Friday, November 27, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wow, a title doesn't get any more simple than that, does it? Chocolate chip cookies. What a wonderful name.

About 4 years ago or so I created my own "perfect" chocolate chip cookie recipe. It was fit for me. It had everything I wanted. Chewy, soft, spread out just right, not too dry, not too fluffy, gooey and buttery golden flavor (yes, "golden" is a flavor).

I hid it in my computer labeled "secret cookie recipe."

And then my computer crashed. We recovered some pictures, but no cookie recipe came along with it. I'd had it memorized for a while and slowly, I started forgetting exactly what it was. I settled for making the recipe on the back of Nestlea Tollhouse packages. They were satisfying enough. But I still longed for my cookie.

Fast forward to today, scrolling through Pinterest and I see a picture of a cookie that looked exactly like mine! I had to try. And boy, I tell you what. These are BETTER than mine! I did add 1tsp of water to the batter and it was just heavenly!

I will not use any other recipe other than this from now on. This is it, you guys! This is perfection! I stared at my nestlea chocolate chips and my guittard chocolate chips trying to decide what to use the first time around. I went with guittard. They're huge. And I wanted chocolate. So these were very, VERY chocolatey. I can't wait to make them again with the regular sized chips now.

The fact that I have no clue where this woman lives and having this recipe work brilliantly in my high altitude desert of a city says a lot to me. It's gotta be fool proof!

Here's my picture. But I promise you, the pictures of the cookies on her post is what makes it and does them justice. RUN to her page at Gimme Some Oven so you can see what you can really expect with these! Maybe I'll update my photo once I don't have these huge honkin' chocolate chips all over. Maybe.

What you will need:
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C chocolate chips (+ some to stick on the tops right before they go in the oven)
  • Parchment paper (optional, but it does make a difference!)
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add in the vanilla and egg and mix until well blended
  • Slowly add in the flour, corn starch and baking soda until well combined
  • Toss in the chocolate chips and mix it all up
  • Refrigerate the dough about 20 minutes (I didn' I guess you can see the difference!)
  • Preheat the oven to 350*
  • Lay some parchment paper over a baking sheet
  • Roll the dough into balls, or scoop them using a cookie scoop (I scooped with a cookie scoop and then rolled them into a ball)
  • Place each ball onto the baking sheet and stick a few extra chocolate chips on the tops of 'em
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Pull them out and let them finish cooking a bit on the sheet

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crock Pot Taco Soup

My kids and I made a tradition last year that on the first snow fall of the season we make sugar cookies and have hot chocolate. It's flurried here and there but nothing I would call "the first snow."

Today has been kind of a nail biter! Is it the first snow fall? Really? Is it going to melt in an hour? Can I for sure give it the first snow label? I can't decide, and the clock is ticking!

In the meantime, taco soup. Need I say more? Warm up with this gem. I served it with the Olive Garden Bread Sticks and it was a big hit! Which is extremely rewarding since it was a typical "threw it together" meal. Whew!

What you will need:
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 cans beef broth
  • 1 1/2 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 pkg. ranch mix 
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • Dump all the canned ingredients into the crock pot 
  • Mix in the taco seasoning and ranch mix
  • Brown the ground beef and add it into the crock pot to mix in
  • Cook on low 4-6 hours
  • Top with grated cheese and a healthy dollop of sour cream if desired!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Olive Garden Bread Sticks Copycat

My family is no stranger to the Olive Garden. My husband worked there off and on for 8 years, including working as the culinary assistant. So he gave me a few pointers on these bread sticks, but part of it just wasn't going to happen (drenching them in "well it's not really butter....I think it's worse than margarine. It melts at room temperature so they just paint it on until it's completely saturated"), and some wasn't possible (being shipped to my doorstep so I can just pop them in the oven).

I feel like the flavor of these were super spot on and extremely delicious. They were all eaten in a few minutes! The texture was mostly there, but I think I kneaded my dough too long by accident so they weren't as soft! I also didn't portion out  or "roll" the dough at all. I chose a much easier way, which turned out to work perfect! So I'll write the recipe the way it originally is from Cooking Classy , but I'll include my notes at the bottom, too :).

PS- most of my pictures for the next few months will be sad to look at. I don't have any special lighting so once it's dark so early, I'm working with dark natural light and bright awkward artificial light. So it is what it is!

