Monday, January 21, 2008

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We love cookies. Simple, sweet, fast, tasty...what's not to like? Easy to make with your of my favorites is oatmeal chocolate chip. You get some healthy oatmeal, but with chocolate. Mmmm....chocolate. It surprised a friend to know that I use the recipe on the Oatmeal box, b/c I think it is the best. Of course, that is with the qualification that you use real unsalted butter and double the chocolate chips (which go instead of the raisins).

So here is the recipe the way we've been making it. Mmmm...cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 pound (2 sticks)unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.
2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Servings: About 4 dozen

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Latin Chicken w/ Black beans & Sweet potatoes

A friend recommended this recipe to me. It reminds me of yummy coconut curry chicken and sweet potatoes in name, but flavor wise, it is very different. Not hot, like I expected, but spicy, mildly sweet maybe, reminding me a little of chicken mole.

It is written for the slow-cooker, you could adjust and bake in a casserole in the oven much faster, but I love slow cookers for providing my family with tasty dinners that I can prep easily in the morning and forget about until that evening. The recipe comes from Good Housekeeping. They even provide nutritional information if you want to track that. Me, I know its healthy, it has sweet potatoes & black beans & salsa in it. Lots of veggies, lots of color, lots of nutrients. But is it tasty? Oh yeah.

I did not use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika (don't have it) or the chipotle chiles (don't care for them). I also forgot the lime juice & roasted red pepper. Oh - and technically I used turkey broth, but is that a real change? We make our own broth, and freeze it. I've got a ton left from Thanksgiving still. Anyway it was still great, even with the forgotten ingredients from me being so hungry. (The house smelled wonderful!) (And the cilantro, lime juice & roasted red pepper would be really good mixed into the potato mixture, I recommend trying it.) Bonus - side dish built in to meal! How much easier can you get?

Slow Cooked Latin Chicken with Black beans & Sweet potatoes
3 pound(s) bone-in skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin

Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon(s) smoked paprika, or 1⁄2 tsp. chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon(s) ground allspice
1 cup(s) chicken broth
1/2 cup(s) salsa
3 clove(s) (large) garlic, crushed with press
2 can(s) (15 to 19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 pound(s) sweet potatoes, peeled cut into 2-inch chunks
1 jarred roasted red pepper, cut into strips (1 cup)
1/3 cup(s) (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Lime wedges

  1. Sprinkle chicken thighs with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot; add chicken thighs and cook until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Remove skillet from heat.
  2. In same skillet, combine smoked paprika, allspice, chicken broth, salsa, garlic, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin.
  3. In 6-quart slow cooker, combine beans and sweet potatoes. Place chicken on top of potato mixture in slow cooker; pour broth mixture over chicken. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook as manufacturer directs, on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours.
  4. With tongs or slotted spoon, remove chicken pieces to large platter. Gently stir roasted red pepper strips into potato mixture. Spoon mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oatmeal Porridge

Our favorite breakfast for the past few months has been oatmeal porridge. It is a simple recipe you start the night before, and it has made it so that I can't eat instant oatmeal any more, it's so good. Serve with hot chocolate on a cold morning for a good warm you up breakfast. :)

Put equal parts regular oats and water in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp of whole milk plain yogurt or creme fraiche and mix. (I do 2 cups oats, 2 cups water, 2 Tbsp yogurt for our family usually). Cover with a clean towel and let sit overnight.

Put water on to boil, the same amount you put in the oats the other night (2 cups for me). When it is boiling, add the oat mixture and simmer to a good thickness, stirring frequently.

Serve with more yogurt or cream, apple butter, favorite jelly, honey, fresh fruit or whatever else you want to add for sweetness/flavor. Or eat plain!

Our favorite toppings:
Homemade apple butter mixed in tastes like apple cinnamon oatmeal.
More yogurt and fresh peaches makes peaches & cream oatmeal
Blueberries & yogurt
Strawberry jam
cinnamon, brown sugar & raisins...
lots of options!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Chocolate madeleines

The first time I saw madeleines was on the TV show Friends. Since they were a cute shell shaped French cake cookie, I was intrigued. Also, they said they were hard to make. Double bonus!

Since then, I have always wanted to try them, but never have, because they require a special pan. The chocolate therapy challenge was a great reason to buy a madeleine pan! I will be trying a non-chocolate madeleine recipe as well, but first and most important is the chocolate recipe. My source is La Tartine gourmande. Since her recipe requires a kitchen scale and I don't have one, and also is not detailed enough for this madeleine beginner, I had to supplement it with info from 101 cookbooks madeleine recipe and a conversion website.

I ended up using mostly dark chocolate with mint, since that's what I had in the fridge. I also overfilled the molds the first time, since 3/4 full of a shell shaped mold is kind of hard to see. Overfilling them is bad, since they stick to the mold more. I think there is a skill there you have to develop to have all your madeleines look awesome like pictures I've seen. Mine turned out okay. The batter recipe is easy, it is getting beautiful looking madeleines that is the hard part.

I'd also appreciate the recipe saying put in a heaping 1 Tbsp (approx amount for regular madeleine molds I'd say), since that would be easier to measure/see. Also, unmold them on a flat surface instead of wire racks for better luck IMO.

The flavor and texture was great. It was like a little cake, delicate and light and chocolatey. Yum! They are rich and delicious. The chocolate mint worked really well for me. MMM...

Photos: Top are my 4 best madeleines. Next is my first batch, which mostly fell apart, trying to unmold on the rack. Next is the amount I put in the molds the 2nd time, resulting in no overflow and finally a batch that I unmolded on a flat surface.

Here is the recipe, modified as I did it:

Chocolate Madeleines

3 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
3.5 oz dark chocolate
4 oz (1/2 stick) butter, unsalted
1 tsp. baking powder
dash sea salt

*Place the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Let it cool down.
* Sift the flour and baking powder and keep on the side.
* Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high with a whisk attachment until they double/triple in volume (about 3 minutes).
* Reduce the speed and add the sugar in a steady stream. Increase the speed to high again and beat until lighter in color, about 2 minutes (until thick and ribbony).
* Remove the bowl and add the flour and baking powder with a wooden spoon.
* Add the cool melted chocolate and butter and blend, not overworking the dough.
* Place the batter in the fridge for a few hours before baking (minimum 1 hour).
*Use baking spray on molds or butter & flour them.
* Fill special madeleine molds 3/4 full. (Approx 1 Tbsp per mold). Do not spread out, as they will fill it while baking. Do not overfill.
* Preheat your oven at 430 F and cook the madeleines for 7 minutes first so that they rise nicely, then reduce the heat to 350 F and continue to cook for 4 more minutes.
* Unmold immediately and cool on racks. Best eaten day they are made, will keep a few days.
Makes approx 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dark Chocolate Truffles

I remember the first time someone shared their bag of dark chocolate truffles with me... wow. First you taste the cocoa, then the dark chocolate comes thru and mixes with it and melts in your mouth. Mmmm....chocolate.... :)

I'm a day late in posting and finishing these truffles since they were part of December's Chocolate therapy challenge, but I'm still sharing. These are so simple to make! I was worried they'd be delicate and easy to mess up, but nope. If you can bring heavy cream to a boil, you can make these. They may not be as pretty, but they'll sure taste as good!

I used a mix of a bag of Dove dark chocolates, Hershey's special dark, and another small bar of dark chocolate I had in the fridge to make 1 lb of chocolate. Total cost for the pound of chocolate? About $5. Considering that a pound of truffles can run up to $34 (and I've paid it...) that's a deal. But you still need some heavy cream and good cocoa powder for dusting. Not a cheap treat, but a worthy one.

Note that the mixture sits in the fridge for an hour, not overnight. If you leave it overnight (innocent whistling), you will have to have it sit out and gently warm it up (don't melt it again, you could mess it up.) But its still yummy, even if you just chip off a piece of the hardened ganache mixture and roll it in the cocoa powder.

1 lb. dark chocolate (pick stuff you like, this will be the flavor you get.)
1 cup. heavy whipping cream
cocoa powder for dusting

1. Break up chocolate into pieces, put in large heat proof bowl.
2. Heat heavy cream on stove to just boiling. (this is called scalding).
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes.
4. Stir the chocolate/cream mixture until it is smooth and creamy.
5. Put in the fridge for an hour to cool/thicken.
6. Scoop out balls of mix, and roll in cocoa powder to finish.
7. Try not to eat them all before sharing! ;)


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