Monday, December 20, 2010

The incomparable peanut butter kiss cookies!

It was a shock to me that I became known for these cookies where I used to work. It would go "oh wow, you're a great baker! You make those peanut butter cookies with the kisses right?". I would dumbfoundedly respond that yes I do make those, but think to myself, "who doesn't?". Therefore, I decided that this recipe was worthy of a post.

1 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 9oz. packages milk chocolate candy kisses (unwrapped)
extra sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In an electric mixing bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter on medium. Gradually add the sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients mixture gradually.
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls (you'll want to stick to this size so that you maintain a good ration of dough to chocolate later on). Roll each dough ball in the extra sugar to coat. Place the dough balls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and press a kiss into the top of each cookie and return to the oven for 2 more minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

~Adapted from a recipe on by MizzNezz. See title link for original recipe.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My good friend Shannon told me one day how much she liked snickerdoodles and I had to think if I had ever had one. I went to my stack of baking books and found what seemed to be the most promising. Lots of butter and the name "Martha Stewart" made these the clear winners. By the way, Shannon approves.

2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Cream butter and 1 1/2 c. sugar on medium until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 T. sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 20 1 3/4 inch balls (the photo shows cookies rolled into 1 inch balls). Roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets(crucial as they spread a lot) lined with parchment paper (if you don't have parchment paper, just spray your sheets with non-stick baking spray).

Bake cookies, until slightly firmed at the edges 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

The cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temp for up to three days.

~ Original recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

Every year my mother asked my brother and me which cookie we wanted for Christmas, and every year she got the same answer. Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. Simply put, in my opinion, these are the best cookies out there.

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries, halved, reserving juice
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk

In a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Heat till chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 T. of the cherry juice. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda. Cream butter and sugar in mixer on low. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and beat until blended.

Shape in to 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indent in each with your thumb. Place 1 cherry half in the center of each cookie and then spoon 1 tsp of the frosting over each cookie. If the frosting has hardened, turn your burner back on low for about 1 minute and it should soften right up.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen

~ You can thin the chocolate with extra cherry juice.

~I've never seen this recipe printed anywhere, although my mother tells me that it originally comes from Better Homes and Gardens, sometime in the early 1980s.

Cherry Garcia and Kit-Kat ice creams

I love making ice cream at home. It's easy and super delicious. My lovely sister-in-law gave me one of my favorite gifts ever when she got me my Cuisinart ice cream maker AND an extra bowl! Therefore, I can make two flavors in one day, which I did.

Cherry Garcia
1/4 c. shaved plain chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% dark)
1/4 maraschino cherries, halved (original recipe calls for Bing or canned, neither of which I had)
2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. milk

1. Place the Shaved chocolate flakes and cherries in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 more minute. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

3. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

4. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it's done), add the chocolate and the cherries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

~Adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Kit Kat ice cream

2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. milk

4 1.6 oz Kit-Kat bars ( I used 11 fun-sized ones)
2 t. vanilla

1. Cut the Kit-Kat bars into bite sized pieces and store in the refrigerator.

2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour n the cream, milk and vanilla, and whisk to blend. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

3. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chopped candy, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

~Adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Both recipes make slightly more then 4 cups, with the Kit-Kat recipe making slightly more than the cherry one.

Please note that it is best (in my opinion) to use pasteurized eggs in these recipes as they are not cooked. Using the pasteurized eggs basically eliminates the chance of salmonella poisoning.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese BONANZA!

Yes my three year old asked for macaroni and cheese for his birthday.  
Yes mommy went overboard.  

Basic Macaroni and Cheese


            1/2 pound elbow macaroni
            3 tablespoons butter
            3 tablespoons flour
            1 tablespoon powdered mustard
            3 cups milk
            1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
            1/2 teaspoon paprika
            24 ounces sharp cheddar {shredded}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes.

Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Pizza Mac and Cheese


SAME as Basic plus…
            1 1/2 cups pizza or spaghetti sauce
            Black olives, pepperoni, optional garnish


Spoon half the Mac n' Cheese into a large casserole dish; spoon pizza sauce around edge of dish.  Spoon remaining Mac n' Cheese into center of pizza sauce.  Garnish top with optional sliced black olives and pepperoni. Top with remaining cheese.
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese


SAME as Basic plus…

            1 small onion, finely chopped
            2 stalks celery, finely chopped
            3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
            2 cloves garlic, minced
            3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
            2/3 cup sour cream 
            1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
            2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, add sour cream and cook until warm about 1 more minute.

Spread half of the macaroni in the large casserole dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Garnish top with blue cheese and parsley.

Chili Mac and Cheese


SAME as Basic plus…
            2 cups chili
            1 small can chopped green chilies


Spoon 1/2 the Mac n' Cheese into a large deep pie plate; spoon chili around edge of dish. Spoon remaining Mac n' Cheese into center of chili.  Bake for 30 minutes.   Garnish top with chilies. Top with remaining cheese.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Easy Roast Chicken

I vowed that I would never in my life make a chicken, turkey, quail, or any kind of bird that would require me sticking a hand inside of it. Luckily for me, my husband doesn't mind doing that and I now have a new favorite dinner. Roast Chicken. It's easy to prepare and even easier to eat. What's even better is all of the leftovers you can get out of it.

I forgot to take the picture when the chicken was fresh out of the oven, so half of it is missing. Also, don't mind the bottles in the background!

1 5-6 lb. roasting chicken
salt and pepper
1 large bunch of fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, cut in half
4 T. butter, melted divided
1 yellow onion, thickly sliced
1 c. chicken stock
2 T. all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425.
Remove the giblets(or have your significant other do this). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, both halves of the lemon, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with 2 T. of melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Scatter the onion slices around the chicken

Roast the chicken for 1.5 hours or until the juices run clear. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.

Remove all the fat from the bottom of the pan (my chickens never seem to leave any fat). Add the chicken stock to the pan and return to the oven for 3-4 minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan. Combine the 2 T. flour with the remaining 2 T. melted butter and add to the pan. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour. Strain the gravy into a small saucepan and season it to taste. Keep it warm over a very low flame while you carve the chicken.

Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve immediately with the warm gravy.

Original recipe can be found in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Leftover ideas: chicken pot pie, chicken enchiladas, chicken salad sandwiches, chicken tamale casserole

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

My husband hates coconut. Gasp! I'm so happy when I have an opportunity to bake for a group of people who do like it, though, because when I do, I bake the macaroons. Soft and slightly chewy with delicious dark chocolate, these are one of my favorite treats.

21 oz. shredded sweetened coconut
3 T. sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup egg whites - about 5 eggs worth
heaping 1/4 t. cream of tartar
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. almond extract

6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, divided
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 T. shortening

Preheat the oven to 325 and spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray

Spread the coconut on rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring 3-4 times for about 10 minutes until beginning to brown. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut and condensed milk until well blended and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat with a whisk shaped beater on low speed, the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until just opaque and soft peaks form. Add the sugar, 2 T. at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Increase the speed to high. Beat until the mixture forms very stiff, glossy peaks, about 2 minutes. Fold in the coconut until evenly incorporated.

Drop the mixture onto the baking sheets using a 1/4 c. measure, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake, one sheet at a time for 14-18 minutes. They will be done when the tops are slightly browned and are slightly firm to the touch of your finger. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand for a few minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the macaroons to wire rack and let stand until completely cooled (they will sink slightly during cooling). Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cooled.

In a small saucepan or double boiler, melt 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and shortening over low heat, or simmering water if using a double boiler, until just melted. Stir in the remaining 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, stirring until it melts and mixture has cooled to barely warm. Immediate dip the tops of chilled macaroons into the chocolate and shake off the excess. They are best with a thin layer of chocolate. Immediately transfer the sheet of macaroons to the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chocolate sets. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Store in a single layer in an airtight container in a cool place (but not the fridge) for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month

Original recipe can be found in The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.
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