World Peace Cookies

What can I say about these cookies that is not already said in the name?  Yes, I can understand now why they are called World Peace Cookies.  With these cookies in hand, you can do just about anything.  These cookies have now become my favorites for many reasons – which I will explain shortly.  This is really a big deal coming from someone that used to eat around the chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies – and from someone who hated chocolate ice-cream as a kid.  Ok, yes, times have changed – but still – chocolate was not something I was born loving.

Ok – back to why these are now my favorite cookies:

  1. First of all, they are so easy to make.  You can whip up the dough in a matter of minutes.
  2. You turn the dough into logs which then sit in your refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.  Therefore, you can make a double batch, even a triple, and you will have logs of cookie dough just waiting to be baked.
  3. You can literally have fresh baked cookies every night of the week – just slice the logs, put them on a cookie sheet – and stick them in the oven.  Minutes later, you have the most wonderful chocolate cookies you have ever tasted, warm and chewy right out of the oven. 

How is that for impressing your friends and family?

Seriously, if you are not running to your kitchen to bake these now, there is a problem.  Thank goodness for Bon Appetit who printed Dorie Greenspan’s recipe so that I could enjoy it and share it with all of you – now go get to work.

Ingredients

Preparation

Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  World Peace Cookies

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Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping

Chicken Pot Pie is such comfort food for me.  Sunday night is the perfect night to make it – you have lots of time, and it makes the entire house smell good.  Sometimes though I like to make a pot pie during the week – it is such a wonderful weeknight treat – especially when you make a can make a homemade topping that is delicious.  I have lots of recipes for short-cut toppings – but usually those end up using a boxed puffed pastry or a boxed filo dough.  Don’t get me wrong, those recipes are delicious, and I wouldn’t think twice about using them – but sometimes you are looking for something a little more special.

My husband invited a co-worker to dinner one night who was visiting from out of town.  He enjoys food like we do, so I wanted to make something that he would enjoy.  I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, and I couldn’t wait to make it.  The problem is that I couldn’t just make it for my husband and I – we would be eating it all week – and I wasn’t convinced that my kids would enjoy it.  I finally had my chance – with two big eaters and me, I was sure we would get through a lot of it.

It was fantastic – the crumbles were delicious, and the sauce had just the right amount of flavor – it definitely tasted like I had been making it all day – but in fact, I worked all day – and started this meal at 6pm.  Cook’s Illustrated pulled through again – I will definitely make this again, and maybe even for my kids too…

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into slices
  • 2 small celery ribs, chopped fine
  • 1 pkg mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450.

For the chicken:  Bring the chicken and broth to a simmer in a covered Dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook until chicken is done, then transfer chicken to a bowl.  Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and save.

For the topping:  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the butter pieces in and incorporate with your fingers until it resembles coarse cornmeal.  Stir in the parmesan, then add the cream and stir until just combined.  Place on a lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake 10-13 minutes until becoming fragrant and browning.  Set aside.

For the filling:  Heat 1 tbsp oil in the empty Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, 1/4 tsp salt and  1/4 tsp pepper and stir well.  Cook until vegetables are tender, and while they are cooking, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Transfer cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken and set aside. 

Heat the remaining oil in the pot and then add mushrooms, cover and cook until mushrooms have released their juices, about 5 minutes.  Remove cover and stir in the soy sauce and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are browned.  Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies. 

Heat butter in the pot and when the foaming subsides, add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring.  Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and milk.  Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to get those browned bits up.  Simmer about a minute.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and parsley.  Stir in chicken and vegetable mixture and pease into the sauce.  Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and sprinkle crumble topping evenly over the top.  Bake until filling is bubbling and topping is well browned, about 12-15 minutes.

Serves 6-8

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping

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Pumpkin Tea Loaf

I love this time of year – because now I have an excuse to make pumpkin bread.  Ok, not pumpkin bread, but pumpkin tea loaf – it sounds much fancier that way, doesn’t it?  This is a wonderful bread that fills your entire home with pumpkin spice goodness.  Who doesn’t want that?

There are two really great reasons to make this recipe besides how good it tastes:  1) It makes two loaves 2) It freezes extremely well.  So, go home, and make yourself some pumpkin tea loaves – eat one this weekend, and freeze the other one for Thanksgiving.  Now I just helped you prepare for the big day!  You’re welcome.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 15 oz. pumpkin (unflavored)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the oil, sugar, and eggs together until smooth.  Add the pumpkin, and mix well.  In a medium bowl, add all the dry ingredients together and stir with a whisk.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture.

Grease and flour two 9x5x2 inch loaf pans.  Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pumpkin Tea Loaf

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Brisket

I have two grandmothers – and therefore, I have two brisket recipes.  Both are excellent – but one has a sweet sauce, while the other has a savory one.  I am actually partial to the savory one, although I never complain when I am served either one.

