Perfect Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I generally am really not so good at making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. They’re either too dark on the bottom, too soft in the inside etc….it’s pretty sad really. I’ve baked those ones from the mix or the tube a few times, and they’re great, but I feel like it’s a real cop-out.

But these–these were perfect.  Perfect I tell you.  And so easy to make! It took me less than 20 minutes from start to getting them out of the oven to cool.

I found the recipe that I adapted to make these cookies on a container of Crisco that I had bought-probably during the holidays intending on baking tons of goodie-but never did.

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Perfect Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1&1/4 firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark-your choice)
  • 3/4 stick Crisco butter flavor all-veggie shortening
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1&3/4 AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the first 4 ingredients and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl when needed.
  3. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir with a wisk to evenly combine.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl of the mixer on low speed and mix until just blended.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  7. Place rounded tbsp of dough 2.5 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 11 minutes for chewy insides and crispy outsides, a bit less for all chewy.
  8. Remove from the oven, let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then carefully slide the parchment with the cookies off of the sheet to cool.

The full recipe makes about 36 cookies. I baked half and froze the other half in a ziplock bag with the instructions written on the bag.

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Mexican Meatball Soup

The recipe for this soup caught my eye for a number of reasons-it’s easy and fast to cook and the ingredients are probably already in your pantry (I just had to buy the carrot and zucchini) yet delicious when put together. You can very easily adjust the heat too-add a bit more or less of the chili powders or add some diced green chiles. I made mine rather mild,  opting for a few squirts of hot sauce later.  I really loved how crisp the veggies stay even after reheating and there’s just enough rice. I served it with a small cheese quesadilla, a bit of refried beans, sour cream and salsa.  It was nice to dip the quesadilla into to broth. I think it would be great topped with some tortilla strips or crunched tortilla chips. This recipe is a keeper!!

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Mexican Meatball Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Goya Adobo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth (I used the last 3 cups of this home made chicken stock plus an additional 3 cups which I purchased)
  • 1 large carrot cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 large zucchini,  halved then cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained (I used Muir Woods Organic)
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
  • freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, for topping

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients (beef through and including Adobo). Using your hands mix to evenly combine. Be careful not to over-mix. Pinch off tablespoon-sized pieces and roll into balls.
  2. In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Place as many meatballs into the pot as you can without crowding them and push slightly on the top to flatten a bit. Brown on all sides for about 3/4 minutes. You do not have to cook them all the way through but they must be mostly done. You may have to work in batches to brown all of the meatballs.
  3. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, zucchini and rice. Return to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is done and the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Season with salt if necessary.
  5. Serve garnished with cilantro and cheddar cheese if desired.

This soup reheats beautifully for left overs and I would imagine that it freezes well-although I didn’t try.

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Adapted from February, 2014 issue of All You Magazine.

Cranberry & Meyer Lemon Strudel

This month’s ‘What’s Baking’ challenge theme was a good one–A Small Dessert for 1 or 2. It was hosted by Eva from Eva Bakes and a great idea. Seeing as it’s only Husband and I (no kids thanks-just the dog), I often find that recipes make just way.too.much. for just the 2 of us.

This strudel is delicious. The cranberries are so tart and the  Meyer lemon adds a bit of sweetness. It can’t get easier than just unrolling the puff pastry either.

This is the perfect strudel to make in the dead of winter as both blood oranges and Meyer lemons are in season. Feel free  to use more or less of the Meyer lemon, blood orange and/or regular orange juice.

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Cranberry & Meyer Lemon Strudel

Ingredients:

  • 12 ozs frozen whole cranberries, thawed.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp blood orange juice
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 package Pepperidge Farm frozen Puff Pastry (package contains 2 sheets)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp orange juice

Instructions:

  1. Set a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the sugar, zest, corn starch and juices and stir to combine and dissolve. Add cranberries, stir and bring to a boil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.  The mix will thicken up considerably and the cranberries will burst.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and put in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. While the cranberry mix is cooling thaw the pastry as to the package instructions for countertop.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Lay one puff pastry sheet on one half of the baking sheet.  Spread half of the cranberry mix down the middle section of the pastry, fold the left and right over the center. Pinch the dough at each end together to make a seal. Using a small sharp knife cut a few holes gently into the top layer of the pastry.  Reapeat with the remaing pastry dough.
  7. Mix the egg and water together and, using a pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash on top of the pastry.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to wire racks to cool.
  10. Mix the confectioners sugar and orange juice together and, when the strudels are fully cooled, drizzle over the tops of each.
  11. Slice and serve.

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Note: this makes 2 strudels. To make only 1 cut all ingredients in half.

Inspired by Easy Cranberry Strudel found on eatathomecooks.com

Check out the other great recipes for this month’s theme here.

