Orange Berry Muffins- Secret Recipe Club

Hello, Secret Recipe Club! This month, my assigned blog was The Novice Housewife. If you’re wanting to learn about anything Indian food, Shumalia is the one to visit. Every Tuesday even, she has a new Indian specific post in her Garam Masala section- check it out! I’m bookmarking these recipes for the time I’m back to cooking regular dinners again. But for now, my kitchen time has been geared toward baking. Since I’m still at my parents’, it’s just easier that way :) So, Shumalia’s orange berry muffins caught my eye. It’s been quite some time since I’ve made muffins and I wanted something totally variant from my usual chocolate chip and something muffins I tend to end up with.

No joke, these muffins are the best muffins I’ve made yet! They were moist, super flavorful and just right in the sweetness arena. Using fresh orange juice and zest makes all the difference in the world. And the kitchen smelled full of fresh morning citrus. I have no need to ever look for another blueberry muffin recipe- this is where it’s at.

Orange Berry Muffins

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
About 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 stick ( 8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup frozen blueberries (not thawed)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease pan with butter or spray. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet. Pour the orange juice into a large measuring cup or bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough- the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Measure out the blueberries in a small bowl, then throw just enough flour on them to lightly coat. Stir in the coated blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Stirato Bread Recipe

Hi, this is actually Alex, Heather’s husband, and I’m excited to be the first guest contributor to this blog! All I can say is, it’s about time :) . My wife was kind enough to check out an awesome book from the library titled In Search of the Perfect Loaf, by Samuel Fromartz. Lately, I’ve been on a bread making kick and as I’ve searched the world wide web for the “best” bread recipe, I’ve definitely stumbled on many, many recipes that claim to be the best french bread or the best sourdough recipe, etc. I’ve noticed that they also claim to be able to reward you with a loaf in about two hours, a little more in some cases. While I think that it’s a great idea if you’re in a hurry to make bread or even love using a bread machine, my personal opinion is to make bread using longer fermentation rises that bring out the flavor that the yeast is intended to provide. I’m new to baking, so I expect some backlash from the community on that subject, which is why I let Heather answer all the emails :) .

Anyway, as I’ve attempted various recipes, I only tried the ones that require the dough to rise at least twice, resulting in rise times of up to 9-12 hours depending on the temperature of our home! That’s hardly convenient for many people and I understand that. But, if you want to savor the flavor of what yeast can actually do, I highly recommend trying it out this way. I’ve heard many times from Heather and her friends that baking with yeast “scares” them. I can only assume from my own experience in trying this out, is that the dough can be under- or over fermented resulting in wide variations in texture and crumb. I’m not too technical of a guy, but I can definitely see where that can lead to frustration, especially if you’re trying to make this for a special occasion and you want it to turn out just right. Well, I can share with you a recent recipe from this book that I’ve modified slightly to fit our kitchen needs. Usually, I’m a by-the-book kind of guy and I don’t deviate from the written recipe, because I like to know if something turns out wrong, to minimize the variables. That’s how organic chemistry is helping me out today! Oh, I bet you never thought you’d use that course knowledge ever again! Anyway, Heather would also say that I’m long winded, so let’s get on with the recipe.

This is considered a good recipe for novice bakers and those who don’t want to use a sourdough starter.

You can do a search on the internet and find similar recipes that will recommend letting this rise for about 12-18 hours. I did it in 7, and it was awesome!

STIRATO RECIPE

Ingredients:
500 grams of unbleached all-purpose flour
375 grams of water @ 80F
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
10 grams salt

