Thursday, February 26, 2009


Everyone is familiar with scotcheroos, right? Rice Krispies, peanut butter, chocolatey frosting? Yummy? Yes? OK.

And everyone knows how to make them, right? The recipe is right there on the Rice Krispies box, and it’s really easy, and yeah, they get a little dry and hard and they cut the roof of your mouth when you bite into them, but that’s the price you pay for the privilege of eating one … right?

No. No, no, no.

I realize this is a rather simple recipe to post, but I’m amazed by how many wonderful people make really bad scotcheroos. Also, I took a poll. We’re 4-0 in favor of posting.

My dad and the hubby both love scotcheroos, and I get a lot of feedback on what a good scotcheroo maketh. With a few key tips, you, too, can make a better scotcheroo.

  • Only include butterscotch chips in the frosting if you like butterscotch. If you don’t, use straight chocolate. Or half peanut butter. Hence, I actually make scotchlesseroos.
  • Boil the corn syrup just until it starts to bubble, not until it’s at a full boil. Otherwise, you’ll end up discarding the scotcheroos, the pan you put them in, and the knife you used to try and cut them. NOT that I know this from firsthand experience. Ahem.
  • Don’t follow the recipe on the Rice Krispies package. Those Rice Krispies folks have a vested interest in making you use as much cereal as possible, and this makes for a very dry scotcheroo. Cut back a bit on the Rice Krispies, and add a bit more peanut butter. Also, thoroughly coat your Rice Krispies with the peanut butter mixture. You don’t want any dry stragglers dragging down the whole batch. That’s a bummer.
  • Don’t tightly pack your mixture in the pan. This is what causes that whole shredding-the-roof-of-your-mouth experience. Eating dessert shouldn’t be painful.

And if you really dig the scotcheroos, check out the scotcheroo truffles. They’re perfect as a special occasion treat for the scotcheroo lover in your life.

P.S. My fingers refuse to type “scotcheroo.” Can we call them "scotheroos," instead? Just checking.

Serves 16-20

5-5½ c. Rice Krispies
1 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1¼ c. creamy peanut butter
2½ c. chocolate chips, or 1½ c. chocolate chips and 1 c. butterscotch or peanut butter chips

1. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat and add peanut butter.

3. Stir in Rice Krispies, and stir until mixture is thoroughly combined. (If mixture starts to harden, move pot back onto warm burner while stirring.)

4. Pour mixture into pan, and smooth down with the back of a spoon. Don’t pack the mixture too tightly.

5. Heat chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until chips are melted and smooth. Spread over bars. Let cool before serving.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce

I loooove a good, slow-cooked meat sauce for my spaghetti, and I change my recipe – drastically – every time I make it on the hopes of discovering the perfect formula. Today, I may have discovered it.

My perfect spaghetti sauce includes a combo of meats, both ground beef and Italian sausage. I typically avoid Italian sausage because of my aversion to fennel, but I discovered that my grocery store’s meat department make its own very mild, very low-fennel Italian sausage.

Veggies are important. However, onions must be cut fairly small, because I don’t like chewing onions in my sauce. Mushrooms are optional (today I just wasn’t in a mushroom mood). Carrots are required. Carrots? Yes, carrots. They add a natural sweetness to the sauce that really cuts the acidity.

Lastly, the various tomato products – I used crushed, sauce, and paste in this – needs to be diluted a bit with broth. I used to use all beef broth, but it was almost too overwhelming. Today I used part beef and part chicken, and it was the perfect combo. The beef adds richness, while the chicken is more mellow.

This is a pretty easy weeknight meal; you can chop your veggies the night before, and then all you need to do in the morning is brown your meat and throw everything in the slow cooker.

Is it a good sign that you’re sad when you get full, because that means you have to stop eating?

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce
Serves 8

1 lb. hamburger
½ lb. bulk Italian sausage
Salt, pepper, onion salt, and garlic salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1½ c. chicken broth
1 c. beef broth
1 bay leaf
½-¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
Additional salt and pepper, to taste (I added about 2 tsp. or so salt)

1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add hamburger and sausage, and season with salt, pepper, onion salt, and garlic salt.