WB

The Devil’s Cider

In my house there’s one shelf in the fridge just for drinks. We have iced tea, iced coffee and a huge array of bottled goodies-beers, ciders etc.. Angry Orchard has been a staple for a few years. I love ‘crisp apple’ one the most-it is really crisp and it’s so super tasty.  We also like Red’s,Crispin, Stella Artois Cidre…. but AO is our favorite I think.

Whiskey on the other hand-I’m not really a fan (I remembered the Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour that I made last year). But then he other day Husband told me that all of his coworkers have been talking about something new-adding a shot of cinnamon whiskey (huh? they can do that?) to a glass of cider. I was intrigued. Very intrigued. I love cinnamon and those candies? I can eat them all day long!

Wow!! What a great combination. You don’t taste the whiskey at all-just the cinnamon. It’s the same as if you were eating one of those little red hots and drinking the cider. YUMMY!!! Go and try it!!

I’m particularly happy with the way this photo came out-I love the bubbles swirling on the surface.

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The Devil’s Cider

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz bottle Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
  • 1 shot Fireball whiskey

Instructions (read these carefully they’re very complicated):

  1. Mix them together and drink

Chicken Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Sometimes something really great comes out of needing to make a meal when you didn’t think you’d need to. That’s where this sandwich comes in.  It was so very very very tasty and so many different layers of flavor!!!  And mmmmmmmm melty cheese.

I had plans for Saturday which, super-sadly, fell through due the weather being awful. Torrential rain, dangerous winds etc..  I watched the figure skating championships instead. I can’t wait for the Olympics to start in February-figure skating is probably my favorite of the winter sports. Remember that whole Nancy Kerrigan thing years ago? Lifetime made a really great (well as far as a Lifetime movie goes) about that and boy did they make it dramatic and fun to watch.  I think we have some great contenders for medals this year.

I always have boneless, skinless chicken breasts frozen individually in the freezer. I buy the large family packs (they’re FAR less expensive than the 1lb packs), I bring it home, trim up the chicken, weigh it and then use my food saver to package it up. I write the date and weight on the package.  Those are lifesavers on nights when you want to make something fast. In a bowl of cold water the chicken only takes a short time to defrost.

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Chicken, Pesto and Mozzarella Panini

Ingredients:

  • 4oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning (I use the low-sodium)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus 1/4 tsp
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese-cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1 flatbread

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning, salt and pepper.
  2. In a small skilled over medium high heat heat up the 1 tsp oil and then add the chicken breast.  Cook a few minutes on each side until fully cooked. Remove from the pan. Chop into very small pieces and set aside.
  3. Microwave the flatbread for a few seconds to loosen it up.
  4. Brush a thin layer of the remaining olive oil onto the flatbread and then turn it over so that the oil side is down.
  5. Smear the pesto onto one half of the bread, then lay down the cheese then top with the peppers and chicken.  Fold the top of the bread over and gently press to make sure it’s all staying together.
  6. Place it on the panini press and cook until cheese is melted and bread is crisp.
  7. Eat immedately.

Makes 1 panini.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Panini

I love the egg sandwiches that we get at delis and bagel shops (having such great delis and bagel places here on Long Island I get spoiled) but making them at home is easy too-and better for you since you can control the ingredients and skip the butter and extra grease. I’ve heard from people visiting (the NY metro area) that egg sandwiches don’t exist where they live.  They have my full sympathy. I can’t fathom life without great delis, bagel shops and pizzerias. Here we get them on bagels or on kaiser rolls. I didn’t have either but the flatbread in my panini press worked perfectly. They’re heaven.

Feel free to use egg whites, egg beaters, bacon, different cheeses etc.. to make it your own.  Some people put ketchup on it too but I don’t.

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Sausage, Egg and Cheese Panini

Ingredients:

  • 5 large eggs, scrambled in a bowl
  • 2 tbsp milk (any is fine-skim, whole, 2%)
  • 7 sausage links or 2 patties
  • 2 flatbreads
  • 4 slices american cheese (we use the Boar’s Head brand. It melts differently than others and in my opinion has a nicer texture).

Instructions:

  1. Cook the sausage as to package instructions then set onto paper towels to drain. Chop into small pieces and return to paper towels and set aside.
  2. While the sausages are  cooking make the eggs. In a medium non-stick frying pan with a flat base over medium heat cook the eggs,. Using a rubber spatula frequently pull the cooked eggs away from the edge, tilt the pan to allow the raw eggs to flow to the pan surface.  Turn when needed trying to keep the eggs together. When they’re all cooked remove from the heat and set aside.  (Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper if desired but I don’t generally because of the seasonings in the sausage. )
  3. Microwave the flat bread for a few seconds to loosen it up.
  4. On one half of the flatbread place half of the cheese, eggs and sausage.  Fold the other half of the bread over the top and place on the panini press until bread is crisp and cheese has melted fully.
  5. Serve immediately.

Makes 2.

