Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Double Chocolate Cookies

I made these cookies, then left the next day for a solo vacation, and by the time I got back 3 days later, all the cookies had been inhaled, thus no photo.

 But the four that I did eat were very yummy. The cookie dough was very thick, and it made it easy to form nice even dough balls. My husband said my son begged for these for his snack, so they totally passed the test!

Double Chocolate Cookies
Yields 3 dozen
recipe from Rookie Cookie

2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips)

Set oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until set. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Brunch Wedding Shower

I flew back to the Midwest for a fun wedding shower and thought I'd share the food photos.

It was a brunch, with egg bake, Panera bagels with 2 kinds of cream cheese, fruit salad, candy, OJ, and the BEST champagne punch drinks (which, of course, I did NOT get a photo of) in sugar rimmed wine glasses.

It was shower for one of my college friends, and we had a great weekend filled with catching up and the best girl talk a plane ride (and cancelled flight and unexpected overnight stay in St Louis) could have bought. Thanks ladies!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares

I love corn bread. I always love cheese....put the two together, and I'm one happy camper.

I also like to prep the ingredients ahead of time...I just put the cheese, corn and green onions in a container, ready to be dumped. I cut these up after lunch, but I'm sure you could do it the night before, also.

Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares
Makes 6 servings
From Rachel Ray's 30 Minutes Meals 2

1 8 1/2-ounce box corn bread and muffin mix, prepared according to instructions
1/3 pound pepper jack cheese diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 scallion thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400º.

Prepare the muffin mix.

In a mixing bowl, stir cheese, corn and scallions into corn muffin batter. (I always under-combine the batter, then add the cheese, corn and onions, then make sure it's good and combined.)

Pour batter into greased 8" square baking dish.

Bake until golden brown, 15-18 minutes.

We used to always serve this with steak, but now that we don't eat a ton of red meat, it's just as good with any other kind!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Megan's Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker

My friend Megan gave me this recipe after she made the dish for her future husband. He loved them so much, he took the leftovers on the plane back to where he lived. I thought that if the pork chops are THAT good, I'd love to have the recipe.

I make these every now and then in the oven, but thought I could revise the recipe to fit the slow cooker.

I think the next time I put it in the slow cooker, I would reduce the water in the sauce recipe to maybe just a 1/2 cup or leave it out all together, because there was alot of juice left in the slow cooker. But the pork chops were fall-off the bone tender, really flavorful and super easy.  It worked great, and I think we'll be having more of this because of it!

Megan's Pork Chops
Makes 4 servings

2 pounds pork chops
1 onion sliced
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
6 tablespoons brown sugar

Oven Directions:
Brown pork chops in skillet. Mix ketchup and sauces. Layer pork chops in 9 x 13 glass pan, put onion rings over pork chops, then cover with sauce. Cover pan with foil, bake 2 hours at 350 degrees. Baste with sauce a few times during cooking. Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Slow Cooker Directions:
Brown pork chops in skillet.

Mix ketchup and sauces. Layer pork chops in a greased 4 quart slow cooker with onion rings...

Then cover with sauce.

Cook on Low for 4 hours.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sauteed Cabbage

Sautee Cabbage with Homesteader Cornbread and Slow Cooker Baked Beans
If you like cabbage, this sweet and salty combination is a great side dish. I originally made this as an afterthought, after the main dish was busy cooking away, and this ended up being my favorite dish of the night.

Whenever I serve this for dinner, I go crazy about it, my husband eats his portion politely, and the kids avoid it all costs. But, I am the cabbage lover of the family.

Since cabbage is in season, I have two cabbages hanging out in my frig. One regular green cabbage, and one Napa cabbage. I used green cabbage for this, and I think the Napa would have seemed more like a Chinese sidedish, so it could work for a variety of dinners. I would maybe use soy sauce instead of salt and maybe throw some ginger in, too....hmmm....I think that's my next trial of this recipe.

Sauteed Cabbage
recipe adapted from

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jasmine Brown Rice

So my enormous 5 pound bag of Jasmine Brown Rice is really getting a good dent in it. Unfortunately, the bag didn't come with directions (at least in English that I could read)

Jasmine Brown Rice
2 cups water or broth
1 cup Jasmine Brown Rice

In a quart pan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water or stock to a boil. Stir in 1 cup of brown jasmine rice. Cover tightly and simmer at medium heat for 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Fluff

The verdict?
The rice doesn't have as much of a jasmine-eny taste as the regular white rice, but it is some great rice! and healthier to boot!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chicken Paprika

This was the recipe I was trying to make when I ran out of paprika and made The Best Chicken Strips instead. What's funny (or ironic or coincidental) is that I bought more at the store the following week, then found a brand new container hidden up in the cabinet. So I guess I did have paprika, and now we have so much, I don't think we'll ever run out!

Chicken Paprika
recipe adapted from Gather Round The Table

1/2 cup flour
3 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons margarine
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sour cream

In a large plastic bag, place flour, 1 teaspoon paprika, salt and pepper. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time; shake to coat well. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add chicken; brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Remove chicken. Add onion. Cook, stirring 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and rest of paprika. Return chicken.Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 25 minutes. Remove chicken. Stir together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons sour cream. Stir into pan juices. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 1 minutes. Stir in remaining sour cream and chicken.

