April 11, 2014

Oreo Truffle Brownies

There is something about the word “Oreo” that makes me want to make (and eat!) any recipe I come across that has it in it. That’s what happened when I saw these oreo brownies. Luckily, Matt and I were invited to dinner at a friend’s house and I just happened to be asked to bring dessert. I call it fate.


These were definitely a good brownie to share. They were so rich. Absolutely delicious and very, very rich. They were a big hit with everyone-our friends’ four year old enjoyed them just as much as we did. What’s not to enjoy? This brownie has everything-a fudgy brownie base, topped with a creamy oreo-cream cheese mixture and then topped again with a decadent ganache.

I think that these would freeze well, so really there is no reason to not go out and make these brownies right away (you can thank me later!)


Oreo Truffle Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
30 Oreo cookies
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (I used a little less)
1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the two long sides to make it easier to lift out the brownies later. Spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to mix, scraping down the bowl as necessary.  Add vanilla, salt, cocoa, and flour. Mix until just incorporated, do not over mix.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Cool completely.

While the brownies are cooling, make the Oreo truffle layer. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse cookies into fine crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse until combined and mixed together.

Once brownies are completely cool, spread the Oreo truffle layer over brownies using an offset spatula and/or clean hands – this layer doesn’t have to be perfect, since it will be covered with ganache.

To make the ganache, heat the cream in small saucepan over medium heat until it simmers. Meanwhile, place the chocolate chips in a medium heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour the ganache over Oreo layer and spread with an offset spatula. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until fully set. To slice and serve, lift the brownies out of the pan using the foil overhang, then use a sharp knife to cut into desired sized squares.


Source: Pink Parsley, Good Thymes and Good Food, adapted from Chef in Training

March 19, 2014

Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Vegetables

One thing I love doing is making authentic tasting ethnic dishes at home.  When I saw this recipe for sesame noodles with shredded chicken and vegetables, I knew they’d be delicious.  I was right- and I really loved how authentic tasting they were-they tasted like something I’d order.


I served this cold because I prefer my peanut noodles that way but this can also be served at room temperature. since this has pasta, chicken and vegetables in it, I served this on it’s own and called it a day. Leftovers for lunch the next day might have been even better than the first time around!





Peanut Noodles

For the sauce:
5 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
½-1 teaspoon hot sauce, depending on how spicy you like it
3 tablespoons hot water, plus extra as needed

For the chicken and noodles:
16 ounces fresh Chinese noodles or 12 ounces dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced ¼-inch thick
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
4 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, optional
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

For the sauce: Process all ingredients except hot water in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the blender still running, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce has consistency of heavy cream.

For the chicken and noodles: Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add noodles and salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain noodles, rinse with cold water, drain again and then toss with oil.

Transfer noodles to a large bowl. Add sauce, shredded chicken, red pepper, cucumber, carrot, scallions, and cilantro (if using), and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Source: Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

February 26, 2014

Almond Coconut Bars (Copycat KIND Bars)

I’ve somewhat recently discovered KIND bars, and just about as quick as I discovered them, I became addicted. Those who have tried them before probably know what I’m talking about, and for those of you who have never had one-I really recommend trying one. Or at least trying this homemade recipe.


The downside to KIND Bars is definitely their price. They are pricey, even when they’re on sale. That’s why I was so excited when I found a copycat recipe. What’s even more exciting is that this homemade version is really close to the actual KIND Bar and it’s just as delicious. And wait, there’s more. In the past, I’ve had quite a bit of difficulty with homemade granola bars not staying together and instead basically becoming homemade granola. But not this version…these bars cut into perfect shapes just about every time.

This is one flavor of the many different KIND Bars out there-but don’t worry-I’ve already experimented with other flavors and those will be coming soon! In the meantime, this has become one of my favorite snacks to date-something I hope you’ll enjoy too!


Almond Coconut Bars (Copycat KIND Bars)For the nut mixture:
2 cups whole roasted unsalted almonds
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup puffed millet or puffed whole grain rice cereal
1 tablespoon flaxseed mealFor the syrup:
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or light corn syrup)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (use less if nuts are salted)
1 teaspoon vanillaGrease or spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Do the same with a 9×13 baking sheet/pan, a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and the bottom of drinking glass. Set all items aside.

