Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't LOVE a fresh Chocolate Chip Cookie?!

 I have a brother like that. Imagine! And we come from the same parents. From what his wife tells me he eats them now if that's the only option but growing up he never ate chocolate. I can't decide whether not liking chocolate would be a blessing or not. Imagine all the therapy one would need if not for chocolate.

Anyway, I made these crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside confections last evening and was reminded again of the chocolate chip cookies we used to have when I was a little girl. Back then things were more simple and not quite as extreme as they are now and we used to jokingly call them Surprise Cookies because it was a surprise if you found a chocolate chip.☺ I'm sure it was my Mom being frugal while still wanting to make treats for us. Bless her heart she treated us well!

I used to make chocolate chip cookies but was never quite satisfied until about 5 years ago I was helping to serve lunch at school and one of the school mom's (at that time) brought these. I was sold and have not used another recipe since that I can remember.

They turn out perfect every time and are easy enough so that a couple of my boys enjoy making them too.

Here's what you'll need:

Somehow the vanilla didn't make it out of the cupboard in time for the picture. Can't imagine why.          

Preheat oven to 375°.
2 cups butter, softened
1½ cups white sugar   
1½ cups brown sugar  
4 eggs                         
2 teaspoons vanilla    
Put these into a mixer bowl.

Mix until light and creamy.                                                                                                                        

4½ cups flour (Gold Medal)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup instant vanilla pudding

Combine in another bowl and mix well.

Gradually add to the rest of the dough a few cups at a time.

Mixing well after each addition.

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, no surprises here ☺

Add these 2 cups at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Form the dough using a size 40 cookie scoop for uniform cookies that will bake evenly.

Drop onto a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. (Depending on your oven.) They turn out the best if you bake them on the center rack of your oven. You will want to remove them as they start browning over the top. Let rest on the baking sheet on the counter for several minute till they are set.

Remove to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing in a container with a tight lid. These freeze well.

Be Blessed!

Another picture, just because I like to look at them. ☺

Linking to:
Debbies Newbie Party

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rice Krispy Rollups

Here is another chocolate and peanut butter concoction that is totally irresistible and so easy to make. I sometimes make these instead of cookies if  I'm not in the baking mood. The only trouble is they never last long.

Here's what you'll need:

¼ cup butter, melted
10½ ounces mini marshmallows
5½ cups Rice Krispies
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter

Melt butter in a 6 quart kettle, add marshmallows.

Melt completely over low heat.

Add the Rice Krispies.

Mix well. Spread evenly into a greased 10½ x 15½ baking sheet.

In a microwave safe bowl combine chocolate chips and peanut butter.

 Melt at 1 minute intervals until completely melted, stirring after each minute. Spread on top of Rice Krispy mixture.

Let set in a cool place till chocolate mixture sets up. Be careful not to let the chocolate get too hard, it will not make a neat roll if you do.

Loosen all around with a metal spatula.

Roll, starting on the long side.

Sprinkle the roll with seasonal sprinkles if desired. Slice and enjoy!

Can be wrapped in Saran Wrap for storage if needed.
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Be Blessed!

Amish Stuffing

It's possible that I was naive as to how different food cultures could be from one Amish community to the next when I married my handsome Lancaster Countian 16 years ago. I guess I just figured that they would mostly do things the same. Well I soon figured out otherwise, and have decided that there are definitely good things about both Holmes and Lancaster Counties. This particular recipe is one that differs greatly in the two Amish communities in which I have lived.

In Holmes County, Ohio we call this, Dressing. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania it is called Roscht., (as in roast.) I still can't bring myself to call it Roscht, maybe I'm stubborn or maybe it's other things but I feel strangely self conscious when I say it and feel like I need to cast a glance around my immediate perimeter to see if someone heard me. Haha, sounds like an issue, doesn't it? But definitely not one worth stressing over. It's simply what one gets used to calling it.

I've never made it the way they do around here but there are definitely ladies around who know how to make good Roscht, (there, I said it again) but I'll stick to my Dressing.

And here again I learned how to prepare this yumminess by watching and helping my Mom.☺

2-3 sticks butter
1 long loaf white bread*
2½ cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced celery
¾ cup shredded carrots
1½ tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 pint chicken in broth
¼ cup hot water
2 heaping tablespoons chicken base
3 eggs
1½ cups milk
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Additional milk as needed
Approximately 10-12 servings.

Cut bread in small squares.

Toast diced bread cubes in batches in melted butter, stirring to prevent burning.

