Friday, September 18, 2020

Job Description: Cookie Ball Smasher | Base Pay: All the cookies your mom will let you eat

Peanut Butter Cookies are classic... They are simple, taste wonderful, and make kids and adults happy. What does a rough week need? Chocolate Chip Cookies! WAIT I mean Peanut Butter Cookies of course - duh... When the weather is frightful outside and you know baking will help... you set aside a few minutes in the morning to put the dough together so that in the afternoon - we could bake! I had no idea the fork mark job aka the smasher was going to be the hit. So much that someone got fussy when it was his turn to be the sugar roller and said "I'm done." Ok...
These peanut butter cookies are great. The mix up wonderfully, stay soft and yummy. They puff way up in the oven, I was worried we'd lose our smasher marks - but they settled back down nicely.

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar, for rolling

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and mix on high until combined. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick, yet very sticky. Cover dough tightly and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 2 days) in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Roll balls of dough (about 1.5 tablespoons of dough per cookie) and roll into granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Press fork into the tops to create the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 11 minutes or until very lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft and undone. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will continue to “set” on the baking sheet during this time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Because Moms Love Chocolate

Want to enjoy food in my house and not have any kids nearby to bother you? Tell them it's mint and chocolate. Done and done... but this recipe doesn't have any mint... just some chocolate. We decided to do a little baking for Mother's Day to bring to the grandparents and these were on the agenda. Who doesn't love Oreos and M&Ms? Oh... my kids... Well Ok, they will eat M&Ms... but for the most part they steered clear of these bars. I had to get all but 4 of these out of my house so I wouldn't eat the entire pan because, I might have. They are like chocolate packed blondies, so good.

Loaded M&M's Oreo Cookie Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
18 Oreo Cookies, coarsely chopped
about 1/2 cup M&M’s

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
Stir in the Oreos.
Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
Evenly sprinkle the M&M's over the top, lightly pressing them down with your finger or a spatula.
Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, or until done based on add-ins used. Top should be set and edges slightly firm. A toothpick inserted in the center (if you can find a bare patch to test) should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Cute Potatoes are Still Delicious

We have a starch issue in our house, not that we over or under starch our clothes, but picking a starch to go with dinner. Often I'll suggest rice and Andy will say, "wouldn't you rather have mashed potatoes?" Um... no? I suggested rice because I want rice. He’s less of a rice fan, more of a potato fan. At one point when we were first married he claimed he would never eat powdered mashed potatoes, he would always make fresh and that would be his “thing”. I don’t think he’s done it even once. I get tired of mashed potatoes. When I make them fresh - they are only eaten at that meal... because... no one in my house likes to reheat them and let's be honest - I always make too much.
Meatballs for dinner screamed of a potato side dish but I could not force myself to make another pot of instant mashed potatoes. We had some red potatoes so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. While yes I got a tad bit distracted since you know... crazy was happening in my house, they got a little over done - but crunchy in a good way. They were delicious. I also always forget when I roast potatoes they shrink, so I ended up making the cutest amount of potatoes. At least they were tasty!

Roasted Red Potatoes
2 cups diced red potatoes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place diced potatoes in a large bowl and spray with olive oil cooking spray.
Season with Italian seasoning, parsley flakes, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
Place potatoes in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring halfway through. Potatoes are done when they are golden brown and crispy on the outside.
If you'd like the potatoes a little more golden brown, place them under the broiler for just a minute or two. Watch them closely!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

How many times can you serve plain baked chicken?

How many times can you bake chicken and serve it before your family just refuses to eat it? It hasn't happened yet, but oh I think we are on the edge, so close to the edge. I opted to try this recipe since it seemed like it could be a winner. I couldn't find slices of swiss cheese so I opted for a block of cheese and my vegetable peeler - it made super thin slices that worked perfectly. I'm not going to say that my kids raved about this dish... I really liked it, so did Andy. But it wasn't chicken Kiev so clearly not raveable according to my kids. It was kinda "like" chicken kiev, the stuffing made a crust on the top of the chicken, which turned out really good. Paired up with some fresh green beans and a winner winner chicken dinner.

