Sunday, May 3, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Peanut Slaw

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the amazing blog, Cupcake Muffin!  I knew I'd find a lot to like here because I'm sort of cupcake and muffin crazy.  Sara's blog did not disappoint!  She has all kinds of super yummy looking recipes on her blog, and let me tell ya, it was hard to pick.  When I first pulled up her blog, Giant Cheddar-Cornmeal Biscuit was the most recent recipe she'd posted, and it's an instant winner in my book.  I didn't end up actually making it, but plan to soon.  Other wonderful looking choices include Enchilada Pasta, Snow Day Marble Cake, Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and Frenchie Mac.  I will for sure try the Enchilada Pasta and Snow Day Marble Cake!

When push came to shove, I ended up choosing Sara's Peanut Slaw.  My husband and I were having an impromptu dinner of turkey sandwiches (with good bread and deli turkey, yum!) and fruit salad, and I thought coleslaw would go with it really well.  I was right!  Usually I prefer mayo based coleslaw dressings, but the peanut version is really good.  I think it would go really well with a main dish that has an Asian flair, I guess peanuts in savory dishes make me think of Thai food.  Seems like a perfect side dish with all the grilling I hope to do this summer.
My only changes were to toast the chopped nuts, I left out the onion (don't like raw onion), and used a package of pre-shredded cabbage and carrots because shredding cabbage myself makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out.

Peanut Slaw
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp boiling water
1 lb bag pre-shredded cabbage and carrots that's packaged for coleslaw
1/2 C chopped peanuts

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, peanut butter, garlic, vinegar, and salt until smooth.  Whisk in boiling water, using enough to make a salad dressing consistency (I used the full 3 Tbsp).  Place shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl and pour dressing over top, toss gently to combine.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Place chopped peanuts in a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat until they turn golden, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir constantly so they don't burn and then immediately pour the toasted nuts into a bowl so they don't burn in the skillet while it cools down.

When you're ready to serve the coleslaw, toss it again and stir in the toasted peanuts.

Yield:  About 6 servings

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tickled Pink Lemonade Cookies

This is another cookie recipe from Joanne Fluke's murder mystery series and comes from the book The Red Velvet Cupcake Murder.  Winter is finally, slowly, leaving Interior Alaska, and that's always very exciting.  Before I moved here, I never thought a bare patch of ground would be such cause for celebration!  It's hardly summer yet, but when everything started melting, I immediately thought of this happy, summery cookie from a book I read in the dead of winter. 

It was a good choice, too, because these cookies are quite good!  They have a definite lemonade flavor without making your mouth pucker up, and the pink is rather charming.  The cookies themselves are thick and cake-like, which is a nice change.  They're good on their own, but the frosting definitely adds to the appeal.  My only change for next time will be to make a double batch because I only got 24 cookies.  I gave half of them to a neighbor (my entire excuse for making cookies to start with) and the two of us plowed through the remaining cookies in short order.
The only changes I made to Joanne's recipe were to use less red food coloring and more milk and pink lemonade concentrate and frosting.  More milk because the frosting was very stiff, and more concentrate so the lemonade flavor would be apparent.
Tickled Pink Lemonade Cookies
for cookies:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/3 C frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
red food coloring, as desired
1 3/4 C flour
for frosting:
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 C powdered sugar
5 tsp milk
4 tsp frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
red food coloring, as desired
For Cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Mix in baking powder, and baking soda, then egg and lemonade concentrate.  Beat until thoroughly mixed.  It will look curdled, don't worry!  Stir in red food coloring to make the dough as pink as you'd like.  Stir in flour until well combined, but don't over mix.

At this point, you can refrigerate the dough for half an hour if it's too soft to work with, but mine was fine.  Use two spoons or a small cookie scoop to scoop small walnut sized blobs of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are set and just barely beginning to turn very light golden in some spots, about 10-12 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely, then frost with the frosting.

For Frosting:
Place butter and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until the butter is dispersed, it will look very dry.  Add milk and lemonade concentrate, and beat until smooth.  You can add more milk or more powdered sugar if it's too thick or too wet.  You want a smooth, spreadable consistency.  When you've reached that, stir in red food coloring so it's as pink as you'd like.  I didn't use any for the frosting because the pink lemonade concentrate made it ever so slightly pink on its own.

Frost cookies with frosting, let them sit out until the frosting is dry to the touch, then store them in an airtight container.  I can say they stay good for 3 days, maybe longer, but that's as long as they lasted here!

