Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies

Fall is in full swing. I've been putting the hot apple cider through my Keurig on a daily basis.
And, well...yesterday was one of those day I just felt like baking a batch of cookies and letting the delicious aroma fill the house.
You ever have those days?
I may have those days a few times a week...but I don't act out on them as much as I'd like to.
Since I bake a lot of special order cakes and cookies, just trying new recipes gets pushed to the back burner.
Well not yesterday!
I found a chocolate chip cookie recipe tucked away safely in my recipe box that had a technique I hadn't tried yet.
Grinding the oatmeal that mixes in with the flour.
Such a marvelous idea!
I love oatmeal cookies, but the fine texture of the oatmeal when it is ground is pretty amazing in these. You can taste the oatmeal, but the big flakes of it aren't there to overwhelm the chips.
I don't know if that makes any sense to you. But, it does to me. So that is that :)


I aboslutely love tossing walnuts into my chocolate chip cookie recipes.
I haven't shared a recipe yet on my blog with walnuts in the cookie dough, but you can easily add them to any recipe. I just omit for "chocolate chip cookie purposes" but not today my friends, not today.

Do not overbake these cookies. They will become hard overnight. So bake them and take them out when they still look underbaked in the centers. As they cool and sit for a few hours, they will be the perfect softness. If you bake them until they look baked up more completely, they will harden after a bit. Unless you plan on consuming all 6 or 7 dozen cookies within a short time-frame after baking.


Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies

by Emily Chhouy
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 8 min
Ingredients (6-7 dozen)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups uncooked oats (quick or regular)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in the vanilla.
In a food processer, grind the oatmeal until finely ground.
Combine the ground oatmeal and flour in a separate mixing bowl.
Whisk in the baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Slowly add the oatmeal/flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well.
After full combined together, mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Use a cookie scoop, or drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is almost baked through.
Let rest on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes before moving onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pineapple Zucchini Bread

Do you ever have those times that you just simply feel overwhelmed by life?
That has been me lately.
Life at my house has just been busy. Getting into the swing of our new routine with our daughter in school, me finishing up my last two terms of college, my baking has kept me super busy...plus our jobs. Yikes. Crazy busy.
Plus, to top it all off, we had to renovate our bathroom...I'm working on a post about that...
So, needless to say - I haven't had time to blog much lately.
I think about it every day and then something else comes up and before I know it, I am exhausted and ready for bed. So I go to bed, that way I have energy to get through the next day.
The only good thing about not blogging lately is that I have a notebook full of things to blog about. That's good, right?

But, I did get some extra baking in for funsies this week.
I have lots of zucchini and wanted to try something a bit different. Out came the trusty recipe box and I found an interesting one...this gem for Pineapple Zucchini Bread.


At first, I was like...oh heck no. That cannot be tasty.
Then, I kept thinking about it as I browsed through the other recipes. 
Before I knew it, I was shredding zucchini as I was reading over the recipe card.
I was making it. 
And it was delicious.





Pineapple Zucchini Bread

by Emily Chhouy
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 60 min
Ingredients (1 loaf)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup drained, crushed pineapple
Instructions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat the eggs until fluffy.
Add the vanilla and mix well.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated zucchini, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder.
Stir in the oil and sugar until a wet batter forms.
Fold in the walnuts and crushed pineapple.
Spread into a greased loaf pan.
Bake for 60 minutes, or until browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 15 minutes before letting cool on wire rack.
Slice and serve when cooled.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blueberry & Lemon Scones

I have developed something of an...addiction to scones. It seems that I cannot get enough of them! I have mentioned in another scone post that I hate paying the absurd amount for them at cafes and have initiated  trying out my hand at making my own scones.
I am in scone heaven.
It took me several attempts to make these ones though.
Too dry.
Too hard.
Then too moist.
They fell apart.
Then...perfection! I adapted a recipe slightly from my trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book and these delightful morsels of blueberry (with lemon icing) perfection came out.


I have made more of glaze for all my scone attempts, until this one. 
I decided to leave the icing a bit thicker and I am so glad I did.
The lemon flavor really shines through and the bit of tartness with the full blueberry flavor really mesh nicely together.
So nicely.
I devoured ate two right after icing them.

Let's look at the beauties once or twice more...



