Sunday, February 28, 2010

Got Chocolate?

Cookies and chocolate are two of my favorite things...put the two together and sweet bliss has been found. This super rich cookie will leave you craving a large, ice cold glass of critics agree that the cookies (and the milk) won't last long...

Double Chocolate Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips*
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combing granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter, mixing until well combined. Add the eggs and beat at medium speed until batter is light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips to the the batter and stir until just combined - do not over mix. Drop with medium size cookie scoop onto silpat or parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes, depending on your mine, 16 minutes is perfect, but just watch them. They will seem a little moist when you first pull them out, this is good. They will set up quickly. After removing them from the oven, immediately pull the parchment and/or silpat from the cookie sheet right on to the counter. The cookies will easily come off the parchment when they are cooled, so you if you're not using a silpat, the parchment can be used over and over again for the entire batch. This yields roughly 4 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

*Live-It-Up Variation: Substitute 2 cups peanut butter chips in place of white and semi-sweet chips.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baked Potato Goodness

The warm goodness of soup hits the spot on a chilly day. Chilly weather is rare here in Texas, so when I find myself in the midst of a nippy day, I quickly reach for my favorite soup recipes. I've been making this potato soup for over 10 years and it remains a hit every time. Yummy enough to be devoured by kiddo's and hearty enough to leave adults content (i.e. the husband!) we find it to be truly scrumptious!

Baked Potato Soup

6 average size potatoes baked, cooled, peeled and cubed
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2/3 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper*

In the bottom of a stock pot, cook bacon until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels. Leave the bacon drippings in the bottom of the pot and, over medium-high heat, add the chopped onion and saute until tender. Add flour, cooking and stirring until well combined and beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, whisking well to prevent lumps. Allow to thicken, cooking about 5 minutes more. Add remaining ingredients: chopped potatoes, milk, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. Once milk has been added, do not allow soup to boil as this will break down the milk proteins and produce a watery soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cheese had melted. Dish some up and top with additional shredded cheese and parsley, if desired. Enjoy!

*Live-It-Up Variation: For more kick in your soup, add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gooey, Delicious Delight

Cheese, glorious cheese! Oh how I love cheese...and ice cream and beef tenderloin...but we can talk about those another day. "Everything in moderation" is my motto - a motto I almost lost sight of after whipping up this baked brie. I wanted to dive in with my bare fingers and devour the entire thing. Oh the delectable goodness of brie!

I started with a 16 oz. brie...yes, that's a large brie and an 8 oz. would most certainly work just as well, but as we frequently feed "extras" our house - in the form of students or friends dropping in - I knew a 16 oz. brie would be readily consumed.

After slicing off the rind on one side of the brie, I placed it on a sheet of puff pastry (the side with the remaining rind facing down) and topped with raspberry preserves and coarsely chopped, toasted almonds.

Simply wrap the puff pastry around the brie, bunching it up on top...

Brush with egg yolk and bake at 400 degrees about 25 minutes.

Let stand five minutes or so and then serve up the oozy, gooey, deliciousness with crackers and apple slices...or take a scoop with your bare finger when no one is looking...not that I would ever do that...

Baked Brie

1 16 oz. wheel of brie
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1/2 cup toasted, coarsely chopped almonds
1 tsp. sugar
1 large egg yolk, beaten

Lightly roll out puff pastry on a floured surface. Slice off the rind from one side of the brie and place with remaining rind down on puff pastry. Top the brie with raspberry preserves, toasted almonds and sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar. Wrap the puff pastry around the brie, twisting ends together and bunching up on top of the brie. Brush puff pastry with beaten egg yolk. Place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let stand five minutes and enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Who doesn't love heart-shaped nonsense on Valentine's Day? Is there a mother alive with children still residing at home who doesn't make heart shaped pancakes, buy huge chocolate kisses or little stuffed animals that say "be mine" for their little ones? I love to pamper my family on Valentine's Day with goodies and kisses and especially heart shaped pancakes. Sandwiched between Christmas and Easter, they always seem to forget they will be indulging in syrup soaked delight on Valentine's Day...a surprise which only makes the day that much more fun! This year I not only made our traditional buttermilk pancakes, but I also whipped out a new recipe for chocolate pancakes - I'll post both recipes here. Since I was unsure how my chocolate pancake concoction would turn out, I kept my ingredients to small may want to double the recipe if your feeding several people. However, my traditional buttermilk pancake recipe is designed to feed the masses (we like pancakes, what can I say? the leftovers can be frozen and easily heated in the toaster on a hurried weekday morning) so you may want to half the recipe if you're feeding just a few...Enjoy!

Buttermilk Pancakes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 stick melted butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk to combine. Cook on a 400 degree griddle and enjoy!

Chocolate Pancakes

3/4 cup flour
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbs. melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl - stir to combine well. In another bowl combine wet ingredients and pour into dry ingredients. Whisk to combine and cook up on a 400 degree griddle. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sweetest Thing I've Baked...

I've taken a break lately from my foodie antics and my catering business to finish baking up something extra sweet and special...and oh boy did he turn out perfect! We welcomed the newest member of our household four weeks ago and each of us fell immediately in love. Though he was nearly a week overdue, we think he was "baked" to perfection. Take a peek at the sweetest thing I've baked...