Friday, November 30, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 2 Leslie Cookies aka Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

So my best friend Leslie, loves these cookies. Her mom calls them Leslie cookies, and whatever Mama Bear calls them, so do I.

I'm blogging these not because they are my recipe, I'm sure the credit goes to a large corporation. But because they are Leslie's favorite, and I need the recipe to be Google searchable under her name :). Thus... Leslie cookies.

What you need:

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 egg
1 stick (1/2 a cup) of softened butter
2 Tablespoons of water
powdered sugar to roll the dough balls in

What we did:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
2. Mix all the ingredients, and spoon into your hands to roll into balls
3. Rolls the balls in powdered sugar and place on to parchment paper covered baking sheets
3. Bake for 10 minutes and Voila Leslie Cookies.

You can store them in an air tight container for a couple of days. They are the only cookies that Freddy likes better than Oreos.

Do as we did, and enjoy with wine while decorating the tree listening to the White Christmas Musical.

Happy Christmas! As always, many blessings, much love, and Happy Baking!

25 Days of Cookies: Day 1 Chocolate Chip

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY! Can you tell, I love this time of year. And to celebrate, I will be posting and sharing my favorite cookie recipes. I will be using some liberties with term cookies, i.e. this will include confections, candy, and cakes, but don't be hater... it's all good in the sugar hood. 

For our first day: I thought... Chocolate Chip cookies. A classic. This is adapted from the back of the Toll House Package and it was introduced to me by Smitten Kitchen... OMG the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is out... Christmas List. But for your viewing pleasure... Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

Here is what you need: the very good stuff

½ cup of sugar bowl sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
1 stick of butter softened overnight
1 egg
1 teaspoon Tahitian Vanilla
½ teaspoon bakind soda
1 and ¼ cup of all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of best quality chocolate chips Ghirardelli is my favorite

Here is what you do: 
1. Preheat your oven to 325 F.
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl (except for the chocolate chips), wooden spoon is fine. 
3.  Place teaspoon dollops on parchment lined sheet pan. 
4. Bake for 18 minutes. Enjoy

There you have it my friends, easy, classic, but delicious cookies. 

Merry Christmas! As always, much love, many blessings, happy baking!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Crescent Braid

This is a nice easy winter dish, that takes only about 10 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to bake.  My one year old loved it, which made Mommy very happy. Not so much because of the broccoli  he loves veggies. But I can't seem to get him to eat meat unless it covered in cheese, which he does like. He even loved shaking the bag to mix the filling, which was super cute. I always wanted to cook with my kids, but I feel super blessed that I get to start when he is only 1.

For the adults I served this with a heady and fruity Beaujolais.

Here is what you need:
1 cup of left over chicken
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup of broccoli
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg for egg wash

Here is what I did:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix together the chicken, cheese, mayo, broccoli, salt and pepper to taste, set aside. I did this in the large zip lock baggie that was holding the chicken... less dishes, and Freddy did the mixing.
3. Pop the cans of the crescent rolls (this is the hardest part for me) and roll out the dough on broken. Use a rolling pin to keep the dough together.
4. With a pair of kitchen scissors cut 3 inch long slices, 1 inch border of dough on each side of the dough. You will have a fridge effect that you will then braid over the filling.
5. Spread the filling in the middle of the dough leaving at least an inch on each side. You might want to use your hands to shape the mound, I did.
6. Fold a fringe end over the filling and alternate sided to create a braid effect. Pinch the ends together on the ends to seal in the filling.
7. Crack and whip an egg together and brush the top of the dough. Top the egg wash with a little bit of crunchy sea salt, Maldon is my favorite.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven... let sit for atleast 5 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy, happy wintering.

Lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meaty Lasagna

It is something of a joke in my house regarding the vast amount of vegetable lasagnas I make during the summer months to use all of our garden's veggies. But when it is cold outside, there is nothing more comforting than a delicious, cheesy, meat-filled masterpiece we call the American version of a lasagna. 

Before we begin a few rules to keep your lasagna together. 1. Make your own hearty bolgnese, thick and rich... don't let the liquid jar stuff fool you 2. Use no boil lasagna noodles, and thinner layers is better. 3. Let your lasagna rest so that it comes together before you cut, you don't want eat your lasagna with a spoon. 

