Sunday, October 28, 2007

For the Love

of chocolate and cheesecake!

These brownies are awesome! So rich and chocolatey paired with the creaminess of cheesecake swirled throughout! So simple yet so impressive and decadant. You really should use a good quality cocoa powder to fully appreciate these brownies. I used the recipe for the brownie from the Ghriadelli Sweet Cocoa Can.

Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
2/3 cup unsifted flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts (I did not use)
1 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1/2 semi sweet and 1/2 milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line 8x8 pan with foil and spray with PAM.
In bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add butter.
Sift Cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into egg mixture.
Stir in chips (and nuts if using).

**Spread into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs.

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

**If making cheesecake swirled brownies, use recipe above but only spread 2/3 batter into pan. Dollup cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan.
Dollup the remainin 1/3 batter on top of cheesecake mixture.
Run a knife through the brownie and cheesecake layers to create a pattern or swirls.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs when inserted. Do NOT overbake

Cheesecake Swirl
7 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBS flour
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1 egg

In bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla beat until smooth. Add egg and beat just until combined.

The BEST Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

Make these cookies. Eat these cookies. Fall in love with these cookies.

These cookies totally speak for themselves. There are other recipes that try and claim to be the best but let me tell you that they all fall short of being the best. This recipe, however is the best in my opinion. The cookie dough is easy to work with and produces a soft (not cakey) chocolate chip cookie that will knock your socks off. I love to use a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips for a little extra sweetness (not that these cookies need it, I do!)

I am not alone believing this recipe is the best, in fact, I am copying the recipe as Katie has posted it on her blog. Check it out she has some great recipes
So make these cookies or you will never know just how good a chocolate chip cookie can be. Grab a big glass of milk and enjoy!
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Adjust oven racks to upper & lower -middle positions & heat oven to 325.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined.
Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips.

Roll scant 1/2 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.-Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy. *This took about 14 minutes in MY oven but start at 10 minutes and check from there. Do NOT overbake!

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Way Nature Intended

Peanut Butter, that is.
This is my first time using all natural PB, (I usually by Jif or Skippy) but the last time I was at store I decided to give "All Natural" a whirl.
My friend has raved about this recipe for months now, insisting that I just HAD to try it.

She ONLY buys "All Natural" products and insisted that this recipe is not as good with any other peanut butter because of the chemicals in them (chemicals schmemicals, I love my Jif and Skippy and its lab created flavor. Plus the stuff has an incredibly long shelf life, not that I have personal experience with an open jar lasting long enough around here to be sure).

This is my first time using this recipe so I do not know how they would turn out with using your regular old tub of Peanut Butter. In my opinion, anything with Peanut Butter is pretty darn good, so I will definately have to try out my good old Jif (in the name of science of course!)

I have not taste tested one yet because they are for work tommorow, but I can NOT wait to sink my teeth into one of these babies.

Naturally Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies

1 3/4 cups plus 2 TBS flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups natural creamy peanut butter, (make sure to stir it to combine the oil and solid mixture)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter, room temperature (NOT too soft)
2 eggs
2 TBS light Karo corn syrup
1 TBS vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl blend together the peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, and butter on low speed until JUST combined, making sure not to over mix. With the mixer turned off, add the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla extract and beat on low until JUST combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Stop mixer before the flour is completely incorporated to prevent over mixing and finish by hand.The dough should a little sticky.

Using the Pampered Chef Medium size scoop, shape the cookie dough into balls Place formed dough balls on parchment lined cookie sheets. With the tines of fork dipped in sugar, lightly press and flatten each ball making a crisscross pattern.

Bake cookies 9-11 minutes until they are JUST SET and start to show a tiny amount of light brown color on the edges. Cool the cookies in the pan for a minute. Then, transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cooking for One

Gone Fishin

Tonight I was on my own for dinner. I was in the mood for fish but after reading throush several recipes decided I would wing it. I had some frozen Mahi Mahi so I thawed that and decided to raid my pantry.

This meal was so quick (less than 15 minutes start to finish), super healthy (low carb and lovin it!) and so flavorful (can we say Red Pepper Flakes???). I would definately make this again! I did not use exact measurements but here it the jist of what I did:

Seared Mahi Mahi with a Southwest Flare
3 oz. Mahi Mahi
1/2 cup black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic minced
Cumin (to taste)
Chili Powder (to taste)
Dash (or 3-4 if you are me!) of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Salt (to taste)
Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp Lime juice (I used bottled)
EVOO spray

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with EVOO spray. Wash fish and pat dry. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Sear fish in hot pan on one side. Do not move fish for 45-60 seconds to ensure a nice searing. Flip and sear the other side for 30-45 seconds. Remove fish from pan and place on plate.

