Sunday, July 6, 2014

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

It seems like every family has something that they are "known" for.  Well, growing up, my family was "known" for our chocolate chip cookies.  Some of my first memories are of making cookies.  This is how we learned fractions, how we learned the basics of cooking, how we celebrated and how we mourned.  We always used the same recipe, it was one of the first things I knew by heart.  So you could imagine my utter sadness when I moved out of state and our tried and true cookie recipe did NOT work!  I have spent the last 17 years looking for another recipe that would replace my lost recipe.  Now, I have come across and shared some great cookie recipes on here but this recipe takes the cake,  at least when it comes to a good old simple, straight up chocolate chip cookie! These remind me of my family's recipe that stopped working the minute I left California behind.  They are chewy, slightly crunchy around the edges, wonderfully flavored, and perfect straight out of the oven!  I found the recipe here.  I adapted it slightly.

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies
(2 1/2 - 3 dozen)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 cup butter, softened to room-temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract (yes 1 Tablespoon!)
2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar and white sugar and cream until fluffy. Next add the eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate each. Then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

Add the flour in 3 intervals, mixing slowly and well.  Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Place the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 24.  If longer than 1 hour, make sure it is in an airtight container so it won't dry out.

Scoop the dough into Tablespoon sized balls and place on a cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  They are done when the edges are golden. Cookies may seem slightly undone but remove from oven, they will continue to cook for a minute.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Orange Dream Machine (Our Version)

Our boys wake up almost every Saturday and ask to go to Jamba Juice. Their preferred flavor choice?  Orange Dream Machine. Everytime!! SO I finally decided I could probably make it cheaper and maybe even healthier.  Here is what I came up with and it has passed the taste test by every boy, including my husband!

Orange Dream Machine (Our Version)
(about 6 cups)

2 cups Orange Juice
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (I used Honey flavored, if using plain you will need to add more sweetener)
1 scoop (2 oz) vanilla protein powder
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 T agave, or more to desired sweetness
3 cups of ice, or until desired consistency
2 Calamondin oranges (optional, I happen to have a tree.  They are really small about the size of a large grape) You could add 1/2 of a mandarin or a couple slices of a regular orange.

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust ice for consistency and agave for sweetness.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lemon Zucchini Bread

I don't know about you, but when our zucchini plant starts producing we have a couple of frantic weeks that we have way more zucchini than we possibly know what to do with.  I have to get creative quick! So when I saw this lemon zucchini bread pop up on Pinterest I knew I had found a winner!  I mean lemon?! Zucchini?! Sweet bread?! Yes, Yes, YES! It did not disappoint! Although I have to say, the lemon dominates! The zucchini was just there as my justification that I was eating healthy! Add in the bonus of using one more of these fast growing, fast producing veggies and this bread is a keeper! Original recipe found here.

Lemon Zucchini Bread
(1 loaf)

2 cups flour
3/4 t salt
2 t baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup avocado oil (or canola)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 T lemon juice
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 c grated zucchini


1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
2 T lemon juice
1 T milk

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.  In a large bowl beat the eggs.  Add the oil and sugar and mix until blended.  Add the lemon juice, buttermilk, and lemon zest to this mixture and mix well.  Stir in the shredded zucchini.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined.  Grease a loaf pan and pour the batter into it.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.   While the bread is cooling, mix up the glaze.  Pour the glaze over the warm bread.  Let the glaze set before slicing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Disappearing Marshmallow Bars

My friend brought these to a play date at the park and I think I may have moaned when I bit into one, I know, embarrassing! But they are that good!  The name of these definitely has a double meaning.  The first is that the marshmallows really do disappear when you cook them and the second is that the bars, themselves, disappear quickly because no one can keep their hands off! It is truly a sacrifice to wait for them to cool!  I never seem to be able to make it until they are completely cool before eating my first 1 or 4!

