Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chewy Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

        How's that for some alliteration? Well in addition to employing a classic literary device, the title is also descriptive for my next recipe. This recipe started as a way to do something nice for a friend having a rough day. You know the kind. Those days you just need some chocolate. Having some chocoholics in the family probably had something to do with it too. So, here I was trying to think of a recipe to do with what I had on hand, and this is what I came up with. It is a great chocolate cookie with a chewy texture.  I hope you like it.

  • 1 stick of softened butter (8 tablespoonfuls)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoonfuls vanilla
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (6.8 ounce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 & 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoonful salt
  • 1 teaspoonful baking soda
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 

        Cream butter and white sugar. While you have that going, melt the chocolate bar. I broke it up and  microwaved it in a microwave safe bowl. I microwaved it in one minute increments on 30% power and stirred it three times. We don't need the chocolate to get rally hot, we only need the chocolate to melt. After the white sugar and butter gets creamed add the brown sugar and vanilla. Next beat in the eggs. After that slowly add the melted chocolate and mix well. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in parts. Finally, mix in the chips. Spoon onto un-greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.

yield: about 4 dozen cookies

        per cookie (approximately)
calories: 109
carbs: 17
fat: 5
protein: 1

        I think that this recipe could also be great with a few variations. Add some chopped nuts. Try white chocolate or peanut butter chips. Have some fun with it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Potato Soup, Slow Cooker Recipe

        Slow cooker recipes are always a welcome addition to my recipe collection. They are usually pretty easy and don't take a lot of skill to make. They also don't require you to heat up your oven and use less energy to do the cooking than your oven. Those are all good reasons to like using a slow cooker. However, a soup like this, with a lot of dairy, takes a little extra care to do in a slow cooker without burning the milk. Still, it is pretty easy to do and turns out great.
        My potato soup recipe is fairly basic and can be modified really easily. The cheese and milk give it a nice creamy flavor that can work well as a base for other ingredients than just potatoes. The leftovers were really great as well. I used milk powder for several of reasons. The first, is that I didn't want the milk to scorch while the potatoes were cooking. The second is that using the milk powder allows for me to have the liquid made almost entirely of milk without risking burning the milk. Also, it is a lot easier for me to commit three quarts worth of powdered milk to a recipe like this because it is stored at room temperature, rather than committing three quarters of a gallon of fresh milk from my refrigerator. While drinking powdered milk does not taste much like drinking fresh milk, I can't tell the difference when using it to cook with. So here it goes.

        This recipe is for a 7 quart slow cooker.
        Prep time: about 20 plus 10 minutes
        Cook time: about 3 to 4 hours plus 30 minutes
        Yield: 14 - 2 cup servings


  • 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium to large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoonful of minced garlic
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon crushed and/ or dissolved
  • salt to taste ( I used about 2 tablespoonfuls )
  • pepper to taste ( I used about 2 tablespoonfuls )
  • about 2 quarts water
  • 2 - 8 ounce packets of neufchatel cheese (cream cheese will work just fine)
  • 2 & 1/4 cups non-fat milk powder (enough to make 3 quarts of milk)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • about 1 & 1/2 quarts water

        Peel and dice the potatoes and place them in a seven quart slow cooker with about two quarts of water. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Salt and pepper to taste and add the chicken bouillon. At this point you may need to add more water. You want to just cover the potatoes and onion with liquid. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on high. The potatoes should be done. 
        Add the cheese and cover with the potato mixture so that it starts to soften and melt while you mix the milk and starch. In a 1 to 1 & 1/2 quarts of water mix enough non-fat milk powder to make 3 quarts of milk. I recommend using a gallon container and a hand mixer for this part. After you have gotten all the lumps out of the milk powder you can mix in the corn starch. You may need to adjust the amount of corn starch depending on how thick you want the soup. Add the milk and suspended corn starch to your slow cooker and stir well. Make sure that the cheese gets well mixed into your soup. Add more water to fill your slow cooker and make sure that everything is mixed well. Replace the lid and cook on high for another 30 minutes. Enjoy
        From the myfitnesspal.com web site I estimate that each 2 cup serving is about 
  • 320 calories
  • 51 g carbohydrates
  • 7 g fat
  • 12 g protein 
        I think several alterations will be great for this recipe. Add a bag of frozen corn to the soup when you add the milk. Add some chicken or bacon in with the potatoes at the start. Some green onion or leeks would also taste great in this. Any or all of those suggestions as well as many others can really enhance this recipe. Go ahead and experiment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beef Pot Pie

I didn't seal the edges the best and the
gravy leaked out the sides a bit.
        I love pot pies. My family loves them too. That's why anytime I have some extra time to make a meal, a pot pie is usually at the top of the list. To be perfectly honest I love pies in general. A pie that I can have for dinner that doesn't call in some guilt for having sweets as a meal, what's not to love? Well recently my wonderful wife was trying to decide on something yummy to do with some frozen stew beef that we had. Almost immediately my mouth started watering for a beef pot pie.

        I've long since abandoned the recipes that got me through the first few pies like this that I made. For me it's one of those things that I've practiced enough that I just feel my way through and change things up every time to gauge the results. This time was no different. Not only do I kind of wing it when I make a pot pie, I prefer to use my own broth or stock. I collect and strain the dripping off of any roasting that I do, provided of course that I didn't use it for gravy. I freeze it in zip-top bags in about two cup amounts. This helps to assure that I have some on hand when I need some. Also, I make my own pastry. I think I'll go more into my favorite Pastry recipe in a future post. Now on to what I did.

