Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cheesecake Praline Squares

Back in the days when I lived a couple hours away from my parents, my mom would make this cheesecake often when I would come visit. Now that I've moved backed to my hometown and only 15 minutes away from their house, my visits aren't such a special occasion anymore. Not that I'm complaining about the mini candy bars that she keeps in the crisper but I really miss this cheesecake. Fortunately, she still makes it for holidays. See the picture above? That was my plate for Independence Day. And I'm not even sorry about it.

Cheesecake Praline Squares (originally from Taste of Home magazine)

Crust:2 cups flour
1 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 TBS powdered sugar

Filling:3 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest or juice

Topping:1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine flour, butter, pecans and powdered sugar. Press into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla and lemon. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar and cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour over cheesecake. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Cut into squares.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sock It To Me!

When we were in Memphis last month we had a full intinerary. There were museums for the boys, a motorcyle shop for WD, the truck race for all of us BUT the one place I wanted to visit was Neely's Bar-B-Que. I just love watching Down Home with the Neely's on the Food Network. Know what else I love? Pulled pork sandwiches, that's what. But let's talk about what I had for dessert: The Sock-It-To-Me Cake.

Although I've never had this cake before it's a popular recipe that can be found on the box of Duncan Hines' butter recipe cake mix. The Neely's (or more specifically Mama Neely) has tweaked the recipe a bit and the outcome is delicious. The cake is so moist and the lemon glaze is an unexpected but welcoming flavor. And if you have any left over--and surprisingly, I did!--it's perfect for breakfast with a cup of hot tea.

Mama Neely's Sock-It-To-Me Cake (original recipe can be found here)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

Glaze:1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cake:1 package golden cake mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
For streusel filling, combine all ingredients and set aside.
Blend glaze ingredients and set aside.
Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, water, sugar and flour in a large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes with electric mixer. Pour 1/2 of batter into a greased 13 by 9-inch pan. Sprinkle streusel filling on top and swirl the filing. Spoon remaining batter evenly over filling. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes invert onto serving plate, cool completely.
For glaze:Combine sugar, milk and lemon juice in bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Paula Deen's Squash Casserole

Get out the butter--it's time for another recipe from Paula Deen!
Our squash is coming in nicely this year and although my husband can eat fried squash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I thought a little change was due. Since I had great success with Paula's Apple Bacon Cheddar Sandwich and her Cookie Dough Truffles, I decided to give her Squash Casserole a try. You didn't have to twist my arm, though. Sour cream...cheddar...that's right up my alley. And it turned out great--just as yummy as it sounds!
Squash Casserole (recipe from Paula Deen)
6 cups large diced yellow squash and zucchini (I just used yellow squash)
vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (I used half an onion)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon House seasoning, recipe follows
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed butter crackers (recommended: Ritz) (I used Keebler's Club crackers)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute the squash in a little vegetable oil over medium-low heat until it has completely broken down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander. Squeeze excess moisture from the squash. Set aside. (I guess I did something wrong--I didn't have any excess moisture!)
In a medium size skillet, saute the onion in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and mix all ingredients together except cracker crumbs. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
House Seasoning:
1/4 cup salt
1 TBS black pepper
1 TBS garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Favorite BBQ Sauce

While eating our traditional Fourth of July dinner last Saturday I asked my sister what she liked better: Fourth of July food or Thanksgiving food. With her mouth full of potato salad she enthusiastically pointed at her plate. I was in the minority at the table because I picked Thanksgiving food. It wasn't an easy decision to make though. Especially when there was platter of grilled chicken made with my favorite bbq sauce right in front of me.

My dad has absolutely no sweet tooth so this was the sauce that I grew up on. No ketchup or brown sugar here. It's a thin, tangy sauce that requires small cupfuls placed on the table for extra dipping. I hope you love it as much as I do!

BBQ Sauce

3 sticks butter
8 cups water
1 quart apple cider vinegar
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup salt
1/2 TBS black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Heat through until butter is melted. Set some aside for dipping and use the rest as a marinade for chicken.