Yield:  About 24 cookies

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Greek Pasta Salad

I planned to make this recipe for 6 months before I finally made it!  Our puppy requires a lot of attention and this is the first dinner I cooked that was more complicated than hot dogs and a can of pork and beans.  I made it while she was milling around my feet, and she didn't pee on the floor or anything :D

That success apart, this is a really good pasta salad.  I halved the recipe, but it still made a lot.  You know it's good if you still are looking forward to eating it 4 or 5 days later!  We liked it so much that I plan to make it again once the weather warms up a bit.
The recipe is from the blog Rocky Mountain Woman.  My only changes (other than halving the recipe) were to use roasted bell peppers instead of sundried tomatoes (I couldn't find any at the store), and I cut way back on the dried oregano.  

As a side note, the dip pictured with the raw veggies in this photo is Dilly Dip.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb assorted dry pasta
15 oz can small whole olives, drained and rinsed
12 oz jar roasted bell peppers, diced
1/2 of a 12 oz jar sliced peperoncinis, drained
7 oz container crumbled feta cheese
for dressing:
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 C olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Cook pasta in salted water, drain, and rinse with cold water until pasta is chilled.  Drain thoroughly.  Stir in olives, roasted peppers, peperoncinis, and feta.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until everything is incorporated.  Pour over pasta salad, stir, and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Yield:  Depends on whether you do this as a main dish or side, but about 8-16.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Peanut Butter Melts

This recipe comes from the murder mystery book The Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke.  The book is from a series, and all the book titles follow the "The (baked good) Murder" format.  Each novel has several recipes in it.  I first purchased one of the books randomly at the grocery store a couple of months ago, and have come to really enjoy the series.  The stories aren't particularly suspenseful, and the writing style doesn't charm me like some authors, but they just really appeal to me for some reason and are almost comforting to read.  They're the mashed potatoes and mac and cheese of my home library!
Anyway, I have a lifelong love of all things peanut butter, but peanut butter cookies rarely live up to my standards of peanut butteriness.  The flavor is usually too weak.  I love a really good PB cookie, but have only found two recipes that are good enough.  One is this one and the other I haven't posted on the blog yet.  I decided to try this version because the name appealed to me (Peanut Butter Melts, interesting!), the melted butter seemed interesting, and I liked that it has molasses.  It also has a full cup of PB, which seemed promising!
The recipe did not disappoint.  The dough is softer than most, but all the butter (both peanut and regular) means it isn't sticky.  They also spread out more than most PB cookies, but aren't ridiculously thin or anything.  Of course, the flavor is what's most important, and these ones are really good!  Lots of peanut butter (though I may experiment with adding a bit more), not too excessively sweet, and just all around yummy.  On the first day, they're nice and soft in the middle, but crunchy/chewy around the edges.  After spending the night in the cookie jar, they loose some of the crunch and firm up a bit in the middle, but are still relatively soft and definitely still yummy today, 5 days after I baked them.  Even my husband likes them, and he's not usually crazy about non-chocolate chip cookies.

Peanut Butter Melts
1 C melted butter
2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C peanut butter, smooth or crunchy (I used smooth)
2 eggs
2 1/2 C flour
Preheat oven to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and molasses.  Mix in baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then mix in peanut butter until well combined.  Add eggs and mix again until well combined.  Add flour and mix just until the dough comes together.
Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Press the tines of a fork into the top of each ball in a cross hatch pattern.  Bake cookies until very light golden brown, 8-12 minutes (mine took 11).  Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.  Store cooled cookies in a covered container.
 Yield:  I got exactly 50 cookies from this recipe.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Deviled Ham Spread

