Saturday, December 31, 2011

You Say Brookies, I Say Delicous!

Over Christmas break, I have been "reading" my favorite genre of literature. Cookbooks, recipes books, or what my grandmother would say receipt books. Cookbooks can be considered literature, right? If not, they should be. One can find very creative works between the covers of these books. 

After spending some time reading Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook by Dede Lahman and Neil Kleinberg, I had to try one of the cookie recipes. The authors called these chunky chocolate cookies a cross between brownies and cookies or Brookies.  Clever name, isn't it? I guess they could be called Crownies, too :)

I'm betting these would go great with a cup of joe. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I don't drink coffee, but it has what seems to go well with coffee.  I know a tall, cold glass of milk works nicely with these babies.  Mmmm, Mmmm, good!


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
2 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Melt oil, butter and 1 cup of chocolate together in microwave.
2. In separate bowl whisk together eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Fold melted chocolate into egg mixture.
3. In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture.
4. Fold in remaining chocolate chunks.
5. Scoop out tablespoon size balls of dough and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Most Wonderful Time of The Year

This has been a wonderful Christmas for me and my family. 
Nothing says Christmas more than spending time with family and friends,

and traveling to Philadelphia to spend Christmas with our favorite doctors
Unlike last year, there wasn't twelve inches of snow. No snow at all. In fact the weather was wonderful.

We attended the performance of Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, visited the Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas lights, prepared and consumed some wonderful and amazing meals,

and ate way too much of the Christmas goodies like these babies....

Lemon Truffles
2 cups white vanilla chips
10 oz lemon curd
3 cups crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup powdered sugar
Optional: chopped pecans and toasted coconut

1. In  a microwave, melt vanilla chips until smooth. Stir in lemon curd, vanilla wafer crumbs, and powdered sugar. Chill until firm enough to handle.
2. Roll into 1/2 inch balls. Roll either in chopped pecans or toasted coconut. Chill until firm.

It was indeed a wonderful, wonderful time. Thank you, Lord for all these blessings!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ho Ho Ho...Merry Christmas Cooking

 Love this time of the year....trying new recipes and sharing with family and friends. Where should I begin??

This is a fun recipe and was a huge hit at school. 

 Are they not cute? They are made from Bugles (yes, that corn snack from General Mills) and red vanilla favored melting chips (found in cake decoration aisle). And no, I did not think this up myself. Shelly at Cookies and Cups shared this recipe last year. So simple and so easy to toss into a snack mix.

Santa Party Mix 

Red Melting disks
White sprinkles (nonpareils)

3 cups mini pretzels
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup salted peanuts
2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups holiday colored M&Ms
8 oz. white chocolate for melting

1. Melt candy melts, along with a tablespoon of shortening in 30 second intervals on half power in microwave until melted. Immediately start dipping the Bugles. Let them set up for 10 minutes or so on wax paper or parchment paper.
2. Remelt the red candy (if necessary) and dip the wide end of the Bugle into the red candy. Dip into the white sprinkles. Allow to set up.
3. Mix together pretzels, cranberries, peanuts and Chex.
4. Melt white chocolate according to package directions and drizzle over the mix. Spread out to allow chocolate to harden.
5. Add M&Ms and Bugle Santa hats.

This time of the year also calls for making recipes handed down from mothers, grandmothers and aunts. This peanut brittle recipe is one given to me by my mother-in-law many, many years ago.

She made batches of this candy every year at Christmas and is loved by my husband and son. 

It took me several attempts when I first tried this recipe. Either I cooked the raw peanuts too little or too much. Ugh! Nothing is worse than burnt tasting peanuts or chewy raw peanuts. After several attempts, my mother-in-law shared the secret. Cook the mixture until the peanuts make popping sounds. Be patient. They will begin to pop around the time the mixture begins to turn a golden burn.

Peanut Brittle
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups raw peanuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. In a heavy skillet (iron skillet works great), combine syrup, sugar and peanuts. Heat on high until you hear the peanuts popping and the mixture begins to turn  a golden color.
2. Remove from heat and add salt and baking soda. Mix completely. The mixture will begin to foam.
3. Pour onto a greased or parchment paper cookie sheet to cool. 
4. Once cooled, break into small pieces.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finally After Fifteen Weeks

My new kitchen is complete..... (Can you tell I'm grinning from ear to ear?!)


