Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

This cookie looks and tastes just like a cinnamon roll!  It made the house smell fantastic as it baked.  My husband was a little disappointed because they were crispier than he expected but that could be remedied by reducing the bake time or making the slices thicker.

Make this one to add a festive look to your holiday cookie platter!

Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Yields: 48 cookies

Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Photo Credit: Emily H.
For the cookies:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4, plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the icing:
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk


  1. To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Scrape the dough into a ball in the center of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes, or the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  3. Once the dough is chilled, divide it into two equal halves. Place one half back in the bowl and put it back in the refrigerator for now. On a large piece of plastic wrap, pat the first half of the dough into a rectangle about nine inches by twelve inches, and about half an inch thick. Place half of butter on the dough and spread it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar evenly over the buttered dough and press the sugar into the dough. Finally, sprinkle half of the cinnamon evenly over the dough. Use the plastic wrap to tightly roll the dough into a log. Place the log in the freezer for 30 minutes or the refrigerator for at least an hour. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough and filling ingredients.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with Silpat mats or parchment paper.
  5. After the dough has chilled again, slice each log into half inch slices (about 24 per log). Place on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing.
  6. To make the icing: In a medium bowl, combine the butter and instant espresso powder. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and whisk until it just comes together. Next, add the milk, one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. It should be thin enough to drizzle, but thicker than a glaze.
  7. With the cookies on a wire cooling rack set over parchment paper, drizzle the icing over the them with your whisk. Allow the cookies to set up for a few minutes before stacking or storing.

Source: Bakingdom as seen on Sing For Your Supper

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Build Me Up Butterfinger Cup

This cookie was made at the request of my husband.  Apparently he follows the brand page for Butterfinger on facebook and occasionally he will post a photo and tag myself (and Emily, sometimes Jackie, too now!) requesting that we bake it for him.  We joke that we aren't his baking slaves...

Yet, look what I ended up making for him as one of my exchange cookies, anyway.  The name of the cookie is cute...and gets the Build Me Up Buttercup song stuck in my head everytime I read it.  Oh boy.  The cookie is baked in a mini-muffin tin and definitely has the texture of a muffin more-so than a cookie.  That's not to say it's not delicious and the eater is in for a surprise as they get a mouthful of surprise butterfinger!

Make this one for the sweet tooth in your life ;).

Build Me Up Butterfinger Cup
Yields: 24 cookies


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 mini butterfingers, halved
  • Melted chocolate chips and butterscotch chips (I used caramel) for drizzling, optional

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently, until butter foams and starts to brown. Remove butter from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and extract, and mix using a mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes or until well incorporated and mixture is grainy. Beat in eggs until well combined - about 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined. Beat in flour until just combined.
  2. Freeze or refrigerate batter for 30 minutes or until well chilled. 
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a (24 cup) mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
  4. Place 1/2 teaspoons of dough into bottom of cups. Press a Butterfinger half into the dough in each cup. Evenly top Butterfingers with remaining dough. Bake 12 minutes or until puffed and light golden brown.
  5. Cool 5 minutes before transferring cups to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate and butterscotch (or caramel).

Source: Sugar Plum Blog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookie with Salted Peanut Caramel

Hello friends.  I'm sorry that I haven't blogged AT ALL this month.  It's been busy, to say the least.  Somehow, I still found time to participate in not one but two holiday cookie exchanges, though.  So, I figure I'll share the yummy cookie recipes with you all this week.

This one was my favorite of the three that I made.  I'm a sucker for anything with caramel (and, I'll admit to cheating and making semi-homemade caramel in this case but left the original recipe intact in case you have more time than I did).  They're pretty, too.  A wonderful addition to any holiday spread!

Peanut Butter Cookie with Salted Peanut Caramel

Yields: 50 cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie with Salted Peanut Caramel
Photo credit: Emily H.
For the cookie dough
  • 8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (200g) creamy salted peanut butter (see Note)
  • 1 3/4 cups (250g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the salted peanut caramel*
  • 1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) water
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (100g) finely chopped roasted salted peanuts
*Note: If you're feeling lazy like me, just add a splash of cream (or milk) and pinch of salt to caramel candies  and melt those down.  Fill the thumbprint wells with the caramel mixture then top with chopped nuts.