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, water and yeast. Mix this with a wooden spatula or your wet hands for about 1 minute.
  2. Once mixed, make an imprint in the top of the dough to form a well, then place the salt into this well and cover the salt with about 1 tablespoon of water
  3. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 20 minutes
  4. Stretch and fold the dough into the center while in the bowl for about 1 minute or approximately 12 times
  5. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 20 minutes
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 three more times.
  7. Cover the bowl and let it rise for about 6-7 hours or until the dough has tripled in size.
  8. Dust your counter with flour and scrape the dough out onto the counter in one piece
  9. Shape the dough into a rectangle about 10 x 16 inches and divide lengthwise into 4 loaves. Transfer the loaves onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Cover the loaves with a light towel and allow them to rise for another 30-45 minutes
  10. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat the oven to 470F for one hour prior to baking the loaves. Place a baking pan underneath the middle rack to hold the 1/2 cup of water that will be used to create the steam later on.
  11. Just before transferring the loaves onto the stone, stretch them out to the length of the baking stone (Stirato!) Then drag/transfer the loaves with the parchment paper onto the hot stone.
  12. Throw 1/2 cup of water onto the baking pan on the bottom to create steam (Be careful not to burn yourself during this action!)
  13. Close the door and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a golden brown
  14. Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

 

 

Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Hello! Well, the kids and I are back in Northern California where we belong. Things are getting more routine around here, and I am reeeealllly getting my blogging itch back. It’s been so long I don’t know what to say.

Lizzie loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (surprise, surprise) and was begging me for “cake” after seeing Minnie bake one. As long as there’s chocolate chips in them, in her mind muffins make the perfect cake! As always, I had a bunch of aging bananas that we all forget to eat. I got this recipe from The Worldwide Ward Secret Recipes book, but I used whole wheat flour and chocolate chips instead of blueberries. In this house, we only seem to eat mini muffins so downsizing was necessary, too.

These muffins amazed me because there’s no butter or oil, yet they’re moist, sweet and addicting. They were outta here like THAT.

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, beat bananas, sugar, yogurt, egg and vanilla until just blended; stir into the dry flour fixture JUST until combined. Do not overmix!

Spoon batter into the mini muffin cups and bake about 12 minutes, or until the muffins are barely turning golden brown on up. Makes 24 mini muffins.

Lemon Butter Cookies- Secret Recipe Club

Here we go again! Secret Recipe Club time. This month, I got Cookin’ Mimi! Micha has a great variety of recipes to choose from, and I especially like her weekly menus and link-ups. She’s never short on ideas. Since my life seems to revolve around making sweet stuff these days, I checked out her desserts and decided on her lemon iced butter cookies. A few weeks ago, I had the best lemon cupcake ever (from here) and since then, lemon flavored treats have been lingering in my mind.

These cookies are just what you’d expect a crumbly butter cookie to be-yum! If you like shortbread, these are perfect. I think the lemon addition is spot on and necessary. I added a little extra salt and it amped up the flavor just a tad. The icing adds a delicate touch, but these are also decent on their own. I can see this cookie being a hit at a tea party :)

Lemon Iced Butter Cookies, makes about 15 cookies
1 stick of butter or margarine, softened
1 cup all purpose flour
5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons or more lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and lemon juice and zest and mix until the dough comes together. Form heaping tablespoons into balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a glass that has been moistened . Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and beginning to brown around the edges.  Let cool completely.

For the icing:

Mix powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thick icing. Add the juice a tablespoon at a time. Frost cookies when totally cool.

Romney vs. Obama- the cookies

For the past 5 years or so Family Circle has had a cookie bake-off between the wives of the presidential candidates. I’d noticed it before, but never bothered to try any of the recipes. This year, however, my mom and I were totally on it!

First off, and just in time for the *big* convention, we tried Ann Romney’s cookies, which reminded me of a monster cookie. No complaints with that whatsoever. These were delicious. M&M’s cookies are a favorite around here, and throw in peanut butter. Really, how can you go wrong? They were chewy and sweet, just what you’d expect with an all-around tasty cookie. I can see with having 5 boys why she would make these- satisfying, easy to whip up and quite portable.

Next up, Michelle Obama. Hmmm, this was one interesting recipe. From the start, it created problems. Apparently, since it isn’t the holiday season, NO one seems to carry mint chocolate chips. Even the Andes mints (what I had to use) were difficult to find. I ended up buying the whole ones in the bulk section of Winco and chopping them up.

