February 28, 2012

Milk Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Milk Chocolate Toffee Cookies

I bought a pack of Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee bits at the store thinking I’d use whatever recipe was on the back to make cookies over the weekend with the kids.  When I pulled them out to bake, however, I realized there wasn’t a recipe for cookies so I Googled for one and after several recipes that called for fancy shmancy chocolate to be melted over the double boiler, I found and adapted this one this one from Simply Recipes

Forty percent of the people in my family-of-five prefer a cookie without chocolate so I wanted something we’d all enjoy.  Like the name implies, this is a simple, flat, crispy cookie, that exceeded my expectations of what a cookie should be! 

Note: these cookies require you to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes prior to baking so plan your time accordingly.

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oz. (1 1/3) cups Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In a small bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.
  3. Mix toffee bits and flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended. Chill cookie dough for at least 30 minutes (better an hour or longer).
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper spoon out the cookie dough in small 1-inch diameter balls (size of a large marble).
    • Place dough balls 3 inches away from each other on the cookie sheets. (Make sure there is plenty of room between the cookie balls, and that the cookie balls aren't too big. These cookies spread!)  Put the dough back in the fridge between batches to keep it cool and easy to work with.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

February 20, 2012

Creole Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Creole jambalaya, also known as red jambalaya, is a dish that’s usually cooked and served with some type of seafood.  If I had my way I’d add the shrimp, but The Man and the kids would go to bed hungry rather than eat shrimp, so I omit the fish but still like to call this dish Creole. 

Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. In modern Louisiana, the dish has evolved along a variety of different lines. Creole jambalaya, or red jambalaya as it is called by Cajuns, is found primarily in and around New Orleans, where it is simply known as 'jambalaya'. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun jambalaya does not.

And now you know.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium green peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1.25 lbs. chicken tenderloins, cut into chunks
  • 1 T Cajun seasoning
  • 1 lb. Polska kielbasa
  • 28 oz. petite diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 38 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 cups long grain brown rice

Directions

  1. Place onions, peppers & celery in slow cooker.  Top with chicken then seasoning.  Top with sausage & tomatoes.
  2. Add rice and broth, then press all the rice down so it’s all covered with broth.
  3. Cover & cook on low 5-6 hours. Or on low for 2 hours and high for 2 hours.

*Facts found at Wikipedia

February 13, 2012

Fish Tacos with Grapefruit and Avocado Salsa

Grapefruit Tacos

Foodie Bride offered these up and they’re just good, simple food; easy to throw together and the best part for me was the fact that I could wrap the leftovers, individually, in tin foil to heat in the oven the next day for lunch.   

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large grapefruit, segmented and chopped
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 lb. halibut filet (or your favorite white fish)
  • small flour tortillas 
  • 5 Tablespoons Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. For the salsa, toss the grapefruit, avocado, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, red bell pepper, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet pan and heat over medium-high.
  3. Season filets with salt and pepper and cook 4 minutes each side, until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through.
  4. Remove from the pan and flake with a fork.
  5. Divide fish between the tortillas and top with salsa and a dollop of yogurt.

February 9, 2012

Traditional New Orleans King Cake

King Cake

We were recently invited to a poker night and asked to bring something for everyone to share and among the other foods around the snack table, a king cake made it’s colorful appearance.  In all my years alive I’d never heard of such a cake so I was excited to try it!  It’s very similar to a cinnamon roll, but in cake-like form, with a coating of colored sugar that adds a sweet crunch to the doughy cinnamon ring. 

A king cake is generally associated with Mardi Gras, served as a pre-Lenten celebration.  Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and refers to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. 

My good friend Kelli invited me to her house to make this cake and show me the method that she found at Taste of Home.  While time consuming it’s not particularly hard but with the two, one-hour rise times, you’ll want to allow yourself a full morning or afternoon to complete this one.

