Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Food: Super Chocolatey Cookies

I had a hankering for chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. So I broke out my trusty Mrs. Fields Cookie Cookbook I've had for years and baked some cookies. I used dark chocolate chips and dark chocolate cocoa powder because I had a hankering for lots of chocolate, but you don't have to go to those extremes for chocolatey cookies. Since I've changed the recipe slightly, I've renamed it too.

Super Chocolatey Cookies

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 cups (12 oz) dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add sugars and beat to form a grainy paste. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy.
Add flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Blend until just combined. Do not overmix.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 21-23 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool surface.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Food: Frosted Peanut Butter Fingers

I'm still stuck in the land of desserts. Next to chocolate and mint, my favorite combination is chocolate and peanut butter. I've had this recipe for a long time, but hadn't tried it yet. My husband and chief taste tester agrees: this one's a keeper! It comes from an old Quick Cooking magazine.

Frosted Peanut Butter Fingers

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups peanut butter, divided
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add 1 cup peanut butter, egg and vanilla; mix well. Add oats, flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Spread into a greased 15x10x1" baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 13-17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Drop the remaining 1 1/2 cups peanut butter by spoonful onto the bars, then spread carefully. Cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 Tbsp butter, softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 to 8 Tbsp milk

In a mixing bowl, combine frosting ingredients using enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spoon over peanut butter layer then spread carefully. Cut into bars.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Food: Chocolate Mint Brownies

Chocolate and mint have always been one of my favorite combinations. And when my husband specifically requested that I make Chocolate Mint Brownies, how could I say no? I often make these at Christmas. The recipe is adapted from an old Taste of Home magazine. These brownies are good when they are just made, but they are even better if they stay in the fridge for a day or so before eating. They get moister and yummier. Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Brownies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 16-oz can Hershey's chocolate syrup*
1 cup sugar

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp mint extract
1-3 drops green food coloring (if desired)

1 3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp mint extract
9 Tbsp butter

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Pour batter into a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top of brownies will still appear wet. Cool completely.
Combine filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Beat until creamy. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until set.
For topping, melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave for about 1 minute. Mix together. Pour over filling and spread to even out.
Chill before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

* If you don't have any chocolate syrup, you can make your own:
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Dash salt

Combine cocoa, sugar, and salt in saucepan. Add water, mix until smooth. Bring to boil. Boil for 1 minute. (Watch it while it's boiling, it boils over fast!) Remove from heat. Add vanilla.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Food: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

What's better than warm, cheesy soup on a cold day? I'm not a huge soup fan, but broccoli cheese soup is one of my favorites. This recipe is my own mishmash of several different recipes to create something that suited my taste. It's smooth and cheesy and the broccoli helps convince me it's healthy despite all the cheese. The recipe makes enough for 6 small cups or 3 bowls. I'll be having some for lunch today!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

2 cups broth (or 2 cups water + 2 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon)
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup onion, minced
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups warm milk
dash ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

In a sauce pan, bring broth to a boil. Add broccoli. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
In a large sauce pan, melt butter. Add onion and cook until softened. Add flour and mix to a paste. Add milk and heat until mixture thickens slightly, stirring constantly.
Add broccoli and broth, continuing to stir until combined.
Add black pepper and cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until cheddar cheese is melted. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then serve.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Food: Savory Pizza Crust

I've been in search of a great pizza crust recipe for a long time. I've got some I like, but none is quite perfect. This isn't that perfect recipe, but it is good. The crust recipe is adapted from an appetizer recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine that I may include here one day, but I used it for pizza this time instead. The crust is somewhat thick, though I think if you use a large enough pan, you might be able to make it thinner. My round pizza pan is 13" in diameter. The recipe has lots of herbs in it so it's a little different from your usual pizza crust. Don't let the fact that you have to knead the dough deter you, it's only kneaded for 3 minutes and left to rise for 15 minutes - just time for you to prepare the toppings. My toppings were tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, pepperoni, onion, and mushroom, but you could use whatever you like.

Savory Pizza Crust

1 package (1/4 oz or 2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
6 1/2 tsp sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup cold water
3 cups all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar in warm water; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine oil, onion, basil, oregano, sage, and garlic powder; cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in cold water.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour and remaining sugar. Stir in oil and yeast mixture. Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead for 3 minutes. Place dough on a greased 15"x10"x1" baking pan or large pizza pan. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Pat dough evenly into baking pan.
Top with whatever you like. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until well browned