food · through my camera lens

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies– Fantastic Bake Along

I have seen AJ at A Petite Slice of Life participate int he Fantastic Bake Along, on It’s a T-Sweet Day. for so many months. This time I decided to join in the fun!

They post a recipe for everyone to follow. You bake the recipe during the week and then post your results on your own blog on Saturday. It’s that easy.

This month’s recipe was Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies. This recipe had 4 ingredients… seemed fool proof to me… yeah I should have know that wasn’t the case, but hey whatever.

So I started baking.

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies

  • 1/2 c corn starch
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c AP flour
  • 3/4 c. softened butter
  1. sift corn starch, flour and sugar
  2. mix in butter with a wooden spoon until blended into a soft dough
  3. form into the shape you want
  4. bake 300 for 15-20 min until the edges start to brown
  5. cool on a wire rack

I decided to add a tsp of cinnamon to give them a bit more flavor. I also rolled the cookies in cinnamon sugar

When I mixed my dough it didn’t form anything…. it was a flaky powder mess. I ended up adding another 1/4 cup of butter and then it finally came together. I don’t know what happened it seemed as if there was WAY too much dry to the butter ratio.

So I tossed the dough into the fridge for 15 min and then I was able to manipulate it enough to create cookies.

I made one batch as rolled cookies and a smaller batch of slice and bake style.

The first batch was not even close to browning at the 15 min mark. They also had spread out too much. I should have started by adding a tablespoon of butter at a time to see if I could bring the dough together instead of just jumping into adding the extra 1/4 cup.

 

The cookies spread sooo much. Then the strange thing was they were a crumbly mess and were falling apart when I tried to take them off the silpat. I guess this attempt was a flop for me… oh well I tried!

I hope everyone else had better luck than me. Please go check out the other bloggers who tried out this recipe!

 

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food · through my camera lens

chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies

IMG_20180628_134437.jpgYesterday we had a rainy day so I decided it was a good day to make cookies. I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. I have found a new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from my Duff Bakes cookbook. This is the chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe, he as a crispy one too, but I don’t like that one… sorry Duff!

This time I decided to switch it up a bit and add in peanut butter chips.

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Chocolate Chip/Peanut Butter Chip cookies (adapted from Duff Goldman’s Fat and Chewy Chocolate chip cookies)

  • 2 1/4 c. AP Flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c. butter softened
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 c. pb chips
  1. preheat oven to 375
  2. cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  3. add in eggs and vanilla
  4. add flour, baking soda and salt
  5. stir in chips (pb and chocolate)
  6. scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets (I used my silpats)
  7. bake cookies for 8-12 min depending on how gooey you want the centers to be
  8. cool for 5 min on sheet then transfer to cooling racksIMG_20180627_183953_742.jpg

These cookies are soooooo yummy. The center is soft and with the perfect level of chew.  The cookie base itself is super buttery and there is just the right level of salt. The combination of the chocolate and peanut butter is balanced and adds a great sweetness. As you can see, Colby tried them too and he also loved them. Blake doesn’t like pb chips, but he has had this when I made it with just chocolate chips and liked it.  Hmmm I think next time I’ll do chocolate chips, pretzels and butterscotch chips. Ummm yummy!

family · food · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Meatballs and weekday sauce

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When I was growing up, it seemed like a majority of the friends my brother and I had were Italian. We on the other hand do not have a drop of Italian blood in us. But that never stopped us from enjoying Italian foods! I love anything in red sauce, who doesn’t? I would be very happy if you gave me a bowl of red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread… yum!

Well last night we decided to have meatballs. We had purchased a french baguette at the store on Monday and we didn’t want it to go stale before it was consumed. Blake told me over the weekend he wanted to help with the cooking this week, so I had shown him Alton Brown’s Chicken Parmesan Balls recipe. We decided this would be the meatballs we make this time around. I typically make the meatballs from this recipe anytime I make meatballs. P1080320

The boys decided they would both help make dinner. Blake helped make the meatballs. He measured and mixed and then formed the meatballs while I cooked them in the cast iron skillet. Colby made the sauce almost completely on his own.

