Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cookie Carnival: Rosemary-Cheese Spritz Cookies

When Tami of Tami's Table Talk announced that this Rosemary-Cheese Spritz Cookie was the July cookie for the Cookie Carnival she hosts on her blog, my first reaction was, "Ewwww!". But when I looked at the picture and recipe I decided it actually looked and sounded promising. Maybe even tasty.

And tasty they were; delicious, rich, buttery, and irresistible are other words I'd use. As they cooled I popped one after another in my mouth--you know, just. one. more. Gracious they were good. I absolutely couldn't leave them alone.

These came together much like a sweet cookie, but they are very cheesy, and the fresh rosemary added a wonderful, sharp herbiness (it's a word). And I loved that I got to use my cookie press for something other than Push Cookies, a cookie my sister and I grew up making with my mother's cookie press (that we used so much we eventually wore it out). You can use any of the disks that come with your press; I used the disk that makes an oval cookie.

I made these as an accompaniment to minestrone soup, but I think they would be awesome as part of an appetizer bar...a little fruit, a little hard salami, and some of these bites of cheesy-deliciousness. Perfect.

Oh, and the smell as they cooked? Heaven.

Note: Since these aren't sweet cookies made with a bunch of sugar, my high-altitude adjustment was just 1 additional tablespoon of flour.

Rosemary-Cheese Spritz Cookies (from the Food Network Kitchens)

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely grated Asiago cheese (recipe called for Pecorino)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (recipe called for 1 tsp fine salt)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (recipe called for pinch fresh ground)

1. Bring all the ingredients to room temperature.

2. Beat the butter and lemon zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly beat in the egg yolk and heavy cream.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, Asiago, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, sugar, rosemary, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture while mixing slowly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on medium speed to make a slightly sticky dough. (this actually took longer than a normal cookie, and I scraped the bowl and mixed several times before the dough came together. So be patient :)

4. Fill the cookie press with the dough. Assemble the press with the disk you want to use, and press the cookies onto ungreased baking sheets (I used three). Leave about 1 inch between the cookies (I had more space between my cookies, which is probably why I ended up needing three baking sheets). Sprinkle the cookies with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

5. Heat your oven to 325. Bake the cookies until they are golden and smell nutty (and amazingly cheesy), 20-25 minutes. I suggest you keep the cookies in the fridge until you cook them. Briefly cool the cookies on the pan and then transfer them to racks or paper towels to cool completely.

The Food Network recipe says you can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 month, which is great, but I do not see how they would last that long without being eaten. We ate ours up within a couple days.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fruited Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Sisters are great for so many things, and in this case, for this recipe for a delicious croissant sandwich stuffed with chicken, grapes, Mandarin oranges, and almonds in a creamy dressing. I must confess I was a little scared the first time I ate this (years ago), but I was quickly converted to the I-love-this-sandwich camp. I've also eaten this salad on cut romaine for a lower-carb (and lower-fat without the luscious croissant) meal. The crunch of the lettuce adds a really nice touch. The salad is super-yum regardless how you eat it!

My sister's tips: Don't cut the croissant all the way through. Rather, cut it leaving a hinge at the back so that the filling doesn't fall out when you're trying to eat it. Also, cut the chicken small (less than 1/2-inch cubes). Cubes that are any bigger also tend to fall out of the roll while you're eating.

Fruited Chicken Salad Sandwiches (from Crystal Bell)
Printable recipe

10 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into small cubes
1 cup diced celery
2 cups halved red grapes (seedless)
1 large can Mandarin oranges, well drained
1 small can crushed pineapple, well drained
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
12-16 large croissants, sliced horizontally

Combine everything (except croissants) in a very large bowl and mix gently until thoroughly combined. Serve immediately or after chilling it in the fridge. To serve, spoon filling into sliced croissants and enjoy!

Makes about 4 quarts salad (maybe a skosh more), or enough filling for 12-16 large croissants.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recent birthday cakes

These cakes are a couple that I've done over the last few months.

