Monday, December 17, 2012

Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies

**It was one busy weekend in my kitchen!  Between trying to finish the last installment of my Dad's Cookie club and pull together Christmas cookies, it was a whirlwind!  
These cookies are sure to be this year's standout! **

One of my cooking baking philosophies is that food should be "real"

I think you should be able to recite an ingredient list without an advanced degree in bio-chemistry, in less than 45 seconds and without a stomach-ache at the end. 

I try to stick to foods that are homemade and contain five or less ingredients but, I will grudgingly admit that, it doesn't always happen.

These cookies are hands down better than other creme filled sandwich cookie you could find on a store shelf.  And you can recite the ingredients (and directions!) in less than five minutes!

Homemade Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies
(slightly adapted from Food Network)
(makes 3 dozen sandwiches)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate 4squares)
2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted PLUS
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
4 ounces sweet butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 eggs 

Microwave chocolate in 30 second intervals until smooth and melted (this took approx: 90 seconds)
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In mixing bowl, cream the butter,  vanilla and sugar, and beat to mix well. Add the melted chocolate, and beat until incorporated. Then add the  milk and the egg, and beat to mix well. On low speed add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beating only until incorporated.
Place the dough on a piece of wax paper, fold the sides of the paper over the dough, and press down on the paper to flatten the dough to a 1" thickness.
Wrap in the waxed paper and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (no longer or the dough will crack when you roll it out). (However, if you do refrigerate it for longer (even overnight) let it stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before rolling it out.)
Preheat oven to 400. Halve the dough (this will make it easier!)
Line cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper. 
With a floured rolling pin (which should be refloured frequently to avoid sticking), roll the dough out until it is only 1/8" thick (thin). Use a cookie cutter the cookies as close to each other as possible.
Place the cookies 1/2" apart on the baking sheet. 
Leftover pieces of the dough should be pressed together and rerolled.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until the cookies feel almost firm to the touch. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely before assembling
Peppermint Butter Cream Frosting
1 stick butter
3 ¾ cup powder sugar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1-2 tablespoon milk

In a large bowl with electric mixer at low speed, combine sugar, butter, milk and peppermint. Beat at medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until creamy. If desired, add more milk until frostIng is spreading consistency.

Candy Cane Garnish
4-6 crushed candy canes

After cookies have cooled, spread a small amount of frosting on each half of cookie.  Press cookie halves together and lightly roll the edges in the crushes candycane.  Serve with an ice cold glass of milk (or hot cup of coffee).  And hope at least one gets saved for Santa!!!!


These peppermint blossom cookies are another favorite of mine.  Jessica has the recipe but my only suggestion is to freeze the kiss, put it in the center of the cookie as soon as you take it out of the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to cooling rack)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Italian Bread Soup

When I first saw this soup recipe I was a little confused.

Bread? Soup? (And no it's not in a bread bowl!)

But I like tomatoes and I LOVE croutons so I figured I'd give it a go.

This soup smells delicious and tastes even better!

The bread absorbs most of the moisture and thickens up the soup.

This soup is light but filling on it's own or could be paired with chicken or salad for a heartier appetite.

Italian Bread Soup
(from Sandra Lee) 
(serves 4)

2 cans (14 ounces each) reduced sodium chicken broth

4 cans (14.5 ounce each) fire roasted diced tomatoes
3 cups Caesar-style croutons
1 cup frozen chopped onion
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese 

 In a 4 quart slow cooker, combine chicken broth, undrained tomatoes, croutons, onion, and salad dressing mix. Cook on High for 4 to 6 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 


(Notes: while the soup was delicious and easily reheated, I do not recommend freezing it.  Can be made vegetarian by subbing vegetable broth)
(Also, I apologize for the lack of photos... camera incident :/)

Monday, December 3, 2012

On the Go: Egg Muffins

This recipe was the result of extreme laziness.  

Let me explain. 

First, I saw a similar pin on Pinterest sometime last Spring (probably when I was supposed to be writing a paper and yet, I never actually pinned it...  double the laziness)

Secondly, I love Starbucks Spinach Egg White Wraps.  But couldn't the fathom the idea of walking 3 minutes to get one.