Italian Beef Sandwiches-slow cooker

These are delicious! The beef is cooked all day and just falls apart. The very slightly hot peppers, the melty provolone cheese and the tomatoes makes this one tasty hot sandwich. Save some of the juice for dipping if you’d like.  This cooks for 8 hours which makes it ideal for a weeknight dinner also as it can stay on ‘warm’ for a while after cooking.

I put the roast in my slow cooker at about 10am on New Year’s Day. I didn’t really have any plans for the day except catching up on some DVR’d shows and doing some chores around the house and laundry but on a lazy day off it was nice to not have to worry about dinner and have such a delicious sandwich waiting for me.  It also reheats really well. I brought some left-overs to work the next day, put the roll in the toaster oven with a slice of cheese and nuked the beef. It was delicious!

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Italian Beef Sandwiches-Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lb eye round roast (or chuck or rump)
  • 1 2oz packet Italian Dressing mix (dry)
  • 6 small Pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup low sodium low fat beef broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes w/italian herbs
  • Sliced provolone cheese
  • Butter
  • Rolls

Instructions:

  1. Put the roast into the cooker.
  2. In a bowl combine the dressing mix and broth and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the mix over the roast followed by the tomatoes.  Place the peppers into the broth around the roast.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. When the cooking is complete remove any pieces of fat from the beef or liquid and discard.
  6. Remove the roast from the liquid and set aside. Strain the liquid to remove any fat that may be left. Retain the strained liquid and tomatoes.
  7. Slice the rolls in half the long way.
  8. Heat a pan over medium/high heat. Melt a tbsp of butter and when foaming place the halves of as many rolls as can fit into the butter (interior side down). Weigh down with something (I used my tea pot) and cook until crisp. Remove from the pan and place provolone onto the bread and then top with some beef and tomatoes and cooking liquid if you’d like.
  9. Serve immediately.

As an alternate serve the cooking liquid in a small bowl along side the sandwich for dipping.

Adapted from thecountrycook.net

Fondue!

I’ve always had a thing for fondue. When I was young my Mom used to make it and it was always a treat.  Melty cheese on a chilly night-perfect!! What’s not to love? I’d not ever made fondue from scratch but it was easy. If you can grate cheese you can make it.

I’m not really all that big of a New Years Eve person–truth be told it feels like any other night to me but since others make a big deal about it well I might as well do something 🙂 New Year’s Eve this year was so nice! I made the fondue, Mom brought over lobsters, Grandma brought a salad. We played cards and ate delicious food and laughed our heads off.

Thanks for holding that below Mom.

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Fondue!

Ingredients:

  • garlic clove-smashed once
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup shredded swiss emmentthal
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine (chardonnay)
  • bundle of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • french bread, granny smith apples etc.. all cut into small squares for dipping.

Instructions:

  1. Rub a medium sauce pan with the garlic. Add the wine, thyme bundle and lemon juice and bring to a simmer for a  minute or 2.
  2. Combine the cheeses and flour in a bowl and mix to coat evenly. Add it to the wine mixture a bit at a time, stirring until melted and velvety.
  3. Pour into your fondue pot and place over the appropriate heat source.
  4. Serve with diced bread, apples etc…

I put the bread and apples out with other small things to eat easily with the fondue fork but not to dip into the cheese-dill gerkins, kalamata olives. They were a nice addition to the plate.

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Ranch Mashed Potatoes

I don’t think that there’s anything better with pot roast than mashed potatoes.  For my Christmas Eve dinner I served these potatoes with this pot roast and these roasted veggies.

I had pinned this recipe quite a while ago and was so glad that I made them! The lack of butter and cream made me feel better about eating them, the sour cream and ranch flavors made them tangy and savory and delicious.

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Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 1oz packet Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
  • 3lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • chives for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the large pot.  Mash them up until smooth.
  3. Stir in seasoning and sour cream until evenly blended.
  4. Place in serving dish, sprinkle with chives and serve.

Adapted from hiddenvalley.com

Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Green Beans

Roasting veggies is my favorite way to cook them. Is it your favorite way as well? They stay so crispy and the flavors are so nice! A simple olive oil, salt and pepper is all that’s needed to make them yummy.  And it made for a beautifully colorful dish.

Hmmmm orange, white and green. I’ll remember that for St. Patrick’s Day.

I served these on Christmas Eve along with this Pot Roast and mashed potatoes and they were perfect.  I had intended on making only carrots but there were no purple ones to be found at the store that day so i picked up some parsnips instead. I already had the green beans at home.

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Roast Carrots,  Parsnips and Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 3 bunches baby carrots (the real baby carrots-not the little ones in the bag), about 1 lb, peeled and cut into inch lengths.
  • 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces the same size as the carrots
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed, cut into the same size as the parsnips and carrots
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Spread out all of the carrots and parsnips onto the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, add the green beans, spread them around and add more olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder if needed.
  6. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve right away.

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