Friday, May 29, 2009

Chewy Chocolate-White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Apparently being in Bloomington got me on a baking kick, because one of the first things I did when I got home was bake some cookies. Joe had a rough time at work and stuff while I was gone, so these were like an I'm back! present for him as well as clearing out a few things in the pantry. I also wanted to use my pretty pink new cookie scoop.

For some reason, chocolate-white chocolate chip cookies remind of the box lunches from Jason's Deli that we would get for church meetings. While I like regular chocolate chip cookies, I always wanted to trade for a chocolate-white chocolate chip or a white chocolate-macadamia cookie. So this kind of cookie reminds me of delis and turkey sandwiches and church.

I particularly like the strong chocolate flavor set off by the sweetness of the white chocolate. The dense chocolatiness makes the cookies feel like such an indulgence, even though they aren't any moreso than any other cookie.

Chewy Chocolate-White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
source: Confections of a Foodie Bride via Dinner and Dessert


1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa*
1/2 cup butter, cubed and room temp
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups chopped white chocolate (I used white chocolate chips.)

*Don’t substitute with natural cocoa. The Oreo-like flavor comes from the richer dutch-processed cocoa.


Preheat oven to 325 and place oven racks in the upper and lower middle position.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa, and set aside. Beat the butter on medium-high until light and add sugars, creaming well. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk in one batch, mixing well. Chill dough for 15 minutes.

Scoop the dough onto a parchment- or silpat-lined cookie sheet (however you bake your cookies) and bake (see note below). Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet and store in an air-tight container.

Here’s a tip from Shawnda:

Let’s talk about the size of of this cookie. I use a No 12 scoop to drop a well rounded scoop of chilled cookie dough (a little less than 1/2 cup of cookie dough) onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 24 minutes. I get 8 or 9 cookies with a diameter of 6 inches using the No 12 scoop. Perfect if you’re going for the “real bakery” look, perhaps less-than-perfect if it’s just you and 8 of your new chocolatey friends over a weekend. If you scoop a more normal sized cookie, I’d estimate 12-16 minutes in the oven.

I used a normal cookie scoop, which yielded about 2 1/2 dozen cookies (counting the few I dropped on the floor). 16 minutes was about how long it took the cookies to bake.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

When confronted by a request to bring something to a Memorial Day picnic-turned-cookout-turned party, Abby almost immediately suggested Smitten Kitchen's Peanut Butter Cookies. She had made them before and she and her friends referred to them as "crack" cookies because of their addictive properties. Peanut butter cookies aren't usually my absolute favorite but I definitely wanted to try them. So we headed off to Kroger for the third time in the three days that I had been there to obtain chunky peanut butter.

Abby was a total pro at forming the cookies and rolling them in sugar, though we skipped the criss-cross step. And they were just as addictive as promised. I loved the textural contrast of the chocolate and peanut butter chips with the smooth, buttery dough. We ate the ones that came out slightly burned on the bottom, and they all vanished by the end of a heated game of Taboo.

Peanut Butter Cookies
source: Smitten Kitchen


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Homemade Pasta

It might say something about my best friend and I, that when I planned my trip up to Bloomington, IN to visit her before she moves to Canada to get her PhD, what we were most excited about doing was cooking together. Instead of hitting the bars, we hit the Farmers Market. That's right. I know you're jealous. She joked that it was a lot like Pioneer Woman - inviting me to visit and then putting me to work in the kitchen. I was a little nervous about cooking with another person since I definitely have my quirks, but we had a blast and a lot of things were so much easier. Her boyfriend John helped out by washing a LOT of dishes.

After seeing Pastor Ryan make pasta on Pioneer Woman, Abby knew what she wanted to make with me. When we hit the Farmers Market, we grabbed up some local greens, radishes, and goat cheese for a salad, and some strawberries and rhubarb for a pie. Then we went for a 4 mile hike. I made the wise decision to not shower immediately after the hike because I definitely worked up even more of a sweat in the un-air-conditioned kitchen.

I didn't get any pictures of the strawberry rhubarb pie, and the pasta is more of a narrative event anyway. We consulted The Pioneer Woman post and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything to decide on a method and measurements. Mark Bittman suggests using 2 eggs + 1 yolk for 1 1/2 cups of flour. We put the flour on a clean, flat surface and made a well in the middle of it, which we cracked the eggs into. Using a fork, Abby scrambled the eggs and incorporated the flour gradually until it became to thick. Then I took over with the kneading, massaging the dough until it was smooth. We covered it and left it to rest for about an hour, though thirty minutes would've sufficed.