P.S. Remind me at Thanksgiving, when my sister is enjoying buttered rolls, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, what her favorite food holiday is!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

I love the classic mustard based potato salad full of hard boiled eggs and olives. My husband, well, he doesn't like it. At all. And since summer wouldn't be complete without potato salad I came up with this recipe for a Loaded Baked Potato Salad. The concept is pretty popular but after making this several times and trying different ingredients (chives, no chives, white cheddar crumbles, no cheese, more or less mayo, etc.) I think I've found the right combination. Now we just have to agree on whether it should be served hot or cold!
Loaded Baked Potato Salad
3 lbs. red potatoes, diced
2-3 TBS salt
pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Combine mayo and sour cream in a large bowl. Add pepper, onion, cheese and bacon and mix together. Add cooked potatoes and stir until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Croque Monsieur

I was going through my odds-and-ends box on my desk one day, trying to thin it out a bit, and I came across this postcard from my brother. It was from one of his trips to Paris and just in case you can't make out the writing, I will translate:

Bonjour! I spent yesterday at the Palace of Versailles and you didn't! Today, maybe I will go to the Louvre...and you won't! See ya, sucker!

That was a little rude, wasn't it? I'll show him, though. I'll make my own ham and cheese sandwich, French style. The Croque Monsieur. It's a delicious hot sandwich made with ham and lots of swiss and topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. It's a little taste of France in the middle of Arkansas.

Croque Monsieur (original recipe from Ina Garten)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Poke Salad

Once upon a time, when my daddy was a boy, he walked all the way into town to see a movie with a friend. But before they could set off for the matinee, his friend had to pick a mess of poke salad for his mother. So the kid grabbed a bag, quickly stuffed it full of dead leaves and then put some poke salad on the top. He left it for his momma to find and they took off down the road heading into town. Sneaky, huh?

I'm not sure what kind of punishment the kid ended up getting--maybe he wasn't allowed to watch Howdy Doody for a week, or worse, maybe he had to give up Dragnet altogether--but I do know he missed out on some yummy greens for dinner.

We're fortunate to have quite a bit of poke growing in the backyard out by our burn pile. It's very poisonous so don't pick it if it's too big--you want to make sure that the leaves are from young shoots, less than 6 inches long, and don't have any red color to them. I've heard that you can peel the stalks and fry them like okra but I'm not brave enough to try it. I'll just stick to the leaves, thank you.

Poke Salad

a mess of poke
1 or 2 eggs
bacon fat
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add poke. Let boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse leaves in a colander and rinse out the cooking pot. Add more water to the pot and bring to second boil. Add poke and boil for another 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse leaves again and squeeze out the excess water like you would with spinach. Add to a skillet with some bacon fat, scramble an egg into the greens, and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Roasted Chickpeas

Need a healthy snack? I do. I'm still on the South Beach diet and so far so good. Really good, actually, with snacks like roasted chickpeas it makes me forget that I'm on a diet. WD isn't a fan of garbanzo beans but Little pup and I ate a whole can yesterday afternoon. It makes a salty, crunchy, healthy afternoon snack. And you can pretty much use any seasoning you like--cumin, chili powder, or cayenne if you like it spicy, but I usually just stick to salt and garlic, especially when my 4 year old is around.

Roasted Chickpeas

1 can (15 oz) Chickpeas (Garbanzos)
1 TBS olive oil

Drain the chick peas and rinse in a colander. Pour out onto a dish towel and pat dry. Put chick peas into a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and garlic. Pour onto a baking sheet and put into oven (I use a toaster oven for this and I think it works even better) for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Don't bother preheating. Shake the pan every 15 minutes. When they're done, let cool and enjoy!

Serving size-1/2 cup, calories-110, fat-2g, sugars-1g, protein-6g, AND it has 24% of your daily value of fiber.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The SB Peanut Butter Cup

A couple of years ago, we moved in with my parents while our house was under construction. I was living the good life. Babysitters at my disposal 24/7, no meals to cook, and the freezer was always stocked with ice cream. And I like ice cream. A lot. So after we moved into our new house, I unpacked my scales and discovered I had gained a lot of extra weight. Like, 20 pounds extra. I started the South Beach diet and lost 8 pounds in the first 2 weeks and I gradually reached my weight loss goal. It wasn't too difficult. But I definitely could not have made it without the South Beach Peanut Butter Cup. And now that I'm back on the SB diet, thanks to all that fudge sauce I've been guzzling lately, I look forward to this dessert every night after I put the kids to bed.

