake mix but the recipe calls for the Funfetti flavor. I've also seen varieties involving brownie mixes.

Anyway, it's good. I served it with some animal crackers and 'Nilla wafers.


Cake Batter Dip
1 package Funfetti cake mix
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (or cream cheese)
2 cups Cool Whip

Mix together. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days.

Rum Punch

For my ladies' craft night, clearly I needed a solid cocktail recipe to feed the masses. I have a beverage dispenser that I've never had a chance to use, so it was fun to break that in. I made the full recipe, so you can see how much it makes based on the picture since the dispenser holds 1 1/2 gallons. It was VERY VERY good! It definitely needs to be chilled so either refrigerate it or serve it over ice. I used Malibu coconut rum, which was an excellent choice. I would definitely make this again.


Rum Punch
Sweet C's Designs via Pinterest

3 cups orange juice
3 cups pineapple juice
3 cups ginger ale
3 cups rum
1/4 cup grenadine
Juice of 1 lime

Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher, add ice, and enjoy!