Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chocolate and Peppermint Swirl Cookies

Yummy note: This month, my group with the Secret Recipe Club is on a break, so we will be back with our regular group posting in mid-January. Instead, a few of us (like 60-some bloggers!) decided to get in the spirit of the holiday fun and do a Cookie Carnival, which is basically a virtual cookie exchange. I wish I had some addresses of my fellow Secret Recipe Club friends, as I'd ship them some delicious cookies that I ended up making. I made not one, but two different cookies from my cookie match, Sawsan from Chef in Disguise. My cookie match had some awesome choices to pick from...she calls herself a "food explorer" which is perfectly fitting for her as she tries out and blogs about various foods from around the world. Speaking of trying food from around the world, I think this is one of my first international bloggers to review in the SRC so it was an exciting find. Sawsan has such a variety of recipes on her site, and if you are ever looking for traditional middle eastern cuisine, please check her blog out as that's her speciality. Now on to the cookies- I picked these chocolate and peppermint swirl cookies as my daughter has been asking me for mint chocolate things lately, so I thought she'd really enjoy these, and they are super festive! With so many choices on Sawsan's blog, I had to try the date and ranger cookies as well from Chef in Disguise and those were packed full of flavor and might be my new favorite as well. :) I hope you all enjoy making some cookies this holiday season and share some with your friends and family as we did. 




Chocolate and Peppermint Swirl Cookies


Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the chocolate half:
2 tablespoons cocoa

For the peppermint half:
1-2 teaspoons green food coloring
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions: 
Mix butter and sugar until creamy, then add in the egg and vanilla/almond extracts. Gradually add in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Divide the dough in half.  And add cocoa to the one batch, and the green food coloring and peppermint extract to the other. Chill for about 15 minutes. Roll each dough out on waxed paper, forming two different large rectangles. Next, place the two rectangular-shaped dough sheets on top of one another. Peel the one waxed paper sheet off and trim dough if needed to align. Use the waxed paper as a guide and roll up rectangle starting with the long side. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes or so, and then cut the log into 1 cm slices. Arrange on a prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for about 5-8 minutes or until the cookie starts to set and the bottom begins to brown. Sawsan noted to briefly set the cookies under the broiler to brown the tops slightly if desired. Allow to cool before removing from pan and enjoy!  


Roll out dough into rectangles and stack on each other. 
Roll up using the long edge of the rectangle to start your swirl cookies. 

Use a sharp knife and cut out 1 cm thick slices and bake.

Festive Chocolate and Peppermint Swirl Cookies! 

I had to try out Sawsan's go-to cookie recipe, also. The Chef in Disguise said was probably her favorite cookie recipe and I see why... it is fantastic, chewy, flavorful cookie, that I even snuck a few for breakfast. Yummy.. So try out the oats and date ranger cookies too if you are looking for a good comfort cookie. 
Oat and Date Ranger Cookies

Happy Holidays from Heather at It's Yummy to My Tummy!




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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Taco Pizza

Yummy note: I'm not sure I need much explanation for this post, especially if you are from the midwest area and have had Happy Joe's pizza before. They have a bunch of fantastic speciality pizzas that you just have to try in you are ever in the area of one. Our family favorite is the Taco Joe. However, when you find yourself hours away from a Happy Joe's location and you are craving a piece of taco pizza, no-- not a Mexican pizza from some other pizza establishment, but real taco pizza, you find yourself trying to recreate the original. This has been our closest rendition of the Taco Joe pizza we have grown up loving. 




Taco Pizza

Ingredients: 
  • 2/3 cup of taco sauce
  • 2/3 cup of tomato sauce or pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup of refried beans
  • 1 package of taco meat seasoning (about 1/4 cup taco seasoning) 
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups or so of taco-blend cheese or mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza Crust (preferably homemade -see below recipe, or a pre-made crust) 
  • Toppings for Regular Taco Pizza: 
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomato (or could use salsa)
  • Doritos or similar taco chips, broken up
  • Optional to make a Taco Supreme Pizza:
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced black olives
  • Diced onions

Directions: 
Prepare crust per recipe below or use a pre-made crust. Brown ground beef, drain fat if needed; then add in water and taco meat seasoning and simmer for a few minutes. Prepare taco pizza sauce by mixing together 2/3 cup of taco sauce, 2/3 cup of tomato sauce or pizza sauce, and about 1/2 cup of refried beans. Mix until smooth. Top pizza crust with sauce. Add some of the taco meat, sprinkle with the taco-blend cheese and layer with more taco meat. Place in a preheated 425-450 degree oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and brown. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Then add your desired toppings of shredded lettuce, broken up Doritos chips, and chopped tomatoes. For a taco supreme pizza, add sour cream, sliced black olives, and dices onions.  


