Monday, August 31, 2009

Blogger Finds: S'mores Cookies and Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes


Chocolate Chiffon Mini Cupcakes

S'mores Cookies


Are you guys like me, wondering where the month went? Before I know it I’ll be making stews, Halloween treats, cooking a turkey and planning for Christmas dinner. I also forgot to post the Barefoot Bloggers recipe last Thursday so this Thursday I’ll play catch up and post

my version of Ina’s pizza. I also have 4 awards/tags that I need to address so I’ll do that on Sunday. Right now I want to take time to pay tribute to other food bloggers out there that are working, creating and sharing their wonderful recipes for the rest of us to try. I am always so amazed and humbled by all the recipes that you guys create.


The first recipe comes from Baked Perfection. She has an amazing blog that is always fun to look at and inspiring. The recipe is for S’mores Cookies. She baked these cookies way back in May and since then I have seen them pop up everywhere. After seeing them again two weeks in a row I finally broke down and made them. I have been reluctant because I’m not much of a S’mores fan. I like my chocolate straight up. Anyway, the cookies are so beautiful that I just couldn’t hold out any longer. Well, I will say that they were not as easy to make as she made them look. She is a gifted baker. I found that there was a learning curve to baking these cookies. It could be me or it could be the Texas heat, who knows. I found if I placed the chocolate and marshmallows on after baking instead of during then they looked very pretty. When I was finished and tasted them I thought, “OH NO, they taste like a S’mores”. Very sweet and too much mixed with my chocolate but I think that’s the idea of these cookies. When my 4-year-old tasted the cookies all we could hear were the groans of satisfaction. I think that these are a bit more work than the average cookie but I WILL be making them again for my sweet little guy.

Oh and check out the picture below to see what my daughter was doing to these cookies.



As seen at Baked Perfection

S'mores Cookies
adapted from Make and Bake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 dash of cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowl

y beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of Hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.


Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.





The second recipe comes from my new friend at Simple Recipes.

She has such a great blog. Her step-by-step pictures are so incredibly helpful. She needs to collaborate with some of the cookbook publishers and show them how it’s done. I’m not sure my cupcakes would have been so yummy without all her helpful pictures. OK, so her recipe is for Chocolate Chiffon mini cupcakes. I make mini cupcakes almost weekly and was very excited to make her cute, little, chocolate cupcakes. The first day of first grade was a great opportunity to make them and to celebrate the accomplishment of my son. I topped them just as she did with Marshmallow and I’m so glad I did. The cupcakes themselves are so light that the marshmallow added that little bit of sweet that makes them a special treat. I only iced half of them thinking that it would be too much and now I wish I had iced them all. Make them! They are cute, simple and yummy!

Oh and wouldn’t they be great for a shower or party?


As seem at Simple Recipes

CHOCOLATE CHIFFON MINI CUPCAKES

Ingredients:
4 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoon chocolate powder
6 tablespoon sugar, divided into half
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325F, Sift flour, chocolate powder, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Separate the eggs carefully. Add the cream of tart to the egg whites and mix using a clean and dry beater until stiff, add the other half sugar and continue to beat until flip upside down it does not fall.
Add the oil to the egg yolk and beat until the color is a pale yellow, add the other half sugar and continue to beat. Add the water and the vanilla extract, beat until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients and beat for more approximately 2 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites to the batter using a spatula, make sure that you mix very gently. Pour the batter to the cupcake forms and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Frost the mini cupcakes with ready made marshmallow and garnish with cherry.
Makes 24 mini cupcakes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies PINK??


Calling all foodies.

Today after school the kids and I took to inventing a PINK version of oatmeal cookies. We start with the basic oatmeal cookie recipe, one that I have used plenty of times, then change it up a bit. We used whole-wheat flour, added strawberry jam and raisins to the cookie dough. The dough looked perfect and our sample of the uncooked dough was yummy, though the kids are sure they’ll get worms if they eat uncooked dough again.

I was very excited about putting them in the oven. The 11 minutes of baking time seemed like 10 years to the four of us. Finally, the timer went off. Kids were jumping, yelling and dancing.

video

When I opened the oven door the cookies were NOT done and not even close. They did finally finish and they are yummy. So, why should you care?? Well I need your help. WHY ARE MY COOKIES SO DARN FLAT? Is it the flour, the jam or both? Do you know? All of my ingredients were fresh. Help?