2. Add garlic, onion, and carrot to skillet. Continue cooking until meat is browned. Add mushrooms, if using, and heat about 1 minute.

3. Add meat to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and stir.

4. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve with cooked pasta.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Buttermilk Pancakes

My brother, Cory, is staying with us this weekend, which is always a treat. He’s fun to cook for, the dogs love to pounce on him, and he and the hubby play some serious Wii.

We spent the evening out with friends last night and slept in this morning. The hubby announced that he’d be making supper, which meant lunch was my call. So brunch it was -- pancakes, sausage, eggs, and toast.

I’m embarrassed to admit such a thing, but I know next to nothing about making pancakes. I’m not really a pancake person, and when the occasional mood strikes me, there are plenty of pancake haven-type restaurants to fulfill my needs. With a lovely omelet on the side.

But for the past few weeks, I’ve been able to think of little else but pancakes. I crave them morning, noon, and night. This is also embarrassing to admit. But hey, I’m sure it happens to the best of us.

Although I freely admit my pancake ignorance, I do know that what makes them taste so wonderfully and deliciously tangy is the buttermilk. The buttermilk pancake recipe I chose is printed in The 150 Best American Recipes, and is incredibly simple and basic. Although the batter was a thicker, gloppier batter, so while you could pour it out onto the griddle, it didn’t exactly spread into perfect circles as I’d had planned. And my pancakes were decidedly less golden than I imagined.

In fact, the hubby came to check on me and said, "Uh, WHAT are you making?"

Enter Cory. While he’s exceptionally skilled at making microwave popcorn and Red Baron French bread pizzas, I figured that was the extent of his culinary expertise. But no. He put me on toast duty, and masterfully took over at the griddle. He managed to spread out the batter more artfully than I had, and cranked the griddle temperature up quite a bit.

He’s a genius. I taught him everything he knows. Except the pancake thing. I have NO idea where that came from.

Buttermilk Pancakes
Serves 2-3

1 c. flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Butter and maple syrup, for serving

1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg and buttermilk. Using a fork or whisk, stir ingredients just until a lumpy batter forms and all the flour is incorporated. Add melted butter and quickly mix, just until butter is incorporated.

2. Heat an electric griddle or a skillet on the stovetop. (Cory put the electric griddle between 350 and 400 degrees). The griddle or skillet is ready when a droplet of water bounces on the surface.

3. Brush griddle or skillet with 1 tsp. butter or oil. Using a large spoon or ladle, pour out about ¼ c. batter. Spread batter lightly with back of spoon or spatula.

4. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip the pancake and continue cooking a minute or so.

5. Serve with butter and syrup. The hubby likes his positively swimming in syrup.

Or, if you’re weird like Cory, top with peanut butter.

AND syrup.

And occasionally whipped cream. I think he gets this from our mother.

*Note: If you're craving something a bit more savory, check out the jambalaya on Pocket Jacks. And I am a much better speller than I'm given credit for.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jumbo Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Muffins

I recently posted a recipe for jumbo butterscotch-oatmeal muffins, and mentioned that the hubby and I aren't butterscotch fans. So we've never tried that version, although we hear they're quite good.

When I make this recipe for the hubby and me, I swap in some chocolatey substitutions and it tastes like a completely different muffin. But still heavenly. And heart-healthy, with all that oatmeal. And butter.

Can't decide between the two? Mix up the batter, and divide it between two bowls before you add your chips and toffee. Then just make a half-and-half batch. Taste test. See which ones you like better. And pass on the info.

Enquiring minds want to know.

Jumbo Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 9-10 muffins

2 c. quick oats
1 2/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
1 c. flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1½ c. chocolate chips chips
½ c. chocolate-covered toffee bits, plus more for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats and sugars. Pour buttermilk over mixture, stir to combine, and let sit 5 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, combine eggs and vanilla. Poor cooled butter into egg mixture and combine. Pour butter and egg mixture into oat mixture, and stir to combine.

4. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour flour mixture into oat mixture. Stir until just combined.