Cheesy Chicken & Stuffing
8 (4 oz each) thin boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets (2 lbs total)
6 slices 2% reduced fat Swiss cheese
½ cup skim milk
1 (10.75 oz) can of 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
6 oz box of chicken flavored stuffing mix
4 tablespoons butter (half a stick), melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Place the chicken breasts in a single layer across the bottom of the baking dish. Tear the cheese slices into pieces and use them to cover the breasts.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the milk and cream of chicken soup until combined. Pour over the top of the chicken.
In another mixing bowl, stir together the stuffing mix and melted butter until the stuffing is coated. Sprinkle the stuffing mix over the tops of the chicken.
Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, and Butter - what's not to love?

In a world where things are normal - we generally spend Mother's Day breakfast at a local restaurant enjoying their great food and better service - this year... no dine in restaurants and I didn't feel like getting breakfast takeout - because that seems odd to me. I had been wanting to try this Cinnamon Roll Scone recipe but wasn't sure if my family would be all about it... turns out we were all – all about it. This recipe looks a bit intimidating but actually was really easy. It talks about handling the butter in the flour with your hands, yeah, no thanks. I used my handy dandy pastry cutter, it worked great. I opted to make it the day before and that one hour of refrigeration was over night. I woke up early on Mother's Day because I have a Nicholas who has my genes and just can't figure out how to stay asleep or play quietly... he feels the need to wake someone up - I'm that someone. So I got up and got the scone in the oven. It rose so much, I was shocked! I let it sit the 20 minutes after it baked so it would cool a little so it didn't fall apart when serving. We were racing the weather, rain was coming and we were trying to get out for a walk before more rain came, but we waited the right amount of time and were rewarded with this amazing light and fluffy scone. I've had scones before - they were dry and crumbly - this is not that scone, this is tender, and delicious! I certainly will be making this one again.

Giant Cinnamon Roll Scone
2 1/4 cups - flour plus more for dusting
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter (1 1/2 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons whole milk
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cubed butter, then pinch and press the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
Make a well in the center of the sandy mixture and add the heavy cream and vanilla. Toss and fold until it comes together to form a loose dough. Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Gently knead the dough two or three times to bring it together. Use your hands to press the dough into a 5-by-14-inch rectangle with a long side facing you. Imagine the dough divided vertically into three equal sections, like a standard sheet of paper folded to fit into an envelope. Carefully lift the section on the right and fold it over the center section. Lift the section on the left and fold it over the other two layers. When you look at your dough from the front, you should see three distinct layers. Turn the little dough package so that one of the folded edges is facing you.
Use your hands to press the layered dough back down into a long rectangle similar in size to the first one you made, flouring your work surface and dough as needed. Make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle the filling on top of the dough and spread it out using a spoon or silicone spatula to fully cover the top surface of the dough.
Cut the dough lengthwise into four equal strips. Pick up a strip and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet, filling-side up. Roll it up tightly, then stand it up on one of its flat sides in the center of the sheet. Pick up another strip, and wrap that strip, filling-side in, around the standing coil starting where the first coil left off. Repeat with the two remaining strips. Gently push the circle of coiled dough down to adhere the strips together and flatten the dough to about 9 inches in diameter. Cover and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the chilled roll into 8 wedges, leaving the cut pieces together in a circle instead of pulling them apart. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the scones have puffed and browned around the edges, 20 to 24 minutes.
Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool for 20 to 30 minutes before carefully moving the warm scones onto a cutting board or serving platter. (If you don’t let them cool first, they will fall apart when you try to move them.) Using a knife, gently slice to separate the 8 individual scones, but don’t pull them apart.
Make the glaze: In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with enough milk until the glaze is spreadable. Drizzle it over the scones and serve. Tip Scones are best enjoyed shortly after baking, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Enjoy at room temperature or reheat the scones in the toaster oven.
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