Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie Swap Cookies, 2012!

I am a terrible person, so I waited until the last minute this year to make my cookies before sending them out. I'm also super picky about my bananas (I won't eat them unless they're a little green), so I always end up with oodles of bananas in my freezer, waiting for cookies, or bread, or some kind of baked deliciousness.

That prompted my Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies this year.

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 scant c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
generous 1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
3 bananas, mashed
2 c. quick oats
lots and lots of chocolate chips!

Preheat the oven to 375. Mix your dry ingredients, then fold in butter until mixture is a little crumbly. Add egg, bananas, and oats. Mix it all up again. Finish with lots of chocolate chips! Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes.

Then take pictures with a better camera than my phone.

Enjoy! These are super moist cookies - best enjoyed within a few days, but will keep for about a week.

Another big thanks to the three ladies who sent me delicious cookies this year, as well as the organizers for putting in all the hard work required behind the scenes!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Woohoo! Cookies, part two.

Today, I received part two of three cookies in the mail. Thank you so much, Julia!

Adorable packaging - and what a cute card! 
She sent Double Chip Chocolate Chunk cookies. Peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and huge hunks of chocolate. These, I'm going to bring to work to share. I already ate two, plus the dozen I received in the mail a few days ago, and I can't possibly fit into my dress for my sister's wedding in two weeks if I eat the rest!

I'm going to be baking and sending out my cookies tomorrow, since I don't have a whole lot of time next week. I hope everyone is looking forward to my cookies as much as I did theirs!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My first cookies!

I received my first dozen cookies this morning, from Corinne over at Reverberations. DELISH!

Super adorable packaging. Plus they're German, which is a huge bonus for me. And Corinne reads lots of German books and makes lots of German food, so I think we're going to get along famously.

I know, quality blows. But the container is so cute!
Was I supposed to take a picture of the cookies before I ate them all? ...oops.

German shortbread cookies with sea salt. And I'm really looking forward to this recipe!

As a side note, I'm sorry I haven't been around again lately. The in-laws moved in, so I moved out, and I've just been under a lot of stress. My 7-lb. weight loss in the last month is probably an indicator that I haven't been cooking for myself very often. I'm having spaghetti and meatballs tomorrow night and then perhaps I'll get back into the swing of things around here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Potato cheese soup

My mom used to make a super delicious soup during the winter when I was little. And since it's sort-of winter (okay, so it's not triple digits anymore and that excites me), I decided to try my own hand at it.


2 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 c. nonfat, low sodium chicken broth
2.5 Tbsp. butter
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
2 green onions, chopped

Put your veggies in a pot with the garlic and cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook for about ten minutes, until everything is a little soft, but not mushy. Put your butter in there, too. Watch it melt and contribute tons of delicious fat. Combine your cornstarch and cold milk. Mix it well! No lumps. Dump your milk concoction in to the pot and stir everything. Throw in the shredded cheese and stir until it melts. Top with your green onions and serve!

This doesn't count as topping with green onions. 

It was everything I had hoped it would be. The salted butter I used was just enough that I didn't have to add any seasonings. This is the perfect comfort food!

Enjoy! Ciao.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 2nd Annual Cookie Swap!

I just signed up for this year's Great Food Blogger's Cookie Swap, and I couldn't be more excited! I hope to see all of you that joined me last year join me again this year, with an added bonus! There is a mandatory fee to participate this year that will go toward Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

Now, for the next month, I'm going to be racking my brain for a new cookie recipe that's more delicious than the one last year. :)

In other news, I have been cooking lately, but haven't concocted anything original enough, homemade enough, or delicious enough that I thought warranted mention. Stay tuned! I may have a few things up my sleeve, thanks to my newest Food and Wine magazine.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken on the fly

Today's dinner conversation went a little something like this.

Me: "What kind of meat do you have in the freezer?"
Kyle: "Just chicken. We should probably thaw some for dinner."
Me: "Hmmm. Okay!"

