Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just like the name indicates, these chocolate chip cookies are the ultimate! They are just the right combination of crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. I've used Guittard 61% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate Wafers and Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips with equally delicious results.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from Jacques Torres as seen in the New York Times

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8.5-ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8.5-ounces) bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ¼ cups (2 ½) sticks unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups (10-ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8-ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ¼ cups (12-ounce package) bittersweet chocolate wafers or chips
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop 6 3½-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Yield: 1 ½ dozen 5-inch cookies
Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Florentine Pizza

On the same library trip where I discovered Inside Out Chicken Cutlets Brasciole, I found this recipe for Individual Florentine Frying Pan Pizzas. I adapted the recipe to make one large pizza and baked it on my pizza stone.

Florentine Pizza
recipe heavily adapted from Look + Cook by Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a clean kitchen towel
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ pound thick-cut deli ham, cut into 1-inch pieces

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill. Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500°F for at least 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat with 2 tablespoons butter. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute, then sprinkle the flour into the pan and whisk for a minute. Whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add drained defrosted spinach into the sauce.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

After the dough has been at room temperature for 30 minutes, it is ready for shaping. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on dough. Top with the spinach mixture, cheeses, and ham. Brush the outside edge of the crust lightly with additional olive oil. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes.  

Serves 4


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love trying and experimenting with different recipes. This recipe is the result of wanting to use all the leftover hunks of cheese hanging out in my fridge.

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese
original recipe by Eating Deliciously

1 pound campanelle pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups skim milk
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces Emmentaler cheese, shredded
2 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the campanelle and cook until it is 1 to 2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain well.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and Dijon mustard. Continue to cook about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and add in the cheddar and Emmentaler cheeses. Add the drained campanelle and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a 13” x 9” baking dish and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake about 20 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dirty Quinoa

I never really paid very much attention to the bags of quinoa I've seen in the grocery store. After reading an article about the health benefits of quinoa, I decided to try it. Quinoa is high in protein and contains all of the essential amino acids that humans need in their diet. You can substitute quinoa in most dishes like soups, stews, salads, and rice dishes.

Quinoa must be cleaned prior to using in a recipe. To clean, place the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and run water through it. Repeat the process until the water runs clear.

Dirty Quinoa
recipe adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 green onion, sliced thinly (dark green parts separated from white/light green)
2 cups quinoa, uncooked
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
4 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Brown ground beef in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until mostly browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Stir frequently until the vegetables begin to brown. Add garlic and white/light green parts of the green onion. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add quinoa, ground beef, chicken stock and bay leaf; stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in tomatoes and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes until tomatoes are heated thorough. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with remaining green onions and serve.

Serves 4

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chicken Nuggets with Mustard Dipping Sauce

Because this is one of my husband’s favorite meals, I often double the chicken and breading mixture so I can freeze a batch for a quick entree on another night. To freeze the nuggets, proceed with the recipe as directed below including baking. Remove from the oven and allow the nuggets to cool. Place the nuggets on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover and place in the freezer overnight. The nuggets will freeze individually and will not stick together when you place them in a bag for storage. Place individually frozen nuggets in a gallon-sized ziptop freezer bag and store in your freezer. To reheat, bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes or heated through.

Chicken Nuggets with Mustard Dipping Sauce
recipe courtesy of Cooking Light

½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 40 pieces)
3 ¾ cups cornflakes
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
cooking spray
½ cup prepared mustard
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon grated, peeled, fresh ginger

Combine buttermilk and chicken, marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, drain.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Place cornflakes, paprika, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process until cornflakes are finely chopped. Combine chicken and cornflake mixture, tossing well to coat. Place chicken on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes or until done.

To prepare sauce, combine mustard, honey, and ginger.  Serve with chicken.

Serves 4

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Inside Out Chicken Cutlets Brasciole

I discovered this recipe while browsing Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook book at my local library. Upon returning home, I discovered I had all the ingredients on hand to make this delicious sounding dinner. Immediately I ran into trouble in my attempt to butterfly the chicken breasts. I started by cutting into and across the breast, then in my haste, proceeded to cut all the way through the breast. After several frustrating minutes trying to remedy the problem, I gave up and repeated my “mistake” with the remaining chicken breasts. My chicken cutlets were too thin to stuff so I used the stuffing as a breading mixture to coat the outside of the cutlets. We enjoyed these chicken cutlets with Fennel Roasted Carrots and Parsnips.

Inside Out Chicken Cutlets Brasciole
recipe heavily adapted from Look + Cook by Rachael Ray

1 egg white
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
¼ cup pine nuts
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 slices white sandwich bread, torn
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, a few sprigs, leaves chopped

Lightly toast nuts in a small skillet over medium low heat.

Blend egg white, cornstarch and water with a fork in a wide, shallow dish; set aside. Place nuts, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, torn bread and cheese into processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Place mixture in a second wide, shallow dish and set aside.

Cut the chicken open by cutting into and across the breast all the way through to the other side. You will have 8 chicken cutlets. Lightly pound out the cutlets and season with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture then the crumb mixture.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the cutlets until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to serving plate and tent with foil.

Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up the drippings. Stir in tomatoes and tarragon, add chicken back, cover and simmer 5 minutes until chicken is heated through.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fennel Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

I have never been a big fan of cooked carrots until I tried roasting them. The roasting process brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables and intensifies their flavor. I served these roasted veggies with Inside Out Chicken Cutlets Brasciole.

