September 23, 2009

Chocolate Dreams

We decided to give Mrs. Fields' "Best Cookie Book Ever!" another try... and if it was going to take divine intervention to translate yummy-looking-cookbook-picture to yummy-tasting-cookie, Lisa decided "Chocolate Dreams" was our most heavenly-sounding option. 

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks (we have such a weird looking egg separator!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cream butter with mixer. Add sugars and mix until smooth. Add egg yolks and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy. Add flour and mix at low speed.
  • Shape dough into a giant ball, flattening a little. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  • Just before the hour is up, set the oven to 325 F and move on to the chocolate!
Filling and Assembly
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Scald the cream (heat to just before boiling point, until tiny bubbles are forming at the edges and a bit of skin forms on the surface) in a small pot over medium heat.
  • Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness using a floured rolling pin. 
  • Cut circles with a cookie-cutter (or a cup from the kitchen cupboard) and place on cookie sheets. Drop 1 tsp of chocolate filling in center of each circle and top with another circle. Seal the edges using a fork.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. 
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar.
The finished Dreams reminded us a little of mini Pop Tarts - or maybe Oreos. You can even split apart the top and bottom and eat the middle first! 

September 10, 2009

Zucchini Chicken

Zucchini is still coming out of our ears!

"Classy Chicken" is the name of this recipe on AllRecipes. Not only did I take the small liberty of slightly modifying the recipe, I took the larger liberty of renaming it. "Zucchini Chicken" may be less original, but "Classy Chicken" evokes a strange image of Ron Burgundy reminding San Diego to "stay classy" before digging into a plate of chicken tossed with zucchini. 

1 cup flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup fat-free chicken brother
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 zucchini - cut in half lengthwise, then sliced diagonally
5 sun-dried tomatoes (I used 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained)
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream

  • Season chicken with salt & pepper. Coat in flour, shaking off excess. Heat butter in large skillet. Brown chicken over medium-high heat, about 3 min each side.
  • Pour chicken broth and white wine into skillet. Stir in mustard.
  • (Pour a glass of wine for yourself. Drink.)
  • Cover and cook until chicken is partly-cooked (still a little pink inside).
  • Add zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, and dill weed. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes, until chicken is cooked and zucchini is tender.
  • Set chicken on platter... it's not classy yet.
  • Stir sour cream into pan liquid, adding more wine if necessary (or desired). Sprinkle in a little salt. Pour over chicken.

This one is a keeper. Next time I'll try adding fresh tomato, to add color and make it even more summery.

September 6, 2009

Brown Buttercrunch Cookies

Mrs. Fields, you made it look so easy.

We expected Brown Buttercrunch Cookies to be relatively simple. We've made a similar recipe before (minus the chocolate) and, although messy, there isn't a whole lot of effort involved. Oh boy. This recipe involved a a few extra steps, a bowlful of frustration, half a roll of wasted wax paper, and sheets of cookies that ended up in the trash. 
Don't worry, we promise you a happy ending. 
11 edible cookies emerged from the chaos.

The recipe is from Mrs. Fields "Best Cookie Book Ever."

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (more on this later...)
  • In a medium-sized pot, melt butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. 
  • Bake cookies one pan at a time. Drop dough by 1/2 teaspoons (they spread a lot) onto lined cookie sheets. 
All of the above was done with ease: 
  • Bake for 8 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.
  • Let the cookies cool for a minute or two before rolling.
  • Roll cookie around a pencil or wooden spoon handle, creating a tube. If cookies cool too much, pop them back in the oven for a few seconds. 
... and then disaster descended upon the darkening kitchen (okay, dramatic - but the sun really had set).

The cookies STUCK. There was NO getting these cookies off the waxed paper. 
Attempt 2. We tried greasing the waxed paper a little. No luck. They were stuck.
Attempt 3: Aluminum foil. They still stuck. 
Attempt 4: Greased aluminum foil. Success!!!! All 11 cookies made it off the tray! 
Further reflection and a Google search led to an A-ha moment: wax paper is NOT the same as parchment paper. Who knew?!

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

  • Heat cream in small pot... remove just before it boils. Stir in chocolate chips and corn syrup. Cover and let stand 15 minutes, or until chocolate has melted. Gently whisk until smooth.
  • Dip cooled cookies into the chocolate glaze. Put in the fridge to set. 

September 5, 2009

Peach Salsa

The peach. Juicy. Sweet. Delicious. Sometimes the simplest adjectives are the truest descriptors.
An end-of-summer-treat that was a mainstay on our kitchen counter throughout august. 

to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
- "From Blossom", Li-Young Lee

There are countless dessert recipes that use peaches as a foundation... but they can be used in a main course too! The peach salsa recipe, to be used on fish, is based on one we found on AllRecipes.

We used an assortment of mild tasting fish (basically whatever was in the freezer... mostly halibut and tilapia) to complement the salsa. We only marinated for about an hour, and the flavor seemed to be strong enough. 
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime peel (a lime meant for a pack of Corona was sacrificed in the making of this recipe...)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 servings of fish

Combine the marinade ingredients. Remove 1/4 cup for basting. Pour the rest over the fish and let it marinate in the fridge.

2 cups chopped fresh peaches
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper (also in season!)
1/4 cup chopped red onion (we used 1/8 cup regular onion)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cilantro (it would have been nice if we'd had fresh cilantro)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir it up!

Cook the fish using whatever method works best for you. Lisa's the one with the BBQ skills... Amy chose to use the oven. Rice makes a nice side dish. 
Look at all those bright colors!