What you will need:
  • 1 C + 2 T warm water
  • 1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 T sugar, divided
  • 3-3 1/4 C flour*
  • 1 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • salt*
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder*
  •  Using the whisk attachment (or just a whisk yourself), whisk together the warm water and yeast with 1/2 tsp sugar until the years is dissolved
  • Let that sit for a good 10 minutes until it's nice and frothy
  • Add in the reamining sugar (1 T+ 2 1/2 tsp)
  • Add in the salt
  • Add in the vegetable oil and, using the paddle attachment, blend until just combined
  • Add in 1 1/2 C of the flour and blend until just combined
  • Switch to the dough hook and add the last 1 1/2 C of flour while the dough hook kneads the dough until the dough is pulling away from the sides, smooth and elastic (still slightly sticky), adding in up to another 1/4 c of flour if needed*
  • Place ball of dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap to raise in a warm setting for about 1 1/2 hours
  • Pinch down risen dough
  • Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (2 oz. each by weight)*
  • Roll each piece into a 9" rope*
  • Place each rope onto a buttered baking sheet
  • Cover and let them raise again for another hour
  • Preheat oven to 425*
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes*
  • Run the end of a stick of butter over the top of the bread sticks straight out of the oven
  • Sprinkle on the salt and garlic powder
My notes-
*It says you can add up to 1/4 C more of flour, but I found that after the initial 3 C it was plenty
*I would reccomend not using regular table salt. Something a big bigger or more crunchy is nice. I just used some Kosher salt with a tad bigger
*I didn't measure out the salt or the garlic powder, I just sprinkled them on until it looked right
*Instead of portioning everything out, I rolled out the dough into a large square. Using a pizza cutter, I trimmed off the edges so I had a nice straight sided square. After that I cut strips into the dough with the pizza cutter horizontally, and then one slice down the middle vertically, so I had strips of dough.
I put them on the baking sheet and kind of sculpted the ends just a little so they were a bit more "round" but it's not necessary. They'll still come out round once they've baked!
*Since my bread sticks were a little shorter, they were done after 8 minutes and I turned the broiler on the for the last few seconds to get the golden brown look

Saturday, November 14, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

First, I just want to say how great these would be if you wanted to make a treat for Thanksgiving but aren't so good at the pie thing! Or even a treat to make and hand out around Christmas time for your neighbors. So perfect!

So, has anyone else seen that FB post going around with the peanut butter balls and the M&M's inside them?! Cause the second I saw them, I knew I was making them immediately. Their FB name is "Tasty" and there wasn't a website as far as I could see! But go look them up, such a fun page!!

I didn't use the m&m's, no one in my family really loooooves m&m's so I thought I'd try them plain at first. I did stick a few baking snickers in the middle of some just to test it out, but I didn't give myself any way of knowing which was which so I haven't come across one yet.

Here's the thing. My husband does NOT like chocolate. I know. It's a tragedy I have to relive every single day. But I discovered that if I have to melt chocolate for anything, all I have to do is add some butterscotch chips to melt with it and the flavor is changed just enough that he can't get enough. (think scotcheroo chocolate, that's the flavor we're talking about here. Just a little more mild since I didn't want it to over power the peanut butter in this).

The recipe doesn't say how many chocolate chips exactly, so I just used whatever I had lying around. It turned out to not be quite enough so the balls weren't coated all pretty and even or anything. But I'll tell ya what we cannot stop EATING THESE!!!!! My husband has eaten more than I have even. This is a miracle. He doesn't really like desserts in the first place, let alone one with chocolate. So this is huge. That's how good these are! And they are SO SO easy to make!

Someone in the FB comments said these were like pb cups on crack. They're definitely better than pb cups. Pb cups have a bit of a grainy, stale peanut butter feel and taste to me. These are so much better!!