So, instead I figured I'd just whip up my own spinach and egg combination.  Oh yes, there's feta too... it makes everything "bet-a"   (and also lost any lazy points previously scored)

This literally took less than 3 minutes to whip up and after 20minutes, breakfast was served (and leftovers saved for the future)

These would be the ideal recipe to make on a Sunday morning and then saved for the rest of the week 
(or made ahead for a brunch (with easy cleanup) so you (and the kids) can have a healthy and hearty breakfast.

On the Go: Spinach and Feta Egg Muffins
(inspired by Pinterest; produced by Laziness)
(makes 6 muffins)

5oz package frozen spinach 
2oz fat free crumbled feta
5 eggs


Preheat oven to 350*

Defrost spinach in the microwave, approximately for 2 minutes.  Drain water. (I used a fine mesh strainer and also patted with a paper towel)

While spinach is defrosting, crack eggs and scramble with milk.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Mix in spinach and equally pour into muffin tin.  Bake for 20 mins. Let cool and either freeze or refrigerate for future lazy mornings.  

(Note: this recipe is easily doubled just use one or two less eggs than muffins needed.  However, extra egg mixture can be scrambled up and enjoyed that way as well)


Sunday, December 2, 2012

CrockPot Italian Chicken

This is one of my favorite CrockPot recipes.

As I've said before I love the CrockPot for being able to set it before a long day and being able to come home after the long day to a hot and delicious meal. 

This recipe is perfect to tailor to your own taste.  Prefer green beans? Toss 'em in.  At the CrockPot party, everyone is welcome!

Crockpot Italian Chicken
(from Sandra Lee)
(Serves 6)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of Italian salad dressing
1 package of Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
1 (8oz) package of fresh sliced mushrooms
1 (28oz) can of peeled whole tomatoes (drained)
1 (10.75oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1 (10oz) package of frozen artichokes 


In the crockpot add the mushrooms, artichokes, peeled whole tomatoes, and vegetable soup mix. Combine the cream of chicken soup, and the italian salad dressing in a bowl and mix until well blended. Add the chicken to the crockpot and pour the soup and dressing sauce overtop of the chicken to coat it. 
Cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours.  


(I had a few issues with my camera/upload/accidentally deleting all my pics... please forgive the lack of pictures!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Make Cereal: A guest post

I present my first guest blogger: Patrick.

I've known Patrick for 10+ years.  He's a pretty cool kid (awesome baseball/basketball player!)  and supports (/endures?) all my cooking adventures (including this blog!)

While this is Patrick's speciality, you can guarantee that all cookies, on this blog, have been taste tested (and approved) by Patrick!

(by ME.){Patrick.}

Step 0: Make sure you have your favorite cereal.

Step 1: Get a bowl, spoon, cereal and milk.

Step 2: Pour cereal in bowl.

Step 3: Add milk

Step 4: Enjoy! (OR DIE.).




---Thanks, Patrick!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper "Sauce"

This sat on my "Must Make" board since I first joined Pinterest.

For over a year, that poor recipe just hung on, collecting virtual dust.

I finally bit the bullet, a few weeks back, and quickly made it.  Seriously, quick. Less than 20minutes from start to in my belly.

I like quick recipes.

It was just as good as I was hoping and my only suggestion would be to use warm peppers.  The sauce was cool and the gnocchi hot and I think hot sauce, hot gnocchi would've been a million times better.

(disclaimer, I do not have a microwave... that would've been too obvious a solution!)

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
(from How Sweet)

1 jar roasted red peppers
3 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
4-5 basil leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4-5 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor , combine garlic, cheese, basil, salt, pepper and peppers.  Puree then add olive oil until smooth.

Serve over your favorite pasta or meat. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Black and White Cookies

These cookies were my Dad's October edition of his Cookie of the Month Club.

I think I've mentioned before that my Dad's Christmas gift (for 2011) was a batch of homemade cookies delivered once a month.  It's been fun for me because I get to try/create new recipes and he gets to try/enjoy my creations!

The month tends to have a theme and this them was Halloween.  Black and White translating to x-rays/skeletons.

I made a Halloween theme note (complete with word plays "boo-tiful, "spook-tacular" and, my favorite, de-"fright"ful) and tried my hardest to impress the man.

(I'll admit... this was a stretch and not my most creative.. oh well!)

Black and White Cookies
(makes 3 dozen)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375*

In your mixer, combine butter and sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs until incorporated.  
In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa and baking soda.  In small batches (3 or 4) add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.

Stir in white chocolate chips.

