Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cinnamon Stars

I was very disappointed with this recipe. I followed it exactly and it was a mess so I had to add more flour. Even after chilling the dough it was way to sticky to roll out. I ended up at least doubling the flour. After baking, the cookies were rock hard and tasted like card board. The icing made them a little better but I will not make these again.

Cinnamon Stars

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, then stir in the milk. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, stir into the wet ingredients until well blended. Wrap dough and chill for at least 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies using a 2 1/4 inch cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto a cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Remove cookies to wire racks and cool.

1 cup powder sugar
1 Tbs milk

Stir until well combined and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Snow Caps

This is one of my favorite cookies. I've made these every year around Christmas for at least the last 5 years. The white meringues make me think of winter. I love how they melt in your mouth.

Snow Caps

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on high speed. Add sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Beat until peaks form. Add vanilla. Beat 1 minute. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls. Bake 2 hours or until meringues are dry. Rotate baking sheets half-way through. Turn off heat and leave in oven 2-4 hours until dry.

One Batter, Three Kinds of Cookies

This is a great cookie batter if you want to make several kinds of cookies to please a crowd. Some mix-in ideas are chocolate chips, M&Ms, raisins, oatmeal, chopped nuts, chopped candy bar pieces, or whatever you like.

Basic Batter

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

2. 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

3. 2 cups mini M&Ms

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Gradually beat in flour mixture to the butter mixture.
6. Stir in mix-ins.
7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown.
9. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies

Chicken Cacciatore

This was the first time I've ever made or eaten chicken cacciatore. It was very easy to make and it was tasty. This might become a regular week night dinner for us. I got the idea for this from but I made some modifications and omitted the mushrooms of course!

Chicken Cacciatore (modified)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour for coating
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chopped cooked spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake the chicken pieces in flour until coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet (one that has a cover/lid). Fry the chicken pieces until they are browned on both sides. Remove from skillet.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until the onion is slightly browned. Return the chicken to the skillet and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, oregano, chicken broth and wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium low heat.
  3. Add the spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  4. Serve over angel hair pasta or white rice.

Caramel-Apple Pudding Cake

I saw this recipe on Melissa's Magic in the Kitchen Blog. It looked delicious so I decided to give it a try. It was wonderful but it came out very watery so I would recommend omitting the 1/2 cup of water.

Caramel-Apple Pudding Cake
Better Homes and Gardens

2 medium tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonathan, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (2 cups) - I used Granny Smith
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted these)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter (no substitutes), melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I omitted these)
3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup water (I recommend omitting this)
1 tablespoon butter (no substitutes)
Vanilla Ice Cream - optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease a 2-quart square baking dish; arrange apple slices in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Top evenly with raisins; set aside.
3. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add milk, the 2 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread batter evenly over apple mixture.
4. Combine caramel topping, water, and the 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan; bring to boiling. Pour caramel mixture over the batter in the baking dish.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until set in center. Spoon warm individual servings into dessert dishes, inverting each portion. Spoon caramel-apple mixture from the pan over each portion. Makes 12 servings.

Pepper Steak

I was feeling creative and decided to try something new in my crockpot. This turned out great and it was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy. I will definitely make this again.

Pepper Steak

2 lbs lean sirloin steak cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup flour
1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-14 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp black pepper

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Coat meat with flour. Add meat to frying pan in batches and brown on both sides. Add meat, bell pepper, soy sauce, pineapple, and pepper to crockpot. Cook on high for 3 hours. Serve over white rice.

Beef and Barley Soup

Beef and Barley soup is probably my all time favorite soup. This is a recipe from my grandmother. Whenever I would go visit her I would always ask her to make it. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand. Some that work really well are carrots, celery, okra, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, and cauliflower. Always use fresh veggies and never frozen or canned because it makes a huge difference in this soup.

Beef and Barley Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 cup pearl barley
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups fresh vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces
1-8oz can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
5 slices Kraft singles

Brown meat and drain fat. Rinse barley and add to a large pot with water. Boil barley for 10 minutes. Drain water. Add the meat, broth, and veggies to the barley pot. Bring back to a boil for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Reduce heat and add the tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Add the cheese slices one at a time to the soup, stirring between each addition. Continue stirring until cheese is completely dissolved in the soup.

