Monday, October 22, 2012

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can see the "?" above your head as you read that title.  "Um, vanilla pudding?  In cookies?"  I can feel your doubt - I'm hurt.  Would I ever lead you astray by giving you a bad recipe?  No, not me.  Unless I choose to follow along in King Arthur Flour's footsteps and post an April Fool's Day post of all my recipes that just didn't stand up to my high expectations.  Like my attempt at pumpkin pie bread.  I honestly think that bread could have been classified as a lethal weapon, it was so hard.  Maybe I should've kept it around for my husband irritates me.  I could hit him with it...........  *shakes head* Okay, I'm back with you now.

There are many things in life that are distracting.  My dog is a good example.  She moves and I notice it.  She breathes funny and I'm suddenly on alert (although I'm sure that's more my vet training kicking in).  Another thing I find distracting?  Books of any and all kinds.  I love books.  When Ryan and I moved into our new house all those months ago, the majority of our boxes contained clothes and books.  (I think the clothes boxes only edged out the book boxes by a few.)  My husband got the bright idea to get me an e-reader a couple of years ago and I've amounted over 200 books on it.  I told you I liked to read.  So on the note about liking to read... I love, love cooking blogs!  Probably because I love to cook.  Combining my love of cooking with my love of reading - happy Jamie!  I find myself reading blogs sometimes all day, wasting paper on printing tons of recipes when I already have tons of recipe books. Yeah, cooking blogs are super distracting.  You can look at all the pretty pictures and all the stories for hours on end.  I'm not joking, I've done it before.  Many times.

While on the subject of cooking blogs, I do have my favorites.  In case you haven't noticed, on the right hand side of your screen, if you scroll down far enough, you'll find my favorite cooking blogs.  They all have great recipes.  You cannot go wrong with those blogs.  Some of them, I like simply because I'm amazed by the creativity of them (Sweetapolita and Bake at 350 are simply droolworthy) yet they all have very easy to create recipes.  Although I could never decorate cookies the way Bridget at Bake at 350 does.  My hands just wouldn't cooperate.  I'm lucky if I get a smooth spread on my sheet cakes for crying out loud!

(And, hey, if you don't take my word that putting pudding into cookies can be a good thing, go to your local grocery store and find a box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix and look down at the bottom of the front of the box.  It says, "Pudding is still in the mix!"  So it's not just me... or the people who made the recipe.)

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies
courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod

1 c. Butter, room temp
1/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Brown Sugar
3.4 oz. package Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Blend together butter and sugars until creamy.
Next, mix in pudding, eggs, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until combined.
Mix in chocolate chips.
Taste cookie dough - realize how yummy it is.
Drop cookie mix by the tablespoon (again, cookie scoop works great here) onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
Let cool on a cooling rack.

My husband is from Texas so I have no idea why I bought this mug.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Budget Friendly Dinner Series - Old Bay Shrimp and Mac and Cheese

You cannot find a quicker meal than fish or shrimp (which is all in the same category to me - nevermind that fish is fish and shrimp are crustaceans).  Honestly, medium-sized shrimp cooked over medium-high heat are finished cooking within five minutes.  How much quicker can you get?  Soooooo, to go with quick shrimp, you need a quick side dish.  My new favorite mac and cheese recipe takes less than fifteen minutes to make - and that's including the time it takes to the boil the pasta!  I found this recipe while going through my Cooking Light cookbooks and having over ten years worth of their Annual Recipes books, I had quite a few recipes to choose from. 

Ryan loves mac and cheese but doesn't really like the baked kind.  He wants the cheesy stovetop kind (are all husbands this picky?).  Because I'm such a good wife (yes, yes I am, thank you very much) and because I'm always looking for ways to cut calories while retaining flavor and being somewhat health (we have to maintain a good balance between all the sweets and meals I make), finding this recipe just blew me away.  So simple yet healthy even though it tastes indulgent.  Its become my favorite go-to mac and cheese recipe and I've made in once more since I made this original recipe!   And it requires no fancy ingredients (unless you consider 1% milk fancy) so you're all set to go.

