Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finally tried the Joy of Baking recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies, click here for the original recipe. I did adapt the recipe, because I always like to add in extra vanilla and I don't always follow directions.  I wanted to see how these cookies compared to my classic chocolate chip cookies recipe.  In comparison, the classic chocolate chip cookies are thin and more crisp than these chocolate chip cookies from Joy of Baking.  These chocolate chip cookies were soft and chewy.  I brought these into work recently and they were a hit!  

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups chocolate chips, semisweet


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.  Beat until creamy and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. 

Slowly add in dry ingredients to egg mixture (about ½ cup at a time). 

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough by tablespoon onto baking sheets. 

Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Cool cookies completely on wire racks.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Creamy Mushroom and Artichoke Soup

This creamy mushroom and artichoke soup is one of my favorites.  It is a really easy soup to put together for either a meal or as a starter.  This soup can be really filling and is perfect for a light dinner or lunch.  I’ve been making this soup for a couple years now and everyone who has tried it so far enjoys it.   It has been crazy busy these last few days with Thanksgiving and now back to work.   Enjoy!

Creamy Mushroom and Artichoke Soup

½ cup onions, diced
1 cup mushrooms, diced (I used cremini mushrooms.)
½ cup artichoke hearts, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespooon cornstarch
4 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1 cup heavy cream (You may use half and half or milk.)
1 teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon black pepper


In a large pan, over medium heat, add butter, onions, and mushrooms.  Sauté until onions and mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in diced artichokes.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch with 1 cup chicken stock. 

Pour in cornstarch mixture.  Slowly add in remaining chicken stock.

Cover and allow to simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Next, stir in heavy cream.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Easy Peanut Butter Pie

I am making this easy peanut butter pie for Thanksgiving.  I am going nontraditional dessert this year.  This pie is loved by everyone who I have served it to and I've made it on several occasions.  I first saw a peanut butter pie on a tv show featuring Yoder's Amish Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida, where they served their famous peanut butter pie.  My easy peanut butter pie is a knockoff recipe of Yoder's.  If you search for "Yoder's peanut butter pie", you will be able to find a bunch of recipes online for it.  I hope my family loves this pie as much as I do.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  

Easy Peanut Butter Pie

1 baked pie crust (frozen, deep dish, 9 or 10 inch)
1 package of vanilla pudding (4.6 ounce box of Jello cook and serve pudding.)
3 cups milk (I used low fat milk.)
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
8 ounces whipped topping (I used fat-free.)


Make pudding according to package directions – stir pudding mix into 3 cups milk in medium saucepan.  Bring to full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Pour into a container and cover with plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding.  Chill in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Bake pie crust according to package directions – allow frozen pie crust to defrost in countertop for 15 to 20 minutes.   Prick crust with a fork all over to prevent bubbling of crust while baking.  Bake in 400 degree F for 7 to 9 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.

For crumb mixture - in a bowl, mix together powdered sugar and crunchy peanut butter using a hand mixer until crumbly. 

Place half the crumbs into pie shell. 

Spoon pudding on top of crumbs.

Place remaining crumbs on top of pudding and reserve a little of the crumbs to sprinkle on top.

Spoon whipped topping on top of the crumbs.  Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top.

Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serves 8.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Classic Green Bean Casserole

I really love green bean casserole for some reason; maybe it’s the crunchy fried onions or the cheese or both!  I adapted this recipe from Paula Deen's Green Bean Casserole recipe.   I saw the fried onion pieces from Trader Joe’s and used those instead of the usual French’s french fried onions.  I also used my homemade cream of mushroom soup, which is so much better than the canned condensed soup.   Overall this classic green bean casserole is perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish!

Classic Green Bean Casserole

2 cups green beans, sliced (from my local farmers’ market.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup onion, diced (I used a yellow onion.)
½ cup mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini mushrooms.)
2 cups cream of mushroom soup (I used homemade soup.)
1 cup french fried onions (I used Trader Joe’s.)
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar and Italian mix)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add green beans.  Boil for about 5 minutes and drain.