This one is a "princess cake" for my friend's daughter who turned 4. Her daughter picked the colors and then I was allowed artistic license for the rest. The cake was fun to make--very fru-fru :) The cake is iced in buttercream and the flowers are also buttercream. I bought a dress-up crown for the top, and it's sitting on a round mirror to keep the fuzzies out of the frosting. Her mom reported that she loved it :)

Close-up of the buttercream flowes.

This cake was for my nephew's 8 year-old birthday. His favorite color--since he was old enough to point--is green, and this year he requested a "green animal cake". I iced the cake in green buttercream, cut the animals out of green-tinted gumpaste with cookie cutters, and made the sign out of the same green gumpaste. I used a green edible food marker to write on the sign and for the accents on the animals.

And, of course, I tinted the cake green, should have seen his face! :)

Did I mention his favorite color is green?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Roasted Lemon-Garlic Chicken

Roasting is such a great way to cook food, I love the put-it-in-the-oven-and-leave-it-ness of it. The marinade for this roasted chicken is from my Weight Watcher's Take-Out Tonight cookbook, which has inspired many yummy recipes (Lentils and Rice with Vegetables and Tzatziki), and is very versatile: the recipe for the marinade includes roasted potatoes, sometimes I use the marinade for chicken breasts that I slice and put in pitas with tzatziki, red onion, and sprouts, and this time I simply roasted the bone-in chicken after marinating it overnight.

Note: I bought a cut-up whole chicken to make the cooking time faster and serving easier. I also doubled the marinade recipe to have enough.

Roasted Lemon-Garlic Chicken
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 2-3 pound cut-up whole chicken

1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a small bowl (I use a glass measuring cup). Put the chicken in a zip-top bag, add the marinade, seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge 1 1/2-2 hours before roasting to bring the chicken to room temp (don't worry, it's safe).

2. Heat your oven to 425 deg and line a baking sheet with foil; spray the foil with non-stick spray.

3. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, letting the extra marinade drip off, and place them on the prepared baking sheet with the leg and thigh pieces toward the back. Insert the probe of a meat thermometer into the thickest part of one of the breast pieces (avoid the bone). Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the thermometer reads 155.

4. Remove from the oven, cover the chicken with foil, and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: I removed the meat from the breast pieces and sliced it for serving.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Works for Me Wednesday: No-Mess Watermelon

Watermelon is one of the best parts of summer, but cutting it up can leave a sticky, wet mess all over your counter. One day it occurred to me to use the same trick I use when slicing cooked roasts (that hopefully are juicy and delicious) : put the cutting board inside a rimmed baking sheet. This way any watermelon (or meat) juice that runs off the cutting board ends up on the baking sheet and not all over the counter. Sweet, juicy watermelon with less mess? Now that works for me!

To see all of this weeks Works for Me Wednesday tips, go here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Simple Grilled Zucchini

I can't say enough nice things about grilling. I simply love what it does to the flavor of food, and zucchini is no exception. I know grilling zucchini isn't new to the internet, but I learned about it from my sister. I was first amazed by the genius of it, and then madly in love with the flavor of it. The intense, high heat of the grill makes the zucchini almost sweet. Add some Parmesan or feta cheese and it's side-dish heaven.

Note: I'm sure you can make these on an indoor grill or grill pan, too.

Simple Grilled Zucchini
Printable Recipe

4 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
oil-soaked paper towels for grill grate (I use regular vegetable oil)
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Scrape any debris off your grill grate and heat it on high until it's super hot, 450-500 deg.

2. While the grill is heating, combine the zucchini, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a zip-top bag, seal (leave the air in the bag), and gently turn and shake to evenly coat the zucchini.

3. Using long tongs, wipe the hot grill grate with the oil-soaked paper towels. Use the tongs to immediately place the zucchini cross-wise to the grate bars on the grill. Grill for about 3 minutes on the first side, or until you have some nice char marks. Turn the zucchini over and grill another 3 minutes.

4. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Note: Left-over zucchini is delicious mixed in with salads or in chicken wraps.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Curry Chicken Salad

I wanted some chicken salad, but not the kind with fruit. When I looked around online for some ideas most of the recipes had some kind of fruit mixed in. Grrr...not what I was looking for. Then I found a few that listed curry as an ingredient. I love curry, but even they had fruit. So I made up my own recipe, using curry as a base flavor, and the results were wonderful.

This recipe is great because it can easily be made ahead of time. It's also perfect for BBQ's, picnics, or just hot summer days when you don't want to heat up your kitchen. It's definitely a keeper :)

Curry Chicken Salad
Printable Recipe

1 small onion, diced, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder, regular or hot
2 medium ribs celery, thinly sliced, about 3/4 cup
3 tablespoons mayo (I used light)
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
lettuce, tomato, and cucumber for serving if desired

1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and cilantro, and mix gently to evenly coat the chicken with the dressing. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

2. Serve over lettuce, tomato, and cucumber if desired.

Makes about 4-1 1/4 cup servings.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kaitlyn's Outrageous Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

My older sister is visiting with her kids for three weeks. It's always so fun when she comes, especially now that her oldest daughter is 16 and makes fabulous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Kaitlyn is famous for her cookies, and as I was starting dinner this afternoon (we had a Braised Chuck Roast) she said, "Can I make cookies. I want cookies." I wasn't about to say no, and was happy, once again, that I have a double oven.

We made a couple high-altitude adjustments with the sugar and flour amounts and they turned out perfect. So perfect that it was all I could do to not eat myself sick. Yum! Also, we cooked them for exactly 10 minutes, and took them out of the oven when they were poofy and looked under-cooked. As they cooled they settled into the awesome moist craggy-ness you see in the pictures. The dough also seemed to cook better after sitting in the bowl for 10-15 minutes; the sitting time probably gave the flour and oatmeal time to hydrate.

Kaitlyn's Outrageous Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies (with high altitude adjustments)
Printable Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups old fashioned oat meal
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat your oven to 375 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and mix well on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Add the oatmeal and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix gently on low until they are evenly incorporated into the dough. (Just look at that dough! Doesn't it make you want to lick your computer screen?)

4. Use a medium-size cookie scoop to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and the edges no longer look shiny (they will look very underbaked, but will be perfect after they settle and cool). Remove the parchment paper (with cookies) from the baking sheet and cool completely before eating (yeah, right--how about, "eat immediately and try not to burn your tongue because it will ruin the experience of eating the next 6 cookies"...).

Makes about 48 cookies

Note: for closer-to-sea-level baking, increase both sugars to 1 cup each, and decrease the flour to just 2 cups (though I bet the recipe would also work as it is written).

"Hey, Kaitlyn, let me take your picture,"


Ah, that is one happy teenager.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday: Freezing left-over whipped cream

works for me wednesday at we are that family

This is my first Works For Me Wednesday post and I'm really excited to join the group!

I hate throwing out left-over whipped cream, but since I didn't want to sit and eat it out of the bowl (like I sometimes do), I tried freezing it like I do my left-over frosting. It worked great! When my daughter made a cup of hot chocolate a few days later she popped one on top. She said it helped cool the hot chocolate a little, but mostly it just made it super creamy and good.

I simply put dollops of the whipped cream on a cutting board that I covered with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer until they were frozen solid. Then I picked them off the plastic wrap, put them in a zip-top bag and then returned them to the freezer.

My daughter put one in her hot chocolate, but you could just as easily use the dollops on apple pie, fruit crisps--anywhere you'd use whipped cream. This idea can also be used as a make-ahead tip for a party or dinner. Make and freeze the whipped cream for your dessert the day before so it will be ready to go. Now that definitely works for me!

