Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Pratically Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently my ward had an Enrichment Night. There was a twist to it- this Enrichment Night was for husbands while the wives kicked back at home. The husbands were to go and learn how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie from a brother in the ward who has perfected the art. My husband enjoyed enrichment and we enjoyed the cookie dough he came home with (it was so good it never made it into the oven. :)

This recipe was published by Consumer Reports in 1984. Here are the prefacing remarks to the article:

"We wanted a cookie with a chewy interior, crunchy edges, and well-blended flavor. Above all, we wanted a cookie with a high overall chocolate impact to give a sensuous rush to the chocoholic. After much experimentation and perhaps a few cumulative inches to staffers' waistlines, we created a cookie with all those assets. Our recipe makes 40 medium-sized cookies."

2 1/4 cups flour
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 level teaspoon salt
3/4 cup each white and packed dark brown sugar
2 sticks (1/2 pound) sweet butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12-ounce package Nestle semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F
Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Use a stand-type electric mixer to mix the two sugars briefly at low speed.
Add the butter in small gobbets, mixing first at low speed and then at high. Beat the mixture until it's pale, light, and very fluffy.
Add the vanilla at the mixer's lowest speed, then beat at high speed for a few seconds.
Add the eggs, again at the lowest speed, switching to high speed for the final second or so. The eggs should be well beaten in, and the mix should look creamed, not curdled.
Add the flour mixture, a half cup at a time, mixing at low speed for about one minute, then at high speed for a few seconds.
Scrape down the bowl's sides with a spatula, add the chocolate chips, and mix at low speed for about 10 seconds. If need be, scrape the bowl's sides again and mix for a few more seconds.
Put tablespoons of the mix on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake until the cookies are pale golden brown (nine minutes in an electric oven, 10 to 11 minutes in a gas one). Remove and let cool on a rack.
Makes about 40 medium cookies.

Bro. Steve's secrets for perfect results every time:
  • Always use "real" ingredients. Real butter, real eggs, real vanilla extract, real sugar, and real Nestle chocolate chips.
  • Butter should be softened. It is best to use butter at room temperature, which requires setting out the butter about one hour before preparing the mix. If the butter must come straight out of the refrigerator, soften the two sticks of butter together in the microwave for about 20 seconds.
  • Increase the amount of chocolate chips used by as much as 50%. This greatly improves the "chocolate" sensation and flavor impact of the cookies.
  • Use a quality cookie sheet. Cheap cookie sheets do not cook evenly, and the results are inferior.
  • Follow the directions precisely and in order. Use the mixer to beat the mixture as recommended during each step of the procedure. If you do not follow the instructions precisely, don't expect to get the best results.
  • Use a small sized food scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) to spoon the dough onto the cookie sheet. This results in cookies that are round and all the same size.
  • I like to use a simple 3/4 cup measuring cup for all measurements.
  • Gather the kids or grandkids around when making the dough. Let them lick the beater and spatula. If there are more kids, give them small spoonfuls of the dough. They love it, and my grown kids still have fond memories of this from when they were young.

Note: My husband combined the brown sugar with the "dry" ingredients. He was promptly lectured and his mix was thrown out. These are some serious cookies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Penne with Chicken, Asparagus and Lemon Alfredo Sauce

Our family loves this recipe!

Ingredients:
1 lb penne pasta
1 lb thin asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut in 1 1/2 inch long pieces

Sauce:
12 oz chicken tenders, cut diagonally in 1/2 inch wide strips
1/2 t salt
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 jar (16 oz) Alfredo sauce
1 T grated lemon peel
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 large tomato, halved, seeded and diced
1/4 c snipped fresh chives
Freshly ground balck pepper to taste

Garnish: finely shredded lemon peel

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water as package directs, adding asparagus 3 minutes before pasta is done.
2. Meanwhile sprinkle chicken with salt, then toss with flour to lightly coat.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add chicken; saute 3 minutes until golden and just barely cooked through. Add Alfredo sauce, peel, juice and cheese. Bring to a simmer and cook 1-2 minutes until chicken is done.
4. Drain pasta and asparagus; return to pot. Immediately add sauce, tomato, chives and pepper. Toss to mix and coat.

Black Bean Brownies

These actually taste pretty good when they have cooled off. When they were warm, I tasted the black beans a bit.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional-I didn't add this)
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.
  2. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sugar, and instant coffee in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Chicken tortilla stew

This is a fun and different mexican style soup. We really enjoyed it, if you add the right jalapeno peppers it can be a bit spicy! It is a Rachael Ray recipe...

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar good quality roasted tomatillo salsa (16 ounces), (such as Desert Pepper Trading Company or Frontera brand)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 can hominy (28 ounces), drained and rinsed
  • 1 13.5-ounce bag of yellow or white corn tortilla chips
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat removed from the bones and chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, for garnish
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Preparation

Place a large pot over medium heat, add EVOO. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeƱo, and season with coriander, cumin, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the tomatillo salsa, chicken stock and hominy to the pot and bring to a bubble.

While the mixture is coming to a bubble, place the tortilla chips (reserving a handful for garnish) in a food processor and pulse to grind, or in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or empty wine bottle. You should have about 2 cups of ground chips. Add the ground chips to the mixture and cook for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, add the chopped chicken to the pot along with 1/2-3/4 cup of cilantro and the lime juice, and cook 2-3 more minutes, until the chicken is heated through.

To serve, ladle the tortilla chicken stew into a bowl and garnish with some of the reserved tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream and some cheddar cheese.

Hula Joes

This is a great recipe from Rachael Ray!

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 pound smoked ham or bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 sweet onion, such as Maui or Vidalia, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (we didn't have this, so I didn't add it)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Kaiser rolls
  • 1 cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese
Preparation

Pre-heat the broiler.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with one turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Cook the bacon in the pan until crispy, about 3-4 minutes, and remove it to a small bowl.

Return the pan with the bacon drippings back over the heat. Add the ground pork and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes.

While the pork and onion are cooking, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce. Pour into the skillet with the pork and onion, cook about a minute, then stir in the pineapple. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

While the filling is cooking, split open the rolls and toast them under the broiler. Be careful not to burn them!

To serve, place a bun bottom on a plate with a scoop of Hula Joe mixture and a sprinkling of cheese. Top with the bun cap and serve with Pacific Rim Potatoes alongside.

Chicken enchiladas

These echiladas are divine.

Ingredients:

2 cans condensed cream of chicken
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 t salt
1(4oz) can green chilies
2cups longhorn or cheddar cheese
1/2 c chopped onions
12 flour tortillas
3 lb chicken breasts, baked and diced

In saucepan, heat until smooth...the soup, sour cream, salt and chilies. Mix cheese, onions and chicken in a bowl. Dip tortillas in sauce; add chicken, cheese mixture and roll tortillas. Place in casserole dish. Pour remaining sauce and cheese over top. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 350.

Oven Baked Pancakes

These are a lot of fun and a good way to use eggs if you have lots of them in your fridge.

6 eggs
1 c flour
1 c milk
1/4 t salt

Blend ingredients in a blender, melt a cube of butter in a casserole pan (we use 1/2 a cube and it is still a bit much), pour mixture into pan. Cook at 400 for 20 minutes.

It gets nice and puffy on the sides, kind of fun. Cut it up and serve with syrup over the top.