What you will need:
  • 1/2 C melted butter
  • 2 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 2/2 C peanut butter
  • Some chocolate chips (I'm gonna say at least 2 C will do it. If you want to add some butterscotch chips, toss in about 1/4-1/2 C)
  • Mix all ingredients but the chocolate together until well combined
  • Roll them into equal sized balls and freeze them for about 20 minutes
  • You can reshape them a bit after they're frozen and make them look nicer if needed
  • Melt the chocolate
  • Dip the balls
  • Refrigerate or Freeze again until chocolate is set (that's what I did anyway cause I used regular chocolate chips so I didn't want to spend all day waiting for it to set at room temperature!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread (3 Ingredients)

This stuff is crazy and addicting. My brother and sister in law made it years and years and years ago. My husband and I got a random craving for it the other day but no real memory of how to make it. We're pretty sure we got it right?! Because it was delicious.

My husband swears its perfect match is dipping it in bleu cheese dressing. I swear its Ranch. Either way, there's a match made in heaven here for all of you! It's so easy. Practically fool Proof!

What you will need:

  • 1 loaf Rhodes Frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1 can diced jalapeno's & some of the juice
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Preheat your oven to 375* once the dough is thawed
  • Roll out the dough. I'm not really sure what shape we ended up with before we started piling things on
  • Dump the cheddar cheese on the dough
  • Sprinkle the diced jalapeno's all over the dough
  • Drizzle some of the jalapeno juice over everything
  • Then just use your hands and roll it all together until everything is mixed in and you have some kind of ball type shape of a loaf
  • Sprinkle the bottom of a baking dish with some more grated cheese
  • Place the dough ball on top of the cheese
  • Bake for about 20 minutes
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes or so before slicing in
  • DIP IN RANCH! OR BLEU CHEESE! OR BOTH! But only if you don't want to stop eating it

Monday, November 2, 2015

Baked Salmon

I am SO excited to be posting about this! Right now I haven almost 11 month old son. This son is seemingly always in an extreme Mama's Boy stage. Cooking dinner is almost always a challenge with him around (or really, looking in any direction but towards him is a challenge these days). I really really really wanted to make some salmon, but babysitting it with oil splattering around while my boy screamed "MAMAMAMAMAMAMAAAAA" in tears and pulling my pants down didn't seem worth it.

Thankfully I remembered seeing this idea somewhere on the interpin (my mash up of interweb and pinterest) and went on the hunt!

Wouldn't ya know it? Pioneer Woman. Duh. She basically just tosses the sucker in the oven. I figured I could do that just fine with a mini me-monster in the house. But then....what to season the salmon with?

Well don't you worry. After many many many many'o tests, I think I've found "it." THE flavor for salmon, if you will. 

 Click right here for my Garlic Bread recipe for the Garlic butter instructions (the BEST garlic butter ever...ever ever), because you'll be using that here, but adding some lemon juice into it.

Between that deliciousness, some kosher salt, pepper and a Garlic/Rosemary spice blend it was absolute perfection, especially with this cooking technique. Completely flawless!

You will need:
  • Boneless, skinless salmon filets
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic and Rosemary seasoning blend (I found mine at Sam's Club)
  • Garlic butter
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Line a baking sheet with foil
  • Place salmon filets onto the baking sheet
  • Sprinkle with salt & pepper
  • Add Garlic and Rosemary seasoning blend and lemon juice to the garlic butter
  • Coat the salmon filets with the butter
  • Put in a cold oven
  • Turn oven on to 400*
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes

Garlic Bread (Garlic Butter)

A while back I wanted garlic bread but didn't want to go to the store to get some of that pre-made stuff you stick in the oven to warm up. But rubbing some raw garlic all over a piece of toast didn't sound great either (yeah, that's literally what I heard one time....on the FOOD NETWORK. WHAT?). I told myself to just suck it up and figure something out.

I took a pretty simple approach to the whole thing but really wanted the flavors to stand out. What I came up with is extremely fool proof and I have been using it on EVERYTHING. Including the Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks. I used it for my Baked Salmon and added in some other seasonings with some lemon juice. It's just so nice to have this recipe on hand!

What you will need:

  • 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • Any seasonings you'd like. A safe bet would be some thyme or rosemary
  • Grate the garlic into the 1/2 tsp of butter while it's warming up in a pan
  • When the butter is melted and the garlic has swam around for a tiny minute, pour (and scrape every last bit of the butter/garlic along with it) into a small bowl with the softened 1/2 stick of butter
  • Mix in any seasonings you like
  • Spread over bread slices
  • Bake at 375 for about 10-15 minutes