Reduce heat to medium and spray pan with a little more EVOO spray (may want to turn vent on because it may smoke, ha ha). Add onion and cook for 30 seconds stirring frequently. Add garlic, tomatoes and black beans. Season with cumin and chili powder (I used about 1/3 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp chili powder, use less if you don't want the heat). Add a dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how hot you want it, I was liberal, ha ha)
Cover and let simmer for 45-60 seconds or until onions become transluscent.

Stir and season to taste (I added more cumin). I added 1/8 cup water because the mixture was a little thick. Return fish to pan, cover and simmer until fish is heated through and liquid has reduced to desired consistency (about 45-60 seconds).

Remove fish to plate, stir in lime juice and stir. Season to taste and plate tomato/bean mixture with fish.

*Next time I will add 1/2 cup frozen corn when I add the tomatoes and beans and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro when adding the lime juice.

This would pair nicely with Mexican or Brown rice!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Butter Me Up!!

These cookies remind me of something Paula Dean would make (1 1/2 cups of butter!!!) Yowza! Also, these cookies use few ingredients (NO eggs needed!) and are a snap to whip up! The finished product is light and butter and slightly sweet. The texture of these cookies is not cake-like but somewhat "flakey". They definately melt in your mouth! I think the mini-chips are perfect in this recipe (or omit all together). Regular size chips would overpower this little gem and I am not sure the cookie has the sturdiness to handle full size chocolate chips without crumbling. Plus, the minis are soooo cute!

These would be so cute on a Christmas goodie platter sprinkled with powdered sugar or green/red granualted sugar!

Mini Chocolate Chip Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar (sifted, after measuring)
1 TBS vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Mini chocolate chips (I used Semi-sweet, but Milk-chocolate would be good also)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I did not use)
Powdered Sugar or Sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy. Mix in the flour and salt until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and nuts by hand just until combined.Form dough into balls using medium scoop and place on parchement lined baking sheets.

(At this point I chilled and then transferred to tupperware containers to freeze once the balls had set. ) *I would recommend chilling balls for a few minutes before baking to prevent overspreading.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 9-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Sift powdered sugar over cookies directly out of oven or sprinkle with colored sugar. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Before serving, sprinkle with additional sugars if desired.

Can you have Too much Chocolate?

I think NOT! These cookies are soooo chocolatey and will satisfy any Chocoholic's craving! Be sure to read the directions, you combine the baking soda with the wet ingredients, not the dry like many other cookie recipes.

Because they are a dark cookie, it is hard to tell when you should take them out of the oven, I like to err on the side of caution and remove a bit early. In my opinion a gooey cookie is better than a dry one ANY day!! These pair nicely with vanilla icecream and hot fudge!!

Triple Chocolate Chocolate Cookies
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Vanilla
2 large eggs
3 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melt and then cool
2 cups Flour
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunk
1/2 cup white chocolatechunks
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (milk chocolate would be great!)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, macadamia) optional
Preheat oven to 350.

Melt 30z chocolate in 15 second intervals in microwave safe bowl, stirring after each interval.
Heat until able to stir smooth, Do NOT overheat or it will seize and taste burnt. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugars and baking soda until combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until mixed well. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate until combine.

Slowly beat in the flour and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and nuts. Form dough into balls using medium scoop and place on parchement lined baking sheets.
(At this point I chilled and then transferred to tupperware containers to freeze once the balls had set. ) *I would recommend chilling balls for a few minutes before baking to prevent overspreading.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 10-14 minutes or until edges are firm to the touch.

Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Sometimes you feel like a Nut

I love to bake, as you may have guessed by my blogname! On Friday I whipped up a few batches of cookie dough, formed into balls using my Pampered Chef medium sized icecream scoop (LOVE IT, if you don't have one, you need to buy this item), chilled and stored in tupperware in the freezer so I can bake them up at my leisure.

This first batch combines several of my favorite ingredients in baked goods: nuts, chocolate and coconut. The higher ratio of brown to white sugar ensures these cookies (if not overbaked) stay slightly chewy even after cooling. They bake up rather thin and not puffy, but I prefer them that way. The brown sugar also provides the finished cookie a slight "toffee" taste similar to that of my beloved Basic Blondies. While the nuts are optional, I would highly recommend adding them, substituting your favorite nut in place of the walnuts is fine, but the nuts really do play off of the "toffee" taste of these cookies nicely!

Coconut Nut Chipsters
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 egg
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips (could sub semi-sweet if desired)
1/2 cup White Chocolate Chips (could sub a different flavor chip or use all chocolate)
1 1/3 cup Coconut (lightly toasting is optional)
1 cup Walnut pieces (or other fave nut)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in egg. Slowly add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Gently fold in chips, coconut and nuts by hand just until combined.
Form dough into balls using medium scoop and place on parchement lined baking sheets.

(At this point I chilled and then transferred to tupperware containers to freeze once the balls had set. ) *I would recommend chilling balls for a few minutes before baking to prevent overspreading.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

*Next time I might substitute butterscotch chips for the white chocolate chips, I think the butterscotch and nuts will be awesome with the brown sugar flavor of theese cookies!