Drop onto lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to cooling rack and let cool for, at least, 20 minutes.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Moroccan Squash Soup

This is one of my favorite soups

Not only does it make the whole house smell warm and delicious but

 The flavors go nicely together 
and it's the perfect soup for crisp, cool, fall days.

The spices can be adjusted to create for a milder or more intense soup suitable for the whole family.

And you can easily make it vegetarian/vegan if you swap vegetable broth for the chicken broth. 

Moroccan Squash Soup
(serves 6-8)

2 lbs butternut squash (halved, seeded and roasted 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium chopped onions
1 tsp black pepper
salt (to taste)
5 large chopped garlic cloves
1/2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, ginger and all spice
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 sweet/tart apple (honeycrisp works best!) cored and chopped
28 oz chicken broth
3 cups water
juice of one lemon


Roast squash, insides down, on a baking sheet at 400* for one hour.  Let cool.

While cooling,
In a 6qt pot heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, once warmed stir onion, pepper and salt until onions are browned.  Stir in garlic, spices, apple and sautée an addtional 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

Scoop squash into pan. Add broth and water and simmer on medium high for 20minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. 
(you can also pour, in small batches, in blender and blend until smooth)

Stir in lemon juice before serving.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

These granola bars are a "healthier" version of last weeks cookies.

(and also a Max favorite!)

These came out of the oven and the "cool time" was barely tolerable.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
(makes about a dozen bars)

3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8 by 8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk oats, spices, and salt together. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist. Stir in chocolate chips. Evenly press oat mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The pumpkin keeps the bars moist, so make sure they are golden and set-you don't want them to be under baked.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. 

 Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Remove from pan and let cool completely.
These bars are NOT going to last long...


Monday, October 15, 2012

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

I know. I know. I know.

Another PUMPKIN recipe. 

I think there is one more and then I'm done...


And to be honest, I didn't even TOUCH pumpkin until 2009!

And it was a fluke. 

But, like most flukes, it was wonderful and now I can barely keep my hands away!

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

(adapted Taste of Home)
(serves 10)
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

 In a large skillet, saute turkey breast until mostly cook. Add in the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Transfer to crockpot and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!!

I apologize (but not really) for the "All Fall All the Time" posts

These cookies are the epitome of fall. 

At least in mine and Max's opinion!

I first introduced these cookies to Max last fall and at least once a month he asks that we make these cookies.

These cookies are soft, moist and full of warm fall-y flavors.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from How Sweet)
(makes about 3 dozen)

1 1/2 sticks melted (and cooled) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour, salt, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stir in pumpkin butter until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to help at one point. Fold chocolate chips and chunks.

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, then roll into golfball-sized balls.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are crisp and slightly golden on the edges, then let cool completely.

Grab your favorite cookie monster and a glass of milk and...


(ps you can now follow me on Twittter "@thatgirlbakes"!!!)

Monday, October 1, 2012


I love apples.  

Growing up, I swear, every year we took a trip to an apple orchard and spent a week  learning about apples (in particular graphing our favorite type of apples). 

While I may not have snuck off to an orchard for fresh apples, I am grateful that the grocery store sells apples and suggests what type of apples are best for cooking.

(makes 2 cups)

10 medium apples (I used Gala) washed
1/4 c water
1 tablespoon cinnamon


Peel, core and chop apples and place in large pan over medium heat.  Add water and bring apples to a boil. (Watch apples so they don't burn!!) Once apples are soft, use a immersion blender (or potato masher) to puree apples to desired consistency.  Remove from pan and place in serving dish and sprinkle with cinnamon and allow time to cool. 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes

I don't think it's any big secret that I LOVE tomatoes.

I like them in caprese dishes

I like them all sauced up.

And I also love roasting my veggies.

Roasted (grape) tomatoes become sweet, juicy and the perfect compliment to a steak dinner.

Roasted Tomatoes with Feta
(serves 4)

2C grape tomatoes (rinsed and dried)
4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp garlic (minced)
salt and pepper

1/4C feta

Preheat oven to 400*

In a large baking dish arrange tomatoes in a single layer.  Toss with olive oil to coat and season with garlic, salt and pepper. 

Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until tomatoes start to burst. 

Remove from oven and, using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to serving dish. Top with feta and serve immediately!

(note: why the slotted spoon? the tomatoes will continue to create their own sauce, so I think it's best to drain the tomatoes originally)