Optional: 4 ounces bittersweet, semisweet, or milk chocolate, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. With an electric mixer, or by hand, make the cookie dough by beating the butter, brown and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended. If using an electric mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the peanut butter.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture and stir until there are no patches of flour.
  4. Scoop up tablespoon-sized portions of the dough and roll each piece between your hands so they’re as smooth as possible so they don’t crack at the edges when performing the next step.
  5. Space them 1 1/2-inches (2 cm) apart on the baking sheets, then use the rounded end of a wooden spoon, or your thumb, to make a depression in each one. Don’t worry much if the sides crack; push them back together.
  6. Bake the cookies for 13-16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during cooking, until they are light-golden brown and the edges barely start to darken. Remove from oven, and while they’re warm, press in to reinforce each depression with the end of the wooden spoon. Let cool completely.
  7. Make the salted peanut caramel by warming the cream in a saucepan or microwave, and setting it aside.
  8. Cook the water, 1 cup sugar, corn syrup, and salt to a caramel, gently swirling the pan only if necessary (to ensure it melt and cooks evenly) until it turns a nice golden brown. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the hot cream in a slow, steady stream.
  9. Cool until warm and pourable, then add the chopped peanuts. Spoon some of the caramel into each cookie, letting it set for about an hour, if you want to drizzle them with chocolate.
Storage: Cookies will keep in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 3 to 4 days. The unbaked dough can be rolled into rounds and stored in a heavy-duty freezer bag in the refrigerator or freezer, until ready to bake.
Source: The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet as adapted by and seen on David Lebowitz

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recipe Swap: Cranberry White Chocolate Almond Cookies

I brought these cookies to my family Thanksgiving and all but 3 lonely cookies were devoured despite having some fierce competition from pumpkin pie, oreo ice cream cake, thumbprint cookies, pumpkin rolls, and more.  I had not one person, but three different aunts/uncles that asked me for the recipe.  And now, I'm sharing them with you :).  These cookies burst with fact, I might actually decrease the amount of chips in the future out of personal preference for a higher cookie to stuff ratio but left the directions as is for now.

Thanks again for A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting the swap (this edition was Thanksgiving Desserts)!  I'm not sure yet who got my post and I gave them two options so I'll come back and update this post later once I know.  I didn't tell you but I'm secretly floating somewhere in the Caribbean Sea as you're reading this right now.  Ahhh, sand between my toes and sun on my face :D.

Cranberry White Chocolate Almond Cookies
Cranberry White Chocolate Almond Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 whole large Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup dried Cranberries
  • 1 cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped Almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add vanilla and mix.  Add dry ingredients until just blended.  Add cranberries, chocolate and almonds and incorporate into dough.
  3. Drop by the heaping Tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet leaving 1 - 1.5 inches between each drop.
  4. Bake at 350F degrees for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Source: As swapped by Jenna's Cooking Journey and slightly modified from Through the Bugs on my Windshield

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post: General Tso's Chicken

Today I've invited my friend Emily to guest post for me.  You'll probably recognize her drool worthy photography from some of my Dinner Club posts as well as our recent Apple Extravaganza from October.  I'm always envious of her skills both in the kitchen and behind the lens.  She's an amazing person and I'm so glad to have her as a friend.  Hopefully this won't be the last that you see of Emily on this blog ;).

If you'd like to guest post, please leave a comment!

 This officially marks my first food blog post. Ever. Seriously. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of food I’ve cooked…and baked….and grilled….and, sometimes, when I’m feeling rebellious, even fried. But, never once written a blog post. So, as you can imagine I was a bit reluctant to take Christine up on her offer for a guest post, but I’m not one to turn down trying new things. Especially those food-related.