Click here to see more Works For Me Wednesday tips for today.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chicken Marsala

I had a 24-oz package of crimini mushrooms sitting in my fridge and they were starting to go--I needed to use them fast. My brain was in a holding pattern so I asked my good friend, Stephanie, if she had a recipe she liked for Chicken Marsala. Of course she came through for me, she always does. I did change the recipe she gave me a little, but mostly just to make more. And since I love, love, love mushrooms, I used the whole 24-oz package. If you don't think mushrooms are divine, you probably should just use the 16 oz called for below (or even less if you want).

Note: an egg slicer is a great and fast way to slice mushrooms.

Chicken Marsala
Printable Recipe

4 large chicken breasts, about 2 lbs.
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
16 oz crimini mushrooms, rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup Marsala (dry)
1 cup chicken broth
3 green onions, dark and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
shredded Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Place the chicken breasts in a large zip-top bag; seal the bag. Use a meat pounder to pound the chicken breasts to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece into 2 pieces, for 8 pieces total; set aside.

2. In a flat-bottom dish (I used an 8X8 glass pan), combine 1/2 cup of the flour, marjoram (crushed with your fingers), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper; mix well and set aside.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot (about 2 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and heat until the butter melts. Add the mushrooms and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the water the mushrooms release has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.

4. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan, let it melt, and swirl it around the pan. One piece at a time, dredge 4 pieces of the chicken in the flour mixture and lay them in the pan. Cook until browned on the first side, about 4 minutes, then flip the pieces and cook until browned on the 2nd side, about 4 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm, and repeat with the remaining tablespoon butter and chicken pieces. Remove the 2nd batch of chicken and keep warm.

5. Add the Marsala to the pan (careful of the steam) and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to remove all of the cooked on browned bits. Bring it to a high simmer over medium-high heat and reduce it by about half, about 5 minutes.

6. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon flour to the mushrooms and stir well to coat. Add the chicken broth and mushrooms to the pan, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the green onions and parsley and cook 1 minute more.

7. To serve, dip the chicken pieces in the sauce to coat and plate with additional sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dangerous Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps are in my top 5 favorite cookies (though I do like them soft and not crisp, which may make them technically not a "snap"). So I was thrilled when I found these cookies at a bake sale my friend's teenage son hosted last Saturday. Her son is raising money for teen-centered LDS humanitarian group, AYS. He'll travel to Brazil next summer with the group and do all sorts of great things.

The cookies are my idea of the perfect ginger snap: just barely crisp on the outside, still moist and chewy on the inside, and with a deep molasses flavor that's just sweet enough. I made the mistake of buying them before eating lunch and half the package was gone by the time I got back home.

Last week's bake sale was just the first of several things they have planned to raise money for AYS and his trip. I'm always so impressed when teenagers get involved in causes bigger than their small, immediate world. Thanks, Kristen, for raising such a great kid, and thanks for the delicious--and dangerous--cookies!

Dangerous Ginger Snaps (from Kristen Flandro)
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ginger
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon (she likes a bit more)
1 teaspoon table salt
granulated sugar for baking

1. Heat your oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Cream together the shortening, sugar, molasses. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate the dough for a while if it seems too soft, or in between baking batches.

3. Form dough into tablespoon-sized balls and in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cookie Carnival: S'more Sandwich Bar Cookies

This amazing-looking cookie is Hershey's S'more Sandwich Bar Cookie, and it's the June cookie for the Cookie Carnival, hosted by Tami over at Tami's Kitchen Table Talk. Yes, it's late, I know it's July. But I couldn't pass up making these, even if they were late to the party. I had a busy day planned, so I was up making a mess in the kitchen at 7:30 this morning. Let me tell you, it was criminal to have my house smell so good that early in the morning. I made sure to eat my regular breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt, and banana while they baked so I'd be able to resist a piece when they came out of the oven. Even with a full belly it wasn't easy.

After I got back from my oldest daughter's orthodontist appointment, lunch out with my three girls, hair appointments for all four of us, Target, dropping the oldest and youngest off at home, and taking my middle girl to the Thanksgiving Point Farm (we both milked a goat--well, I tried. Apparently it's not a skill I have), I finally got to taste one of the cookies. And all I can say is, "Mmmmmmm....bring on the milk!" They are so good, they taste just like s'mores! I'm glad it just makes an 8x8 pan, otherwise I'd have to save myself by pawning them off on my neighbors.

