Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nutella, Peanut Butter Cookies

I always wondered what one would do with the big jars of Nutella sold in packages of two at Costco.
Now I know and I will purchase Nutella on my next Costco adventure. These cookies combine so many great flavors, they really were delicious.
My sweet 6 year old neighbor knocked on my door sporting a cute apron. This recipe was perfect, plenty of pouring, measuring and scooping with yummy results in no time. Baking cookies with a child will make you happy, I know.

Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix dry ingredients together and set aside
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup Nutella
Combine butter, peanut butter and sugars in bowl of mixer. Mix till well combined 2-3 minutes, add egg and vanilla, mix another minute. With mixer on low gradually add dry ingredients till just combined. Stir in Nutella.
Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes--I used the medium size Pampered Chef Scoop and got about 30 cookies.
Recipe adapted from Sweet and Savory Tooth and Goddess of Baking

Monday, February 21, 2011

TWD Toasted Almond Scones

This scone is a 'triple-whammy' almond delight. Start with toasted almonds, give them a ride in the food processor, add pure almond extract and top them with sliced almonds. You get almond goodness in every bite.
I took the advice of other bakers and increased the sugar and almond extract. I brushed the tops with cream and sprinkled sparkling sugar on top. I cooked the scones just 18 minutes, I couldn't wait so I ate one hot, delicious. They were even better an hour later!
The best part of this recipe is that I have 8 unbaked scones in the freezer. One can have something divine even on a busy morning. Our host this week is Mike, check his blog for all the details.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crunchy Granola

 I have a granola recipe that I love and have made for years. It is rich with butter, sweetened with honey and flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, it is delicious.
So why another granola recipe? I guess it is like chocolate chip cookies, you really can like more than one recipe. This granola is sweetened with dark brown sugar and maple syrup. The only real seasoning is salt. So it is salty, sweet and very crunchy. It cooks at a low temperature; therefore it is not as easy to overcook. This is important because I have been known to overcook my granola. There is a difference between overcooked and crunchy!
So here is a yummy recipe for:
 Crunchy Granola
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
3/8 cup dark brown sugar
3/8 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
 In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts and coconut. In a bowl combine brown sugar, maple syrup, oil and salt. Combine both mixtures by slowly pouring the liquid over the oatmeal mixture and stirring well.
Spread on large parchment lined baking sheet. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 250, until golden. Cool and enjoy. Be prepared to make another batch--it disappears quickly.

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

This yummy cookie comes from Baking Illustrated via Brown Eyed Baker. It is one fun cookie, just make it! Here are the simple instructions. For more interesting facts about why this cookie works and some fun shaping ideas check Brown Eyed Baker. I do enjoy her blog, so many fun recipes. Her sugar cookies are amazing.

(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)
Makes about 18 large cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1.Whisk together dry ingredients, set aside.

2.  Mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball.
4. Bake at 325 until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes,  Cool the cookies on the sheet.

5. At this point I would eat 1 cookie, save one for breakfast and get the rest out of my house ASAP!
But I have little self control.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shortbread Tarts

My girls can cook, when they come home for girls weekend they cook for me! Candise made these yummy tarts for us to enjoy. And we did enjoy them. Perfect for a Valentine treat. Candise found this recipe on Joyofbaking. It is yummy.

Shortbread Tarts
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 T cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz cream cheese
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla

Raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries, kiwi, blackberries

Spray 36 miniature muffin tins. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together (approximately two minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix just until incorporated.  

Divide the dough into 36 even pieces and place one ball of dough in the center of each muffin tin. With your fingertips, or a tart press, press the dough up the sides of the individual muffin tin so there is an indentation in the center. Once filled, place the tart pan, with the unbaked shells, in the freezer for about 10 minutes so the shortbread can become firm. (This will help to prevent the shortbread from puffing up during baking.)

Bake for approximately 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned. About halfway through the baking time, lightly prick each shortbread, with the tines of a fork, if they have puffed up. Check again after another five minutes and prick again if needed. Once they are fully baked, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, remove the tarts from the pan. (These may be made in large quantities and frozen.)

Cream Cheese Filling: In your food processor or electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add the condensed milk, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and process just until smooth.(Do not over process or the filling will be too runny.) Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving time. (It is best to make the filling at least a day in advance to give it time to become firm and for all the flavors to mingle).

To serve: Using a Pampered Chef Decorator, or two small spoons, fill the tart shells with the cream cheese filling. The filled tart shells can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated. Just before serving top with fresh berries or cut up fruit.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Soup

This soup makes a perfect lunch with a crusty piece of bread. I think it first came from Pioneer Woman, it was adapted by Finding Joy in My Kitchen and I added my own twist. Whichever recipe you choose the results will be delicious. Pioneer Woman makes big batches of food, there was a time in my life when I did too. But seasons of life change, so we adapt.
This is more of a method than a recipe--here's what I did.

Roasted Vegetable Minestrone
8 oz. mushrooms, cut into 4ths
1-2 medium zucchini or yellow squash quartered into thick slices
1 T olive oil
sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 large carrots, sliced
 A handful of pearl onions or 1/2 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes, I gave it a buzz with my Immersion Blender
1/2 cup small shell pasta
Parmesan cheese

Drizzle the diced zucchini and mushrooms with olive oil. Then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.Place veggies on Bar Pan and cook at 500 for 5-10 minutes, just till veggies start to brown, stir once or twice. Don't over cook.  Then, set the veggies aside.
 Meanwhile, saute onions, carrots and celery in oil over medium heat for a few minutes just to soften. Add chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. . Add pasta and  bring to a boil for 5 minutes, add tomatoes and simmer another 5 minutes until pasta is just tender.

Add the roasted veggies and heat through, adjust seasonings. Serve with Parmesan cheese

Monday, February 7, 2011

TWD Great Grain Muffins

I think I have a new favorite muffin! This recipe was featured last week, yes I am slow but I am glad I didn't miss this recipe. Our hostess was Christine at Happy Tummy, check her blog for the complete recipe.

I had three of my girls visiting for the weekend, muffins make a perfect before church snack. With whole wheat flour, oats, cornmeal, maple syrup and buttermilk you could almost call these a 'health food'. The addition of 8 tablespoons of butter makes this 'health food' delicious! This muffin was tender and full of texture. I added chopped dates and walnuts, we called it perfect.