Pour into a medium to large sized mixing bowl.

Peel and dice potatoes and boil in water, just enough to cover potatoes. Boil just until soft but not mushy.

Pour potatoes, undrained over bread cubes in mixing bowl. Add diced celery, shredded carrots, chopped parsley, and chicken in broth.

Dissolve chicken base in hot water and add to the bowl.

Beat the eggs and 1½ cups milk together until well blended:

 add to the bread mixture.

Fold gently to mix and even it out in the bowl. Add the additional milk pouring into the center of the bowl and stopping when you see the milk rising at the side of the bowl.

Stir gently again and let set for about 10 minutes until the liquid is soaked into the bread.

Melt about ¼ cup of butter in a large frying pan (I like to use my electric frying pan for an even controllable heat) and fry bread mixture in batches. I like to use a 1 cup measuring cup and pour 1 cupful in the pan and spread out to make a thin layer. This helps more surface to get browned without a lot of extra turning stirring.

 When browned on one side  turn and brown the other side.

 DO NOT OVERDO THE STIRRING. You want the bread cubes to still look like cubes. When you have achieved a nicely browned Dressing, transfer to a greased baking dish and bake at 350° until nice and brown and slightly crusted over the top, approximately 30 - 45 minutes.

This can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen a week ahead until needed. Thaw in the refrigerator and bake as usual.

*I sometimes use Italian Wheat Bread because that's what I usually have on hand but the white bread makes a much nicer Dressing all around. The bread cubes in the first two pictures are made with wheat bread and the rest of the pics are made with white bread. This is because I made two different batches about a week apart and used pics of both.

Be Blessed!

Chocolate Cream Pie With Peanut Butter Cups

If you love chocolate, peanut butter, creamy, easy, and delicious look no further, you have found the pot at the end of your dessert rainbow.

 I aquired this recipe from my Mom (she uses Twix candy bars) years ago and made it once before but for some reason passed it over since then. When I was preparing for our Thanksgiving meal I was trying to come up with desserts that would please everyone and thought of this one. I decided to use Peanut Butter Cups instead of the Twix Bars and they loved it! So did I for that matter. Now I had a problem because I liked all 3 kinds that we had that day, Pumpkin, Pecan, AND Chocolate Cream Pie. Sigh, always you have choices.

It is super easy to prepare if you use refrigerated pie crust, which I did for the sake of time. Also because I'm not what you would call crazy about making them from scratch. Using the instant pudding also makes it an easy option. DO NOT USE RAW COW'S MILK TO MAKE ANY KIND OF INSTANT PUDDING, IT WILL TASTE LIKE HAND SOAP. That is the truth, I have tasted it and it is disgusting! Whew! now that I got that out I think we will move on to the good part.

9.5 inch deep Pyrex Pie Pan
1 Refrigerated Pillsbury Pie Crust
2 small boxes Instant Chocolate Pudding
3 cups cold milk
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
16 ounces Cool Whip, divided
12 Peanut Butter Cups

Preheat oven to 375°

Let the crust rest on counter for 15 minutes before unrolling. After unrolling I like to use my rolling pin just a little to smooth the edges and stretch it out just a bit. Fit into pie pan as evenly as you can making sure you fit it tightly into the curve of the pan. I don't cut any of the extra off. Just fold over and flute the edges. Prick bottom and sides of crust with a fork to help prevent shrinking while baking. I like to put the crust into the oven soon after oven starts heating . This also helps prevent the shrinking because the heat will be a gradual thing helping the crust to set up before the desired temperature does the actual baking. Another trick I learned from my Mom. Obviously I don't have pie weights, but apparently you don't really need them because this worked for me.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool.

Cut Peanut Butter Cups into little squares and spread evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the cold milk and the 2 boxes Instant Pudding and whisk briskly till smooth. Let set until very firm. (I like to refrigerate it till I'm ready to fold in the Cool Whip mixture.)

In the meantime combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in another mixing bowl:

Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.

Stir in Cool Whip until well blended. Do this step gently. Cool Whip gets runny and doesn't set up right again if beaten too vigorously. Fold into the chocolate pudding.

Blend well.

Pour over top of chopped Peanut Butter Cups in the crust. Spread evenly. Top with more Cool Whip and garnish with more Peanut Butter Cups as desired.

I prepare mine the evening before the day I want to serve them and have not had any trouble with the crust getting soggy. But I also don't cover it completely or tightly.

I hope you enjoy your stress free dessert!