The verdict?
So this recipe was a bit of work. It involved lots of little steps, which caused me to stand at the stove alot....and that really doesn't work for me. I thought all the moving of the chicken was a little unnecessary, and the sauce was just OK. It needed more seasoning in the sauce. The leftovers were still pretty good the next day, but I don't think I'll make it again.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I mentioned this recipe on my most recent Recipe Roll Call, but I finally got around to making my own barbecue sauce. I try not to buy BBQ sauces with high fructose corn syrup, and those organic sauces can be pricey and still contain lots of sugar.

Homemade BBQ Sauce
recipe adapted from The Best Dang Rib Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons dark molasses
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook and stir the jalapeno pepper and onion for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the honey, molasses, brown sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, smoke flavoring, salt and pepper, and whisk until smooth. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-low heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick. Store refrigerated.

The verdict?
Still a little sweet, but it had great texture. I liked the addition of the oregano, which I never would have added on my own. I served this sauce with another rendition of The Best Chicken Strips, and it was a great pairing. My son finished his chicken, then continued to lick off all the sauce off his plate...I'd say that's a thumb's up.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Simple Meaty Chili

I made this for the Super Bowl. I wanted a simple, basic chili to layer on top of Doritios, and top with all sort of crazy fixin's like sour cream, chopped onion, shredded cheese, avocado, and cilantro...and maybe more random things from the frig.

One of the ingredients is masa, which I didn't have on hand, but I always enjoy looking for new ingredients. I don't quite know what I'm going to do with the other 5 pounds of corn flour, but I'm sure I'll find something new and fun to try.

Simple, Perfect Chili

from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

2 lbs ground beef
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 c masa (corn flour)

Optional Ingredients
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (can use diced tomatoes with green chilies)
shredded cheese (for serving)
onion, chopped (for serving)

1. Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic.

2. Cook the beef until brown and drain off the excess fat.

3. Pour in the tomato sauce, followed by the spices and salt.

4. Stir together well, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.

5. After an hour, place the masa in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of water and stir together with a fork.

6. Dump the masa mixture into the chili and stir together well. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and add more masa paste and/or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or add more corn flavor.

This is what my chili looked like before adding the tomatoes and beans:

Add the beans, jalapeño and tomatoes if desired. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and onions.

The verdict?
I thought the recipe name of Simple Chili was perfect. On it's own, in a bowl, it is a little on the basic side. But, as a base to add all the wonderful additions that make chili...CHILI, it is a great simple start. I did not add any cayenne powder, jalapeno pepper, or diced tomatoes with green chilies because I wanted it to be mild and easy to add to any recipe, plus toddler safe for my son.

If I didn't add the beans and tomatoes, it was a little too meaty for our preferences. Actually, it was only meat, so with the addition of the beans and tomatoes, it was perfect. I froze the leftovers, and think they will make a great topped baked potato or chili dog. Ahhhhhh...chili nemsis!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Homemade Ranch Dressing

I hope everyone enjoyed the big game (and commercials) and ate all their favorite Super Bowl foods. I made a new recipe for Chili, and that recipe will be coming soon.

My husband wanted take-out pizza for dinner one night, and I needed something to balance out all the carby/cheesey deliciousness that is pizza you don't make yourself. I was craving a salad, a really good salad, to grab some of my attention away from the pizza.

I remembered the Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe from The Pioneer Woman cookbook. I made this with dried herbs, and that made it pretty quick and easy to whip up. Please go to her site to view the recipe, as I did not veer from her original recipe, other than halving the fresh herbs down to dried.

I also used a new product, buttermilk powder, and I'm having fun experimenting with it. I first saw it at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures, and have since used to enchance my biscuits, pancakes, and any recipe that calls for buttermilk. It worked great in this recipe.

This made over 2 cups of dressing, which was obviously more than we consumed that night, but we added it to our Super Bowl food spread with some veggies to dip. Good stuff!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Homemade Taco Sauce

Homemade Taco Sauce
I make my own Taco Sauce, mostly for the reason that I usually have a can of tomato paste on hand, but rarely have a bottle of taco sauce. I like being able to whip this up whenever I feel like it, and it makes enough that it lasts a long time.

My brother has used this recipe but canned it in small jars for later use. He said that turned out great.

I just recently used this Taco Sauce on my Copycat Casey's Taco Pizza, and it worked great. I recently started reducing the amount of cayenne pepper in the recipe when I know my son will be eating it, because he always likes to point out when things are "too spicy!" The refined palate of a 2-year old.

Taco Sauce

recipe adapted from Top Secret
Makes 3 cups (24 oz)

3 cups water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
3 tablespoons white vinegar
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dissolve cornstarch in water in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover until cool. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerator to store.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Seasonal Produce for February

I always wonder what is the best produce to buy during each season, so I have started a monthly post that lets you know what is the best fruits and vegetables to be buying for your season.

I just picked up a great looking cabbage this week at the store, but don't have a specific recipe for it set aside. We'll see what comes up!

in season vegetables:
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, brussels tops, salsify and shallots.

in season fruits:
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, papayas

Here are some recipes to try with your seasonal produce:
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Vegetable Cream Cheese
Cauliflower, White Bean and Feta Salad
Vegetable Deluxe
Potato & Cauliflower Soup
Pork Orange Kabobs

This is vaguely for the whole USA, so your region might have other veggies that are in season.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking