Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate caramel-filled thumbprint cookies

Caramel-Filled Chocolate Espresso Cookie Cups
(adapted from Baking Bites who adapted it from Demolition Desserts)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp instant espresso powder (I used 3 tsp of Baker's Brew spice from Savory Spice)
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a mini muffin cup with paper liners (or grease well).
In a medium. bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Blend in instant espresso powder, egg and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, gradually blend in the flour mixture. Mix until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir in chocolate chips.
Bake for 10 minutes. Press centers of cookies down and then cool cups in the pan for 10 additional minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Soften ~1 cup Nutella and ~1 cup dulce de leche/caramel in the microwave, scoop into a plastic bag, snip off the end and squeeze into cup holes.

Sprinkle with dark chocolate curls if desired

Makes about 3 dozen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thai Peanut & Spice-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

This is a really easy, delicious, and fast recipe using just a few ingredients.

It turned out great -- I recommend serving with large lettuce leaves, onions, spicy peanuts, cilantro, and spicy peanut sauce (I made some out of peanut butter, yogurt, and lots of spiciness w/ red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, etc)

Pork tenderloin
Taste of Thai Spicy Peanut Bake
Olive oil
Minced garlic, salt, pepper

1. Coat tenderloins with olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Rub minced garlic onto tenderloin
3. Coat tenderloins with as much of the Spicy Peanut Bake as will stick.
4. Bake on a foil-covered rimmed cookie sheet at 450 for 20 minutes, or until center of meat reaches 145 degrees.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket

This was adapted from Smitten Kitchen -- it is a good recipe overall, but not as amazing as I'd hoped. It has a lot of heat, but for some reason, not as much flavor as I'd expected.

It is a few more steps than just dumping some beer over a brisket and letting it slow-cook (a tried and true method), so I'm not sure that I'll make this just this way again...but I might use some of these ideas next time around.

Serves 4, but depends on if you're eating it as a taco-like filling or on its own.

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water (I used beer instead -- Upslope's Foreign Stout to be exact)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo (I used two peppers and it had some serious heat. Might go with one next time, to focus a bit more on the flavor)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses

Directions (cut and pasted directly from Smitten Kitchen)

For serving:
If sandwiches, soft sandwich buns. If tacos, small soft tortillas. For both, I suggest some slaw, pickled onions and/or pickled jalapeños.

Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.

Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone (and seriously, get your head out of the way of the steam; inhaling vinegar is no fun!), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours. (The original recipe suggests 8 hours, but my mother-in-law, who makes wonderful brisket, says she cooks hers for 10. So I went with 10 and it was lovely, but feel free to check in on yours at 8 hours to determine if it needs more tenderizing.)

To serve, you’ve got two options: Leave the meat in the slow cooker and use two forks to pull it apart and stir it evenly into the sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves. This is obviously the simplest route.

Your second option is to do as I did, just a little more work. I strained the sauce (to remove the cooked-until-dead vegetables and bay leaves), chilled it so the fat would be easy to remove, then reheated and reseasoned it well, simmering it down (to about 2/3 the volume) to thicken it a bit. We poured it back over the brisket as we pulled it, and then, when we got where we were going, reheated the whole pan on low. (You could also thicken the sauce without skimming the excess fat — there was actually not as much as I’d anticipated.)

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel (and/or Cookie Butter)

This recipe was featured in this month's Martha Stewart Living, and tried out by a few helpful blogs online.

The dough is really crumbly and hard to get into ball form (and impossible to thumbprint until they have cooked halfway), but the cookies turned out well overall.

I think the salted caramel is the way to go (Martha makes her own of course...I used a jar of Dulce de Leche), but I was caught up in the Cookie Butter craze and wanted to use that for these too, so I did half and half.

Both are good...these must get frozen before I am carrying all 54 cookies around on my thighs.

Makes 54 cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs beaten
12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut

44 small soft caramel candies (12 oz.) 
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 jar Dulce de Leche

Flaky Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together butter and sugar with  mixer on medium speed until it is pale and fluffy, then add vanilla. Setting your mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 tsp salt and beat to combine (some other bloggers have suggested adding 1 - 2 eggs to the butter/sugar mix...the dough seemed incredibly dry, but the cookies did turn out). Using plastic wrap, press dough together, and roll into 1 1/4-inch balls (I recommend rolling all of your balls and setting aside before you dip).

Working in fours (I found that worked best), dip each ball into the beaten egg, and then roll in coconut. (Yes, it is messy.)

Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and press and indentation of your thumb into each cookie (I couldn't do this til they had baked for 10 min or so). Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheet from oven and re-press indentations. After that, put the sheet back in the oven and bake for another 9-10 minutes or until golden. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

Dump caramel/dulce de leche/cookie butter into a sandwich bag, and microwave for ~10-20 sec if you need to soften it a bit. Cut off a small corner of the bag, and pipe your filling of choice into the indentations of each cookie and sprinkle with sea salt. (Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days.)

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living Feb 2012

The cookie butter filled version...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Almond Cardamom Cookies

I found this blog recently after it was mentioned in NYT's Dining and Wine. These cookies are gluten-free and can be made vegan depending on your butter vs. shortening choice.
The cookies ended up tasting delicious, although I did have some major issues with the consistency. I ended up baking them more than 3x the time suggested (every time I would tap them lightly in the oven to see if they were done, the almond meal batter would just stick to my finger), but I'm wondering if it was a result of the vegetable shortening? Next time I'll probably go with butter, but otherwise, these really did taste delicious!


1/2 cup of unsalted butter or vegan vegetable shortening (if going the vegan route)
10 tbs of powdered sugar
3/4 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup of besan (chickpea )flour
2 Tbs of sorghum flour
1/4 tsp of green cardamom powder (tip for making the powder here)
1/8 tsp of salt
parchment paper

1.  Sift the almond meal, besan flour and sorghum flour together
2.  Add in:
  1/4 tsp of cardamom powder
  1/8 tsp of salt
3.  Set it aside
  In another bowl cream together:
  1 stick of softened unsalted butter
  10 Tbs of powdered sugar

4. Mix them gently together.
5. The dough is going to be a bit sticky and loose, but gather it up as best you can, roll it into a ball, wrap it in a bit of saran wrap and pop it in the fridge to take a nap for about 20 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
8. Take out the dough and knead it a bit... only 3 or 4 times, then nip off little bits.
9. Roll each one into a little ball and put it on the cookie sheet.
10. Pop an almond on top.

11. Now back into the fridge again for another 15 minute cat nap.
12. Then take them out and put them in the oven on the middle rack for about 22 minutes or so. (note: Mine needed almost an hour?! Altitude perhaps?)
13. The cookies should stay on the light side of done. You can tell when they're ready when they're light brown on the bottom.
14. Take them out of the oven.
15. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for another 5 minutes then move them to a cooling rack.

The unbaked cookies

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Brussels sprout and potato frittatas

From Eating Well...

I adapted it to make two frittatas instead -- I halved everything except the veggies -- we had some leftover, but I liked the more veggie-than-egg consistency.


2c refrigerated pre-shredded potatoes
8oz brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 2 c)
1/2c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
16oz container egg beaters
1/3c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4c low fat milk
2tsp dried thyme
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400. Coat 4 10oz ovenproof ramekins with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add potatoes, brussels sprouts, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.
3. Whisk egg substitute, cheese, milk, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the potato mixture and gently stir to combine.
4. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake until the eggs are set and an instant read thermometer inserted into a frittata registers 160, about 35 minutes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Stuffing

This is a combination of lots of "recipes" -- it's sort of a "kitchen sink" approach, but it made for some delicious holiday stuffing this year!


8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 cups chopped onions (about 1 pound)
2 cups chopped celery (4 to 5 stalks)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh fennel bulb (just the white part)
1 - 2 apples, chopped

1/2 - 1 cup figs, chopped
1/2 - 1 cup chestnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence

12 cups (generous) 1-inch cubes day-old pain rustique or ciabatta bread with crust (about 1 1/4 pounds)

2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup (or more) low-sodium Swanson chicken broth (or 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup white wine) - may need more depending on dryness of bread!


Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, celery, apple, and fennel. Sauté 8-10 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add figs, chestnuts, and all herbs; sauté 1 minute longer. (DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until bread is crusty but not hard, reversing sheets after 5 minutes, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to very large bowl and cool.

Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish.  Then in your very large bowl, gently toss the vegetable mixture in with the bread. Whisk eggs, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend, then whisk in the broth (or half broth, half wine if you’d like) until combined. Add egg mixture stuffing, tossing to combine evenly and adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish.

Bake stuffing uncovered until cooked through and brown and crusty on top, 60 minutes.
If stuffing feels dry, moisten halfway through with more butter/wine/broth.
Let stand 10 minutes.