Hot Bean Dip

I made this for a potluck I went to last night. It doesn't look great but it is actually very tasty and very easy.

Hot Bean Dip


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1/2 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 5 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix in the refried beans, taco seasoning, hot pepper sauce, parsley, green onions, 1/2 the Cheddar cheese and 1/2 the Monterey Jack cheese. Transfer the mixture to an 8x12 inch baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chocolate Crinkles

I've been in the cookie baking mood lately. That is why I was so excited when I got my recipe for my second blogging event. This event is a holiday recipe exchange. Each participant submits a holiday dessert recipe to the organizer. The organizer mixes the recipes up and assigns a recipe to each participant. The participants have to make the recipe and post a blog about it by December 22. The recipe I was assigned is for Chocolate Crinkles. I got my recipe yesterday and I started it the same day. You have to refrigerate the dough for 3-4 hours or overnight so I baked the cookies today. I wonder if I am the first person to make my recipe.

There are several reasons why I couldn't wait to start my cookies.
1. I've been in the cookie baking mood (like I mentioned earlier).
2. I just got new cookie sheets and I couldn't wait to try them out. They are wonderful by the way. I didn't even use any non-stick spray or anything else and the cookies came right off. They baked evenly and did not spread out too much. I called my sister as soon as I bought my new cookie sheets to let her know that these were my Xmas gift from her. I told her I would bake some cookies on them for her and we could call it even. Guess what sis you are getting some Chocolate Crinkles!
3. I love chocolate.
4. I already had all the ingredients to make these cookies. This is one of the few recipes I've made that I followed the recipe and ingredients exactly. I'm kind of proud of myself for that.

Thank you whoever submitted this recipe! It is delicious and I would definitely make it again!

Chocolate Crinkles

4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter
8 ounces (225 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup (110 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In a stainless steel bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls (3-4 hours or overnight).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Place the confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl. With lightly greased hands, roll a small amount of chilled dough to form a 1 inch (2.54 cm) diameter ball. Place the ball of dough into the confectioners sugar and roll the ball in the sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Gently lift the sugar-covered ball, tapping off excess sugar, and place on prepared baking sheet. Continue forming cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on baking sheets. (If you find the dough getting too soft for rolling into balls, return to the refrigerator and let chill until firm.)

Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centers are still soft. (For moist chewy cookies do not over bake. Over baking these cookies will cause them to be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


Baggett, Nancy. 'The International Chocolate Cookbook'. Stewart Tabori & Chang. New York: 1991.

Lebovitz, David. 'Room for Dessert'. Harper Collins Publishers. New York: 1999.

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Ok I will admit it. I like Panda Express. I know it's not real Chinese food but I think it is tasty. I especially like the orange chicken. It must be their best selling dish by far. I have a little theory that all of their customers order the orange chicken. If you eat there and you don't get orange chicken please leave a comment so I can disprove my theory.

I found a recipe online for the orange chicken so I can make it at home any time I have a craving for Panda Express. It is awesome!! It really does taste like the real thing!

Panda Express Orange Chicken

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
white pepper
oil (for frying)
1/2 cup cornstarch, plus
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon gingerroot, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red chili peppers
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Orange Sauce for Stir Fry
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar
1 orange, zest of

1. Place chicken pieces in large bowl.
2. Stir in egg, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil and mix well.
3. Stir cornstarch and flour together.
4. Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat.
5. Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep-fryer to 375 degrees.
6. Add chicken, small batches at a time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden crisp.
7. (Do not overcook chicken).
8. Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside.
9. Clean wok and heat 15 seconds over high heat.
10. Add 1 tablespoon oil.
11. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant; about 10 seconds.
12. Add and stir-fry crushed chiles and green onions.
13. Add rice wine and stir 3 seconds.
14. Add Orange Sauce and bring to boil.
15. Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed.
16. Stir water into remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth and add to chicken.
17. Heat until sauce is thickned.
18. Stir in sesame oil and orange zest if desired.
19. Serve over jasmine rice.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

BBQ Ribs

I found some boneless beef ribs on sale at the grocery store today. I think I've perfected baby back pork ribs but I can never seem to get beef ribs tender enough. I tried a new method this time and they were wonderful! So tender and juicy!

