Monthly Archives: December 2009

Snacking in a Winter Wonderland

There are a lot of things I love about the winter and holiday season.  For instance that first real snow, the one that completely covers the streets and the trees, can be so picturesque, making you feel like you live in a postcard.  And it will be even better this year in Indiana when I know it wont be 6 months before I see grass again, like in Minny-soda there, don’cha know.  And of course any time you can get presents it’s a good day.  There’s also the potentiality of great food.  And that will go double for me this year, as we will be spending time with Jess’ family as well as mine this holiday season.  But one of my absolute favorite parts about the holiday season is the abundance of sweets and goodies around the house.  It’s like, since it is Christmas, it is ok to eat candy for breakfast.  I loves it.

Anyways, I bought a bunch of candy this year, and I think just looking at it all made Jess sick.  So I decided to do something productive and aesthetically pleasing with it.  That’s right, I’m talking about a gingerbread house.  Now of course I am not actually going to make gingerbread, that would cut into my candy munching time, so I went back to my elementary school days and used graham crackers for my walls.  Here are some pictures of how it turned out.

I used about a tub of frosting, and only about half of the candy I started with actually made it to the house, but I am happy with the way it turned out.  I am especially proud of the wreathe on the roof and “HOME” that is written on the doormat with chocolate syrup.  I went with a simple design, and I decorated with m&m’s, hershey kisses, candy canes, peppermints, gum balls, pretzels, and shredded coconut for snow.  I also did this with some of the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, although on a smaller scale, and they loved it.  They came up with some wacky designs, and it is a fun holiday thing that kids can easily make.  As for me, now that I am finished with it, I can’t wait to begin snacking.  (And Jess thinks I am going to Diabetes, ha!)

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I can haz kookie plz?

I didn’t used to have a sweet tooth. I swear. But living with this man has made me have a constant craving for desserts. And last night, we made the most delicious Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies I have ever tasted in my life!

We’d settled on double chocolate chip cookies of some sort when grocery shopping on Saturday and, without having any particular recipe in mind, bought a couple bags of semi-sweet chocolate chunks, a box of semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate, and a canister of unsweetened cocoa powder, figuring that would probably be all we needed. So last night, I sat down at the computer to begin the recipe search. No matter how many times I begin my meal preparation at the computer searching for online recipe inspiration, it will never cease to amaze me just how many recipes there are out there to choose from, and how many people think their recipe is the best one out there. Sheesh.

And then, because we had only 2 eggs and 1 stick of butter in the fridge, there was the added difficulty of finding a recipe that made more than a dozen cookies (I live with Paul, and I wanted to eat some), and used no more than 2 eggs and 1 stick of butter. After about twenty five minutes of searching, I gave up. They’re cookies, Jess, and they’re going to contain a ton of eggs and/or a pound of butter. Just go to the store and get eggs and butter.

So I went to the store, and, upon my return, was renewed, refreshed and ready to begin the recipe search anew. I settled upon a Martha Stewart recipe, despite how much I dislike the woman. But, because I can’t stick to the recipe, even for cookies apparently, I added ground coffee and used semi-sweet chocolate wherever Martha uses milk. Here is the result (which, as you can see from the picture above, Paul didn’t want to stop eating).

Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen medium-sized cookies. (But I doubled the recipe for Paul and I, so we now have two giant bags of cookies in our freezer to take home for the holidays…or eat ourselves, we’ll see.)

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon good coffee, ground (*see note below)
4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 stick butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or, I used rum, because Paul lost the vanilla somewhere between home and work)
1 8-oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips)

*A note on the addition of coffee: Using pure coffee grounds yields a strong coffee flavor that I like, and I think it brings out the chocolate nicely. However, if you don’t like coffee, you may still like these cookies. (Paul hates everything coffee, and he says he can’t taste it, because, like I said, it brings out the chocolate.) Nonetheless, if you wish, you can use less coffee, substitute instant coffee powder, or omit entirely, to no cost to the cookies.

Directions:

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and coffee together in a medium-sized bowl. Melt butter and baking chocolate in large, heat safe bowl in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds to 1 minute (should take about 2-3 minutes total, depending on the strength and age of your microwave). Add eggs, sugar, and vanilla (or booze) to chocolate, and whisk together until well blended and smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add chocolate chunks. Spoon out in large tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet, spacing approximately 2 inches apart. Bake 14-16 minutes in preheated 325-degree oven, or until cookies are flat and tops are slightly cracked. Let cool on pan for five minutes, then remove and place on flattened paper bags to finish cooling (they are crumbly until cool, so putting uncooled cookies on a baking or cooling rack is not recommended). Enjoy with a large glass of milk or a delicious cup of coffee!

Childhood memories

Updated: Scroll down for a picture of Paul’s delicious chicken!

Everyone has a list of food they absolutely loved when they were a child.  Maybe it is a simple classic that their mom made them everyday for lunch.  Or maybe it is a special treat they wanted on important days like birthdays.  Whatever they are, these foods conjure up warm happy feelings inside the individual, remembering how much they loved to eat that food.

For me, chicken and peanut sauce was NOT one of those things.  In fact, I always hated when we had it.  I don’t know if that is because I didn’t really like peanut butter until I got to college, or if it was because we ate it with angel hair pasta which I did not like, or if it was because it was my sister’s favorite meal.  Yeah, I’m weird about food like that. For instance, if I go to a restaurant I can’t order the same thing someone else at the table is getting.  It’s one of my rare faults. Anyways, I never really got into chicken and peanut sauce, but the other day Jess was commenting on how I don’t really cook anything exciting anymore, as shown by my lack of blog posts recently.  So I tried to come up with something I could make her for Wednesday night when she had her lab and would be home late.  I was thinking of memorable dishes from my childhood and I came to this one.  I figured that now that I like peanut butter it would be ok, especially since it would be with spaghetti and not angel hair.

I couldn’t really find a recipe online that I really liked so I ended up combining 3 or 4 of them.  Prolly not the best idea, but it worked out ok. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but that might have just been me being slow.  In the end it tasted great, with just a little hint of spicy to pick it up.  My sister would have been proud.

Paul’s Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
minced garlic
1/2 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 can chicken broth
ground cayenne red pepper
red pepper flakes
coconut milk (optional)

Directions:
Saute chicken in pan with 2 tbsp oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside. Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, and water in a small bowl.  Mix until all chunks are removed and you have a smooth consistency throughout. In a separate saute pan heat garlic, onions, and green pepper in 2 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes.  Then add chicken broth and simmer until it has reduced by about half. Add the peanut butter mixture.  Stir thoroughly.  Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the sauce.  If necessary add coconut milk to get the right consistency. Add cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you want it. Serve over your choice of pasta.