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Chicken Turkey Parm Balls

  • 3 oz panko bread crumbs
  • 4 oz parm cheese (I used a combination of parm and asiago since I didn’t have enough parm)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix (dried herbs not salad dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • weekday spaghetti sauce (see below)
  • Heat oven to 400
  1. mix 1/2 oz of panko and 1 oz parm cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  2. combine chicken, egg, 1 Tbsp oil, bread crumbs, parm cheese, basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl. (use your hands it’s your best kitchen tool!)
  3. use cookie scoop to create equal size balls
  4. heat 1 Tbps oil in pan.
  5. brown balls in the pan, work in batches and do not over crowd the pan. remove to paper towel lined pan/plate as you go.
  6. put balls into baking dish and cover with weekday sauce. sprinkle on reserved panko and cheese. top with fresh motzarella
  7. bake for 10 min or until the cheese is melted.
  8. serve however you want (in a roll, on pasta, just on a plate, eat it right out the pan…?)

Weeknight sauce

  • EVOO
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (herbs not salad dressing mix)
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  1. heat oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  2. add crushed garlic
  3. add remaining herbs
  4. heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges, making sure to continue to break up garlic if you didn’t chop it up
  5. add in the whole can of tomatoes
  6. let cook 5 min or so then begin breaking up the tomatoes (Colby used the wooden spoon then I used a potato masher) to the consistency you like your sauce

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This was really good. The boys did find the sauce a bit spicy. I think next time I’ll use 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. I enjoyed the texture, taste and mouthfeel of these meatballs. I would make them bigger next time if I was making them for the subs. I tend to choose to make my meatballs smaller so I know they cook through and they also do not need as much binder then. I will certainly be making both the meatballs and sauce again since everyone enjoyed them.

 

family · food · through my camera lens

Breakfast…Quesadillas? Recipe By Blake

Hi everyone, Blake here. Toady, I decided to have a breakfast burrito, and with a regular recipe and a bunch of dumb luck, I ‘created’ a new food item. Here it is….

Ingredients:

Two regular eggs

dash of water

Any decent slices of ham as needed ( I used off the bone ham from Giant Eagle.)

Any amount of slices of Colby Jack cheese as needed

Two taco-size tortillas

A little bit of butter

Equipment:

A grilled cheese or panini press

About a 6′ pan/skillet

A bowl, any size

Procedure:

Step 1: Crack the eggs in the bowl, then poke the yolk, preferably with a fork. Mix it around until it is all the same color. Pour the water into the bowl.

Step 2: Turn on the stove, and put on its highest heat setting. Move the butter around in pan/skillet until it dissolves.

Step 3: Pour the eggs in and then cook it until it’s fully cooked. Then have the wraps, ham and cheese out and ready.

Note: Here’s where this dumb luck came into place. We (myself and my mom) had turned the oven on, but my  skills on proportions weren’t so good, and we decided to do this:

Step 4: Take out the press and begin to heat it.

Step 5: While the press is heating, put cheese on the bottom of one wrap, then put ham on top of the cheese. Then, put the eggs in. After that, do vice versa of the ham and cheese, but putting ham first. Last, put the other wrap on top.

Step 6: Heat the quesadilla until desired, take it out, cut it, and enjoy!

If it ends out well, it should sort of look like this:

I tried it, and it was pretty good! Unlike this picture!P1080312

Happy cooking, and see you in my next blog, whenever that is!

-Blake

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie

P1080303When I went to the grocery store on Monday, they had a sign saying that Tuesday, June 12th was national peanut butter cookie day. That was enough incentive for me to bake peanut butter cookies. I mean who doesn’t love a good PB cookie?

