Cookies

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

Do you ever get a hankering to bake cookies? Well I did this morning. I looked through the dessert binder and found our recipe for While Chocolate and Cranberry cookies and then checked the pantry. I was in luck. We had all the ingredients.

So my baking process began. I took a stick of butter out of the refrigerator to soften, grabbed a couple of eggs and then got the mixer out. After a couple of hours I was ready to go.

Measuring out the flour

I thought with this recipe I would get some shots of the process. Here you can see the recipe on the counter. When we find a recipe online we print it out. After preparing it we make notes on how it tasted, anything we would tweak and sometimes we will not if it is.ffodie friends worthy. This recipe had some note to turn the cookies into something similar to Starbuck’s Cranberry Bliss bars. But not today… the process continued.

My helper is always close by.

The next step is adding the baking powder, salt and baking soda. These are stored in our lazy Susan in the corner of the kitchen. Generally this.is my favorite stop to mix things up. It is also Mr. Magoo’s favorite stop to sit and watch. He is always looking to see what will fall down in his area.

A baking essential

Any good cook will have a great mixer. Ours is our kitchen aid. Hubby got it as a work Anniversary gift years ago. You know, one of those catalogs you get and have to pick out a gift. At the time he didn’t need the company watch or general jewelry gifts. The mixer seemed to be the best gift as we were really picking up our baking and kitchen aids are so expensive.

This one worked out great with this recipe for mixing up the softened butter and then adding the sugar and the 2 eggs.

Next up was blending in the flour mixture and adding the white chips and cranberries. Everything came together so quickly.

Time for the flour
Ready to go

Another great kitchen baking help is a cookie scoop. Ours is a Pampered Chef small scoop that I got years ago when I hosted a party. Pampered Chef has some great products especially for baking. My favorites are the chopper for nuts, the cookie press for Christmas cookies and the scraper for clearing the baking surface. A little flour fell out on the counter and with the scraper it was quickly back in the bowl.

Ready for the oven

Every thing came together quickly and using the parchment paper was great for clean up. But one thing did happen….my assistant fell asleep on the job.

So, here is the final outcome from my hankering for some cookies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups white chocolate morsels

1 (6-ounce) package sweetened dried cranberries

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in white chocolate morsels and cranberries.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Dinner, soups

Quick and Spicy Tomato soup

Lunch time at the office

We were away this past weekend visiting our friends in North Carolina and our flight home arrived just before 5 on Monday.  After eating great food all weekend and traveling we wanted something that was easy to make and also light. This recipe from our favorite Italian chef Giada fit the bill. Within a half hour we had a hot and hearty soup on the table.

As we move into the fall season we start to crave hearty comfort foods. For the reason we try to keep our pantry stocked with basic essentials.  The less trips to the store the better.  This recipe had all of the essentials and made enough to bring into work for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 26 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Dinner, Seafood

Shrimp and Fettuccine with white wine sauce



    To celebrate national pasta day last Friday we made a variation of a recipe we found on Pinterest.  As you might know, pasta is one of my son’s favorite dishes.  So we decided that he was going to help with the cooking this evening to skills to more than ramen noodles and omelettes.  It would not be that difficult has he has been working over the summer and on breaks as a prep cook at a local restaurant.  He has spent many an hour slicing and dicing various items for the line cooks we knew he could do this at home and actually complete the recipe.  

    The sauce is very light but has a kick with the crushed red pepper.  You can even omit the shrimp and just make the sauce for your next pasta dish.



    1 lb pasta 

    2 tsp minced garlic
    1/4 c olive oil
    5 Tbsp butter
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper {fresh ground}
    1/2 c white wine
    1/2 c parsley for garnishing
    1/2 c fresh grated Parmesan
    1 lb of large size shrimp

    In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Add garlic, red pepper and saute until golden, about a minute.  Add salt, pepper, wine and butter.Stir 2 minutes, add shrimp and cook until pink – about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and toss with pasta.Garnish with parsley and generously add fresh Parmesan

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      Tex Mex Black Bean Dip

       
      We needed a little pregame treat and something to enjoy while watching the Puppy Bowl yesterday.  I dug out a recipe from about 15+ years ago for a low fat Tex Mex Black Bean dip that is quick to make and packs in the flavor and a bit of protein.  This is made on the stove and ready in about 15 minutes. 

