chocolate chip cookies — #3?

chocolate chip cookies 2

I know, I know… you’re saying “another chocolate chip cookie recipe????” Yes, in case you’re keeping track, this is the third one I’ve posted so far. Or is it the 4th? Oh well. Doesn’t matter!

A few things you should know:

  1. This may not be the last chocolate chip cookie recipe I post.
  2. This recipe is different from the other recipes previously posted.
  3. The photos may look the same, but it really is a different batch of cookies!
  4. I see no reason why anyone would complain about multiple chocolate chip cookie recipes.

Enough said.

*Note: This recipe comes from the cookbook Cook This Not That! Our changes to the recipe are noted below.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips OR 1 cup semi-sweet (regular or mini) chocolate chips (*I prefer the mini ones)

sea salt, optional (*we sometimes add this, and sometimes we don’t)

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Heat oven to 375F.

In mixer bowl, thoroughly mix butter and sugars until creamy.

Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Add baking soda, salt, and flour. Mix until dough comes together. Be careful not to overmix.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookies sheets. (*I put parchment paper down on the cookie sheets.) Leave space between each cookie.

Bake until edges are golden and until the middles are just barely set. (*The book does not list a time. We set our timer for 8 minutes, and check the cookies at that point…. so I’d say 8-10 minutes.)

Remove from the cookie sheets (having them on parchment paper makes this step in the process so easy … simply slide the paper off the cookie sheet, onto a counter). If desired, sprinkle with a bit of the sea salt. Cool.

*Note: Depending on how the planets are aligned, I get between 2 and 3 dozen cookies. The original recipe calls for larger cookies, and therefore makes only one dozen.

chocolate chip cookies

lemon chicken

Remember when I posted lemony chicken? Sure you do! In that post I told you how it wasn’t my official lemon chicken recipe, because in that one I used lemon juice rather than an actual lemon.

The technique for my official lemon chicken is the same as in that previous post, except that when using the lemon, you wash the lemon, then cut it in half, and place the two sides cut side down into the pan as soon as the second side of the chicken is golden brown. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to sit like that for about 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and using tongs, squeeze the lemon halves so that all the juice and some of the pulp comes out.

With this method you get a more powerful lemon flavor than when using the lemon juice. If you want a mild lemon flavor, using the lemon may not be the way to do it. In that case use the juice instead, so that you can control the amount you use. If you’re into lemon, use the whole lemon, squeeze out the pulp, and enjoy it!

chicken parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is one of those foods my daughter and I order every time we see it on a menu when we go out to eat at a new restaurant. We’ve got a mental list of which local places we like to order Chicken Parmesan, and which ones we don’t.

I’ve made my own version of this many times, and it is always good, but wasn’t excellent — we both much preferred to eat it out at our favorite local restaurant instead, and did so often. But then, as things happen, we decided it was time to master our own, mainly because we just can’t afford to eat out as often as we crave Chicken Parmesan!

Taking all that we like about Chicken Parmesan from what we’ve eaten at restaurants, and incorporating the best methods of cooking it that I’ve tried over the years, we have finally succeeded! A version of Chicken Parmesan that we much prefer over all the others!

*Note: Tonight I served it with egg noodles (simply drizzled them with olive oil and tossed in a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese), but it also is wonderful served with garlic mashed potatoes (my daughter’s favorite).

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Chicken Parmesan

Heat the oven to 350F.

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In a deep bowl, mix together:

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

salt and pepper

dried oregano and basil

garlic powder

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In another bowl, mix together:

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

dried oregano and basil

salt and pepper

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1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or chicken tenders)

Cut each chicken breast lengthwise, to get 2 or 3 pieces from each, depending on how big the chicken breasts are (if using tenders, no cutting necessary). Put the chicken pieces between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper, and pound them with a meat tenderizer. *Hint: If you’re like me and can’t find a meat tenderizer when you need it, use a potato masher… works great!

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Soak the chicken pieces into the egg mixture for a few minutes. Then take one piece at a time and coat it with the bread crumb mixture. Once covered in the bread crumb mixture, put the pieces on a plate. When all are covered, dip them again into the milk mixture and then again into the bread crumb mixture.

In a skillet, drizzle a small amount of olive oil. When the oil is hot, cook the coated chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side. When they are golden brown on both sides, place them into a casserole/baking dish that has a very, very light coating of olive oil on the bottom.