Looking at the recipe, I was a little skeptical as to the amount of butter/shortening compared to the amount of flour, but I wanted to follow both recipes exactly. OOPS. The cookie dough was super soft, even after chilling it for a few hours. The cookies turned out like this:

They spread like craaaazy and tasted like pure butter with some mix-ins. Since the recipe makes a rather massive batch, I didn’t want to waste all that dough! So, I added a cup or so of flour and tried again. Much, much better. The walnuts added just the right amount of crunch and I really liked the extra layer of flavor that the mint pieces brought to the chocolate.

So there they are. The two contenders. Since it’s based on the original recipe, and I have a major peanut butter tooth, the winner has got to be Mrs. Romney. But, don’t trust me (or my family, who all agreed), give ’em a try! I really want to know :)

Ann Romney M&Ms Cookies

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup plain M&M’s

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl, cream the sugars, butter, peanut butter & corn syrup on high speed until well combined. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda and oats. Stir in peanut butter mixture until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and M&M’s.

Drop spoonfuls of dough on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool 2 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.

 

Michelle Obama’s White & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (with my alteration)

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 stick Crisco butter flavored solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup each white chocolate, milk chocolate & mint chocolate chips (or chopped Andes pieces)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter, shortening, sugars & vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in white & milk chocolate chips, mint pieces and walnuts.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

 

 

Funfetti Rice Krispie Treats

Well, our sweet little Lizzie is now a rambunctious 2 year old. She is everything a 2 year old is known to be- loads and loads of fun, dramatic, choosy and spunky! Last month, we had a little birthday party for her at my parents’ home.

She’s pretty much obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so the theme was a given, especially with my Disney-lovin’ background :) .  It was so much fun! I can only imagine it getting more exciting as the kids get older and more aware of all this attention. Since Alex couldn’t make it, we had a Toy Story 3 party with him a couple weeks before. When we sang to her, she hated it. This time, she at least tolerated the singing, although she still wasn’t really a  fan, haha!

Funfetti recipes have been all over the internets a while now, and I’d been waiting for an excuse to try these krispie treats. My mom was oh so helpful as always and whipped these up for me. How can you not like anything with funfetti mix in it??? These are just what you’d probably expect- a sweeter krispie treat that has a hint of a taste of birthday cake. Yummy!

Sicne the leftover funfetti mix is still sitting in the pantry, I must get making me some funfetti pancakes, waffles, ice cream, cookies, whatever. That stuff is just screaming summer and the Pacific Northwest could always use a bit more color to brighten up the sky!

The party was almost just as fun to plan as it was to actually throw! The pic below is the only one I got of the boys (or boy- sorry, Bentley…). Sawyer partied a bit too hard ;)

Funfetti Rice Krispie Treats

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bag (10.5 oz) mini marshmallows
3/4 cup Funfetti cake mix
6 cups Kellogg’s rice krispies cereal
3 – 4 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in the cake mix until dissolved.
Stir in the cereal and half of the sprinkles until it is evenly coated with marshmallow. Press the mixture into a 8 x 8 square baking dish and top with remaining sprinkles. Let cool, then cut into 2 to 3 inch squares.  Store for no more than 2 days at room temperature in a container, otherwise they will dry out.

Pantry Raid Cookies- Secret Recipe Club

Whew! It’s already time for another Secret Recipe Club treat- kinda snuck up on me this time. Bu,t I got lucky with a blog that made it super easy to pick a delicious cookie.  Susie, aka Sweetie Petitti, makes some of the cutest decorated sugar cookies I have ever seen, among many other mouth-watering choices. These bright cookies are probably my favorite ones, although these Cars 2 cookies are also quite amazing.

Well, as much as I wanted to create some of Susie’s cookie designs, having 3 kids under the age of 2 years old has worn me out! The boys are 4 months old now and are smiling and talking up a storm. Lizzie will be 2 this month and is all kinds of toddler. Needless to say, I needed something simple. Enter the pantry raid cookies A mish-mash cookie at its finest. Susie says you can add anything you find in your pantry that is cookie-conducive to the dough, up to 2 1/2 cups worth. In this particular batch I chopped up some leftover mixed nuts from a Costco jar, marshmallows, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. In all my parents’ pantry, I couldn’t find a single kind of dried fruit, but that would be a great add-in! Also, perhaps crushed Oreos, white chocolate or toffee chips, maybe even some crushed potato chips- who knows?

