Spinach and Artichoke Dip

 I’m just going to post a short post today, just in time for New Years!

I made this fantastic dip for my family’s Christmas Eve get-together this year, and it was a hit. I thought that by doubling the recipe I would have some left over to take pictures of, but it was seriously gone within minutes. This is great for a party, with tortilla chips, crackers, or some nice crusty bread to dip in it. It keeps nicely in a crock-pot on its lowest heat setting. I’m just giving you the single recipe, but definitely make more than you think you will need!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

8 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

3/4 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

1 package chopped frozen spinach, thawed

1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced

dash of cayenne or red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

 

To prepare in a crock-pot:

Place all ingredients in the crock-pot set on medium heat. Allow cream cheese to melt. Once cream cheese is soft, mix all of the ingredients together. Lower heat to lowest setting.

To prepare in the microwave:

Place cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Heat cream cheese in 1 minute increments, until warm, and soft enough to mix. Add all other ingredients to the bowl, mix well. Add mixture to crock-pot on low heat to keep warm.

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Before I share my recipe today, I need to take a moment to vent. First, on Sunday, I had a fantastic dinner planned. I had spent the afternoon preparing, and one of the things I was making was a fantastic roast beef. Well it was almost ready to eat when the Pyrex dish just shattered in the oven! Glass was everywhere, all over the oven, kitchen, and of course, my roast. Instead of my roast beef, we had a precooked, store bought chicken.

To make matters worse, I went out to my car yesterday to go to work, and someone had hit it, and didn’t bother to leave a note. People have it out for my car around the holidays. Last year someone broke in my window right before Christmas, this year, a hit and run. It doesn’t do much for the holiday spirit!

But enough complaining, now on to some cookies!

These cookies would be great to put out on a plate for Santa on Christmas Eve. These cookies are fantastic warm from the oven, but once they are cool, they really do taste like hot chocolate! The original recipe called for hot chocolate mix, but I usually don’t use a mix to make hot chocolate, so I didn’t have any one hand, and used cocoa powder instead.

 

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Baking Serendipity

2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows, toasted

Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and vanilla and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients in 3-4 parts, stirring well to make sure it is incorporated.

Toast mini marshmallows under the broiler on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean-up). Fold toasted marshmallows and chocolate chips into dough.

Drop cookie dough by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 9-11 minutes. Let cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.

 

 

 

 

 

Iced Lemon Cookies (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies)

Welcome to the final week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies! I can’t believe that it is already over, and I especially can’t believe that there is barely a week left until Christmas.  Sorry about posting a day late, but I’ve got a ton to do over the next few days to get ready for Christmas.

The last cookie recipe I am sharing is possibly my favorite cookie from the last few months. This cookie makes a nice change from all of the heavy chocolate, mint, and caramel that people bring out during the holidays. The lemon flavor is very refreshing, and the icing adds a nice tangyness to the cookie, keeping it from becoming overly sweet. These are slice and bake cookies, which makes them incredibly quick and easy to make last minute.

Iced Lemon Cookies

Adapted from Authentic Suburban Gourmet


2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1 C. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 C.sugar

Juice of half a lemon
3 T finely grated lemon zest
1 t. vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks

1 1/4 C. powdered sugar
3 T (or more) fresh lemon juice


Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, sugar, lemon zest, juice,  and vanilla in a large bowl, occasionally scraping down sides, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks; beat just to blend. Reduce speed to low; add flour and salt and beat, occasionally scraping down sides, just to blend. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 10″-long log about 1 3/4″ in diameter. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Arrange racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap 1 dough log. Using a sharp, lightly floured knife, cut log into 1/4″-thick rounds. Transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1″ apart.

Bake until cookies are firm and golden brown around edges, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough log.


Whisk sugar and 2 tablespoons juice in a small bowl, adding more juice by 1/2-teaspoonfuls if too thick. Use a piping bag and drizzle icing over cookies. Let stand until icing sets, about 10 minutes.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies)

Welcome to the 11th week of 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies!

For this weeks cookie I decided to share another banana recipe. The last banana cookies I shared seemed to be pretty well received even though its not the most conventional Christmas flavor. Due to some Thanksgiving mispurchases, I ended up with a ton of over ripe bananas that were just perfect for baking with this weekend. These cookies didn’t turn out quite how I was hoping, but it was a happy mistake. Instead of turning out like a traditional chocolate chip cookie, they ended up more like muffin tops, which was fine with me!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking Bites
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed banana (1 medium)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, or mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and mashed banana. Stir in flour mixture, then mix in the chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks) until well-distributed in the batter
Shape dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches between cookies to allow for spread.
Bake for 11-14 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown.
Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 32 cookies.

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Brown Sugar Fudge (December Crazy Cooking Challenge)

Welcome to the December Crazy Cooking Challenge!

This fudge is probably the best thing that has come out of my kitchen. Ever. I decided to make an old fashioned fudge recipe for this challenge. The easy, quick style of fudge is fine, it works in a pinch, but that kind of fudge is just missing something special. Maybe its that shatter-y crisp sugar crust you have to  break through before you get to that smooth creamy center, or the satisfying feeling of turning a syrup into something so much better.

The flavor of this fudge was more like maple than caramel. This fudge would be great with nuts, especially walnuts. This is an easy recipe to make, even though it does involve cooking the sugar to a high temperature. The work comes in once the syrup has cooled and its time to beat it. It took me at least 20 minutes of beating to get it to the right point, although thing did speed up once I started using a  wooden spoon! You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.

Brown Sugar Fudge

The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch

 

2-1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
3 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 234 degrees, the soft boil stage.  Remove the syrup from heat, add the butter , and without stirring, let cool until it reaches 110 degrees. Once it has cooled to 110 degrees, beat the syrup with a wooden spoon until it starts to loose its gloss. Once it begins to loose it gloss, and has a thick consistency, pour it into a foiled, greased pan to set. Once set, cut into squares and enjoy!

 

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Chocolate Cookie (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies)

Welcome to week 9 of 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies! With less than a month until Christmas, it’s time for cookie swaps and office parties. The best thing you can have for those situations is a super easy, versatile cookie. This chocolate cookie recipe is a great base for a ton of different additions, in fact it’s the same base I used for the mint chocolate chip cookies I posted earlier in the week. These make a great bite size cookie that would be perfect to serve along with all the other goodies what will be around at parties, and people will appreciate the fact that they are small.

Make sure to check out the other post this week!

Some suggestions for flavors:

  • 2 cups of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of mint chips, 1 cup choco
  • late chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips

Chocolate Cookie Base

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, va

nilla and cocoa. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir in add ins, distribute evenly.
For full size cookies drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack. For bite size cookies scoops tablespoon sized balls of dough, cut in half and round edges slightly, bake for 6-8 minutes.


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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.

Frosting:
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.