Sunday, September 27, 2009

My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I've made this recipe twice in the last week. The first time I made it because I was bored. This time, because I needed something sweet to cap off the food I'm dropping off for my boss and her family. And, well because this batter is AWESOME. I've saved some to snack on! Anyway, this recipe comes to us again from allrecipes.com. I was looking for a recipe that'd yield a crispy edge, soft-center cookie. Many I've seen are cakey cookies, which I don't like when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.

The first time I made this I only had half a stick of butter, so I used 1/2 cup of margerine. This time, I had enough butter and went the all-butter route. The differences were clear; the cookies baked with margerine spread a bit more when baking, and were a little flatter. The ones with all butter, however, stayed a little thicker and didn't spread as much on the pan. Both yielded tasty, crisy-edged, soft-center cookies. I am certain this will be my 'go to' recipe in the future.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar (I go a scant less than a cup on both white and brown sugar)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 2.5 teaspoons, as I think vanilla is a great complement to the chocolate chips in the cookies)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (This equates to a bag. I used Baker's Semi-sweet chocolate chunks)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
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Chicken Noodle Soup


Up until tonight I had been convinced that chicken noodle soup only came out of a can. Well, not anymore! This is another meal destined for my boss and her family tomorrow. Hopefully the comfort food will be tasty for all of them...I'm bringing along a bread that cooks up wonderfully crusty and that should cap off a warm bowl of soup nicely. This recipe, which I found on allrecipes.com, was super easy to make, and skips the step of making homemade stock by using good-quality low sodium broth from the store (which allows you to control the sodium level). Using chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken makes this even easier. I could see this turning into turkey and noodles for the day after a big Thanksgiving meal too.

The only changes I made were to use all chicken broth instead of a can of vegetable broth, 1/2 teaspoon of italian seasoning in place of dried basil (only because I had none) and used 2 cups of noodles instead of one - but that's just because I'm a noodle person. Make this and enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.
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Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad


My boss recently had a darling baby girl, and I've offered to bring dinner to her and her family tomorrow evening. She mentioned that she liked this dish I made earlier in the summer and thought it'd be a nice dish that she could keep in the fridge and eat cold throughout the day when she finds a spare moment. Plus, it's super easy for me to make! You could add or remove whatever you want to this - no chicken, use marinated artichokes, sundried tomatoes, roasted veggies - whatever!

Ingredients:
1 box farfalle pasta (penne would work fine too)
1 tub of pesto - Buitoni brand refrigerated pesto works well
1 can artichokes, diced
1 carton of grape tomatoes
1 large diced, cooked chicken breast - rotisserie chicken works well
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Directions:
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente
Drain and immediately toss pasta with tub of pesto, diced artichokes and chicken. Set aside and let cool.
Once cool toss with grape tomatoes and refrigerate, garnishing with parmesan cheese.
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White Chicken Chili


People who come to visit us in Madison, get to experience one of my favorite restaurants in town, the Hubbard Avenue Diner. They've got a chicken chili there that is just phenomenal. I don't really know how they end up with the results they do, but I decided to try to find a recipe that might come somewhat close. This recipe on Epicurious.com is one of the few creamy recipes that I found online. Hubbards recipe is thick, but now that I've made this recipe, I don't think that it's got such a base of dairy like the Epicurious recipe. The recipe I made tonight is definitely creamy and luxurious. In all, I'd make it again, but it still doesn't come close to the yumminess of Hubbard's chili.

I did make some modifications to the recipe, to make it a bit easier to prep. 1) used canned cannelini beans, drained and rinsed, 2) used a whole can of chicken broth instead of just 3/4 cups, 3) used pepper jack cheese instead of just monterey jack, 4) I used two diced chicken breasts sauteed in a skillet and lightly seasoned with chili powder and 5) omitted sour cream (creamy enough!)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound dried navy beans, picked over (I used a single can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (I used a whole can of 33% lower sodium broth)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
  • two 4-ounce cans whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds), cooked and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I diced two raw chicken breasts, sauteed in butter/oil mix and sprinkle of chili powder and salt, set aside until I needed to add chicken)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I omitted, felt it was creamy enough!)
Garnish: fresh coriander sprigs
Accompaniment: tomato salsa

Directions:
  1. In a large kettle soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches overnight. Drain beans in a colander and return to kettle with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cook beans at a bare simmer until tender, about 1 hour, and drain in colander.
  2. In a skillet cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter over moderate heat until softened.
  3. In a 6- to 8-quart heavy kettle melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Stir in onion and gradually add broth and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt, and white pepper. Add beans, chilies, chicken, and Monterey Jack and cook mixture over moderately low heat, stirring, 20 minutes. Stir sour cream into chili.
  4. Garnish chili with coriander and serve with salsa.
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Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Quiche with a Potato Crust



There's a surprisingly quaint and tasty cafe near my office called Mana. They serve a special quiche daily, and I've found a slice of quiche and a light side salad is a rather satisfying lunch. I've never made one before, and haven't really researched very many recipes, but thought I'd give it a try. This recipe is a meld of two recipes I've found. For the crust, I didn't want to use a store-bought crust. Instead, in my browsing for a recipe that used potatoes, I came across several recipes using a potato crust! The potato crust recipe that I modeled mine after is here, on King Arthur Flour's website. The other recipe for the filling was one I found on trusty allrecipes.com titled "Easy Broccoli Quiche." I made slight modifications to both, and that is what I've posted below.
The verdict: The filling portion was quite tasty but took some time to bake. It came together easily with ingredients I had on hand. The crust, however was a major letdown. WAY too much work for little payoff. If I were to make the quiche again, I'd go with pre-bought crust to save some time. All in all, the recipe below took me nearly an hour and a half from start to finish (eating!) so I'd suggest skipping the potato crust part and just using a pre-bought, baked pie shell.

Ingredients:
Potato Crust
  • 3-4 fist sized (slightly larger than fist sized) yukon gold potatoes, or whatever kind you have around, shredded
  • 3-4 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • Sprinkle of salt
Filling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped in to small pieces
  • 8 strips of Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan
  2. Peel, rinse, shred potatoes. Squeeze shredded potatoes in a couple layers of paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Toss with flour.
  3. Press potatoes around the bottom and sides of the pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven, brush lightly with oil, and bake for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the filling.
  4. Melt butter in small skillet and cook onions until transluscent. Add broccoli and cook until just barely cooked through.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half and half, salt, and pepper.
  6. When potatoes are finished cooking, place a layer of cheese, veggies, sprinkle the bacon, and the rest of the cheese. Top mixture with the egg mix. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until center is set.