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Friday, January 28, 2011

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

A few weeks ago I went with some friends to Ikea for the first time. I was in heaven in the kitchen accessories section. They had some really neat things for reasonable prices. I tried to control myself. The rooms they have set up to give you ideas are awesome. One room had book shelves all the way up to the ceiling. You needed a ladder to get to the top. The librarian in me was in heaven. I would love to have that in my house one day. The foodie in me was drooling over the kitchens. If I had an extra $10,000 to spare I would so do a kitchen makeover. Not in the home I live in now because I plan on moving in the near future but my future home. Unless I'm lucky to buy a house with my dream kitchen in it. Then that would be great.

Anyway after shopping we stopped at Hoolihan's to eat. I have never been to a Hoolihan's and I really enjoyed the food there. I will definitely go back. They had a three course special going on so we each ended up doing that. The first course you got to choose salad or soup. The second choice was an entree and the price varied depending on what entree you chose. The third course was dessert. I got the Chicken Tortilla Soup to start, Smoked Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas for my entree, and the Chocolate Cappuccino Cake for dessert. Everything was really good and I wanted to try and recreate the enchiladas. The menu's description of the enchiladas is Enchiladas filled with tomatillo-marinated chicken, onions, garlic and queso fresco atop a spicy, chipotle-smoked mozzarella sauce. Served with pico rice, black beans and sweet chipotle slaw. I have no idea how to make chipotle-smoked mozzarella sauce. I searched the internet with no luck. Since I couldn't make the sauce I improvised. The enchiladas I came up with are not the same but I thought they turned out quite tasty. A little too spicy for my hubby but I didn't find them to be too spicy for me.

Salsa Verde Enchiladas
11 Servings, 4 WW points per enchilada

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2 lbs. chicken breast
1 jar salsa verde
1 small onion, chopped
1 ts. minced garlic

11-15 corn tortillas
1 can mild enchilada sauce, red
1 cup reduced fat Mexican shredded cheese

In a crock pot place the chicken, salsa, onion, and garlic. Cook on high for 1 hour and turn down to low. Cook 2 hours more or until chicken is done. Take the chicken out and cut in up into chunks. Place back in the crock pot and turn down to keep warm. If your chicken breasts are frozen the cook time will be longer.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up the tortillas before trying to roll them. This is an important step because trying to roll cold tortillas ends up in disaster. They just break apart. You can heat them in a dry skillet on medium high heat or place damp paper towels between them and heat them up in the microwave for about a minute.

In a 9X13 pan pour half of the can of mild enchilada sauce on the bottom. Take a heated tortilla and fill it with 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture. Roll it up and place face down in the pan. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. I was able to fit 11 in my pan. I might have been able to squish more but I wanted to be able to get them out of the pan hopefully intact. I should have squished them because they didn't stay intact very well. I had about a 1/4 of the filling leftover since I could only made 11. Pour the remaining mild enchilada sauce on top and top with the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thank You Brownies

Yesterday when I got off work at 8:30pm my car wouldn't start. It's never good when you turn the key and all you get in return is a ticking sound. I called my hubby and found out we don't have jumper cables. I need to put that on my shopping list because you really should have those in your car. Fortunately for me our security guard had jumper cables and was willing to help me. We soon found out that my battery was on one side while his battery was on the other and so he had to move my car out of the parking space so it could face his car. He did that with the help of a patron dropping off his material. So he gets the cables on and it takes awhile for my car to come alive.

I get from our parking lot to the stop sign to get out on Front street and my car refuses to go any further. It was strange because I don't think it died but it wouldn't move. While this is going on Joyce and Cody are waiting for me at my house because we are supposed to go out for $1 tacos at Cagney's. Joyce calls and I tell her I'm stuck so they come to help me move my car out of the way. That didn't happen because my car wouldn't go into neutral. All three of us tried and my gear shift would not move. I call Will. He comes and still nothing. The girls leave for tacos and Will goes home to get some tools but nothing works. I had to have it towed. Towing isn't cheap. Cost me $65 and I probably have to replace my alternator that is only a year old. Boo! I finally got home at 10:30 freezing and poor Will missed work to help me out.

To thank our security guard for helping me I made him brownies. These are made from scratch brownies. I never realized how easy brownies are to make from scratch. Just as easy as making a box mix. I liked these brownies because they were thick and solid. You could really sink your teeth into them. Not as moist as a box mix but not dry either and I liked them cold. I doubled the recipe so I could use a 9X13 pan instead of a 9 inch pan. I got the recipe out of a Brownie cookbook I got for Christmas. A cookbook all about brownies. The possibilities are endless.