Without a pasta roller, I tried to work some magic with a rolling pin, rolling out the dough as thin as I could get it. Then I cut the noodles into strips with a pizza cutter. They were sort of similar sizes but definitely not perfect. I prefer "rustic". We boiled the noodles in salted water while I whipped up a simple sauce of cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese with a little fresh basil.

The noodles were, as John described them, "epic". They got a lot thicker and fatter as they cooked and were very hearty. The texture is incredibly delicious, much different than dried or even fresh store-bought pasta. We loved this meal. And, as a side benefit, I felt like a total bad-ass for making my own noodles.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rotini with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

Trader Joe's various varieties of chicken sausage make weeknight meals so easy and flavorful with a minimum amount of effort. The broccoli bulks up the pasta and adds a veggie so that you have your starch, protein, and vegetables all in one bowl! I think broccoli is my favorite vegetable to add to pasta dishes though red peppers are also delicious.

Rotini with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage
Yields 3 servings

8 oz short pasta like rotini or penne
4 links flavored chicken sausage, sliced into rounds (I used spinach, fontina, and roasted garlic)
2 cups broccoli, chopped into florets
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat for the pasta. When it reaches a rapid boil, put pasta into the water.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the sausage over medium heat, flipping until lightly browned. Add onion, sauteeing until translucent. Add broth, scraping up anything stuck to the pan. Turn down the heat when the broth comes to a boil.
  3. For the last few minutes of the pasta cooking time, add the broccoli, cooking until they turn a vibrant green. Drain broccoli and pasta in a colander.
  4. Toss the pasta with the sausage mixture, red pepper, and Parmesan cheese to coat. Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sweet Chili Glazed and Walnut Encrusted Catfish

Sometimes, I make dishes that don't turn out that great, and it is entirely my fault. I chose to bake these fillets instead of pan-frying them and tried to save time by coating the catfish in the morning before I went to work. This meant that the crust that should've been crunchy and delicious was soggy and a little weird. Moral of the story: don't be like me. But the walnuts still added a great flavor and would be even better toasted. I also wish there had been more of the glaze. Next time I might double that. I didn't get as much sweet chili flavor as I had hoped.

Sweet Chili Glazed and Walnut Encrusted Catfish
adapted from Picky Palate


3 Tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon warm water
¾ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ Cup ground walnuts (use food processor to grind)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
4 catfish fillets (or tilapia or other mild white fish)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the honey, chili powder and warm water in a small bowl; mix to combine. Place crumbs, walnuts, salt, chili powder and pepper into a shallow dish; mix to combine. Season both sides of tilapia fillets with pinches of salt and pepper. With a pastry brush, brush honey glaze on both sides of tilapia then press into crumb mix. Continue until all fillets are coated.

2. Heat oil into a large skillet over medium heat. When hot place coated tilapia fillets into skillet; cook 2-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and fish flakes easy with a fork. Remove and serve warm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Fried Rice

My freezer is currently stuffed to the gills: shrimp, frozen fruit, spaghetti sauce, vegetables, and meat. I can hardly open it without something tumbling out, which means I need to start cooking from the freezer. These peeled, deveined, tail-less cooked shrimp made for an easy protein addition to an old clean-out-the-fridge standby. You can adjust amounts to your liking.

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Fried Rice

2 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups brown rice, cooked and chilled
16 oz shrimp, cooked and peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1" segments
1 egg scrambled
a few shakes of soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Sriracha


Heat oil on high heat in a large skillet or wok.
Add garlic and ginger and stir until browned.Turn the heat down to medium-high and add rice and vegetables, stirring until vegetables are cooked, about 5 minutes.
Make a well in the center of the rice mixture and pour the egg into the well. Let it sit for one minute and then mix into the rice until cooked.
Add shrimp, stirring to combine.
Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Thai chili garlic sauce and stir until mixed thoroughly.
Serve immediately.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis

I am not the most visual-artistically talented person ever, so when it comes to decorating cakes or cupcakes, I tend to keep it simple. This also explains my love for my bundt pan which turns out cakes impressive enough to elicit sighs of approval but doesn't require a lot of work on my part.

This was the dessert I brought for our church supper club yesterday to finish off a classic cook-out meal with burgers, veggie kebabs, potato salad, and green salad. I wanted to make something light but still indulgent. May just does not seem like the time to be making heavy chocolate tortes.

Pound cakes allegedly got their name because they required a pound of sugar, pound of flour, and pound of butter. All those pounds sound so heavy, but this cake was dense without being heavy. The flavor of the cream cheese and butter was enhanced by the strawberry coulis (which, as I told everyone, basically is "fancy" for pureed strawberries).