Linking to:
Mom's Crazy Cooking
Sweet As Sugar
Cupcake Apothecary
Sharing Sundays
Be Blessed!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving at Our House

Happy Thankgiving to you all! This post is mostly for the sake of my family in Ohio but you are welcome to look at it too if you so choose. I neglected to take a picture of everybody at the table but you know how it goes, the kids and everyone else was hungry and I hated to make pictures for a blog more important then their needs so you will have to imagine them there. ☺

The ham and the turkey breast were delicious!

as was the dressing/filling/stuffing whatever you choose to call it. I love this stuff! My mom makes the best but since she is 400 miles away I had to make my own using her recipe.

A common tossed salad for my kiddos that fear fancy ones. ☺

Creamy Cole Slaw because I was hungry for it.

Also on the menu were mashed potatoes and gravy. Candied Sweet Potatoes because I was hungry for them and sweet corn.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Peanut Butter Cups. Mm mm MMMM! I'm sure I will make it some more! Very easy and stress free!

Not So Rich Pecan Pie

I usually only make pecan pie when we are having company because I'm the only one who eats it from our house, that way I get a taste and someone to help me eat it.

And last but certainly not least is my Mom's Pumpkin Custard Pie. It is hard to get a better pumpkin pie then this. (I guess those years that I stood beside Mom when she baked pies watching every move she made paid off because the two that I baked turned out perfect. Thanks Mom for your patience and for teaching me how to do it right!) It's creamy and smooth and delicious! Solid pumpkin pies are not for me!

And Rice Krispy Roll Ups for the littles that are not into pies yet. It's hard to eat only one of these!

I hope you enjoyed your visit and know that we missed seeing you around our table with everyone else. We love you and hope your day is blessed!~ Martha

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fudge Bars

If you like chocolate (and I do) these babies are definately in the top 10 list. I don't have such a list but if I did they would be there. They are rather rich so I don't make them too often and they are wonderful with coffee. They are easy and almost never fail unless you bake them too long then they can be dry.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 10 x 15 inch bar pan with non stick spray.

Oatmeal Mixture:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put in mixer bowl and cream together till fluffy.

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick oats
2½ cups flour (Gold Medal)

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Press 2/3 of the dough into prepared pan and set the rest aside.

Fudge Mixture:
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Combine in a microwavable bowl.

Microwave at short intervals,about a minute each. Stir after each until smooth. Spread over top of crust.

Flatten remaining dough in small amounts between your fingers and lay on top of fudge mixture.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

Be Blessed!

Friday, November 19, 2010

White Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

I'm not sure when it was that I became fascinated with Biscotti,but it was sometime in the last few years. I think it intrigued me because it seemed sort of unusual and mysterious to me. I always thought to myself that someday I'm going to learn how to make it. Well I'm pleased to tell you it's one of the easier things to do in this world. It's not mysterious at all. It's simply an Italian cookie that is baked twice. But it is my new favorite thing in the kitchen, and I'm sure I'm not done experimenting. I looked around on the Internet and through cookbooks for good recipes and couldn't quite find what I thought I was looking for, then on Tuesday night my friend Sharon and I were shopping and she mentioned that she goes to Central Market and there's some very good White Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti there. So I Googled that and found this one that I will share. I made a few minor adjustments and I baked them a little longer than I should have because they didn't look dried , not realizing that they harden after you take them out of the oven (think jackhammer, almost), but this only makes them perfect for dipping into a hot drink and they are delicious!!

Yield: About 28
2½ cups all purpose flour (Gold Medal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
2 large eggs
¾ teaspoon almond extract
1½ cups dried cranberries

6 ounces white chocolate, (I used  Wilbur disks)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, 2 eggs, and almond extract in a large bowl until well blended.

 Mix in flour mixture, then dried cranberries.

 Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each piece into 2½ inch wide,9½ inch long, 1 inch high log. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool until you can handle them and then slice into ½ wide slices with a sharp serrated knife.

Arrange on parchment lined baking sheet.

 Reduce oven temperature to 325° and bake for 10-15 minutes and then take them out of the oven and flip them around and bake again for 10-15 minutes. I baked mine longer than this, but this would be sufficient. Remember if you want them hard enough to be dippers bake them longer. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Melt chocolate in double boiler over simmering water or pop it into the microwave. Just be sure not to make it too hot because it will harden and then it won't drizzle or be good for much of anything. Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over biscotti. Let stand until chocolate sets.

                    Quite possibly these will be my scrapbooking companions this winter.

                                                                      Be Blessed!