Thanks, Tami, for a great cookie for June! I can't wait to make the July cookie; this time it's a savory cheese cookie. I was a little unsure about her choice until I saw a picture. They look awesome!

Notes: The recipe calls for 8-oz milk chocolate bars, I used 8-oz (about 1 1/4 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips instead; For my high altitude adjustment I added 1 1/2 tablespoons extra flour to the crust/topping part.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cake Wrecks Salt Lake book signing Part 2: The Party

So, Part 1 of this post left us finishing our amazing dinner at Fresco Italian Cafe in Salt Lake City. Earlier in that post I mentioned that before dinner we went to The King's English Bookshop to drop off our entries for the cupcake contest, and then promised more details later. Here's later (there was the short Foodie Fights interruption).

At each stop on the Cake Wrecks tour Jen, her husband John, and a special guest judge a cupcake contest where contestants replicate their favorite cake wreck in miniature on a cupcake or other small cake. Then they pick three favorites, one each, and the people in the audience vote for their favorite by, well, yelling, clapping, whistling and otherwise making a huge racket. The whole thing was very exciting.

My entry was this replica of the dreaded and horrid Baby Butt Cake. I laughed and laughed when I read Jen's post about these cakes--appropriately named "Rear View Wreckage"--and knew I had to copy the idea for the contest. I'm sure that some bakers, somewhere, think the idea is adorable, but come on, half a baby? The back half? Sometimes diapered, sometimes not? It's more on the creepy side, if nothing else. Who's going to eat that part of the cake? I must humbly admit, though, my baby bum is much closer to a real-life baby bum than the wrecks featured in her post, so, while the idea is awful, my cake is cute ;)

Another shot of the tush. See the tattoo? I added it for extra tackiness. The "CW", of course, stands for "Cake Wrecks." ;)

Tiny baby toes. Now these are cute. :)

My daughter did a wreckplica of a cake Jen wrote about back in 2008 (which may make it a classic). The post was called "When Gangsters Go PC". The gist is Jen imagining the conversation that took place about the cake, presumably sold around the holiday's, and made by a baker who was--or whose boss was--apparently afraid of offending anyone with how the cake was decorated. The post is very funny, and I must say my daughter did a perfect job copying the cake.

This is my sister's entry. It's a representation of all the chocolate-frosting "poo" Jen has seen on the cakes people send her pictures of. There have been actual Poo Dogs, but also Poo-deer masquerading at reindeer, a poo-hive, a poo-palm tree, poo-chains, piles of poo that defy all description...the list just goes on and on. It's amazing what can happen to chocolate frosting in the hands of a wreckerator :)

Here's a picture of the crowd waiting for the slide show presentation and the Q&A with Jen. Can't you just see the anticipation? All the straight backs and eyes glued to the front of the room? Jen and her husband John are every bit as cute and funny in person as they are on their website. It was so fun to hear them banter back and forth, and talk about the cakes they picked for the slide show. Of course, Jen had on her famous yellow boots. :) Baby Butt Cake wreckplica was one of the three winners! How awesome is that?! This picture is me with Jen Yates (from Cake Wrecks) and my daughter. And so you don't think Jen is super, super tiny (OK, she is a little short), I'm very tall--and I was wearing flip-flops with heels. :)

In addition to the excitement of having my wreckplica picked as one of the winners, I got these super awesome Cake Wrecks pins! I had to do some fast talking to keep my daughter away from them: "No, you can't have one for your backpack, and if you value your life and want to see your next birthday you won't touch 'em." :)

This is me and Jen after she signed my Cake Wrecks book. She's probably not as excited as she looks to take this picture, but I was every ounce excited as I look. We had an awesome time--Thanks Jen and John!

You can go here to read Jen's post about her Salt Lake City tour stop.
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