Sugar Cookies

Every year we have a small, but joyful Christmas celebration party with friends. My hubs is adorable and likes themed or purposeful parties. Since last Christmas we have moved across the state, thus we were able to repeat last years cookie decorating theme without anyone knowing. Hehe, aren’t we sneaky.

But last years sugar cookies were atrocious. I couldn’t cut them with cookie cutters and they lacked any flavor. Searching the Internet I found this recipe for “soft and chewy” sugar cookies. And let me tell you they were fantastic.

Did we end up decorating the cookies? Nope, we were having so much fun playing games and laughing that we forgot all about it.  Did we make dinosaur and ninja shaped cookies for a Christmas party? Absolutely.

12.27.13 Sugar Cookie

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

What goes down:

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl; set aside.
  2. Cream the butter, the 1 cup of granulated sugar, and the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at a low speed until combined.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can refrigerate up to 2 days, or freeze it and take it out and put it in the refrigerator about 12 hours before you plan on baking.)
  5. Remove the dough and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Flour the counter, the dough, and the rolling pin and roll the dough out to 1/4- inch thickness. Dip your cookie cutters in flour before cutting out your cookies. Place the cookies on a parchment-lines baking sheet.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Refrigerate the cookies at least 15 minutes before baking.
  8. Bake for 8-9 minutes until the edges are just ready to turn the slightest bit brown. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Slightly Adapted: Browneyed Baker

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The French Dip Send-off

French Dip 3

My husband and I whole-heartedly believe in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Part of that message necessitates that missionaries go spreading the good news to those who have no access to the truth that Jesus came into this world from His heavenly dwelling as fully man and fully God, lived a sinless life, and died the death prophesied from of old that you and I may enter into His righteousness. We could never have attained holiness without the blood shed of Jesus Christ– I could never have attained holiness or handled the wrath of God against sin on my own. But death wasn’t His end, He rose triumphant from the grave conquering sin and death once and for all. We can now enter into Christ’s righteousness through faith in Him and Him alone.

Back to missionaries, we have dear friends that have followed the call into missions. They will be leaving the country with their three children and making a new home in a faraway land. I feel so honored to know them and be of support both monetarily and through prayer. We got to have them over for dinner on Christmas Eve. That was the first time I ever cooked for a full family— and by that I mean children. But they were precious and ate without complaining even once. And tried so hard not to laugh when the catsup bottle made farting noises. I can’t help but praying that when I have children that the Lord helps me teach them respect and generosity the way that my friends have.

I will miss my friends but am thrilled by their obedience to God’s call. I cooked the easiest crockpot version of French Dip known to man hoping to send them off well. I advise you to cook this for your friends. Bread, cheese, and juicy meat go fabulously with friends– and apparently some children.

French Dip

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs roast meat
  • 2 cans (10.5 oz) beef broth
  • 1 can (10.5 oz) French Onion Soup
  • Hoagie Buns
  • Your choice of cheese (I happen to be fond of provolone, but I am no cheese connoisseur)

What goes down:

  1. First put the meat in the crockpot. Pour the cans of beef broth and French onion soup on top of the meat. Let cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  2. Shred the meat 30 minutes before eating.
  3. To melt your cheese, put the bread with the sliced cheese in the oven at 200 degrees until the cheese is your preferred melty goodness (or about 10 minutes)

HAPPY COOKING!

Adapted from: Smashed Peas and Carrots

Blueberry Muffins

Can I be honest with you?

Blueberries kind of freak me out. I love the beautifully deep blue of a blueberry, after all the color is the fruits namesake. But I am not sure if I actually like eating blueberries… biting into a blueberry feels strange to me.

In my attempt to become a blueberry fan and also begin providing my ever patient husband with breakfast (without actually have to wake up early), I chose to begin with muffins. The safe yet classic blueberry choice, indeed.

Blueberry Bunch E

My husband enjoyed these muffins; he took multiple muffins with him to work everyday until we ran out. I, however, am still not sure about blueberries. The muffins were a super quick and easy-to-make breakfast treat. I will most definitely continue making these for my hubs and even for me… to wean myself into the world of blueberries.