If your almonds aren’t already toasted, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Evenly spread nuts on large baking sheet and bake for 10 min. until lightly toasted and fragrant.

Toast the coconut: To do so, spread coconut in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-7 minutes, stirring half way through, until lightly toasted. Do not allow them to burn.

Add toasted almonds & coconut to the large bowl. Add puffed rice/millet and flaxseed meal. Stir to combine; set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, combine honey, rice syrup, salt, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 260 degrees (hard ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour syrup over nut mixture, then stir until evenly coated. Quickly transfer to greased/sprayed 9×13 pan, using hands to evenly spread mixture  in pan; press the mixture to close in holes and distribute evenly all over the pan. Using bottom of greased/sprayed drinking glass to tap and compact mixture in pan. Let cool 20 minutes (pan should still be slightly warm). Invert pan on cutting board and tap until mixture falls out in one piece. Cut into 20 bars. (If they cool too much and become too hard or brittle to cut easily, put in warm oven for 1-2 minutes to soften; proceed with cutting.)

To store: Allow to cool completely before transferring to airtight storage container with parchment paper between layers. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week. May refrigerate to extend storage or if firmer, less sticky bars are preferred. Bars also freeze well.

Source: The Yummy Life

February 7, 2014

Salted Fudge Brownies

It’s no secret that homemade brownies are way better than boxed versions and I love finding new, easy recipes so that I can enjoy homemade brownies with not much more work than making a recipe from a box.

These brownies have it all.  They are easy to make, have a nice combination of sweet and salty, and are fudgy-my favorite kind of brownie.  I’ve actually made these brownies four times already-all for different events-and they have been a hit every time.  The hardest part is waiting for them to cool-but don’t be tempted to skip those steps because they really are worth it! (I might have tried a bite here and there along the way and the end result was definitely the best!)

Salted Fudge Brownies

1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line an 8×8 inch or 9×9 inch square baking pan with foil; generously butter or grease the foil.

In a large saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Stir occasionally until completely combined and smooth.

Turn off the stove and remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa until it is fully incorporated. Do the same with both sugars, eggs, vanilla and flour. Be sure to add in each ingredient individually and completely mix them in before adding the next one.

Transfer the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the surface using a spatula. Evenly sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the batter. Using a spatula or knife, swirl the salt into the brownie batter.

Bake the brownies in the center rack of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are done but the center is still slightly gooey. If you insert a toothpick into the center, it should come up with a little bit of the brownie batter.

Remove the brownies and set on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to cool for an additional hour.

After the brownies have been chilled, cut them into 16 squares (or desired size squares) and serve at room temperature.

The salted fudge brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 1 month.
Source: Eva Bakes, originally from Kate Krader via Food and Wine

January 24, 2014

Lighter Chicken and Dumplings

Do you live in an area that experienced the “polar vortex”?  Whatever you call it, it sure has been cold.  Here in Maryland we’ve gotten more snow than we got all winter last year-don’t get me wrong, I love a good snow day, but man is it cold outside!

This cold weather calls for a warm your bones type of dinner.  I’m honestly not sure I ever had chicken and dumplings before making this recipe-but after a bowl of this, I decided immediately that I would be having this time and time again.  Good thing this recipe made a ton and we had enough leftovers to last us a couple of days and even had some more leftover to freeze!

This recipe is somewhat involved but not at all difficult-it’s perfect to make on a weekend or a snow day!

Lighter Chicken and Dumplings

For the Stew:

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2½ pounds), trimmed of excess fat
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 small onions, chopped fine (about 1½ cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 medium celery rib, chopped fine (about ½ cup)
¼ cup dry sherry
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 pound chicken wings
¼ chopped fresh parsley leaves

For the Dumplings:

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
¾ cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg white

For the stew:

Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and
cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.
Add onions, carrots, and celery to now-empty pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to pot and add chicken wings. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow broth to settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using wide spoon or ladle. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin from chicken. Using fingers or fork, pull meat from chicken thighs (and wings, if desired) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot.

For the dumplings: 

Whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.

