Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baked Lemon Chicken with Potatoes & Sage

I got this recipe from Tara, when I participated in a recent "recipe exchange." I was excited because I don't usually get any recipes from these sorts of things, and because this recipe sounds fabulous.

Be sure to have everything ready before you start handling the chicken (plus a little extra), or you're going to be washing your hands a lot. Put the salt, pepper, olive oil in small bowls, juice your lemons, cut your potatoes, just get everything ready to go.

My sage plant has not fared well in the house this winter, but I managed to get about a dozen leaves. I ended up doubling the chicken and throwing in a couple extra potatoes so we'd have leftovers. I am very optimistic about this recipe! (I didn't use the artichoke hearts this time)

I assembled the dish ahead of time, covered with foil and put it in the refrigerator. After we get home from school today, I will be able to throw it in the oven (thereby saving loads of prep time and having dinner on time on a school night!)

The chicken is tangy and flavorful; we will definitely be making it again. The sauce was a little strong, the leftovers are delicious too. The boys didn't like the chicken that first night (too sour), but did enjoy a chicken leg heated in foil on our Christmas Eve campfire.

I do have a few notes about the dish:
- prepping ahead caused some of the potatoes to have brown spots, so don't make this ahead too far.
- Next time I will only use about 3 lemons--it went beyond tangy to sour. And I'm excited to try the artichoke addition!
- Leftovers MUST be reheated to mellow out that sauce.

All in all, I'd label it a success. And it's easy too! Thanks, Tara!!

Lemony Chicken & Potatoes
(ignore the brown spots; I assembled the dish too early!)

Baked Lemon Chicken with Potatoes & Sage

Tara says, "I love this dish, and it is really simple. I'm going to try and recite it from memory."

chicken thighs and drumsticks (6 of each?) with the skin is fine, and probably best for flavor *(I used two packages each thighs and drumsticks, and a huge roasting pan!)
plenty of olive oil
5 large lemons *(I will only use 3 lemons next time)
fresh sage
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
6 large Yukon Gold potatoes

1.) preheat the oven (bake at 375 or so)

2.) rinse all the raw chicken, then hand rub each piece with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice squeezed from the lemons.

3.) Do the same thing with the potatoes, after you cut the potatoes in fourths. hand-rubbing them really makes a difference.

4.) Place the saturated potatoes and chicken pieces in a large rectangular pyrex baking dish.

5.) squeeze any remaining lemon juice from the lemons over the dish, and then cut them up and tuck between potatoes and chicken.

6.) take fresh sage leaves and dip in juices and place within the dish between the pieces of potatoes and chicken.

7.) lightly salt and pepper the surface of the contents of the dish.

8.) for extra flavor, add a jar of marinated artichoke hearts and pour the juice from the jar into the pyrex with the rest.

Bake this dish (covered with foil) in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, until chicken is cooked and potatoes are soft. sometimes it is nice to let the dish cook for a little bit with the foil off at the end, to crisp the edges of everything. If you think the chicken will be overcooked, skip this step.

When done, you should have tangy flavorful potatoes and tender lemony chicken! This dish is especially wonderful on the second day as leftovers, when the potatoes have absorbed the juices.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beef Wellington

I pulled the recipe for this from
I'll be back with the recipe and helpful hints I found surfing the internet which went into making this an incredible, aromatic, delectable and impressive dish.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grow Your Own Sprouts!

2nd batch, Clover Sprouts

I've read about how easy it is to grow your own sprouts, and how delicious, but I'd never tried until now! (and now we are hooked!)

I was searching on for plastic lids for canning jars for our sourdough because the one we had broke. I ran across this strainer lid for growing sprouts. (Although you don't really need a strainer lid if you have cheesecloth, which you can secure with the ring from a canning jar lid). I didn't have any cheesecloth, so I added the strainer lid to my order, along with a sampler pack of Organic Sprouting Seeds!

I did have a large canning jar around, so I was all set there. When the seeds arrived-- 2.5 pounds with 10 different varieties--I let the boys pick which kind they wanted to try first. H-Bomb promptly chose the 5 Part Salad Mix, which contains alfalfa, radish, mung bean, lentil and broccoli seeds. Yum!

I placed 2 tablespoons of the seed mix in my quart jar and covered with 8 tablespoons of warm (not hot) water, and let soak overnight.

The next morning, I drained the seeds, rinsed them and drained them again. I swirled the jar gently to help the seeds separate and coat the sides of the jar, laid the jar on its side and covered it with a towel on the counter.

The recommendations for rinsing vary wildly, so I just followed the instructions on the package, which says "Sprouts MUST be RINSED and DRAINED WELL 2 to 3 times per day during the growing period." They're pretty serious about it, the capitalization is right there like that on the package. Who am I to presume anything different?

I grew my sprouts in this manner for 3 days, keeping track on the calendar because this was the first batch. After that, there were sprouts! They needed to be exposed to light for 3 to 5 hours to develop the green color, then rinsed in a large bowl of cool water to remove the hulls. I covered the sprouts with cold water, then pressed the sprouts down while I removed the floating hulls with a spoon. After that, you can grab the sprouts out of the water, piling them in a colander to drain (and leaving any unsprouted seeds at the bottom of the bowl).

Store sprouts in an air tight container in the refrigerator and rinse 2-3 times per day to maintain freshness. And that's it!

