Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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So, I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything, but let me tell you, it’s not because I’m lazy.  Really, it’s not!!  I actually started helping my husband at his real estate office, and it’s been quite busy considering it is December.  Everyone is very friendly, so I like it, but it does take time away from my kitchen.

So on to cookies!!!  These peanut butter cookies are moist and peanuty-satisfying with big chunks of chocolate throughout.

Now to be honest, the way I ended up with these chocolate chunks  is kinda crazy.  It may be a problem that you have encountered, which is why I am pointing out my mistakes.  I just hate to waste a good ingredient, so even if I mess something up, I try to incorporate it somewhere else so at least it gets used.  So one day I was trying to melt some chocolate chips to dip different items in.  Instead of giving my chocolate chips a steam facial (double-boiler)  like is usually recommended to melt chocolate chips, I tried taking a short cut in the microwave.  Of course, I overheated my chocolate chips and it turned into big globs instead of smooth melted chocolate.  Instead of throwing it out, I left it in the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  What became of the chocolate was a big hunk of chocolate:

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I just love chocolate too much to throw it out, so I chopped up some big chunks and threw it into my peanut butter cookies.  Since you probably don’t have some overheated chocolate that has been cooled and waiting for you in the refrigerator, you can use chocolate chips, Hershey kisses roughly chopped, or buy a hunk of good chocolate from the grocery store.

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Start with a few basic cookie ingredients + peanut butter.

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Cream the butters and sugars.  Beat in the eggs. (I was feeling funky so I decided to paint my nails all crazy to match my funky chocolate!)

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A quick tip for measuring peanut butter is to spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray.  This ensures that you do not lose half of your peanut butter because it stuck to the bottom and sides of your measuring cup.

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In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

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Bake in a 375 degree, pre-heated oven for approximately 10 minutes.  The edges will start to turn golden brown.  If your cookies are too crunchy after they are cooled, take the next batch out a minute or two earlier than the previous ones even though they might not looked all the way cooked.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup  butter
  • 1 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • chocolate chips, bars of chocolate, or Hershey’s kisses

Directions

  1. Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.
  3. Drop spoonfuls of dough on baking sheets.  Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake.
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Copycat Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

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Being from Texas, I can’t  help but get excited once we have the slightest bit of cool weather.  It makes me want to start cooking every single winter recipe I can get my hands on.  I love taking advantage of not having to worry about turning my oven on for extended periods of time.  I make coffee at all times of the day and start looking around town for different pumpkin and fall flavored drinks/desserts/winter vegetables, etc.

I also like to bring out my collection of soup recipes and get busy in the kitchen.  What’s perfectly paired with a nice bowl of soup?

A nice, hot loaf of homemade bread!!! One of  the best things about this bread, other than taste, is how quickly it can be prepared. Other than the time it takes to rise, this bread can be prepared in about 10-20 minutes.

I was cruising the net looking for a rosemary bread similar to the one they serve at Macaroni Grill and came across a recipe on Allrecipes.com (It’s called Jo’s Rosemary Bread).  The recipe was designed for a bread machine, so I decided to adapt it for those of us without bread makers…plus, I just like getting my hands dirty in the kitchen!  Some of us never grow up!!!  (Like the time I flew a kite at midnight in my pajamas, running up and down the street trying to get it to fly to make sure my high school project got a good grade.  So….maybe this is a topic for another conversation. 🙂   Start by proofing the yeast in water mixed with a little sugar.   Add the olive oil and the rest of the water after 5-10 minutes of proofing.   Chop the rosemary very fine. (A big thanks goes to my mom for this rosemary from her garden!!!  Love ya, Maudy!?)

In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and finely chopped rosemary.

Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and get your hands in there and get messy!!!!

I continue mixing with my hands until them mixture is almost entirely incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

From here, I move to a floured surface and continue to knead my bread until it is smooth, approximately 5 minutes or so. If your mixing bowl is fairly clean, oil the inside of the bowl fairly well and place dough in bowl to rise for one hour.

