Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Bites

We're at the beach for a few days, so we needed a good snack that would fit into the cooler and wouldn't require any utensils.  Of course, Plain Chicken had the perfect answer: buffalo chicken pizza bites!  It's all the tastiness of buffalo chicken dip in pizza crust.  Yes, please! 

Of course, I immediately regretted making them, since bite-sized snacks are pretty much my kryptonite.  It's the same with the sausage balls; I eat one, and then I have to eat four more.  Honestly, I'm hoping everyone else will finish these off before I do. 

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Bites

2 cans refrigerated pizza dough
1 (12.5oz) can white meat chicken, drained
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp Frank's Hot Sauce
4 tsp Ranch dressing
cooking spray

Dipping Sauce

1 cup Ranch dressing
1/3 cup Frank's Hot Sauce

Preheat oven to 425.  Mix together chicken, cream cheese, Frank's Hot Sauce, Ranch dressing, and 1/2 cup Cheddar. 

Unroll one roll of pizza dough into a large rectangle.  Cut dough into 24 squares (easiest with a pizza cutter).  Place 1 tsp of chicken mixture in the center of each square.  Lift up the corners of each square and press seams together.  Place, seam-side-down, into a sprayed mini-muffin tin.  Spray tops of rolls with cooking spray, and sprnkle remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar. 

Place rolls in oven, and bake 8-10 minutes.  While pizza bites are baking, mix together remaining Ranch and hot sauce.  Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Drop Scones

Try looking at that picture and not wanting to take a bite.  Yum.

I just can't get enough of blueberries and their antioxidant-providing goodness!  Every time I take a bite of something with a blueberry, I'm always surprised at how delicious they are!  If you have too many to handle, I've heard that it's best to freeze them before you wash them, and then wash them whenever you take them out of the freezer to use them. 

Scones are not something that I've ever made before, but I think this is a nice introduction to them, since you don't have to use a pastry blender or roll out dough or anything.  It's just like making drop cookies.  The original recipe is a Taste of Home recipe from AllRecipes.  This was an easy and tasty breakfast (or anytime) treat!

Lemon Blueberry Drop Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup lemon yogurt
1 egg
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries  (If using frozen, do not thaw before adding to batter.)

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the yogurt, egg, and butter.  Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold in blueberries.  Drop in heaping tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until slightly browned.  Combine glaze ingredients, and drizzle over warm scones.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cream Cheese-and-Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

You're interested just from the title, aren't you?  My life would be so sad without cream cheese.  One of my favorite snacks is Wheat Thins with cream cheese and some jalapeno pepper jelly on top, but I make a meal out of it so easily that I just had to cut myself off. 

The pesto can be store-bought, or you can use some of your homemade pesto.  Here's a handy tip that Bizzuck's sister, Kinsey, gave me about homemade pesto: freeze it in ice cube trays.  The recipe does make a lot, and since you probably won't use it all at one time, just freeze it in trays, and when you're ready to use some, just pop a cube or two out.  Thanks for the tip, Kinsey!  I also hear you can do the same thing with chicken broth, since you probably rarely use the whole box before you're supposed to throw it away.  Thanks for that tip, Erica!  I have such helpful friends.

I made two chicken breasts with the mixture, and I added some julienned sun-dried tomatoes that the original recipe didn't call for, but I think they were a great addition to this dish.  Enjoy!

Cream Cheese-and-Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese
1 Tbsp pesto
1 tsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes, if desired
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Combine cream cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and black pepper in a small bowl with a fork. 

Cut a horizontal slit along the long edge of the chicken breasts, nearly through to the opposite side.  Open up each breast and put half of the filling in each, spreading neatly.  Close the breast over the filling, pressing the edges together firmly to seal. 

Lighty beat egg in a medium bowl.  Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.  Hold each chicken breast together, dip in egg, and dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken breasts, and cook until browned on one sde, about 2-3 minutes.  Place the chicken, brown-side-up, on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak knows how to relax.

You haven't seen true happiness until you've seen him with his favorite bone.

Look how handsome he is!  I love this dog.  (And yes, that is a no-wake buoy next to the TV in the living room.  Of course it is.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blueberry Drop Cookies

This is a very yummy summer treat.  These cookies have a buttery-tasting dough that is just wonderful with juicy blueberries and a hint of lemon (which I thought was the best part).  I definitely prefer making drop cookies to roll-into-a-log-and-slice cookies, too, so these were nice and quick. 