5. Add chocolate chips and toffee bits, stirring gently.

6. Place muffin liners in jumbo muffin tins, and fill about ¾ full. Sprinkle with additional toffee.

7. Bake about 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pans, then let cool on racks.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

The hubby and I have been trying to eat healthier, especially during the week, and using the slow cooker can be a great way to make tasty, low-fat meals. Because of the low and slow cooking method, you don’t typically have to add extra fat, like oil or butter, as you might with stovetop cooking.

This is one such recipe, and it’s also very easy and versatile. It takes about five minutes to toss together in the morning, and you can throw in almost anything you like – extra chicken, onions, peppers, etc. The chicken gets so tender that it just shreds apart in the sauce. I like meat that shreds.

You can use either thawed or frozen chicken breasts for this recipe (or thighs, if dark meat is your thing). I typically thaw mine if it looks like I need to trim them; chicken fat is just nasty. You can also uses canned mushrooms instead of fresh, but I vastly prefer fresh. There’s something about “mushroom stems and pieces” that makes canned mushrooms seem like the hot dogs of the canned vegetable world. Not that I have a thing in the world against hot dogs.

As I mentioned, you can add extra veggies, or you can leave the veggies out entirely (including the mushrooms) to make this extremely kid-friendly. Give it a less scary name, like Chicken Spaghetti, and the kids will gobble it up. Or maybe Chicken Pasketti, as my cousin Mindy used to pronounce it. I love little kid pronunciations. “Spaghetti” seems to be a tough one for kids. So does “hamburger.” Mindy’s version was “hangurber”; my brother’s was “fungurger.” Why do I remember these things?

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 3-4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
Salt and pepper
4 (or more) oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 8-oz. can Italian-style tomato paste, or 1 can tomato paste plus 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning 1 14.5.-oz can chicken broth
½ c. white wine
1 dried bay leaf
½ tsp. dried sage
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 oz. spaghetti

1. In a slow cooker, add chicken, and top with remaining ingredients. Stir slightly to combine tomato paste with liquid.

Doesn't look like much here, I know.

2. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Roughly chop chicken into bite-sized pieces, and remove bay leaf.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions.

4. Serve sauce over pasta.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spinach-Stuffed Pizza

When the hubby and I were in Chicago in November, we went on a walking food tour with Chicago Food Planet. It was easily one of the highlights of the trip, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

We went on a chilly, blustery day, and the three-hour tour ended at Bacino’s Pizzeria for their award-winning spinach-stuffed pizza. I was a bit disappointed when I heard this, because I’m all carnivore when it comes to my pizza. However, “open mind” was the theme of the day. So it was our first taste of Chicago pizza, and while it could have been the circumstances – we were hungry for something warm and filling – it was easily one of the best pieces of pizza either of us had ever eaten.

The pizza was stuffed rather than traditional deep-dish, meaning that it’s baked in a deep-dish pan and has the sauce on top, but there’s an extra layer of crust between the toppings and the sauce. It really is a big-a pizza pie.

Re-creating this at home has been on my list of to-dos, so the hubby and I gave it a try today. This presented several challenges: I’ve never made a deep-dish pizza of any kind, I haven’t made too many homemade pizzas in general, I struggle with doughs, and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

But hey, life’s a cabaret. I modified a version of a crust recipe that I found online, and made up my own filling and sauce recipes.

I did veer from the traditional in that I didn’t actually bake the pizza with the sauce on top. This is mostly for storage reasons; I knew the hubby and I would never finish a whole pizza, and I thought that storing it in the fridge with the sauce on top would be messy and make the pizza too soggy. The downside was that the top crust got crispier than we recalled; so maybe I’ll try the traditional method next time to see what I end up with. (If you want to do this, I’d recommend not adding the sauce until the last 10 minutes of baking time.)

I might experiment with some more crust recipes just to see what kind of a difference they make. If I find one that I like better, I’ll post an update. Happy cheese eating!

