Monday, December 14, 2009

Orange-Spice Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Hand dipped in White Chocolate

 Around these parts, no family gathering during the holidays is complete without these cookies.  My siblings don't care if I make it, as long as the cookies do.  I think I got the basics from a magazine about 12 years ago and then tweaked it to my liking because you know me, I can't just follow follow a recipe.

The secret to these cookies is making sure they have enough "body" to them before you bake them.  If they don't, they will spread out and not have enough character to hold together once you start dipping them in the white chocolate. I don't know how else to describe the certain je ne se qua the dough needs to have, but the texture should be more firm than the typical oatmeal cookie recipe.  Don't be afraid to add a couple of tablespoons of flour at the end, if needed.

Happy baking & love & all that stuff -


(P.S. Pictures will follow, as soon as I can stand being in the kitchen again! Darn this "morning sickness" stuff).

Cast of characters:

1 1/2 c. raisins (or my new favorite, Craisins)
1 c. orange juice
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 ½ c. sugar
2 large eggs
¼ c. grated orange peel
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. cloves
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3 c. rolled oats
16 oz. white chocolate baking chips
2 t. vegetable oil

  • Combine orange juice & raisins; let stand overnight.
  • Cream butter & sugar together.
  • Beat in eggs, orange peel, & spices until light and fluffy.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture.
  • Add raisins, any soaking liquid, and oats; mix well.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  • Cool completely on cooling racks.
  • In a small, deep bowl, melt the white chocolate & oil (put in microwave for 2-3 minutes on LOW power, stirring once. If it needs longer, microwave in 1 minute intervals, stirring well between each one.)
  • Dip one-third of the cool cookie into the white chocolate.
  • Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets and chill until white chocolate is firm. Warning: the probability that several of these will go MIA before the rest are completed is fairly high. Plan accordingly.
  • Makes about 3 dozen, depending on how many people have been snitching from the cookie dough bowl.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Parsely, sage, rosemary, & thyme's last hurrah

This is actually the beginnings to my chicken soup base. The herbs are from my little garden on the back porch - it is starting to get a bit cold for them at night and so I am trying to find ways to use them before too long.

I love those orange carrots! Ignore the chicken parts floating around...raw chicken is a necessary evil to make this delicious soup base.

A big fat pot on my small stove. Someday, I will have a 6-burner gas stove. But this is not that day and I will be grateful for the stove I do have.

More to come later....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Red Enchilada Sauce

5-6 Tbsp oil

1 large onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp mole sauce

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp chipotle chili powder

4 cups chicken stock

3 6oz cans tomato paste

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

In a large saucepan heat oil and then sauté onion & garlic until soft. Stir in mole sauce until well combined. Add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chipotle powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out – you can then adjust seasonings at this point if needed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Joanne's Magical Super-Fighting Germ Zapper Brew

I am not sure what to call this stuff and don't even know the origins of the recipe other than my friend Joanne brought me some of it while I was in the hospital with the Good Professor in 2007, suffering from one of the worst episodes of the influenza A I have ever had. The Professor ended up at Primary Children's Hospital and I was facing him being down there alone as Mr. Amazing Man was overseas at the time. After a few bowls of this magical brew, I was able to check myself out and go be with the Professor.

It's chock full of natural germ-killing ingredients and will help you get over a cold/flu faster than just about anything else that I have found. But a word of warning: While you might crave this when you are sick, it is pretty darn frightening when you aren't! But when you are sick...nothing soothes you better.

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large head of garlic, peeled (8-10 cloves)
  • 1 med onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp mint

Boil in a pot until onions and garlic are soft. Blend together with food processor until smooth. Add 1-2 tsp lemon juice.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Honey Dijon Dressing ~ I want to swim in your ocean

I use this recipe for just about everything: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Salad, plain old green salads, baked potatoes, a dip for bread, drizzled over steamed veggies, just about anything that will sit still. Truth be told, I sometimes just eat it with a spoon. There - I admitted it out loud. If I could fill a pool with it, I just might swim around in it for a bit. All that mayo would be super conditioning for the hair, right? They might lock my up in a looney bin afterward, but I would taste nice.

Here are the cast of characters:

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. cup honey
  • 1/4 c. grated pecorino romano (or parmesan) cheese
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar (or just white vinegar though I truly do prefer the balsamic)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped shallots
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until combined. Here's a picture of a double batch that I just made for the Chicken Cordon Bleu pasta salad I am making for the ward dinner tonight. Someone, get me some bread to dip in this stuff, stat! I happen to know there is a loaf of roasted garlic bread over there on the counter just waiting to be eaten.

Just look at those lovely specks of dijon mustard, shallots, and parsley! Those little pastas can't wait to go swimming in this stuff.

And just for your viewing pleasure, some Italian parsley goodness, straight from the garden less than 5 minutes before this picture was taken. *sigh* I love summer time.