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1 cup tomato sauce (any kind you prefer — homemade or from a jar of sauce)

Spoon tomato sauce on each piece of chicken.

Bake for 8 minutes at 350F.

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1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

After the 8 minutes, take it out of the oven and distribute the cheese onto each piece.

Increase the oven temperature to 400F.

Return the chicken to the oven, on the upper most rack. Bake for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and gorgeous!

chocolate frosting — #2

Words to live by: You can never have too many chocolate frosting recipes.

My gluten-free mom was visiting this weekend, so my daughter made a boxed gluten-free cake for her. We wanted to make it special by frosting it with a rich chocolate frosting. My daughter likes to try new recipes, especially those that include chocolate, so she tried this one.

Because we were only frosting the one 9-inch single layer cake, she cut the ingredients in half (and adjusted those that weren’t neatly divisible by two). Even so, this recipe made lots of frosting! There was enough to have easily frosted a 9×13 cake or two 9-inch rounds. I can’t imagine how much frosting we would have had if we made the full recipe! The recipe below is our version of the original — it lists the quantities we used this weekend, not the amounts in the original recipe.

*Note: The original recipe was given to us by the mom of one of my children’s friends over two years ago. I do not know what cookbook the recipe was taken from.

*Another note: This frosting is so very rich … it’s like a spreadable chocolate truffle!

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Chocolate Frosting

2 1/4 sticks butter

12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup boiling water

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

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Take butter out of fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before using in this recipe. *Note: You do not want it to be warm — the frosting will not be the right consistency.

Melt chocolate chips. Allow to cool.

Add cocoa to boiling water; stir.

In mixer, beat butter, sugar and salt on high, until fluffy.

Add the melted chocolate chips. Mix well.

Beat in the cocoa mixture.

Continue mixing; scrape sides often. Beat until fluffy.

baked chicken à la Jamie Oliver

Back in January 2011, I was glancing at the Sunday magazine that comes in my local newspaper. A photo of Jamie Oliver caught my eye. And then an even larger photo of his tray-baked chicken with sweet potatoes, onions and sage fought for my attention. Having, shall we say, respect (might you call it a slight crush?) for Mr. Oliver, I decided this recipe was worth a try. The description and photo gave me confidence to try this dish — it was sure to be a winner! Well, I’ve made it twice and it is very delicious. The chicken is super moist, as promised, the potatoes tender, and the sage gives the dish a wonderful potent flavor.

But that potent flavor is exactly my one problem with this dish (sorry Jamie… I still think you’re awfully cute … and a great chef!). This meal has so much flavor — it’s the kind of meal you keep eating, whether you are full or not — just one more bite … a bit more chicken … now one extra slice of sweet potato. But, the problem was, with each extra bite the sage would make my eyes go wide open and my head would scream “SAGE!”   It was delicious, and I ate way more than my share, and Mr. Oliver should take that as a huge compliment, but when all was said and done, I couldn’t get the taste of the sage out of my mouth or memory.

So the last time I made this — months ago — I wrote a note to try it again, but with rosemary instead of sage. That’s what I did today. Other changes I made were minor, such as using garlic powder rather than crushed garlic in the brine, mainly due to my lack of time while making the brine this morning. Also, I didn’t have a fresh lemon, so I couldn’t include lemon zest. I used bottled lemon juice rather than fresh. Finally, I don’t know what size roasting pan Mr. Oliver uses, but there was no way in Idaho I was going to fit 3 sweet potatoes AND 4 medium potatoes along with the chicken breasts in my one pan. Therefore in the recipe below (my version of Mr. Oliver’s wonderful recipe), it lists a reduced number of potatoes. Today, since I was having company for dinner, I made a double batch — two trays — which is a great way to feed a crowd and super easy to prepare. Everyone loved it!

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Baked Chicken à la Jamie Oliver

For brine:

1 quart water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/3 cup honey

3 cloves garlic, crushed OR a generous amount of garlic powder

2 sprigs fresh sage (leaves only) OR rosemary (*Note: “fresh” is the key word … don’t use dried for this, it just won’t be as good … I know, I’ve done it and regretted it)

1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar

juice and zest of 1 lemon OR 2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the bake:

4 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (*Note: Today I used breasts and chicken legs, and the first time I made it I also included some chicken thighs … they all work well)

2 slices smoked bacon, finely chopped

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 sprigs fresh sage (leaves shredded) OR rosemary

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (Jamie and I prefer organic … :))

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

a few pats of butter

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You want to make the brine at least a few hours before making the meal. Ideally you want the chicken to sit in the brine for a minimum of 2 hours, with 8 hours being preferred.

