Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Espresso Mint Cookies




This is a re-post but it is also the only time of year you can pick up these seasonal kisses.  I'm don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I do enjoy these cookies.  These kisses start showing up sometime around the end of October/the first of November and usually stick around until about Christmas.  I wasn't able to find them last year at my local grocery stores, but I did find them at Walgreen's and Wal-Mart.  The great all by themselves, but they really make a great cookie.  And the kisses freeze well, too.  I usually buy about a dozen bags so I can make a batch a month and they keep just fine. 

So start keeping an eye and and try these delicious seasonal cookies.

ESPRESSO MINT COOKIES (makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
1 3/4 cup AP flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and swept
1 Tbsp instant espresso granules (usually found in the coffee aisle next to instant coffee, but I had to go to my local Earthfare store to find it this year.....also available on-line)
1 (8 oz) bag Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, coarsely chopped (I cut off the tip and then quarter the base)

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Cream the butter and sugar.  This will take a few minutes.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture.  Fold in the chopped kisses.

Drop by heaping Tbsp (.75 oz) onto the lined cookie sheets.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges but still looking a bit soft in the middle.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hot Slaw


There is a story to this recipe.  If you do or do not know, I'm a huge fan of coleslaw.....any coleslaw, even yukky grocery store deli coleslaw.  Put it in front of me and I'll eat it.  But when you get a good one (and if you, too, are a slaw aficionado), you so appreciate it.

There's a little market I go to and one day when I was in, the woman working was eating lunch.   Something smelled good and I asked what was for lunch.  She had picked up a sandwich and brought some "Hot Slaw" a friend of her's had made.  I asked "What is hot slaw?  Is it hot by temp or by spice?"  It's spice.....specifically jalapenos.  She didn't have the recipe and I asked if she could get and "Bless Her Heart," she did.

She told me she had also had hot slaw at a local BBQ joint (Couch's on Old Lee Hwy in Chattanooga) and really likes it also.  Before she gave me the recipe, I went by Couch's and picked up a container of theirs.  It was more of a condiment (has the consistency of prepared horseradish), but they wouldn't tell me what the "heat" was (jalapenos? cayenne?) and that only two people would be in the kitchen when they made it (BIG secret recipe).  I bought some and, indeed, it is good, but not as an edible side dish.  It's more of a condiment to put on a pulled-pork sandwich or hot dog.  I really liked the other better as it's one you can (adjusting the heat to your tolerance) eat as a side dish.

So, if you like a bite to your coleslaw or want a really good addition to your sandwich, hamburger, hot dog, etc., give this a shot.  I think this must be a regional recipe as I have never seen it anywhere else.  And I mean really regional as in Chattanooga, TN, because I've had plenty of BBQ in these parts and have never seen this anywhere else.

Now, a few notes about the ingredients.  I'll post the original recipe as it was given to me.  The head of cabbage I got was a smaller one so I ended up using 1 cup of mayo (1/2 cup regular and and a 1/2 cup of reduced-fat) and the full 1/2 cup of mustard.  Her recipe calls for using a 16 oz jar of  pickled jalapenos (and she sometimes uses 24 ounces), but my grocer just carried 12 oz jars and for me, that was plenty!  As a condiment, I would use the 12 oz, but if I want it as a side dish, I'd cut that down to maybe 6 oz and just a tablespoon or two of the juice.  So depending on how you want to use it, you may want to adjust the ingredients, especially the jalapenos.

HOT SLAW (makes about 8 cups slaw using a small head of cabbage)

1 head of cabbage
1 (16 oz) jar of sliced, hot, pickled jalapeno peppers, drained, but reserve 1/4 cup juice
1/2 of a small onion (optional, not!)
1 to 1 1/2 cups mayo
1/4 to 1/2 cup mustard
3-4 Tbsp salt, or to taste
2 Tbsp black pepper (optional, again, not!), or to taste

Cut up the cabbage and put in a food processor using the blade, not the shredder.  Chop into small pieces using the pulse button.  This may take two or three times to get it all chopped.  Put the cabbage into a big bowl until all the cabbage is chopped.  Add S&P to taste.

