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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

I love the flavors of chocolate and peppermint together, so you can imagine my excitement when I scored a bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch chips at the store! I could not wait to use them in a chocolate cookie recipe. My husband requested double chocolate chip cookies, but I decided on these cookies instead. I found a recipe for chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips and peppermint crunch chips and decided to add semi-sweet chocolate chips for extra chocolate flavor. I was worried when I mixed this dough since it was very sticky and grainy. But it baked up perfect cookies, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The deep chocolate flavor was highlighted by the peppermint extract and crunch of the peppermint chips.  

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies
Source: Slightly adapted from Barbara Bakes

1 and 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy on medium-high speed.
Add eggs and peppermint extract and mix until well combined.

Mix in flour mixture on low until just combined.
Stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and Peppermint Crunch chips.
Roll dough into balls or drop mounds of dough onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Cookies will still be soft in the middle.
Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Want to Marry You Cookies

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it right away. These cookies are supposedly so good that the men who eat them proclaim to their lovers, "I Want To Marry You!" The method of this recipe intrigued me more than the back story. I liked the idea of not getting out my mixer and letting the ingredients chill to meld the flavors. I had one major issue, however, with baking these. The first batch took forever to brown, and I ended up overbaking them. They didn't burn, but they hardened as they cooled instead of staying chewy. I decided to turn the oven up to 350 degrees for the next batch, and they came out perfect! (I remedied the first batch by storing them in an air-tight container with a slice of bread, which made them soft and chewy again.) The cookies were delicious and tasted like toffee-flavored chocolate chip cookies. I will definitely be adding these to my Christmas cookie list!

I Want to Marry You Cookies
Source: Adapted from Cooking Channel

2 sticks of butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (I used light.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked rolled oats (I used quick oats.)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add the sugars and stir until incorporated and smooth. Chill the butter/sugar mixture in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. 

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. 

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Stir the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the white chocolate chips and chocolate chips. 

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. 

Roll by hand into medium-size balls and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are golden brown. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love cookies? I honestly have never met a cookie I didn't enjoy. And this is my favorite time of year to test recipes, so I can decide on which cookies to bake for Christmas. Cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors, so when I saw bags of cinnamon chips at the store, I had to grab them! I was originally going to try them in snickerdoodles, but I saw this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Hershey and decided to give it a try instead. The chips gave the oatmeal raisin cookies an extra cinnamon punch.

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Source: Hershey
Yields: 4 dozen cookies

2 sticks butter (softened)
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 and 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 and 2/3 cups cinnamon chips
3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. 
In another bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.
Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat well.
Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and raisins.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I rolled dough into balls.)
Bake 10–12 minutes or until lightly browned. 
Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets and remove to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mexican Quinoa

We have been trying to eat healthier and including less meat into our diets. Quinoa fast became one of our favorites. We love Mexican flavors, so this dish was very appealing to us. A friend made a version of this for us, and we were hooked. It's one of those dishes that can be served warm, room temperature, or cold. It can be a side dish or a main meal. If you've never experimented with quinoa, try this dish! You won't be disappointed.

Mexican Quinoa
Source: adapted from A Teaspoon of Happiness via Pinterest

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 and 1/4 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinsed)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (15.5 oz.) can corn
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
salt to taste

In large saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat.
Add garlic and sauté until about one minute.
Add broth, quinoa, cumin, pepper, and cayenne pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20—25 minutes.
Stir in diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, and cilantro just before serving.
Can be served either warm or cold.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Layered Greek Hummus Dip


I love hummus, so when I saw a recipe for layered Greek hummus dip on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it right away. It was easy to throw together and just involved some chopping (a food processor would make this a snap). I made this dip for a party and served it with pita chips. It was a big hit!

Layered Greek Hummus Dip
Source: adapted from Kraft via Pinterest

1 package plain hummus
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup cucumbers (chopped)
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (chopped)
1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano

Spread hummus onto the bottom of 9-inch pie plate.
Drizzle olive oil over hummus.
Sprinkle cheese, cucumbers, red peppers, olives, and oregano over hummus.
Serve with pita chips and enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

I am the designated birthday cupcake baker in our circle of friends. My friend chose triple chocolate cupcakes for his birthday. I made my go-to chocolate cupcakes, filled them with chocolate ganache, and topped them with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting. They were decadent and delicious!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose and subbed out three tablespoons for corn starch.)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, beat together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water with a hand mixer on medium-high speed. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 18–22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache
Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup chocolate chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream in a small saucepan until hot. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Add the butter and stir until silky and smooth.


Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting
Source: Hershey

1 stick butter
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (I use heavy cream.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter, and stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. If needed, add additional milk and powdered sugar to get desired consistency.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chocolate RumChata Cupcakes

When a friend asked me to make him cupcakes for his birthday using chocolate and RumChata, I was thrilled to get another chance to bake with RumChata. I had previously made these RumChata Coconut Cupcakes, but I wasn't 100 percent happy with the outcome. I think the pairing of coconut and RumChata came out too sweet. I wanted a do-over. I decided to make a chocolate cupcake, filled with a whipped RumChata white chocolate, and topped with a RumChata cinnamon cream cheese. These cupcakes were awesome! They were not overly sweet, and everyone loved them.

Chocolate RumChata Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, beat together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water with a hand mixer on medium-high speed. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 18–22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.

Whipped RumChata White Chocolate Ganache
Ganache inspired by Smitten Kitchen
4 oz. white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream (minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons RumChata

Place white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream and RumChata in a small saucepan until hot and simmering. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Stir until silky and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes. With a hand mixer, beat ganache on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.


Cinnamon RumChata Cream Cheese Frosting
4oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
3–4 cups powdered sugar
2–4 tablespoons RumChata
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time and RumChata one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add cinnamon and beat well.