Add all the brine ingredients into a large container, and whisk to combine. Put the chicken pieces into the brine; cover and refrigerate.

When ready, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to allow to get to room temperature.

Heat oven to 350F.

In a large baking tray or roasting pan, put the bacon, potatoes, onion and garlic, sage (or rosemary), a good drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour in the broth. Cook for 30 minutes.

Drain the chicken pieces (discard brine) and pat them dry.

Remove from oven and pour in the cream. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Place the chicken on top and dot with pats of butter on each chicken piece. Cook 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

crockpot chuck roast with tomato sauce

*Updated to add links to my other crock pot recipes for chuck roasts: here and here.

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This recipe was based on one I found on the website of my local grocery store. I printed it off a year or two or three ago and never did anything with it, until today.

This morning I had chuck roast on hand, intending to cook it in the crock pot as I’ve done before, but was thinking of doing it a bit differently this time. Knowing I’ve had success cooking a chuck roast with tomato sauce in the past, I searched my recipe binder and found the printed out recipe to use as a guide. The recipe from the grocery store wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so basically I just took their guidance as to the amount of canned tomatoes and beef broth and did the rest on my own.

Because today’s meal was for my family as well as for a friend’s family, I did not include onions and garlic (this other family isn’t a big fan), but next time I will, since my husband enjoys the meat cooked with those flavors. Today I also used two chuck roasts to accommodate everyone. If making this with just the one chuck roast, I may decrease the liquids, because the sauce was a bit watery. Maybe I’ll just try draining the can of tomatoes. When I try it with these changes, I’ll post again!

*Edited to add: I’ve since made another version of this, and my family loved it! You can find the recipe here. Enjoy!

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Crockpot Chuck Roast With Tomato Sauce

vegetable oil

chuck roast

1 cup beef stock

1 onion, cut in half and sliced (*optional)

2-4 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced (*optional)

1 can (28-ounce) Roma tomatoes

1/2 cup pasta sauce

1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

Heat oil in large pan and cook meat on all sides — about 2-3 minutes per side — over medium heat. Remove meat from pan and place in the crockpot.

Turn off the heat under the pan. Drain the oil and fat from the pan and add the beef stock to deglaze the pan. Pour this liquid over the meat in the crcokpot.

Add the onion and garlic (if desired), and then the tomatoes and tomato sauce to the crockpot.  Season it all with the basil, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for at least 4 hours.

Serve over egg noodles, if desired.

sausage with peppers and onions

I grew up eating a lot of kielbasa. My father’s side of the family is of Polish descent, and the town my grandparents lived in had a large Polish population. As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother, my dad’s mom, was an amazing cook. I was a huge fan of almost everything she made, though as a picky child I stayed away from her prune pierogi and her often served sauerkraut. But her golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls) were a huge favorite of mine! Also a favorite, and served at every family gathering, was kielbasa.

I don’t make kielbasa the way she did — not sure I know exactly how she did it — and I’m not lucky enough to have a Polish butcher in my town, so, unfortunately, the kielbasa I get at my local grocery store is not reminiscent of what Gram served. Therefore I purchase the best one I can find, and cook it up with onions, peppers, and a bit of barbecue sauce, then serve it on rolls. Definitely not the way Gram did it! But this is definitely not Gram’s kielbasa.

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Sausage With Peppers and Onions

Cut one onion in half, then slice it.

Clean, cut and slice a green pepper and a red pepper.

In a saute pan, coat the bottom with canola oil, then cook the onion and peppers over medium heat.

While these are cooking (keep an eye on them… you don’t want them to burn), make a batch of barbecue sauce.

Take the sausage (I used a national brand’s version of turkey Polska Kielbasa, but you can use any kind you like), cut it into 1-inch to 2-inch sections, then slice each lengthwise. Add these pieces to the soft onions and peppers. Cook and stir until the meat is heated through — this won’t take more than 5-10 minutes. Again, keep a close eye on it so that they don’t burn — turn the heat down a bit if you need to.

Once they are nicely cooked on both sides, turn the heat off and add 1/2 cup barbecue sauce. Stir, then cover. Let it sit for about 5 more minutes.

Get your favorite bun, toast it if you’d like, and top it with a big scoop of the sausage, onions and peppers. I add some good old yellow mustard on mine. Yum!