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ C Oats
  • 1 ½ C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 C Butter
  • 2/3 C Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 2/3 C Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ C Strawberry Jam

Mixed then baked at 325 degrees for 15 minutes or so.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pasta salad with Fava Beans



I love to cook and I love to have my children in the kitchen with me. Having time and something entertaining enough to keep the kids from making me crazy can be a challenge. The other day my son and I made a pasta salad with Fava beans, which worked out well for a rushed weeknight meal. I love the cumin/mint combination. After the pasta had marinated overnight, my 4 year old and I made chicken nuggets while my 6 and 2 year old worked on a salad. My 4 year old was so impressed that his mom could teach him how to make chicken nuggets. I hope I’m his hero for the rest of his life or at least the rest of the week. Having the yummy pasta ready gave me time to invest in my children.

Pasta salad with Fava Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Acini Di Pepe Pasta
  • Fava Beans (hulled, boil and skins peeled)
  • Cumin
  • Fresh Mint (chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Sherry Vinegar

Directions:

Cook the pasta, combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator overnight.


OH! My Best Friend stop over today.

She gave us this special treat to make our weekly celebration of Pancake Sunday a bit easier and funner!

Thank you and you know we love you! Remember that always(especially as you see this and your picture)!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spaghetti with Two Tomatoes and Shrimp


Here is a fast, easy and low-heat meal that is quick enough to be a weeknight meal and pretty enough to be a Sunday dinner.

The pesto can be frozen and used again with just about any pastas, meat or bread. I love this tossed with shrimp but it’s also good alone. Perfect for summer nights when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.


Recipe adapted from “La Cucina Italiana”

Ingredients

  • 1 C Sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • ½ C Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Capers, rinsed, soaked and rinsed again
  • 2 C Cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 Tbls chives, chopped
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1lb Spaghetti

Directions for Pesto

  • Puree sun-dried tomatoes, oil and capers until well combined.
  • Add cherry tomatoes and puree again until smooth.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if necessary.
  • Transfer pesto to a large serving bowl; stir in cheese and chives

Directions for Shrimp

  • Peel and devein.
  • Grill for a few minutes until pink.

Directions for Spaghetti

  • Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Drain and toss with pesto and grilled shrimp.
  • Garnish with chives and Parmigiano cheese.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mango Banana Daiquiris


Today is Barefoot Blogger day. Barefoot Bloggers are a community of bloggers that twice-monthly make, taste and post Ina Garten recipes. Veronica of Supermarket Serenade selected the first recipe of the month, mango banana daiquiris. I was very excited when I saw this month’s selection and could not wait to make these. Being born and raised in Florida, mangos are a favorite fruit of mine. Not only do they taste super great right out of the yard but they also combine with just about any other food AND they are a great way to entertain bored children. I would love to explain how they would keep us entertained but my mom might read this. Anyway, I’m going on record saying that these were a bit too much for my taste. I love the taste of the fruit combination and I agree with Ina that the lime really kicks up the fruit taste but I think that these would be better as a smoothie or even ice cream combination. They are just to heavy to be a refreshing cocktail that I would long to have while lying by the pool or on the beach. These were fun to try and my husband enjoyed them and I’m inspired to make this into ice cream.

Mango Banana Daiquiris

From Barefoot Contessa’s “Back to Basics” cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ripe Mangos, chopped
  • 1 Ripe Banana, chopped
  • ½ C freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ C Sugar Syrup
  • 1 ¼ C Dark Rum
  • 2 C Ice

Direction:

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 Cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with mango slices.


Tip: Some people are allergic to mango. I have found that if you peal the mango under running water you will not get a rash running up your forearms.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Farro and Herb Pilaf with Sausage, Mushrooms and Spinach



Swimming this summer also gave me a kick-start to my health program. I was one of those people who said that I eat healthy and exercise but still can’t drop the extra 10 pounds. With the idea of hundreds of people seeing me weekly in my bathing suit, and my iPhone “Lose it” application, came the awareness that I could eat better. I could get more nutrients for the same or fewer calories. Farro wheat is one that I have added to my regular meal rotation. It has a great earthy taste and is packed with nutrients. Farro is just as easy to prepare as rice or pasta and can be added to many different meals just as with rice or pasta. If you have not cooked with Farro, please give it a try. Try this meal. It’s fast, easy, yummy and packed with great stuff for your body.