We have already made the 5-part Salad Mix, a batch of Clover Sprouts, and are now on Green Lentil sprouts! It is so fun to see the seeds actually sprouting. As soon as one batch is ready to eat, we get another batch growing. So far we've only needed to grow one jar at a time, but I could see growing two jars of sprouts when the boys get older.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thick & Hearty Chicken Cheese Soup

I saved this recipe from a package of canned chicken breast from Costco. I knew it would come in handy for a quick meal! Really you could use any kind of cooked chicken instead.

You should have just about everything for this meal right in your pantry or refrigerator, so it's easy to throw together. The thing that takes the most time, honestly, is grating carrots, but you don't have to do that many.

The soup is actually thick and hearty! H-Bomb loved it, Sawed Off was having a bread night (but ate a few bites of soup too). I thought it was good for a last-minute weeknight kind of soup. Very fast.

Thick & Hearty Chicken Cheese Soup
probably serves about 4

1 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 (250 ml-10 3/4 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (350 ml-12.5 ounce) can Kirkland Signature Chunk Breast of Chicken
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium saucepan, cook carrots and green onion in hot butter about 10 minutes or until tender but not browned. Stir in flour. Slowly add milk, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in chicken and cheese. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese melts. Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


After several recent mediocre attempts to use red lentils to make a curried lentil soup, I ran across this recipe, which is not too different from the lentil soup that was in my repertoire as a teenage cook. This easy recipe uses the cheaper, mud-colored lentils, and I love the resulting soup. I believe I could eat it weekly during the cold months of the year.

James Beard's Creamy Lentil Soup (slightly modified)

1 pound lentils, rinsed

2 quarts ham or vegetable broth

1 bone-in ham steak, weighing ¾ to 1 pound

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 small onion)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ cup heavy whipping cream

Minced parsley



1. Put the lentils in 4- or 5-quart soup pot with broth and bone cut out of ham steak. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until the lentils are very soft, at least 1 hour.

2. Remove ham bone. Put the lentils through a food mill or process with a blender or food processor, leaving some lentils as is.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, and nutmeg.

5. Simmer for another 20 minutes.  If soup is too thick, add water or broth to get desired consistency.

6. Meanwhile, finely chop ham; you likely will have 1 ½ to 2 cups of ham.

7. Add ham to pot and simmer soup for another 5 minutes.

8. Add whipping cream and simmer soup another 5 minutes.

9. Taste soup and adjust seasoning if desired.

10. Garnish each serving with parsley and croutons.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Irish Potato Candy

I have no idea whether or not this is a traditional recipe. When H-Bomb brought home his homework this week, there was a note to us parents telling us that the second grade would be having an International Fair on Friday (this Friday!) and asking us to send something to share about our family heritage or culture.

Although I am of mostly Irish decent, all I really know how to make is Corned Beef & Cabbage. Not exactly a favorite of 2nd graders. H-Bomb suggested I make my Artisan Bread for his class, "because I love it" he said. Until I ran across this recipe for Potato Candy, and H-Bomb and I decided it sounded good, and he thought it was funny that you use cocoa to make the candy look dirty. He will use the potato-shaped candy to illustrate the story of the potato famine which brought many of our ancestors to North America.

Unfortunately I did have to leave out the Irish whiskey, since I'm sending it to a classroom full of second graders. And mostly Mormon second graders at that! I also had to leave out the nuts due to nut allergies.

H-Bomb reported that his classmates liked the candy! It actually tastes quite good.

Irish Potato Candy

This is a no-bake coconut and cream cheese confection shaped by hand to look just like a potato!

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 package cream cheese (use 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey
4 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
chopped nuts

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla, whiskey and confectioners' sugar; beat until smooth.

Mix in the coconut (use hands if necessary) Roll into potato shapes. Roll each "potato" in cinnamon to coat, then press in pieces of chopped nuts to look like eyes. Dust with cocoa to simulate dirt.Place onto a cookie sheet and chill to set.

Friday, December 10, 2010


This recipe is for my father-in-law, who recently tried raita at our favorite Indian restaurant. Perhaps for the first time? Anyway, I told him it's easy to make at home.

I've made this many times over the years, the recipe comes from the Moosewood Cookbook. I am going to disagree with Mollie just a tad: cucumber and onion are not optional, Molls. No way. I do like that you are free to play around with spices and additions until you figure out what strikes your fancy.

So here we go.

Preparation time: just a few minutes
Yield: 2 cups (serves 6)

"One of the many condiments served in a traditional Indian meal, raita is a yogurt preparation with small amounts of seasoning and a hint of minced or grated fresh vegetables. It is designed to cool and relax the palate in between bites of heavier, more intensely seasoned dishes. Serve raita with any curry, or with samosas...This can be put together in just minutes.

Note: For a deeper flavor, the cumin and optional fennel seeds can be lightly toasted first. Cook them without oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about a minute, or until they give off a toasty aroma."

2 cups plain yogurt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small cucumber (about 5 inches long), peeled, seeded and minced or grated
1/4 cup finely minced onion
salt and cayenne, to taste

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS (add some or all):
1 small ripe tomato, diced
1/2 cup finely minced bell pepper (any color)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

Combine everything in a small bowl and mix gently. Cover tightly, and refrigerate until serving time.

Taste & Create: Partner List!

Here is the Taste & Create partner list! The year-end T&C is always fun, because it spans two whole months! The holidays are upon us, celebrate with Taste & Create!

