Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

 Whoopie Pies have become very popular over the past year or two and are quite the creation in my opinion.  Why?  Because cake and frosting are just about the best things ever invented and I love cupcakes, but lets face it, sometimes they are pretty hard to eat.  Someone must have wanted the convenience of a cookie, but the taste of a cupcake and decided to marry the two together and out came a whoopie pie - the best of both worlds.  

I have tried a few different red velvet whoopie pies and 
these chocolate ones and I can't wait to try a pumpkin variation.  I really like these chocolate ones.  The cookie is very rich and moist and I love them after they have been refrigerated!  I think these cookies would be incredible with a marshmallow type filling!!  That is what I am trying next.    

Chocolate Whoopie Pies
adapted from: Dessert First

3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbl. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 c. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
2 c. buttermilk, room temperature
cream cheese filling or favorite filling recipe

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 4 or 5 minutes.  Add your eggs, one at a time, mixing until completely incorporated before adding the other egg.  Mix in the chocolate and vanilla, making sure to combine really well.  Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Make sure to let it mix thoroughly.

Heap the batter onto the baking sheets with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop.  Bake until the tops crack, 12-15 minutes or so.  Cool on a rack.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Spread 2 heaping Tablespoons of cream cheese filling onto half of the cakes.  Sandwich together with the other cake halves.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week and allow to come to room temperature 1 hour before serving.  Yield: 25-30 pies.  

Cream Cheese Filling:
2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. almond extract
5 c. powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese, butter, salt and almond extract in a mixer on low speed with the whisk attachment.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl when necessary.  

Jenn's Notes: I cut both the cookie and the filling recipes in half.  I ended up with 26 cookies (13 sandwiches) and I had plenty of frosting to fill each cookie.  I used milk chocolate in the cookie instead of semisweet and I baked for exactly 12 minutes and they were perfect - very very soft.  Next time, I will try a different filling recipe.    

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our Best Bites' Dinner Rolls

These have been declared the World's Best Dinner Rolls by the authors of Our Best Bites.  That was a pretty smart move on their part to name their rolls the world's best, because with a title like that, you can't help but give them a try.  Did they live up to that title?  

These were incredible.  They taste just like another roll that I make, that I absolutely love.  They are so soft and very very easy to make.  They were great plain, with butter, with honey and I think they would make a perfect little sandwich with some ham and cheese.  The recipe recommends using whole milk and when I went to the store, I planned on buying whole milk, but the smallest carton they had was a one gallon size and I was planning on cutting the roll recipe in half, so I couldn't justify buying a whole carton of whole milk when I was only planning on using one cup and not knowing of anything else I could make with the whole milk.  So, I didn't buy it and I ended up using 2% and these rolls were amazing.  If they taste even better than this with the whole milk, then I have got to try it, because I was so impressed with these.  I will have to look for some other recipes that require the use of whole milk, so I don't feel bad about buying a carton and so none goes to waste.  

Do you have any delicious recipes that require whole milk?    
Dinner Rolls
adapted from: Our Best Bites

2 c. whole milk*
1/2 c. plus 1 Tbl. sugar, divided
1/3 c. unsalted butter
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 pkgs. (4 1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast
2/3 c. warm water
8-9 c. all-purpose flour, divided
3 beaten eggs

*They recommend whole milk, but if you're in a pinch 2% milk will work, but try to stay away from 1% or skim

Combine milk, 1/2 c. sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until butter melts into salty-sweet perfection.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm (this is really important, because if it is too hot, it will kill the yeast).  

While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tablespoon of sugar in warm water.  Let stand about 10 minutes.  If the yeast hasn't bubbled, you'll need to repeat this step with new yeast.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of flour and milk mixture.  Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly.  Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes.  Add beaten eggs.  Stir in as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough.  This dough should be very soft - it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it.  (If you add too much flour, these rolls will be heavy and dense).  Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough.  Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface.  Divide in half.  Spray two 9x13-inch glass pans with cooking spray.  Pat first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut into 12 equal-sized pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and place in prepared pan.  Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan.  Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.  When done, remove from oven.  Rub a stick of cold butter over the tops of the rolls.  Eat one now while it's still hot!!

