Monday, December 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

MMMMmmmmm these turned out SOOOO good! I mean, who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate? But then you throw the pretzel in there too??? Wow wow wee wow. Divine. A new favorite for me. Recipe off

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1-¾ cup Crushed Pretzel Pieces
  • 11-½ ounces, weight Milk Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, peanut butter and sugars until creamed.

Add vanilla and eggs and mix well.

Add flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix.

Finally add crushed pretzel pieces and chocolate chips, mix until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop, place cookie dough on parchment paper on cookie sheets, making sure they are 2 inches apart from each other.

Bake in a 350°F for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Soup Nazi's Indian Mulligatawny Soup

I got this recipe off of years ago after watching a Seinfeld episode due to curiosity. I wanted a soup that was SO good, good enough to be guarded by the Soup Nazi. And verdict is yes, this is probably the best soup I've ever made. Lost track of the recipe until this week and HAD to make it again. Unfortunately, I forgot about the stove time for reduction and was up until 3am letting it simmer away to perfection. It is so worth the chopping, stirring, and waiting. But even though you use over 5 quarts of liquid, it reduces down to less than half that, forming a chili consistency. Next time I'll be doubling this; make sure you have a HUGE pot though! And don't forget the crackers on top!

Indian Mulligatawny Soup

4 quarts water (16 cups)
6 cups chicken stock
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, with tops
2 cups peeled and diced eggplant
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen yellow corn
2/3 cup canned or jarred roasted red pepper, diced
1/2 c tomato sauce
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 c roasted cashews
1/2 c chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c butter
3 T sugar
1/2 t curry powder
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t thyme
1 bay leaf
dash marjoram
dash nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 5 hours or until soup has reduced by more than half, and is thick and brownish in color. It should have the consistency of chili. Stir occasionally for the first few hours, but stir often in the last hour. The salt in the stock should be enough for the recipe, but if you use low sodium stock, you may find you need to add some extra.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The most amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies ever

This recipe is from one of my college roommates. Her mom used to make these huge, 5" cookies that looked like they came from a bakery. Even though I had the recipe for years, it took me a looong time to realize the secret was in the touch of the dough, rather than getting the ingredients straight. I also found out the value in beating the dough after the eggs are added for a full 10 minutes. Since it's the holidays, I used mint M&M's instead of the standard milk chocolate chips. Really you can add any type of candy or "chip" to the dough and it'll come out great. So back to the texture of the dough...the recipe calls for 2-3 cups of flour. You want to add flour *just* until the dough can be touched without stickiness. And never over beat these following the flour! When you pull them out of the oven, they should not look quite done. You should see the bottom edges beginning to turn brown but the tops fairly light.

Julie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 350'
Combine 1 c brown sugar, 1 c white sugar, and 1 c shortening.
Beat well for 2 minutes.
Then, add:
-2 eggs
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp salt
Beat well for 10 minutes. Add 2-3 cups flour (depending on size of eggs). Add slowly and then combine 1 c chocolate chips.
Bake cookies on parchment paper for 8 minutes.

Peppermint Scones

Last week I spotted a cast iron scone pan at the Nugget and thought, wow, this would be sooo much easier than rolling and cutting. After I mastered the thickness and cooking time, they were all perfectly uniform! To put equal amounts in each triangle compartment of the tray, I used a mini ice-cream scooper and pressed the dough down into the corners. I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe for her Petite Vanilla Bean scones, which I've made before, but added the peppermint extract and sprinkles on top.

Peppermint Scones
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ⅔ cups Sugar
  • 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 Pound) UNSALTED Butter, Chilled
  • 1 whole Large Egg
  • ¾ cups Heavy Cream (more If Needed)
  • 2 whole Vanilla Beans (or 2 tsp of vanilla paste, try Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1 tsp Peppermint Extract
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • ½ cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean (or 1/2 tsp paste)
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • Dash Of Salt

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla “caviar” inside. Stir caviar into cream. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going until mixture resembles crumbs.

Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. (Mixture will be pretty crumbly.) Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary.

Use a knife to trim into a symmetrical rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles.

Transfer to a parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


To make the icing, split one vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Stir caviar into milk; allow to sit for awhile. Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the consistency the right thickness. Stir or whisk until completely smooth.