As with other cookie recipes, the original recipe, this time from AllRecipes, called for shortening instead of butter, but I don't like cooking with shortening (not that butter is better for you or anything, but I can justify it based on taste).  Also, if you don't have almond extract, just use all vanilla.  (Isn't vanilla extract one of your favorite smells in the world?)  The recipe also says to refrigerate the dough for four hours, and while I'm sure that makes it easier to work with, I only chilled mine for about two hours.  If you don't have the time, it will still be fine. 

When you're scooping up the dough to put on the baking sheet, make sure you get a few blueberries in each cookie.  They are so delicious to bite into.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Drop Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup extra blueberries

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract, and lemon zest, mixing well after adding each ingredient.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; blend into the sugar mixture.  Fold in the blueberries.  Cover the dough, and refrigerate it for four hours. 

Preheat oven to 375.  Drop dough by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Club Salad

As you gathered from the creative title, this is the salad I brought to Book Club last night.  It was good!  We served the salad as a side to some great pizza, but I'm sure you could easily turn this into a main-course salad by adding some grilled chicken. 

I'm attaching a suggested dressing, but I'm sure it would be good with anything from a vinaigrette to creamy ranch.  We love anything with ranch dressing.

I love how bright and colorful this dish is!  I hope you like it!  

Book Club Salad

2 hearts romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used halved grape tomatoes, and they were delicious)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 cup croutons

In a bowl, toss all ingredients, adding croutons just before serving.  Top with your favorite dressing. 

Lemon and Oil Dressing

1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; cover and shake well.  Chill until ready to serve with salad.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crab Cakes

I don't know what to say about these other than the fact that they're delicious.  Bizzuck loves crabcakes and requested them over a week ago.  We finally got around to making them last night, and they really are the best. 

I made them about the size of my palm and came out with fifteen crab cakes, so you might want to adjust the recipe for the number of mouths you're feeding.

Next time you want some tasty crab cakes, try these.  I adapted this recipe from Paula Deen's, so you know it's good.

Crab Cakes

1 lb. crabmeat, picked free of shells
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
3 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonaisse
1 egg
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
Vegetable/peanut/canola oil

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except bread crumbs and oil.  Shape into patties and dust with breadcrumbs. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Serve warm with preferred sauce. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tomato Basil Chicken

I saw this recipe in the Dallas Morning News at least a year ago, and I've been hanging onto it since then.  I should have tried it sooner!

This was excellent.  The crispiness of the pan-fried chicken, the slight sweetness of the onion and garlic, the juiciness of the tomatoes--yum.   Plus, I love when a recipe looks as good as it tastes, and I thought the dish was beautiful.  This would be a great (and easy!) dish to serve when you have company over.  They'll be impressed.

The original recipe was for four, but I scaled it down for the two of us.  It also called for this to be served over a piece of crusty bread, like an open-face sandwich.  We didn't do that, but I bet it would be delicious.  Enjoy!

Tomato Basil Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter, divided use
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chicken stock or broth
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
8 basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour, and shake off any excess. 

Combine the oil and one tablespoon of the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan, and cook, turning once, 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add the onion and garlic to the hot pan, and saute for 1 minute.  Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, scraping all the browned bits from the bottom.  Add the chicken broth and the tomatoes, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by half. 

Remove pan from heat.  Stirring constantly, add the basil, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until the butter is incorporated into the sauce.  Place a chicken breast (on top of a piece of crusty bread, if you'd like) on a plate, and spoon the sauce over the chicken.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Staying cool on the boat by wedging himself between two coolers beneath the dashboard.

Hanging out, doing some skateboarding.

Looking so innocent.  How cute is he?  (And how terrible is that chewed-up back leg?  Poor Teak.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spinach and Red Pepper Dip

Last week I was lucky enough to go back and spend time with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while: Dallas, Texas.  I love that place and was proud to call it home for a couple of years, and although I don't live there anymore, my sister and brother-in-law still do, which gives me a legitimate excuse to visit. 

So, you ask, what did I do while I was in Dallas?  Did I go to Shakespeare in the Park, which was one of my favorite things when I lived there?  Did I go to Addison's July Jazz, free jazz concerts every Saturday in July?  Did I visit museums, go out to bars, or generally do other things one can only do in a big city?

No.  I ate.

I ate everything in sight, which is a common practice for all of my family members when we get together.  Honestly, we plan our time together by meals.  Lunch Wednesday was at Twisted Root Burger Company, where we ate so much at 2pm that no one ate for the rest of the day.  Lunch Thursday was at Blue Goose Cantina, which is one of my absolute favorites.  Lunch Friday was at Spring Creek Barbeque, which is one of my sister and brother-in-law's favorites.   Finally, lunch on Saturday was at the Village Grill, where you'll get the best steak fajita nachos you'll ever have. 

Can you hang on for a few minutes so I can get on the treadmill?  Thanks.

Aside from the restaurants we frequented, we snacked at home, too.  This was one of the dips Amanda had ready, and it was too good not to share.  For the roasted red bell peppers, just buy the jar and make it easy on yourself.  You can serve this dip with any cracker you like, but it was particularly good with Rosemary Triscuits.  Yum.  Thanks, Amanda!

(For the record, I would have gone to Shakespeare in the Park or July Jazz--I really love both of those so much--but she lives a solid half-hour away from both of those, and I most likely would have gone by myself, which isn't so fun.  I'll take advantage of them next time.  I also did spend a good amount of time shopping, which is another of my favorite things to do.  And we did Painting with a Twist, which was SO FUN.  We need to get one over here in Georgia.)

Spinach and Red Pepper Dip

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained
1 cup cheese crumbles
3/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers

Beat cream cheese, sour cream, and half of onions in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well-blended.  Add spinach; mix until just blended.  Stir in cheese crumbles and peppers; cover.  Refrigerate at least one hour.  Sprinkle with remaining onions just before serving.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pesto Chicken Panini Sandwich

I feel strongly that this sandwich is restaurant-worthy.  I loved it!  I already have this down on next week's menu.  Plus, you have options, and although my terribly indecisive nature makes options a bad thing for me, I like to provide them to others.  Observe.  You can use a panini grill, a grill pan, or a good skillet.  You can use ciabatta bread, deli rolls, sourdough bread, or regular sliced bread.  You can add arugula, basil leaves, or spinach leaves.  The possibilities are endless!  Next week, I think I'll put sun-dried tomatoes on mine.  This was so, so good.  

I adapted the recipe from Sandra Lee.  The recipe I'm putting up is how we made it, which was enough for two sandwiches.  You will definitely like this sandwich.  

Pesto Basil Panini Sandwich

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp pesto 
2 Tbsp mayonaisse
2 deli rolls
Mozzarella cheese 
1 tomato, sliced

In a plastic bag, combine chicken strips and 1/4 cup pesto.  Marinate in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (I marinaded mine for a few hours).  In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons each of pesto and mayo.  Spread the pesto-mayo mixture on both sides of the deli rolls, and set aside.  

Spray a grill pan with cooking spray, and place over medium heat.  Grill chicken strips for 5 minutes per side; remove and let rest for 5 minutes.  Re-spray the pan, and lower heat to medium.  

On the bottom half of the deli roll, place cheese, chicken strips, tomato, a bit more cheese, and the top of the roll.  Place sandwich on the grill pan, and place another heavy pan on top of the sandwich.  Grill for three minutes per side or until cheese starts to melt.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Basil Pesto

My basil plants are growing quickly and beautifully, thanks to Bizzuck's attentive eye, so I decided to make some basil pesto.  Pesto is usually made with pinenuts, which are insanely expensive, so it's nice that this recipe uses walnuts, which are much more affordable.  My food processor is broken for some unknown reason, so I made this in a blender; it took some prodding and scooting things around for it to come together, but it was still so fast to make.  If your food processor is working, this thing will be a breeze.  You can eat it with some pasta, like it is here, or just wait for the delicious sandwich recipe that's coming tomorrow.  I adapted this pesto recipe from All Recipes.


3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 - 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (of course I used 3/4 cup)
3/4 - 1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, blend together basil, walnuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.  Pour in oil slowly while mixing.  Stir in salt and pepper.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Here's Teak hanging out by the food cooler at our Fourth of July party.  How cool are his eyes?!

Sleeping like a little baby.

He loves lying in the grass.  So handsome.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

I needed a tasty side dish for some hungry wakeboarders, and this one fit the bill.  It couldn't have been easier!  I was really pleased with it, and it got high praise.  It was nice to use some of the rosemary we've grown, too.  I got the basic recipe from All Recipes, but I changed a few things.  I'm sure it would be great if you wanted to add a chopped onion, some garlic, or other herbs as well.  Give it a shot; you'll like it!

