Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lemon Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

What do you do when you're craving cookies and something tart at the same time? You make these lemon cookies with white chocolate chips from Jamie Cooks It Up! Then you feel thankful that the world has lemons and white chocolate chips in it.

I love this recipe even more because it uses boxed lemon cake mix as the base, which makes it incredibly easy and quick, not to mention delicious. It also makes a lot of cookies, so I'll be sending a big plateful of these to work with Hubby. I hope cops like lemon cookies as much as they like coffee! (And they LOVE their coffee; I think we've actually spent enough money at Starbucks to buy one of their locations, and Hubby's only been a cop for about three years . . . )
Update: We decided that the white chocolate chips made these cookies a little too sweet, so we cut them out and added the zest from 2 lemons. The updated cookies were delicious. I think I will add a lemony glaze next time, but Hubby swears they are perfect as is. Either way: yum!

Lemon Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

2 boxes lemon cake mix
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or 1 1/2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice)
1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips, divided
Powdered sugar and white melting chocolate, optional
Preheat oven to 350º. Add melted butter to the cake mixes and stir. Batter will still be dry.
Add eggs one at a time and mix.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice and add it to the batter. (Or use 1 1/2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.) Mix until combined.
Add all but 1/2 cup of the white chocolate chips and mix to incorporate evenly.
Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-11 minutes (mine took 11 minutes). Be careful not to over bake.
Take the cookies out of the oven when they have cracked on the top and allow them to finish cooking for 2 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Optional topping: Melt remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and drizzle on top of the cookies. Dust with powdered sugar. (We opted not to do this, as we found the cookies to be sweet enough without the topping.) Topping or not, enjoy these pretty little cookies!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This is my new favorite soup of all time. We ate this for dinner and then I had some for a snack later and a small bowl for breakfast this morning. I don't even feel guilty either. Although Hubby isn't going to be happy when he wakes up and finds out there is only a tiny bit left . . .
I found this soup recipe on Pennies on a Platter and I'm so glad I did. In case you couldn't tell, I found this to be delicious. It isn't the healthiest soup, but that just means you shouldn't make it too often. Then when you do, it's a great treat! Unfortunately, I started cooking late (hence the dark photos-darn winter!) and didn't have time to let the potatoes cook through before Hubby had to eat before work, so they were a little crunchy. My second and third helpings were perfect, however, so I recommend boiling your peeled and chopped potatoes first. 

This will also be my second entry into Branny Boils Over's Charity Souper Bowl. This one is also dedicated to my two boys, Gus and Joey! Here they are when they were both little. Gus (the golden) is now 1 year and 3 months and Joey (the springer) is 7 months. They definitely keep us busy!
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups of milk
4 large or 6 medium baking potatoes, peeled, cubed, and cooked through (bake, boil, or microwave)
4 green onions, sliced and more for garnish
12 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (we mince ours in a blender)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk to create a roux.
Add milk, one cup at a time, whisking as you go. Stir until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Add the potatoes.
Stir in the onions.
Add salt, pepper, and garlic salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in bacon.
Add cheese and sour cream and stir until the cheese is melted.
Adjust seasonings as needed and enjoy!

Breakfast Egg "Muffins"

Do you ever have one of those "ah-ha" moments that leaves you feeling excited and smart? I had one of those when I thought these up a few days ago. I'm sure someone else has already done them, but still. These were good. And I thought of them! Not that this recipe is anything spectacular, but making eggs yummy is something I pride myself on, especially since Hubby loves eggs. He actually got out of bed before noon (he works nights-he's not just lazy) to eat these (granted, once he was finished, he went right back to bed, but still!) and I enjoyed them myself. I especially like the variety of ways these can be changed. A few days later we made them non-scrambled:
You could also add in mushrooms, ham, bacon, broccoli, different cheese, any leftovers, etc.