Fennel Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
recipe adapted from The Kitchn

1 pound carrots
½ pound parsnips
1 fennel bulb
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Peel the carrots and parsnips, or just scrub them well, and halve lengthwise. If the parsnips are large, quarter them lengthwise, cut out the woody center, and, if necessary, continue to cut into thinner strips to match the size of the carrots. Cut the fennel into wedges.

Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and browned, between 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven, season to taste, and serve.

Serves 2-4

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale chips are an excellent snack when you are looking something salty and crunchy to munch on. I have served these kale chips in place of potato chips or French fries alongside a sandwich.

Kale Chips
original recipe by Eating Deliciously

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 275 °F.

Remove the tough ribs and stems from the kale and discard. Tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces and place in a single layer on a baking sheet; toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vegetable Confetti Soup

This recipe is a great addition to veggie soup night at our house.

Vegetable Confetti Soup 
recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 medium leeks-white and light green parts, sliced and washed to remove sand
1 ½ cups mixed grains (I used whole grain wild rice)
3 cups water
2 large stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
½ celery root, peeled and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon and a 3 inch strip of zest
3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped parsley

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, shallot, garlic, and leeks until opaque, but not yet brown. Add mixed grains and sauté until grain is slightly toasted and aromatics begin to brown. Add water and simmer until reduced by half.

Add vegetables, lemon, and stock. Simmer until vegetables and rice are tender, about 25-30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before removing from heat add minced parsley. Serve warm.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef

Sometimes it’s nice just to come home to a delicious meal without all the work. Enter the humble slow cooker! Quick 10 minute prep in the morning before heading off to work and when I come home dinner is ready to serve. I used the shredded beef in tacos the first evening and the leftovers on nachos for a quick snack the next day.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef
recipe courtesy of Elly Says Opa!

2 pound boneless beef roast
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tablespoon tomato paste
¾ cup beef broth
½ teaspoon parsley
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon oregano

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat, and add the oil.  Sprinkle the beef roast liberally with salt and pepper.  Once the oil is hot, add the roast to the pan and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Place in the slow cooker.

To the pan, add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes before stirring in garlic and tomato paste.  After another minute, stir in the beef broth and spices.  Scrape up any browned bits, and then pour the seasoned broth and onions over the top of the roast.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Shred with a fork. (To soak up any extra liquid, you can turn the slow cooker to high for a little bit after shredding the beef.)

Soft Tacos


Friday, May 6, 2011

Champagne Risotto with Asparagus

Risotto has gotten a bad rap for being tough to cook. It does involve some time and stirring, but there is nothing difficult about it. This risotto can be served as an accompaniment with grilled fish, chicken, or steak. My favorite way to enjoy this dish is with a good Italian baguette for a light lunch or dinner. The best part about this yummy risotto is the remaining champagne to drink with with your meal!

Champagne Risotto with Asparagus
recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish)
12 asparagus spears, cut in half if thick, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1 cup Champagne
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Blanch the asparagus in the chicken stock for 2 minutes. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon. Set the asparagus aside and keep the chicken stock at a low simmer.

In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add ½ cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. 

Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Barley Stuffed Tomatoes and Zucchini

When I saw a recipe for Barley Stuffed Peppers on I knew I had to try it. Barley provides an excellent source of fiber as well as selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Since we do not care for the flavor of cooked peppers, I adapted the recipe using tomatoes and zucchini. We enjoyed these with the first sweet corn of the season.

Barley Stuffed Tomatoes and Zucchini
recipe adapted from Better Holmes and Gardens

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
2 large tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (3 ounces)
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
½ teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon onion salt
Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce
Fresh rosemary (optional)
Dried red chili peppers (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium saucepan combine the broth and barley. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain thoroughly.

Cut tomatoes and zucchini in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes. Drain on paper towels.

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the egg, ½ cup of the cheese, the reserved tomato and zucchini, bread crumbs, basil, rosemary, onion salt, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in cooked barley mixture. Place tomatoes and zucchini, cut side up, in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Spoon barley mixture into the tomatoes and zucchini halves.

Bake, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is heated through. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the tomatoes and zucchini. Return to oven; bake 2 minutes more. Carefully transfer to a serving platter. If desired, garnish with fresh rosemary and dried red chili peppers.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, May 2, 2011

Black and White Angel Food Cake

Here is another light dessert that will satisfy both vanilla and chocolate lovers alike.

Black and White Angel Food Cake
recipe courtesy of Confessions of a Foodie Bride

1 cup cake flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
12 large egg whites
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Whisk with ¾ cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place cream of tartar, salt, and egg whites in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until foamy. Slowly add remaining ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

Add lemon juice and vanilla extract (not bean). Sift flour mixture over egg whites, ¼ cup at a time and fold in after each addition.

Spoon half of batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Use a rubber spatula or large spoon to gently create indentations in the batter so the chocolate batter can settle lower in some places.

Sift cocoa over remaining batter; fold in. Spoon cocoa batter evenly over top of vanilla batter; break air pockets by cutting through cocoa layer with a knife.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan and cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto a plate.

Serves 12

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
recipe courtesy of Confessions of a Foodie Bride
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons sugar

To make the whipped cream, add heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Split and scrap the vanilla bean and add the scrapings to the mixer bowl. Whisk on high for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

picture taken with my cell phone