What you need: 

4 cups of Bolognese Sauce (Meat Tomato Sauce) 
1 box of no boil lasagna noodles (24 6x3 inch noodle sheets) or fresh noodles if you are so inclined
1 pint of ricotta cheese
1 egg
oregano (1 teaspoon dried, sprig fresh) 
basil  (1 Tablespoon dried, 6 large leaves fresh) 
16 oz of shredded mozzarella ( the fresh stuff has too much moisture) 
1/4 cup of shaved parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper 
casserole dish approximately 9x13 inches

What you do: 

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
2. Spread one even layer of meat sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish 
3. Layer noodles to cover your dish 
4. Chop your basil and oregano if fresh. Mix your ricotta, basil, oregano, and egg. Spread evenly on your noodle layer. 
5. Layer noodles to cover your dish
6. Spoon an even layer of meat sauce
7. Layer noodles to cover your dish
8. Spread an even layer of shredded mozzarella (about half the bag) 
9. Layer noodles to cover your dish
10. Spoon an even layer of meat sauce. Cover with an even layer of shredded mozzarella (the other half the bag.) Sprinkle the parmigiano reggiano. 
11. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes
12. Take the foil off and cook in the oven for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. 

Enjoy with a Cesar salad, and a nice Chianti. Remember to let it cool before your cut and serve. 

Lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turkey a la Marietta

So, when I am slightly blue, my favorite thing to do is to go to the grocery store and find something I have never cooked before. This is particularly interesting at an Asian market, but since I was in Whole Foods we are going to try and cook Turkey thighs. I found this recipe for Turkey a la Marietta on NY Times online. I amended it some but I am excited to hear what you think. We found turkey thighs to be very gamy and wild tasting. It was fun but not something I would do without using a brine first again.  
What you need: 
  • 2 turkey jointed thighs, about 2 1/2 lbs, bone in
  • 6 cloves chopped garlic
  • 12 sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle of red wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle of olive oil
  • What you need: 
  • 1. Marinate the turkey for 5-6 hours in the refrigerator by blending the sage, garlic, and pepper with a mortar and pestle until you have thick paste. Rub the spice mixture into the turkey thighs. 
  • 2. Remove the thighs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to come to room temperature. 
  • 3. Preheat the oven 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes skin side down. 
  • 4. Add the chopped parsnips and carrots, turn the thighs over, and bake for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle everything with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a splash of vinegar. 
  • 5. Let the meat rest uncovered and enjoy. 
I served this with Parmesan drop biscuits and a dry white wine. 

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy roasting. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portuguese Hake

I don't know what makes this recipe Portuguese, but my husband loved it. It is easy and quick, and you can use canned tomatoes and frozen peppers so it is great for a fall or winter week night. The whole dish can be made in 20 minutes or less. I served it with saffron rice and peas. 

Here is what you need:

For the Sauce:

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (28 oz) 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1  cup of mixed peppers sliced 
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup small black olives pitted and rinsed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 bay leaves dried
1 Heavy bottomed large sauce pan1 nonstick skillet large enough to fit the fish1 plate to dredge the fish a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to lay your fish on after done frying 

To cook the fish:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound of hake, skinned, deboned, and fillet cut into two pieces 
  • sea salt freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cornmeal for dredging 
Here is what you do: 
1. Heat a heavy bottomed skilled on medium. Add the oil and chopped onion, cook until translucent and fragrant. 2. Mince in garlic into the pan and cook for a moment. 3. Add the rest of the vegetables, the onions, and spices, simmer on low for 10 minutes or so. 4. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium high, heat the olive oil. You want the oil to be hot, so if you have a thermometer you are look for 350 degrees. If you don't sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal if it sizzles and bubbles, it is ready. If not, let it continue to heat. 5. Dredge the portions of hake in the corn meal. Press down the corn meal sticks. 6. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side depending on thickness. 7. Remove the cooked fish on to the cooling rack so that it doesn't get soggy. 8. Serve fish with sauce and rice or potatoes. 

Enjoy! Serve with a nice dry white wine. 

