Brownie Stuffed Cookies

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I was at work last week, and we were having a get together to thank someone who was on a temporary assignment in our location. Someone brought in cookies with brownies inside. Another coworker who eats my baked goods often said “You HAVE to figure out how to make these!” With some trial and error, I figured them out.

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Oops.

The first batch didn’t turn out so well. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t refrigerate my cookie dough. I also didn’t flatten the brownie pieces. The result? The dough spread way too much and the brownies were sticking up in the middle. They turned out looking like nipples. Yep, go ahead and laugh.

The second batch was a little better. I flattened the brownies and refrigerated the dough, but the consistency was still off and they spread a little too much. They were close, but still not what I was hoping for.

Batches 1 and 2 used a traditional chocolate chip cookie dough, with the chocolate chopped into small pieces instead of in chip form.

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Third time’s a charm!

For the third batch, I changed the proportions a bit to make a dough that would have a consistency more like a sugar cookie dough that would hopefully hold its shape better. It worked! I didn’t chop the chocolate into small pieces and instead used chocolate chips, mainly out of tiredness. I chilled the dough for an hour and made sure the brownie pieces were squished flat.

 

Ingredients

Brownies, prepared according to recipe or box instructions.
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2½ cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate

Instructions

Prepare brownies according to recipe or package and let cool.

Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add baking powder. Add flour, ½ cup a a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Use plastic wrap to form the dough into a log and wrap tightly. Chill for one hour.

Use a very small round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out brownie pieces. Use a glass to flatten each piece. You can also take the pieces from between the cutouts, form them into balls, and flatten.

Roll out cookie dough and cut out with a slightly larger cutter. Press a brownie into half of the pieces. Top with another half of cookie dough, then press the sides to seal. If your oven is preheating, refrigerate them while you wait. Also refrigerate the ones that are waiting to go into the oven if you can’t fit all batches at once.

Bake at 375° (350° if you’re using convection) for about 10 minutes.

Curried Tomato Soup

Curried tomato soupI’ve been a lot better about packing my lunch lately instead of going out. I get bored with sandwiches day after day, even if they’re different types. I’m also not a morning person, so if I’m going to pack a lunch I really need to prepare a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday. This soup was easy and quick to make, and I’ll have enough for lunch all week.

Ingredients

1 small-medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes (could also use crushed)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

Instructions

Melt butter over medium heat in dutch oven (a regular pot is fine if you don’t have a dutch oven). Cook onions and garlic until translucent. Add flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook until it gets a little golden color to it.

Add chicken stock, salt, and curry powder. Use an immersion blender to puree the onions and garlic (optional). Add crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Slowly stir in heavy cream.

Jalapeno Popper Corn Dip

Jalapeno Popper Corn DipI haven’t posted in a while! Right after I made the mint chocolate chip ice cream in the previous post, our fridge died. We were without a fridge for almost 3 weeks (long story), which resulted in eating out a lot. Then we went on vacation. So now I’m back and ready for more cooking and blogging.

We went to a family cookout today, and I wanted to bring something really easy. We went to the pool earlier in the day, so I was short on time. Tastefully Simple to the rescue! Everyone loved this dip. Pretty sure it was gone within about a half hour.

Ingredients

1 envelope Tastefully Simple jalapeño popper dip mix
1 package cream cheese (8oz), softened
1 can corn, drained
1 cup monterey jack or cheddar cheese

Instructions

Combine all ingredients. Spread dip into a small baking dish. Bake at 350 until it’s hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of my favorite flavors, and it’s not very difficult to make. You just need a good vanilla ice cream recipe, chocolate, and some mint flavoring. I have the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer. I was using the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with it, but it never came out exactly how I hoped. I stumbled upon this recipe from the New York Times. It’s called “the only ice cream recipe you’ll ever need” for a reason! I used 2% milk instead of whole milk (it was all I had in the fridge) and it turned out great.

I added 1 tsp vanilla to the cream/milk/sugar mixture at the beginning of the recipe. After it finished cooking and had several hours to chill in the fridge, I added 1 tsp of mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring before churning for 20 minutes. I added half a bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the ice cream at the end (with about 2 minutes of churning time remaining). I transferred the ice cream to storage containers and let it hang out in the fridge overnight to get a little firmer – but of course I ate a little bit right away, too. So good!

