• Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies

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    One of -s’s coworkers requested that we make the grand prize 2008 Pillsbury bake-off recipe: double-delight peanut butter cookies.

    I thought they tasted very good. They are kind of a cross between a peanut butter cookie and a snickerdoodle. -s didn’t really care for them too much, but our daughter LOVES them.

    I found them to be a bit labor intensive…first you roll the peanut butter into balls, then cut the cookie dough, then put the cookie dough around the peanut butter balls, then roll again, then roll in sugar mixture then flatter with a glass…repeat 24 times.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped
    • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
    • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
    • 1 roll (16.5 oz.) refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough, well chilled.

    Directions:

    1. Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix chopped peanuts, granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
    2. In another small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar until completely blended. Shape mixture into 24 (1-inch) balls.
    3. Cut roll of cookie dough into 12 slices. Cut each slice in half crosswise to make 24 pieces; flatten slightly. Shape 1 cookie dough piece around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely. Repeat with remaining dough and balls.
    4. Roll each covered ball in peanut mixture; gently pat mixture completely onto balls. On ungreased large cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart. Spray bottom of drinking glass with CRISCO® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray; press into remaining peanut mixture. Flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thickness with bottom of glass. Sprinkle any remaining peanut mixture evenly on tops of cookies; gently press into dough.
    5. Bake 7 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Store tightly covered.

    Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies:

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  • Thai Mussamun Curry with Chicken, Potatoes and Peanuts

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    Last night I made another curry from The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott. It was pretty good, and the kiddos even ate it, but I think -s and I were looking for a bolder flavor. This may be a dish that’s just better at a Thai restaurant. Sometimes, especially with Thai food, it’s really difficult to recreate the taste you are expecting from a dish. Maybe it’s because I used light coconut milk or maybe Thai restaurants us a secret ingredient….

    I halved the below recipe, and I also added eggplant to the original recipe.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cans (14 oz each) unsweetened coconut milk, divided
    • 3 TBSP mussamun curry paste
    • 2 lbs, chicken cut into bite sizes
    • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into bite sizes
    • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced into thick wedges
    • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into bite sizes
    • 1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts
    • 6 cinnamon sticks
    • 3 TBSP fish sauce
    • 3 TBSP brown sugar
    • 3 TBSP tamarind liquid
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 TBSP fresh squeezed juice
    • Hot rice

    Directions:

    1. Open a can of coconut milk and stir. Add 1/2 c. of the coconut milk to a deep nonstick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then add the curry paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine the paste into the milk.
    2. Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes, until chicken begins to change color. Add the potato, onion, eggplant, peanuts and cinnamon sticks and toss with the chicken. Add the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, tamarind liquid and salt and bring to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potato is tender and chicken is cooked through. Add 2 TBSP lime juice and stir well. Taste and add more lime juice if you like. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

    Thai Mussamun Curry with Chicken, Potatoes and Peanuts:

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  • Korean Beef BBQ and Korean Cucumber Salad

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    I love cooking Asian food, and I do believe this was my first attempt at Korean inspired cuisine. It was so delicious, and the ENTIRE family not only ate it but LOVED it! I found the beef recipe at recipezaar and the salad recipe is from the June 2007 issue of Cooking Light.
    Korean Beef BBQ Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. sirloin, cut into thin strips (1/16 of an inch…or as close as you can get it)
    • 1 TBSP brown sugar
    • 3 TBSP soy sauce
    • 1 TBSP mirin (rice wine)
    • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tsp. sesame oil, divided
    • Lettuce leaves
    • Jasmine Rice

    Directions:

    1. Place the beef in the freezer for about an hour before you want to use it. This will allow you to cut the meat thinly.
    2. In a ziploc bag, combine the meat through 1 tsp. sesame oil, and marinate in the fridge for an hour.
    3. Heat remaining teaspoon of sesame oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Remove meat from marinade, discard marinade, and add meat to the skillet and saute until done.
    4. Take a lettuce leaf, add some rice, then add the meat and enjoy!

    Korean Cucumber Salad Ingredients:

    • 3 1/2 c. English cucumber, sliced thin
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 2 TBSP green onions
    • 1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

    Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients and mix. Serve chilled.
    2. Tastes excellent on the side or even add it on top of the Korean Beef BBQ—great flavor addition!