Return stew to simmer; stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased tablespoon
measure (or #60 portion scoop), scoop level amount of batter and drop over top of stew, spacing about ¼ inch apart (you should have about 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of Dutch oven with clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: Cooks Illustrated, as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles

January 6, 2014

My Favorite 13 Posts of 2013

Happy belated New Year!  I meant to share this post last week but time has already gotten away from me this year.  By the way, where did 2013 go?  I feel like we just rang in the new year.  Oh well, time to start remembering to write “2014″ now-I am absolutely the worst at that and know I’ll be writing a “3″ instead of a “4″ well into March!

Looking back food wise, I made a lot of yummy things in 2013 if I can say so myself-here are my 13 favorite!

Whole Lemon Bars
The bars are awesome!  Seriously, probably my favorite dessert I made in 2013.  I’m excited citrus season is back-I can’t wait to make these again! (Although there would be absolutely nothing wrong with making these in the summer too!)

Skillet Eggplant Parmesan
This version of eggplant Parmesan is our favorite-it’s crispy on the outside, perfectly cooked inside and the sauce is just right. It’s the meal that Matt requests most often :-)

Sugar Cookies 4

Perfect Sugar Cookies
I always thought sugar cookies were just okay-until I made this recipe-these cookies are anything but boring.  This was our favorite cookie I made this year.

Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes
Matt always says that he doesn’t care for salmon-but yet whenever I make this recipe, he practically licks his plate clean!  The sweetness of the tomatoes and slightly acidic flavor of balsamic vinegar really take salmon to a whole new level for a delicious recipe.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
I made a lot of ice cream in 2013 and really enjoyed all of it.  But oh my- this ice cream was beyond perfect-it’s everything you’d imagine cookies and cream ice cream should be-and more-perfectly creamy and chocolatey.

Skillet Baked Tex Mex Macaroni
Another skillet recipe-this one is great because everything-even the pasta-is made and baked right in the skillet.  Easy prep and clean up and an amazing dinner-can’t beat that!

Cannoli Cheesecake
I kind of have an obsession with cannolis and cannoli flavored anything.  This cheesecake is absolutely divine and will be gracing our dessert table for years to come.

Chicken Enchiladas
Mexican food has always been one of my favorites-so when I discovered that I can make restaurant quality enchiladas at home I was thrilled.  In this recipe, everything down to the sauce is homemade but nothing is complicated. Plus, you can make these ahead of time and keep them in the freezer for when that Mexican mood strikes!

Classic Apple Pie
As much as I love experimenting and making new things in the kitchen, I have a soft spot for classic recipes.  I love finding what I think is the perfect version of something-and this apple pie is just that.  I love making it in the fall after going apple picking and who wouldn’t want this as part of their Thanksgiving dessert?

Sweet Ham and Cheese Sliders
So I don’t like ham and I don’t like Swiss cheese-but I am in love with these sliders.  Matt likes ham and Swiss and also loves these sliders.  Go figure.  Either way, these are always a hit in our house and would be just perfect a party!

Salted Pretzel Rolls
These have become another staple in our house-especially during the summer.  These rolls will take any sandwich or burger to a whole new level.

Shrimp Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch Sauce
These are a great way to change up tacos or to change up how you use shrimp and they are super easy and quick to make.  They were one of my favorite dinners this year!

Overnight French Toast Casserole
I don’t make a lot of fancy breakfasts but when I do, I usually like to make something that can be prepared ahead of time and then baked or cooked before serving so I’m not spending all morning in the kitchen.  This casserole was just perfect and makes me want to host some more brunches to share it-it truly is delicious!

December 24, 2013


Merry Christmas!  Only one day to go-do you have everything ready?  Or have you already started celebrating?  It seems like more people I know celebrate more than one Christmas-Matt and I will be celebrating pretty much all week long-starting tonight on Christmas Eve-I can’t wait!

Since we have so many celebrations, that means lots and lots of menu planning and lots and lots of desserts to be eaten! I made this struffoli with my family last year and it was so much fun having everyone join in to make it and it tasted wonderful-my dad said it was better than any bakery version he ever had! We liked making and eating this so much, that we’ll be having it again this year-and I can almost predict every year after that.



2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio (or water)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (optional)
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional

To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using then peel.

For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F (or test the temperature using a dough ball)  In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts (if using) and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.

Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a large spoon or damp hands, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar, if using. Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.