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apple Pie

So this is my apple pie recipe as of yesterday, it changes often and without notice, but we all really enjoyed the current incarnation. I prefer a crumb crust to a double crust, because I love the crunchy texture. I like to cook my apples ahead of time because I think it makes them taste better and less runny in the pie. I add slivered almonds because that is what I had handy but you could add any nut or even oats to the top crumble.

Here is what you need: 
A pie crust any good pie crust either homemade or store-bought
8-10 apples depending on size
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice or your own spice blend
1/4 cup of brown sugar for the filling 
1/2 cup of water
1/2 a lemon squeezed for juice
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup of nuts or oats
1/4 cup of brown sugar for the topping
2 Tablespoons of melted butter

Here is what I did: 
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. Peel and slice your apples. I love using my mother's apple corer slicer tool. I don't know why I just do. Dump them in a heavy bottomed skillet, add the spices, sugar, water, and lemon juice, let cook for 10 minutes or so while you roll out your dough and make the pie crumble topping.  
3. Roll out your dough and lay your pie crust in your baking dish. I like a glass pie dish so you can check the bottom of the pie to make sure it is done. 
4. In a bowl mix together the flour, nuts/oats, brown sugar, and melted butter. Mix with your fingers until you have some clumps, some dust, and some rubble. This would be an excellent job if you have a little chef in the kitchen providing they have clean hands and won't eat it all. 
5. Ladle your apples into the pie crust using a slotted spoon, so that you don't bring in extra liquid. You can save that delicious juice for something else, but you don't want it in your pie because it will make your crust soggy. 
6. Put the crumble topping over the apples and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the apples are bubbling and the crumble is toasted gold brown.
7. Let the pie cool and enjoy with coffee and ice cream or whipped cream, and good friends.

As always, lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking.

Chicken Pot Pie

This Chicken Pot Pie recipe is the best chicken pot pie I have ever had. My good friend Leslie sent me the recipe and we endeavored to make Chef Anne Burrell's recipe, you can find the original here . I have modified it some to account for size and personal taste. This recipe makes a large casserole dish worth of pot pie, and it is the bomb. 

For the crust: 
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick) cold cut up into small cubes
1/2 cup of cream cheese (1/2 a package) cold cut up into small cubes
3/4 cup of flour
salt and pepper 
1 egg yolk
you may need a tablespoon of cold water, but i did not. it depends on the humidity of your house. 
1 egg for the egg wash

For the filling: 
1 large sweet potato
2 Tablespoons of oil
2 large ribs of celery
2 small carrots
1 large red onion
2 cups of cooked chicken (rotisserie or left overs) 
1 cup of green beans cut into small pieces
2 large cloves of garlic minced
6 fresh sage leaves, cut up very small
6 stems of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

For the gravy: 
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick) cold
4 Tablespoons of flour
4 cups of good chicken broth 

Here is what you do: 
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Peel and dice your sweet potato and roast for 20 minutes. 
3. While your potato is roasting make your dough. Using your food processor, dump all of the ingredients in and run until a ball of dough is formed. It may take a while. If it is still too dry add some cold water. Wrap in cling and place in the fridge to chill out.
4. Get your veg for the filling ready. Dice up all of your veg. In a large pot, add the olive oil and cook the vegetables until they are fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Take off the heat. Add the chicken and stir.  Take your roasted sweet potatoes out of the oven and stir into your mixture.
5. Turn your oven down to 350 degrees F.
6. Make your gravy. You’re going to make a roux, which is nothing more than butter and flour used as thickener for the stock. Put your butter and flour in heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Whisk the mixture until it is a light golden color and smells nutty. Add the stock and let simmer, whisking occasionally until thick, about 8 minutes.
7. Now assembly. Using a deep dish, I used by a 9 by 13 casserole dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the vegetables and chicken. Pour the gravy over top. Roll out your dough the size of your baking dish from 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Place over top, cutting vents for steam to escape. Fork or fold in the overhang so the crust neatly tucked in. Brush with a beaten egg to form the egg wash.
8. Bake 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Enjoy with good friends, a nice light red wine, and if you can, a fire.