Ingredients

  • 2 packs (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110-120 degrees)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup warm 2% milk (110-120 degrees)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups flour (I used about a cup or two more)
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten

Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 1 teaspoons)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water
  • Green, purple, and yellow sugars

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, egg yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. 
  3. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle. 
  5. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in of edges.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal.  Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. 
  6. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 
  7. Brush with egg, then bake at 375* degrees for 25-30  minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 
  8. For glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency.  Spread over cake. 
  9. Sprinkle with colored sugars.

February 8, 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie BarsI’ve been craving sugar cookies for a while now but I loathe making the mess involved in their creation.  I found both the cookies and the frosting at Six Sisters Stuff and though I modified the frosting quite a bit, I was immediately hooked!  All the goodness, none of the mess. 

The best part is getting to share one of these with my 13 year old when she comes home from school.  It’s just her and I for a solid hour before the younger kiddos get home and it’s one of my favorite times of the day where the world seems to stop and wait patiently while we catch up on everything that happens in her middle school world.

The frosting is seriously the best frosting I’ve made to date.  The texture is perfect and it’s just sweet enough without being overwhelming.  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • couple of drops food coloring(optional)

Combine all ingredients until well-blended. Spread on top of bars. Top with sprinkles if you want!

Directions

Preheat oven 375*

  1. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Mix in vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet mixture and mix with a spoon, just until combined.
  3. Using a rubber spatula sprayed with cooking spray, spread the dough evenly onto a greased, rimmed 13x18x1 cookie sheet. 
  4. Bake for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

February 4, 2012

Cordial Cherries

Cordial Cherries © 2008

This recipe has been in the archive for a very long time so I figured with Valentines just around the corner it was the perfect time to dust it off and give it new life. Despite the fact that this is one of the few recipes that takes more than a “few minutes”, it’s well worth the extra effort.  They’d make a perfect Valentine treat for someone special … or yourself for that matter.  I know I ate more than my fair share!

If you don’t have a double boiler pan, simply put a couple cups of water in a medium sauce pan, then put a smaller sauce pan inside making sure the smaller one doesn't touch the bottom of the larger pan. This is so that the heat of the simmering water melts the chocolate but keeps it from burning since the chocolate is not in direct contact with the heat source. I personally don’t recommend melting the chips in the microwave because it takes time to fill all the molds and by the time you get to the last one the chocolate will have hardened back up; but in the boiler the chocolate stays warm and melty making it much easier to work with.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries, drained very well & cut in half. 
  • cordial cherry candy molds – I used two but for faster making, buy 3 or 4!
  • 1 12 oz. package milk chocolate chips – this is personal preference. I think next time I’ll try semi sweet because the milk chocolate seemed a little too sweet.

Directions

1.  Using a double boiler, bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer while stirring the chocolate chips to melt them.

2.  In a small bowl add sugar, vanilla and heavy cream. Mix very well until it’s a thick consistency with no lumps.  Set aside.

3.  Put a very tiny dollop of chocolate in the bottom of each mold; just enough to coat up the sides.  Leave enough room for the cherry, the sugar filling and another dollop of chocolate!  If you have a candy squeeze bottle it would make this process very easy.

4.  Chill the molds in the refrigerator 1-2 minutes.

5.  Remove from fridge and put a tiny dollop of the sugar mixture in each mold. Then place 1/2 cherry into sugar mixture. Cordial Cherries © 20086.  Now comes the "tricky" part. Put one last TINY dollop of chocolate to cover each cherry. Try not to go outside the mold - the more careful you are on this step the better your cordial cherries will look when they're finished (mine have a rough edge...this was my first attempt!).

7. Lightly tap the molds onto a flat surface to release air bubbles.

8.  Chill in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or until mold appears frosty and the candy pieces are firm.

9.  Invert mold onto flat surface and tap gently to remove finished candy pieces. (If candy doesn’t release easily from the mold, chill two to three additional minutes. Do not force candy out of mold.)

Once these are prepared, if you want to liquefy the centers, store them at room temperature for about a week.  However, mine were melting just by sitting on the cupboard so I put them in a Tupperware with wax paper between layers and sealed tightly. They didn't last long enough to worry about shelf life!