    Korean Beef BBQ:

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    Korean Cucumber Salad:

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  • Sweet and Sour Sauce

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    No this isn’t a recipe for egg rolls. I bought some fresh egg rolls at the store, and at the last minute I decided to find a sweet and sour recipe. Gotta love the internet! I clicked on the first recipe that came up in my google search, and a few minutes later I had a delicious sweet and sour sauce. Super easy to make, and my son devoured it…he dipped his beef and egg roll in it.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
    • 4 TBSP brown sugar
    • 1 TBSP ketchup
    • 1 tsp. soy sauce
    • 2 tsp. cornstarch
    • 4 tsp. water

    Directions:

    1. Combine vinegar through soy sauce in a pan, and bring to a boil.
    2. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and water; then add to the pan and bring to a boil.

    Sweet and Sour Sauce:

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  • Angel Hair with Checca Sauce

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    I saw Giada prepare this recipe years ago on her show “Everyday Italian.” The recipe is also in her Everyday Italian cookbook. I thought it sounded delicious, so I wrote down the recipe. I’ve been meaning to make it for quite some time, but every time basil is bountiful in the garden I always forget about this recipe, but I will forget no longer! It’s super quick and easy to make, and it’s delicious, flavorful, and light…perfect for a summer day. I’ve changed the recipe slightly to better appeal to my family, and everyone loved it!

    Ingredients:

    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 8 green onion, white and light green parts only
    • 24 oz. cherry, grape, or vine ripe tomatoes
    • 2 oz. pecorino romano cheese, grated
    • 6 TBSP olive oil
    • 20 basil leaves
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 lb. angel hair
    • 8 oz. to 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed

    Directions:

    1. In a food processor, pulse garlic through basil, until tomatoes are coarsely chopped; then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
    2. Mix sauce with hot angel hair. If sauce is a little dry, add some pasta cooking water.
    3. Mix in the fresh mozzarella.

    Angel Hair with Checca Sauce:

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  • Daring Baker’s: Cheesecake Pops

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    Here is my very first Daring Baker’s Challenge! These Cheesecake Pops were fun to make and real big hit with -s’s co-workers. -s and I are kind of cheesecake snobs, and the cheesecake wasn’t our favorite…too eggy for our taste, but they are a real crowd pleaser. If we make this one again, we’ll try our tried and true cheesecake, and then I think it will be over the top delicious!

    Ingredients:

    • 5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
    • 2 cups sugar
    • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 5 large eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • Boiling water as needed
    • Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
    • 1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I omitted)
    • Assorted decorations such as toasted coconut, mini Reese’s pieces, chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, degrees) – Optional

    Directions:

    1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
    2. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
    3. Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes (mine took closer to 60 minutes, and the center still wasn’t fully cooked.)
    4. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
    5. When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. I couldn’t really scoop the cheesecake…I rolled it like meatballs. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
    6. When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
    7. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
    8. Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
    9. Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
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    Cheesecake Pops:

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  • Honey Mustard Chicken

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    Years ago my mom clipped this recipe from a can of Dole pineapple. This dish quickly became a family favorite. I haven’t made it in years, so I decided to make it tonight with a few changes, and we all loved it…it’s super kid friendly and very tasty!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 can (20 oz.) Pineapple chunks, drained and reserve juice
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • 1 tsp. dried thyme
    • 1 TBSP cornstarch
    • 1/4 c. honey
    • 1/4 c. dijon mustard
    • Serve over steamed rice

    Directions:

    1. Drain pineapple and reserve all juice.
    2. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
    3. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Rub each chicken breast with garlic and thyme. Add chicken to skillet and brown both sides.
    4. Combine 2 TBSP of reserved pineapple juice and cornstarch in a bowl, and mix to combine.
    5. Add the honey and dijon mustard to the remaining pineapple juice, then add this mixture to the skillet; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
    6. Stir cornstarch mixture into the skillet and add the pineapple; cook, stirring until sauce boils and thickens.

    Honey Mustard Chicken:

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  • Turkey Chili Mac

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    It’s Thursday, which means it is time for a crock pot recipe. I found a Chili Mac recipe in Beth Hensperger’s Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two cookbook which sounded interesting. I changed up the original version quite a bit to create my own Chili Mac, and it turned out quite tasty. A good dish to feed a family that likes different levels of spicy food, because the dish as is, is not spicy, but if you like spicy food, you can add the spice by using your favorite salsa, Tabasco, or jalapenos.