I rolled these out directly onto my baking pan (which I use my trusty Threshold baking sheet from Target...it is my absolute favorite baking sheet), then I just cut the circle into wedges and slid them apart from each other slightly before baking.
But you could use a scone/wedge pan, or do it on a counter and then place them on a baking sheet. Whatever is easiest for you!
You could also add milk to the icing (I didn't for this recipe). I really wanted to taste the lemon, so I used 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in one cup of powdered sugar to create the thick icing.
I am so very glad I did!
Blueberry & Lemon Scones

by Emily Chhouy
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Ingredients (8 wedges)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pint (6oz) fresh blueberries
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a small combine the beaten eggs, heavy cream and blueberries.
Toss well and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt,
Using a pastry blending, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Create a well in the center of the flour crumbs.
Add the cream mixture with the blueberries into the well.
Fold gently until the flour is moistened and the batter is thick.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, or a nonstick baking sheet and make into a large disc.
Cut into 8 wedges, pulling them apart before baking, or placing apart on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and they are no longer doughy.
Set out to cool on the baking sheet, or remove the scones to a wire cooling rack with foil or wax paper placed underneath.
In another bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice until desired consistency is reached.
Add milk to thin if you wish.
Ice the tops of the scones while still warm.
Serve warm, and best to be eaten the same day as made.
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More {a cookbook review}


I have a serious sweet tooth and love to try baking new things, so when I saw this cookbook from Food Network full of nothing but delicious desserts...well I knew I was in serious trouble. Or, at least my waist line was in serious trouble. 
And I was correct.
WOW!
This cookbook is full of nothing but wonderful things to bake. The pictures are wonderful and the directions for throwing everything together are clearly laid out. Would you expect anything less from Food Network
There is a fairly big section on cakes that look like other food, which I'm not too crazy about, and I probably won't utilize any of these in the foreseeable future. But, I do bake cakes for people - so perhaps one day I will have someone want a cake that looks like a giant cheese wheel.
The frozen dessert section is one of my favorites! I always want to make frozen desserts to change things up, but never know where to start. Everything is reasonable for the average person to put together. I have made the whoopie pies from this book (which was super excited about tackling because I never had made them yet) and the results were wonderful. 
I can't wait to make more things from this SWEET treat cookbook. Now that I own this book, I need to look into getting more cookbooks from the Food Network. The way they are designed, and the bright, vivid photos make me excited about each recipe (even if I don't even want to try it). Wonderful!

You may purchase this book here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Skillet Oven-Fried Chicken

I have been using my iron skillet a lot more lately and I am in love!
I don't know why I have been so scared to use them.
Now I firmly believe every home should have at least one.
They aren't hard to take care of the the way that they cook just cannot be replicated by anything else.
I didn't know what to make the other night for dinner, and I haven't used my iron skillets in the oven yet, so I figured I'd give it a whirl and see how it went.
Well, it was amazing.


I seasoned some panko bread crumbs, coated some chicken drumsticks and let them fry up in the oven.
They did NOT disappoint!
The meat was full of flavor.
The outside was crispy.
They were still juicy.
They were absolutely wonderful and I could probably put this on a weekly menu and we wouldn't get tired of them
I suggest you try making them ASAP.
If you don't have an iron skillet, any oven-proof skillet would do, or just a baking dish. You just won't get that seared iron skillet flavor!

Skillet Oven-Fried Chicken

by Emily Chhouy

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 45 min

Ingredients (8-12 drumsticks)

  • 8-12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Olive or canola oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water in a shallow bowl.

Combine the panko crumbs and seasonings together in another shallow bowl.

Melt the butter in the iron skillet and keep over a low heat.

Drip each drumstick in the egg wash and then the panko mixture.

Press the crumbs firmly onto each piece of chicken.

Place in the skillet.

Repeat with each piece of chicken.

Drizzle each drumstick with the olive oil or canola oil lightly.

Place the skillet in the oven and let bake for 20 minutes.

Flip each piece of chicken oven and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes, or until browned crisp and the juices run clear.

Drain slightly on paper towels before serving, if desired.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Yesterday was my hub's 31st birthday.
It was Labor Day and he had to work his usual 12-hour shift :( Total bummer!
So my daughter and I spent the day cleaning out her room, reading books and just snuggling up.
It was great!
We discussed what kind of cake to make for her dad, and he told us he wanted chocolate chip cookies.
So, what does one do with that?
Make a giant chocolate chip cookie, of course!