The SB Peanut Butter Cup

1 no sugar added fudgesicle
2 TBS natural peanut butter
2 TBS sugar free Cool Whip

Put fudgesicle in the microwave for about 10 seconds, scrape off stick into a bowl. Add natural peanut butter and sugar free Cool Whip and mix together.

Total calories-270, sugar-3g, fat-18g (the good kind)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon Hot Fudge Sauce

Okay. So these are not Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They're green seedless grapes from Walmart. But there is Cabernet Sauvignon in the hot fudge sauce---and it's delicious. There's a local winery here that sells it and I've been trying to duplicate the recipe. Finally, after 3 failed experiments and an extra 10 pounds around my midsection, I have found the PERFECT wine infused hot fudge sauce. Once it has cooled in the fridge, it is creamy and thick and fudgy and unless you hide it on the top shelf behind that old jar of apricot preserves, your 4 year old son will find it and eat half of it while you are on the computer. Really. I know from experience.
Cabernet Sauvignon Hot Fudge Sauce (adapted from the Boulevard Cookbook).
1 stick butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch Processed Cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark cocoa)
4 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (I used the 3.53 oz Dove 63% cacao bar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium saucepan over medium/low heat, combine the butter, wine, corn syrup and sugar. When the butter has melted, stir in the cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate, vanilla and salt, and whisk to combine. Pour into a heatproof glass storage container or bowl. Chill until ready to use. Can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ham And Shells Casserole

I know, this isn't the greatest picture in the world, but it tastes better than it looks. I have the worst luck photographing pasta--I just can't seem to make it look appetizing. But it is. Trust me. The carmelized onions, the rosemary, and the smokiness of the ham give this dish a lot of flavor. You want to know another reason why I like this dish? Because it's a casserole and casseroles can feed a lot of people. And it usually can be made ahead. That's why. Perfect for Easter coming up.

Ham and Shells Casserole (from Taste of Home magazine)

1 pkg (16 oz) medium pasta shells
3 large onions, halved and sliced (I used 2)
1 TBS olive oil
1 pkg (9 oz) fresh spinach, torn (I used a pkg of baby spinach)
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp pepper
3 1/2 cups milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled goat cheese (I used feta)
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to pkg directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook and stir onions in oil for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Add spinach and rosemary; cook 1-2 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in ricotta and goat cheeses until blended.

Drain pasta; place in a large bowl. Add the ham, onion mixture and sauce; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; sprinkle with Parm. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

And for the 2 people who's made it this far, what are you serving for Easter dinner!?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Tim Tam Slam

Okay, Australia, you've got your cuddly koalas, your magnificent Great Barrier Reef, and your rugged outback--must you keep all the Tim Tams for yourself? You must? Well, I don't blame you. But can you at least convince Pepperidge Farm to continue producing these cookies in the states forever and ever? Right now, for a limited time only, they can only be found at Target. But you don't understand, Australia, I NEED these cookies in my life! More specifically, I need the Tim Tam Slam!

For my Tim Tamless fellow Americans, I will attempt to explain this heavenly experience. First, head to Target and buy a package or 12 of Tim Tams.

Some folks say it's better to refrigerate them for awhile but I couldn't wait.Prepare a hot beverage--I used green tea.

Then, bite off two opposing corners and use it like a straw to suck up the tea, and then, when you feel the hot tea on your tongue, promptly pop the cookie into your mouth, and then....
...well, this is where I lost the use of my mental faculties and didn't get any after pictures so let me just say...nothing. Because there are no words. It's indescribable--you'll just have to try it yourself. The hot tea melts the inside of the cookie and when you pop it in your mouth the whole thing just collapses into a chocolatey mess. It's a divine experience. And it's too bad that the nearest Target is over an hour away but I guess it beats going all the way to Australia.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Homemade Brownies

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I admitted that I once kept a framed print of Emily Dickinson on my desk? Well, I also used to have a key chain that displayed a baby picture of Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird. I had cut out the picture from a Sports Illustrated magazine. I had issues. Big issues.