Jenn's Notes:  I cut this recipe in half and got 12 rolls.  I used 2% milk, 2 eggs and 4 cups of flour total.  When you are done mixing, the dough is still pretty sticky, but it firms up during the rising process and was very easy to work with.  I used my kitchen scale to ensure that each roll was the exact same size, but if you don't have one of those, don't worry, just eye-ball it.  During the second rise, my rolls took longer than 30 minutes, more like 45 minutes.  So, plan a little extra time, just in case.  These rolls were still delicious and very soft the next day, but I couldn't tell you about the 3rd day, because I didn't have any left!  

***Update - I have made these rolls a lot since this post, at least a few times a month.  They have become my new go-to roll recipe, because they are so easy and turn out perfect every time.  I have made them with both 2% milk and whole milk and I think they are delicious both ways!***

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Terri Wahl's Red Velvet Cupcakes

Are you a huge red velvet everything fan like me?  I have tried at least a dozen different red velvet cupcake recipes and I never get sick of them and I am always willing to try a new one!  

If you ever watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay, you have probably seen the "Cupcakes" episode.  Bobby challenged a lady named Terri Wahl.  She owns a shop in L.A. and some have deemed her cupcakes the "best in town".  I have been wanting to try this recipe for a long time, but I never got around to it (I had too many other ones to try), but I couldn't stand seeing these cupcakes every time I flipped through this cookbook and not knowing what they tasted like.  

Well, now I know what they taste like and they are D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!  They have a lot of mixed reviews on Food Network, but I think that is because they have some of the ingredients listed in ounces and I wonder if some people didn't convert the measurements right?  Luckily, my cookbook lists all of the ingredients in easy measurements, so no need to stress.  These don't have as much cocoa as some other recipes have, but it was ok, because they turned out very moist, have great flavor, have great color and I would love to make these again!
Terri Wahl's Red Velvet Cupcakes

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
3 large eggs
2 Tbl. plus 2 tsp. red food coloring
1 1/4 tsp. distilled white or apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar, oil and buttermilk on medium speed until combined.  Add the eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and 2 Tbl. water and mix well.  Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time, scraping down the sides occasionally, beating until combined.  Be sure not to overmix or the cupcakes will be tough.  

Fill the muffin cups 1/2 full (do not over fill).  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-23 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.  Yield: about 30 cupcakes. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, room temp.
1 Lb. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To make the frosting:  beat the butter and cream cheese together in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, scraping the bowl down as needed.  Beat in the vanilla.  If too soft, chill briefly.  Divide the frosting among the cupcakes; then smooth with a small offset spatula.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Adobo-Seasoned Chicken and Rice

Do you ever get complaints from your family or friends or even yourself that you are so sick of chicken?  It is either too dry or too bland.  Well, I promise you will not get any of that with this chicken.  This chicken is amazing.  It turned out extremely flavorful and even juicy, if you can believe it!  Bobby Flay is a genius when it comes to the perfect rub ingredients.  This entire recipe looks like it has a lot of ingredients, as Bobby's dishes usually do, but most of them are common ingredients you might already have on hand.  

Like I said, the chicken was the star of this dish, but what about the rice?  The rice was good, but did not blow my socks off.  I loved all of the vegetables in it and it paired really nice with the chicken, but I liked the chicken so much, that this rice was just okay, but with a few minor tweaks, I think it could be amazing.  I will be making this chicken again and again.  I cut the recipe in half and I used one boneless, skinless chicken breast, 2 drumsticks and 1 thigh and they all turned out great. 

Adobo-Seasoned Chicken and Rice

Adobo Seasoning
1 Tbl. kosher salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbl. finely chopped fresh oregano leaves (I used dried)

Chicken and Rice
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, cut in half
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and finely diced
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 c. long-grain rice
5 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 c. frozen peas (not thawed)
1 c. pitted picholine olives (I didn't add these)
3 Tbl. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped (I used dried)
grated zest and juice of 1 fresh lime

Combine all of the adobo seasoning ingredients.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Season both sides of the chicken pieces generously with the adobo seasoning mixture.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Place the chicken in the oil, skin side down, in batches if necessary and saute until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet, place it in the oven and roast until tender and just cooked through, about 12 minutes.  (I baked my chicken at a slightly lower temperature for a little bit longer, because I wanted it to be done the same time as the rice).

Meanwhile, pour off all but 2 Tbl. fat from the Dutch oven and place it back over high heat.  Add the onion, bell peppers and serrano chile and cook until soft, 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the rice to the pan, stir to coat it in the mixture and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered.  Then stir well, cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook until all the broth has been absorbed and the rice is tender, 10-12 minutes.  During the last few minutes of cooking, quickly stir in the peas, cover and continue cooking.

Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered.  Then remove the lid, fluff the rice and gently fold in the olives, cilantro, oregano, lime zest and juice.  Add the chicken and stir to combine.  Serves: 4 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Graham Cracker S'mores Cookies

I found these cookies online last Sunday at about midnight. It was obviously too late to make them, so I forced myself to wait until Monday.  I thought about them all day at work on Monday and I made them right when I got home.  Christina's pictures of these are amazing and truly mouthwatering.  Her's look like a big, fat, round cookie on top of a graham cracker.  Mine turned out more like Julie's, which are more like a bar type cookie.  Either way, these are really good.  I am still munching on them (4 days later), in fact, I am eating one right now as I type this post.  

The chocolate adds so much to these cookies and whenever I get a bite with a little chocolate and marshmallow, mixed with the cookie and graham cracker, oh man, it is good.  I was worried about the cinnamon and I ended up halving the amount called for and I ended up wishing I wouldn't have added any, but as the days go bye, I notice the cinnamon less and less.  I still think I would leave it out next time.  

When you first bite into them, you get an amazing ooey, gooey, chewy texture from the cookie, then a snap from the graham cracker.  I think anyone you serve these to will love them!!    

Graham Cracker S'mores Cookies
adapted from: Sweet Pea's Kitchen    
(Printable Recipe)

1 1/2 pkgs. graham crackers, broken into squares
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, opt.
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 c. milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 – 3 regular sized Hershey’s
® bars, broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Lay out graham cracker squares, side by side, on the pans as close as possible (they should be touching).  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter with both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, mixing until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows. 

Place tablespoons of dough on each graham cracker square.  Bake for 5 minutes then remove from oven and press a Hershey’s bar piece on to the top of each cookie.  Return pans to the oven and bake for  5 to 7 more minutes or until dough is golden brown at the edges  (I baked mine for around 12 minutes more and they were still pretty gooey).  Remove to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 28 cookie squares.   

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits

Doesn't the name of this recipe just sound like pure comfort food?  Chicken Pot Pie and Biscuits - how could you go wrong?  I thought everything about this dish was yummy, except for the biscuits?  I like the idea of using biscuits, but these biscuits were not good?  I'm not even going to post the recipe.  They didn't really have any flavor - they were very bland?  If you choose to make this, I would highly suggest using my go-to biscuit recipe or a good store-bought biscuit instead.    
I made the full filling recipe and it made tonz.  Next time, I will have to cut the filling in half, since there is only two of us.  I used dried thyme, broth instead of wine and I used 1/2 milk and 1/2 cream to cut down on a few calories.  To save some time, try using a store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken from another dish.   
Skillet Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits

1 1/2 Lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
4 Tbl. butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. dry white wine or broth
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy cream (or 1/4 c. milk and 1/4 c. cream)
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 c. frozen peas, carrots, corn medley, thawed

1 batch buttermilk biscuits or store-bought biscuits

While your biscuits bake, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Melt 2 Tbl. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the foam subsides.  Brown the chicken lightly on both sides, about 5 minutes total.  Transfer the chicken to a clean plate.  Add the remaining 2 Tbl. butter to the skillet and return to medium heat until melted.  Add the onion, celery and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until incorporated, about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds.  Slowly whisk in the broth, cream and thyme and bring to a simmer.  Nestle the chicken into the sauce, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the thickest part of the breasts registers 160-165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8-10 minutes.  

Transfer the chicken to a plate.  Stir the thawed vegetables into the sauce and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut or shred it into bite-sized pieces and return it to the skillet.  Season the filling with salt and pepper, to taste.  For serving: transfer the filling to a large pie plate and arrange the biscuits over the top, or serve directly from the skillet, topping individual portions with the biscuits.  Serves: 4-6. 

Monday, May 16, 2011


This is a recipe-repost.  My original picture did not do these justice, so I thought I would update the post with a new and improved picture.  I know it still is not the greatest photo, but it is a lot better than the original.  
This recipe is so amazing that it deserves a repost and incase any of you missed this recipe the first time around, do not pass it up this time.  These Carnitas make an appearance at my Dinner Table at least once a month.  I have made them countless times since I first tried them last September and they come out perfect every time.  These are Jake's FAVORITE Mexican dish that I make and he requests them all the time.  They are so easy and the end result is nothing short of INCREDIBLE.  They taste like "street tacos." Carnitas are usually deep fried, but America's Test Kitchen broils the meat at the end to mimic the same crispiness that deep-frying would give the meat.  If you haven't already got the hint - you have got to give these a try.   