So I got the chicken out to thaw and promptly set about making gingerbread cookies, not giving the chicken a whole lot of thought until 9:30 when I realized we had plenty of cookies and no dinner. Not wanting to go to the store for a third time today, this is the ingenious dish we concocted.

I'm not sure it has a name yet. I'll have to think on that one.

2 chicken breast halves, boneless/skinless/trimmed, and all that.
Italian breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic / garlic powder

Combine your breadcrumb mixture. I gave Kyle some direction and he went to town, so I can't even approximate measurements. A bunch of Parmesan, plenty of rosemary, a good-sized helping of garlic (or garlic powder, since he didn't have any fresh), and less thyme. Dip your chicken in that heavenly stuff. Make sure you coat it well. Set it in a greased baking dish and cover with a few cubes of butter. Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes.

In the last 10 minutes, prepare a tomato chutney thing. Wash some grape and yellow grape tomatoes. Chop 'em in half. Toss them in a pan with a little olive oil and Garlic & Wine seasoning from The Melting Pot. (If you're not fortunate enough to have that - my favorite spice - at home, some regular garlic should do the trick.) Cook it up until the chicken is ready. No more than ten minutes. It should be super fragrant and the tomato skins should be slightly blistered.

When your chicken is good and hot, add a slice of Jarlsberg cheese to each breast. Pop it back in the oven for a few minutes for the cheese to melt. Serve chicken topped with tomato salsa.

This received some of the best reviews of anything I've ever made, I do believe. In Kyle's words, "I'd pay for that in a restaurant." High praise coming from the aspiring French-restaurant chef and owner. Enjoy!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ode to tri-tip.

I should preface this by saying I fail at grilling. Like, super fail. I've only grilled once and the result was so horrifying I haven't been able to stomach trying again.

But when Fresh & Easy had tri-tip on sale last week for $3/lb, I had to buy some. This was a bit of an experiment for both of us, since Kyle had never grilled a roast before, and I didn't realize he was out of aluminum foil, so there went the red wine idea. The result was still brilliant.

My photography skills haven't improved in my absence. Also, it didn't occur to me
to photograph anything until after I'd chowed down. Oops. 

I rubbed it in sea salt, cracked black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and garlic powder. I added a dash of jalapeno powder as well (which is something I've only found in Arizona - sorry for you out-of-towners). Kyle plopped it on the grill with the gas on super low and let it slow roast for almost an hour.

Absolutely divine. Especially with the Valsacro Rioja Dioro 2005 we paired it with. On sale for $16.99 right now at work. Fantastic bottle.

Now is probably the time to apologize for disappearing for several months as well. Between a death in the family, college happenings, and the ex reappearing in my life, I've been a busy little bee and I either don't cook as often, or I forget to take photos. I plan on being back at least once a week with an update of some kind!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Veal Parmesan. I can die happy.

I've always been an Italian food fan... So much that I rarely eat Italian food out anymore. There's almost never anything on the menu that I haven't tried, and I hate ordering something and realizing I could have made something tastier at home.

However, there's one meat that I never tire of. I haven't been brave enough to make veal at home, but I absolutely adore veal parm. So when I was gifted a bottle of Gaja last week, I decided I needed to make something new and exciting to accompany my wine.

Cue veal parmesan. And oh, sweet Jesus, am I glad I did.

I made dinner last night for the manfriend and the wonderful gentleman who purchased the bottle for me. I feel fairly confident saying it was a religious experience for all of us. And to top it all off, since we had dinner at Chris's house, he set the table and had the most adorable plate garnishes ever. Especially for a low-key dinner party.

Fresh rosemary from the garden! So cute, right?

Anyway. Let's get back to the star of the show.

Veal Parmesan. 

1 lb. veal scallopini
8 oz. mozzarella
diablo marinara sauce
Italian bread crumbs
1 egg

Dip each piece of veal in egg, then in breadcrumbs. Lay length-wise in a large lasagna pan. Cover with diablo marinara and a layer of shredded mozzarella. Repeat. (I only needed two layers.) Top with more marinara, mozzarella, and tons of parmesan. Bake at 350* for 12 minutes.

Yes, we kicked things off with a Bordeaux. No, that's not the wine that prompted the party. 

And for the sauce:

Diablo Marinara

3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
3/4 c. Cabernet Sauvignon or other red wine
4 bay leaves
4 Tbsp. chopped basil
red pepper flakes

Saute the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery in olive oil until softened. Dump in the canned tomatoes and wine. Add in your seasonings, to taste, with a very generous helping of red pepper. Let simmer for 45 minutes. Take your bay leaves out and enjoy!

As an added bonus, the table before we all dove in:

The flowers came from Chris's garden. And the Gaja is in the decanter, slightly left of center stage. After chowing down, we enjoyed a nice soak in the hot tub. Perfect way to end the night!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wine review!

I'm sorry I fail at life. I vacationed in mid-February because Prince Charming's big brother got married. Came home and started nightly opera rehearsals. That finally closed March 4th, and I've still been running around like a chicken with my head cut off ever since.

I've done some cooking, but the only things I felt were incredible, or tasty enough to warrant a blog entry, I forgot to take pictures of. So instead, since I feel terrible neglecting you for even longer, here's my favorite wine as of late.

From a wordpress blog / google image results

Cincuenta Ugarte Rioja 2009. Rated 90 points (Wine Advocate).

100% Tempranillo. Aged 10 months in French oak. Nice spice with some amazing bright fruit. Fantastic! It was on sale (down $6) for $9.99/bottle. Definitely took one home this weekend. It's an amazing value. I've sold a ton of it in the last two days.

Things are going to be crazy at work for the next two weeks (I'm working 6 of 7 days this week, and probably a similar schedule next week) but hopefully by the second week of April, things will settle down enough that I can cook a little more.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

7+ layer bars

Compulsive-grocery shoppers need to never go to the store unsupervised. Especially when knocked-up.

I love seven-layer bars. I don't recall ever having them as a kid, but somehow I've conned my adult mind into believing they are a necessity to growing up. Therefore, since I still have a lot of growing up to do, I require a lot of them.

Well what seven-layer bars require a lot of are butterscotch chips. At least when I make them. And butterscotch chips are usually more expensive than regular store-brand chocolate chips. So one can only imagine the look on my face the day I walked into Fresh & Easy and saw they had butterscotch chips on clearance, for $1.25/bag.

I may or may not have walked away with 14 bags.

It's been a few months, and I surprisingly have some left. (Ok; I did until this past week. Don't judge me.) This is my favorite thing to do with them.

1 sleeve cinnamon graham crackers
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 - 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 - 12 oz. bag butterscotch chips
4 oz. sliced almonds
6 oz. chopped hazelnuts
4 oz. chopped pecans
1 bag sweetened coconut flakes
1 can sweetened condensed milk (the little ones. I think they're 10.5 oz.)

Grease a baking pan (at least 8"x8"). Melt the butter and crush your graham crackers into itty bitty crumbs. Mix the butter and graham crackers together and press into the bottom of the pan. Top that with a layer of chocolate chips. Dump the bag of butterscotch chips on top. If you're like me, put some more chocolate chips on top of those. Pour your nuts in there - the more the better! These are super sweet and the nuts help cut that a little. Top with coconut and a can of condensed milk. Bake at 350* for 20 - 25 minutes, until coconut on top is toasted.

A few notes:

  • If your pan is 8"x8" or smaller, don't use the whole can of condensed milk. It makes your graham cracker layer soggy. 
  • Make sure you wait at least half an hour for these to cool before cutting them and taking them out of the pan. You'll be disappointed and end up with a gooey mess if you don't. 
  • If you double this, still only use one can of milk! (I routinely make this in a 11"x17" pan with only one can of milk. Trust me.)
  • If you're making these for an event, make them a day ahead. They are always better on the second day. 

As always, enjoy, and don't eat them all at once!!