During this time, the bowl should be covered by a towel and left undisturbed in a warm area like the kitchen. After one hour, punch down the down and knead on your floured surfaced for a few minutes. Place dough in a well oiled bread pan to rise for another hour, covered and undisturbed just like the first time.

Note: since I usually make this into a round loaf shape, I often use an  8″x8″ pan to rise and bake in.

And sprinkle with salt.

Bake.

 

UPDATE:  I ran out of bread flour one day and had already started mixing the other ingredients.  SOOOOO, I decided not to waste everything and try making the recipe with all purpose flour.  I worked just fine!!!  I’m actually glad that happened because now I don’t have to buy specific flour to make one of my favorite breads!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 cup water water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Mix yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl.  Let sit for 5- 10 minutes while you prepared the dry ingredients.  Mix flour, salt, rosemary, pepper and italian seasoning.

Add the olive oil to the yeast mix and stir to combine.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture (get your hands messy!) and combine until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes.

Place in a well oiled bowl and completely cover with a towel for 1 hour.

Punch the dough down.  Return to the floured surface (making sure to lightly flour it again) and knead for another few minutes.  Place into your oiled baking dish and cover with a towel to rise once again for another hour.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt, making sure not to puncture the dough because it will deflate.

Bake at 375 until browned, approximately 30 minutes.  Serve with olive oil and fresh cracked pepper or a mixture of a little pesto with olive oil.

Quick Queso Flameado

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For a quick appetizer, queso flameado can be a delicious life saver.  You can use  a combination of different cheeses.  This is just what I had on hand at home.

Start with about 1/2 pound of fresh chorizo….not the hard sausage kind that you can dice –  the kind you have to squeeze out of a casing.  I found a fresh chorizo at my local grocery store in the regular meat department.  Brown it in a skillet for 4-5 minutes until fully cooked.

I used only 3 ingredients….plus some corn tortillas for eating.  You can’t beat that!

Add a bag of creamy, melty, white cheese of some sort and about 1/2 of a block of queso fresco (approximately 6 oz).   Now, let’s not pretend this isn’t gonna be greasy! But!!!!  It’s chorizo, so it’s made to be that way.

Place the skillet under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese gets all bubbly.  Make sure you watch this carefully without leaving the queso flameado all alone without a babysitter.   Let’s just say I’ve learned this the hard way….I’m trying to save you the same mistake.

Heat up a few tortillas and serve the queso flameado warm.  Tip:  Cut the chorizo with some scissors to make it easier to serve in the warm tortilla.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. fresh chorizo

6 oz. queso fresco

2 cups of some type of creamy, gooey white cheese

corn tortillas

Directions:

Brown the chorizo in a oven-safe skillet for 4-5 minutes until it is fully cooked.  Do not drain.  Place the cheeses on top of the chorizo without stirring.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly.  Heat a few corn tortillas in a damp paper towel in the microwave for a minute or so until the tortillas are warm.  Serve immediately.

DIY – Caramel Mocha Frappe

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Don’t we all love Starbucks?  I sure do!  However, there are just some days that I have to watch my spending.  Being a stay-at-home mom, it is definitely worth the sacrifice to have to put things off.  So when this happens, I just make my own!

Another reason I make my own coffee drinks is because I almost always have some morning coffee leftover.  Truth is, I like to make a little bit extra just so that I WILL have some left.  There are so many things to do with leftover coffee.  Don’t throw it out!!!  I’m sure I will blog more about leftover coffee later on since I love it so much.

This past week, I visited my family and took the kids to the beach with my sister-in-law.

Those seagulls are crazy little birds!!

There’s nothing better than a cool coffee drink after spending a long, hot day at the beach!!!!

The thing about this “recipe” is that you can change it up so many different ways – with whatever you have at home.  This is what we had….

Start with your cooled, leftover coffee, approximately 1 cup .  Place it in a blender with a few scoops of frozen yogurt or ice cream.

(I had to let you know those weren’t my man hands in the picture!  I guess I should clarify that I mean my brother’s hands and not my sister-in-laws.  Don’t want to make any enemies in the family!)

