cod fillets

cod 6

My dad loved to fish and we would go with him as often as possible. We caught trout mostly. I remember hours spent digging for worms, packing up the station wagon with all the reels and supplies, and driving to the nearby river. Then, after the successful fishing trip, returning back to the house and cleaning the fish outside the garage.

Those who know me now, decades later, might be surprised that I was once comfortable threading worms onto fishing hooks and later cleaning the fish we caught. Cleaning the fish involved scraping off the scales, cutting off the head, slicing the belly open, and removing the guts (after examining the insides to learn what each fish had consumed earlier in that day).

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I haven’t gone fishing in years. And not so sure I’d be comfortable cleaning fish anymore. As a child it was fun and an adventure … very Tom Sawyer-ish. But today I prefer to purchase my fish at my local market. Nice fillets, all cleaned and free of bones and ready for me to cook. Yes, that’s more to my liking now.

But I can’t purchase trout. That fish holds a special place in my memories from my childhood. There is nothing like eating a trout hours after catching it yourself. Because of this I just can’t bring myself to buy trout at the market.

Instead I purchase cod most of the time. And this recipe is adapted from the one at my local market, Wegmans. Their recipe can be found here.

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Pan Seared Cod Fillets With Lemon And Butter

3 cod fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds)

a drizzle of olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, divided

about 1/4 cup flour

salt & pepper

1 lemon, cut in half

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Over medium-high heat, put 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil into a large pan (I prefer a non-stick skillet).

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In a large plastic zipper baggie, combine the flour, salt and pepper.

Place each fillet into the flour mixture and shake gently to cover the fish completely.

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Place the coated fillets into the hot pan.

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Cook the fish on the first side about 3 minutes, until the color starts to come up the outside, and the cooked side is golden brown.

Flip the fillets and cook on the second side about 3 minutes. *Note: Cooking times will need to be adjusted due to the thickness of the fillets.

When the second side is also golden brown, place the lemon halves, cut side down, into the pan, as well as the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.

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Turn off the heat and if possible, place a lid on the pan.

Wait 2 minutes, then remove fish to a serving platter.

Using kitchen tongs, squeeze the lemons to get all the juice out of them.

Drizzle the lemon juice and butter liquid over the fillets; serve.

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I’m not thrilled with this photo — and it was taken before drizzling the liquid onto the fish — but I did not take any others, so this is what you get!

choco-hoto-pots

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This is Nigella Lawson’s recipe, featured on Oprah back in 2005. This recipe has become a family favorite in my immediate family and with all the extended relatives as well.

I sincerely thank both Nigella and Oprah for introducing me to this luscious, delicious, decadent dessert.

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I wasn’t one of those people that watched Oprah every day. No, that would be my mom. She was a devoted fan, and at least once a week she’d call me right at 4pm to ask if I was watching, because she thought I’d enjoy the topic of the day. Unfortunately, 4pm was not a time that I could sit of the sofa and tune in to any TV show. With children in elementary and middle school during those years, 4pm was the start of crazy time: bus stop pickups, after-school snacks, homework, preparing dinner, handling arguments, serving dinner, household and sibling crisis management. TV did not play a part in that time frame (and this was before we had the technology to record shows at the press of a button to watch later at our convenience, and I had not idea how to program my VCR to record, so those options were not available).

But every once in a while I did watch Oprah, either because school was not in session, or if the older kids had after-school activities and my normal routine was put on hold. It was one of those rare days that I turned on Oprah and was intrigued to see Nigella Lawson as her guest. I don’t remember what other recipes she demonstrated during the show, though I vividly remember the Choco-Hoto-Pots. Hot melty gooey chocolate — hard to forget. And easy to make! Definitely something I could pull off. And that I did, for almost every major holiday meal from that point forward. New Years Eve? Choco-Hoto-Pots! Christmas dinner? Choco-Hoto-Pots! Easter dessert? Choco-Hoto-Pots! Company for dinner? Choco-Hoto-Pots, of course!

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In the recipe below I’ve added an option of dark chocolate chips for the white chocolate, because the last time we made this I was out of white chocolate and my daughter put in dark chocolate chips instead. It was delicious … possibly even better than with the white chocolate. From now on I may always make it with the dark chocolate … extra decadent!

