Monday, January 31, 2011

big, soft ginger cookies

You've got to try these. These are a favorite at our house- they're incredible, especially for a recipe that lacks chocolate. Despite my challenges in the kitchen this morning my big soft ginger cookies turned out great, as always. Last night my oldest daughter and I couldn't find one of the blades for our hand mixer (my 3-year old likes to hide things). This morning I still couldn't find it so I used one blade. Fine. Then I couldn't get the jar of molasses open. Thinking my husband was trying to get me back for the big molasses spill in the cupboard that he discovered (it was EVERYWHERE) I figured he super glued the lid to the bottle. I finally got it open so I'm pretty sure it was just the sticky molasses. Then I confused the 1/4 teaspoon with the 1/2 teaspoon and got the spices out of whack. I think it's safe to say this is a very forgiving recipe which I find a necessary quality in a cookie recipe.
My 3-year old woke up this morning with lost mixer blade in hand and said, "It was in my covers."

big soft ginger cookies (
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened (I always use butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 dozen.

What I have to say- this was the first time I flattened the cookies slightly before baking and I probably won't next time. They taste the same but they look better if you bake them as balls and have them flatten on their own.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

divine bread sticks

Making dinner with my girls has become a tradition the past several weeks. Tonight they helped peel the potatoes, chop the potatoes and sprinkle our divine bread sticks with all sorts of seasonings. Since we couldn’t wait for the bread sticks to rise, we didn’t. And do you know what? They turned out pretty darn divine, if you ask me. This was my first time making them. They’re a cinch to make and I think they just might become tradition at this house.

divine bread sticks (my friend Erin in OH recommended them from blog: mel’s kitchen cafĂ©)

*Makes about 20-25 bread sticks, depending on how thick or thin you cut them

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour (Mel uses a combo of unbleached all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour but says you can use whatever you have on hand)
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)

Mix all ingredients (except melted butter) in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet. Roll out the bread stick dough about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs of choice (I vary this depending on my mood but it usually consists of rosemary, basil, or thyme in some form and crushed finely) and Parmesan cheese. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

chicken adobo with bok choy

This was really good! I love Real Simple Magazine. They really do keep things simple and their recipes always taste great. I have two chicken adobo recipes now- this slow cooker recipe and one that is not. My family's stage of life requires some good slow cooker recipes so this recipe is definitely a keeper. I'm not sure which of my two recipes is best...

chicken adobo with bok choy (Real Simple Magazine, February 2011)
2 medium onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I used two teaspoons and it was plenty)
1 bay leaf
black pepper
8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds) (I used boneless, skinless)
2 teaspoons paprika (I used 1 teaspoon)
1 cup long-grain rice
1 large head bok choy, cut into 1-inch strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onions, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle with paprika.
Cook, covered, until the chicken and onions are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 or 5 hours. Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions. Ten minutes before serving, if the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high. Gently fold the bok choy into the chicken and cook, covered, until tender 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

Friday, January 28, 2011

roasted carrots and potatoes with dill

I made these roasted carrots and potatoes dill (with some bell peppers and onions thrown in) to go with the French Dip Sandwiches for my meal swap tonight. I love cooking for friends. I always have. It's such a simple way to make people happy and the process is really fun. Maybe that's why I wanted to be a chef. I majored in catering for a couple of years but it just wasn't the best fit. I prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. Is teaching kindergarten more relaxed? I loved it. I always thought running a bed and breakfast would be fun but now that I run a family I figure I'm doing what I've always wanted to do. I can't say the atmosphere is always relaxed but I love my customers.

roasted carrots and potatoes with dill (Everyday Food, Martha Stewart, Nov 2010)
1 pound carrots, halved lengthwise if large and crosswise if long
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
course salt and ground pepper (I used 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried since my her garden is snowed over)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in lower third. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss carrots and red potatoes with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I threw in some bell peppers and onions too); season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Arrange in a single layer and cook until vegetables are browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 minutes, tossing halfway through. Toss with fresh lemon juice and dill. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8.

double chocolate mint brownies

Tonight was my night to cook for the meal swap. I made French Dip, roasted veggies and these double chocolate mint brownies. They're super delicious!  If you take these to a potluck I can guarantee you they'll be the first to go.

double chocolate mint brownies (simplified from a Hershey's recipe that came from my friend Erin)
brownie layer:
Bake a box of your favorite brownie mix according to the directions on the box in a 9x13 pan. Cool completely and then spread with mint layer. Spread chocolate layer on top of mint layer.

mint layer:
Add 1 teaspoon mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring to any vanilla flavored tub of icing.  You'll only need 1/2 tub of icing which is why I usually just double the recipe and bake the brownies on a cookie sheet with sides.  If you do this, you'll need to double the ingredients in the chocolate layer.

chocolate layer:
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter over the stove and add the chocolate chips; stir until smooth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

hunter's chicken


This dish is simple and oh so delicious!

hunger's chicken (blog: A For Effort)
2-3 chicken breasts, cubed
2 tablespoons Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
pasta of your choice

Cook pasta and keep warm. Dredge chicken in breadcrumbs. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Stir in olives, seasonings and undrained tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over pasta and top with cheese.

What I have to say- this is a simple recipe that tastes really good. My kids don't like big chunks of tomatoes so I used crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano. The first time I made it I made a double batch and froze half so I was able to pull some out of the freezer for lunch and reheat it on the stove. It was even better than I had remembered it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

king ranch chicken

king ranch chicken (Good Housekeeping, January 2011)
2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeds discarded, finely chopped
1 poblano chile, seeds discarded, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed with press (I used minced)
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper
3 1/2 ounces baked tortilla chips, crushed (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast meat
4 ounces pepper Jack or Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease shallow 3-quart baking dish. Microwave milk on high 2 minutes or until warm.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add onion, red pepper, and poblano and jalapeno chiles. Cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring.
Add flour and cook 1 minute, stirring. Continue stirring and add broth then milk in stead stream. Heat to boiling while stirring, then cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Spread thin, even layer of sauce on bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of chips, sauce, chicken and cheese. Repeat layering once.
Bake 30 minutes or until bubbling. Garnish with green onions.

What I have to say- it was yummy. My kids picked out all the tomatoes so next time I will use tomato puree. Last night I cooked 3 chicken breasts in the slow cooker with 1/2 cup chicken broth then shredded them and put them in a container with the broth it cooked in. The chicken was very tender and juicy. I doubled the amount of chicken the recipe called for and thought it was just right. Next time I might throw in some olives or green chiles and finish it off with a dollop of sour cream.