Granola Bars

granola barsMy wife had a bag of granola that she was snacking on, but once she was about halfway through it was too crumbly to eat unless she made ate it with milk like a cereal. She asked me to make her some granola bars with it.

The recipe in this post is one I made a really long time ago that didn’t use pre-made granola, but I used a similar process for the bars from the pre-made granola. You’ll want to use less honey and brown sugar if you’re making them from pre-made granola – I think I used 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup butter, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for every 2 cups of granola. If this doesn’t seem like enough to keep them together, keep adding melted butter and honey a tablespoon at a time until the everything is coated. You also do not need to toast pre-made granola because it’s already been baked.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can easily change the ingredients. I really like pineapple, but if you don’t, you could use dried apricots or cherries instead. You can also swap out some of the fruit for a different type of nut, reduce the amount of oats and add some flax seed, or use two types of nuts instead of just walnuts.

The Tastefully Simple silicone bar pan is amazing for making granola bars. I’ve made them on a sheet pan with a silpat before, which is fine, but the bar pan is an easy way to make bars all the same size. The silicone also prevents sticking. If you use a regular pan to make these, trust me, you will need to definitely use a silicone baking mat or line your pan with parchment paper. If not, you will be chiseling them out of the pan.

Ingredients

4 cups oats
2 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp kosher salt (use ¼ tsp if you don’t use any fruit)
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup dried pineapple, chopped into pieces similar in size to the cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix oats and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add honey and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix dried fruit, oats, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour liquid mixture over the dry mix and stir until everything is evenly coated with the liquid.

Place the bar pan on a baking sheet. Use a spoon to fill each compartment of the bar pan. (Warning – if your bar pan is not silicone, don’t attempt to use if for this recipe! You will be chiseling granola out for days. Instead, use a baking pan completely lined with parchment paper – including the sides.)

Press each bar firmly with the back of the spoon until each compartment is packed. If you have empty compartments after using all of the granola mixture, fill them abut halfway with water. (Not sure why this is necessary, but the directions for the bar pan say to do this.)

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the bars become golden brown and the outside edges start to get crispy. Let cool for about an hour. The bars should come out of the pan pretty easily once they’re cooled. If they are too buttery, place them on a cookie rack to drain once they’re cool.

Ma’s Ham & Bean Soup

I posted my mother in law’s ham recipe the other day, and I recommended saving the unused sauce, the leftover ham, and pan juices for later. This is why! You can make this on the stovetop in a large pot of dutch oven, or in an extra large crock pot.

I’ll admit we’ve sometimes had the craving for this soup and made a ham just for this purpose. If you do that, you’ll want to set aside meat from at least half of the ham for eating since this recipe is meant to be made from leftovers.

Ingredients

Leftover ham (on and off the bone), pan juices, and any unused sauce (from Ma’s ham recipe)
1 bag great northern beans
1 x 28ox can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

Prepare beans using instructions on the bag for the “quick soak” method. Do not drain the water from the pot when finished. (This takes about an hour)

Place ham (bone with meat, and any additional meat off the bone) into an extra large pot or dutch oven. Add beans and the water from soaking. Add the diced tomatoes (do not drain), pan juices, ham sauce, onion, and garlic.

Cook on low, pretty much all day. Stir occasionally and add some water if it begins to get too thick.

Lasagna

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Ingredients (Sauce)

2 x 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Tastefully Simple Onion Onion seasoning
2 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic seasoning
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
½ tsp sage
½ tsp salt

Spice measurements are for dried spices.

Ingredients (Pasta)

3 cups flour
3 eggs
Pinch salt
Cold water (if needed)

Ingredients (Other)

½ to ¾ container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated asiago
8oz fresh mozzarella (optional – you can just use more shredded instead. If you use the fresh, strain some of the moisture from it)
1 lb lean ground beef

Instructions

Start the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat on medium, covered, until it starts to bubble. Reduce to low and let it simmer while you continue the rest of the steps.

Brown the ground beef and set aside.