To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Source: Giada DeLaurentiis

December 13, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

It’s no secret that we love Mexican food around here.  In fact, I could probably eat Mexican food every night of the week and never get tired of it.  That’s why when I saw these chicken enchiladas on Doughseedough, I immediately knew I’d make them for our next Blogger’s Choice Recipe Swap.  
These were just perfect-seriously, every bit as good as any enchilada I’ve ordered from a restaurant.  They are perfectly soft and cheesy with just the right amount of spices. I love that everything down to the sauce is homemade but this recipe was not complicated at all to make. It was a definite winner of a recipe and we will be having these again and again!
Thanks to A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting another fun and delicious recipe swap!

Chicken Enchiladas

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 cup grated extra sharp white cheddar
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) tortillas (I used flour)
cooking spray
salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, jalapeno and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until just fragrant, no more than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

Place the chicken into the sauce and cover the pan. Reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and set aside. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onion mixture, and add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup of the cheeses, and the cilantro. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 425.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel; microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Spread the tortillas on a clean work surface, and spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place enchilladas in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, or until the tortillas start to brown slightly (skip this step if you don’t like the crunch-I skipped this step).

Reduce oven to 400. Remove enchiladas and pour sauce evenly on top. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, additional cilantro, etc.

 To freeze: Cover the baking dish with a lid and freeze until ready to eat. When ready to eat, take the dish out of the freezer. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly before serving.

Source: Slightly adapted from Doughseedough, adapted from Annie’s Eats

December 11, 2013

French Butter Cookies

As much as I love making everything homemade, there are a few packaged goods that I can’t resist.  You know those butter cookies that come in the blue tins and are especially popular around the holidays?  Those are one of them.  I have fond memories of eating them growing up and every now and then they make an appearance at my office at work and I just can’t help myself from eating one (or a few!).

So you can imagine how happy I was when I made these cookies and they tasted just like those from the tin-only better! I knew they would be amazing as my house filled up with a wonderful buttery aroma while they were baking-and after one bite I was sold!This is one of my new favorite holiday (or year-round) cookie recipes-they were just amazing!

These cookies are also the last treats in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Blog Hop hosted by Meal Planning Magic. There are still a few weeks left to get your baking done, so be sure look back and see all the goodies that have been shared! 


French Butter Cookies

1 large egg
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (2 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado sugar

Put the egg in small saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, fill small bowl with ice water and set aside.  Once water is boiling, remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer egg to ice water and let stand 5 minutes. Once egg is cooled, peel it and separate yoke from white and discard the white. Press yolk through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.

In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, salt and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy-about 4 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Turn mixer to low, add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Stop mixer, add flour and mix on low until just combined, about 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, press dough into a cohesive mass.

Divide dough in half; roll each piece into a log about 6“ long and 1 3/4” in diameter. Wrap each log in a 12″ square of parchment paper and twist ends to seal and firmly compact dough into tight cylinder. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice dough into 1/4“ thick rounds, rotating dough after a few slices so it doesn’t become misshapen from the knife. Place cookies 1” apart on baking sheets. Using pastry brush, gently brush each cookie with egg white mixture and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake until centers of cookies are pale golden brown and edges are slightly darker than the center, about 15 minutes.  Rotate cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom half way during cooking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store cookies between sheets of parchment in an air tight container for up to one week.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

December 9, 2013

Skillet Baked Tex-Mex Macaroni

I know everyone is busy year round-but this time of year seems to be especially busy.  In addition to the usual everyday things, there is also shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, planning and attending get-togethers, and it’s often hard to find something to make for dinner on a weeknight.  It gets dark so early and it’s cold out there-I find myself craving foods that are comforting but quick to make. That’s where dinners like this bowl of deliciousness come in.


This dinner was perfect.  It came together quickly, was comforting and the Tex Mex spin makes it not your ordinary pasta dish. If you don’t have an oven safe skillet or one that’s big enough to hold everything, you can transfer everything to a casserole or baking dish before baking.

This meal was high in flavor, perfectly cheesy and one of our new favorite meals!


Skillet Baked Tex-Mex Macaroni

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
2 cups water
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese blend or a combination of grated cheddar/monterey jack
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 475 degrees and adjust oven rack to middle position. In a 12-inch oven safe nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add in garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add in beef, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink.

Add in water, tomato sauce, and pasta.  Stir to combine. Cover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook at vigorous simmer, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 9 to 12 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in corn, chiles, and 1 cup cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Pasta Revolution