Basic Cocoa Brownies
as seen in Good Housekeeping's Brownies cookbook

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1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 ts. baking powder
1/4 ts. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 ts. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (Optional)
1 bag milk chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 9-inch square baking pan with foil, grease foil. In small bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt mixing together with a wire whisk.

In a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in eggs one at a time until well blended. Add vanilla. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in nuts, if using. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Pour on milk chocolate chips and let melt. Spread over brownies evenly. Cool completely.

When cool, lift foil, with brownie, out of pan. Peel foil away from sides. Cut into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 4 pieces.

I doubled the recipe and used a 9X13 pan. I didn't use walnuts. Since I didn't have chocolate frosting I used milk chocolate chips.

Garlic Breadsticks

I can't make Zuppa Toscana without making garlic breadsticks to go with it. To me you can't have the one without the other. It would just be wrong. You can find the breadsticks I use at Wonder Bread Bakery and at Walmart. They are called Bread du Jour Original Breadsticks. The bag boasts that they are hot and crispy in minutes. The bag doesn't lie. These aren't as good as Olive Garden but they come close and I find them just as addictive.

Garlic Breadsticks

4 WW points per breadstick with butter
3 WW points per breadstick w/o butter

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1 package Bread du Jour Original Breadsticks
1/2 stick of butter, melted or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray
garlic salt

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spread out the eight breadsticks. Brush with melted butter or spray with butter spray. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Take out of oven and brush with more butter or spray and sprinkle on generous amount of garlic salt. Place back in oven and bake for 2 more minutes. You will not use all the melted butter unless you like your bread really buttery.

Zuppa Toscana

Olive Garden is my favorite place to eat at. If you give me 100 choices and Olive Garden is one of the choices I will choose Olive Garden every time. I love their soups, salad, bread sticks, and Chicken Parmigiana with Alfredo sauce. Their Alfredo rocks.

The menu describes Zuppa Toscana as spicy sausage, russet potatoes and cavolo greens in a creamy broth. It is so good. It's funny because when I was younger I wouldn't touch this soup. Sausage wasn't my favorite. My mom loved it and could eat bowl after bowl after bowl. I love that they put Romano cheese on everything. I make them grate it onto a plate so I have a pile of cheese and I can distribute it on my soup for every bite. Extravagant you say, but oh so worth it. Their Pasta e Fagioli is really good too but the Zuppa is my favorite. Don't get me started on their bread sticks. I could eat ten of them at a time if I allowed myself. I knew I wanted to try and make this soup at home because you can't always get to Olive Garden. I searched the Internet and found a copy cat recipe and it tastes just like their soup. I use Italian turkey sausage instead of regular but I can hardly tell the difference.

I cook this soup in the crock pot. I brown the meat the night before and then put it all together in the crock pot the next day. The crock pot does the bulk of the work and leaves us with delicious soup when I get home. I decided to make this soup on Tuesday. Tuesdays are my WW nights and I go to Kim's house to weigh and then we go out to eat. I wanted to have dinner ready for Will so this soup sounded good and I knew there would be plenty of leftovers for the both of us to enjoy over the next few days. Since I wasn't going to be home to add the cream and the kale I texted Will to add both around 2pm. I told him to just tear up two or three pieces of the kale since the bunch I bought was huge. Later that night when I got home from Kim's I looked in the crock pot and noticed only a few small pieces of greenery. I thought Will had ate most of the kale but upon further inspection I realized he added cilantro to the soup instead of the kale. I asked him if it made it taste weird but he said no and that he only put a few leaves in the soup. If you are familiar with cilantro you know the leaves are little. He probably thought I was crazy for telling him to only put in two or three of the leaves. So I scooped out what little was left of the cilantro and put in the kale let it cook for another hour. Next time I'll put the kale next to the crock pot so we don't end up with cilantro again but it didn't affect the flavor the soup. Cooking with help from hubby is always an adventure. But he's a good sport.