Breakfast Egg "Muffins"

1 slice of bread for 2 muffin tins
Eggs (if scrambling, use 1 less than the number of muffins you're making: so if you're making 6 muffins, use 5 eggs)
Butter spray
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheese
Sliced green onions
Any other toppings of your choice
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. Cut a circle out of a slice of bread (I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup . . . and hmm, water spots much?) and press it into the bottom of a muffin cup.
Tear out the rest of the soft part of the slice of bread and press it into the bottom of a second muffin cup. Repeat for as many muffin as you'd like to make.
Scramble your eggs with a small pinch of salt and a generous sprinkle of pepper (we're big pepper fans, so add to your taste). Spoon egg into the muffin cups until about 3/4 of the way full.
Add your toppings.
Bake at 350º for 20 minutes or until the muffins puff up and the egg is cooked through.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jalapeño Popper Dip

It's all about football in our house on this overcast Sunday. Hubby got up early to watch the Packers and Bears play, but he will miss the Steelers and Jets game later because he has to go to work. He's a huge Steelers fan, so Hubby isn't happy he has to go to work and miss his team play. Frankly, I couldn't care less about the Packers/Bears game, but after watching the Dennis Byrd clip on Sportscenter this morning, I'm rooting for the Jets. Hubby isn't happy about this, so I made him jalapeño popper dip to appease him a little bit. I think he's forgotten all his anger, as right now he's got a bit of dip on his chin . . . Happy football day!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
5 jalapeños, seeded and diced (or sub two 4-ounce cans of diced jalapeños, drained)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400º. Stir together sour cream, cream cheese, and mayo in a large bowl until combined.
Finely chop jalapeños.
Add green chilies and jalapeños to cream cheese mixture and stir.
Add Panko and parmesan cheese in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Pour cream cheese mixture into an oven safe dish.
Sprinkle Panko mixture on top.
Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, then put it under the broiler for 1-3 minutes to brown the top.
Serve with chips, pita chips, crackers, veggies, and bread. Enjoy!

Black Bean Mac & Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese. I prefer to make it myself or I ramp up the blue box stuff by adding sharp cheddar, black pepper, and ground mustard and topping it with breadcrumbs before sticking it under the broiler. It's a quick fix for my constant cheese cravings, but I usually feel guilty after I eat it. There's not much in the way of health benefits to gooey cheese and pasta. But when you add black beans, well, the guilt factor definitely goes down! I was terrified as I was adding the black beans to this. I kept thinking I was messing up my yummy mac & cheese. But it ended up being really yummy! I won't always make my mac this way, but I will occasionally add some hot sauce, black beans, and cilantro to my blue box mac.

Black Bean Mac & Cheese

1 box of mac and cheese (or make your own)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon of hot sauce (or to taste)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped cilantro for topping

Make the mac according to the package directions. Turn the burner to low, stir in shredded cheddar and allow to melt. Meanwhile, heat your drained and rinsed black beans in the microwave until warmed through (a minute and a half should do it). Add hot sauce to the mac. Gently stir in black beans. Serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

I love all things cinnamon. For me, the sweetness of sugar isn't necessarily a craveable thing, but the bite of cinnamon is something I physically need. Seriously. And go figure, I would desperately crave cinnamon when the hubby is sick, so I spent most of second half of the day baking this cake while he was in bed moaning and groaning about his tummy. (I say that like he's being a big baby because I like to tease him, but really Hubby is a trooper when he's sick.) Anyway, back to the food. This cake is rich, completely unhealthy, and very yummy. I think my only change would be to the basic cinnamon frosting I made for it. Next time, I will use a cream cheese glaze so that the frosting doesn't overpower the cake.
Oh, I used my Nana's bundt pan to make this recipe.
I had an overwhelming sense of her being tickled to see me use it, just like I feel whenever I use one of her old pans. She would be so happy to see me cooking like I am! And she would have loved some of these recipes. I miss her so much.
Cinnamon Swirl Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar

Cinnamon frosting:
2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar for the swirl and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition.
Stir in vanilla.
Add in sour cream and flour mixture, a little at a time. Mix just enough to fully incorporate the flour.
Spread half the batter into into the prepared bundt pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture into the pan, leaving only a small amount for the top.
*Next time I will sprinkle a small amount of the cinnamon mixture into the bottom of the bundt pan first and then add the rest to the middle, as the bottom of the bundt pan is actually the top of the cake.
Add the rest of the batter.
Top with any remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting the pan.
For the frosting: Cream together butter, sifted confectioner's sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Add in milk, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Beat until fluffy. Top the warm cake with frosting and serve.
This is also delicious heated up with your morning coffee! Enjoy!