Please remember to submit your creations to Nicole's Taste & Create website by January 24th, 2011!

If you have any questions or problems, check out the How it Works page, or please feel free to email me (at
cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com) or Nicole (at
tasteandcreate [at] rezimo [dot] com).

Hope your holidays are fabulous! Can't wait to see what you create!

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy & Always Eat on the Good China

Eat Laugh Love & No Reason Needed

Dragon Musings & Chillies and Lime

Behold the Metatron & For the Love of Food

Louanne's Kitchen
& Seduce Your Tastebuds

Study Food & The Bad Girl's Kitchen

A Bolder Table & Searching for Spice

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Maple Scotch

There is something so seasonal about sipping maple scotch on cold nights. I plan to have some in stock all winter. Here's how I made it...

In a non-reactive sauce pan, bring the following to a boil:
  • 1 cup pure (bottled, filtered) water
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar (you can buy some at Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (use a little less if you want it less sweet)
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 6 or 7 whole allspice berries
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
I boiled the allspice berries and caraway seeds in a reusable herb sack to keep them all together.

Boil this mixture until the sugar dissolves. Then let it cool completely before combining a 750ml bottle of scotch with the maple mixture. I used Ballantine's and poured it into two different Ball jars, adding 2 cinnamon sticks to the smaller jar just to experiment. In the larger jar, I kept the seed sack to allow the flavors to blend.

This will be ready to drink in a couple weeks, but the longer it sits, the better. You also might want to remove the cinnamon sticks after a couple weeks to avoid making it too cinnaminy.


One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. Or Cakes

**Updated with Layer Cake and Sheet Cake Variations below!!!**

What do you do when you're craving chocolate cupcakes? You make these! The recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.

Deliciously decadent and easy to whip up, you can have cupcakes in an hour. I ended up with 26 regular cupcakes and also 24 mini cupcakes! Frosted with my favorite Buttercream Frosting, this time I used vanilla for the frosting instead of coconut...I also considered almond extract.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen
This recipe is extremely versatile. We love to use it for cupcakes, but it makes an equally impressive layer or sheet cake; either is a perfect choice for kids' birthday parties.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 batch Buttercream Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Into the bowl of an electric mixer, pour flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Using the paddle attachment, add the eggs and yolk, the milk, oil and vanilla, and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool slightly, then remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on racks. Frost cupcakes generously with Buttercream Frosting, swirling to cover. Cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Layer Cake variation: Coat two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper; spray parchment. Set aside. Follow instructions for One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, dividing batter between the prepared pans. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 30 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes, and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the cake layers to make level. Place one layer on a cake plate, and spread 2/3 cup buttercream on top. Place other cake layer on top. Spread entire cake with remaining buttercream, swirling to cover completely.

Sheet Cake Variation:
Butter a 13-by-9-inch pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess. Follow instructions for One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, transferring batter to the prepared pan. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Frost as desired.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Carrot-Mushroom Loaf

I found this recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook (I have both the first edition and the revised 15th anniversary edition). This comes from the 15th anniversary edition.

If you're wondering why a cattle ranch household would be serving a vegetarian dish, there are several reasons. We like to mix it up, and this sounded good. Especially when you have just come home from a stock-up trip to Costco with 10 pounds of organic carrots that you just couldn't resist. So, there you have it.

It seems like Mollie's recipes are chronically underestimating the assembly time. Even having a precious assistant like Sawed Off (age 4) to help put carrots in the food processor, peel onions when my eyes were burning and chop mushrooms (I'm so proud!), it sort of seemed like this took forever to assemble. I used the food processor for the bread crumbs, carrots and cheese, as suggested. I also used it for the onions. I honestly can't say what took so long, or even how long it took. It just seemed like much longer than 30 minutes, Mollie. That's all I'm saying.

I took a couple liberties with the recipe. I added an extra egg because I felt like it needed another egg. Perhaps this was because after processing the last of our artisan bread, I had less than half the required bread crumbs, so I used oatmeal. Sawed Off, the little genius, suggested that I make "oatmeal crumbs" with the food processor, so I did. (*I use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs in my meat loaf too) I also used more butter with the onions and mushrooms. I felt like I had to.

I topped the loaf with a bit of cheese, some dill, a few sesame seeds. I made it early in the day, so I simply covered it with aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator. This made it quick to pull out and toss in the oven before dinner, leaving time to make a salad, maybe have a glass of wine.

So, the recipe isn't very photogenic, plus we had a dinner guest and we were busy talking. No picture this time, but there will definitely be a next time! Everyone loved this dish! Stay tuned...

Carrot-Mushroom Loaf
30 minutes to assemble; 45 minutes to bake Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A food processor fitted with the grating attachment makes short work of this casserole. Use it first to make the bread crumbs, then to grate both the carrots and the cheese--without cleaning it in between.

You can use store-bought bread crumbs, but homemade ones will make this dish taste exceptional. To make superb bread crumbs, the trick is to use superb bread.

Note: Once baked, this casserole can be frozen. It reheats beautifully.

2 cups minced onion
1 tablespoon butter (I used at least 2 tablespoons)
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon dill
3 to 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds carrots, grated (about 6 cups)
2 cups superb bread crumbs (I used about half bread crumbs and half "oatmeal crumbs")
1 cup (packed) grated cheddar
2 eggs, beaten (I used 3 eggs)
black pepper, to taste

Optional toppings:
extra dill, cheese, bread crumbs; a sprinkling of sesame seeds; any, some or all

Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, sauté onions in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt, herbs, and garlic, and continue to sauté for about 10 more minutes.