BBQ Boneless Beef Ribs

2 lbs boneless beef ribs
1 cup Kraft Honey BBQ sauce (you can use what ever kind of BBQ sauce that you want)

Place ribs in a crockpot and cover with water. Cook on high for 4 hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil. Remove ribs from the crockpot and place on foil. Baste ribs with BBQ sauce. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven turn ribs over. Baste again with BBQ sauce. Place in oven for an additional 5 minutes or until ribs get slightly crispy. Remove and glaze the ribs with a final coat of BBQ sauce.

Pecan Pie Cookies

I saw these on Open The Oven & Take A Look blog. I've been wanting to bake cookies all week but I couldn't decide what to make. I needed some quick and simple cookies to take to Stephanie's Christmas party so I made the Caramel Toll House Cookie Bars and I made these. It was a perfect combination because people who didn't like nuts really liked the cookie bars and people who didn't like chocolate raved about these. I had several requests for both recipes. I think both turned out fabulous!

Pecan Pie Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 p firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream*
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

* I have a confession. I didn't have any heavy whipping cream in the house so I used 1/4 cup of Cool Whip. They still turned out well and no one commented on them being too sweet.

Toll House Caramel Bars

I saw these on Kyla's Cookies blog and they looked delicious. I decided to make a batch to take to my friend's Christmas party. They were a hit. I warned people that they were rich but one person liked them so much that he filled his plate. I had several requests for the recipe.

Toll House Caramel Bars

1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of butter melted
2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (12 ounces) of caramel sauce
2 1/3 cups of flour
2 cups of old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In one bowl combine 2 cups of flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and oats. Stir in butter.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/3 cup of flour with jar of caramel sauce TIP: Coat rubber spatula and bowl with flour or it is a mess.

Reserve 1 cup of that mixture and press the rest into a 13 x 9 greased and floured baking pan.

Cook for about 10 minutes or until it is lightly browned. Remove from the oven

Spread jar of caramel sauce on top evenly. Then sprinkle chocolate chips on top of caramel sauce. Crumble the rest of the oats/flour mixture on top. Bake for about another 20 minutes, until top brown and caramel bubbles.

Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes

This is a cute and yummy dessert. Everyone gets their own little mini cake. The outside is a cakey and slightly crisp shell and the inside is a gooey chocolate fudge. It is incredibly delicious!

Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes
4 oz semi sweet baking chocolate
4 Tbs butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 Tbs flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan over low heat or in a microwave. Whisk the egg, sugar, and salt together until light yellow and fluffy. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Mix in the flour until fully incorporated. Lightly butter the ramekins. Pour the batter into 2 ramekins. Bake for 22 minutes or just until the tops crack. Serve warm.

Yields 2 servings

Broccoli Cheese Balls

I read several recipes for broccoli cheese balls but I ended up creating my own as I went along. These can be used as appetizers, a side dish, or even a vegetarian substitute for real meatballs. I love broccoli cheese soup so that was my inspiration for this creation. These broccoli balls would be a perfect side item or dipper for broccoli cheese soup. I thought the broccoli balls were kind of plain by themselves. They would be much better with some kind of dip or sauce. I also recommend adding some spices (i.e. Italian spices).

Broccoli Cheese Balls

2 cups bread crumbs (4 slices of bread)
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg

Place broccoli in a microwave safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave until tender. Drain liquid. Add bread crumbs, cheese, and egg. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated into a dough. Form into individual 1 1/2 inch balls.

Toaster oven: Cover tray with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Place balls on foil about an inch apart. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Turn the balls over and bake for an additional 3 minutes.

Conventional oven: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Place balls on foil about an inch apart. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Turn the balls over and bake for an additional 3 minutes.