Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favorites of 2012

I always love watching the top songs of the year or the year in review. It is just a recap of the favorites. This year I have made a lot of favorites but I could narrow it down to list a few. Let me know what your favorite recipe you made this year.
Favorite Breakfast:
Breakfast Bruschetta
Favorite Meat:
Teriyaki Beef
Favorite Bread:
Seven Cheese Bread

Favorite Dessert:
Did you already know the #1 song of 2012 varied depending on site..
-MTV named "Call Me Maybe," by Carly Rae Jepsen.
-Billboard named "Climax" by Usher.
-VH1 named "Somebody I used to know" by Gotye.
What was your favorite song of 2012?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Are you ready for Santa tonight? Did you already bake some cookies for him? These cookies may tempt him to leave extra gifts tonight. You never know but they may. I think they tempted my husband to buy me some extra gifts or it could have he has felt bad that I was hit hard with the flu. These cookies are the perfect mix of a peanut chocolate chip cookie.
Are these enough cookies for Santa?
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
 1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 (11 1/2 oz) bag chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening, and peanut butter until creamy.
  2. Add the sugar and beat well.
  3. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Slowly, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat well.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.
  7. Scoop about 2 Tbsp of batter and shape into balls.
  8. Place the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheets and flatten slightly.
  9. Bake the cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  10. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from My Recipes.com
One year ago...........................I made Snowman Sugar Cookies
 Did you already know.............
-In 1955, children could call to find out where Santa was in the world.
-NORAD continues the tradition and children can track Santa online.

Merry Christmas to All!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sables

My son loves the story of the "Tortoise and the Hare." Every time I try to read a story in the Book of Virtues, he always request that story. I think it is a great story about perseverance but I also want to stress other virtues like compassion, hard work, and especially self-discipline. So, I was asking my two youngest children about how they should behave like the golden rule. My son suggested we should not use too many verbs. Yes, verbs. My daughter wanted clarification and asked, "Action words? We shouldn't be using action words?" (I think she had forgotten about the golden rule when speaking to her brother.) My son just replied, "Yes, verbs." So, try not to use too many verbs today! 
Sables
2 (8 oz) sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
Colored sugar

Directions:
  1. In a mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the sugar, powdered sugar, and salt to the butter until blended, about 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the speed and add the egg yolks. Beat the mixture until combined.
  4. Slowly, add the flour a little at the time. Mix the dough until the dough appears uniformly moist and no flour can be seen. The dough should be soft and clumpy not smooth.
  5. Gather the dough into a ball and divide into half.
  6. Shape the dough into 9 inch long logs and wrap in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  8. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  9. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk the egg.
  11. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the beaten egg over the sides of the dough.
  12. Roll the dough in the desired colored sugar to coat the eggs.
  13. Slice the dough horizontally into 1/3 inch circles.
  14. Bake the cookies for about 7 minutes and then rotate the cookies in the oven.
  15. Bake the cookies for another 7 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden on the sides. 
  16. Allow the cookies to cool for a minute before transferring to a cookie rack.
Recipe adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours Cookbook by Dorie Greenspan.
Did you already know...........
-Sable cookies are popular in France.
-Sables are moist and crumbly cookies.
-Other names for sables are shortbread, sand tarts, or butter cookies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

PB Candy Bar Brownies

I saw recently a sign that said.........Naughty or Nice Naughty or Nice Decisions, Decisions. Well, I felt very naughty making these cookies but very nice since my husband requested them. Why naughty? Because normally I am happy with sampling my baking and then sharing but I didn't want to share these brownies. They are so good. The brownies crust is made from cookies and it contains candy bars. Now, you know why I didn't want to be nice and share.
Peanut Butter Candy Bar Brownies
1 (16 oz) package of Nutter Butter Cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
10 Peanut Butter Cups, coarsely chopped
2 Butterfingers, coarsely chopped
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed cookies and butter.
  3. Press the cookie mixture into a bottom of a greased parchment lined 13x9 pan.
  4. Bake the cookie mixture for about 6 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the condensed milk, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Remove the cookie mixture from the oven. Sprinkle the peanut butter cups, the Butterfingers, and chocolate chips over the warm crust. 
  7. Pore the condensed milk mixture over the cookie and chocolate mixture. 
  8. Bake the brownies for about 27 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.
Recipe adapted from My recipes website.