In a large bowl, combine carrots, bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, and pepper. Add the sautéed mixture and mix well. Spread into the prepared pan and sprinkle with your choice of toppings. Cover the pan with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes covered, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more. Serve hot or warm.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Graham Cracker Crust

Support the slow-food movement: Make your own pie crusts. In this case, I'm not suggesting that you make your own graham crackers, simply that you don't buy premade traditional or graham cracker crusts. Both are so easy and quick to make. Here's a recipe for the graham cracker crust that I use when I make key lime pie.

Wendy's Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs; sugar; cinnamon, if using; and melted butter until well blended.

2. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Bake in 375°F. oven for 7 minutes. Cool before filling.

NOTE: Will need about 44 small graham cracker rectangles.
Rumor has it that crust need not be baked but simply can be chilled for 1 hour before filling.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Biscuits & Gravy

Although you can use any biscuits you'd like for this ultimate comfort food meal, I'd recommend MaryJane's Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits. If you have no sourdough starter, you could make some. Here are recipes for two starters that we use: Virgil and Horatio. (yes, they have names)

But if you don't feel like waiting for the starter to develop, you could always whip up a batch of my Baking Powder Biscuits. (a recipe I've held onto since Eighth Grade Home-Ec.)

Once you decide on the biscuits, and have them baking, you're ready to start on the gravy. For this recipe, we adapted a Milk Gravy recipe from Betty Crocker's Country Favorites to include sausage. YUM.

(photo coming soon!)

Number One's Sausage Gravy

1 pound sausage (we use Jimmy Dean's, Regular or Sage)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk

Brown sausage; do not drain. You should have at least 1/4 cup drippings, add some oil if needed.

Stir in flour and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly to loosen any brown particles from skillet, until smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Slowly pour milk into skillet, stirring constantly. Heat to boiling over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Serve over biscuits, with freshly ground pepper to taste.

MaryJane's Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits

Lovely and golden brown, these biscuits are light and flaky and delicious. Eat them plain, with butter, or under a generous amount of Number One's Sausage Gravy.

*Picture coming soon!*

MaryJane's Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits

yield: about 12 biscuits

2 cups flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (about 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar + milk to make 1/2 cup)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 medium egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix together flour, sea salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Blend in butter with a pastry cutter or fork. Add buttermilk and sourdough starter. Mix well, until soft dough is formed that cleans the sides of the bowl. Turn onto floured surface and knead gently, adding a little more flour if dough is sticky. Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into biscuits with biscuit cutter. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Beat together the egg yolk and milk, and brush on the top of each biscuit. Bake for 13 minutes, or until golden brown.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wendy's Granola (a variation of Alton Brown's)

Spoiler alert: Bags of homemade granola is what I'm giving friends for Christmas. In case you want to do the same, here's the recipe.

Wendy's Granola (a variation of Alton Brown's)

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups raw whole almonds
2 cups raw sunflower seeds
2 cups sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Craisins, optional

1. In a very large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, seeds, coconut, and brown sugar.
2. In a small bowl, combine ncanola oil, honey, extract, and salt.
3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients in very large bowl.
4. Pour half of the mixture into a roasting pan and place in a 300°F. oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
5. Let cool. Break up any big pieces. Mix in half of Craisins if desired. Store in airtight container.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with second half of granola.

NOTES: Variations: Use other nuts. Add any of the following: ground flaxseed, wheat germ, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, raisins or other dried fruit.

Handy to have a two-cup measuring cup when making this recipe.

One batch fits nicely in a gallon-size freezer bag.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Microwave Caramel Corn

I've had this recipe forever. My grandma was the first one to make this delicious caramel corn, and I got the recipe from her. (Thanks, Grandma!)

The paper bag mixing method may seem a bit unorthodox, but trust me, it works perfectly! Later in the microwaving/shaking, the bag may get a little hot, so just be careful and use oven mitts if you need to. You really need to use a regular-strength brown grocery bag for this caramel corn, and shake it vigorously, making sure the top is rolled down and held securely. You'll also need to shake it upside down, holding a corner of the bottom of the bag, you know, just mix it up. You'll get the hang of it.

Caramel Corn, surrounded by Funnel Cakes!

You'll love this; our whole family does!

Microwave Caramel Corn
makes a lot!

1 cup unpopped corn
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pop corn, place in brown bag. (we use a hot air popper)

Boil brown sugar, corn syrup and butter for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, stirring, careful not to burn. Quickly add soda and vanilla, stir well until the mixture foams. Carefully pour into bag with corn, roll top down and shake well to mix.

Place bag in microwave (top still rolled), microwave 1 1/2 minutes on high, then shake bag hard and thoroughly. Microwave 1 minute on high, shake for 1/2 minute. Microwave 30 seconds on high, shake.

Pour into bowl or on baking sheet to cool. When cool, break into pieces if needed, and enjoy!

Funnel Cakes!

It all started with Julia Child, who else?

What I mean to say is, when it was finally my turn to pick a book for our book club, I picked Julie and Julia. You may remember that I then hosted a Saturday book club brunch, complete with three of Julia's recipes. And that's how it started.

For me at least, I like to tie things together. Sure, I could have just had a few random snacks for the ladies, but to me, it was more meaningful, and more FUN, to have a Julia-would-be-proud brunch. So that's how it started.

