Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twin Chocolate Delights - Hannah Swensen Style

I've been playing around with more of Hannah's recipes. I'm not cooking them in the order I read them, but I'm having a great time picking and choosing according to my mood.  This recipe was tasty and didn't stay around my house for long.

Twin Chocolate Delights
Joanne Fluke, Blueberry Muffin Murder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, rack in the middle position.

1 cup butter (2 sticks - melted)
2-1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened, for baking)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons alt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 beaten eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 cups chocolate chips

Melt butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the sugar and mix. Then add the cocoa, soda, salt, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Add the beaten eggs and stir thoroughly. Mix in the flour, the chopped nuts (if you want them), and then the chocolate chips.

Place rounded teaspoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. (They'll flatten out as you bake them.)

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to complete cooling.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes

I love margaritas! They're just so delicious!  I saw a bunch of margarita cupcake recipes around cinco de mayo so I thought I'd try one.  They turned out so delicious!  I halved the recipe since I really don't need to eat 24 cupcakes myself and I don't think my boss would be so happy if I brought them to work.  They were delicious   Definatley worth the work put in! 
Here's the recipe:

Margarita Cupcakes
From Beantown Baker
Makes 24

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk 
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 tsp grated lime zest
1 stick (8 Tbsp or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup tequila

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and lime zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. 

Beat in the lime juice, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. 

Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.

Divide the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch. Transfer to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pans and cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, brush the top of each cupcake with a 1/2 tsp of tequila.

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
2 lbs (8 cups) powdered sugar
1/4 cup tequila
Zest of 2 limes
pinch of salt

Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, beat until light.

Add half the tequila, lime zest and salt, mix.

Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well and scraping down sides as necessary. 

Continue to add sugar and tequila as necessary.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pecan Chews

Pecan Chews
Pecan Chews
Joanne Fluke, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

1 cup butter (2 sticks, 1/2 pound)
3 cups brown sugar***
4 eggs, beaten (with a fork is fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely chopped pecans
4 cups flour

Melt butter and add brown sugar. Mix well and let cool. Add beaten egg and mix. Add salt, baking soda, vanilla, and nuts. Mix well. Add flour and mix until flour is thoroughly distributed.

Form dough into balls with your fingers. (Make them the size of a walnut with a shell.) Place them on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press them down with a spatula. (Spray it with Pam first, or grease it.)

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies set up on sheet for one minute, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

***There's no need to keep brown sugar in stock. It can be easily made with white sugar and molasses, 1/8 cup molasses for every 3 cups of white sugar. (That's how they manufacture it, really. And it'll save you from having to deal witho all those lumps.) Just add the molasses to the white sugar and stir until thoroughly and evenly mixed in.

Yield: 8 to 10 dozen, depending on cookie size.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chicken Divan, Lightened Up

I've had quite the busy last week and haven't been around my kitchen.  It's really hard to eat heathy when you're not cooking!  I found this recipe on Gina's Skinny Recipes where I'll probably be getting lots of my recipes from.  Her site is full of delicious looking healthy recipes that are best of all EASY!

Chicken Divan
adapted from Gina's Chicken Divan, Lightened Up
Servings: 6
  • 1-1/2 lbs broccoli (3 large heads) chopped
  • 24 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 18 oz cooked)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2 oz white wine
  • 6 oz shredded reduced-fat swiss
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadrumbs
  • cooking spray
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Using a grill pan or Forman grill, saute chicken on medium-low heat on both sides until browned, and just about cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cooled, slice chicken into bite sized pieces.
  4. Heat a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the butter and oil until melted and then add garlic and shallots. Sprinkle the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in broth, milk and sherry and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in half of the swiss cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange the broccoli in a casserole dish and pour half of the sauce over the broccoli. Arrange the chicken on top and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining swiss cheese, grated parmesan and top with breadcrumbs. Spray a little oil on top.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, serve hot.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder Recipe #1 - Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies

I started reading this book last week and came across my first recipe while reading.  They turned out delicious and my taste-tester husband LOVED them! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, rack in the middle position.

1 cup butter (2 sticks, melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 beaten eggs (you can beat them up with a fork)
2-1/2 cups flour (not sifted)
2 cups crushed corn flakes (just crush them with your hands)
1 to 2 cups chocolate chips

Melt butter, add the sugars and stir.  Add soda, salt vanilla, and beaten eggs. Mix well. Then add flour and stir it in. Add crushed corn flakes and chocolate chips and mix it all thoroughly.

Form dough into walnut-sized balls with your fingers and place on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press them down slightly with a floured or greased spatula.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, them remove to a wire rack until they're completely cool. (The rack is important--it makes them crisp.)

Yield: 6 to 8 dozen, depending on cookie size.

Hannah's Note: If these cookies spread out too much in the oven, reduce temp. to 350 degrees F and do not flatten before baking.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

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Happy Mother's Day!

To all those mothers out there, Thank you!  A special thanks to my mom.  She's there through thick and thin and loves me just the same.  Have a great day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Two hobbies at once? Genius!

So if someone asked me today to name three hobbies I love to do more than anything else I would respond with baking, reading and sewing (in no particular order).  A while ago I discovered the reality of combining two of my favorite hobbies: Reading and Baking.  I understand what you may be thinking: "Don't you have to read recipes to bake?"  Yeah, but just stay with me here for a minute.  

I hope some of you have heard by now of the author Joanne Fluke.  If not, she has a whole series of murder mystery books based around a bakery that the character Hannah Swensen owns.  I ran across this series one day when I was wondering around the bookstore with my mom.  And by the way, yes, I wonder around bookstores quite often just to look.  No buying though.  Just adding to the never ending list of books I'd like to read that is becoming pretty much impossible to ever completely get through.  Anyways, I found this series and just knew I HAD to read it.

Here's a current list of the books in the series (pulled from her website here):


To me, the best part is that each of these books has multiple recipes in it!!!!  So I've decided that I'm going to bake the recipes as I come to them.  Which means that I'm going to be baking about 10 recipes in 3-4 weeks.

I'm very excited!

(Everyone I work with and my Husband are excited too!)

So here we begin with Book 1 -- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

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Did you know there was such thing as Military Spouse Appreciation Day?   Did you know that was today?

I had no idea until my husband forwarded me an e-mail he'd received through work.

Here’s a bit about the history of Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

Back in 1984, President Regan proclaimed the Friday before Mother’s Day to be designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  Ever since that day, each President has followed in recognizing this day.  The purpose of this day is to recognize the countless personal sacrifices military spouses have made in support of the Armed Forces. These spouses have a tough job themselves.  They are mothers and fathers, full time workers, rocks when strength is needed.  They show their support the Armed Forces and America every single day.

So today, I would like to show my appreciation to all Military Spouses.  

Thank you to every Military Spouse out there.  Thank you for the sacrifices you make.  Thank you for supporting your Spouse, the Armed Forces and the United States of America.

I am making a personal donation to the USO in honor of Military Spouses everywhere.

Have you said "Thank You." to a Military Spouse you know?