Drain the jalapenos, saving a 1/4 cup of the juice.  Add the peppers, onions, and juice to the processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Mix the mayo in the cabbage a little at a time until it starts to come together.   Mix in the mustard just until the slaw turns yellow color, then mix in the peppers and onion.  You may have to add a little more mayo or mustard depending on your taste. 

This will keep at least 2 weeks, the peppers and juice help it last longer.

(Sometimes Donna uses a jar and a half of peppers)

Recipe Source:  From the Kitchen of Donna Brown, Chattanooga, Tennnessee (thank you, Donna!)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Brie Soup


I know that just about everytime I post a soup recipe, I say that "this is one of my absolute favorites."  So I think I'm going to have to start categorizing.  For example "Mushroom Soup." 

This is not one of my favorites, it is by far my most favorite mushroom soup.  I discovered this recipe last year and have to sit on my hands every summer waiting for fall because, well, this is definitely an exceptional autumn soup.  The simple step of roasting the mushroom and then adding the creamy brie send this over the top.  Not to mention, it's easy to make.  You can roast the mushrooms ahead of time.  The original recipe states to cube the brie and fish out the rinds later, but I cut the rind off before addding it to the soup.

Do be careful, though.  If you lust after this soup like I do, you can make yourself sick.  I had to stop and put it away yesterday.  If for no other reason, so I would have some leftover for today.

CREAMY ROASTED MUSHROOM and BRIE SOUP (4 servings)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbsp AP flour
1/2 cup white wine (or broth)
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
4 oz brie, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup milk or cream
S&P to taste

Toss the mushrooms in the oil, place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast in a preheated 400F oven until they start to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes, mixing them up once in the middle.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan.

Add the broth and mushrooms, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the milk and brie, let the brie melt, fish out the rinds and season with S&P to taste before pureeing to the desired consistency and enjoy!

Recipe Source: www.closetcooking.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Scallops


Looking for just about the quickest and easiest mid-week dinner ever?  Not to mention, really, really good?  Here ya go.

I thought I had scallops in the freezer but I didn't.  Also, since I'm here by myself, I halved the recipe.  So I left out the scallops and used a 12-oz bag of frozen, then thawed, shell-on shrimp (saving the shells, of course, for making shrimp stock later down the road).  Outside of that, I followed the recipe as stated.  I was unsure how the sweet and sour sauce would work, but it came out great.

The only prep work I had to do was to shell the shrimp, mince the ginger, and chop the scallions.  This dish was ready in about 10 minutes.

SWEET and SOUR SHRIMP and SCALLOPS (6 servings)

1 lb scallops
12 oz fresh shrimp (31-35 or 40-51s), peeled and deveined
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 packs shrimp-flavored Ramen noodles, partially broken
1 (20 oz) bag frozen Asian stir-fry vegetable mix
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 cups water
1 cup sweet and sour sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions

Season the scallops and shrimp with black pepper.  Pour the oil into a wok or large skillet set over high heat.  Add the scallops and cook for 3 minutes, constantly tossing.  Add the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove the scallops and shrimp and place them into a small bowl.  Set aside.

Add the broken noodles, noodle seasoning packages, frozen vegetables, garlic powder, ginger, and water to the wok or skillet.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes, or until the noodles and vegetables are tender.

Add the sweet and sour sauce and the shrimp and scallops back into the wok.  Toss until everything is evenly coated with the sauce.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Top with scallions and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Dip


Sorry for the absence of late.  I've been busy with "Gone Girl."  Have you read it?  You can't put it down!  I can hardly wait to see the movie.  I can absolutely see Ben Affleck as Nick.  More turns and twists than I can remember.  I met a woman the other day who read it in one day....she simply couldn't put it down.  Great rainy day read.

However, I did find time the other day to make another game-day appetizer.  I am posting the recipe as I found it, however, it was a tad too cheesy for my taste.  I think I'd leave out the Cheez Whiz and add a tad more cream cheese to make it creamier.  Also, this entire recipe would make a ton, so i cut the recipe in half.