The recipe I’m sharing with you all today is quite the standard: General Tso’s Chicken. I’m sure this one has been done a hundred thousand times over, across blogs, recipe sites and the like. Heck, I would argue that this dish has been over done. However, the reasons I wanted to post this are two-fold:

First, I’m generally anti-fry. I’m more or less a border-line health nut about 80% of the week (the other 20%? Well, that’s what weekends are for!), making this recipe fall squarely outside of my comfort zone. I confess, we own a Fry Daddy (I blame the husband!), but require it never be used inside. There are few things that will make my stomach turn, but waking up to a kitchen with the lingering odor of a McDonald’s only results in my being overcome by the urge to shower. Or exercise. A lot.

Good news! This recipe does NOT require a Fry Daddy. Seriously, nothing ever should. And, yet….
Second, I was quite frankly blown away by the end result. It was border-line restaurant comparable. I’m not kidding. Let’s just say the husband put this recipe in his Top 5, and mandated it have a regular appearance in “The Rotation.” On one condition: that I continue to keep his plate broccoli-free (you see what I have to deal with?). 

And now, for the main event….

General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken

  • 1-½ teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 whole Large Egg White
  • ¼ cups Plus 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Canola, Peanut, Or Vegetable Oil For Frying
  • Flour to coat the chicken (1/2 - 1 cup, depending on desired coating)
  • 1 Tablespoon Peanut, Canola Or Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Ginger Root
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth Or Stock
  •  ¼ cups Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Chile-garlic Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar. (The original recipe calls for Raw (turbinado Or Demerara) Sugar, but I’m not sure it matters either way)
  •  4 whole Scallions, Thinly Sliced
  • Steamed Rice (we’re partial to sushi rice, but I’m sure this would taste phenomenal with sawdust, so it matters not!)
  • Steamed Broccoli
Preparation Instructions

  1. Prep your chicken: In a mixing bowl, stir together the sesame oil, soy sauce, egg white, and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch until a thick slurry forms. It will look gummy but smooth. Add the chicken pieces and stir until all are evenly coated. At first it may appear that it will not come together but it does! Set chicken aside, covered lightly with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Begin the sauce: Add the tablespoon of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Stir the garlic and ginger into the oil and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining sauce ingredients until smooth. Pour into the garlic and ginger, stirring, until the sauce becomes thick and shiny. Once the sauce thickens, lower heat and keep the saucepan over a low burner partially covered to stay warm.
  3. To fry the chicken: Heat 1/2-inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed, high-sided frying pan or skillet over high heat. In the meantime, add the flour to your coated chicken, mixing everything together. When the oil is shimmering, add one piece of chicken at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook chicken for 4 minutes on each side, or until deep golden brown and crisp on both sides.
  4. Transfer the fried chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat the process until you’ve cooked all the chicken. Then slide all of the fried chicken into the prepared sauce and toss to coat. (If desired, add some steamed broccoli to coat with the sauce also.) Increase the heat to medium, stir and cook just until hot all the way through.
  5. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve immediately over white rice. Or brown rice. Or sushi rice. You get the idea.
Source: Adapted from Rebecca at on Tasty Kitchen (Original Recipe)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Chipotle-Tomato Glaze

Hi friends.  Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, friends, and family?  I know I certainly evidenced by my lack of posting last week.  I had myself THREE Thanksgiving meals (yikes!) and surprisingly (and proudly) found myself still having an ab line and the scale was still within normal fluctuation the follow day.  I guess that Jazzercise session pre-Thanksgiving helped lessen the blow ;).  Plus, I was having far too much fun holding my adorable cousin's baby, Michaela, and watching her first crawl, too!  What did you do for Thanksgiving?  What did you eat and who did you spend it with?

Today's recipe that I'm sharing is a twist on an American classic.  It is a little tangy and a lotta spicy.  Definitely a fun change.

Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Chipotle-Tomato Glaze

Yields: 6-8 Servings

For the glaze
  • 1 c. crushed canned fire-roasted tomatoes  
  • 1/2 to 2 canned chipotle in adobo
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt, to taste

For the meatloaf
  • 1/2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. chorizo, removed from casings
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. finely ground tortilla chips, crackers, or combination of the two (I highly recommend using chips)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Either line a large baking sheet with greased foil or grease a loaf pan.
  2. To make the glaze, combine all ingredients except salt in a blender or food processor and puree.  Add salt to taste.
  3. To make the meat loaf, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and salt and cook 30 seconds more.  Slide the onion mixture into a large bowl.  Add the all remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. Form the meat mixture into a loaf and move to the baking sheet.  Alternately, gently press into a loaf pan.  Spread half the glaze on top of the meatloaf.  Place in the oven and bake 50 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and spread the remaining glaze on top.  Place back in the oven10 minutes more.  When done, remove meatloaf from the oven and let sit 15 minutes.  Slice with a serrated knife and serve. 
Source: Lisa Fain, The Homesick Texan Cookbook as seen on Apple A Day

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipe Swap: Cheesy Chili Mac

Recipe swap time again!  This time I received a recipe that I had bookmarked earlier and was wanting to make anyway so was very excited to see this One Pot meal show up in my inbox.

This is very rich and very cheesy as the name promises!  I decided to leave out the extra cup of shredded cheese in the pasta sauce because I was concerned it'd be too much (crazy considering how much I LOVE cheese) and it was still plenty cheesy.  This is essentially homemade Hamburger Helper.  Yum!

This week I submitted a recipe that I received in a previous swap: Pierogi and Kielbasa Bake.  The Cookaholic Wife had made a very similar version previously and her husband liked the recipe even more WITH my addition of the veggies!  See the full round-up at Taste of Home Cooking.

By the way, I think I'm officially going to try to make Fridays a series of posts: Fast Fridays.  Meals that you can make in 30 minutes or less.  What do you think?  And, any great recipes to share so I can build my repertoire?

Cheesy Chili Mac


  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 Onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 15 oz can Tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Pasta (I used about 3 cups Penne since noodles are bigger and so they don't pack as well)
  • 1 15 oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (used diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers)
  • 4 oz Cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Shredded mexican cheese blend (I used a sprinkling of sharp cheddar)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Heat a 12" skillet over medium heat and add oil.  Heat until shimmering.  Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the pan.  Cook, stirring frequently until the onion is soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and brown sugar and cook an additional 1 minute.  Add the ground beef and cook through.
  2. Stir in the water and tomato sauce then add the pasta and stir again.  Cover and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook until al dente, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes and black beans, then the cream cheese and stir until the cream cheese is incorporated.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and for extra cheesiness, add 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Stir until combined.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and cover.  Let stand for 2 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Top with cilantro and garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Jey of Cooking

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roast Beef with Onion Gravy

I love family recipes.  They always seem to have that extra-special magic touch to them that make them extra delicious.  Perhaps it's the fact that you know the idea comes from someone special to you.  This particular recipe isn't from my family but from Sarah from A Taste of Home Cooking's step-mom.  I can tell you that it's now going to be part of my personal family recipes.

This dish is very easy to prepare and yet yields restaurant quality results.  I never knew how easy roast beef was.  Seriously, anybody can make this.  All you need is time to allow the beef to slowly roast itself to tender perfection.  My husband told me that this was the best meal he's eaten in a long time.

Oh and by the way, I'm going to count this against my Prime Rib recipe for 23 Things in 2011.  It's pretty much the same idea and basically, I just wanted to challenge myself with roasting a big hunk of red meat this year.  Besides it's my list so I make the rules ;).