Zuppa Toscana
About 14 servings, 4 WW points per cup

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1 lb. Perdue Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links
1 1/2 ts. red pepper flakes
1 large onion, diced
2 Tb. real bacon bits
2 ts. minced garlic
10 cups water
5 chicken bouillon cubes, low sodium
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. potatoes, sliced
1/4 bunch kale, chopped

Take each sausage link and remove the casing. Discard casings and place the loose sausage, onions, garlic, and bacon bits into a skillet. Cook the sausage mixture, breaking up the sausage as it cooks, until the sausage is cooked through. Drain the meat mixture.

In a crock pot place the meat mixture, water, bouillon cubes, and potatoes. Cook on low for seven hours. In the last hour of cooking add the heavy cream and kale. I like to sprinkle on cheese if I have it but it's not necessary. I serve with bread sticks.

Yummy Olive Garden in the comfort of my home. You can't beat that.

Link to original recipe: Copy Cat Zuppa Toscana

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Country Salisbury Steak

I found this recipe in the Fall 2006 Kraft Food and Family magazine. Instead of a gravy you saute mushrooms and add barbecue sauce and water. It think this is where the recipe goes wrong. I like barbecue and thought it would be a different twist but this would be much better with beef gravy. I didn't put the sauce on all the patties and I'm glad because for lunch I heated one up with mash potatoes and smothered it in gravy. I used chicken gravy because that is what I had on hand and it was much better than the barbecue.

Country Salisbury Steak
from Food and Family magazine

6 WW points per patty

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1 1/2 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 pkg (6 oz) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 1/2 cups water, divided
3/4 cup chopped onions
1 pkg (8 0z.) fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, I used Sweet Baby Ray's

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix meat, stuffing mix, 1 1/4 cups of water and onions until well blended. Shape into six 1/2 inch thick oval patties. I was able to make 7. Place on baking pan. I recommend spraying the pan with cooking spray because the extra lean ground beef doesn't have much fat in it and they stuck to the pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

While the patties bake spray large skillet with cooking spray, add mushrooms and cook on medium high heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add barbecue sauce and remaining 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce is heated through. Serve over patties.

Recipe makes 6 servings, I made 7. The sauce wouldn't have been enough for 6 patties if I would have liked the sauce.

Next time I make this I will bake the patties in beef gravy with mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup would be good to. I just think gravy would give it more flavor and be a lot better than the barbecue.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Open Face Italian Sloppy Joes

I was inspired to make this from a Rachel Ray recipe. I found a recipe called Meatball Melties in her March 2010 magazine. It's basically a meatball hamburger with fire roasted tomatoes and cheese on a ciabatta roll. Instead of making hamburgers I made sloppy joes and added my own twists. I thought it was really tasty. Hubby said it was good, so that is his form of approval.

This only took about 15 minutes to make. Easy meal for a weeknight. Or easy meal for a lazy weekend. I'm definitely having one of those this weekend.

Open Face Italian Sloppy Joes
6 servings, 9 WW points per joe

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1 lb lean ground turkey
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 can fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
1 small can mushrooms, drained
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of pepper
Dash of oregano
6 frozen garlic ciabatta rolls with cheese
6 slices of low fat provolone cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees

In a skillet brown the turkey. Add the spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I didn't measure the spices I just added a dash of garlic, pepper, and oregano. Let the mixture get hot and bubbly. In the meantime bake the ciabatta rolls for 7 minutes. Split the mixture evenly over the rolls and top with a slice of provolone cheese. Place back in the oven and let the cheese melt, about 5 minutes.

I have found low fat garlic bread at Key Market or I think it's now named Central Market that would reduce some of the points. My hubby says the low fat bread tastes like cardboard but I think it tastes fine. Next time I make these I will use the low fat bread for myself and the ciabatta bread for hubby. Save me some points.

Breakfast Sandwiches

I love breakfast sandwiches. They are so easy to make at home and cheaper than buying them out. I discovered cooking the eggs in a ramekin in the microwave saves a lot of time.

Ham, Egg, and Cheese Bagels
7 WW points per sandwich

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1 Thomas's Plain Bagel Thins 110 calorie
1-2 tablespoons shredded Mexican cheese
3 slices thin sliced deli ham, I like Prima Della's Black Forest Ham
3 egg whites

Toast the bagel. Using a ramekin spray with cooking spray and add the 3 egg whites and cheese. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until egg has set. Egg should slide right out of ramekin. Put the bagel on a plate and place egg and ham on one half. Place other half on top. I like to put some strawberry jelly on it. You can also heat up the ham but I choose not to.

I made this sandwich for my hubby. So I used whole eggs and a slice of cheese and that makes the points higher.