Prep time for pastry and pie : 30 - 45 minutes

  • 1 and 1/2 batches of your favorite two crust pie crust recipe
  • at least 1 pound of beef, chopped into chunks- I used stew beef. I've used roast, steak and stew meat, all with great result
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • pepper and seasoned salt
  • about 3 tablespoons of oil - I used extra virgin olive oil with a little vegetable oil. I've also used butter or shortening with great results.
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • about 2 cups beef broth or stock
  • 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls seasoned salt depending on how salty your broth or stock is
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1 package frozen mixed vegetables - I use the one that has green beans, carrots and corn, use whatever you like
    I find it easier to roll the pastry between
    two pieces of waxed paper

    Bake for about 35 minutes at 425 F.
    Let sit for about 10 minutes.

        First make 1 and 1/2 batches of your favorite two crust pastry recipe. I do 150% of my recipe because this will make a pretty deep pie and I like to have a thicker crust. You may find that your recipe is enough as it is. I divide the pastry dough into two parts (one slightly larger than the other), wrap in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator until I've got the filling made.

This is going to be tasty. 
        For the filling, I start after I get the pastry in the fridge to cool a little. Start by browning the beef and onion. If needed, and this will depend on how lean your meat is, I add some extra virgin olive oil. Add the liquid smoke. About half way before the beef is all the way browned, add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste. As soon as the beef is browned I transfer everything into a suitable bowl to wait until the gravy is started.

        To start the gravy heat the oil in the saucepan. After the oil is hot add the flour and mix with a whisk to get all the lumps out. Heat the mixture for at least a minute, stirring often. Then add the broth or stock and mix with the whisk to get all the lumps out. Heat to a boil, then add the Beef mixture that you saved. Again, heat to boiling. Add water until you get the consistency just a little bit thinner than you want the filling to be. Heat to boiling then turn the burner down as far as it will go. About half way through this process I preheat my oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
I know it's not pretty, I only flute the edges
when I'm taking the pie out somewhere
 people will see. It tastes the same anyway.

        At this point I roll out the pastry and line an appropriate pie plate. A 9 inch deep dish pie plate will work great. I happen to use my 9" x 9" square stoneware pan. It's a little more difficult to line the pastry into the pan but it works. As soon as you have the pie plate lined, mix the veggies into the filling and then transfer into the pastry. Now roll out and cover the pie, making sure to seal the edges well. Cut some slits into the top to vent and into the oven it goes. Place it on the middle rack and bake for about 35 minutes. Let sit for about 10 Minutes. You might not need to let it sit for a long as me because my stoneware pan keeps the heat really well.

        I usually use a spoon to serve it with. I'm not really as concerned with cutting nice slices as I am getting a good mix of crust and filling, and my family has never seemed to be bothered by it. My kids love it and eat it right up. If I am fortunate enough to have leftovers they are great reheated up the next day for lunch. Enjoy ....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole

        I tried a recipe my wife had pinned on Pinterest. I may personally not be that big on Pinterest but, as I'm sure many wives are, my wife is addicted. So in addition to all the diy flower appliques on baby shoes, she pins a lot of interesting recipes.

The chicken  and buffalo sauce ready for the potato mixture
This makes it easy for me when I want to try something new but haven't found anything just yet. I just look through her food board. This particular recipe looked like it would be a good one to try, for a couple of reasons.  It looked like it would use a few potatoes and my wife has been worried about using the ones we have before they start growing more potatoes. Also, and most importantly, as I read the description I thought it sounded really good. It turned out that it was.
potato mixture on top

This recipe can be found on the Holy Cannoli Recipes blog.


        As she already covered it in detail, I'll just give you the cliff notes. Basically, you mix just over a pound worth of cut up boneless, skinless chicken with some buffalo sauce and layer in in the bottom of a non-stick sprayed 13" x 9" pan. Next mix about 5 cups of shredded potato with about a cup of ranch dressing, a can of condensed cream of chicken soup and some shredded cheese. That gets layered on top of the chicken followed by some bread crumbs. Put foil across the top and bake for about 30 minutes at 350f. Remove foil and bake for another 25 minutes. At this point I found that the potatoes weren't done yet, so I baked it for about another 20 minutes.
finished dish

        According to the writer of Holy Cannoli, this recipe is meant to be done with cream of celery instead of cream of chicken, blue cheese instead of ranch and frozen hash browns instead of shredded potatoes. So it seems that this recipe can be tweaked fairly easily to accommodate personal taste. As my wife doesn't like celery or blue cheese, I don't think I'll get to experiment much with this one.
        So the finished dish is a nice buffalo flavored chicken with crispy topped creamy ranch potatoes on top. Now if you like buffalo chicken dipped in ranch, you will enjoy how all of this comes together. My wife and I both really liked how everything played together. I will be looking more into what Holy Cannoli has to offer. If the other recipes are this good, I'm in for a treat. At any rate, this one was great and I will be making it again in the future. Thanks to Holy Cannoli Recipes for letting me share this one.