What’s Cookin’ – Double Peanut Butter Cookies

Every now and again when I’ve been exercising regularly and cutting back on the sweets, I lose my mind and make things like Double Chocolate Cream Pie and these Double Peanut Butter Cookies. They are soooooooo good!

Double Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup chunky peanut butter (or smooth if you prefer)

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 10 to 12 oz. bag of peanut butter chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and eggs on medium speed until creamy. Then on low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in peanut butter chips by hand.

I used the Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to make the cookie balls, although you could just roll them with your hands about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2″ in size. Dip the tops of the cookie balls into granulated sugar and place on a cookie sheet a few inches apart. When I was a kid, my Mom would smash them in two directions with a fork, which made that pretty criss-cross design in the top. However, this recipe spreads beautifully on its own so you don’t need to do that. And using the Medium Scoop, I got about 3-1/2 dozen cookies out of this recipe.

Bake approximately 10 minutes or until just turning a light, golden brown. Keep an eye on them so you don’t over bake. Cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks or paper towels.

These cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the perfect combination. You could substitute chocolate chips or even mini chocolate chips for the peanut butter chips, or use both flavors together.

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What’s Cookin’ – Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I got a great deal on a dozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the grocery store last week. Made Parmesan Chicken with 8 of them, then Hubby barbequed the remaining 4 last night. We made grilled chicken sandwiches for dinner and had 2 left over today so I got to make one of my favorites … Chicken Salad Sandwiches.

I chopped up two chicken breasts into small chunks, although you can use the large cans of chicken that are sold near the tuna fish at the store. Drained and chopped one 10.5 oz. can of mandarin oranges, threw in about 1/8th of a cup of sliced almonds, seasoned lightly with garlic salt and mixed all together with a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise. It’s that simple and is so good. It always tastes really fresh. I think it’s the mandarin oranges that give it the light, bright flavor and the crunch of the almonds is spectacular!

You can get four sandwiches out of the two chicken breasts. We pile them nice and thick on wheat bread.

What’s Cookin’ – Chicken Parmesan and Double Chocolate Cream Pie

We had our weekly family dinner Thursday night and everyone ate too much. This is another easy, delicious recipe that takes very few ingredients.

Chicken Parmesan

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

12 to 16 oz. fettuccine noodles or your favorite pasta

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 x 13″ baking dish with olive oil. Rinse chicken breasts. Put beaten egg in one dish, bread crumbs in another. Dip chicken breast in egg (both sides), then in bread crumbs (both sides), coating well, then lay in dish.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Spoon spaghetti sauce over chicken. Put 1/2 cup of hot water in bottom of spaghetti sauce jar and shake it up to get every last drop. Then pour over chicken as well. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put back in the oven uncovered for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, start your pasta water boiling. I time the pasta so that it finishes about 5 minutes after I pull the chicken from the oven. Just cover it with foil to hold the heat. Put a nice serving of pasta on the plate and lay a chicken breast over it. Spoon a little of the sauce over it as well.

It’s amazing what you find when you root around in your cupboards. When I was looking for my pasta maker this last week, I found a mini food processor attachment that goes on my Oster blender. I’ve been thinking I wanted to get one and here I’ve had it for years. I use my blender all the time, but forgot about the attachment buried in the back of the cupboard.

And the point of this is, I used the mini food processor to make my own bread crumbs for the chicken dish. We have a bread basket that is always full of drying up ends of the loaf. I took those and some too crusty French bread and ran it all through the processor with some Italian seasoning. Ended up with several containers of wonderfully Italian scented bread crumbs to use. Geez, I feel bad now about all the bread I’ve thrown out over the years.

Something else new I tried for last night is Paula Deen’s Double Chocolate Cream Pie. When I asked YD’s BF recently what his favorite kind of pie is, chocolate cream was at the top of the list. This is definitely not a low fat recipe, but it sure is delicious. As Paula said to Oprah, “I’m your cook, not your doctor!” And easy to make. I loved the real sweetened whipped cream spread over the top. We eat a lot of fat free Cool Whip (because I’m lazy and I like it) but every now and again, I’ll make a batch of the real stuff. I figured since we were already going big with 3 eggs, whole milk and 2 kinds of chocolate, what the heck? I had gotten this recipe from a website, but can’t find it now so here it is …

Paula Deen’s Double Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/4 cup corn starch

pinch of salt

3 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 9″ deep dish pie crust, baked and cooled

sweetened whipped cream (optional)

chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Stir with a spoon to mix. Combine the milk and egg yolks and whisk until well-blended. Slowly begin adding the milk and egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, blending well with a metal spoon. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly (about 5 minutes). When it is quite thick, add the vanilla and chocolate chips. Stir until completely blended. Pour into the pie crust, allow to cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with the whipped cream and pecans before you serve.

A couple of notes: I used a wooden spoon, even though it says a metal spoon. Mine took quite a bit longer than 5 minutes to thicken, which is probably the difference between cooking on a gas stove versus my smooth top electric. Whatever … it was ridiculously good!

What’s Cookin’ – Fresh Pasta

Youngest Daughter has been bugging me to make fresh pasta for months now. Way back in the 90s, I bought a pasta maker off of an infomercial — the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker. Laugh all you want, this thing works! So we had planned to get together today and make fresh pasta and watch movies and hang out and veg.

Unfortunately, she had the stomach flu last week and caught a cold yesterday — yep, she’s typhoid Mary — so she came over and I babied her and I made pasta while she watched me. Hmmmm, is that any different than usual?