Add a few other ingredients you may have on hand, like caramel syrup, chocolate syrup, flavored creamer (or half and half with a little extract).  Blend it and pour!  You can add ice cubes or freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays and use that instead.  That way, it doesn’t water down your frappe.

This “recipe” can be changed up so many different ways.  Try it your way!

Fry Gosht and Family Time

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After spending some time with my family who was visiting for my daughter’s birthday party last week, we definitely spent some time in the kitchen since we love to cook.  Here’s one of the things that we made.  FRY GOSHT!

Before we got to making the fry gosht, we had a lot of family time.

We did a little sight seeing….down my street.  (I’m trying to convince them to move to Austin.)  Hurry up and move already!!!!!  Who can resist this!!!????!!!!

We also did a little swimming.

    and we made some soap.  Good times!  Good times!

Now back to the food!  Fry gosht is a meat and tomatoes type of curry.  The name translates to “fried meat” and is an Indian/Pakistani dish that can be changed up with different types of meat, typically beef, goat, or chicken.  The choice is yours.

Start with 1-2 onions and saute in oil/ghee until translucent.  Add 3-4 Roma tomatoes and cook down until a gravy is forming, adding water as necessary.

Next, add the 1/2 packet of Shan Karahi/fry gosht seasoning, found in the international section of most grocery stores,  and meat.  In my case, I used cut goat that I bought at the same store as the seasoning.  Note:  the more mix you add, the spicier it gets.  1/2 of a packet is definitely spicy enough for my family.  Cook until the meat is fork tender.

This is one of my husband’s favorite curry dishes, and he requests it every time my aunt comes to visit.  Well, now I have first hand knowledge on how to make it for him anytime I want…..except I think it means more when she makes it. 🙂

What you need:

1/4 c. oil or ghee

2 Tbsp. garlic/ginger paste, or 1 Tbsp. finely grated ginger and 1 Tbsp. finely minced garlic

1 onion, cut in large chunks

3-4 Roma tomatoes

1 box of Shan Karahi/fry gosht seasoning

1/2 lbs. meat, cut goat, beef roast or chicken, cut into large chunks

What to do:

In a large pot, saute onions in the oil/ghee on medium heat until they are translucent, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and the garlic/ginger paste.  Cook until a gravy is starting to form, adding a cup of water if looking dry and continue to simmer.  It should cook until the tomatoes and onion break down, approximately 15-20 minutes.

Add the meat and cook until tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours . **See Tip 1 below**  Add water as necessary to keep a gravy like texture in your pot.  The dish is complete when the meat is fork tender.

**Tip 1:  Depending on the size of the chunks and whether or not your meat contains bones, the cooking time can vary.  Meat cooks faster without bones and with a smaller size meat chunk.   If you buy a tough cut of meat, the cooking time will also be longer.

It’s Party Time….Hunger Games Style!!

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This past weekend, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday.  She is obsessed with the Hunger Games movie!  Have you guys seen it?  Are you on the Hunger Games wave yet?  I have to admit that I really like the movie too.  Not only are we obsessed with the movie but we are also on the last book of the trilogy.  So, when I asked my daughter what theme she wanted for her birthday party, I was pretty sure what the answer would be.   Since there is not much Hunger Games birthday party goodies locally, we made most of our own…..I’m sure it is much better on the wallet as well.

We started with some Hunger Games bookmarks for their “goodie bags.”

I got these templates from livinglocurto.com and embellished them with pictures.  I printed them out and glued them to some foam sheets I bought at the dollar store.  I punched holes in the top and tied some longs strings to the punched hole.  I figured anything that might motivate them to read is a good thing!

Next, I bought some red curtain panels from a going-out-of-business sale for $4.00 and created these sling style goodie bags that can be used as a water bottle holder later on or just a little bag to carry things.

I printed out a Mockingjay symbol on card stock paper and cut it out.  I painted over the symbol with white fabric paint and filled in any missed spots or corrections with a small paintbrush.