However, when it came time to choose my next book for book club, the choice wasn't because of any kind of food-related notion. I chose it because my dad told me Water for Elephants is one of the best books he's ever read. And that was enough for me. Naturally, then, the book club meeting needed (for me) to have a theme.

And the theme for the book club meeting? Well, Water for Elephants is largely about a circus. It is indeed a great book, so engaging and interesting and well-researched, it really makes you feel like you're part of the circus. There you have it.

Circus = cotton candy (no machine)
Circus = caramel corn (check, stay tuned!)
This particular circus = lemonade (check again)

I loved this book, and when it occurred to me that I had an excuse to make carnival/circus food, I loved it even more. This is going to be fun!

Also, for this month's Taste & Create, I was paired with Carol of No Reason Needed. Searching for a recipe of hers to make, guess what I found?

That's right, Funnel Cakes! She got her recipe from Moms Who Think, but added the water to get the batter to the right consistency.

I'm taking one small leap: I'm going to make the batter ahead of time, refrigerate it overnight and then transport it an hour to make the cakes at my friend's house so they're nice and fresh and warm. (It works for crepes, why not funnel cakes?) She's letting me use her house to host the book club since we had to reschedule at the last minute because we ran out of propane on an arctic cold Thanksgiving night and the propane guy won't come until next Monday at the earliest. Whew. I mean Brrrrr.

*If you STILL haven't heard of Taste & Create? It's the best monthly food blog event around, in which bloggers are paired up and must create a dish from their partner's blog. It is fun, can expand your cooking horizons, and can be as challenging as you make it. My friend Nicole, of For the Love of Food, created it, and if you haven't yet participated, what are you waiting for??*

So, the funnel cake batter worked fine being made ahead of time! This is great news. The only issue I ran into was that I had chosen a funnel with a hole that was too small--next time I will use a bigger funnel. But the cakes turned out great, and ended up cooking about 2 minutes total. I made a double batch, so I did need to add more oil in the middle of cooking (and then wait for it to heat up), but no big deal.

Jenny helped me, and sprinkled half of the cakes with powdered sugar, half with cinnamon sugar. Lovely! Served with Caramel Corn and Lemonade (if you read the book, you'll know why it HAD to be lemonade!)

Funnel Cakes

Makes 6

1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup water

powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for topping

1. In a deep skillet, heat about two cups of oil over medium-high heat until hot. Test the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the hot oil. If it sizzles right away without smoking, it's perfect.

2. Beat egg and milk. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to the egg mixture, beating until smooth. (I tried to mix this by hand, but ended up pulling out my mixer to get the batter smooth).

3. Using a funnel, drop into hot oil working from center outwards in a web pattern. (You can use a gallon sized freezer bag instead of a funnel by pouring the batter into the bag, snipping off a small corner of it, and squeezing the batter into the oil.)

4. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally, remove from the oil when golden brown and crispy.

5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar and serve.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Min's Thanksgiving Menu, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010


Hors d'Oeuvres:

Homemade Boursin

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Artisan Bread Crostini



Senegalese Shrimp Soup

I have wanted to try this soup ever since I saw the recipe back in June. I ran across it on Iron Stef's listings: Kitchen Parade's Sengalese (sic) Soup. You can serve this soup warm or cold, and delicious as it is warm, I think it would be fabulous served cold in the summer.

The whole family loved it. Next time I am doubling the shrimp. I used large ones, so each of us only got three or four shrimp, not enough! I'm going to stick with the large shrimp, but use 1 whole pound. Our shrimp were frozen and raw, so I thawed them in a bowl under cold running water while I was putting the rest of the soup together. When added to the soup, they were cooked through in less than 10 minutes.

It's fairly quick to put together, so have your ingredients prepped and ready. The soup has refreshingly complex flavors, hard to describe. We didn't let it sit for 6 hours, but I can imagine how much more fabulous it would be!

In my opinion, the lime zest is a must too.

Senegalese Shrimp Soup

Slightly sweet with honey,
summer corn and shrimp.

4 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes - 24 hours
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3-1/2 cups (28 ounces) low-fat chicken broth (not homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice from about 2 limes
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup milk (preferably 2%, skim doesn't work)
  • ½ pound shrimp (uncooked or cooked)
  • Salt to taste
  • Strips of lime zest, for garnish

Heat a Dutch oven on medium high. Add butter. When bubbly, add onion and sauté for 3 – 5 minutes until onion is tender. Stir in flour and curry and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, lime juice and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Stir in corn and simmer for 3 minutes. Add milk and shrimp. If serving warm, heat completely but do not boil, until shrimp is fully cooked (if uncooked) or warmed through (if cooked). Season to taste. To serve, top with lime zest. If serving cold, refrigerate until cold. The soup improves if left to rest for 6 - 24 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wild Mushrooms a la Crème

This recipe comes from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen, whom the San Fransisco Chronicle called "The Julia Child of Ireland." If you know anything at all about me, now you know several reasons why I own this book.

You may not know how much I love mushrooms. One of the things I miss most about Michigan is hunting morel mushrooms. Morels are my favorite, but I love every kind of mushroom. When I saw chanterelle mushrooms at Costco, I couldn't resist. And this recipe seemed like a fabulous use for them.

