Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Cafe Rio?? What in tar-nation is that? Don't worry...I had to google it to find out too. It's a Mexican grill based in Utah that is supposedly drool worthy. But I guess I will be the judge of that!! ;)
I found this recipe on a blog while I was blog stalking...Oops! I mean blog searching. I am going to put this together soon for my hubbers who is WILD about mexi food. It sounds so interesting and I cant wait to try what the pork tastes like - cooked in coke and all. I am guessing it is using a roast (shoulder/butt/etc.) cut in the recipe.
I read a tip from the comments on their post that said the cilantro ranch sauce is better after sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Thanks Cookin with Friends!

2 pounds pork
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can sliced green chilies
3/4 can enchilada sauce
1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy duty ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight. Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO dry). Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork. In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little. Put shredded pork and sauce in crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours. That's it!

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.


2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro. (**NOTE** we added a can of corn, drained, to the beans with a dash of cumin and chili powder, it was AWESOME! We recommend doing this even though it's not "traditional Cafe Rio")

1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not BUTTERMILK)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalepeno (we like it SPICY so we kept the seeds in it, if you like it mild, just remove the seeds)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender.

Directions for the Salad:
K so now to make it all PERFECT... Here is how we put it all together: First of all, we bought the aluminum deep-dish pans (they had these at the grocery store, you will know when you see them.. they look JUST like the Cafe Rio tins). Lay a tortilla in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle cheese on it, and put in the oven at 375 for about 5 min or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, add beans, rice, pork, then lettuce (we used the leafy green lettuce, NOT ICEBURG) and a little scoop of diced tomato and onions (pico de gallo). We made up some gaucamole and put some of that on the salad (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). We also added a little spoonful of sour cream. Add some crushed tortilla chips (we have yet to find the little tortilla strips), a shake of parmesan cheese, and top with a few cilantro leaves. Serve with the cilantro ranch dressing and there you have it! It really is easier than it looks. It only took me about an hour to make (after the pork was in the crock pot). The rice and beans are SUPER easy, you definitely want the beans and rice to get the whole experience! Also, be generous with the cilantro! Try it and let me know what you think! I KNOW you won't be disappointed!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Veggie "Pizza"

OOh this is so good - I have tasted this one time before and was reminded of it from a blog that I follow. I think it's a recipe from Pillsbury but I'm not sure. Great appetizer for entertaining and lets not forget another secret way we moms make veggies fun and yummy for the kiddos too!

(2) cans crescent rolls
press into bottom of a greased jelly roll pan and bake according to package directions.
(2) 8oz. pkgs Cream cheese
3/4 C. Mayo
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
Mix together and spread over cooled, baked crescent rolls

Top with cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumbers and Monterrey Jack cheese.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who'd a Thought It?

So my whole grand life of twenty four years I have been cooking for...well the joy of cooking I suppose. Not until recently have I figured out there is a complete and undiscovered (at least by me) science behind it all. Not only does this information make me feel like a better cook...but a straight up friggin smarty pants too.

Psst....come on over here! I'll let you in on a couple of things I have learned.

For example, today let's use a basic, yet truly wonderful recipe of chocolate chip cookies. Loved by millions it the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe. It's fantastic as is, but I have always wondered how there can be SO many chocolate chip cookie variations and what really is the difference between them all.

So we start out with this recipe...

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (but yuck...I am NOT a fan of nutty cookies! Brownies - yes, breads - perhaps, but cookies...oh no)
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

But let's mix things up a use the regular recipe above, just note these simple changes...

here are the how's and why's

The Thin and Crispy

- Add up to 1/2 tsp more baking soda... the baking soda reduces the total acidity of the batter allowing it to spread faster at high temperatures

-Use room temperature BUTTER (no not margarine or Crisco) and really take the creaming of the fat and sugar to heart and beat the snot out of it to make the batter light and airy

- Use a higher white sugar to brown sugar ratio, lets say 1 c. white sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar
(more white sugar will ensure crispiness)

- Use 1 egg and 2 oz. milk ...hmmm trying to remember the reason for this... oh what the heck - just do it :P

- Sift your dry ingredients together before combining know that's one step you always ignore...or at least I do... this will ensure uniformity of leavening ingredients.

Not a fan of The Thin you say? Are you craving a puffy, cake like cookie? Look no further!

