Friday, October 9, 2009

Yummy Chewy Chocolate Cookies

The ideal chocolate chip cookie. Many search for years and experiment endlessly trying to perfect this simple yet oh-so-complex cookie. The chocolate chip cookie has been a favorite since 1930 when Ruth Wakefield created the delightful delicacy at the Toll House inn she and her husband ran. My mother makes absolutely divine chocolate chip cookies and after being raised on her recipe I found it difficult to create anything but. Until now. I am somewhat of a chocoholic and get my fix from Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips that I keep in my fridge. I am also a cofeeaholic. I like it strong and I like it dark.

While in my favorite thinking spot (my kitchen) I decided to combine my guilty pleasures to create my version of the ideal chocolate chip cookie. It is adapted from the recipe on the Ghirardelli bag with personal changes and additions to make it my own. The cookie is soft and moist has an almost cake-like texture. The addition of the applesauce cuts down on calories while contributing to the cakey texture. Espresso powder is my secret (not-so-secret now) ingredient and adds a bit of a kick to the cookies while mixing its bitterness beautifully with the bitterness of the dark chocolate chips. Enjoy these scrumptious treats and share them with friends and family (or you might inhale them all yourself!)

Makes 4 dozen

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar-free applesauce (cinnamon applesauce is delicious as well)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp espresso powder
2 large eggs
2 cups Ghirardelli chocolate chips (or your favorite, but this one is the best!)
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 375F
2. Combine flour with baking soda and salt, then set aside
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until smooth
4. Add vanilla, eggs and espresso powder one at a time while mixing on low until all combined
5. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture
6. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts
7. Place mixture in freezer for 5 minutes
8. Form small tablespoon-sized balls (I use a cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper)
9. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown, let sit on the cookie sheet to cool
10. Dig in!!

Hot & Bothered Pizza

I love making a good homemade pizza and being able to add all of the toppings I want creating a party in mouth where my tastebuds are the guests of honor. Ok, maybe that was a little extreme, but in any case, a homemade pizza is a great alternative to a night out. Pair it with a nice bottle of Shiner Bock and you have yourself a great evening!

Although I used a crust mix from my local grocer, making your own crust would be spectacular, but store-bought works for me. I substituted a homemade crust for a homemade sauce instead. This sauce is a heated liquid that will clear those stuffy sinuses and cause you to have a few more beers than intended. Stick with it, it's a treat. Be sure to experiment and add your favorite ingredients to make it your own!

Serves 4 (Depending on how thin you make the crust or how large the pizza turns out)


1 can mild diced tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel or store brand works )
1/2 tbs chili puree with garlic sauce (can be found at local grocer)

1. Heat stove to medium
2. Combine tomatoes and chili puree in a sauce pan and stew for about 10 minutes
3. Let cool, then pour into blender until smooth

1 crust
olive oil
1 or 2 Roma tomatoes (they have the best flavor)
1 small onion (red or white)
1 jalopeno (sliced and deseeded)
fresh mozzarella cheese
red pepper flakes

1. Heat oven to 450F
2. Roll and form crust to prepare for toppings
3. Brush crust with olive oil and bake for 4 minutes
4. Add toppings (I start with sauce, then add cheese and follow with the remaining toppings
5. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melting
6. Broil for about 3 minutes or until crust and cheese are gooey and golden delish

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pasta with Veggies and Pesto

I always try to use as many ingredients that are already in my fridge before running to the store to restock. This recipe came from pulling things out of the fridge and pantry and throwing them in the pan. When I make a pasta dish I try to incorporate a lot of vegetables to round the meal out and to add a hearty and substantial bite to it. This pasta dish is a great meal for a chilly fall night or a fresh spring evening.

Serves 4
2 cups penne pasta (I use whole wheat to add extra nutrients)
2 zucchinis sliced and cubed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 Roma tomatoes cubed
1/4 cup pesto
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Boil water and cook pasta until al dente, usually 10 minutes
2. While pasta is cooking, prepare vegetables. In a large skilled at Medium heat add 2 swirls around the pan of olive oil and add the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste and let them cook down and soak up the flavors, about 10 minutes.
3. Drain pasta and add a dash of olive oil and the pesto. Coat all of the pasta.
4. Combine the vegetables and pasta, salt and pepper to taste.

Pesto Bruschetta

I love coming home and preparing a fun little snack that is super easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. Making your own fresh appetizers is fun to do and seems to just taste better. All of these ingredients can be found at your local grocer or feel free to make your own pesto out of the basil found in your garden! I have a friend who has a huge basil plant and is always so generous to share. I like to make a couple varieties of bruschetta so feel free to mix and match and come up with your own favorite!

What you need:
baguette or similar bread
ripe Roma tomatoes (I always think they have the best flavor for dishes like this)
fresh mozzarella cheese
pesto (homemade or store bought)
fresh basil leaves
olive oil

1. Preheat oven broil
2. Slice your baguette into 1/2 inch slices and brush on olive oil, place in oven when ready until golden brown edges.
3. Slice tomatoes and mozzarella cheese
4. Top your golden delicious bread with pesto, tomato, cheese and basil in whatever fashion you would like.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Applesauce Raisin Nut Bread

As fall sets in and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow I can't help but be in the baking mood. Fall is the perfect time to try out some new recipes that will more than likely turn into year round favorites. I have adapted this recipe from a simple applesauce bread and added a little extra something to it. Enjoy!

Applesauce Raisin Nut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup applesauce (feel free to use low sugar, cinnamon or regular)
2 eggs (I used 1 egg and 1 egg white)
1/4 cup canola oil (the extra applesauce makes up for using less oil)
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/8 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix sugar with applesauce, eggs, oil and milk. Add it to the flour bowl and mix well. Stir in walnuts and raisins.
4. Spoon into pans. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of each loaf before baking for 1 hour, until a wooden pick comes out clean. If the loaves become too brown while baking, cover with foil and continue.
Depending on how your oven heats, adjust the time accordingly, I only baked mine for 50 min and probably could do 45 min.