So I decided to look in a few cookbooks I have and settled on Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies from his cookbook EverdayCook. The recipe starts by telling you that this is  “A one-bowl, no mixer cookie that’s also gluten free.” I hesitated at first, but decided to give it a go anyway…

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie

  • 1 c. smooth Peanut butter (I used Recess’s peanut butter)
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. line cookie sheets with parchment paper (I used my silpats)
  3. put peanut butter and both sugars into a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated
  4. add the egg, baking soda, vanilla and salt. mix until will combined
  5. roll dough into 1 oz balls (I used a cookie scoop)
  6. place 8 per cookie sheet (or whatever fits with space between for spreading)
  7. flatten cookie using a fork to create cross hatches
  8. bake for 10 min or until the cookies look dry and are just lightly browned
  9. cool for 2 min the sheet pan.

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Ok I will be honest these cookies turned out a lot better than I expected them to. The whole concept of cookies without flour just sounds totally wrong to me. But, they taste like peanut butter and sugar, and what could be better than that? I did have a slightly difficult time mixing the peanut butter and sugars together with the wooden spoon. I did get it to fully incorporate, but I think I’d pull out my hand mixer and make it go that much faster next time.

Richard and Colby both enjoyed these too. I didn’t send them into work with Richard because they only made about 14 of the size I made.  They are rather crumbly, which is odd since they do not have a dry mouth feel. I will certainly make these again!

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Mixed Berry Corn Muffins

I had some blueberries that I needed to use up. Originally I was going to use blueberries and strawberries, but the strawberries went bad… I hate that.

So I found this recipe for Berry Cornmeal Muffins on All Recipes. After seeing that it had decent reviews, I decided to try it out.

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Mixed Berry Corn Muffins

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 10 oz naturally flavored strawberry yogurt (I used Siggi’s strawberry)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of berries (I used 1 cup of fresh blueberries and 1 cup frozen mixed berries)

Preheat oven to 350

line muffin pan with liners

Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and set aside 1/2 cup

Mix together yogurt, butter and egg

Add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix until just combined

coat berries in the 1/2 cup dry mixture to coat (I think you could get away with just using 1/4 cup)

Gently stir berries into mix

Scoop into muffin pan

Bake at 350 for 25 min

Enjoy!

I really liked these muffins. They are really moist for a corn muffin base. I would guess it is the yogurt that is in it. I personally liked when I hit a red raspberry in the one I tried, so I think the next time I make this I’ll just vanilla yogurt and red raspberries. It is an easy recipe to tweak to your flavor liking. P1080246

family · food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ok so yesterday I didn’t write any posts, and today you get two (and both are recipes I made yesterday)! Earlier I posted a sweet treat recipe, chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars, that I made yesterday. One of the ingredients of this treat was honey. Now as I mentioned in that post I do not actually like the flavor of honey, but Richard and Colby both love it. I have a HUGE bottle of honey that I purchased at Costco. It was put to use yesterday.

For dinner last night we had Honey Bourbon Chicken made in the electric pressure cooker. I read through the recipe and my first thought was…. ummm where is the bourbon? When reading the comments they said that this was “Bourbon inspired”. One of the people also responded that if you cook with alcohol in a pressure cooker it does not cook off the alcohol… ok let’s try this anyway!

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Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I grated it with my microplane)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • red pepper flakes (I did a few shakes of the container)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP water

Put all the ingredients (except cornstarch and water) into the electric pressure cooker

Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes

Let it release pressure for 5 minutes then finish releasing the pressure manually

Remove the chicken and dice it up into bite size pieces

Combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry, then add to the cooking liquid. Stir to dissolve completely

Return the chicken to the pressure cooker

Set to saute and cook for an additional 3 minutes to thicken the sauce

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I served it with red wheat berries that I toasted and then cooked, adding a bit of butter at the end of the cooking process. Colby said this made it taste a lot like popcorn. We also had a raw carrot. Colby ended up eating two since he took the one off Richard’s plate too before he got home. No worries, I peeled another one for Richard.

I tried everything separably, but then put the chicken and wheat berries together and it was so yummy.

The chicken was really tasty. Colby felt it had a homemade bbq flavor, I don’t think it did, but hey if that works for him… then go for it dude. Colby ate 2 carrots and 2 servings of wheat berries and one serving of chicken. Blake ate 2 servings of chicken, his carrot and a nibble of wheat berries. Then, when Richard came home and was having dinner, Blake had a 3rd serving of the chicken. I’d say he really liked this one. Richard enjoyed it too.

