Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies

These are pure indulgence! Thanks to for this amazing recipe!

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies
Brownie Layer:
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (2 cubes) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate chips. Stir constantly and remove from heat when chips are fully melted. In the same pot, blend in the sugar. Then add eggs, blending fully one at a time. Add flour and salt and beat until air bubbles form in the batter. Pour into a greased 9 X 13-inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes. Cool completely and then top with the cookie dough layer.

Cookie Dough Layer:
1/2 cup (1 cube) butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown Sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a small bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually add flour and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls over cooled brownies; carefully spread over top (this can be tricky but I found the best way is to slightly wet my hands and pat the dough down gently so it doesn't pull up the brownies). Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tiny Spicy Chicken

One of my friends posted this on her Facebook page, so I thought I'd try it out. Tony and I both liked it alot!

Tiny Spicy Chicken
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 in. cubes
garlic salt
2 beaten eggs
3/4 to 1 box of cornstarch

1 to 1 1/2 tsp. Sambal Fresh chili paste, depending on how hot you want the chicken (chili paste can be found in the oriental food section of the grocery store)
2 cups sugar
1 cup ketchup
4 tsp. soy sauce
dash of salt
1 cup chicken broth
8 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup white vinegar

Sprinkle the chicken with garlic salt; let sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator. After an hour, dip the chicken into the eggs first, then into cornstarch. Brown the chicken in oil until golden brown. Put the chicken into a greased 9x13 pan. Mix sauce ingredients in saucepan and cook until sugars dissolve. Pour over chicken and bake at 325 F for a total of 1 hour, turning chicken every 15 minutes.
Note: When you pour the sauce over the chicken, it will be very liquidy. The sauce will thicken as it cooks, forming a nice coating.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes

I recently found this simple recipe for using up some of those fresh, summer, from the garden or farmer's market tomatoes that start showing up at this time of year. It suggests using cherry, currant or grape tomatoes; we used sunsweet cherry tomatoes and it was absolutely fabulous. I personally think you could use any kind of tomato that tastes really great, cooking it in the pan will only intensify the flavor. Maybe even cut up a regular tomato into smaller pieces and use that, but probably for less cooking time.

The recipe doesn't make a lot of sauce, and you may be left wondering how in the world this is ever even going to taste good or coat the pieces of spaghetti, but trust me, it does. Somehow the flavor coats each strand of spaghetti, the flavor is just perfect, plus you have pieces of cooked tomatoes and basil mixed in, and you have perfection!

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes-serves 4

Olive oil, enough to swirl and cover the bottom of a large skillet
2 pints of cherry, currant, and/or grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (we used garlic powder, not actual garlic--works just as well)
1 pound of spaghetti (we used thin spaghetti)
1/3 C thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (we used 3/4 to 1 C because Derk isn't a huge fan of this kind of cheese, just enough to add some cheesiness and flavor to it, but not overpower it)
Coarsely ground black pepper

-Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
-Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until tomatoes start to blister and collapse, 3-5 minutes. Add remaining tomatoes and cook, tossing once, for 2-3 minutes more.
-With a wooden spoon, push tomatoes to one side of pan to make room for garlic. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 3-4 minutes, then stir gently to mix garlic and tomatoes together. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and gently pressing tomatoes to release juices, until all tomatoes have collapsed and sauce is juicy and thick, about 4 minutes more. Remove from heat.
-Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, gently reheat sauce. Drain pasta and immediately toss with sauce and basil. Add half of cheese and toss; add remaining cheese and toss again. Season with pepper and serve at once.

Note: I just discovered this trick when cooking pasta. Probably not exactly healthy, but it tastes really great. When directions for cooking pasta say to cook it in salted, boiling water, really give it a good amount of salt, so it's salty water, not just a pinch. You want to taste it! Then when the pasta is cooked, taste a strand of pasta before you mix it with the sauce and you'll see what I mean. It makes a big difference.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Curried Quinoa Salad with Mango

A few weeks ago my brother Mike made our family a really delicious curry and served it over quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa is something I've heard of, but never tried and fell in love with it. I'm not sure exactly what quinoa is, but I think it's a grain of some kind. It's sort of like cooking with couscous, only much healthier. The flavor is kind of nutty, with a mostly soft texture but still has a little crunch to it. Anyway, Derk and I looked up some recipes, and found this one. We tamed it down a little, especially the first time, because we don't like lots of garlic and didn't know how strong we wanted the curry flavor. So I'll put the amounts we used in parentheses.

Curried Quinoa Salad with Mango

1 1/2 C chicken stock
3/4 C quinoa
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (1)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (1/8)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced
3 green onions, chopped

And we also added a stalk of celery, chopped, and some sliced almonds.

-Bring chicken stock, quinoa, celery (if using), curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 15-20 minutes (the water will pretty much be absorbed, like couscous). Once done, scrape the quinoa into a shallow dish and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the mango, almonds (if using), and green onions. Serve either at room temperature or cold.