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Choco-Hoto-Pots

butter for ramekins

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, or shaved white chocolate (melts very nicely), or dark chocolate chips or shavings

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Heat oven to 400F.

Place a baking sheet in the oven to get hot.

Butter four 2/3-cup ramekins; set aside.

Using a microwave-safe bowl, melt together the semi-sweet chocolate and the butter. This takes about 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar and flour.

Add cooled chocolate mixture, and mix until blended.

Fold in white (or dark) chocolate.

Divide mixture evenly among ramekins and place on the hot baking sheet.

Bake until tops are shiny and cracked and chocolate beneath is hot and gooey; about 20 minutes.

Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve either plain, or dusted with powdered sugar, or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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frozen cookies

frozen balls of cookie dough

No, this isn’t a recipe for frozen cookies. Instead it’s a time-saving hint for making cookies during this busy time of the year (or anytime you need/want lots of cookies).

Last week I made gingersnaps and butter cookies, twice. For one of the batches I made them according to the recipe, then took about two dozen or so of the prepared dough balls and put them in plastic zipper baggies. For the butter cookies I did not roll them out, as directed in the recipe, but instead made them into 1-inch balls and rolled each in colored sugars. Then into the freezer the two bags went. Today I took them out of the freezer and let them thaw on the counter (though they could be placed in the refrigerator for a few hours instead).

cookie dough to freeze

Now I’m heating the oven, and putting the dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Because the cookie temperatures are different, I’ve started at 375F and am baking the tray of gingersnaps first. Then when they are out of the oven, I’ll increase the temperature to 400F and bake the sheet of butter cookies.

thawed cookie dough

Yum! Fresh hot delicious cookies without having to start all over again!

cocoa cookies

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In my opinion, these cocoa cookies are just the perfect holiday cookie. The powdered sugar resembles snow, and the dense cocoa taste is like a gift in your mouth.

This recipe is another one that I’ve had for about a decade, maybe longer. It’s been in my recipe book since my daughter was in second grade (she’s now almost done with high school). I know how long it’s been there because that recipe book was given to me by her second grade teacher, as a thank you for helping out in the classroom (she was such a good teacher and a nice person!). Soon after getting the recipe book I printed up my most favorite recipes and into the book they went. I did not note on the recipes cards where they came from. Possibly this one is a family recipe — I do remember making cookies similar to this when I was younger — but maybe it’s one of the recipes that I acquired from friends over the years.

Oh well, doesn’t really matter where it came from. What matters is that these cookies are awesome. Really, really delicious! A family favorite.

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Cocoa Cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

powdered sugar or mini chocolate chips or color sprinkles (for rolling the cookies in)

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In a mixer, blend the sugar and eggs until well combined.

Slowly add the melted butter.

Add vanilla.

In a bowl, stir together cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.

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Add flour mixture to butter mixture; mixing on low until combined.

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Put the dough into a bowl, cover and refrigerate it for a couple hours.

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Heat oven to 350F.

Remove dough from refrigerator.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls.

Roll each ball into powdered sugar, mini chocolate chips, or the colored sprinkles. (If using the mini chocolate chips, press firmly so that they don’t roll off easily.)

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Place on ungreased cookie sheets, or, as I prefer, cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10. Do not over-bake. *Note: If you made them bigger than 1-inch, they may need 12 minutes of baking time.

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Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely.

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Store in airtight containers.

cocoa cookies

chocolate kiss cookies

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This is a cute recipe for holiday cookies. When I make Christmas cookies to give as gifts, or for holiday parties or cookie exchanges, these are the cookies I usually pick, because they are easy, delicious, and festive. The recipe is from Hershey’s (they call this Candy Cane Blossoms, because they use candy cane flavored kisses, but my younger kids prefer regular chocolate kisses, so this time those are what I used).

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Chocolate Kiss Cookies

48-60 Hershey’s chocolate kisses, unwrapped

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons milk (I used half & half)

red and green colored sugars

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Heat oven to 350F.

Cream together the butter and sugar.