Disappearing Marshmallow Bars

1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  In a sauce pan, over medium heat melt the butter and butterscotch chips together.  Stir constantly until smooth.  Be careful not to over heat these or  ooh them too long, they will separate. (I had this happen, I used an immersion blender to bring them back together).

Cool butterscotch and butter to room temperature.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, eggs and butterscotch mixture, until smooth.  The batter will be thick.  Now stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  The center will feel a little soft, but will firm while cooling.  Let cool for 2-3 hours before cutting, if you can!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Perfect Black Beans

There is something wonderful in the simplicity of beans and rice!  I love how easy this recipe comes together.  It takes boring canned black beans and makes them into a meal!  They are so flavorful and satisfying!  I can't remember where I got this recipe from, so I apologize for not linking to the original recipe! We like these plain, over rice, or even topped with chicken, guacamole, cheese and salsa. The options are endless!  We refer to this meal as Chipotle style.  Start with beans and add what you want!

Perfect Black Beans
4-6 servings

4 t olive oil
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used orange, any would work)
1 onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (16 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup water
1/4-1/2 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until soft and tender, stirring regularly. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 45 minutes.  Stir in the fresh cilantro and salt and pepper (to taste).  Discard the bay leaf. Serve as desired.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Crockpot Pasta

I found this recipe on Pinterest and then changed it to what I had on hand and liked.  Such a great, easy crockpot meal!  Now who can argue with that!

Crockpot Pasta
1 lb. Italian seasoned ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t oregano
8 ounces campanelle pasta, cooked
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup mixture of Parmesan and Romano cheese, grated

Brown the ground turkey.  Drain and then add onion and garlic.  Cook until onion is translucent.  Put into slow cooker with tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and spices.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Add cooked pasta, fresh spinach and cheeses.  Stir until cheese is melted and spinach is wilted. Serve hot with this Artisan bread!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate Nutella Strawberry Trifle

I think the name says it all!  This is really such a yummy dessert! Be prepared to share, it makes a ton! I found the original recipe here, but tweaked it a bit.  Besides being delicious all together, this is the best "from scratch" chocolate cake recipe I have ever made!  It really needs its own post but I couldn't wait to share this with you!

Chocolate Nutella Strawberry Trifle


2 cups (250 g) cake flour
1 t (6 g) salt
2 t (10 g) baking soda
1 t (5 g) baking powder
3/4 cup (69g) unsweetened cocoa
2 cups (400 g) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil (I used avocado oil, it is healthier and you can't tell at all)
1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee (I am not a coffee drinker so I used Choffy.  It is roasted cocoa beans, seriously amazing stuff!)
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1/4 cup (60 ml) cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2, 9inch round cake pans with parchment paper circles. Spray with cooking spray.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Add the *hot coffee or Choffy, oil, milk, cream and buttermilk and beat for 2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla and eggs. Beat for 2 more minutes. It will be very liquid-y.
Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for about 30 minutes.  The cake is ready when the cake springs back when lightly touched or when a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes in the pans.  Loosen the sides and remove to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

*This needs to be really hot to help dissolve the sugar and flour

Nutella Mousse

1 cup (250 ml) Nutella
5 T water
2 T (30 ml) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (250 ml) whipping cream

Set a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (The bottom of the bowl should NOT touch the water) and melt the Nutella with the 5 T water.  Mix until smooth.  Add the butter and mix until combined. Remove from heat.

In another bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the melted Nutella.  Now add the rest of the whipped cream and fold until fully incorporated.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Whip all ingredients together until stiff peaks form.

2-3 cups sliced strawberries


Cut cooled cake into pieces.  Using a trifle bowl place a layer of cake on the bottom.  Spoon on 1/2 of the Nutella mousse. Top with 1/3 of the sliced strawberries.  Add another layer of cake, them the rest of the mousse.  Add another 1/3 of the strawberries.  Add another layer of cake and then top with whipped cream.  I left the last strawberries whole to put on the top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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