And they’re yummy! They slightly remind me of a granola bar in cookie form, thanks to the oats and whole wheat flour. A perfect lunchtime snack- thanks Susie :)

Pantry Raid Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks)
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 1/2 cups of stuff…raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, anything

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer bowl until fluffy and no brown sugar lumps are visible.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix just until incorporated.  Add all dry ingredients up to the oats and mix well.  Fold in the oats and stuff.  Cover and chill the dough at least one hour.  It is easier to handle cold and the cookies won’t spread as much.

Preheat oven to  350 degrees.  Make uniform mounds on Silpat or parchment lined pans and bake about 10 minutes, or when cookies just start to brown on the edges.  Rotate halfway through cooking time.  Cool on pan, then rack, when they are firm enough to move.

Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Happy Mother’s Day weekend! As I’ve mentioned many times before, I couldn’t ask for a better mom. My mother-in-law passed on suddenly 6 1/2 years ago, however. Although the time I spent with her was short, I have fond memories of her love. The reason I mention this is she introduced me to these simple, yet ingenious treats. The first Christmas she made these, I was hooked. I couldn’t believe how delicious such a simple treat could be. Crunchy, creamy, smooth, even kind of silky, with the best sweet combo ever of chocolate and peanut butter. An instant favorite.

Although I have the “recipe”, if you even want to call it that, listed below, all you gotta do is make peanut butter sandwiches out of Ritz. Then, melt some chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter together, then dip the sandwiches in and let them set. Add some cute sprinkles if you want to be festive :) . I did list measurements for the amounts of peanut butter and chocolate, but it is definitely not necessary to be precise. If you use white chocolate chips, I’d go a little lighter on the peanut butter since white chocolate isn’t as strong as milk or semisweet and the peanut butter can be a bit overpowering.

Ritz Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwiches

1 sleeve Ritz crackers
peanut butter for inside of crackers

1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, milk or white)
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Spread about 1/2 teaspoon peanut butter on half of the crackers and sandwich them with the rest of the crackers. Set aside.

Put the chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate chips and peanut butter until just smooth, then stir together to make the mixture completely blended and creamy.

Dip the Ritz sandwiches in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. This can get messy! Let the sandwiches set on waxed paper for at least an hour. If desired, you can chill them faster in the fridge or freezer.

Best Cocoa Brownies- Secret Recipe Club

My assigned blog this month for Secret Recipe Club is Sweet As Sugar Cookies– a perfect fit! Lisa is a super cute girl who bakes and tries some of the tastiest treats. We seem to both have a special spot in our hearts for trying chocolate chip cookie recipes as well :) Her weekly Saturday Sweets round-ups are also a hit…so many treats to try, so little time….

My first choice from Lisa’s blog, however, were her rich, delicious cocoa brownies. I’m still up in Washington with my family and my brother-in-law will not eat cookies, only brownies. Ok, then, no problem, I can do brownies! Lisa said that after trying these, you’ll never want to use a box recipe again, haha. That immediately caught my attention since I happen to think from-box brownies are quite delicious for the level of convenience. Well, she was right! These babies are rich, chocolatey, fudgy amazingness.

You do need to have a double boiler for your stove, or at least a heat-proof bowl that fits on top of a pot for the water to boil underneath. Otherwise, making these is just a little more time consuming than from the box, but nothing much and 100% worth it. Instead of lining the pan with foil, I sprayed the pan and it worked great. Just make sure to let them cool completely (fridge, freezer, room temp, whatever) or else you’ll have a fudgy, yet still tasty, mess.

Best Cocoa Brownies

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8×8 pan with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the sugar and stir until combined. Add the cocoa powder. Take off the heat and let cool slightly until it is no longer hot. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs and stir vigorously. When the batter looks shiny and well-blended, add the flour and stir till you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with a spoon. Add chocolate chips or nuts, if using. Spread in the pan.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 min. Let cool completely on a rack. Slice into 16 squares.