I remember getting this recipe from my grandmother shortly after I graduated from college.  I remember making it a couple of times, and then for some reason I stopped for a while.  A couple of years ago I decided to make it again, after my grandmother passed away.  I had a big dinner one night and invited some friends over to enjoy the food – a tribute to my grandmother.  I remember that the brisket just wasn’t the same, and I knew that I had missed something.

Over the holidays I decided to try the brisket again.  This time, I actually thought about it before I dove right in, and started looking through my files – and low and behold, I actually found a recipe from years ago – the one I used a couple of years ago was a more recent one.  The trick is making sure the sauce is reduced to the proper consistency – and adding the chopped dill at the right time.  When I took a bite of this brisket, I was right back at my grandmother’s house – I could close my eyes, and I swear I was there.  Food is so magical – never underestimate the power it can bring…

Ingredients

  • 5-7 pound brisket, trimmed of all fat
  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup
  • 3 carrot sticks, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place the chopped vegetables on the bottom of a 8 1/2 x 11 casserole dish. Add the garlic slices.  Trim the fat off the brisket, and sprinkle the onion soup evenly over both sides.  Pour one can of tomato sauce over the vegetables, with 1/4 cup of the stock.  Place the brisket on top of the vegetables, and pour the second can of tomato sauce and 1/4 cup of broth over the top.  Cover the dish tightly with foil.  Bake for 1 hour, then baste using the sauce.  Bake for another hour, baste again, then add the tomato paste.  Bake for another hour, remove the foil, and add the dill, and baste again.  Bake until the sauce is reduced, and the brisket is very tender when inserted a fork.

At this point you need to decide if the sauce needs to be reduced further – if so, remove the brisket and boil sauce on the stove until it is the desired thickness.  I prefer it to be very thick and rich.

Let the brisket rest for about 10 minutes.  Remove the brisket and slide it thinly against the grain.  Place the sliced brisket in another casserole dish, and pour the sauce and vegetables on top – make sure to get the sauce in between each one of the slices.

Let the brisket cool, then cover with foil, and put it into the refrigerator.  Before serving it, bring it to room temperature, then reheat in a 325 degree oven until all heated through.

Serves 6-10.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Brisket

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Fudgy Brownies

Fudgy brownies – they had to come eventually.  These brownies now have a special place in my life.  It was Friday night, I had picked the girls up from school – and I was just about to figure out what I was going to make for dinner.  I still had work to do, so I kept procrastinating by going to the computer to just reply to one more email…when the phone rang.

I didn’t recognize the voice at all, nor did I recognize the phone number.  It was a very good friend of mine from high school – it was probably almost 20 years since we last saw each other.  She was such a big part of my life in high school, but then you go to college – and it is hard to keep in touch with everyone.  She was one of the people I just lost touch with.  I owe this all to Facebook – that’s where she found my number, because yes, we are friends.  She was visiting the pacific northwest, and happened to mention it on Facebook – and another one of our friends reminded her that I lived here.  She ended up coming over for dinner that night, and what a fabulous evening we had catching up…

Needless to say, I decided to forgo making dinner – and ordered a pizza instead – but I did make a batch of these brownies.  The recipe was from Cooking Light - and I wasn’t expecting anything – but I have to say, they were pretty darn good.  At 150 calories a piece, you cannot go wrong here.  They were moist, dense, and very chocolatey.  Facebook, these brownies are for you – for bringing old friends together!!

Ingredients

  • 4.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (1 cup)
  • 1/2  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/3  cup  butter
  • 2  ounces  dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4  cup  1% low-fat milk
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 2  large egg yolks
  • 1  large egg
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Stir until smooth, and set aside. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup sugar, milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, egg yolks, and egg; stir with a whisk to combine. Add butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour batter into an 8-inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean.

Makes 16 squares.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fudgy Brownies

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Spinach, Green Onion, and Smoked Gouda Quiche

As I have mentioned before, I love eating breakfast for dinner.  Unfortunately my husband doesn’t feel the same way – so any time I can sneak in a breakfast for dinner, I am there.  There is one exception to that rule though, and that is quiche…unfortunately the amount of cream or half-n-half involved is enough for me to save it only for special occasions.

Making a quiche with milk instead of cream has always been a challenge for me.  Most of the time, the eggs just don’t set enough, and I end up with a soupy mess.  Although, that never stops me from trying again.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I really didn’t think it would set correctly – but I was wrong.  This quiche came out beautifully – and the flavors were delicious.  I especially loved the smokey flavor in the gouda cheese.  The crust was flakey and not soggy at all.  I will definitely be making this one again.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 6  tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 2  tablespoons  1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 5.6  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)

Filling:

  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 3  cups  fresh baby spinach
  • 1  cup  1% low-fat milk
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) grated smoked Gouda cheese
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  • 3  large eggs

Preparation

To prepare crust, place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Combine milk, salt, and egg yolk in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add milk mixture to butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour; beat just until combined. Press mixture into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Unwrap and place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Freeze 15 minutes. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

 To prepare filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 2 minutes.