The Puffy

- Use butter flavored shortening in lieu of the butter... shortening has a higher melting point allowing your cookie to rise before cooking

-Use 1 c. brown sugar and 1/2c. white sugar (higher brown sugar content = more moisture)

-Substitute cake flour for all purpose flour (cake flour has less protien which will add density and velvety texture)

-Add 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder instead of baking soda (I know you usually dont see this in a cookie recipe - but we are looking for puffy here folks so we need more leavening!)

-Remember to sift sift sift!!!

-Chill dough for at least 30 min. or longer

And last and certainly not least, let us not forget my favorite of the bunch,

The Chewy

- Use butter again but make sure it is completely melted down into liquid form (about 1 min in the microwave but check after 30 seconds - your nuker may be more powerful than mine)

- Use bread flour instead of all purpose flour (ensures very chewy cookies with its higher protien level)

-Change up the sugar to 1/4 c white sugar and 1 1/4 c. brown sugar (more brown sugar = more moisture due to the molasses in the sugar which is a moisture hog)

-Use 1 egg and 1 egg yolk (I guess egg whites are moisture suckers) + 2 Tbsp. milk

-Chill dough for at least 30 min or longer

Pretty fantastic isn't it? Well I thought so - hopefully you did too. So go now you smart little Einstein you... do your own little science experiment in the privacy of your own home and see which you love best.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sticky Lemon Chicken

I apologize to the whole two or three people who actually read this blog that I have no pictures with some of my posts. My camera is sick and will hopefully be better soon!

Woo hoo for one of the best chicken recipes ever! I got this recipe from watching GMA a while ago when they had chef Gordon Ramsey on as their guest chef. So as soon as he started this recipe I had my pen and paper ready to go... but holy John Wayne - they go sooo stinkn fast you don't even have time to write the dang recipe down. It's like you write down the first ingredient and you look back up and all of the sudden they are already pulling the finished dish out of the oven and are switching over to the weather! So this is me trying to salvage this yummy dish from it's torn, wrinkly and scribbled existence.

Here's what yer going to need:

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme
1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending how garlicky you like to go)
2 lbs of chicken (bone-in drumsticks or wings work best)

In a shallow saute pan, saute chicken, thyme, garlic and oil for about 7-10 minutes on med/high heat, or until chicken is about 1/2 way cooked. Add to the mix:

3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 lemon, sliced (I give a good squeeze to one of the slices to add to the sauce before chucking it in)

Continue cooking at med/high until sauce has caramelized and chicken is cooked all the way through, about 10 more minutes. Stir every now and then and especially during the last couple of minutes to prevent the chicken and sauce from sticking to the pan.

Sprinkle chopped fresh Italian parsley on top to finish.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Homemade Ragu Sauce

I got this authentic Italian recipe from my good friend Gulia who happens to be an authentic Italian herself :) It's waaaay better than anything you'd buy in a can. Odds are you are going to chuck them out after you make this anyways. I make this recipe and double or triple it and store the leftovers in individual pre measured baggies and stick them in the freezer until I need them.

1 medium carrot, grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion, minced
1/2 c. mushrooms, finely minced
1/2 lb. ground beef (or turkey for all of you sometimes health nutters like me)
2 whole garlic cloves (or use the time saving prepackaged minced garlic)
2 cans tomato sauce
(honestly its a guess for me right now on how much tomato sauce to old scrawled out hand writing didn't complete the if it needs more liquid try throwing in a can of stewed tomatoes)
1 Tbsp sugar
Fresh Italian parsley, minced to taste (about a good Tbsp)
Fresh basil, minced to taste (about a good Tbsp)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute carrot, onion and mushrooms in the oil on medium heat. In a separate pan brown the meat. Add the meat to the onion mixture. Add your whole garlic, and rest of seasonings to pan.Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.

*Important - remember to fish out the garlic cloves or someones going to get a REAL tasty bite that might make them want to puke

Pour sauce over your favorite pasta dish and grate fresh parmigiana cheese.

