Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finally figured out how to make good chocolate chip cookies. I always think my cookies turn out too crispy but with a little experimentation I think I got it right this time. I hope I can duplicate this in the future. Sorry Pete, these came out much better than the ones I sent with you!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and sugars in your stand mixer on high speed. Lower speed to medium, and add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Lower mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture a little at a time until incorperated. Turn mixer off and fold in chocolate chips with a spatula.
Drop cookies onto parchment paper by the rounded tablespoonful. I use a large mellon baller. The dough balls are about 1 1/2" wide on the cookie sheets and I space them 2-3 inches apart.

Bake 16 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Banana Bread

This is an Emeril recipe that I tried today, it turned out good! Great if you serve it warm with butter!

10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease a 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 teaspoon of the butter.
Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a food processor. (I just wisk them together in a bowl and mash the bananas with my whisk)
Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment. Add the remaining 10 tablespoons butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts.
Pour into the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Fabulous Mac n' Cheese

An American classic. Some say the macaroni and cheese dish was invented by Thomas Jefferson, who served it in the White House in 1802. Others claim it was not invented by Jefferson but he did bring back a macaroni mold to the US from Paris. One thing is certain, the macaroni and cheese dinner was catapulted to fame in 1932 with the release of the Kraft Dinner. Kraft now sells over 1 million boxes of macaroni and cheese each DAY. But if you're looking for something a little more home-made, here is an indulgent version of my favorite comfort food.

10 oz. macaroni or ditalini
2 oz. velveeta
2 oz. cream cheese
2 oz. sour cream
2 oz. shredded cheddar
2 oz. shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup milk
3 strips bacon, chopped, cooked until slightly crisp, drained
1/2 cup petite sweet peas (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp. bread crumbs
2-3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 and put a medium pot of water on to boil.

Place velveeta, cream cheese, sour cream and milk in a saucepan over med-low heat. Whisk cheeses until melted. Add shredded cheddar, shredded mozzarella, bacon, peas (if using), salt, and pepper. Whisk until cheese have melted. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta according to directions until al dente.

Combine pasta and sauce in a medium casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Favorite Butter Biscuits

I love these biscuits because they are no-rolling-pin-required!

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 stick butter cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients in stand mixer with paddle attachments. Add butter cubes and mix until butter is pea-sized. Add buttermilk and mix until combined, do not over mix!

Turn batter out onto a floured surface. Turn it over so it is coated in flour and pat it into a flattened ball. Press with your hands until it is 1/2" thick. Use a 2.5" cookie cutter and cut out 8 biscuits. You can re-knead/shape the remaining dough and get out 2 more biscuits, they just won't be quite as light and fluffy as the others.

Bake at 350 for 16 minutes. Serve with butter and honey or jam.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Girl's Lunch

It has been awhile. I got stuck into a new book series and now I have to play catch up! Last Saturday I had some girlfriends over for lunch. I made a panini bar, which is a simple matter of slicing up fresh cheese, tomatoes, herbs, meats and letting everyone build their own sandwich and throw it on the press. I also made stuffed artichokes and honey, walnut and gorgonzola crostini-both Giada De Laurentiis recipes. I love her! Her cookbook Giada's Family Meals is great. So without further ado, here are the recipes!

Panini Bar:
1-2 balls sliced, fresh Mozzarella (Fior di'latte or Mozzarella di Bufala)
2-3 sliced vine-ripened tomatoes
Prosciutto or other deli meats of your choice
bunch of fresh basil
1 loaf crusty Italian bread sliced into 1" thick pieces
olive oil for oiling the outside of the bread before putting it on the press
salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Artichokes:
1 lemon halved
2 whole garlic cloves
3 large artichokes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
3 tbsp. chopped, fresh, falt-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. chopped, fresh basil
2 tbsp. chopped, fresh mint
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1.25 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp. drained capers
3 oz. italian bread, crust trimmed, cut into 1/2" cubes

Squeeze juice from the lemon halves into a large pot of cold water. Add the squeezed halves and whole garlic cloves. Cut off the top 1/3 of each artichoke and discard. Trim off the stems. Clip the tops of the outer leaves. Cut artichokes in half and using a small, sharp knife cut out the fibrous choke and the small purple-tipped leaves. Submerge in the lemon water. Boil until just tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain the artichokes and set them aside while you make the filling.

In a medium bowl whisk together lemon juice, parsley, basil, mint, minced garlic, and lemon peel. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl toss 1/3 cup of the dressing with the tomtoes and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Place artichoke halves cut side up on serving platter. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the dressing around each artichoke and spoon tomato mixture into the center of each artichoke half.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crostini with Gorgonzola, Honey, and Walnuts

2 tbsp. olive oil
24 1/3" thick diagonal baguette slices
6 oz. creamy gorgonzola cheese, coarsely crumbled
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Brush lightly with oil. Toast in the oven until baguette slices are golden, about 8 minutes. Toss the Gorgonzola with the walnuts in a small bowl. Spoon the cheese mixture onto the baguette slices and press lightly to adhere. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts, about 8 minutes. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with honey. Serve warm.