Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sharyn's Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ 12.21.10

My friend Sharyn makes these delectable chocolate chip cookies and thankfully, she shared her secrets with me. And trust me, there are secrets to these turning out just right. You'll need to follow the directions for baking to a "T"! If you like your chocolate chippers soft, chewy and melt-in-your-mouth buttery, these cookies are right up your alley.

Sharyn's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I do a 1/2)
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Cream butters and sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix.
Add flour, b. soda, and salt, mix.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Bake on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet for 7-9 minutes
Take the cookies out BEFORE they turn brown, they should be puffy, not greasy.
Remove cookie tray from the oven and allow the cookies to "bake" about 2 more minutes ON the baking sheet.
Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool about 5 minutes (I depart here and cool them on brown paper bags to soak up a little grease). Place in a container (while they're still warm) and put the lid on immediately!

Makes about 3 dozen.

So there you have the secret to soft, chewy and delectable chocolate chippers. I like mine cold, room temp, frozen, straight from the oven.... I just love chocolate chip cookies! I think Santa will be quite pleased with these on Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cheesy Noodle Casserole (aka Mac n Cheese) ~ 12.17.10

My family loves macaroni and cheese. The twins ask for it about 5 out of the 7 days in a week. And whenever we're out... they want to order it!
I'm all for quick and simple this time of year. I've barely enough time to rub two cents together let alone make dinner, but make dinner, I must! And I will.

I've had this Taste of Home recipe for sometime now and first made it way back when for a birthday party. It was easy to make and really quite cheesy and yummy. That said, it has one of my least favorite food stuffs in it: processed cheese. sigh. But it does taste really good in this and occasionally, I'll heat it up and add some salsa and make Mr. Crafty our favorite treat: queso with chips.

This recipe is flexible in the noodles you use, too. The original called for wide egg noodles, but I made it on Sunday and used elbows. Remember, use what you have! You don't always have to go and buy a new ingredient if you have something similiar in your pantry already.
Also, this makes enough for a BIG crowd, so adjust by halving the recipe and you'll have plenty. I used 8oz of elbows when I made it and wished I had used the whole box! My adaptations are in parenthesis.

Cheesy Noodle Casserole
adapted from Taste of Home Oct/Nov. 2003

2 1# pkgs wide egg noodles (elbows or shells are great!)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
5-6 cup milk (I used a can of evaporation milk and the rest 2% milk)
2 # processed cheese, cubed (like Velveeta or store brand easy melt cheese in the block)

Topping: 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs + 2 Tbs melted butter- mix together and sprinkle on top
or halve grape tomatoes and arrange around the casserole- my personal fave!

Cook noodles to package directions, drain.
In dutch oven (read: large pot with handles or whatever), melt butter.
Stir (whisk is better- it forms a bit of a paste or roux) in flour and salts and dry mustard
Gradually whisk in the milk until all incorporated.
Bring to a boil.
Cook & stir 2 min or until thick and bubbly.
Add cheese and stir until melted.
Stir in noodles and pour into 2 greased shallow 2 qt baking dishes
Add your topping of choice: bread crumbs mixed with butter or sliced tomatoes!
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbling around the edges.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Birthday Cake for Jesus~ 12.12.10

When Max was in preschool, his teacher sent him home with directions for making a birthday cake for Jesus. It had been a longstanding tradition in her family and thankfully, she decided to share that with her students and their families! I loved the idea and quickly adopted it as well.

When I made it for our family, we made chocolate cupcakes using my favorite recipe: a doctored up box of cake mix!*** (see recipe below)

And then we simply followed the rules for decorating by placing the cupcakes on a large round platter.

1. Make it round: like the never ending circle, so is His love for all of us.
2. Make it chocolate- like the darkness our sins bring to us and others
3. Make it covered in white frosting- like his purity covering our weakness
4. Top it with a yellow star and put an angel---bearer of the first glad tidings. (we used the angel from our Fisher Price Nativity and a cut out star)
5. Put 12 red candles on top-- like the 12 months of the year that Christ is our light, add red for the blood He willingly shed for us.
6. Encircle this loving cake with evergreens-- the symbol of everlasting life.

Before enjoying your cake, you could sing Happy Birthday to Jesus or pray together as a family thanking God for the generous gift of His Son, Jesus and many gifts that He lavishes upon us.

****Super Moist Fudge Bundt Cake.
from Erin W. and Melanie C. & My Kitchen Cafe blog

1 devils food cake mix
1 4-serving instant chocolate pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (not low-fat or fat-free)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl.
Blend with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Stir down sides.
Continue to mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared (i.e. greased and floured) bundt pan. (or cupcake liners or 2 9 in cake pans...)

Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool 20 minutes.

Invert onto serving platter.

**if you're making this in 2 9-inch cake pans, you'll only bake it for somewhere between 22-28 minutes.keep checking with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean and be careful not to stick it into a gooey chocolate chip! Also, if you make this into cupcakes, you'll need to check them sooner, say 17-18 minutes in... check with a toothpick and make sure you're not hitting a chocolate chip! ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Merry Berry Salad ~ 12.1.10

This was such a happy little find on my one of my daily haunts: Write.Click.Scrapbook

Emily Pitts posted this in January and I made it once or twice and the kids LOVED it! I'm looking forward to making it this holiday season as it is so very pretty but tastes even BETTER!

Merry Berry Salad

Lettuce- depending on how many you are serving this can change- I like red and green leaf
1 medium red apple, sliced thin
1 medium green apple, sliced thin
1 cup-ish shredded parmesan cheese (I think feta tastes equally as delicious in this)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (or not)

Combine in a large serving bowl.

1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice concentrate (improvise- with apple juice)
1 tsp salt - I use kosher and 1/2 tsp, then taste
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4- 1/2 a small onion grated over the bowl (to catch the juice)
1 cup vegetable oil

Combine all (except the OIL) dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. With blender running, slowly stream in the veg oil through the top until emulsified.

Drizzle over the salad right before serving. Refrigerate leftover dressing.