Friday, January 27, 2012

Soft Spicy Ginger Cookies

My husband loves ginger. The more ginger-y tasting, the better. Form time to time we scour the local World Market, finding all kinds of ginger candies from other countries. Did you know they carry bags of ginger gummy bears from Australia? 'Cause they do!

Then we found a Whole Foods in South Florida that had a huge canister of crystallized ginger, one that allowed you to fill your own bag with whatever amount. BC was ecstatic. We bought a big batch....and then realized that you can only eat so much ginger before the little squishy ginger pieces get tough. Enter this recipe. Now, I don't really like Ina Garten, what with her hoity-toity-too-good-to-help-out-people-with-cancer-trying-to-make-their-last-wishes-come-true thing. However, I can't deny its a good recipe.

So, if you like spicy cookies, and looooove ginger, this one is for you!!

I forgot to take a picture until the next day....and there was only one cookie left! 

Soft Spicy Ginger Cookies
as slightly adapted from Ina Garten

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. oil
1/3 c. molasses
1 egg
1 1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger (6 oz.)
granulated sugar, for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In one bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. With a mixer, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn mixer to low, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Continue to scrape the bowl down while mixing to ensure ingrediatns are being combined. While mixer is on low, slowly add the dry ingrediants to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined. Dough may be very thick, and you may have to combine the crystallized ginger with your hands!

Take tablespoon sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Roll each cookie in sugar and place onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie ball. Bake for at least 12 minutes. Adjust cooking time for size of cookie. Let cookie cool on wire racks.

Try not to eat too many immediately...they taste even better then next day!

Italian Balsamic Chicken

I don't really know how to describe this marinade, except it is so full of flavor and delicious for grilled chicken! Try it soon!

Italian Balsamic Chicken
as adapted from Plain Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. EVOO
4 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 pkg. zesty italian seasoning/dressing mix
2 tsp. onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a gallon bag, except for chicken. Make sure all ingredients are well combined and then place thawed chicken into bag. Let soak for several hours, even overnight, and mix chicken around in the bag often. For best results, grill it up!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chili Dogs

My husband almost cried. Literally, came over and gave me a huge hug, told me how amazing dinner was, and started pacing. He then told me (1) he made a good wife choice and (2) I was a cooking master today. (Full disclosure: I made some of these for brunch.)

I ran across this chili dog recipe on In the Wabe, after some late night pinning on Pinterest. (Just as an FYI, weird stuff gets pinned late at night on Pinterest.) Anyway, there's a semi-secret ingredient hidden inside these things: mayo. You have to put some on the inside of the bun and something delicious happens while these things bake. Also, the oven makes the cheese all melty and the buns super crispy. Its an awesome combo.

Since they are chili dogs made by you, they are easy to make relatively healthy. You can use the whole wheat buns, turkey dogs, healthy chili, small amounts of cheese, and low fat mayo. I didn't do really any of those things (except the chili, and reduced fat Hebrew Nationals), but you can :)

Last thing...I used some left-over chili I made a few nights ago, which you can find here. I'm tellin' you----use the homemade stuff. It makes these things so much better.

Amazing Chili Dogs
as adapted from "Oven Hot Dogs" from In the Wabe

8 hotdogs
8 hot dog buns
chili (made my own, recipe here)
shredded cheese (I had less than 1/8 c. available in the fridge. Use as much or little as you like!)
chopped onion
yellow mustard

Break out a 9x13 pan. Line with aluminum foil. You either need to spray some non-stick spray on the foil, or do what I do. Use this. It is seriously the most amazing thing ever.

Preheat oven to 350.

While oven is preheating, take each hotdog bun, open it up, and add mayo to each side of the insides of the buns. (Does that makes sense? That sounds confusing. But I know you understand.) Place a hotdog in each bun, lining the 9x13. You can usually get 6 along the botton and two across the top. We used reduced fat Hebrew National hotdogs, which are amazing, btw, but they come in packs of 7. Weird.

Once all the hotdogs are lined up, add a line of mustard to the top of each hotdog. Then top each with a generous amount of chili! Add some cheese to each, and sprinkle the tops with chopped onion.

