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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cookies and Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

These have become a first day of school tradition.  Amazing cookies!  Malted milk powder, oreos, and milk chocolate chips are not pantry staples around here, so they definitely take a little forethought.  But sooooooo worth it!  From Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Makes: 2-4 dozen cookies, depending on size, PREP TIME: 20 MINS COOK TIME: 11 MINS

1 cup (16 tablespoons, 8 ounces) butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups (15 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (5 ounces) malted milk powder or whole milk powder (do not substitute nonfat dry powdered milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
36 to 40 Oreo or other chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped--keep a few (like 1/4 cup in reserve)
2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips (can use semi-sweet, but for this recipe milk chocolate really is superb)

1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or silicone liners.
2 In a large bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar with the paddle attachment until well combined.
3 Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until the color lightens and the batter is fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
4 In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, malted milk powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
5 Fold in the most of Oreos and chocolate chips.
6 Roll the dough into 1 1/2- 2 tablespoon size cookie dough balls.   Sprinkle a few of the chopped oreos on the top of each cookie.  Place them several inches apart on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are golden but the centers are still soft.

Don’t get too eager crushing the Oreo cookies in preparation for the recipe. They should be coarsely chopped – not pulverized – so you can get a nice taste of real, live pieces of Oreo cookie inside the chocolate chip cookie. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

One of our favorite muffins...adapted from this recipe.

 1 cup granulated sugar
 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
 1 cup vegetable oil or (1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup half applesauce)
 3 large eggs
 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can use 1 cup white whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup all-purpose)
 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 2 cups finely grated zucchini
 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray muffin pan wells with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners. 

Grate zucchini fine with a box grater.  Put grated zucchini in a tea towel and wring out excess moisture.   Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the sugars, oil (applesauce), eggs, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in zucchini until it is evenly distributed into the batter. Stir in chocolate chips. Use a cookie scoop to distribute batter amongst the prepared muffin wells. If desired, sprinkle additional mini chocolate chips onto the top of each muffin.

 Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes for mini muffins, 18-22 minutes for full-size.

Notes: Muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, and they freeze well.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wisconsin-Style Potato and Cheddar Soup

Adapted from a blue apron recipe, this has become one of our favorite spring soups perfect for fresh sugar snap peas.

3 T butter
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (about 4)--peeled and medium diced
1 leek--trimmed and small diced
1 1/1 t smoked paprika
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t dried thyme
2 T flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 3/4 cup water
6 ounces yellow cheddar cheese
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and chopped to 1/2 pieces
1 bunch of chives, chopped

1.  Peel and cut the potatoes.  Then cut off and scared the root ends and upper dark-green leaves of the leek.  Talk it lengthwise and rinse thoroughly in between the layers with cold water.  Dice the leek into small pieces.
2.  In a large pot, melt the butter on medium-high heat until hot.  Add the potatoes, leek and spices.  Season with salt and pepper.   Cook, stirring occasionally, 4-6 minutes or until the leek is softened and fragrant.
3.  Meanwhile grate the cheese.
4.  While the vegetables continue to roast, add the flour to the pot and cook stirring constantly 30-45 seconds or until well combined.  Add the water and heavy cream.  Use the liquid to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.  Stir about 1 minute or until well-combined, season with salt and pepper.  Heat to boiling on high.  Once boiling, lower the temperature to medium-high and simmer 11-13 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a paring knife or fork.
5.  While the potatoes cook, cut off and discard the ends of each sugar snap peas.  (Optional: pull off and discard the tough string that runs along the length of the pod.)  Cut the sugar snap peas into 1/2-inch pieces.
6.  When the potatoes are done, turn the heat off.  Then using a fork, mash half of the potatoes against the side of the pot.  Stir to combine.  Turn heat back on and cook on medium-high for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally or until slightly thickened.  Season to taste.
7.  Add the cheese and sugar snap peas to the pot; stir until thoroughly combined.  Garnish with chives.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Quick Creamed Corn

Makes about the same amount as 2 cans of creamed corn that I use in this favorite soup recipe.