Chocolate Chip Creamer Cookies

These cookies are my latest favorite chocolate cookie recipe, no doubt! Even though my search of new chocolate cookie recipes will nevercease, I have a strong feeling these will always remain near, or at the top. I adapted the recipe just slightly from Cooking Classy. It immediately caught my attention because I have a thing for adding random ingredients to cookie doughs, and this qualifies with coffee creamer and molasses.

If you don’t have coffee creamer at home, it is totally worth going out of your way to get some just for these cookies. Berkeley Bowl only had a massive container of the original powder, so I’ll just have to make quite a few more batches of these babies- lucky us! I loved them. They were chewy, with a sweet deep flavor that intensified throughout each bite. I used original flavor creamer, but Jaclyn also uses french vanilla, which I’m sure would be delish as well :) Seriously, SO good.

Chocolate Chip Creamer Cookies, makes about 22 cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, diced into cubes
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon molasses
2 1/2 tablespoons original or french vanilla coffee creamer powder (NOT liquid or light)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together chilled butter, sugar, molasses and coffee creamer powder until well blended and slightly fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Stir in egg and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated (mixture will be very thick).  Mix in milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Form dough into about 1 1/2 tablespoon balls, then drop onto Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are very lightly golden.  Cool on cookie sheet several minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Maple Cornbread- Secret Recipe Club

Yesss! It’s Secret Recipe Club time! I took a month off to recuperate with the babes (although I think things have actually gotten harder now than easier…such is life). I am excited to be participating again, and am even more excited with the blog I was assigned, Bluebonnets & Brownies. Amber comes up with some of the coolest recipe combos that I couldn’t stop bookmarking- Ghirardelli Stuffed BrowniesPumpkin French Toast and Biscoff Bites, to name a few. The Disney fanatic in me is itching to try these cupcakes, too!

Cornbread is one of my favorite side dishes, so I gave this maple version a go.  No exaggeration, it is the best cornbread I’ve ever had and/or made to date. I didn’t have any maple syrup, so I improvised with agave nectar and a little maple flavoring. Worked like a charm. It is a bit more than slightly sweet, but just enough to complement a light pat of melted butter if that’s your fancy. I ate it plain, just the way I’ve always preferred cornbread- I savored every last crumb!

Thanks, Amber, for giving me a go-to cornbread recipe for which I can always rely :)

Maple Cornbread

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/4 cup melted butter
2 large eggs

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin tin or small casserole dish (8×8 or 10×7) with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt, whisking together until fully combined and aerated.

In a separate small bowl, add milk, agave nectar, maple flavoring and eggs. Whisk together until completely combined. Melt butter and allow to cool slightly so that it won’t cook the eggs in the mixture, then add to the wet ingredients and whisk again.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into your chosen pan and then bake 22-27 minutes, until golden brown. When pierced with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out cleanly.

Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie

My mom is the best. I could go on forever about her willingness to help and never complain, her patience, unconditional love, positive attitude, waking up all night, an ever listening ear and every other desirable quality out there. This pie here is her best dish. All of us kids, including my husband, request her to make it when we’re home. Well, I’m still lucky enough to have her here, so she whipped it up for us tonight!

Mom makes the crust from scratch- it’s flaky with just a little bit of doughiness without being soggy. Growing up, we’d use the scraps to bake little “cookies” that we’d sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and scarf down as a mini-dessert. Sometimes she throws in peas and carrots in the filling, but it depends on which kids are home and eating it- she is nice enough to remember each kid’s specific tastebuds. We happened to have some asparagus in the crisper, so after a quick steaming, into the filling it went, and it was perfect.

Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (Mom uses 2 bouillon cubes with hot water)
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
any veggie(s) you have on hand (optional)

Pastry ingredients:
2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons shortening
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 tablespoons water

Heat butter over low heat until melted and blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir a minute. Stir in chicken and any vegetables. Reserve. Prepare pastry.

For pastry: Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water (1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened) One to two teaspoons can be added at a time if necessary. Gather pastry into a ball. Roll 2/3 of pastry into 13 inch square on lightly floured cloth covered board.

