Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week was absolutely crazy. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, I certainly did. As I said though, it was crazy. After fighting me for the rights to thanksgiving dessert, my sister got sick and I got a last minute phone call telling me I had to take care of them. I ended up cooking everything but the stuffing! It all turned out well, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I will post some recipes from Thanksgiving over the next few weeks, but there won’t be any pictures. I just couldn’t ask people to hold off eating!

I have to admit that even though Thanksgiving is barley over, I have been in Christmas mode for a few weeks now. I’ve finished my shopping, wrapped the presents, and been listening to Christmas music. And I love holiday flavors far more than fall. I’m not really on board with pumpkin, but I love mint and chocolate, which always screams Christmas to me. That is where these cookies come in. Last week when I was looking through the Target Christmas area, I came across a great deal on Andes mints, I knew I would have to use them in something.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped Andes Mints

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir chocolate chips and mints, and stir to distribute evenly.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.


Banana and Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies

Its week 8 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies, I Know I say this every week, but I am amazed that the holidays are so close! I guess its just a sign that I am getting older.

While bananas are probably not the first flavor you think of for cookies when Christmas comes around, I think it is perfectly fitting! Banana bread is one of my go to host/hostess gifts, and its great to have on hand for surprise visits, or that awkward situation where someone gives you a gift that you weren’t expecting. These cookies have that warm, comforting feeling of banana bread, but with the added goodness of salted caramel. And really, how could you argue with caramel?

The speed at which baked goodies disappear from my desk is usually a good indicator of the overall success of the recipe. I put out a plate of these cookies, left my desk for about 20 minutes, and came back to an empty plate. Considering that most things I bring in take a few hours to get eaten, I’d say they went over well!

For this recipe I had to use components from two different recipes to get what I wanted.

Banana Cookies
Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Combine the banana and sour cream in a measuring cup and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until pale in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until incorporated. Alternately add the flour mixture (in 3 additions) and banana mixture (in 2 additions), starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until ingredients are just combined.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe the batter into 1 1/4-inch rounds on baking sheets (just approximate, I didn’t measure each one), spacing them an inch or two apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I baked one sheet at a time), until the edges are golden and the cookies spring back when gently pressed. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.

Erin’s Food Files

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream
6 tbsp softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar

For frosting:
Put the granulated sugar, water and corn syrup into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine, then cook until the mixture is a nice, deep golden brown.

While the sugar is cooking, bring the salt and cream to a simmer in another saucepan.

Once the caramel is the right color, remove the pan from heat. Wait one minute, then stir in the heavy cream. Let cool for a few minutes, then whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

Once the caramel is cool, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the caramel and powdered sugar, and beat until it has a spreadable consistency.

Spread a thick layer of frosting on the flat side of one cookie, then top with another.

Make sure to visit the other blogs in this blog hop to see what they created!

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Tea Brined Chicken in Coconut Sauce

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

This was my first month participating in the Daring Cooks challenge. I cook a lot, but I never really take a lot of time to get creative with my ingredients. This was a really interesting challenge for me. I have never cooked, or baked, or really done anything with tea other than just drink it. I had a hard time finding a dish to make, so I ended up think this up on my own. It tastes a little like a curry, and makes a great meal paired with some brown rice and green beans in garlic sauce.

This dish does not have much tea flavor, but the tea brine added a tone of moisture, and really helped to tenderize the meat. I brined the chicken for about 8 hours, but this would work well over night. I used chicken tenders, which is what I had on hand, but I think this would be great with legs or thighs.


 Tea brined chicken in coconut sauce

12 chicken tenders

2 bags English breakfast tea

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt

½ can coconut milk

Juice of ½ a lime

1tsp chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

For the brine:

Brew a cup of tea using both tea bags to get a stronger flavor. Dissolve brown sugar and salt in the hot tea. Add in a cup of cold water to cool down. Cover chicken with the brine, let sit for at least 6-8 hours.

For the chicken:

To cook chicken, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove chicken from brine, pat dry.  Brown chicken on both sides, cooking in batches is the pan is too crowded. After the chicken is browned, place all the chicken back into the skillet; add in half a can of coconut milk. Add in the lime juice, chili powder, and garlic. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve over rice, squeeze the other half of the lime over the chicken as needed.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies)

Here we are at week 7 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies. I can’t believe that the holidays are getting so close! This is the time of year I am looking for cookies that can stand up to travel. Whether they are going to holiday parties, cookie exchanges, or even being shipped to someone, not all cookies can survive being transported. These cookies are certainly sturdy enough to make the trip, and stay fresh for days too. Making these with vanilla beans instead of just extract really add something special. These cookies would work equally well with tea if you had unexpected visitors, or putting out during an elegant holiday party.

Vanilla bean shortbread
Slightly adapted from Bake Your Day

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (see note below) 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean and the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour/salt mixture in slowly; I added it in a couple of batches, and mix until fully incorporated.
Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Turn the dough out onto the plastic and wrap the dough. Roll into a log, about 2 inches in diameter, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the log from the refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Place on the baking sheet with about 1/4-inch between each cookie. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies.

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes (Crazy Cooking Challenge)

This month was the first time I participated in the Crazy Cooking Challenge, and the challenge was mashed potatoes.
My family is VERY traditional when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Every food has to be exactly the same every year. Last year I tried to change up the candied yams, and it was met with an amazing amount of resistance! I do think I have finally gotten everyone to accept brining the turkey, but that took a few years. So when this month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge came around, I know it would be the perfect time to ease everyone in to a slightly different mashed potato dish. And I mean slightly different, I (gasp) used brown butter instead of regular butter!
I used Love and Olive Oil’s recipe for these browned butter mashed potatoes. These potatoes were good. The browned butter flavor was very subtle, and when covered in gravy would be really hard to detect. These probably won’t be my go to recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, but for an easy way to make an everyday week night dinner a little nicer, these are the way to go!

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

Makes 6-8 side servings.
3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
Put the potatoes in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with cold water by at least half an inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your potato pieces.
Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan or skillet until foamy (you can skim off some of the foam if you like). Continue to cook the butter until it’s golden brown and nutty, an additional 3-5 minutes (watch it carefully, it will go from browned to burnt very quickly). Add cream and continue to cook over low heat until mixture is warmed through.
Strain the potatoes and return to pot set over low heat. Begin to mash with a potato masher. Doing this over low heat will allow any remaining water to evaporate out of the potatoes. Add half of the browned butter mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add more of the butter mixture until desired consistency is reached.


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