Two Years Ago: Get ready to get your Gobble Gobble on in less than 2 weeks with these great sides, including another family tradition! Corn Casserole and Sweet Potato Souffle
One Year Ago: Chicken and Cheddar Dog Treats

Roast Beef with Onion Gravy

Roast Beef with Onion Gravy

  • 1 (3 1/2-4-lb) beef roast
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 3 cups cold water, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all sides of the roast. Place roast on a rack set in a roasting pan and put in the oven. 
  2. Dissolve the onion soup mix with 3 cups of cold water (doesn’t completely dissolve) and add it to the bottom of the pan with the roast 15 minutes after putting it in the oven. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Baste the roast with the mixture as it cooks, about every half hour. For medium the roast will take about 2-2 1/2 hours. Add water to the bottom of the roasting pan, as needed so the drippings and soup mix don't dry out and burn. 
  3. When the roast is done, take the remaining drippings and pour into a small pot and bring to boil, adding water as needed to make the amount of gravy you want. Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until cornstarch is dissolved, then add to the gravy until it thickens. 
  4. Serve the gravy on the side, with the sliced beef and choice of sides.
Source: A Taste of Home Cooking

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cheesy Italian Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Happy 11/11/11!  There's only one more time this century that a date with all the same numbers will happen and that's on 12/12/12.  When I bookmarked this recipe and put it on my menu plan I had every intention of making this in the crockpot.  But, apparently when you forget to do the pre-work ahead of time before going to work you end up making it in old fashioned way to speed things along.  Thank goodness for dual oven and crockpot directions on this one :).

I learn all sorts of meatball tricks on Joelen's blog.  Previously with Swedish Meatballs recipe I learned that instead of pan frying your meatballs you can put them in a (mini-)cupcake pan and bake them.  Now from this recipe I learned you can also just put your meatballs on a plate and nuke them.  How amazing and easy is that?!  I love tips and tricks that make your life easier and the thing I particularly love about Joelen's blog is that most recipes have make-ahead tips so they're perfect for new parents and folks with busy lives.

These meatballs were cheesy as promised and a definite crowd pleaser!  Everyone knows that marinara sauce freezes perfectly, too.

Cheesy Italian Meatballs with Marinara Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 2/3 cup tomato paste (equivalent to one 6 oz can.)
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • Minced fresh Italian parsley for garnish


  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, tomato paste, 6 garlic cloves, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.
  2. Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl; set aside. Add wine to pot with remaining onion mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, sausage, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining garlic to bowl with reserved onion mixture. Mash with potato masher until smooth. Add beef and cream to bowl and knead with hands until well combined. Form mixture into twelve 2-inch meatballs.
  4. Microwave meatballs on large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm, 4 to 7 minutes. Nestle meatballs in slow cooker, discarding rendered fat. Cover and cook on low until meatballs are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 hours. Skim fat. Stir in basil and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt. Serve over pasta and garnish with minced parsley if desired.

* To make ahead/freezer meal - Prepare the directions as noted above for sauce however allow the sauce cool and set aside. Prepare the directions as noted above for the meatballs however nestle meatballs in an oven- and freezer-proof baking dish discarding rendered fat; allow to cool. Alternately, you can cool the meatballs and place in a gallon sized freezer bag. Cover the meatballs with the cooled sauce (either in the baking dish or freezer bag). Cover/seal and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost.

If making in the oven - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover baking dish with foil and place baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in basil and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt. Serve over pasta and garnish with minced parsley if desired.

If making in the slow cooker/crockpot - Place contents of freezer bag in a slowcooker/crockpot. Cover and cook on low until meatballs are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 hours. Skim fat. Stir in basil and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt. Serve over pasta and garnish with minced parsley if desired.

Source: Originally from Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country as adapted by and seen on What's Cookin, Chicago and The Piggly Wiggly

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Do not let this mundane looking photo fool you.  These are no ordinary mashed potatoes.  In fact, these mashed potatoes are SO FULL OF FLAVOR that they don't even need gravy.  Everybody (especially my now blog-famous friend Emily) knows that caramelized onions make any dish irresistible.  And that, my friends, is what sets this mashed potato recipe apart from any other.  Those craving more flavor can add a hit of garlic (roasted for more mellow flavor or raw for a bite) and parmesan cheese.

Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Yields: 4 Servings

  • 2 pounds potatoes, washed, peeled, cubed
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup hot milk
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, finely minced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Garlic (optional, roasted or raw)
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Put prepared raw potatoes into a large pot and submerge in water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Drain and allow to steam dry.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat butter until it begins to bubble.  Add sliced onions and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned.
  3. Transfer half of the onions and all of the milk to a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Mash the potatoes and stir in the hot onion milk.  Add a little extra butter and check the seasoning.  Stir in the remaining caramelized onions and the minced parsley.  If desired add garlic and parmesan cheese for a boost of flavor.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken and Roasted Root Vegetable Pot Pie

This was a fantastic change from the standard pot pie and captures the best Fall flavors in a spin off from a comforting classic.  It also used a ton of different root vegetables that I got from my CSA share big win! While there are quite a few steps and dirty dishes made in the process of creating this pie, the end result is worth it.  The roasted root vegetables lend an earthy but naturally sweet flavor to the dish while the chicken makes it familiar and adds protein to a dish my husband would otherwise not eat.

Oh and by the way, I made the pie crust for this so though I originally intended to share a dessert recipe for that one I think I can officially check that one off my 23 Things in 2011 list :).  Woo hoo!

Chicken and Roasted Root Vegetable Pot Pie

Yields: 8 Servings


For the filling
  • 2 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound parsnips (approximately 2), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound turnips (approximately 2 medium), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled, and - yes, you know it by now - cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • one head of garlic, peeled down to the last layer of skin, leaving that last layer of skin intact, and the top 1/4-inch of the head removed to expose the tops of the cloves within
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
For the gravy
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chicken broth (saved from boiled chicken breasts above)
For the crust (makes 3 9" round circles)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup very cold vegetable shortening
  • 1 stick very cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk (any type)
  1. To make the chicken filling and broth: In a large stock pot, add chicken and enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Remove cooked chicken and place on a cutting board to cool.  Strain the broth using a fine mesh sieve and set aside for use in the gravy.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into cubes or shred using fingers or forks.
  2. To make the vegetable filling: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the parsnips, turnips, carrots, and butternut squash with the olive oil to coat. Transfer to a large baking sheet or roasting pan. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and thyme over top. Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil, drizzle olive oil over the cut side, salt and pepper, and seal it in the foil. Roast the vegetables and garlic in the oven on the middle rack until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown on the edges, approximately 45 minutes.  While the vegetables roast, you can make the pie crust and gravy.
  3. To make the crust: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Then add the cubed very cold butter and cubed very cold vegetable shortening to the flour, and pulse until fats are pea-sized. With the motor running, add 1/2 cup of very cold water to the dough. If the dough does not come together completely, add very cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead quickly and gently into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Once chilled, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a 9" pie crust.  You should be able to make about 3 out of the dough ball.
  4. To make the gravy: Add butter to large saucepan and melt completely.  Then add flour and stir until combined.  Allow to cook for about a minute.  Whisk in the reserved chicken broth then all of the spices.  Continue to whisk until no lumps remain.
  5. To assemble and bake:  If you turned off the oven, pre-heat it back up to 375 degrees.  Put one pie crust round into the bottom of a pie plate.  Fill with the roasted vegetable and chicken filling (use as much or as little as you want...I probably used half of what I cooked).  Pour the gravy over the top.  Put the other pie crust round on top.  Seal the edges and cut decorative slashes into the top.  In a small bowl beat the egg yolk and milk together.  Brush it on top of the pie crust.  Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes or until the top of the crust is golden brown.
Source: Inspired by Poor Girl Gourmet and My Recipes

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe Swap: Strip House Potatoes Romanoff

These potatoes were, in the name sake of my recipe swap partner for the week, DeLish!  My husband went in for second servings (shhh, nobody tell him that there's a good helping of sour cream in this dish!) and we easily cleaned out half of the casserole dish (supposedly 6 servings) between the two of us.

It's a bit time consuming to make with the pre-baking of the potatoes prior to the final casserole assembly and bake but cheesy flavor is amazingly comforting.  I'm sure in a rush you could substitute hash brown potatoes and go straight for the final bake.  I may try that in the future but if someone else gets to it first please let me know how it goes.