Serve it with crostini or with tortilla chips during a good football game.

PHILLY CHEESESTEAK DIP (20-22 servings)

3 Tbsp EVOO
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2# cheesesteak meat (ribeye or top round, recommended), frozen, and chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1# cream cheese, cut into 2" chunks (I used reduced-fat)
1 (15 oz) jar Cheez Whiz dip
1# Velveeta, cut into 1" chunks
baguettes, cut into 1/4" pieces, brushed with EVOO and baked at 325F for 15-20 minutes or tortilla chips, for serving

Pour the oil into a preheated large skillet.  Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender, 6-8 minutes.  Add the meat, S&P, Worcestershire sauce and cook, covered, stirring a couple of times for 8-10 minutes until meat is cooked through.

Add the cream cheese, Cheez Whiz, and Velveeta.  Cook stirring constantly, until melted, combined, and warmed.  Keep dip on a warm serving or put into a crockpot on the "warm" setting.  Serve with crostini or tortilla chips.

Recipe Source:  http://www.qvc.com/PhillyCheesesteakDip.content.html?storeId=10251&viewType=gallery&langId=-1&catalogId=10151&pageSize=96&keyword=philly+cheesesteak+dip&uattrmb=LNULLCS4&mt.end=

Saturday, October 11, 2014

OU-texas WEEKEND 2014


Well, it's that time of year again: OU-texas football weekend!  So I got our flags out (notice OU is ON TOP).  This was also the weekend 17 years ago I left my home in Oklahoma to move to Texas just before I married my sweetheart (what a girl won't do for love).

After losing to TCU last weekend, it would be pretty embarrassing to lose to the longhorns this weekend. So GO SOONERS!!!!

(P. S.  Bevo is sterile)


Update:  Poopers gives the Sooners a boost!

UPDATE: FINAL SCORE: OU: 31 tx: 26.
A squeaker, but after Coach Stoops called me and warned me against watching (thereby jinxing) the game, I did as I was told and the SOONERS prevailed!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pumpkin Sage Baked Ziti


Years ago I swore off of whole-wheat pasta.  I had tried it again and again (even worked in an Italian restaurant and tried it everyday for a few weeks) but it just tasted like spoiled pasta.  I do loves me pasta and really gave it the old college try, but it simply didn't work for me.

And then, just last week, I ran across this recipe.  Since I had some leftover sage from that wonderful sage popcorn I posted a few days ago, I decided I'd give this healthier pasta version one more try.  To me, whole wheat pasta has to have a hearty sauce to go with it and this creamy pumpkin-based sauce is just the ticket.  It is very filling and a meal in itself, although a green salad really balances it out.

PUMPKIN SAGE BAKED ZITI (4-6 servings)

3 Tbsp + 2 tsp EVOO, divided
2 large shallots, diced
1/4 cup AP flour
2 1/2 cups milk (1%, 2% or whole)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced sage leaves, divided
pinch of nutmeg
S&P to taste
8 oz whole wheat penne, cooked al dente
3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a square baking dish with an oil mister or cooking spray.

Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, about 7 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour into the skillet and give it a good stir.  Cook, continuing to stir often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Grab a whisk and slowly pour the milk into the skillet, whisking it into the flour mixture.  Once the milk is incorporated and the sauce is smooth, add the pumpkin to the skillet and whisk that in.  Let the sauce cook on medium heat until it's thickened, about 5 minutes, continuing to whisk often.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of the sage leaves and a pinch of nutmeg.  Season to taste with S&P, then fold in the penne.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the shredded cheese.  Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes covered, then uncover and cook for 10 minutes more.  If you want a browned top, broil for a few minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

While the casserole is baking, make the crispy sage topping.  Heat the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the remaining sage to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until crispy, about 3 minutes.  Keep a close eye on the sage because it will go from crispy to burnt very quickly.  When the sage is done, transfer to a paper towel to soak up some of the excess oil.  Sprinkle the crispy sage onto the baked ziti before serving.

Recipe Source:  www.ohmyveggies.com