In a large pan, over medium heat, add butter and olive oil.  Add onions and mushrooms, sauté for about 5 minutes until softened and browned.  

Add in green beans to onions and mushrooms.

Stir in cream of mushroom soup.  Add in garlic, salt and pepper. 

Stir in ½ cup french fried onions.

Pour mixture into 8x8 inch baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with shredded cheese and remaining ½ cup French fried onions. 

Bake for additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serves 6.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cream of Mushroom Soup

You probably normally buy canned condensed cream of mushroom soup, because I always did.  I came upon a couple recipes for homemade cream of mushroom soup and it is so much better!  I adapted my recipe from the FinerThings in Life and HeavenlyHomemakers.  I use cream of mushroom soup in a lot of recipes so this is great that I can use my own homemade version.  Not only is this more healthy, its more cost effective.  Hope you can try this recipe too for the next time you need cream of mushrooms soup for a recipe.  I'm using it in my green bean casserole (recipe to be posted soon). You can also just eat it as is if you like cream of mushroom soup because it is delicious!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini mushrooms.)
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup cornstarch
4 cups milk, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon black pepper


In a large pan, over medium heat, add butter and mushrooms.  Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

In a bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 ½ cups milk.  Whisk until combined.  (You could also use a lidded container to shake together the cornstarch and milk until combined.)

Next, whisk the cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms.

Slowly add the remaining milk.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Whisk until smooth and soup is thickened.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Roasted and Glazed Brussels Sprouts

I am a veggie lover and these roasted and glazed brussels sprouts are absolutely fantastic.  This is another Thanksgiving side dish test.  I adapted this recipe from Guy Fieri's Bumped-Up Brussels Sprouts recipe.  Guy used pancetta in his recipe but I am still in a bacon kick and need to use up all the bacon I have.  I also used a peach flavored balsamic vinegar that I received as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law.  I think it gives a hint of flavor that you don't really know where it comes from but its so good!  These roasted and glazed brussels sprouts are sweet and salty - they may be perfect for Thanksgiving.  If you don't like brussels spourts, you might change your mind with this recipe! 

Roasted and Glazed Brussels Sprouts

3 slices of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon capers
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used a peach flavor.)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (You may use 2 tablespoons if you want it more sweet.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a dutch oven or ovenproof pan, over medium heat, cook bacon and capers.

Remove bacon and capers from pan, and reserve a little of the bacon fat in the pan.

Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and cook until they begin to brown (about 5 minutes).  

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil.  Season with a little salt (because bacon and capers are already salty) and pepper.

Place pan into oven and roast about 15 to 20 minutes.  Toss brussels sprouts a few times during roasting time.

Remove from oven and toss bacon and capers with brussels sprouts.  Season with additional salt and/or pepper if needed.

Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Croutons

Homemade croutons are so easy to make and less expensive than store bought croutons.   These homemade croutons were crispy and delicious.  I hate wasting bread and using leftover bread to make croutons is an excellent way to not be wasteful.  These homemade croutons are great with a Caesar salad or any salad if you want to add some crunch.  I used slices of leftover simple yeast bread since I had it in the freezer.  I took the frozen slices the night before and left it out to defrost on my kitchen counter.  They were ready the next morning to make these homemade croutons.  So if you have leftover bread, you can have homemade croutons anytime. 

Homemade Croutons

6 slices white bread, stale (I used leftover slices from my simple yeast bread recipe.)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Cube bread into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, parsley, garlic, and salt.

Toss bread cubes into bowl with seasoned oil until bread cubes are evenly coated.

Spread bread cubes onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes until bread cubes are crispy and golden brown.

Stir croutons and bake for additional 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and toss croutons with parmesan cheese if desired. 

Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for up to 1 week.