    Our son complained and complained when I told him what we were having for dinner. Even though I’ve never made this before he proclaimed that it is a “ucky dinner.” After a couple of bites he said “this is really yummy. Can we have this again?” That’s a glowing recommendation from a 4 year old!
    Ingredients:

    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
    • 3 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp (use more if you want a more spicy dish) ancho chile powder
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 1 15.5 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 lb. pasta (elbow, baby shells, mini penne), cooked al dente
    • 1 c. frozen corn
    • 1/4 c. black olives, sliced
    • 2 c. grated cheddar or pepperjack cheese
    • 1/4 c. cilantro for garnish
    • Additional toppings of choice: Chipotle Tabasco, sour cream, salsa, or jalapenos

    Directions:

    1. Spray inside of crockpot with cooking spray.
    2. in a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook onions and garlic until soft; then add the chili powder, ancho chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and turkey and cook until turkey is cooked through, stirring occasionally to break it up; then place mixture in slow cooker.
    3. Add the tomatoes and kidney beans, to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours.
    4. Stir the cooked pasta, corn, and olives into the chili. Cover and cook on LOW for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until pasta and corn are warmed through.
    5. Top with cheese and sprinkle with cilantro and/or any of the other toppings.

    Slow Cooker Turkey Chili Mac:

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  • Super Easy Fudge with Marshmallows

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    I’ve never attempted fudge before, but I have heard that it can be difficult to make…depending on the weather, it might not set etc. I saw a recipe on the back of a store brand marshmallow package, which gave me the inspiration to create my own version, and it was so easy to make, and tastes delicious! Even my son, who doesn’t like chocolate, loved the fudge.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
    • 2/3 c. evaporated milk
    • 2 TBSP butter
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows, divided
    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    Directions:

    1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a heavy saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
    2. Remove from heat and immediately add chocolate chips and 1/2 c. marshmallows. Stir until chocolate and marshmallows are melted; then add the vanilla. Add an additional 1/2 c. marshmallows and stir to create a marshmallow swirl effect.
    3. Spread into a greased 9x9x2 pan. Take the remaining 1/2 c. marshmallows and sprinkle them on the top of the fudge, gently pressing them into the top of the fudge. Cool, and then cut into squares.

    Super Easy Fudge with Marshmallows:

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  • Blast From the Past: A Mexican Meal

    Before we left Salem, Oregon for Arkansas, I did some food writing for the local paper. Unfortunately, those features are no longer available on the websites, so I’m going to pull up the drafts and put them on here. The only difference between what you see and what was published will be from the pre-recipe verbiage — all of the recipes are as published. -s

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    It is said that the quote “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” originated with Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was discussing Russian politics at the time, but he could just as easily have been discussing his most recent attempt at creating a satisfying home cooked Mexican meal.

    Mexican cuisine is an interesting challenge for the home cook. It is as varied and complex as European cuisines, yet its highest hurdles are generally those of ingredient availability and patience, not cooking
    techniques.

    But the efforts of many a home cook may result in a less than satisfying experience, and the weakest link may not be obvious. However, one simple change in the meal will bring it to heights heretofore unknown.

    Fresh tortillas.

    The difference in taste between fresh and packaged tortillas is apparent long before the first morsel enters your mouth. Good fresh tortillas entice you with their aroma and their texture and pliability suggest a longing to encase your kitchen’s finest creations rather than a run to the border.

    And the taste? Like an artisanal bread, fresh flour tortillas have a depth of flavor unmatched by their packaged rivals. Fresh corn tortillas actually taste like corn and do not require the extremes of effort needed to bring life to corn tortillas from a bag.

    You can make fresh tortillas at home, but it isn’t necessary. Salem is extremely lucky to have a number of restaurants that make fantastic fresh tortillas and sell them piping hot on a to-go basis. Purchase them the same day as your meal, and if necessary they can be warmed by cooking on an ungreased pan over medium-high heat for 20 to 30 seconds. Keep them warm by wrapping them in a clean cloth towel and placing in a tortilla container.