Just like Olive Garden Alfredo

This is a must have in my recipe collection. I swear this is the best homemade alfredo sauce I have came across so far. I use it in fettuccine or on top of spinach ravioli and it's killer on steamed veggies too.
(updated note: this has quite the load of fat and cals so when I used 1/4 c. butter, light cream cheese, 1/2 pt. heavy cream, 1 cup fat free milk it is still quite rich but a little better on the waistline :)

1/2 cup Butter
4 oz. Cream Cheese
1 pint Heavy Whip Cream
3/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
Optional: sprinkle finely minced italian parsley on top on individual serving plate

In saucepan, melt butter. Add cream cheese, whip cream, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil. Drop heat but keep heat high enough for a simmer. Simmer sauce for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Take from heat and stir in cheese. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Tamale Pie

{picture and recipe courtesy of Letti B.}

Man this is a really good dish.
How good you say...
Let's just say I ate the leftovers the next morning for breakfast...
Enough said

I did leave out the olives though. The fam is NOT a fan of the squishy stinky little buggers.

Tamale Pie
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup of corn (I used frozen, but I guess you could also just use a can of corn)
1 small can of sliced olives
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 packet of Lawry's taco seasoning
1 packet of Marie Calendar's corn bread
1. Cook ground beef, seasoning with garlic salt and pepper (drain)
2. Add corn, olives, tomato sauce and taco seasoning (set aside)
3. Follow directions on back of corn bread
4. In a 9x13 pan add the meat mixture and spread out evenly. Next add the cornbread mix and cover meat mixture completely.
5. Cook at 375* for 35 minutes and sprinkle with some cheddar cheese!! (optional)

Spanish Rice

So my camera is still in the shop...I know I am counting the days until I can cradle it back into my arms again...
But in the mean time I got this recipe from my next door neighbor. Not only is it fabulous but it's good too.
I always took the easy route of using my rice cooker for every type of rice, but I have learned that taking the extra time and effort by using the stove top - can give you much tastier results.

Spanish Rice

1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 finely chopped garlic cloves ( using the prepackaged minced garlic in olive oil is a time saver)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. rice

Put these ingredients together in a shallow saucepan and mix until coated. Cook using medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the rice is browned.


1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp powdered chicken bullion
1/2 cup tomato sauce

Stir together, cover with lid and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Stir once or twice near the end of cooking time to make sure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Poop Cookies

That is right people! I said poop cookies! And you can't knock em' till you've tried em'!
I have been making these cookies since I was about 10 years old and they are still my favorite.
You have probably had these before...possibly under a different name but if you haven't, break out your pans and get to cookin! It couldn't be any easier. They cook in the same pan you mix it in, and you don't even have to bake them.

But I do promise you a fabulous chocolate induced coma for you when you are through! Enjoy!

So here it goes...

Poop Cookies

1 stick butter (as my girl Paula Deen has said...I am your cook, not your doctor)
3 Tbsp. cocoa (or 2sq. of unsweetened chocolate)
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk (you can use fat free if you are feeling over indulged)

Melt all four ingredients together in a saucepan and boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and add:

1/2 c. peanut butter (that's right...become one with the peanut butter)
1tsp. vanilla
3 c. oats (I just used regular Stater's brand)

Mix well until blended.
Lay some foil, wax, parchment...whatever is lying around, and plop (hence the name!) the sweet morsels onto it and let set. Make them as big or small as you want...they don't have to be pretty or perfect or anything. But they will resemble (ahem) ... no bake chocolate cookies.

I'll make a meatloaf lover out of you...

Hmmm...not a fan of meatloaf aren't you...

Well that stops today my good friend!! I too once was an anti - meatloafer like yourself until I came across this recipe. It might have been the modern un - loafiness that made me change for the better... or maybe it's the sauce that makes me coming back for more.

Whatever it may be this is a Holmes staple now and forever.

I'll make a believer out of you.... dare you to try it!

3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. finely crushed saltines
1/2 c. chopped onion
3/4 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey

1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add milk, saltines, onion, salt, and pepper. Add meat and mix well.
Transfer onto an ungreased shallow baking pan. Combine the ketchup, brown sugar and W. sauce in a seperate bowl. Spread sauce on top of meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or more depending how thick your meat blob is. If using a bread pan bake for 60 - 65 minutes. Let stand for atleast 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 6 servings

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Now I had to get this recipe down before I start any diet of any kind this year. Thanks to awesome Bakerella I now have my two favorite things combined together with chocolate on top.

It just doesn't get any better than this!

Actually this is like a Aha! moment. Obviously this is such an easy concept and I'm thinking "now why the heck couldn't I think of this?" But I am so grateful Bakerella did.

Here's what your gonna need:

1 pkg chocolate chip cookie mix
1 pkg brownie mix
Seriously guys it's that easy!