Here is our odd 7 hotdogs. See the space for the eighth? Weird. But notice how packed in the 6 along the bottom are. Be sure to do this, it keeps the shape of the buns.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

*Recipe linked up at The Sweet Detail

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coffee Cake in a Mug

My husband and I have been trying to eat healthy lately, so of course that means smaller portions for dinner. Since we're starving we usually eat early. Of course this means that around 7-ish, we want something else to eat. I decided to drive us to Dairy Queen because I know their hot fudge sundae is under 200 calories whip something up in the kitchen. So, I turned to Pinterest. I have several pins on Pinterest consisting of desserts in mugs.

Some are good.

Some are bad.

Some are disgusting.

This one, however, is pretty dang good.

My husband even approved, saying, "This one was actually good. Most of these kinds of recipes really suck." Good enough for me!

I made a few adjustments from the original recipe, courtesy of the ladies over at Prudent Baby.

My picture is not nearly as pretty and ethereal as theirs, but you get the idea. Plus, I mean, its cake in a mug. You don't have time to make that look pretty, when ya just tryin' to eat.

Coffee Cake in a Mug
adjusted slightly from Prudent Baby

1 Tb. salted butter
2 Tb. sugar
1/2 egg (I made two cakes and split the egg between them)
2 Tb. buttermilk
1/8 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. baking powder

1 Tb. salted butter, softened
2 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 Tb. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Put butter into microwavable mug and microwave on high for approx. 10-15 seconds until softened. Mix in sugar until light and fluffy. Add in buttermilk and vanilla and stir until combined. Add in flour and baking powder and stir until combined.

In a separate ramekin, mix 1Tb. softened butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Take a fork and combine until you get a crumbled combination. Pour crumble on top of batter.

Place mug in microwave for 1 minute. You may need to add more time, but increase by 10 seconds at a time. I think I ended up cooking mine for 1 minute 30 seconds, but all microwaves are different!

Mug will be very hot, so use with caution!! Enjoy :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Amazing Steaks

I love a good steak. Growing up, my Dad always threw them on the grill. Sometimes they were awesome, sometimes they got a little dry, but I loved the way they got that crust on the outside. But grills can be super finicky and its so easy to over cook them. When I lived on my own, I almost never cooked steaks because I didn't want to bust out the grill for just one. When BC and I got married, I became more proficient with the grill, but still, a ton of work for two lil tiny steaks, and, again, so easy to over cook. We went the Georg Foreman route but, no offense George, dang those things things cook so fast, and sometimes they totally char up the outside before the middle is nowhere near being ready.

Enter the cast iron skillet.

Its so simple.

The cast iron skillet is the perfect way to cook food. It can literally go from biscuits in the morning, to grilled cheese sandwiches at lunch, to steaks at dinner!

Naturally, this takes some practice. You work with such high heat, that it requires total focus to make sure you don't (1) burn your steaks right up or (2) start a fire. (Perhaps that should have been #1?) I've used this method once or twice before, and I have to say, my most recent effort was the best yet.

Before I address the recipe, its important to discuss two things:
1. Type of Steak: This is very important. You want to make sure you have a fair amount of marbling, but not so much you get barely meat and not too little that there won't end up being any juice for it to sizzle in. My favorite cut is a chuck eye. Seriously people, it is a rare gem of deliciousness, and usually ends up being pretty cheap. Tonight I made two 4 oz chuck eyes I found on sale at Publix for a little over $4!! They were on sale (and generally go on sale quite a bit) so when I find them, I load up. I've also done this recipe with filet mignons before, which worked out nicely, but cooked a little longer because they tend to be thicker cuts than chuck eyes.

2. Thickness of Steak: This will cause you to adjust your cooking time quite a bit. You'll see here, for my 4 oz chuck eyes, it was 1 minute total in the pan, two minutes total in the oven. They were long and thin. I've done 4 oz. filets before that were small and thick and ended up going a total for 4 minutes in the oven. Its all about watching the steaks, making sure the coloring looks good, and testing the temperature to make sure you don't overcook them.

Amazing Steaks

2 steaks (I used chuck eye steaks here)
peanut or safflower oil

Yep, just four ingredients :)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Throw your cast iron skillet in the oven while the oven is preheating.

While you are waiting for the oven, grab the steaks, liberally salt each side, and grind some fresh black pepper on each side.

