Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let me tell you...after lent I will be making these cookies again! They were incredible. Tim and I were missing an important day for his dad back in Springfield, MO and we wanted to send him a little care package. Cookies of course needed to be included but I hate how so many cookies get hard after they cool down...well maybe that's just because of the cook! I found this recipe on a great blog called Dozen Flours. She has some incredible recipes and I'm excited to try some more! Anyways, these cookies did not get hard. Even the next morning they were still soft and absolutely delicious!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Dozen Flours
1 cup shortening (not butter flavored)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (1 1/2 bags about) chocolate chips
1/2 cup of nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Cream together the shortening and both sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Then add the vanilla. In a little bowl, mix the baking soda and hot water together and mix well. Add to the batter and mix. Add the salt and the flour and mix until well combined and no pockets of flour remain. Add the chocolate chips and nuts (if you're using them).
2. Drop tablespoon sized dough onto Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking pan for a minute or two until they firm up slightly. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature.
-Yields about 5 dozen 3 inch cookies

Things I learned:
- When the cookies are browned on the edges it means they are ready
- A silpat or parchment paper keep the cookies from getting too brown on the bottom (and make for an easy cleanup)


Cheese Ravioli with Tomato and Artichoke Sauce has been a while since I have posted BUT that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking! I've got some great recipes I have tried and I'm super excited to share them.  I will say that I was pretty proud of myself with this one (Don't worry...I'm not getting a big head). I was proud of myself because when the sauce was ready and I tried it I knew it was missing something AKA it didn't taste very good.  I was disappointed initially, but I thought there has to be something to add that could save dinner! I added a few things was DELICIOUS! This recipe was super fast to make as well. Some nights I don't get home from work until after 6:30 and I was able to whip this up in 20 minutes. My hubby was quite surprised when I announced that dinner was ready!

Cheese Ravioli with Tomato and Artichoke Sauce
2 (9 ounce) packages fresh cheese ravioli 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can peeled, seeded tomatoes chopped
1 (6.5) ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts 
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese to top

1. Cook ravioli according to package directions. (I used provolone and mushroom ravioli..very good!)
2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large nonstick skillet, heat one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes, artichokes (chopped), green onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are warmed through. Remove from heat.
3. Drain pasta well. Transfer pasta to a large bowl, and toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Add half of the sauce to the ravioli; toss gently, but thoroughly to mix. Transfer ravioli to a large serving platter. Pour remaining vegetable sauce over ravioli. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Mistakes: Did not toss pasta in oil (skipped over that part when I was reading). Had to do it after some of the sauce was added :)

Things I learned/Tips:
- Instead of buying garlic and crushing it we just keep a jar of the already minced and chopped garlic. Works great and is a lot quicker (Thanks Nathan and Julie)
- With recipes like this I could have added some more fresh veggies...mushrooms, onion, green pepper, etc
- Trying to work on my presentation...the pictures don't look too appetizing!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Can I just say how much I love banana pudding! One of my favorite desserts I have decided...especially after trying this recipe. Tim and I decided to give up dessert for lent this year so I knew I wanted to make something really good before Ash Wednesday (took me awhile to post this). We are not Catholic but I like the idea of sacrificing something you enjoy for God. I will make a note though for the sake of our little blog...if I do happen to make a dessert for whatever reason I can try 1-2 bites. I mean I can't recommend something if I don't know what it tastes like! Anyways, on to the Banana Pudding! It is all made from scratch so put away that instant vanilla pudding you got out because if I made it from scratch, ANYONE can make it from scratch!!! I will most certainly be making this again.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
1 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
3 egg yolks (beaten) (save the whites for the meringue)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 bananas, sliced
1 box vanilla wafers

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add 1 cup of sugar, 2 heaping tablespoons flour and mix together.
2. Then add 3 beaten egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix together until well blended.
3. Pour contents into a saucepan, add 1/2 stick butter and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat until it has thickened to a pudding consistency. Stir often being careful not to scorch the pudding. Remove from heat.
4.  In a square (or circle) baking dish, cover the bottom and sides with vanilla wafers. Place sliced bananas on top of wafers and around sides of the dish (see picture below). Pour in pudding and add more wafers and bananas to the top.
5. Top pudding with the meringue (directions to follow) and place in 375 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until meringue browns

3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

1. Beat the egg whites at high speed until they form soft peaks.
2. At high speed, gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Spread the meringue over the pudding, sealing it at the sides of the dish, and bake as instructed above.

(what the pan lined with vanilla wafers and bananas looks like)

Things I learned:
1. You really have to watch the pudding closely to make sure it doesn't burn on the stove
2. Meringue is made of egg whites and sugar...who knew??
3. To make the "peaks" of the meringue I used a spatula and just dipped it in the meringue a little and lifted it up until the peak was formed.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake

It has been a week of celebrating as we have had 3 birthdays of family and friends this week. Therefore, I have had several opportunities to perfect a family recipe for Texas Sheet Cake. Texas Sheet Cake has become a tradition in the Talbert household. Every time we go to visit Brad's aunt and uncle, his sweet sweet aunt makes us this yummy cake. For those of you who are not Texans, this is a super moist and always pleasing cake. Again it is really easy and also my all time favorite cake.

On this cake, I used walnuts on half with those in mind that don't like nuts (timmy!)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water or fresh brewed coffee (i highly recommend using coffee)
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
cinnamon to taste (optional)

Chocolate Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 1/4 sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or chopped walnuts (i used walnuts which I toasted to bring out the flavor)

To make the cake:
Grease a 15x10, jelly roll pan, or a 13x9 inch baking pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt (put in the cinnamon here if you would like to use it); set aside. In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa, and 1 cup water (again use coffee for a richer chocolate flavor). Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. With an electric hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat chocolate mixture into the dry mixture until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute (batter will be thin). Pour batter into the greased pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes for the 15x10 or 35 minutes for he 13x9, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Pour warm chocolate frosting over the warm cake, spreading evenly. Place cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly before cutting. Makes 24 delicious servings!
To make the frosting:
In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup butter, 3 tablespoons and unsweetened cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons buttermilk. Bring to a boil. remove from heat; add 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth. If desired, stir in 1/2 cup coarsely toasted chopped nuts.