Blueberry Muffins E

I mean, can’t you see the moist fluffiness going on in this picture. Mmm, I am determined to be a blueberry lover.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable, canola, or corn oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/4 baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw before adding them to the batter)

What goes down:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Position rack to the center of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lightly beaten egg, yogurt, oil, and vanilla.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Gently stir the blueberried into the dry ingredients.
  5. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. Stir only until combined.
  6. Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes before removing from the pan (unless you are too excited and must take pictures for your food blog RIGHT when they come out of the oven).

Source: The Joy of Baking

Happy Cooking!

Enchilada Casserole

We all have those meals that taste like childhood. Or is that just me? Anyways, enchilada casserole has always been my favorite- even before I admitted to loving onions. It is simple to make and I am sure can be prepared ahead of time; although I personally have not attempted to. I hope to someday learn how to make my own tomato sauce and tortillas to take this casserole to the next level. But for now I leave you with my enduring favorite: Enchilada Casserole

Enchilada Casserole

*the casserole actually looks more like lasagna when it is in the dish, I however, do not have great getting-the-food-out-of-the-dish-skills. Alas, here is my best picture.

Ingredients:

  • 2 8-oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 16 oz water
  • 2 medium onions, chopped and divided
  • 2 small hot peppers, chopped (optional)
  • 12 tortillas
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lbs. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided into three sections
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder

What goes down:

  1. Combine tomato sauce, water, 1 onion, hot peppers, salt, garlic, and chili powder in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  3. Cook remaining onions and meat until done. Drain.
  4. Divide the meat into 3 approximate portions.
  5. To assemble, cover the bottom of an ungreased pan with a layer of 4 tortillas. Layer with one portion of meat, approximately 1/3 of the sauce mixture, and one portion of cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are added and cheese is on top.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Source: My Lovely Mother’s Kitchen

Happy Cooking!

Spicy Vegetable Medley

I didn’t grow up in a house with many fresh vegetables. We mostly ate canned veggies which is, of course, better than no veggies. But now that I am grown, I am making a concerted effort to implement fresh and seasonal vegetables into our diet. I know almost nothing about fresh vegetables. Example 1: a couple years ago, I had to watch a youtube video to learn how to use fresh garlic.

One thing this vegetable adventure has taught me is that: vegetables are delicious!

And this spicy vegetable medley, which I’ve also learned can be called Calabasitas, is so good that I have hardly stopped thinking about it for one whole week. The original source mentioned adding chicken to transform the dish from a side into an entree. I haven’t tried that yet, but I am certain it would be fantastic.

 

Spicy Vegetable Medley

I can’t even look at the picture without wanting more. There is a definite kick to this medley. If you are not a fan of the heat, you can tone it down. Play with the spices to figure out what you and yours like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 smallish zucchini squash, sliced in half moons
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1-2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted mild green chile, chopped
  • 2 oz. chopped jalapenos
  • 2-3 cloves fresh peeled garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a couple good pinches of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • juice from half a lime [more juice or water if neeeded]
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges for serving and extra cilantro for garnish

What goes down:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute the squash for three to four minutes, until it starts to turn a bit golden.
  2. Add all ingredients except the fresh cilantro; stir to combine
  3. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add more liquid if needed.
  4. To serve, stir in the fresh cilantro. Top with lime wedges and extra cilantro if desired.

Source: Gluten-Free Goddess

 

Notes: I played around with the cumin, we like hot so I leaned toward more rather than less. Also, When I had the veggies covered, I needed more liquid so I just added some water about 2 tbsp’s worth.

 

Happy Cooking!

White Bread 1

As you may notice, I labeled this post White Bread 1 because I am on a journey- a journey to find the perfect bread recipe. One of my favorite smells on planet earth is the smell of fresh bread. My goal is to find a recipe that makes tall, fluffy, and delicious loaves that are great for sandwiches. I’ve made many a loaf that just didn’t hold up properly once I added the meats, cheese, and condiments.