Ham, Egg, and Cheese Muffin
10 WW points per sandwich

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1 Thomas's Triple Health English Muffins
1 slice cheese
3 thin slices of deli ham, I like Prima Della's Black Forest Ham
2 whole eggs, scrambled

Toast the English Muffin. Using a ramekin spray with cooking spray and pour in eggs. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until set. On a plate place the muffin. On one half place the eggs, cheese, and ham. Place the other half on top. I also like to put strawberry jelly on it.

Pumpkin Waffles

I got a waffle maker for Christmas. I already had a waffle maker but I like the round ones better than the square. I know I'm weird. This maker rotates too which I think is awesome. But I learned the hard way that the outside gets as hot as the inside when I brushed my arm against it and got burned. It hurt, lesson learned.

I decided to get creative today and make pumpkin waffles. I really liked the end product. My hubby thought they had to much pumpkin. Sometimes I'm sure he would like me to be less creative.

Pumpkin Waffles
7 WW points per waffle

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2 cups baking mix or Bisquick
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin
sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
dash of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon

In a bowl mix together the baking mix, milk, oil, egg, pumpkin, and spices. Pre-heat the waffle maker. Mine lights up when it is ready. Lightly grease the griddles with butter or cooking spray. Pour in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the batter. I used more towards a 3/4 cup. Cook according to your waffle maker directions. I was able to make 5 waffles.

Using low fat Bisquick would probably lower the points.

This is what the batter looks like.

Yummy waffles.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I really like chicken tortilla soup. I have mainly had it in restaurants but I have made it at home. I made a really good recipe a few months back but of course I couldn't find the recipe for it and didn't remember all the ingredients. So I started looking online for one. I found a recipe by a Pastor Tom, called Pastor Tom's Tortilla Soup. I liked how he blends tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and sugar together. So I printed it out to give it a try. Then of course I found the other recipe I was looking for so I decided to use elements of both recipes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

8 t0 10 servings
2 WW points per cup w/o tortillas

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1 can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, cut up
2 clove garlic, or tablespoon minced garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Two containers low sodium chicken broth
2 cans white chicken meat, undrained
2 or 3 chipotle peppers and little adobo sauce
2 t. lime juice

tortilla chips, I used a brand called Texas Toast Tortilla Strips Chipotle Cheese flavored they were 1 point per 11 strips
shredded cheese

In a blender or food processor combine undrained tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and sugar. Cover and blend until nearly smooth. Put mixture in a stock pot with chicken, chicken broth, and chipotle peppers. I only used two chipotle peppers and I removed the seeds. Next time I will blend the peppers up with the tomato mixture because I didn't like the big chunks. Add the lime juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve soup with crushed tortillas and cheese if desired. Cheese adds on WW points as well.

Next time I think I will add another can of chicken and double the tomato mixture. I think I will cook it in my crock pot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

This doesn't look all that pretty but it does taste really good. I wasn't sure while making this on freezer meal day how it would taste but this is a Pioneer Woman recipe and she hasn't let me down yet. I did make a few alterations so my husband would eat it. He doesn't like green peppers or spicy food. I made this for him on the day I made myself stuffed pepper soup. He really enjoyed it.

If you use low fat cheese it will take off some WW points. You could also make this with wheat noodles.

Chicken Spaghetti
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

8 servings, 8 WW points per serving

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2 cups cooked chicken
3 cups dry spaghetti, broken into two inch pieces
2 cans low fat cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cups finely grated onion
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup additional grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook up enough chicken for two cups in the method you choose. Cook spaghetti in the chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup of cheese. I split this mixture into two square foil pans and topped with remaining cheese. Each pan had four servings. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. It took mine almost an hour because I put mine in the oven frozen.

This is what it looked like when wrapped it to put in the freezer. I got two of these from one recipe.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stuffed Pepper Soup

So today was D day. D meaning back on my diet day. Except I don't like the word diet so I will call it a lifestyle change. I have jumped back in my Weight Watcher wagon and am hopeful I will have less bumps this time then I did last time. I do need to learn the new program. They went and changed it on me. But I subscribe to the online tools so I should be okay. I am definitely ready to eat healthier and start exercising. Though I do hate to exercise. I'm still trying to talk myself into liking it. I haven't succeeded yet. To help me get back into the swing of things I went to the store and bought healthy foods, lettuce, veggies, low calorie snacks, and stuff to make stuffed pepper soup. I love this soup but don't make it that often because my hubby doesn't care for green peppers. I didn't make him eat something he's not fond of so I cooked him one of the freezer meals I prepared a few weeks ago. I will be posting about that tomorrow.