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
adapted from: America's Test Kitchen

3 1/2 - 4 Lbs. boneless pork shoulder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 Tbl. fresh lime juice
1/2 onion, cut in half
2 c. water
1/3 c. fresh squeezed orange juice

Cut pork into 2-inch cubes.  Cut out any large pockets of fat, but leave some fat, because it adds valuable flavor.  Place pork cubes in a large, oven-safe pot.  Sprinkle with oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.  Add bay leaves, lime juice, onion chunks and water.  Juice an orange and add the juice and the orange halves to the pot. Stir together and bring to a simmer.  Cover with lid and  put in a 300 degree oven.  Cook about two hours, flip meat over halfway through.  When done, it should be fork tender.  Remove from oven and take out all the solids.  Put the meat in a bowl and discard the onion, orange halves and the bay leaves.  Cut some of the meat into smaller pieces.  Boil the remaining liquid to form a glaze, about 10-15 minutes.  Pour the glaze over the meat and toss to coat.  Spread out evenly onto a rack placed over a cookie sheet.  Place back in the oven on the middle rack and broil 5-8 minutes, flip over and broil 5-8 minutes more to get nice and crispy.  Serve on toasted tortilla shells with shredded cheese, fresh salsa, lime juice, chopped cilantro and any other desired toppings.    

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yellow Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

I am constantly on the search for the perfect vanilla and yellow cake recipes from scratch.  I have tried so many and still haven't found 'the one."  I had been eyeing this recipe ever since I got this cookbook.  I was waiting for strawberries to be in season before I tried it.  The original recipe is done as a three-layer cake, but I was in the mood for cupcakes!  

  This recipe is a homemade yellow cake, which the author of the cookbook (Paula Deen's Cousin, Gabriel) claims to be the basis for several of her very popular desserts at her bakery.

I must warn you: If you don't feel like doing dishes, do not make this cake, because it dirties so many dishes.  That was my ONLY complaint about this recipe.  I tried a plain cupcake the night I made them before I put any frosting on them.  I had to make sure the cake was good before I wasted all the ingredients on the frosting, right?  It was hands-down the BEST scratch yellow cake recipe I have ever made.  It was everything I look for in a cake. . . . so light and fluffy, moist and very very flavorful.  I was thrilled . . . I finally found "the one."  However (there always has to be a however), the next day, it was a little more dry?  I wouldn't say completely dry, just not as moist as it was the night before?  They were still really good and I will definitely make them again.  The recipe suggests brushing the tops with a simple syrup and I didn't do that until the next day, so next time I will try brushing them the night I make them, to see if that keeps them moist?  We'll see and I'll let you know when I try it.

The strawberry frosting I made was horrible and I am not even going to post the recipe?  Instead, I will include the link to my FAVORITE strawberry frosting.   This was the first time I had tried making a homemade strawberry frosting with fresh, not frozen, strawberries and I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I decided to puree them, because I am not a fan of chunky berries and as soon as I added that puree to my frosting, it kind of separated and the flavor was off?  Who knows? 
This is what will happen if you fill your cupcake liners too full.  It will spread out like a muffin top. 

Yellow Cupcakes
adapted from: this cookbook
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs, separated
3 c. all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. cream
1 Tbl. vanilla

3/4 of a batch of this yummy Strawberry Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.  In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening, butter and sugar, blending until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, buttermilk, cream and vanilla.  In four additions, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the creamed mixture.  Begin with flour and end with flour, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.  Blend evenly, but do no overmix.  Using a whisk attachment on the mixer, whip the egg whites until they will hold a peak. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter in three additions.  Divide the cake batter among the prepared muffin cups.  Gently tap the pan on the counter or tabletop to level out the batter in the pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Brush the tops of the cupcakes with *simple syrup.    Pipe on strawberry frosting.  Yield: about 25-30 cupcakes.      

*For the simple syrup: In a small heavy saucepan, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat and simmer for three minutes.  Allow syrup to cool.  With a pastry brush, apply a light coating of the simple syrup on the top of each cupcake. Any leftover syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks for future use.      