I used the same technique with the cookies except the “paint” was Wilton gold spray.  I sprayed the symbol on iced (and already dried) cookies.  I cut out the complete opposite part as I did to the sling bags.

For the cake, I made a white sheet cake with butter cream frosting.  While I was making all of the sugar cookies, I cut out a mockingjay symbol out of dough on top of a cookie sheet so that all I had to do was pull apart the excess dough and I could put it directly in the oven.  That way, I didn’t have to transfer it to my cookie sheet and risk messing it up.

I wish I would’ve had time to outline the symbol to make it pop a little better, but I ran out of time.

 

Now, this next image is going to appear a little crazy to any of you that haven’t seen the movie.  It is the cornucopia, the main area that contains any supplies the tributes might need when they go out into the arena.  It is a big silver thing that looks like it is made of metal.  So here goes…..

We started with a cardboard box and taped it all together in the correct shape.  Next we covered it in foil.  At the park, we filled it with water guns, water balls and all kinds of goodies.  This wacky contraption was the main centerpiece of the table at the park.

I definitely started way ahead of time.  I recruited the kids to help me make the bookmarks and used this opportunity to start teaching my daughter how to sew.  I just did a little at a time and before you know it, I had most of it done.  This would definitely be much more time consuming if I had more children.  I think I would constantly be in birthday mode!

Migas! Migas! Migas!

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Since I first posted my salsa recipe, it’s only fitting that I give you something to eat with the salsa.  One of my favorite breakfast items is migas.  It even goes great with a few strips of leftover fajitas from barbecuing the night before .

I start by frying up my corn chips.  I take about 6 or 7 corn tortillas, stack them on top of each other, and I cut them into strips and then into cubes.

I fry them in oil until they are golden brown like this….

I had to fry a couple chips to eat with my salsa too since I had the oil going already!  After frying, place them on a paper towel to absorb some of the extra oil.  A little tip:  You are more than welcome to use all the little bits of broken corn tortilla chips that end up at the bottom of the bag that usually get thrown out.  If you are using thin tortilla chips, you want to wait until the very last minute to throw them in because, if not, they will easily get blended in with the eggs and will be almost non-existent.  Right before serving would be a great time to throw those thin chips in.

Before I get to forget to mention it, let’s talk about hot peppers for a second.  If you want your migas to be spicy, I would go with a jalapeno or serrano pepper in this dish.  If you like the pepper flavor without a lot of spicyness, if you have kids or in my case a Mexican husband who doesn’t like spicy foods (crazy, right?), I use poblano peppers.  Those are the big peppers that normally get stuffed with all kinds of goodies, then battered and fried to create chiles rellenos.  In my case, I use them in migas.

 

I use about half of one of those big poblano peppers and freeze the rest in a Ziploc bag for next time.  I chop that and about half of an onion and saute in oil until soft.  Once these are soft, I add either a chopped fresh tomato or a few leftover canned tomatoes from when I made the salsa if I’m out of fresh ones.

While the peppers and onions are cooking, I start getting the eggs ready.  I scramble them and pour into the onions and pepper mix.  When they are about halfway done cooking, I throw in my cheese.  I like to use Velveeta or a few American cheese slices to make it creamy but you can use cheddar…just remember, depending on the cheese you use, you will get a different texture and taste.

When the eggs are completely cooked and no longer runny, the migas are ready!  Serve either alone or on a taco.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

6-7 corn tortillas, cut into cubes

oil for frying

1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 onion, diced

garlic, salt, and pepper

1 fresh tomato, diced

10 eggs, scrambled

8 oz Velvetta, approx.

Fry the cubes of corn tortillas in oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Use a few tablespoons of the leftover oil to saute the poblano and onion until the onion is translucent and the pepper is soft.  While cooking, season with garlic, salt and pepper as you like and scramble the eggs.  When the pepper/onion mix is cooked, add the tomato and scrambled eggs.  When the eggs are halfway done scrambling, add the cheese until almost melted.  Once the cheese is about completely melted, add the fried corn chips.  Serve alone or on a flour tortilla.