Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

I feel slightly ridiculous even typing this recipe up since it's on the package of the peanut butter chips that you have to get to make these cookies in the first place! But when I decided to compile my top 10 favorite cookies/bars, these had to be included. I usually make a half recipe so the amount of butter doesn't seem quite so obscene.

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2+1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 10-oz package of peanut butter chips (Reese's if you must know--are there any other brands?)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Whisk together dry ingredients, except peanut butter chips. Add to the butter and sugar and stir/mix well. Stir in PB chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake 8-9 minutes. (Do not overbake; cookies will be soft.) Cool slightly, then slide parchment onto wire racks. Cool completely.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just pictures I

Sometimes I don't feel like writing...most of the time, in fact! So here's some plain old pictures...

Pie for National Pie Day (January 23). Graham cracker crust--coconut cream, but half the custard mixed with chocolate instead of coconut--meringue. A bit much. Note lovely pie plate by my mom!

Green mashed potatoes. Just throw some broccoli in towards the end of boiling your potatoes and then mash them all up together. Yummy. But then again, mashed potatoes are next to godliness, really.

Monday, January 18, 2010

(Not-very-authentic) Paella

First, I cut this out of GQ or Esquire magazine years ago as a "date meal" men could easily not a very authentic source for this traditional Spanish dish! Second, I have liberally adapted it to suit my tastes...really it should have lots of seafood, maybe some peppers and peas. This is a more tomato-y version, the combination of tomatoes, olives and capers almost like an Italian puttanesca sauce. Hard to go wrong with that trinity, in my opinion!

1 cup rice
2 + 1/2 cups chicken broth
8 ounces chorizo, sliced
5 tablespoons butter
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 medium onion, minced
2+ cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
3 tablespoons capers
2 bay leaves
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 ounce chipotle pepper, sliced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped parsley
lemon wedges

Combine rice and 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until rice is almost done. Remove from heat. Saute chorizo in a skillet until edges get a little charred. Remove from pan and drain on some paper towels. If pan has excessive grease, drain--though it's fine to leave a little in the pan for the chicken. Add 1-2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Sprinkle chicken with oregano, salt & pepper, and saute until just cooked; set aside.

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in remaining butter over medium heat until soft. Add olives, capers, bay leaves and tomatoes. Mix in chicken, rice, parsley, cilantro and chipotles. Adjust seasonings and add some chicken broth if it seems dry. Remove from heat and let sit for one hour so flavors can combine. Reheat and serve with lemon wedges. (Lemon seems to enhance almost any tomato dish!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mom's dishes

A lot of my photos (see here, or here, or here) have a common trait: they feature pieces of pottery my mom has made. She has been a potter since the early '70s and while she often complains about the tedious, repetitive nature of "functional" pieces (e.g. dishes), I adore them!


the best cereal/soup bowls--really!

oblong casserole/bread pan

This may look like any old plate, but actually it is quite extraordinary! The clay was dug from the river banks near where I grew up--the Sturgeon River, to be exact. The clay is somewhat red and comes through beautifully under this thin white glaze.

And my all time favorite!
This has been glued back together several times, and even when I only have shards left I will still keep those!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ricotta-Lasagne Swirls

I think we picked this recipe up from some '60s or '70s vegetarian cookbook when my brother was going through his vegetarian phase. That has long since passed, but it's still an excellent comfort food dish!

Please note that this dish needs to be heavily seasoned. Do not skimp on the salt & pepper unless you prefer bland food. I also added a pinch or two of cayenne to the tomato sauce. Likewise, more sauce is better. I didn't have any tomato sauce on hand and used a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes instead, blending about half of the mixture so it wasn't quite so chunky. While it tasted fine, it wasn't quite enough sauce.

1 bunch fresh spinach or 1 package frozen spinach
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 cup ricotta
pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper

1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves (or more) chopped garlic
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon basil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 8 lasagne noodles until soft. Drain and let cool. Saute onions in some olive oil. When soft, add garlic and cook for one minute longer. Add tomato sauce and seasonings, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Coarsely chop the fresh spinach and saute in some olive oil until completely wilted, OR defrost the frozen spinach and drain well. Mix together with the rest of the filling ingredients. Divide into 8 portions--should come out to about 2-3 table spoons each. Coat each lasagne noodle with a portion of the filling, roll up and place in a casserole dish (or in this case, end up in a bread pan-shaped dish). Cover with sauce and bake for 30 minutes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Humble Wooden Spoon

A friend of mine was recently trying to figure out if she should get a food processor or a stand mixer. Having never had big kitchens to work in--or a desire to spend a small fortune--I have always done without these appliances (though I may get my mother's 10-year-old food processor one of these days). I also do not have a microwave.

But this got me thinking about what "appliances" I do have..and treasure. #1 are my wooden spoons. Love them!! From stirring almost everything I cook or bake to the perfect utensil for non-stick pans, I use several every day. Here's to you humble wooden spoon!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Zig Zag Brownies

Do I make too many brownies? Perhaps...especially considering I live by myself. But I just got this silly "edge brownie" pan as a Christmas present from my brother, so I was kind of obligated to try it out, right?! (That's a special spatula that came with it in the lower right corner.) Now every piece has at least two edges, some have three. I used my standard brownie recipe, using 1 & 1/2 the ingredients, then topped it with a peppermint frosting and drizzled over (rather sloppily) melted chocolate chips.

Verdict? Chewier, but not necessarily better (or worse). Now what do I do with all these brownies?!