Saturday, April 25, 2009

Snickerdoodle Cookies

A good snickerdoodle should be lightly firm on the surface while soft and chewy in the middle. I developed this recipe over 10 years ago and have especially fond memories of baking them during pregnancy with my oldest child.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together butter and sugars on high speed. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl combing the sugar with the cinnamon. When the dough is ready, take about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball. I use a medium cookie scoop, but really you can make these cookies any size you want from dainty to giant. Roll the ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and press onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between your cookies - they spread.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, no longer. They may seem undercooked, but will continue to develop as they cool.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicken Pomodoro

I frequently develop new recipes that involve chicken as I am sold on chicken as an excellent source of lean protein. This recipe is fairly simple, moderately low-fat, and elegantly delicious. I am certain I will be offering it on next month's gourmet delivery menu.

Start with four boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cutlets. Salt and pepper each side with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a non-stick pan, set on med-high heat, drizzle lightly with canola oil. Working with four cutlets at a time, add the chicken to the pan and lightly brown (3-4 minutes per side). Remove chicken cutlets and set aside. In your pan, whisk together 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour in 2/3 cup of vodka, being sure to remove pan from heat briefly when adding the highly flammable vodka (white wine or chicken broth can be substituted). Return to burner and continue heating until most of the vodka has evaporated.

Next add 1 cup chicken broth, whisk together thoroughly and return chicken cutlets to pan, cooking 1 minute more on each side. Mixture will be bubbly and will infuse the chicken with flavor. Remove chicken and place in a deep platter. To pan add 2/3 cup fat-free half & half, and one cup diced tomato. Stir to thoroughly combine with chicken broth mixture and heat until once again bubbly. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.

When thickened and bubbly, pour over chicken cutlets and garnish with sliced scallions. Buon Appetito!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two of My Favorite Places To Eat

I would be remiss if I flew to Michigan, indulged in some of my favorite dining, and then failed to share the experience with you. So here are some brief highlights regarding two of my favorite places to eat. They are quite the opposite in both location, decor and atmosphere, yet I love them both equally. I feel they are a small representation of the two sides of my personality.

We'll start in the Detroit area. North and slightly west of the downtown area is the fabulously hip little town of Birmingham. I LOVE Birmingham! Birmingham is home to a one-of-a-kind culinary delight known as the Big Rock Chop House. The Big Rock Chop House has an atmosphere of class and fine dining, from the valet service, to the extensive gourmet menu and lounge-like decor. It truly is a delight. What did enjoy while I was there? A shrimp appetizer, followed by an entire half of an organic chicken, herbed and roasted to perfection, with flavor filled steamed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes on the side. My shrimp appetizer was served in an eye-appealing manner, arranged artfully in a martini glass, almost too pretty to eat...somehow, I managed to polish it off! Words cannot describe how tender, juicy and delicious this chicken was - I regret that I could not finish it!

We move westward across the state and find ourselves at Cugino's - a small operation located in the Lansing suburb of Grand Ledge. Cugino's is family oriented with fabulous Italian food that rivals that of vendors on the streets in Rome. When I first heard, after a two-year separation, that I would have the opportunity to return to this venue, I knew immediately what I would order: their Calamari appetizer followed by a Spinach Calzone. Countless travels followed by numerous attempts, has yet to find a calamari that measures up to that of Cugino's. The same can be said of their calzones. The herbs and spices are perfectly proportioned with spinach and ricotta. My mouth is watering in remembrance of the delight!

So, if you find yourself traveling through Michigan, be sure to plan a stop at one (or both!) of these great restaurants - I'm certain you'll have no regrets.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cooking Shows

Are you a frequent follower of the Food Network? Do you watch cooking shows? Have you noticed how smoothly the dishes come together when prepared on camera? We all know the recipes assembled in our home kitchens aren't always so easily done.

I love to laugh...really, really love to laugh. Enjoy this clip of comedian Brian Regan on cooking shows:

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I recently I spent several hours researching the pros and cons of the various refrigerators currently on the market in preparation for adding a second one to our home-based catering business. After agonizing over the best choice for my business and weighing the economical value of the many models available, I finally settled on this model. Any appliance purchase has always struck me as difficult and the sales people rarely make it any easier. Thankfully, I am extremely happy with my refrigerator and amazed at how much space it has - I can easily chill a 3-tier wedding cake and still have several shelves in place. Enjoy the below humor as comedian Brian Regan shares his refrigerator shopping experience.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Herb Gardening

With all of the cooking that I do for both family and clients, it is very helpful to have fresh herbs right at my finger tips without making unnecessary trips to the market. Growing our own produce was very much a part of my upbringing and it only seems natural to continue on that same course. Several have requested that I share how-to pointers for herb gardening and I have located a handy website that can answer all of your questions! Click here to be redirected to a wonderland of herb gardening information!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Best Ever Pate Brisee

Don't get excited - I doubt my recipe sharing rendezvous will last for very long. Yet, I can't help but share this one as I have seemingly forever been longing for a great pate brisee (pie dough). I've been wanting a recipe that calls for both butter and shortening, but mostly butter. Finally, I think I have achieved perfection...well, with my pie dough anyway! Here ya go:

I have found the best results occur when I keep the butter and shortening very cold right up until the moment they are needed. I dice the butter first and return to the refrigerator while I prepare the rest of my ingredients. Enjoy!