One year ago................................I made Flour Tortillas.
Did you already know..................
-The Be A Good Cookie Spatula is made from the OXO company. 
-The OXO company donates half of all proceeds from the sale of the spatula to pediatric cancer research.
-The spatula is the most popular item on the OXO website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie Swap

This year I participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I recently received three dozen cookies from three different bloggers. The cookies were delicious and my children thought it was great for two reasons. One reason is it is always fun to receive mail and the second reason is the mail contained cookies.
I also made cookies for three other bloggers and mailed it to them all over the country. I decided to make one type of cookie dough but change the extract to make three other varieties. My children tried to convince me that we should keep the cookies for ourselves and not share. They also tried to convince me that some things shouldn't be shared like cookies but I could share brussel sprouts. They would have no problem sharing brussel sprouts. Don't worry I was able to send the cookies with no brussel sprouts included in anyone's package. I made sure I sealed each package myself.
Vanilla Cookie Dough
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/2 cup colored sugar
2 crushed candy canes
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Beat in the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract. 
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Divide the dough into half.
  6. To one half of the dough, add the almond extract and mix well. Half the dough and form two logs. Set aside.
  7. To the other half of the dough with no almond extract divide in half.
  8. To half of the divided dough, add the peppermint extract. Form into a log. Set aside. 
  9. Wrap each log in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the 4 pieces of dough for at least 1 hour.
Sugar Variety:
  1. From the 1/4 section of dough that only contains the vanilla extract, form 12 balls and dip the top of each ball in the sugar. 
  2. Place the cookies sugar side up on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Peppermint Variety:
  1. From the dough containing the peppermint extract, cut the log into 12 pieces of dough. 
  2. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle each cookie with pieces of crushed candy canes before baking.
Almond Variety:
  1. The dough with the almond extract divide in half. Set half aside.
  2. With half the almond dough,  cut the log into 12 pieces of dough.
  3. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle each cookie with a little of the toasted almonds.  
Almond and Jam Variety:
  1. With the remaining almond dough, roll the dough out and cut into about three inch squares.
  2. On one square, spread a little jam on top and sprinkle with some of the chopped almonds.
  3. Top the jam side of each cookie with another square piece. 
  4. Spread additional jam on top of the second square piece and sprinkle with some almonds.
  5. Top the jam side of the two cookies with a third square piece.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the cookie with additional almonds if desired.
  7. Place the 3 layered cookie on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake all the cookies for about 12 minutes or until firm.    
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's website

One year ago, I made...............Spiced Cranberry Punch.
Did you already know..............
-This is the 2nd year of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
-It is open to all bloggers around the world.
-The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap partnered with Cookies for Kids Cancer

Monday, December 10, 2012

Penne Aglio-olio

My oldest daughter called to tell me that she was leaving work. When I hung up the phone, my youngest daughter asked, "Who was that?" So, I said, "Some girl that says she is my oldest daughter." My youngest daughter shook her head and said very seriously, "No, no that can't be true since I'm your only daughter." I said, "Oh, I didn't know that but I'll tell your older sister when she gets home." After arriving home, my oldest daughter was surprised to find out that I don't have an older daughter per her sibling. Now, I think I was more surprised my youngest daughter disowned her older sister and not her younger brother but she probably does that at school. Can you imagine her friends shock when they tell my daughter that they saw her younger brother and she tells them she doesn't have a younger brother? It is never serious at my house. 
With the holidays approaching, I have been spending more time baking. I have recently my children if I had to cook and they said yes so I went with something quick. I tried cereal for the second day in a row but no they wanted food. I am just kidding. I really liked this meal but I liked the sausage the best. My oldest daughter has been bringing the leftovers to work for lunch.

Penne Aglio-olio
1 lb. penne pasta
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken sausage, (I used spinach and feta all natural chicken sausage.)
1 tsp chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
  1. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box in salted water. Drain when cooked to al dente.
  2. Cut the chicken sausage into bite size pieces. 
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  4. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook the sausage for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chili flakes and the garlic to the skillet Cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the spinach leaves and cook for another minute until the leaves have wilted.
  7. Add the pasta to the skillet and mix until combined with the chicken mixture about 1 minute.
  8. Serve the pasta in bowls and top with the grated cheese.
Recipe adapted from Nadia G.