Spinach-Stuffed Pizza
Serves 4-6

1 pkg. active dry yeast
½ tsp. sugar
1½ c. warm water
½ c. virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
5 c. bread flour

2 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1½ lb. spinach, stemmed, washed, and dried
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ lb. fresh whole-milk mozzarella, grated

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
A few pinches of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan cheese

1. In a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and water. Let sit about 10 minutes.

2. Using the dough hook attachment, stir in oil, salt, and flour on low speed, until most of the flour is combined. Turn to medium speed and knead the dough about 8-10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

3. Knead the dough by hand a few times, and then place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise 2 hours, or until dough is doubled.

4. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, and then add spinach, seasoning with salt and pepper.

5. Cook until spinach is complete wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Transfer spinach to a colander and let it drain until you’re ready to use it.

6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

7. When dough has doubled, punch it down, and then knead by hand for about 1 minute. Set aside about 1/3 of the dough and cover it.

8. If you’re using a metal deep-dish pan, lightly grease it. If you’re using a stoneware pan, sprinkle it with cornmeal.

9. Roll larger section of dough into a large circle. (This is enough dough for a 15” pan; if you’re using a 12” pan, you can discard about 1/8 of the dough.) Place dough in pan, and push against sides about 2” up.

10. Combine spinach and cheese, and place in dough shell.

Yes, my dough wants to squeeze back to the bottom. It's stubborn.

11. Roll out remaining 1/3 of dough and place over filling. Roll the bottom edge of the dough over the top, sealing the two pieces tightly. Prick top of dough with a fork a few times to let the steam escape.

12. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees, and bake another 20-25 minutes.

13. Meanwhile, heat crushed tomatoes in a saucepan. Add seasonings and let simmer while pizza is baking. (You can add this to the pizza the last 10 minutes of baking, or pour over the top before serving.)

14. Let pizza cool about 10 minutes before serving. (I didn’t do this, but the filling needs to sit a bit.)

15. Serve with sauce and parmesan cheese.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spicy Grilled Potatoes

I was a stubborn child, and I hated being told what to do. So I was a “difficult” child. Even my grandmother didn’t like me. My mother, smart woman that she is, eventually discovered that reverse psychology worked well on me. If she said, “Honey, don’t play in the street,” I’d go prance around in the middle of Main. If she said, “Honey, go play in the street. I want you to get hit by a car,” I refused to leave the yard.

I’m a tad more reasonable as an adult, but some of that stubborness still carried over. And I think that’s why I dislike Valentine’s Day so much. I don’t like someone telling me that I have to be all hearts and flowers today, acting romantic and buying gifts. It's no fun when someone tells me I have to, and when everyone else does it. (Besides, shouldn’t you show your appreciation for the one you love every day?)

There are other reasons I don't like Valentine's Day, but I'll try to stay off the soapbox. Needless to say, we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’m against the concept, and the hubby is laid-back and follows my lead. We still usually spend the day together, and I always ask the hubby if there’s anything he wants. (This year it was, “I’d like you not to yell at me today.” It’s the intangible gifts that mean the most.) But we tend to treat the day like any other.

So the hubby and I are definitely staying home this evening. Even if I could get past my hate-on for the occasion, every restaurant will be packed. Also, we love to cook, and we usually think our food rivals what we eat in restaurants. (It suits our own particular tastes.) And it often exceeds restaurant food, which is the case with the hubby’s steak and potatoes.

This evening, he’s grilling up some ribeyes and spicy grilled potatoes, an amazing invention of the hubby's. We make them throughout the summer. Friends and family request them. People travel across the country to eat them at reunions (or so they claim).

You need just a few ingredients for these, and it only takes about three minutes to throw together, despite the length of this post. I can only guess at the quantities, so I’ll photograph the occasion thoroughly for a pictorial tutorial.
  • First, you need plenty of aluminum foil. Don’t be stingy.
  • You also need butter, margarine, spread, or any other butter-like substance.
  • Then you need potatoes. You can use any kind you like. We’ve tried a variety, but we typically use red potatoes. I think it’s because we live in North Dakota, where people (like my Grandpa Don) grow red potatoes. That’s what we grew up with. You can peel them or leave the skins on. I prefer the flavor with the skins on, and it’s so much simpler and less time-consuming.
  • Lastly, you need Creole seasoning. Use your favorite brand. We’ve been addicted to Tony Chachere’s for years. We have bottles scattered at everyone’s houses, so we’re never without it. It’s amazing. And it’s like the best bargain in the grocery store (I think it’s under two bucks). Get ye some.