I really wish the sauce ended up thicker. I think next time instead of thickening the sauce in the pressure cooker I’d transfer it to a pot and cook it in there so that the liquids can evaporate and thicken. Richard suggested reducing actual bourbon in a pan and adding it to the chicken mixture in the thickening step. This would add the bourbon flavor, but not the alcohol.

I think we will be trying this one again!

 

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Yesterday I never did get around to writing a blog post, I’m not sure why, but oh well such is life.

I saw the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bars and thought they looked rather yummy. Who does’t like chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels, oh wait I know a few people who don’t, but I like them and that’s what counts, a lot of people like them and that is what’s important.

I made them yesterday… well I made something similar anyway. I followed the recipe, but then “Lori-ized it”. And, as soon as I tried one I was already re-writing the recipe in my head.

This is what I did:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided) Image may contain: dessert, food and outdoor
  • bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 4 oz. box Reese’s Pieces candy
Peanut Butter Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate layer:
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a siltpad
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth. (my microwave has a melt chocolate setting so I used that, but this is the typical way to melt chocolate in a microwave without burning it)

For the peanut butter sauce:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add honey and sugar and stir well to combine.

  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 full minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

  3. Stir in vanilla

     

Assembly:

  1. Spread the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet, don’t worry about neatness aim more for a similar thickness across the surface area used
  2. Top with pretzels and Reese’s Pieces. You can put them down at random, or be more like me and spend time making sure they are evenly spaced out (ok a bit OCD there, but hey what can I say?) Lightly press into chocolate
  3. Prep peanut butter layer. I had enough to spread it in an even layer over the whole bar
  4. Add an additional layer of the pretzels and press into peanut butter layer
  5. melt remaining 4 oz of chocolate and drizzle over the top of everything.
  6. Refrigerate until solid.
  7. Cut or break into pieces
  8. Enjoy!

OK… now here is how I’d change it next time!

First I felt this was very honey forward. I would either use 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of agave nectar or switch it all to agave nectar (I am not a huge honey fan even though both Richard and Colby love the stuff and eat it all the time).

Also, I would add salt to the peanut butter layer to bring out the peanut butter flavor more than just the sweet of the honey/sugar combination

I liked the double layer of pretzels (that I already changed from the original recipe), but felt the Reese’s pieces got lost. So you either need to double the amount you use or add peanut butter chips or even peanut M&M’s to up the peanut flavor.

Finally I would put more of the chocolate into the bottom layer maybe only reserve 2.5 oz for the top so it was a true drizzle and not a full layer of chocolate.

Colby tried these out as his after school snack. He loves peanut butter and chocolate together. He loves peanut butter and honey together. He always eats peanut butter and pretzels together. He LOVES  Reese’s Pieces. So this treat was right up his alley. Richard also enjoyed them when he came home from work. I guess I will be making these again, but next time I’ll “Lori-ize” them even more!

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food · life · through my camera lens

Rambles and Pasta Salad

Yesterday the boys had their first mountain biking lesson. They left excited to go back on Thursday! That makes it feel like money well spent. While they biked I went off on a hike. I’d hiked over 1 mile when Richard surprised me by showing up to walk with me. I had to hike back out and meet up with him. I ended up hiking/walking over 3 miles in about an hour. I wasn’t doing a good job about pausing my app while texting/talking to Richard in order to figure out where we were going to meet up. So, I’m not sure how long I walked, but I don’t care that was still good hike.

One of the places I came across on my hike has a “forever tree”. This is a tree dedicated to those furry friends who loved North Park, but are no longer with us. People add medal ornaments to the tree to honor these pets. Such a loving tribute.

Today I decided to take my coffee and make it a smoothie. I used 1 cup of chocolate coffee, a splash of chocolate creamer, and 1.5 frozen bananas. I blended it up and called it a drink. It was yummy… I’d show a picture, but I finished it before I decided to share about having it.