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Soft Cookies with Pink Icing

Here is another yummy recipe from this cookbook!  The real name of these cookies is Grandma McNaughton's Soft Cookies, but I didn't want to confuse people into thinking I have a Grandma McNaughton, because I don't, but I bet she was great!  The person (Bethany Sinks) that supplied this recipe for the cookbook, says that her grandma was famous for this recipe.  She also said you have to use a round cookie cutter and pink icing in order for them to be grandma's!  So, that is what I did. 

I whipped up a half a batch of these cookies, cut them with my round cutter and waited for them to bake.  Meanwhile, I made the frosting.  I decided to make a little more than the recipe suggested, because I like to pile on the frosting.  So, if you are not a frosting addict like me, you can scale back the ingredients a bit.  I could hardly wait to try them. . .

. . . I really really liked these cookies.  They reminded me of an extremely soft sugar cookie.  They honestly melt-in-your-mouth!  The only thing I would change next time is to use regular shortening instead of butter flavored, because the butter flavor stood out a little too much and I think the regular would be just perfect!  I also added a little almond extract to half of the frosting and oh it was soooooooo yummy!  I made half of a batch and used a medium-sized cookie cutter and ended up with about 18 cookies.  Make sure to leave plenty of room between the cookies, because when they bake, they spread out quite a bit.  Give these a try, because I know you will love them!  

**Update - I wanted to let you all know that I am still eating these cookies 5 days later and they are still very yummy.  I think they might even get better as the days go bye!  These have become one of my new favorites!  
Grandma McNaughton's Soft Cookies
adapted from: this cookbook
(Printable Recipe)
1 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
5 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

Pink Icing:
1 c. butter, softened
5 1/2 c. powdered sugar
evaporated milk, as needed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract, opt.
a few drops of red food coloring  

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar; add eggs and vanilla.  In a small bowl, combine buttermilk and baking soda.  Stir in half the buttermilk mixture.  Combine flour, nutmeg, salt and baking powder.  Stir in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk mixture.  Dough will be tender.  With a rolling pin, roll dough to 1/2-inch thick, using generous amounts of flour.  Cut out cookies with a round cookie cutter.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes (I baked mine 12 minutes and they were super soft) at 350 degrees.  Do Not Overbake.  The cookies should be soft.  Cool completely and spread with pink icing.

For the icing:  Beat butter until fluffy.  Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and beat until light and fluffy, adding evaporated milk as needed for desired consistency.  Add vanilla extract, almond extract and red food coloring.  Beat until evenly distributed.  Spread over cooled cookies.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Southwest Egg Rolls and Avocado Dip

So, I got another new cookbook!  I will admit, I have an obsession.  I should really avoid stores that carry cookbooks, but I can't help it when I go to Costco and they have such good deals.  The last time I went, they had so many that I wanted and I settled on this one.  It was that darn picture of the two-layered red-velvet cake that made me cave.  It will get you every time!

These Egg Rolls are the second recipe that I have tried out of the book.  So far, I like two out of two.  You all should know that I am a huge fan of Mexican Food and I love anything with cilantro in it!  I loved every single thing about these egg rolls.  Delicious!  I found the egg roll wrappers in the refrigerated produce section at my grocery store.  There is a picture on the back that explains how to roll up an egg-roll properly.  So, follow those directions and these are soooo easy to put together and you can whip them up in no time.  Make sure you serve them with the avocado dip, because it is incredible and pairs perfectly with the flavors in the egg rolls.  I will be making these again and again.
Southwest Egg Rolls and Avocado Dip

2 1/2 c. chicken, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 c. Mexican cheese blend, shredded
2/3 c. canned corn, drained
2/3 c. black beans, rinsed and drained
5 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. lime zest, grated
pinch of cayenne pepper
18-20 egg roll wrappers
vegetable oil for frying

Avocado Dip
1 c. ranch salad dressing
1 medium ripe Hass avocado, peeled and mashed
1-2 Tbl. fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh lime juice
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients.  Place 1/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of one egg roll wrapper.  Roll up as per directions on the back of the package (Place egg roll wrapper in a diagonal, so it looks like a diamond.  Place filling down the center and fold up bottom point, then fold in the sides.  Moisten top point with water and and roll up tightly).  Repeat.  In a large skillet, heat about 1/2-inch oil over medium heat.  Fry egg rolls, a few at at time, for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels; season with salt.  Meanwhile, combine dressing, mashed avocado, 1-2 Tbl. cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Serve with egg rolls.  Makes 18-20 egg rolls.    

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