Monday, August 31, 2009

Tuesday Treats: ChocOat Chocolate Chip Cookies

So the other week, I was totally craving chocolate. Which does happen with predictable regularity - about every other day... but this was an intense craving and it wouldn't go away, it lasted days and I ate a bit of chocolate on each day, so what could I do? I made double chocolate cookies. I needed to use up some oats, so I decided to make Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, but then decided I needed MORE chocolate. So I added more chocolate to the mix. The result was SO GOOD. I loved these cookies and they totally helped with my chocolate craving.

ChocOat Chip Cookies

In a large mixing bowl, cream 1-1/2 cups butter (or margarine) and 3 cups sugar. Add 2 eggs, beat for 1 minute.
Add 1-1/2 tsp vanilla, beat for another minute.
Mix in 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt. Beat for an additional minute.
Now here comes one of the best parts... chocolate. Mix (beat for 2 minutes) in 6 oz melted unsweetened chocolate. You should melt the chocolate before creaming the butter & sugar to give it time to cool off. Doesn't that look so yummy?
Next, add 3 cups quick cooking oats. Beat until combined.
Then add flour - 2-1/2 cups, also beat until combined. I like to use half white and half wheat. (you can't tell, because the white flour is covering the wheat flour. It makes me feel healthier when I use whole wheat flour in items I know aren't that good for me. (Every little thing helps!)
Finally, add 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups) (or milk chocolate, if you prefer - my husband does but I prefer semi-sweet so since I had the craving that is what these got!)
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Then enjoy these wonderfully chocolaty cookies!

Meals - August 24-30

This week we had a lot of repeat meals, which was fine by me as our week was hectic. As I thought about our menu last night, I forgot that we had Beans & Rice on Monday, so I thought the only new recipe would be Spaghetti & Meatballs and there wouldn't be a poll this week. I was glad to see that there are two recipes for you to choose from this week. I imported the Fried rice recipe from the other blog and added pictures.
The black beans were made in a slow cooker and are by far the best black beans I have made (rice was plain brown cooked in a rice cooker.) The spaghetti sauce and meatballs I made from scratch, so if this one wins, it will be two recipes. I love homemade spaghetti sauce!
So vote on the right side to let me know which recipe you want to see this week!

Beans & Rice
Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Zucchini Boats

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Friday, August 28, 2009

May Be Foodless Friday: Happy Birthday Dennis!

So a few weeks ago, I wished my little sister a happy birthday. I would feel like a horrible sister if I did not wish my younger brother a happy birthday as well... Dennis turns 25 on Sunday. Growing up Dennis, Val and I would sometimes share one huge birthday party. I didn't appreciate it so much at the time, but I would love to do it again.

This is Dennis at my grandparents house right after Hubby and I graduated with our Bachelor's degrees.
Dennis also made the long trek out to see us, but unlike Val he didn't have a hospital stay (thankfully.) Dennis loves cars. Especially red sports cars. He likes going for drives and he likes going fast. The drive to see me was long, which takes him and Valerie a bit longer due to their needing to stop and rest.
But they cam anyway... and Dennis got to spend some time with my son. Val really loves holding babies, Dennis isn't as into holding babies, but he does like to hold his nephews for a little while at a time. So it actually works out well because then they don't fight over who holds the baby... All fighting done is strictly by Valerie. Although with the smug grin in this photo, you'd have thought Dennis won getting to hold the baby.
While they were here we gave Dennis a copy of Formula De Mini. He likes playing boardgames (not as much as Valerie or Hubby or myself), and he loves cars so this was a perfect fit. I miss you Dennis and hope you're enjoying the game!
Happy Birthday Dennis!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Banana Muffins

So we've been buying a lot of bananas lately. Why? I'm not entirely sure, except for the banana and peanut butter snacks I've made a lot. The other reason could be that we've let our 5 month old son eat a little bit of mashed banana. He has started to try to eat our food. He's not quite ready for solids as he tends to thrust his tongue when he eats, but I feel that I'm getting him ready to eat solid foods. Where was I? Oh yeah, bananas.

So I like my bananas a little under-ripe. My husband likes them perfectly ripe (I think they are a little over-ripe, but hey, we all have our own tastes, right?) The problem is that perfectly ripe with bananas only lasts for 2-3 days tops. So I have been taking the bananas that are too ripe for my husband and putting them in the freezer to make banana bread with. I ended up making banana mini-muffins.
I really like mini-muffins, they make me happy. I don't know why, but I enjoy them more than normal sized muffins. Hubby doesn't like nuts in his muffins/bread which is something I deal with, I do sometimes still put nuts in them anyway, because I like it. This time I didn't put nuts in the muffins, so this is a nut-less banana muffin recipe. I did however use stone ground whole wheat flour (for half of the flour) and wheat germ, it gives it a nice texture.
Banana Muffins

Preheat oven to 350°F. Does anybody else skip this step at the beginning of recipes and then wish they would have remembered while they wait to put their food in the oven? (Or do you just put it in your un-preheated oven like I do?)
In a medium mixing bowl, beat 1/2 cup (1 cube) margarine/butter and 1-1/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 1 minute.
The butter-sugar mix should be light and fluffy. If you're like me at this point, you'll snitch a bite or two.
Add 2 eggs and mix until combined.
Beat in 3 cups mashed banana (best if use over-ripe bananas). Yes I know the mashed bananas do not look appetizing. The end product does though!
Mix in 1 Tbsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp ground allspice.Add 1-1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/3 cup wheat germ; mix until combined.
Then you should have a batter that looks like this... the finished product looks much better!
Spoon batter into greased mini-muffin cups (I use 1/2-1 Tbsp filling per cup).
Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes (If making regular-sized muffins, bake for 18-20 minutes.)

Cool in muffin tins until cool enough to handle, transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely or serve immediately.
Store cooled muffins in airtight container.

Printer Friendly

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feta Chicken

This is one of those dishes that is simple enough but looks and tastes absolutely wonderful. It has an elegant look, but does not take forever to make. There are two key steps to making this dish amazing. First, marinade the chicken for longer than 4 hours. Second, cook using a double broiler (or a makeshift one if you don't have one/yours is in a box that is not going to be opened until after you move again in a month and a half.) I pretty much make this dish every time I buy feta cheese.

Feta Chicken

At least 4 hours before you intend to cook this dish, marinate chicken breast in a mixture of 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp ground sage and 1/8 tsp pepper (increase amount of marinade if using more than 1 chicken breast - I used one cut into 3 pieces).
Broil for 10 minutes on each side using a double broiler. If you do not have a double broiler, you can us a make-shift one by placing a pan of water on a rack directly under the top rack of your stove. I put aluminum foil on the top rack to know where to place the chicken as to be directly over the pan of water.
Top with 2-4 slices of tomato and 1/4 cup feta cheese. Broil until cheese starts to melt and turns golden brown. If using the make-shift double broiler, place chicken on a cookie sheet before topping with cheese.

Printer Friendly

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Treats: Oreo Truffles

So I was going to be posting about ChocOat Chocolate chip cookies today, until I found a recipe for Oreo Truffles and made them last week. They were my birthday treat. I really like ice-cream cake or cheesecake for my birthday, but I didn't want to make a cheesecake and it isn't in the budget this month to buy either of the two. So instead I made these delicious treats. I really like cookies and cream ice cream as well as the Hershey's Cookies and Cream candy bars. These truffles top both of them! What they remind me of is the white chocolate covered Oreo cookies that usually hit the stores around Christmas. I find those a little too sweet though. The cream cheese in these calms down the sweetness a bit. I split the package of Oreos in half and made half of the truffles using filling and half without. The verdict: They are both to die for. The truffles without the filling are less sweet, they are also harder to form into balls and a few fell apart during the white chocolate coating stage (they met their demise sooner than the rest and my taste buds were happy). The work involved to de-cream the Oreos may not be worth the effort. That said I would probably do it again!
I am brainstorming about making an Oreo truffle cheesecake in the future. I have some ideas that I need to tweak though and I also need to stay away from sugar for a while after eating all of these delicious treats.

Oreo Truffles

In a food processor (or blender, or in a bag using a rolling pin to smash them - use whatever you have), process one package of Oreo cookies (with or without the filling) until you have fine crumbs. Place in a mixing bowl and add 8 ounces of softened cream cheese.
This first bowl had the cream filling, while the one below did not. You cannot really see the difference, but the one below is finer as the cream filling does help it stick together. I used 4 ounces cream cheese in each bowl, due to splitting the package of Oreos.
Beat until smooth (I would suggest following the original recipe in beating the cream cheese until smooth and then adding the cookie crumbs in increments, it sounds easier than adding the cream cheese to the cookie mixture). I did end up using my hands to make sure there were no stray swirls of cream cheese. The original recipe suggests using a wooden spoon (but then you can't lick your hands clean... I do end up washing my hands a lot when I cook.)
Place the Oreo mixture in the fridge for 20-40 minutes, then shape into balls. I used a 1/2 Tbsp measuring spoon to help shape them (and incidentally each ball contained about 1/2 Tbsp of the Oreo Mixture.)
Don't they just look delicious already? It gets better...
After you shape them into balls, place in the fridge for another 20-40 minutes (or more, I let them stay in longer due to my son wanting to eat.)
Melt 2 cups white chocolate in microwave. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until there are no lumps left. Remove the Oreo balls from the fridge, coat in white chocolate and place on wax paper.
They are getting there... Typing this post makes me want to eat one, too bad they are already gone. :(
Place in the fridge until the white chocolate is set.
I decorated mine with melted milk chocolate piped onto the tops before the white chocolate wa set. The original recipe said to use some cookie crumbs previously prepared. I think another great alternative would be to just add some crumbs to the white chocolate so it was speckled (that way at the end when there are specks in it anyway, you could say you did it on purpose.)

Printer Friendly
Original Recipe

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meals - August 17-23

This week we had a great menu. I really enjoyed most of the food we had (the black beans were really good, but they are not as enjoyable as the other dishes.) We used the rest of the fresh salsa from last week in quesadillas on Monday. Seriously, quesadillas made with fresh salsa just make me happy. Last week when we went grocery shopping we got a chicken for $0.99 per lb. So I made a roast chicken and tried a new spice combination. It succeeded - I loved the flavor (so did Hubby). We had a salad on Wednesday, I got it ready in a rush and took it to campus to eat with Hubby before going to play boardgames at a friends house. Remind me I need to do a May Be Foodless Friday post about boardgames, they also make me happy. Feta chicken is one of my favorite meals. It is so flavorul and looks so great, but isn't really that hard to make.

Quesadillas with Fresh Salsa
Note: if you pick this one I will give you the recipe for fresh salsa and some pictures on how I make quesadillas.

Garlic Sage Roasted Chicken and Herbed Carrots and Zucchini

Simple Spinach salad with left-over chicken (spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onion, chicken with Italian Dressing)

Feta-Topped Chicken Breast

Slow Cooker Black Beans with rice

Hubby surprised me by taking me out to eat for my birthday.

Slow Cooker Black Beans with rice

So tell me which recipe you want to see on Wednesday. Polls will close tomorrow night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

May Be Foodless Friday: On Camping...

I love to cook while camping. I love the taste of food cooked over open flames, in dutch ovens and in aluminum foil in the burning embers. While I have not actually been camping in the past 2 years, I still love it. I think that it is the whole food aspect of camping that I really enjoy, not necessarily the camping itself. I came to this realization when I realized why I do not like 'roughing it' camping - ie backwoods, hiking, etc. I like established campgrounds. They make it easier to cook!

So in my opinion, what is the point of camping if you don't have a great menu with good tasting food? There is the whole getting away from it all, going into the mountains where it is cooler, etc. But there is also dealing with bugs, animals, and I do not find it very restful to have to clean everything when you get home, it is a big hassle. I guess any travel is really if you think about it though.

So some of my favorite camping dishes are:
tinfoil dinners (hamburger, potatoes, carrots, onion)
Campfire stew (Sausage links, potatoes, carrots)
Shish Kabobs
Dutch Oven Chicken

Those are all well and good, but I LOVE camp desserts such as:
Chocolate Pudding Cake (dutch oven)
Peach Cobbler (dutch oven)
Smores (made so the chocolate is melted, it's the only way to eat them!)

So what is your favorite dish to eat while camping? Also if there are any recipes you want I will try to locate them (I haven't been camping for 2 years and have moved 4 times, so I'm not promising anything.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuna Sandwich (no mayo)

I have a confession to make... I like to buy things that I don't always use. I bought some tuna a while back, thinking I would use it. It's sat in the cabinet for 6-8 months (not a long time really considering...) The other day I decided to try something different with it. I do not buy mayo/miracle whip (I'm also not getting into an argument about which is better, but I cast my vote for Mayo. The reason I like mayo better has a long story behind it) simply because Hubby doesn't like it and I don't use enough on my own to justify the expense. I also do not feel healthy when I eat Mayo... but that might go back to the story behind why I don't like Miracle Whip.

So not having Mayo in my house I decided to try a different way to make a tuna sandwich. The secret of this tuna sandwich is Italian dressing. It adds a hint of flavor and goes well with any veggies that I would consider putting in tuna.

Take one can tuna (5-6 oz), some chopped up some veggies, 1 tbsp Italian dressing , mix it all together and put half of it on a slice of bread. (Hubby also doesn't like tuna so I had this two days in a row, it kept very well in the fridge for a day)
This particular sandwich had Julienne carrots, diced red bell pepper (left over from the Chicken Fajita Pizza) and green onions. You can be creative with what you put in it. Some other fresh produce you could consider are: celery, onions, green bell pepper. You can also put lettuce on this and it would be great. I didn't have any extra at the time. Top with Feta cheese (you can also use Mozzarella, or Parmesan. Cover with another slice of bread.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zucchini Boats or Stuffed Zucchini

I love summertime with all its fresh vegetables. We don't currently have a garden, I wasn't that ambitious because my son was born in March. (Yes I also live in an apartment, but there are community garden plots that we could have paid to rent one for the season.) That said, we still have friends who have them. We were invited over for dinner by one such couple and after feeding us gave us zucchini and cilantro. (At the same time I found out that some people in my husband's department on campus had offered him zucchini and he'd passed on... but then he doesn't really like gourds - I do however so I was grateful for the zucchini.)
I wanted to try new and different things with it... usually I just cook it in butter or do something totally unhealthy and dip it in egg and flour and fry it. Both of which are yummy ways to eat zucchini.
So the night before I made these we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, so I used the left over meatballs and spaghetti sauce to stuff them. However, since I doubt you all will have leftover meatballs to work with, I will post the recipe from scratch (so I apologize but there won't be pictures of of making the hamburger mixture). I am going to have to make these meatballs sometime soon, they are WAY too good for you not to have the recipe. This recipe makes 2 servings and uses one zucchini. If you double the recipe, use 1 egg instead of 2 egg yolks.
We ate these with watermelon, and it was a wonderful meal!

Zucchini Boats

Cut one zucchini in half lengthwise.
Scoop out the seeds to leave a well inside the zucchini.
Brush with 1 tsp olive oil per half and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on baking pan, and broil for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven.

While the zucchini is broiling, combine:
1/2 cup or 1/4 lb hamburger
1/8 cup diced onion
1.5 tbsp bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned)
1 tbsp milk
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the hamburger mixture until browned. Add 1/4 cup spaghetti or marinara sauce (If you don't have spaghetti sauce, use crushed tomatoes with Italian Seasoning).

Divide the hamburger mixture evenly between the two halves of the zucchini. Top with 1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese. Place stuffed zucchinis under broiler to melt cheese.

Printer Friendly