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods Markets.

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups farro
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 links sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from casings

1 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups baby bella mushrooms, halved
2 cups packed baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped oregano

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add farro and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and farro is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up into small chunks with a spatula, until almost cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, toss well and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in spinach until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.


Stir parsley, oregano, salt and pepper into pot with farro. Spoon onto plates. Top with sausage-mushroom mixture and serve.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Fava Beans and Tomatoes and some Root Beer!


What to do when you spend three and half hours of your afternoon at the dentist with three hungry and grumpy children? Macaroni and cheese, pizza, a drive through or sacrifice the Fava beans you have been saving for a special and yummy meal? Now, I love my children but I spent too much money and time on my Fava beans to just waste them on grumpy kids. Oh how I wish I took my mom’s advice and ate them one by one when everyone was sleeping. I know the cost and labor that went into each and every bean. I could appreciate and savor every bit. BUT, like all good and lazy moms I made a quick dinner and shared them with my family. Dinner was very good although not the dinner I had planned in my head.



Whole-wheat pasta with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.


Ingredients:

  • Whole Wheat pasta
  • Fresh Fava Beans
  • Tomatoes, chopped (canned or fresh)
  • Basil Pesto
  • Paprika
  • Cumin

Directions:

  • Cook pasta until al dente.
  • Simmer bean, tomatoes and spices together.
  • Combine pasta and bean mix.
  • Sprinkle with fresh grated cheese.


Yesterday was also National Root Beer Day so, following the lead of Tina from Mommy’s Kitchen, I made homemade root beer. We have made root beer many times but never as easy as Tina described. As soon as I read her recipe I made a batch of my own. I have to tell you I was a bit concerned that the root beer didn’t need to ferment in the closet for 3-5 days as I’m accustomed to. After dinner I pulled my root beer mix out of the refrigerator, added the water AND the taste test results…YUM. I will replace our recipe with hers and enjoy root beer more often. Thanks Tina and Happy belated Root Beer Day to everyone!

As Seen at Mommy’s Kitchen.


Homemade Root Beer

1 1/2 - cups water

3/4 - cup sugar
1 1/2 - teaspoons root beer concentrate
1 - bottle (1 liter size) cold soda water, seltzer or club soda


Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Add concentrate; stir until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slowly pour soda into root beer mixture until well blended. I used seltzer. Makes 6 cups.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cream Pie!



While going through my growing stack of cooking magazine I found this recipe. I love this recipe because it is fast, easy and no heating up the kitchen. This pie turns out beautiful and tastes great. I don’t think anyone would ever know that you spent lest than 15 minutes making this. It would be super cute to serve on or around Valentines Day.

No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Cream Pie

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.


Ingredients:

  • 7 oz Chocolate Wafer Cookies
  • ½ C Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 Tbls Butter
  • ¼ C Sugar
  • 14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ¼ C Crème Fraiche
  • ¼ C Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest
  • 2 ½ (2 6oz) Fresh Raspberries

Directions:

  • Place cookies in processor and grind into fine crumbs.
  • Melt, in microwave, chocolate chips and butter.
  • Add butter chocolate melt to cookie crumbs and blend.
  • Press (not to firm) the cookie mix into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.
  • Whisk milk, crème fraiche, lemon juice and lemon peel in mixer.
  • Add in ½ the raspberries and mix until slightly pink and raspberries begin to fall apart.
  • Transfer filling to crust.
  • Chill until set, about 2 hours.

Fun Fact:

The lemon juice reacts with the other ingredients causing the pie to thicken.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Easy Wine Coolers!

Looking for a nice way to enjoy a glass of red wine on a hot summer day? Try a wine cooler. I know what you are thinking, and no, there is no Boone’s farm in these.

Ingredients:

  • Bottle of nice red wine (I like Italian or Spanish)
  • Sparkling water (I use Pellegrino)
  • Simple syrup (equal parts of sugar and water boiled until the sugar dissolves)
  • Ice

Directions:

  • Invite your Favorite friend over for dinner or just to chat.
  • Pour chilled simple syrup into the bottom of your wine glasses
  • Pour the sparking water into the wine glass until it’s about half full.
  • Fill the rest of the glass with wine
  • Add a few cubes of ice and enjoy.
  • Finish your glass and repeat.