I was just following in the footsteps of my Granny B and her love for the Celtics, although I am positive she never carried around pictures of celebrities or sports figures from when they were babies. She's much more stable than I am. She's also a better baker than I am. Every Sunday, she fixes a big dinner and she always makes dessert. One of my favorites is her homemade brownies.

Brownies (original recipe from the 1970 edition of The Home Economics Teachers Cookbook)

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3 TBS cocoa
6 TBS cream (my grandma uses evaporated milk)
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs; beat. Add remaining ingredients except nuts and beat thoroughly. Fold in nuts. Pour into square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Paglia E Fieno Alla Papalina

First, let me start by apologizing to the late Pope Pius XII and to Italians everywhere. This is not really Straw and Hay for the Pope. This is only hay (egg fettuccini) because there is a certain small town in Arkansas where you can not find straw (spinach fettuccini). I know. It's a shame, isn't it? I think I'll write my congressman. But first, here's a great recipe for those Friday dinners during Lent.

Straw and Hay for the Pope (original recipe from Nancy Berzinac's gift book, Pasta Favorites)

1 (9 oz) package fresh spinach fettuccine
1 (9 oz) package fresh egg fettuccine
1/2 butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup (about 1/4 lb) sliced mushrooms
1 (10 oz) package frozen baby peas, thawed
1 cup julienned prosciutto or ham (opt out if your abstaining from meat)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium sauce pan, bring cream, 1/4 cup butter and pepper to a simmer (I add a little garlic powder).
Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.
Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Increase heat to medium, add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add peas and proscuitto and saute another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and add to fettuccini. Add cream sauce to fettuccini, as well, and toss to combine.

P.S. Word is that before Eugenio Pacelli became pope, he requested a dish similar to carbonara but a little lighter, and this is what he got. With all that butter and cream, I'm not sure if I would call it "light" but it is good!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

French Dip Sandwiches

My husband, WD, has been working the night shift this past month and usually leaves the house around 5 p.m. That means I don't have very much time after I pick Big pup up from school to get dinner on the table. I'm always looking for something fast and easy to prepare. Cue the sandwiches, please! You can't get more easy than sandwiches.

These French Dip sandwiches are really good too. After WD had gone to work that evening, I was getting the boys ready for bed and I got a text message from him. He wanted to let me know that he was still thinking about me the sandwiches we had for dinner and was wondering if there were any leftovers. Isn't that romantic? The way to a man's heart is definitely through his stomach.

French Dip Sandwiches (original recipe from Recipezaar)

1 lb thinly sliced roast beef
1 can (10 1/2 oz) beef consomme
1 can (10 1/2 oz) french onion soup
1 onion
2 bell peppers
sliced provolone cheese
1 pkg hard rolls

Slice onion and peppers and saute over medium heat until soft.
Simmer roast beef slices, consomme, and soup until heated through.
Slice rolls in half and put cheese on the top half--put under the broiler to toast and melt the cheese (does that make sense? You want the bottom half on the roll toasted and the top half with the cheese to be melted).
Take the toasty bottom half of the roll and dip it into the au jus, top with roast beef, add peppers and onion, then top it with the cheesy half of the roll.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Triple Chocolate Trifle

Look what I made for the Super Bowl festivities this past Sunday. It's a Triple Chocolate Trifle! And I will be making it for Valentines Day, and for the Daytona 500 coming up, and again for my birthday in March, and let's see, what else? I need more excuses to make this trifle! And I promise that next time I'll share more of it with my 4 year old. Earlier this week he kept asking, "Where's that thing we ate at the Super Bowl party?" And he wasn't talking about the spinach cheese dip either. So now I feel guilty and the only way to assuage my guilt is to make more. Yeah. That's it.

Triple Chocolate Trifle

1 pkg oreo cookies
3 TBS butter
1 large box of instant chocolate pudding
3 cups milk
1 box brownie mix (plus ingredients needed for mix)
16 oz whipped topping
trifle bowl--see what I used? It's actually a big candle holder that I bought to put Sangria in:)

Scrape the filling off of the cookies and put into a food processor to make crumbs. Mix half the crumbs with the melted butter and press down into trifle bowl.