Pizza dough/Crust recipe
Ingredients: 
1 package of dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp sugar 
1 tbsp olive oil 
3 cups flour 

Directions: 
Dissolve yeast in warm water, then add in dry ingredients-sugar, salt, and flour. Add in 1 tbsp olive oil to mix dough until smooth. Roll into a ball and cover for about 15-20 minutes. Next divide the ball into two sections and roll out or spread onto a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. If you use a pizza stone, sprinkle a little cornmeal on the pizza stone before your spread out your dough. I typically pre-bake the crust for a few minutes (~5 minutes) before adding on the toppings. 

Mix tomato sauce/pizza sauce, refried beans, and taco sauce together until fairly smooth. 

Pre-bake the crust slightly and then layer on the sauce, taco meat and cheese.

Bake in preheated 425-450 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

Top with desired toppings to make a taco pizza or a taco supreme pizza. 



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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Yummy note: Yes, the dreaded kitchen pantry, you know that closet that is often bare and I hear, "there's nothing to eat but random stuff..." Oh, someday I hope to have a larger one or perhaps one that is laid out a bit nicer, to achieve better harmony in my kitchen. :)  So this "random stuff" is what Feast on the Cheap calls a "well-stocked kitchen".  I was very excited to run across this "well-stocked kitchen" idea as it helps me justify better some of my odds and ends things in the cabinets. haha. so thanks to the mother-daughter duo of Mariel and Mary Anne from the Feast on the Cheap blog, as they were my feature for this month's Secret Recipe Club. Earlier this year, they featured my 3 ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe here with the SRC, so I was happy to finally return the favor back to them. 

 I had a few recipes in mind for this month's assignment, so I went rummaging through my pantry to see what I could do... I was making myself a quick lunch with the kiddo, so I wanted something small, quick, yet lunch worthy..  I went back and forth between the Gourmet Pizza and those Brussels Sprouts. It came down to time, and finally realizing, I don't think I have pizza dough in my freezer anymore, so the Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Garlic won. 

Mariel mentioned it would be a good Thanksgiving side dish with a healthier twist, and oh I'd totally agree... I thought it was good as a small lunch or meal just by itself,  however, my little guy was not as excited about them as I was. My youngest took one bite and was like "no thank you" - so we try, that was good, as hopefully the flavors and textures will grow on them the more and more they "just try a bite." So I guess, it's ok as it was more for me to enjoy!



Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon and Garlic


Ingredients: 
2 pints (about a pound) of brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
4 ounces of bacon or pancetta, diced
5 tbsp of olive oil (I used a roasted garlic grapeseed oil.)  
2 tbsp white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio.)
5 cloves garlic, sliced
pepper to taste

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare brussels sprouts by trimming of the bottom end of the sprout and then slicing each one in half. Next, in an oven-safe sauté pan, heat the oil until it is hot and then lay the brussels sprouts, cut side down in the pan. Reduce the heat slightly, and add in the diced bacon, sliced garlic, and white wine. Cook until they begin to brown slightly on the bottom, about 5-8 minutes. Next, transfer the oven-safe sauté pan to the oven. Roast for about another 15 minutes or until the bacon is nice and crispy and the sprouts have a nice brown coloring and are fork tender. Remove from the oven and enjoy!


Just a few ingredients needed to make some big flavors!


Everything getting all toasty in the sauté pan on the stove.

Next, it heads straight into the oven for more roasting. No extra dishes or pans to clean-up when you use an stove/oven-safe pan! 

Finished product of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon and Garlic 

A little dish of crispy, salty, savory deliciousness.  


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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin bars

Yummy note:  I almost was able to grow enough pumpkins for us to carve this year, but fell short by one. I had three nice pumpkins to start. Two were perfect, but one smaller pumpkin appeared to be not quite jack-o-lantern ready. So instead, I ended up buying another to carve, but saved the other one for roasting. I made some nice pumpkin puree out of it and got about 2-3 cups, which was awesome for a pumpkin bar recipe I've been meaning to try out. I've wanted to lighten up this Paula Deen recipe, and try and make it dairy-free and this combination below worked perfect. The applesauce addition was used to eliminate some of the eggs and oil in the recipe, while not taking away from the pumpkin flavor. I am happy to say that it got rave reviews and I will be making this again for a Thanksgiving treat later this month. 




Pumpkin Bars 
(dairy-free) 

Ingredients: 
Pumpkin bars:
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
about 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup oil (can use vegetable or coconut)
15-16 ounces (roughly 2 cups) of pumpkin puree
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice

Frosting:
8 ounce package cream cheese or non-dairy alternative, softened (The non-dairy brand, Tofutti, was preferred- as it set up well and tasted very close to regular cream cheese.)
1/2 cup butter or non-dairy alternative
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, and pumpkin puree until it is mixed well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter in a prepared greased 9x13 pan (or bigger) baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Next prepare the frosting, by combining the non-dairy softened cream cheese and butter and mix until smooth. Add in the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until it is all incorporated, if it is too thick, you can add a few drops of water or if the frosting is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Make sure the pumpkin bars have cooled completely before you frost them.


Add some festive candy to the top for a cute treat. 


I made these in a 9x13 pan, and got a very moist, cake-like pumpkin bar. The bars raised nicely, so I think next time, I will use a slightly larger pan and make a slightly thinner bar.
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

canned applesauce

Yummy note: This summer I've been all about preserving my garden goods (aka, lots of tomatoes) by freezing, canning, and even tried pickling. Last year, I canned zucchini salsa, and that was my extend; this summer I've made several salsas, canned seasoned tomatoes, froze tomato sauce, and even canned some apple pie filling. What else could I try and preserve while I was at it... oh, ding ding, cue in my Secret Recipe Club October blogger -Brooklyn Locavore- for my answer. Melissa from Brooklyn Locavore had some fantastic choices to pick from in regards to preserving local produce. Her main focus is dedicated to living local and only purchasing local ingredients. With that in mind, I wanted to use the same "rule" for my blog post this month. My tomato crop had come down to a halt, so I decided to visit a local apple orchard in hopes to make fantastic tasting applesauce. I selected a small family owned apple orchard, Plank Road Apple Orchard, where I spoke with the owners and they were wonderful in helping pick just the right variety of apples. In fact, they said they put five different varieties of apples in my bag! Melissa noted on her blog, "most important is to use a blend of apples for the best flavor" and "keeping the sauce simple." So true...this applesauce was one of the best tasting ones I've made, and I didn't even have to add any additional sugar or spices. It was pretty amazing that these hand-picked apples were just the right mix of sweetness and tartness to make this applesauce perfect.  



Canned Applesauce 

Ingredients: 
About 15 lbs or so of a variety of apples*  (yields roughly 8-9 pints)
few tablespoons of lemon juice
1 cup water

* Note: When you go to an apple orchard, ask about the best varieties they have for making sauce and baking with. Baking/sauce varieties might consist of Gala, Spartans, Empire, Jonathans, and/or others. Also ask about "seconds" - apples which are slightly imperfect. These "seconds" are fantastic for cooking or baking with, not to mention they are often a fraction of the cost, perfect for buying in bulk to use for canning or freezing. 

Directions: 
Prepare apples by cutting them into quarters and remove the core. Place apples in a large stockpot and add about a cup of water, along with maybe a few tablespoons of lemon juice to the pot. On medium to high heat, bring the pot of apples to a boil. Closely watching the apples, keep stirring the pot and smashing the apples with a potato masher to prevent apples from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Keep simmering the apples until they get very soft. It will probably take a good 20 minutes, depending on your apples. Once all of the apples appear to be mushy, transfer them to a food mill to remove the skins. At this point you have your applesauce, if you wish you could freeze it or begin the canning process. To can the applesauce, make sure you have your waterbath canner started and the water is boiling. While the waterbath canner is getting ready, put the applesauce back into the large stockpot to keep it warm while you prep your canning jars. Keep the applesauce simmering on low, as you want to keep the sauce warm while you are filling the warm canning jars. Ladle the warm applesauce into the canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles in the jar, wipe the rim clean, and place the lid and fasten the ring to the jar with a fingertip tight fit. Process in your waterbath canning for about 20 minutes. Remove the jars and let cool for about 24 hours before you check the lids for proper seals.
   



Plank Road Apple Orchard was so helpful in helping me find the perfect combination of apples to use for my sauce. Oh, and I HAD to get one of their apple cider spice donuts before I left. Yum


Apples heating away in a large stockpot turned to mush! Just right for pushing through the food mill. Using a food mill is simple enough so that my 3 yr old can be a big kitchen helper. Round and round we go
This food mill pictured here was one from my grandma that we used many years ago. I am glad we were able to find it after she passed away so we could be able to use it and keep it in the family now.  
Don't be afraid to try waterbath canning! It is fairly easy with just a few tools. Make sure to check the Ball® website for additional canning tips for starters.

Recipe runner-ups- Even though the canned applesauce recipe won out for this month, I really want to go back and try this strawberry/rhubarb jam, as I have some rhubarb I froze from earlier this year tucked away in my freezer.  Also, my daughter wants me to make these fresh mint chocolate cookies as we have a bunch of chocolate mint that she planted this year and we are not quite sure what to do with it all!   


