Friday, June 12, 2009

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

My 11 year old step kid would eat his entire weight in these if we let him. This is a kid who doesn't like cake, won't eat cupcakes, and will turn away most pie and 95% of every other kind of food. These though? Well these are in his words "heaven".

Here's what you'll need for the cookie patties:
-2 (18.25 ounce) packages of devil's food cake mix
-4 eggs
-1 cup shortening

And for the filling:
-6 tbsp cream cheese
-1/3 cup butter, softened
-1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
-1 tbsp cream
-2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the cake patties you will start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together the eggs, cake mix, and shortening until well mixed.

Roll in balls all uniform in size. Mine come out to be about 1-1 1/2 inches wide. Make sure you have an even number of balls, as these will be filled.

Here is what mine look like at that stage:

Bake for 10 minutes. These will be very soft when they come out of the oven. It is crucial to let these cool completely before spreading the filling on. You can even make these a day ahead, and fill them later.

Now to make the filling.

Mix the cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar, cream, and vanilla.

This mixture will be rather loose. I like to let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes or more to tighten it up. It makes it easier to spread that way.

Now look at these beauties, just waiting to take that final step to Destination Delicious.

After they have been filled, I put them back into the fridge to cool. Well, I'd like to do that anyhow. But there is some law that states you HAVE to try one right away, even though you know the filling will just squish out of the sides at this point. Honest, it's the law.

Once the filling has set up, these will be a spontaneous free for all of flavor going on. No joke.
You want your kid to eat all of his or her veggies? Just tell them these are on the menu for dessert. You'll see those veggies disappear before your very eyes!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

5 Spice Chicken Thighs

Now, to be honest, this recipe was going to be the Chinese 5-Spice Chicken recipe from the April 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. My first mistake was sending my boyfriend to the store for the required "Chinese Five-Spice powder". Knowing I would have a hard time finding it myself, I don't know what I was expecting him to come up with. Needless to say, by the time he called from the store frustrated because he couldn't find it, I told him I'd figure something else out. It's easier to post a recipe I make on average once a week anyhow.

I feel like I need to insert a disclaimer here:

This dear friends, is chicken that will indeed, if not careful, make you want to slap your mama. It is THAT good. So until you have tried it a few times, refrain from having mom over for this meal. Or grandma even, I can't make any guarantees.

Here is what you'll need:

-12 chicken thighs, defrosted (which leaves plenty for leftovers, but I wouldn't bet on having any left over)

-2, gallon sized, ziploc bags

-1 cup olive oil

-8 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped. Or more, I won't hold it against you.

-2 tsp kosher salt

-2 tsp each cumin, cayenne, and lemon pepper

-1 1/2 large onion, chopped into wedges. I use white, but use whatever tickles your fancy

Now, put half of the olive oil, garlic, salt, and other spices in one of the ziploc bags, and the rest in the other. You'll have a mix that looks like this.

Then add 6 pieces of chicken to each bag. Now let that sit and get to know each other for at least an hour, all the way up to 24 hours or so. On this night, I let mine sit for about 3.

This is also when I chopped my onion. I wanted to be able to just toss it all together when I was ready to cook it. This would be a great meal to have everything ready the day before, so you could just assemble and toss it into the oven when you get home from work.

I add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to my onions because I am a rebel.

Mmmm, now take a look at that!
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Line the bottom of a roasting pan roughly 13x9x2 in size, with the onions. Make sure you have a pretty even layer.

Look at that chicken. Sitting in it's hot tub of delicious, all excited and ready to join the onions.

Lay the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top of the onions.

Here's where we can get really crazy. I then drizzle the seasoned oil that the chicken was marinating in, over the chicken and onions. I just seal the bags closed, clip off a bottom corner, and squeeze all the oil and lovely chunks of garlic out.

Now there are times when you just KNOW the dish you are preparing is going to knock your socks off. This is one of those.

You wouldn't believe how delicious the house smells just 20 minutes after putting this in the oven.

Roast the chicken until it is cooked through, mine took 55 minutes.

If you could only smell this.

I took the chicken out, and put the pieces on a serving platter, then loosely covered it in foil so it could rest for 15 minutes or so. That fork comes in handy to jab at any stray men that wander into the kitchen to sneak a piece at this point.

I ladled all but a tiny bit of the juices out of the pan, just leaving the onions. I put those back in the oven to get some color, about 15 minutes should do.

Yum, would you just lok at that juice! That is going to be the base of some KILLER stock.