At this point you want to add a tiny bit of oil to each side. I put peanut or safflower oil on the ingredient list because they handle high heat the best. They have the highest smoking points. If you don't have this, its ok, but you might end up with lots of extra smoke. I ran out of peanut oil and used a canola blend tonight, which worked fine, just lots of smoke.

I sprayed it on with my handy Misto sprayer. These things are amazing! I found one for cheap at TJ Maxx a while back, but got two really nice ones from the ILs for Christmas!! I LOVE these things because you can use regular oil in them and not have to buy Pam or whatever with all its weird sketchy additives.

Once the oven is done preheating, take our pan out and put it on a burner on high heat for a few minutes. Ideally you want it on there for like 5 minutes. However, my pan had some residue on it and started smoking really bad and I got a lil paranoid I was going to burn down the house. So I didn't make it the full five.

Once you've let it really heat up, throw those steaks on there!!

They will be sizzly and smoky and a little scary at first. Just go with it. Now, this is IMPORTANT: leave them for 30 seconds. DON'T TOUCH FOR 30 SECONDS.

Then flip. 

DON'T TOUCH FOR 30 SECONDS. Seriously, leave them alone.

After 30 seconds are up, throw them in the 500 degree oven for 1 minute.

After 1 minute, take them out, flip, and throw back in for another minute.

After that minute, take them out, temp test them, and see where you are. For me, they were between medium and medium well, which is where I like it. Steak people think that is whack and you should eat them still mooing and super rare or something, but WHATEVER, my steak world.

When you get to the temp you want, make sure you let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes before you cut into it. I like to go ahead and put them on plates and cover with tin foil. That way the steak rests and stays warm.

Eat and be merry!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge

This is a recipe from a loooong time ago. I grew up with this one, my mom would make this fudge every year around the holidays. I became 100% addicted. She stopped making it over the years, which spurned me to go to my parents house and dig the recipe out of her stuffed recipe box. I think the first couple weeks I had it, BC and I made this fudge like 4 or 5 times.

The recipe originally came from my grandmother. It was printed sometime back in the 80s in a newspaper in South Florida. Despite being laminated, the newspaper is weathered and brown and old. I can never ever eat peanut butter fudge from a shop again...I'm a total snob for this recipe!

ALSO--This recipe contains NO butter! Yes, it is possible to make delicious pb fudge without a stick of butter!

(please, try to contain your excitement for the fancy paper towel in the picture. fine china here only, folks.)

Peanut Butter Fudge
recipe courtesy of my Mother and Nanny

1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. peanut butter

Butter a 8x8 baking dish. Set aside.

Combine sugar, salt, and milk in a saucepan. (Make sure you use a pretty big saucepan here...once the sugar starts getting all bubbly, its going to rise a LOT.) Heat the sugar mixture on high until you get to the soft ball stage--235 degrees. (Depending on how awesome your stove is, this could take you about 3 minutes, like at my MIL's house, or a good 10 minutes, like at mine. Boo.)

Once you reach this temperature, immediately remove from heat and stir in vanilla and peanut butter. Stir fast, until the mixture loses its sheen. (Be prepared to stir for several minutes.)

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Refrigerate.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Banana Pudding

I first had this dish this past Christmas, when BC and I were at his parents house. His Mom had gotten this recipe from one of the lunchroom ladies at the school she taught at. I have to say, it is so freaking delicious. I mean, I'm not a huge banana pudding fan, and initially blew it off as just another bananas pudding. But friends...this is so much more.

*Update: I was asked to be a part of a dessert linky party with this recipe! My first one ever, pretty excited :) Check it out here.

Banana Pudding
recipe from my MIL and some unknown lunchroom lady

2 bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessman Cookies
2 small boxes of French Vanilla instant pudding mix
6 bananas
1 8-oz box of cream cheese, softened
1 12-oz. tub of Cool Whip
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup milk

Line a 9x13 pan with one bag of Chessman Cookies. (You may have to break up some of the cookies to fill in gaps.) Slice up all bananas and layer on top of cookies.

Mix together the pudding boxes and cup of milk in one bowl. Set aside.

Mix together the softened cream cheese and condensed milk in another bowl. Fold in Cool Whip. Add this mixture to the pudding mixture and stir to combine.

Pour pudding mixture over bananas. Layer second bag of cookies over pudding mixture. Refrigerate for several hours, overnight if possible!