Add egg and vanilla; mix well.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, until well blended.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. *Note: Be careful not to make them bigger than 1-inch! If you do, you’ll end up with a bad chocolate/cookie ratio, in my opinion.

Roll each ball in colored sugar. I had one small bowl with green sugar, one with red, and one with both red and green.

Place on lightly greased cookie sheets, or on parchment lined cookie sheets (my favorite way to do it!).

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned and slightly cracked.

Remove from oven and allow to sit on cookie sheets for 1 minute.

After the minute is over, press one chocolate kiss into each cookie.

Transfer the cookies from the cookie sheets to a cooling rack.

Cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

*Note: The original recipe states that this recipe makes 48, yet by keeping the size consistent at exactly 1-inch, I am able to make 60 cookies from one batch.

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kiss cookies (2)

cookies ready to go into the oven

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cookies out of the oven

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They’re so pretty!

gingersnaps

gingersnaps

Okay, here’s a fact: I could give up sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, and any other cookie, but not gingersnaps. I’m sure no one has ever asked me this question, but if they did, gingersnaps would be the one cookie I took with me to a deserted island, if I could only pick one kind. They are that good.

Yet, I forget about them. During the Christmas season I make them and enjoy them, but then the holidays come and go and spring arrives and I don’t make them again for months and months. Why? I have no idea.

It is now Christmastime, and today was a “make cookies” day and I made both butter cookies and these gingersnaps. I am a happy girl right now, with two containers of yummy cookies to enjoy with my evening cup of tea.

*Note: I’ve had this recipe for at least a decade, possibly two, and have no idea where it originated from.

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Gingersnaps

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened *NOT melted*

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup sugar (for rolling the cookies into)

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Beat butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes.

butter and sugar

Add egg; beat until well blended.

In a bowl, combine flour, ginger, cinnamon and baking soda.

dry ingredients

stir ingredients

Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture.

Mix on low until blended.

4 mix half dry ingredients

Add molasses.

Mix on low until blended.

add moleasses

Add remaining flour mixture and continue to mix on low speed until combined.

Place dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

ready to chill

Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

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Heat oven to  375F.

With lightly floured hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls (or smaller).

*Note: As of 2013 I’ve started to make these much smaller — using a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon to measure out the dough. This makes nice small cookies … and lots of them! Great for giving as gifts. Since they’re bite-sized, there isn’t as much guilt when eating cookie after cookie. When making them this smaller size, cook for only 8 minutes. 

Roll each ball in the 1/4 cup sugar.

Place balls 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and when the cookies have cracked tops.

Allow cookies to rest on cookie sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to cooling racks.

Store in airtight containers.

out of oven

 

ginger cookies 2013

cream cheese frosting

cream cheese frosting (4)

Last month we celebrated my oldest son’s birthday, and his cake request was brownie ice cream cake. Today we’re celebrating my daughter’s birthday, and she requested chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. (*Note: I “cheated” this time and used a box chocolate cake mix. This is very unlike me, but I was short on time.) Next month will be my youngest son’s cake of choice (I’m guessing he’ll pick something chocolate). And I wonder why I have such a hard time losing weight during the winter months.

Now, I have many recipes for frosting, but I do not have a cream cheese frosting recipe. Until now. I did a bit of online searching and found a couple recipes. Many called for 8 ounces of cream cheese. Others for twice that. Since I had only 8 ounces of cream cheese in the refrigerator, I decided that would be the recipe to try. But the amounts of powdered sugar varied in each of the recipes. Taking what I know about frosting, and knowing what my daughter desired (fluffy frosting), the recipe below is what I ended up with. It’s based on a dozen recipes online, but not exactly like any one of them that I found.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature

8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 – 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

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In mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy, at least 2 minutes.

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Add the vanilla and beat well.

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Slowly add the powdered sugar, starting with 3 cups, continuing to beat until light and fluffy.

Stir occasionally.

Taste and check the consistency. If too thin or not sweet enough for your taste, add the extra 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

Mix on high for at 1 – 2 minutes.

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Frosts one double round cake, one 9×13 layer cake, or 24 cupcakes.

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