One year ago...............................I made Honey Butter Pork.
Did you already know.................
-The difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano is the region the cheese derives.
-Parmesan cheese did not derive form Italy like Parmigiano.
-Parmigiano will have a seal for authenticity since the cheese is regulated.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tomato Soup

The recent request from my son was tomato soup. He loves it. My youngest daughter prefers chicken noodle soup. So, I decided to try this soup since it contained tomatoes with additional vegetables. Since I was in a hurry that night to attend my daughter's concert, I skipped a couple of steps like puree it in the blender to get a smooth texture. I also forgot to add the heavy cream to make it creamy. I liked it just the way it came out. My son was happy. My anti-vegetable husband liked it. My youngest daughter still prefers her chicken noodle soup. Don't feel too bad for her since she has been eating clementines none stop it seems. All my children can't get enough of them. When they hug me, all I smell is clementines. I guess it is better than to smell like tomato soup or worst things. Since we have been eating a lot of cookies lately, I am trying to up the vegetables consumption and this soup is a great start.
Tomato Soup
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (28 oz.) can roasted tomatoes, crushed
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook for 1 minute or until crispy.
  3. Remove bacon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  4. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.
  5. Cook the vegetables covered for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the broth and the tomatoes to the pan.
  8. Bring to a boil while whisking for a minute or two.
  9. Add the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. 
  10. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes before serving.
  12. Make sure to remove the bay leaf before ladling into bowls and top with the bacon pieces. 
Recipe adapted from Food Network.
*To save time during the week, chop all the vegetables the night before and store in a storage bag until needed the next day.*

One year ago............................I made Russian Tea Cakes.
Did you already know...............
-Tomatoes originated from South America.
-Early settlers and explorers believed tomatoes were poisonous.
-Tomatoes are in the Nightshade family and some Nightshade species are poisonous. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bacon Fontina Panini Sandwich

What is your favorite go to meal when you have to make supper in a hurry? My first choice is pizza but for some reason the rest of my family think we shouldn't eat pizza every night. Well, I agree since I think we should have it for breakfast and lunch too with the occasional bowl of cereal. However, they would have no problems if we had sandwiches every day. When I make sandwiches, I like to change it up. Some days it is just a cold sandwich. Other days I use the broiler to toast the sandwich. Then there is always the grilled cheese. Why make a grilled cheese when it is even faster to use a panini press, right? Except if you decide to add caramelized onions to your sandwich, then it will take a little extra time. It was worth it.
Bacon Fontina Panini Sandwich
5 pieces of bacon
3 tsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
10 slices of smoked deli ham
5 slices of Fontina cheese
10 slices of crusty bread like french bread
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Directions:
  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. Wipe out the pan and add 2 tsp of oil to the skillet.
  3. After a minute, add the onion and saute every few minutes for 20 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Brush the panini press with the remaining oil (or add to your skillet the oil).
  5. Butter two sides of the bread with the butter.
  6. On the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, add one slice of cheese, bacon, two slices of ham. 
  7. Top the ham with the caramelized onion. 
  8. Place the unbuttered side of the bread on top of the onions.
  9. Set the assembled sandwich on the panini press and close (or in the skillet), and cook for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.
One year ago.............................I made Nutella Hot Chocolate.
Sometimes onions are messy to eat!
Did you already know...............
-Fontina is a creamy, semi soft cheese.
-There are different types of fontina cheese like Italian, Swedish, or Danish.
-Fontina is a versatile cheese and can be eaten with fruit or cooked in a dish.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My youngest sister loves chocolate. Since my sister was coming over to take the kids to visit Santa, I decided to make some cookies with chocolate of course. My sister said she liked them a lot but I think her youngest daughter takes after her. I saw her take a couple cookies plus one for the road. I didn't think it was possible but I think my niece enjoyed the cookies more than my sister.
These cookies are rich and delicious. The original recipe calls for coconut but my sister doesn't like coconut so I've omitted it. I still thought they were great. They are gooey with a crunch from the nuts. When you just need chocolate, make these cookies.
Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Clusters
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups salted macadamia nuts, roasted
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a double boiler*, melt 8 oz. semisweet chocolate with the butter. 
  3. Stir the chocolate and butter until smooth and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. 
  4. In a large bowl, cream the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture. Beat until well blended.
  6. Stir in the flour and baking powder, mix until just moistened.
  7. Fold in the macadamia nuts and the mini chocolate chips. 
  8. On a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop about 1 Tbsp portions of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet spaced about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are firm but still soft when pressed in the middle.
  10. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from My recipes.com.
*I use a thick, heat proof glass bowl over a small pan filled with 1/2 cup of water. 

One year ago...............................I made Chocolate Fudge.
My niece waiting for her cookie.
Check out my brother in law enjoying the cookie too!
Did you already know............
-Around 280 A.D., Saint Nicholas is thought to have been born.
-Saint Nicholas was born in the region of Turkey.
-Saint Nicholas is suppose to have traveled around the country side helping the sick and poor.

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