This particular recipe was real good. Could it be the one?

white bread

White Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4.5 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 2/3 cup warm water, divided (105-115° F)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 9-10 cups all-purpose flour
  • Additionally 3-4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)

What goes down:

  1. To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in ¾ cup of warm water in a large mixing bowl (use your mixer bowl if kneading with a stand mixer and use the dough hook).  Stir in the sugar, salt, remaining 2 2/3 cups water, butter, and 5 cups of the flour.  Mix (on low speed) until a dough begins to come together.  Gradually add in the remaining 4-5 cups of flour about ½-1 cup at a time at first, more gradually with the last cup, until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky.  Continue to knead about 6-8 minutes, until a smooth ball of dough has formed.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased large bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.  Let rise in a warm place until the dough has nearly doubled in bulk, about 60-90 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently punch down to deflate the dough.  Divide into two equal portions.  Press one portion of dough into a rectangle, about 9 x 15 inches.  Starting on a short end, roll the dough up tightly into a log and pinch the seam shut.  Roll the ends under the loaf.  Transfer to a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and press down gently to reach the sides of the pan.  Repeat with the second portion of dough.  Cover the pans loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise once more until nearly doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently punch down to deflate the dough.  Divide into two equal portions.  Press one portion of dough into a rectangle, about 9 x 15 inches.  Starting on a short end, roll the dough up tightly into a log and pinch the seam shut.  Roll the ends under the loaf.  Transfer to a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and press down gently to reach the sides of the pan.  Repeat with the second portion of dough.  Cover the pans loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise once more until nearly doubled, about 30-45 minutes.

Source: Annie’s Eats via The Curvy Carrot

Happy Cooking!

Who Knew..

I have never liked Red Sauces: Pizza sauce, marinara sauce, pasta sauce. Ehhk. Growing up, my brother, Darwood, would disgust me with his pizza sandwich fixation. He would take a piece of bread, lather it in pizza sauce and throw on a slice of American cheese topped with the other piece of bread.

But that strong distaste for all red sauces has changed.

I recently made this pizza sauce recipe. I never knew that a tomato based sauce could be so delicious. The sweet and spicy combination won my heart. I was literally eating this pizza sauce out of bowl with a spatula. I couldn’t get enough. This was REVOLUTIONARY for my previously picky taste-buds.

You should seriously taste this stuff— even if you don’t have a pizza crust. The sauce is that good. I might even be able to scarf down a pizza sandwich now.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 fluid ounces warm water
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste

In a small bowl, mix well. Let the flavors mix for 30 minutes.

*The spice amounts are really more of suggestions. Most of the reviews I read of this particular recipe thought that there was too much honey and I understand their concern: The sauce is sweet. If you do not prefer sweet pizza sauces cut back on the honey. I go much more by my tastes than by these actual measurements- You are free to follow your taste buds! Be Courageous!*

Adapted from: Angie Gorkoff on Allrecipe

My new aim is to find a tomato pasta sauce equally tasty. Happy Cooking in your Kitchen!

First Ever Blog Post!

Whoo-hoo!

I am so very exited for my very first post to finally be published. This is something I have been thinking about for a  long time. I love food and reading food blogs, so this seems like the best next step. Why not get organized and keep all my favorite recipes and kitchen explorations in one fanciful place?

My plan is to post a new recipe (or a story of some tragic kitchen disaster) every few days.

I know I am lucky to be married to such a fantastic man for a thousand reasons, but one in particular  is his easy-going-I’ll-eat-anything food palate. His very favorite meal is one of the first that I ever made after we got married. And I made it because it sounded fast and easy.

 

Ranch Chicken- I know many bloggers have written about Ranch Chicken- but I feel that as often as I make this dish, it seems like a fantastic place to start.  I do make the recipe a bit differently than others because I’m a big lover of ooey-gooey melted cheese. Who isn’t? Mmmm, melted cheese. I also use frozen chicken tenderloins rather than breasts because tenderloins are usually what I have in my freezer.

 

Here’s how I do it:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1 envelope of ranch salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

What goes down:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix cornflakes, ranch salad dressing, and Parmesan cheeses in a shallow bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a second shallow bowl.
  4. Roll chicken in butter and then the cornflakes mixture. Place in a 9×13-inch pan. *There is always extra left in the cornflakes mixture so I just dump some right on top of the chicken in the pan. I also often use frozen chicken and use the exact same procedure except I raise the temperature to 375 degrees. The mixture may not stick as well to the frozen chicken, but the finished project still tastes fantastic.*
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until juices run clear.
  6. Enjoy!

Slightly Adapted From: Taste of Joy: and a Little Bit of Chocolate 

I hope that you try and fall in love with Ranch Chicken like my sweet hubs! Happy Cooking!