Now, I'll be the first to tell you that this is not a two-pan recipe, as Darina suggests it should be. I see absolutely no reason for it. I just cooked the onions first, removed them to a bowl, and cooked the mushrooms in batches in the same pan. They were to be added to the onion pan in the end anyway, so what's the difference?

I love Wild Mushrooms a la Crème. So delicious! Make some today!

Wild Mushrooms a la Crème

Serves 8

Mushrooms a la crème is a fantastic all-purpose recipe, and if you've got a surplus of wild mushrooms, use those instead of cultivated ones. You can even use dried mushrooms.

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound wild mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, ceps, false chanterelles, or the common field mushroom), sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
good squeeze of lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)

Melt half the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the chopped onion, cover, and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes or until quite soft but not colored; remove the onions to a bowl. Meanwhile, cook the sliced mushrooms in a hot frying pan with the remaining butter, in batches if necessary. Season each batch with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. Add the mushrooms to the onions in the saucepan, then add the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, and add the chopped herbs.

Mushrooms a la Crème keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days and freezes perfectly.

Good things to do with Wild Mushrooms a la Crème
  • Serve as a vegetable
  • Filling for omelets or savory pancakes
  • Filling for vol-au-vents or pastry tartlets
  • Topping for baked potatoes
  • Sauce for chicken breasts, steaks, hamburgers, lamb chops, or veal
  • Sauce for pasta
  • Mushrooms on toast
  • Post enrichment for casseroles and stews

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sauteed Kale & Mushrooms

I thought I had shared this recipe before, but I guess not. We recently discovered kale, a bit late but better late than never! We don't really like it raw unless it's super fresh (don't like bitter), so we usually saute it with some mushrooms.

Sometimes we add onions, but most times not. Tonight, I stirred in a splash of lemon juice just before serving.

Easy, delicious, and good for you! Here's how to make it, so you can enjoy it too!

Sauteed Kale & Mushrooms
Serves about 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, diced (maybe 1/4 cup, optional)
8 to 12 mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch kale, washed and torn, green stems removed

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large pan over medium heat while you dice the onions. Add onions to the pan, then wash and slice the mushrooms. Add mushrooms to the pan and saute for a few minutes. Add kale to pan, stir together and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is bright green and mushrooms are cooked.

*If your kale is still bitter, turn heat to low and cook more until it's not.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Johnny Iuzzini's Apple Cranberry Pie

A possible first: I stumbled upon a recipe in the morning, made it in the afternoon, and it was gone by the evening. The source of the recipe was the Live! With Regis and Kelly TV show, where twists on favorite Thanksgiving recipes were being featured. I watched the pie being made in the morning and had a potluck to attend that evening. Why not? I like twisted.

I refer you to the website for the recipe with just a few comments about my pie-baking experience.

Let me first say, that I generally prefer making pies to eating them, but the reverse was true in this case. Also, please note that the pie-crust recipe given is for a single crust but two crusts are needed. Double the recipe, and use a full-size food processor.

I used Gala apples with much success. Additional varieties are suggested. Don't use Granny Smiths as noted.

Might as well use fresh-squeezed orange juice, since the recipe calls for the zest from an orange. I actually used two medium-sized oranges to get slightly more than 1/4 cup of juice. I used the extra juice to replace part of the water in the cranberry sauce used to make the Cranberry Whipped Cream, which is to die for. I put the zest of the second orange in the sauce after I had cooked it.

I substituted about a half-teaspoon of orange extract for the orange liqueur, which I didn't have on hand. The last change was not to fold all of the cranberry sauce into the whipped cream. Perhaps this wasn't necessary, but the Cranberry Whipped Cream was already such a lovely color, and I feared that too much folding in of too much sauce would take the air out of the whipped cream.

Do let the pie sit for a while after baking so that it won't be runny when served.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Wraps with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Last week, CG asked me if I would prepare two lunches and a dinner on Monday and Tuesday, when ABEG would be here working cattle in the corral. You know, preg checking, branding, sorting. I said sure. And then I remembered that I wouldn't be around on Monday, since I had to drop H-Bomb off at school and then drive to the next town to take Sawed Off to the dentist. Then I'd have to drive back and pick up H-Bomb after school, which meant I'd be gone from 7:am until 4:pm. I needed a lunch I could put together the night before, one that would hold overnight and still be delicious.

I don't remember what made me pull The Gourmet Cookbook off the shelf, but I did. There I found a recipe for Turkey Wraps with Chipotle Mayonnaise, and roast chicken was listed as an option. I just happened to have a roast chicken in the freezer (which I had roasted myself, then froze for such an occasion). While the recipe didn't say anything about the make-ahead-ability of these wraps, I decided I'd take a chance. I made a triple batch--12 wraps. The only thing I did differently was use more roasted chicken. And I ate one for a late dinner Sunday night...excellent!

I'm so glad I took the chance! The wraps were amazing, and got many compliments from the folks hard at work in the corral. I actually made the pickled onions and chipotle mayonnaise on Saturday, then assembled the wraps on Sunday night. I rolled each wrap with one end closed, one end open, then wrapped each one tightly in foil, and stood them upright (closed ends down) in a bowl in a cooler. Also in the cooler was a bag of apples, a couple bags of good chips, and plenty of my Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies in a ziploc bag.

I heard raves about that lunch well into the next day and night. You should definitely try these wraps at home!