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis
source: Smitten Kitchen via Annie's Eats


for the cake:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8 oz.) package Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

for the coulis:
2 cups quartered, hulled strawberries (about 12 oz.)
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice


To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a bundt pan or tube pan (line the bottom with parchment if using a tube pan). Combine the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, at least 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. Add in the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 75 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

To make the strawberry coulis, combine the strawberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Puree until very smooth, then press through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. (I did not remove the seeds. No one seemed to mind.) Cover and refrigerate until cold. Serve with slices of pound cake.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mango-Agave Sorbet

There was a full package of frozen mango in my freezer staring me in the face every time I opened the freezer door. I adore mango and wanted to do justice to the flavor but just hadn't come across exactly what I was looking for. Then I saw this recipe several places in a few days and knew that it was what I had been waiting for. Oddly enough, we did not have tequila in our house, but that could be remedied. I found the agave nectar at Trader Joe's.

This sorbet is out of this world. The lime and mango flavors complement each other so well, and there is just a hint of tequila flavor. The agave nectar acts as a sweetener and is an alternative to sugar. I think this might be Joe's new favorite dessert!

Mango-Agave Sorbet
source: Cooking Light

4 cups cubed, peeled mango (about 3 lbs fresh mango)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3-4 limes)
1/3 cup tequila
3/4 cup light agave nectar
1/3 cup water


1. Combine mango, orange juice, lime juice, and tequila in a food processor or blender and pulse to combine until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the agave nectar and water, stirring to combine. Cover and chill for several hours.

2. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the ice cream maker's instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container, and cover and freeze for 8 hours.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cilantro Pesto

The first time I ever had tofu (or probably cilantro for that matter) was from Whole Foods - cilantro pesto tofu. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Thus began my love affair with cilantro. Then I discovered that some people don't like it. In fact, there is a whole website devoted to hatred of cilantro: Nevermind them. When our friend posted on Facebook that she had more cilantro from her garden than she knew what to do with, I quickly offered to take some of it off her hands, and I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.

I made this cilantro with walnuts and parmesan cheese, similar to a basil pesto, just subbing in cilantro. I plan on emulating my favorite Whole Foods dish and tossing it with oven-baked tofu for some quick and easy lunches next week.

Cilantro Pesto
source from common pesto ratios

2 cups cilantro, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor, combine cilantro, walnuts, and garlic. Pulse to combine.

Slowly add olive oil in a stream while food processor is running, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed. Add the cheese and pulse again until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Two things I always have in my freezer are corn kernals and peas. My personal belief is that frozen vegetables are seriously underrated, especially since they are flash-frozen at their freshest. For people on a budget who cannot always afford what's in the produce section, frozen vegetables offer a great healthy alternative.

In this recipe, roasting the corn brings out the natural sweetness of the corn by caramelizing the sugars. With the addition of the goat cheese, these quesadillas definitely don't skimp on flavor. I had some tomatillo salsa from Trader Joe's to use up, which was the perfect complement to the quesadillas, offering a light acidity to offset the tanginess of the goat cheese. Plus it came together very quickly! These could also make a delicious appetizer.

Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Tomatillo Salsa
source: Cooking Light
Yields 4 quesadillas

1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
2/3 cup (5 oz) goat cheese, softened
8 corn tortillas
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
10 tablespoons bottled salsa verde, divided
cooking spray


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add corn, sauteeing for several minutes or until brown spots appear. Place corn in a small bowl with goat cheese and combine until well-blended. Divide corn mixture between four tortillas and spread thin, topping with 1 tbsp green onions and 1 1/2 tsp salsa. Top with the remaining four tortillas.

Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat it over medium heat. Place quesadillas in pan, one at a time, until they are browned on both sides. Remove from pan and keep warm until all quesadillas are cooked. Cut each quesadilla into four wedges and drizzle with remaining salsa.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spicy Shrimp with Garlic Basil Linguine

This was a quick and delicious meal that really hit the spot. I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's products, and their garlic basil linguine in this dish did not disappoint. I love meals that don't use a lot of ingredients but are still very flavorful. With the shrimp and a salad, this was just enough for the two of us.

Spicy Shrimp with Garlic Basil Linguine

8 oz garlic basil linguine
10 oz thawed, peeled, and deveined shrimp
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Bring 3-4 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 4-6 minutes in boiling water.
Drain pasta and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil to coat and keep warm.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and cook minced garlic until fragrant. Add shrimp and crushed red pepper, cooking until shrimp are pink and opaque.