My notes: I think that adding the amount of curry powder in the recipe would be good, the 1 tsp was really tame, but I liked using less garlic. (My philosophy is that garlic should be a flavor enhancer, not the flavor.) Also, we were hungry and didn't wait for it to cool off before eating, and it tasted great. Also good cold. Would be a good side dish, but also fun to eat as a quick and easy vegetarian dinner. Oh, yes, and this is so quick and easy to make! One person who commented on this recipe said that they didn't have enough mango and added dried blueberries to it. I think this could be a pretty versatile recipe to play around with.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Florentine Roll-Ups

OK, so here's a solution for everyone who received WAY too much spinach from the parents over the weekend-use some of it in this yummy recipe!

Florentine Roll-Ups
16 oz. lasagna, uncooked
4 cups (2 lb.) ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
½ cup sliced green onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups (26 oz. jar) spaghetti sauce, divided
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Lay flat on foil to cool. In large bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, Cheddar cheese, spinach, green onion, egg, pepper and salt. Spread about 1/3 cup cheese mixture on each piece of pasta to within 1-inch of end; roll up. In 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish, spread 2/3 cup spaghetti sauce; place roll-ups, seam side down, in dish. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired; cover. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Makes 9 servings (2 roll-ups each).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

This is a recipe I found on one of the many food blogs I often read, and I have to tell you that I'm generally a meatball hater.  I know, we shouldn't be haters, but I usually hate meatballs.  Probably because most of the time to me they just taste like, well, a hamburger or maybe meatloaf. Bleh.  But for some reason this recipe caught my eye and I knew I had to try it, possibly because I knew Derk would probably like it.  So, after a few changes to the recipe I found, we came up with this:


1/2 an onion, grated
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
2 oz. (1/2 cup) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 C bread crumbs (we used panko)
1 1/2 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T ketchup
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
fresh ground black pepper
8 oz. ground sirloin (all we could find was hamburger)
8oz. ground turkey
2 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 18 cubes

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack set in the lower 1/3 of the oven.
-In a large bowl, stir together onion, parsley, Parmesan, bread crumbs, garlic, ketchup, egg, salt, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and pepper.  Add in beef and turkey-combine ingredients just until combined, be careful not to overmix.
-Shape the mixture into 18 meatballs (though we wound up with 16) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make an indent in the center of each meatball and set a cube of mozzarella inside.  Reform the meatball around the mozzarella so it is completely hidden.  Place into the oven and bake until cooked through.  Ours took about 20 to 25 minutes.


1 T olive oil
4 oz. diced pancetta
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
14.5 oz. can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
fresh ground black pepper
2 oz. (1/2 Cup) of fresh grated smoked mozzarella cheese (original recipe said Pecorino Romano, but we didn't want to buy more cheese and already had a bunch of the mozzarella)
16 oz. dry bucatini pasta, or other fun, short pasta shape

-In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium.  Add pancetta-cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and transfer to paper-lined plate.  Stir in the onion, cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and reserved pancetta, season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Simmer over medium-low, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

-While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and place in a large bowl.  Add sauce and meatballs, tossing gently to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Just before serving, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley.

--My notes:  OK, I know this recipe seems a little daunting, long and time consuming.  But it didn't take all that much time.  It's not a quick and easy one, true, but the final result and effort will be totally worth it.  Because Derk and I loved this recipe!  And we also liked using the smoked mozzarella in the sauce (instead of Pecorino, which is probably good, too, we just didn't want to spring for more cheese), we felt that it sort of tied everything together and added a really nice flavor.  The original recipe said that it should serve about 6 people, but we found that for us it was probably a little closer to 4 servings, particularly for the sauce, even considering the fact that it's not really a saucy kind of dish.  The meatballs freeze well.  If you like things a bit spicier, you could try adding in a little more red pepper flakes and garlic.  The amounts in this post were decreased by about half from the recipe I found.  Try this one out, it's really quite delicious.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sugar Donut Muffins

I knew I had to make these muffins when Derk told me about how sugar coated donuts were his favorite. The recipe claimed that they tasted like fluffy donuts with sugar stuck all over them. So I gave them a try. And we both liked them. They did sort of seem like a donut, not too sweet, even with the sugar coating, and really easy to make. The original recipe said to brush the tops only of the muffins with melted butter before rolling in sugar, which I did, but then they sort of got gooey, squishy on top. So next time I'm leaving the butter out, because as you can see, the sugar sticks just fine without the butter.

Sugar Donut Muffins, makes 10

3/4 C sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (but I'm tempted to try cinnamon next time)
1/4 C vegetable oil
3/4 C milk (low fat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into egg mixture and stir to combine (will be lumpy and dry). Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract, and stir again. Don't worry, it will smooth out after a little bit of stirring. Divide batter evenly into 10 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

When muffins are done, carefully remove from the pan and roll in sugar. Cool on wire rack.