Sunday, March 31, 2013

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Swirls

I was flipping through my Home Baked Comfort cookbook and found this awesome recipe. I could eat chocolate chip cookies all month long, but Rob cannot. I have to find creative ways to keep lots of chocolate in my diet. His weak spot-peanut butter. This is the perfect combination for us! Then as a bonus, I can freeze the dough and pull out however much I want and bake it. A big bonus for the two of us that take forever to finish a dessert! I highly recommend this one!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Swirls

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup good-quality unsweetened creamy peanut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

In the bowl of a mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all but 1 tablespoon of the butter and the sugar on medium-high speed until lightened. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into the bowl, and stir into the peanut butter mixture. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with about an inch of water, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with the chocolate chips over very low heat. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.

{This is where I changed up the recipe. I divided my dough into 4 balls for smaller portions.}Divide the dough into 2 balls. Place 1 dough ball on a large piece of floured parchment paper. Flour the top of the dough, place another piece of parchment on top, and roll into a rectangle. The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. Keep sprinkling with flour if it gets too sticky, but dust off excess flour before adding chocolate mixture. {Show it who is boss!} 

Spread the  rectangle with half {or 1/4 in my case} of the chocolate mixture, leaving a 1-inch border on the long side closet to you. Starting from the long side farthest from you, and using the parchment paper to help, carefully roll the dough into a log. Place the log seam side down and wrap it in the parchment, twisting the ends to hold tight. Repeat with remaining dough and chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours or ideally overnight. {I placed 3 rolls into the freezer.}

Space 2 racks evenly in the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the logs, trim the ends of each log then cut crosswise into slice about 1/4 
inch thick. Space cookies evenly on the prepared pans. Keep extra portion of the dough refrigerated until ready to bake, since you need to bake in batches.

 Bake until the cookies are puffed and lightly golden, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to the wire racks to cool completely.

One roll made about 15 little cookies for us. They are so delicious! Also a great idea for a party, since it makes about 6 dozen. Enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Week 12- The Best Shepard's Pie

This past Sunday was St. Patrick's Day. I hope everyone wore their green! My husband is Irish so we had the traditional corn beef and cabbage on Sunday night. I wanted to try something Irish on Wednesday. I never grew up eating Irish foods, so this is a new world for me. I thought I would start out easy so  I made The Best Shepard's Pie. Rob says it was a 10! Happy wife here!

I found the recipe from The Country Cooking of Ireland. It is a neat cookbook because it includes information about recipe, i.e. where it originated, history of Ireland. The recipe calls for freshly made potatoes. I included that recipe below. I started steaming my potatoes while I made the pie.

The Best Shepard's Pie

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 1/2 carrots, minced
1 1/2 lamb, minced or ground
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup hot beef or lamb stock
salt and pepper
4 cps freshly made mashed potatoes (see below)
2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are soft but not browned.

Raise the heat to high, add the lamb, and cook until well browned. Stir in the tomato paste and mustard, then add the stock. Reduce the heat to low, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the stock is mostly but not completely evaporated. 

Transfer the meat mixture to a round or rectangular ovenproof baking dish. Cover the meat with mashed potatoes, flattening the top with a knife. Brush the top with melted butter, then bake for 50 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

2 1/2 russet or other floury potatoes (5 or 6)
1 cup heavy cream
6 to 8 tbsp butter, softened
salt and pepper

Put the potatoes into a large pot, with the larger ones on the bottom, and add water to come halfway up the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water begins to boil, carefully drain off about half of i, reserving 2 tbsp of the water your pour off. Return the pot of the heat, cover it again, reduce the heat to low, and let the potatoes steam for about 40 minutes. Turn off the heat; cover the potatoes with a clean, damp tea towel; and let sit for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, put the cream, butter, and reserved cooking water into small pot and bring a simmer over medium-high heat.

Remove the potatoes from the pot with a slotted spoon and carefully peel them while they are still hot. Return them to the pot and mash them well while slowly pouring in the cream mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper and finish by whisking the potatoes vigorously.

The Finished Pie!


Week 11- Chicken Lasagne with Three Cheeses

This week I wanted to cook something that remind us of our younger days. After eating all the exotic food on our honeymoon, I wanted something house warming. Growing up, lasagne was my favorite dish. But this time I mixed it up and made Chicken Lasagne with Three Cheeses. It was very good!
I was surprise at how simple it was to make.

Chicken Lasagne with Three Cheeses

1/2 lb dried lasagne noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and ground pepper
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the lasagne noodles, stir well, and cook until almost al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse in cool water, then lay flat on a kitchen towel.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Oil a 7x11 inch baking dish.

In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until softened, about 2 minnutes. Stir in the garlic and saute until the garlic is softened, about 20 seconds. Add the tomatoes and basil, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from heat.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, and egg and mix well. Stir in Parsley.

Line the bottom of the prepared baking dish with about one-fourth of the lasagne noodles, arranging them in a single layer and cutting as needed to fit. Spread with one-third of the ricotta mixture, sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella, and then spoon on one-fourth of the sauce. Repeat the layering two more times, using up all the ricotta mixture and the mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles and finally the remaining sauce.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through and the sauce is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let the lasagne stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then uncover and cut into squares to serve.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week 8- Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Oh my, I am so late with this post! We have been on vacation (ekk...our honeymoon!) and I meant to post this before. So far weeks 9 & 10, I didn't cook anything. Nope, not a thing for we were cruising on the open sea! But I made this delicious Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup before hand. It is from the lovely blog.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1lb chicken breast, trimmed
15oz can sweet whole corn kernels, drained
15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5C chicken stock
3/4C onion, chopped
3/4C green pepper, chopped
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp ground pepper, divided
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Tortilla Chips


To your slow cooker add first 9 ingredients plus 1 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp ground pepper. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Prior to serving, remove chicken breasts. Transfer chicken to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for easy shredding. Alternately you may shred chicken by hand. Season chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Return shredded seasoned chicken to slow cooker bowl. Stir gently.

If serving immediately, divide among bowls. Top off with a generous helping of shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Soup may be stored in the fridge for up to several days.

It was so yummy! It gave us plenty of leftovers for lunches before we left. Keep looking out for a post on the honeymoon! We have lots of pictures to show off!