32 ounces frozen whole kernel corn (2-16 ounce packages or 4-6 cups of frozen corn)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar salt and pepper to taste

1. Place butter in large skillet over medium heat to melt.
2. Add frozen corn.
3. Stir and continue cooking over medium heat for a few minutes, until mostly thawed.
4. Add in whipping cream and sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent cream from scorching, for ten to fifteen minutes, until corn is cooked through and sauce is thick.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Rice Krispie Treats, with brown butter and vanilla

This our family's favorite rice krispie treat recipe. Browning the butter and adding the vanilla makes them have a little extra je ne sais quoi that makes them irresistible.  Adapted slightly from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
16 ounces large marshmallows or 6 1/4 cup mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch coarse, kosher salt or sea salt
9 cups crisp rice cereal (i.e. Rice Krispies)
Sprinkles (optional)

Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9X13-inch pan. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter on low heat and let it cook until the solids start to turn golden brown and it smells caramelly and fragrant.

Add the marshmallows and cook on low, stirring constantly until essentially all melted.  Add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat.  In a large bowl put half the rice krispies, then scrap in the marshmallow butter mixture, and then add the other half of the cereal.   Stir until evenly combined. Scrape the mixture into the 9x13 pan and using lightly greased spatula, lightly press the mixture into the pan (mashing them too hard and you'll end up with very firm rice krispie treats - so use a gentle hand if you want them chewy).  Add sprinkles on top if desired.  Let cool before slicing into squares.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Classic Brownies

After an extensive side-by-side comparison, this classic brownie was the unanimous favorite brownie for our family.  From Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.  Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it) the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy. If overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.   (Note: this recipe from Smitten Kitchen is amazing and a bit simpler or even try it in mini brownie bites).

1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine 12 tablespoons
(1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 9x13 baking dish carefully with aluminum foil, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges.  Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.)

When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla.

Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter.

Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days, or in the freezer).

Kale Salad with Pecan Parmesan Topping and Lemon Vinaigrette

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.   Ideally the massaged kale and dressing sit for an hour or so, so plan ahead.  But if you make all the dressing and pecan parmesan topping ahead of time it comes together quickly at the end.


12-14 ounces kale (about 2 bunches), stemmed and finely shredded or choppedPinch of sea salt or coarse kosher salt1/4-1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries3-4 slices cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)


3 tablespoons olive oil3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juicePinch coarse black pepperPinch of coarse kosher salt1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey

Pecan Parmesan Topping: 
1/2 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese1 tablespoon olive oil1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

DIRECTIONS For the salad, place the chopped kale in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Rub the salt into the kale for 2-3 minutes. You'll notice the kale starting to soften and darken in color.

For the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients until well-combined. Pour over the salad and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (you can serve it right away but I think it tastes best if the kale and dressing have time to sit for an hour).

For the pecan parmesan topping, pulse the pecans in a blender or food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the Parmesan, olive oil and salt and continue to pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs but not totally smushed.

Add the craisins and bacon to the salad and toss.  Sprinkle the pecan topping over the salad. Serve immediately.

Massaged Kale and Craisin Salad with Feta Cheese

This is a favorite salad adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  The first time massaging Kale was a bit unusual, but it makes all the difference.

6-10oz bag of kale greens, pre-trimmed*
pinch of salt
1/4 cup finely diced red onion, optional
1/4-1/3 cup dried cranberries/craisins (the cherry flavored ones our my favorite)
3/4 cup small-diced apple
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese

 Place the kale in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt over the top and massage it into the kale with your hands for two minutes. You’ll notice the kale start to turn a darker green and the texture of the kale will begin to soften. Toss in the red onions if using, craisins, apples, sunflower seeds, and feta.

Notes:  I love this salad without dressing.  But it's also great with a store-bought white or red vineagreete or make your own.  In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

*If you don't buy pre-trimmed and washed Kale you can prep it the following way for this salad:
 Wash the kale and pat it dry. Slice off the stiff stems below the leaves and continue slicing the stem away from the leaf until you have cut a thin v-shape into the kale leaf and removed the tough stem all the way up. Stack the kale leaves two or three at a time, roll them up, and slice the leaves into thin ribbons.