Since his birthday is close to the kick-off of the NFL season, we decided to make some Seattle Seahawks colored frosting to  spruce up the cookie a bit!
We made just vanilla buttercream and applied it only around the top outside edge and to write on (as you can obviously see) because I didn't want to cover up the taste of the cookie and turn it into a cake. 
The purpose was a giant cookie...and it was delicious!




Nothing is better than pairing a giant cookie with a beer :) 
Our daughter had to pose with the cake also!
She was upset that we didn't put 31 candles on it. I told her it would catch fire ;)
I baked the cookie in a 8" cake pan, and it was about an inch thick.
Don't over bake it because it will be hard and dry. So treat it like a cake while baking, and insert a toothpick in the center when the top is all puffed up to make sure that it doesn't come out doughy. 


I found this recipe at www.lifeloveandsugar.com, but you could use any of your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes!




Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

by Emily Chhouy adapted from lifeloveandsugar.com
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Ingredients (8" cake)
    For the Giant Cookie
    • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
    • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
    For the Buttercream
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    Instructions
    For the Giant Cookie
    Cream together the butter and sugars.
    Add the egg and vanilla.
    Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together and add slowly to the creamed butter mixture.
    Mix in the chocolate chips and continue mixing until just combined.
    Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Prepare 8" baking pan with shortening and flour.
    Press the cookie dough evenly into the pan.
    As thick as you make it will be the ending result*
    Bake for 20 minutes, or until cookie is puffed up and no longer looks doughy - insert toothpick in center and make sure it comes out clean.
    Don't over bake.
    Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
    Then, remove from the pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.
    For the Buttercream
    Cream the butter until fluffy.
    Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk slowly until it reaches your desired consistency.
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    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    German Chocolate Cake

    Either you love or hate German Chocolate Cake.
    For me, it is love.
    Coconut, pecans, chocolate frosting...nom nom nom!
    I happen to love the extra caramely/coconutty/pecan frosting a wee bit too much...to the point that I eat the leftovers with a spoon.
    I. Am. So. Ashamed... (not really).


    I mean, look at that photo.
    There is so much delicious glory going on in it, don't you agree?
    The chocolate buttercream.
    The frosting I mentioned above....
    The German chocolate cake itself.
    Did I mention the chocolate buttercream and the coconut/pecan frosting?


    I have tried several German chocolate cake recipes and this one is my favorite. It hasn't let me down the numerous time I have made it.
    Most times people make a chocolate ganache to spread or drizzle over the cake, which you could do.
    But, I love buttercream frosting, so I always whip up a batch of chocolate frosting to encase the cake in with. 
    I don't put in between the layers, which you could do. I just put it on the top and sides, spread the coconut frosting over the top (and in between the layers) and then pipe a border around to hold it all in. 
    Yum.
    The cake is easy to make and it comes together simply.
    I like to cook the coconut/pecan frosting before making the cake, so by the time the cake is baked and cooled, the frosting is also cooled enough to use without having to wait around for it much longer.