I did my homework yesterday. Dug out the pasta maker and all the parts, washed everything, spent hours watching the instructional video and writing down recipes, and futilely looked for the actual cookbook that came with it. I even spent time in the garage going through my cookbook bookshelf, thinking maybe the cookbook was there. It probably is. However, I kept getting sidetracked and stopping to read and setting aside other cookbooks that I wanted to look through. And I finally gave up. Here’s a picture …

cookbook bookshelf

… so you can see why I didn’t find the pasta maker cookbook. I have a few cookbooks on my baker’s rack in the kitchen — usually the books I’m currently cooking out of. I like to rotate them and give them each a chance to live in the house sometimes with the rest of the family.

baker's rack cookbooks

Back to the mother-daughter day and pasta making. I had picked up a package of Semolina Flour that is made of Durum Wheat and contains “an exceptionally high percentage of gluten, which is what makes a pasta strand stretch and not break apart when cooking.” At least that’s what it says on the package. No Semolinas were injured in the making of this pasta. Most of the flour I used is standard All Purpose Flour with some Semolina mixed in for flavor.

The recipe includes All Purpose Flour, Semolina Flour, 2 eggs, salt, olive oil and water. You can substitute things like carrot juice or liquified spinach for some of the water to make it more flavorful and colorful. One I plan to try, since I am overrun with lemons from our tree right now, is lemon pepper pasta. Yum. With sautéed chicken and garlic. Just yum!

Everything gets mixed right in the pasta maker. It came with about 24 different dies for all types of pasta noodles and we chose to extrude through the fettucine die.

pasta making in progress

I ended up making two batches of fettuccine noodles so we could have some for dinner this week as well as lunch today.

2 plates of fresh fettuccine

Here’s a side view …

it's beautiful

I boiled about half of one batch for our lunch, which ended up being a lot more than it looked like. And fresh pasta cooks so much faster than dried. This took just over 4 minutes. We melted a little butter over it and sprinkled it with grated Colby Jack and Parmesan cheeses. It was so good!

and it tastes great

Then we made cups of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice decaf tea, retired to the couches, put in “Evan Almighty” and cuddled with Miles and Louie. A lovely day, even for a sickly kid. 🙂

What’s Cookin’ – Chicken en Papillote

We had a small dinner party Saturday night and I was looking for something creative to serve. I remembered a recipe that I haven’t made for a while, but is so easy and healthy and delicious!

Chicken en Papillote is from the “Colorado Collage” cookbook published by the Junior League of Denver in 1995. This is a beautiful cookbook and there are a number of them available on eBay if you’re interested.

Our guests were arriving as we were still putting this meal together and it is so simple, we were able to visit while we chopped and prepared and wrapped up these cute little packages. I wish I had a photo to post but, believe me, this is a fun dish that everyone enjoys.

Chicken en Papillote basically means chicken in paper. You need to have good quality parchment paper to wrap each serving in. I used a light weight brand once and the chicken juices soaked through the bottom and tore the parchment. We made a big pot of white rice to serve over and some crescent rolls. Yes, the Pillsbury crescent rolls from the can that YD calls crack because they’re so addictive.

Because we’re big fans of mushrooms, we also threw in some creminis. The beauty of this dish is you can really substitute any vegetable you like. While I haven’t tried it, I’m sure you could use other meats such as pork chops or tenderloin or salmon. People enjoy unwrapping their own little bundles of meat and veggies so it’s part of the entertainment, too.

What’s Cookin’ – Bowtie Pasta

YD requested my 5-ingredient Bowtie Pasta dish for our family dinner last Thursday night. It is so easy and so delicious!

Bowtie Pasta

12-oz. package wheat bowtie pasta

4 cups diced cooked ham

14-oz. canned sliced mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas

1 jar white sauce (whatever you like; we used Bertolli Garlic Alfredo this time)

Directions:

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions. While it’s cooking, dice the ham, open and drain the mushrooms, measure out all the ingredients. Once the pasta has cooked, put it in a colander or strainer to drain.

Put the same pot back on medium heat and toss in the mushrooms and ham. Let it heat up for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; add the frozen peas and heat some more. Then add the white sauce and stir it in. Finally, put the pasta from the colander in and stir it all together. Once it’s heated through, you’re ready to serve!

You can have this dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes (depending on how long it takes your water to boil 🙂 ). It makes a pretty good sized pot of pasta. I would say we get 8 good bowls from this recipe. It also freezes nicely.

——

The prior Thursday, YD’s BF offered to make and bring dinner and dessert because he wanted to give me a night off! Is that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard? He tapped into his Southern roots and brought Jambalaya, garlic bread and a bar cookie called 8-in-1. What a nice treat. It was really delicious … and they even did the dishes!


What’s Cookin’ – Lemon Meringue Pie and Chicken Stir Fry

Hubby told me recently that he thinks I love my new phone more than him — because I pay more attention to it than him.

So I told him, “That’s ridiculous! I love you both the same!”

There is nothing cooler than picking lemons off our tree, zesting and juicing and making …

my first ever Lemon Meringue Pie! I did not make the crust, but bought a frozen pre-made from the store and baked it. Then filled it with the lightest, yummiest lemon filling. Then took just a few minutes to make meringue. This is Paula Deen’s recipe and I could not believe how fast and easy it was to make. I have always shied away from meringue because I thought it looked complicated. Boy, was I wrong.

And it is so delicious!

In my effort to reassure hubby that I really do love him as much as my touch phone, I also made a dinner that he loved — Stir-Fried Honey-Ginger Chicken with Peppers — that I saw on Martha Stewart’s show last week. It was so good and very healthy … which was a good thing since we each had two pieces of pie for dessert!!!

This picture is from the MS website. I don’t own a wok; just used a really large skillet. Worked like a dream and tasted amazing. I am not a big fan of ginger, but the fresh ginger really made this taste wonderful.

Both of these recipes are definite keepers!