Old Bay Shrimp and Mac and Cheese
shrimp created by me!
mac and cheese recipe adapted from Cooking Light 

Shrimp (2 servings)
1/2 lb. Medium Sized Shrimp, tail off, deviened
1 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning (more or less, to your taste)
2 Tbsp. Butter

Mac and Cheese (4 servings)
1 1/4 c. Macaroni Pasta, uncooked
1 c. 1% Milk (if 2% is what you have on hand or all you can find, that's okay.  Just don't use skim - you need that milkfat to get the creamiest mac and cheese)
2 Tbsp. All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 c. Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package instruction, not including the oil stated in the directions.
During the last few minutes of cooking your pasta, make the cheese sauce by adding the milk and flour to a saucepan (at least 2 qt. size) over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Once thickened (about two minutes or so), add your cheddar cheese and whisk until melted.
Remove from heat.
Drain pasta.
Mix pasta into cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Let sit for four minute (this helps the sauce to thicken).
While the mac and cheese is resting, you can make the shrimp.
In a ziploc bag, combine the shrimp and Old Bay Seasoning and shake to evenly coat the shrimp.
Put your butter into a skillet and melt over medium-high heat.
Pour the shrimp into the skillet and cook until done, turning once (about four to six minutes).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Continuing with our cartoon theme, today's post is brought to you by the movie Up.  If you've never seen it, I demand you go find it without delay!  It is such a good movie.  The beginning will make you cry though.  (Do I need to tell you again how much I hate to cry?  We went through that already.)  You already know that I'm a fan of taking movie quotes and making them my own and here's today's!

It's like Cookies but BARS!

(You can see the video clip here.  YouTube doesn't want to share this clip.  Not exactly sure why but oh well.  We'll carry on anyway.)

Another reason why I love this movie?  Dug.  I love this dog.  It makes me want to get a blonde male dog just so I can name it Dug.  But the husband doesn't want to get another dog just yet so I've settled for having a cookie jar that looks like Dug that I call... you got it!  Dug :)  (I have a habit of naming inanimate objects - cars, cookie jars, etc.)

The recipe for these cookie bars is the exact same as the basic chocolate chip cookie that I posted the other day.  I'm going to repost the recipe here with the directions adjusted so you can make the cookies into bars. (Like I said, "it's like cookies but BARS.")

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/4 c. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 sticks Butter (salted.  If using unsalted, add 1 tsp. salt)
3/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 c. Chocolate Chips (1/2 of a 12 oz. package)

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and making sure to beat well after each addition.
Toss in your flour and baking soda.
Stir in your chocolate chips.
Resist the urge to eat the entire mixture of chocolate chip cookie dough.
Press cookie dough into a greased 9x13 pan.
Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.  (My cookies took 20 minutes.)

(Ryan bought me that mug when he went to NYC a few years ago.  Ain't he sweet?)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone needs a good recipe for chocolate chip cookies in their recipe box.  This is my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  I have tried to make other recipes but this is the one I always, always come back to.  And I think you will too.

Now, scroll to the bottom and see the picture that goes with the recipe.  I'll wait.  *waiting... taps fingers on keyboard*  Okay, back with me now?  Did you see the mug?  Do you see the beautiful dog that's on said mug?  That is my beautiful little girl, Liz.  I've had her since she was only six weeks old.  I picked her out when she was two weeks old.  I remember holding her as a baby and hearing her sigh against my chest and my heart was lost.  Gone.  My heart was no longer in my body but now lived in a little runt of a puppy with a big white star on her chest (yep, five pointed star, the top point of which stretches all the way up to her chin).  I knew when she was two weeks old that she was going to come home with me.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Except for that little problem of convincing my father.  My mom already loved her - she was the one who drove me out to see the puppies after all.  Of course, conspiring is just one of those things that all women do well.  Its in our genes I think...  Under the pretense of "just wanting to go see the puppies", we managed to drag my father out to where Liz and her brothers and sisters were at.  Dad was steadfast, "We are NOT coming home with a puppy."  "Sure" was my response.  I knew better.  I went to find my puppy (yes, I was already calling her "mine") and off we went in search of my dad.  When I found him, I was holding Liz to my chest and I said, "Isn't she cute?  Don't you want to hold her?"  Despite his protests, I managed to get Liz in his hands and then he said, "We're coming home with a puppy, aren't we?"  She turned 11 years old in August and she's still my little baby.  And certainly a mommy's girl.  It drives Ryan insane when he asks her to do something and won't do it but the moment mommy says to do it, away she goes.  Yep, mommy's baby.