    German Chocolate Cake

    by Emily Chhouy
    Prep Time: 30 min
    Cook Time: 35 min
    Ingredients (1 - 8 inch cake)
      For the Frosting
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup evaporated milk
      • 3 egg yolks
      • 1/4 cup butter
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1 1/2 -2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
      • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
      For the Cake
      • 1/2 cup boiling water
      • 4oz German baking chocolate; broken apart
      • 1 cup butter or margarine
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 4 eggs; separated
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 1/2 cups flour; sifted
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
      For the Buttercream
      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 1/2 cup cocoa; sifted
      • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
      • 4-5 tablespoons milk
      Instructions
      For the Frosting
      In a saucepan, whisk the sugar and evaporated milk together.
      Add the yolks one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
      Add the butter to the mixture and whisk while cooking over a medium heat until it boils.
      Reduce the heat and let frosting thicken, whisking as needed.
      After the frosting coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove from the heat and add the coconut and pecans.
      Mix well, adding more coconut if wanted to make the frosting as thick as you'd like.
      Set aside to let cool to room temperature.
      For the Cake
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
      Prepare 2 or 3 - 8" cake pans with shortening and flour.
      Add the chocolate pieces to the boiling water and stir until the chocolate is completely melted; set aside.
      In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
      Stir in the separated egg yolks (I crack my eggs over a glass mixing bowl, leaving the whites in the bowl and beat with a hand mixer later) one at a time.
      Beat well.
      Add in the vanilla extract and the chocolate slowly.
      Continue to beat until well combined.
      Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl.
      Add the sifted flour alternatively to the creamed butter mixture with the buttermilk until all is added and the batter is thoroughly combined.
      Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they can hold stiff peaks.
      Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate batter carefully.
      Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
      Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how many cake pans you use.
      Remove from oven with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and invert the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
      For the Buttercream
      Cream together the butter and sifted cocoa powder.
      Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at at time, alternating with a tablespoon of milk in between each addition.
      Keep adding sugar and milk until you reach your desired consistency.
      I like mine a little stiff, so I add more sugar - less milk.
      Cake Assembly
      When everything is cooled, I even out the cakes by slicing across the top of each one with a bread knife (a long, serrated knife will do).
      Then, I make a shallow crater in the top of each cake for the frosting to sit in without oozing out of the sides of the cake.
      Make the crater a bit deeper near the center, and barely cut in at the sides.
      This creates a little "bowl" for it to sit in and nobody even notices it when you are eating the cake.
      Add some of the coconut/pecan frosting to the top of the bottom cake layer and even out to the edges until it is smooth.
      Place the next cake layer on top, repeating again if you made three cake layers.
      Using a spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate buttercream frosting.
      Add a thick layer of the coconut/pecan frosting to the top of the cake, coming out almost to the edge.
      Pipe around the edges of the cake with the buttercream.
      Serve!
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      Let's Get Simple 'round Here!

      Wow. August has kicked my butt.
      With my little one now in kindergarten (I waited until I was back in the car on her first day to break out into the ugly cry) our household routine has been turned upside down!


      Getting her off to school in the morning, picking her up in the afternoon, keeping track of her school work and her dance and gymnastics practices is making me triple-check our calendar every day.
      PLUS I had a big change in my daycare kiddos, so my routine has been all out of whack!
      But...that's OKAY! I can roll with it. Luckily, I am okay with change.
      Change is good.
      Healthy, even!
      With all the change going on...it did make me realize that I have way too much going on within our home, however.
      Suddenly I am feeling...claustrophobic, would be a good term I guess!
      Yeah, we have a smaller house. Just about 1000 sq. feet for family of three. The house itself is comfortable. I don't mind it. It is spacious and we have the room to move freely.
      What is closing in on me is all the STUFF!
      CLUTTER!
      EXTRA THINGS WE DO NOT NEED!
      PAPERS!
      "FREE" THINGS!
      Almost everything that is considered a thing, an extra, a part, broken, worn-out, "just-in-case", don't need, don't ever use, why do we have that? sort of item is getting on my last nerve!

      While reading out of my textbook for my Advanced Creative Writing class, I came across a quote from Billy Collins, "In America, we cannot seem to get enough of what we don't need."

      How true is that?!
      I'm sure we all splurge on something extra that we don't really need.
      For a lot of people it is coffee (Starbucks, anyone) or just eating out in general. Which luckily since I cook and bake a lot, we don't really have that problem.
      Our problem (as in my hubs and I) would be that we just like to have everything.
      I like to have kitchen things and books (lots of books). For him it would be fishing and hunting things.
      For our five-year-old daughter...well it's just having everything as seen on TV and in her friend's bedrooms and toy rooms.

      My daughter is the kicker...she truly only plays with about 5 or 6 toys, the rest her friends play with more than her.
      So we battle a lot about really needing new things for her. It is a struggle.

      What's the point of this post?
      Well, to get my mind set on sharing what is working for me.
      This is a journey I am embarking on.
      Yes, a journey.
      I am hoping a deep PURGE and cleaning of my house will be a life-changing experience for me.
      I already know we have way too much excess stuff.
      We keep things we don't need to keep.
      How do I go about parting with it?
      The things that belonged to my dad, who died when I was 15?
      The things from my childhood that I've kept all these years?
      Every drawing my dear daughter makes for me?
      How do we handle it?????

      I am not wanting to be a minimalist (wow, they are strong people).
      Yet, I do want to be minimal in the amount of things that I keep.
      I am going to use the term SIMPLIFY.
      I am going to simplify my life.
      It all starts with my surroundings. My house. My home. My safe haven. I need it to represent what I want to feel like.
      I feel like it is cluttered because I am that way inside. Does that seem strange?
      I guess I am about to find out!

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