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Sid's Sea Palm Cooking! Sid cooks up a variety of really interesting recipes, and hosts a tapas night every month. That sounds like an awesome idea and I wish I was organized enough (and social enough) to do that! Besides, who doesn't love tapas?
My recipe choice was Deviled Ham Spread. I picked it mostly because I've never had or made anything like it, and it isn't really something I'd usually make. This recipe club seemed like a good opportunity to make it! I also considered Light and Airy Biscuits for a Crowd, and Tijuana Tilly Cheese Enchiladas. In the end, I went with the ham spread because I could prepare it quickly and didn't have to actually heat anything up, which is great if you may be faced with frequent interruptions. Why am I facing interruptions? We got a puppy :D She's beautiful, sweet, and adorable, but she also has a teeny tiny bladder and requires a lot of my undivided attention and frequent spur of the moment trips outside! She's actually pitching a fit in her pen right now because Mama's paying attention to the computer instead of playing with her. I think I chose the right recipe!  Needless to say, very little cooking has been happening since we got her two weeks ago.
I did make two little changes to the recipe. First, I used mayo instead of sour cream because sour cream in large amounts upsets my husband's stomach and I knew he would end up having the ham spread on sandwiches for lunch during the week. I also used onion powder instead of shallots, but that's only because I remembered the shallots as we were driving out of the grocery store parking lot. Oops! No harm done, but I'd like to try the shallots next time.
Verdict? Yummy, and unlike anything either of us have had before! I'm glad I tried it. Next time I make it, I'll do the shallots instead of onion powder like the recipe says, and I may actually halve the amount of cream cheese so the ham is a bit more prominent. No complaints though, this is a solid recipe and makes a lot!
Deviled Ham Spread

2 C cubed ham
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste

Place ham in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine.  Stir together all other ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, then stir in ham.  Add salt to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, then serve with crackers, pretzels, veggies, or as a sandwich spread.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

My Secret Recipe Club assignment for this month is Sarah's blog, Things I Make (for Dinner)!  Sarah lives in Canada, is married, and has been blogging since 2012. 
I considered making her Rustic Plum Tart, Baked Egg Boats, Hot Cheese Sandwiches, Volcano Sandwiches, or Spaghetti Carbonara, but I couldn't resist her Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  Believe me when I say this is one yummy pizza!  We love homemade pizza (this was the 4th weekend in a row I've made pizza), but in spite of loving buffalo chicken, I've neither had nor made buffalo chicken pizza before.  How could I resist it when I found a recipe on Sarah's blog?  No regrets, either, because it's delicious!  My husband really enjoyed it, too.  It's definitely one I'll make again and I'd like to use the sauce for other pizzas.
You can really make this pizza your own.  The type of pizza crust you use (store bought, homemade thin, pan, whatever) and even the size of the pizza is up to you.  The recipe makes a cup of sauce and it was nice and rather thin (but still delicious!) on my large pizza, but you could make a smaller pizza if you want and just have a thicker layer of the amazing sauce.  You can also use however much hot sauce, cheese, and green onions you want.


 Buffalo Chicken Pizza

 for sauce:
1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C milk
1/4 tsp salt
for pizza:
pizza dough (2/3 of this recipe works great, just freeze the other 1/3 for later)
2 C shredded or chopped cooked chicken
1/3 C Frank's Red Hot Sauce or other hot sauce of choice (can use more to taste)
shredded mozzarella or crumbled blue cheese
shredded cheddar
green onions, sliced
for sauce:
melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute until golden.  Add cream cheese, milk, and salt, and whisk until smooth.
for pizza:
Preheat oven to 450 and grease a large baking pam (I use butter).  Press or roll dough out to fit pan and prick all over with a fork.  Spread sauce over crust, then top evenly with the chicken, cheese, and green onions.  Bake until crust is lightly browned and cheese is melted and bubbly, about 12-20 minutes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oatmeal Coconut M&M Cookies

I quickly made these the other night as a surprise for my husband.  They're so good!  We both loved them, they're perfect.  Oats, coconut, M&Ms, and lots of vanilla flavor in a thick, chewy, moist cookie.  Yum!  Next time I may try toasting the coconut first, but that's the only thing I'd be at all interested in changing.  Also, holy moly, for once in my life a cookie recipe actually made exactly the number of cookies it said it would!  Proving once again that my normal cookies are huge, we thought these were cute and tiny.
This recipe is from a Pillsbury recipe booklet from 1991 called Cookies, Brownies, and Bars.
Oatmeal Coconut M&M Cookies
1 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
2 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 C rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
1 C sweetened coconut shreds
13 oz package M&Ms, divided
Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Mix in vanilla extract, milk, and eggs.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix in just until combined.  Add oats, coconut, and all but 1/2 C of the M&Ms and stir until combined, being careful not to over mix.
Roll dough into small balls (I made them slightly larger than a cherry), place 1 1/2-2 inches apart on the baking sheets, and press 2 M&Ms into the top of each cookie.  Bake just until golden, about 10-12 minutes.
Yield: 4 1/2 dozen small cookies