Anyway, back to the mug!  There is a lovely story about that mug.  Back when Ryan and I were still dating and he still lived in Texas, he sent me two of the sweetest gifts I've ever gotten - a dog bowl with Liz's picture on it (which currently houses all her cookies) and this mug.  And I love them.  Even five years later, I still look at them and smile :-) (He must have somehow known that the keys to my heart lived in a little black and white mutt.... no clue where he would've gotten that idea.)

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies
courtesy of All Time Favorite Cookie and Baking Recipes

2 1/4 c. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 sticks Butter (salted.  If using unsalted, add 1 tsp. salt)
3/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 c. Chocolate Chips (1/2 of a 12 oz. package)

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and making sure to beat well after each addition.
Throw in (not literally, of course - no messes in my kitchen.) your flour and baking soda.
Stir in your chocolate chips.
Resist the urge to eat the entire mixture of chocolate chip cookie dough.
Drop by tablespoonfuls (wow, that's a word according to spell check.) onto a baking sheet.  (I have mentioned before cookie scoops are wonderful things - for stuff like cookies!)
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. (I go for 9 - I like my cookies chewy, extra chewy.)
Cool for two minutes and allow to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Blackberry-Peach Coffee Cake

Do you remember awhile back I posted the Blackberry Turnover post and I promised another blackberry recipe would be forthcoming?  Well, here it is.  Blackberry-Peach Coffee Cake.  After I had made the blackberry turnovers, I had just a few blackberries left.  Certainly not enough to make another specific blackberry-y thing so I needed a recipe that used not only blackberries but also another fruit.  Off I went in search of recipes.  I didn't take me long to find this recipe which I knew all my family and friends would love since they all love both peaches and blackberries (and I actually tried this one due to the large amount of peaches included in the recipe and you know I love me some peaches!).  I posted the picture of the coffee cake before the streusel was put on so you could see all the lovely berry-fruity goodness. 

I used fresh peaches and blackberries but you could use any sort of fresh fruit you have on hand.  I'm sure a fresh, mixed berry coffee cake would be wonderful!

Blackberry-Peach Coffee Cake
courtesy of Classic Southern Desserts

Coffee Cake:
1/2 c. Butter, softened
1 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
2 c. All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2/3 c. Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 c. Fresh Peaches, peeled and sliced
1 c. Fresh Blackberries

Streusel Topping:
1/2 c. Butter, softened
1/2 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
2/3 c. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare streusel topping by beating the butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy.
Gradually adding both sugars and mixing until combined.
Add your flour and spices and beat until blended.
Now its time to make the coffee cake!
Once again, beat your butter with a mixer until creamy.
Add sugar and mix well.
Now you need to mix in your eggs, one at a time, blending completely after each addition.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
Alternate adding your flour mixture and milk to your butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour, beating at a low speed.
Stir in vanilla.
Pour the batter into an 8x8 pan that's been coated in non-stick spray (preferably using a non-stick spray that includes flour).
Top with your fruity goodness.
Spread your streusel mixture on top of the fruity goodness, working in one-inch pieces.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 1 and a half hours (yep, long time.).

Note:  I used a glass 8x8 pan.  If you want to use a dark pan, wrap the outsides with foil before baking to get the best results.

(ain't it pretty?)