While I was having my coffee smoothie I worked on lunch. I know I often talk about the foods I make for the family for dinner, but almost never discuss breakfast or lunch. Part of that is breakfast and lunch is take care of yourself meals. I haven’t made breakfast or lunch for my boys since they were about 5. Most days my lunch is open the fridge and toss whatever I find on top of salad, pasta, rice or something on that idea. I will also eat leftovers as is, but I typically like to reinvent them so they feel new and not just leftovers.

Today, since I went to the grocery store, I decided to make myself a pasta salad. I love pasta salad and is such a great side, but for me… it’s lunch!

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Today’s pasta salad

  • bowtie pasta (about 1/4 a package)
  • zucchini -diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (I used a 10oz package) split
  • heavy handful of spinach
  • 1/4 package of broccoli slaw
  • fresh motzarella
  • Italian Dressing (I used Ken’s Simply Vinaigrette Italian)
  • EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder

Cook pasta according to package. When done make sure to rinse in cool water to cool down the pasta

Dice zucchini. Heat EVOO in a skillet. In skillet put half of the tomatoes and zucchini. Dust with garlic powder. When cooked to the texture you like, leave to cool.

Chop of the spinach. Cut the rest of the tomatoes in half. Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl place the spinach, broccoli slaw, chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. When pasta and veggie are cooled down add to bowl. Top with dressing and then toss.

Refrigerate. I put it into the fridge for 40 min or so before eating. This is one of those the longer it sits the better it tastes.

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I like the fact that there is more veggies than pasta. You can put in whatever veggie float your boat. I was trying to go for an Italian-ish flavor profile. Do you have a favorite pasta salad? What do you put in yours?

book · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Roasted Thanksgiving Salad- Alton Brown

This week we had a lot of new recipes on our menu. I really enjoyed all the recipes. And, they all came from on location:Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. First, we had fish sticks, then pizza dough, and then finally Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.

The roasted Thanksgiving Salad was the healthiest of all, and actually really yummy! Think roasted veggies, quinoa, apples and pumpkin seeds in a mustard vinaigrette. This was a great side dish and I’ve had it a few days cold for lunch.

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Roasted Thanksgiving Salad (recipe adapted from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook)

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. of Sweet Potatoes, ~3 medium, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. of Parsnips, ~3-5, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces (use the smaller ones as the large ones are too woody)
  • 1 Red Onion, small, diced
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup of Quinoa, rinsed in cool water & drained
  • ¼ teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Agave Nectar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 medium Gala Apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of roasted Pepitas
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and red onion on a baking sheet pan lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, toss and then roast for 10 more minutes or under the veggies are golden and tender.
  3. While the vegetables are roasted, prepare the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of of water and ½ teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. When boiling, whisk in the quinoa and cinnamon. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, still covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. For the vinaigrette, combine the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a jar with a lid, shake to emulsify.
  5. Toss the vegetables, quinoa, and dressing together in a large bowl. Top with apples and pepitas just before serving.

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I ended up doubling my dressing since I used more sweet potato, parsnip and apple than was originally called for in the recipe. You easily could change the veggies in this recipe, carrots would make a nice addition and add a bit more sweetness.

Richard and I both enjoyed this and said that the apple and pumpkin seeds added a nice texture to the recipe. I was thinking that if you put wheat berries into this for 1/2 the quinoa you would add in a chewy texture and an additional ancient grain.

The original recipe called for thyme and sage, but I didn’t add these to mine. I can see how they would add to the Thanksgiving feel, but since we were making it in April I didn’t see the need for it to feel Thanksgiving. It also used maple syrup instead of agave nectar, I only have cheap fake maple syrup and didn’t want to use that in this dish, plus it was almost gone. I figured it was looking to add sweetness as much as anything so that’s why I used the agave nectar.

I’m ready to start adding more veggie heavy dishes to our menu. The dish could be used all year long and is hearty enough, in my opinion to be used as a main dish. I served it with grilled chicken.

There is nothing new on our menu this week. Life is going to be busy for the next few weeks so I’m not sure how many new dishes we will see, but you never know.

Hope you enjoy your Friday Eve!