Now it is time to move in 

and get down to some serious cooking and baking!

(I'm still grinning!!!)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Firing Up the Ole Grill Part 2

Our adventure without a kitchen has finally ended! Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord!! I'll share some final pics of the new kitchen soon. Thankful to be back in the kitchen. While trying to eat somewhat decently using the grill, the one group of foods I missed more than anything was vegetables.

Salads were great but they became boring.

Here was an easy grilled squash recipe that I tried. Very tasty!

Grilled Squash with Dill Vinaigrette and Feta

4 medium squash
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh dill. chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
sat and pepper to taste
feta cheese, crumbled

1. In small bowl, whisk together mustard, sugar, vinegar and dill.
2. Slowly whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Slice squash lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices.
4. Brush each side of squash with the vinaigrette mixture.
5. Grill over medium high heat a couple of minutes on each side until tender.
6. Remove from grill and sprinkle with feta cheese


Monday, October 31, 2011

Firing up the Ole Grill Part 1

While making plans to adjust to having no kitchen, my intend was to grill as much as possible. Living in a town where franchise restaurants lined every main thoroughfare, I knew going out to eat would get old rather quickly.


Grilling would be easy peasy, right? Wrong!! Little did I realize that in order to grill one needed a place to prep the food and a place to clean up. So grilling was held to a minimum. Other than hamburgers, hotdogs and steaks I did grill a few new recipes.

Here's one that we enjoyed:

Rosemary Grilled Pork Tenderloin
 1 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Pork tenderloins
1.In large Ziploc bag combine oil, vinegar, rosemary, garlic.
2.Salt and pepper tenderloins and add to bag. Place in refrigerator for 3 hours.
3.Place on hot grill and brown each side of tenderloin about 2 to 3 minutes
on each side.
4.Move tenderloin to cooler side of grill and cover with lid. Tenderloin should 
read 160on meat thermometer. Let rest before cutting.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

O, Kitchen, Where Art Thou!?!

It has been a looooong 14 weeks. It still is not complete but the end is near.
On July 31, this is where I had diced, sliced, chopped, stirred, mixed, baked, and prepared many meals for my family for 20+ years.

On August 1st, my kitchen began it's transformation.

Today I decided it was time to "cook" in my new kitchen even if I didn't have a sink or stove top.

Thank you, Leigh Anne (Your HomeBased Mom) for this wonderful Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe. It looked great simmering on the new counter and the soup was fantastic!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Tomatoes

Recently NPR posted a news article based on the book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook. The article peaked my interest because I have always dreaded tomato purchasing during the winter. Ugh! Grocery store tomatoes are NOTHING like a homegrown summer tomato. The taste, the texture, the appearance of winter tomatoes are not the same fruit/vegetable as what is picked during the summer months. 
So during the summer months I try to take advantage of the summer harvest by canning, (wonderful to use in vegetable soups and sauces)
 baking pies and tarts,
 sauteing, and roasting,
Below are two of my favorite ways to use summer tomatoes.

Tomato Tart with Basil Garlic Crust
1/3 cup fresh basil
1 garlic clove
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into pieces
4 to 5 tablespoons ice cold water

Place basil and garlic in food processor. Process, scraping sides as needed until finely chopped. Add flour and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter and process until crumbly. Add water, 2 tablespoons at a time. Pulse a couple of times each time. After 4 tablespoons, process a few seconds. If it forms a ball do not add any more water. Flatten to a disk and chill for one hour.

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 large tomatoes, slices
1 tablespoon olive oil 
salt and pepper

Roll out crust and place in a tart pan. Add cheeses and top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 375⁰ until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.

Roasted Grape Tomatoes
4 cups grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a medium bowl add the grape tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper. In a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish, place the tomatoes and garlic cloves, ensuring they are in just 1 layer. In a 350 ⁰ oven, roast for 20 minutes, and then stir. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water, if too dry in appearance. Return to the oven and cook for 20 to 30 more minutes. When ready, the tomatoes will have begun to shrivel and the liquid in the dish should have thickened. Serve hot from oven.