Stir the pudding mix into the milk and after it's whisked together, stir in 8 ounces of the whipped topping. Add half of this mixture to the oreo crust.

Then add half of the brownies, broken into bite size pieces.

Then add a layer of 4 ounces of whipped topping, then the rest of the oreo crumbs, followed by the rest of the pudding, then brownies, then the rest of the whipped topping. Garnish with cherries.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chicken Tacos

In an effort to keep my husband, WD, from setting up residence at any of the numerous taco trucks around town, I decided to venture away from the Old El Paso taco kits that I usually buy and make my own chicken tacos. The corn tortillas and toppings were a no brainer--the simpler, the better. Just a little onion, some monterey jack cheese, sliced avocado and a little cilantro. But I needed a recipe for some really flavorful chicken.

After searching around online I found the perfect recipe for shredded chicken at For the Love of Cooking. Pam has such great recipes including one for Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup that I'd love to try. And if you're looking for cookie recipes, she has many of those to choose from too, and they all look delicious. I'm so glad I found her blog. Now, I just need to find a recipe for Tacos al Pastor and WD can break his addiction to taco trucks for good!

Shredded Chicken (from For the Love of Cooking)

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and boil for 20 minutes (or longer--I've let it boil for an hour before which I blame on Twilight). Shred chicken with 2 forks after they've cooled.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies

Ever since the first Presidential Cookie Bake-Off in 1992, the winner of the bake-off has gone on to win the election. There was Hillary Clinton (with my favorite chocolate chip cookies) in '92 and '96. Then Laura Bush in '00 and '04. But 2008 was different. Cindy McCain won the contest with her recipe for Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies but she didn't make it to the White House. That honor went to the Obamas. And personally, I think Michelle should have won the bake-off, too. Her shortbread cookies are dense, full of citrusy flavor, and perfect with a cup of hot tea.

Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies (Bake-Off results are here)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (of course, I used salted butter)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tbs Amaretto (I used 1 tsp almond extract)
1 tsp each orange and lemon zest
3 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg white
chopped nuts or dried fruit, optional (I used chopped pecans)

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line a 17 x 12 x 1-inch baking pan with nonstick foil. In large bowl, cream together butter and 1-1/2 cups of the sugar.
2. Slowly add egg yolks, and beat well until smooth. Beat in Amaretto and zest.
3. Stir in flour and salt until combined.
4. Spread dough evenly into prepared pan, flattening as smoothly as possible.
5. Brush top of dough with egg white; sprinkle with nuts or fruit (if using) and with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
6. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes or until brown, turn off oven and allow cookies to sit in oven (with door ajar) for 15 minutes. Cut while slightly warm.

VERDICT: Yum! My mom liked them so much that she made a batch for herself earlier this week. The dough is kind of thick, you won't think that you'll be able to spread it all out in a 17 x 12 pan, but it can happen. The original recipe says that it makes 6 dozen cookies. No way it makes that many. I got around 2 dozen, as did my mom.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

The Year of the Ox is upon us (January 26) so I decided to share the only Asian inspired dish I know how to make. It's sweet, savory, spicy, nutty, satisfying, and super easy.

Did you know I'm an Ox? Yep. I am. If you were born in 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, or 1997 you are an Ox too. We are patient, speak little, and inspire confidence in others. We also bring great sorrow and ruin to those who cross us. So you might want to think twice about cutting me off in traffic. Just sayin'.

Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

2-3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch broccoli
2 TBS honey
1/4 cup stir-fry sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cashews, divided use
1 box (13.25 oz) whole wheat angel hair pasta

Cut up broccoli--just the florets--and put in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and nuke for 6 minutes; drain.Cook chicken in a skillet over medium heat until done. Add stir-fry sauce, water, honey, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil then add broccoli and 1/4 cup cashews. Stir together then serve over cooked pasta. Top with remaining cashews. Enjoy!Oh, wait! Make this the second Asian inspired dish I know how to make--I forgot about my Peanut Sauce!