I baked my potatoes and assembled the casserole in the same day (still allowing to cool to room temperature first).  My potatoes were on the small side since they came from my farm share and probably could have benefited from a reduced pre-baking time to shred more easily.  I did not have white cheddar so used a combination of sharp cheddar and some leftover three cheddar cheese (which, I guess technically has *some* white cheddar in it).  In lieu of shallots which I forgot to buy I just used a medium onion and 2 garlic cloves.  Also, I cut back the salt to 1.5 tsp but still found it to be a little too salty.  Might scale it back to a single teaspoon in the future.  I used fat free sour cream with success to trim some calories.  I'm sure hubby will be asking for this dish again!

Please visit A Taste of Home Cooking for the swap roundup and check out the equally cheesy and comforting Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe (my go-to!) that I submitted and Hezzi D's Books and Cooks recieved in this week's swap.

Strip House Potatoes Romanoff

Yields: 6 Servings


  • 3 large russet potatoes, about 2 lb. total, unpeeled and scrubbed  
  • 3/4 cup minced shallots  (I used a medium onion and 2 cloves garlic, which I grated on the small side of the grater)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese (I used 1 & 1/2 cups sharp and three cheese cheddar)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt (I used 1.5 tsp but would recommend trying 1 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper 
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used fat free)


  1. Wrap each potato in aluminum foil and pierce several times with a fork. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Remove the foil and let the potatoes cool to room temperature. Place the potatoes on a plate, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
  3. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the potatoes, including the skins. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle the shallots, 1 3/4 cups of the cheese, the salt and white pepper on top. Using your hands, gently toss the mixture together to combine, then fold in the sour cream in 2 additions. 
  4. Transfer the potato mixture to a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish; do not compress. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup cheese on top. Bake until the potatoes are hot and the cheese is golden brown, about 30 minutes. 

Source: Originally from Strip House as seen on DeLish

Friday, November 4, 2011

Napa Cabbage Salad

Typically I find such "Asian salads" to be a crock but this.  I really liked this.  I questioned the dressing based on the ingredients but it really worked and tasted delicious.  There's something about the crunchy ramen topping that makes it pretty irresistible....and in no way healthy.  It IS ramen noodles after all.  Even my husband, who originally turned up his nose at this salad, wanted to add this to the rotation.  Imagine that...he wanted to add a SALAD to the rotation!  Of course, I had to jazz it up with some chicken to round it out and make it a meal that he would approve of but you can leave it off if you prefer.

Napa Cabbage Salad

Yields: 6 Servings

  • 1 head napa cabbage (you can use coleslaw or even regular lettuce in a pinch)
  • 1 bunch minced green onions
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (3 oz) package ramen noodles, broken into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Cooked and cubed chicken (optional)

  1. Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. To make the crunchies: Melt the butter in a saute pan. Mix the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Cook and stir until ingredients are lightly toasted.
  3. To make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.
  4. Combine dressing and cabbage then add the crunchies. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.

Source: Slightly modified from All Recipes

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken

Well, after so many dessert posts recently it's time to get back to entrees.  I apologize for this awful photo but really, this taste is quite good.  The flavor of the barbecue sauce is extra sweet (and makes a great "gravy" for the mashed potatoes).  And best of all, the meat is fall-off-the-bone-tender after being slow-cooked in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Two Years Ago: Buttermilk Cornbread

Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Yields: 6 servings

  • 12 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 12 oz barbecue sauce
  • 1 jar peach preserves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Place chicken thighs, four at a time, in the pot with the skin side down.  Brown both sides then remove to a plate and repeat until all chicken is browned.  Pour off half the grease then return pan to stove.
  3. Add onions to pan and stir, cooking for 2 minutes.  Pour in whiskey (taking care if you are using an open flame) to deglaze the pan.  Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing whiskey to reduce for a minute or two.  Pour in barbecue sauce, peach preserves, water, and Worcestershire sauce.  Add garlic cloves and stir until combined.  Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up.  Cover and dutch oven into the oven.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Serve pieces of chicken over a big pile of mashed potatoes.  Garnish with sprinkled green onions.
Source: Pioneer Woman

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

Trick-or-Mini-triple-treat and Happy Halloween!  A big thank you to Emily for cooking with me and taking beautiful photos so that I could share all those apple recipes with you last week.  If you liked the series please leave a comment and let us know.  We'd also love to hear what ideas you'd have for future marathon themes :).  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming (and not so awesome photos) with me.