As always, many blessings, much love, and happy baking. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Buttermilk Corn Bread

You can't serve chili without cornbread, you can, but it would be a sadistic twisted form of punishment. There are hundreds of recipes for corn bread from spicy to sweet. Here is mine and it is both. This time I topped my with chipotle adobo sauce and it was hot. But what you top yours with is entirely up to you. Enjoy!

Here is what you need:
1/2 cup of butter melted
1/2 cup of honey
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk ( i heart buttermilk)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (for umph) 
garnish optional: chipotles in adobo, pickled jalapenos, sugar, or blueberries

Here is what you do: 
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
2. Grease a 8 by 10 baking dish with butter or spray
3. Mix together all of the ingredients 
4. Tip into the baking dish, then garnish as desired
5. Bake for 30 minutes or so, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Serve with butter and chili :) 

Lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking. 

Crockpot Black Bean Chili

I think most working mothers would agree... I am head over heels in love with my crock-pot.  I love it so much that I have two, one big one for dinners and a baby one for side dishes, oatmeal and cheese dips for parties. This recipe is born out of necessity, but it takes advantage of the crock-pot two ways. 1. Slowly braises delicious whole chicken which I then take out and reserve half of the meat for my take two dinner later this week. 2. A set it up and forget it chili that uses all of the delicious cooking liquid as the broth for the chili.

I recently found that it is much better for the environment and better for the pocket book to buy whole chickens. But, alas, I am not the best butcher, so I have found a shortcut that gives me perfectly cooked meat that I do not have cut anything. I call it my:

Perfectly Braised Crock-pot Chicken 

What you need
Trusted crock-pot
1 chicken thawed with bits and giblets taken out
2 cups of wine, apple juice, water... anything you have in the fridge that will go well with chicken
salt and pepper

What you do
1. Set your crock-pot to low
2. Pour in your cooking liquid
3. Place your chicken in, breast side down, flavor the top of the chicken with salt and pepper.
4. Come back in 8 hours to perfectly cooked chicken.

Now you can do anything you want with it. But, for me this week it is going to be Black Bean Chili and Mock-rrocan Chicken Tagine.

Black Bean Chili 

I think the key to good chili is to buy whole dried chilies and grind them up yourself. I call it my chili slurry because I use a blender. You can buy your dried chiles online or in a Latin market. But you really cannot beat the flavor.

Here is what you need:
2 Ancho chiles
2 Chiles de Arboles
2 Passia chiles
1/2 cup of water
1 chopped onion
1 tin 16oz of black beans
1 tin 28oz of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of chicken stock or cooking liquid from the crock-pot you cooked the chicken in
1 cup of shredded chicken

Here is what you do:
1. Toast the chiles in a dry pan, do not let them get burned or blackened they will become bitter
2. Take the tops of the chiles and scrape out the seeds
3. Add the chiles and water into a blender and create a slurry
4. Add all of the ingredients into a crock-pot except the chicken, you do not want it overcooked
5. Cook on high for an hour or a more to let the flavors come together.
6. About 5 minutes before serving add the chicken so that it can heat through.
7. Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, and cheddar cheese shredded

Enjoy! Much love, many blessings and happy cooking!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Candy Corn Chocolate Pretzel Treats

This is less of a recipe and more of an idea. I found it on Pinterest for Christmas  They used Hershey's hugs and Christmas colored M&Ms but I mended this for Halloween. We served these little cookie/confections at our Halloween party, it was a huge hit. I think for next time I would do a chocolate drizzle instead of a Hershey kiss because it was a lot of chocolate. Also, I am guessing the Hugs work better than the original kisses, because I found them to be hard to squish. However, the dark chocolate kisses melted better than the milk chocolate. It is still a fantastic treat and would be a wonderful gift for a boss or a teacher for Halloween.

What you need
1 pound bag of Square Pretzels
1 pound bag of chocolate Hershey Kisses or Hugs
1 pound bag of candy corn

What you do
1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees F
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
3. Unwrap a vast amount of  Hershey kisses, this would be an excellent application for child labor, as long as they have clean hands
4. Line your baking tin with pretzels, it is ok if they touch, but they should be flat.
5. Place one kiss on top of each pretzel
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the chocolate is pliable but not completely melted
7. Work quickly and press a candy corn on to each kiss
8. Let cool, serve with great pomp and circumstance.

Happy Halloween, lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking!