Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Salted Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I promised myself that my search for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie ended with my Overnight Chocolate Chip Cookies. And it did, but one day my daughter was craving chocolate chip cookies and I didn't feel like making up a big batch. I decided I would divid up a recipe into a small serving of cookies I could bake in my toaster oven. My butter was rock hard so I thought I'd play around with using melted butter. As the butter was melting I was curious how browned butter would taste in a chocolate chip cookie. Since everything is better with a little salt, I thought I'd throw in a little extra of that for good measure. What did I have? The ultimate chocolate chip cookie- revisited.

These cookies are amazing warm from the oven. The thick caramel like batter bakes up into a crackly cookie on the outside with a warm soft center.

Enjoy!












Salted Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
((Printable Recipe))

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks salted butter, browned
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Brown the butter and add it to your mixing bowl. Allow it to cool for about 3 minutes. Beat in the sugars and then the eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients. (Your batter will be like a thick, soft caramel consistency.) Stir in the chocolate chips

3. Divide the dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch round balls and place 3 to 4 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet pan.

4. Gently flatten the balls slightly with three fingers. (You just want them flat enough so the salt won't roll off. It doesn't need to be as flat as sugar cookies.) Sprinkle with a bit of coarse sea salt.

5. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. (Cooking time will vary depending on how big your cookie dough balls are.) I like to remove my cookies when they are still slightly underdone and jiggly in the center. Allow them to cool on the sheet pan on top of a cooling rack and they will slowly finish cooking in the center as they cool. When the cookies are set up. Remove them to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

*Note: I like these cookies best served warm, straight from the oven. I will even freeze the dough balls and place them in freezer bags and bake them as I need them. If you bake them all at once, store them at room temperature in an airtight container. In my opinion, they won't be quite as good as freshly baked... you'll loose the ooey, gooeyness of them, but they will still be delicious!

Other Chocolate Chip Cookies recipes you may enjoy:
Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies
Cookie Dough Brownies
Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies
Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Toasted Walnut White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grilled Avocado Pita Pizzas with Wilted Arugula

O U T S T A N D I N G

Wilted arugula that is still crisp tender gets infused with garlic and topped on some beautiful fresh tomatoes with smokey roasted red peppers. A crowning of creamy avocado all sitting on a bed of jalapeño cheddar gets gilled on a pita to a crisp perfection.



I threw this easy recipe together a few weekends ago and determined that I could eat this everyday this summer and be one happy mama.

A note about the pita: Look at the ingredients! Find a good quality pita with ingredients you recognize and can pronounce. Flour, salt, oil, yeast, sugar.... there really isn't need for anything else. I sent my husband to the store for pita once. What he brought home had an ingredient list that was ten lines long. The taste and texture was so awful they went straight to the trash. Make them yourself or search for some good quality bakery ones.

We sprinkled our pita with raw hemp seeds for extra protein. You'll notice they are missing from the photo. They came post pizza photo shoot. We love hemp so much we add it to almost every meal we eat.

Grilled Avocado Pita Pizzas with Wilted Arugula 
((Printable Recipe))

Ingredients:
5 pita rounds
1 package arugula (about 8 ounces or so)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
8 ounce block jalapeño cheddar or jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1 avocado, sliced
hemp seeds (optional, will add extra protein)
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat your outdoor grill to a medium high heat. These pizzas cook quickly. If the flame is too high, they will burn.

2. Use kitchen sheers to cut your pizzas around the circumference so you have two halves. If your pita doesn't want to split, you can leave them whole for a thicker, chewier pizza crust. Brush both sides of the pitas lightly with olive oil. (This will be about two tablespoons from the oil called for above.)

3. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to a medium sized skillet. Add the four cloves of minced garlic to the oil. Turn on the heat to a low flame and slowly cook the garlic in the oil for about a minute or two, just until it becomes fragrant. If you burn the garlic, your entire dish will be bitter. Turn the flame up a bit and add the arugula. Toss the arugula in the garlic oil and add a dash of salt. Cook the arugula just until it begins to wilt. I like to have my cooked lettuce to remain slightly crisp. This should only take a minute or so.

4. Top each pita round with shredded cheese. Next, add the sliced tomatoes and give them a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. Finally, top the pizza with the wilted arugula and roasted red peppers.

5. Grill the pita pizzas for about one to two minutes, just until the cheese is melted and the pita crisps up and gets a nice golden brown color. Watch them closely! They will burn.

6. Top your grilled pizzas with fresh sliced avocado and a sprinkle of hemp seeds. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kung Pao Chickpeas over Noodles

This was a fantastic vegetarian Kung Pao dish using chickpeas as the main ingredient. I strayed from the original recipe from The Veg Life and served the chickpeas over pasta. If you want to skip the extra carbs, you could eat this dish as is or served over rice. I added some fresh carrots and red pepper to mine for a little texture and color. Sliced snow peas, zucchini, or chopped broccoli would be another veggie to consider adding to this dish. Do what you please. Make it your own. You're going to love it!


Kung Pao Chickpeas over Noodles
(Adapted from: The Veg Life)
((Printable Recipe))

Ingredients:

Marinade:
2 cans chickpeas (about 3 cups cooked if you are using dried beans) rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons olive oil

Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Main Dish:
1/2- 3/4 pound thin spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, diced (optional, we like a little kick to ours)
3-4 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
5 green onions, chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup chopped peanuts

Directions:

1. Mix together the chickpeas and marinade ingredients. Stir to coat and let the chickpeas sit for at least 15 to 30 minutes. (I did mine in the morning and left them in the refrigerator and finished off the recipe at dinnertime.)

2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

3. Add the olive oil to a cold skillet and bring up to a medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the red pepper and carrot. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the Serrano pepper, red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic. Cook for an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the marinated chickpeas along with the marinade and heat through. When the chickpeas are warm, add the sauce ingredients and cook for an additional minute until the sauce thickens. (If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a tiny bit of water.) Add the green onions and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.

4. Drain the noodles and toss with the final tablespoon of sesame oil and the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Toss to coat and add the chickpeas on top of the noodles. Garnish with the chopped peanuts.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Easy Black Bean and Rice Veggie Skillet

One skillet is all you need for this easy dinner! Serve up this colorful and flavorful dish with a slice of warm corn bread for a delicious, healthy, and satisfying meal.


Easy Black Bean and Rice Veggie Skillet
((Printable Recipe))

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized zucchini, diced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white or brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, until it begins to turn translucent.

2. Add the diced red and green pepper, and zucchini. Sauté for about three more minutes.

3. Add the corn, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Stir in the can of tomatoes, rice, and water.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover with a lid and simmer, on low heat, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender. (Brown rice will take about 30-35 minutes.)

5. Stir in the beans and turn off the heat. Let stand for 7 minutes. Top with cheese and green onions.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Parmesan Orzo with Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Spinach

It never fails, if I take my 10 year old daughter to the grocery store and she sees brussels sprouts, she will beg me to buy them for her. How can a mom say no to a girl who loves brussels sprouts?

I developed this recipe for my sweet brussels sprout loving girl. It takes a few of her favorite foods and combines them all together. The combination ended up being amazing and the entire family agreed.




Parmesan Orzo with Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Spinach
((Printable Recipe))

Ingredients:
1 lb. orzo
1 lb. brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, stems cut off, and cut into slivers
1 bunch spinach leaves, washed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water
1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic
1 large shallot (about 1/3 cup, thinly sliced)
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
1/2 cup toasted panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2-4 tablespoons butter
crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Get a large pot of water on the stove and start the heat to boil the water. Meanwhile, get a large skillet and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat up the oil and add the slivered brussels sprouts and give them a good sprinkling of salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Allow them to cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and nicely charred in spots. Remove the brussels sprouts to a plate and return the skillet to the stove.

2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and sauté the shallot for about 3-4 minutes, until it begins to wilt and takes on a nice brown color. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper and stir quickly so it doesn't burn. Add the shredded spinach and stir until wilted. Return the brussels sprouts to the pan.

3. If the water is not up to a boil at this point, turn the heat off on your spinach/sprout mixture and wait. Once the water comes to a boil, salt the water and add the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water. Turn the heat back on your skillet and add the pasta water gradually, scrapping up the blackened bits on the pan. The water should create a nice sauce.  Add the lemon juice. When the water has evaporated and reduced slightly, add the 2-4 tablespoons butter (depending on how rich you want it.) Stir in the pasta and parmesan. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

5. Serve topped with toasted panko bread crumbs, walnuts, and additional parmesan cheese.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cookie Dough Brownies

I have many different things that I love to top my basic brownie recipe with (you can check them out at the end of this recipe), but cookie dough has proven to be one of my family's favorites. I have been making these cookie dough brownies for many years now. How many years? Well, my index card has gone from bright white to a faded yellowish brown, so at least 17 years at the time of this post.

Looking for hints on how to cut the perfect brownie?  Below you will find asterisks with additional information on how to make "picture perfect" brownies to serve to your friends and family. These steps are optional, but they will make for some beautiful brownies verses some not as pretty ones you cut and lifted out of the baking pan.

I hope you enjoy them as much as my family has over the years!






Cookie Dough Brownies
((Printable Recipe))

Ingredients:

For the Brownies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the Cookie Dough
2 cups flour
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag (2 cups) mini semi sweet chips, divided

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8x11 inch pan with foil and grease it lightly with cooking spray. *The foil is optional, but it will help with removing the brownies and cutting off the edges later on.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.

3. Melt the butter.  Pour into a large bowl and whisk in the chocolate chips until melted.  Whisk in the sugar and then the eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients.

4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely. *When the brownies are cool, chill them in the refrigerator until they are cold and firm- about 6 hours or longer. This step is optional, but will help in the cutting processes at the end.

5. For the cookie dough topping, beat the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the milk and flour. Remove a 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips and reserve those for later. Stir in the remaining chips.

6. Remove the cold brownies from the pan, lifting them out by the foil. Turn the brownies upside down onto a cutting board and remove the foil. Flip the brownies right side up and cover the brownies with the cookie dough topping using an offset spatula. This step would obviously be skipped if you baked the brownies directly in the pan. Just go ahead and add the cookie dough right on top of your brownies. *Chill the brownies again for several more hours. Again, this step is optional but will allow you to make beautifully cut brownies for serving.

7. After the dough is cold, remove them from the refrigerator and trim the edges with a large chef's knife. *Go ahead and enjoy those pieces yourself. You deserve it after waiting all this time for the brownies to chill down! Cut the remaining brownies into squares.

8. Remove 1/3 cup of the reserved 1/2 cup chips and melt the 1/3 cup chips in a double boiler. Fill a small ziplock bag with the melted chocolate and snip off a tiny piece of the corner of the bag with scissors. Drizzle the chocolate over the cookie dough and top each brownie with a few of the remaining chocolate chips.

Additional brownie recipes you may enjoy:
Candy Cane Brownies
Chocolate Drizzled Pretzel Brownies
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordial Brownies
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel-Topped Brownies
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies
Shortbread Brownie Bites

Linked to:
Weekend Potluck #119
Skip to my Lou: Made by you Monday







Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vegetarian Stroganoff


I have often heard vegetarians criticized for trying to recreate meat-like meals. I'm really not sure why this is a sore spot between meat eaters and non-meaters. In my opinion- you eat what you like and I'll eat what I like. At the time of writing this, it has probably been about four years since I gave up meat. I really don't miss it. From tacos to a hearty spaghetti sauce, if you've looked through the recipes on this site, you can see that we are eating well.

Stroganoff was a personal favorite that I remember from back in my meat eating days. It was one of those childhood meals I didn't think I was missing until I created this dish and tasted it for the first time. My husband could not get enough of this when he ate it. To quote him, "Ooooooh, this is really really good!"

Now, setting aside how delicious this meal is, it was also one of the ugliest I have ever tried photographing. Stroganoff with lentils is a big pile of brown mushroom glop. (Oh, but what gloriously delicious glop it is!) I tried my best with this photo.

Rich, creamy, and delicious.... I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as my family has. Our family is filing this one under: Vegetarian Comfort Food.

Vegetarian Stroganoff 
((Printable Recipe))

Ingredients:
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup flour
5 cups vegetable stock, divided
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces egg noodles, cooked 

Directions:
1. Prepare the lentil/rice mixture by bringing the lentils, rice, and 3 cups vegetable stock to a boil in a stock pot. Cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Set aside. 

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion and green peppers together for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking another 3 minutes until the onions are tender and the mushrooms have released some of their moisture. 

3. Add the minced garlic clove and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir to coat. Cook the mixture for another minute or two. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups stock until you have a nice gravy. Stir in the sour cream and lentil/rice mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked egg noodles.