Add shrimp mixture, Parmesan cheese, and lemon to pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Meyer Lemon Sorbet

After hearing about Meyer lemons and never seeing them, I had concluded they were simply beyond my grasp. All of the foodies on the coasts were going nuts about them, and all I had were the normal yellow lemons. Then last week I was shopping at Publix and spotted them. Shaped like a lemon but colored like an orange. I double-checked the sign...Meyer lemons! I let them be since I had absolutely no plans for them, and I try to stick to my grocery list. But this week, I made a beeline for them, nearly pushing aside the guy restocking the produce on Saturday morning. He saw me reach for them and asked, "Do those taste more like a lemon or more like an orange?" I admitted that I didn't really know from personal experience but that I was going to use them to make SORBET. I don't think he was as excited as I was.

This sorbet is exactly what I crave after dinner -- something sweet but flavorful enough that I don't need a lot of it. In fact, a few spoonfuls of this sorbet satisfies me because the flavor is so unique. It's slightly sour but sweet. It's unlike anything I've ever tasted before. And Joe is crazy about it as well!

Meyer Lemon Sorbet
source: Simply Recipes


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Meyer lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
2 tsp zest from lemons


1. In a small saucepan on medium high heat, make a simple syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix in the lemon juice and zest. Chill, either in the refrigerator, or by placing in a metal bowl over an ice bath.

2. Once the mixture has thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can pour the mixture into a shallow pan and freeze in your freezer until semi-solid. Then take a fork and fluff it up, returning it the the freezer to freeze firm. Then put in a food-processor or blender to process until smooth.
Place sorbet in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

3. Scoop out preferably with a melon-baller. Garnish with mint. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

I've never been very adventurous when it comes to turkey burgers. I remember thinking how exotic it was when Joe added apple and celery to his one time. But when I saw this recipe at Cara's Cravings, I knew it would be a big hit with both of us since it included extra veggies in the patty and a lot of flavors that we like. In fact, Joe asked me about halfway through his burger, "You only made two patties?" and then he tried to swipe the remaining few bites of mine!

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers


8oz ground turkey
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 large scallion, minced
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp light mayonnaise
handful of cilantro, finely minced (I omitted since I had no cilantro on hand.)
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce

hamburger buns of your choice
mixed greens

Combine burger ingredients a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. (I cooked mine on our George Foreman.) Form the turkey mixture into two patties. Cook for about 7-10 minutes per side, until cooked through. Serve on buns with cilantro-chili mayo and greens.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oatmeal Breakfast Clafoutis

After reading these posts on Casual Kitchen this week, I was determined to present Joe with some other breakfast options besides a travel coffee mug full of cereal. He doesn't like the texture of oatmeal, but I asked him if this idea seemed appealing and got the okay. Because he usually eats breakfast in the car, it needs to be portable and quick. This recipe is a good idea for him because it's endlessly customizable and contains lots of healthy, filling ingredients.

I now have prepared bars of clafoutis wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer ready to go. So he can take one out the night before and let it thaw in the refrigerator, and before he heads out the door, he can just give it a 30-second zap in the microwave. And if he doesn't like these, I'll just eat them! They sure did smell delicious baking in the oven.

Oatmeal Breakfast Clafoutis

source: Chocolate and Zucchini

Serves 8


- 2-1/4 C quick cooking oats, uncooked, or 2-3/4 C old fashioned oats, uncooked

- 2/3 C brown sugar

- 3/4 C raisins and/or dried cranberries (substitute other dried fruits)

- 1 apple, peeled and sliced (substitute other fresh fruits - optional)

- 1/4 to 1/3 C nuts, chopped (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts..., or even better a mix of all - optional)

- 1 tsp ground cinnamon

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 3-1/3 C milk

- 2 eggs, lightly beaten

- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180°C (360°F). Lightly oil an 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, raisins, chopped nuts, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add this to the dry ingredients, and mix until well blended. (The mixture will be VERY thin.)

Pour the mixture into the baking dish, and use a wooden spoon to make sure the solids are more or less evenly spread out. Arrange the apple slices over the surface. They will sink somewhat but that's okay, they'll float right back up when the oatmeal cooks.

Put in the oven to bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the center is set and firm to the touch. Let cool slightly: it should be eaten a bit warm but not scalding hot.

Cut in 8 servings, and serve with yogurt and fruit if desired; it is also nice with a thin spread of jam or peanut butter. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator, tightly covered, or wrap each serving individually and put in the freezer. You can then take a serving out the night before and leave it to thaw until the morning, when a 30-second stay in the microwave will bring it to the perfect temperature.
Original recipe by Quaker Oats.