Monday, November 29, 2010

Chocolate-Mint Cookies

It's officially holiday time! One of my favorite things during this time of year are cookie exchanges.  My mom threw one at her studio recently and I made these cookies to share.  I love the red and green "chocolate candies" that a certain company puts out at this time of year.  The mint ones are my favorite.
I love the way chocolate cookies look like with the red and green so I decided to skip the chocolate chunks and go with the candies instead.

Chocolate-Mint Cookies:
( Toll House)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Baking Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups mint candies

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in candies.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set but still soft.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steamed Green Beans

I love green beans.  They are my favorite vegetables and I love them almost anyway.  When I was a kid my mom would blanch them and serve them with ranch.  Kids love anything dipped in ranch.

Now that I'm older I can appreciate them in other ways.  The other night we had steamed green beans.  They were excellent.
Since we're in the middle of the holiday season I thought that this would be an great idea for anyone looking for a last minute side.  It takes almost no time.

Steamed Green Beans:
(My Mom)

1 bag of french green beans, ends snapped
1/2 cup of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want a vegan version)
2-3 slices of ham, chopped (again, leave out if you want this to be vegan/vegetarian)
salt and pepper

Pour the broth into a skillet and add the ham (if using).  Add the green beans and cover.

Let the beans steam for 5-10 minutes or until tender and bright green.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drain from the liquid and serve!

Friday, November 19, 2010


I made brownies recently.  I love brownies.  I think that they are quite possibly my favorite dessert.  I like them with nuts (pecans if I have the choice).

These were really easy to make and turned out great.

Chocolate Pecan Brownies
(adapted from Ina Garten)


1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups pecans (halves)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.

Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into squares.

These were awesome.  The pecans make it, to me at least.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

I love biscuits.  There are days that I seriously crave biscuits.  I love them with jam, honey, cane syrup, and as sandwiches.  They are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Biscuits are something that I associate with my Grandma.  She would pull up a stool to the kitchen counter and let us "help" her make them.  (I think all that we did was make a mess.)  She never used a biscuit cutter, just the rim of a juice glass.

I decided to make biscuits one morning.  I was on vacation and had some buttermilk that I needed to use up.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
(adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea)

2 cups all-purpose flour (use Martha White or White Lily)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
1/4 cup buttermilk, cold

In a bowl (or food processor) combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add butter and work until the mixture is the size of peas.

Using a fork stir in the buttermilk until all of the flour is moistened.  On a floured surface knead the dough for 1 minute.  Pat into a 1/2-inch circle and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  With a biscuit cutter or other sharp edge cut the biscuits into circles.  Place on a baking sheet with the sides touching just a little.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Feel free to brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter when they are still warm.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sweet Potato Latkes

Now that it's officially "The Holidays" I decided it was time to jump right into recipes that make me think of fall.  Sweet potatoes are one of those things.  I love sweet potato casserole and candied yams but maybe this year it's time for a change.  (Or at least time to make more than one type of sweet potato)

Sweet Potato Latkes:
(National Public Radio)

1 lb sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoon ginger
2 eggs
½ cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder

Shred sweet potatoes and mix with ginger. Mix all other ingredients together into a batter, then mix in the shredded potatoes. Fry in 1/2 inch of oil. About 1/3 cup of batter makes one latke.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cherry Bread

Every year when it starts to cool off my mom starts making bread.  She makes both yeast breads and quick breads.  Quick breads are breads that are made without yeast.  They take almost no time to make and with a good base recipe you can make anything.  I grew up eating cherry bread, cranberry nut bread, banana nut, and pumpkin among others.  I love to take a slice, toast it, and top it with cream cheese in the morning.

I am in the process of trying to use up some buttermilk and decided to make some bread with it.  I decided on the cherry because I had a can of cherry pie filling and I will never use it to make a pie.

Cherry Bread
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can cherry pie filling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 3 loaf pans with nonstick baking spray (or butter and flour them).  In a large bowl bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set mixture aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) mix the sugars until well combined.  Add eggs and oil, mix well, scraping down sides when needed.  Take the buttermilk and add the vanilla.  Turn the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two batches alternating with the buttermilk-vanilla mixture.  Add the can of pie filling.  Fold in with a spoon so the cherries won't break.

Divide the batter between pans.  I got three loaves when I made this.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Remove from the pan and let cool completely.  This bread freezes fantastically and makes great holiday party gifts.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cubed Steak Sandwhich

I grew up eating cubed steak quite a bit.  My mom would always toss them in a little bit of flour, cook them in a cast-iron skillet, and serve them with rice and veggies.  I found this recipe from The Pioneer Woman and I decided to make it for my mom's workshop.  I tweaked it a little bit.

Cubed Steak Sandwich:
(adapted from Pioneer Woman)

1 whole Large (or 2 Small) Onions
1 container of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 sticks Butter
2 pounds (to 3 Pounds) Cube Steak
Lawry's Seasoned Salt (I used store brand, because I'm cheap)
½ cup (approximately) Worcestershire Sauce
Tabasco Sauce, To Taste
4 whole French/deli Rolls

Slice onions and cook in 1/4 stick butter until soft and light brown. Remove and set aside.


Slice cube steak against the grain. Season with seasoning salt.  

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over high heat (in same skillet) until melted and beginning to brown. 


Add meat in single layer. Cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides.

Add 1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and 2 tablespoons butter. Add cooked mushrooms and onions. Stir to combine.

Slice the deli rolls in half and toast in the oven. Place the meat, onions, and mushrooms on top of the rolls.  Make sure that you pour the gravy on top of the meat.  

These really are good.  Mr. T is looking forward to eating these again.  I feel like there would be a lot of ways to change this up depending on what your family likes.  I added the mushrooms but I also think bell peppers would make a good addition.

Someone try it out and let me know.