Chicken Wraps with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Makes 4 sandwiches
Active Time: 30 minutes
Start to Finish: 2 1/2 hours (includes chilling)

"For many of us, these turkey sandwiches are a post-Thanksgiving ritual. Spicy chipotle mayonnaise and Mexican pickled onion are the key players: both condiments are extremely easy to prepare and take virtually no time at all. As the onion cools in its brine, it turns the color of a pink pinata and becomes crisp. It will keep for weeks in a glass jar in the fridge. The mayo is made with canned chipotles en adobo sauce, one of our favorite pantry staples. Children might prefer salsa rosada (or as it's known in Utah, "fry sauce")--a combination of mayo and ketchup. The sandwiches are also delicious made with leftover pot roast, roast pork, roast chicken, you name it."

1 red onion (6 ounces), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo, including some adobo sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Best Foods aka Hellmann's)

4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 pound sliced or shredded roast turkey or chicken
1/4 cup shredded lettuce leaves (I used romaine) or tender pea shoots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

MAKE THE PICKLED ONION: Blanch onion in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute; drain. Return onion to pan, add vinegar, water and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a heatproof bowl. Cool, uncovered, then refrigerate until cold, covered, about 2 hours.

MAKE THE CHIPOTLE MAYONNAISE: Blend chipotle and mayonnaise in a blender or food processor until smooth.

MAKE THE WRAPS: Toast tortillas directly on (gas or electric) burners over moderate heat, turning over and rotating until slightly puffed and browned in spots, 40 to 60 seconds.

Spread 1 tablespoon chipotle mayonnaise on each tortilla. Arrange one quarter of chicken and lettuce across the middle of each tortilla and top with some drained pickled onion. Season with salt and pepper and roll up wraps.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Twice-Baked Potato Casserole

I was thumbing through Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks, looking for something to serve my cowboys, along with our version of Number One's Favorite Sandwich. I'd been craving some sort of stuffed baked potato, so her Twice-Baked Potatoes quickly caught my eye. I mentioned this on facebook, and my friend Jenny told me that when she makes twice-baked potatoes, she just puts them in a casserole dish instead of baking them individually. That sounded perfect for this crowd, especially since I'm serving at least 11 people tonight.

So these potatoes are loosely based on Ree's, technique influenced by Jenny, and the final product by me. I changed the quantities on some of the ingredients (mainly because I simply couldn't bring myself to add a whole pound of butter...) Feel free to reduce the quantities to serve your own crowd.

I like to dice my bacon before frying it (it's just easier to cook for me), and then for this recipe I diced it a bit smaller after it was cooked. I also did NOT peel the potatoes at all, ever. You need the peels to get the "baked potato" flavor. And the recipe is really so easy!

OMG. This casserole was soooooo good! It totally hit the spot and satisfied my baked potato cravings. Everyone loved it!!

Twice-Baked Potato Casserole
adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks' Twice-Baked Potatoes

13 baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
olive oil
kosher salt
1 pound thick-cut bacon, diced and fried and diced smaller
2 sticks butter, cut into slices
2 cups sour cream
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
black pepper to taste
3 to 4 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
4 green onions, whites and greens sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub potatoes with olive oil to coat; place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 45 minutes, or until baked through. (easily poked with a fork) Chop roughly. (do not peel)

Put butter, sour cream, milk, seasoned salt and pepper in a LARGE bowl. Add chopped potatoes, and mash together to mix. Add bacon, 2 cups cheese, and green onions, mix well with wooden spoon.

Dump entire mixture into a 9x13" pan, smoothing top. Top with about 2 cups cheese.

At this point, you can freeze or refrigerate, or bake.

Bake potatoes in a preheated 300 degree F oven until heated through and cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes if baked right away; around 20 minutes if refrigerated. (I don't know about the baking-after-freezing, if you try it let me know, or I'll report back next time)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beef Burgundy Stew

It's Shipping Day again, which means it's time to make a meal for a big crew of cowboys. No matter what time we end up eating, it's called "Shipping Day Lunch" (even if it's after dark). This year, there's a possibility of 16 people, and it's cold outside, so I needed a big pot of something warm.

I grabbed my Betty Crocker's Country Favorites cookbook, which I honestly haven't used very much. When you're making lunch for cowboys and cattle buyers and ranch hands, it's a good idea to serve beef. Just so you know.

I decided on this Beef Burgundy Stew, just because it sounded so good. Expecting about 16 people, I had to double the recipe. I ended up cooking the onions and mushrooms in two separate pans to save time, and I browned the 6 pounds of beef in batches in the main stew pot, moving browned pieces to a platter to wait until all the beef was done. I made the executive decision not to drain the beef in the pot (although I did drain off a bit of juice from the plate). I also elected not to stir constantly after adding the broth and flour (there's really no point), but I did stir constantly during the 1 minute boil. Next time, I will do things a little differently.

I read somewhere that you shouldn't cook with a wine you wouldn't drink, but I also don't believe you have to pay a ton of money for a good bottle of wine. So use your best judgment when choosing a bottle of burgundy, or if you're in my small town, just buy the only bottle of burgundy the closet-sized liquor store has to offer, and hope for the best!

The stew was delicious and comforting and filling, and someone even asked me if I had made the beef broth myself. (no). I refrigerated it overnight and reheated it the next day, which worked fine but the wine in the broth did turn the mushrooms and onions a bit grayish. It did not effect the taste at all. This probably isn't a stew I'd freeze, but if you try it be sure and let me know how it works!