Much love and belief -


Monday, August 17, 2009

Big, Fat, Texas-Style Flour Tortillas

These babies are thick, hearty, and don't take smack-talk from nobody. If you are looking for the large, thin Sonoran variety of tortillas, these are definitely not the ones. (Don't get me wrong, I love those kind too. They just serve a different purpose, like for burritos or cheesy quesadillas). This recipe produces tortillas that can stand up to some serious fajita fixings or black bean dipping. Just make a bunch of them because they tend to disappear before they make it to the table.

  • Two cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cups of warm milk

  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil.
  • Slowly add the warm milk.
  • Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.
  • Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft. (I used my KitchenAid & kneaded it at 2 for 1 minute - it was perfect. If you want to knead it by hand, please go right ahead and do so. I won't think any less or more of you, I promise.)
  • Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 20 minutes. Go do some laundry or empty the dishwasher or better yet, check your email.
  • After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap & let them hang out for 10 minutes. (I can't believe I am actually admitting to the fact that I will weigh dough before breaking it apart, divide that number by 8, then weigh each ball before placing it on the plate to make sure they are all equal. I don't fuss if they are within 1-2 grams of what they should be but any more than that and they have to be's the scientist in me.)
  • After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter.
  • In a dry iron skillet, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.
  • Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.
  • Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas-burner flame or in the oven wrapped in foil.

Makes eight tortillas. I always double the recipe so I have some to freeze for later. Just slip some waxed paper between each tortilla, wrap it tightly in saran wrap & then a freezer bag. They sure are handy to have around when Mom is to tired to make a real meal. Whip these babies out, wrap them in foil pop them in a 350 oven for a couple of minutes and you have the beginnings of a great meal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blooming Dutch Oven Bread

This is a recipe I originally found over at The Pioneer Woman. The bread is so delicious and so lovely, I had to include the recipe here. Next time I make it, I promise to get some good photos of it before we dig into it!

Dutch Oven Herb Bread


1 teaspoon active or instant yeast

1 c. H20

About 4 cups all purpose flour
½ c. warm olive oil

¼ - 1/3 cup fresh chopped herbs

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I prefer Redmond’s Sea Salt)

Kosher salt for sprinkling on top


· Dissolve yeast in water & let proof for 10-15 minutes.

· Stir chopped herbs into warmed olive oil (this helps release the flavor of the herbs)

· Combine flour, salt, olive oil & herbs with yeast mixture & knead for 10 minutes.

· Cover dough & let it rise until double in size.

· When dough has doubled in size, punch down & knead lightly to redistribute yeast.

· Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

· Pour generous amount of olive oil in bottom of cast iron dutch oven & then place dough inside, turning once so it is covered in olive oil.

· Score the dough with a large, deep X so bread can “bloom” while baking.

· Drizzle with more olive oil & sprinkle with kosher salt.

· Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven with lid on, then remove lid & finish off bread for another 15 or so minutes. Internal temp of dough should be about 200-210 degrees.

Best Ever Black Beans

Now I know this doesn't look like black beans, but trust me, it is. It's just the beginnings of black beans. If you look carefully, past the brilliant orange tomato (very good on BLT's too, BTW), the "red" onion (come on folks - it is really purple!), the red peppers, the garlic cloves, and the bay leaf, you can see the little beans swimming around in there. This picture was just to beautiful to not use it here!

So here's the dealio on this recipe: it makes a big old pot of beans. Enough for a couple of meals. I like to make a batch of beans this size and then freeze a bunch of them for later. That is, if I can get to them before Mr. Amazing Man and the boys gobble them all up! I have taken to making large batches of beans, flank steak strips, and homemade tortillas all on the same day and then freezing 2-3 meals worth of the stuff for later. Mess the pans up once, eat four different times! That's my kind of cooking.

Here's the recipe:

2 lbs. dried black beans, washed and soaked overnight

¼ cup olive oil

2 medium tomatoes - halved

1 green pepper - quartered

1 whole medium onion - quartered

1 whole garlic cloves

2 whole bay leaves

2 T. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 whole medium green pepper - chopped

2 whole clove garlic - minced

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. cumin

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

salt to taste (approx. 2 Tbs.)

Tabasco as needed to kick up the heat

Drain the beans and combine with ¼ c. olive oil, halved tomatoes, quartered pepper, quartered onion, whole garlic cloves, and bay leaves in pot. Cover with water to about 1” above beans. Simmer until beans are tender & then remove tomatoes, pepper, onion, garlic, and bay leaves and set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil. Toss in chopped onions. When translucent, add in chopped pepper & garlic. Sauté until tender then add in oregano, cumin, and salt. Add in red wine vinegar and mix well. When combined, stir into beans and add more vinegar, salt, or Tabasco as needed.