Please take some time and visit all of the other great bloggers in the Secret Recipe Club Group C that have taken the time to share these recipes! If you want to learn more about the Secret Recipe Club or join the fun, check us out at http://secret-recipe-club.blogspot.com/
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Iced Banana Cookies

Yummy note: I came across this recipe for Iced Banana Cookies this last month from one of my bloggers in the Secret Recipe Club. Oh boy, was it a hit, these banana cookies were almost classified as breakfast-on-the-go for my youngest kid. They were fantastic and will most definitely be making them again soon. This recipe came from Julie over at the Texan New Yorker blog. Her iced banana cookies were very moist, cake-like and flavorful, and such a nice way to use up those brown bananas! They tasted almost like banana muffin tops, perhaps more than a cookie, either way they were super delicious and the kids couldn't stop eating them. 




Iced Banana Cookies 

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup butter or non-dairy spread, softened
2 1/2 cups flour, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, mashed
*optional handful of chocolate chips

Glaze: 
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
up to 3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions: 
Beat the butter or non-dairy alternative for about 30 seconds, until it begins to cream. Add in 1 cup of the flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla to the mixing bowl. Mix well and then add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour. Finally, add in the mashed bananas to the mixture and mix well. Using a cookie dough scooper, drop dough on a prepared baking sheet with either a silpat or parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 9 minutes. Next, mix up the glaze, by adding the powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and begin to mix in a few teaspoons of water at a time. Begin to mix together until a thick glaze forms. If you accidentally add to much water, just add in a little bit of powdered sugar to thicken it back up. When the cookies are done, let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Frost banana cookies with glaze and enjoy!






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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yummy note: I looked into my freezer the other night and gasped... omg, I ran out of my frozen cookie dough balls! How can that be, it looked so bare, cold and empty, oh so sad. :(  They are like my secret little addiction, I will take out a frozen cookie ball and eat it like that or pop it into the microwave for a few seconds and par-bake it before devouring it before anyone notices. lol. Shh...mommy needs a treat at night too. So, I needed to change that empty cookie dough container immediately.  Luckily for me, I had just been doing some reading up for my Secret Recipe Club assignment and Julie from The Texan New Yorker had plenty of good stuff to choose from that might just fit. Cookies were on my brain that's for sure, so I had noted a few... I do love my sweet potatoes... never made those before- Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies, or wait a minute, Duck Fat Cookies - woah, looks awesome to try, but not sure where I'd find the duck fat, but it would be a refrigerator style of cookie that would hold up to the freezer. Then I saw these, Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies; it had been awhile since I've made cookies with butter. Yes, butter is a like an evil word around here, since my youngest is allergic to dairy, it is a treat when I use it. So why not, I'll just keep these tucked away in the freezer for myself to enjoy ;-)  


Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies 





Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter (make sure you have atleast 1 stick at room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp molasses
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips



Directions: 
Julie notes a great tutorial here to view if you've never browned butter before. That is the first step of making these cookies. Place 9 tablespoons of butter in a stainless steel pan or skillet and heat over medium heat. Melt butter. Once the butter completely melts, it will froth, bubble and begin to crackle. It starts to begin to smell delicious, too, haha. At this point, keep a close watch and make sure it doesn't start to burn or blacken. This is basically the water being cooked out of the butter, as then it begins to brown. This happens very quick, it can go from golden to brown in minutes, so be careful. 

Once the butter has browned, remove from the heat and pour into a different container to cool. Make sure to scrape all of the brown butter bits at the bottom of the pan out too. Next, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons of room temperature butter with the granulated sugar. Cream for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and molasses. Next add in the cooled brown butter and brown sugar. Cream until well mixed and add in the egg and the egg yolk. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Once eggs have been mixed in, then add in your flour mixture to the batter and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks by hand. Cover the bowl and chill for about 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once dough has chilled, scoop cookie dough using a tablespoon scoop and bake on a silpat or parchment-lines baking sheet. Bake cookies for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside. The inside will still be slightly soft in the center when the timer goes off, so make sure to let cookies rest on the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to cool.  


Brown the butter first, then mix up the rest of the cookie dough. 

At first, I wasn't sure if these cookies were going to make it out of the oven. The dough itself was nibbled on quite a bit. I loved the caramel-almost nutty flavor tones in these cookies. 

The cookies were slightly crispy on the outside, and yummy gooey inside. 

Golden brown butter chocolate chip cookies, looking pretty perfect. 

All ready for the freezer to keep my cookie dough stash nicely stocked!


Oh, and I felt a little guilty for enjoying these delicious Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies all by myself, so I had to make some other cookies to share with the kids. I made some of Julie's Iced Banana Cookies as well. They were so moist, cake-like and flavorful, and such a nice way to use up those brown bananas! They tasted almost like banana muffin tops, more than a cookie, and they were super delicious and the kids couldn't stop eating them. I will post that recipe later this week as well, as I don't want to loose that recipe! :) Thanks again to the Texan New Yorker for these scrumptious recipes I got to try this month for the Secret Recipe Club!





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