Make the pasta dough. Scoop flour onto work surface. Make a well in the center. Add salt. Add one egg and start to incorporate with a fork. Continue to add eggs one at a time, incorporating more of the flour after each one. You will reach a point where it’s clear you can’t do any more with the fork and you just need to use your hands. Once you have a dough ball, knead, knead, knead for several minutes. If the dough feels dry, add some of the cold water to get it to the right texture. The texture should be kind of elastic-y, but not really sticky.

Separate dough into portions about a half cup in size. Cover unused dough with plastic wrap. Roll out dough to #4 setting using pasta machine (start on the widest setting, #1, and work your way thinner). Place dough onto work surface and cut into lasagna-sized noodles. I like to make the noodles as I assemble the lasagna, so I stop after making one layer’s worth.

Spread sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer noodles on top. Spread more sauce on top of the noodles. Add beef.

Make more noodles. Next layer is sauce, ricotta, and shredded mozzarella.

Make more noodles. Top with sauce, asiago, and mozzarella (fresh or shredded).

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the cheese looks like it’s going to get too brown.

This reheats really well. I had leftovers for lunch this week!

Italian Pasta Salad

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Ingredients 

1 box tricolor rotini
2 cups chopped pepperoni
8oz package mozzarella pearls
⅔ cup shaved parmesan
½ pint grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
4-6 pepperocinis, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 orange bell pepper, diced
½ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp white wine
¼ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 packets Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

Instructions

Cook pasta and let cool to room temperature. Once pasta is cooled, add pepperoni, veggies, and cheeses.

Combine white vinegar, white wine, mayo, and Italian dressing mix in a blender. With the blender still running on low speed, slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blend until well-incorporated. Pour over the pasta salad and toss until everything is mixed and well-coated.

Southwestern Corn

Southwestern Corn

Ok, so this was a bit of a disaster when I first made it, but I adjusted the recipe. It was way too spicy the first time – too much cayenne. It had a little kick to it when I first tasted it, which was fine. But then I let the sauce sit in the fridge for a few hours and the cayenne flavor really came out – too much. You can also make the sauce to put on corn on  the cob and roll the cob in the cheese.

Ingredients

½ cup mayonnaise
1 small pinch cayenne (the first time, I used ¼ tsp – too much!)
2 tsp cumin
¾ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder (not in my original attempt – didn’t have any)
2 cups corn off the cob (recommend using fresh or frozen, not canned)
½ cotija cheese, grated

Instructions

Combine mayo, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and chili powder and set aside. Grill the corn inside aluminum foil (if you don’t have access to a grill, you can roast it in the oven. You can also grill the corn on the cob and strip it off.) Transfer corn to a medium serving dish. Add the mayo mixture and stir to combine. Top with the cheese.

Ma’s Ham

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe. I’m really not a big ham eater, but I really, really like this ham. Make sure you save the leftovers (including the leftover sauce, drippings, and carcass) to make ham and bean soup! I’ll be posting the ham and bean soup recipe separately.

Ingredients

1 whole ham
Whole cloves (optional – I’ve made it without)
1 can crushed pineapple
1 ¼ cups brown sugar (should be about half of the bag)
¼ tsp cloves
¼ cup honey
¼ cup yellow mustard

Instructions (Sauce)

You can make the sauce ahead of time, or while the ham is cooking. I usually make it a day ahead if I have a lot of other things to do while the ham is cooking.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it starts bubbling. Once it bubbles, turn the heat to the to lowest setting and cook until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside until needed for the ham.

Instructions (Ham)

Preheat oven to 325°.

Put ham in roasting pan with fat side up, and score it into a lattice pattern. The lattice pattern will create squares. If using whole cloves, push one clove into each square.

Pour some water into bottom of roasting pan (basically cover the bottom of the pan enough to wet whatever falls into the bottom of the pan and keep it from burning). Cover the ham tightly with aluminum foil.

Follow the instructions on the label for the cooking time. If the label calls for a higher temperature, you can cook it on a higher temperature or lengthen the cooking time and cook it at 325°.

At last hour before the ham is done, remove the foil and spoon the sauce onto ham. Re-cover the ham and finish cooking. You may not need all of the sauce depending on the size of your ham. Save the leftover juices you don’t use if you plan to make soup with the leftover ham.