Equipment-wise, I highly recommend a mandolin slicer. You don’t need one of those pricey $150 models – even a cheap plastic one works well. (I don’t think we’ve ever invested more than $8 in one; like the Tony Chachere’s, we have these strategically placed at houses we visit often. They’re also good for easily making scalloped potatoes.)

Be very careful when using a mandolin, and always use the spiky doo-dad that comes with it.

The hubby has cut the tips of his fingers on multiple occasions (when he was too cool for the spiky doo-dad).

I received stitches from a mandolin incident several years ago. You can still see my scar. It's the only real time I've had stitches, so I'm proud of it. I think most food blogs need more scar pics.

Of course, I wasn’t actually using the mandolin when I cut my hand. I happened to brush against it while reaching for the nutmeg. I’m special. But enough about scars. (Alas, my why-you-shouldn’t-slice-bagels-while-driving story will have to wait.) On to the potatoes.

1. You’ll need about one potato per person. Scrub them – potatoes can be very dirty – and cut off any eyes that are sticking out. That sounds so graphic.

2. Using the mandolin slicer, cut your potatoes into thin slices. The hubby does this in hyperspeed.

You want them about this thin.

3. Lay out a large piece of tin foil. Place one layer of potatoes on the foil.

4. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning.

If you don't like spice, you can just use salt and pepper. We do this for my dad, because he’s sensitive to spices; Creole seasoning might kill him.

5. Flip the potatoes, and repeat.

6. Top with another layer of potatoes, and sprinkle with Creole seasoning. (No need to flip again; that’s too much Creole seasoning.)

7. Dot with butter.

The hubby says this is a three-quarters V-formation, or something like that. In any case, it’s strategic. You get equal butter distribution on every potato. (The hubby individually places his chocolate chips when he makes bars. He’s deliberate.)

That’s it, two layers per packet. Any more, and it won’t cook evenly. We’ve tried.

8. Fold in the sides and ends of the foil.

9. Then wrap in a second sheet of foil.

This, too, is done strategically; it allows you to test your potatoes while they’re cooking, without having to unwrap the entire packet. You can just peek, like this.

Then wrap it up all nice and tight.

10. Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Place the potatoes on the top rack of the grill (or use indirect heat). Cook about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. (Because of your sensible wrapping, you can open them easily and poke them with a fork to check.)

Use the bottom rack of the grill for something yummy to go with the potatoes.

11. Let cool slightly before serving.

12. Preferably eat with steak and grilled bread.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jumbo Butterscotch-Oatmeal Muffins

These muffins, by far my most requested, are a tender and chewy concoction of butterscotch and toffee in an oatmeal-buttermilk batter. I make these pretty frequently to bring to work, and I always run out quickly.

One coworker calls these “the two-napkin” muffins, because they’re so nice and sticky that just one napkin won’t do the job. Another says she needs a nap after she's eaten one.

Those are compliments, no?

I first devised these muffins when a friend asked if I could create a muffin with butterscotch and oatmeal. I did some online researched and pulled together components from a few different recipes, and threw in some of my own. Like toffee. Toffee + muffins = happy.

As always, for more muffin tips ‘n’ tricks, see the Jumbo Apple-Walnut Muffins post.

It’s kind of funny that these are my most popular muffins, and I’ve yet to actually try one. I don’t like butterscotch. But I’m a people-pleaser. So I make them, anyway.

The next time I make muffins, I’ll include the Hubbyfied/Angelfied version of these for People Who Don’t Like Butterscotch. We should form a club.

Jumbo Butterscotch-Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 9-10 muffins

2 c. quick oats
1 2/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
1 c. flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1½ c. butterscotch chips
½ c. toffee bits (not chocolate-covered), plus more for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats and sugars. Pour buttermilk over mixture, stir to combine, and let sit 5 minutes.

