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Archive for June, 2013

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Have you ever made caramel?  I have, sort of.  I have cooked brown sugar and butter together at least.  And it smells really good.  But I always assumed it was the brown sugar caramelizing that smells so good.  But, I learned today that it’s actually the butter.  Oh My Goodness!  The nutty aroma of browned butter smells so good.

Browned butter isn't much to look at, I know.  But the smell is out of this world.  See how rich and brown it is, peeking through the froth.

Browned butter isn’t much to look at, I know. But the smell is out of this world. See how rich and brown it is, peeking through the froth.

I came across this recipe through good ol’ faithful Pinterest and just couldn’t resist trying it.  I’m hosting a baby shower for a friend of mine in a couple weeks and I plan to make cookies for the favor bags.  But I couldn’t make just any old cookies, they must be gourmet.  And I thought maybe this recipe would be worth a shot so I tried it out today.  I followed the first couple steps as directed.  But, I did meander off on my own for a few aspects of it.

For one, I didn’t use unsalted butter.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t waste my time on unsalted butter.  Also, the idea of peeling and cutting milkmaid caramels, then wrapping dough around them sounded way too tedious for me. Instead, I just bought a bag of Kraft’s Caramel Bits.  They are like chocolate chips, but caramel instead.  (Super chewy and great for melting and dipping apples or marshmallows into).  I threw a bag of them into the dough before placing the dough to set in the fridge.

These are so much easier than the old fashioned milk maid caramels we used when I was a kid.  Why did Kraft take so long to make these?

These are so much easier than the old fashioned milk maid caramels we used when I was a kid. Why did Kraft take so long to make these?

When the dough had chilled, I started rolling it out.  I used a medium sized scoop from Pampered Chef, but then shaped them into tall balls.  I learned this trick from the blogging world and have been committed to tall cookies ever since.  It helps them stay chewy in the middle and cooking just right around the edges.  I will do this with all scoopable cookie dough from now on.

These are some tall cookie balls, wouldn't you say.

These are some tall cookie balls, wouldn’t you say.

I rolled them in a cinnamon/sugar mixture and placed them on my stone (another Pampered Chef favorite!) and baked them for about 12 minutes.  Oh my word, they turned out so delicious.

See, tall cookie balls make perfect baked cookies.

See, tall cookie balls make perfect baked cookies.

Yes, I will be making these for the baby shower in two weeks.  Absolutely, yes.

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Healthy Alfredo Sauce

I love love love Alfredo sauce.  It’s one of my all time favorites.  But, it’s traditionally made with loads of butter and cream and cheese.  So, it’s not one of those things that I should be making all too often.  So, when I heard of a healthy version, I had to try it for myself.  And boy was I surprised to discover that there is actually an alternative that is mostly pureed vegetable that REALLy actually tastes like the real thing.  I couldn’t believe it.  So, I have happily retired my classic Alfredo recipe and replaced it with this delicious and much-better-for-me version.  Please enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Large head of cauliflower
  • Chicken Stock or your favorite seasonings (such as seasoning salt, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.)
  • About 3 large cloves of fresh garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cream or whole milk

Directions

  1. Wash and chop your cauliflower into 2-3 inch cubes.  Discard any leaves, but use the stalk. Place in a large sauce pan and add chicken stock or water and seasonings to taste until the cauliflower is completely submerged.  Place over high heat, bring to boil, and allow to cook until cauliflower is tender enough to fall apart when cut into with a fork.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking,  prepare the garlic butter mixture by placing butter in a frying pan and cooking on medium heat until melted.  Once completely melted, use  a garlic press to add all three cloves to the pan.  Continue cooking until the mixture turns golden brown, then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Once the cauliflower is tender, move it into a food processor and puree until smooth.  If the mixture seems especially thick, spoon some of the chicken stock/seasoned water into the food processor and continue pureeing.  (This sauce does thicken with time, so if you are making it a day ahead, add enough water so that it’s more runny).  Add the browned butter/garlic mixture, the shredded parmesan and the cream to the food processor and continue pureeing until everything is evenly incorporated.
  4. Serve over pasta or as a dipping sauce for bread, pita chips or fresh veggies.  Enjoy!

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I almost called this post “Nightmare Mickey Mouse Chocolate Wafer Cookies,” but once I got the ball really rolling on these puppies, they weren’t too bad after all.

My friend Kristin was having a Mickey Mouse themed birthday party for her little man‘s second birthday and I offered to make some cookies to go along with the theme.  I had in mind to find a black cookie, cut them out with a cute cookie cutter I found at a local cake and candy supply store, dip them in red chocolate and then add some white chocolate chips for buttons.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey, right?  Well, not right.

It turned out that finding a recipe for black cookies wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I started by searching on Pinterest for homemade Oreos.  That didn’t really yield any recipes that I would be able to use a cookie cutter with.  So, I tried “black cookie dough recipe” and by doing that, I got enough results (although no actual recipes) to know that I should be searching for a “chocolate wafer cookie” recipe.  And that’s how I eventually found the recipe I ended up using.

It was a wonderful recipe that does not contain egg, and therefore I had no qualms about eating the dough {Hurray!}.  I would like to mention that I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  For one, I used coco powder that WinCo sells in the bulk section.  I honestly don’t even know what brand it is, but it’s what I could wanted to pay for.  Also, I don’t buy unsalted butter.  Ever.  I think it has no place in my kitchen, what’s the point of butter if you can’t even taste it.  So, I used what I have on hand and that is full on, salted sweet cream butter.  And finally, I used sea salt instead of kosher salt.  I don’t know the difference and Winco didn’t have kosher salt in their bulk section, so I used what I had.

I made the dough one night and let it sit in the fridge over night.  The next day, I spent over three hours working on these cookie and only had about seven cookies to show for it.  Haha!  It was in these moments that I considered tossing the lot and begging Kristin’s forgiveness.  But, then it started coming together.

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I reread the directions and realized there was something in there about rolling out the dough between wax paper and parchment paper.  So, I tried that, and ta-da!  It Worked!  From that point on, it was smooth sailing.  I cranked out a couple dozen cookies in no time after that.

I waited another day before dipping them in chocolate and placing the white buttons.  They turned out great.  They were really crunchy and really rich.  The sweetness of the chocolate was a great balance.

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I look forward to making these cookies again and sandwiching a rich butter cream or even some homemade ice cream between them.  I have so many ideas now!

Unrelated to cookies, but totally related to Mickey, here’s a bonus pic of me and my little Mickey Mouse at the end of a long day at Disneyland.

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