Ease pastry into pie pan. Pour chicken filling into pastry lined pan. Roll remaining dough into a circle sized to fit top of pie. Place over filling and roll edges under. Cut slits in center to allow steam to escape. Cook uncovered in 425 degree oven until the crust is brown (about 30-35 minutes). Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

What’s UP

Hello there, this blog has NOT been abandoned! I’ve just been a bit preoccupied with these three:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The twins were born 6 weeks ago and are doing well! I’m feeling energized enough to try some recipes again, so new stuff is on its way :)

Sweet Potato Kugel- Secret Recipe Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Recipe Club took January off, but things are rolling along and looking as great as ever! I’m now in the group that posts at the very beginning of the month, and hopefully, even with the babies here, I’ll be able to continue being part of the group- it’s fun :) My blog for February was Bizzy Bakes. If you ever need a kugel recipe, this is the blog to check out! She is quite the experienced one in this field especially, and there are a good amount of varieties of kugel that I had never even considered to try. Also, Bizzy is excellent at posting consistently (I need to learn from her!) and she has tons of recipes on her site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We still have sweet potatoes left from when I made sweet potato fries, so naturally, I went with Bizzy’s sweet potato kugel. Grating potatoes is kinda fun! It was my first time doing that, along with grating an apple. This is a super healthy side dish that would go great with a  traditional family dinner. It is light and the bottom of it is the extra special part where the eggs coagulate the ingredients to make it the “treat” of the dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Kugel

3 large sweet potatoes
1 crispy apple
3 eggs
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup orange juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Spray cooking oil to grease pan

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8 inch square pan or round baking dish with cooking spray. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in orange juice, adding water so the raisins are covered. (You can speed up the plumping by microwaving for 30-45 seconds.)

Peel the sweet potatoes. Using a grater blade on a food processor or a box grater, grate them. Put the grated sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Beat the eggs. Mix into sweet potatoes. Grate the apples, add to the sweet potato and egg mixture. Stir in the salt and spices. Add the nuts, raisins and soaking liquid. Stir.
Pour/scoop mixture into your baking dish, smoothing flat.

Bake 40 minutes or so, until the edges are a little browned and the top gets golden. Let it cool a bit, then scoop out to serve.

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Because of these cookies, and my need to try out random adaptations of recipes, I was extremely close to starting a major house fire. Definitely my biggest kitchen disaster to date…

I’ve seen these hot chocolate cookies circling the food blogs recently and I knew my family would be the perfect taste testers (we’ve extended our weekend Washington trip quite a bit longer). You see, about half of my family is very into hot chocolate. My one sister even drank it non-stop on our cruise in the middle of summer. I just can’t do that- hot chocolate is for cold weather, or at the least just wintertime,  if you happen to live somewhere that is consistently warm. They go through boxes

ANYway, the disaster. The cookie recipe I used was from Lizzy’s blog. When she made these cookies, she also had an “almost” fire, but hers was with using wax paper in the oven instead of parchment. Mine was because I decided to try toasting the marshmallows under the broiler. Please, PLEASE don’t try it! I altered the recipe below so you aren’t even tempted. Let’s just say, my parents’ oven was full of flames! One minute I checked and the marshmallows were still white. The next minute, they were pitch black. Lovely.

So, I made myself feel better by thinking that, when you drink hot chocolate, you don’t ever toast the marshmallows anyway, right? So, by making the cookies without toasted marshmallows, it’s more like real hot chocolate!  It ended up working out great- the marshmallows caramelized in the cookies when they baked and gave them an extra chewy consistency.

These just scream “Christmas cookie.” A hint of cocoa, a multitude of chips and the chewy marshmallows make these quite a crowd pleaser. Just remember to keep flammable foods away from the broiler :)

Hot Chocolate Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  Hot Chocolate Mix (I used 3 packets Nestle milk chocolate mix)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugars together until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time and beat in the vanilla until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, hot chocolate mix, salt and baking soda.  Add to wet ingredients in 3 or 4 steps.  Stir well.  Fold the marshmallows into the dough with the different kinds of chips.  Chill the dough for about an hour. Drop the cookie dough by the spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake 9-11 minutes.  Let cool and transfer to a wire rack.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.