One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have been looking for the longest time for a red velvet recipe to match my grandmother's. My mom has been helping me on this quest and recently sent me a couple takes on the cake. This particular one was cut out of the newspaper and is from Miami pastry chef Keith Freiman of Philippe Miami restaurant. What's different about this version is the "whisper of orange flavor" in the cream cheese frosting. It turned out pretty good. I think next time I may add another tablespoon of the cocoa powder to enrich the chocolately-ness.

I also was watching food network the other night and saw a show on specialty bakeries. This one cupcake shop (I think in New York) presented their cakes in parchment wraps. They looked so cool, piled high with toppings. I tried the technique instead of standard wrappers on a dozen and it was fairly easy. It also eliminated the overflow factor. Will definitely try this again on other cakes and hope to add some height to the toppings.

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 T red food coloring (I used more to deepen the red)
1 t white vinegar
1 t vanilla
2 1/4 c cake flour
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c buttermilk

3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1 T orange juice
1/2 T vanilla
1/4 c butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350'
In an electric mixer, beat softened butter and granulated sugar 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and 1 t vanilla.

Sift flour with cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add about a third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter. Mix lightly. Repeat with remaining flour mix and buttermilk.

Pour cake batter into cupcake tins using an ice-cream scooper (may need a little less than a scoop to prevent overflow). Bake 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean. Let cool completely.

Frosting: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, oj and 1/2 T vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in melted butter until combined. Scoop into a decorating gun and pipe onto cupcakes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Decided to make some homemade pizza last night. Not the deep dish type, but the thin crispy crust, petite little ones served up on a wooden platter for appetizers. So I figured the crust would be the hardest part. Dough is often my difficulty. You never know where that "warm" place is in the house to let it rise or even after it rises, will it deflate? I found "My Favorite Pizza" recipe on the Pioneer Woman's website and although it called for yeast, there was no period to allow for rising. Score! After mixing the dough in my KitchenAid mixer, I followed the directions and placed it in the fridge, covered. The recipe said you could allow it to sit up to 4 days before use; I had a couple hours. When I was ready to roll out the crust, I pulled the glass bowl out of the fridge only to realize the explosion of dough which had occurred! It had doubled in size and was pushing out the plastic cover! Pizza stones were preheated and a little cornmeal tossed underneath the rolled out crust. After a lot of extra flour for rolling, the doubled batch made six 9-10" pizzas. Toppings were:

-Hawaiian (pineapple, Canadian bacon, Roma tomatoes, red pizza sauce) and fresh mozzarella
-ground beef, sauteed Cremini mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, red sauce, mozzarella
-Margherita (fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, olive oil wash, mozzarella)
-and my favorite!--sliced pear, pancetta, fig spread, shaved parmesan, pepper, olive oil wash

I could not get enough of the fig, pear, and pancetta pizza; luckily made two of those. I found the fig spread (like a jelly) at the Nugget in the specialty cheese section. The fresh Mozzarella made a difference too, melted and browned nicely.

The Pioneer Woman's pizza dough

  • 1 teaspoon Active Dry Or Instant Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ⅓ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm water.

In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined.

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it. ***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet (or flour) and use fingers to coat thoroughly. Remove HALF the pizza dough from the bowl. Stretch pizza dough into a large rectangle, pressing with fingers to finish forming. Dough will be very thin. Top with toppings and cheese and bake about 9 minutes or until crust is browned.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Made this recipe a couple years ago and then lost it! But alas, after repeated searching, I came across it again in my Cooking Light- Slow Cooker cookbook. I've never used a crockpot to make it, but rather let it simmer for 30-60 minutes on the stovetop. It's a Cuban dish that is served alongside rice. Apparently in Mexico it's served with flour tortillas. Your choice! There's a laundry list of ingredients, but all the chopping is worth it!


2 lbs. ground round
1 1/2 c chopped green bell pepper
1 c chopped onion
1 c sliced green onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz. ) can tomato sauce
1/3 c chopped pitted dates
1/3 c chopped dried apricots
1/4 c sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
1 T ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t ground red pepper
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 - 1 t red pepper flakes (I added this for a little heat)
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted (I eliminated this just because I don't like them in a hot dish)

Cook meat, bell pepper, onion, green onions, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until meat is browned, stirring to crumble meat. Drain well.

Add diced tomatoes and next 11 ingredients (through red pepper flakes). Stir well and cover with lid. Allow to simmer 30-60 minutes OR you can put it in a crockpot for 3 hours on high. Stir in almonds at this point if you like them and serve over rice.