Prepare both as directed in separate bowls. Pour the brownie batter into a greased 13X9 pan. Plop the cookies on top... just like this

Now pat down the cookie dough morsels... just to make sure they don't go anywhere.

Bake for about 35 -40 minutes at 350 degrees

Here's the hardest part - you need to let them cool


For an hour

No, no not 20 minutes

You can lock yourself up in the closet if needed.

Now - whip up some of this to complete the 8th wonder of the world.
Now I suppose you could use just plain old canned chocolate frosting...but why??
When you could make this!!

Chocolate Ganache
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter
In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.
Pour over the chocolate morsels.
Let stand about 20 seconds and stir until smooth.
Pour over brownies and LET SET* before cutting.

Ooh I can only imagine this a la mode with my vanilla ice cream..{shudder}.it's almost to much to fathom.

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This is a REALLY good pasta dish that I got out of the Kraft foods magazine. It's very simple yet tastes very rich. The tomato and pepper sauce really makes this dish shine.

Here's what your gonna need:

3 c. farfalle (bow tie pasta) uncooked
3 c. broccoli florets
1/3 c. Kraft Red Roasted Pepper Italian with Parmesan Dressing
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 cloves garlic, minced (I buy the jars of pre-minced garlic in olive oil - major time saver)
2 c. tomato basil spaghetti sauce
4 oz cream cheese
1/3 c. parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta as directed but add the broccoli for the last 3 minutes of cooking time
Heat the dressing in a skillet on medium heat. Add the chicken and garlic and cook until chicken is cooked through.

Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pan and set aside. Now add the spaghetti sauce and cream cheese to the chicken skillet cooking on medium/low just until the cream cheese is completely melted and the mixture is well blended and the chicken is coated, stirring every now and then.

Remove the chicken from the sauce and keep it warm. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. Put into serving bowls. Cut chicken cross wise and lay it fanned out across the pasta and then sprinkle it with parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

OK so I am totally going to brag about how great this salad is.

It's FanTaStiC!!

I first learned of this salad at a Christmas party a couple of weeks ago from a good friend of mine.
I bugged her for the recipe and now I can't get enough of the fruity nutty salady goodness!!
So no questions asked...just make the darn salad already! Your stomach will thank you, and if you are entertaining, so will your guests! Seriously guys - it's amazingly unbelievable!!

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh...yes it DOES matter!)
  • 3 tsp diced onion
  • 3 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard (Grey Poupon tastes best)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 large pkg of baby spinach
  • 4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup blanched almonds or cashews
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 pears - peeled, cored and diced

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running add oil in a slow steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds and process just a few seconds more to mix.
  2. In a large serving bow combine the spinach, shredded Swiss cheese, nuts, dried cranberries, cubed apple and cubed pear. Toss to mix then pour dressing over salad just before serving and toss to coat.
Enjoy every last little bite and feel free to lick the plate clean :D

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ice Cream in January

"What?? An ice cream recipe in January? This girl must be crazy!"
Hey...hi yeah I'm standing right here... and last time I went outside, it was 80 degrees - which is a perfect excuse to dig out the ice cream maker that's usually packed up 8 months of the year, and put it to good use.
January Shmanuary...

How I love So. Cal's winters

So this is actually a recipe I have sort of made up (such a first for me! Woo!) and kept tweaking it and tweaking it all summer long until I thought it was about right. Which was not such a bad thing, every couple days there was a new flavor of homemade ice cream in the freezer.

Very hard to complain about.

Yes, it does have eggs in it...wait! Don't go! They are cooked and they don't give off an eggy flavor in the ice cream. I promise.
Plain vanilla is fabulous, but so were the strawberry, peach, and cookies and cream!
The possibilities are endless!

To make 4 qts:

4 egg yolks
2 1/2 c. sugar
3 c of half n half
3 c of heavy whipping cream
1 Qt. whole milk
1 can condensed milk
1 Tbsp + 1 Tsp clear vanilla flavor (or 2 pods vanilla bean scraped)

Beat the egg yolks together for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat. Keep beating while adding the whole milk. transfer mixture into a large deep pot and bring JUST to a boil while continuously stirring. (This will take a while, don't loose faith, just keep on mixing! The ice cream promises to make it up to you) * if you are using vanilla bean pods slice open and steep in this mixture.
Remove from heat. Add condensed milk, half n half, heavy cream, and vanilla (if not using vanilla beans). Mix until completely blended.
Now is when you'll add the fruit mixture or cookies or nuts...whatever you choose to put in it.

