Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reese's Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

My hubby started volunteering for a jr. high and high school ministry. He is leading a bible study for about 15-17 6th grade boys. They had their first meeting this past week and I wanted to bake them some cookies....from scratch. Bold move on my part! My problem was knowing how long to leave them in the oven.  I have always had that problem with makes no sense. They will look doughy in the oven and then you take them out and let them cool and all the sudden they are done. I need some more practice! Anyways, they turned out pretty good and were simple to make...minus the fact that I couldn't tell when they were done!

Reese's Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c. cocoa
2 eggs
2 cups Reese's peanut butter chips (1 package)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Mix the dry ingredients in with the creamed mixture. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Chill until firm. Shape into ball and flatten lightly with a fork.
2. Bake for 9-12 minutes.

I'll keep you updated if I find a good trick to know when the cookies are ready!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Creole Black Beans

I was wanting to find something to cook in our slow cooker...and something easy of course if you haven't noticed a pattern with that. We really haven't had that great of experience with our slow cooker. The first time we used it the chicken literally looked like pieces of coal. I blame the slow cooker! So it is safe to say that I am still experimenting with the good 'ol crock pot. At first I was a little intimidated by all the ingredients in this particular recipe but it wasn't bad at all. This vegetarian meal ended up being very good and I highly recommend it! This picture does not do this meal justice....apparently I need to work on my photography skills as well as my cooking skills!

Creole Black Beans
3 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
1 1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 vegetable bouillon cube
5 bay leaves
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
Monterey Jack Cheese

Combine all the ingredients in the Slow Cooker, putting the bay leaves on top. Cover; cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours. Remove the bay leaves before serving and serve over cooked rice. Top with Monterey Jack Cheese.

My husband and I use a rice cooker for all our rice and I highly recommend it. If you don't have one it would be a great investment. Here is the one we have:
Rice Cooker


The Best Banana Bread

I had the day off this past Thursday which is why I decided to make banana bread for the first time. (My husband does not like nuts which is why I didn't make banana nut bread). We had some very ripe bananas which we didn't want to throw away so it was perfect. After making this bread I am never throwing away bananas again! It was so good and made two loaves so I could share the wealth with my parents. I will definitely be making this husband requested trying to make it low fat. We will see!

 Banana Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups white sugar
3 overripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup pecans (if you want to make it banana NUT bread)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans
2. Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the butter and sugar until it is smooth. Stir in the bananas and eggs until well blended. (If you are making it with nuts, mix in the pecans now) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans.
3. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool off before serving.

It's best if you wrap the loaves in aluminum foil once cooled and refrigerate for 2 hours. This helps lock in the moisture.


Pesto Cheesecake

So a friend and I had a jewelry party this past week and I was super excited to try this new recipe. It is so easy and very delicious! I have never had so many people ask me for my recipe. It was by far the highlight of my cooking career.

Pesto Cheesecake
1 (7 oz) container Pesto
2 (8 oz) packages of Cream Cheese
2 eggs

Mix ingredients together. Put in spring form pan. You can either use 9" or I used two 4.75" pans.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until sets up and browns on the top.

Top with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
1 Jar Roasted Red Peppers
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pepper to taste

Cut roasted peppers into bite size pieces. Mix all ingredients together. Top cheesecake with red pepper sauce and place in warm oven until parmesan cheese in the sauce has melted. Serve with french bread or crackers.

To find the 4.75" Spring Form Pans:
Crate and Barrel or Williams-Sonoma


Friday, January 15, 2010

Great Cooks Start Alike

Like Brit, I too am starting with an easy, but delicious recipe. Cooking is a foreign concept to me. As a child I spent much of my time eating in restaurants. To this day I don't know how to do the most basic cooking like boil a chicken, roast beef, or sautee vegetables (correctly). So with that said, I thought I should start with a simple recipe to boost my confidence. This recipe for Triple Chocolate Cake was given to my pledge class by our Tri Delta mom at Texas Christian University. I made it for one of my husbands seminary classes and supposedly everyone enjoyed it (at least that is what he said). I hope you will enjoy it just as much. Happy Baking!

Triple Chocolate Cake
Serves at least 12, Prep time 10 minutes, Bake time 1 hour
12 oz. milk chocolate chips (to make it extra special splurge on the chocolate chips. It will make all the difference in this recipe. I use Guillard's Chocolate Chips)
1 box German Chocolate cake mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
8 oz. sour cream
Confectioner's sugar for dusting


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine all ingredients in bowl and beat 2 minutes.
3. Grease and flour Bundt Cake Pan. (I use Baker's Joy spray instead which makes life so much easier.)
4. Pour ingredients into Bundt Pan and place in oven and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. You might want to check if the cake is ready after 50 minutes by inserting a fork or toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean it is already done.
5. Let cake cool for 20 minutes in pan and then flip onto cake plate. Dust with confectioner's sugar by using a flour sifter.

*Sorry that I don't have a picture :( It comes out very pretty though :)

Bundt Cake Tips Provided by Williams-Sonoma (My favorite kitchen supply store!!)
1. To prevent formation of air bubbles in your cake, spoon the batter into the pan somewhat slowly. If you pour the batter in quickly, air pockets are likely to form, which can produce holes in the finished cake. To release any bubbles that may have developed, tap the pan gently/
2. Place cake leveled on a lower oven rack so that the bundt design will be sharply defined.
3. Don't open oven door until its time to check the cake for doneness as a considerable amount of heat escapes each time you open the door. This will prolong baking time, and the cake may become too dark on the outside while the center is not yet done.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

White Chili

Ok so there is kind of a funny story behind this little recipe, and I promise I will branch out beyond soup and chili. So, there was this party at work and I signed up to bring soup thinking I would try this new recipe. Well, I learned an important lesson late Sunday night.....when you are cooking for 10-15 people don't try a new recipe! I attempted to double this recipe which could have been a problem because I have a tendency to forget to double everything. Anyways, when I tasted it Sunday night I didn't like it and was too embarrassed to take it to work for our Monday party. So of course Monday morning I woke up super early and went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for Old Faithful...Can Soup. I didn't want to waste all the White Chili so hubby and I had it Monday night. So crazy, it was actually pretty tasty. Not the best white chili but not horrible. I am still in search of a good White Chili recipe but here is the one that didn't make the cut for work but still pretty good. 

White Chili
Serves 4, Prep Time...depends on how long it takes you to cut chicken into cubes and cut an onion :)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilis
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
Green onions and Monterey Jack Cheese are great toppers!

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken and onion until onion is tender (5-6 min)
2. Stir in the chicken broth, green chilis, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, cilantro and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes
3. Stir in the beans and simmer until chicken is no longer pink and juice run clear, approximately 5-10 minutes


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Starting Easy!

So you might think with the first recipe I would start with something impressive so everyone would know my skills....or lack of! Well, this recipe is impressive because it is SO good and SO easy. Even though I live in Texas believe it or not it has been FREEZING here. Last night it was 18 degrees which is why warm Can Soup was perfect for a night in with the hubby.

Can Soup
Serves 4-6, Prep Time 5-10 minutes, Cooking Time 15-20 minutes
2 Cans of Ranchero Beans
2 Cans Chicken and Rice Soup with vegetables
1 Can Tomato Soup
1 Can Chunk Chicken (or Chicken breast)
1 Can Rotel (we used the original)
1 Can Water

Put all the ingredients in a stockpot and cook until warm. Serve with cornbread (we used the Jiffy corn muffin mix because it's a little bit sweet)