Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reese's Cookies

These cookies came out amazing!! Usually peanut butter cookies smack you upside your head with nuttyness. These were closer to chocolate chip cookies with a nice peanut butter taste. I used the peanut butter cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens and just added about a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. A small change but a HUGE payout. I made the rest of the cookies exactly as the recipe specified, including rolling the balls of dough in granulated sugar right before baking. I will make these ALOT.


1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a large mixing bowl beat peanut butter and butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough in 1-inch balls. Roll the dough in granulated sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies by making crisscross marks with fork tines, (I just smashed them down with my fingers)  flattening each cookie. Bake about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks. Cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Roasted Veggie Marinara

This marinara was fun to make and so good to eat. The roasted veggies really gave the sauce another depth of flavor. The recipe calls for chunks of tomatoes but it still wasn't quite "tomatoey" enough. So I used an immersion blender to get a really smooth sauce. That solved the problem. We also couldn't find the long fusilli noodles the recipe called for. They looked really fun to eat. I will be on the hunt for those to try this recipe again. Not that the kind of noodle changes the way the marinara tastes. I just want it :D


2 large red bell peppers

1 large Fresno chile pepper or Holland chile pepper

1 large head garlic

Sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped

1 medium-large firm eggplant

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing eggplant

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes

2 fresh basil leaves, torn

Sprig fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped

1 pound long fusilli pasta

Grated Pecorino cheese

Fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped


Char the skins of sweet and hot peppers to black under a broiler with oven door slightly ajar, to prevent steam build up or place directly over stovetop flame. Cover the charred peppers and cool, peel, and seed. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut head garlic to expose the cloves, dress in extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Press the garlic into the chopped rosemary and coat the cut cloves. Wrap the garlic up in foil and roast 40 to 45 minutes, until soft but still moist.

Halve the eggplant lengthwise and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on baking sheet and roast to very tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the eggplant until easy to handle, then scoop the flesh away from skins and add to a food processor with roasted garlic and roasted sweet and hot peppers, then puree.

In saucepan, heat the stock and tomatoes. If the tomatoes are whole, break them up. Stir in the eggplant-pepper mixture and add basil and oregano, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Simmer sauce to combine flavors then cool and store for make-ahead meal.

Reheat over medium heat.

Boil long, curly pasta in salted water to al dente, toss the pasta with sauce and serve with cheese and a sprinkle fresh parsley.

Make Ahead Meal: Tamale Pie

This has been one of my favorite make ahead meals so far. Super easy and really really delicious. In the episode, she covered it with polenta but mentioned that you could also use corn bread. That's what I chose to do.  The cornbread was just a tad too sweet, but that is an easy fix. I used a box, next time I will make my own and cut down on the sugar. I think I will also make the meat saucier. But the flavor was perfect. The recipe calls for ground pork, but I used sausage instead. I also sprinkled cheddar and mozarella cheese right out of the oven, then covered it until the cheese melted.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound ground pork

1 1/2 pound ground sirloin

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons seeded chipotle in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus couple spoonfuls sauce

1 tablespoon ground cumin (scant palmful)

1 tablespoon coriander (scant palmful)

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican beer (recommended: Negra Modelo)

1 cup beef stock

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water

1 1/2 cups milk

About 1 cup quick cooking polenta

2 tablespoons butter

1 generous tablespoon honey

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or smoked Cheddar cheese


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat, add pork and sirloin and brown. Add the onions, garlic, chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, coriander, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, cook 5 minutes to soften bits of onions. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute more. Add the beer and scrape up the drippings. Add 1 cup beef stock and heat through to combine the flavors then cool completely and store for make-ahead meal.

The night you would like to serve tamale pie, reheat in a skillet over medium heat while you make the quick-cooking polenta. Preheat broiler. Heat chicken stock and milk to a boil, then whisk in the polenta and cook until thick, 3 minutes. Cook's Note: Polenta needs to be very thick.

Stir in butter and honey and season with salt and coarse black pepper. Spread the thick polenta in an even layer over the tamale filling. Top the polenta with cheese and brown under broiler.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Make Ahead Meal: Chicken Caeser Mac

One of my favorite salads is chicken Caesar. And I'm pretty particular about it too. I haven't found many restaurants that have a dressing I like. And even less that don't feel like the romaine should be swimming in dressing. Soggy lettuce. YUCK. This super easy macaroni recipe has all the wonderful flavors of a Caesar salad. I used leftover chicken that we had grilled. I would definitely recommend doing the chicken on the grill.  Feel free to substitube the cheese for another one. I left out the anchovy paste but only because I couldn't find it. I want to make this again with it, though there are many alternatives if you just can't stomach it.


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound penne pasta or whole wheat penne

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

3 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Pecorino cheese

1 head escarole or romaine, shredded

1 lemon


Heat grill pan over high heat.

Coat the chicken in extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 12 minutes, turning occasionally, then set aside.

Bring water in saucepot to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water, add pasta and undercook by 1 minute.

While the pasta cooks, melt 6 tablespoons butter in a separate saucepot. Spoon out 1/2 and toss with the panko to moisten. Combine with 1/2 the grated Pecorino and reserve. To the remaining melted butter, add the garlic and anchovy paste, lots of coarse black pepper, stir 2 minutes then whisk in flour then stock, milk, and Worcestershire, thicken until it coats a spoon, then stir in the remaining half of the grated Pecorino.

Drain the pasta. Halve the chicken breasts lengthwise, then thinly slice and combine with the pasta and sauce, transfer to a casserole and top with the bread crumbs. Cool and store for make-ahead meal.

To reheat: Reheat, covered, in a hot 425 degree F oven to warm through, then uncover to brown.

Serve with shredded escarole or romaine and dress with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Serve alongside Chicken Caesar Mac.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Make Ahead Meal: Texas Bacon Beans and Eggs

This was a wonderful recipe. I didn't have avocado on had so didn't use it but would imagine it would make the dish even better. The spice was just a hair more than what I would have liked but that is easy to adjust. And putting a medium egg on top really helped. The yolk gave it a nice richness. And the tortillas were a great texture to add, I had only cut them in strips but did make it difficult to eat at times. So the next time I will cut them into squares.. We will be making this again.


12 corn or flour tortillas, cut into strips
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 slices smoky lean bacon, sliced across the strips 1/2-inch long
1 red onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
2 Fresno or jalapeno chiles, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can black beans
1 tablespoon cumin (a scant palmful)
1 rounded tablespoon chile powder (a healthy palmful)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup beer (recommended: Negra Modelo)
1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
Small handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded hot pepper sharp Cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack cheese
4 eggs, to prepare any style (1 per person)
Ripe avocado, halved, pitted and diced
Lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut tortillas into strips and spray with cooking spray. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until crisp. Arrange in casserole dish.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add bacon and brown then remove with a slotted spoon. To the skillet, add the onions, Fresno peppers, and garlic and saute a few minutes.

Add the beans and season with cumin, chile powder, salt, and pepper, stir in tomatoes, cilantro, and beer. Thicken 1 minute, then adjust seasoning and arrange on top of tortillas, and scatter in bacon bits and cheese.

Cool and store for make-ahead meal.

Bake in the hot oven until bubbly and hot, top with fried eggs (as soft or hard as you like), diced avocado and lime wedges.