Combine 1 cup milk and remaining ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in spinach mixture. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Cut into 10 wedges.

Serves 10

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spinach Quiche

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Turkey and Tomato Salad with Avocado Dressing

 

There are two types of people – people who like salad dressing, and people who don’t.  I am definitely a salad dressing person – my husband, not so much.  He is perfectly content to sit down to a nice big salad with no dressing.  My older daughter, the same way.  There has to be a lot of cheese on the salad for me to do that…  My younger daughter – just like me – carrots are just a means to get the ranch dressing into her mouth.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - and was stuck on the dressing.  The funny part is the title of the recipe had no mention of the dressing what-so-ever.  I adapted the salad slightly to what I had in the house that evening – but I have to admit, for me, it was all about the dressing.  This dressing was so delicious, I was eating it with a spoon.  It was ridiculously creamy, and the avocado flavor was amazing – mixed in with the garlic – wow, what a treat.  I can’t wait to make that dressing again – even if I am the only one in the house to eat it.

Ingredients

  • 1/4  cup  low-fat buttermilk
  • 1  tablespoon  light mayonnaise
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1  garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2  ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed
  • 4  cups  bagged chopped butter lettuce
  • 2  cups  diced deli, lower-salt turkey breast (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Preparation

Combine first 7 ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth, scraping sides. Set aside.

Combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle buttermilk mixture over lettuce mixture; toss gently to coat.

Serves 4

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Turkey and Tomato Salad with Avocado Dressing

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Mississippi Mud Pie

I was in the kitchen making dinner, and my younger daughter comes in and asks, “Mommy, what are we having for dessert?”  I replied with, “Mississippi Mud Pie.”  She says, “Oh, but it doesn’t really have mud in it, right?”

When I studied in France, I lived with a french family.  She was a very interesting woman, and only had americans live with them for the status.  It was bizarre, but yes, it was very prestigious to have an american student living with you.  I have a seafood allergy, which I told her about immediately (since the first day I was there, I had a reaction to something I had eaten…and was not doing well).  The problem was I had to say this in french, and couldn’t understand a word she said to me for the first few weeks.  I just hoped she had understood what I said to her.

A couple of months later, a new student arrived – and I could tell that Madame was not too fond of her.  She came from Stanford, and I had to admit, spoke beautiful french.  One evening before calling her down for dinner, Madame said that we were going to play a little trick on her.  She was serving crab for dinner (which she knew I could not eat), but wanted me to play along that we were eating cat for dinner – and it was a delicacy.    Since I had already had it for dinner a month ago, I didn’t get any that evening.  Madame tried to pull this off, but you don’t get in for Stanford without being extremely bright, and she knew exactly what was going on.

Ok, so what does this have to do with Mud Pie?  I didn’t even both to try to fool my daughter and tell her that there was mud in it – although it would have been fun.  She is definitely at the age where she may have just believed it.

This recipe from Cooking Light wasn’t at all what I expected – it was more like a brownie – with a very crispy top – like merengue.  I served it warm, and the center was nice and moist, and very soft.  If you like undercooked brownies, this is the recipe for you.  The top – very crispy – it was hard to cut.  The crust really didn’t do much for me – it didn’t have a ton of flavor.  If I make it again, I will make it crustless – although it sure does like nice around the edge. 

Ingredients

Crust

  • 4.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  vegetable shortening
  • 2  tablespoons  chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4  cup  ice water
  • Cooking spray

Filling

  • 3  tablespoons  butter
  • 1  ounce  semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 4  large egg whites
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 3.4  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3  cup  Dutch process cocoa
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
  • Dash of salt

Preparation

To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 4.5 ounces flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until blended. Add shortening and chilled butter; pulse 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly pour ice water through food chute, processing just until blended (do not allow dough to form a ball); remove from bowl. Gently press mixture into a 4-inch circle; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Unwrap and place chilled dough on plastic wrap. Lightly sprinkle dough with flour; roll to a 10-inch circle. Fit dough, plastic wrap side up, into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Fold edges under, and flute.

To prepare filling, place 3 tablespoons butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds or until butter and chocolate melt, stirring well to combine. Place vanilla and egg whites in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar; beat until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes). Gently fold melted chocolate mixture into egg white mixture.

Weigh or lightly spoon 3.4 ounces flour and 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and dash of salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Fold flour mixture into egg white mixture. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Serves 10

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mississippi Mud Pie

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