Beef Burgundy Stew
Serves: 8 Prep time: 25 minutes Start to finish: 2 hours 30 minutes

This is a great dish to make when you are having a crowd over. It feeds a lot of people without too much work for you! Grab several loaves of good French bread--this stew makes a wonderfully rich Burgundy sauce that is oh-so-good sopped up with crusty bread.

2 tablespoons butter
5 medium onions, sliced
1 pound sliced mushrooms (6 cups)
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups red Burgundy (1 whole bottle of wine)
French bread, if desired

1. Melt butter in Dutch oven or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions and mushrooms in butter about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. Remove vegetables from Dutch oven; drain and reserve.

2. Cook beef and garlic in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Sprinkle with salt, marjoram, thyme and pepper.

3. Mix broth and flour; pour over beef. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

4. Stir in Burgundy. Cover and simmer 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours, stirring in onions and mushrooms 5 minutes before end of simmer time. Serve in bowls with bread for dipping into stew, if desired.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shipping Day, 2010

It's Cattle Shipping Day, and once again, I'm making lunch for a fairly big crew of cowboys. No matter what time we end up eating, even if it's after dark, it's called "Shipping Day Lunch." This year, there's a possibility of 16 people, and it's cold outside, so I needed a big pot of something warm.

If you want to know more about what Shipping Day entails, please read my ranch blog post from a couple years ago!

In previous years, I've made my Rustic Chili or Beef Stew. This year, I wanted something a little different, especially since I just served up a big pot of chili for the cowboys a week or so ago.

I thought I'd share the Shipping Day Lunch Menu with you, so follow the links for recipes (stew recipe coming soon, and pictures will be coming soon too!)

Shipping Day Lunch, 2010

Beef Burgundy Stew

Artisan Bread

(any salad will do)

Chocolate Sheet Cake
(picture coming soon!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookies

Wow is time flying by! I thought I was all set for Taste & Create, having finished my Stracoto with Shiitake Mushrooms a few days early. Then I noticed that I was getting a few hits on my blog from A Whisk & A Prayer...hmmm. The name sounded familiar, and I remembered perusing that blog...OMG! My Stracoto entry was from LAST MONTH!! Ack!

Let's get on with it, the deadline is approaching!

My partner for THIS month's Taste & Create is Liz from A Whisk and A Prayer. Taste & Create is a fabulously fun food blog event, created by the lovely Nicole of For the Love of Food. Participants are randomly paired off to choose and create a dish from their partner's blog. (If you'd like to learn more about T&C, go here!) And here we are. Liz chose to make my Yoghurt Coffee Cake...

I needed a dessert for dinner for cowboys tonight anyway, and had something chocolate in mind. I told Number One about Liz' Black Bean Brownies, but after a lively discussion about how "just" adding beans to something doesn't make that something "healthy" and him saying "Don't make brownies with beans in them"...I decided on a different course.

I noticed Liz' recipe for Mexican Hot Cocoa Dream Cookies, savory chocolate gems filled with...marshmallow fluff! YUM. (and I assume that's where the "Dream" part comes in)

Sadly, I'm almost completely out of marshmallow fluff myself, because someone has been eating it with a spoon. Ahem. So anyway, because we're having cowboys over for dinner, it just wouldn't be right to only have a few with fluff and the rest plain. That is not to say I won't personally sneak a couple cookies filled with fluff before everyone else arrives...I'm just being honest, here, sorry cowboys, maybe next time!

So, this time they're not exactly a "Dream," but I'm sure they'll be good.

Right in the middle of making these cookies, I realized with shock that our Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix is GONE!! We have the Abuelita tablets (very very hard and must be mixed with hot milk), but no powdered mix. I was already committed <>ingredients up to the flour in the bowl<> to making a double batch of cookies, so I powered through it. Some of you may remember that I live 35 miles from the nearest town, so "running to the store" is ALWAYS out.

I added 5 packets (about 1 cup) of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mix with mini Marshmallows (of course). I also threw in some cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of cloves to make up for my sad lack of Abuelita. (see amounts below) I also substituted bittersweet chocolate chips for the semi-sweet. I have to say that I actually liked the taste of the dough (unlike Liz and the girl she got the recipe from). I am quite hopeful for these at-this-stage-experimental cookies! *After a test pan of 6 cookies, I decided to line the pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Also, these really spread so be sure to space them apart on the parchment. *I am sure the hot chocolate mix, which Liz originally substituted for baking cocoa, messed with the consistency--these might need some adjustments to compensate, but I don't have time right now*

The cookies are mildly spicy and pretty good after they've cooled down, although they do bake up thin. I decided to bake them smaller and turn them into ice cream sandwiches. I think I baked each batch right around 13 minutes, they weren't very golden, and still a bit soft, so that means when cool they are still chewy with just a bit of crunch around the edges.

As ice cream sandwiches, these cookies are AMAZING. Yum. The spices, the bittersweet chocolate, the ice cream, all complement each other perfectly. Not bad for an experimental emergency substitution!

I ran out of time to try one with fluff before everyone arrived, but there's always tomorrow!

Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookies

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix OR 5 packets Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mix with Marshmallows + 1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg + 2 to 4 dashes cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vanilla or white chocolate chips
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat the oil, butter & sugars until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each one. Beat in vanilla.

Combine the flour, hot chocolate mix, & baking powder. Gradually add to oil mixture & mix well. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until edges barely begin to brown. Cool for 1 minute before removing cookies from pans to wire racks.
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