I was introduced to stuffed pepper soup by my other mother Mary. Mary is mom to Angela and Angela is one of my very close friends. Angela and I met in elementary school and we became friends and so did our mothers. Mary and Angela are always there when I need them. I got the recipe from Mary and have modified it slightly over the years to make it mine. The original recipe calls for ground beef, rice, and just green peppers but I substitute turkey for the beef, orzo for the rice, and a variety of peppers. If you like stuffed peppers you are going to love this soup. And for those of you changing your lifestyle this soup is waist line friendly at only 3 points a cup.

Looking at this picture makes me realize I need to organize my measuring cups and spoons. It looks a little chaotic.

What you need: Big bottle of V8 Juice, ground turkey, can of diced tomatoes garlic powder, pepper, onion, peppers (green, yellow, orange, and red), orzo, and olive oil. Or if you are allergic to olive oil like my friend Jessica use vegetable oil.

First start by chopping up the peppers. I used one yellow pepper, one orange pepper, one and half green peppers, and a half of a red pepper.

Chop up a medium onion. In a stock pot pour in some olive oil or vegetable oil. Then throw in the peppers and onions and saute until almost tender. Add the ground turkey, garlic powder, and pepper and cook until turkey is cooked through. Most of the time I don't need to drain this because turkey is not very fatty but if you have excess grease drain it.

This is the cooked pepper, onion, and meat mixture. Doesn't it look pretty with all the colors. To this add the bottle of V8 juice and the can of diced tomatoes. Once the juice is hot add the orzo. Let cook for about 20 more minutes or until the orzo is cooked.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

3 WW points per cup

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1 package lean ground turkey
1 large bottle of V8 juice
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1 1/2 green peppers
1/2 red pepper
1 onion
1/2 tablespoon to a tablespoon garlic powder, I like a lot of garlic so I use a lot
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
4 oz uncooked orzo
Olive Oil


Dice up the peppers and onion. Place a stock pot on the stove and pour in enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. You want enough to keep the peppers and onions from sticking to the pan but not so much that they are swimming in oil. Saute until almost tender. Add the turkey. To the pan add the garlic powder and pepper. I don't measure I just shake it in. Cook until the turkey is cooked through. Drain if you need to but most of the time turkey isn't to greasy.

To the turkey mixture add the V8 juice and tomatoes. Let the juice heat up and then add the orzo. Cook for about 20 more minutes or until the orzo is cooked through. This allows for all the flavors to meld together.

I like to eat mine with shredded cheese and crackers. If you are doing WW using cheese and crackers will add on some points.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Name That Cookie

I'm not sure what to call this cookie. It has hot fudge, mint hot chocolate, and mint fudge mini cups in it. So maybe I should call the cookies Mint Fudge Cookies. I had wanted to use mint extract to enhance the mint flavor but I didn't have any. I did on the other hand have mint hot chocolate mix. The mint flavor is subtle in the cookie dough. When you get a bite of the mint fudge mini cups the mint flavor is stronger but not overwhelming. I'm not a huge fan of mint but these cookies are good and my hubby liked them. He is a fan of mint.

Mint Fudge Cookies

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1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup hot fudge topping
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 package mint hot chocolate
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mint fudge mini cups or Andes baking chips

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixing bowl mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and hot fudge topping. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Mix in the package of mint hot chocolate. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until fully incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips and mini mint cups.

Using a cookie scoop or teaspoon drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove from pan to cooling rack. Using a cookie scoop makes about 3 dozen cookies.

I found these at the Dollar Tree when I was in Arizona. I haven't checked to see if ours carries these. If you can't find this or something similar you can use the Andes baking chips available at most stores. I have seen them at Walmart.

To Bake or Not to Bake? I Baked!