If you are going to add fruit to the mix add about 2 cups of pureed fruit (just stick in blender with just enough water to process it and about 1/2 c sugar and blend well)

Pour into ice cream maker and follow the manufactures directions.
After its done churning, cork it and put in the freezer for 1 to 2 hrs to help set.


Mexican 7 Layer Dip

The 1/4 bean in me especially LOVES this dip.

Layer in a 8x8 pan:

1 can of pinto beans, smashed (you can use refried beans but for me they are to salty and FULL of fat)
Sprinkle 1/2 pkg. taco seasoning into the beans while mashing

Frozen sweet corn, cooked (again the canned stuff is too salty)

Diced tomatoes

Diced avocado

Sour cream

Mexican cheese blend (I sometimes use cheddar if thats all Ive got around)

Chopped green onions

1 small can halved olives, drained (optional)

Again with the no measurements thing...I just add the individual layers on until they cover the previous layer all of the way.

Serve cold with tortilla chips

Seven Layer Salad

I believe this is a family recipe given to my dad from my aunt, who is fantastically talented in the kitchen. It is a very good salad and the best part about it is that you can control the fat content by using fat free mayo...or you can be like me and say "but I promise to be better tomorrow!!"...and use the full fat stuff, which is wonderful!
Its also really pretty if you use a glass bowl so you can see all of the crunchy colorful layers.

So in a large salad bowl you will layer:

Chopped romaine leaves
Diced celery
Diced red bell pepper
Diced green onion
Frozen peas
Bacon Bits
Cheese (any kind but I usually use cheddar)
Diced red onion (optional)

Like always this is a recipe in my head, so things aren't measured out...but you know what you like and how much you just throw it in until it looks about right

Don't dress the salad until you are about to serve.

1 c mayo
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp garlic salt

Combine 3 ingredients together in a bowl and chill until ready to toss and serve.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Cookie of All Cookies

I have indeed found the cookie of all cookies, you heard right!

A shout out to my fellow chocoholics out there, you know who you are... we are those individuals who lack complete self control in the name of chocolate. We stand for chips, baking bars and cocoa and all the wonderful forms our sweet compadre comes in. Becuase in fact chocolate is our true BFF and we are never disappointed in it. In return it lifts our spirits, makes our eyes sparkle and gives us those wonderful coveted curves...well OK maybe not SO wonderful...but that's the kind of sacrafice we are willing to make.

After all thats what friends are for!

Ghirardelli Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

12 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
11 1/2 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup(s) sugar
1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 cup(s) chopped walnuts

In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter.
(microwave works just as well - nuke for 1 minute and check every 30 seconds so you don't make the mistake of burning pefectly good dark chocolate...people should serve time for that sort of nonsense)
In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Heat oven to 375°F. Drop dough 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week.

* cookie batter will be the consistency of brownie batter*

Friday, January 2, 2009

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Wow so this is probably the best recipe for banana bread I have yet found. It is a very moist bread and perfectly nutty and sweet. It is very smooth textured and not grainy at all. It is also not as dense as other recipes Ive tried were you find yourself choking down each piece hardly being able to breath as you hurry and try to find something to wash it down with.

The walnuts are entirely optional - and if I made this for my husband he would request I leave them out... but I LoVE them straight down to their nutty little cores.
It is the yogurt in this bread that makes it so moist, but if you find yourself without you can sub it with sour cream. The same goes for the buttermilk - I actually had none so I used heavy whipping cream instead. I doubt it makes much of a difference which one you choose really.

Depending on your taste and like of bananas will determine how ripe your bananas should be. If you are a banana eating monkey than you want them overly ripe - black really.
But if your like me I use regular ripe ones with just a little brown on them and it makes the banana flavor flavor very light, because this is already a sweeter bread I dont want the taste to be completely overpowered by the bananas.

And lastly remember the more you beat the mixture the more drier and airy itll get. Personally, I just mix it by hand to ensure the nice rich and dense texture of the bread.

Allison's Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (or buttermilk)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed walnuts (more or less depending on how much of a crunch you want)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your bread pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Mix in mashed bananas, yogurt and whipping cream. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into sugar/banana mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and top springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.