Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yummy Slice-And-Bake Cookies

There's an effect I've talked about before regarding food bloggers and recipes on the internet, particularly in the land of Pinterest. Someone will post something. It will get rated 5s and there will be trillions of comments, lending the illusion that the recipe is literally the best thing ever to be made on earth. But upon further inspection, the comments are like, "Wow these sure do look great!" or "I LOVE YOUR TV SHOW, FOLLOW ME ON MY BLOG!" Rare are the comments that say, "I made these and they were good/bad/undercooked/etc."

So I made the mistake of assuming that since these cookies were popular they must be good. My inherent trust in The Pioneer Woman lent to that assumption. I doubled the recipe to make four huge logs of cookie dough, only used two of them for Monday, and froze the other two. Alas! I don't know when I'll make the cookies from the freezer because: I hated these.

People were nice and they ate them. But they overcooked VERY easily (even at 7 minutes, the bottoms were burning), they were too sweet without any substance (the Nutella and peanut butter disappear in the dough), and they were a crappy texture. I didn't use M&Ms, instead subbing chocolate chips and toffee bits, but I'm certain that wasn't the problem. This just was not a good cookie recipe.

Sorry, internet.

logs

Yummy Slice-and-Bake Cookies
The Pioneer Woman

2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee Granules
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Salted Butter -- (2 Sticks) Softened
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 whole Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla
2 tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter
2 tablespoons Nutella
1/2 cup Very Finely Chopped Pecans
3/4 cup M&Ms -- Roughly Chopped

Combine flour, instant coffee, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together and set aside.

Cream together the butter with the sugars, scraping the bowl once while mixing. Add eggs, mixing one at a time, and vanilla. Add peanut butter and Nutella and mix. Add dry ingredients in increments, mixing gently after each addition. Scrape the bowl once and mix again.

Add chopped pecans and M&M's and mix gently to combine. Add more of either ingredient if needed.

Spoon dough on a long piece (or two shorter pieces) of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Carefully roll the dough inside the wrap, pressing gently to get it to form into a firm cylinder. Refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or place into the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice off as many cookies as you'd like and lay the slices on a baking sheet. (The thicker the slices, the farther apart the cookies will need to be. They bake up flat.)

Bake for 10 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.

Yield: I got 64 cookies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cadbury Mini-Egg Cookies

I was in Connecticut to visit my family this weekend because my best friend Erica and my brother just got engaged! TO EACH OTHER! That's completely crazy and so wonderful and I am so happy!

So while I was there, my mom and I baked the cookies for Monday. I've seen multiple recipes for chocolate-chip cookies made with chopped up Cadbury Mini-Eggs (like big candy-coated chocolates; not the creme-filled ones) on Pinterest but I decided the easiest thing to do would be to just make a half-batch of my standard Pudding Cookies and use the mini-Eggs as the mix-ins. Perfect! I thought the candy coating was a little weird in the cookies but everyone else liked them! Thanks, mom, for your help!

cookies

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spanish Rice

For dinner on Tuesday I decided to make tacos. I made fish tacos with frozen fish sticks (DON'T JUDGE ME) and my gentleman made some chicken. I chopped up some avocado, tomatoes, and purple cabbage, and made a chipotle crema to put on top. They were yummy and delicious, but needed a side dish. So! I found this recipe. It is supposed to be the best recipe ever. I was shocked that it actually is. It rivals the best rice I've had at any Tex-Mex restaurant. I used a can of Rotel tomatoes in place of the tomato paste on a recommendation from the comments on the original blog post, and it was an excellent idea. Also based on comments, I added a sprinkle of Adobo seasoning and a little saffron for color. This made some delicious, perfect rice. I would definitely make it again.

rice

Spanish Rice
Simply Recipes

Spanish rice is browned first with onions and garlic, then cooked in chicken stock with added tomato.

2 tablespoons olive oil -- (can use up to 1/4 cup)
1 onion -- chopped fine
1 garlic clove -- minced
2 cups medium or long-grain white rice
3 cups* chicken stock -- (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes -- strained
pinch oregano
1 teaspoon salt

*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice -- then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.

In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.

In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Kimchi Noodles

I randomly found some kimchi (a Korean spicy fermented cabbage) at the grocery store the other day and had to buy it because I love it. Stinky but delicious. But what to do with it?

I found a recipe on Pinterest for kimchi noodles that utilized a kimchi paste in the noodle mixture. I skipped the kimchi paste and instead just threw the kimchi in, in place of the paste and the bok choy the recipe originally called for. I also added some chile-garlic paste to the final product because it wasn't spicy enough for me. Probably you won't need that.

Instead of spending $3.50 on a package of curly noodles, I spent $1 for 10 packages of ramen noodle. I made the noodles without the flavor packet, since it would just be flavored from the soup anyway.

So after everything, this was lovely. It was a really enjoyable dinner. I have a ton of ramen noodles now, so I will likely make this again very soon!

kimchi

Kimchi Noodles
Loosely adapted from Great Secret of Life

1 package ramen noodles
1/2 cup kimchi (or more, or less)
Cubed or sliced tofu, pan-fried
1/4 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon oil (I used coconut)
1-2 green chiles, sliced

Heat the oil in the pan. Pan-fry the tofu, set aside. Add the onion and saute until transparent. Add the garlic and ginger. Saute for about 30 seconds. Add the carrots and kimchi. Saute for about 1 minute. Then add 2 cups of water and the salt. Bring it to a boil. Add the fried tofu and let it boil for another minute.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Omit the flavor packet. Drain and place the noodles in your serving bowl.

Pour the hot soup over the top of the noodles. Garnish with sliced green chiles.

Yield: 1-2 servings

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Baby Shells with Spicy Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce & Fresh Ricotta

Despite this extremely long title, this is actually a very simple dish. Dump some tomatoes and garlic in a casserole dish with some other stuff, roast it until it's a nice consistency, mash it up, toss with pasta, top with cheese. Super easy. I used some really nice San Marzano tomatoes and thought they worked nicely. The butter adds a really nice flavor and consistency to the sauce. Yes, I am a weirdo who has anchovy paste "just lying around" so I did use that in the sauce. It was lovely. I might have the leftovers with some shrimp or scallops or something later tonight. Hopefully it's just as good warmed up?

Oh! And I used mini-farfalle and mafalda pasta because I did not have shells. Sorry.

shells

Baby Shells with Spicy Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce and Fresh Ricotta
Clara Persis via Pinterest

28 ounces whole peeled plum tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup salted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces small pasta shells
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil
Fresh ricotta

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes in a 13×9” baking dish; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35–40 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan, a dollop of ricotta, and fresh basil.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

I Want To Marry You Cookies

No one is getting married. I feel like I need to put that out there immediately to quell any confusion.

In fact, as these were coming out of the oven, I said to my gentleman, "I don't care how good these are, don't you get any ideas." This is funny pretty much only to us, because marriage is something that will never happen between us - and we are both perfectly happy with that.

So. Anyway. Apparently these cookies are so good that they make people want to marry you. I actually can't really disagree with it. They're good cookies, and they turned out a little bit harder than I wanted them to be, but people loved them. The addition of the cinnamon and the pecans makes these a little different than just a chocolate chip cookie. I also found a spring-colored mix of chocolate and baking chips (pink and yellow!) from Nestle so I used those for a little color. Don't skip the oats - they add a nice texture. Make sure to toast the pecans, because they really are a prominent ingredient. And keep in mind that the cookies generally keep the shape you dropped them in, so take your time and make 'em look nice.

cookies

I Want to Marry You Cookies
The Café Sucré Farine via Pinterest

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped, toasted pecans

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until melted. Remove from the heat.

Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and stir until sugars are incorporated and smooth. Chill the mixture for 10 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the flour, oats, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cinnamon and mix together.

Stir in the white chocolate chips, chocolate chips and pecans.

Roll by hand into medium-size balls or use a scoop, and place on sheet pans. If desired tuck extra chips and pecans over tops of dough mounds for a lovely appearance.

Chill, on sheet pan for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for several minutes on pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Yield: 2-3 dozen depending on size