(Note: I used what I had on hand today - a red onion instead of white, orange tomatoes instead of red ones, and a red pepper instead of green. There was no culinary reason, it was just that I didn't have the other stuff. The beans turned out perfectly all the same.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Good Professor's Ketchup

2 6-oz. cans of tomato paste
1/2 c. - 2/3 c. H2O
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
dash of chipotle chili powder (or cayenne pepper - we are just partial to chipotle around these parts)
1 garlic clove, minced

Toss all ingredients in food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for several hours before use to give the flavors time to get good and happy. (This is also a great base for BBQ sauce as well.)

Much love,


Monday, June 15, 2009

Maple BBQ Sauce ~ For the Lazy Samoan

Hey Lazy Samoan -

Sorry it took me so long to get this recipe up here for you! I miss your garden bong almost as much as I miss you.

Smooches -


Maple BBQ Sauce


1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 c. ketchup
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbls. dry mustard
1/4 c. real maple syrup (the fake stuff just doesn’t make muster in this recipe)
2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper *
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. sea salt

  • Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
  • Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups sauce. I usually double the recipe so I have more on hand for another meal. Saves me having to wash the pan & utensils twice! (Call me lazy, I know.) Just store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

* I have also used chipotle chili powder ~ it gives it a bit more bite & a nice smokey taste.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza Dough


1/4 oz active dry yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/4 warm water
1 t. sugar
3 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. medium grind corn flour
1 t. sea salt (or 1 1/2 t. kosher salt)
1/2 c. olive oil, plus a bit more for bowl & pan

  • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup of the water, let proof for 20 minutes
  • Add remaining water, flour, cornmeal, salt, & 1/2 c. olive oil
  • Knead for 6-8 minutes (by machine or 10-12 by hand)
  • Lightly oil a large bowl. Add the dough and turn to coat on all sides.
  • Cover & let rise until doubled (1 1/2 - 2 hours)
  • When doubled, punch down & knead lightly. Press the dough into the bottom of an oiled 14-inch deep dish pizza pan (we just use our cast iron skillet & it works like a charm).
  • Let dough rise for about 20 minutes in pan then press until it comes 2" up the side and is even on the bottom & sides of the pan.
  • Proceed with any deep dish pizza recipe.
Our favorite deep dish pizza recipe:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • After dough is prepared in cast iron skillet, put down a layer of cheese (we like provolone but others are equally good).
  • Next, crumble 1 lb. cooked Italian sausage evenly over the cheese
  • Pour 12-14 oz of your favorite pasta sauce over the sausage & cheese (we have found the thicker the sauce, the better).
  • Place thinly sliced fresh tomatoes on top & sprinkle entire pizza liberally with Pecorino Romano cheese.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let sit for about 10 more minutes before serving.

Mr. Amazing Man and I were watching T.V. one late night and happened to catch an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" on the Food Network. He went to Chicago and challenged one of the local pizza Gods to a throwdown. While I am not normally a pizza kind of girl, the pizza that the guy from Chicago made looked nothing short of delectable. The next day, I went searching for his dough recipe & found it. That night (and many nights since ) we have dined on this totally awesome pizza! Definitely, definitely worth the time & love that it takes to make.

Baked Artichoke Goodness


3 c. fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh curly leaf parsley
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz. Pecorino Romano, grated
2 T. mixed dried herbs (thyme, oregano, & savory or Italian seasoning blend)
2 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 12 oz. bags of frozen artichoke hearts (I use Trader Joes), thawed & drained
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1 T. finely grated lemon zest
4 garlic gloves minced (4 tsp., fresh is best)

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees; combine breadcrumbs, parsley, cheeses, herb, & salt in a bowl
  • Brush oil inside 9 x 13 ceramic baking dish & spread artichoke hearts evenly in bottom. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over artichoke hearts
  • Whisk oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, & minced garlic (I actually put these ingredients in my food processor & blend until smooth, almost like a light aoili).
  • Drizzle dressing over the breadcrumb/artichoke mixture. Lightly toss all ingredients so dressing is evenly distributed.
  • Cover with foil & bake for 30 minutes. Increase temp to 375 degrees, uncover & bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  • Serve immediately.
  • (Refrigerates & reheats well - I always make a big pan and have leftovers for days).

I first made this for Thanksgiving 2008 when The World's Most Amazing Mother-in-Law was visiting. (It's only fitting that she is The World's Most Amazing Mother-in-Law considering she is Mr. Amazing Man's mom). I found an "inspiration recipe" in a magazine, then adapted it and made it my own.

At any rate, this bright, happy dish is a great one to take along to a potluck since you will be pretty certain (a) no one else will be bringing it and (b) everyone will love it. Or just make a big dish of it for yourself and don't share with anyone. Even Mr. Amazing Man knows he needs to ask first before he eats any he finds in the fridge. Seriously, it's that good.