Here's the spread. Chicken, rice, and mixed veggies. The vegetables are literally just a mix of whatever I had in the freezer, plus some fresh cauliflower I had in the fridge. Sprinkled with some freshly grated asiago cheese and some pepper.The rice is cooked with chicken stock, instead of water.

The onions were FABULOUS over the rice.

This recipe is so easy, but it is packed with so much flavor. You won't believe your taste buds.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cauliflower Soup

I love cauliflower, I love soup. What could be more perfect in life then, than a cauliflower soup?! Well, lot's I am sure, but let's start here.

Here's a line up of some of the fixin's:

For this recipe I am sure I will have ample opportunity to use my new, totally awesome oven mitt and dish towel given to me by a dear family friend, Darlene.

"Easy as pie my ass" is right!

I buy this chicken stock in bulk. While I sometimes make my own, I rarely have time to do so. Pacific Natural Foods makes amazing products. Remember the love of soup I mentioned above? Pacific Natural Foods make an organic Creamy Tomato Soup that is to die for!
Anyway, on with the show... err... blog...

Oh my santoku knives. I didn't know what a good knife was until I had you. These were a Christmas gift from the wonderful boyfriend.

While I have carrots out, I can't NOT give some to the pooches. Carrots are their favorite treats.

This recipe calls for finely diced carrot, onion, and celery. Now that's a dice to make mama proud!

This recipe does not, however, call for garlic. Which is blasphemous! To get back at the man I went ahead and finely diced two whole cloves to toss in as well! Ha! You know, it's really the little things sometimes.

To start I began to melt 4 tbsp of butter in a large soup pot.

I then added the onion and cooked over medium high heat until it began to brown. Roughly 6 minutes or so.

Then add the carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes. 5-6 should suffice.

Toss in the cauliflower and parsley. At this point I was glad that I was using my super large soup pot! This was cooked over low heat for about 15 minutes.

Now is when the chicken stock goes in. Which was then brought to a boil. Then lower to a simmer.

While that simmers, it was time to start the thickening agent. After melting another 4 tbsp of butter, I mixed flour and milk, and whisked to combine. This was then slowly added to the butter.
Removed from the heat, I stirred in the 1 cup of half and half. The mixture was then added to the soup, and simmered for 15-20 minutes.

After checking the seasoning, and completing the last steps, this was the end result.

This soup was very tasty. Though after we were finished, I did end up using an immersion blender to blend the soup to a smooth and creamy consistency. There was plenty for left overs as well!
I got this recipe from the awesome Pioneer Woman blog! With some changes of course. Like the garlic :P
1 stick of butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stock, finely diced
1-2 heads cauliflower, roughly chopped (I used 2)
2 tbsp chopped fresh or dried parsley
2 cloves of garlic, diced/minced
2 quarts of chicken broth or stock
2 cups whole milk
6 tbsp flour
1 cup half and half
2-4 tbsp salt, to taste
1 generous cup of sour cream, at room temperature
In large soup pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the carrots, garlic, & celery, cook for an additional couple of minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.
In a medium sauce pan, melt the other 4 tablespoons of butter. Mix the flour with the milk and whisk to combine. I used a bowl off of the stove to do this. Add flour-milk mixture slowly to the butter, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup half & half. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. This is where you check your seasoning and add any salt or pepper as you feel fit.
Just before serving, place the sour cream in a serving bowl or tureen. Add 2-3 ladles of hot soup into the tureen or serving dish, and stir to combine with the sour cream. Pour in remaining soup and stir. Serve immediately.
Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pasta Salad with mozzarella and cucumber!

After calling my parents to come over for dinner last week, I realized I wanted to try something new for a side dish. I knew I wanted a pasta salad, but I didn't want to make the traditional, mayo drenched, version.

I searched on the web for some new, inspiring recipes. While there are obviously tons of recipes to choose from online, I took notes and ingredients from several, to make my own version. Here it is!


1tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp salt
1 lb pasta (I prefer the tri color rotini, but use whichever you prefer)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 ounce container of marinated mozerella balls, drained NOT rinsed
1 cup sliced black olives
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup shredded parmesan and romano cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of water to boil, add 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp of salt, and pasta. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain, and spread on a flat surface to cool (this will avoid the noodles sticking together). When cool, transfer to a serving bowl and toss with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Mix remaining ingredients in a seperate bowl. Toss with the pasta, adding seasoning to taste, and enjoy!

This was delicious and a big hit! It's crisp, refreshing, and not nearly as heavy as the old fashioned pasta salads. It was also incredibly easy, and left overs were just as delicious the next day.