    Excellent fresh tortillas can be purchased at the following restaurants:

    La Hacienda Real, 3690 Commercial St. SE (503) 540-5537, 5024 River Rd.
    North (503) 390-0923
    Los Arcos, 4120 Commercial St. SE (503) 581-2740

    Most of the ingredients in the following recipes are widely available in
    Salem. Stores that normally have all of the ingredients listed are:

    El Torito Meat Market, 2158 Lancaster Dr. NE (503) 371-5979

    Wal-Mart Supercenter, 3025 Lancaster Dr. NE (503) 589-5516

    Fred Meyer, 3450 Commercial St. SE (503) 585-3533

    Ropa Vieja

    • 3 lb. roast cut of beef, such as tri-tip or bottom round, or can also use flank steak
    • 6 cups beef stock
    • 1 carrot, sliced
    • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 cup onions, diced
    • 4 fresh Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
    • Salt
    • Flour tortillas for serving

    Put meat, stock, carrot, and garlic in a crock pot. Cook for 6 hours on high. Leave the meat to cool in the liquid. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the liquid and shred using your fingers or a fork. In general, the shreds should not be longer than 2 inches. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and chiles and cook until lightly colored. Add the shredded meat to the pan and mix. Add the reserved cooking liquid to the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes.

    Serve with flour tortillas, lime wedges, chopped cilantro garnish, and salsas.

    Simple Pinto Beans

    • 1 lb. dry pinto beans
    • 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
    • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

    Place the beans in a large pot or bowl and sort to remove stones or grit. Cover with 8 to 10 cups of water. Soak overnight.

    Remove any floating objects and discard the soaking water.

    Place the soaked beans into a crockpot with 6 cups of water. Add salt, oregano, and thyme. Cook on low 6 hours for a firmer texture and 7 hours for a creamier texture.

    Mexican Rice

    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
    • 1 cup white or jasmine rice
    • 1 10oz. can tomatoes with green chiles, such as Rotel
    • 2 tsp. granulated chicken and tomato bouillon, such as Maggi
    • Water

    Remove the lid from the can of tomatoes with green chiles. Over a measuring cup no smaller than 2 cups capacity, press the lid into the can, squeezing the liquid into the measuring cup. Add water to the cup until it measures 2 cups of liquid. Add bouillon and whisk until dissolved.

    Heat the oil in a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rice should look chalky. Add the can of tomatoes with green chiles and stir until mixed.

    Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 15 or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Cooking time may vary due to type of rice used.

    Ninfa’s Green Sauce
    Adapted from “The Tex-Mex Cookbook” by Robb Walsh

    • 12 tomatillos, peeled
    • 0 to 3 serrano chiles, depending on desired amount of heat
    • 4 avocados
    • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 cup to 2 cups sour cream, depending on desired thickness

    Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the tomatillos and chiles. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and drain.

    Peel, pit, and slice the avocados.

    Combine the tomatillos, chiles, and avocados in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

    Pour into large bowl and add the salt and cilantro. Stir in the sour cream to achieve desired thickness. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Griddled Salsa Roja
    From “New Tastes from Texas” by Stephan Pyles

    • 6 medium-sized tomatoes, halved
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 cup sliced onions
    • 1 to 6 jalapenos, depending on desired amount of heat
    • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 chipotle in adobo
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
    • 2 tsp. salt

    Heat a large skillet on high for 3 minutes or until smoking. Place the tomatoes cut side down in the hot skillet and cook until charred and somewhat soft. Flip the tomatoes over and continue cooking 2 more minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and let the skillet stand for 2 minutes.

    Add the olive oil, onion, jalapenos, and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.

    Place the onion mixture, charred tomatoes, and chipotle in a food processor and blend well. Transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Serve at room temperature.

    Tomato Arbol Salsa
    Adapted from “La Parilla” by Reed Hearon

    • 1/4 cup corn oil
    • 12 arbol chiles, with seeds
    • 2 Roma tomatoes, pan-roasted until blistered, deeply browned, and soft
    • 6 garlic cloves, pan-roasted until brown and soft, then peeled
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, toasted
    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp. toasted and ground cumin

    Heat the corn oil in a medium-sized skillet until hot but not smoking. Fry the chiles, 1 or 2 at a time, until puffed and brown, about 10 seconds. Do not burn or they will taste bitter.

    Shake off excess oil from chiles and place in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons chile cooking oil, tomatoes, garlic, and water to the blender. Blend until smooth. Add the oregano, salt, and cumin and blend again.