Since I'm going to start back on my diet on Monday I decided to do a little baking today. I plan on still making sweets in the future but healthier ones. These are not healthy but oh so good. These are made with Reese's peanut butter chips, milk chocolate chips, and the new mini Reese peanut butter cups.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

adapted from the Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

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2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 bag (10-oz. pkg.) REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixing bowl mix together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. And vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until incorporated. Mix in the peanut butter chis, milk chocolate chips, and mini peanut butter cups. Using a cookie scoop or teaspoon drop cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from pan to cooling rack. Using my cookie scoop I got about 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cookies, Cookies, and Cookies

While I was enjoying the warm weather in Arizona I also did a lot of baking. Along with making the pumpkin roll cookies I made butterscotch chocolate chip cookies, cream cheese spritz cookies, and Mexican wedding cookies or I know them as Snowballs. Mexican wedding cookies are Jessica's favorite. She also loves butterscotch.

I remember one time in high school we had a blizzard that knocked out some houses power. Jessica's house was one of them so her dad brought her over to stay with my mom and I. We decided to make cookies and was out of butter so we trekked across the street in knee high snow to my neighbors to get some. Crazy I know but nothing stands in our way when it comes to cookies. I believe we made butterscotch chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.

I found the recipe for the cream cheese spritz cookies in the Woman's World magazine I purchased to take on the plane. This cookie is Paula Deen's recipe. I didn't exactly follow the recipe. You are supposed to pipe the dough onto a cookie sheet using a pastry bag with a star tip. I didn't have a pastry bag so I used a cookie scoop. I thought these cookies were very tasty and they ended up really soft. I love soft cookies. I will defiantly try these next time following the recipe better because they are really pretty in the magazine and she dipped hers in white chocolate and I think that would be really yummy.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
adapted from Paula Deen

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2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract

I didn't use this when I made them:

1/8 tsp no-taste red concentrated food coloring
1/8 tsp Kelly green concentrated food coloring
1 cup white chocolate chips melted, cooled
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips melted, cooled
red, green and white jimmies or sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, reserve. On medium high speed, beat butter, and cream cheese until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. On low, beat in sugar, 30 minutes. Add egg and almond extract, beat 30 seconds. Gradually beat in flour mixture until dough forms.

2. Fit medium star tip into large pastry bag. Using small brush, starting at tip of bag, paint one line of each food coloring inside along opposite sides of the bag, ending 1 inch from top edge. Fill bag with dough. I didn't do this step I just used a cookie scoop and scooped them onto the cookie sheet.

3. On baking sheets, pipe dough into round and or S-shaped cookies. Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pan on racks 5 minutes. Transfer to racks, cool completely.

4. Line cook baking sheets with wax paper. Dip ends of the cookies into melted chocolates, shaking off excess, transfer to wax paper. Sprinkles with jimmies. Let stand until set, 1 hour.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
as seen in Taste of Home Cookies cookbook submitted by Sarita Johnson

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2 cups butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Additional powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Gradually add flour, mix well. Beat in vanilla. Stir in pecans.

2. Place dough in fridge to chill for about 15 minutes. Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Roll warm cookies in the powdered sugar, cool on wire racks. Makes about 6 dozen.

I have made these cookies quite a few times over the years and I don't remember the powdered sugar melting on the warm cookies. I would cool them a little bit next time before rolling them in the sugar. They tasted good anyway.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

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2 sticks butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. In a mixing bowl mix together butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Once incorporated mix in the chocolate chips.

2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 1o minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cookies onto wire rack to cool.

These turned out pretty thin. I'm not sure why because I followed the recipe. They still were addictive.

Trip to Michigan cont. and Big Boy

Our hotel was right next to a Big Boy. I guess there used to be a Big Boy in Merrillville but I don't recall ever eating there. The hotel we stayed at had a continental breakfast but it was just cereal, toast items, and sweet rolls. They did have waffle makers but I don't think they do that during the week. Can't say I blame them. I think we were really the only people there.

So we decided to go to the Big Boy for breakfast. Of course Will wanted his picture taken next to the Big Boy and he wanted to take the big boy and put in in our yard as an ornament. I told him no. In the picture Will is holding up his invisible hamburger.

I was going to take pictures of our food but I was really hungry and it didn't get done. I had the blockbuster breakfast which had two eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausage links, hash browns, and your choice of toast, hot cakes, or biscuits. I got the biscuits and a side of sausage gravy. The food was very good. The gravy was a little spicy but it was a good gravy. The bacon was probably the best I have had out. It was crispy yet still a little chewy. Very, very good. Will had a build your own 3 egg omelet. He seems to like to build his own food since the night before he had a build your own burger. He had potatoes, sausage, bacon, and cheddar cheese in his omelet and it came with hash browns, and toast. He enjoyed it. If we had a Big Boy here I would frequent it. The breakfast was good and the prices reasonable. I have heard they have good burgers. May have to check that out the next time.