The buttermilk softens the oats and gives the batter a wonderful tangy flavor.

3. In a small bowl, combine eggs and vanilla. Poor cooled butter into egg mixture and combine. Pour butter and egg mixture into oat mixture, and stir to combine.

4. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour flour mixture into oat mixture. Stir until just combined.

There are a lot of mixtures involved here.

5. Add butterscotch chips and toffee bits, stirring gently.

6. Place muffin liners in jumbo muffin tins, and fill about ¾ full. Sprinkle with additional toffee.

7. Bake about 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pans, then let cool on racks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

White Chicken Chili

We’re in the middle of an ice storm warning, followed by a two-day winter weather advisory. That just screams “Chili!” don’t you think? (Am I the only person who hears these screams in my head?)

This is a pretty close rendition of a Rachael Ray recipe, and it’s the best white chicken chili I’ve had. Why? It’s all about the texture. Too many white chicken chili recipes are basically chicken, beans, jalapenos, and broth, and I don’t like the watery consistency. (That’s white chicken chili SOUP.) Rachael Ray suggested mashing half the beans in the chili, creating a much thicker, heartier texture.

I use cannellini beans in this chili, and I love cooking with them. It’s not that I’m especially partial to the taste versus other white beans; I love that the hubby calls them “can of weenie” beans. And not just in the privacy of our own home. When I put them in the cart at the supermarket, he has no qualms about using his outside voice to say, “Can! Of! Weenie beans!” in the middle of the canned goods aisle.

Some people think we’re strange. I have no idea what they’re talking about.

White Chicken Chili
Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1½ lbs. chicken, cubed
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 c. tomatillo salsa
2 14-oz. cans chicken broth
2 15-oz. cans cannellini (can of weenie) beans, drained
Jack cheese, tortilla chips, and a squeeze of lime juice, for serving

1. Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add oil. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden.

2. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and coriander. Cooke 3-4 minutes, or until onions are sweaty.

3. Add salsa and broth, and bring to a simmer. Add one can of beans. Mash the other can of beans with a fork.

4. Add mashed beans to chili. Simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

5. Serve with chips, cheese, and lime juice.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mocha-Toffee Chocolate Cookies

What a busy week and weekend. I thought we had all the time in the world to cook this weekend, and I had grandiose (yes, grandiose!) visions of what I would make. Homemade donuts? Spinach-stuffed pizza? The world was my oyster.

But friends and family ended up visiting this weekend, so we’ve been eating out a lot. We have yet to do any actual cooking. It’s hell being popular; everybody wants a piece of us, ya know?

Actually, we’re not popular. This was purely coincidence.

It’s nice enough outside today that the hubby is grilling steaks for supper, and I’m making chipotle-cheddar mashed potatoes. But in the meantime, we seriously need some cookies.

According to my mom, “cookie” was my first word. And “C is for Cookie” was my first record. My sister and I had this little portable record player that came in a red-striped suitcase, and we’d haul it out and listen to “C is for Cookie,” and then “Thriller.” We liked to mix it up.

My point being, I prefer to have cookies around me. Constantly.

So for all you other little cookie monsters out there, give these delectable chocolate cookies a try. This is a modified version of an old Pillsbury recipe. It starts with a boxed cake mix, and the additions of chocolate-covered toffee chips and mocha flavor make it outstanding. You can use instant coffee as a substitute for the mocha mix (I think that’s what the original recipe called for), but I think the tamer mocha is the perfect pairing.

Mocha-Toffee Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 2½ dozen

4 tsp. instant mocha drink mix
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 butter recipe chocolate boxed cake mix
½ c. butter, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
½ c. chocolate-coffered toffee chips (such as Heath or Skor)
1¼ c. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine mocha mix and vanilla.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine mocha mixture, cake mix, butter, and eggs. Combine until a soft dough forms. (It will be pretty goopy.)

4. Stir in chips, preferably by hand.

5. Form dough into balls and flatten slightly.

6. Place on baking sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. Let cool before serving.