Saturday, December 31, 2011

Empty Cookie Jar Dilemna

My sweet daughter baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies last week.  I love that she is self sufficient at cookie baking and I enjoy sitting back and watching her bake.  Of course I didn't sit still while she was in the kitchen - I couldn't resist the taking advantage of the opportunity to photograph the whole event.  I'll turn her into a food blogger yet.

One of the reasons that she decided to bake cookies was to fill an empty cookie jar.   I don't normally have a cookie jar on my kitchen counter but last Christmas one of my neighbors gave me a really pretty one and I like to display it at Christmas time.  My daughter however thought it was a crime to have an empty cookie jar.  She has taken it upon herself to make sure the cookie jar stays full all season.

I have an old standby chocolate chip cookie recipe from Betty Crocker that I love.  It never fails to produce really deliciously chewy chocolate chip cookies.  I usually double the recipe and freeze any cookies that are left over.  

Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup butter                     1 ¾ cup flour
½ cup sugar                        ½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup brown sugar           ½ teaspoon salt
1 egg                                       6 ounces chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix butter, sugars, egg and vanilla in bowl of a standing mixer.  (I love action shots.)

Add dry ingredients. 

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop onto cookie sheets.

Bake 10 minutes at 375.

Hooray for a full cookie jar!  (For a little while anyway.)  Make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a cup of hot cocoa to go with them.  It's a perfect snack for a cold winter evening.


Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Leftovers - in disguise

We had some pretty amazing meals over the holidays and now my refrigerator is bursting with leftovers. What do I do when I have too many leftovers in my refrigerator and I can't seem drum up enough excitement to eat them?  I turn them into something else so they don't look like leftovers anymore.  In this case, I had leftover herbed basmati rice and leftover dry rubbed grilled chicken breasts.  I turned to a chicken casserole recipe that I was passed down to me from my mom.  It's an oldie but goody.

My Mom’s Chicken Casserole
3 cups chopped cooked chicken           
2 cups diced celery                                1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tablespoon minced onion                4-6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup mayonnaise                                  1 ½ cups crushed cornflakes
1 ½ cups cooked rice                            ½ cup slice almonds
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Saute celery and onion in butter to soften.


Combine celery, chicken,



lemon juice

and soup.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Spoon into casserole dish.  (I divided mine into 2 smaller dishes so that I could freeze one for another day.)

Put cornflakes in a ziploc bag.

Crush the cornflakes with a rolling pin or step on them carefully.  My son's size 11 shoes make great cornflake crumbs in a hurry.

Brown cornflakes and almonds in butter and sprinkle over casserole.

Bake 45 minutes at 350.

Once again I forgot to snap a picture of the casserole before we ate - sooner or later I'll get the hang of this food blogging thing.  Anyway - my daughter had 3 servings of chicken casserole - obviously it was a big hit.  The casserole was delicious and it's a great way to use up leftovers.  Your family doesn't even have to know that they're eating leftovers.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Watch out Godiva

It is no big secret that I am a major chocoholic.  (As much as I hate to admit it - I'm even a Ghiradelli facebook fan.)  Last December I found a recipe for Ghiradelli chocolate truffles that were so good - I wanted to make them again this year.  Since I worked out the kinks during my first truffle attempt last year, they were much easier to make this year.  These truffles are so good - I have to hide them from myself so I don't eat them all at once.

Ghiradelli Truffles
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups double chocolate chips
6 Tablespoons butter

In saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.

Remove from heat.  Stir in chocolate and butter.

In skillet, bring 1/2” water to a slow simmer.  Set saucepan in skillet and stir mixture until chocolate melts.

Remove from heat.

Pour mixture into shallow bowl to cool.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Dip melon baler into warm water and scrape across top of chocolate to form a 1” ball.

Roll ball in coating and transfer to waxed paper.  Gloves help keep the heat from your hands from melting the chocolate.

Roll each truffle in the topping of your choice.  I used cocoa powder, pecan pieces, crushed peppermint and I left some plain.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months. (I bet they won't last that long.)
I don't buy truffles any more - they're easy to make and even better than store bought.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cranberries - Not just for Thanksgiving

Last month, I professed my love of cranberries on my blog.  They have such a beautiful, vibrant red color that I decided to incorporate them into my Christmas menu as well.  I found this recipe for Cranberry Swirl Bread in a Taste of Home Holiday Baking magazine.  This was my first attempt at this recipe but I can tell already that it's going to be a keeper. 

Cranberry Swirl Loaf
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, cubed

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoon flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons butter

In a mixer bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt.

In saucepan, heat the water, milk and butter.

Add to dry ingredients.  Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead.

Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise 1 hour.

For filling, combine cranberries, brown sugar and water in a saucepan.

Cook over medium heat  about 15 minutes or until berries pop.  Remove from heat, stir in butter, walnuts and lemon juice.


Punch down down.

Roll into a 20x10 inch rectangle.

Spread filling to within 1/2" from edges.

Roll up dough starting with a long side.

Place in a zigzag pattern in a greased loaf pan.

For topping: combine flour and sugar in a small bowl.

Cut in 1 Tablespoon butter with a pastry cutter.  Melt remaining butter and brush over loaf.  Sprinkle with topping.

Cover and let rise 40 minutes.

Bake 40 minutes at 350.

I served this swirl loaf to my family on Christmas morning.  It was a really nice addition to my brunch menu.   It was even better lightly toasted.  If you are looking for a delicious and beautiful bread to serve at your next brunch - give this one a try.

Bon Appetit!