Trip to Michigan cont. and Kilwin's Chocolate and Ice Cream

On the path to New Holland Brewing Company is Kilwin's Chocolates and Ice Cream. I had to drop in. The chocolate smell when you walk in the door is incredible. I could just spend time in there breathing deeply. They had plenty of treats to choose from. We sampled their peanut butter fudge. It was very good.

Along with the normal chocolate confections were chocolate caramel Oreos, chocolate covered rice krispie treats, and chocolate striped Twinkies. Yes, folks that is typed correctly. Chocolate covered Twinkies. I thought it was really good and I know I can defiantly make them myself. I could probably make a whole box of them for the price I paid for one.

This was Will's pick and he liked it but said he didn't love the chocolate that they used. I thought the chocolate was good. I picked out a snapadamia. I'm pretty sure that is what it is called. I tried looking it up on their website and didn't find it. Basically it's macadamias covered in caramel and white chocolate. It was good but the macadamias overpower the caramel and white chocolate. When I try and recreate it, which I will, I think I will use fewer macadamias.

Trip to Michigan and New Holland Brewing Company

My husband and I have been off this whole week and our plans had been to visit some family in Michigan. Unfortunately my cousin had the flu and we weren't able to see them. Hopefully we will sometime soon we haven't seen them in awhile. I hope she is feeling better. After visiting them we planned on staying the night in South Haven, Michigan and going to the New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, Michigan. Since the weather wasn't bad we decided to do that. South Haven is only about an hour and half from home and the drive was really nice. Next time I plan on going when the weather won't freeze you to death because Holland was a nice looking area with neat looking shops but it was just to cold to walk around. Just being there a few hours it seemed like Holland was a pet friendly place. I probably saw at least a dozen people walking their dogs. I like that about a town. Plus people were jogging. A little crazy if you ask me because it was cold but to each their own.

The New Holland Brewing Company is a microbrewery recognized for it's artistry and creativity. I am not a lover of beer but my husband is. After having their beer Will wanted to check out their pub. I'm glad we did. I loved the decor and the food that we had was really good. They don't have a huge food menu which is nice because sometimes a lot of choices is a bad thing. All the food coming out of the kitchen looked really good. We went on a Wednesday night around 6pm and it was packed. We even had to wait about 10 minutes for a table to open up. With it being that busy on a weekday I'd hate to see how busy they are on the weekends. Business was booming and I'm sure they are happy about that. When you are churning out good food and good beer I wasn't surprised by all the people.

First I will talk about the food. We started out with the Pepperoni Pinwheels. These tasty morsels are pepperoni and five cheese blend wrapped in dough. These were so good I'm hoping to recreate them. They give you a lot. I counted 11. I could have at all of them and still wanted more.

I went with the Old School Chicken Wings for my meal. This is listed as an appetizer but they give you plenty to be satisfied eating it as a meal. These wings are deep fried and then doused in hot, medium, or mild sauce and served with ranch dressing. I got the mild sauce and I'm a wimp. They were spicy to me but not too bad. The wings were meaty and they were very good.

Will went with the build a burger. If you know my husband it won't be a surprise to anyone that he went with a burger. They did serve pizza as well and I think he equally loves pizza and burgers. So his choice could have went either way. You can't see it because it is smothered in pepper jack cheese but on that burger is not only bacon but ham. He let me have a bite and the burger was very good but I couldn't taste the ham. I could just taste the saltiness.

I don't usually indulge in dessert out at restaurants because usually I'm too full and usually I don't want to spend the extra money but I'm on vacation and that makes indulgences okay. This is called the Black and Tan Brownie. I'm guessing the tan comes from the caramel. This brownie was more like a chocolate lava cake. It was very moist and cake like. Paired with ice cream, whip cream, caramel sauce, and fudge sauce it was outstanding.

This is the bar area. I liked that in the glasses on the wall every so many had green towels tucked in them to give some color. Loving green the way I do I thought it was really pretty. The restaurant was very open and decorated with light colors. On the one wall they had posters up of the beers they were serving. I wanted to get a picture but it was pretty crowded.

Here is my handsome husband with his taste sampler tray. You got six four ounce glasses. He was in heaven.

Will: Back off these are mine.
Me: That's fine babe, you know I don't like beer. I just wanted a picture.