      1 teaspoon vegetable oil

      1/2 cup chopped onion
      2 garlic cloves, minced
      1/2 cup diced tomato
      1/3 cup bottled picante medium sauce
      1/2 teaspoon chili powder
      1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
      1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Colby Jack cheese
      1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish   
      1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
       
      Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add tomato and next 4 ingredients (tomato through beans); cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; partially mash with a potato masher. Add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, stirring until cheese melts. Serve warm or at room temperature
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      Crispy potatoes that are a smash

      It was Saturday night and finally a chance to have a home cooked meal. Hubby wanted to barbecue some chicken and then use the peanut sauce that was left over from the szechuan noodle salad as a sauce. I wanted these potatoes. I have made them a couple of times before and they are so good. I had grabbed a bag of small red potatoes about a week ago from the store with the intention of making these. We finally had a opportunity and they did not disappoint us. The kids love them and my son couldn’t wait to grab seconds and clear the plate.
      These are very easy with just three ingredients. They can be prepared ahead of time and put in the oven about 30 minutes before dinner.

      Crispy Smashed Potatoes

      • 12 to 15 baby red or yellow potatoes (about 1-1/2 oz. each; 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter)
      • 2-3/4 tsp. kosher salt
      • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • Boil the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a large saucepan (preferably in one layer) and cover with at least an inch of water. Add 2 tsp. kosher salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender and can be easily pierced with a metal or wood skewer. Make sure they are cooked through but don’t overcook. The total cooking time will be 30 to 35 minutes.
        While the potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dishtowels on your counter top. As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, and let them drain and sit for just a minute or two on the dishtowels.
        Flatten and cool the potatoes: Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat with all the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.
        Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; put a sheet of parchment on top of the foil. Transfer the flattened potatoes carefully to the baking sheet and let them cool completely at room temperature.
        Roast the potatoes: Remove the pan of potatoes from the refrigerator, if prepared ahead. Heat the oven to 450°F. Alternatively, if you have a convection function, turn it on and set the temperature at 400°F. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 tsp. salt and pour the olive oil over them. Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and that they are well coated on both sides. Roast the potatoes until they’re crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 minutes if using a convection oven, 30 to 40 minutes if roasting conventionally, turning over once gently with a spatula or tongs halfway through cooking. Serve hot.
        Make Ahead Tips: Do the busy work—boiling and flattening the potatoes—up to 8 hours ahead. Let potatoes cool completely, and store them on the pan, lightly covered, in the fridge. Then all you have to do at the last minute is coat with oil and salt and roast.
      Uncategorized

      Game change

      This early in the spring you never know what the weather will bring.  Where we live the saying goes “wait 5 minutes and the weather will change.”  That is for sure.  Now add the factor of spring sports and after school games.  Our daughter plays softball and our son plays baseball.  It is guaranteed that when one has a game so does the other one.  So as parents we have to split up and attend one game or the other.

      Now throw in the weather and you start the day planning around a 4:30 to 6:30 game, and boom, rain storm starts at 3:00 p.m.  So now what is your dinner plan?   Okay, not that we had one for the 6:30 ending, but dinner has now become an earlier emergency.  So hubby calls and ask what’s the plan?  I quickly look up and find a stir fry shrimp recipe that looks easy and sound good.  As he heads into the grocery store I can text him what ingredients we might need.  
      So, when I get home cooking was not the first thing I wanted to do.  I needed a couple of minutes to sit back and relax before preparing the whole dinner production.  But, with a cancelled game and two kids suddenly home. I have a least one new chef in the the house….our daughter made this great dinner, with just a little bit of help from me.
      Stir Fry Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

      • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp 
      • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
      • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 
      • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
      • 2 tablespoons honey
      • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
      • 1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
      • 2 tablespoons canola oil 
      • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
      • garlic cloves, minced
      • 1/3 cup chopped green onions

      Preparation

      1. Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat. Set aside.
      2. Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and chile paste, stirring with a whisk; set aside.
      3. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp mixture; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add juice mixture and onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately over rice or udon (spaghetti).
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      Quick, Easy and Low Fat

      Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon!

      Yes, you heard right.  I said Bacon!  Bacon seems to be the big thing these days.  But chocolate covered bacon or bacon flavored ice cream are not for me.   
      This was a quick dish to make on a weeknight as long as you have the ingredients on hand.  I made this recently when my hubby was at a dinner meeting and I needed something that both kids would eat, that could be prepared quickly and tasty.  Any anytime we have something with noodles, I have hit a home run with my little man.

      Ingredients

      1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine
      2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
      1 teaspoon minced garlic
      1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
      1 cup 1% low-fat milk
      2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
      1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

      Preparation

      Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

      While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt and reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper.

      Note:

      When you’re short on time and the ingredient list is short, make every ingredient the freshest and best you can find. A real wood-smoked bacon imparts lots of flavor: Applewood is mild and slightly sweet, while hardwood, such as hickory, is more assertive.