When I saw these on Josie's blog and had some leftover candy corn I knew they were simply too cute not to make.  It's very similar to the standard peanut butter cup blossom cookies that you see all the time but with a dough that's more fluffy and cake-like in texture (it is a cupCAKE after all) and topped with candy corn for extra festivity.

Go ahead and make these for your favorite ghouls and goblins tonight.

Two Years Ago: Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
One Year Ago: Who Loves Ya Baby Back?

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

Yields: 48 mini cupcakes

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 48 miniature Reese's peanut butter cups
  • 48 pieces candy corn
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two 24-cup mini muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lour, baking powder, and salt. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk, scraping down the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low, beat in the flour mixture and the buttermilk just until combined. 
  4. Place 2 teaspoons of batter into each muffin cup, then press a peanut butter cup into the center until the batter aligns with the top edge of the candy.
  5. Bake until puffed and set, about 10 minutes.  Immediately press the candy corn into the top of each cupcake.  Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks before serving.
Source: Originally from Every Day Food, October 2011 as adapted by and seen on Pink Parsley

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Truffles

This is it.  The grand finale to Apple Extravaganza week on my blog and coincidentally also all-time post #250! That's some pretty exciting stuff!  Who would have known that in just a few years I would have made so many new recipes (and honestly, what I post isn't even all of it!).  You all inspire me to do what I do!

Now back to this recipe.  My husband absolutely LOVES truffles.  At Valentine's Day one year I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles and our friend Jackie made Oreo Truffles.  He pretty much inhaled them both and we were baffled at how few truffles were leftover at the end of the night.  Anytime I make a dessert he practically begs me to make the cookie dough truffles so I thought I'd throw a truffle recipe into the baking mix.  Chris wasn't so keen on the idea of having fruit instead of chocolate in the mix but he went along with it anyway.

Scott was a little sad when he found out the oreos were going to be pulverized to be used in the recipe but once they were put together he changed his tune, too.  These were a hit with both of our guys!  They're very sweet and the small size makes them deadly because you feel justified in eating several at a time.  Not surprisingly Chris guarded his allotted truffles once we got home.  Sharing was not an option but that's okay because I happily ate the other treats that Emily and I produced.

To sum things up, Emily and I made six recipes between the two of us:
If you liked these posts, leave a comment to let us know because Emily and I (and/or any of my Dinner Club friends) would LOVE to do another marathon cooking/baking session sometime.  Any theme ideas or recipes that you have to share would be lovely!  If you want to be a taste-tester for one of our sessions, we might be able to arrange that, too ;).

Apple Cinnamon Truffles

Apple Cinnamon Truffles
Photo Credit: My wonderfully talented friend, Emily
  • 1 package Golden Oreos
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Apple Pie Filling, pureed
  • 1 tsp Ginger, divided
  • 2 packages White Chocolate Baking Bars
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon 
  • Crushed Pecans, for garnish
  1. Add the Oreos to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and mix together with the pumpkin (or pureed apple pie filling), cream cheese and 1/2 tsp. ginger. Once combined, use a cookie scoop to form into small balls and place on a plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. 
  2. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until fully melted. Stir in the cinnamon and remaining 1/2 tsp. ginger. 
  3. Remove the balls from the fridge and dip into the chocolate, making sure they are coated evenly. Place on the wax paper and repeat until all balls are covered in chocolate. Sprinkle pecans on top and refrigerate until hardened.
Source: The Jey of Cooking as slightly adapted from Cooking with Christen