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

2 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400.  Chop potatoes into small wedges; toss with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Bake in a single layer on a foil-covered baking sheet for 35-45 minutes. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake (aka The Best Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Have)

Would you like some cake?  Yes?  Well, wait just one minute.  Come, gather round; it's story time. 

I'm weird in the fact that I don't like chocolate.  Never have.  It doesn't bother me at all; in fact, I'm sure that not eating chocolate has saved me several thousand calories through the years, so it's really fine with me.  On the other hand, my distaste of chocolate makes some people very uncomfortable.  It really freaks them out, so they call me "untrustworthy" or "un-American" or any number of adjectives they reserve for Communists, suspected terrorists, and other non-chocolate eaters.

So why, you ask, do I make a chocolate cake if I don't even like chocolate?  It's because I like to cook, and when I bake with chocolate, I don't have the temptation to eat any of it.  I never have to worry about the calories.  It's a win-win.

It was for these reasons that I had to wait for Bizzuck to get home (at 9pm!) to know how this cake tasted, so when he arrived, I scooped the first piece of cake onto a plate.  (The first piece is always the hardest to get out, and this one was no exception, so it was a little messy-looking.  I assure you, though, that the messiness only added to its appeal.)  Bizzuck took a bite but didn't say anything; he only looked up at me, giggled a little and smiled.  Then he took another bite with the same reaction.  When he was able to speak again later, he told me that it was, in fact, the best chocolate cake he has ever had. 

After I got his confirmation on this, he put the plate on the counter and walked into the living room, still giggling nervously.  I went into the laundry room to get my clothes out of the dryer, only to turn around and find Teak standing on his hind legs, propping himself up to the counter, and licking as much of the chocolatey goodness off the plate as possible.  He was pleased with himself, knowing that he scored something good from the counter.  I, on the other hand, commenced freaking out, because, as we all know, chocolate is toxic to dogs

Should we call the vet?  Should we make him throw up?  I was holding back tears most of the night, fearing for sweet Teak's life.  I hovered over him, forcing the poor pup to drink water.  And while I anxiously stood over Teak, watching for the slightest sign that he was ill, what was Bizzuck doing?

He was eating a piece of cake.  It's that good.

Thankfully, Teak didn't eat enough of it to harm him, and the worst that happened to him were a couple of chocolately burps.  I'm happy to report that he's fine.  (And just for the record, Bizzuck did look up the amounts of chocolate that can be fatal to dogs; of course, he was concerned for Teak, too.  He loves that dog.)

And now for notes about the actual cake: Yes, it's called "sheet cake," but I didn't have a sheet pan, so I made it in a 9"x13" glass dish.  No, I don't know why it's called "Texas Sheet Cake," but I'm happy to give a shout-out to my former state whenever I can.  Love you, Texas!  It was very quick--start to finish in under an hour. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as Teak and Bizzuck did!

Texas Sheet Cake

For the Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
2 sticks butter
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 3/4 sticks butter
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.  In a saucepan over medium-high to high heat, melt butter and add cocoa.  Stir together.  Add boiling water, allow the mixture to bubble for 30 seconds, and then turn off the heat.  Pour the cocoa mixture over the flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk,  and add the beaten eggs, vanilla, and baking soda.  Stir buttermilk mixture into flour/chocolate mixture.  Pour into ungreased sheet cake pan or 9"x13" glass dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes (for the sheet cake) or 35-40 minutes (for the 9"x13" dish).

While the cake is baking, make the icing.  Finely chop the pecans.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high to high heat.  Add the cocoa, stir to combine, and then turn off the heat.  Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar; stir together.  Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over the warm cake. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Caramelized Onion Macaroni and Cheese

Oh, man.  This is so good--so good, in fact, that Bizzuck deemed it Thanksgiving-worthy, and that's really saying something.  Sixteen ounces of white cheddar cheese?  Yes, please. 

I love caramelized onions, too, but they almost got lost in all of the cheesy goodness (and so much eggs and milk at the end--it all tasted incredible, but I wonder if it would be okay still to cut some of that out).  Those would probably be my only complaints.  

Oh, wait--I gained three pounds, too.   

The Ritz cracker crumbs add such a good crunch, and I cannot tell you adequately what the pecan topping does to this.  You want your first bite to have a few chopped pecans.  Believe me: you want it.  Once again, Southern Living knows what it's doing.  Forget seconds; we were going back for thirds. 

Caramelized Onion Macaroni and Cheese

1 (8oz) package uncooked elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp butter
2 large onions, hlaved and thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 (16oz) block white Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackersk, finely crushed
6 large eggs
4 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cook macaroni according to package directions and set aside.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onions and sugar.  Cook, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes or until onions are caramel-colored. 

Layer half of the cooked macaroni, half of the onions, half of the cheeses, and half of the cracker crumbs in a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish.  Layer with remaining macaroni, onions, and cheeses.  Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour over macaroni.  Stir together remaining cracker crubs, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and pecans.  Sprinkle evenly over macaroni.

Bake at 350 for one hour or until browned and set.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oatmeal Crisps

Growing up, I was never interested in oatmeal cookies.  I've always had other favorites--white chocolate chip and Macadamia nut cookies, sugar cookies, my mom's cornflake cookies.  Mmm...  But these oatmeal cookies could have been added to my favorites long ago if I'd known about them.  These are delicious, and they were a hit at our Fourth of July party yesterday.

Before these, I had never rolled cookie dough into a log, refrigerated it, and sliced it up.  I've always done drop cookies, and these require a bit more time (waiting for the dough to cool), but it worked out fine.  We didn't need all the dough that the recipe makes (which is 5 dozen cookies!), so I put some in the freezer.  

I sliced the cookie dough too thick for the first dozen, though, because the twelve little dough slices all spread into huge, connected cookies on the pan.  (As I understand, they don't spread as much if you use shortening, which the original recipe called for, instead of butter, which I used, but I'm not at all interested in using shortening.)  Observe:

From this-

To this-

I got the recipe from my mom's old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from back in the day.  I've loved reading it recently; those ladies knew what they were doing when they put it together. 

Oatmeal Crisps

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans (you could use walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and sugars in a large bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.  Sift together flour, salt, and soda.; add to creamed mixture.  Stir in rolled oats and pecans, and mix.  Form dough into rolls, 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in waxed paper, aluminum foil, or clear plastic.  Chill thoroughly in refrigerator.  With a sharp knife, slice cookies about 1/4-inch thick.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ultimate Nachos

I love Mexican food.  I can easily and happily eat chips and salsa as a meal for several days in a row.  It's a simple pleasure.  But if I need to indulge myself a little (a lot) more, Biz and I will make these double-decker nachos.  They can always be adapted to your tastes or just what you have on hand.  We've added some cooked rice to these before, which Biz likes, but they were too heavy for me that way.  I like some chopped cilantro thrown on top along with generous spoonfuls of salsa and sour cream everywhere.  No plates needed.  We eat them right off the pan, and we rarely stop until we've eaten everything on there.  You'll do the same.

Ultimate Nachos

Tortilla Chips
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 can black beans, drained
jalapenos, to taste
2-3 cups shredded cheese (we use the Mexican blend)
Chopped cilantro, if desired
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 400.  Arrange one layer of tortilla chips on a baking sheet, and sprinkle half the black beans, jalapenos, chicken, and cheese on top.  Then arrange another layer of chips on top of the first, topping with the remaining black beans, jalapenos, chicken, and cheese.  Bake for 8 minutes or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top, if desired.  Top with generous dollops of sour cream and salsa.  Grab a fork and a napkin, and dig in!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Crash Hot Potatoes

Pioneer Woman, I love you and your crash hot potatoes.  (If you don't know the Pioneer Woman, take a look around her website, but give yourself a set amount of time.  I've spent hours on there reading her recipes and confessions, and I love Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which is the story of how she met her husband.  There is no end to the entertainment.)

Anyway, she makes these insanely good little potatoes, and while mine didn't turn out as pretty as hers, they were every bit as tasty.  I was excited to finally use some rosemary out of the herb garden (aka the five pots that Biz has to water because I always forget about them).  I also got to use my potato masher for the first time, but if you don't have one, I'm sure the bottom of a glass would work fine.  My potatoes kind of fell apart, but they were still delicious, and it didn't hurt to get some of that honey barbecue sauce on them.  Mmm...  Just figure out how many potatoes you'll need, and then add a couple more in.

Crash Hot Potatoes

12 whole new potatoes (small red potatoes)
3 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Rosemary (or other desired herbs) to taste

Preheat oven to 450.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add as many potatoes as you'd like, and cook them until they are fork tender.  Generously drizzle a sheet pan with olive oil, and place the tender potatoes on the sheet, leaving plenty of room between each (you probably want about twelve per baking sheet--like you would if you were baking cookies).  With a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they slightly give, and then rotate the masher 90 degrees and mash again.  Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with olive oil.  Sprinkle each potato with kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh chopped rosemary.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.